Bluesky might just be the Twitter-esque we’ve been waiting for.
Yes, I know it’s still invite only. Yes, I know there are only thousands of people on the platform right now. Yes, I know there are still missing table stakes features like video uploads and DMs.
Still, I’m starting to feel that Bluesky is where it is.
It happened in the past few days. Bluesky – the decentralized Twitter alternative invented by Twitter itself – has suddenly become overflowing with tech media outlets and other people I follow on Twitter. Time and time again I would check Twitter for one thing or another and see someone begging for a Bluesky invite, and moments later that person would be in my Bluesky skyline (timeline) and skeeting (tweeting). While that means I might be able to use Bluesky for actual news gathering, which is what I rely on Twitter for most, I was thrilled to see the vast majority of those news hounds and former Twitter obsessives posting with a raw, deranged energy that I not seen for a long time.
In one day, Bluesky reached viral escape speed
Then on Thursday, the service hit the viral breakout rate that every new social platform looks for, when some of the internet’s biggest names jumped on board. Drill joined in. Dan AOK. WeRateDogs, the dog rating service. Darth, the red panda of the Sith Lord. Hell, I even found a “Thursday! What an idea!” account and Hard Drivethe satirical video game publication.
In the middle of that busy day, Bluesky even survived a downtime. Shortly before 5:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, the official Bluesky account said the service needed to upgrade databases after seeing “our biggest one-day jump in new users we’ve experienced.” The downtime lasted about 20 minutes longer than the expected five minutes, but eventually the skyline returned and everyone breathed a collective sigh of relief. Twitter’s failed whale from the platform’s early days is still legendary, so it’s a good sign that people couldn’t wait for it to come back.
I’ve already written about how much fun I had on Bluesky. But I thought that, at least in the short term, the platform would remain its niche thing where only dorks like me would hang out and post pictures of cats. It’s clearly unfinished — to use the service on the web, Bluesky recommends a link with “staging” in the URL, for example — and I thought the small team of developers would continue tinkering before the floodgates opened.
I didn’t expect Darth, Dril and AOC to join Bluesky on the same day less than two weeks after I published that. There is a real energy about Bluesky right now.
I can’t close Twitter completely yet. I still rely a lot on the bird app to see the latest news. Not everyone I want to follow is on Bluesky. I really wish there were things like DMs and video.
And the vibe isn’t quite as good as when I first joined a few weeks ago – which is perhaps the most telling sign yet that this could be Twitter 2.0. I see a lot more performative messages than before because people are chasing clout. Some posts were downright vicious: users threatened to beat writer Matthew Yglesias to death with hammers. Not good!
But I’m hopeful that things will soften over time and necessary features will be added soon. All of that could help Bluesky maintain its recent momentum and not become another flash-in-the-pan app like Peach or Ello. The promised decentralized features like account portability could make Bluesky attractive to more people.
I’m also encouraged by how active the Bluesky team is on the platform itself, and I appreciate hearing directly from the people who actually build the product if issues arise. They said on Friday that “we’ve cleared our calendars” to get blocking, which had been much requested over the course of the week, sent on the internet that day, for example. (Blocking is expected to come to the mobile apps soon, if it hasn’t already by the time you read this.)
I started posting a picture of a cat on Bluesky on Thursday. I didn’t expect to end it, thinking about the nature of clay pigeons. Bluesky has a long way to go to completely replace Twitter for me, but right now I think it really could.