Here is a thread where I give my point of view on Mastodon. In fact, I'm fed up of Mastodon dramas about moderation, Gab stuff... Don't get me wrong; fascists, racists, white-supremacists (non-exhaustive list) should go eat their shit and die.

Structurally, Mastodon gives too much power and responsibilities to instance administrators. Instead of putting them in a position of power, Mastodon should give more power to users by allowing them to organize the way they want and enforce their own moderation rules. For me, a Mastodon instance should be a computing resource (a server) meant to host user contents and no more.

Mastodon instance should put power on users, not on the administrators. Mastodon should make people able to create public and/or private groups in which they are free to enforce their own social rules (moderation, visibility...). Mastodon instances should be tools like hammers, not services. A software should not enforce social rules by default because social life is not data driven.

A software like Mastodon should give people power; the power to organize by themselves, power to be themselves. I dream of a social network where I can visit a friend and then go to a party without having to take public transportation. Social networks have to break real life gates, should invent another way to be social, should put power on each individual.


So Mastodon and the like are federated systems. It sounds like what you want is peer to peer. I do too :-)

@0x0x not necessarily. I do not care about the technical solution.

@U039b Right, but the nature of the game is constrained by the technical solution. For example, in a federated system, the admin will always be able to cancel your account, or limit what servers you can talk to. In a p2p system, you control the communication endpoints.

@0x0x Theoretically you are right but I think that the first baby step to improve Mastodon is to allow people to create private groups and give less power to administrators. P2P have other limitations i.e. the equivalent of the federated timeline would not be scalable as well as social network wide search.

@U039b Yes, you're right. It's all about trade-offs. And private groups would certainly be a welcome addition.

@0x0x @U039b You totally can do that by building your own instance. It’s no that hard to do with @yunohost cc @Gargron

@imacrea @U039b @yunohost @Gargron
I don't think that's quite the same thing. As far as private groups go, I think that you'd basically have _one_ private group if you did that, right? And that group would be tightly coupled to your instance - other members couldn't go on with it if you stopped hosting.
More broadly, with your own instance, you're basically tied to a hostname. Taking you offline is simply a matter of taking down your host.

@0x0x @U039b @yunohost @Gargron True for hostname.. Maybe I didn’t get well what do you mean by « a group ».

Heh, I gave Esther the exact same answer the other day. :)

Sounds about right :-) although the open protocol aspects of systems like ActivityPub and Matrix are important.

OTOH, Mastodon give the admin the power to establish a democratic system if they want to. By writing some voting software around the existing ban mechanism, one could achieve that.

I refuse to put such trust on a single person who already has to much power.

Well, though I strongly believe in self management, I don't think imposing it is wise.

To clarify things, I believe self management can only work through consent. So if people don't want to manage themselves, you cannot force it onto them. They will be more comfortable in a somewhat constraining environment.

@ScriptFanix that's the exact idea behind the possibility to create private groups.

@U039b @ScriptFanix You already can do that. Build your own server with your crew and your rules. It’s the beauty of federation 💚 Check @yunohost for an easy solution to do that. cc @Gargron

It does not necessarily give that power to a single individual who has all powers, all depends on your instance's rules.

Your instance's management is legally responsible for what is stored on it, so they at least need to be able to limit and manage what comes or is created there. What they do with these tools is up to them. It's the user's responsibility to choose an instance with clear and acceptable moderation rules.

@RLetot LOL and what is the counter-power given to users if moderators act wrong or if the rules are changing ? @U039b @ScriptFanix

@CapsLock why LOL me ??? Apart from migrating away, there is no counter-power. At some point you have no choice but to trust your admin team: even if masto didn't give them an interface to manage the instance, they still have access to the raw db. The only way to avoid that is to self host. Oh, but wait, it's free software, you actually can do that :-)
@U039b @ScriptFanix

"Oh, but wait, it's free software, you actually can do that" too much elitism, that is enough! Hosting your own instance requires time, knowledge, money... You are talking for an insignificant and non-representative part of the population. But thank you, by arguing for elitism, you demonstrate why this tool is made by and for the elite to the detriment of the "stupid users".
@capslock @ScriptFanix

@U039b You're asking for something that is not possible in computing. The admin will always have wayy too much power over its users, whatever the software does. The admin can access and manipulate the raw data of any software. You have to trust your admin or go away. There's no way around it. @RLetot @CapsLock

What about immutable databases, append-only databases? In short, technical solutions exist but considerations are elsewhere. I refer to

@RLetot @capslock

What ? Are you serious ? This tool is not made for anyone in particular, it is made by volunteers on their free time, and you have absolutely no right to *require* anything from it. Same for most instances.

Now please get down a bit, I don't argue for elitism, I just state reality how it is. I'd like it different too, but *requiring* that complete strangers volunteer time and ressources to *your* fights won't get you very far.

@CapsLock @ScriptFanix

@U039b and by the way, that insignificant and non-representative part of the population is the one who *gave* you those tools that you despise so much.
@CapsLock @ScriptFanix

I am talking about political and social aspects and implications of technical choices. Do not get me wrong, Mastodon is a really nice tool but technical choices imply social constraints. So, two rhetorical questions: what kind of governance we want to offer to Mastodon users? Do we want to reproduce real life oppressive schema like "representative democracy" where instance admins are something like ministers?

@capslock @ScriptFanix

It is not the structure of Mastodon, but the structure of the whole web. As the content shown on your screen and the code executed by you browser is loaded from the web server, the administrator has the power on what you see, what your browser show you, who you talk to. He may also impersonate your identity.
In such a case a private group means, trusting all the administrators of the intances which are part of it.

What you look for looks like zot protocol (hubzilla and Zap)

@U039b isn't there different roles for moderation and administration on instances? Or are you pointing out the imbalance between the two roles?
I have no idea what the situation is, so just asking because I'm genuinely curious! :)

@stragu those two roles exist. As I said in my thread, I think that admins have to much power and Mastodon does not give people a way to enforce their own social rules by creating private groups.

@U039b You are totally free to build your own instance you know. That’s the beauty of federation. If you don’t want to be part of a group then you can also host yourself and be your own boss. cc @Gargron

Thank you @imacrea for your valuable insight but I wonder if you have something helpful to say or if you are taking me for a dumbass?

@U039b @Gargron Well I’m not taking you for a dumbass at all, why would I?

@U039b @Gargron Ok, now I read your bio I get it why you took it like that. But it doesn’t change my point, right? That’s the answer I got from a few other hackers I met recently when asking the same question as you in fact. What’s the problem behind hosting yourself if you want to have full control?

@imacrea this is an elitist solution. I should not have technical skills to get power on my social media @U039b @Gargron

@CapsLock @U039b @Gargron Well you need tech skills today but it could be made simpler. @yunohost is already doing a great job at it but it could be even easier. And anyway, at some point isn’t it needed for people to learn some basic skills to get back control? With easy stuff you’re in all case letting someone else decide for you for many parameters.. call me an idealist :)


Sorry but I think you under estimate technical skills still needed to install and use yubohost. I try to talk more with normal people and found that the step is higher than we think @U039b @Gargron @yunohost

@CapsLock @U039b @Gargron @yunohost Yes of course I understand what you mean by saying « normal people ». But what I’m trying to say here is what about questioning ? Isn’t because we designed simple interface and made stuff easy that people got in that situation of not understanding these kind of things? Isn’t this view based on a thinking that goes like « it’s too much effort teaching people, let’s make it easier »..

@CapsLock @U039b @Gargron @yunohost Building « easy stuff » keeps inequalities between those « who know » and those « who use ». Why can’t it be accessible as a tool? When I ride a bicycle, I don’t need to be good at engineering to understand how it works because the engine is all visible and simple. Why can we develop new kind of imaginaires around our tools and make them « easy to understand » rather that « easy to use » ?

@imacrea because you cannot compare between a bike and a computer.

As you say a bike is fully understable by a young child (even if building a powerful bike is challenging). A computer requires a full knowledge from the UI to the silicon to really understand all the implications of using it (yeah silicon too because using a computer requires a lot of earth-hurting manufacturing)

@U039b @Gargron @yunohost

@CapsLock @U039b @Gargron @yunohost I’m not so sure it’s the point. A bike is easy to understand because we learn basic maths and physics at school. This how we understand concept like stability, inertia, gravity, acceleration, mechanical forces... without that a bike would look like a magic thing. We need basic computer education at school so then a machine becomes as simple as a bicycle. Design won’t solve an education problem.

@CapsLock @U039b @Gargron @yunohost I fully understand your point as I used to thing similarly not so long ago. But I realized it’s lacking distance, we tend to believe it’s just a design problem because the tech community is not ready to truly share their « magic » power to the population.. because it’s a « winner takes all » situation driven by capitalism. Just take a step back and tell me what you think :)

@imacrea it needs some passion to understand things ; people see computers as tools not more @U039b @Gargron @yunohost

@CapsLock @U039b @Gargron @yunohost Do you imply that most people don’t have passion? I wonder why that?

For groups it would need some développement, but if we did setup anyone to be admin on an instance, would it be like expected in terms of governance?

I am not sure to understand your point. As far as I know, the software does not allow users to create something like inter-instances private groups. Am I wrong?

Yes, at the moment we have no way to make groups, but the feature has been discussed for months on github

@U039b the user-level moderation power and the idea of giving tools for organising really resonates with me, as I get more and more fed up with the direction some ~fully decentralised network projects are going. I'm specifically thinking of LBRY, which give _no_ moderation tools whatsoever, and is therefore becoming a fascist "free speech" haven – opening the door to unrestricted harassment. What a surprise, from what looks like a team of 100% American cis men into crypto...

@lotfi31 Ya ; I also booted an instance with 1M+ users when playing with mastodon ; that was soooo funny @stragu @U039b

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