LURK ATNOFS chapter: How to run a small social networking site with your friends
Friday, May 13th 2022

IRL location: Varia, Gouwstraat 3, 3082BA Rotterdam
Online location:

Learn more about the Rosa server:
Varia's Code of Conduct:

12:00 - 12:45: Block 1 - Introductions
13:00 - 13:45: Block 2 - Where are we? The Fediverse
14:00 - 14:45: Block 3 - How is the software different?
15:00 - 16:00: Break
16:00 - 16:45: Block 4 - Thinking in inclusions & exclusions + Scale 
17:00 - 17:45: Block 5 - Discussion and review about response to Block 4

Consent collection (opt-in):
- using maps/diagrams:ezn, Tekla, ccl, reynir, robertwgehl, Dorian, balder, Roel, lidia, Mara, Nona,Dave, artemis, Marloes, Manetta, Angeliki, dooho, wonjung, Heeju
- using drafts for CoC/ToS/Privacy Statements or any outcome of exercises: reynir, balder, Dorian,ezn,robertwgehl, ccl,Tekla, Roel, Mara, lidia,Nona,Dave, artemis, Marloes, Manetta, Angeliki, dooho, wonjung, Heeju
- screenshots and/or extracts of the pads: reynir, cristina (ccl), Dorian, Tekla, ezn, balder, robertwgehl, Roel, lidia, Mara, Nona,Dave, artemis, Marloes, Angelikidooho, Manetta, wonjung, Heeju
- photos:ezn, Dorian, balder, Tekla, ccl, robertwgehl, Roel, lidia, Mara,Nona,Dave, artemis, Marloes, Angeliki, Manetta, dooho, wonjung, Heeju
- blurred-out photos: Nona

13:00 - 13:45 Block 2 - Where are we? The Fediverse
Mastodon first released in 2016. Rob wrote a lot about alternative social media. Long process to make alternative social media a reality. Different groups have worked on it throughout years. If corporate social media were federated, you would be able to send messages from Facebook to Twitter etc. But no, they are silos, meant to keep you in, for several reasons. One would be that it makes finding friends easy. Mastodon doesn't silo users.

What is it? Corporate social media versus indie/alt social media (graph in Jitsi shows different ways you can address these entities. 
The domain is a singular thing. 
As users we can't do much to change the parameters
Alt/Indie platforms can pick these things apart, softwares are not singular, where services are hosted is diverse, domains also, economic models (from commercial to volunteer, orgs, institutes etc). 
Agency is one of the key differences between centralized services like Facebook and federated services like Mastodon.
"Traditional" Social media answers all of their organization structure questions with corporate structure.
But federated social media offers different ways to organize. Including various economic, political, philosophical models.
There are many different groups in this workshop, and one of the purposes of the workshop is to see how you can adapt Mastodon to your specific needs, wishes etc.

A graph of a tiny part of the fediverse with and, and a mystery instance. The graph shows local connections, inter-instance connections and which instances are federating with each other.

Projects to map the fediverse network exist, to discover the various instances that exist.

It matters which provider you are on, because each set their own rules and have their own specificities. Mobile phone service providers all offer the same and it doesn't reallymatter which one you use. In this workshop we aim to discover how to make it work for us locally.

There might be some misalignment of expectations about privacy and reality. There are ways of changing visibility of what we're sharing though, we'll go into that. It is important to have smaller networks, because it is all based on trust. The admins can see what you are doing (as with corporate social media). Important to think this through when you join an instance and start sending Direct Messages, thinking they are private, yet admins can still see them. 

The user's relationship with the provider is based on trust. Are larger providers easier to trust? How do you trust a medium sized provider. How about small? If the server is just some friends, how does that affect trust?

The way your posts appear to others is not uniform. There are many different clients rendering things differently. There is a push to make it one large network. The narrative seems to be 'it doesn't matter where you sign up, just pick one and join', yet it does matter because it is not a uniform and heterogenous network.

Maybe it's more accurate to say that for now the current ordering of posts is not weighted by their metrics, such as popularity/engagement/etc. (there are server side integration of trends though, so this is probably coming up next in the future) 

Hometown is a form/modification of Mastodon. Most important mod is possibility to post messages which do  not leave the server, only for local community. It simplifies knowing where your messages will end up. It makes the local community matter more. 
Darius Kazemi is developer of Hometown, mostly for his own interests. He wrote 'How to set up and run your own social network for your friends' article. :
The local posting option creates a space for community formation that seems to be lacking in other social media.
It's an unofficial version, so might seem scary, but Roel thinks the local only function makes it very much worth it.

Unlisted:  mean home only, but your followers can boost and spread it further (from jitsi chat)
Followers only: shows up in home only, and your followers cannot spread it (from jitsi chat)

Mastodon and Hometown develop a server/client model. For mobile phones there are officiol iOS/Android clients. They chose not to have a local timeline (but they say it's wip). Metatext on iOS, Tusky on Android support local timelines. This is the difference between Facebook apps and Mastodon apps, there are certain expectations of how you should use them.

Questions block 2:

14:00 - 14:45: Block 3 - How is the software different?
Aymeric will do a live demo. A quick tour for 10 minutes. After that everyone messes around with the interface and where posts are going. 
Aymeric made an account @blauwereiger but is all alone (and sad). He follows Manetta (Angeliki mentions you can search for users with the search function without the @). 

If you want to promote someone else's post, you can 'boost' with the recycling sign. 

Dorian (in Jitsi): I've seen people confused by how direct messages show up in the timeline, I think that would be good to cover via demonstration. 
Aymeric sends a direct message to Roel. If you click on the 'earth globe pictogram' you can choose 'direct' and only the person you @ will see the message (and the admin if they take a look (takes some effort)).
Direct messages will also show up in your "Home" timeline. But aren't visible to local users/followers except the person addressed. So posts on your timeline may not be visible to everyone the same.
Direct messages are accessible to admins; it's not easily doable, there's no interface for it, but it is possible. This is why it's called "direct message" and not "private message".

In Mastodon, posts are called "toots." Instead of "retweeting," you "boost".
This is also one of those things that can be customized, the terminology you use to describe "making a post to your feed" can vary per provider!

Favoriting can be used to bookmark posts, and also to like a post. Mastodon created the bookmark feature, so there is a clear distinction. If you bookmark, the person who made the post, will not get notified of it. With favorites, the person gets notified.

Notifications alert to you when people favorite, boost, or reply to one of your posts, as well as when peopel follow you. You can also set notifications to alert you when specific accounts post. You can also set your account to not allow new followers without your consent; you will be notified when someone requests to follow you.

You can share media, such as images. A very strong cultural practice is to make images more accessible by adding a detailed text to the image.

All this is very similar to Twitter. There are some distinctions though. 
1. With Mastodon: at user interface level -> advanced user interface is different. Go to preferences and enable advanced web interface and save changes. Go back to your page and you are in control of much more fine grained settings. 

Manetta mentions how valuable it is if someone sits with you to introduce you to new media such as Mastodon. Aymeric mentions that this is the purpose of onboarding workshops. Best way to engage with Fediverse in the beginning is to stick with a simple interface instead of the advanced one you can enable (because discussing the entire interface in detail takes a full day). 
You can find folks with common interests to follow at sites like:

Post visibility: Aymeric shows an image ( ) of all different visibility options (on and outside of Mastodon). Unlisted and followers only are public, only local and federated timelines are removed. Unlisted is NOT private. It just doesn't show up on feeds, but if ppl browse your posts they'll see it. 

There is no public - private binary, you can only peel away layers of visibility.
Roel reiterates that admins on indie as well as corporate social media (or servers in general) can see your stuff (also DM's). 
I feel like these different kinds of privacy settings can prompt us to think about social connections in more complex ways. Do these settings better model social groups sharing desires than other platforms?

Content warning: CW icon in toot interface. You can use it when you post things that might be triggering or unwanted or unsuitable to some people. In the top entry you type a warning (for instance: eye contact), then below you put the content that will be hidden (for instance: a selfie looking into camera), and revealed only when ppl click on 'show more' in post. It is also used to make jokes, bait, etc. 

Tension between federation understood as load balancing and as exchange between different communities. Profile directory browsing allows seeing who is on local instance (local timeline) and also who from other instances is connected to people on your instance (federated timeline).
"Collage of Communities" Great phrasing!

Local only posting is possible because Mastodon is open source, anyone can view the code and modify it. Local only means only the other users on your same provider can see the message. The broken link/chain icon in the bottom right corner of the post shows that it is local only. Followers from other instances cannot see it.

Aymeric shares pixelfed post: He loads the post from Pixelfed via Mastodon search, and it shows up (MAGIC 0o0). Shows interoperability and how not silo-ing works. Works for images but also for video. Shows a peertube video, commented on it via Mastodon, and it shows up on PeerTube. 

<play time: shit post & follow each other> user account handles here:

Questions block 3:

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< One hour break <3 >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> 

16:00 - 16:45: Block 4 - Thinking in inclusions & exclusions + scale
Starting to give shape to your own project.
Thinking in inclusions and exclusions.

It can be difficult to start making these decisions, a "who am I to be deciding this stuff?" But think of this is a first draft. Things will evolve.

Lurk started in 2018 as a result of a fascination for all the different groups on there. Curiosity. As lurk got more people involved, it started to become interesting in and of itself. 
Right now there are 3 larger groupings of crowds on LURK: 
In the beginning invites were given on a friendship basis, and friend of friend (i.e., triadic closure).

Different recruitment moments (some half-joking):

250 active users (active = login at least once a month), 600 accounts, lot of new ones after Twitter takeover by Elonz.

Moderation has been very loose and open. Now there is a strong door policy.
Creative practice is lowest common denominator on Bit arbitrary door policy. It's messy :) 
(sounds like a policy procedure for approving/denying applications is useful for groups to have)
Often applications by "the one guy" who is the dreaded "FOSSbro"
LURK never discussed how big they want to be.
Other examples: 
    - which lets (almost) everyone sign up, even people (such as Nicolás Maduro) banned from Twitter.
    -, only federates with post.lurk and 2 other servers. sheltered environment by and for the Berlin queer scene

Suggested groups (with etherpad and jitsi breakout room url?) (I think whatever people are comfortable with? Just post the links here and your group members can easily jump in)
## For whom is this instance meant? 

## Who is not welcome? Think not only broadly (e.g. no racists) but more subtly... your friendly but quite boring colleague? 

## You know your crowd the best: to what extent does this server need to be a sheltered or a hyper-connected space?

## Should people mostly talk to each other as a community, or should they be individuals grouped together who each talk to an "audience" (twitter-like)? How do you facilitate that?

## How will you recruit new people? How much time do you spend introducing newcomers?

## Are you ok with institutional and/or promotional accounts? Are you ok with automated posts (bots, Twitter cross-posting, blog to fedi bridges, etc)? How does that decision affect the (community) experience you are trying to build?

## What size server are you planning for? Your immediate friends? Your association? Your co-workers? Your association + some others? Your city?

Questions block 4:

17:00 - 17:45: Block 5 - Discussion and review about response to Block 4
Round of what was discussed, difficult things to answer, etc.

Angeliki on Feminist Hack Meetings

Question from FHM: is there a list of instances to avoid? Can this be shared? Some ppl feel more comfortable on a commercial platform, because if there is a problem, the response is quick. On some instances you can be quite alone. 

Mara mentions they are all in different locations, they only get to meet irl on festival and events. Syster server is growing since 2019. Because of new user influx due to Twitter-gate need to discuss this more.

Dave & Dorian: 
    Building local community, discussed if Hometown is suitable for that. Starting an instance for activists organizing things together. Do you start small and let that lead to bigger use of fediverse? Both have goal to connect people who want to make social change. Both interested in FOSS. Mastodon doesn't fit every use. People also need to be protected from surveillance capitalist practices. Word of mouth seems to be the ideal way for ppl to join. Better than aiming for maximumm reach and advertise. It builds better connections. 

Roel: if this is part of a larger activist work, this also creates security considerations. has there been any analysis of how Mastodon holds up to serious attacks? Self tagging is tricky, easy target. More discussion on this needed.

Precedent (Aymeric): election in Catalonia few years back (2018), problem is that they are completely open directory of ppl active in activist work. Easy to scrape, easy to profile ppl. It was great that the instances were easy to quickly deploy, and they were impossible to take down, but massive security risk. Old school indy media networks were much more secure, careful and aware of risks.



Moderation tips:
Questions block 5:

Accumulation of reasons to choose Hometown (instead of Mastodon):

Balder: Appreciate if people can help us in to decide if we will migrate to Hometown. Roel says this could be something to decide at the end of the workshop. He hopes people will end the workshop with drafts and ideas on how to structure their instance, which version to use etc.

As the old software engineering adage goes, be ready to throw your first effort out. Consider your installations, policies, and practices to be a first draft in need of revision.

There are different fediverse projects -- some critically reverse engineer Instagram (Pixelfed). Some do so with Youtube (Peertube). Some do so with Bandcamp/Soundcloud (Funkwhale).
...break time...
{{ process comment (Daveb): We use jitsi for all meetings at MayFirst, and host a free jitsi server in NYC, which we have modified to allow real time live interpreter translation for inclusiveness with Mexico compadres.([that is a great feature!]//brilliant! Thus, our video conf. tools can be modified as well as our social media text sharing ones. As bandwidth widens globally this may be more important.