Meta, Software, Cloud services, and a warning.
Get ready for another oracle, folks, because I'm in a Cassandra mood right now.
I just found out today that Linode has begun offering Mastodon servers hosting. This occurred exactly as some of us had foreseen (or, in a mundane way, "called it" ).
It was only matter of time before big hosting companies started adding Mastodon to their suit of software because they saw a big opportunity there.
This is big - no, huge. Let me tell you why.
For starters, it takes the sysadmin load off from the server "admin" (or should I call it "top mod"? "ruler"?) so they can focus on what really matters: Community.
Yes, yes, I know, as some people have said it before, Mastodon is not a product. But deploying and mantaining a Mastodon instance is a huge thing, and not everyone can do it. In fact, it's a great barrier to entry.
You've already seen the amount of effort that our admins have put in keeping their servers snappy and scalable.
Well, these hosting companies are already doing it for a convenient price; which means that more people can start hosting their own Mastodon servers. Is this good? Is this bad?
Well, the way I see it it was just matter of time; whether the existing communities in the Fediverse are ready or not.
Yes, more people will start setting up their servers, and yes, more people will start joining without any respect for community standards in here. This is our Eternal September, and it is inevitable.
But here's the thing: Twitter is already crumbling. Today their website stopped functioning. This had NEVER happened in at least 5 years. Or at least, not in an unpredictable way as it happened today. Server maintenance? I can get it. A storage unit failing and people having to switch to a backup? Within the parameters. A datacenter suffering from a natural disaster? Predicted and insured against. A DNS failure? A blip.
An entire website failing for no apparent cause with a lot of team members no longer working there and very few people to maintain it? Run. The fuck. Away.
We don't know if Twitter will last till the next month. Hell, we don't know if a failure on a critical power line will cause a bunch of servers to fail. We don't know the state of their backup systems. We don't know if someone will sabotage it. We don't know if someone will start using the 400 million leaked accounts to wreak havoc in there. We don't know if today's failure was the result of an intrusion. The stability of Twitter is hanging by a thread.
And what will happen to the people that need an online space? Where will they go if there are not enough Mastodon instances around?
This is where Mastodon users like you or me come in. The Mastodon hosting services are out there already. It can be a danger or it can be an opportunity.
Linode is the first, but soon other cloud companies will start to compete and offer their Mastodon hosting services. With competition, prices may drop (to a certain limit).
In a matter of months, sysadmins will gain more experience dealing with Mastodon administration: backups, scaling, all that stuff. Before you know it, companies will start hiring Mastodon administrators. Courses will appear on online learning platforms like Udemy and Platzi. It will become a valuable thing to put in your resume.
And we WANT that. The ball just started rolling.
So admins, this is a message specifically for you:
Get ready. You can panic like everybody else, worrying that Gargron will finally give up and implement quote toots OR you can start preparing for the time when the inevitable happens:
Making videos for Community leaders (aka admins) about online racism, how to get rid of trolls, common caveats when running a Mastodon server... etc.
Starting discussions between Instance admins about community standards and codifying them in server rules.
Making lists of trusted instances and their admins to add them as allow-lists on the versions of mastodon that support them, JUST IN CASE.
Opening admin-only alternative communication channels to deal with big problems when (not if, but when) they arise.
Doing your homework and finding out which laws and regulations you need to follow when setting up your instance.
Creating blocklists for known spammers and nazi instances.
Training and recruiting more mods.
Adding moderation wikis to your instance servers.
Yes, wikis. Where are they? I don't see any wiki on how to do Mastodon admin stuff! And we want to organize millions of people? Seriously??? Even reddit has built-in wikis, why don't we have them?!
Right now, the way I see it, a lot of new instance admins are winging it and learning along the way. But we need organization, because sooner or later Twitter will fail (even temporarily) and people will flock to here in even greater magnitudes than we saw in mid 2022. And I'm not talking about server capacity and our usual headaches. I'm talking about dozens, even hundreds of instances opening up with Linode or other cloud services, people joining in the hundreds of thousands per week, with very few moderators, and if we don't prepare for that, they will overrun us with their toxicity, dogpilings, harassment and doxxing. We can isolate ourselves but the fediverse as we know it is at risk of being outnumbered by a decentralized mob. Whether that happens or not, it's up to you. It's up to you to be ready for the moment that huge gate opens and millions of users come in a stampede.
ur friendly neighborhood gnu enjoyer
queer neruodivergent transbian
occasional 18+ posting
occatsional nini posting
the mastodon instance at cybre.space is retired
see the end-of-life plan for details: https://cybre.space/~chr/cybre-space-eol