With the recent buyout of Twitter by Elon Musk, many people have been discovering Mastodon/Fediverse. I have been on the Fediverse since 2017, and I am a big fan of it, so I am glad that so many others are starting to discover its merits. A lot of people have put in a lot of hard work to make this possible. There are other places people are looking for something to fill the void of Twitter as well, one of them being Cohost. At first, I didn't like the idea of Cohost, but because I am on fediverse, so I am biased toward that. But through the efforts of other people interested in the subject, I now realize there are some very legitimate concerns with Cohost. I wanted to collect those here for easy reference. These critiques come from a place of constructive criticism. The anti software software club (Cohost owners) and fediverse have very similar shared goals of taking on the centralized commercial internet. The more people we have doing this the better. But as we have many people branching out from major social media networks into alternatives for their first time, I (and others, I believe) feel that we need to help make sure some of the lessons we learned already in the Fediverse don't have to be re-learned the hard way by people just branching out for the first time.
It is centralized
The people building Cohost seem like good people, with their hearts in the right place. However, being centralized leaves it open to the same fate as Twitter. If ownership changes hands, or the owners have a change of heart, it can immediately lose everything about it that makes it better than other options.
It is lacking many of the features fediverse has had for years, and it is unclear how a small team such as theirs can make up this gap.
Claims of non-profit
They claim to be "non-profit", but are just an LLC. According to Colin/vogon:
by "not-for-profit" we mean that we intend to, practically, operate as a company that does not retain profits net of operating expenses, similar to e.g. a credit union (our corporate bank is a credit union which is also incorporated as a Washington LLC.) as per our latest financial report (https://cohost.org/staff/post/121495-september-2022-finan), we currently do not turn a profit, nor are we even close yet, so we have no firm plans for post-profit operation, but in broad strokes we plan to either reduce our revenue or donate the excess to upstream contributors or charities. we are also open to formally reincorporating as a nonprofit once we have the legal and tax compliance resources.
Their governance is not thought out at all
Claims of Independence
They claim they are not beholden to VC, but their source code is the collateral for their business loan.
Not Open Source
They are not open source, so as for what their software does, we can only take them at their word. They also can't open-source it, because the source is the collateral for their loan, as mentioned above.
Cohost has higher costs than fediverse implementations because they can't use any of the free tooling available to open source projects, such as infrastructure and bug trackers. This is important because without a reduction in costs, Cohost isn't sustainable at any scale.