A few years ago I made this flow chart of which Mastodon posts end up in which timelines!

So, you can see how each instance will have a different local timeline, and even a slightly different federated timeline - and you can see why the federated timeline moves so much faster than the local one, too.

This is why it's important to boost good posts and use hashtags - the fediverse is fragmented and harder to search by nature.

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I post this diagram sometimes during new member influxes and this one has had almost 400 boosts in under 24 hours (a lot for me), so you know this time it's a biggie. :O

400 boosts is basically mega-viral for the Fediverse in my experience? This diagram is so reliably helpful for newbies, I'm really happy to be able to provide it. :D (I consider it public domain, feel free to throw it about the place.)

Now it's at 771 boosts, this is definitely the most viral I've been on here and possibly more viral than I've been on my personal account on Twitter?? :D

@luciledt @fiskfan1999 If relays don't exist, what are all these merged pull requests involving relays about? :D

I made this diagram before relays were added to Mastodon, but as I understand it, anything from another instance ends up in the federated timeline regardless of how it got there. The federated timeline is a list of ALL posts that your instance "knows about". If you don't follow someone on another instance, their posts will only be in the federated timeline.

@fiskfan1999 @cassolotl Yeah, a relay works like "someone on my instance follows everyone on the relayed instance".

@cassolotl something this leaves off is that any post that shows in the home column will also show in any other relevant ones too, iwrc?

Excellent! This is is a wonderful explanation.

@ninja, thanks for sharing.

@cassolotl - thank you for making this.
@cassolotl Yes!
In addition, the padlock and the envelope are pretty insecure! I use them more to indicate "I'd rather not share this widely" but please don't rely on them for passwords or similar.

@cassolotl cool chart. I tried to post a link to this tweet on Twitter and, LoL it was blocked as potentially harmful content.

@T0nyyates Wow, bizarre! Feel free to just re-upload the image, I kinda consider it public domain really. :)

@cassolotl thanks - I already did, with a h/t. Do you have a Twitter handle too?

@reneestephen @cassolotl yes exactly, let's people know there is an alternative that works as well.

@T0nyyates It is harmful. However the harm is limited to Twitter's user retention.


@cassolotl I wonder if it would make sense to implement a "quiet boost" feature.

Sometimes I want my followers to be able to find a post, but I don't want to boost it directly because I don't want to flood their timelines or because the post is missing a CW.

@samgai There's a feature request for adding a CW to a boost here, if that helps?

You can add a comment or a 👍 if you have a Github account, and then it might help the feature get made more quickly.

@cassolotl It might be worth supporting, but you can see in the comments that there have been similar proposals and the response boiled down to "this is essentially quote retweet, which is useful for harassment, which is bad".

Plus it's unclear how this would be implemented on the ActivityPub level.

So perhaps we need a more specific proposal, with technical details and with considerations for abuse prevention.

@cassolotl That graphic is helpful for helping me get a handle on the specifics. I think this might explain why I see so many people with different accounts on different instances. Partitioning.

@xinit Yeah! And I was on and loved the UI but the local and even the federated timeline weren't really super interesting to me, and when I switched to the local and federated timelines were more suited to my tastes and that was cool. It's like each instance has a slightly shifted partial view of the fediverse!

would be really nice to have an option to separate instance and ui, like we already have with desktop and mobile apps but as a web service.

@cassolotl this is really interesting. Thanks for posting it!

@cassolotl thanks for this. It is handy to know as a new user to Mastodon.

It seems like hashtags are more important than ever.

@GreatBigTable You're welcome! :) Also yes, and I've seen people struggle with it because it's counterintuitive - on other sites (like instagram) posting a lot of hashtags is kinda spammy, but here it's less about sales/numbers and more about just finding nice people to connect to, so hashtags are encouraged - and it's hard to change gears for a lot of people I think!

@cassolotl very useful, thx, I thought federated was somehow truly a global feed

@takloufer @cassolotl it could be like that, but the huge draw back would be that every server would have to receive every toot. That's excessive, imagine if you have a small server receiving millions of toots per day.
It actually works quite well like this and the solution is ingenious.

@cassolotl if my instance blocks another instance, can I still follow someone from the blocked instance or does that stop my account from interacting with anyone on it entirely?

@SkipSandwichDX I'm not 100% sure but I *think* if your instance blocks another instance that does cut users off from each other entirely. Someone else may jump in to correct me though!

as far as i know you can still get stuff delivered to your home timeline by following folks. but for that you have to access their account via their instances website and follow them from there. and its hard to even know about their existence because they will obviously not appear in your instances federated and local timelines.

@glowl @cassolotl @SkipSandwichDX Having briefly been cut-off from someone myself in the past due to an instance block, I can reliably say that an actual instance block does completely cut off all communication between the instances and removes followers/followees. There are lighter forms of instance blocks/mutes though, which only e.g. drop the content from public timelines.

thanks, always happy to be corrected if i learned wrong things :)
@cassolotl @SkipSandwichDX

@cassolotl this is super helpful, and also helps me grok the point/benefits of choosing your local instance around interest too, because your local timeline is full of folks who you may not follow but are all taking about similar topics!

@cassolotl Very useful, thanks for this incredible chart!

@cassolotl I only see 170~ but I’m guessing that’s because of differences in which instances our instances federate and don’t federate with. Or other weirdness.

Also that’s impressive! I had a post a day or two ago that got 500+ boosts and 500+ favorites over a day and a half and that was crazy for me.

@Byte I feel like the most I'd gotten before was about 200 or so? So 500+ is definitely a lot still!

@Byte I wonder if putting the toot URL in the search box and pressing enter pulls in the up-to-date stats like with does with profile URLs?

@cassolotl I guess it'll take you some time to follow us all back! 😉

@littlegravitas I feel super-weird about it but actually I mostly don't automatically follow back - I am very particular about who I follow in order to avoid feeling overloaded on social media! I know from experience that if there's too much and it's mostly irrelevant I will just feel increasingly terrible until I unfollow like 99% of people and start over. Oof. :D

@cassolotl Very wise. Really no need, in my case: I estimate that this site is much less follower-competitive than somewhere else.

@littlegravitas Yeah I think you're right about Mastodon being less follower-competitive, some instances even entirely hide follower/follow counts by design. There was one witchy instance that showed everyone's follow/follower number as 666, regardless of the true number, that was fun. :D Its replacement is, I think it's still going!

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