Mastodon is going great

"Just pick one" they said.
"It's just like email" they said.

Well, I'm sure this will terribly inconvenience @dnalounge's twelve followers.

And somewhere out there, a sysadmin feels self-actualization at having Stuck It To The Man.

Previously, previously.

Tags: , , ,

89 Responses:

  1. Don says:

    Someone is still mad at the Usenet green card lawyers.

    • Doctor Memory says:

      In fairness, I am still mad at them.  They were very bad people.

      • Don says:

        I guess I draw a distinction between "I still think they suck" and "mad at," which to me indicates a heat I just don't have anymore about them (or people attempting to make money on the internet in general).

  2. Doctor Memory says:

    Just like email... back circa 1991 when the opinions of your local bearded sendmail guru had a direct bearing on whether you'd be able to use the system.

  3. 5

    I am launching soon.  I don’t intend to make commercial restrictions.  I can let you know when it’s up if you want to try again.  Though I am wondering if commercial accounts will get whole servers banned.

  4. MaxM says:

    The fact that we've already gone from "it doesn't matter what server you join" to "it sometimes really matters what servers you join" is a huge leap forward in collective intelligence when thinking about social media.

    We've moved from technological considerations to social, cultural & political considerations. We've already democratized our mindset when thinking about tech.

    ... says Professor of Sociology. Interests include publics, assemblages.

    Social assembly is inherently messy.  

    Cypherpunks from 80s are old and rich cranky sellouts. They don't want messy and interesting social interaction where power comes from action.  Consumers and corporations are willing to pay more than $8/month to have easy consumption oriented social media that makes the decisions for them.

    I think Mastodon/fediverse will settle to 6-10 million active users over long term, globally.

  5. Yuval says:

    What was your crime?

    • jwz says:

      Being a nightclub, apparently.

      • Yuval says:

        Why is that a crime? Is it a "no advertisements" policy?

        • Cody says:

          The screenshot on this post shows the reason as "no purely advertising accounts on here"

        • Endless, Nameless says:

          It was a Terms of Service violation.  jwz was advertising on an instance that specifically disallows advertising.  He was politely asked to do more than advertise by the moderators, refused, and so was banned.

      • sleepless says:

        It sucks if the rules weren't very clear before you did the work to create the account, but...
        I agree that servers should be able to decide individually what the rules are, within reason.

        Hopefully there is / will be appropriate spaces for businesses, politicians, etc., but to me, it's understandable that some would want "Burning Man rules" for non-commercial campers only.

        • jwz says:

          People can, of course, choose whatever rules they want for the machines they own.

          But if you're looking for an example of the kind of barriers that will prevent Mastodon from ever being more than a niche also-ran... here's one.

          • jwilkes says:

            Where did you even find

            Just use a regular old instance listed on

            Like the first one that pops up:

            As long as your night club promotes cloud native technologies and there's no swearing you should be fine.

            • jwz says:

              I don't even remember. I created the account like two years ago, but only just started using it last week.

              "Spin the wheel again and see if you get banned from the next one too for some other random-assed reason" doesn't sound like a fun game to play.

              • Doctor Memory says:

                Sadly I think that "join a server where you have some personal connection to the owners" is still the correct and hilariously non-scalable answer here. :(

              • jwilkes says:

                Recasting all your night club's posts in the context of cloud native technology is a very small price to pay to support a righteous federation of docker instances. Especially given that most of those docker instances are probably spun up in the cloud!

                I just wrote your first post for you. Heck, you might even realize that a lot of your night club is already cloud native. If not, kill two birds with one stone by convert to cloud native and posting about it.

                Worst case you still get banned. But you leave armed with knowledge to spin up your own cloud native instance!

                If everyone just used FOSS the way it's designed to be used, FOSS would win 100% of the time.

                • a guy says:

                  I love that you think jwz might just have not realized how much of his nightclub's computing infrastructure is cloud-based. like he's poking at mastodon and going "oh they have the internet on computers now!"

                • Chris says:

                  I'm so torn over whether this is satire or not.

                  • jwilkes says:

                    It's satire.

                    But if you've read an earnest post with language approaching "righteous federation of docker instances" on a FOSS mailing list, please post the link!

              • whiteline says:

                SDF runs a mastodon instance, it'll probably be well-ran:

                One structural issue with the fediverse (not just mastodon) is that there is a split between instances that use fediblock, which is an excessively strict blocklist intended to keep out right-wingers, and those who are on fediblock. Personally I sit on one of the oldest fedi instances,, that is blocked because someone got it in their heads that the admin's name was a reference to the racist "moon man" meme. It's not really a right-wing instance though. This is a general problem if you want to set up an account with something that's visible to the whole network.

                I can follow and interact with SDF posts, so they clearly don't block. They might be a good choice.

                If you decide on self-hosting, look into using pleroma and misskey instead of mastodon. A ton of people i know self-host instances for them and maybe a few friends, it only starts scaling badly if you are running accounts for many people at once.

              • says right up front that it's a COMMUNIST server. Run by COMMUNISTS. Now you're shocked, shocked that they're petty dictators who won't countenance subversive nightclub fun.

              • Sean Barrett says:

                try another server:try another distro::run your own server:recompile the kernel

            • Kazriko says:

              I knew of Octodon myself because some members of LoadingReadyRun are hosted there. Until now I hadn't heard of anyone bringing up problems with them.

            • derpatron9000 says:

              and there's no swearing

              fuck that

  6. freiheit says:

    I think the "it doesn't matter what mastodon/fediverse instance you pick" advice is probably right for a typical low-to-moderate posting frequency, moderate following, moderate followers, non-commercial user of twitter looking to learn a bit about how things work in mastodon/fediverse...

    But if you're going to keep using Mastodon/fediverse, it definitely _does_ matter...  There's technical things, policy/moderation things, and community things...

    • Tech: Is the instance reliable?
    • Tech: Is the instance fast?
    • Tech: Is the instance fast for where you're located?
    • Does the instance have enough funding and tech experience to stay reliable and fast and handle growth?
    • Policy: Do you want to do things that some instances might forbid (Instances allowing advertising and instances allowing posting nudes are both difficult).
      • If you don't want to do those things, you might want an instance that doesn't allow those things, because allowing those things makes it more likely an instance gets blocked entirely by some instances.
    • Policy: Do you want some of the moderation restrictions of an instance, especially what other instances they're likely to block? Personally I'd prefer to be on an instance that's likely to block instances with many nazis and/or crypto/blockchain grifters...
    • Community: It's frankly easier to follow accounts on the same instance as you...
    • Community: The "local" and "federated" timelines on your instance are better if you find an instance with a community whose interests heavily overlap yours. And both of those can be good ways to find more accounts to follow.
    • asan102 says:

      damn that sounds like a lot of shit I don't wanna think about

      • Karellen says:

        Well, Twitter still exists then.

        (...for now, at least. But, you already said you didn't want to think about reliability, so don't worry about it.)

        • sleepless says:

          The problem being, Twitter is going to have you alpha testing their latest dogfood for them.

          Lots of Twitter users never wanted to have to think about being locked out due to Elon nuking two factor authentication, or being believably cloned, but... here we are.

          Things are reliably breaking in a random, apparently accelerating fashion.

      • George Dorn says:

        and you probably don't have to.

      • evets says:

        local commenter refuses to put any thought into the platform they choose to use, shocked by consequences of own actions. be mindful of the communities you choose and create, no one else will do it for you.

    • tfb says:

      Given what this is the answers are easy, aren't they?

      • perhaps, today
      • sometimes
      • no
      • definitely not

      ... ans 'who really cares, since it's dead'.

    • Rob Landley says:

      Who said it didn't matter what instance you picked? The addressing works like email but the visibility rules don't, that's more web hosting ala geocities. Email's theoretically private person-to-person, the host has plausible deniability about what you send and receive. Toots are publicly visible to everybody, and visiblity begets scrutiny and rules.

      Free web hosting sites ala deviantart and angelfire and such take down a lot of things people put up. Even paid web hosting sometimes objects to stuff their customers host (dreamhost doesn't want large video files on websites with its unmetered bandwidth monthly plans, even files you made yourself). Reasonable control means buying a data pipe and running your own machine with https around all connections to it.

      (Even email rules change when the visiblity rules change, ala spamming from email hosting, which often dings opt-in mailing lists people sign up for run from such. Too visibile...)

      • bizzy_ says:

        Oh boy! I can't wait to run my own instance! Is it as much fun as email? Hooray!

        • MattyJ says:

          Yeah. I don't ever recall having to choose which specific email server I should use for whatever email service I chose. "Oh, you want to send email to a bank? You should be using, you dummy" said no email bounce message ever.

          "Connect explicitly to one of an infinite number of servers" will never win out to "Download this app".

          • Man, I remember getting bounces because was considered a spam source and people who couldn't figure out proper substring matching didn't like

            Who knows how much was silently dropped.

        • George Dorn says:

          As somebody who does both, running my own fediverse instance is trivially easy compared to running an email node that doesn't get roundfiled by the 800lb angry gorilla constantly...  And I've been extremely lucky on the email front.

          • K says:

            My email experience has been a whole lot better since I stopped hosting a small mailing list, and it still kind of sucks. I don't know how anyone would get started in it nowadays without losing all their hair.

    • sleep says:

      yeah, just a helpful reminder here, there is literally no human-being on earth who cares enough to think about all of that even once…let alone periodically

    • mykd says:


      1) Choose [<-- when available]
      2) (Advanced users only) Do not choose

  7. cryptomail says:

    I'm sorry this happened to you, but also, I'm happy you're blogging it.  You're bringing out the best of the purported Fediverse.  Administrators and committees running instances are free to pick and choose whom they federate with and who their users will be.  It exemplifies the control they demand and manifests how that control relegates them back into the basement and into obscurity.

  8. [redacted] says:

    [original poster asked me to delete this comment]

  9. Kazriko says:

    There's the downloading archive button they're letting you access, does it also have the "redirect my account to another server" to update your followers to your new address? If not, then that's a pretty lousy thing to do and a design flaw I think.

    • Kazriko says:

      (To be fair though, "Just like email" would also apply in this case, if you were sending out only advertisements for something by email and people complain about it being spam, the email provider may do the same thing.)

    • sleep says:

      i was wondering the same. if your account is merely frozen until you find a new server, this seems annoying but tolerable. if it nukes your account that’s hilariously unacceptable

  10. Richard says:

    Would love to get a mastadon account at some big provider, where I can just pay my 3 € per month and get it over with. 🤷
    Basically like I can sign up for email on same random webhoster.
    I guess that is too much to ask for in this phase of transition

    • sleep says:

      that may be preferable to whatever this is, but i don’t think many people would want to pay for an experience significantly worse than 2009 twitter

    • mykd says:

      That's why I joined; it's run by the Mastodon dev, so gets updates first, and is well supported, and he has a light-touch approach and clearly some appreciation of the challenges of building out the community. Unfortunately he's closed new registrations now (hopefully due to digestion problems rather than philosophical principle).

  11. ChrisQ says:

    My understanding is that I can subscribe to anything that is ActivityPub using my Mastodon account. Is there a lightweight way to use ActivityPub in the same way you use RSS?

    • George Dorn says:

      It's a push-to-subscriber model, not pull-by-subscriber like RSS, so you do need a server visible to the internet to receive the 'anything' in question.  At the moment, the two lightest options are Pleroma and GoTo Social.  It's easier to run Pleroma than it is to run, say, Newsblur, though roughly the same effort as something like TT-RSS.

      There are also AP-to-RSS bridges and bots that do the reverse, though you need an AP inbox somewhere to receive posts.  I use a self-hosted bridge to forward notable AP posts to my RSS reader.  Public posts are also available as RSS, usually, though exactly how to get that depends on the server software.

      There's also nothing stopping you from using a public instance like a reader; just ignore the federated / local timelines and curate your following list carefully.

  12. mykd says:

    Heh, you should have joined; it's all about the hustle there.

  13. Ingmar says:

    It's just like email if you picked Lycos or for your account.

    I expect you'll eventually just give in and run your own Pleroma or ktistec instance, which is exactly like running your own email server - constantly fighting windmills.

  14. Jeff says:

    Time is a flat circle. The Powers That Could've Been have re-invented the BBS, in all of its neckbearding glory.

  15. joe luser says:


  16. pagrus says:

    I have resisted jumping into the mastodon discussion until now but I guess I may as well at this point. I have been on three instances over the course of these last five years and I might not be the target audience here but mastodon works well enough for me. I do run my own single (+some bots) user instance now, and it's pretty painless if you don't have to worry about moderation, but I get that that is an inconvenience that most people don't want.

    My use case is largely posting pictures of cats and sandwiches, I don't want (and kind of avoid) big/famous accounts, and have defederated from most of the larger (eg masto.soc) instances since pretty much any grief I have encountered has come from there. I follow about 150 people and am followed by about the same number, most of those are mutuals.

    But to address the subject at hand, yeah instance owners can write their own rules and enforcement of those can be very inconsistent, to say the least. So maybe it's not necessarily required to know the instance admin/owner personally but it sure does help. Just kind of being in the fedverse and screwing around does help identifying which instances might be a good fit for you. You didn't ask for suggestions but if you would like any I'd be happy to try to help in any way.

    So clearly, there are some scaling/growing pains here, and I think that masto/fedverse stuff will transform as people abandon twitter and seek out alternatives. But I don't see it going anywhere and I'm perfectly happy to just hang out with the friends I already have and talk about goth bands, or baking pies, or whatever. Clearly that's not what a lot of people are looking for and I am interested to see how those people collide with the culture that already exists

    • pagrus says:

      I should also mention that as a longtime iPod Touch user your earlier "kind of like buying an iPhone and not putting a SIM card in it." is kind of fitting, I guess, in my case

  17. sleep says:

    i'll add, another major strike against mastodon is the term 'fediverse.' who on earth thought that was an adequate name

  18. jwz says:

    Wanting to take a run at having my business's domain be in its own Mastodon handle, I wasted several hours today in a fruitless attempt at installing Pleroma on CentOS 7.9.

    It's "lightweight" they say. It's "simple". It's also "written in a language you've never heard of" and "requires a database server that isn't the one that everything else on your machine uses" and "has an installer that requires ncurses 6, because ncurses 5 is insufficiently advanced." And, apparently, "bundles with it 118 separate libraries".

    So that went about as well as you might expect.

    • Doctor Memory says:

      Oh god so... would you like a lightly annotated github gist that consist of my notes on getting mainline mastodon working via docker-compose?

    • sleep says:

      for all the lumps you’ve taken, you seem pretty committed to making mastodon work. is there any particular redeeming feature that keeps you coming back? (aside from the obvious musklessness)

      • jwz says:

        Social media is an effective (and possibly the only effective) way of promoting shows. With Twitter imploding, that leaves only Facebook and Instagram. I sure would prefer it if something not owned by Zuckerberg existed and was useful for reaching my customers.

        It ain't TikTok and it ain't Tumblr.

    • ariel says:

      Have you seen Honk? Its website purports it to be "An ActivityPub server with minimal setup and support costs." I do not have personal experience with it though.

    • as an Akkoma (pleroma fork; supposed to be reasonably lightweight, proverbial $10 Vultr got swamped instead. I've had at least as many OOM kills as I've had hours running the service.) admin for a five user instance I am moving home because I don't have powerful enough compute anywhere else, this tracks. The skill issue is with the developers of these hell-programs, not you. It's equal parts amusing and horrifying just how *wrong* they got it.

      I would balefire it if it wasn't already easy enough (I already had PostgreSQL on the system from an unrelated previous deployment (ejabberd, as well as a very lightly-trafficked mailserver deployment)) to have me hooked. I've since gone through a database migration (to move the database to a VPS that wasn't being used for anything, which seems to have reduced the OOM kill frequency) and working on my second.

      Honestly I would rather build a social app based on email than actually deal with any of this guff. That's why I've linked to my currently-bogus (because I'm an alter ego) homepage, instead of my page on my Akkoma.

  19. jwz says:

    Well, setting up a self-hosted instance even for just a single account is waaaaaaayyyyyy too difficult, and probably also waaaaaaayyyyyy too resource-intensive, so I set up shop at and for now. It seemed a reasonably anodyne suffix. We shall see what the future brings.

    • jwz says:

      Oh, by the way!

      You know how everyone says "if you don't like your instance, it's easy to migrate to a new one?"

      Turns out, if an instance bans you, you cannot do that migration, because it requires changing things on both sides, and you can no longer log in to the server that banned you.

      So, you know, try to choose correctly the first time and try not to get banned I guess. Or you lose all your followers and followed.

    • Juan Jenkins says:

      I'm probably too late to the show, but I helped a friend of mine to set up a self-hosted instance with a software named snac. It's simple and small, fine for a single account (though many are supported), it has almost no external dependencies (not sure how many) and you don't have to install it in a subdomain i.e. no (which was a requirement for my friend, he just wanted to be @him@the-same-as-his-email-address).

      We downloaded it from if I recall correctly.

  20. nooj says:

    So, having read all this but never used it, how much is Mastodon like usenet, I guess if usenet had had a 280-character limit?

    • jwz says:

      Sure, Mastodon is just like Usenet... And Twitter is just like IRC except there's only one channel with 300 million users, and blacklists work backwards. I guess.

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