Since Fall will be a busy season, I guess it’s time to share my thoughts about running an anime-themed Mastodon Server. Sakurajima is a project that is basically a fandom and creator server (e.g., Anime Bloggers) to share their content and interact with others in the fandom. After running a Mastodon server that grows quite a bit and is relatively active, here are my thoughts.
Origins of Sakurajima
I originally spun up a Mastodon server and registered “sakurajima.moe” on October 28, 2022, a day after Elon Musk bought Twitter. I decided to name it after an actual life location in Japan. In the past, I played around with Mastodon in 2018 but gave up on it shortly after as I didn’t see the point. Everyone was on Twitter, and the experience was tolerable.
That said, back in my mind, I knew that Twitter would take a turn for the worse. After all, there is a thing called enshittification, as mentioned in one of my recent editorials, trying to get people to move to Mastodon. Enshittification is basically the decay and eventual death of a platform to extract the value of its users while making the experience worse and making it impossible to leave without any impacts.
While I advertised Sakurajima while cross-posting for a few weeks during the interim period. However, when Elon started to ban third-party links (which he since reversed track) back in December with concerns that Twitter could suddenly collapse, I went full-time on Mastodon and quit Twitter altogether. It’s a decision I didn’t take lightly, but I lost contact with some mutuals reluctant to move to Mastodon or take their time. This still really frustrates me, and I hope they will make it to Mastodon soon.
Since then, while our server grew, Twitter has slowly decayed with more erratic decisions from Elon, which led to waves. Eventually, he implemented a rate limit on how many tweets one can read in one day, banning third party clients, putting a paywall behind the API, boosting the visibility of Twitter Blue subscribers’ tweets, thus burying everyone else’s tweets. That is while ditching Twitter’s name and the iconic logo for a Unicode symbol X. That is while hate speech and extremism proliferate as the mod teams are laid off, making the platform unsafe for everyone besides the far right. Now, Elon plans to paywall Twitter, making almost everyone leave.
That said, Mastodon, along with alternative centralized platforms we don’t recommend, like Threads and BlueSky, since they are owned by millionaires and aren’t really decentralized, had an influx of new users. Besides handling an influx of new users after I got my server listed on JoinMastodon, there is moderation.
As expected, running a Mastodon server for other users is not easy. I managed everything independently for the first 5 months, even the moderation. It eventually took a toll after we suffered our first troll attack against our server in March. With that, it’s not sustainable for me to handle everything, even if we had 50 active users.
As a result, I formed a diverse moderation team to handle the content moderation while I focused on administering the server. We also work with the moderation and admins of Urusai Social, a similar-sized Mastodon server with similar moderation. This mainly worked as the community was safe and fun, as I wanted, without any real drama.
Of course, paying for hosting is not that bad, especially with donations helping cover the cost. This makes the Fediverse model more sustainable as a server can handle many active users for a reasonable price.
Why the Fediverse/Mastodon over Threads and BlueSky.
One of the main strengths of Mastodon, part of the Fediverse, a decentralized social network with other software that uses ActivityPub, is that it’s an open platform.
While there is other Microblogging software like Misskey, Firefish, and Akkoma out there that can talk to Mastodon, there are other purpose-built software that work with the Fediverse. Things like Pixelfed for photo sharing and even WordPress blogs (with a plugin for self-hosted WordPress, although this feature will be built into WordPress.com blogs soon). Yes, you can follow your favorite anime blogs and comment on posts using a Mastodon account in the future. Most importantly, you can move your account if your server announces that it will shut down or the one is not moderating properly or not to your liking.
This pales in comparison to alternatives like Threads and BlueSky. Threads is a non-starter since it’s tied to your Instagram account, and you can’t delete your Threads account without deleting Instagram account. Also, it has no third-party apps. Also, Meta has a history of violating users’ privacy and poor moderation.
As for BlueSky, why should you trust Jack Dorsey, who sold himself out by selling Twitter to Elon, which he ran into the ground? Also, it has its own running lists of controversies, such as lacking a blocking feature before implementing one (but public, thus allowing harassers to abuse it), poor moderation, and getting the BIPOC community upset over someone registering an account with a racial slur. Not to mention, you can’t even view any posts without an account. This diminishes the value of having a BlueSky account, as nobody can view your social posts. Also, it’s not really decentralized. You can move your identity since it’s stored on your server. However, it still communicates to a centralized server owned by BlueSky. Also, BlueSky, from other people’s impressions, are hostile towards anime fans.
The Future is ActivityPub and Owning Your Stuff Again, not Relying on Big Corporate Social Platforms
Believe it or not, hosting large social platforms is not profitable as it requires the infrastructure and moderation team, so content will be suitable for advertisers. With rising interest rates, I don’t see a future in extensive centralized social networks like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Threads, and BlueSky, as it’s not profitable. VC money is drying up due to rising interest rates.
The future of the internet is going to be a more fragmented one. People may go back to blogging/creating websites, participating on message boards, or going on Discord. The thing is, social networks don’t have to be centralized anymore. ActivityPub makes it possible to follow and interact with others on the same server and others.
At the end of the day, all roads lead to Mastodon as more platforms like WordPress embrace ActivityPub. Not to mention, WordPress already can automatically share your new posts to Mastodon. Now that Japanese artists and media news sites are switching to the fediverse. I think it’s a good idea to move to Mastodon/Fediverse when you still can.
If you are interested,I encourage you to join us at Sakurajima, where most anime bloggers, creators, and fans are. On this server, getting your content out there for your audience is much easier. You can migrate to ours if you are already on Mastodon on a different server. I think it’s time to leave X/Twitter behind where it belongs. As always, if you have any issues signing up or thoughts about the future of social networking and anime blogging, feel free to comment.
Also, here is a short video as to why you should join.
If you see this text, this site has stolen my content. If you are affected by content thieves, look this domain up on a Whois Service, look up the IP and send a DMCA takedown with the host provider. STOP STEALING CONTENT AND MAKE YOUR OWN. Also, MATRIXAT, go fuck yourself you fucking thief!