Considerations for local geographic instance

Hello :slight_smile:

So far most of my fediverse activity has been connected with https://social.coop (as user, and tech person). It’s a co-operatively run instance with a lot of co-op related content, but not only that, also a general instance.

Anyway, I’m now trying to create a local instance for my city (population of around 90k), and this seems to bring up a lot of different considerations, and I wonder if people here have some thoughts or experiences.

The offline aspect is important, rather than the online part being an end in itself, it would function as part of a physical/offline community (or many?).

This is technology how I’d like it to be, a facilitator of connection, that isn’t bound by the technological platform.

I noticed my online interaction with local people is quite different to my online-only connections, often less fluid. I think many people can’t type fast enough to expressive themselves fully (I think!), or simply don’t want to spend so much time communicating online, when in-person is an option.

It might function more as an online space to connect for offline activities. Which opens up the question of what the fediverse would bring anyway? Maybe being federated to all these other online-first communities would be confusing?

Events also quickly come up as a useful thing to support, but setting up a seperate platform, e.g. mobilizon/gancio (and therefore auth accounts) would seem confusing to people (and ldap/shared auth tools are also confusing!)… and the platforms that do have events (e.g. hubzilla and zot) give me the sense they would also be confusing to people :confused: (personally just sharing links to events listed elsewhere works nicely for me).

To summarize I think the key themes it would be looking to address are:

  • a non-commercialized online social space
  • mitigate the worst of the addictive side of social media
  • provide a space for connecting local people more deeply, on and offline

And my questions/concerns are:

  • is the fediverse even the right tool here?
  • I’m leaning towards the hometown mastodon fork, for the local-only feature
  • how to fuse the on/offline gap?
  • ideas for events?

Would be happy to hear any thoughts on this! … and maybe can inspire others to make local instances. I think it has a lot of potential for getting people off facebook etc… into healthier community-run spaces.

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This idea you are expressing is in my long-term ‘dream’ for the last couple of years, and imho is essential to address many things that ail modern society. Also essential is that this is non-commercial effort that benefits the commons. In other words I embrace this direction fully, and have many ideas. I think the fediverse is the right tool, but I am envisioning a richer fediverse that has more of its potential tapped into, to satisfy local needs and the aspects you are mentioning.

Oh, and btw… nice to see you here, Nick! Welcome to town :smiley:

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I guess a Signal group or similar tools could do the job as well, but I also don’t really see anything speaking against the Fediverse.

The Mastodon fork Ecko also has local only posts and many other cool features. Look here.

I also have a local Ecko instance https://social.wien.rocks. Since it’s not Mastodon it won’t appear on joinmastodon.com and therefore I will have to do some offline advertising to get people to join the instance. I have stickers and flyers and I’m also thinking about organizing local meetups.
For now the only local group I’m part of is a Fairphoners group and we haven’t met since corona started. But I’ll use the next meetup to try to get people to join my instance.

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Ah yes, and GoToSocial has this as well.

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I did look at ecko too, but I am concerned that it will deviate so far from normal mastodon, that it’ll be hard to maintain in the long run, seems to be an experiment!

Hometown says:

This fork is based on the principle of: minimum code change for maximum user experience change.

And I like that! (and Darius has some patreon income for keeping this going)

Ah yes! I forgot this one. The writing on that page really resonates, and I think would appeal to the mindset of the people, e.g.:

GoToSocial is not designed for ‘must-follow’ influencers with tens of thousands of followers, and it’s not designed to be addictive

It’s very new though, and I wonder how it works with mobile clients? (ah, answered on their github page - In short this means full support for modern, beautiful apps like Tusky and Pinafore., nice!).

I can’t see a link to an instance I can try out… I’ll join the matrix room.

I was dreaming of stickers too! and the local meetups, I somehow think a local-focused instance is a very different thing.

Every instance has a certain vibe/community/scene around it, and for online-first instances, it seems to exist in a kind of ephemeral space in/around the online presence.

Whereas for a local-first instance, that space might actually exist offline, in a way that maybe you can be part of it, without actually joining the instance (so the community is bigger than the instance…). And maybe some people would online participant online, so it’s two overlapping circles… I actually like the idea you can join without signing up :slight_smile: … but it does maybe break a lot of assumptions?

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(As an aside, can I have my discourse level increased? I tried to linkify a few bits of text there, but I’m a new user so couldn’t do it…)

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Here is a list:

https://gotosocial.fediverse.observer/list

Done.

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Just took another look at Gancio, which may be interesting to you @nicksellen (and here’s the source)

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Yes! I like the vibe of gancio, e.g. anonymous event creation, and encouraging to be able to include feeds/content in other places/sites (embedding, rss, ical, etc…).

The “yet another account” is the biggest downside I think (which the anonymous bit seems to mitigate somewhat, would have to play with it more, demo site is 502ing https://demo.gancio.org/).

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A bit more of my evaluation.

I am evaluating them in a very specific context I have in mind, so not evaluations of the projects on their on terms, but how they might work for local people here that I have in mind. I just say that as issues I come across might not be issues in another use context.

GoToSocial

Really nice concept and principles and vision, very aligned. But no UI, and the flow for registration using pinafore I think might be confusing for local users (pinafore refers to instances, and you bounce between contrasting UIs of pinafore and GoToSocial).

Friendica / Hubzilla / Zap

I liked the more expansive focus, e.g. including events, … more facebook-like, which might be easier for local people to use as an “all in one” social media platform.

I encountered lots of issues though, when thinking from the perspective of simple/clear signup, usage. Feels like lacking polish that would be needed for this use case e.g.:

  • friendica felt kinda dated and complicated (also noticed it emailed me plain text passwords which was a red flag), I did at least find a feed of local and global stuff, default timezone was UTC though, which would be confusing for events, had a geek/php kind of feel
  • hubzilla I couldn’t make any sense of, I signed up somewhere, and couldn’t see any feed of anything
  • zap, I struggled to find an open registration instance, and the one I did find (https://zap.dog/) seemed to not work (kept just getting redirected back to the login screen), maybe just a instance config issue?
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Sounds a good idea, As an idea for a service on fedi, I just wondered given on mainstream social media people can probably get weather updates. Is there a way to do this on fedi but on a more local level too.

ansiweather to regional fediverse instances.

ansiweather -l Exeter

Is pretty good at producing weather output (as you would expect) however I have used this in combination with the command line ‘toot’ application to direct the output to mastodon. Which is nice as a proof of concept but there must be a way to automate this and then subscribe to a specific bot instance to get regular weather updates.

So

ansiweather > weather
then
toot post < ansiweather

Will post the weather for the default location

e[44me[36;1m Weather in Rzeszów e[35m=>e[33;1m 7 °C e[34m-e[36;1m Wind e[35m=>e[33;1m 1.34 m/s SSW e[34m-e[36;1m Humidity e[35m=>e[33;1m 84 % e[34m-e[36;1m Pressure e[35m=>e[33;1m 1007 hPa e[0m

How feasible is this.?

Regards

Paul