GeekNights Monday - The POSSE Model and The End of Twitter

Tonight on GeekNights, in the shadow of Twitter's collapse at the hands of a narcissistic failure of a man, we discuss the best way to protect yourself from the inevitable collapse of every platform: the POSSE model. Publish (on your) Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere.

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Somehow even more ridiculous news about twitter broke before we even finished the episode.

I dunno, there’s a world in which charging everyone, and losing all but the most hardcore users, is an easier job than developing a functional advertising business.

Elon Musk always says “the best part is no part” and this is the logical extension of that into inline business models.

Oh no I’ve been sucked into discussing Elon Musk must go wash my brain


Oh, it’s definitely an easier job, and maybe even a sustainable business. The problem is that it’s a much much smaller business that isn’t worth… $44 billion. Capitalism demands growth. A pay-only Twitter is a major shrinkage with little to no growth potential.

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Twitter is now a privately owned company, so there’s not the same pressure for growth. But yeah, the banks are going to want their money back.

The Saudis are going to want their money back.

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They also need operating capital. If as many advertisers as was implied in recent reporting have actually ended ad buys, they will eventually run out of cash even with all the layoffs.

And being already heavily debt-financed and bleeding its only remaining valuable assets (celebrities to follow and a large active user base), it’s unlikely Musk could arrange for additional investment.

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Well, that’s really the rub, isn’t it? Sure, there’s no pressure for the insane infinite growth model required by a lot of publicly traded companies…But yeah, there are a lot of parties who are gonna want their money back, with interest. And all the best estimates suggest that even if he took it fully paywalled, the proportion of users likely to stay doesn’t even meet the interest payments, let alone service the loan. And considering how heavily leveraged the stocks in his other companies are for those loans, that could be a very bad thing for Tesla and SpaceX. One way or another, he’s gonna have to pay the piper, and the piper doesn’t take IOUs.

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Twitter RSS feeds: if you’re willing to tolerate some jank, there is nitter, an alternative frontend. Swap in, and put /rss on the end of the username for an RSS feed. Eg:

Yeah, but they could cut this off at any time. If we don’t get people to setup permanent canonical URLs for feeds of their own content, we will have to keep moving as platforms fail.

Since it is maybe a bit much to ask for non-technical people to setup and maintain their own publishing platform, there are some maybe halfway solutions. Here’s what I was thinking.

First, people make accounts with hosting providers. They have to do this on their own. Making accounts is not out of the capability of someone who actively wants to publish content online.

Then we provide a very easy tool for users that will automatically deploy the publishing platform to this hosting account that is under their control.

To make it even easier, instead of deploying an actual publishing platform it could simply publish a single static page. That static page would just contain markup that serves as sort of a directory for that user. Similar to Carrd. A universal profile for that person which tells us which platforms they are publicly on, and what their accounts are on those platforms.

If we have that user directory, then we can make client software that takes advantage of it. We would choose people to follow, not just accounts to follow. The client software would collect and aggregate the published works of that person across all platforms in which they participate. If they add new ones or leave old ones, we don’t have to keep hunting them down. As long as the client can support reading from that platform, and they add their info to their self-hosted directory page, we’re all good.

Even if nobody explicitly cuts nitter off, in the few days I’ve had some in my RSS reader it has been… not robust. It’s purely a hacky workaround to going to the bird site.

The rss reader I’ve been using since google reader,, added support for twitter a whille ago. And it’s super, it works just like another rss feed. I really like it for people outside my timezone, or occasional poster, who’d otherwise get drowned out

Also, same with youtube :slight_smile:

Inoreader has support for that also. The problem is that it doesn’t have very good filtering support. I don’t want someone’s off-hand tweet mixed in with my news articles. I also don’t want retweets. A reader UI for tweet-like content needs to be separate from regular RSS reader UI.

Yeah, some extra filtering would be great in general (like I’d love to have nice filtering with allow/blockLists per feed, and per like title, content, max unread per feed etc)

But for now, with a twitter folder, and only people I can keep up with every day, it’s my favorite twitter client.

I saw @Apreche’s post on one of the other threads, where the reply by another user was explained the POSSE model, and it really resonated with me, its a framework I’ve been trying to put into works for about 20 years! I’m so glad you guys did an episode on it.


I finally listened to the episode, and while I agree with 90% of it, I’m not with you on “Twitter is dead”.

So far, except for a bit more chatter about Twitter itself, I’ve not noticed anything different about it. It’s still a super useful source of information! For example, when I wanted some updates about sporting events, my searches returned exactly the mix of news sources and commentary I expected.

While that remains true, I’ll keep using Twitter for all kinds of stuff, along with checking it a few times a day to see updates from those I follow, minus Rym and Scott.

I’m not confident in the long term prospects of Twitter, but in the short term I’m declaring it not dead and not dying.


I agree that it’s not dead if you just look at it right now. There’s a whole mess going on for sure, but it’s not in my personal Twitter feed, and probably not in yours.

Right now the people leaving are people who care and are in the know. Not a big deal. People like actual sports journalists, definitely not going anywhere, yet. Once Twitter really shits the bed and/or another viable alternative appears, they will also go.

I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a news organization, like maybe NY Times with its tech dept., make something that is a home for the journalists of the world.

That was quicker than I thought. I really thought he would drag this out a few more months.

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