"Welcome! Welcome to Fediverse! You have chosen, or been chosen, to relocate to one of our finest remaining social networks! I thought so much of Fediverse that I elected to establish my administration here, in the GenSoc so thoughtfully provided by our benefactors. I've been proud to call Fediverse my home. And so, whether you are here to stay, or passing through on your way to parts unknown - welcome to Fediverse. It's safer here."
- Dr. Dale Kazamich (Probably)
It's not a surprise that there's a sizeable portion of people who quite dislike Twitter, for one reason or another, but still use it. It could be that you got tired of brand accounts and people chasing clout, or got tired of Twitter's rather absurd moderation policies, that can be pretty lax where they should be strong and ridiculous where they should be pretty lax. Maybe you've wondered if it's possible to return to the Old Ways where you actually had an idea of people who were running and moderating your network, feeling that you don't even know which people are responsible for your online safety on the platform. Or it could be something else entirely. But you couldn't leave it because you knew not about any alternatives. You do now, though, don't you? It's why you're here.
Whatever the reason, you are probably here because you wanted to see if there's a better alternative, and ended up on GenSoc. And now you're wondering: How the hell do I actually use this? Instances? Federation? Federation Policies? The hell is all that?
Do not fret. Help is here.
Fediverse is a Federated Social Network. Seems like a pretty complicated thing, but not really.
The social network part is what we all already know of. You've (probably) used twitter after all. It's a place where people gather to post ludicrous shit, call each other names, occasionally be gay at each other, or just at yourself. Good times. But what does "Federated" stand for? It's quite simple.
What? Yes. E-Mail. Did I stutter? Of course I didn't, it's just text. So what does email has to do with anything? Everything! Because e-mail is federated. Let's look at two fine gals, Alice and Susan. One has an account on Gmail (yikes) at email@example.com, other has an email over on outlook (I'm sorry for Susan), at firstname.lastname@example.org. Both are using email on different servers (ok, fine, providers (ok, fine sites)), but you still can talk to each other. Alice just types Susan's address when she's composing her message, sends it, and boom, and magic happens: Gmail calls Outlook, says "Hey, Outlook, we've a gal with a handle "alice" and she wants to send a message to some user with the handle "susan" over at your place.", to which Outlook says "Yeah, sure, we've susan, I'll make sure susan gets it.". And then Susan gets Alice's message and oops, it's a confession. And Susan couldn't be happier to reciprocate. So she writes back to Alice, and Susan's Outlook does the same thing Gmail did before. Anxious Alice gets Susan's reply back and the rest, as they say, is history.
Well, Fediverse works a lot like that. You all have merry accounts on your own little sites, which we call instances. And other people have their merry accounts on their own instances. And despite that, both of you can still talk to each other. You can follow people from all the sites (well, not always, but more on that when we talk about moderation and policies), you can @ them, you can favorite their posts, you can "retweet" their posts, you can have DMs, post images, videos (even music. Yes, the mp3s. Oggs too, if you're into that. Nerd 💜). That's the secret sauce in the Fediverse formula. Each instance isn't just a technical separation, either. They are operated independently from each other, by people from all walks of life, like you and me, and the best part is that there's a whole LOT of them (just take a look at https://joinmastodon.org/communities! And that list is far from complete, but it's curated!), for every taste and every interest, or a lack of thereof. Some small, some big, some serious, some very laid back. But you, my friend, must have picked gensokyo.social (Or maybe you are on some other instance, and your friend sent you this, in which case, tell your friend we love them 💕), so from here on out, I will be using GenSoc for all the examples.
So, now that we covered the boring stuff, what do we do from here? Well, once you sign up, you'll be greeted with something like this:
As you may have noticed, by default on GenSoc, you will be automatically following @Admin. That is an account local to GenSoc, which means it's on the same instance as we are. We use this account to make announcements and address questions and moderation issues, so it's best if you keep following it. From here, you will probably want to go to settings and set up your profile, which should be self-explanatory, save for a few moments:
Your display name, bio, header and avatar are the same deal as with twitter. Locked accounts work almost the same way as in twitter, but we'll address some important differences later. Bot accounts are a very fun thing: they are the same as regular accounts, except they have a little bot badge on their profile, to help you identify accounts that are, well, bots. (Some robokin folk also use this tag though, because, well, they are bots too, sort of, so it's best to read the bio anyway.) Profile directory is also a fun thing: There's a special page on the site that lists a lot of people from all the different instances, but only if they ticked that checkbox. Tick it too if you want others to discover you that way! The profile metadata is a bit trickier to explain, so we won't cover the actual truth in this site, but for now, consider this a place you can fill with all sorts of trash that you want. And finally, "verification". The help text explains itself, I think, and as a result, you'll get a green checkmark next to your website, if you put it in any of your metadata thingies. Now let's fill this sucker:
Ah! Much better! Once we save that, we can then go back to the home page and then click on our mug in the right left corner and we'll be transported to our very own profile page. With all the things we've filled, it should look like this:
"Youmu watching you."
If you click on your face on the profile, you'll be transported to your public profile: If your account is not locked, you can send this page to your friends to get them to follow you. If it is, it won't be of much use to anybody, and I if you locked it, I bet that's how you'll like it. It will look a bit different though, but that's ok. This page is made specifically for people who don't have an account on our instance.
We've set up our profile, it's time to... uhm... toot. Yes. Toot. You can think about it in terms of tweet, because that's exactly what it is. You know, like McDonalds in real life and WcDonalds in anime. To do that, we'll go back to the home page, fill in that post