If we adopt an arbitrary rule like "servers shouldn't limit or suspend the biggest instances," then we're effectively setting ourselves up for unsolvable moderation problems across the network. When servers can be "too big to block," then fast, ungoverned growth will become a goal unto itself, since that immunizes the server from the only repercussions other, better moderated server have the power to impose.

I wonder how many people are sticking with out the mistaken notion that they'll be cut off from the larger network if they migrate to another server.

@lrhodes ❝While whittling out who you are, it's okay to decide what you're not❞

—me, rn, navigating friend groups, cultures, & scenes

@lrhodes That's how we create New Twitter. Nobody wants new Twitter. Too big to fail is the silliest concept I've encountered far too many times in life.

@lrhodes is this actively discussed?
That would go against the basic idea of a federated network.

@jacmoe Some servers have talked about blocking, and that's started a debate over whether that's appropriate or healthy for the network overall.

@lrhodes oh, that. I think that's very healthy ☺️ It's not an easy decision to make, but I think it can be necessary. Especially to avoid dominance by size. And perhaps to encourage those big instances to get better governance :)


This is incredibly true and as a small instance, I feel the most anxiety around the federated network!

Banks are too big to fail ➡️ banks are bailed out ➡️ greatest wealth inequality in recorded human history ➡️ :molotov:

Instances are too big to block ➡️ massive instances become the new goal ➡️ small instances are shouldered out of the conversation ➡️ :birdsite:

@lrhodes this is an interesting topic, minutes ago I was wondering about large-scale decentralized moderation:

@lrhodes I'm always baffled by this "too big to do anything about" concept.

Like, cancer operates by a similar principle and requires a drastic response to get out of the body.

We as users can switch instances or have accounts on other instances but administrators have to make decisions for the overall health of the community they are hosting. As long as there's transparency in this process (server rules on sign up, updates on changes) it doesn't seem particularly draconian.

@lrhodes Especially, I should add, because big companies switch up their privacy policies all the time and force you to opt into terms and service agreements that are largely unreadable (due to length).

I'm not wild about the idea that a big server could be cut off but it's a useful tool.

i guess there's also another problem we are all afraid to discuss openly, which is the fact that mastodon is having quite a big success and everyone is afraid to lose all these new people if we start asking for migrations to deal with the biggest instance moderations issues...

but i also guess we'll have to go through this, because having to suffer an instance decisions juste because it's big is veeeery wrong

It can also invite the fash to flock to one big instance with frozen peach moderation, and since they can't be blocked or defederated, they can poison the whole fediverse.
Bad idea overall.

@lrhodes I am not sure the real concern here. We have had large-scale, federated systems before, such as email. We’ve seen everything from people hosting their own smtp and imap servers in their homes to large-scale systems like Gmail and Outlook. I’d expect, if Mastodon continues to grow and people stick with it, many of those same tools to handle spam, abuse, reputation, etc… for email would be quickly adopted here. In the meantime, it’ll be a wild ride.

@SendintheMonkey @lrhodes I hate to break this to you, but email has done exactly what we're fearing here
Most people setting up their own SMTP servers nowadays are automatically filtered out by spam detection just bc they're not one of the big guys, and Google has taken over the world
That is NOT what I want to happen to the fediverse, especially considering how much safer smaller instances often are for marginalized people

@lrhodes @raphaelmorgan Quite a passioned response. Couple thoughts: Right now, I have two friends who run their own email and web domains. Reputation isn’t a much a problem if you practice good security. Second, my point is a distributed, decentralized system will evolve or die. Email did. Mastodon will have to evolve. It already has too many eyes on it to leave as is. I just don’t see the doom and gloom in the change.

@lrhodes I think you’ll see more server switches if/when they add the ability to bring your posts too.

@lrhodes Me. That, and a kind of paralysis at deciding which other instance will possibly cover the wide array of topics that made up my formerly beloved Twitter graph.

@lrhodes this is an interesting question. I feel the opposite way around in a sense: if/when I end up moving from .social it’ll be precisely because smaller instances have defederated or silenced .social, to a point where I’m no longer able to connect with people I want to. For now it’s not been too much of a problem, but the way things are going I’m more likely to move (tho I’ll be sad to lose my toots).

#Debunk common misconception: you don't "lost" posts on move 

@minimammoth @lrhodes

(1) IN MY EXPERIENCE (2-3 moves) when you move you do not lose your toots if you decided to take the option of leaving the old account active.

They don't go with you to the new account. If you delete the old account, then you lose them.

Q: Why do you need to keep them anyway? Mastodon is largely based upon real-time interaction.

SUGGESTION: From the new account, RT the toots on the old account. Then delete the old account, if that is what you want to do,

@lrhodes Honestly, I'm only here because I don't have the spoons to do research on which of a thousand good-seeming servers to choose

@daphlawless @lrhodes that was me too. It was all too overwhelming when I started. Now I’m thinking about moving, but feeling kind of paralysed.

@lrhodes I just followed George Takei, and joined the instance he joined.

I think I get the general gist now, but I couldn’t teach a class on it.

Signing up seems intimidating, until you’re on, then you realize it’s a piece of cake.

Nah you can block it if it comes to it, most of us have alts on other servers that we use simultaneously. It's gonna be fine. I'm only here because I don't read other people's posts so the risks of a bad interaction are low.

@lrhodes Right? If there is to be an arbitrary rule it is: "Every instance over 10,000 users is insta-blocked", not ".. can't be blocked"

@lrhodes Yes, just the network effect alone discourages defederating from large instances. People don't want to cut off large swaths of the fediverse.

This is why large instances are bad in and of themselves, even if they could have perfect moderation (which gets exponentially harder with size).

@lrhodes If anything, big servers should be *better* at moderation, because they have a longer history & larger funding base, and therefore should have sufficient resources to properly deal with misconduct.

@gringene That would probably be true if the number of donors or amount donated grew in proportion to the number of people moderated, but I'm not sure that's the case.

fedi meta 

@lrhodes And refusing to limit or suspend the biggest instances sets you up to be embraced, extended, extinguished.

Do what ya gotta do, man.
Not sure why there is all the commotion about it.

@lrhodes This is like decentralized distributed ledger technology all over again.

@lrhodes I'll buy that fetishizing size is a bad move.

I think the more realistic calculation is "how much do the people on my instance value the ability to communicate with the people on the other instance?"

All else being equal, this would grow with the size of a given instance.

But all else is not equal - for example, I personally assign a large negative value to communicating with Gab.

IMHO speaking in terms of relationships rather than numbers brings the tradeoffs into sharper focus.

@lrhodes I know I'm new here... but the idea of being forced to jump servers or lose connections is equally distasteful. Nowhere near experienced enough to suggest a middle ground... On the other hand I also do not want to be part of any Nazi-like server or dangerous space. I am used (after doing Social Media since there was Social Media) to self-moderating things like that, but understand there have to be protections.

@lrhodes can I as a user filter out servers from my federated feed? #FediTips

@liteshotv3 You can block a server by going to the profile of an account on that server and selecting "block server" from the three-dot menu. Be aware, though: that blocks the server everywhere, not just your federated timeline.

@lrhodes In my opinion blocking a server should always be the last possible solution. Because from what I know once you block a server they can't really do something, they can't defend themselves in case of a misunderstanding for example, or notify you that they are taking steps to take care of problems you have with them. I think muting an instance or taking action against individual users of it is a better way to go.

@lrhodes While some instances deserve the block hammer, so far don't look like one of those.

@lrhodes I'd absolutely want all nazis to congregate on one mastodon instance because that means I can block it and be done with it.

@Riedler @lrhodes yeah we gotta honeypot those Nazis and isolate them

@lrhodes Incentivizing large instances over small instances also makes the fediverse as whole more fragile and sets it up for centralized control, exactly like the systems fedi is replacing.

@lrhodes My whole reason for running my own instance for myself and my community is that way we can operate with sovereignty.

Forcing us to allow main instances would go against my ability to make an exceptional experience for my community.

@majorlinux @lrhodes What bums me out about this is that the mod on my server can unilaterally make this decision and cut me off from people I follow - without warning, without recourse, and potentially without me even realizing it happened (I don't have memorized what instance each follow is on!)

It's fine in a situation where I agree, but if I disagree then I am stuck trying to pick up and move somewhere that still connects to those I want to stay connected to. In the worst case, there is no instance that supports everyone; I'll have to run my own.

We can't predict how big any instance will grow to, or how well it will be moderated in the future.

It would make more sense to me if rather than defederation, there was a default server blocklist that could be overridden on a user basis. If I follow someone on, could I opt to at least still see their posts?

@saluk @majorlinux In a way, there is. There are two levels of server block: limited and suspended. Limited keeps posts from another server from showing up in public timelines, but accounts on the limiting server can still follow and interact with accounts from the limited server. Suspended is a full block: no one on the suspending server can interact with accounts on the suspended server while logged in.

@lrhodes @majorlinux Thanks for the info, still learning! If an instance is limited, and someone from a limited instance replies to my toot (on the limiting instance), do users on the limiting instance still see their reply?

If they can, then yeah this is still a vector for harm. If they can't, why would mods choose to suspend except in extreme cases?

@saluk @lrhodes That's why I want to take somewhat of a hands-off approach to my instance.

I don't advertise it as much, but it's still open for folks that I know to join it.

And they know they can reach out to me if there are any issues.

As an instance owner, it is indeed a hard line to walk, though.

@lrhodes Id just like people to block them in a staggered manner as not to shellack us smaller servers with the higher loads


Fortunately the lack of obvious monetization schemes neutralizes part of that threat.

Leaving the significant tail of such as Koch Bros. A rich environment for spending dark money.

Perhaps a convention could be that big instances have to show financials, or choose to be blocked if not.

@lrhodes (Running a popular instance unpacks as not inexpensive. Presumably particularly so if the instance is so repulsive that staff need to be paid.)

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