I installed the reference implementation of Matrix, Synapse, about a month ago. It went fairly well. The documentation was a little rough around the edges, but I was able to get it working. I was kind of excited about the project because it tries to solve a real problem: communication is fragmented into a bazillion independent silos with no real way for cross-communication to happen.
On the surface, this seemed to be exactly what I wanted. I have friends who aren't reachable via any of my preferred contact methods (I try to not hold this against them. Me refusing to use Facebook Messenger is pretty much the same as them refusing to use email. Except for the whole ethics of Facebook as a platform and a company, but I don't want to write an entire parenthetical essay.). I'd like to contact them more often, but it's a chore to check Twitter and Facebook (when I had a Facebook account, that is) and Discord and on and on. Matrix tries to solve this problem by putting everything in one place.
In theory this is great, because you have one place where you can just check everything. You log into your Matrix instance and you join the rooms you want. You can also configure rooms to do things like check RSS feeds or bridge into IRC channels. In practice, though, it's lacking.
Any homeserver can talk to any other homeserver. This is great, except there's no good way to find homeservers, and, from what I can tell, most people just use the main matrix.org instance anyway. Sure there are other homeservers out there, but I have no easy way to find them or a way to know why I would choose any one over any other one. It's kind of like Mastodon in that way. I could advertise it more, and I could encourage my friends to sign up on my homeserver, sure, but I wanted this to be a personal project, and not something that other people might grow to rely on.
The bridges didn't really work all that well, and the widgets in the rooms seemed to be lacking or incomplete. Sure, I could load up RSS Feeds into one room, but I couldn't configure anything about them other than a URL. Lots of the integrations seemed to be incomplete or abandoned. And I'd still have to have accounts on all the services I was bridging into anyway.
Matrix is also slow. I understand that this is due to some technical factors and a pending release of a different reference server, Dendrite, is coming along and should be released Someday™ and is supposed to be fixing a lot of the performance issues and so on and so forth.
But the more I thought about it, the more I started to wonder: Do I really need something like this? The answer I keep coming back to is, "Not really".
Matrix is an interesting project and it has some worthy goals, but it's just too much for what I wanted to use it for, and as I tried to use it, I found that what I originally wanted to use it for wasn't actually a thing that I wanted to do. That happens sometimes.
I may keep the server up for a little bit longer while I figure out what I want to do with it (if anything). There's this Gemini project that looks interesting...