After sleeping on it, I think 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”.

@gregminton @chartier ehhh, maybe it has lots of folks, but I’m not sure I’d say it hasn’t suffered either

@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 Servers still sounds too technical when trying to get people to sign up. People don’t want to sign up to a server. Provider lets you compare to things like ISPs, AOL back in the day for older folks, etc.

@robotspacer @VioletPixel @chartier but I definitely like Communities better than Instances. A mixture of “communities” and “providers” I think works well when trying to introduce people to the concept.

@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.

@robotspacer @danvpeterson @VioletPixel The technical angle is precisely what I’m trying to avoid. I feel it’s confusing and off putting. Think how Apple renamed “802.11b” to “AirPort.”

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 @danvpeterson Maybe something like hubs? Perhaps TootHubs?

...

I'll see myself out.

@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.

@danvpeterson @chartier @robotspacer I like "host" a lot, especially when you think of web hosts. "Who hosts my website?" "Who hosts my toots?"

@VioletPixel @chartier @robotspacer plus a “host” relates well to thinking about communities as well.

@chartier subreddits are about topics. Instances may be, but generally are just servers.

@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 hrm. Maybe “hosts”? Cause we’re all guests that have to abide by the rules.

@chartier @chucker Some other ideas while we’re brainstorming:
Spaces
Networks
Hubs
Crowds
Locales
Squares
Flocks
Gatherings
Microcosms
Solar systemssssss???

@gregminton @b_cavello @chucker Oh the typos. OH the typos.

We already have active and tags here. 😄

(To anyone checking those who might care: the second is misspelled)

@chartier #gameing is an established term in the community, not a typo; its non-appearance on dictionary dot zone doesn't make it wrong (it is, one might say, wrongn't)

@chartier "gaming" implies tabletop games, and "gameing" is actually videogame-ing, from what I understand. :blobcat:

And NEITHER of them should imply gambling as that dictionary definition proposes!

@gregminton @b_cavello @chartier @chucker so far I definitely like “hosts” the best. It doesn’t feel as insular as the others.

@gregminton @chartier @chucker I avoided that just because of the negative connotation of following the herd 😅

@chartier @chucker subset, junction, collection, party, room, neighborhood, node, link, salon, conversation, collective...

@b_cavello @chartier @chucker
Ohhh, hubs is a nice one... which does get to the point of mastodon. You access the network through the local instance.
I like it.

@chartier Completely agree. It would make it easier to explain Mastodon to others.

@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 @chartier Interestingly, when I tried to write a really non-technical and short explanation the other day, I ended up using the words community and server instead of instance.

@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.

@VioletPixel @chartier It has its merits. Bonus points because some places offer "e-mail hosting", which is a good analogy; on the other hand, those places are addressed to web developers, not end-users. Are there more people who know "host" than "server"? I have a feeling probably not.

@Gargron @chartier Well, I would posit that more people understand "host" as in "host of a party/gathering" sense than "server" in any sense.

@VioletPixel @chartier Oh, right. But host is the person, not the place of gathering. That would be the admin/owner then.

@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.

@VioletPixel @Gargron @chartier Node in a cluster 🤣 (I am here all week, tip your server!)

@Gargron @chartier why change something that the community has taken hold of and embraced I like instance it differentiates mastodon from other things

@nano @chartier You're still free to call it whatever you want, but if there's a term that alienates new people less then that's worth a change.

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.

@Gargron @chartier exactly. And while analogies between email and activitypub only get you so far, if a user has an understanding of what an "email server" is, that can really help shore up their mental model of what they're getting into here

@Gargron @chartier server sounds ok. Or... mastodon host. Thinking out loud.

@Gargron
Familiarity with a word is no reason to change it. Are you trying to confuse people?

Server is right.
@chartier

Sign in to participate in the conversation
mastodon.cloud

Generalistic and moderated instance.