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      1 # federated social networking
      2 <!--[time 201907120710.27]-->
      4 like it or not, social networks are part of the Internet's evolution to
      5 serve our non-topical communication needs, focusing on people more than
      6 content, unlike newsgroups and forums. alas, while myspace and facebook
      7 and twitter took off, they have proven to eventually fail (in myspace's
      8 case) or become too big to care for their users. facebook and twitter
      9 regularly take it upon themselves to curate content in an effort to
     10 appease their advertisers, and perhaps secondarily to appease the
     11 political opinions of their own staff members. personally, I've never
     12 been a huge player in the social networking game, but twitter did catch
     13 my eye a while ago for being a place for me to discover people, follow
     14 content that is interesting to me, and of course, participate in
     15 discussions with a bit of shitposting here and there. a few years back,
     16 in 2015, I have noticed the effect of the above issues I mentioned, with
     17 accounts I follow gradually being picked off by twitter's moderation
     18 team, until finally in 2016 I simply *retweeted* someone's post and
     19 received an account termination for it. twitter goes far and hard for
     20 its advertisers, and because my retweet directly affected the reputation
     21 of such a business partner (well, I can only guess they were partnered
     22 if it came to this extreme), the platform didn't mind at all to
     23 sacrifice me and a few others to ensure their reputation. I will not go
     24 into additional detail with my incident specifically, because it is no
     25 longer terribly relevant, but just note that there's a reason for
     26 accounts to pop out of existence all the time on twitter, and it isn't
     27 always because people are spamming others' mentions or sharing illegal
     28 pictures.
     30 if that's enough convincing for you that we need a better social
     31 networking platform to offset twitter, instagram, and the like; good
     32 news, because there exists a microblogging-style social network that
     33 goes beyond just one domain, just one company, just one set of policies.
     34 **meet the fediverse**: the result of years of collaboration to provide
     35 an open protocol and several software implementations, to solve the
     36 issues inherent in conventional social platforms. I've personally been
     37 hosting an instance (at []( for a
     38 bit over a year now, and I can confidently say it is a suitable twitter
     39 replacement for me. my timeline doesn't feel empty, I see many
     40 interesting and unadulterated discussions because people feel welcome to
     41 exchange their personal beliefs, and I myself don't have to worry about
     42 being deplatformed or holding my content hostage to a corporation who
     43 doesn't give a shit about me.
     45 ----
     47 as good as the fediverse is, many misconceptions have floated around,
     48 especially since the introduction of the Mastodon implementation of
     49 fediverse software. while I don't particularly like Mastodon itself
     50 (it's resource-heavy and hard to install, according to many people, and
     51 it restricts users' freedom to configure instances to their personal
     52 liking), this has no bearing on my opinion toward the project lead
     53 himself, Eugen Rochko. his motives have been clear for a long time that
     54 his goal isn't necessarily to promote a free (as in freedom) social
     55 experience, but instead to offset other platforms that he claims
     56 harbours <q>nazis</q>. what this means to the rest of us, is that he (on
     57 behalf of Mastodon) spreads his idealised view of what the fediverse
     58 should be, which in turn confuses many new people trying out the
     59 platform for themselves. essentially, he has taken something that was
     60 not his original idea, slapped his name on it, and tries to
     61 retroactively mould the fediverse to his liking. this fact alone should
     62 not deter anyone from using the fediverse, but it should serve to
     63 prepare you for the inevitable drama that incurs from this.
     65 I have my own idealisation of the platform, but I know that not everyone
     66 shares my opinions. since I have a history on twitter, some of the
     67 features introduced in fediverse software make little sense to me. for
     68 example, I am a vocal opponent of the <q>federated timeline</q> which
     69 essentially serves as a dumping ground for all posts an instance
     70 receives, whether or not you directly follow those users. many claim
     71 it's an important discovery mechanism, but given my time on twitter,
     72 it's apparent to me that full-text search, potentially a tagging system,
     73 and other discovery methods such as retweeting (<q>repeating</q> or
     74 <q>boosting</q> in fediverse nomenclature) are just as effective to find
     75 accounts that may interest me. from experience, I have seen the
     76 federated timeline cause more issues by attracting spam and trolls to my
     77 comments; which have a far less likely chance of happening had I only
     78 kept my exposure to my followers and to any participants in my threads.
     80 I also hold a controversial belief that per-post privacy settings are
     81 beneficial to the network. the way they are currently implemented leaves
     82 a lot to be desired, but I have made my twitter account private out of
     83 necessity before, and I understand the desire to limit a profile's
     84 exposure and allow a curated list of people who can view my content. the
     85 per-post privacy adds flexibility to twitter's feature, making it so I
     86 can make some or none of my posts completely private. I mention this
     87 because it's another topic you may see discussed soon after involving
     88 yourself in the fediverse.
     90 with all that said, I encourage you to try the fediverse out for
     91 yourself if you can't get the twitter impulse out of you, or if you just
     92 want to see what the buzz is about. plenty of people, plenty of
     93 interests, plenty of beliefs, all talking to one another on a robust
     94 platform, a platform not controlled by any one party. like E-mail, if
     95 you disagree with how one server operates itself, you can easily pack up
     96 and move to another server. nobody can <q>ban you from the fediverse</q>
     97 (but this is not an invitation for you to test anyone's patience).
     98 intelligent discussion, shitposting, image sharing, news, politics,
     99 personal issues – the firehose of content, the lack of curation has been
    100 a big reason for me to stick around, because it's always something new
    101 every day.
    103 if you're keen to try it but don't know where to start out, I have taken
    104 the time to write [a page dedicated to the fediverse](/fediverse.xht),
    105 complete with a table of instances that gladly take in new users and are
    106 transparent about their own moderation and federation policies. sadly,
    107 mainly due to how Mastodon gained its popularity, we see a lot of
    108 <q>instance blocklists</q> akin to the account blocklists on twitter,
    109 which serve to prevent federation between instances that disagree with
    110 one another's policies. while I admit, this is a useful tool to be able
    111 to separate oneself from spam instances, for example; it has become a
    112 much-abused feature, effectively censoring a lot of legitimate users and
    113 content, and making the fediverse more difficult to understand for new
    114 users.  indeed, this is enough of a barrier to entry that many people
    115 leave simply for all the drama and controversy these decisions foster. 
    117 ----
    119 I'd also like to share my personal code of etiquette, a set of standards
    120 I hold myself to and expect from others who interact with me, simply
    121 because it makes the most sense to me from my experiences with
    122 microblogging. I model's rules after my own standards
    123 while still giving people the freedom to be wrong. ;)
    125 I believe that microblogging (and in extension, the fediverse) should
    126 predominantly be a <q>pull</q> medium rather than a <q>push</q> one,
    127 meaning I should be able to control what I see by following and
    128 unfollowing people. thus, many issues should be solvable simply by
    129 unfollowing anyone with whom I no longer want to interact. should
    130 outliers exist, muting and blocking are suitable to get persistent
    131 people out of my mentions. this <q>pull what I want</q> mentality
    132 contributes to my opinion that the federated timeline is unnecessary.
    133 but, others (for example on find the federated timeline
    134 useful, but I treat it as an unmoderated, uncurated feed, so if users
    135 have any issues with what they see on the federated timeline, I will
    136 simply tell them to steer clear of it to avoid further issues.
    138 the above attitude allows people to talk about what they want, and it
    139 allows others to expose themselves to that content voluntarily. this
    140 eliminates a need for most moderation and allows my rules to be
    141 succinct: I do not allow spam or illegal content, or anything that could
    142 jeopardise the service for the rest of my users and myself. users may
    143 join my instance even if I disagree with them; I simply will not follow
    144 their content. this makes my life *much* easier as I can be a user first
    145 and a moderator second.
    147 while trigger warnings (dubbed <q>content warnings</q> by the Mastodon
    148 crowd) have been introduced into the fediverse, I personally only see
    149 them as a hinderance and an antifeature. again, on twitter I have never
    150 had a problem as long as I follow the right people. I understand that I
    151 may not agree with all content presented to me, but I'd like to think
    152 I'm able to ignore what I don't like. content warnings operate far too
    153 much on trust; I have to entrust that everyone will share my idea of
    154 objectionable content, and that is simply an unrealistic goal. and while
    155 some people find such warnings useful, they impact those who see them as
    156 a distraction, as out of place, as an additional step to click through
    157 someone's content. while much software (including Pleroma) allows these
    158 warnings to be expanded by default, and people are working on new
    159 potential solutions to the issue, I believe it will always be an
    160 imperfect addition in fediverse software.
    162 and lastly, should you decide you want to follow me on the fediverse
    163 once you've made your own account and gotten comfortable, be aware that
    164 I post about a lot of things and publish all types of images and media.
    165 if you find anything objectionable to the point you think less of me, I
    166 ask that you simply do not follow me, rather than trying to suggest that
    167 I change what I say. I made my own instance to *get away from* being
    168 told what I can and cannot say; I understand my actions and words have
    169 consequences but chances are I won't be receptive to any content
    170 policing.