On Thu, Mar 1, 2018 at 11:32 AM, Strainu <strain...@gmail.com> wrote:

>> Personally, I'd love to see WMF or a chapter set up a public Mastodon
>> instance; the project has matured significantly since its first
>> release and is at least a viable free/open alternative to the
>> Twitter-ish forms of social networking. FB still has event management
>> functions that are difficult to substitute, however.

> Even if there would be an open-source alternative with all the
> Facebook functionality, installing, maintaining and promoting it would
> be a huge waste of money.

I would agree if we compared centralized service to centralized
service (e.g. Ello vs. Facebook), but the premise of services like
Mastodon is federation between servers (instances) using open
protocols like ActivityPub. This means that even small organizations
can credibly host "instances" of a social network like Mastodon while
participating in the larger federation of users (you can follow users
from other instances, reply to their statuses, etc.). Mastodon is the
first IMO fairly successful implementation of this approach; it has
more than 1M accounts of which about 10% show recent activity, and it
already is reaching subcultures beyond the usual suspects.

To give you an idea of the cost, you can run a mid-size instance with
a few thousand users, automated backups and monitoring for tens of
dollars a month (the main cost is in person-time, but most instances
like this are run by volunteers and supported by donations). So I do
think it would be very possible even for an interested volunteer to
set up an instance with reasonable uptime, backup and monitoring
characteristics for exploratory use. Certainly it would be possible at
reasonable cost for WMF or a chapter to do so, possibly with some
"active contributor on Wikimedia projects" requirement for creating an

Once again, the crucial point here is that instances communicate with
each other, so even though your own instance may only have a few
thousand users, you are part of the larger "fediverse" which includes
software with completely different UIs implementing the same protocol.

A nice intro for the unfamiliar:

Incidentally, the protocol used by Mastodon, ActivityPub, recently
became a W3C recommendation:

Of course, I'm not opposed to people using FB for organizing -- I
think it's a totally reasonable choice, for the reasons you say -- but
I do think it's worth keeping an eye on federated social networks in
general, and Mastodon in particular, as a potential alternative space
for Wikimedia to engage in, _including_ for outreach. The numbers are
obviously still a drop in the bucket compared with the mega-networks,
so pragmatic considerations may reasonably prevail in many


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