Casey Magazine

The UFOI has been the subject of hot debate across the Fediverse. Largely fueled in response to a successful disinformation campaign by a Nazi, it’s torn the Fediverse apart into two sides, as it has positioned itself directly against Fediblock, since they ended up supporting the disinformation campaign themselves. But, as someone who’s been on the Fediverse for years, many of the complaints surrounding UFOI seem a bit humorous and ironic, considering that they largely apply to Fediblock as well, despite coming from their supporters.

To be fair, I’m not in general a big fan of instance blocks, especially on the admin level, although I certainly think that family-friendly “SFW” instances are likely needed for the sake of mass appeal, and even I’ve muted some instances if I’ve been targeted by their users or haven’t found any good apples there. And while I have (and still do) support native functionality in Mastodon and other softwares to subscribe to blocklists, I’ve always thought that something like Fediblock would be better as a database of potentially unsavory instances, rather than a blocklist to subscribe to. It doesn’t serve that purpose well, though, since it’s filled with dirty data; tons of instances there just don’t have much explanation as to why they’re there, and of the ones that do, even fewer of those have citations and proof backing up that description. The UFOI seeks to change this, with a more detail-oriented, rigorous and balanced investigation process before adding an instance to their recommended blocklist.

Many oppose this approach. Why? Well, it’s somewhat hard to tell. Some have stated that elitism is a primary point of concern, which is an odd claim considering that instances can be included in the Fediblock list for merely not adhering to the Fediblock list. That cry sort of falls on deaf ears when it comes from people who view themselves and morally superior to people outside of their “in” group in the first place. Others have accused the creator of the project, freemo, of being a “bad actor” on the Fediverse, another ironic claim since that accusation is based on disinformation spread by a Nazi. Still others, myself included, are also wondering how the UFOI can handle moderation if a quick action is necessary, yet not all members are available to perform the moderation process (i.e. an instance is spreading child pornography, putting all instances that federate with it in legal jeopardy).

The greatest threat that the UFOI poses is actually one that has already plagued Fediblock: corruption and being co-opted by bad-faith actors. Fediblock is largely run by progressives, but a Nazi manipulated them into blocking a harmless instance, QOTO, for fun. The UFOI could also be infiltrated by bad-faith actors, who could transform the moderation process into something equally unfair as Fediblock’s standards for inclusion on the blocklist. We have already seen this with the admin of Stop Voring Me joining the UFOI with the intent of leaking information regarding it, and attempting to slander freemo with that information (although that didn’t end up being particularly effective since he didn’t have much to say). The potential for corruption will always be the greatest weakness of any organization, and while the UFOI has certainly gotten off to a promising start, and seems like something worth joining for anyone planning to run a family-friendly “SFW” platform, it’d certainly be worth keeping an eye out for bad actors in the organization once the member list becomes public, and making sure that they abide by the standards they’ve currently set for themselves.

However, even this threat has been minimized as part of its inherent design. I reached out to freemo regarding this concern, and he stated that the UFOI has contingency plans to prevent this from happening. The current structure of the organization allows for members to be voted one at a time–no flooding of bad faith actors is possible. Its structure for changing the bylaws also require a two-thirds majority, making it difficult for rogue members to co-opt the project, provided of course that the leaders are vigilant in examining the rules prior to voting on them. Furthermore, in the case that bad faith actors do happen to co-opt the UFOI, the system is designed as a framework, meaning others can start their own groups. “The intent isn’t to be the one and only federation”, he stated. “Ideally different groups, perhaps with different ideas on the code of ethics, will form other federations as well. Federations can then choose to agree to federate or not or be neutral.”

With this in mind, it sounds like not only will the UFOI resistant to corruption, but the framework it is built around can be adopted by other groups, even including Fediblock themselves. In the end, the UFOI solves many of the problems plaguing Fediblock: susceptibility to corruption, low moderation standards, etc., with very few noticeable downsides in comparison, and considering the swath of new users and admins who will need a higher quality of moderation and support than the Fediblock community is able to provide, UFOI seems to be the primary viable option for those running instances who are seeking to moderate effectively, fairly, and in a way that protects their users without compromising interconnection throughout the Fediverse network.

The mental health community is pretty vast, and you hear a variety of complaints regarding poor mental state, from anxiety to trauma and institutions that don't accommodate those with mental health conditions. One of the most common talking points of the community, however, are those regarding depression.

“You're not depressed, you're just sad” is a term often slung at people who are expressing their feelings of despondency. Many times, this retort feels abrasive, because it's more often than not hurled without the appropriate concern or thought. However, there is some truth here, if it applies to your situation.

On both TV and social media, we're typically sold an image of happiness as being the normal, default state of human existence. Most people are happy, even if the world is crumbling around them. However, this is far from what the real-life human experience is like. Movies, television shows, and even to a certain extent social media, all tend to portray what is more like a cartoon-like, cotton-candy-coated fantasy of what life is like, or can be like. These are, unironically, largely works of fiction; pleasant and appealing stories, perhaps, but by no means a valid basis to be used to measure your own status in life.

Being sad kinda sucks. That's probably why the majority of visual media tends to avoid realistic depictions of human sadness. However, it's important to realize that it is normal to be sad, and you don't need any greater need to fear sadness than to fear happiness. Ecclesiastes 3 reinforces this sentiment, stating “To everything there is a season...A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance.”

Life isn't a playground of pleasantries, but more often than not is a training ground filled with trials that we can use to learn and grow. Pain tends to be a pretty good teacher. Few learn more from the best times of their lives than the worst times of their lives, after all. We all have a choice to either avoid sadness at all costs, or embrace it when it arrives and learn what you can from your current circumstance.

This by no means diminishes true depression, which is something that is increasingly common. However, we should all realize and accept that being sad doesn't mean there is something wrong with you that needs to be fixed, it just means that you're a human being.

I have been told that it's bad form to name-drop the Female Voldemort who catalyzed the downfall of the infamous website Kiwifarms. However, I have numerous thoughts on situation, so I've decided to compile them here and then leave the issue largely alone.

The destruction of Kiwifarms exposes a critical flaw in how we use the internet, or rather, how those who are far removed from the confines of the mainstream use the internet: we keep using the same websites. Those complaining about not being able to use Kiwifarms to a certain extent picked their demise, as coalescing a community around a single point of failure means your infrastructure need only fail once. This is certainly what happened in the case of Kiwifarms Forums, which is (was?) a centralized website.

This naturally leads us to the conversation about decentralized networks. Surely they are the solution! Well, in theory yes, but in reality, I'm not so sure. Many nodes on what is possibly the largest decentralized social media network in use today—indeed, the network in which I am writing this post—tend to function as centralized sites, whether the site-runners want them to or not (graf of fame and Eugen of and have conversely praised and mourned the massive growth of their individual nodes). Despite a burgeoning new tech, decentralization-loving culture growing in the underbelly of the internet, users continue to make the same mistake that has plagued other dead and doomed platforms: flocking.

Alt tech users need to stop flocking. The practice of an entire community migrating to one node and calling it home can be fun, sure, but it comes at an extreme cost: if someone sets the house on fire, everybody dies. For alternative communities, especially ones that participate in controversial or incendiary speech, creating a node as a hub for your community and then beckoning that community to flood to that one node is a recipe for disaster.

A more sustainable model for communities is to truly decentralize them; perhaps use a decentralized network like the Fediverse, but create multiple nodes so that your users aren't tossed into a singular barrel and easily shot down. Some communities on the Fediverse do this very thing; there is a reason that domains like or don't exist. These communities are spread out among dozens of instances, making it impossible to ban or stop all members of these groups from communicating.

Of course, we can have the discussion as to whether or not having smaller hosters rather than bigger hosters is a good idea, considering that smaller hosters are potentially easier to shut down, but that is a different discussion than the nature of alt tech users' internet usage patterns.