Please don't solicit or reward requests for .

This is a small but insidious debasement of trust and quality wwithin the Fediverse.

I'm still trying to put my finger on just /why/ this is bad, so I'm trusting my gut, mostly. If you look at dana boyd's work, especially on 4chan in Jan/Feb 2018 on Medium, there's much in there.

Meantime, I'm reporting & blocking those requesting boosts, and unfollowing those reboosting them.

Boosting on merit is absolutely OK.

Be good.

What I do boost:

Items of interest to specialised communities. The sort of thing that's hard to gain traction usually. Especially appeals / seeking for like minds. This is something the Net should be inherently useful for.

Specific calls to action I see as useful and also underserved.

Interesting and unusual information. Again, especially if it's otherwise obscure.

Some original content and projects.

I try to avoid the merely cute, though insightfully funny works.

I've also noticed that the drama quotient falls markedly as I do this.


I have a lot of sympathy for this position—I don't request boosts personally, and filter out "boost to" posts. I don't go so far as to unfollow for the practice, but I see the point.

However, *who* are you reporting users to? If you're reporting them to their instance mods, is it against the rules there? If not, you're just creating more work for mods on that instance.

If you're reporting to your own instance mods, is it something that gets accounts silenced?

@codesections @dredmorbius this is an important point, while "plz boost" is terrible its definitely not report worthy? And the report system does not function like it does on Twitter, as you pointed out

@codesections Mastodon reports go to my local instance owner (@admin), and optionally the remote originating server. Many are coming from, and I'd spoken to @Gargron about this recently.

The reports may give him a sense of scale and practice.

I'd like to see a gentle discouragement.

A block-on-sight response imposes a behavioural cost, and may be aamongst the more effective tools for addressing this. Imagine YouTube if shitty videos risked channel blocks. Skin in the game.

@dredmorbius @Gargron
Yeah, I take those points. I feel that reports should be reserved for issues that violate the rules of an instance—I figure that mods have enough on their plates without dealing with reports that they can't do anything about since it doesn't break any rules.

You're right that the block-on-sight imposes a cost. It also would impose a cost on *me*—I'd lose access to toots I find interesting. While I dislike the "ask to boost" practice, I don't care enough to pay that cost

@dredmorbius @Gargron

Yeah, absolutely. But there's such a thing as picking your battles, and reducing the number of "plz boost" posts on Mastodon just isn't one of the battles I've picked at the moment

@dredmorbius It's bad because it fosters a system-gaming approach as opposed to sincere use of the system as presented.

On the other hand, the mute/block strategy makes it mostly irrelevant to people who don't care for it.

@jankoekepan There's a problem with social malignancies, in that you cannot simply counter them by "empowering individuals". This is the element of "ignore trolls" that is a fallacy.

Yes, ignoring trolls, or blocking and muting bad behaviour, /keeps a problem from getting worse/.

But it does not in fact solve the problem. And the negative externalities are large.

That is where policy and administration come to fore.

You could, say, use Reddit or the Chans or Birbsite, with filters.


@jankoekepan But the sites themselves remain cesspits, and the culture toxic. And they've literally spilled over into international geopolitics.

Because control, or disruption, of societal communications channels has real strategic value, and there are individuals and groups who will seek out and exploit that power. Often the compromise isn't realised until too late.

Credit to's @woozle for that insight, BTW;

Shoshana Zuboff saw this in the 1970s though.


@jankoekepan There's phenomenal public health chart for NYC showing 85% gains before modern medicine, directly attributable to policy decisions and infrastructure:

Pure freshwater supplies, sewerage, solid waste removal, quarantines, antisceptics, mateernal and early childhood nutrition, refrigeration.

Excluded are most vaccines, ALL antibiotics, major surgeries, xrays, etc.

And the subsequent gains are from harm reductions: coal, lead, asbestos, tobacco, alcohol, drugs, HC access.


@jankoekepan There's a very close relationship between information regimes and infectious disease mitigation. I'm all but ceertain they're actually one and the same.

Mastodon, as all epistemic systems, requires a public health system, or it wwill become a breeding pit of infections and plagues.


@dredmorbius The problem is: you can't wish the (deemed toxic) out of existence. You can only attempt to identify and exclude them - but then you can't exclude them from platforms that they create and/or control. At best you create a troll black market.

So you can create your shiny Xanadu, and ignore the howling barbarians outside the gate, but that's at best a self-delusionary respite.

The fediverse allows for personal Xanadu creation, which at least allows for diversity of Xanadus.

@jankoekepan All life is based on defining an inside and outside. A sanitary bastion suits me fine.

And, actually, you absolutely CAN limit infectuous growth, development, transmission, and infection.


OK, so what do you propose for limiting infectious growth, development, transmission and infection? Locking out the bad people? Who gets to define bad? And who gets to decide what threshold is met for bad, and then who gets to police what they do amongst each other, outside your sanitary confines?

@jankoekepan Is quarantining of disease moral?

Have you never made a moral judgement in your life?

Are you making one now, as you read this?


Don't know.

Probably did, before I figured out it's a matter of opinion.

No, because I don't know what good and evil are.

@dredmorbius Still doesn't really address the question of the dread memetic contamination outside your Xanadu infecting, as you called out earlier, "international geopolitics". At best you're making a case that you can police your own exposure, but it places no obligation on anyone else to police theirs, nor the terms on which they should.

It looks as if you're offering a solution to the smallest aspect of the problem, with little mention of the greater.

@dredmorbius I've read a lot of those. Haven't seen the BBC things that I recall, but I'm familiar with the terms of the argument.

We still return to: what sticks and carrots do you show public participants, however well-meaning or not? The PRC has its answers, the USA has its answers, the UK has its answers, and they're all different. I've spoken to germans who regarded the US as nazitroll central because of the first amendment. Now what? (contd)


If you're trying to create an online environment that is positive/healthy/productive/loves ponies then you need to moderate it. This is, I think, understood. However, that does not remove the opportunity for supposed bad actors (by the measure of the bien pensant) to find each other and exchange their views, however heinous. Having exchanged those views, there's nothing preventing them from sharing them online and developing them and promulgating them. (contd)


So what it really reduces to, is how do you fight the memetic fight on a battleground that you don't control? Or is the answer to establish control by fiat? Bearing in mind that even authoritarian governments have difficulty with cross-border spills despite their best efforts.

What's the memetic arsenal?

@jankoekepan Simple; you don't.

Obvious truism is obvious; waging battle on preconceded ground is useless.

Pick your battles and situations, but recognise too the value in shaping territory, norms, mores, and expectations.

This is why any effective regime of control establishes borders and access points, and mediates transfers across them, in accord with goals and values.

@dredmorbius So what you're really talking about is a walled garden for limited discourse among a limited cadre of participants. Your replacement for "empowering individuals" is then an editorial gatekeeping system.

The purpose of this would then be self-reflective, rather than altering social discourse in ways that, for example, pull back the Overton window.

A sort of gentlemen's club, minus the club building.


@jankoekepan Wrong.

You're not very good at this didactic thing. Learn yourself some charity.

You're also back on mute, util such time as I feel otherwise. Tedious idiocy is tedious.

@jankoekepan Regulated systems require regulatory systems. Subsystems and supersystems both. Marginal comparative advantage and observed behaviours are useful guides. The perfect is the enemy of the good.

Also, in the case subtle hints have been insufficient: you're boring me and monopolising my time. Lay off and do some silent thinking, or talk elsewhere, with others.


Oh, OK. Block me. It'll help. I don't get boosted much.

@dredmorbius I also noticed that with the latest wave of incoming users. I just ignore those posts.


I can see that: an idea should stand on merit, not pleading for attention.

Perhaps your uneasiness stems from the resemblance to the endless drama of partisan jpgs that everyone and their aunt re-send without fact checking.

@bdunbar Highly-appealing but false / deceptive / misleading crap is in fact one concern, as is shock, outrage, and distraction media.

See the Chinese propaganda model esp.

China: Don’t argue, distract and disrupt

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