The Fediverse

The Fediverse is a loose gathering of servers and programs connected through the ActivityPub protocol. Mostly it is a collection of decentralized web based social networks that can all talk to each other. Imagine if a Twitter account could follow an Instagram account for example.

Although the Fediverse can be a fun time with friends it can also be a scary time with mortal enemies! There are several different federating programs to use and then you have to decide which instance to join. Spooky stuff! So if you are wondering which of these programs to use I have some thoughts just for you!

Mastodon

Mastodon is a federated micro-blogging application sort of like if somebody got Twitter and email to do the fusion dance. While it's mostly a better Twitter, Mastodon also works a little differently. Instead of joining one centralized website you have to pick an instance such as fosstodon.org (a instance for free software enthusiasts and the one I currently use) or laserdisc.party (a instance aimed at movie lovers). It is similar to choosing an email provider in that all instances can interact with each other. Not all instances are ones you can just sign up for and join as many are purposefully keep small.

Once you join Mastodon you will have three different timelines. The home timeline is where all the posts from people you explicitly follow can be seen. On the local timeline all the posts from people on the same instance as you will be shown. There is also the federated timeline which will show posts from all the instances that your instance connects to. I usually ignore the federated feed and just use the home and local timelines.

One action I would recommend when starting with Mastodon is to join an instance with more than a handful of people on it. Check out this list of communities and find one with at least a few hundred accounts. This is so you have an easier time finding a few cool people to follow. You can always move your account later once you are more comfortable with using Mastodon. Another way to find people to follow is to use the trunk. It is a listing of some Mastodon users by topics they are interested in or post about.

Something to do before creating an account on a Mastodon instance is to check out this guide to Mastodon. Then once you have created an account on your new favourite instance remember to follow the rules as laid out by the admin, but also be kind to other people in general.

The onboarding of new users to specific communities continues to be a bit of a problem with the Fediverse I think. So to those already on an instance I would recommend being nice to new people instead of immediately chewing them out for a mistake!

Pixelfed

Pixelfed is a lot like Instagram but without all the evil. There has been a lot of improvements to it lately so I'm looking forward to seeing Pixelfed improve as part of the Fediverse. Some areas it still needs to improve on still are making it easy to change instances and making the interface feel less like Instagram. I feel Pixelfed could due with either more personality in its design or perhaps less in a way that lets people focus on the images. Or just more options! That would be good too.

If you wish to start using Pixelfed it can be a tedious process uploading your images. It can also be tough to find other people so I would recommend signing up at the most popular instance, pixelfed.social, unless you know what you are doing.

WriteFreely / Write.as

WriteFreely is a federated blogging platform and write.as is an instance of WriteFreely which offers a paid option. In fact the blog that you are currently reading is hosted on write.as! It does its job well and new features and related services are being added slowly but surely. I'd recommend using the write.as instance (either the free or the paid version) unless you know you want to join a specific instance or really feel like hosting your own. No matter which option you choose, WriteFreely is a good option for your blogging needs.

The aspects of the Fediverse I love most are the weird parts. Whether you are using Mastodon, Pixelfed, or WriteFreely I implore you to seek out some weirdos to follow and possibly interact with. It should be noted that I did not come close to covering all Fediverse programs and what is contained within in this article. For example there is PeerTube which is an up and coming YouTube alternative and Pleroma, a Mastodon alternative with a few extra features.

One last recommendation for your Fediverse adventures is to not let it take up too much of your life. I know social media can be addicting and sometimes I think the community has not done enough to stop the endless scrolling and bad feelings that come from using Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Have fun!

This is my day 70 post for #100daystooffload


This work by Thomas Lloyd is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

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If you have comments / questions send an email to thomas.lloyd@hey.com

You can also contact me on Mastodon where my account is @thmslld@fosstodon.org