Last Month in Bluesky – June 2024An eventful month of

Last Month in Bluesky – June 2024

An eventful month of June, with some high-profile labeling services calling it quits, easier onboarding for Bluesky with starter packs, and new platforms starting to appear in the ATmosphere.

Labeler implosion

The two biggest labelers dedicated to content moderation have called it quits this month. Aegis was a labeling service that provided ‘community moderation predominantly to Bluesky’s LGBTQIA+ and marginalized users’, which had recently gotten a micro-grant by Bluesky. Aegis’ moderators came under criticism from the community, for both alleged behaviour as well as improper labeling, and Aegis decided that trust within the community was broken to such an extend that the best course of action was to stop the service. I’ll note the events that led to the situation it are best told by members of the community themselves, as I feel it is not my place as someone outside of the community to do so.

As a result of Aegis disbanding operations, Taurus shield, another community labeler expanded operations, trying to fill some of the gaps that were left by Aegis, such as a label for antisemitism. The work load, expectations and a lack of support became quickly too much so that Taurus also decided to call it quit and delete their labeler as well.

These events signal a shift in current expectations what labelers are for. Bluesky advertised labelers as a way for communities to help protect themselves, calling ‘community labeling’. The situation with Aegis and Taurus has shown that labelers that are a high-profile part of the community can however cause unwanted power dynamics. For now it seems that the near-term use-case for labelers will be more for memes or labelers that provide more specific niche services, instead of labelers that provide a wide range of difficult content moderation decisions.

Bluesky

Bluesky added three app updates (1.85, 1.86, 1.87) this month. Some of the standout features are temporary account deactivation, starter packs and social proof with followers that you know. Temporary account deactivation was a highly requested safety feature that allows you to temporarily disable your account, without having to delete your account, and already some high-profile accounts have used this feature when it was necessary to take a break. Bluesky also added more ‘social proof’, when you check out a profile, you can now see followers that you know. This feature helps with establishing if people are in your network and can provide another signal whether you should trust someone or not.

With starter packs, people can now share a customisable link for others to sign up and join Bluesky. When people sign up with your link, they will also suggested custom feeds and people to follow. One of the hardest parts of a new social network is for new accounts to fill up their feed and build up a new social graph. As anyone can create a starter pack, communities can now easier migrate and get started.

The ATmosphere

The ATmosphere, meaning all the other projects and products that use atproto beyond the Bluesky app, has been expanding, with some new types of projects in the works.

Frontpage.fyi is a federated link-aggregator that is currently in closed beta. The platform takes some inspiration from Hacker News, with a single front page where people can submit links, and vote and comment on them. Frontpage is build on top of atproto, which means that you can log in with your Bluesky account. The developers are actively experimenting with ideas for further integration between Bluesky and Frontpage.

Last month I wrote about Soleia, a work-in-progress on building a donation/giving platform on top of atproto. An early sandbox version is now available, while the developer is waiting for OAuth to come to atproto. Meanwhile, developer Ryan Skinner is also working on building a project inspired by Vine, video demo here.

Blogging platform WhiteWind has officially launched as a 1.0 version, and the code is now available as open source. WhiteWind was the first platform to build a custom AppView for atproto ,and has been available since March. In the post to celebrate the launch, the develop explains that they wanted to contribute to and grow the ecosystem of development on atproto, by demonstrating what is possible to build with the protocol.

Bluecast, the social audio spaces app that integrates with atproto, is trialing a paid Pro version, that gives longer broadcasts and better audio quality. Bluecast has been able to find a consistent audience in Japan, with accounts such as ‘Weekend Bluecast‘ contributing to a regularly planned schedule of streams that listeners can tune into, creating a community in the process.

An extensive update by Rudy Fraser on Blacksky, and building a community on atproto. Its an extensive update that’s worth checking out, that deals with how to define your own identity that is not just something that people compare it too, as well as building community for the long run. Fraser also shows how “Blacksky depends on big cultural moments in order to succeed”, not Elon Musk Events.

Fraser’s blog post also showcases how you can embed a comment section on a blog post which integrates with Bluesky, based on work by Ændra Rininsland (and previous work by Graysky). It allows you to set a link on your blog to a post made on Bluesky, and all the comments on the Bluesky post will show up as replies/comments on your blog. Another example is here by Bluesky’s Emily Liu.

Threads can now technically interoperate with Bluesky via the fediverse bridge, although this feature will not be made available for the foreseeable future. Seeing a Threads post on Bluesky was done as a technical demonstration, but creator Ryan Barrett says that he is waiting for Threads to further implement ActivityPub before committing to adding support to this to the bridge. Speaking of the bridge, TechCrunch published an article to it explaining what it is and how it works.

A fairly technical news item, but I think it is relevant all the same. Posts bridged from the fediverse to Bluesky that are over 300 characters (Bluesky’s character limit) get trunkated. Bridge developer Ryan Barrett has implemented a feature that allows third party clients to work around this limit, and this has now been implemented by Skywalker, a third party client for Bluesky. People talk about federation often in terms of technical interoperability: can servers of different products communicate with each other. But to quote @maegul: “federation happens in the client”, meaning that the interoperability in a manner that users care about happens on a client level, not server level. This news is a clear example of this phenomenon.

The Links

  • An interview with Skygraph, who has build multiple custom personalised algorithmic feeds for Bluesky.
  • The Electronic Frontier Foundation has written a guide on how to use labelers and custom feeds.
  • Getting started with XBlock, the labeler that allows you to hide screenshots from Twitter and other social networks.
  • A script to auto-delete old posts.
  • A video tutorial on how to get started with custom feeds with Skyfeed.
  • Some statistics on posts that are not coming from Bluesky’s own PDSes.

For developers:

That’s all for this month, thanks for reading. You can follow me on Bluesky, or subscribe to my newsletter below. You’ll get a weekly update on the fediverse in your inbox, and a monthly update on Bluesky and the ATmosphere.

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https://fediversereport.com/last-month-in-bluesky-june-2024/