Regardless of where the loss in users is coming from the major takeaway here is that we are firmly in a reinvestment phase. This will likely last until Reddit does something stupid related to the IPO but in the absence of that we will probably not see a significant uptick in growth again without major improvements to the threadiverse as a whole. That means that those of us who are personally invested in the growth of the threadiverse should be taking this time to develop the tools and features necessary to weather the next wave more gracefully than the last.
Niche Community Growth
One of the biggest issue I see here is still community growth. Growing certain communities is significantly harder than others and if you don’t have a lot of crossposting potential it can be damn near impossible. As it stands, I do not see a way to fix this situation without a hot and active ranking system that takes into account the number of users active in the particular community. As part of a change like this I think we would be best served by consolidating a significant portion of the small dead communities. I think we should also strongly prefer specialized instances like lemmy.film or literature.cafe to truly take advantage of the special attention these sorts of instances are capable of providing particular topics. As it stands only a handful of them have enough broader threadiverse activity to be truly useful.
Recruiting From Mastodon
At this point it seems like we are unlikely to pull a significant amount of users from Reddit without more reddit-policy-driven migration, but there are tons of highly educated and engaged users over on Mastodon that would make serious positive contributions to the tone and quality of the discourse over here. For some reason there seems to be minimal overlap between the two communities and that blows my mind. Not only that but I actively see folks disparaging Mastodon in fediverse related communities on a regular basis (and even sometimes in the Mastodon communities themselves). As far as I can tell, these are largely lingering sentiments from a Reddit/Twitter dichotomy. Remember, as things develop the lines between threaded social media and microblogging are likely to blur. A significant number of Mastodon apps already provide a threaded view and one of kbins explicit goals is very much to bridge the gap. With this in mind, Mastodon (and federated microblogging more generally) seems like the best source for new potential users.
TL;DR: What I’d like to particularly emphasize here is the focus on Mastodon user recruitment. They are far more likely to both improve the quality of discourse here and contribute to community building than your average reddit user. Not to mention they can already be active from their existing accounts. The barrier for entry is nil. I think a valid strat to go about this is to advertise existing specialized instances to their existing equivalent communities on the microblogging fediverse. This solves both the problems of growing the specialized instances from 0 and making their discourse substantially different enough to warrant specialized instances in the first place. Things like: