Q: What's this "Federation thing?"

A: A bunch of communities, on different servers, sharing /some/ but not necessarily /all/ of their traffic. Or, in some cases, none. It depends.

The User Guide has a good section:
github.com/tootsuite/mastodon/

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Q: It sounds as if that's complicated. Do you have a picture you can share?

A: @vhf made one: techn.ical.ist/users/vhf/updat

It misses a few edge cases, but mostly, that's how the spice flows. Er, toots.

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@dredmorbius I know this too is quite old (by some standards) but it gives a security warning first, and then a 404.

Do you have a more recent diagram?

CC: @vhf

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