So let’s take this actual example: There’s !canada@lemmy.ml and !canada@lemmy.ca. They talk about the same thing, but are treated by the current federation implementation as separate instances.

How would you feel if there was a moderation feature to import another federated instance’s community into your own, so that the posts from the other instance automatically show up in the same feed? That way, you only have to subscribe to one community on one instance, but you get content from multiple instances. I’m not talking about crossposting or mirroring/duplicating posts between communities, only displaying the posts from another instance the community’s home server federates with, with moderator discretion.

  • DessalinesA
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    3 years ago

    Communities stand on their own, they have their own moderators, followers, posts, etc, and there’s no way to merge them as entities. Activitypub-wise it makes as much sense a merging two users.

    The main way to accomplish what you’re talking about, is just to close one community and recommend people use the other one.

    • AgreeableLandscapeOP
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      3 years ago

      Well, this suggestion isn’t really merging, more auto-subscribing to similar communities when you subscribe to one, as recommended by the mods of the community you subscribed to. It solves the fragmentation problem where popular topics have lots of independent communities on different instances.

      • DessalinesA
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        3 years ago

        I don’t think it’s a good idea to auto subscribe ppl to communities they haven’t explicitly wanted to. I think the best would be for sidebars to link other communities.

  • zksmk
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    3 years ago

    The simplest way to allow users to merge communities like this as they please, as opposed to having the moderators choose for them what communities will merge or having the communities auto-merge, or adding the topic umbrella over communities (which I think is an interesting idea), is to allow ”multi-communities” (like multireddits), so https://lemmy.ml/c/startrek+startrek@lemmygrad_ml+startrek@mywebsite_com would display all the community’s posts on one page.

    Edit: To expand on how I see @Gwynne@lemmy.ml 's topic umbrella idea, each community would have a mandatory topic (not category, those already exist), that would by default be the same as the community’s name (but could be edited), and going to https://instance.tld/t/startrek would display posts from all the startrek communities on all instances.

    I understand this is an advanced federation feature, so I don’t expect it made soon, I’m sure the devs have their hands full already, just an idea.

    • SubversivoB
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      3 years ago

      They are really cool ideas. A like most the fist one, as this makes more clear that there are more than one community, and as @dessalines@lemmy.ml points, communities have their own bylaws and people. And, users can use it to aggregate arbitrary communities, lets say, unifying all Sci-Fi instead of only Star Trek.

    • WuxinGoat
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      3 years ago

      having read through all the discussion below I think some nicely exposed multilemmy type functionality would let people achieve what they want.

      I’ve only just found multireddits myself and really love the way I can pull together various feeds that work for me.

  • Mobocratic Egoist@lemmy.161.social
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    3 years ago

    Yes, I feel this is how federation should work ideally. As long as it’s not automatic and is only for select communities, there should be few moderation concerns.

  • Emerald
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    3 years ago

    I was just wondering the other day if this was how federation here already worked or not. It seems to make the most sense for how most pople would probably be using lemmy, and I imagine it would make the fediverse a bit more accessible

  • Flelk
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    3 years ago

    Shit, is this not how Lemmy is intended to work already? I’d assumed this was part of it being “federated.” Clearly I have some things to learn.

    • WuxinGoat
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      3 years ago

      I too had presumed that there was going to be a way to federate communities across instances into one feed, based on the mutual agreement of course.

    • AgreeableLandscapeOP
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      3 years ago

      I mean, right now federation is in its infancy so more advanced federation options haven’t really been implemented, and this isn’t something you want done by default, because two communities focusing on different things might have the same name. For example, “trees” might be referring to cannabis (a joke that originated on Reddit), or a biology community about actual trees.

      • Flelk
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        3 years ago

        Makes sense not to do it by default, but I think the option to form a single coherent community across servers is crucial to avoiding platform-killing fragmentation. Otherwise what’s even the point of being “federated?” It’s just a bunch of separate servers.

          • Flelk
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            3 years ago

            You can add !canada@lemmy.ca as a subscription to your account on lemmy.ml and it will be treated more or less as if it was a (!) community on lemmy.ml.

            Sure, but again I come back to the question of, what’s the point of being federated then? I may as well just be using a local client to present me with a set of RSS feeds from different websites or something.

            What the OP is suggesting is more like distributed communities, a bit similar to matrix.org chat rooms.

            And that’s how I’d assumed Lemmy was going to work until I saw this post. It seems intuitive to me that subs of the same name would at least have the option to “sync” across servers.

            • DessalinesA
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              3 years ago

              Why would !main@startrek.com be synced in any way with !main@starwars.com ? They have nothing to do with each other. Communities should stand on their own, and it should be the users choice which federated communities they subscribe to.

              • Flelk
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                3 years ago

                Why would !main@startrek.com be synced in any way with !main@starwars.com

                Interesting, I hadn’t contemplated the idea of topic-dedicated servers. So looking at multiple servers through lemmy.ml is functionally equivalent to using a local client to pull the data from each server separately. I don’t think that’s a bad idea, it’s just not what I’d assumed.

                As I said in my initial post, clearly I have some things to learn! I’m not a programmer, just a superuser with an interest in finding an alternative to Reddit’s increasingly invasive and restrictive platform.

                That said, I do still like the idea of giving subs the option to “merge” if so desired. It’s an interesting layer of complexity to add on top of what I’m realizing is already a fairly complex system.

                • Maya
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                  3 years ago

                  Small nit: it’s not like pulling data from each server separately because you can have one user account on one server and vote / comment / post in communities on all the servers using that one same identity.

              • sibachian
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                3 years ago

                then what’s the point of lemmy? a federated community is in a sense centralizing communication through multiple isolated servers. if each one is isolated from the other, and we have 10 different discussion hubs focusing on !chocolatecakes@cooking.com, !chocolatecakes@cookies.com etc, then the community is severely fractured and lemmy as a platform doesn’t work as it doesn’t take advantage of the integration at all. for it to work as a platform, cooking.com should be able to choose if it wish to include !chocolatecakes@cookies.com.

                • DessalinesA
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                  3 years ago

                  The point is you can follow federated communities from any server. Not that those communities are “shared” by several instances. What you’re talking about isn’t federated, it’s merging. Does mastodon let you merge users across instances?

  • ascend
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    3 years ago

    I was hoping we would have the ability to follow other instance’s feeds with one account like how you subscribe to a subreddit on reddit. Like if someone made a lemmy instance all about photography then I could follow that feed instead of having to create an account on their instance, then follow an instance all about keyboards or cars etc. I think that would be the best way to decentralize the content instead of all being on one instance with multiple mini communities. Some times I follow multiple subreddits about the same thing because they have a slightly different focus so I dont think merging them would be the best option but being able to subscribe to one or the other or both would be nice

    • zksmk
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      3 years ago

      I could follow that feed instead of having to create an account on their instance,

      You already sort of can do that, you just need to manually subscribe to each individual community you want to follow on that instance. Just in case it’s not clear, you can subscribe to and read and comment in other instances’ communities from here, your home instance, with one account.

      • ascend
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        3 years ago

        oh wow! ok never mind then haha I used mastodon before and I remembered you could follow a user but not the entire instance