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.
I've experimented with "index" and "wiki" posts at Ello. Respectively:
You might find some nuggets buried in there. Or turds.
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.
@nolan has compiled a brief introductory guide: https://github.com/nolanlawson/resources-for-mastodon-newbies#readme
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: https://mastodon.social/users/pan/updates/1697694
@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.
For more on bots, followbots, and #nobot:
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:
@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.
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.
@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.
@tchambers @dredmorbius @vhf [email protected]@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.
Q: What about descriptions of associated networks, Stats / Nodes / Instances / Hubs, etc?
Fediverse visualization: https://kumu.io/wakest/fediverse
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.
@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.
@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.
@abbenm There is the option in Mastodon to post Unlisted, Private, or Direct, as well as Global, which you'll find under the :earth_americas: icon in the Toot editor.
These limit the /distribution scope/ of messages, but /do not/ encrypt messages. Instance admins, Follow Bots, and others may be able to see those messages.
I'd have to read spec for the comms link encryption itself.
@abbenm Admins can see all traffic, so there's that.
I need to re-scan the docs, but your "Private" posts go to your followers only. Note that your followers select you, /you do not select your followers/. Though you can /block/ selected followers. So ... if you've got a ton of followers, "Private" really isn't particularly useful.
Some of the GNU Social admins strongly recommend small, 40-50ish, instances, so that everyone knows everyone, or at least largely so.
Q: I have a feature request / recommendation, where do I send it?
A: Github or #mastodev
The Github page is https://github.com/tootsuite/mastodon
Q: How can I find a Mastodon Instance to join?
A: A good starting point is http://tooter.today, which will make the choice for you. There's an automatically updated list off of https://mastodon.social, the primary instance, here: https://instances.mastodon.xyz/
The GitHub project also lists a set of manually-updated Instances: https://github.com/tootsuite/mastodon/blob/master/docs/Using-Mastodon/List-of-Mastodon-instances.md
Q: Is this an official Mastadon FAQ?
A: No, not at all. It's a handy place for me to park and reference information though. I'm hoping it's not too erroneous, and doesn't age-out too quickly. Official documents are referenced where available, and those should take priority.
This is technology. Everything changes.
Q: So, I hear that Mastodon is a Nazi-free safe zone, is that correct?
A: Um. Not exactly. Each individual Instance can set its policy, and the largest presently, https://mastodon.social, looks dimly on such things.
There's nothing to stop someone from spinning up their own Nazi-friendly instance, though other instance admins might or might not care to communicate with it.
Questions of acceptable content, behaviour, speech, freeedom, limits, obligations, and consequences, are complex.
Q: Are there filters or other tools for limiting content by type or contents?
A: Not presently. This is a feature that's being discussed.
There are those who remember Usenet Killfiles fondly. They don't solve all problems, but they solve a large class of them.
There are nations in which it's difficult for ethnic subgroups to sit at the same table, given differences over what foods are considered morally clean.
At another level, I've seen questions about instances appropriate for young children or other groups.
This is not a simple problem, there are not simple answers. As Clay Shirky notes, when you make it possible for everyone in the world to talk to each other, the first thing they discover is a vastly greater number of people they disagree with.
@jfm And therein lies a whole 'nother set of lectures.
What I'd really like to do is be able to indicate (or have reported to me) interest in and/or interactions with posters. There are a set of profiles I'm finding absolutely captivating, others I'd only like to see if they are boosted generally, or are boosted by those I follow (or designate). Or, maybe, see that they're active in a given thread.
But yes, scoring.
Global cultures are diverse, and Western traditions -- along with Liberalism and Judeao-Christian traditions, themselves no guarantee of social tranquility, comprise only about 10% of the world population. Muslim nations, divided amongst Arab, Persian, Sub-Saharan African, Indonesian, and other cultures, are roughly 30%. China and India alone account for about 15% each, with complex inner cultural structures. "Latin America" combines European and native cultures. Oceanea numerous others.
Q: Someone is saying things on Mastodon / GNU Social / elsewhere that I don't like. What should I do?
A: If you know them, you might ask them not to. Otherwise, as a first step, especially if they're not directing the content at you specifically, Mute them.
If they are messaging you directly, Block them.
Q: Someone, or several people or accounts, are hasseling me directly. Now what?
A: Contact your Instance admin. That's going to be on the "/about/more" page of that instance. For example, https://mastodon.social/about/more
You might also contact the remote instance admin.
Admins can block some or all traffic from other Instances.
Q: What are the limitations of blocking?
A: Numbers. Identity. References and reshares. Disruption.
There are a lot of idiots in the world. If a given social space you're in is free of them, it is generally either very small, or has excellent gatekeeping. Usually the first. The problem is that staying small doesn't scale.
Identity online is asserted, not intrinsic, and generating new IDs is cheap. Absent checks on that, blocking someone who doesn't /want/ to be blocked is ... difficult.
References and reshares mean that even if you block a source directly, indirect references to them in threads will still fill your space. If this presents a problem to you, then it's a problem which blocking alone cannot address (or at least not simple origin-based blocking -- a source-and-replies filter might). Some reshares might also leak through.
If you're blocking someone because they create shitstorms wherever they go, then at the margin your own blocking won't improve the situation.
This is a situation where collective or unified action, based on community impacts, comes into play.
If the consequences leak into real life -- relationships, employers, business relationships, gangs, politics, political unrest -- then you have a more significant problem for which simple solutions don't exist. But neither can Admin owners nor protocol developers wash their hands of them either. The committlog on this particular bug goes back about 6,000 years. Earlier records are lost.
Q: Somebody is demanding that /I/ stop discussing some topic or subject, or conceal that content. What should I do?
A: Most Mastodon / OSocial instances request that "not safe for work" content (generally: nudity, sex), carry an NSFW hashtag. On Mastodon (but not OSocial), the "content warning" (CW) feature can be used to conceal body content. Common courtesy suggests not posting spoilers of current dramatic events (TV, radio, video, film, etc.) Generally, try to keep this in mind.
That said, if you're discussing a topic that's of reasonable general interest, including news, politics, religion, business, technology, entertainment, etc., requests to /not/ do so openly strike me as ... less than well-founded, and potentially exceedingly problematic.
Gently suggest this to the person making that request.
If this isn't acceptable to them, blocking them is probably your best option. Changing others' minds is hard, and fraught.
If they harrass you on the matter, report them.
Q: Someone is requesting that I not tag or mention them within a given discussion. Or generally. What should I do?
A: Don't tag or mention them in that given discussion. Or generally. Why do you even need to ask this?
If the problem is an ongoing one, consider blocking and/or muting them. Odds are fairly high that the requester will see this as an acceptable resolution as well.
Q: /You/ are saying things or failing to comply with <my arbitrary code-of-conduct standard> not already addressed above. You must change your behaviour or I will block and/or mute you immediately!!!
A: Blocking and/or muting me sounds like a wonderfully appropriate and mutually acceptable remedy to this situation. Have a wonderful diurnal cycle!
Q: What does @Gargron have to say about this?
A: "There is no policy mandating the use of content warnings (not to be confused with NSFW on images) on mastodon.social. It's between you and your followers. You shouldn't demand that someone use it for politics (but I believe politely asking is OK)"
Q: How big is Mastodon?
A: There are several updating counters. See https://instances.mastodon.xyz for a total current instance and user count, relative to mastodon.xyz.
Several instances run /local/ usercount bots which show historic growth (over the reporting period). A fairly comprehensive one appears to be https://social.lou.lt/@mastodonusercount
As of 9 Apr 2016: There are currently 371 instances being tracked, with a total of 130547 users.
That would be doubling Mastodon users roughly once a week.
Q: What's a good article on the background of GNU Social and the technologies underlying Mastodon?
A: This: "What is GNU Social and is Mastodon Social a 'Twitter Clone'?"
h/t @maiyannah who knows vastly more about this than I.
"Mastodon: Here to stay or DOA?"
Better than the title would suggest -- strengths/weaknesses analysis.
@dredmorbius I think @shelholtz hits the nail on the head with this article, that just having an account at one #mastodon instance is never enough, it should be around your interest; likewise, #mastodon will likely to carve out a different revenue model than what we have seen with social media so far (er ... centralised social media). This is definitely a space to watch, rather than proclaim DOA.
1) Interest-based instances seem a natural way forward, a bit like subreddits without reddit. Users get a local timeline of shared interests plus ability to signal that interest across federation.
2) Fracturing may seem like a problem. I don't think so. People will always make boundaries. Houses have walls, properties have fences, etc. Free disassociation is as important as free association.
@MariusAgricola @dredmorbius @shelholtz
Excellent points; I think so too, as #gs and #mastodon instances very deftly meld the two concepts people network with interest network, through its localised instances and distributed nature of the fediverse. As @dredmorbius wrote recently, instances with different user count feel very different, yet the two can coexist.
I don't know about anyone else on here, but I was totally unaware of GNU social, Plurk and Jaiku. I was aware of Ello fairly early on, and created an account, but had virtually no interactions with anyone other than the person who invited me to Ello. We continued to interact more on another site, though, so I stopped checking in there.
I wonder how many Mastodon people tried those other platforms.
This is certainly a good primer for curious people or newbies.
Q: What's your policy on comments to your FAQ toots?
A: Well, it is what it is. The medium doesn't clearly establish context of individual posts, and people will respond to them. I could try to stop the tide, or accept that it will do what it will.
I'm going with the second.
Though I may delete and re-post individual items as the information is updated.
Q: Can I delete my Mastodon account?
A: As of April 10, 2017, no.
Realise that your previously-published content is distributed across the Mastodon and connected networks, and may well be un-recallable. "Publish" means "to make public", and it's forever. Toot thoughtfully!
(Note: this updates an earlier item based on unreliable information.)
FAQing the "Gustavo Ramos" story:
There's a "Gustavo Ramos" on mastodon.cloud and mastodon.network claiming to be a co-founder or advisor to Mastodon. Evidence suggests he's not.
A set of images shared turned out to be copied off the Web:
The profile images claimed from Pinterest (unverified):
Gargon confirmed that claims of co-founder-hood were false:
@dredmorbius And that 'photo' of the BBC cafeteria was stolen (as I suspected, lol).
Q: How do I find people to follow?
A: Organically: Check your local and federated timelines, click on stuff you like and read the conversations. Follow people that seem interested, and the people they are talking with. Seek out signal, shun noise, for best results.
You can Search for either Hashtags or Profiles, but not full-text of toots/posts. The Search dialog is under the Compose pane. Enter a handle (prefixed with '@'), or a hashtag (prefixed with '#'). You can then follow these.
Keep in mind that Mastodon and OSocial are more like Email than Facebook or Twitter: an "unqualified" username, without its home instance, is /not/ unique across the system. Nor is there verification. Confirm that people are who you think they are as you follow them.
Since local parts of usernames can be shared, <name> is /not/ necessarily the same on multiple Instances.
As an example, the @admin handle is often reserved for the Instance administrator, but you would have to distinguish, say, @admin vs. @[email protected], to differentiate between the mastodon.social and toot.cat admins.
(If you don't see the full names, and they're collapsed in many clients, hover or click the links to see the fully qualified username.)
You can also, of course, ask people for their Mastodon or OSocial handles or URLs. Pasting these into the Search dialog should turn them up in the system.
If you /don't/ find that the search resolves, it's possible that there is a block in place on either their instance or yours -- not all Instances within the Mastodon / OSocial universe, the "fediverse", talk to all other instances.
Question: Is there a Japanese-language Mastodon community?
Answer: Japanese Mastodon users: mastodon.nil.nu is a Japanese-language server you might want to register with for now (April, 2017). Though you're welcome anywhere you want to join. (Google translated this)
Q: How did Mastodon become so popular in Japan?
A: An exceptionally good article in "ASCII" magazine by Satoshi Endo, a long-time computer researcher in Japan, based in part on setting up and running his own Mastodon instance (8-p.net). That's a journalistic standard I'd like to see more in the West.
Q: Have you ever Tootstormed?
A: Don't tell my mom, OK?
@dredmorbius 500 chars instead of 140 doesn't make long form content divided into pieces any less palatable. The only advantage I can think of at the moment is it brings the ability to react and comment on parts of the discussion. As long as each individual thought in the paper is less than 500 chars. And the author is rigorous about partitioning the thoughts.
@dredmorbius At first, I thought the Japanese posts were ok, but now that their numbers have swelled, it's become more of a hindrance and takes away from the experience here for those of us who cannot read Japanese.
Some sort of filter may be needed to separate them out. The Federated feed is becoming all but useless.
@Jirikiha Renewables are bound by the theoretical efficiencies of the technologies in question, and the net flux.
For solar, that's about 1 kW/m^2 of incoming flux, and a /maximum/ of 37% conversion efficiency of single-layer solar PV, plus a bunch of other factors. In practice, capturing more than 1-3% of the total flux is a long shot. That works out to about 10 - 30W/m^3 (over time), rather than 1 kW.
@Jirikiha I explored this a while back at an Ello post, looking at total human population, land area per person, and the solar flux per person.
From 1 AD to present land area has fallen from 70 hectare/person to less than1.
Solar flux from over 200 MW to about 5.
Keep in mind: that's /incident/ solar, and includes all other life on Earth as well.
@Jirikiha Falling labour costs have essentially nothing to do with this. There's simply not sufficient freely-available energy, relative to total population. That assuming the 7.5 billions presently and likely 9 billions by 2050.
You cant bake more cakes by adding cooks but no flour.
@dredmorbius you can improve energy/person in two ways, population controls (education, health care, access to contraceptives, etc.) and cultural change (reducing energy usage per person.) That one is harder than the first, IMO. Tell people that you can feed more people with vegetables than with beef and they take it as an attack on their way of life.
@dredmorbius well, increasing energy supply is a possibility too, but we don't have artificial fusion generators just yet.
Also, I might have started this conversation by responding to the wrong thread. Heh. Well, I must get off my duff now and go to work. Servers don't manage themselves, yet.