Basic Concepts

Many people will be familiar with the concept of social services (aka social media) – for example: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. This gives a good grounding on how the Fediverse works. However, there are a few key differences which are important to understand.

Check the terminology page if you find any of the terms here confusing.

No one owns the entire fediverse. Unlike other popular social services, the Fediverse is not owned or operated by one person, or corporation. There are no shareholders and no profit targets.

Anyone can create a server on the fediverse. In fact, it is mostly operated by individuals (usually skilled technical people) on a voluntary basis. They provide the equipment and connectivity, and allow you to access their server.

This is the greatest challenge. Although the administrators (admins) of the servers may provide their time and skills for free, in almost all cases the equipment and connectivity costs money.

Most admins have adopted a donation approach, where they will seek small donations monthly from their user-base in order to fund the running costs. In most situation, this is not a requirement to use their server, but an 'if you can spare a little cash'.

Your sever admin will typically have an About page on their server explaining how you can make a donation.

Moderation is a hot topic on social media services. The commercial giants have teams of people – perhaps hundreds – who attempt to interject on posts which break their rules and guidelines.

Similarly, on the Fediverse, each server will have its own guidelines and rules, which you agreed to when you signed up. Moderation is at the server level, not the Fediverse overall. This means that each server admin takes responsibility for their users and ensures they are playing by the rules. Some servers will be more relaxed, others may have tighter guidelines. When you are signing up to a server, read the rules carefully to ensure it meets your own requirements.

Their approach to their server moderation may vary, but in general if they notice, or someone reports, a post that does not comply, they will contact the author for a conversation/warning, and may also immediately delete the post/the user entirely.

Your server admin may also choose to defederate users or entire servers – this blocks them from communicating with their server entirely.

Every Fediverse server will have an option in the user interface allowing you to report a user to admin for investigation.

Most server types offer a facility to Search for posts. Their degree of complexity will vary, so see details on your specific server type back on the home page.

Key to Searching is understanding the limitations. It will NOT search the entire Fediverse for posts based on your search term. This is sometimes difficult to understand.

Your search basically searches your own server only. There is no facility within the design of the fediverse for a global search. This was part of the fundamental protections of the fediverse. It is one way to stop someone trolling the entire fediverse looking for targets. Such a person/bot would have to visit individual servers to do localised searches, and there are methods in place to detect and prevent this.

Back to your search… although it only searches locally, it will include posts from other servers and people it knows about. It knows about these because you are following others, sharing posts, and having posts shared back to you.

Therefore, although your search may seem limited, the server is expanding its knowledge all the time.

As a user, you should maintain a good balance of likes, shares, and replies to keep your server alive and knowledgeable.

'Algorithm' is a word used a lot in social media.

In simple terms, it is a set of rules a computer uses to decide what to show you on your timeline of posts. Commerical social media services rely heavily on algorithms to generate income. Their computers have rules to:

  • Decide what adverts to show you, and how often
  • Show new content you may be interested in
  • Promote posts from Celebrities
  • Show you some of your friends posts in an order they decide based on popularity

A lot of the above is heavily based on likes and shares. Your friend may post something on Facebook but you never see it as the algorithm thinks you're not interested !

In the Fediverse there is NO algorithm.

You are shown every post in your timeline for every person you follow, in date order. Simple. You're in control.

Most server applications have similar features for interaction, and here is how they work in generic terms

  • Shares: When you share a post, everyone who follows you will see it in their timeline
  • Like: You are letting the author of the post know that you appreciate the content
  • Reply: The way to have a meaningful follow up conversation regarding the post

NONE of the above have any effect on how the content is seen by others. There is no algorithm.

  • Last modified: 21 July 2023 19:40
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