Some people claim that instance-blocking weakens the fediverse, and undermines the point of federation.

This is the opposite of the truth.

The point of federation is that it limits the accumulation of power: no single instance can control fedi, because users can always switch instances without leaving fedi.

This is why fedi and fascism are fundamentally opposed -- and why the ability to block fascist/abusive instances is the very heart of federation's power to serve its users.

@woozle new admin here. Any far right instances I should be concerned about?

@jeff Just quickly, here's where I take notes on our blocks:

There are now also some notes (this is a newish feature) on the automatically-generated listing (scroll down for the listing)

Hope that's helpful ^.^

@woozle my instance is only a few days old. Yet this is the usage. Is this normal? am I doing mastodon wrong

Currently instance blocking does not regard users.

When instance is blocked, users with contacts on that instance are not automatically informed. Existing conversations are cut-off without notice, messages become unaccessible. I have experienced it and it feels like a violation of private life.

If there is such procedure as instance-blocking, it should consider well-being of users at first and inform those with follows/followers on blocked instance, so they could at least manually backup their conversations before they are gone.

Also, if you are informed that some instance will be blocked, you get a chance to be vocal about your communities policies: contact admins to support or discourage them, or if you do not agree - move your account before you're cut off.


@dudenas These are good suggestions for improving the user-friendliness of fediverse instance software (such as Mastodon).

@dudenas @woozle in practice most instances do notify their users if the instance to be cut off has contacts with their own. Making it public to the other instance is nice in theory but often invites harassment. I know there are people who target based on its public block list.

@ljwrites @woozle

I do not believe anyone has data about habits of admins in "most instances".

But I wonder, do mastodon admins have a convenient tool (not a cumbersome db lookup) to easily see, that their users have contacts with their to-be-blocked instance?

@dudenas @woozle I mean, if mods make it a practice not to be transparent to their users and to disregard their convenience that's fundamentally a human problem 🤷‍♀️ It might be nice to have, say, automatic notification and time delay if there are contacts between the instances, but that's simply a technical facilitation of what good mods do anyway and should be bypassed when human discretion calls for it, e.g. if there is only one user following someone from the other instance it might be more efficient to tell that user privately rather than make a public notice depending on concern of harassment etc.

Yes, there is an easy interface to view connections between one's instance and a different instance under the federation admin menu, like how many people on the instance follow people on this instance and vice versa, how many blocks, and how many reports there have been.

@woozle You can not change opinions with blocking... opinions only change if they are debated and people are exposed to differences.

Blocklists creates silos which divides the fediverse into different camps. Silos creates fundamentalism.

If you are told the same untruth multiple times, you will eventually believe that it has some truth to it. Unless the untruthfulness is exposed.

You cannot tolerate the intolerant. Hate speech and fear mongering are abusing democratic discourse ajd must be excluded from it.

Well I am assuming here, that instances are blocked for these kinds of reasons. If that's wrong, I am sorry.

@Mopsi @woozle Do you have any real world research? Anyone can make a philosophical argument on anything.

People can change and do change all the time. It is not about sanctioning their views.. but correcting them. So it is not about tolerance.

Racism is a response of being afraid. Being scared of the unfamiliar. About belonging. Blocking will only make their resolve stronger.

So I would say.. blocklists is to take the ignorant route. Burying the head in the sand.

Blocking hate speech is not the fight for winning those on the other side back. It is the fight against losing more people to them.

I do not have research unfortunately, but an example. The german extreme right party AfD was rising and rising through the refugee crisis because they kept inciting fear of strangers in the population. Inviting them into talk shows only made things worse, because it provided them with the means to reach even more people. 1/x

@shellkr @woozle
Recently their popularity has been declining. And it is largely due to the fact that nobody cares about refugees anymore. Nobody is talking about the AfD's topics anymore.

@shellkr @woozle
I agree that people who are afraid cannot be won back by punishing them for their fear. But easing their fear is extremely hard. And more importantly, not everybody inciting fear does that purely because they are afraid themselves. If you look at the politicians in the AfD, they are clearly using fear for their personal gain.

@shellkr @woozle
A major politician in the AfD is a homosexual woman who lives in a relationship with another woman with children. This woman is fighting to limit the rights of homosexuals, because it's what here clientele likes. No amount of rational argument will convince her out of her positions, because she knows fully what she is doing.

@Mopsi @woozle The reason the AfD support is declining is because there is less refugees. So they are not really blocked...

And yes, some are more difficult but no one is impossible. Some needs years and years before they turn. Some may have psychological damage that need treatment e.t.c..

@shellkr Changing opinions isn't the point, at all.

There are some people you just can't reach. Freeze peachers and Trump followers are two examples that come to mind.

@woozle Yes, fundamentalist and fact-avoiders are difficult... but not impossible. Many dropout cultists are proof of that. Also.. the scale are never black and white.. it is more a gray one.

@shellkr Point being, some people don't want to deal with truth-deniers, much less evangelists for anti-truth, or see such nonsense popping up in their timeline or community spaces -- but "free speech" instances tend to consider such speech acceptable as long as it is "civil".

@woozle If you are not following anyone with such views.. it is very unlikely you will see anything like that in your feed. You have also ability to individually block someone.

Also.. if you are on the internet you will have to be prepared to be emotional. You will meet people who you do not agree with. You will be much better off learning how to handle it...

@shellkr I've heard these arguments before, and they're... circular and empty.

I personally have no objection to dealing with counterfactualists and other forms of subtle uncivility. I often find it energizing.

However, as the owner of an instance that has been specifically created as a safe space, I am aware that many of my users are not prepared to deal with these things, and they don't wish to engage with those folks but nonetheless may find themselves caught up in the backwash from those discussions (from others who are willing to engage) -- and I firmly believe that they deserve to be able to interact freely within a social media space without having to deal with content they may find triggering. To insist that they "love it or leave it" would be, in effect, silencing them.

This is where much "free speech" advocacy reveals its hypocrisy: allowing loud dominating voices to speak without restraint inevitably silences others -- but free speech advocates never seem to care about that, somehow.

Furthermore, by allowing counterfactual speech to propagate into my spaces, I am enlarging its platform -- and I cannot imagine why I'd want to do that.

Note that this does not apply to mere "controversial opinions": there is a difference between {suggesting that a conventional view is in some way wrong} and {acting as if it is obviously wrong and anyone who believes it is part of the conspiracy} (often accompanied by abuse of various degrees of subtlety). The former is welcome. The latter is not, and spaces which support folks who do it will be blocked.

@woozle Just because you have heard them before doesn't make them any less true.

Learning how to deal with this is to block an individual when necessary or lock your own account. An instance block takes that away and is both a blunt tool and a collective punishment.

Also... you sit in front of a computer. It is a safe place. The best strategy is to learn how to handle your triggers. Everyone can do this. Doing so will also improve your IRL.

(I work professionally in psychological care.)


I'm afraid I have to say there seems to be a lot you don't understand about trauma and psychological safety. Have you done much research on these topics?

Just to reiterate a point which may have gotten lost in the threadtangle: this isn't about me. I enjoy a certain amount of sparring with right-wing jerks. I can deal with personal attacks. I had 30k+ followers on G+, when it went down, and dealt with RWAs routinely there. The safe space is for my users -- the guests in my living room -- not for myself.

@woozle I do.. I work with schizophrenia, autism, asperger e.t.c.. every day.

You are right.. some are not ready but they should not be on the internet at all. A common problem is people (usually mothers) who want to help actually make habilitation harder as they take away functions that need to be trained.

I know you want to help.. I do too and often fall into that "trap". But blocking instances that do not block instances is not the right way.

@shellkr You didn't answer my question. Have you done much research into these areas (trauma and safety)? What have you read about them? What sources?

My experience directly contradicts your conclusions. You can't heal a trauma by repeated exposure, for one thing.

The fact that you don't seem to be listening to my arguments and experience makes me wonder if you apply that same methodology to your practice.

@woozle Of course I have. You have to evaluate everything individually and as I said.. some shouldn't even be on the Internet and absolutely not on Mastodon.

What is your experience? Have worked with this professionally? Have you habilitated anyone? What is your real world experience?

I am lazy and there are much sources on this.. here is one..


You wouldn't want to engage in such exposure without the individual in question being under the care of a therapist, though, would you? It's not just "make them face their fears continuously and without support"; it's a process.

I haven't worked in therapy professionally, but I've got a lot of personal experience dealing with traumatized individuals (some in therapy, some not; I always recommend therapy, but a lot of people don't have that option) -- and I do know that throwing people in the deep end of the pool rarely works well.

The fact that I'm not a therapist is exactly why I'm not qualified to subject my users to exposure therapy -- especially without their consent.

Also, regarding "some are not ready but they should not be on the internet at all." -- the internet is not a monoculture, and has not been for decades. There is plenty of room for spaces with varying levels of supportiveness.

TC is a supportive safe space. That involves keeping out those who cannot behave supportively or at least neutrally.

@woozle Yes, having a therapist is preferable but it also depends. Most of the work they have to do themselves and by their own and then talk about it with a therapist if they need.

My experience is that we tend to be too overprotective. I have also seen this done by personnel which is dangerous and removes functionality. Like putting an elderly, who can walk, in a wheelchair because it is easy. They will never get off that. Similarly when you let a depressed isolate themselves.


@woozle The road way back is testing and hard but pays of in the end. Also.. Mastodon let you do this on an individual basis. Which is much better and on a more granular level.

We may have to agree to disagree. My view is that it is dangerous to block on an instance level as it creates silos. It will also not protect as some will fall between the cracks. It is too blunt.


@woozle Also.. thank you for your voluntary work! We live in a world that is cruel and hard. People need help. Someone to talk to. And you being there is very valuable. Thank you!

I suppose it depends on what your goals are. Certainly many are attracted to the Fediverse because it inhibits the monopolization of social media. Others are attracted to the Fediverse because it enables the free exchange of ideas, uninhibited by centralization. For the latter, blocking instances that aren't being disruptive would seem counter-intuitive.

That voluntaryist "you do you" mentality is what makes the Fediverse superior to establishment social media for me.


For the latter, blocking instances that aren't being disruptive would seem counter-intuitive.

I guess it depends on your definition of "disruptive".

Regardless of how you define it, though: if you view excessive moderation as an abuse of power, then instance-blocking still serves a positive function for everyone -- in that folks who want that level of moderation can de-federate from those who prefer less, and there's no need to get into a big fight about what the universal level of moderation should be, once again preventing any single practice from controlling the flow of discourse.


Completely disagree with almost everything you said.

If you censor facist content, than point blank, that just makes you facist.

But its ok, #freespeech supports your ability to voice these opinions.

@original_fractalator Exactly. means I am free to exclude assholes from my platform. Too bad more free speech "advocates" don't seem to understand this.

Banning fascists, however, does not make me a fascist; I think you substantially misunderstand the concept.


It's your server, you can do whatever you want with it. :)

But silencing people you dont agree with from being heard by other people is facist behavior... and it will initiate a cycle of unresolved conflict, not solve it.

We should challenge or ignore people we dont feel comfortable listening too. Not rely on someone else to make that call for us.

the moderators should make sure the server is safe from scams, viruses, trackers, spam etc. Not opinions.

@original_fractalator Is it fascism to exclude people you don't like from your living room?

I don't block for having controversial opinions. I block for abusive behavior.

@woozle lol we maybe meaning the same thing,

but trailed off from "block facist intances" ... "makes a safer fediverse"

Dont support judging collectives by the actions of certain individuals within it.

Dont support disrespect, but perfer them to still be heard so we can call them out on it and also be heard doing so.

Dont support calling an instance "public" if thier gunna run it as a private group and decide what subjects get talked about.


Don't support judging collectives by the actions of certain individuals within it.

If a collective doesn't police bad behavior by individuals, then that instance is tolerating that behavior -- and may well become a magnet for others wishing to behave the same way.

...prefer [dissenting opinions] to still be heard so we can call them out on it and also be heard doing so.

If those opinions are expressed in a respectful way, and don't spread harmful disinformation -- sure.

Don't support calling an instance "public" if thier gunna run it as a private group and decide what subjects get talked about.

"Public" has a lot of potential meanings in this context, including:

The instance is open for registration without prior approval or invite.

The instance's posts are publicly viewable.

The instance's posts are reshareable on fedi, where not otherwise individually restricted by the author.

The instance is legally a public forum.

I think you're using something closer to definition #4, while the most common usage I've seen is #1.

TootCat is currently #1, #2, and #3.


Well your vibe attracts your tribe naturally, and if everyone is blocking people they dont like, than ya, all the blocked people will cluster... and then you got a big war O.O

ignoring is not the same as tolerating.
toleration is when you specifically allow/support for a certain subject to be talked about.

Ignoring can make stuff disapear.

and if someone trust the source without verifying the information, its thier fault, not the moderators.

@woozle this has a flip side: because nobody controls fedi, no one can stop it if other forms of the right choose to abuse the service, as has happened before.

And it is possible to make blocking a difficult task due to the low bar to entry. I could think of ways to automate the creation of instances with docker, an API for a registrar (or abusing subdomains), and bots. This largely hasn't happened yet, but it is very possible and in fact not difficult to do with even the most rudimentary programming knowledge.

@Elizafox As I said in another fork of this discussion, nothing is perfect; the point is that fedi as a concept inherently works against the aims of fascism by preventing too much power from accumulating.

There are other mechanisms which could help further, such as sharing block-lists among designated friends.

@woozle I think in the context that you are able to roll your own instance and thus be the master of it all, then this is completely true. But for the average user, which Mastodon hopes to invite, this isn't really an option. The idea of abandoning all you've done on a single instance because a group of people you spoke with were blocked, isn't very appealing. That doesn't serve a user as much as it discourages them from even using the platform to begin with.

@woozle I'm of course not talking about being blocked from talking to known trolls or just bad actors in general. I am talking about an entire domain being blocked because of a few bad actors there. Where their is evidence of misconduct or bad crap, blocking is absolutely the right call.

@Phaserune As I've said elsewhere, yes, I agree, switching instances is not without cost to users.

My point is that the cost of doing so on a federated social network is lower than that of leaving a centralized network like Twitter (i.e. it's possible to stay in touch from another node), which results in less concentration of power within the fedi than in mainstream social.

It's not a panacea, it doesn't make it easy to switch; it just makes it possible to keep in touch after doing so.

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