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Two posts resonated with me recently, about the power of small software. Small software is simple technology, nothing shiny, build to meet the need of a specific group of people. Kris Nóva, admin of the Hachyderm.io instance posted:

And Matt Baer, creator of WriteFreely, recently wrote a blog post pondering about how he finds the concept of writing software that is supposed to be temporary incredible freeing.

It is one of the aspects I love about the fediverse, it allows for easy experimentation and creation. Sometimes in the form of projects where a large group of people get together to build something (like Elk), and sometimes in the form of a single developer making a small tool that fits their personal specific needs.

In that light, here are some of those projects that might be worth checking out:


Comments on a static blog

One of the downsides of static site, such as a blog, is that they natively do not support comments. There are ways around this, but they either involve 3rd party software, or running your own software. Developer Carl Schwan created a way to use Mastodon and the fediverse for comments instead.

The way it works is pretty straightforward: you add a simple piece of code to your page. You can read the comments on the page, and if you want to add a comment, it will send you to a post on Mastodon where you can place your comment. This is then visible also on the website:

You can find the blog and code here.


Mastodon Threaded reply view

Do you lose track when there are a lot of comments on a post you’ve made? And are you a big fan of how Reddit’s comment section looks? Julia Evans (@b0rk) might have a solution for you, with the Mastodon Threaded Reply view website.

You simply log in, and you see all the posts you’ve made. Click on a post, and the comments unfold in a threaded view. You can easily collapse all the different threads as well.

This is one of those tools that you might not use much, but in the moments that you’ve made a post which got lots of comments, it can be a lifesaver in keeping track. Do note that it only works on posts that you have made.

You can use it at: https://mastodon-thread-view.jvns.ca/


Emojos.in: finding custom emoji’s

Mastodon servers have the option to add custom emoji’s (jokingly called emojo). These custom emoji’s are only visible to the other people on the exact same instance as you. You add a custom emoji by adding :customemojiname: to a post. This will render it into a small picture on only your server. For people on other servers that do not have the exact same custom emoji installed, they will see the plain text instead.

Because these differ per server, you can find what each server supports via this website.

Use Emojos.in via: https://emojos.in/mastodon.social


That is all for now, thank you for reading. Have you made or found some cool tech things that you want to share? Let me know on Mastodon!

Welcome to another episode of Sunday Readings, a bi-weekly newsletter that gives you three articles worth reading. The theme of this episode is reflections on the web. If you’d want to summarize what the fediverse actually is, you could do worse by saying that at its core it is an ‘internet build on top of the internet’.

Reading, writing and reflecting on the fediverse becomes in part about the internet itself. To understand why people are excited about building on the fediverse, it helps to understand and reflect on the development of the internet. And it does feel like people are excited, my feelings are encapsulated by this post:

To understand where that excitement comes from, we’re going back in time:

So get cozy, grab a seat, and lets dive into some analysis of internet history.


The internet transition

Robin Berjon’s The Internet Transition is nothing short of grand, in it’s description of how the internet is at an inflection point. It is a grand, sweeping narrative, where starting at beginning means starting at single-celled organisms. Berjon uses this slow build-up to describe how complexity in society is a good thing, but also that managing societal complexity is, well, hard. The internet has profoundly influenced our societal complexity, and Berjon describes the problem as follows:

  1. the Internet has made greater institutional capacity possible, but

  2. it has also made our world more complex in ways that require an increase in institutional capacity to happen and

  3. it has broken some of our established institutions, actually causing a decrease in institutional capacity, and

  4. we are not yet using the new governance capabilities that the Internet made possible anyway.

This does not mean that creating and using new forms of governance capabilities will take the shape that it is often imagined:

“One of the most common future-Earth sci-fi tropes is that of a single unified worldwide government, often simply depicted as a beefed up UN — something bureaucratic, ineffective, and in charge of pretty much everything. And it’s not just sci-fi authors who tend that way. We tend to imagine governance systems as neatly, even naively, nested: countries, provinces, counties, cities, districts… all forming a nice matryoshka pyramid. From an empirical perspective, this simplistic view is incorrect. It also leads us to conflate global and central.”

Berjon argues in detail against unified and centralized ways of governance, coming to suggest:

“worldwide governance that is neither centralised nor unified, and in which every institution provides governance (in varying degrees) for every other, in much the same way that in an ecosystem everything is infrastructure for everything else. (Yes, like the Fediverse but a lot more so.)”

And finally concluding:

To summarise, we are traversing an epochal change and we lack the institutional capacity to complete this transformation without imploding. We could well fail, and the consequences of failure at this juncture would be catastrophic. However, we can collectively rise to the challenge and an exciting assemblage of subfields is emerging to help. We can fix the failed state that is the Internet if we approach building tech with institutional principles, and an Internet that delivers on its cooperative promise of deeper, denser institutional capacity is what we need as a planetary civilisation.

The issues that Berjon describe point to deep and complex societal issues, that are not solved by all just moving to the fediverse. But as Chris Trottier states, it can be part of a start of a new movement. The cooperative premise is indeed build deeply into the fediverse, and that is something be work hard to maintain and develop.

Robin Berjon – The Internet Transition


Web3, after a complete hypecycle

Matt Baer, the creator of write.as, wrote a blogpost in December 2021, about web3. Web3 was just starting to gain traction, and Matt wrote a reflection on it. He instead proposed a web 3.0, in contrast with the financialized, crypto-centered web3. The web 3.0 values are in opposite with those of web3, namely open, personal ownership, and interoperability.

Now more than a year later, web3 seems to have lived out most of its hype cycle. With the slow destruction of crypto, energy and money seems to be draining out of web3 as well, with people being thoroughly disillusioned by the financializated of the internet.It’s interesting to see how well this piece held up, more than a year later.

Baer summarizes web 3.0 as:

  • Web 3.0 is comprised of people
  • Web 3.0 lets anyone build for it, and lets you help others join in
  • Web 3.0 is openly accessible

And further on:

If anything feels the most “Web 3.0” to me today, it’s the fediverse. It’s certainly the most human — it allows any kind of organization to form around both platform development (often an open source community) and data stewardship (could be an individual, non-profit, co-op, small business, etc.). There’s no overhead from unnecessary organizations or programmed contracts — people know how to coordinate naturally. It allows but doesn’t require commerce to keep the ecosystem alive. And if there is commerce, it naturally supports healthy competition, i.e. multiple service providers. Finally, it’s both useful and user-friendly enough for anyone in the world to utilize today — something sorely lacking in “web3.”

Baer’s proposals and ideas feel just as fresh and relevant a year later.

Matt Baer – What would a real Web3 look like?


Platforms, not protocols

The third piece is called “Protocols, Not Platforms: A Technological Approach to Free Speech” by Mike Masnick. This piece is also older, from 2019, and does not talk directly about the fediverse either. Instead, it sets up the stage, dividing the internet era in an early age of protocols (such as UseNet and IRC), followed by an age of Platforms (the current FAAMG Big Tech), and argues the value of a move towards protocols again. Masnick argues:

Moving to a world where protocols and not proprietary platforms dominate would solve many issues currently facing the internet today. Rather than relying on a few giant platforms to police speech online, there could be widespread competition, in which anyone could design their own interfaces, filters, and additional services, allowing whichever ones work best to succeed, without having to resort to outright censorship for certain voices. It would allow end users to determine their own tolerances for different types of speech but make it much easier for most people to avoid the most problematic speech, without silencing anyone entirely or having the platforms themselves make the decisions about who is allowed to speak.

Without naming the fediverse or Mastodon, the system proposed by Masnick resembles it well:

A protocol-based system, however, moves much of the decision making away from the center and gives it to the ends of the network. Rather than relying on a single centralized platform, with all of the internal biases and incentives that that entails, anyone would be able to create their own set of rules—including which content do they not want to see and which content would they like to see promoted. Since most people would not wish to manually control all of their own preferences and levels, this could easily fall on any number of third parties—whether they be competing platforms, public interest organizations, or local communities. Those third parties could create whatever interfaces, with whatever rules, they wanted.

When describing what might not work, one of the answers Masnick gives is an increased complexity. Written in 2019, it seems remarkably how well this fits with critique that is currently being leveled at the signup process for Mastodon:

It is entirely possible that any protocols-based system will tend to be too complicated and too cumbersome to attract a large enough userbase. Users don’t want to fiddle with tons of settings or different apps to get things to work. They just want to find out what the service is and be able to use it without much difficulty. Platforms have historically been quite good at focusing on the user experience aspect, especially around onboarding new users.

Mike Masnick – Protocols, Not Platforms: A Technological Approach to Free Speech


That is all for now, hank you so much for reading. You can follow here at fediversereport.com or follow my Mastodon account.

Welcome to Last Week in the Fediverse, episode 3. The major theme of this week is iOS apps. This week saw the release of three major iOS apps: Ivory, IceCubes and Mammoth. We will dive into how these apps compare, and zoom in on the design issues behind these apps. In other news, websites are searching what the best way of interaction with Mastodon is. And finally, some good posts you might’ve missed that have an interesting perspective.

🍎iOS apps dominate the headlines 🤝Websites are searching for ways to interact with Mastodon 📝Some good posts that you might have missed


🍎iOS apps dominate the headlines

It has all been iOS news in the fediverse this week. There have been three releases of new apps this week, all exclusive to iOS:

  • Ivory, a 2$/month subscription app for Mastodon, made by Tapbots.
  • IceCubes, a open source app by solo developer Thomas Ricouard.
  • Mammoth, an open source app by a new startup, that comes with it’s own instance moth.social launched in beta.

Lets dive deeper into the apps, how they compare and how they differ. I’ll mainly focus on their design goals, and their vision on how to interact with the fediverse. For the pros and cons of each app I’ll point you to some reviews.


First of all, Ivory, who hit it big in the news this week: The launch was covered by major tech news outlets, it featured prominently on the front page of the app store and Apple leader Phil Schiller, who joined Mastodon this week, made it one of his first posts to boost the launch message.

The app gets major credits for a well designed and intuitive user interface. Macstories.net has an incredible detailed review of the app itself, concluding:

Ivory is a new app, but it’s got the style and confidence of a veteran of the App Store. It’s a 1.0 that’s been refined for over a decade. Ivory makes Mastodon a joy to use, but more than that, it shows that Tapbots are back.”

The major attention to Ivory seems like the confluence of three major aspects working in its favor:

  • Tapbots is skilled at their craft of creating great user interfaces, and the app gets rave review because of it.
  • It plays into the recent news stories of Tapbots Twitter app, Tweetbot, being effectively banned from Twitter the week prior, after 3rd party API’s got shut down
  • Ivory allows you to see the fediverse in a similar way as you could view Twitter, both in practical and conceptual design.

The third point seems salient in its contrast with the other apps, as well as a large number of other projects on the fediverse. The most notable aspect of Ivory is that it is a paid subscription app, charging 2 USD per month, as well as a closed source app. The UI is recognizable to anyone who has used Twitter, borrowing elements from it’s previous app Tweetbot.


IceCubes is an open-source project, started by it’s designer Thomas Ricouard, also released this week. The open nature (github repo) of this makes it a community project foremost, with already close to 50 contributors to the project. This is visible in the rapid reiteration that the project has: in the 8 days days since its launch the app has released 12 updates.

IceCubes is also opinioned; it wants not only to be just a Mastodon client, it also has its own ideas of how to interact with the fediverse. Notable features for this include:

  • following local timelines of other instances, allowing you to easily follow a dedicated instance such as EU Voice, which is home to official EU accounts,
  • chatGPT integration for post composition. This design seems likely to be featured in a later article, once the community at large starts to grapple with AI generated content at scale.
  • The oft-discussed feature of quote posting.

The community-centered open-source nature of the project makes it likely that IceCubes will also expend beyond Mastodon, and focus more on better integration with the rest of the fediverse.


Mammoth is from a new startup, that first started testing their app for iOS in December 2022, with all 10k spots quickly taken up. Two days ago, Mammoth officially launched in beta.

The main point that Mammoth advertises with, is its design. It’s Mastodon profile describes the main feature as “˖⁺. beautiful .⁺˖”, and the post that advertised the launch of the beta came with an entire blog post of how all the app icons are designed.

The design of Mammoth is certainly sleek, and the blogposts show craftmanship and an eye for detail. Mammoth is up against some serious competition though, with Ivory and IceCubes also showing some real design skills.

Mammoth does sport an entirely different advantage and approach though, and that is it’s focus on user onboarding. Mastodon’s onboarding process is notorious for new users, asking users to choose an instance before signing up leads to serious confusions for new people. For users choosing Mammoth, the sign-up flow is considerably smoother:

  • Users can join an instance that is hosted by Mammoth, moth.social, preventing the difficult choice of which instance to choose.
  • The onboarding flow helps with filling out the account and add profile pictures.
  • A hand-picked curated list of people to follow is presented for new users to follow. It’s hard to know where to start as a new user when you stare at an empty feed.

In the screenshot showing off the feature of suggested people to follow is Elon Musk’s Jet tracker account, showing that Mammoth is not afraid to be opiniated with their list. Creating a curated list as suggestions for people to follow is intrinsically making political choices, and it will be interesting to see how Mammoth will use this.


The beauty in all of this is that three different iOS apps can launch in the same week, and that there is actually meaningful choices between them all. The apps have their own interpretation of how to actually interact with the fediverse, and pose some meaningful questions about the (implied) design of the fediverse.

IceCubes might be interpreted as staying relatively close to other interpretations of software in the fediverse, in the sense that the software is open source, and that building the software is a community effort. Just like the software Mastodon itself, there is a central maintainer, but the community is explicitly invited to participate and contribute.

Mammoth challenges one of the core design principles that other fediverse projects hold up to, whether that is Mastodon, PixelFed or PeerTube: the idea that a new user should choose the instance that they join. All of these projects ask that the user chooses an instance, and implied in that choice is the idea that new users have the information and understanding to make a proper informed choice. For Mammoth, the assumption that the user has enough understanding to make a solid choice might not hold up, and thus, they provide an instance during the sign-up flow.

Meanwhile, Ivory comes with a vibe that extends beyond just the app itself. For some people, especially users that have been on the fediverse for longer, the move to Mastodon is a choice to escape Big Tech, a move away from Silicon Valley. For his group, Mastodon is not ‘just’ a Twitter clone for people that didn’t want to be on Twitter. The fediverse is supposed to be decentralized, not owned by big corporations. The openness of the fediverse is interpreted as radically anti-capitalist, in contrast with Apple’s walled garden ecosystem.

The environment surrounding Ivory seems in contrast with the anti-capitalist movement within the fediverse: endorsed by the app store and one of the leaders of the richest company in the world, covered by the publications that normally focus on Silicon Valley, and launched as a subscription service exclusively for a platform that is a walled garden.

This is not intended to generate controversy, in fact, it seems likely that there will not be much controversy about this at all. The power of Mastodon and the fediverse is in that it is explicitly not a singular public town square, in the way that Twitter wants itself to be a singular public town square. Instead, it is very many different squares, all having different groups, with different overlaps of people. Instead of forcing radical anti-capitalists in the same square with Apple fans, and telling them they have to come to an agreement on which app to use, the groups can largely separate themselves out in different groups, only interacting with each other when they want to.

It is in this interaction between groups that it will be interesting to see how ideas and conceptualizations about the fediverse will flow. When other new users join, which set of ideas will they pick up? Will they demand an open-source app, or will they prefer to pay a small subscription fee to a dedicated and skilled developer? I do not know the answer, but the Fediverse Report will be watching to see how shared understandings of the fediverse develop.

And let’s not forget one of the other real upgrades that all these great new apps give us:


Websites experimenting with Mastodon

Websites and news outlets are actively experimenting with how to approach Mastodon, and what the best way of interacting is.

FT Alphaville shut down their Mastodon instance this week, after experimenting for a couple of months. They cite high regulatory and legal cost and uncertainty. I wrote about this here, noting that an unclear idea of how to make the best use of their Mastodon instance also likely contributed to the shutdown.

The Verge challengers developers to turn their website into a Mastodon instance. Developer @zemlanin rose to the challenge, creating a website within the same weekend. Our analysis finds an interesting contrast between how The Verge approached their recent website redesign and using Mastodon for news. The Verge tries to get visitors to their website by showing a private, curated newsfeed on their website. Integrating that feed in Mastodon negates a main reason to visit their website however.

Dutch magazine ‘De Groene Amsterdammer’ published an indepth analysis today on how to move on from Twitter as a news institute (in Dutch only). They also set up their own Mastodon instance; social.groene.nl. On a surface level their approach seems similar to that of FT Alphaville, it will be interesting to see how they navigate the challenges that FT Alphaville experienced.


Some good posts

@Spencer Dailey shows that Techmeme has gotten more interaction on Mastodon than on Twitter for the same posts.


As Jesse Baer points out, Mastodon does not seem to have boosting figured out fully, leading to this. Referenced essay by Cory Doctorow here.


Tony Stubblebine is the CEO of Medium, and recently started a public Mastodon instance. They have been open about working together with the community of how to best approach moderation and privacy, as I’ve reported on earlier. He poses an interesting open question about moderation, with no easy answer.


The account FediThings launched a new project fedi.garden, showcasing small instances for people to join. A clear illustration of how different people are taking a different approach to the choice of instances for new users.


Just before the publication deadline I found out that there is actually a fourth app for iOS that got released this week! It’s called Tusker. You can download it here, announcement here. One of the key features of Tusker is its ability to integrate with other projects on the fediverse, such as Pleroma, Hometown and PixelFed. For people unfamiliar with Pleroma, you can check the announcement post to get a feel for it.


That is all for now! This has been a big one, with a major focus on iOS apps. The Fediverse Report will be back this Sunday, with the bi-weekly Sunday Readings report. Thank you so much for reading. You can follow here at fediversereport.com or follow my Mastodon account.

Today FT Alphaville announced that they will shut down their Mastodon instance, only a few months after it launched in November 2022. `“It was awful,” says a headline that leaves little to the imagination. The reasons for shutting it all down again are described as a host of compliance and legal uncertainties. So, what happened in the few months? Let’s dive right in!


In November 2022, during the peak of Musk-is-killing-Twitter, FT Alphaville decided to set up a Mastodon presence. It was to be an experiment, see how it all works out. Already in the announcement post, it was clear there was a hesitancy:

Alphaville, owned by the Financial Times, is clearly thinking about regulatory and legal compliance from the beginning. In the beginning though, there definitely seems to be a potential match between Alphaville and Mastodon. Alphaville is a non-paywalled financial blog, mainly providing financial commentary and context. Furthermore, it has ‘the Long Room’, a pseudo-private community for experts to share their views and expertise.

So squint your eyes a bit, and you might indeed see a vague match: both Alphaville and Mastodon are blogging platforms, and both want to build a specific community around a specific topic. So why didn’t it work out?


In the post announcing the demise of their project, Alphaville list out their reasons:

  • Substantial compliance and security risk
  • Unclear legal risk, with the worst-case scenarios deemed both unlikely, but also really bad
  • Having to get the important people involved from the FT, which, reading between the lines, did not seem to be very amused of having to deal with arcane legal questions about owning a decentralized social network.
  • Figuring this all out is hard not, and not necessarily fun to do!

Notably are two missing reasons, which both seem likely to also have played a significant role:

  • The instance did not gain serious traction. The entire instance has gotten slightly over 500 posts in the months it existed. Posts by users that are not automatic reposts of content are hard to find.
  • Alphaville seemed not to have figured out what Mastodon actually is, and how to use it. The main bloggers associated with Alphaville only seem to have used it to automatically repost content from their own website. I could only find 3 posts in total by the main people behind Alphaville that were not direct links to their website.

All in all, it seems like Alphaville had an interesting idea, but took the slightly wrong tools for the job. It wanted to build a community, but without having to be the main instigators of the community. Now, this is possible, there are fediverse instances where the admin of the instance has a more low-key role in the background. But getting such an instance off the ground is hard, even more so if you do not provide an example of how you want such a community to function.

It also did not make clear what its participants can expect. If you’re interested in finance, there is the active instance of econtwitter.net. What did Alphaville offer over that?


On the other hand, figuring this all out is hard. Most other news outlets have just started looking on from the sideline. Taking the leap, experimenting, and figuring out how things work as they go is a great attitude that we can only commend Alphaville for.

Even more so, the entire fediverse is still in the process of figuring it all out. What would be the best way of an organisation to interact with the fediverse? There’s examples of Vivaldi and Medium experimenting, as well as Mozilla in the near future. But those are quite different organisations with different goals and expectations. There’s not a great example of a news outlet to point towards of how to interact with the fediverse yet.

There are certainly developers experimenting with how websites, blogs and the fediverse can interact. theverge.space provides an early example, as reported on here. But those are unofficial and still in prototype, and not something that Alphaville can easily use right now.

All in all, it seems like a combination of factors led to the shutdown of the Mastodon experiment for Alphaville: large compliance and regulatory costs, low usage, and simply being too early. We hope Alphaville will keep experimenting in the future.

Last Friday the podcast Vergecast half-joked that readers of tech news site The Verge wanted a #mastodon instance, and said they'd hear out the developer who would turn the entire website into a Mastodon instance.

Turns out @zemlanin is that developer, and he released theverge.space yesterday. You can follow @theverge@theverge.space or follow individual writers to have the new posts from The Verge show up in your main timeline.

You can find his announcement here, as well as a short clip of the relevant part of the podcast.


What makes this project so interesting, is how this interacts with the design philosophy of The Verge. During a website redesign last year, The Verge added a storystream newsfeed. Its easy to understand when you visit the website, but this can basically be seen as a private news feed where The Verge writers link to interesting articles on other websites.

The goal here is to have people come to theverge.com instead of Twitter to get regular updates on what is happening today. Even if you're not interested in the latest laptop review you can still get links to other technews that happened today on other parts of the internet. To quote: “The internet is about conversations, and The Verge should be a place to find great conversations.”

Editor-in-chief Nilay Patel is clear about why the storystream was made: “our competition is not Wired, our competition is Twitter ... and other aggregators of audience”. Why are aggregators competition, and not other tech sites?

Publisher Helen Havlak has again the clear answer: “One of the most valuable assets we have at The Verge is a direct relationship to our audience who comes to our homepage. If I can just get people to the last point to refresh our site one more time a day, that is a huge lift to my business.”

The Verge wants to be in direct contact with their audience on their website. Aggregators take that direct contact away. By showing the content directly on the feed of the aggregator, they keep the audience of The Verge on their own aggregator platform instead.


So now take a look what’s happened here. Below is a screenshot of my Mastodon timeline, it shows a post by Elizabeth Lapotto. It is a post that is originally made in the storystream, not as a full article.

Here is how this looks on the homepage of theverge.com:

Barring some layout difference (and me being inconsistent on dark/light mode), these are functionally the same.

“Well duh, obviously they are the same”, you might say, “its effectively an RSS feed!”, and you would be totally right. Its just an RSS feed dropped into Mastodon, why does this matter?

Well, this matters, because Nilay Patel, editor-in-chief of The Verge, just told us that aggregators of audience are the competitors of The Verge! Mastodon is an aggregator of audience! Not only that, the “huge lift” to the business of The Verge is based on the idea that you’d visit the home page more often. And now, one of the ways that The Verge uses to drive traffic to their website directly integrates with Mastodon, their competitor. No need to visit the website anymore for the storystream, its right here, right in my feed.


Ofcourse, its easy to shrug Mastodon as a competitor, if only already on audience size. As a daily visitor to The Verge, and avid listener to the Vergecast for many years, it does not feel like there is any clash or competition here. Don’t see this as a hot take to whip up controversy. Originally I was just planning to shortly write up the website that was created after a fun clip on a podcast, and provide a little bit of context to the storystream that theverge.com has. But during research it just stuck out to me of how explicit the wording is for the design of theverge.com, and how much that clashes with this project.

What to make of this? By itself not much, theverge.space is by itself not a big deal. But it is part of a broader conversation and interaction of how the web is trying to reinvent itself. Different groups have different ideas on how conceptualize the newsfeed, and how to move beyond Twitter. For The Verge it’s a private, curated and topical feed; for Mastodon it is a fully open and decentralized feed. Now these different ideas have met and are interacting for the first time. It will be interesting to see how this develops further.


Thank you for reading! The Fediverse Report is keeping a close watch on the rapid developments within the fediverse. For more, you can subscribe, either directly to this blog via @fediverse-report@write.as or by following my Mastodon account. Every week you get the ‘Last Week in the fediverse’, with a summary of all the relevant news that has happened last week, as well as regular other drops of content.

Mastodon recently released a roadmap for the future development. One of the items on the list is simply titled ‘Groups’.

There is no further explanation or context for the items on roadmap, which makes it quite unclear what this new feature might actually mean. In this piece we’ll look at:

🛣️What is currently in development for Mastodon 🛠️How GNU Social and QoTo have approached groups 🐟How Guppe and Chirp.social have build a groups feature on top of Mastodon

If you enjoy this content, subscribe directly or via my Mastodon account. Thanks!


🛣️Current development for Mastodon

In 2017, main developer Eugen Rochko commented that groups might be added to Mastodon, but that it wouldn’t be a high priority. It took for Mastodon’s 2021 annual report for groups to show up again, this time as a goal for 2022.

Over the summer of 2022, Mastodon developer Claire created a new pull request (a way to add changes, such as a new feature, to the main code of the project) for groups, which show some early screenshots of how groups will look:

The main expectations of groups on mastodon are also listed. It amounts to that groups will live outside your timeline, have moderators/administrators, and only members can post. It will have the main expected privacy and moderation policies, such as private posting, moderator tools, and join by approval.

The latest addition of code for groups dates from October 2022, and the timeline for 2022 has not been reached. However, the Mastodon organization has grown and changed significantly in the fall; increased funding and interest lead to multiple new job vacancies. It will be interesting to see if the groups feature will change, and when it will be shipped, with the extra engineers and designer.


🛠️How GNU Social and Qoto have approached groups

GNU Social and Qoto are two other microblogging platforms, similar to Mastodon, that communicate with the fediverse. Both feature their own implementation of groups, which can help form an understanding of how groups might work with Mastodon.

GNU Social has a public directory of groups that you can join:

After you join a group, you can add a message to the group by tagging it with “!groupname” in the message. Everyone can see all the messages that are tagged when they look for the specific group. It misses quite a few features that Mastodon promises, such as truly private groups, and the ability for comments to stay out of your main timeline, and only exist on the private timeline. It does however have an administrator, and selective joining of groups.

Qoto has very similar features as GNU social when it comes to groups, but the feature is not actively being used anymore, as it never really caught on.


🐟How Guppe and chirp.social have build a groups feature on top of Mastodon

Guppe takes a different approach to groups, by building the feature on top of Mastodon. Groups are created automatically, and not owned by anyone. Instead, you join a group via the website a.gup.pe. Then, you post via your fediverse client of choice (Mastodon, Akkoma, etc), and tag the group in the message. The group will then automattically boost your message.

This is how it looks like for the biggest guppe group, @bookstodon@a.gup.pe">Bookstodon

By following the group in your own client, you can then see all the messages for this group.

Aguppe differs in some significant ways from the other group proposals. The main issue is that there is no moderation of oversight possible, making this a vector of abuse. While addressed in the FAQ, this is an issue that is known, but not with a current solution. The developer recently stated that they prefer not to work with ´authoritarian group management´, and wants to experiment with democratic moderation systems.

Chirp.social takes the idea of Aguppe, and then adds an owner/moderator to the group. You follow a group on your microblogging platform of choice via @groupname@chirp.social, and you post like normal, tagging the group in your message. The group account then boosts your post to all the followers of the group.


We’ve discussed the current ways to incorporate groups in the microblogging part of the fediverse, such as Mastodon. There are other parts of the fediverse that have a specific focus on groups. Most notably is Lemmy, a link-aggegrator comparable to Reddit, but decentralized and federated. We will talk about Lemmy another time to discuss how a fork of Lemmy, Hexbear, is trying to federate itself. This will be interesting from a technical perspectif, as well as from how the cultures from Lemmy and Hexbear will interact, if they will be both part of the same network.

That is all for now, thank you for reading, and see you next week! If you enjoyed this newsletter, do not forget to subscribe, either directly to this blog via @fediverse-report@write.as or by following my Mastodon account.

Welcome to Last Week in the Fediverse, a free weekly newsletter that gives you an update on the most relevant news what has happened last week.

In this weeks episode:

🔎The story about search, privacy and consent continues. 🔒Twitter shuts down the API access for 3rd-party apps, leading the developers to focus their efforts on Mastodon apps. 📅Apps that allow you to schedule posts for social networking such as Dlvr.it and Buffer add support for Mastodon 📰Bonus: video’s new jobs, and more!

You can subscribe directly on Mastodon, Pleroma, or any other ActivityPub client you use for microblogging, by searching for @fediverse-report@write.as. If you want to follow my Mastodon account, you can also get it there directly, along with other interesting news and happenings.


As discussed last week, the community wide discussion and conversation on how to approach search, privacy and consent continues.

The tool Searchtodon shuts down again after community feedback. Creator Jan Lehnardt was explicit from the beginning that he would listen to feedback regarding how to approach privacy and consent. After significant pushback he shut the tool down again. A few days later he posted an extensive introspective, which is worth reading.

Meanwhile, ActivityPub co-developer Evan Prodromou held an informal poll to understand community attitude towards search, with some valueable discussion happening in the comments of the poll. We’ve discussed this in more detail in this post.

Anil Dash wrote an extensive article s a response to the conversations, called “How you could build a search that the fediverse would welcome”. He views consent as the building block that all search should be build around, and lists the advantages and disadvantages of search on the fediverse. His main idea is as follows:

“So: What about a truly opt-in, consent-based approach to search? We need a search bot that we can follow.

Whereas today's consumer web is shaped by Google sending its bots across the internet as rapaciously as possible, on the fediverse it should be entirely possible to create a search engine that is exposed to users as a bot that you can follow — and unfollow — whenever you want. When you're following the searchbot, and you make a public post, it'll automatically be indexed and included in search. When you unfollow, or post something that the bot doesn't have permission to see, that content is automatically excluded from the search index.”

[The article can be found here, ](How you could build a search that the fediverse would welcome)and is worth reading.

Ben Tasker took a different approach, and wrote an extensive blog post on how to autodetect and announce Mastodon scraper bot activity. While the consent-forward approach is preferred, one should be prepared that not all actors will honor the requests for privacy and consent. The tool that he promotes can help alert against bad behaviour.


🔒Twitter shuts down the API access for 3rd-party apps, leading the developers to focus their efforts on Mastodon apps.

While this newsletter is not aimed at reporting on Twitter, sometimes the actions of Twitter have direct consequences of the Fediverse. Last week, Twitter restricted API access for popular 3rd party apps. After the apps had been down for multiple days, Twitter formally banned 3rd party clients on January 19th.

These 3rd party clients are build and maintained by small independent companies, and three of those have been explicit and forward about how they will move forward with building apps for Mastodon.

Tabbots, the company behind Tweetbot, used their service disruption announcement to advertise their upcoming app Ivory, a Mastodon client for iOS:

Craig Hockenberry, creator of the first twitter client Twitterific, expressed his frustration in a blog post, as well as his excitement about the direction of the fediverse.

It also gave a significant boost to the new app IceCubes, another iOS app, with the interesting feature to easily follow local timelines from other instances.


📅Social network post scheduling tools add Mastodon support

This week showed a movement towards the fediverse, this time in the form of tools that help you schedule your posts across social networking platforms.

Both Buffer and Dlvr.it added support for Mastodon. With TweetMaps adding support late last year, it seems like we can speak about a movement:

(h/t @atomicpoet)


📰Grab bag

TILvids has created a nice introduction video, Mastodon in 180 seconds. You can watch it here to also have it serve as an introduction to using PeerTube.


Mastodon recently announced they are hiring for a DevOps Engineer and a Product Manager. Yesterday a Software Engineer was also added to the list.


FediMod is a proposal for better coordination between Mastodon admins on blocking and administration. Read our reporting here, or the entire actual proposal here.


🔮Next up

We’re already excited for the next articles, where we will be delving deeper into the promised Mastodon feature ‘groups’. It got announced on the public roadmap, but did not have much context to go with.

Next episode of ‘Tech for the fediverse’ also promises to be a good one; updates to PixelFed, Elk, the new IceCubes app, new versions of quote posting being trialed, and more!

That is all for now, thank you for reading, and see you next week! If you enjoyed this newsletter, do not forget to subscribe, either directly to this blog via @fediverse-report@write.as or by following my Mastodon account.

📱Social media management scheduling

The big tech news in the fediverse today is that Buffer adds Mastodon links. Buffer is a popular social media management software that allows scheduled post to social networks, and the first of such software that integrates with Mastodon. For now it is in closed beta.


📋Proposal for new cooperative project for administrators

FediMod is a new proposal by Elan Hasson, that allows for better coordination between Mastodon admins on blocking and administration. The proposal is a first draft, explaining his thinking. He hopes that FediMod can solve help with the following problems:

  • As an admin, it's difficult to keep track of the multiple admin chats and fediblock, in order to keep up to date with instances I need to block
  • I would like to have a tool where I can choose to share blocks, reasons, and receipts with a group of admins I have vetted
  • I would like to provide an onboarding mechanism for new admins to get both the history and context for blocks, so they aren't left in the wind

The proposal can be read here.


🤖Cool tech

One of the major advantages of an open source network is the creativity that developers can freely deploy, to the advantage of the entire network. As Chris Trottier posted:

A small grab bag of some projects:


👀What we’re watching

While some tools may not be ready for launch just yet, they are definitely worth keeping an eye on. These are a few of the projects we're keeping a close watch on:

  • Takahē, an “ActivityPub server designed for efficient use on small- to medium-size installations, and which allows you to host multiple domains on the same infrastructure.” See their website jointakahe.org/ or check their Takahē account at @takahe@jointakahe.org/">@takahe.

Multiple domains is definitely an interesting idea, as well as the focus on small and medium installations. This project seems quite far along in development, and we’re sure to hear more about it soon.

  • Kbin, “an open source reddit-like content aggregator and microblogging platform for the fediverse.” Check it out at https://kbin.pub/en

Kbin is quite early in the project, and it can be hard to really grasp how it will look like in a fully functioning form. It borrows quite a lot from Lemmy as well. The design looks fresh, and we will definitely come back to check on this later.

A few days ago Medium announced that they have started their own mastodon instance at me.dm. In their announcement post CEO Tony Stubblebine stated that “Like all new platforms, there is a learning curve. We are especially cognizant that we are joining an existing Mastodon ecosystem which already has 9 million people. This ecosystem has existing community norms that are especially focused on avoiding the toxicity that have plagued other social media platforms.”

Over the last few days, Tony Stubblebine has engaged via his public Mastodon profile with the community, to have some conversation about public policy. While this is explicitly not an official announcement of the official Medium policies for Mastodon, it does provide some insight in how the organisation thinks, and takes their first steps toward formulating a policy.

Towards that end, below there are some relevant posts that shed some light on Medium and Tony Stubblebine’s thinking.


First of is the placeholder policy on content warnings (CW):

The whole thread that leads to this placeholder policy is worth a read. Medium has rules that mainly focus on area’s that are more well-known, such as bans on hateful content and restrictions on pornographic and erotic content. Mastodon has community standards that go beyond that, with people often being more proactive with adding content warnings for things like addiction triggers, or warnings for direct eye contact. It is fascinating to see these different approaches to content warnings and restrictions come into contact with each other in the thread.


Another example of the learning curve that was mentioned in the introductory post; Medium is learning by doing how to interact with copycat accounts.


On current politics:


Posted seperately, an interesting open question worth pondering.

The searching of comments and posts within the fediverse remains an hotly contested topic. Earlier this week we reported the shutdown of the API search tool Fediverse Almanac. Only a few days later, Searchtodon, a tool that only searches your private timeline, shuts down after community feedback. Creator Jan Lehnardt states that it did not gel well with the Mastodon community, and that he will provide a retrospective later.

Evan Prodromou, the co-creator of ActivityPub, meanwhile held a poll on whether developers should build a search tool that reflects current standards, with the results coming more than 70% a (qualified) yes.

In the comments discussing the result of the poll, Evan Prodromou also lists what he thinks some of the community standards are:

  • an aversion to being aggregated, collated, sorted and classified
  • the default configuration should favour community norms, not the needs of the searcher
  • ephemerality. That the past is the past; we should let things disappear with time
  • “we said no search, so no fucking search, no matter what, ever”

He also addresses the permission system in ActivityPub, stating: “I expected to have activities addressed to the Public be available for typical Web use: reading and linking. I also think republication should be based on licensing, like Creative Commons licenses. Not very well supported now on the fediverse, unfortunately.People seem to forget who have come to the fediverse from Twitter is that those platforms have republication terms built into their terms of use. Not the case here!”


Aggregration, search, privacy and consent are currently major topics of debates within the fediverse, and it seems likely that we’ll be reporting more about it soon. As the community grows with newcomers from different parts of the internet, such as Twitter, expectations and community standards will have to be learned and disseminated and discussed.