Mastodon, along with many of the fediverse projects run on instances, that is a website / server that runs that software. Usually, the person (or group) that creates the project runs the first instance, after that it is up to volunteers to run their own instance.
It’s best if there are more instances, for decentralization, but there are some people who won’t (or can’t run a instance). Here are some potential reason why,
Money is needed
The mainstream social networks are free, and if you run your own instance then you will probably need to spend money. Even if you have your own website, you most likely need a separate website and separate server just for the instance.
The right server has to be picked
Sometimes the software is small and can run on the cheapest server, but sometimes it requires more resources, and the upgrade has to be done quickly. The server also has to be in a good location and company behind it, as you want to ensure everyone reaching the server can access it quickly, and that the server doesn’t just disappear one day because the company went bankrupt.
You have to know how to install and upgrade safely
Most of these projects require you to run something that isn’t on the server by default, so the person running the instance needs to have the skills to install that software, as well as upgrade it when new updates become available.
You have to know how to secure the server
You don’t want the server to get hacked, so it has to be secure. There are many ways to secure a server, from fail2ban, to many other ways that depend on the server and software installed. If you don’t know how to do, then you are putting yourself (and whoever else has an account) at risk.
You have to know how to deal with bugs, reports & other issues
With running your own server and instance, you have to deal with all the bugs that come up. Many instances also allow for reports from other users (both of your instance and other instances), and if you allow others to sign up for your instance, then you have to deal with those reports.
If you don’t deal with those reports you could risk your instance not being seen by other instances (and thus some people may not be able to interact with those on your own instance) and that could get those on your instance very upset.
There is the issue, such as the server going down and you’re having to bring it back up, keeping on top of updates (that are outside the instance software), and keeping backups.
It’s a ton of work to run an instance, and I thank those who are running one.
What will I be doing instead of running my own?
I will continue to use an instance, reporting posts that don’t abide by the instance rules, and when I’m able to, financially support the instance (that link can usually be found in the admin’s profile).
This is post number 94 as part of 100 Days To Offload.
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