Trying to work out what the good kinds of allyship are in a federated place.

It's already obvious that the responsibility of dealing with toxic/racist/ableist/sexist environments is being pushed to the people affected by them.

If you're creating a toxic space and gatekeeping norms, now is a good time to stop doing that and have some grace when you're called out.

But that's not enough.


One question is: how to detoxify spaces without putting the load on people affected to make it right? We all have a shared responsibility for that -- but it involves letting go of privilege.

I *think* the first steps are listening well, amplifying critiques, looking for practical routes to change. But also, if you're coming at this from an engineering mindset - then chill out with that and defer those with lived and learnt experience of building inclusive social spaces

(I was going to add a list of people to follow whose work is leading the field on this, but holding back because sometimes getting a load of new followers can be overwhelming and might not bring the right kind of attention when the debate is getting hot.)

@rachelcoldicutt is blocking (defederating) the big poorly moderated instances one practical step?

@nickcolley I really don't know - maybe? But also, those big instances are a gateway for people landing and working out where to go, so that might be isolating and counter productive/maybe make the environment there worse? *scratches head*

@rachelcoldicutt @nickcolley I tend to think, especially for allies, effort should be put towards changing things vs abandoning them or blocking them. The onus is on you help educate (part of the needed change) and shift the norms. So far, we're at those not directly affected for the most part explaining how things have been, staying silent or suggesting friendly instances.

@rachelcoldicutt @nickcolley There are different related issues occurring though they all create toxicity.There are blatant attacks and stalking, badgering to use CW for "sensitive" subjects that for marginalized ppl are necessary public conversations to have and part of their experiences (so not opyional and to be hidden away), and then moderator warnings and suspensions (usually over conflating a focus on a topic such as race with racism).

@phytolipide @nickcolley also (I think related) the concept of "hosting" online spaces has (for a number of reasons) got very lost over the years and the consequences of that are playing out all over the place now, esp with regard to tone policing

@rachelcoldicutt @nickcolley Big instances are just hard to moderate; users over there need to be more proactive in reporting content, that's really the only way without pouring google-level budget into auto-moderation tools. Blocking them will just hurt the fediverse overall.

@nickcolley @rachelcoldicutt I think that should be done carefully. I picked Qoto as my initial instance, only to realize afterwards that I'm effectively shadow banned from parts of the Fediverse because of it.

If niche communities want to defederate, that's one thing. But if larger instances defederate, it creates fragmentation of the overall community.

But generally, I don't think new users have a good way to know which parts of the community they will have contact with, let alone why, when they join an open instance. I think that's a really bad thing and it's also only weakly correlated to managing abuse.

@rachelcoldicutt It's tricky isn't it? Or at least, I also am not sure how best to help. So far mostly looking to diversify my following list (as ever) and listen. Maybe I should be encouraging more folk to move on from the big instances. Also now wondering what the diversity is like for the mods on my instance

@rachelcoldicutt I can't boost this enough. (listen, amplify critique, respect our limits)

@rachelcoldicutt I have no perfect answers, but when I come across bigotry the best disinfectant is sunlight. Call them out publicly for it. They will object, but as more people observe what is happening their mental self preservation (it’s almost like a conscience) kicks in, & then they try to explain their bigotry.
Bigots enjoy uttering bigotry but loathe the consequences of bigotry.

@darnell @rachelcoldicutt yes, totally; and even if you don't change the bigot's mind or behaviour you're setting boundaries and norms that bystanders see.

@Loukas @darnell @rachelcoldicutt totally.. When I was a kid, you did not act like an idiot in the neighborhood because ppl would stop and call you out (and worse, weird guy back to your mom). Ppl need to be called out when they say bad things.. let them explain it, why they said it.. you may not change their minds but others can see how they are wrong by seeing the response. You fight lies not by excluding the liars but by pointing out their lies and telling the truth for all to see.

@rachelcoldicutt @darnell I called out the admin of the instance I'm on for posting a video I found homophobic.

I'm heterosexual.

We all need to do what we can, when we can, and not let things "slide" just because it may seem easier.

And we all need to look out for each other, and not just "our own" (in the limiting concept of that phrase).

I support everyone who's oppressed who does not oppress.

@rachelcoldicutt @gerwitz I'm here to tell you that another great start would be to pay marginalized people for their labor on the fediverse. Because likely they are less capable of simply volunteering, of making the choice to do unpaid, volunteer labor than non marginalized, relatively more privileged people. Justice is a combination of equity, access, and opportunity. It's vital to keep in mind the inequities there that prevent us from being able to participate.

@gerwitz @perigee yes, def. I wonder what the good models are to support that - how to (re)distribute income in just and effective ways?

@rachelcoldicutt @gerwitz so this is something you could probably find out with a search engine but I agree it can be challenging to figure out. The primary thing I recommend is to get used to doing #MutualAid. Really develop that tendency. Give money to people in need who are asking for help. For most people in Northern hemisphere countries, that actually helps develop the right spirit to then start paying disadvantaged people for their time. Sometimes even an honorarium will help.

@rachelcoldicutt @gerwitz but this is a real thing. Ime when people pay for the experience and wisdom and skills of another, it automagically tends to make them take it more seriously. So it's double powered. First, you are taking the marginalized people seriously, _and_ you are priming yourself to take them seriously.

@gerwitz @perigee I meant in the specific context of the fediverse model - many people are giving financial support to the instances they are on or to support Mastodon on one of the crowdfunding platforms, but there's not a good mechanism that I can see to distribute and administer funds across instances etc. Maybe this too much detail, but getting that right is important and needs organising/good governance

@rachelcoldicutt @perigee I would like to see “foundations” arise as a sort of cyber-NGO that provide services like moderation across online communities. And also see existing social lower structures (governments, universities, NGOs, even corporations) take responsibility for their respective communities online.

@rachelcoldicutt @perigee I feel like my “baseline” online identity should be provided by my government of residence, so regardless of my socioeconomic status I have a home, but also it is one of strictly enforced behavior norms. Thus, my (progressive) taxes pay for moderation.

But I know that’s too socialist for most of the world.

@rachelcoldicutt @gerwitz I agree. The distributed tech model makes it hard to centralize regulation. I think I might go the route of centralizing a listing system like but do a stronger covenant with real mechanisms for pay equity, for regulation, and compliance. It would be foundation work and might leverage a nonprofit status to pay honorariums, grants, and possibly even do loans to foster tech investments and staffing for different kinds of instances in need of 1/

@perigee @rachelcoldicutt @gerwitz

This is something I've wanted to say as well.

Having seen charities run by volunteers and trustee roles that are unpaid, I find it disappointing but unsurprising that #minorities and the #disabled are under-represented in public forums.

I've worked as a paid (PT) #community engagement officer for a small charity. I feel much more able to speak and work for groups when I have, at least, some basic financial support.

@perigee @rachelcoldicutt @gerwitz

However, I do see a positive in the #Mastodon moderation anti-harassment standards being enforced.

That, at least, reduces the burden of #emotional labour for #minorities and the #disabled. Protect the #diversity you want to see and it's more likely to flourish.

#fediverse :fediverse:

@rachelcoldicutt Yep agreed it's about making space and taking responsibility. I like Emma Dabiri's call to change the way we talk about it though, to talk about coalition rather than allyship, where allyship can re-inforce power structures. I've not thought about it but maybe there's an interesting take on federation/instances to explore here. She's not in favour of twitter-style pile-ons and social media in general though.

@rachelcoldicutt Yes it's a short and really good book I think. I recommend her more recent interview with blindboy as a summary of it

@rachelcoldicutt @yaxu I must prefer to have and to be an accomplice rather than an ally :) I like this idea of resources minorities to take leadership positions, could we fund it by a voluntary 'privilege' tax?

@ritawild @rachelcoldicutt Could just become yet another assertion of privilege and whiteness. I do recommend checking out Dabiri's work for some clarity on this sort of thing

@rachelcoldicutt I wonder how much it depends on how the space itself was constructed too. It feels like there can be a tension between the people a space is hosted for, the people hosting it, and the relationship between those and other spaces. ie who is holding the space, why, and how much has been explicitly set out up front vs being decided on the fly?

@rachelcoldicutt A bit of me sees it as analogous to tourism in groups. If you're in an excursion group, then how much of the behaviour of the group is up to the group members, the group guide, and/or the culture being visited?

None of that actually helps me find any answers though, other than integration takes a long time, and has to come from a sense of mutual respect for viewpoints and history, else we're doomed to fail.

@scribe I think this assumes that power dynamics are equal. I completely get and have a lot of time for people who have spent a lot of time setting up intentional communities, but doing that without an awareness of power and privilege and the reality of different lived experiences is not going to be inclusive and is, ultimately, not respectful.

@rachelcoldicutt Agree 100% - and equality within a space is a rare mix of top-down leaders/hosters valuing it, and bottom-up emergent attitudes. We're at a fascinating point in history - never before have so many groups been able to "interact" and access each other so readily. I know the pressure is to change everything instantly, but there's also a context of thouands of years of tribalism and disconnectedness, and I think we need to have an aspect that thinks ahead another thousand years.

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