Dr. Edward Morbius ⭕ is a user on mastodon.cloud. You can follow them or interact with them if you have an account anywhere in the fediverse. If you don't, you can sign up here.

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

My general posting / content philosophy. Not all applies here, but the gist does:

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 dredmorbius.reddit.com -- see the Wiki there for more.

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

I've experimented with "index" and "wiki" posts at Ello. Respectively:


You might find some nuggets buried in there. Or turds.

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

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.

Updating the animated avatars situation: animations are now disabled by default.

See: mastodon.social/users/Gargron/

@dredmorbius @gargron nice! I don't mind most of them, but some are annoying. :)

@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 one of my favourite films. Love the effects even now, and the sound design is spectacular

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: mastodon.social/users/pan/upda

Q: Can I block all robots easily?

A: If they're well-behaved, add to your profile bio. See: mastodon.social/media/cjbb9KGh

@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 !

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...."


@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.

@Ash @lambadalambda @tuxhedoh Which atom feeds? Users or is there an Instance-wide one?

@tuxhedoh @lambadalambda @dredmorbius the main difference will be the policy or preferences of the admin
@tuxhedoh @lambadalambda @dredmorbius almost all mastodon instances are the same anyway.

they don't have names, just urls
their front page is all the same
it's like the borg

@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…

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: techn.ical.ist/users/vhf/updat

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

@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. mastodon.social, mastodon.cloud) 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.

@danyork @dredmorbius @vhf This is an important restriction that allows for "Live and let live" aspect of federation. Total "open" federation will be polluting; strict "following" federation will restrict organic growth. This is a happy medium while maintaining a happy medium. I think we shouldn't focus on "larger" instances; instead instances that have a well defined "tribal" attribute.

@vhf @dredmorbius @danyork Each instance is neither an island nor a bar; but a moat which opens for a friend of a friend

@Aswath @dredmorbius @vhf Good point about finding a happy medium. My point was really that the "experience" of "federated Mastodon" will vary based on the size of your instance. On a large instance, the "federated timeline" might have many entries and give you a view of a "firehose". On a very small instance, it may seem like few people are in the federated timeline. It might make people there wonder what all the buzz is about.

@danyork @dredmorbius @vhf This is a very good point: and would seem an issue to find ways to remedy...ideally the federated timeline should be as close to showing the entire network as possible, no?

@tchambers @dredmorbius @vhf As@aswath@mastodon.network has pointed out, a fully-federated timeline would be overwhelming and would "pollute" instances focused on building smaller communities. The Mastodon implementation is an interesting balance. Effectively you have everyone who is a "friend of a friend". So it is more than just local, but not *everyone*.

@danyork @dredmorbius @vhf Hmmmm. Agree that this is by design, and can see how it functions in this space. But it does seem of value for people to be able to view a Federation-wide view of things too SOMEHOW. In essence when they wish to, to be able to view what is "trending" across the entire network, or to do searches across the entire network of posts and people as FB and Twitter allow.

@tchambers @danyork @vhf My read is that "trending across the network" has a /different meaning/ within Mastodon / GNU Social / oStatus. The inter-node filtration is part of the trending signal. The structure is far more neural in the sense that a node may choose to amplify /or suppress/ a signal. Both those functions are critical in forming meaning.

The more I think of this, the less I like the followbots.

@tchambers @dredmorbius @vhf That was my initial thought... that there ought to be some way to "see it all" or to "search it all". But that could rapidly become a firehose... and to manage that you really need an algorithm. And right now Mastodon is keeping the chronological feed as Twitter used to do, before it became too big and we needed the algorithm to help. I think there is value in smaller communities.

@dredmorbius @vhf Awesome info. Helps me understand things a bit more.

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


* diaspora, friendica & hubzilla: the-federation.info/
* gnusocial & postactiv: fediverse.org/
* mastodon: instances.mastodon.xyz/

Fediverse visualization: kumu.io/wakest/fediverse

See: gnusocial.no/notice/1928996
h/t @ymivlr

@dredmorbius @ymivlr don't forget fediwiki.info ! 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: