Had an interesting start to a conversation yesterday about Mastodon servers, and the driving philosophy under them.

And how you're either aiming to create a service or a community, and how these actually have different motivations and requirements.

And I thought that was interesting.

For a community, you *have* to ban early and ban often, and defederate early and often.

As an admin, it's your job to protect the ✨vibes✨ of your space, to promote community, and to remove elements that are toxic or harmful.

A service doesn't work the same way. It isn't attempting to create (or promote) a specific vibe, it's just *there*. You make of it what you will, find what you will, and (as an end user) block what you will.

The admin "just" makes the service available.

Launching an instance is either making a service or making a community.

But critical to this thinking I was having, you have to pick which one you're doing.

You can't be both.

And the corollary here is, when you pick an instance, are you picking to join a service or a community?

A service won't really care if you have a bad time. A community, if you fit with that community, will.


This of course leads into the two fundamental ways that Mastodon is being used, offering a service and creating a community.

A service only works if communities exist. Without communities, there is little value to the service.

Communities can form on top of a service, but they're ad-hoc, messy and, crucially, *cannot* be protected by the service, because protecting a community goes against the ethos of a service.

@aurynn I've seen the recommendation given to Fediverse newcomers: start at a large instance, then branch off into your favourite small one.

I wonder if the same kind of evolution happens for communities? First, people bump into each other on a large "service" instance. They get to know each other better and interact more; perhaps they start a few common 🐟 gup.pe groups.

Then, at some point,the "service" instance can't sustain the community, so they branch off and form their own instance ⤴️

@aurynn of course this assumes someone in the community has the technical know-how and enthusiasm to set it up; the worse case would be that they simply stay on the service instance with a not-so-optimal experience 😕

little value to anyone with a soul ;) I have seen plenty of masto clones attempting to turn it into a profit engine that could care less about community, but their conception of "value" is unrecognizable to me as such.

@aurynn would you like to publish this as an article somewhere? 🤔

@maloki yeah I need to turn it into a blog post I think

@aurynn @maloki seconded, this is a great reading and a good take on fundamental difference of approach seen here.

community related thoughts 

@aurynn i think there's a further point to be made here about the alienation of many white western urban folks from communities due to their daily lives and environments being essentially structured as services - both through their personal existence primarily as employees (people as service) and the high levels of tenancy (housing as service)

so essentially community building often doesn't come naturally and we need to make a conscious effort online

@aurynn i think one very insidious think about the service instances is it is financially beneficial for them to look and sound like a community instance, so people will want to be on the server instead of simply federated to it.

@aurynn this reminds me a lot of this old blog blog.vanillaforums.com/communi

It's by the (at the time) "community manager" of the Penny Arcade forums, and hits some of the same thoughts about forum communities.

I think you're right, to have a community we need to build a community, can't do that with a "we don't take sides" attitude.

Of course it's a very fine balance. Suspect a bunch of ECE stuff is relevant TBH.

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Cloud Island

A paid, early access, strongly moderated Mastodon instance hosted entirely in Aotearoa New Zealand.