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If you're used to centralised networks like Facebook, you may be wondering why Mastodon and the Fediverse are spread across thousands of sites. Why not just have a single site where people sign up?

There are many important reasons, but maybe the most important is this:

Networks on single sites tend to be bought by bad people when they get popular 😠

It happened to Instagram (bought by Facebook), it happened to Whatsapp (bought by Facebook), it happened to YouTube (bought by Google). It can happen to ANYTHING built entirely around one site.

No matter how much you trust the people who run a site, when someone offers them billions of dollars they may just take the money.

Decentralised networks, where there is no central site, are much more resistant to buyouts.

No one owns the global email network, thousands of indie players like @Tutanota and @protonmail are able to offer alternatives, and if one provider behaves badly you can switch to a different provider.

Just like email, the Fediverse is decentralised, so it is extremely difficult for anyone to ever buy it.

But there are also other reasons why decentralising makes sense for the Fediverse. Maybe the next most important reason is the ability to choose our own rules.

Each site (or "instance") on the Fediverse can decide its own rules for acceptable behaviour. This makes dispute resolution much more civilised, as people who disagree with an instance's rules can move to a different instance (or even start their own).

It also makes a lot more sense than having a massive megacorporation trying to make yes/no decisions on the entire world's disagreements.

Instances can also choose to block other instances. The worse an instance behaves, the more other instances will block it, until eventually the worst-behaved instances are just talking to themselves.

The Masto developers summed this all up well in their official video:

tilvids.com/w/hRzMpJwSkqEK3ZTN

Third reason why it's important for the Fediverse to be decentralised is decentralisation protects it from catastrophic failure. If one part of the Fedi goes down, it doesn't break everything else.

The Fediverse is made up of thousands of independent instances. Every instance runs separately, usually on separate servers. Even the largest instance only has a fraction of the Fedi's total users.

Additionally, different instances may use totally different software (Mastodon, PixelFed, PeerTube etc) written by totally different teams, so software bugs will probably only affect a fraction of the Fedi at any one time.

By being so diverse and spread out, the Fedi minimises the impact of any technical problems.

Centralised networks are much much more vulnerable because they aren't diverse, they put all their technical eggs in one basket. That's why we regularly see Facebook down, Instagram down, Whatsapp down etc.

@feditips @Tutanota @protonmail
And as we recently seen, centralised services are really more capable of suffering some kind of error and going down for a lot of time.

(Apart from the monopoly, censorship and etc issues)

@SrEstegosaurio @feditips Small services also suffer from outages, often even more frequently.

If you want resiliency on a decentralised network, you can make a backup account or two on separate instances.

If you want resiliency on a centralised network, you just have to hope for the best.

@kakure @feditips Yeha, that's true. But in a ideally decentralised and federated network an instance can go down. But you can't take down the whole network in a click. For that same reason I believe in decentralization.

@SrEstegosaurio Ah, that's what you meant.

Isolated outages likely. Global outages nearly impossible.

@kakure With global outages do you mean things like the internet going down or a bunch of major instances going down? Sorry 😅

@SrEstegosaurio If we define a global outage of a service by, say, at least 50% of the service's content being unavailable, then it would be very difficult to cause a global outage of the Fediverse. You would have to knock out a lot more than half of the servers because a lot of the content is stored in many places at once and because most instances do not share infrastructure with each other, besides the infrastructure of the Internet itself.

@feditips @Tutanota @protonmail beyond that, if one site goes down the others stay up.
There's a resilience.
@feditips @Tutanota @protonmail also the costs for the actual hardware this stuff runs on is spread between people.
@Tutanota @feditips @protonmail there's also an aspect of, like, self governance, making your own rules.
I can't say I like everything that's brought forth, but I recognize it as a thing people should be able to do.

@feditips the network is resistant to buyouts, but individual servers can be bought. if a server serves a large populations of users, those users will be impacted in turn (e.g. freenode). the best defense is full decentralization! :-)

@feditips @Tutanota @protonmail Part of why mastodon instances cannot be bought out is because they are not corporations. Just communities funded by the users. 🤓

@geotechland @Tutanota @protonmail

It's definitely great that we aren't being run by corporations. But single instance communities can still be at risk of selling out to corporations.

For example, the Internet Movie Database was originally a community project, but it got bought out by Amazon within just a few years because it got popular 😔

As long as the Fediverse stays decentralised though, there's much less risk of this happening.

@feditips @geotechland @Tutanota @protonmail Oh yes, it happened to #GitHub, too. And I fear somewhat about the future of #Wikipedia (however, it can be forked, thanks to a free licence).

@gamliel

Actually, according to wikipedia, it became a private company before Amazon purchased it.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IMDb#As_

Though I agree communities or nonprofits can be "Captured" in many ways, but if the code is opensource and can be forked, we can easily move onto a different platform if needed.

And yes, decentralization helps prevent a lot of issues as well.

@geotechland IMDb became a private company. #Wikipedia is secured from such events, because:
* Wikipedia is published under the CC-BY-SA licence;
* AFAIK a dump of the entire Wikipedia can be downloaded anytime as few huge files;
* the software of Wikipedia, #MediaWiki, is published under some free licence (possibly, GNU GPL, not sure).
But (I suppose) if Wikipedia would be sold, the sold thing would be its name. And it would be a real problem, because most readers would know the old name only.

@feditips @Tutanota @protonmail

It's human nature. If I had a cool product and someone offered me enough money to retire to Switzerland and transform the lives of all those I care about, I'd take it. Nearly everyone would. And you know what? There's absolutely nothing wrong in doing that.

@zigpress @Tutanota @protonmail

Sure, but that's exactly why we need to avoid centralised networks.

Decentralising means no one is tempted to sell the entire network, because it's not possible.

@feditips @SrEstegosaurio

Very happy to be resilient. Might even get a shot at self-hosting an instance :) Me being dumb could be a risk though ;)

Still @kakure has a point. Recently I had an account on fediverse that was completely deleted because the instance went down forever. Unfortunately there just isn't a way to upload the contents anywhere else. Without a previous warning and backup, the content would be lost forever. Which is normal on the internet, but still wish for a workaround.

@jcast @feditips @kakure Nha, dw I also want to start selfhosting too and I literally can mess 2+2.

About the content, yep. If an instance goes down forever without previous advice... Well, sad.

But for that reason a backup strategy of your toots will be also a good thing to have (I'm to lazy but I think that it will be a nice thing to have).

But yeah, it will be amazing if everyone had its own instance or something like that, more like P2P or something.

@SrEstegosaurio @feditips @kakure

I was looking at some other purely P2P stuff like #aether or even #onionshare did you ever try?

@jcast @feditips @kakure Yep, I think that is an amazing tool to have. I use it whenever I have to share something with my friends. And about the other thing that you mentioned I didn't hear anything, I'm interested about it, what is?

@jcast @feditips @kakure
Oh, I just checked it and it seams amazing! Before seeing it I thought that lemmy.ml/ was the only reddit alternative.

@SrEstegosaurio @feditips @kakure

Yes I was looking into selfhosting something similar, there are some alternatives, #lemmy being the most used. You also have the Hackers News open source and Lobste.rs which are similar but I think they don't federate.

@jcast @feditips @kakure Afaik is the only one "Reddit alternative" that federates and it's FOSS. It's a cool platform too.

@jcast @SrEstegosaurio @kakure

That's why I recommend using an instance that has agreed to the covenant (joinmastodon.org/covenant), they explicitly promise to give three months notice of shutdowns.

@feditips @SrEstegosaurio @kakure

Yes that's a good start.

What are the blockers to just upload your previous toots somewhere else?

@jcast @feditips @kakure Idk I didn't did it but it's technically possible because afaik (in Mastodon at least) when you export your toots they are in Activitypub format.

@jcast Actually, there is a migration protocol, but each user has to do that individually, that is why a timely notice is important.

Regardless, to guard against external failure, you should host your own instance. It is not hard and enables heavy personalisation. Check out fediverse.party/en/miscellaneo for the plethora of software you can use, I am pretty happy with Pleroma, featurewise a superset of Mastodon and easier to set up.

bonfirenetworks.org/apps/bonfi also looks promising but is not ready yet.

@janek

Thanks will look into that. Currently using GNU social on a private instance, not federating.

The problem with migrating accounts on Mastodon is that AFAIK the contents are lost in the process, only followers, followed accounts and basic info are kept.

So data portability is not fully implemented yet. I was trying to figure what the blockers to this process are.

@janek

"What is the "Botchi"?
It’s a word that means "people without friends" in Japanese."

Relatable

@feditips
videos.trom.tf/w/iNo3k26oW2xP1

This is a TROMcast with the developers of friendica, taking about moderation in the fediverse, how its different from other platforms and how we can deal with it. Its very interesting :)

@feditips I'm personalyl a bit less concerned about a server being bought out but rather losing basically all content when 1 idiot screws up and takes down an entire platform...

@finlaydag33k @feditips aren't mastodon instances actually storing content of those from other instances that someone is following? in theory, if you follow your own account on another instance and instance A suddenly goes down, aren't toots still available on other instances?

@luka Yes, both because caching is a good practise and because content gets places into ones "inbox".
Activitypub is actually not much different from mail when it comes to fundamental architecture.

@feditips Is the fediverse considered web3 by definition?

@mark @feditips Maybe we should redefine what web3 is ;).

But I guess if we did that, then Usenet would have to be web3 too XD. Which just sounds silly to me.

@psiie @feditips Which definition are you thinking of? Many people have called many things web3, a decade ago it meant the semantic web, these days some people use it to mean blockchain applications.

@clacke @feditips Im big into Ethereum and dApps. But I've always heard of web3 meaning any application that is decentralized.

So anything in ipfs is web3. Anything with nodes and redundancy would be web3. Ethereum would be ofc web3 ;)

@feditips Absolutely agree. I read somewhere that Activitypub is like XMPP. There is one single standard and anyone can follow it to develop an app. It is possible to buy an app, but not a whole standard. It creates a chance for healthy competition.

Even though Email is flawed but many things have been fixed to increase its security. But the standard remains the same. This characteristic has made it survive till this day.

We just have to use it. Fediverse is the future!

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