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Bluesky is my favorite Twitter clone yet
Quote:Right now, the small community is delightful to be a part of. And thanks to the AT Protocol, the service has a promising future.

Bluesky is really, really fun. Yes, the platform is essentially just Twitter but decentralized. And yes, the Jack Dorsey-backed Bluesky is one of many services emulating how Twitter looks right now. But after spending a few hours in Bluesky since getting my beta invite this week, it’s so far the service where I feel the most joy. 

Similar to Mastodon, Bluesky is a federated social network, which, at its most basic level, means that users can participate through different providers instead of a huge central one. The easiest comparison is email: if you have Gmail, you can send an email to somebody on Apple’s iCloud, and they can reply back to you. 

Bluesky lets you pick from different hosting providers. When I joined the app on Tuesday, I picked the default, which is Bluesky’s own system. (There’s an option to join other providers, but I don’t know what options are available or how to set them up. This may be user error or ignorance.) From there, I set my username, which reads more like a domain — — and I’ll talk about that a bit more later. 

When I first got to the “Following” feed, it was empty, but as I explored more, it didn’t take long to discover that Bluesky already has an extremely active user base that’s now dealing with an influx of newbies like me. Very soon in my Bluesky journey, I stumbled upon a post from Jay Graber, the CEO of Bluesky, that helped me get a sense of what I was in for. 

“It was getting pretty scene-y here so we just emailed 5K people from our waitlist, say hi when you see them trickle on!” Graber wrote. In a reply, Graber added “densely connected subgraph of twitter power users who just joined, meek 5k people who gave us their email and filled out a form ?” 

Cruising the “What’s hot” section that day was a mishmash of simple internet delight. 

One person quoted Graber to apologize for the “scene stuff” and to encourage new users to jump into conversations. 

One person wrote “The goat, fr” with a picture of two goats. 

Several people shared photos of “this is where i post from.” Many seemed serious, like a cozy room and a tiny home; others were not, like one picture of an alligator. 

Somehow, somebody followed me within a minute of me joining the platform. Minutes later, a handful of other users followed me, too. It turns out I’m not that special; they all already follow more than 20,000 people, so they probably just follow every new account as it joins. 

Bluesky kept feeling good throughout the week. My feed wasn’t littered with angry posts about HBO Max’s change to Max, for example — instead, the people I follow seemed most invested in maintaining Bluesky’s currently positive culture. Graber posted about why Bluesky hasn’t launched yet “against Jack’s wishes” until the team builds out moderation tooling. On Friday, people were posting pictures of their bookshelves: “shelfies.” It was enjoyable to scroll. 

The challenge for Bluesky will be maintaining its positive environment, and that’s just what things its federated system — the AT Protocol — is designed to do. The protocol is still in development, but Bluesky’s stated focuses for it are decentralized social networking, algorithmic choice, and portable accounts. That means that, maybe someday, I’ll theoretically be able to hang out in a domain that isn’t also used by everybody else in the Bluesky app, choose an algorithm that serves mellower posts, and if I want to leave, easily bring my account and followers with me to another app. (It’s worth noting that Twitter owner Elon Musk has expressed an interest in letting you choose your own Twitter algorithm, but we’ll see if that actually happens.)

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