After sleeping on it, I think #Mastodon should rename ‘instances’ to ‘Communities.’
Instances feels too technical and I see even savvy people struggling to understand it.
I argue communities would make much more sense. It denotes much of the purpose behind _why_ this service has different instances, and many people will already be familiar with the concept from Reddit (the, what, sixth most popular site on the net?).
@chartier Reddit hasn’t seemed to have suffered from using “subs” or “subreddits” in lieu of “communities”.
@chartier "Communities" is good except for one thing: it makes it sound like none of the instances are connected to each other, which is one of the key aspects. It's not just a bunch of seperate communities, it's one big interconnected federation.
@VioletPixel Sure, but real world communities interact with each other, and members frequently participate in multiple or uproot and move between them.
@chartier True, but this place is even more connected than that. You and I are effortlessly talking to each other even though we're using different instances; it's not like I had to go over to your building or even pick up the phone, you're just immediately accessible. "Communities" implies barriers that don't exist here.
Don't get me wrong; I agree that "instances" is a very technical and opaque term, and I'm all for finding a better name, I just don't think "communities" is quite right.
@VioletPixel @chartier I don't agree that there aren't barriers. If I follow a web link to a different instance it's not at all clear how to interact with anything on that instance. I also think we're well past the point where people think of separate communities as a significant barrier to communication—there are so many ways different communities flow together constantly, especially on other social media sites.
@VioletPixel @chartier More importantly, no matter what you call it, you're going to have to explain how it works, that these separate servers can all be a part of your personal feed. Calling them communities would save you from having to explain "instances" too—it's a friendly term that will give people a familiar concept to start from.
@robotspacer @VioletPixel @chartier definitely dislike “instances”. I worry a bit about “communities” as well for similar reasons as Justin. So far the easiest way to explain to others has been comparing to email and they just call those “providers”. Same as ISPs. I really don’t like that term either but maybe the easiest to grok?
@danvpeterson @VioletPixel @chartier I think "servers" is a better word choice if you're trying to explain the service from a more technical standpoint. Web servers and email servers are familiar concepts; people get that they're run separately but communicate with each other. Sure you could have more than one instance running on a server, but if you're not a person running an instance then… who cares 🤷🏻♂️
@robotspacer @VioletPixel @chartier saying “you sign up with a provider” helps to explain that it isn’t insulated and doesn’t limit you where “communities” or “instances” may give that impression. You can still talk about communities, etc. but specifically when talking about how to sign up, I think “provider” may work better.
Communities or other similar options like Host or Spaces aren’t perfect analogies. But I think they would help denote at least some of the definition and function better than Instance.
@chartier @robotspacer @VioletPixel I could see “host” working well, similar to “provider”. It helps to denote that this thing doesn’t limit you and is primarily just your entry point to the world of Mastodon. The host/provider provides a community but community/space/instance when talking about the sign up process sounds limiting which is what I want to get away from.
@chucker But also rules. Subreddits can have very different rules of what you can/can’t post, or simply how (the Hollow Knight subreddit, for example, doesn’t allow any direct images. It all has to be links. WTH?)
@chartier "gaming" implies tabletop games, and "gameing" is actually videogame-ing, from what I understand.
And NEITHER of them should imply gambling as that dictionary definition proposes!
@chartier I think I would regret having to use the word “community” with such a specific meaning in the same way I don't like “friending” on FB when there's such a range of FB connections. It also means that describing groups of people on the bigger instances would require some wordsmithing to disambiguate between big-C instance-community, and the small-C community of people who know/interact with each other. (Also I don't have a better word for you.)
@chartier I 100% agree that "instance" was a mistake, am slowly phasing it out wherever I can, but I think "server" is more appropriate. Okay, it's still technical, but people come in contact with servers all the time. Discord servers, TeamSpeak servers, WoW servers, "our server is down", etc. It's at least more familiar than "instance" which is more of an object-oriented programming thing.
I think community is not 100% appropriate because a server doesn't HAVE to be a community
@chartier So sometimes servers are communities, cohesive and with a purpose, but sometimes they just host accounts, and communities are between people on different servers. Since people struggle to understand federation in the first place, "community" would wrongly suggest the servers are closed off from each other by placing too much emphasis on that effect of cohesion.
@Gargron I think it’s ok if it isn’t a perfect analogy. But I think it (or another suggestion like ‘Hub’) could work if you think about the real world equivalent.
People usually participate IRL in a few communities—their neighborhood, after-work hangout, a charity, a workout group.
Some communities overlap, others are exclusive. Sometimes people switch or move between them.
I think it could be a friendlier, less intimidating term that conveys more mean to regular folks.
@Gargron @chartier On a more serious note, I think "host" can apply to a person or a place. "The Marriot hosted our meeting." "The convention center hosted our conference." That kind of thing. People understand "host" to be the facilitator of a thing. "Server", on the other hand, is someone who brings you your food. As time goes on people deal with servers less and less. Most people don't know or deal with their mail server details anymore, they tap on the Gmail option and sign in.
Decentralization/federation/open-source are values that need to be taught, since they are not obvious. If there are rough edges not critical to the core message, they must be smoothed, so more people can reach the end.
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