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.

Dessalines
admin
133M

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.

@AgreeableLandscape
admin
creator
11
edit-2
3M

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.

Dessalines
admin
63M

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.

poVoq
3
edit-2
3M

Hmm, yes some sort of popup with checkboxes to auto-subscribe to similar communities on other servers as recommended by the moderators would be a nice addition.

@Gwynne
10
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1M

deleted by creator

@zksmk
8
edit-2
3M

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.

Subversivo
43M

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
23M

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.

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
63M

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
banned
53M

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
43M

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.

@AgreeableLandscape
admin
creator
3
edit-2
3M

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
banned
43M

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.

poVoq
4
edit-2
3M

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. This is what federation was always about.

What the OP is suggesting is more like distributed communities, a bit similar to matrix.org chat rooms. Federated content is AFAIK already replicated on the connected server, so it seems feasible to implement something like that, but there are probably some details in the ActivityPub specs that make it difficult to do so (for example: I think AP does not allow substituting the sender).

@dragonX
53M

the problem here is discoverability! as it stands in all Fediverse projects fewer instances host the majority of the fediverse users. because without being able to discover threads of other instances from the one you signed-up to, those smaller communities will not be active enough and will end up duying.
We must think of ways of merging the feed form different communities of different instances so the user feels like interacting with one big universe rather than separate communities.

@Flelk
banned
23M

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.

Dessalines
admin
63M

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
banned
63M

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
admin
53M

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.

@Flelk
banned
13M

So what’s the role of the server in account creation/maintenance? Others could take the name “Flelk” on other servers and parade around pretending to be me, meaning readers have to check the domain name to confirm whether it really is me? If my “home” server deletes my account, does that erase all my votes, comments, and posts on just my “home” server, or on all servers?

(I know you folks are busy actually building this thing, so if there are better ways to get answers to these questions other than asking you admins directly, please feel free to point me in that direction.)

@zksmk
2
edit-2
3M

The domain name pretty much is a part of your username, just like it is a part of an email address. Impersonation is unlikely as your name is displayed as @Flelk@lemmy.ml whenever your comments or posts are viewed from another instance. Your bigger concern for impersonation is somebody using lower case L instead of uppercase i and stuff like that (I and l, can you see the difference?)

(Unless you choose to have a display name, that’s for some reason the same on all instances. I assume even on the same instance there can be multiple users with the same display name. Not sure why people use it tho, it could easily get confusing)

This is how your account looks from lemmy.ca for example.

As far as I’m aware, if you delete your account it only gets deleted from your home instance. A removal request gets sent to other instances, they could in theory refuse it. I’m not sure what data the other instances store and for how long tho. I think your public stuff like comments and posts etc gets stored?

@Flelk
banned
13M

Now that’s interesting, only my posts in !lemmy@lemmy.ml are visible on lemmy.ca. My first post to !reddit@lemmy.ml and my post in !startrekmemes@lemmy.ml don’t show up at all. Do those other communities not sync to lemmy.ca? What’s going on there?

Maya
admin
13M

Your own server is the one through which you interact with all others. You just talk to it, and then it talks to the other servers.

Yup, the domain name is part of what defines your identity. I would expect that eventually we’ll have more interface options to ensure it’s not too confusing who’s who (especially since there’s your real username and then you can also set a display name) but it’s one of those things that isn’t really a problem until it’s a problem.

Deletions in the fediverse have been a big deal in past. The tl;dr is that your “home” server would send out a “hey delete this” notification to all the other servers. By default they will of course do that, but you can see that it’s conceivable that someone could make a malicious version of server software that wouldn’t.

I am not a dev on the project so I am happy to pitch in answering Qs. :)

@sibachian
43M

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.

Dessalines
admin
33M

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?

@sibachian
33M

precisely, so a !main@startrek.com community makes very little sense for how communities are integrated through federation, a !startrek@mywebsite.com makes a lot more sense, but when there is a !startrek@mywebsite.com and a !startrek@yourwebsite.com you’ve fractured the community if both lemmy servers are federated. a !tng@mywebsite.com and a !ds9@yourwebsite.com makes more sense. you can’t really compare it to how mastodon as it’s an entirely different type of community platform.

@nutomic
mod
admin
53M

Both use the same protocol, and Lemmy communities are ActivityPub actors just like Mastodon users are. We could do something so !startrek@mywebsite.com would share posts from !startrek@yourwebsite.com, but the way Apub works, they will always be separate.

@sibachian
23M

that sounds like a good way to avoid fracturing communities but how would it work in ways of moderation?

@nutomic
mod
admin
33M

I dont think its a good idea. Moderation would be completely separate for both of these communities. It would probably be possible to make this work as people in this thread imagine, but it would be a lot of work for very little benefit. We have way more useful things to work on.

@sibachian
43M

bridging fractured communities as a community platform is not important?

@nutomic
mod
admin
23M

Not as important as moderation tools, or language tagging for posts/comments.

@sibachian
33M

i’ll concede to that :)

@ascend
3
edit-2
3M

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

Dessalines
admin
53M

That is how the federation currently works.

@zksmk
23M

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
13M

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

@aeroplain
1
edit-2
3M

I used to be really enthusiastic about the idea of hashtags being used to branch communities here together, but I don’t think @dessalines@lemmy.ml was as enthusiastic as I was.

Eventually, I realized that it was better to just stop pestering them about which features I most wanted to see.

Everything about Lemmy; bugs, gripes, praises, and advocacy.

For discussion about the lemmy.ml instance, go to !meta@lemmy.ml.

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