I've been involved in starting a mastodon instance (actually, hometown) for my home town (city population around 100k).

many challenges, but one is that it seems people expect/want something like facebook, not twitter.

I think twitter is already something a bit weird. facebook is normal, with groups, events, etc...

as far as I can see, there is no usable open source fediverse facebook replacement option.

I don't know if this is a problem yet, as I can support people more to learn other ways.

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@nicksellen i quite like the soapbox front end for pleroma, it's what I'm using. For something like Facebook, i think is the closest you will get. The nice thing about the pleroma backend is that it supports chatting, a feature lacking in mastodon.

@wolfi thanks! although I think adding crypto-stuff, adverts, and payments (from minds) would add confusion. and also seems not aimed at self-hosting? which seems a key part of a local social network to me.

soapbox seems a bit like halcyon frontend, the same idea, make it look like twitter, although I think it's the paradigm that is more confusing than the interface, I don't know how they work, but when I tried pinafore, I still needed to login with the mastodon interface, so again, confusing!

@nicksellen well commerce features are default in Facebook, in minds at least you have more personal control over the commercial part. The thing with the self hosting is definitely an issue.

Soapbox is different to what you tried. There is no confusion about making an account and logging in, nothing get redirected to a mastodon interface.

@wolfi so far it's the groups and events bit of facebook that people have mentioned. I don't know about the commerce bit.

I think I still feel more comfortable with default mastodon interface, in terms of it staying around, when compared to pleroma+soapbox, where I would worry it wouldn't stay around as long.

well, I did install hometown, but even wondering if that was a good idea, the additional non-federation posting option is confusing (in addition to privacy options).

@nicksellen I'm getting confused about what you actually want.
Mastodon UI is just a clone of tweet deck. A non "Normy" UI interface. In terms of staying around, i think it is on a similar level as pleroma, if you want a guarantee of things staying around mainstream platforms have a better track record. In terms of comparing pleroma to mastodon i would say pleroma is superior in performance, efficiency and feature set. But i think the opinion of people who actually used both backends are more valid than mine. So looking at soapbox's switch from mastodon to pleroma seems to be useful to understand what the technology holds. In terms of them staying around i think the superiors technology will have a better chance of surviving and if you are worried about one of them dying there are always ways of preventing that scenario such as giving the platform enough funding.

I am wondering why you want groups in the fediverse, it feels like each instance is like a group and the group mechanism is more valid on centralized social networks like minds and gabs, but then you don't want centralized technology so it might need a different way of organizing.

It somehow feels like you are trying to filter out the solution for the group instead of taking the pros and cons of each Facebook alternative and then voting for which to use in the group.

@wolfi the tweetdeck UI is an advanced option now, the default is the simpler one column one.

I'm not sure I'll be about to justify the approach I'm taking enough to satisfy you, and it's not where I'd like to put my energy :)

it's ok if we come to different judgement on the relative merits of different approaches.

if you're interested more, is the documentation of the process so far.

@nicksellen try setting up a friendica instance. I think they still have ostatus support along with activity pub and its more like facebook

@bwk thanks! I looked at friendica, and zap, and all the ones I could find... but they seemed super confusing to me, and I don't think would be usable for people here.

mastodon put a lot of effort into polish, and still it's confusing (same with twitter itself). well, also facebook is actually quite confusing for many people.

I'm thinking having more video calls, and in-person sessions might be key here. trying to create a really friendly vibe...

@nicksellen yeah that might help. In the end you can't please everyone, I'm sure that people will figure it out and if they can't its possible to try and streamline the UI on whatever software you go with. I hope your project works out, the more people on free software the better.

@bwk yeah, it's an interesting experience to see how people receive it.

I have a feeling most of the work will be in trying to explain things that are unfamiliar, and how it might address concerns/issues people actually have with corporate social media (addiction, algorithmic feeds, adverts, data selling).

@nicksellen I think the biggest issue would be explaining the federated feed but that can be done with a warming bubble when you sign up.

@bwk yeah, I would happily remove the federated feed. it seems more a technical-level feed than a social one. right now it's pretty much the same as the local feed though.

I think even the concept of federation is confusing coming from corporate platforms.

some of the interests have been support better social media practises (less addictions) and facilitating in-person interaction.

@nicksellen I see plenty of interaction on the federates feed and I think that's part of what makes fedi great. If you want to remove it to simplify your platform I guess that's fine but I think it loses a bit of its soul. You can supposedly change your twitter feed to not be as cancerous if you're just trying to get a more friendly social media experience. Not sure if Facebook let's you do that though

@bwk in contrast federated feed hasn't been any part of my fedi journey πŸ˜ƒ ... on the one, I can't really make much sense of what I'm seeing there.

the diversity possible within fedi is one thing I like, in that it feels like it doesn't have to be one thing (and as we just found out, it isn't!).

my local instance has a totally different feel to, I think the fact that you might actually see the people in person can make a big difference to online interaction.

Fedi does replace Fbook, we were Fbook users and it great. Just doesn't have certain dark patterns, nor nasty stuff like filtered feed, private groups (proven indoctrination studios, see #FacebookGroups), share-and-write (encourages one-upmanship), events (for stalkers, though there is mobilizon), ai face-detection, confusing like and share, and other time-wasters like ads, and birthdays.

Fbook is simply bad.

@dsfgs it's groups and events that people mentioned, I think they'll just continue using facebook for those things.

I personally think private online communication groups are useful.

stalking is a terrible thing, but I think events can be useful without any stalking-enabling features.

Its quite possible that you can do events with Groups, via the system @sl007 showed us once.

Again though, the attendance number thing is just another #addiction-inducing #darkPattern.

We are so thankful fedi doesn't have that stuff, and will fight to keep it darkPattern-free.

@dsfgs addiction reduction and generally healthy social media usage has been one of the stronger interests from people so far in moving from corporate platforms.

I think there is lot to do in social/cultural space for these things, even fedi without groups or events could be used in negative and addictive ways.

Fedi doesn't do a lot of the really bad stuff that wastes pole time on Fbook. Again the lack of that talk-and-share. The lack of birthdays and a myriad of stuff. Live video is another timewaster, its also elitist and an energy and bandwidth waster to boot.

Having said that we do see a space for live, low-bandwidth audio, but not on Fedi.

@nicksellen Have you looked at bonfire? Not sure if it's ready to use just yet, but their goals seem more inline with what a locality might need

@datatitian yes, I know about it :) and indeed I think it could work if the goals are reached, my assessment is that it wouldn't be ready to use today for that purpose.

@nicksellen @datatitian
How about ?

I don't know if this grouping of apps works because I have not yet tried or but they all seem candidates for a "local" and specialized Fedi instance to me. (Depending on what specializations a community wants...).

@bhaugen yes I think tries to hit the spot here, I made a judgement that the interface isn't there yet for people, although that could have been wrong.

it's tricky though, as it's very new area for people, and evaluating a whole bunch of alternatives would have been a bit much (again, in my judgement...).

@datatitian @bob

> evaluating a whole bunch of alternatives

How many are there? - what else for a "localized" and specialized Fedi instance?

Any other criteria to add?

@datatitian @bob

@bhaugen also zap, etc... hubzilla, friendica..

also "fediverse" isn't a requirement from my perspective, and given most people won't have heard of it, not theirs either...

"non-corporate/algorithm/addictive focused local social media" might be the approx remit...

@datatitian @bob


> "fediverse" isn't a requirement from my perspective, and given most people won't have heard of it, not theirs either...

How about "customize your community's experience and federate by choice with other communities"?

What's the short overview of the advantages and software ecosystem of
> zap, etc... hubzilla, friendica..

@datatitian @bob

@bhaugen my short overview was that I struggled with all of them to understand or do basic things... my sense was that this would be much harder for others.

again, a lot of personal gut judgement, I don't want to insult them... I could be wrong.

and in comparison I think mastodon got a lot more focus for usability (and still is hard, e.g. "unlisted" makes no sense in terms of why you would actually use it... and threading is confusing (same with twitter)).

@datatitian @bob

I don't know much about zap, hubzilla, or friendica.To the extent that a social and software ecosystem might be evolving about all things fedi, are they in the camp or outside?

(If that question makes sense...?)

@datatitian @bob

@bhaugen I mean, they are fedi tools, but I'm not sure which "camp" you mean, although even if I did, I'm not sure if I could evaluate them for inclusion in said camp πŸ˜†

I just came at it from a pretty outsider way, as with this project hat on, I was just looking for something to run right now, rather than too much consideration of ecosystem topics (for better or for worse).

@datatitian @bob

@bhaugen it just feels like there is scope for something *relatively* simple that has these core features, but without needing lots of complex customization, flexibility, or additional things.

... of course I know it's not actually *simple*, I realise as soon as I start to imagine creating it myself.... 🀣

... but there is a lot of complexity in fedi already that is perhaps not serving many peoples simpler needs.

@datatitian @bob

Sorry to be obscure. By "camp" I meant "using the ActivityPub protocol" or not. Friendica was pre-AP, right? Don't know about Hubzilla and Zap.

Re ecosystem: I'm not sure what the best explanation of the AP software ecosystem is these days, but here are two. Both include Friendica, but only one includes Hubzilla:

@datatitian @bob

@bhaugen I actually get quite confused about the zotlabs ecosystem has zap, roadhouse, rematrix, and osada, and the README for each just says their name and "A fediverse server."

and is a dreamhost landing page. has more but says it's outdated.

@datatitian @bob

I think this conversation would become more clear when I have an actual community to discuss the possibilities with. Might have one soon, but not quite yet.

Do you have one or more that we could use for discussion?

@datatitian @bob

@bhaugen @nicksellen @datatitian In some odd way, even the groupware moloch eXo platform validates the requirements, if I understood them correctly:

There's plenty of software to do things together online, and I am not yet sure if I had understood already, Nick, what you have in mind.

Would you like to rephrase or sketch for us the initial proposition of said community story again?

@yala I'll try:

Given a small city with it's various siloed projects, individuals, and existing unhealthy corporate social media usage, and knowing that people are generally quite overwhelmed/confused with technology, how can we make use of tech to nurture a thriving ecosystem of people and projects ...

My initial presentation -->

... this is just a first move, it's not a well defined problem, and likely many wrong assumptions ... all emergent...

@bhaugen @datatitian

@bhaugen I don't know if this counts as an "actual community", I mean it exists, as it's a place with existing communities...

... this could also be my problem, not having an existing coherent community that has decided together to use a new social media platform.

... but the premise to me of social media is allowing this more diffuse sense of community, not something with clear boundaries.

@yala @datatitian

That was a very interesting "first move". Thanks a lot.

One thought that came to mind is the differences between:
1. a geographical community, eg Bath,
2. the various virtual communities that live in Bath, and
3. virtual communities that might have members in Bath and also members in many other geographical communities.

@yala @datatitian

@bhaugen @nicksellen Uh, is that Roman Bath?! I loved that place, when I visited it in 10th grade more than 20 yrs ago. Side-tracking.

I think geographical communities are a little different from dispersed thematic ones, as they allow for meeting of the individual members, and more personal social life between them: friendships, intrigues, aversions and love.

Most of those that work organise around shared event calendars, that are rooted in the autonomous and cultural scenes.


@bhaugen @nicksellen See examples below

From your presentation, I like that you start with problems, but the second one is too heavy for me to bear as a person only approaching the subject. What Bowie said resonates much more.

Also the suggested fixes are very nice, with the Fediverse being the outlier.

I think what people get's hooked on a (... insert drug ...) is not how it's made, but what it does to them. So we as technicians need other narratives.


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@nicksellen Wasn't Hubzilla meant to step into that niche?

@nicksellen interesting thread, and very interesting use case. I agree on the oddity that is twitter of mass public space, and that groups (whether as semi-private-moderated sub memberships or merely subscribed topic feeds) and a collaborative calendar of events are a lot of how I know local folks use fb. And that multi-interface multi-account technical solutions are weird.

Very curious to see where your project goes - is it explicitly non-commercial or are local biz also hoped to move from fb?

@loppear yes, I think you're seeing exactly what I'm seeing with local folk... it's only when I tried creating this thing that it really hit me so clearly!

I would be happy for local biz to be on it too, and that it's more about the platform itself being non-commercial, I'm hoping for mainstream use, not explicitly to be a small niche (which stay niche by their own definition?).

overly commercial use would be off-putting though, and people could decide together how to deal with that...

@loppear one of the main problems might be I have no idea what I'm doing (besides the tech bit).

I somehow think I should do more in-person stuff, but also that takes time/energy, ... and I don't want to feel like I'm *forcing* Yet Another Thing onto a weary population...

there is an underlying desire to mitigate the worst of social media... but it's not clear if using a local mastodon instance is the direction this energy wants to go... maybe more time dancing in the park is better use πŸ‘―

@nicksellen Have you looked at Friendica? It's what I'm using, and I find it comes the closest. It doesn't quite have groups, but it does have forums, which are similar.

I did a review on it a short while ago.

@me thanks! I did look (as you noticed), but nowhere near as in depth as you did.

whats your sense of how it might be for people that aren't particularly comfortable with tech?

@nicksellen I've found it's fairly facebook-esque. Nothing seemed to me to be terribly complicated. If you want to spin up a test account to play around with it feel free to do so. My node is at

@me thanks, I did try it out before somewhere and got quite confused, but I just requested access to your one, maybe I learn something different!

... although now I have a hometown instance up and running, so switching would be a bigger deal... although not so active yet...

@nicksellen Its biggest challenge has been helping new users to find each other. Given that, I just created a new users forum to help mitigate the problem.

@nicksellen "Pages" and such are better held on their own servers or something like Wordpress or
not on a mass surveillance farm like Facebook. The fediverse is a chat system more than anything else.

@nicksellen A friend of mine set up something along the same lines for my local(ish) area (around Morecambe Bay). They used

It's not federated but it seems to work well enough for what it does.

I don't think it's necessarily what you're looking for software-wise from your description, but would be happy to put you in touch with James in case chatting through the "local social" thing might be of use. (Noting that this one is tiny currently, just a few existing friends on it so far)

@neil thanks! yes, interesting. I came across humhub some time before I think... gets used sometimes, though it's a closed source very money orientated ("how much money can I earn from a community"), and divides the admins from the people...

I mean, is somewhere in this space, but it's not a social network.

yes, could be happy to be put in touch, might be able to share motivation/thoughts/whatever. maybe DM me with contact? cheers.

@nicksellen well. diaspora used to try to replace facebook. i don't know if that's still around since they were getting upset at an inability to really break in to the market.
Hubzilla (my preference) or Friendica are good places to start looking.
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