It has been roughly a month since we embarked on this journey of the MMORPG.Social Mastodon instance and I have been wanting to report back how things have been going. For the uninitiated Mastodon is as social microblogging platform that runs on a technology called ActivityPub which provides the functionality of decentralizing your access to a larger network. What I mean by that is all of the individual Mastodon/Pleroma/PixelFed/GNUSocial and a bunch of other similar ActivityPub based tools “federate” with each other and effectively link up to form what folks commonly refer to as the Fediverse.
What this means in practice is that you address people not only by the @name convention but also @instance following the name. In doing so you can follow and communicate freely with anyone using any of the ActivityPub based federating instances. Because of this freedom it becomes more about choosing the local instance that most closely reflects your interests than simply dog-piling on the largest one. Some numbers for example of the biggest instances… Pawoo.net which is a mostly non-english speaking instance has as of the time of writing this… 441,376 users. Mastodon.Social which is lead by the creator of the Mastodon software and largely considered to be the flagship is at 306,065 users. On the other end of the spectrum you have thousands of single or handful of users instances that cater to very small communities.
Why Change Instances?
I’ve moved around quite a bit on the Fediverse, largely because as I got more engaged with the community I had reasons for popping elsewhere. Thankfully Mastodon specifically gives you the tools to direct users from one profile to another profile and export/import the users you were following to make picking up your home and moving it a little easier. Just for reference… here is a run down of the people I have been on the Fediverse.
- @Belghast@Mastodon.Cloud – a large generic instance that was being used as overflow for Mastodon.Social when I first found out about the existence of the Fediverse.
- @Belghast@Elekk.xyz – I quickly realized that having a good local was more important than being on a big instance and this was an amazing home run by @Noelle who also serves as one of the moderators for Mastodon.Social and in general does an awful lot to help support the Fediverse in general. Even though I am not actively using Elekk.xyz I fund her Patreon just to help support her efforts.
- @Belghast@Nineties.Cafe – My good friend Liore decided to start her own Mastodon instance, and with that I migrated myself from Elekk.xyz to Nineties.Cafe. The first month was a glorious time, much like the launch of a new MMORPG but over time folks stopped posting and now there are only a handful of us that seem to check it these days.
- @Belghast@MMORPG.Social – I initially just signed up here to support the very awesome Gazimoff who is running the instance, and in the end wound up migrating completely because it has become a really cool environment. Lots of MMORPG players hanging out and talking about the games they are playing.
Ultimately I didn’t have to move at all and I could have continued communicating with people from Elekk, Nineties and MMORPG all through my original Mastodon.Cloud account. However one of the things I love about having a good local instance for a home, is that you get access to the Local feed that shows what everyone is publicly talking about on that server. Each time I have moved it was because I wanted to be part of that local environment and keep taps on what was happening. There is of course the Federated timeline which shows you everything being said by anyone that your instance is federated with, but that can be at times like drinking from the firehose.
Admittedly one of the hardest things to get used to for a long time avid Twitter user like myself, is how generally slow the pace is on the Fediverse. You have to sort of think back to those early days of twitter when you weren’t following a couple of hundred very chatty people to get the same sort of experience. Over time I have found people from lots of different instances that I follow, and because of it I have knitted together a community of people that I talk to on a regular basis. However I want to throw out the warning that Mastodon and the Fediverse in general is going to feel like a really quiet place at the beginning before you branch out and find your tribe.
The instance has been going for roughly a month at this point and we have way more users than I ever expected at this point. Gaz also has been working super hard to give lots of different options for the user base and even got us an official Mascot. I have no clue if the mascot has a name… but I propose Mortimer. Normally folks just stand up and instance and call it good, but Gaz has been doing a lot of fiddling under the hood to stand up infrastructure to support growth. Here are some examples…
- https://mmorpg.social – this takes you to the default TweetDeck inspired interface that personally I find super comfortable since I generally use either that or a mobile client to access Twitter.
- https://lite.mmorpg.social/ – for those who prefer the twitter web client experience, Gaz stood up Halcyon which is a lightweight twitter clone interface.
- https://blog.mmorpg.social – is a WordPress site where he posts information about the instance which is pretty new but also super useful.
- images.mmorpg.social – is not directly reachable but serves as the infrastructure for AWS S3 where he is now hosting all of the images for speed and reliability
- mail.mmorpg.social – is also not directly reachable but is a dedicated mail server that handles that functionality again for speed and reliability since registration requires email notification
On top of that I believe he is experimenting with PixelFed which is an activitypub implementation that gives you a more Instagram like experience, but the challenge there is making it blend in seamlessly with the rest of the network so folks who prefer that Insta experience can still hang out and communicate with those who prefer the Twitterish one. So much of this is contained in a really excellent “Getting Started” post that he crafted as a way of easing new users into our little corner of the world.
I think one of the challenges of the Fediverse is that so many people hop on that bandwagon thinking it will immediately replace Twitter as their daily driver network. I too went into it with those expectations and quite frankly I was placing too much pressure on it to fill some predetermined niche I already had carved out. As I have moved through the Fediverse and tempered that opinion… I’ve realized that more or less it is a completely new continent to explore. Sure you are ultimately leaving a bunch of people behind in that journey, but you are also going to meet a ton of people you might never have met if you didn’t hop on that boat to the new expansion content.
At it’s core MMORPG.Social was created to fulfill three basic goals.
- To build a microblogging home for fans of MMOs and online games
- To eliminate excessive and uninvited advertising
- To bring back features like chronological timelines, and add new ones like editing statuses and custom emoji
I personally think it is excelling at all of them and they have a pretty reasonable code of conduct statement as well. The awesome thing about the Fediverse is somewhere out there is an instance being run in the manner that you want. The fediverse in general gives the admins a lot of latitude in dealing with problems… like the ability to block entire instances that end up being problem children. This means that the fediverse experience is going to be very different for each user and especially on each local instance. So far I am greatly enjoying my stay and if you are interested in Mastodon, the Fediverse or MMORPG.Social I am always more than willing to answer questions. If you are interested in signing up check out the sign up link here.