For new people wondering why Mastodon is on thousands of servers instead of one:

-It helps protect us all against Elon Musk scenarios. It's very difficult for anyone to buy a network made of thousands of independently owned servers. (It's the same reason why no one owns the world's email network, because there are so many independent providers out there.)

-If your server misbehaves (or sells out to a malevolent billionaire), you can move your account to a different server, or even to a brand new server. Decentralisation means you're never trapped on a site you hate.

-Mastodon is an open platform where anyone can start their own server, and they don't need tech knowledge if they use a service like masto.host or federation.spacebear.ee

...and there are lots more good reasons too, to do with servers using alternative Fediverse software etc, but I'll save that for a future post 😁

Follow

Sooo... wow... okay a lot of people shared the previous post! Welcome again to all the new members!

It might be good if I clarified how Mastodon works, as some people think they need to sign up on multiple servers etc.

Short version: You do not need to sign up on multiple servers! Don't have FOMO! One server works fine!

Longer version:

Mastodon is a federated network, which means it's made of lots of independent servers that talk to each other.

And... everyone uses federated networks all the time! You probably use them so much you never even think about it 😮

Telephones use a federated network, so does email.

You only need one phone to call anyone anywhere. It doesn't matter if they're on another phone company or in another country, because all phone companies are federated together into a single network.

That's how Mastodon works. You get an account, and you follow people you're interested in, and they appear in your timeline. It doesn't matter if they're on another server.

@feditips is there a way to look at a specific instance's timeline? Like if I wanted to see what was going on over at mastodon.art ?

@Wbud @feditips Only in #Soapbox. You can go to most #Mastodon instances and click "see what's happening" to get an idea of what the federated timeline looks like tho.

@Wbud @feditips Browse to any mastodon instance and add /public to the URL 👍

@Wbud @feditips this is exactly what I am looking for. But doesn't seem possible. Mastodon seems people centered, not topic centered. And I'm switching topics a lot. Only way to get inspired is looking at the fed timeline hoping that there is a post from the topic I'm currently interested in. With the correct hashtag. Problem #hashtagmania. You can't search fulltext. I know this is a deliberate decision.

@Wbud @feditips is there a way to look a a servers full local timeline without creating a new account?
Is there a way to merge accounts?
How do I go about posting something not the servers topic? Like if I'm interested in #tabletop I'm using a different account from when I'm asking a #tech question?

@ChrisMcZork @Wbud

If you go to an instance's website and click on "what's happening" on the front page, this lets you see what's on there and what they are following.

But, if you do that you will notice that they are mostly following people outside their server. The network is designed like this so that it cannot be bought out. If one server got really cool that everyone wanted to be on, it would be in danger of a buyout by some random billionaire.

You can't merge accounts but you can transfer them from one server to another:

mstdn.social/@feditips/1079394

And, hopefully I covered the topic thing ok in my previous post?

@feditips @Wbud hmm, when I go e.g. to rollenspiel.social, there is no "What's happening" for me, only the profile list and (that servers?) federated list (maybe this is the what's happening feed, I got the German interface. No chance to get the local feed.
metalhead.club looks different - here the "What's happening" feed seems to be local. Is this an instance setting?

@ChrisMcZork @Wbud

Yeah, some servers switch off the "what's happening" completely.

Yes, there is a setting on servers to allow federated content on the public timeline page. If it's switched off, it just shows local public posts. It's switched off by default, I think.

@ChrisMcZork @Wbud

You don't need to have separate accounts for different topics. You don't need to use particular servers for particular topics.

The network here is (deliberately) decentralised so that topics stretch across the entire network.

Some servers have a theme, but they aren't forums. People on those servers follow people outside them, and discuss topics other than the server's theme.

Using hashtags is by far the best way to join in with topics on here right now. These federate across the network, especially if you've been on here some time and have followers.

There is also an official groups feature on the way, they got funding from a foundation to do it a few months ago. That's going to take time though.

However, there is an unofficial groups feature which I will post about later. It involves a special kind of account people follow, which automatically boosts replies to it, so in effect it's a discussion group.

@feditips It's bloody clever if you ask me. I appreciate that you didn't ask me but it's too late now...🤨

@feditips I've found that I've had to join other instances just so I get better search results. The search seems to only search the federated feed and local feed, which is going to smaller on smaller instances. Makes it harder to find the people I want to connect with in the first place

@ada @feditips Not all instances support full text search. Mastodon is built around hashtags to make it easier to search so many instances.

@feditips I do use several alts, tho. in part to separate my toots by audience, but especially because each instance has its own particular view of the federation graph, and will reach different people and show me different things on the federated timeline/hashtag searches (details: wordsmith.social/elilla/a-futu )

@elilla @feditips
That article is incredibly based
Your way of writing is very straight-forward lmao

I really like how you clearly have different views than me (discovery being bad)
But you make it very clear how these mechanisms allow people to have agency over their own spaces

Also somehow the thought of defederating Nazi Servers is viscerally satisfying.
It's just boundries

I think there should be some way to democratise instance admin tho...

@elilla @feditips
Letting people know when a server has been defederated and making the people able to vote which servers are defederated, all while not making it impossible for instance admins to fulfill their legal obligations

Perhaps multiple servers/people behind a load balancer type thing
So they can check each other to make sure the publics wishes are fulfilled?

With the option of withdrawing your server from the instance if illegal shit is backed by vote

@kartonrad @elilla

You can democratise a server by turning it into a co-op. That's where the users also have legal ownership of the server itself, and all decisions would be voted on. (This is how co-ops in the real world work, but it's traditionally been for food shops and other physical businesses.)

Each server is independent and can be run however its owner sees fit, including turning it into a co-op.

But that is then a real world legal procedure rather than a technical network issue.

@feditips @elilla
Yeah.. thats probably the way to go

Trying to do trustless distributed hosting of an instance would probably not work at all

I was mainly just worrying about the fact that instances can be blocked without notice, and someone you follow there can appear to just be inactive - elilla mentioned this issue in her blog post

But i guess i can't expect tech to fix my trust issues lmao
You just need to check your followers out directly once in a while

@feditips For French-speaking people (and with CC for non French-speaking users), here is a very well explanation of how Mastodon and the Fediverse work. youtu.be/3PNatcybm1o

@feditips But how? I saw a recommendation for a photography server, and the only way to see the content there was to sign up for a second account.

@helenan

That's not quite true.

You can see content from that server by following people you find interesting who happen to be on that server. You don't need an account there to follow people from there.

You can find people from a particular server by looking at its public directory.

Servers normally have an opt-in public directory on the front page of their website, where you can see people on the server and follow them from your own server.

@feditips @helenan however there is no:
- public stream (only local server one)
- backfilling (so you can only subscribe for future posts)
- global search
- global trends

Various *hacks* exist to trick these shortcomings but none of them gives a pleasure experience.

@feditips Why is it so slow today, and how long before this improves? Just uploading a header took a really long time.

@mikehensley

It's not normally slow! 😁

The number of active users is skyrocketing so it's putting more strain on the hardware. Admins are having to do quick upgrades etc. The speed of the Musk purchase took people by surprise.

It should improve once upgrades are in place and/or if the rush of new members calms down a bit.

@feditips but it's much easier to follow other people's followers if you are on the same server, and local also gives mening og you are on a relevant server

@feditips ...unless you want to interact with accounts on servers which are blocked from the one your account is on, for whatever reason...

@feditips supposing this federation of networks is why the input of data into sites that are known to traffic the data of those who use them for marketing and other third party purposes ends in spam calls and higher prices for end users who need to have security integrated daily. Would I be interesting and accurate in doing so?

@montice

Uh... I'm not completely sure what you mean?

There isn't really personal data collection on here, you only need to give an email address when you sign up.

There's no need for data collection because there are no ads and no shareholders.

@feditips sorry not complaining about the platform just have been getting many phishing phone calls and wonder if it is because of social media clicks

@feditips
I'm cry-laughing that we can't use "like email!" as an explanation anymore because gmail is the only provider anyone uses now...

@priryo @feditips that’s definitely false. I work in a call center and grab people emails A Lot and there’s aol and outlook and yahoo and sbcglobal….and I get concerned for some people. No one with Juno yet (my first email was on juno)

@feditips
Somehow I lost my introductory soliloquey, explaining why I felt I was going to like it here, when I noticed my Toot was over budget by over 1,100 characters. As I cut the characters, to paste them to Google Keep, "Poof" went my Toot!

@feditips
A long-term political agnostic, I posted this pic to my blog in 2016 as TFG's campaign was picking up steam. My #Resistance started when I noticed the overnight change in the GOP platform from Pro-Sanctions to Pro-Putin.. I created #BlueTsunami because #BlueWave felt like warm bathwater to me. I was discovered by a few people who picked up on my allusions to classical literature and allowed to participate in deep dives into #tRumpRussia

@feditips After TFG won in 2016, under highly suspicious circumstances, I alluded to Dante at the gates of H#ll: "Abandon all hope ye who enter here," and preceded to explain the author's intent, which was to convey the opposite, that #Resistance is not futile.

@feditips A few people on Twitter noticed my ability to immediately connect modern villains to current events (e.g., MacBeth, Hamlet, the Inferno, Paradise Lost, Huck Finn) and because of my writing style / talent, I was allowed to participate in deep dives into TFG's corrupt and potentially traitorous connections to Russian banks via shell corporations.

@feditips I amplified messages that viewed TFG as an existential threat, and bludgeoned TFG with reporting that led to the #Mueller Investigation.

That's my origin story, sort of.

@feditips Thanks for the info. You said it doesn't matter where my home account is, but from it, can I open a column with the local firehose from one more specific communities. Also, why are so users on mastodon.online? Is Eugen pushing general interest users toward that instance?

@feditips Is there any danger that the domain I sign up with goes down for whatever reason and I lose everything?

@jplog

There's always that risk when you use any service on the internet.

However, you can reduce the dangers.

For Mastodon maybe the best starting point for choosing a server is joinmastodon.org/communities as they all promise to stick to a covenant (joinmastodon.org/covenant) which covers reliability, backups etc.

Also, you can move your account to another server if you are given warning of a closure. It's very rare that a server just disappears without warning.

You can also take backups of your follows and settings yourself, so if the worst happens you wouldn't be starting from scratch. If you log in on the server website, click on Preferences > Import & Export > Data Export and download the files to a safe place.

Sign in to participate in the conversation
Mastodon 🐘

A general-purpose Mastodon server with a 1000 character limit.

Support us on Ko-Fi Support us on Patreon Support us via PayPal