packetcat’s Guide to Moderating in the Fediverse: The Basics

So you have decided to run a instance on the fediverse. Welcome! But also I’m so sorry.

Jokes aside this post is intended to be a guide to the basic principles I keep at the back of my head while moderating Ten Forward since 2017.

I have been meaning to write a post like this ever since the November 2022 wave of new users and fediverse admins started happening. Now more than ever there is a new wave of admins and moderators who may be completely new to moderating a social space where they do not personally know the people in it.

Yep, that means this guide is targeted towards multi-user instance administrators and moderators. Single-user instance folks, some of this stuff may apply to you but this isn’t meant for you!

So before we get into the details, I am going to break down this guide into a few key points:

  • Separation of concerns
  • Proactive vs Reactive moderation
  • Transparency. Accountability, and Responsibility

I intend to keep this post at a 101 high level overview level. Some of the things I mention can be entire topics of blog posts on their own and I may write more about specifics later but for now we stick to the basics.

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Irreconcilable Differences

Recently the Mastodon project launched a first-party iOS app. The app’s visual design itself is mostly uninteresting, it looks like a clone of the first-party Twitter iOS app (not a bad thing) and covers most of the basic functionality of the Mastodon software.

What is interesting however and what has caused a great deal of consternation and frustration among certain segments of the fediverse is what is missing. The current version (as of July 31, 2021) is missing two basic features that are currently present in the official Mastodon web app and in other third-party iOS and Android applications.

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