- tag searches only cover posts that your instance knows about (i.e. it searches the federated feed rather than querying a list of federated instances)
- You can't customize your "federated" feed to merge multiple instances' local feeds (especially important on small instances and when looking at small instances).
The more fundamental issues that I think has to be addressed at the "protocol" level is that I'd really like my identity to be portable. As it is now, if I like 10 different small instances, I have to join all 10, then I might have to repeat or boost my posts from all the relevant instances to get them to show up in the local feed - plus people who want to follow me will find 10 different accounts on different instances and not know which ones to follow. If, client-side, I just create a bot that auto-posts on multiple instances, if my followers on a given instance are following different versions of my account, the federated feed on that instance will be spammed with multiple posts.
I think some sort of customization where an identity is at least partially independent from its instance is required here.
You can have ten different email addresses or Mastodon accounts if you wish. By default, they are separate. If you want them to mirror each other's content, you have to do that manually. I'm OK with this.
If you had a lot of people cross-posting to different mailing lists with similar subscriber lists, I imagine people would be really annoyed if they had no way of merging your duplicated content.
Email has never had such a thing and likely never will, now that we understand the deep perils of spam. Mastodon has a problem email doesn't have because email doesn't want it.
A better example might be to look to email's "sister" NNTP, which hardly anyone uses these days because no one could figure out the spam problem. People switched to privately maintained mailing lists and web forum software because it had fewer spaces for a tragedy of the commons.
Multiple identities seems like a problem best solved by client-side tools (e.g. tweetdeck handles this usage really well IME).
I agree in the sense that I might want something like a role / brand identity and a personal identity, but I was considering something more like instance-specific aliases or identities. The first-pass solution at this would be one where you can specify that different accounts on different instances are all the same person so that posts duplicated on multiple instances (i.e. in the local feed of that instance) can be de-duplicated in a federated feed that includes more than one of the aliases.
External clients won't be able to stop people from following one of the alias instances and not the "canonical" instance, and they won't be able to make servers de-duplicate content that is cross-posted to multiple instances. If this isn't addressed in the protocol, you'll get people hacking together "boost bots" that duplicate your identity to multiple instances (with the issues that comes from hacking something like that into your client) in the same way that they are already using "follow bots" that just randomly follow tons of users on other instances to force more thorough federation between instances.
Admittedly, the current intent is that you (person) keep individual toots to specific instances and don't "cross-post", but there may be all sorts of reasons to need to cross-post across identities but try to avoid spamming federated friends.
Email doesn't need to solve the problem because there isn't a "public feed" to try to hit. The issue here is that the individual feeds in an instance are always going to be complicated game to play to get attention and the next steps are going to be instance-feed-optimization (IFO?) techniques including mass cross-posts, whether the Mastodon community wants to see that or not. (Just as advertisers still care to optimize how they show up on the Twitter public feed...)
Portable cross-instance identities are a possible way to mitigate some of the worst of that. My pessimism/cynicism thinks that maybe Mastodon instances shouldn't have instance and federated feeds publically visible. If I were to run my own instance, that would be the first things I'd disable.
Although core devs don't seem to be interested in implementing this, as it's not supported in the Ostatus spec.
As for the multiple instances, can't you just pick one and follow things on the others? That was my understanding.
Ideally, I'd like a seamless experience that allows me to see a "virtual instance" that is the merger of two instances. Like I said - I think the part that I see can be handled client side. Getting other people to see me, and having a portable identity, is another question entirely.
It's a lot of social behavior that yes might be better if the technology did more of the grunt work for you.
That is in fact emerging as a feature of Mastodon. While messages can and do propagate quite effectively, it takes much longer than Twitter and does so less reliably. This means instance choice has a very profound effect on both who you talk with and who you will reach.
It's still entirely possible to follow people on other instances, and it works fine. But it discourages certain types of use:
1. Advertisers: reach is much less predictable.
2. Spammers & trolls: While troll instances exist, they get blocked.
3. Bots. See above, it's painful & captcha-gated to open accounts on many instances.
> If, client-side, I just create a bot that auto-posts on multiple instances, if my followers on a given instance are following different versions of my account, the federated feed on that instance will be spammed with multiple posts.
I would advise not doing this, as we will start to block all your accounts. Attempting to chorus-spam the federated timeline will show up very quickly.
In summary: The slightly slower and less reliable delivery is a feature for human discourse at the expense of automated discourse. That is good, not bad.
It can be frustrating when you as a human have to maintain outsized attention on two or more locales. We can fix this client side (maybe) or we can solve this structurally. In effect, the community is preferring the later. There are many very small instances (even witches.town is pretty small) all arrayed around a few very central "hub" instances where most of the traffic originates from due to population.
You may track your hub account frequently but need to do much less work for spoke accounts.
The experiment of: "Your choice of primary identity and its location having consequences on your experience of the network" is fascinating. I have instances I am on only for the local timeline. I would not want them to mix with my more public account.
> I would advise not doing this, as we will start to block all your accounts. Attempting to chorus-spam the federated timeline will show up very quickly.
This was entirely my point. If you want to maintain a presence on multiple instances, the only way to post content relevant to multiple instances is to duplicate it, and it is not your choice whether or not multiple accounts of yours show up in the federated view of other instances. Echoing your posts is the hack that I'm sure people will try, some instances will ban it, others will put up with it, I imagine enforcement will be imperfect.
> It can be frustrating when you as a human have to maintain outsized attention on two or more locales.
Yes, to the extent to which clients and other hack-y behaviors do not solve this problem, what it means is that all the "spoke" timelines will die out and you'll concentrate on a few huge mega-instances, and you might as well have not bothered to move off twitter in the first place. If it's very easy for someone to exist both in their "home" node and in another node, the major disadvantages that come with being on smaller instances will fall away.
That's not what evidence is suggesting so far.
1) Anyone is free to make a Mastodon host with no moderation (except for what's necessary to avoid running foul of the law), but I doubt you'd get a lot of takers, at least not among the sort of people who would build a functional discussion space. Probably you'd just end up with 4chan again.
"You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink": lots of people have decided they want moderation, usually for good reasons involving harassment and abuse. People often want echo chambers too; that's not great for us in the long run, but it's difficult to make a moral argument that people's preferences should be overruled and they should be forced to listen to content they'd rather avoid.
and 2) Mastodon is no worse than the situation now with Twitter: Twitter also has a set of baked-in standards for moderation, and also allows you to live in an echo chamber if you want, with blocking. At least with Mastodon you can choose the type/degree of moderation you prefer.
As it is, the fact that I can see and interact with people on the local and federated timeline (much like one used to in the oldold days of the twitter firehose) means I am in _less_ of an echo chamber than I am on twitter, in every sense.
Your definition of "dissenting opinions" is essential to this. If it's "genuine points of conflicting dialogue", I don't see any squelching of that in the slightest. If it's "hate speech, advocation of violence, etc", then yeah, that stuff has been shut down pretty hard, and I'm happy for it.
This is effectively a repeat of the sub-reddit moderation scheme, but applied to a twitter like messaging platform. Go look around reddit for a general discussion forum where there is healthy tolerant community, outside of very specific limited topics where moderation is focused solely on keeping people on topic you will find moderators who have used their ability to create insulated echo chambers.
Again, I think it's important to be explicit about what you mean by "free and open speech", "dissent", etc.
I don't really see the analogy to sub-reddits, or shared forums in general. On my instance, the only stuff that's eligible for ejection is illegal porn, hate speech, abuse/harassment, etc. If that's an "echo chamber", then we don't have a shared vocabulary here.
'Free speech' means absolutely nothing can be off limits, ever, because in some theoretical future timeline, that means we won't be able to voice controversial opinions. Bluntly, if oven memes are at risk, then that means we won't be able to have dialogue on race relations or tax policy.
You're right that, in general, this has been the state of affairs on Twitter, and it's a top-3 reason why a lot of people are interested in exiting that platform. Few want to spend time in a 4chan dystopia.
edit: Also this isn't some theoretical, unproven thing that will happen to far future generations. At this point its almost a surety that it will happen in less then ten years.
My goal is to allow as much free conversation as possible on my instance. In general, that means I'm taking a laissez-faire approach to enforcing the rules I've set out (see: https://freeradical.zone/about/more) and not caring unless I have to. But if a user is causing problems, I reserve the right to drop them. If another instance is causing problems for one of my users, I reserve the right to silence or block them that server if that's what's necessary to protect my user.
I have about a million things I'd rather be doing than powertripping on who can post what on my instance. Barring illegal, extremely distasteful, or abusive content, I really don't care what my users send or receive. But I will do what it takes to protect me, my users, and my instance.
On the other hand, I only have to deal with what's legal an acceptable where I live. If an instance in Japan wants to host loli, fine. I can (and have) chosen not to carry their content. If an instance in Idaho wants to host Nazi content, that's up to them; the rest of us can choose not to carry their content.
I won't have to (and can't) come up with global policies.
The first is a consequence of people, the other is a function of Twitter and the fact that you probably read it from a person with lots of followers, who have at least somewhat similar ideas and therefore many are going to disagree with you. Because there are many of them, it can feel overwhelming when they all answer you.
And having not kept my mouth shut during the rocket-guy-shirt fiasco I can tell you that you get the same result when you are on the other side too.
The complaint covers genuine abuse like what happened to Kathy Sierra.
I can only speak to my own observations, which do not support this assertion.
I think people have forgotten the origin of John Gilmore's famous quote, "The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it." He wasn't talking about the people of the internet (though I believe he later said it wouldn't be wrong to interpret it that way), but the way the Usenet network would find a way to pass messages across the network, even when some Usenet node operators decided there were messages they didn't want to pass.
Those who do not learn their history...
* different people have different needs from social networks
* starting new social networks is hard becasue getting a critical mass of users is hard
* people would have social networks that are better tailored to their needs if there was a larger diversity of social networks
* centralized platforms target the average of everyone which doesn't serve anyone very well
* there are two ways to get critical mass: piggy-backing off an existing network or trying to bootstrap one from friends/family/interest groups
* piggy-backing is awkward because the upstart network and the established network both want to kill each other in the long run, but think they can get value out of each other in the short run
* federation can provide the benefits of piggy-backing without being adversarial
* if it's the case that each person has a social network that's right for them that isn't right for that many people, then federation can be a stable equilibrium
IMO, GNU Social / the broader "fediverse" is mostly uninteresting to me as a user, for a bunch of reasons:
* The user experience simply is more pleasant (a tight tweetdeck-esque UI vs. GNU Social's Twitter 2009 skin?)
* only mastodon supports important features like CW and message privacy flags
* GNU social instances, in general, are not pleasant places. For whatever reasons, the worst fediverse instances (i.e. those that feature child porn, hate speech, etc etc) are generally GNU Social. This will (and maybe already has, to some degree) changed, but it matters a lot that the vast majority of mastodon instances and mastodon users are basically decent people that are very conscious of the climate around them.
It's great that Mastodon can federate with GNU Social instances (I know and follow some people that are on GNU Social instances), but they are different things with important distinctions.
P.S. it's funny that GNU enthusiasts are doing the "you should call it GNU/Mastodon", etc., or otherwise conflating the two as demonstrating here. Federation just happens over a set of related protocols; Mastodon shares no code lineage with any GNU Social implementation AFAIK. An analogue would be if we were supposed to mention NCSA in a post about nginx. But GNU folk are gonna GNU, I guess? ;-P
> * GNU social instances, in general, are not pleasant places. For whatever reasons, the worst fediverse instances (i.e. those that feature child porn, hate speech, etc etc) are generally GNU Social. This will (and maybe already has, to some degree) changed, but it matters a lot that the vast majority of mastodon instances and mastodon users are basically decent people that are very conscious of the climate around them.
I really have no problem with the wild west nature of the internet at large. I grew up digitally on the internet and physically in an income depressed area, so the idea of "country clubbing" my life seems counterproductive.
But hey you do you! The beauty of the Fediverse is that we can all talk to each other!
Yes, it is "country clubbing" to avoid sharing child pornography... It does indeed seem counterproductive to avoid people who revel in that. After all, it's not like we can kill them for their ideas so we might as well listen to and look at literally everything they say all the time.
> But hey you do you! The beauty of the Fediverse is that we can all talk to each other!
Quite the contrary: the beauty of the Fediverse is that we can create sub-networks that allow us to talk to fewer people. Talking to every single person is FAR more effectively done on a centrally managed network like Twitter.
Even without instance blocks and mutes, the amount of time it takes for messages to propagate across the fediverse is long enough to create segmentation and shape user behavior.
CW was a bolt-on feature that was developed without any consideration for other fediverse servers and how they communicate using shared protocols, privacy isn't really private when you cross servers unless you trust both admins, there are tools for this
> GNU social instances, in general, are not pleasant places. [...] it matters a lot that the vast majority of mastodon instances and mastodon users are basically decent people
The Quitter servers have reasonable rules on this, and I dispute that Mastodon users are basically decent people. They are just people, like everyone else. The tight, polite and respectful Mastodon culture died when the network grew 20x. Now I see plenty of jerks, admins are sharing blocklists based on zero information and hiding the fact from their users, if you speak a non-english language you can be as offensive as you want to be, and there is a massive Japanese Mastodon server that is flooding the network with child porn.
>it's funny that GNU enthusiasts are doing the "you should call it GNU/Mastodon"
Literally no one is seriously doing this.
Yes, quitter.no seems to be a pleasant GNU Social spot. (Most) others AFAICT, absolutely not.
Yes, of course any aggregation of 1000 people is going to have some difficult individuals, nevermind 300k (or whatever the total pop is these days). The point is, what is the aggregate experience, common expectations, etc? The bar is set depressingly low by the popular services many of us would prefer to move away from, but so far, Mastodon Is Good.
Admins sharing federation blocks is what is _supposed_ to happen, and is the same sort of pattern that emerged for blocking mail delivery from previously-reported spammers. You want every instance's admin to vet every other instance, and make an Informed Decision?
> CW was a bolt-on feature that was developed without any consideration for other fediverse servers and how they communicate using shared protocols, privacy isn't really private when you cross servers unless you trust both admins, there are tools for this
The ostatus/fediverse protocols are a _mess_; substantially everything in there is bolted on. That Eugen and the other Mastodon devs did useful things on top of it is A-OK by me.
Because how many years did they have to develop it and elected not to? Forking happens to meet demand.
> Now I see plenty of jerks, admins are sharing blocklists based on zero information and hiding the fact from their users,
Which instance. Name names.
> if you speak a non-english language you can be as offensive as you want to be
We'll block them pretty soon. Already userscripts to GT toots inline are circulating. Don't worry.
> and there is a massive Japanese Mastodon server that is flooding the network with child porn.
It is a tesatment to the Mastodon network that this was resolved in under 12 hours. Twitter has let CP accounts live for far longer.
I had read recently Mastodon quickly had more users on the federated network than the active population of every other individual codebase.
It does nothing to share content between the two worlds, but that's probably for the best.
Again, thx anyway! ;-)
I have an account on both, at the moment (three separate Mastodon instances, actually).
But if you find an instance catering to a community/topic you like, you may want to create an account there to fully participate in that instance's local timeline.
Seriously are there any even slightly famous people who are primarily/mainly Mastodon? I am not talking just actors, but I follow people like Julia Galef and Joel Spolsky and don't see a point in a social network with people like them or my friends and family.
But, hey, freedom means that you can also just choose to stay on twitter or any similar network, right?
Apparently mastodon is also a twitter-like thing.