In this business a Ruby on Rails project making it into the news gets your attention. We’ve been watching Mastodon grow since the early years and we love the project. It’s become really well known in the last month as Twitter has…done whatever they’re doing. The best part about Mastodon is it’s federated nature and it’s similarity to email. We run Ruby on Rails applications and email server on our platform so it makes sense for us to offer Mastodon as a managed service.
As people have said, this elephant ain’t tiny. Mastodon is a pretty big stack. There’s also all the other things that come with a social network: a sense of community, the policies, and the philosophy of running a social network.
Here are some take aways after a few days of running Mastodon.
Should I do Managed vs Private?
Mastodon is a complex project with a lot going on behind the scenes. Running it can be a lot. Each community out there is built around something different and they all have their own interests.
It comes down to the question of if you’d like to be part of a Mastodon network or run your own. If you’d like to be part of ours we’re happy to have you and we’re planning to have the 1 click installer to help you run your own if that’s you. We’ll keep using our knowledge from running ours to help make yours better down the road.
Based on what we’ve seen so far billing for storage space above a certain limit would be best. That gives everyone plenty of space to use Mastodon and it can work similar to how email and database storage do now by integrating with your total disk usage.
How do we balance keeping Mastodon special while also keeping it helpful?
The community and ideas which fuel Mastodon is what makes Mastodon special. It was that phenomenal community that got Mastodon over the product adoption chasm that most open source projects never pass. The federation rules contain minutia and subtleties and that’s what makes Mastodon different. Representing our user base that includes companies running businesses, e-commerce applications selling goods and services, and freedom of speech advocates is an interesting journey. Striking the right balance is the key to growing this space in a healthy way.
Our guiding philosophy is to chose the “harm reduction path” here. This means we read and take every abuse report seriously. We’re leaning on the side of caution first and temporarily suspending accounts that we feel require special attention. We’re not deleting those accounts or blocking user access without warning and giving them the ability to reform their behavior to be in line with our guidelines.
Much like email spam abuse on Mastodon is non-binary. There’s a spectrum of abuse from outright abusers who are willfully ignorant to misunderstanding how to best market a brand and follow the rules. A good example is an unsubscribe link in an email — that wasn’t an industry standard thing until we as a community took the time to iterate over solutions and come to consensus. There are still times we have to remind people they have to add an unsubscribe link sometimes. We will certainly face similar challenges here with the harm reduction strategy we’ve chosen.
This will still provide a gateway for freedom of speech while also defending public safety first.
Being part of this social experiment at this phase of its growth is really amazing. We as an organization are happy to be participating. There seems to be a place for managed hosted instances of Mastodon in the ecosystem. Our instance is still a beta test and we may find things don’t work out and that’s OK too. If that happens we will give the community 3 months warning as agreed in the Mastodon covenant.