I think we've made a bad assumption about community.

Mastodon and the like have taken the format of Twitter and distributed it across many instances and just assumed that this will somehow lead to healthier communities.

At it's heart this is still Twitter, and has the potential to manifest many of the same problems along with a few new ones of its own creation.

What does a good community consist of?


You might have heard of Something Awful(.com) and it's associated forums, these forums have been the source of many internet things over the years, from Slenderman to "all your base are belong to us".

Many people associate the forums with some really gross behaviour, racism, sexism, other bigotry and "edgelord" humour. There's no denying it, that's all been part of the Something Awful experience at one time.


The forums continue to be relevant, and continue to thrive, with discussions covering politics, cars, mental health, arts and craft, video games, and other entertainment.

How is a place well known for it's toxic members still able to function? Through moderation.

Over the years the worst of the worst have been removed permanently, often exiled to far worse places full of other gross people like 4chan.


The Fediverse doesn't have this ability, short of closing an instance off from the rest of the Fediverse there's no sure thing when it comes to banning problematic people.

The Fediverse also lacks real categorisation of discussions and is made up of individuals yelling into the void. If a post doesn't get tagged then there's no way to follow a particular subject thoroughly.


This format makes sense for Twitter, where people and misunderstandings are monetised, for a healthy community? Not so much.

I shouldn't have to click on the profiles of everyone I follow to catch up if I've been busy all day, that puts a lot of burden on me to keep up to date and notice the important things everyone is doing and saying.


I should instead be reading a discussion, about the things I'm interested in with posts by the people I'm interested in hearing from.

These two things I've identified, moderation and structure, are what I'd consider the most important features for a community.

We need a system that works for people, and gives them the tools to actually get to know each other better.


@emsenn this has been slowly formulating in my mind over the past couple of days.

I used to develop forum software, maybe I need to get into that game again.

Random thoughts:

- federate moderation reports and other moderation issues in a separate back channel
- federate forum threads and posts
- follow threads instead of people

Also sorry if I've missed out on stuff you guys and girls have been up to because I've been busy during the day.

I feel guilty that I have not caught up with a few of you in quite a while.

@measlytwerp I haven't done anything computer-oriented in 2-3 weeks, but have been getting into painting, basketweaving, and other craft stuff, trying to make my house more of a home.

@measlytwerp @emsenn Forums were host to some of the best conversations on the internet. Many of those have already unfortunately been bulldozed by the social media--which I think is the difference. In the former you have people who came together due to a shared interest in a topic. In the latter you have people who came together under the abstract idea of community.

Does your Mastodon client have a Home feed? My Home feed shows my posts and those of people I follow.

Fully agree on importance of structure and following topics instead of people. I'd also add absence of limit on message size. Web forums were great mean of productive communication, but now they've effectively died out in favor of unstructured targetless instant messaging. It's a shame mastodon goes this way too.

Moderation is controversial though, as other people would consider lgbtq talks and sjw agitation gross behavior and bigotry. Splitting the community on this basis is not productive, as mastodon already demonstrates by defederation spread. IMO personal muting and blocking would be more than enough given the structured discussion, where you'd only have to mute misbehaving people. On mastodon it doesn't work as you'd have to block all irrelevant toots, which is not practically possible

@measlytwerp Wasn't (isn't) there already decentralized forums in the form of the Usenet that still kind of exists. It does lack some tools to make it widely usable like a UI and Moderation.

> this is still Twitter

The real benefit of Twitter, it seems, is that one can get close to realtime updates to whatever hashtags one finds interesting, rather than find someone to befriend. (Though perhaps I misuse it.) Also journalists and politicians took it up, so one can get a broader access to their thoughts/interests than in traditional publications; and it allows trully marginalized people access to a global audience.

Mastodon versus forums, meta, thread Show more

Mastodon versus forums, meta, thread Show more

Mastodon versus forums, meta, thread Show more

Mastodon versus forums, meta, thread Show more

Mastodon versus forums, meta, thread Show more


(Also, setting aside more philosophical points: if keeping up with some of your favorite folks is part of what's bothering you… have you used lists? I created a "tops" list with the people I don't want to miss updates from even when I'm busy, and it's improved my overall experience a lot)

@codesections not to presume, but is that howcome sometimes you fave a post of mine from a day or two prior? @measlytwerp

@codesections @measlytwerp LOL, I literally just created a list named "Top" two days ago and put people that I don't want to miss updates from in also.

Sign in to participate in the conversation

Fosstodon is a Mastodon instance that is open to anyone who is interested in technology; particularly free & open source software.