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---
title: "Mastodon Server Covenant"
draft: true
author: gargron
date: 2019-05-16
tags:
- mastodon
categories:
- Op-Ed
---
Previously, joinmastodon.org was pulling the list of servers available for sign up from a 3rd party provider called instances.social, the very first directory of Mastodon servers. When Mastodon was first released to the public, it didn't have a homepage at all, so instances.social predates joinmastodon.org. It was a natural choice as a source of data when I set out to create a homepage because it already had so much of it.
However, as it was a 3rd party and semi-automated service, the one thing that was not possible from my side was quality control of the presented servers. Anyone could submit one and it would eventually show up.
One of the things that gave an impetus to the creation of Mastodon was a lack of moderation on Twitter against hate groups. The "no nazis" rule of the original mastodon.social server (which then spread to the majority of all subsequently founded servers) continuously serves as a major attraction to the network.
But that's the thing, isn't it--since Mastodon is free software, with no central authority, communities decide on their own rules. So how could we as a project, above the individual server level, promise to be safer than Twitter and Reddit?
What we *can* do, is choose who and what to promote from our own pages. Ensure that people who stumble on joinmastodon.org are directed to high-quality servers that align with our values. Herewith I announce the **Mastodon Server Covenant**. Any server that we link to from joinmastodon.org commits to **actively moderating against racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia**.
There are actually a few more items in the covenant, but more of a technical nature. To give users more confidence in the server they choose to sign up on, the servers commit to having daily backups, more than one person with emergency access ("bus factor") and promise to give people a 3 months warning in case of a potential closure. Those are pretty basic requirements for a public service.
Now, there will always be people who will read this and claim censorship. That Mastodon must not take a political side. That the free marketplace of ideas will sort everything out. That is a very American view on things, and Mastodon is not American. Mastodon is released as free software, and that is enough, that is where our obligations of neutrality end. We don't have to support and promote those who choose to use it to spread intolerance.
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