And I'll periodically be updating this particular thread (linked from my profile bio) with ... extended stuff.

My general guidance is that content should show respect. For readers, for people, for ideas, for truth.
Mostly for truth.

I'm a huge fan of this One Amazing Trick to Revolutionise Social Networks: Block Fuckwits.

And yes, sometimes I'm the fuckwit. Mastodon's Mute and Block features are useful, make use of them. I will, and have.

I'm also aware that individual actions aren't sufficient in all instances. But they're a start.

My interests:

That unpacks to ... a lot, discussed on the -- see the Wiki there for more.

I'm not sure if I'm solving these, understanding them, or merely bearing witness.

PSA: Mastodon / GNU Social allows animated avatars.

I mute gratuitous animated elements.

But I'm not telling you what to do.

Have a fabulous diurnal cycle.

Q: Why are all these bots following me?

A: Mastodon and GNU Social are /federated/ network with many individual servers. Only toots from profiles followed by someone on a given server propogate. "Follow Bots" ensure that more content is spread over more of the network. This may or may not be a good thing. And other bots may have other ideas. I'm not settled on the question myself.

A con argument:

Q: Can I block all robots easily?

A: If they're well-behaved, add to your profile bio. See:

Another discussion on the downside(s) of follow-bots, by @lambadalambda

"...Without [bots], the federated timeline is ... an expression of the interests of the node's users...."

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:

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

A: @vhf made one:

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

Q: What about descriptions of associated networks, Stats / Nodes / Instances / Hubs, etc?


* diaspora, friendica & hubzilla:
* gnusocial & postactiv:
* mastodon:

Fediverse visualization:

h/t @ymivlr

Q: Does Federation -- different sites and even networks interconnecting -- mean that there might be the same username in different places?

A: Yes. It's a lot like email in that regard. "rosa.martinez" might exist on, say, Gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo, but be three separate people. Or two the same and one different. You've got to check.


Q: Is there a realtime-updating network overview with zoomable historical data?

A: Yes:

Screenshot showing 2 days of data as of 12 April, 2017.

Q: How private is Mastodon / GNU Social?

A: Not very. Use email, XMPP, or other secure, encrypted protocols if you need privacy.


@dredmorbius It would be cool if that could also work for hashtags :thumbsup:

@frankiesaxx @Gargron Yes. I've now got the challenge of finding and unmuting the profiles which had been employing them. Which, absent a list of muted profiles is ... difficult.

@dredmorbius OSHA would have a field day with the lack of handrails. It's no wonder most alien civilizations have disappeared!

@dredmorbius Thanks for the introduction. Of course I'd heard of the film but never saw a moment of it. 'Tis amazingly modern in visual composition and score for its time.

@dredmorbius That means using up 7 characters (incl a space) of your profile to fend off stalkerbots

@shivvi It does. I'm trying to capture information here for reference (and am hoping it doesn't age out too quickly).

@dredmorbius Some people don't like self promotion... I want to make sure nobody's offended

@dredmorbius and any bot that does not behave should be reported to your instance admin and to me so we can warn the offender and ban if needed !

@lambadalambda @dredmorbius in my mind, the idea that individual instances have their own unique community is a reason to use mastodon, and a reason to selectively choose an instance. if all instances are populated by follow bots, what's the difference between instances?

@tuxhedoh @dredmorbius @lambadalambda The difference is the different service providers that offer a different experience. Not unlike how Usenet or Fidonet works.

Also, novelty names, which seems to be more what be are choosing servers over from what I see in my streams.

@lambadalambda @dredmorbius @tuxhedoh The ridiculous thing to me is the fact people are using follow bots to begin with. Just grab the atom feed URLs and have the local mastodon instance populate the federation feeds with that. No need to notify anyone you're following them, which is really what is causing this pointless dramatics people are having. Out of all the arguments people are having, they don't point out the flawed implementation.

@dredmorbius @lambadalambda @Ash as a user and not an admin, I didn't even know this was an option.

@tuxhedoh @lambadalambda @dredmorbius the main difference will be the policy or preferences of the admin

@dredmorbius @Rushyo @hakui @Ash @tuxhedoh

Here's an interesting response to the followbot problem:

Unlike previous followbots that actively follows everyone they find on other instances, this bot /passively/ wait for people from other instances to follow it, and then the bot will boost the "most popular" posts from those other instances.

An "ambassador bot", if you will…

@dredmorbius @vhf Interesting. I did not understand that if someone is not followed by *anyone* on an instance, then *none* of their tweets appear in the federated timeline. So the "federated timeline" is only those users who have some connection to your instance. This means that the larger instances (ex., will have a bigger and richer federated timeline by virtue of having more people who will follow others on other instances.

@danyork @vhf Keep in mind that bigger need not equal richer. If you're on a smaller Instance with a discerning population, you may find it's selecting out the good stuff, and kicking off the bad.

That's where the follow-bot concept strikes me as potentially badly misguided. It directly disrupts the selection and filtering behaviour of organic following.

It's not clear to me that it's possible to readily distinguish bot from non-bot traffic.

@dredmorbius @ymivlr don't forget ! I put a bunch of cool info about how GNUSocial works, with API documentation, etc. as well as a How-to-setup-mastodon-in-docker tutorial!

@stitchxd @ymivlr Since this toot is part of the FAQ, you've just added it :smile:

@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

@dredmorbius And that should be OK, it's just the way it works in real life. Same name, different persona, different context. What makes me like Mastodon even more is this anonymity; allows for freedom of expression.

@arinbasu Understood. My documentation here is about what it /is/, not whether it is /ok/.

Helping people understand the system behaviour, such that they're not surprised by it.

@dredmorbius At the future, how can we know if, let say,, is the official account of Ducati representative rather that the fake one, let say, ducati@some.mastodon.instance?

@hanung665 You'd have to get out-of-band verification, or a specific denial.

There was a profile claiming to be a co-founder of Mastodon yesterday. It looked and smelled funny, I did some investigation. Eventually Gargron made a statement that there was no such thing.

The account's toots started disappearing, and someone claimed that it had been stolen from him (or copied, not sure which).

It becomes a test of truth -- consistency and correspondence are strong tip-offs.

See: Epistemology.

@hanung665 Wikipedia's Criteria of Truth page lists various tests, some better than others.
"[T[here seem to be only three functional, effective tests of truth[:] correspondence, coherence and pragmatic."

"Pragmatic" is "is the knowledge useful in application?"
"Correspondence" is "does the knowledge correspond with that it describes?"
"Coherence" is "are all pertinent facts arranged in a consistent and cohesive fashion as an integrated whole?"

@hanung665 There's also the consistency tests: do the claims not contradict one another, and relate in a logical fashion. You might consider this a /rational/ test of truth. It's useful, but incomplete. Often it's all we have to go on, though, and it can be leveraged in useful ways.

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