negative zero

Discontinuing PeerTube

2022 June 27


I've decided to discontinue the negative zero PeerTube instance.

PeerTube is a cool project. I'm a big fan of decentralization and free software. I would much prefer video makers publish their videos on PeerTube than YouTube.

That said, in practice, PeerTube is an overly complex piece of software, and running a PeerTube instance really doesn't provide any benefit for me.

As a creator

As a video creator, PeerTube was a place for me to publish videos. I don't need a big, complicated federated Node.js web app to do that... I can publish videos with way less complexity using HTML and RSS. (I could also make torrents of my videos like PeerTube offers, but to be honest, I don't think there would ever be more than 1 seeder.)

Reach is far from my primary concern (I just want to be able to publish stuff, regardless of whether people actually watch it), but my PeerTube videos weren't really getting around anyway. At this point, with its current small userbase, PeerTube doesn't particularly offer a "built-in" audience. Again, this doesn't disincentivize me, but my point is it's not much of an incentive.

I have no idea how many readers my blog has. It could be 0. It could be 50. I intentionally avoid collecting any kind of metrics. PeerTube has built-in view counts and similar anti-features which are bad for my mental health. There's a plugin to disable these, but that plugin breaks other stuff I needed to use, so I couldn't use it.

As an admin

PeerTube is a pain to run. You have to deal with Node.js and npm... Actually, that's most of my complaint. I just hate Node. I also dislike how JavaScript-heavy the web app is. It's one of those things that uses JS to load content and, for example, serves an HTTP 200 OK response code, regardless of whether the requested page is valid or not. (It doesn't know the difference. All pages just serve the same JS which then figures it out from there.) It's important to me to make my sites' content accessible without JS, so running PeerTube necessitated also running a separate non-JS frontend.

PeerTube is also quite a challenge to curate. In order to have a good experience on PeerTube, your instance needs to follow instances with users who post interesting videos, and not follow instances with users who post uninteresting videos. It's very easy for the instance to end up with a very low signal-to-noise ratio. Also, some of the more interesting instances, such as TILvids, are little silos that don't allow other PeerTube instances to follow them, even though their videos are publically accessible.

As a viewer

Consequently, while PeerTube theoretically offers me the ability to find videos to watch, in practice, I don't find much I actually want to watch. I end up only using my instance to watch videos from the specific handful of channels I follow.

Given this model and the fact that I can't follow some of the channels I like from my own instance anyway, there's little-to-no benefit to me of using federated PeerTube, rather than just following individual channels' RSS feeds.

I don't comment on videos much in the first place, but I do run an ActivityPub (specifically GoToSocial) instance, which I could presumably use if I needed to leave comments on PeerTube videos. I don't need to run two different ActivityPub servers.


I don't know exactly when I'll actually shut down my PeerTube instance. I'm moving in the next couple months, so most likely I'll simply choose not to set it up again, and that'll be that.

Before I shut down the service, I'm planning to make my videos available elsewhere. I'm still working out the implementation details, but I'll probably just add them as backdated posts on my blog. (The alternative is making a separate page for media, but it'll be easiest if I can just include them in my existing blog feed.)

Update: As of 2022 July 3, the videos are now available on my blog, and just redirects to the list of posts on my blog tagged "video".


I like the idea of PeerTube. I like the decentralized model of it. I think it has potential, and I hope that more people start using it to publish their videos, rather than just using YouTube.

That said, it has not been useful to me, and I will be discontinuing my own instance. As a viewer, I will continue to use PeerTube to follow channels I like, but only using their RSS feeds (rather than the hybrid approach I've been taking where I follow some channels via my own PeerTube account and TILvids channels via RSS).