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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: mew.toot.cat/mw/Pub/toot.cat/b

There are now also some notes (this is a newish feature) on the automatically-generated listing toot.cat/about/more (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.

@woozle

@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 rage.love 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
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.

@swashberry

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.

@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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