MetaAlternatives April 15, 2018 10:22 AM   Subscribe

Instead of Reddit I use MetaFilter. Instead of Twitter I use Mastodon. I'm interested in what your other alternative platforms are? I'm also interested in platforms like MetaFilter that are designed/maintained by people that are trustworthy. These choices matter because I'm trying my best to be a part of a more ethical/social platform and still stay connected with a digital community. What are your recommendations?
posted by Fizz to MetaFilter-Related at 10:22 AM (35 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

I should mention, this question/discussion was prompted by someone in my Mastodon Federated timeline asking for a good alternative to Instagram (trying to avoid Facebook like apps). I'd love to be able to offer up a suggestion.
posted by Fizz at 10:27 AM on April 15

Whenever I want to investigate this kind of thing, at least for software, I end up checking alternativeTo. All of the alternatives aren't good, but they are definitely alternatives.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:39 AM on April 15 [5 favorites]

With respect to your question, it kinda depends on what aspects of Instagram they want to replace? For finding and following artists and sharing visual art, Ello's actually not too bad, but it really never has become a social platform of the sort it sounds like you're seeking.
posted by halation at 10:57 AM on April 15

They're wanting more of a social experience which is going to be hard because Instagram is such a juggernaut of an app/network. But I'll definitely recommend Ello. I'm also just generally curious about what other alternatives people are using.
posted by Fizz at 11:04 AM on April 15

Ello seems more of a Tumblr alternative (particularly earlier Tumblr, that had an higher ratio of artists), although it's enough of a blank canvas to be whatever. Basically any service you can 1) host images 2) add and search tags 3) follow other users can be used as a IG replacement, the problem is the same as with Mastodon, Diaspora, etc - will anyone be there or use it with the same purpose?
posted by lmfsilva at 11:32 AM on April 15

This is an opportunity to point out that Metafilter's chat is horribly underutilized.
posted by Beholder at 1:45 PM on April 15 [10 favorites]

As an alternative to Facebook, you might want to take a look at ipernity. It's fairly popular in France. When the company ran into financial problems a few years ago, users of the platform raised the money to buy them out. It's now entirely run by the Ipernity Members Association (IMA).

It has a lot of features aimed at photographers, but a lot people just use it as a social media platform, and you can post articles as well photos and videos, etc. It's not free. (Remember, the users bought them out.) They have an open-ended free trial, but restrictions on free accounts are structured so you're going to want to pay for membership if you start using the site a lot. Membership costs $27.50 every six months.

Terms of Service, Conduct Guidelines, FAQ.

One way around the problem of "If you are not paying for it, you're not the customer; you're the product being sold" is to buy the service and pay for it. That's what ipernity users did.
posted by nangar at 2:23 PM on April 15 [9 favorites]

And instead of fighting one subversive browser after another you can access all of the services via, take a beat, EMACS!
posted by sammyo at 4:08 PM on April 15 [2 favorites]

There’s also mltshp, which certainly has some popularity within MetaFilter. The question for your friend is going to be whether or not they care that they know the other users.
posted by Going To Maine at 5:37 PM on April 15 [5 favorites]

I still use Flickr also in addition to being one of the owners of MLTSHP (which is not free but quite cheap), so some of it is really figuring out where your friends are
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 6:04 PM on April 15 [2 favorites]

It's not really an alternative to anything, because it's kind of singular, but Ravelry is pretty great and I think the people who designed it/own it/run it are trustworthy wonderful people.
posted by fancyoats at 6:34 PM on April 15 [5 favorites]




I can't treat it like I do Instagram (which is where I post every dumb thing that comes into my head wait no that's twitter) but I do feel an actual sense of community which is to say there are 98% users that I really enjoy interacting with and then there's that one guy that won't stop posting pictures of Linda Carter or whatever
posted by komara at 8:24 PM on April 15 [2 favorites]

Yeah, mltshp is pretty great and maybe we should just even have a mtlshp awareness event some time. I bet MeFi's owner and mltshp's co-owner could talk it over some time.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:29 PM on April 15 [9 favorites]

It's hard to say if these tools are really alternatives to something, but I'm a big fan of both Pinboard for bookmarks and The Old Reader for RSS. They both sprung up when big Internet companies dropped similar products (Delicious and Google Reader, respectively), they're both run by actual people who care about user privacy, and they're both based on straightforward business models--pay a fair price, get a solid product.
posted by roll truck roll at 11:08 PM on April 15 [7 favorites]

Oh right, cortex also owns it. No shade intended!

Also I have no idea what all that Lynda Carter stuff is about.....
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 11:19 PM on April 15

I really love mltshp and I'm a regular and I don't think there's anybody there I haven't annoyed yet, but for image sharing sites the leading question is always, "What is your goal in posting image files?" and mltshp doesn't check all the boxes. For posting memes and in general getting some good image-sharing entertainment without feeling like you're drinking from a firehose, mltshp is awesome. For promoting your sidejob or business (making illustrations, posting photos of things you made, and otherwise just trying to whip up public interest in your gig), maybe not so much.

mltshp is semi-private (individual image posts can be publicly visible but aggregate pages other than "Popular" are locked away) so visibility is extremely limited and the membership, although active, is pretty small. I mean, they're the most supportive people on earth and you'll get the love and whuffie, but there's a firm limit on the exposure you can get there and you might still be better off holding your nose and posting to Instagram and Tumblr.
posted by ardgedee at 6:06 AM on April 16 [5 favorites]

You can always look into hosting your own, and not being dependent on a service. I'm getting attached to the POSSE idea. I started figuring a while back that if my rants were good enough for FB, then they were good enough for my own blog. That hasn't proved to be the case, since I have higher standards for my own sites than I do for Zuckerberg's. But here's the thing, I'd rather feel guilty about not updating my blog as often as I would like, than feel guilty that I am performing labor for Zuckerberg for free.

So I try to put all my content on my own sites first, and use the other sites to point back to my content. This actually means I spend a lot less time on these services being marketed to, which is a good thing if you ask me.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:06 AM on April 16 [6 favorites]

Oh right, cortex also owns it. No shade intended!

None taken and, shit, do I? I thought I was just on the board. I just meant co-owner as in I couldn't remember who else you owned it with and I didn't want to slight them accidentally.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:17 AM on April 16 [2 favorites]

Pinboard for bookmarks

Pinboard exists in a nearby universe to Pocket, Instapaper, and Evernote, but none are exactly the same.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:34 AM on April 16

The tried and trusted, ethical alternative to blogging/social media sites like Blogger, LiveJournal and MySpace is Dreamwidth. A paid account gives you some extra features, but a free (and ad free!) account is already very usable and the privacy controls are great.
posted by Too-Ticky at 8:10 AM on April 16

None taken and, shit, do I? I thought I was just on the board. I just meant co-owner as in I couldn't remember who else you owned it with and I didn't want to slight them accidentally.

Ladies and gentlemen...your Cabal!
posted by wenestvedt at 8:25 AM on April 16 [8 favorites]

After contemplating this question for a minute I realized that I must be getting old, because my latest go-to social app alternative is ... nothing. Ten years ago I considered myself an early adopter of this sort of stuff, but now I am trying to actively pare as much out of my life as possible.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 9:03 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]


Is there an app for mltshp or is it entirely web/browser based? I forgot I had registered for mltshp forever ago, and I think it's because I couldn't find an app on the Google Play store.
posted by Fizz at 9:09 AM on April 16

Just the website, yeah. There are maybe some helper bookmarklets out there to sideways-quasi-appify the experience if you're into that but that's not my wheelhouse.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:19 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]

None taken and, shit, do I?

I have questions. I know we paid our taxes and there is a board and I am not sure what the ownership structure is and man adulting is weird isn't it? On my todo list for 2018...

posted by jessamyn (retired) at 10:42 AM on April 16 [3 favorites]

Instead of Gmail, I use FastMail. Reading their blog shows that they care deeply about email, privacy, and doing things right.
posted by zsazsa at 1:09 PM on April 16 [2 favorites]

Many of my friends are moving to Telegram for instant messaging/chatting, instead of Facebook Messenger/WhatsApp.
posted by dnash at 2:30 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]

Speaking of mltshp, I was told to direct the site owners to this URL when I tried to create a new account there:
posted by tobascodagama at 2:32 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]

Thanks, I'll let the devs know.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 2:34 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]

A bunch of my friends have started using Mewe rather than Facebook (they're still on Facebook, they're just using it less).
There are people I follow on Instagram because that's where they are, but I've always posted my photos on Flickr (which was cool when it started but now is owned by…Verizon?).
Pinboard for bookmarks. Instapaper for read-later.

The long-term solution I want to see is a distributed social network where we all host our own content.
posted by adamrice at 4:17 PM on April 16 [4 favorites]

something awful is the cool place to hang out. You can find most of the cool people there. In something awful you can just chill and do whatever and totally relax. "Take it easy" is the something awful motto, for example, that's how laid back it is there. Show up if you want to have a good time. Another good reason to show up is if you want to hang out with friends
posted by Sebmojo at 8:53 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]

Many of my friends are moving to Telegram for instant messaging/chatting, instead of Facebook Messenger/WhatsApp.

Gizmodo, from June of 2016, with an endorsement from Bruce Schneier: “Why You Should Stop Using Telegram Right Now ”

That is to say: it seems fine to use! But it might not be secure, so maybe don’t bank on that. Of course, two years is a long time, so maybe things have changed.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:24 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]

I have been enjoying revisiting Diaspora. Clean interface, can follow tags (#metafilter is one I follow), and the posting tools are super easy. No app, but they put a lot of thought into the site, and it works well on mobile browsers. Wish their profile URLs were easier. me on Diaspora
posted by terrapin at 12:07 PM on April 17

Many of my friends are moving to Telegram for instant messaging/chatting, instead of Facebook Messenger/WhatsApp.

I've seen several friends abandon WhatsApp for Signal, for its solid encryption & privacy reputation.

As regards federated services such as Mastodon, an old-school-platform-dev pointed me to some recent critical thoughts on those the other day...

I'm a big fan of both Pinboard for bookmarks and The Old Reader for RSS

I find the undeadness of RSS reassuring, too; and Pinboard is Maciej Ceglowski, one of the few straight thinkers in this space.
posted by progosk at 3:18 PM on April 17 [9 favorites]

I've been using ProtonMail for quite some time and the paid service is quite good. There's the option of using it for your own domain, and this is attractive because I'm migrating my blog and stuff to my own domain (hosted in a less crazy country).

Instead of GitHub, please consider hosting your open-source contributions elsewhere. The more we cave in to GitHub monoculture, the more we reinforce the construct of GitHub normality, and the monoculture will be more likely to consume us. There is the Savannah instance on, and the GitLab Community Edition instance on The latter comes with its own shared "runners" (i.e. docker containers that runs things upon events, such as a push to the repo) that are super customizable and can replace TravisCI. I tend to trust open platforms that self-host their own internals.
posted by runcifex at 7:20 AM on April 21 [2 favorites]

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