Was talking about Mastodon with an old-school sysadmin guy. We reached the realization that defederating from instances with no/bad moderation is essentially the same thing as blocking open relays back when you ran your own email server: open relays always end up getting used for spam, you block 'em to protect your users.
Email was and still is the first federated social network, so it already faced a lot of the same problems; we should study its solutions (and its failures).
It also opens the system up to abuse--I don't recall the names but I'm thinking of the blacklists which require payment before they will remove you. Experience dealing with email blacklists is one of the reasons why I have always opposed Dzuk's list regardless of its usefulness; I would prefer if fedi didn't turn into that.
@ng0 @cwebber @nindokag
The best that we can do is offer other solutions, but we can't prevent such a thing from happening. Just in the discussion of anti-spam techniques, I've seen some very upset people who want explicit whitelists- who only want to federate with nodes they feel share the same values.
I think that would be a very bad thing for the Fediverse, but I can't stop such a thing from happening.
@emacsen I suppose some of the issue here may be with the assumption that every node will federate in a similar way, when actually there should probably be a diversity of types of communities, each using a different federation policy in lines with their needs.
Universal whitelisting and universal blacklisting both strike me as unhealthy, but smaller specialist or marginalized communities could work on a whitelist basis, while larger communities blacklist and others graylist (once that's an option) or don't moderate at all. Federation doesn't necessarily have the expectation email does, where every person should ideally be able to talk to every other person without exception. So long as there's a range of options available, perhaps that will mitigate the potential damage to the fediverse as a whole.
This is a very complicated situation, but let me give you an answer...
There may be some communities for whom it would be entirely appropriate to have a whitelist-only federation agreement. One example that comes to mind are sites that cater to children where any kind of inappropriate content would be entirely unacceptable. But those should be the minority because the real goal of federation is to interconnect.
The goal of a Fediverse is interconnection, and to me, the idea of a whitelist is as unacceptable as it would be for an email server to do so. I don't need pre-arangement with any existing email server, and requiring something like that would be a huge undertaking, blocking many smaller servers, and ultimately create a situation where only the large and powerful entities exist.
That would bring us back to centralization, which defeats the purpose.
What many on the Fediverse advocating for strong controls are forgetting is that under a strict controls, it's the underrepresented or oppressed who suffer just like they did under centralized systems.
Worse, they'll create islands again. Maybe there will be a social media site that serves your small community, but the power of the Fediverse is being able to reach across the isles and build bonds, build understanding and compassion.
Many of us came to the Fediverse seeking understanding and acceptance- basic human needs.
Understanding and acceptance goes both ways. We need to hear the base needs of others, including their pain, anger and fear. The way to address it is with love, acceptance and compassion.
In order to give love, acceptance and compassion across the boundaries of our communities, those communities must be able to communicate, and thus we need federation.
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