The most daunting thing for me about joining Mastodon/Fediverse was picking an instance.

Having joined one, a RL metaphor emerges for me: "it's like picking an apartment building."

You need to evaluate the management. Do they respect tenant rights? Is the desk clerk skeevy?

Do you want to live in a big impersonal complex? Or a little boarding house, where people share a lot and have house parties? You can even be a "home owner" and run your own instance (pay the bills, fix the plumbing).


I have started using this metaphor when recommending friends to use it.

The metaphor extends to the available feeds:

'Home': chat w/ my friends circle, including neighbors and visitors you invited in.

'Local': building party, hang w/ neighbors.

'Federated': take a walk down the street, see weird stuff, chat w/ random strangers, but keep your guard up.

Of course, it's not a perfect match, but I think it quickly conveys the social experience and trade-offs between different instances.

Wow. This blew up. I guess this random late-night musing struck a cord with many people at just the right moment. :dabart:

Wish I could edit the inconsistent 1st/2nd person line. Oops.

I hear than a true edit feature is coming, but I guess we're not running it yet on

Also, I hadn't heard about the most recent Twitter news when I wrote it. I HAVE been trying to get more people to join Fediverse, as it's a lot more fun for me than Facebook or Twitter.

@TerryHancock Hm, yeah, that's why I moved from to #lurk was better aligned with my interests, but now I also have very different 'Local' and 'Federated' TLs, and I'm enjoying this a lot. (Aside from all the other great things about the #fedi, of course.)

@TerryHancock This is a cool way to imagine it. Reminds me of Geocities imagining websites as physical locations in a large neighborhood.

@TerryHancock Also, if your needs change, you can move to a new building/new instance!

@TerryHancock Something I think many people overlook both in real homeownership and self-hosting is that you can hire people to do work for you.

Landlords often talk up the rental model by saying "we'll manage the property for you" but you can own your property and still not have to manage it. You can hire people to do maintenance, repairs, yard care, or even hire a property manager if you can't attend to those details yourself.

Why not for self-hosting too?

That's true. And I think some instances are run that way.

Very nice analogy, I tried elsewhere to include advertisement into it, curious about what you think about this take.

@TerryHancock It also matches the situation when you move between instances:
- you need to tell everyone your new address
- you start with a new, empty apartment (a.k.a. you need to fill your timeline anew)

@TerryHancock I feel like this should be added to the Mastodon Onboarding! It's so accurate and easy to understand!! @Gargron

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