#FediUnblock, a Brief Announcement — FSE Blog

#FediUnblock, a Brief Announcement

You might have heard of FediBlock: some humorless hall monitors have taken it upon themselves to build a wall around their instances and make fedi pay for it. Seriously, that's the idea: they are producing these lists of crimes, real or imagined, and then building a list of "bad" instances. Unsurprisingly, this has immediately degenerated into dogpiling. There's no way off the lists, you get a scarlet letter forever. There's never an attempt to contact the admin to work something out. (More than once, FSE has been blocked for user behavior that resulted in a ban when I saw it. Since nobody bothered to ask me what was going on and they blocked FSE, there wasn't a way to communicate that the user had been banned.) Nobody bothers to verify the information, either, and it's transitive: if you decline to block some instances, that's grounds for getting added to the list.

Last time I told a little robot to pull some stats about fedi, I found about 3,700 live instances. This is sufficiently large that you can't hope to review them all manually. So they started a hashtag, "#fediblock", to distribute their lists. This couldn't keep up, either, so there's a website now! Crowd-sourced cancellation. Wonders never cease! Of course, nearly 900 of those instances were single-user. They probably ought to be lower on the list given the size of the task, but they've already cancelled three of those (and several instances that are dead).

Obviously, they're within their rights to do things like that. You're free to hold whatever opinions you like, convey those opinions to others, all of that. You're free to be mistaken and learn from it. It's ill-advised to do so, but you're even free to be mistaken and fail to learn from it, or to lie. (Speaking broadly; fraud and defamation are obviously exceptions.) Anyone attempting to decide what you can say or think is trying to crush a part of your humanity.

On the other hand, it takes like 10 seconds to pull down their JSON, shove it into a relay.yaml file as a whitelist, and run a relay that allows only the fediblocked instances. So I did that. A perfect inverse of fediblock, that increases the reach of instances that fediblock wants to block. There you have it, the first reason I've had to actually run an FSE relay: relay.freespeechextremist.com, a place for censored ideas.

People flip out about this stuff, but fedi is a place where people talk about weird stuff they're hacking on, songs they wrote, food they ate, anime, jokes, memes, brainfuck programs that generate memes about anime girls eating food. It's a place of fever dreams, dirty jokes, drunken lies. Fedi's a party: conduct yourself accordingly.