Stewardship Advice for the Fediverse

The Fedeverse offers an alternative environment for new affinity groups. Perhaps stewardship advice is needed? Could OEGlobal members might offer assistance around decisions relating to 1) Codes of conduct 2) Moderation by humans 3) Critical onboarding exemplars?

Hi Derek,

This message was not forgotten but is also sitting the middle of an active topic-- it’s a question worth being its own topic.

My first thought is this is all so new to many people and there is a lot of learning as we go. It’s one thing for those with twitter and other social media experience to grapple, but how does it all look (your item 3) for those just hearing of it?

We are seeing lots of sharing of tips and guides for making accounts, but as you infer, perhaps not as much on helping people understand how it works at a personal and human/social level.

Yet we do have people here like @Mackiwg @lightweight with experience not only installing Mastodon (and more) but also managing. Me, I know little.

I also want to acknowledge the experience of @dajbelshaw who came here from my prodding, who recently blogged (and shared as he was developing a new federated site) on On the importance of Fediverse server rules

Also of interest was a post by one of the people behind a well established and popular Mastodon instance (chaos.social) with valuable insight – On Running a Mastodon Instance

I encourage us here as you are suggesting, to think beyond the platforms and the tools.

What do other Fediverse pioneers think we might do collectively? Are there other areas of consideration besides the ones Derek suggested?

Or is this all too new and wild wild fediverse west?

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@Weblearning Important questions as new individuals and institutions start establishing their own instances.

Derek - as you will know, many codes of conduct are published under open licenses so that’s always a good starting point for communities to adapt and modify.

As mentioned by @cogdog, @dajbelshaw who is involved with setting up the exercise.cafe powered by Pixelfed has published one of the better codes of conduct I have seen in recent times. We don’t have to reinvent wheels.

Overtime - it would be great to develop guidelines and provide hands-on training on human moderation. Its a fine art, can be hard to do and moderators need thick skins - but good server rules plus consistent application of the rules help. This is something I hope the FOSSDLE Commons can provide in the future - a community garden where wannabe moderator can start to learn the trade working within live communities.

However, at this time I’m thinking that there is a greater need for the co-ooperative development of an onboarding nano micro-course on using Mastodon (for new users). It could have an open badge (for those who want one), but potentially a very useful resource for moderators.

Most of the Mastodon moderation issues I have encountered on our instances during the recent surge of new users is lack of knowledge of how the platform works and familiarity with the culture of our communities. The moderation is time consuming, so having a succinct resource that moderators can point to for 1st ‘offenders’ would help. If these individuals continue to transgress the rules after the 1st warning, we could put them on probation until they earn the ‘Fedicitizen’ badge :sunglasses:.

Shouldn’t be hard to gather a team of committed volunteers to pull something like this together (assuming there is interest.)

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I for one am interested in participating in this and hope we can coordinate more interest from OEG people.

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Hi Alan

Thanks for creating a new topic around stewardship advice.

Yes, there is a lot of learning (and unlearning), depending on the contexts we come from. Appreciating the collective hive mind from those who are contributing and watching this topic. Also aware of the desire to co-ordinate more interest and broaden the open community’s voice.

Yes, becoming familiar with microblogging on Mastodon is important. We do also need to be re-affirm the community perspective and be reminded about how we can use technology to enable participation. This does require listening and trust. It may also requires that straight, middle class white guys, like me, grapple with how we can intentionally de-center ourselves and make others feel safe and included. (Much easier said than done).

From some of the comments I’ve been hearing, it seems as if many peeps do not appreciate the current dumpster fire on the bird site. But they are also comfortable with the centralized business model, funded by VC money, where a very slick service (with a relatively low barrier to entry) is tied to a particular domain and server. The notion of a social network as a commons, without a centralized search, advertisements or algorithm, is unfamiliar if not foreign. The current norms and forms associated with a VC imaginary of tech is quite different from the ideas coded into Mastodon , and what appears to be its intent.

Open Educators know this sense of swimming against the tide. They also know about VC tactics for incorporation into their business model. Perhaps this is where some experience can be really helpful.

So yes, glad for various examples from the commons. The Chaos.social link was good. I also appreciated - “Run your own social” at https://runyourown.social/. Doug’s code of conduct draft is also available for comment on etherpad.

Wayne (@mackiwig), I like your idea of a micro on-boarding course, obviously licensed appropriately and available on the Fediverse I’ve made some efforts with H5P document tool to scaffold peeps through the initial technical steps for creating an account on Mastodon. I think that it would be useful to create a similar scaffolding tool around stewardship? Very happy to put my 2c worth in.

Your more than 2c are welcome and worth more, Derek.

I do have to admit my hunch is the general population makes choices based more on the convenience and simplicity of doing something, hence reliance on corporate or just large cumbersome content management systems versus learning HTML!

I love the H5P Documentation tool wizard, especially as it provides at the end a downloadable version of the entries. I wonder to how a branching scenario on would help/hinder.

Regardless, I see also that even with great support materials, the real learning happens in the doing. If I can guess Wayne’s ideas, part of this might be a place to safely try Mastodon and get some experience in a supported group, and then fly out to establish a presence elsewhere (?).

I am appreciative of the interest here and hope others let us know if they want to pitch in.

Nice work! That’s a cool approach because the H5P object can easily be embedded in any website that supports H5P for where instructions are needed for creating an account on Mastodon.

Our Learning in a Digital Age series of micro-courses provides learners with a Mastodon instance where they can practice their skills in a safe but authentic environment. Some learners move on to creating a new home in the Fediverse while others never return.

The safe environment is important. This introductory course has registered over 8,000 learners and we have gained valuable insights into the target audience. The majority of learners have very low digital literacy skills (eg they have difficulty creating a hyperlink in a word processor). Moving into the fediverse is a big step when you are trying to figure out what a hashtag is and how it works. The majority of Mastodon instances require image descriptions as a site rule. However on the learner Mastodon instance we support, we make an exception to the image description rule for newbs so that learners have time to build their confidence and skills, before we teach how to add image descriptions.

I’m thinking of something a little more substantive for the Fedicitizen micro-course (itself assembled from ‘nano’ learning pathways that can be reused and remixed for different contexts). It would explain what the Fediverse is and provide experience in using selected Fediverse applications, cover cultural protocols of different neighbourhoods etc. Still need to brainstorm / crowdsource the curriculum outline.

I envisage 40 notional learning hours (1 North American credit’s worth) of learning effort. In this way the Fedicitizen micro-course could be offered as an elective within the Learning in a Digital Age family of micro-courses for universities that offer credit for the course.

Still early planning stages, so these conversations and ideas are very useful.

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