W3C Tech Talk: Mastodon (mastodon.social)

18 May 2017

Meeting Minutes

<Ralph> [enjoying "What is the Mastodon Social Network?"]

<koalie> wikepedia: Mastodon (software)

<koalie> Slides: Mastodon (mastodon.social)

<sandro> Starting at 10 after, to give people time to watch the video: https://‌www.youtube.com/‌watch?v=vd2ct1Pljv8 You still have time, just barely.

<sandro> poll: +1 if you've tried mastodon now, -1 if you never will, 0 if you might

<marie> 0

<Bert> +1

<tripu> +1

<koalie> +1

<dom> +1

<tanya> 0

<Ralph> 0, about to be +1

<Jean-Gui> 0

<naomi> +1

Sandro: gitpitch bug, sorry; need to copypaste the links

Visibility of this meeting record

Sandro: I propose the record be public and if you want something not public say "scribeoff" first

[no objections]

... so resolved

The Pitch

Sandro: two parts to the slide deck
… the second part is a bunch of stuff I find fascinating

[slide: Q: Will this take over the world?]

Sandro: this is the best thing we've seen in years for re-decentralization
… there's been a lot of groundwork in recent years
… from TimBL in particular
… I'm willing to bet enough on this one to go all-in

[slide: Q: Can the technology scale to everyone on the planet?]s

Sandro: unproven, but the architecture is like email so it probably can scale to the planet

... afaik no one is hosting video now, and not many photos
… so costs will rise for those and you should expect to pay

[slide: W3C Standards & Mastodon]

Sandro: how does this relate to W3C?
… built on 10-year-old OStatus
… identi.ca and status.net prototyped things on this stack
… ActivityPub inherits the OStatus tradition, by the same people, fixing some things
… the Mastodon developers have expressed interest in moving to ActivityPub
… and asking the AC for support to extend the Social Web WG to allow for possible changes during CR

<Zakim> weiler, you wanted to discuss naming (might be scaling - if naming is on the agenda separately feel free to ack me later)

Sam: email, jabber, etc. fail badly if the host fails
… your identity is still bound to a host
… is that solved here?

Sandro: no, and that's my biggest issue -- #1 in github
… there's brainstorming on how to handle this

<koalie> Mastodon on Github

Sam: Another Layer of Indirection!

Sandro: it might be able to be solved socially too
… we've figured out how to do this in email

Sam: err, my mail host failed this weekend and I couldn't get mail :(
… but if Mastodon doesn't hide the redundancy as gmail does ...

Sandro: I haven't heard of problems yet, but certainly it's a problem with the [current] architecture

[slide: Run a W3C Instance?]

Sandro: Sure, why not?

Ivan: I see an advantage [of having our own host]; it's easy to filter for only those messages coming through our host
… which would be only those messages of interest to folks with accounts on our host

Sandro: yeah, and if we get a lot of our community moving to our instance that might work

Sandro: if we believe in decentralization -- which I think we do -- this demonstrates that it works

Coralie: historically SysTeam has been reluctant to install such software
… any SysTers care to react?

Sandro: I did talk with Ted about this, though I'd be fine running it myself for 6 months or so
... Ted's concern is that he doesn't like to assign domain names for services that might not persist

[tripu raised his hand, then lowered it.]

Sandro: one can have twitterbots but there are mixed feelings about that
… various experiments on github integration
… W3C doesn't have to run all of those; others can do so

Sandro: so, if we do run our own instance what should we call it?
… my current preference is "social.w3.org"

<tripu> I am no spokesman, but I think the Systeam prefer folks experiment with their own OpenStack instances (anyone from staff can do that), and launch 'official' services only when proved useful -- for the sake of efficiency etc.

Sandro: we can reuse that for another service if we decide to abandon Mastodon

Sandro: [responding to tripu's comment] we can certainly experiment but we do have to commit to a domain name

<sandro> poll: shall we go ahead with social.w3.org?

<koalie> +1

<Ralph> 0

<ivan> 0

<sandro> no long term commitment

<tripu> -1, as social is generic, and we might need to host Moonsterdom in the future

Vivien: as soon as you advertise a domain name that's a commitment, so be careful
… and Ted needs to approve *.w3.org names
… so please generate a formal request

<naomi> 0

Sandro: yes; I understand -- I'm trying to get a sense from this channel

<Ralph> not yet even a novice, so abstaining for now

Sandro: using 'social.w3.org' allows us to adopt some other fork if we decide we prefer it
… without losing identies

Ivan: I abstained but I absolutely agree that we should use mastodon.w3.org

<dom> [but keeping accounts / url structure etc requires some level of compatibility with mastodon for the future system we would pick]

<dom> [naming is hard]

Ivan: but let's not bikeshed here

Jean-Gui: I am a bit concerned about hosting such a service with no longterm commitment
… if people use our service and then we decide to turn it off, those [early adopters] would lose their accounts
… if the accounts can't be easily migrated they lose
… I don't like the idea of creating an account, even if we say it might be temporary

Sandro: nodding vigorously
… a lot like "cool URIs don't change"
… we could set an example; if we do decide to shut down the service, how to best do it?
… if we have fewer than 10 active users in 6 months we can more easily say "sorry, you're out of luck"

<dom> [having a clearer plan around discontinuation would help assessing whether that's an experiment worth pursuing]

Sandro: I expect there might be migration software in 6 months also

Vivien: is the experiment to use Mastodon or to deploy our own instance?
… shouldn't we start by using an existing host? e.g. mastodon.social?

<koalie> [I heard Sandro say "let's set an example"]

Vivien: might be good to ask some folk who are regular twitter users

Sandro: yeah; we have some in our community who are already users
… e.g. a server was created for the CSS WG, though I don't know how much use it is getting

<Ralph> ... there's some advantage to running our own experiment

<Bert> -1 (We could possibly have accounts for the team @...@w3.org, once it's clear Mastodon succeeds. But for the rest it's supposed to be distributed; people van be @name@my-own-domain instead.)

Ralph: reacting to Vivien, the reason I personally wouldn't want to sign up is because I don't know if I want to commit to using the service
… so that's another way to look at it

<vivien> [I don't have a twitter account, and barely use facebook either, so I doubt that I'll start making a lot of "toots"]

Ralph: if W3C decides to continue running it and I decide to not continue, I just have to kill my account
… however, I signed up on the MIT instance at the start of the meeting
… that leads me to the idea of my community, w3c, offering an instance

Sandro: Bert, you -1'ed
… may I hear why?

<vivien> BTW rigo is absent but I know he is interested to use it (not sure of his use case so)

<Ralph> I'm interested in _my_ community running an experiment so I can decide how much I personally want to commit

Bert: I don't think it's time for W3C to visibly commit
… once we do, I don't think it should be a public service open to all
… as it's distributed, others can create their own services

<vivien> Bert, is right. Do we want people to create IamASpammer@mastodon.w3.org ?

Sandro: one subtlety is that, unlike email, there are local discussion features such that instances are communities
… the main deployment scenario is that a community has a server for its community
… and if an individual is a member of multiple communities, the user joins (logs-in to) multiple instances
… "federated" is the preferred approach right now
… that view is what has attracted the huge growth in the number of users

Bert: topic channels are necessary to be sensible for communities

Sandro: I'm thinking "TPAC lunch"

Vivien: wouldn't we be better served by something like a 'slack' alternative?
… how different is this from slack?

Sandro: I understand the slack functionality as irc with a better UI

<vivien> I had Mattermost in my mind https://‌www.mattermost.org/‌features/

Sandro: in irc and slack there's a group and everyone in the group sees everything
… Mastodon is more like microblogging; you see what you subscribe to
… like twitter
… it's a different feel
… and Mastodon scales better
… twitter scales in ways that chat rooms don't

[slide: Some of my favorite topics]

Sandro: if there are no other questions, here's stuff that interests me

[slide: Do Folks Want Bridging?]

Sandro: these bridges are not all implemented yet, though some gateways exist
… I personally would like to be able to read all these in one place
… but when you post, should it be the case that your post is gatewayed out everywhere? There are different styles in the different systems
… and should "boost"s (retweets) be gatewayed all the time?

Sandro: my theory is that the bridge should be bult as a means to boostrap
… though Mastodon has had success without bridges

<koalie> +1 on bridging

Sandro: Eric Ries' experience was that after building bridges to his new system, his users really wanted the system to not be bridged
… so that development effort was a waste

<sandro> poll: would brdingig make a big difference to whether you use and recommend mastodon?

<dom> +1

<tanya> +1

<naomi> +1

<Bert> +1 to Atom feeds. The best way I found so far to get news when I want it, formatted the way I want it.

<koalie> +1

<tripu> 0

<ivan> no, it would give me the possibility to get rid of the huge amount of useless twitter feeds

<marie> +1

<dom> (I've found it hard to adopt mastodon because posting both to Twitter and mastodon was too much work)

<Ralph> I definitely don't want outbound bridging. I'm not ready to commit on inbound bridging; I'm pretty happy with &microblog

Vivien: @@
… if bridging is available on the Mastodon server, is it a per-user decision to use it?

Sandro: bridging is not yet deployed, but yes; I imagine that users would turn it on in the way they want to use it

Vivien: in that case people won't be using Mastodon as just another twitter client

Sandro: if all their interactions are with twitter users then, yes, they'd be just another twitter client

[slide: Algorithmic Feeds]

Sandro: right now Mastodon is like twitter was at first; you see everything
… I'd like sliders to set how much I'd like to see
… I'm interested in this area for my own research
… ties in with abuse and social climate topics

[slide: Application Areas]

Sandro: I push for decentralizing all applications
… the platform can be extended for many areas
… [brainstorming] a request for a ride share might go out to people who aren't your followers

[slide: Social Climate Issues]

Sandro: dealing with "unacceptable" views
… these are huge social issues in the world
… twitter hasn't solved it
… I think algorithmic feeds are a solution

[slide: Stats]

<koalie> thanks, Sandro!

Sandro: the Social Web CG is meeting tomorrow; feel free to join

<koalie> thank you Ralph for scribing

Ivan: what's next?

Sandro: there's an AC review on extending the Social Web WG
… whether to create a W3C instance
… there's a million things I'd like to do to make it better
… I have an idea of doing a viral survey of instance admins to help people understand what level of commitment an admin makes

<vivien> from sandro's admin survey "Where is the money coming from to operate this instance?"

Bert: I figured out that you can find a "toot" stream by copying the link before it is redirected

Ivan: I haven't found a way to see who I'm following

Sandro: nor have it, but there's a CSV export!
… the default interface doesn't seem to have a nice 'edit my followers' panel

<koalie> [Coralie drops off to go to next call]

Ivan: the community does seem to be using hashtags; how do I create one?

Sandro: if you click on a hashtag you see all the posts that your instance knows about
… a federated timeline
… so the MIT instance will show you all the posts on the instance and all the posts subscribed to by others on your instance

Ivan: can I store a hashtag search?
… so I don't have to keep searching?

<tripu> sandro++

<tripu> mastodon++

Sandro: subscribe to a hashtag? I've not seen that functionality yet
… there are so many things that are missing now; I'd not have released a system yet, but there are *so* many users already

Vivien: about spam ...
… I don't want Mastodon to harm the W3C image
… how much work will [running Mastodon] represent?

Sandro: moderation tools
… there's a 'report this' item on the 3dot menu
… can ban users who appear to be spamming
… can ban instances who are not stopping spammers
… this won't stop the many-new-accounts-every-day attacks
… we might someday choose to tie accounts on our instance to having a W3C account
… one thing that killed the blogosphere is that it got spammed

Vivien: I'm thinking about our bad experience with public wikis
… even requiring a W3C account hasn't stopped the spam

Sandro: this isn't quite as bad as wikis because stuff from spammer wont be widely seen -- only shows up on local timeline, and hashtag -- maybe that is bad.

Sandro: how can I resolve the w3c instance question?
… I don't like to proceed with a -1

Vivien: SysTeam would probably object to a publicly open service
… you might need to give us some time to think about security issues

<Ralph> social.labs.w3.org ?

Sandro: Ralph's suggestion is so wrong
… that's saying "you're gonna have to move if it becomes successful"
… like X- headers

<Ralph> which is precisely the nature of the conflict with SysTeam

Sandro: and I like the idea that W3C visibly endorses this to some degree

<Ralph> TimBL can decree

Sandro: I don't understand why domain names must be viewed as so persistent
… social.w3.org is not really different from labs.w3.org

<vivien> I'd like to have 10+ staff members supporting this idea (but users who know, use the tool and will commit continue using it during the experiment period)

<Ralph> I think we should allow ourselves to experiment with domain names


<Ralph> FYA -- http://‌www.urbandictionary.com/‌define.php?term=toots

<vivien> GNU Social: https://‌www.gnu.org/‌software/‌social/

<vivien> In June 2013, we merged with the StatusNet project.

<vivien> https://‌www.gnu.org/‌software/‌social/‌merge.html

<vivien> https://‌gnu.io/

<vivien> "GNU social is a continuation of the StatusNet project"

<vivien> [[

<vivien> On June 8th, 2013 the developers of GNU social are pleased to announce a merger with both the Free Social project and the StatusNet project. Free Social developer and founder, Mikael Nordfeldth and GNU social founder, Matt Lee will co-manage the project. StatusNet founder and Federated Web pioneer Evan Prodromou, will remain active on the project as an advisor and occasional contributor.

<vivien> ]]

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