The internet depends on people willing to do this work. Are we willing to pay for it?
Another great post, Tara. It's so evocative, I can barely resist going through it paragraph by paragraph and chiming in with ahas or related thoughts. But I'll spare you and your readers.
One thing I'll share, because I've had reason to be active on Mastodon lately and it's on my mind, is that I personally believe the model is working relatively well for the people who manage to stick with it through the learning curve. Though, there's risk of unsustainability when volunteers assume prominent roles (a lesson Reddit and Redditors learned, as you point out). What gets me about Mastodon is that I suspect it views itself as a welcoming, diverse community, when it fact I find it to be — in many ways — extraordinarily homogenous and intolerant.
I left Twitter years ago (I laugh when people say Musk ruined Twitter as if, before he bought it, it was some shining beacon of truth). But, as far as I can tell, once Musk took over, throngs of leftists (I don't use the word loosely), nonbinary persons, and tech experts departed Twitter and migrated to Mastodon. It leaves us with an even more polarized, segregated social media environment. It's like what I imagine FOX and MSNBC to be like. God forbid anyone should be exposed to a viewpoint different from their own.