I'm working on a blog post called "The case for trying Mastodon, a decentralized social network."

Got a community question for y'all: as far as topic-centric instances go, what happens if a user posts mostly general stuff? Or rarely posts about the instances topic?

Do they get a warning/kick from the admin? Is it a sort of 'Mastodon faux pax' that instances deal with in their own way? Have you seen cases of any of this happen?

@chartier People on mastodon.technology post about non-tech stuff all the time and nobody seems to mind (myself included). CWs are helpful here.

As an admin of a themed instance, I do not enforce what people talk about (other than hate speech, of course).

My instance is for Chicagoans, but it is not only for talking about Chicago. I think of themed instances like sports bars; if you go to a Cubs bar, it would be reasonable to assume you're a Cubs fan. In fact, if you were wearing Cardinals gear, you might not get past the bouncer. But if you want to start a conversation with the person next to you about knitting or games, go ahead!

@alex what about talking trash about deep dish? Or ketchup on hot dogs?

@melissamcewen These are both valid opinions, one of which I share.

@chartier It's a lot easier to start a conversation with folks when you already know one thing you have in common with them. That's what a themed instance is about, to me.

@alex Ok, that was the impression I was picking up too. And per other replies, it seems to be less of a "you can only post about X!" rule, and more like it's just a way to possibly find new like-minded folks to follow.

@chartier Based on my limited personal perceptions, posting from an instance is not seen as the same thing as posting into a forum thread. Accounts are much more individual in nature, and I’ve never seen any pushback against someone “taking root” and posting generally from a topic instance.

In other words, it’s more about bringing together like-minded people than like-minded content.

@vy_let Ok thank you. I was starting to get that impression as well, but of course it's hard to survey a large enough swath of instances, and I haven't come across any 'instance ban drama,' so that's good to hear. Thanks.

@chartier depends on the instance? I mean there also are general instances or you could self host of course :)

@chartier It's that question why I never joined a topic-centric instance. I'd like to think it'd be fine, but I'd still feel constrained.

@chartier depends of moderation team, rules and conduct code.... you need to check that before join in any instance.

@chartier My instance is dedicated to people who are interested in European politics. But the topic is more an invitation than a rule. If people like to use my instance, I'm happy. Nobody can find friends while talking about only one topic. 😉

@chartier scholar.social encourages users to post off-topic stuff as Unlisted

But the topic of "academia" or "learning" is pretty broad to begin with ...

@bgcarlisle Oh that's an interesting approach. I like that there are all these little pockets of Mastodon culture that can work in different ways.

@chartier

I'm sure this varies by instance and depends on the instance's code of conduct. I don't think my instance has ever had to deal with someone who is dramatically off topic/flooding the local timeline—but we certainly welcome a fair bit of off-topic chat. We're building a community, after all, not a mailing list.

Also, a bit of past writing on the topic: codesections.com/blog/mastodon (by me); kevq.uk/getting-started-with-m (by @kev )

@chartier Never seen that level of scrutiny, and I think it would be an exercise in frustration for all involved.

The only rules enforced should be written to explicitly say they’ll be.

@chartier In general, my experience is that people are allowed to post what they want. The instance sort of gathers like minded folks around a general idea and focuses the general discussions... but it all bleeds together.

This isn't like topic focused chatrooms in most places. More like... Spaces to call home.

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mastodon.cloud

Generalistic and moderated instance.