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?

@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.


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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