Okay, it's time to tell new users a secret about Mastodon.

Mastodon is (whispers) part of a much bigger network 😮

Mastodon servers use an open standard called ActivityPub to talk to each other. That's how you interact with people on other Mastodon servers.

But, dozens of other federated networks also use ActivityPub, so (this is the good bit!) you can follow people on these other networks from your Mastodon account!

For example:

PixelFed (pixelfed.org) is a photo sharing network, here's a random example account @Iancylkowski

PeerTube (joinpeertube.org) is a video sharing network, with a p2p system that allows videos to go viral even on small servers, here's a random account @craftykat

BookWyrm (joinbookwyrm.com) is a social reading site, an open alternative to Amazon's Goodreads, here's a random account @mouse

Together, Mastodon and these other services form... The Fediverse :fediverse:

(whispers) Click on the link...

framatube.org/w/4294a720-f263-

The link you just clicked on leads to a video on PeerTube, on a server called framatube.org.

BUT... if you copy and paste the same address of the video into the search box in Mastodon, and search for that link within Mastodon, it will appear to you as a Mastodon post :blobwizard:

You'll then be able to watch it (of course), but also you'll be able to comment on the video by replying to the post within Mastodon, like the video by favouriting it, and follow its creator by following the account that posted it.

This is the Fediverse in action, totally different services interacting through a common open standard.

It can be hard to get your head round this at first, but it's incredibly useful and once you get used to it simply how things should be.

Follow

@feditips

Hi, one of the influx on new users here.

From a user interface point of view this is one thing it would be cool to iron out, if possible.

When I go to another server that's not my own, it would be nicer to just sign in there (using my existing account as a "single sign on" type thing) and being able to write my comment without having to come back to my own server first.

I know there are probably technical reasons for why that has not been implemented but I think it would be cool.

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@benx @feditips I was going to ask effectively the same thing. If I want to use BookWyrm, I have to set up a new account there? It would be way better if you could log into all these services with just the one Fediverse account.

@confusedbunny @benx

It depends what you mean by "use".

You can follow and interact with these services from your Mastodon.

If you post a photo on Mastodon, it will be visible to people on PixelFed as if you had a PixelFed account.

If a PixelFed person posts a photo, it will be visible to people on Mastodon as if they had a Mastodon account.

There's not a huge difference there in functionality, so there's not really a need to have separate accounts.

In the case of BookWyrm, if you want to write a new book review yourself you would probably need to sign up on a BookWyrm server.

But if you just want to follow and comment on what BookWyrmers are posting, you can do that from Mastodon.

There's no central Fediverse account system because when you centralise stuff, it sooner or later gets bought out by Elon Musk type people.

@benx you can write comment on any Mastodon server/instance with your account.
The *public* toots you'll publish on your server (not like this one, wich has the "open lock" icon) will be visible on all the federated servers and on your server's local timeline.

@scaglio so I run into this issue most often when using the web client for my current server.

If I want to follow someone from another server, I have to...
1/ go to their profile on their server (a different domain URL in the web browser)
2/ click on follow
3/ a pop-up now appears asking for my user account details
4/ I give the details and can now follow

@scaglio

But from that point onward I want the other server to still recognise me as being logged in to their server but with my servers account.

Does that make sense?

@scaglio

When I click log in on the web client for someone elses web server it asks for email and password but not for my existing mastadon ID

@scaglio @feditips

From a technical point of view I could guess that this is not implemented for cross script attack reasons but I don't know for sure.

@benx @feditips I think it's just a choice "by design" of Mastodon/Fediverse, it's not about XSS or else.

@benx That's not possible because your account and password are known only to your server (kolektiva.social). That's a focal point of "decentralization".

So:
- you CANNOT log in other servers server with kolektiva.social account
- you CANNOT see the other servers' Local timelines
- you CAN follow any user of any server (on your "Home" and "Federated" timeline)
- you CAN reply to any user of any server

I hope that's clear :)

@scaglio

I understand this is how it works but from a UX point if view it's a bit klunky.

Other "single sign on" systems that exist don't share passwords either.

A mirror account will be created on the other server, and you will be asked to confirm sharing certain details, but the athentication is handled by Google or Facebook or whoever and then service you are logged into is only given a token to confirm that you were able to type in the correct credentials.

@scaglio the mastadon clients themselves already work like this as they are separated from the server instances thrmselves.

@scaglio

Whether you are then authorised to access the local timeline or not (I would say no) is all that the foreign server would then handle.

@benx I think that the "mirror account on the other servers" feature is not possible because it would be a load too heavy to handle.

@benx

I'm not completely sure what you mean by "going" to another server?

If you follow or interact with someone within Mastodon, you will see their posts in your timeline and you can interact with them there without going anywhere else. This is true whether the person is on Mastodon or some other Fediverse network.

If you can't find them on your server, you can put their address in the search box and it will make them appear. The same goes for posts (which is what I mentioned in the original post).

I might have misunderstood what you mean though?

@feditips

I think i have explained better here

No, i don't mean server, exactly. I mean a different instances web client, more precisely.

kolektiva.social/@benx/1082163

@benx

Ah, ok, I see!

Right, okay...

You don't have to go to their server and click follow.

It's much, much easier just to copy the URL of their profile into the search box on your server, click search and interact with it from within your own server.

It means no signing in, no extra work, it becomes just like any other person you see in the timeline.

Same goes for copying and pasting URLs of posts.

@feditips

Ok, yes. But still a little klunky i think.

A different solution would be instead of having to copy paste the url...
1/ you only have to click on a link to someone elses profile
2/ your web client recognises this is a link to another mastadon client
3/ and then the profile is automatically loaded in the your web client instead of switching to the other server's client.

@benx

Yeah, that would be nice! Maybe if there was a certain formatting in a Masto URL it could recognise it as a Masto server and launch a Mastodon app?

If you're on github, do you want to suggest it on the Mastodon github? I could do it if not.

@feditips @benx sounds like a new URI format for activitypub.Something like activitypub:bob@instance.domain

@corfiot @feditips

I was only thinking at the web client level itself, but this would be an even neater solution which could work for link on any website and then take you to your client of choice.

@benx @feditips This is already implemented, to the extent that it can be. The problem is that part 2 of your workflow is impossible. Browser's can't tell whether a URI is a link to an ActivityPub user or simply any other web page.

If you are already logged in to an AP service, and click "follow" on a Mastodon user profile, you have the option to "remote follow" with a few clicks, but you still need to say who YOU are on the Fediverse. It works like this: hughrundle.net/how-to-implemen

@benx

What you're suggesting would obviously be easier, but it's equivalent to saying "When I go to outlook dot com I should be able to log in with my gmail dot com account because they both use the IMAP protocol for sending and receiving email".

@feditips

@hugh @benx @feditips This is a bit of a limitation of web browsers. The mobile apps tend to have better UX imo because of this. You're not jumping from website to website, you're always in the app, just looking at different data. To make it clear if a link is to something activitypub, there could be special links in theory, similar to how you can have email links like "email:asdf@example.com". I'm sure someone has considered this but I have no idea where that discussion is at.

@powersource @benx @feditips I have a vague recollection of this being discussed somewhere. I guess for logging in with another server account we’re probably talking about OpenIDConnect or similar.

@benx @feditips

This is so true. Having to copy/paste into search boxes elsewhere when you're already on a profile is a big issue that hasn't been solved and one of the few things that I see as deeply flawed in the set up. If you click a name from your client where you're already logged in it should take you to the profile through the account you're logged in as, it's super weird that it doesn't.

@continuation @feditips

I've been noodling around since, and discovered that sometimes I am linked to a user's profile in my client (even if the explicit url is for a different server).

I need to investigate a bit more into how the current setup works.

@benx @feditips It seems to depend on factors I can't figure out. Sometimes even linked usernames in the web interface seem to take me to a different server, sometimes they take me to the profile of someone on a different server but within my own server interface.

@feditips @benx
> "This is true whether the person is on Mastodon or some other Fediverse network."

You probably mean other fediverse "server software" or "client". Mastodon is not a "fediverse network", not all mastodon instances are connected to eachother and not only mastodon instances can connect.
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kolektiva.social

A collective effort to offer federated social media to anarchist collectives and individuals in the fediverse. Registrations are open. Kolektiva.social is made by anarchists and anti-colonialists, for the social movements and for liberation!