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Mastodon 2.0 (medium.com)
408 points by daveid 8 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 190 comments



I started using Mastodon a few months ago, "just to see", and found great people to interact to there. And these days I'm using Twitter less and less.

Looking back, I feel like the short-messages limit is fueling flaming statements rather than good discussions. I also see how constant enabled-by-default notifications and dark patterns made me addicted to new tweets ; on Mastodon I feel less pressure to keep up with the feed constantly.

Also, the project grew from a few to 100+ contributors in a few weeks, and apparently managed this transition quite smoothly. Development is ongoing at a steady pace, including new features and major architectural changes. Congrats to the team and contributors!


    Looking back, I feel like the short-messages limit is fueling flaming statements rather than good discussions
Quite rarely, also condensed pieces of art: https://twitter.com/quietpinetrees



Wow, some of those are very good.



Definitely looking forward to Twitter's 280 change to help me communicate better with people there (it was always the reason I preferred G+, for instance, over Twitter), but it would overall be preferred if more people just used Mastodon.


Mastodon's big issue is that it isn't fully decentralized. I don't want to give Twitter all of my trust, but I also don't want to put all my trust into some random server just because it isn't Twitter.

For fully decentralized social networking (online or off-grid) I recommend: https://www.scuttlebutt.nz/


You can run your own server.


Can you help me understand what you mean by "isn't fully decentralized"?

If you're running your own server, my understanding it's trusted by default by most servers - There is a blacklist of untrusted federation servers, rather than a whitelist?

In what way would you prefer it to be setup? More of a p2p model, rather than a federated model?


I think by "fully decentralized" he means "everyone has to run their own node"


Federation is a perfectly valid type of decentralised system. Their complaint is likely that it isn't a fully peer to peer system.


What sort of trust it is, can you expand?


Personally, I prefer Google Buzz


Started using just out of curiosity, about it being a federated system (just like email), I also knew about the interoperability with Gnu Social and OStatus networks, so I gave it a shot.

I launched my private instance and started from there. I can say I'm very surprised, the system works very well, never had major problems and the communication with people with accounts on other instances (since I'm the only one in mine) works flawlessly.

This is how the Internet was supposed to work (not full of walled gardens). The good thing is that we're seeing some great decentralized applications and tools appearing recently and a renewed interest in this area, which is great.


> This is how the Internet was supposed to work (not full of walled gardens). The good thing is that we're seeing some great decentralized applications and tools appearing recently and a renewed interest in this area, which is great.

I've been thinking about this a lot lately, lumped under my own umbrella term of "communal computing". Instead of one large instance, many smaller instances hosted by independent administrators and often targeted toward particular communities. Avoiding the scaling issues of the former type of service by shrinking things down to where individual operators can run them. Examples include Mastodon, shell services like tilde.town or sdf.org, old-school MUDs, chat servers.


> Avoiding the scaling issues of the former type of service by shrinking things down to where individual operators can run them.

As an aside, this will happen on all businesses too, not just web sites. As software, services, and robotics get better we will start to see solo operated versions of every business.

Once we start dropping the average corporation size below 1 (each person runs multiple businesses) most of capitalism’s ill effects will be blunted.


I don't know. I think that it will be a long time until the benefits of working in regular cooperation with others will disappear.


What is it about Twitter that takes 3000 people to keep going vs something like Mastodon? Is Mastodon missing something major that Twitter has? Is it just about scale?


Twitter has to do everything itself - sales, marketing, customer support. This means that its vision is limited by what the executives can see, and they're going to look at traditional business factors for ideas. The political structure tends toward corporate fiefdoms over time.

Mastodon is leveraging forces from many different directions: first by building towards the existing GNUSocial protocol and its userbase, and then as different communities come in, getting donations of their time and skills to operate instances tailored to their needs. Businesses have angles on this too: for example Japanese art site pixiv made their own instance and client app. The federated model allows some divergence but also the "loose ties" of a common protocol. There is the prospect of embrace-extend-extinguish occurring, but this historically only happens some of the time, and it requires the full pressure of a giant tech firm and all their marketing strength to make it work.


Sales, support, marketing, accounting, business ops, software ops, management, HR. Pare those off and you might get something like Mastodon's contributor size after adjusting for scale of user base. Although I doubt many of Mastodon's contributors are full time, so a comparison is difficult.


So Twitter is big because it's big?


I don’t follow. Twitter is big because of all the things I just listed.


You just listed its components, the question was about why Twitter needs those things but Mastodon does not.


Because Twitter is a for-profit business, whereas Mastodon is not.


And they are up to around $2 billion in losses so far, right?

It sounds like they would be better off just being a Mastodon node.


Decentralization is just an affirmation until they fix the network lock in problem. You're still married to whatever instance you sign up with. The admin limits who you can federate with, and if the policy changes, it requires you to rebuild from scratch if you want to move.

That's what's keeping platforms like Twitter on top even though many of its prolific users now sound more like an abused spouse than anything else.

I still think the vast majority of this concern over abuse is a red herring though. People just don't like it when their curated bubble is pierced by information that contradicts it, and they confuse being corrected with persecution and social status games.


Host your own instance. I host my own GNU Social instance (which federates with Mastodon) and it is incredibly liberating.

It's a social networking site that I am in complete control over and feel safe visiting. There's also nobody tracking what I'm looking at or when I'm even online. Nobody will know whether or not I've read a particular post. Nobody can censor anything I say (not that I say anything that controversial), except maybe my server host (OVH), in which case I take all my data with me and move somewhere else. I'm not bound by any TOS. I write my own privacy policy (not literally---I don't have to worry about one). I own all of the data, and can do with it whatever I please. And it's free/libre software, so I can do with it as I please. (While it's free on other instances as well, as is Mastodon, you can't modify it; it's a SaaS issue).


I hosted my own Mastodon instance for a short time after it got popular, but there was a pretty big drawback. Each Mastodon instance is basically a community, where you can see other people talking and can even see a feed of the public toots from anywhere that other people on the instance have subscribed to. But when you host your own, there's no community, which makes it really hard to find new people to follow. So I basically stopped interacting with Mastodon after a week, because my feed was bare and I didn't have any good way of finding people.


That sucks. Mastodon tries to reduce the empty home page problem by automatically following the admin when you create an account, and by having a #followfriday hashtag where people post recommendations of who to follow, but that doesn't really help if you're hosting your own instance.

My recommendation would be to follow the admins of some of the more popular instances. You can find the admin on the about/more[0] page of their instance. They're usually interesting people, and can act as a gateway to finding more people when they reply to others or boost other people's posts.

@Gargron[1] from mastodon.social is always a good choice, as the creator of Mastodon and just being a pretty great person.

@Curator[2] from mastodon.art is great if you like art, they boost a bunch of artist's posts.

Other than those two admin recommendations, you might want to check out the admins of the instances listed at the bottom of the medium article.

[0] https://mastodon.social/about/more

[1] https://mastodon.social/@Gargron

[2] https://mastodon.art/@Curator


I stood up my own instance for giggles, and somehow ended up with over 200 users carrying on their own conversations amongst themselves.


Oh I was talking about single-user mode really. There's no way I'd ever want to be responsible for maintaining a server with other people on it.


I never had that problem. Sign up for a "regular" instance, and spend a little bit of time each day checking in, and you'll find people, and suddenly you won't have any problem not knowing who to follow once you've gone solo.


When a platform regularly allows individuals to receive thousands of personalized death threats, notifications and all, it’s fair for me to be "concerned about abuse" even though it doesn’t affect me.

That’s not a fake news or partisan politics problem, it’s a human empathy problem.


What's the solution to the hundreds of death threats problem though? My understanding is the death threats come from twitter eggs, or replaceable accounts where it doesn't matter so much if you ban them, and it would require a lot of work from the moderators to do the banning, and the recipient would still get the death threats in the first place.


Twitter is a multi-billion-dollar company that employs world-class data scientists and engineers. Do you really think they can't automate detecting death threats from throwaway accounts?


One example of a mitigation for this kind of behavior might be to allow users to ignore messages for accounts younger than X, where X is a length of time chosen by the recipient.

This is only a mitigation, and there are plenty of ways one could get around this kind of limit. However, some action would be appreciated.


Then you get a death threat from an account someone set a few months ago to save for the moment they wanted to send a death threat.


I think if you built a piece of software that was able to reliably detect death threats, you could sell it not only to twitter. And for good money.


You are free to join a more "open" or a more "safe" server (whatever those words mean), depending on your tastes. I personally joined a fairly laissez faire server as far as I can see. Either the very worst is filtered, or people are decent over there, but I haven't seen anything that disturbed me - but also haven't witnesses "censorship". Of course, everybodies tastes are different when it comes to what they want to see or not.

And you are not really siloed in - it helps if people with common interests are on the same instance, to find people in the beginning, but due to federation you can connect to others easily.


I think the thing is, if the admin of your instance de-federates with another instance, you don't have much in the way of options if you want to follow someone on that instance. Or, if, due to bad luck, you originally sign up with an instance that becomes the 8chan of instances, you don't really have much in the way of options if you don't want to be there. You can't take your account elsewhere. You're pretty much limited to creating a new account on a new instance, and then you have to communicate to all your followers that you've moved.


>>I think the thing is, if the admin of your instance de-federates with another instance, you don't have much in the way of options if you want to follow someone on that instance.

This doesn't happen often in practice, especially once they added a way for users to block instances on an individual level.

Early on, some instances just weren't a good mesh for a lot of the early users, and their aggressive, boisterous ways tended to push out and silence those early users. Blocking was the only way to keep the community from being overrun, but someone who enjoyed being screamed at by strangers didn't have a say in it without moving to another instance. Now that's not the case.

>> You can't take your account elsewhere. You're pretty much limited to creating a new account on a new instance, and then you have to communicate to all your followers that you've moved.

You can export a list of people you follow and import it on the new one. Most people will refollow you. People move to new instances all the time and don't seem to have trouble recovering their following.


>>I think the thing is, if the admin of your instance de-federates with another instance, you don't have much in the way of options if you want to follow someone on that instance.

>This doesn't happen often in practice, especially once they added a way for users to block instances on an individual level.

Not yet, but I think we can all foresee an instance or two becoming a haven for trolls, etc.

>You can export a list of people you follow and import it on the new one. Most people will refollow you. People move to new instances all the time and don't seem to have trouble recovering their following.

I feel that's something that doesn't scale well, though. And, how do they know it's me?


There's some work being done to support "nomadic identities" via Decentralized Identifiers (DIDs)[1] in ActivityPub[2].

I'm not sure about the current status is, and whether Mastodon plans to implement it, but this could potentially solve this issue.

[1]: https://w3c-ccg.github.io/did-spec/

[2]: https://github.com/WebOfTrustInfo/rebooting-the-web-of-trust...


This just changes the arbitrariness from Twitter to someone else. The Mastodon admin having power is not decentralization, the user having it is. Might as well stick with Twitter, at least you can create a ruckus.

Given new solutions are developed to address the issues of centralization it gives one pause if basic issues around censoring, silencing and dis-empowering individuals has not been thought about.

Then Mastodon or anything else is pretending to be a solution but is actually just another actor cynically using 'decentralization' to jockey for influence and not really addressing the core issues of twitter.

And using Ruby which is known for not being user friendly for setup and installation is counterproductive to any goal of decentralization.


I mean, you can run your own instance, so I don't feel it's nearly that bad. And, if one instance becomes overrun with spammers, I think most would appreciate their instance's admin blocking the entire instance.


> People just don't like it when their curated bubble is pierce

Personally, I don't consider a Jewish person being spammed with images telling them to get in an oven "curated bubble piercing". Same with lynching threats against black people and rape threats against women.

All of these things happen on Twitter daily. And very often, when these posts are reported, Twitter comes back and says "we found no problem". You might not experience this kind of abuse, that does not mean it does not exist.


I completely agree that you should have the choice to opt out of this toxic "content".

But I believe the issue that RC is talking about is that the control is in the hands of the admins instead of the individual in Mastodon.

It allows something like GMail admins blocking their users to send/receive messages from HotMail, and then your only solution would be to create a second account in some other provider that doesn't block HotMail.


>control is in the hands of the admins instead of the individual

Control is in the hands of an admin, but not any particular admin, and that admin might be you.


I think that just speaks to the way Mastodon encourages people to form smaller communities. The idea is that you'd trust your admins.

A more apt comparison than Gmail/Hotmail would be if one of the e-mail providers was whitesupremacy.net. Or, we-allow-white-supremacy.net. The admin of my we-dont-like-white-supremacy.net e-mail provider might choose to block it, based on the content it sends out. Anyone on that provider is welcome to choose another one if they wish to e-mail me. But if it is important enough to them to stay where they are, then they will remain blocked.

Long story short, if you don't trust the admin, don't sign up for the Mastodon instance. I agree that there needs to be some work on porting accounts from one instance to another seamlessly, though.


Even in that case I believe it should be the user choice not the admin.

And communities should be instance independent the same way mailing list works.


FWIW, one of the things 2.0 added is the ability for users to block entire instances. So you could find/run an instance that chose to block absolutely nothing and let you handle all of this.


The straightforward answer there is to join a Mastodon instance where the admin pledges to never block another instance.


Funny you should mention Gmail - getting past their spam filters is notoriously difficult. Great as a user who doesn't want to receive any spam (at the cost of false positives), terrible if you're honestly not a spammer, but am just not that into Google controlling everything.


It's a lot easier to export your posts from one instance and import them to another. Your friends will have to update their contact information for you but then everything works like it did before. Contrast to Twitter where you can export your data and then... you're stuck because there is no "other instance" of Twitter.


Is there an import tool for Twitter to masterdon?


Even if you do, people on Twitter won't be able to interact with you. But Diaspora, Appleseed, Mastodon etc users can at least send and receive status updates using OStatus federation.


How hard would it be to start a one-user instance so that I control my identity and then using federation to communicate with other users? The willingness of other admins to federate with me would be the limiting factor, right?


Mastodon has a single-user instance mode: https://github.com/tootsuite/mastodon/blob/8392ddbf87f5522c4...

Most instances would federate with you immediately since they're on a blacklist model, but some instances (such as awoo.space) operate on a whitelist, meaning they'd have to vet you first.


I’m sure I can dig this up at some point, but just in case anyone knows off hand - can a single user instance run well enough on a small (1 cpu, 512mb ram) VPS running a few other lightweight services?


One CPU would be fine with just one user, but that's not enough RAM. I would consider 2GB the bare minimum, with one app server instance and one background worker process (sidekiq) running.


hugogameiro seemed to say otherwise a month ago[0]. According to his post, it takes <1GB of RAM. Have things changed since then?

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15213203


It would probably be possible to run the app server and background worker with about 1 GB of RAM. You might have to restart the workers daily to avoid OOMs (ruby/rails/puma will leak memory, you'll just accept that at some point), but that's more or less acceptable.

That still leaves postgres, redis, your web server and all other system processes. Fitting those on the same server with a total of 1 GB of RAM available is a very, very tight fit. You will probably get OOMs regularly, and upgrading Mastodon, doing backups and things like that will be painful (building assets, for example, tends to eat a lot of memory).

hugogameiro, from what I understand, runs a lot of mastodon instances on shared infrastructure. That eliminates a lot of that overhead and if you look at just the instance-specific processes, 1 GB seems realistic. If you have existing infrastructure (i.e. something like postgres, redis, nginx) and can allocate about 1 GB of RAM to Mastodon, or use something like a Heroku 2x dyno, where these components are separated as well, that might work. Otherwise, I'd opt for 2 GB of RAM.


So I decided to test this out on a 1CPU/512M DO droplet, just for fun.

I did indeed hit OOM during the setup (`bundle install` and `yarn` steps). After the first one I added a 1G swap and made it all the way through the 1.6.1 install (although the webpack precompile step damn near used up the whole swap!). Anyway 1.6.1 idles around 600M without any attempt to optimize.

I next tested an upgrade from 1.6.1 to 2.0.0 and was able to get it done (with the precompile again cutting it close - it hit 1015M of the swap, hah!). No change in memory usage, perhaps a bit more even.

Off topic - the install process was easy enough but seems like it could really do well to be (much) more automated. Do you know if anyone is working towards this? I suppose that is what Docker is for...


The last time I set one up the install/setup process ran out of memory when you had less than the 2GB Droplet on digital ocean, but when actually running it didn't need the full amount. Could have been improved since then.


Ruby is not a great choice for a 'decentralized' app. Setup and config is harder, usually requires an entire build environment and can quickly throw you into dependency hell. Server requirements and maintenance are also a lot higher.


As straightforward as mastodon is to setup currently on a server, my hope is that future versions are so very simple, and include plenty of automation, that even non-techies could setup and operate their single-user instance. Basically like installing SIMPLE software on a conventional desktop. And, that's not a simple task...but if/when that's done, then the barrier to entry and use will be low enough to allow for floods of users - arriving on their own single-user instance/server - to join the network.

So, for now, yeah it takes a little work in setting up your own single-user instance, but as another person posted already, mastodon supports that mode. Like all homesteading, it takes a little elbow grease. ;-) Cheers!


It doesn't seem to offer a single-user version, but https://masto.host/ can give you a managed Mastodon instance at the click of a button.


I set up a Mastodon instance last weekend. It took me about 3-4h, mostly because I made some mistakes and restarted from scratch - if setting up Docker containers is old hat to you, it'll take two hours out of your life at most.

I haven't gotten outgoing email working yet, so it's effectively a single-user instance. And it works fine. I can follow people on other instances, they can follow me, conversations can happen.

Everyone is pretty much ready to federate with any new server until such time as said server starts being a problem; if you don't start acting like a 4channer then I doubt you're gonna get blocked.


Federation is opt-out. New instances are automatically federated with, it's only abusive ones that are culled.


"I still think the vast majority of this concern over abuse is a red herring though."

It's not. If you're not a frequent target, however, it can be difficult to empathize with those who are.

"People just don't like it when their curated bubble is pierced by information that contradicts it, and they confuse being corrected with persecution and social status games."

Being constantly confronted with racial slurs is just "information they don't like"? Receiving death and rape threats is just "social status games"?


Admins having the power to ban user based on any offense, no matter how abusive or unethical they are, is not a characteristic of an open/decentralized social network. Are admins elected? Is there a democratic process where trials can happen based on users actions?


For this reason, I'd like to see the secure-scuttlebutt protocol catch on.

Right now, the patchwork app[1] is really fun to play with, but still a toy, in my mind.

[1] https://github.com/ssbc/patchwork


Because no one everyone received 100s of death threats or was doxed on Twitter? Harassment is ver real and hard to miss in the platform.


This breaks the HN guideline which asks: "Please respond to the strongest plausible interpretation of what someone says, not a weaker one that's easier to criticize."

It takes time and self-discipline to follow that rule, but discussion is much better when we do and degenerates badly when we don't. HN's goal is to be interesting. Degeneration is always the same, so isn't.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


I think I was too indirect earlier. Your charge is that I failed to "respond to the strongest plausible interpretation of what someone says".

But the argument I responded to was literally:

>I still think the vast majority of this concern over abuse is a red herring though. People just don't like it when their curated bubble is pierced by information that contradicts it, and they confuse being corrected with persecution and social status games.

Which boils down to the poster accusing people who claim they are being abused of doing it for social status, which is in essence a criticism of the weakest form of their argument. So you seem to be applying this guideline pretty inconsistently. Are you implicitly supporting the previous claim by calling out my rebuttal and not the post I was replying to? It certainly looks that way Dang.


I disagree with your assessment. I was responding to the following portion of the parent comment "I still think the vast majority of this concern over abuse is a red herring though. People just don't like it when their curated bubble is pierced by information that contradicts it, and they confuse being corrected with persecution and social status games."

I think I correctly inferred that the original post was dismissing very real harassment. I posted a somewhat loose counterpoint noting that many people claiming abuse are in fact the subject of death threats, which are not a "confus(ing) being corrected with persecution".

Lower in the discussion I took the time to point out California penal code, where twitter is physically located, defines death threats, regardless of intent as a crime. THis builds my point further, and I believe that the original post was not in good faith, or was not well thought out.


You might want to read what I actually said instead.

I know abuse happens. In fact, it happens on all sides, but gets downplayed if it happens to politically unpopular targets. Even some of the people who've profiled themselves as anti abuse specialists are more than happy to direct their own followers to targets, share their phone numbers, address, and so on. Even without that hypocrisy, the line between legitimate use and harassment is fuzzy.

Just recently for instance, there was that BuzzFeed article about Milo Yiannopoulos, and you could see the morality police mobbing and hounding anyone who was remotely in contact with the guy as being evil nazis. The same people who cry for Twitter to stop abuse. It's only bad when the out group does it, when the in group does it you're just sharing important information and leveraging the network effects of digital media. Guilty until proven super guilty.

There was also the famous case of Steph Guthrie and Gregory Allen Elliot in Canada where simply denouncing a feminist witch hunt was enough to get the guy a long and arduous harassment case he eventually won, where his accuser claimed with a serious face he didn't have the right to defend himself against her. And he wasn't even the guy she was originally after.

Closer to home there was recently drama in the node community where, after failing to vote out a community leader for having shared the wrong opinion on codes of conduct, the persecutors themselves were found to be harassing people and advocating violence shamelessly... Which suddenly was not grounds for a reprimand.

To my knowledge, nobody is receiving hundreds of credible death threats. Rather, offhand comments like "I hope you die" or offensive memes are deliberately being spun into a moral panic because it's useful as tribal ammo. When the network effects and witch hunts go the other way, it's waved away.

The truth is somewhere in the middle, and not everything is what it seems. But I know I'm not going to get an objective assessment from the people who think it's ok to fire others for disagreement, especially not when they don't just summon social media followers, but instead recruit a cabal of journalists with much larger platforms to conduct their smears.

PS: Milo is an edgelord try hard, I don't like him. But all he is is the Shanley Kane of the right, with more talent.


> The same people who cry for Twitter to stop abuse.

While I think there is some overlap, I don't see that as being the whole story here. I've actually seen some of the threatening and terrifying things some friends and acquaintances have received. This has at times included specific threats and photos of where the target lives.

I don't see people who complain about abuse posting photo's of Milo supporters homes and encouraging people to go there and hurt them.


> In fact, it happens on all sides...

Great reframing here - now, it's not a discussion of how abuse on twitter is an issue, but a discussion of how abuse happens both from the right and the left. Good job of deflecting the actual point, very alt right of you.

> To my knowledge, nobody is receiving hundreds of credible death threats.

"Credible" - so, as long as the death threat is not "credible", it's ok. Uh huh. "I hope you die" does not contribute in any meaningful way to discussion. And hundreds of "I hope you die"s do not provide an abusive and suppressing environment? Suuuuure, bro.

> The truth is somewhere in the middle, and not everything is what it seems.

Everything is not what it could be, if it was different than what someone said something could not have been, when all the parties involved might or might not contribute to the problem, even if it's not an issue for all sides to understand equally when some parties are unconcerned with the facts as they lie in the instance of how it should not be in the world today.

In other words, I think your vague bullshit generator is working great.


What constitutes a death threat? What should we do with all those twelve year old kids playing call of duty and taking on chat?


In the US, in most states, it is illegal to " knowingly utter or convey a threat to cause death or bodily harm to any person."[1] California Penal Code 422 PC California criminal threats. ("Any person who willfully threatens to commit a crime which will result in death or great bodily injury to another person, with the specific intent that the statement, made verbally, in writing, or by means of an electronic communication device, is to be taken as a threat..." [2]

California law even goes on to say that even absent intent, it is a crime. Which makes sense, because otherwise anyone making such a threat could argue that they were "joking", which happens to be a favorite defense of internet troll.s

[1]https://definitions.uslegal.com/d/death-threat/ [2]https://www.shouselaw.com/criminal_threats.html


Right, now write an algorithm that takes 140 characters of input and correctly identifies whether or not the intent of the author is to legitimately commit an act of violence.

Right now the policy is heading toward cheating by equating anything that looks like a threat with a threat. This is not writing laws with human beings in mind. Removing the requirement for intent is literally banning certain types of speech for the sole purpose of allowing for algorithmic/lazy enforcement. And because almost all of the time it's going to be a false positive it's going to selectively enforced against certain subsets of the population or used to hang someone for a different crime that didn't stick.

I don't buy the troll argument. If the message is coming from a troll it is almost by definition not a real threat and just a person trying to elicit a reaction or blowing off steam.

I'm all for going after people that make legitimate death threats over the Internet but not this way.


>Right, now write an algorithm that takes 140 characters of input and correctly identifies whether or not the intent of the author is to legitimately commit an act of violence

You don't have to for 2 reasons. 1. The law states that intent is irrelevant and 2. people already report these threats.

>Removing the requirement for intent is literally banning certain types of speech for the sole purpose of allowing for algorithmic/lazy enforcement

Not it isn't. The threat absent intent is still illegal. It is illegal precisely because it hard for humans to judge intent. And, often you can't establish intent until after someone has acted upon a threat, which does you no good. Death Threats have been illegal in the US and preceding common law systems for basically forever. It has never been protected speech in the US.

To reiterated, death threats are not protected speech and this isn't a free speech issue.


Why is "I'm going to kill s73ver_" not ok, but "I hope someone comes over and kills s73ver_" just fine?

I think your definition is far too narrow, and makes distinctions without a difference. I don't believe it matters at all if the person legitimately intends to commit violence against me. It's going to have the same impact.


> Why is "I'm going to kill s73ver_" not ok, but "I hope someone comes over and kills s73ver_" just fine?

> I think your definition is far too narrow, and makes distinctions without a difference. I don't believe it matters at all if the person legitimately intends to commit violence against me. It's going to have the same impact.

I think both are OK. Context matters. It seems you guys would send someone to prison for life for something like https://i.imgur.com/w8H43aQ.png

No, we do not live in a world of absolutes. Remember, if it is a criminal matter, the "victim" cannot choose to not press charges. I do not trust our legal system and neither should you https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyrus_Vance_Jr.


I don't believe either is ok. But remember, we're talking about Twitter, not the government.


You say that like nothing ever comes of it.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swatting


I’d advocate a spanking...

...for their parents.


So as far as my simple mind understands, mastodon is a Twitter alternative. But without the adds, true timeconsistent Timeline, without annoying have you seen this tweet yet algorithms and simply working.

But the problem is that it is a social network, that depends on your social network and its embrace of mastodon.

Am i right?


Almost, yeah.

Mastodon, and conceptually others like Gnu Social, are twitter-like alternatives, but that's not fairly telling the full story of their capabilities. These platforms bring with them decentralization benefits like classic email does. Remember when so many people's email addresses were not something like @gmail.com or @hotmail.com? When they used their own domain names (either personal, or for their organization, etc.), such as joe@whatever.net, or jane@something .org, and lived on their own servers, though could still interact - that is, email - people from other domains, servers? Mastodon - and again others like Gnu Social - can, and in fact SHOULD live on separate servers and domains...though still allow for interaction. This is the bigger benefit, and personally, i believe what makes mastodon and other similar platforms pretty cool.

Now, the benefit of decentralization above may not be compelling enough for someone on a personal basis to set up/manage their own server...and for that, there certainly are several "largish" mastodon servers where you could create your own account...and STILL interact with folks on other servers, etc.

I acknowledge that i sound like a salesperson for mastodon - i assure i'm not. I'm just a fan of decentralized platforms, and admit that mastodon's UI is easy to use. But if you're curious, i invite you to start an account, and see for yourself. Worse case, you can always abandon it if you really dislike it. Visit https://joinmastodon.org/ and scroll down to the part that helps you choose which instance to join...if you're stumped, simply join the main/first one (https://mastodon.social)

Cheers!


I will advocate for this software solely on the principle you have defined in this post - it is a disruption of the hegemony of Facebook. Of course, it could go wrong, but currently it is a 100% better choice when it comes to being a part of a social network and simultaneously not having your life creepily vacuumed up by Big Brother.


IMO it’s a better choice than ever to have your own domain for email. It’s basically impossible to get a good Gmail address. And now you have plenty of great, inexpensive email hosting choices.


Yes, you're more or less correct. However, as someone who ditched Twitter for Mastodon, I don't miss Twitter. There's a vibrant community on Mastodon and you'll feel right at home. It'll only get better as more people make the leap.


> Yes, you're more or less correct. However, as someone who ditched Twitter for Mastodon, I don't miss Twitter. There's a vibrant community on Mastodon and you'll feel right at home.

I tried to quit twitter for Mastodon (because it felt more like an open effort than a facebook-esque megacorp) but I was immediately confused by the distributed thing. I thought it was going to be distributed in terms of how it operated, not in terms of the actual social networks being more or less separated. I understood I could follow people from other instances, but only if the instance was somehow connected to the other instance. This confused me even more. How do I pick an instance without ever running into the risk that interesting person X joins in the future and doesn't pick an instance disconnected from the group of instances I'm in?

Basically I just use twitter for news: I follow some big names and organizations and just read from the firehose of news coming out. I probably have a lower than 1/10000 read to write ratio.

Am I trying to use Mastodon like Twitter in a way it wasn't designed for?


>I understood I could follow people from other instances, but only if the instance was somehow connected to the other instance. [...] How do I pick an instance without ever running into the risk that interesting person X joins in the future and doesn't pick an instance disconnected from the group of instances I'm in?

In practice this is not a problem. You can pick any popular instance and it will work with everyone. All instances are connected with each other by default, instances are generally only explicitly "defederated" when they're havens for trolls, racists, etc. Besides, if you're trying to follow someone and the instance is defederated (something I've never run into, by the way), your admin is just a quick message away. Mastodon instances are small and the admins have a low workload, they're typically quite accessible.

>Basically I just use twitter for news: I follow some big names and organizations and just read from the firehose of news coming out. I probably have a lower than 1/10000 read to write ratio.

>Am I trying to use Mastodon like Twitter in a way it wasn't designed for?

The only reason this might be the "wrong" approach is the general lack of big name organizations posting news. Most instances are hostile to companies settling in - Mastodon is for people, not brands. That being said, brands could run their own instances and be federated with anyone who wants to follow them.

That aside, there's no wrong way to use Mastodon. Use it however you want.


Isn't the whole point of decentralization to prevent censorship? Forced decentralization as a tool of suppressing speech doesn't seem like much of an improvement over Twitter. Is there some counterbalance to this?


There are many reasons for decentralization.

It reduces failure risks of a centralized system. This is mitigated by using federated systems (like email) or decentralizing your centralized service (Twitter may be a centralized service, but their servers are, hopefully, decentralized so that an outage in one city doesn't impact them globally).

It reduces the risk of centralized control. If Twitter doesn't like you, you're out. If Facebook doesn't like your fake name, you're out. With Mastodon you could still be booted by a server (censorship), but you can always go to another server and continue there. Or even host your own. It's censorship resistant, not censorship proof.

It allows for local control which may be more suited to your community. Yes, this may mean censorship. But if I'm running a service that is aimed at or includes kids, I should be able to block content not intended for them. Is this censorship? Kind of, my users can't get to the content through me. And my users can't post the content through me. But they are certainly free to use other services that don't include those controls. And a decentralized system like Mastodon is better for this than Twitter. Twitter blocks a user? They have no practical recourse, they're out of the system. mastodon.jtsummers.blah blocks a user? They go to mastodon.gfodor.blah which has laxer policies.


The point of decentralization is to decentralize. Twitter is a monolithic company who doesn't listen to its users very much and is primarily interested in you as a monetizable set of eyeballs; Mastodon is... whoever feels like running a Mastodon instance for themselves, their friends, and whoever else.

If you want to be absolutely uncensored you are free to join one of the several instances that claim they are focused on "free speech". But everyone else who runs a Mastodon instance is free to block those servers from federating with them when it turns out that "free speech" mostly consists of behaving like Cartman from "South Park".


Unlike Twitter, if you don't like the moderation of one instance, you can move to another.

Or host your own. Your instance, your rules.

Of course, other instances are still free to block you.

The probably more important part is that it allows instances to follow national laws better and conform to their culture (see: Japan) instead of having to conform to Silicon Valley culture.


The thing is that most people don't want completely uncensored social media. Most people stay away from 4chan. Reddit remains much more popular than voat. Assholes are creative and persistent so you have to keep them away.


Voat is also much newer than Reddit, so it's at a natural disadvantage. If users strongly preferred well-moderated social networks, someone would open a Twitter clone (or Mastodon instance) where the mods actually care about harassment, and sip away Twitter's unhappy users. But sadly all the people I'm following are still only on Twitter, even if they keep complaining about it.


That's fair. Network effects are more powerful than just about any single feature.


Mostly, that not every instance has the same policy.

You can always join a place where the credo is "we connect with everybody", while people who want a very filtered experience can join places that are a lot more nonchalant about blocking other instances. A lot of people probably do (and want to be in a place that does) something in the middle.

You could even have multiple accounts on different instances that you use in different contexts. Most mobile clients support this more or less well, though the default web UI does not.


I don't understand what you mean by forced decentralization, or how it relates to censorship.


Sorry, was referring to "defederation", as mentioned by the OP. It sounded like there was a mechanism for some kind of permabanning of the server from the federated network.


Defederation is on an instance-by-instance basis. Given servers A, B, and C, if A disconnects from C, A-B and B-C are still linked. It's entirely possible (and as far as I'm concerned, except) that there will be instances dedicated to all sorts of horrible stuff. Taken to the extreme, they could split into disconnected networks where the far-left {A, B, C} federation is entirely distinct from the far-right {D, E, F} collective. There's no central banlist, though. A clean split like I described is exceedingly unlikely (unless {D, E, F} is a tiny group of real-life friends who only talk to each other and no one else).


You've got it a bit backwards, because instances don't connect and have no reason to connect except for following specific people. So you follow someone -> that creates a connection. Not the other way around.


Unless one the instances has explicitly blocked the other one, you can follow anyone on any other instance. As soon as you do, your instance contacts the other instance and subscribes to that users posts for you.


Actually I thought it's more like Usenet as soon as I started scrolling through https://joinmastodon.org/#getting-started


Also twitter keep trying new designs that weren't that useful.

I liked twitter even with the short comings. It's like a big irc room. But it's not going the right way it seems. Maybe people will migrate (happened beforeà)


Question for users of mastodon:

Given the flagship's stances on free speech (https://mastodon.social/about/more), if I am a user on the flagship instance (we'll call it A) and I want to follow an account on another server (let's call it B) that posts content that wouldn't be allowed on A, would my act of following that user on B pull the content to A? And would that content be removed? or does it only get removed if it is post to A in the first place?

My concern is that users on the flagship instance would only see a curated feed of the things they follow, even if following content on server that don't have such strict content policies.


I'm not entirely sure if mastodon.social has published any policy clarifying how and under what circumstances they apply instance bans. There are two ways administrators can block other instances on Mastodon:

Silence: Posts from users of these instances are only visible to users following that user directly, but not in public timelines.

Suspend: All posts from users of these instances are always removed, even if you follow them directly.

I would suspect that most admins stick with the first option for almost all bans. That said, users who are concerned about this should stick to instances with a broad interpretation of free speech.


I tried to use this a couple of times, but had a difficult time choosing a community. They seemed to mostly appear the same, so I chose based on activity and uptime. But apparently those instances were largely in languages I didn't understand. The "filter out these languages" improved it a bit, if I go through and check every box except english (slightly unintuitive, there, as most people will know few languages and want to select what they know instead of what they do not know) though not completely. It seems to work better with 'local' than with 'federated' results, which can mean cutting you off from the global community if you limit yourself to local.

I wouldn't mind seeing a guide to various popular communities to choose what to pick.


Something like https://instances.social?


That's pretty nice. I remember using it before, but maybe my selections were better this time. Thanks! Though, if you filter for 'English' it still gives second result with description "Une instance francaise...'

Also, I found a solution for the language issue, by adding a regex filter:

    .*[^\u0000-\u007F].*
It may be over-filtering a little, I am not sure. But better to filter too much than not enough, I guess.


I chose English. The top five it found for me were: 1. Chinese 2. German 3. Looks English, except for the word "astronomie" 4. French 5. English


I'm very curious, what kind of communities and subjects have embraced Mastodon?

A while back there was a lot of noise about how it was a popular place with those uncomfortable topics that twitter had banned: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15053064

I clicked gingerly on the links to communities at the bottom of the article - octodon.social, social.tchncs.de, mastodon.art, mstdn.io, mastodon.technology, mastodon.rocks - and many of them have a live feed of posts.

I've gotta confess I couldn't quite tell what communities there were, but I'm not an insider and I don't know how to navigate it.


Many of the instances are organized around a particular community. For example, toot.cat is for "cats and the people that love them". witches.town is "made to provide a nice place on Mastodon for queer, feminists, anarchists and stuff as well as their sympathizers."

However, as you'd expect, you might not talk strictly about cats on toot.cat, but you'd be talking with other cat lovers. It might be difficult to discern the community from the local timelines. Also, some of the ones that you mention are just general social instances.

Each instance has an about page that you can look at to get a better idea of what it is organized around. [1]

[1]: https://mastodon.art/about


Something important to note is that though your local instance is often closest to you, all of the instances talk and you have access to the entire network (or nearly all of it) from any instance.


It should be noted that while this is uncomfortable for Twitter and US culture, for the Japenese this is acceptable behaviour.

It's one of the reasons I like Mastodon; I'm not forced to follow US culture.


Just joined out of curiosity (https://mstd.tokyo/@scott) and I'm pretty impressed by how smoothly things have gone... but I'm also a bit disappointed by how it handles federation.

If I try searching for tags or topics, I generally come up with zero results -- I'm never quite sure if it's because they don't exist on the instance I joined on or whether there just aren't enough users to have that tag/topic out there in the federation.

Discoverability seems very, very low out of the box and that seems like the one thing that would keep me from staying on Mastodon.

Another issue I ran into was that after I tooted a few times, I started wondering if I'd chosen a "bad" server (low activity) and started looking for ways to move my account to another server -- it feels like a waste to go and start up another account and leave my toots behind. :/

I really wish it were possible to just browse other instances' public feeds. For example, I'd love to see some stuff from mastodon.art, but I can't yet figure out a way to just browse over there short of making another account.


>Another issue I ran into was that after I tooted a few times, I started wondering if I'd chosen a "bad" server (low activity) and started looking for ways to move my account to another server

Account migration is still the top issue on GitHub. I was a bit disappointed when I saw that they announced 2.0 without it.


Would it be possible to write a service that connects twitter into a mastodon instance so that mastodon users can follow twitter users? I’m thiking outloud here but besides scale, are there any other drawbacks?


The original creator of mastodon has stated his preference for leaving this out of the core of mastodon: https://github.com/tootsuite/mastodon/issues/3888

...But by the virtue of mastodon being only one open source platform that works on the overall federated universe and employs the OStatus protocol, there isn't anything stopping such a service as you described from being built...well, except for twitter eventually deciding to block access to their platform...but i'd guess that would turn the federated universe into a sort of social network martyr.

Anyway, sorry i digress...To answer your question a bit more concretely, there are options for what you asked about:

* https://github.com/halcy/MastodonToTwitter

* https://medium.com/@pimterry/sync-your-mastodon-back-to-twit...

I'm sure there are more options; try googling. Cheers!


Here's a quick question I have about Mastodon instances. Most instances I visit are hidden behind a sign up home page. Is this default? How does this encourage more people to interact? Or is that the point? Happy if anyone can just point me in the right direction


On the about page of an instance[0], if you scroll down, there's "a look inside" of the federated timeline. If you know a username, you can go directly to their page[1]. You can find the username of the admin on the about/more page[2].

These are sample links to mastodon.social:

[0] https://mastodon.social/about

[1] https://mastodon.social/@Gargron

[2] https://mastodon.social/about/more


sadly, the federated timeline is close to useless. I don't understand why it isn't the public timeline that's exposed.


This is something that was always a problem on Mastodon, but you can use other fediverse servers like https://social.sakamoto.gq/main/all to look at the network, they show things publicly.


That's pretty much standard for any social network. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, they all just have a front page inviting you to join and/or log in. And a not-insignificant chance of flat-out refusing to show you a specific post someone linked to unless you're logged in.

If you scroll down, the default home page will show you a tiny snippet of the timeline - but it only shows the "federated" timeline, made of public toots from every other instance this one knows about, instead of the "local" one of public toots from this instance, which maybe kinda defeats the point of being a sample of what you'll get if you join this particular instance...


Can Mastodon work as an isolated server on a corporate network without phoning home?

We're looking for a Slack alternative (edit: with channels). Regulations prevent us from using external SaaS products.


Yes, mastodon - and others like Gnu Social - can function in an isolated fashion. However, as others have noted, it seems you want a chat-like system...where as mastodon - and others like Gnu Social - are really meant to be social networks.

You may also want to consider matrix (see matrix.org)...which is a chat-based, decentralized, open source platform...which yes can also be setup in an isolated fashion (and not phone home anywhere)...and there are also bridges between matrix and other platforms such as slack, irc, etc.; see https://matrix.org/docs/projects/try-matrix-now.html#applica... I encourage you to try the main matrix.org server first using the riot.im UI/client...and if it seems like it works, you would want to proceed standing up your own matrix server within your corporate network.

The reference server most people install is synapse; see https://matrix.org/docs/projects/server/synapse.html And while it is quite performant, and somewhat the de facto thing that most people install, my guess is that the future (ref. servers) will likely be:

* the Go-based Dendrite: https://github.com/matrix-org/dendrite

* the Rust-based Ruma: https://github.com/ruma/ruma

I've set up my own matrix server using synapse - admittedly for my own family - and its pretty straightforward installation, and quite rock solid for being such a new platform. There are so many people building stuff for it - such as these bridges - and using it, that's it quite exciting. Again, though, matrix is for chat (e.g. irc, slack, mattermost, etc.), and mastodon/gnu social is for social network messaging. i hope that helps, cheers!!!


Mastodon has no home to phone to. You only host your own user's data and the data they request by e.g. following users on other instances. If your users don't follow anyone on the outside, nothing will leave your instance.


To elaborate, Mastodon.social is only a de facto home, nothing in the code privileges that instance over others.


Mastodon is more like twitter, less like slack.

Try a Jabber server, like prosody or ejabberd. There are web jabber clients, as well as native clients for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android and iOS.

You can require TLS on all connections, optionally log all conversations and chatrooms on the server, and easily federate servers to scale. Most Jabber servers have LDAP integration if you want to push user auth out that way. All of them can be configured to never talk to any other server outside of your control.


Check out https://rocket.chat/ for a FOSS alternative to Slack


I think something like mattermost or zulip - I think you can host those yourselves.


Mattermost is really nice, and comes bundles with the self-hosted GitLab omnibus releases. If you use GitLab (self-hosted) already, or are considering it, it makes a nice combination all in one package.


If you're looking for a Slack alternative, you'd maybe want to look at Mattermost instead.


Sure (there isn't even a direct "home" for it to phone to, as far as I know). It can't connect to other instances then, but that's probably what you want.

It's really a twitter-like though, not a chat system, so it isn't necessarily a Slack replacement.


We actually want the Slack channel functionality more than anything for stuff like releases, production debugging, etc.


It’s called IRC.


Have you considered IRC?


Mastodon seems very interesting, but I have one significant issue with it.

If every instance is decentralized, how can you be sure the instance you use is actually running the Mastodon code? How can you be sure it hasn't been modified to collect user credentials, for example?

Is there some sort of signature verification for Mastodon instances?


You can't. (and given that it's using open protocols, not forcing everyone to run the same software is part of the design)

That said, what "user credentials" would an instance collect? The only people logging into it would be user registered at this instance, "capturing" that makes no sense.

The security model is very much like the one of e-mail: To protect your data, you have to trust your provider, and for communications both the senders and the receivers server have to be trusted to handle the communication contents as expected.


There's also: run it yourself. If you want to be certain the instance you call home is safe and running the right code, spin it up yourself and be your own admin.


This is the same problem as connecting to any arbitrary forum, or email server. How do you verify the phpBB instance a server is running is actually the one they say it is?

And if you centralize (like to Twitter or Facebook), how do you verify it has the security and/or privacy policies they claim it does?


How hard would it be to allow users on a server to sell their own personal data from a federated social network with both the server admin and some central authority taking a cut?

I feel safe in saying that users being able to sell their own data for their profit, instead of Facebook's, would get people to jump ship.


Yours is a very novel, clever idea! Being a fan of decentralized platforms, i sort of hope that these platforms get their UI, set, etc. designed in so simple a way in the future, as to allow (non-techies) to manage their own future...but what i forget to think about is not the "how", but the "why"...Your idea certainly offers a good motivator for enticing people to hop on the decentralization train, and legitimately be in control of their own data. Thanks for sharing!!


Thanks, but there's nothing novel about it. It's a recurring theme in technology (computing in particular) where something is invented, delivers short-term profit to a small group of people, and then becomes standardized in some way that allows a greater, long-term benefit to a broader audience. I'm sure some economist somewhere has even come up with a clever name for this.

Obviously the model I describe will not generate Facebook-scale wealth for any individual player, but I believe there is still good money to be made in addition to the positive externalities that come from standardization and decentralization.


I'm the one who wrote this piece in April outlining Mastodon/GNU Social's core problem with identity portability[1]. I'm sad to see the development team has decided to focus on emojis and fancy features while kicking the society-breaking problem of federated moderation down the road. As one user put it on the open Github issue describing the problem[2]:

> Being told right up front that you should irrevocably attach your social life to a server run by some rando.... is not a welcoming way to start using a new service.

I still think Mastodon is best-in-class in terms of UI for open social projects, and hope the development team will consider tackling this problem. Until then, I still cannot endorse using Mastodon/GNU Social as a platform in its current state.

[1] https://hackernoon.com/mastodon-is-dead-in-the-water-888c10e... [2] https://github.com/tootsuite/mastodon/issues/177


(For anyone interested, I can rant a little)

This problem is easily fixable code-wise, but there's hesitation to diverge from the standards upon which Mastodon is based, and the original standards body behind this particular issue has long since disbanded. Other than monkeypatching Mastodon (and potentially breaking GNU social federation), the solution would be to re-convene a working standards body to implement a "correct" spec for this problem. Since nobody seems willing to do that, monkeypatching Mastodon to make an order of magnitude more users comfortable with switching to it is probably my recommendation.

The world needs more protocol standards bodies and more engaged, engineering-minded parliamentarians.


It looks like the Social CG is still active, and they're working on the new ActivityPub protocol which Mastodon 2.0 supports. Follower migration is one of the issues they're discussing:

- https://www.w3.org/wiki/SocialCG/2017-10-11

- https://github.com/swicg/general/issues/1


Oh, excellent! I can't believe I missed this!


So how would this work in practice? I'm s73ver_@foo. What happens if instance foo becomes unworkable, and I need to leave (it gets overrun by spam or something). I want to move to instance bar. But, there's already a s73ver_@bar. What happens?


You can't move to s73ver_@bar, but you should be able to move to s73ver_@anywhere-else. Very easy to implement; just signal the new address you'd like to forward to, and the client picks this message up and automatically "follows" you at the new location. Many other ways have been discussed in the Github issue as well.


"Toot"

Still can't get over it.

Definition 2 on Wiktionary: "A fart; flatus."


I don't like this word either. Not just the 'fart' aspect, or even the 'cutesy' aspect - I just don't like how closely this apes the word 'tweet' from Twitter.


Never let it be said that technologists lack a sense of humor! ;-)


I can't switch to Mastodon right now because most of my network is on Twitter. Why hasn't somebody built an instance that lets me interact with both networks at once?


Twitter's API is aggressively limited, so limited that third party clients barely work.

Believe me, I've tried.


There's external tools[1] that will clone your toots to Twitter. Nothing integrated, though, and Gargron has said he'd rather keep it that way. [2]

Nothing's stopping you from making your own fork and fooling around with it though. Well aside from "not wanting it badly enough to spin up a local Mastodon instance and spend some chunk of the precious few hours remaining of your life on it".

1: https://www.google.com/search?q=mastodon+github+twitter will find you a bunch 2: https://github.com/tootsuite/mastodon/issues/3888#issuecomme...


Its less a technical issue, and more of a business/political thing. Its twitter's silo, so if they wish to block or severely limit outside systems from integrating with it, twitter will do so. Twitter can pick up their ball, kill the game, head home, and leave everyone without a game to play; philosophically speaking of course. That's the downside of such a centralized platform. So, i would guess - just my guess really - that it would explain why some rock star devs don't hurry and develop such an integration platform. Think about it: what if some devs build some awesome integration tool/platform, and then twitter sees all the outbound traffic (read: affecting their potential revenue)...well, twitter would just kill that access. And all the devs would get frustrated, etc. I would further guess that these devs probably thought, screw that, i'll just leave twitter for good, and simply post on mastodon (or some such/similar open platform), and just help build out this open platform.


I think it's because, if Twitter users can interact with Mastadon users, there's little incentive for them to leave Twitter. It's like when you could run Windows programs on OS/2. There was little incentive for developers to create native OS/2 programs, and then little incentive for people to run OS/2.


From a tech perspective I love this project, very cool. I think it's more likely to end up partially replacing IRC than tools like Twitter/Facebook though.


I'm a big fan of open platforms like mastodon and Gnu Social, and even i acknowledge that twitter and facebook may not be fully replaced any time soon...But the world is big enough for all to co-exist. And, just because mastodon won;'t replace twitter/facebook, shouldn't stop us all from playing/working on it.

Also, my bet on what platform will (eventually) replace IRC is matrix; see https://matrix.org/#about

Of course, that's just my opinion.


Is there a sane solution to following local timelines of several instances? The local timeline on my instance is quite dead, the federated timeline has so much variance it's nearly useless.


Don't think so.

Open issue "Browse Other Instances' Public Timeline" - https://github.com/tootsuite/mastodon/issues/1053


I'm interested to know if anyone's using Mastodon for discussing research / scholarly publications. Equivalent of people sharing / discussing articles on Twitter.


https://mathstodon.xyz/

Is geared towards math topics. That made the rounds here earlier this year.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14564624


You have 3 options:

1. Search for a mastodon instance/server which might already cover this community, and then join up. Besides searching for servers via google, you can visit the following "Join Mastodon" page, and search for a server: https://joinmastodon.org/#getting-started

I see 2 servers when i searched for "scholar", though may not apply to what you want/need: https://scholar.social/about and https://tusk.schoollibraries.net/about

2. You can join almost any mastodon server, and then search for and follow users - regardless of which server they actually "live" on. Much like the concept of email, you can follow anyone, regardless of their "home server". I think someone else here has already stated, that in masotodon, you follow people, and not necessarily servers/sites.

3. You can set up/run your own mastodon server/instance that would focus on "discussing research / scholarly publications"...Again, you will eventually gain a following of users who would be interested in your topic, even though they won't need to live on your server.

I hope that helps!

EDIT: Not sure if it was clear, but in my option 2 above, my assumption is that you could follow users who would be interested (and perhaps already involved) in "discussing research / scholarly publications".


How do I browse the different instances out there to find the ones I might want to join?


Visit https://instances.social/

You can walk through the "help wizard", or click "list" link in topnav to see all of the known instances.

EDIT: I failed to mention, that you should not feel like joining one instance excludes you from the greater federation of networks...you can join one instance and follow people from anywhere else. And, if you begin to dislike the instance that you joined, simply move to another one...or even better - though a tad more work for you - set up your own personal instance, do whatever you want, and still be able to follow anyone on any other instance.



(About the page design) I don't know what medium is doing. They have bars both along the top and bottom of their page, which cramps reading. Instant reader mode click to resolve that, which shouldn't really be needed on medium.


It's kind of curious that they posted this on Medium instead of some Mastodon site.


Mastodon is a microblogging platform. This does not fit into the format.


It shouldn't be posted on Mastodon itself, but they should just set up a simple static blog somewhere. Medium is the opposite of Mastodon in so many ways (centralized, heavy data-collection, etc.) that it really makes no sense for them to be using it as their official method of making announcements.


I'm confused about identity in mastodon. Your identity is based on which server you use? So if you change server within the federation you are essentially a different person?


That's accurate, yes. It's easy to import and export things like users you follow and blocks, but not timelines or your own followers (they'd have to refollow). There are efforts under way to change this[1].

[1]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15518277


Think of it like email identities, but applied to twitter

john@ google dot com can be a different person than john@ yahoo dot com


But if you owned @example.com, you could move alex@example.com from one server to the next.


Mastodon seems cool, but I haven't used it enough yet. Does anyone have a client that they would recommend? Preferably a terminal-client?


I have only used mastodon via web browser and Tusky (android mobile app), and both are totally fine. However, here is a list of "known" apps/clients: https://github.com/tootsuite/documentation/blob/master/Using...

If you're looking for term clients - on the above web page - look under the "Other clients" section; I assume "CLI" refers to terminal clients. Happy tooting, and cheers!


This came up on a search, but I don't know if it's any good: https://github.com/ihabunek/toot


Yeah, I've seen a few others via searching around, but I haven't heard any reviews or anything. Thanks


I've had good luck treating stars and forks on GitHub as reviews. It means it served someone's needs, so it's probably worth trying.


The only meaningfull way to use it is with your own domain so you can change the hosters easyly without loosing your whole network of followers/friends. You can self host for sure but it would be nice to be able to just use your domain with one of the hosters for starters, is there such a possibility?


Ah, mastodon again, wonder how it is going. Logs in..

Your home timeline is empty! Visit the public timeline or use search to get started and meet other users.

Double checks, yes following people, checks again... closes tab, goes back to somewhere else.


This happens if you don't log in for a while, the server stops updating your timeline for you, and it will be empty when you first log in. If you wait a few minutes it should populate again.


Yeah, i don't always log into mastodon directly (I usually engage via my Gnu Social network)...but when i see this happen - although rare - it shows empty for about a second, then populates things. If you're not seeing stuff after a second or 2, that's weird.




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