Is it time to join the elephant parade? Or: what is this Mastodon doing in my web?
If you follow current tech events, you surely know a large investor recently took over a large social media site. Today, I’m putting my detective hat on the coatrack to share my views on migrating from one “social” site to another. Perhaps you recall Geocities, or MySpace, or way further back, CompuServe? Those were thriving but then something better (or just flashier) came along. Maybe not better, but the promise of “more signal less noise” is to be desired.
I heard about Mastodon from another SAP Community member a few months ago, wrangled an invite, then set up the skeletal account steps. You know the drill, a short bio, a picture, and an introductory post. The site encourages hashtags, so I threw a few of them into my bio. Just need to remember to use something other than “#fail”.
Fast forward to the end of October, and the twitter corporate takeover. There was much angst among some that the carefully built society of friends, contacts, and others would be damaged by a mercurial leader, hence leading to the great migration to Mastodon.
I don’t need to write details on the comparative design architecture, because this has been done for the SAP Community:
Use the Fediverse instead of Twitter, LinkedIn, …
And further back, this prescient post:
Microblogging as an addition to SAP Community – introducing Mastondon (GNUSocial / Fediverse )
And today, I found out there is a (new) Mastodon for the SAP community:
You can see by the user counts this is very early in a ramp-up phase. Yet, Mastodon has been around for years, so the impact of “new users” on “old users” is yet to be realized. One fediverse site I just looked at says they are shutting down “Last week, with […] news, the fediverse generally experienced extra traffic with an influx of new users.”
- New tech, or at least unfamiliar. Some folks like tackling the unknown.
- Open source. Mastodon code is fully available. (I see this as a plus)
- Explore new worlds, meet new people.
- New tech; for those who don’t like the unknown.
- Federated design can be challenging to navigate
- Apps on the weak side, features in flux (i.e. translations).
- Search doesn’t work right on my Android tablet in the web client
- Browsing the federated stream causes jumpy rendering
- Private messages aren’t encrypted (yet)
I happened to join first an instance (chaos.social) that is based in Germany, harkening back to the early hacker days of the Chaos Computer Club. While I don’t speak or even read German, seeing all of those posts reminds me of reading ABAP commentary from the R/3 3.x days. While a few SAP community people are there, I’ve found others on similar fedi-sites.
The instance pictured above was set up by Helmut Tammen with this announcement:
We are live. From now on you can register your account at https://saptodon.org. After the approval (may take some time, depending on my workload) you can use it to interact with other Fediverse users. Come in and join us.
From what I’ve learned, you can migrate from one fedi-site to another, though there are potential issues with followers and history. The number of scripts/tools to find Mastodon users on twitter so you can follow them again is inspiring (as long as no data leaks or other surprises are found in these “wild-west-grub-stakes-claim” days).
I put “(mastodon at firstname.lastname@example.org.)” into my twitter bio; not saying this to gain followers but as advice for people to find followers with mutual interests. Other people have altered their handle to display their new address in every post, like this:
p.s. Part of this post title is a takeoff on the Groucho Marx joke from Animal Crackers about an elephant in pajamas.
p.p.s You can follow who you like, of course, but one person I’d recommend outside the SAP main eco-sphere is: “@email@example.com”.
Wow!! Fantastic Jim.
Thank you very much
Helmut - thank you!
I tried to update my bio here but unless someone knew this was a Mastodon address it would not be very revealing.
SAP Community Elsewhere links
You can also use the @firstname.lastname@example.org. In my case I've shared my Mastodon presence like that in my SAP Community profile - @email@example.com. See you there 🙂
Hello Mr Tammen,
great to see saptodon for SAP Architects and Developers.Perhaps you can accept my invite from dtometzki
Helmut Tammen I would be interested to hear about the workload required to set up your "SAPtoDON" instance. Particularly intrigued by whether you will get help:
But I think in near future we will get some additional moderators will help us to maintain this server. If you want to support send us a message.
Hi Jim Spath,
the technical setup was done very quickly.
The server was available within a few hours.
The configuration took a bit more time.
If I sum that up I'm at ~ 15 hours of work.
Regarding the help issue: I currently can manage / moderate this server on my own. It's not much work and I learn what I can do as a server admin on the job. So currently it's great fun.
SAP should have its own Mastodon instance, in addition/to complement the SAP Community (that might be even a reuse of https://saptodon.org if Helmut allows it). Reasons:
Other companies already do this (NY Times, Heise, ...), even the german goverment has created its own Mastodon instance with great success - they are onboarding institutions daily which had trouble using platforms in countries outside of the EU. Companies and individual users terminate their Twitter accounts.
SAP would need to decide if they allow non-employees to have accounts on SAP Mastodon or not. Both has its pros and cons, especially considering the overlap with SAP Community accounts.
A discussion about companies/institions starting their own Mastodon instances: https://r2.do/@ralf/109273409735901779
Please comment - what do you think? Especially a statement from Thomas Grassl would be great.
Andreas Huppert thank you for the perspective. These discussions must be happening in multiple corporations and organizations that built out large Twitter presences. Just look around at packaging, for example:
4 social media icons on a package
Communication teams must be scrambling with damage control plans right now, as rumors and other mass media effects ebb and flow.
For myself, I can see benefits of both community-hosted instances, and corporate-managed. From what Helmut Tammen shared, the set-up is trivial. But the strategy of deciding on platform rules/policies and broadcasting that seems an order of magnitude more difficult for a big entity than a sole proprietor.
My only quibble with "makes SAP look progressive" is that I'd rather see a community-led, carefully curated instance built out than one thrown together to appear to be ahead of the curve.
Is Mastodon "the one"? We will see.
Jim Spath Thanks for the feedback. I guess Mastodon will be by no means exclusive, but it has new and unique possibilities which the other platforms do not have.
The many people who share messages on social media and who are aware of the shortcomings of some of the platforms, currently struggle with workarounds such as adding alt texts manually as comments or having to produce videos with open (burnt-in) captions where closed captions would be the better option.
Lee Barnard this is such a great comment that I posted separately on it:
Second thoughts on the great Mastodon Migration
Short (tl;dr) synopsis: Mastodon has great potential for better accessibility and being open source will help that happen.
it would be great to get news about all the different SAP Developer topics on Mastodon instead of Twitter.
Thank you Andreas Huppert for this discussion. It is very helpful.
When I wrote this blog post in July 2022, I had the hope that a discussion on the topic would arise and that SAP would perhaps make everything it currently posts on #birdsite & Co available on Mastodon as well.
Unfortunately, both failed to materialise. When Mr Musk took over Twitter, I was fed up and decided to switch completely to Mastodon, regardless of whether people follow me or not. I want to be able to control my data and my contributions on the internet.
When a fellow asked me whether it wouldn't make sense to run a "SAP" Mastodon server, I acted quickly. If SAP were to provide its own community server, I would be quite prepared to give up the domain saptodon.org even though I think they should use a domain like social.sap.com.
In my view, Mastodon and the Fediverse are only the beginning of a new, self-determined Internet. Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the "inventor" of the internet, has developed the vision of Web 3.0, called Solid (not related to the Web 3.0 the blockchain community propagates). Here, a wide variety of data is not managed in the databases of the big companies, but is held by the users of the internet in their own pods and released to the companies for processing. See also this article for some more high-level information.
Here, SAP could show how progressive they are by perhaps first converting their community and then more and more business applications to it.
Thank you for your support.
P.S. The European Union is also on Mastodon.
From a community strategy, we differentiate between the core functionality SAP provides (Q&A, Blogging, Discussions, ...) and community-supporting social networks. For the core, we want to ensure the community members can use and get the maximum out. This is naturally done by focusing on SAP topics and the members know that they will get through the focus the best discussion, answers, and ideas.
Social networks like Twitter are much broader and they can have any type of topic. SAP is active as well to engage within these networks but we also recognized these need to stay independent to drive the larger reach.
I have not had a chance to personally go and explore Mastodon more, it is not very clear how it will evolve, and as pointed out in the discussions it's a space to watch how it develops.
would be no big effort for SAP to create a few Mastodon users at whatever server SAP likes (own instance, saptodon or any of the other thousands of servers around the world) and post everything that's going to Twitter also to Mastodon. Mastodon has an API to automate that.
SAP could also use crossposting (e.g. via MOA Party) between Twitter and Mastodon but I think you can do better, can't you?
Posting to Mastodon would be a statement not just the support of another social media platform: "We at SAP respect and support all those people who attach a lot of importance to free, self controlled communication without tracking and advertising".
If SAP Community would support the Web 3.0 ideas of Tim Berners-Lee (s. above) I would be the happiest man. But I start dreaming of the unreachable, sorry.