Recently I’ve begun administering two ActivityPub powered websites: LGBTQIA.is (a Mastodon instance) and Suspended.club (a Pleroma instance). Each software has its pros and cons, in this post I write my thoughts on them.
The goal of LGBTQIA.is is to create a safe space style community. Mastodon provides the tools to make it happen and they’re browser based. The goal of Suspended.club was to poke fun at Twitter’s aggressive algorithm decided account suspensions as well as its failures to protect transgender users. Both were fun to create, and as a result I learned a lot about how the software works.
Mastodon’s single column layout is the easiest to understand. I believe it’s the most intuitive. Pleroma has two user interfaces to choose from. The Pleroma Frontend (it’s an acquired taste). And Mastodon’s frontend from a fork) called glitch-soc. They are using the advanced layout. As a result of having two frontends, Pleroma is popular among power users.
Mastodon provides the easiest to use admin and moderation tools. Almost everything is browser based. Anything on the command line has an easy to understand tutorial to walk you through it. Pleroma was different. It expects you to put the effort into understanding it. The install process was difficult. It’s documentation was lacking. They seem to only provide support over their GitLab Server and IRC. Both are tricky to use for non-programmers. The user experience here for an inexperienced admin is terrible. Pleroma’s message filtering system is more powerful than Mastodon’s. If the user experience is improved Pleroma may surpass Mastodon in user friendliness.
It can run on a Raspberry Pi while Mastodon cannot. As a result, Pleroma wins here requiring the least system resources. I am not convinced the trade-offs are worth the performance improvements for most users.
Whether you choose Mastodon or Pleroma, you are able to interact with anyone on the fediverse (network) thanks to open standards. As a result they’ve created an open network, I look forward to the progress both projects will make this year.