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Bluesky’s biggest selling points are things it doesn’t do

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Bluesky’s Cozy Retirement Home For Unwell Posters

—by Adam Bumas

Since Bluesky opened up last Tuesday, the platform has grown to 1.3 million new users in the past few days, meaning the total user base grew by around 50% in a week. According to the Stanford Internet Observatory’s David Thiel, most of those new users are Japanese speakers migrating from X, where “Bluesky” was the #1 trend in Japan last Wednesday.

I can’t call myself a “Bluesky elder” with a straight face, but I’ve been tracking its growth since late last spring. Which is why Ryan’s having me lead the newsletter one more time this week. And drawing from those eight months or so of antique wisdom, I can say the huge wave is pretty consistent with how and why new people have joined Bluesky since it started.

Most obviously, this is one of the few times when Linda Yaccarino is correct, and it all happens on X. Even with the huge rush of new users, I haven’t seen anyone even trying to pretend that Bluesky isn’t entirely downstream of the platform we used to call Twitter. The whole thing started as a project completely funded by Twitter (and spearheaded by its incorrigibly libertarian founder Jack Dorsey) in 2019.

Even though Bluesky was always independent, a number of places reported on its early stages like it was run by Twitter and not just financed by them. The difference became clearer once Elon Musk bought the company, but until now, all the biggest waves of new Bluesky signups have directly followed changes to Twitter/X or statements from Musk.

None of that makes Bluesky seem like the social medium of the future. People aren’t attracted to the platform, they’re repelled away from X and looking for anywhere else. In fact, I’d argue the only identity Bluesky has right now is a place of refuge for people who thrived on older declining social platforms and had to move on, but don’t like any of the newer ones.

That applies to a lot of people from a lot of places. To get a sense of how many, just look at the most popular accounts. After the official Bluesky account, you have Neil Gaiman, who’s already been the de facto face of Tumblr for years. Next you have the Washington Post and New York Times, representing all the news junkies who have been forsaken by X. Just behind the Times as of Monday, you have Dril, who spent most of 2023 as the biggest unofficial account on the platform. Dril’s network of shitposters originally came to Twitter in the early 2010s, migrating from Something Awful, so they’ve done this dance before. And after him, you have Nagano, a manga artist who draws cute bears. In just a week the Japanese influx has nabbed him more followers than Bluesky’s CEO.

None of this is cool or exciting or new! Instead, most of Bluesky’s selling points are things it doesn’t do. No algorithmic feeds, no DMs, no videos, no hashtags. Obviously people don’t want the suffocating engagement bait that you get on X, but when there’s so little replacing it, the sales pitch starts to feel like a retirement home brochure. Is this really what people want, a cozy set of Villages walled off from the hurly-burly of actually modern posting?

Frankly, that’s exactly what I personally want. I’ve seen a lot of skeets I like, but I could say the same about BBS forum posts. My taste is so geriatric that literally last week I was telling a friend of mine how much I love this book from 1916 about a stupid baseball player. She didn’t read it, because why would she, and all she’s posted on Bluesky for months are screenshots from her Letterboxd page, because why wouldn’t she?

And yet, I can’t ignore the creeping realization that every other Twitter substitute is even less cool. Threads’ aggressive marketing by Meta has successfully created “text-based Instagram”.  Sure, a bunch of celebrities and companies joined after getting the same nagging messages we all did, but as a platform all they’re offering may as well be “G-rated Pornhub”. On the less corporate end, Mastodon and its whole wooly family is an option the same way setting your phone’s keyboard to Dvorak is an option — and will be exciting to the exact same people. What else is there? Spill? Post dot News? Hold me, I might faint.

To be clear, I can easily imagine Bluesky cultivating its current audience of uprooted Tweeters and staying stable for a long time. What I can’t imagine is the platform ever being cool  — i.e. enjoyed by young and/or marginalized people coming to it because what it actually does — without alienating that audience and sending them packing all over again.

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Meh.com has…what today?

If you head over to meh.com you’ll see the daily deal. If you don’t, I’ll waste your time describing it in unhelpful ways here.

I might call it a portable sanctuary, protecting you from the world while offering storage for a few small items. It’s a warm embrace on a brisk day. Maybe it’s marsupial cosplay. Ineffective armor. Torso tapestries. Whatever it is, at meh.com it’s half the price anyone would guess.

Really, just head over and see.

A Quick Note On Elon Musk Fans

So, there’s a now pretty famous DeviantArt comment from a user named BigJB21. You’ve definitely seen it before. It just says, “god i wish that were me”. And it’s pretty funny on its own.


What you might not know, however, is that the comment was originally posted underneath a piece of 3D fetish art depicting a giant woman cradling a tiny man in a diaper and that BigJB21 was pretty active adult diaper enthusiast on DeviantArt. Which makes the comment, of course, much funnier.

Anyways, I was not very familiar with Elon Musk’s fans before he bought Twitter. I knew they were sort of dorky, but over the last few years, I have begun to realize that many of them seem to feel the same way about Musk that BigJB21 felt about that giant 3D woman. Case in point:

Not A Ton Of People Watched Jon Stewart’s Daily Show Return On TV, But Some Did On YouTube

Measuring who watches what, where, and when, is not easy. I mean, it’s never been easy — I still remember where I was when I learned how Nielsen Ratings were collected — but it’s even harder now. And it’s definitely a lot harder than it was in 2015 when Jon Stewart left The Daily Show.

According to TVMoJoe and The Wall Street Journal’s Joe Flint, Stewart’s return to the desk this week had 930,000 average viewers, with additional same-day viewers pushing it to around 1.85 million. Which was the show’s best ratings since 2018. Though, still not great for, you know, the continued existence of TV as a medium.

Over on YouTube, Stewart’s main segment has been watched a respectable 4.4 million times. Which is good for a late night show, but around what former Daily Show host John Oliver does on average. Stewart also angered a lot of libs, which is always a nice little treat.

Stewart’s return is especially interesting from a platform perspective because post-Daily Show, he never really embraced the Internet the way other talk show hosts did, like the aforementioned Oliver, Conan O’Brien, or even Trever Noah, with his unscripted Facebook riff videos.

But most of those hosts, and their various digital walkabouts, weren’t really try to reinvent the production and distribution of video content as much they were trying to shake off the restrictions of television and make something that fit their sensibilities better. The flip side of this would be Jimmy Fallon’s 2010s obsession with glitzy brand safe viral games that have aged quite poorly.

But, as Stewart will tell you, he’s good at one thing and that one thing is sitting behind that desk. Which makes me actually pretty optimistic. As long as he focuses on that he’ll keep pulling in eyeballs, wherever they may live now.

Finally, Some Good Media News

Slate had its best year ever last year. 404 Media is profitable. For Slate, their focus on their website (hell yeah) and chat podcasts (hell YEAH) were what helped them the most. And 404 is run as a co-op, with the four owners paying themselves equally and DIYing most of the site’s operation, including the art for stories and merch distro.

The thing that really gets me revved up and my heart racing when I read about both of these sites’ success is that almost of all of it flies in the face of what was popular wisdom back in the viral media days. The amount of meetings I’ve sat in about how direct traffic doesn’t matter compared to social traffic or that chat podcasts can’t support ads or that the art that accompanies a story can’t be weird and quirky or that reporters don’t actually know what people want to read. The list goes on and on. 

The media industry isn’t quite ready to reckon with how useless the last 15 years of chasing audience-less Facebook and Google traffic has been, but I do think the tide is beginning to turn. The advertising industry might still be hooked on lowest common denominator Number Go Up metrics, but once enough media outlets change course, I think that’ll go next.

These X Accounts Are Running Ads With AI Copy To Do… Something

In the replies, there’s a bunch of other examples of verified accounts posting random likely-AI-generated descriptions of food. I looked into a bunch of these accounts and many are like the one above, which is a 10-year-old account that looks like it is/was a real person, but it’s verified, has only posted three times, and followed almost exclusively by Japanese porn bots.

My best guess is that the ads are meant to help the account passively gain followers so it can be part of a spam network. Though, I think we’re inching very close to the point where X is mostly bots following other bots. Which, I suppose, is still useful for money laundering, but that’s about it.

Anyways, I was ready to dunk on this, but actually after staring at this tweet all morning I do kind of want a hamburger now tbh.

No, This Is Not The Dancer That Fell During The Super Bowl


On the bright side, I did get to meet Taylor Swift and Blake Lively and hang out for a few minutes in their suite. They honestly couldn’t ... See more

Her name is Louisa Melcher and she’s a comedian. She does this a lot. Looks like LadBible fell for it. Don’t be like LadBible. Remember: if you come across a video of a woman on TikTok saying or doing something outrageous, it’s most likely a joke that people are taking very seriously because the majority of the internet does not understand that women can make jokes.

Palworld Hype Is Finally Slowing Down

Palworld’s concurrent players on Steam has dropped considerably over the last few weeks. It’s still popular, but the hype looks like it’s finally wearing off.

I’ll throw a thought here that might rile up gamers, but I think the pop culture cut through of video game hype is getting bigger. I mean, I was interviewed by the New York Times about Palworld. And I’m more and more convinced that very soon there will be a game that upon release swallows culture whole. I've shared this theory with a few games writers I know and it seems like the consensus is Grand Theft Auto 6 in 2025 could do it. But I actually don't think so. I think it’ll be a random game with less realistic graphics that drops out of nowhere, becomes totally inescapable, and convinces your mom to get a Steam account.

The Spongebob Super Bowl Used V-Tuber Rigs


WE HAVE TECHNOLOGY 🙌 BTS of Tom & Bill prepping to commentate #SuperBowl LVIII on Nick! #SBLVIII #NFL #spongebob #patrickstar #tomkenny #b... See more

This is actually extremely cool!

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