Don't tell people "it's easy", and seven more things Kbin, Lemmy, and the fediverse can learn from Mastodon (UPDATED) (

I had shared an earlier version of this last week, and a draft of the updates a few days ago. Thanks to everybody for the feedback!

Here's the key points:

  1. Don't tell people "it's easy"
  2. Improve the "getting-started experience"
  3. Keep scalability and sustainability in mind
  4. Prioritize accessibility
  5. Get ready for trolls, hate speech, harassment, spam, porn, and disinformation
  6. Invest in moderation tools
  7. Experiment to find what approaches are a good fit for the current state of the software
  8. Values matter
  • This is a great opportunity – and it won't be the last great opportunity

Imo the main thing would be to stop explaining federation. Just link them to one of the bigger instances, for example your local feddit or or beehive or whatever.

Federation is hard to grasp in the beginning and to be honest if you use it like you did reddit, the only difference is the way links to certain communities look like.

stopthatgirl7 avatar

Exactly. It’s an unnecessary complication. Most folks using kbin or lemmy instead of Reddit or Mastodon instead of Twitter will never, ever really need to know any federation, because all they want is to use the site. People will figure out federation if and when they need it - and until they do, all it is is a lot of technobabble that will make them tune out and give up before they even start, because it all sounds too complicated.

ArtBear, avatar

Adventures in the . My past 8 months condensed to a very short primer thread for anyone to read.

Frog-Brawler avatar

Very cool. Is clackey your instance?


It‘s an essential reason of why I‘m here, if I thought this was just going to turn into Reddit 2.0 corporate enshittification boogalo, I wouldn‘t have bothered with it.

I concede though that it’s probably not a necessary information to get most people to sign up.


Just tell them this: "It's like reddit, but multiple devs own different parts of the content. But don't worry, you still use the same software to access it & get it all from one location"


Yeah honestly I've seen so many posts with multiple paragraphs explaining federation, while I've just been telling my friends two sentences like "it's just like reddit but instead of one website there's multiple independent ones (called instances) that all see each other's content. All content on all those instances can and should only be accessed through the website you signed up on, and when you do that it works basically completely like reddit"

This leaves out a bunch of information of course, but if they want more, they can always be confused and ask or look it up themselves.


Yeah I mean even this point you can show them a screenshot of the front page of kbin/lemmy and say "hey, it looks like this. Sign up for this instance & you'll be fine. Here's a link to 10 magazines you should subscribe to, and here's a link to your preferences."

Frog-Brawler avatar

“Fediverse: an open source Reddit-like cluster. An instance is a node.” … heh, as I read that, it probably makes things more confusing.


if they want more, they can always be confused and ask

Thing is, people do, which is why...

I've seen so many posts with multiple paragraphs explaining federation

The easiest thing to do is, obviously, send new people to large sites that already have all of the remote communities people want access to subscribed to. Those work super well for people who need federation to be mostly hidden from them. But there's are practical caps on how big any one instance can get, which necessitates horizontal expansion of the network. Newer or smaller instances aren't going to have as complete federation, and that makes them less than ideal as a place for new users to go.

We need admins who are spinning up new instances to be conscious of this. People making niche instances need to have alts on mainstream instances to initiate federation. People making general purpose sites need to make sure they're seeding their server with all of the communities people want to join. Expansion needs to be done consciously and contentiously to make the distributed nature of things not matter.


I agree with this. Without ANY mention of federation I would just think, "how long will I be able to use this cheap knockoff of Reddit until Joe Lemmy gets greedy in preparation of his own IPO, or until Kevin Bin takes a late-life turn towards authoritarian censorship"

downrightfunky avatar

This. I'm a pretty sech-savvy person but I have procrastinated making accounts on any decentralized platform for years for this exact reason. I understand the federation but it seemed like a hassle to have to choose an instance (even if I know it does not matter). I was paralized by the fact I had to commit to one, and having to decide which one that would be.

Just link people to and don't bother them with other instances unless they want to. They will find that out on their own eventually and either care or not.


At first I thought just like you that I can pick any and it won't matter. But then I found that some instances defederate others and some ppl won't even see what you type. Just like shadow banning, but for a whole instance. I don't understand why thry do that, it will hurt the communities a lot.


Most of the time it won't matter. Only a few instances defederated and it won't impact most users. They mostly did it temporarily because they couldn't handle the massive number of users who came from reddit.

armeck avatar

Also, the threat of your instance shutting down and having to migrate to another instance. These are just things most people never had to consider in the past so it seems quite abnormal and "risky".


I'd say it depends on why the individual is leaving those instances. Take Twitter for example. Many left due to the power held by one person. They may not be adverse to joining something like that again. Federation would be a selling point in that regard. Sure it won't matter to many, but it is still important.


The problems start appearing when people start trying to share links to stuff with people outside of the site or click on links outside the site themselves. If the link takes a person to a different instance and they don't know federation even exists they're going to be very confused. IMO this is one of the big problems that needs to be solved since sharing links to things with friends is a huge way sites get advertised.


Yep, clients/UIs need to detect links to other instances and automatically reformat them to instance-local links. Configurable and indicated cleary that this happened, with a clickable icon next to it and resulting popup or some such.

thehatfox avatar

Federation is arguably the whole point of the fediverse however. Decentralisation is the solution to the problems created by centralised, proprietary platforms like Reddit and Twitter, but it can only survive if users are invested in it. If everyone joined one main instance, its admins could easily remove federation, add proprietary extensions etc and become yet another walled garden.

Trying to build the fediverse without onboarding users about federation would be like trying to build a democracy without educating citizens on the function and value of voting.

We should not shy away from sharing the concepts of federation, we just need to be better at sharing them.


Seeing that image, I just imagine the waves of publicity if (maybe as a publicity stunt) PornHub would announce they support activitypub, federating with lemmy and kbin ...

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