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).

@nindokag Yes, this is why the paper that I'm writing on anti-spam on the Fediverse with @cwebber references email and email anti-spam techniques a great deal.

@emacsen @nindokag Though I also think email misinformed a lot of the future approaches to come... I do think we can do better.

But we should certainly learn from it! :)

@cwebber @nindokag @emacsen Spamhaus is deeply problematic though and I hope we can avoid replicating systems like this. The early shared blocklists we had here were already a tiny step in that direction.

@ng0 @cwebber @nindokag

There is plenty to dislike about Spamhaus, and even worse Spamcop (do you remember them?).

I'd love to hear specifically what the issue you see with them is/was so we're on the same page.

@emacsen @nindokag @cwebber I'm not good at collecting my thoughts right now on this topic. For now: it seems -- only running Email servers for less than 10 years now -- that decisions are made intransparent at the expense of not being able to get off the lists easily if some arbitrary action got you on there. Administrators (seem to) rely on them as an ultimate, unquestionable authority.
I'm a bit fuzzy on the details, but my main issue is with unquestionable trusting one source of information (even if they do publish why a decision was made by them).

@ng0 @cwebber @nindokag

What I'm hearing is "Handing over ultimate authority on what you do and don't accept to a third party is a bad idea, especially if that third party acts as a black box."

If so, then yes, good point.

If I don't get it, maybe you can help me understand better in the future?

@emacsen
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

@hushpiper @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.

@ng0 @cwebber @nindokag

Follow

@hushpiper @ng0 @cwebber @nindokag

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.

(...)

@hushpiper @ng0 @cwebber @nindokag

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.

(...)

@hushpiper @ng0 @cwebber @nindokag

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.

(...)

@hushpiper @ng0 @cwebber @nindokag

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.

@emacsen @cwebber I think the way things need to end up is similar to the way spam ended up: strong reputation analysis, sufficient sensor base to stop drive-by abusers before they hit their hundredth new target server (i.e. servers should compare notes) and Bayesian filtering of content (only imagery? spammy/abusive words? bad behavior?)

The FB CIO said they approach it like counterinsurgency among a "good" populace and I think that's a great tactic.

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