@maiki I generally agree with your direction of "criticism as diagnosis"; I have my own thoughts but they would take some time to completely distill.
Apologies for not replying directly on those then, since I need to think about it, but I will say one thing that is already close to the top of my head and is a problem generally across all these projects: they're all resource strapped. StatusNet had a lot of success for a lot of reasons, but being able to pay a bunch of people full time I suspect helped a lot. As far as I know, despite how many people agree the Facebook/Twitter/etc stranglehold thing is a problem, we have only one person being paid full time to work on federation: @Tsyesika (and it would be nice if we could compensate her better than we are presently). In some ways that seems really strange for me to conceptualize. But then again, I've been trying to do fundraising for the project... we've been successful in our crowdfunding campaigns but I've gone to grant org after grant org and I think that grant giving orgs seem super cautious to fund "social network alternatives" (many explicitly rule it out because they don't know how to evaluate its success, and are skeptical that you can get enough adoption). You can do venture capital, but the usual concern is that this is selling out your users (though, it helped StatusNet for some time).
It's also reasonably feasible to crowdfund new projects (see ind.ie), but it seems that people are willing to be sold on a new solution much more so than improving the existing body of work being developed. Troubling. (Maybe snowdrift.coop can help here?)
I do think that resources doesn't always mean having money (though it helps). @Laura Arjona and @Bradley M. Kuhn both have asked about making Pump.io community driven: I do think focusing on running a project where you're trying to get as many community members to pitch in as possible is a good way to stretch your capacity to do good by a lot. (I'm very thankful for the active crew of contributors we have in MediaGoblin!) Though, for some big projects and also coordination generally, focus seems needed.
A real federation alternative needs to be nicely designed, have solid technical underpinnings, be reasonably feasible either to deploy or to otherwise jump on the bandwagon of... that requires a lot of people. We're only going to get there through some combination of volunteering and whatever dedicated development we can muster.
Mike Linksvayer likes this.