Last Month in Bluesky – March 24

February was a extremely eventful month for Bluesky, with the network opening up. While things have been less hectic in March, there have been significant additions to the ATmosphere: stackable moderation and third party labelers, blogging on ATproto and more. Let’s dive in.

Stackable moderation and labelers

One of the core design parts of Bluesky and the AT Proto network is a focus on individual choice, for both curation (via custom feeds) as well as moderation. With this month’s release of open-source moderation tools and third party labeling services, Bluesky has put their view on what they call ‘Stackable Moderation’ in practice. The idea of stackable moderation (in earlier writings Bluesky called it composable moderation) is that the Bluesky organisation provides a ‘base layer’ of moderation services, and individuals can decide to ‘stack’ additional moderation services on top of the services already provided by Bluesky.

To enable this, Bluesky released ‘Ozone’ as open-source software, which is the moderation tool that the Bluesky organisation uses in-house for their moderation services. They also implemented third party ‘labelers’, allowing other people to run a moderation service that labels posts and accounts. People who subscribe to that labeling service can decide to hide posts that have that specific label. Bluesky posted a short video to demonstrate this here.

Some examples of these new labelers are Aegis, XBlock Screenshot Labeler and AI Moderation Service. The XBlock labeler automatically labels screenshots from all the other social networks, and is a great option for people who are not interested in seeing every post by Elon Musk being dunked on. AI Moderation Service labels posts that are made with AI. Aegis focuses on safety, especially for the queer communities on Bluesky, and has grown out of the lists that were maintained by Kairi, known as the Contraption. Her postmortem analysis of running these denylists for the last 10 months is excellent and worth reading, as it indicates how being placed on a widely adopted moderation list is a highly effective way to starve bad actors of oxygen.

Blogging on AT Protocol

WhiteWind is a new blogging platform that runs on AT Protocol, and allows anyone with a Bluesky account to create their own blog for free. One of the core ideas of building the AT Protocol out in the open is that other people can build different apps on top of it as well, that are not microblogging. The launch of WhiteWind shows that this is indeed possible, and that AT Protocol can be used to build different applications.

Using WhiteWind is as simple as logging in with your Bluesky handle and app password, hit the ‘plus’ button in the bottom right, and start typing. WhiteWind uses Markdown, and for more information there is a basic explanation page.

For the people interested in protocol stuff: WhiteWind is an AppView, that indexes posts with a different ‘lexicon’ than the standard microblogging. Your WhiteWind blogs however are stored on the same PDS, so Bluesky probably hosts your blogs, even though the official Bluesky app will not show the blog posts.

Graber on how Bluesky plans to make money

Bluesky CEO Jay Graber was on the Decoder podcast with Nilay Patel to talk about Bluesky and Federation. There are lots of interesting discussions in there, and the episode is worth listening to (or reading, transcript available). What stood out to me is Graber’s answer regarding Bluesky’s plans to make money, where she says: “We’ve been building marketplaces within the app, essentially. So, we’ve got information marketplaces, moderation marketplaces. This is a direction that we’re going to lean into.”

In February, after Bluesky dropped the need for invite codes, The Verge also spoke with Graber, and also asked the question about ways to make money: “the Bluesky company plans to make money via a variety of ways, including charging users for additional features in its app. It also plans to take a cut of purchases for things like custom feeds that developers will be able to charge for. Graber says work is also being done on a Cloudflare-like enterprise arm for helping others easily manage their own servers on the AT Protocol.”

It is striking to me to how different these answers are: moderation marketplaces is new, and paid additional app features as well as a Cloudflare-like enterprise arm are not mentioned.

In other news – Bluesky

Bluesky has announced a 10k USD microgrants program, to help foster and grow the developer ecosystem, with grants between 500USD and 2000 USD per project. No recipients of the grants have been announced yet.

Last month, Bluesky hired Aaron Rodericks as head of Trust and Safety. This news led to Elon Musk changing the name of X’s Trust and Safety team to ‘Safety’ instead.

The Links

  • Indie developer Kuba Suder has build a variety of projects for Bluesky and ATproto, and gave an overview of all the projects he has made. Suder has build a way to show all quote posts of a post, a handles directory, a way to cross-post from Bluesky to Mastodon, and more.
  • The Decentered podcast interviewed Rudy Fraser, who is building the Blacksky curated feed and community.
  • Enable comments on your website with Bluesky. This implementation mixes both fediverse interactions with Bluesky interactions together.
  • Bluesky Feed Creator does exactly what it says on the tin, allowing anyone to create their own custom feed with no coding required. They announced recently that they dropped the waiting list.
  • Mike Masnick wrote about ‘Why Bluesky Remains The Most Interesting Experiment In Social Media, By Far’.
  • Jay Graber on the Techdirt podcast.
  • A technical explanation of what a PDS implementation actually entails, by Bluesky engineer Bryan Newbold.
  • A visual history of the maturation of the atproto network by Bluesky’s Daniel Holms.
  • An experiment in using Bluesky’s DID:PLC with ActivityPub.

That’s all for this month, thanks for reading. If you are interested in the world of decentralised social networks, you can subscribe to my newsletter where you get a weekly update on all that is happening.