Session: Server governance


Convener: David Wabila (@abekonge@sunbeam.city)


(Attendee 1) - moderator on a few servers. How to develop standards and policies? How to not be a dictator and work with volunteers.

(Attendee 2) - Governance isn’t built into most tools. How do we do it?

(Attendee 3) - Background in hackerspaces/makerspaces. PhD on large-scale governance.

(Attendee 4) - Grad student studying small non-profit community groups on the fediverse.

(Attendee 5) - Runs about 30-40 person mastodon instance. Doesn’t personally know most people. Likes one-way nature of following that doesn’t require approval. How to think about regulatory issues as a small instance admin.

What types of governance have we experienced?

(Attendee 2) joined in 2016(?) on an instance run by a “benevolent dictator”. Social.coop uses Loomio.

(Attendee 4) is a moderator of a small University of Arts mastodon isntance. Only rule is “be kind”. Has other moderation experience, often telling others to calm down.

(Attendee 3) also a member of social.coop. Can be difficult to make decisions with large groups of strangers, especially when you still need to make decisions about how to make decisions.

(Attendee 1): I am an admin/moderator of Wandering.shop, having taken over with a team about 18 months ago from the previous “benevolent dictatorship”. I’ve also joined CoSocial.ca, a Canadian co-op instance, as a Trust&Safety volunteer. Different models, but each has filled out rules and is promoting a code of conduct in some way. I am also participating in the IFTAS Moderator Practice Panel - still very much in a start-up position.

(Attendee 1): Started moderating social media (before the word existed) in 90s. Importance of learning to distinguish between personal values and values that benefit the community. cosocial.ca and wandering.shop both have server rules that have been revised over the years with input from the community. Helps make it clear what conduct is acceptable. Difficult but valuable exercise. Helpful for moderators to step outside themselves instead of being reactive.

(Attendee 3): Are there ever disagreements about interpretations of a rule?

(Attendee 1): Yes. Helps to have multiple moderators. Sometimes requires revising rules. Compares to people in a condo association trying to get around rules. Sometimes the answer is “just block them.” Small communities make it possible to have discussions.

(Attendee 1): Moderater on Ravelry. Directive is “be excellent to each other”. Since about 2015, had to draw clearer limits on what wasn’t allowed.

(Attendee 2): Traditional social media uses short-term bans. Fediverse is more OK with permanent bans.

(Attendee 1): There’s a sweet-spot for scale. Members need to feel like they’re part of the community. Difference between a student rental community, or a condo, or a housing cooperative. Temporary members who don’t feel ownership don’t take care of the community. Admin teams get to know people, easier on a smaller scale. Compares to urban planning: community of communities.

(Attendee 1): IFTAS - Independent Federated Trust and Safety. How to support moderation on fediverse.

(Attendee 6): Idea: new users pick instances based on superficial things like domain. Would it be good to put governance up front.

(Attendee 1): Mastodon Covenant. Requirements to be on a list of suggested instances for Mastodon. Sees need for self-governing organizations like this.