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.

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