Open Thinkering


Tag: Code of Conduct

On the importance of Fediverse server rules

Let’s say you’re going to set up a new WhatsApp, Signal, or Telegram chat for a group of people. It could be for family members, it could be for friends, or colleagues. It could be, which is a very familiar scenario for Team Belshaw, the way in which you find out when and where your kids sports matches are.

These chats have ‘admins’, people who have the power to change things like:

  • Group avatar/icon
  • Group name
  • Group membership (i.e. adding / removing individuals)
  • Deleting messages
  • Setting whether messages disappear after a set time

Perhaps most of the time, there’s no problem. But things can go spectacularly wrong, as I’m sure you’ve either experienced yourself, or heard about from others.

The above example is of people who already have something in common, or some kind of relationship that precedes the setting-up of the group chat. While I can imagine the manager of a sports team mentioning that participation in the chat is subject to the club’s privacy policy and code of conduct, you wouldn’t really do that for chat groups for friends and family. It would be weird.

Now let’s talk about places which are set up for conversation where the context is different:

  • Most people don’t know one another
  • They can talk among themselves, but also with people outside the group
  • When they talk with people outside of the group, the carry some of the group’s identity

Yes, I’m talking about the Fediverse. And, specifically, I’m talking about codes of conducts and ‘server rules’. Just as contracts are usually there to be referred to when things go wrong, so the server rules are there for when something goes awry.

If you’re a straight, middle-aged, white guy (like me!) playing life on the easiest difficulty setting, it might seem annoying to have to come up with server rules when you just want to set up a new Fediverse instance. Can’t everyone just be cool and get along? Well, frankly, no.

Conflict in social situations is inevitable; it’s the way that you handle each incident that matters. If you run a Fediverse instance with essentially no (or very few) rules, people playing life on harder difficulty settings won’t join. Moreover, some other servers might proactively block your instance. And even if they don’t, any small infraction from any of the people on your instance will lead to a look at the server rules. If you don’t have any/many, it’s likely to get blocked.

Most good codes of conduct are Creative Commons licensed. That way, we can built upon one another’s work. The one for can be found here, and exists largely thanks to the work of people more experienced than me. Like the Mastodon Server Covenant it’s not perfect, but provides a base layer for building a code of conduct that works for communities.

So if you’re setting up a Fediverse instance, be as intentional about the server rules as you are about the technology choices you make! Think about the behaviours you want to encourage. Read and learn those written by those running successful instances. Endeavour to create a moderation team with documented workflows as soon as you can. That way, it won’t be just people like me who feel safe and included — it’ll be everyone!

Registrations are now open at!

Image of coffee cup with chat symbol in foam, with a pair of running trainers and barbells

I’m pleased to announce that registrations are now open at

Configuration is ongoing, and I’m on the lookout for moderators, but I wanted to keep the momentum going on this project. Please register if you would like to share and discuss things related to exercise and fitness (and can agree with the Code of Conduct below!)

For those new to the Fediverse, this is an instance of Pixelfed, which is kind of like a federated/decentralised version of Instagram. The difference is that your updates can be followed by anyone from a compatible instance.

Code of Conduct v0.1 is a community focused on sharing and discussion of exercise and fitness-related activities. It’s a friendly, non-judgemental space.

The following behaviours all help make a positive environment:

  • Demonstrating empathy and kindness toward other people
  • Being respectful of differing opinions, viewpoints, and experiences
  • Giving and gracefully accepting constructive feedback
  • Accepting responsibility and apologizing to those affected by our mistakes, and learning from the experience
  • Focusing on what is best not just for us as individuals, but for the overall community

Examples of unacceptable behaviour include:

  • Public or private harassment
  • Sexual attention or advances of any kind
  • Trolling, insulting or derogatory comments, and personal or political attacks
  • Publishing others’ private information, such as a physical or email address, without their explicit permission
  • Other conduct which could reasonably be considered inappropriate in a social setting, including excessive advertising

We welcome members regardless of qualities such as gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, disability, mental illness, neuro(a)typicality, physical appearance, body size, age, race, nationality, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, family structure, spirituality, religion (or lack thereof), education, or other personal traits. We particularly celebrate diversity and do not tolerate bigotry or prejudice. Diverse opinions on politics, religion, and other matters are welcome as long as they align with our core values. For the avoidance of doubt, this is anti-racist, anti-fascist, and anti-transphobic space.


Instances of abusive, harassing, or otherwise unacceptable behaviour may be reported using the built-in tools of the platform. All complaints will be reviewed and investigated promptly and fairly, respecting the privacy and security of the reporter of any incident.

Consequences for actions deemed to be violations of this Code of Conduct:

1. Correction

  • Community Impact: Use of inappropriate language or other behaviour deemed unprofessional or unwelcome in the community.
  • Consequence: Removal of contravening content. A private, written warning from community leaders, providing clarity around the nature of the violation and an explanation of why the behavior was inappropriate. A public apology may be requested.

2. Warning

  • Community Impact: A violation through a single incident or series of actions.
  • Consequence: Removal of contravening content. A warning with consequences for continued behaviour. No interaction with the people involved, including unsolicited interaction with those enforcing the Code of Conduct, for a specified period of time. This includes avoiding interactions in other spaces, too. Violating these terms may lead to a temporary or permanent ban.

3. Temporary Ban

  • Community Impact: A serious violation of community standards, including sustained inappropriate behavior.
  • Consequence: Removal of contravening content. A temporary ban from any sort of interaction or public communication with the community for a specified period of time. No public or private interaction with the people involved, including unsolicited interaction with those enforcing the Code of Conduct, is allowed during this period. Violating these terms may lead to a permanent ban.

4. Permanent Ban

  • Community Impact: Demonstrating a pattern of violation of community standards, including sustained inappropriate behavior, harassment of an individual, or aggression toward or disparagement of classes of individuals.
  • Consequence: Removal of contravening content. A permanent ban from any sort of public interaction within the community.

This instance is run by Doug Belshaw (@doug) and the moderators are:

  • [looking for volunteers!]

If you feel that you have been treated unfairly by a moderator of this instance, please make this clear to another moderator. Please be aware, however, that direct messages are not yet end-to-end encrypted.


This server will be supported by donations. The ability to do this will be set up at a future date.

Blocked servers is a node of the Fediverse network. While users can block individual users from other servers, the following servers are blocked for all users of This is due to actions which contravene our code of conduct.

  • [list of known problematic servers will be found here]


Thanks to the following for inspiration:


Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY):

Code of Conduct for

Pixel art running shoe with speech bubble

Last week I was thinking about a Fediverse instance focused on fitness/exercise. I’m pleased to say that, with the help of Matti at Spacebear OÜ, I’ve set up a Pixelfed instance at

Registrations are currently closed, and I’ve asked for potential testers to kick the tyres and establish some norms. Before I do that, I want to ensure there’s v0.1 of a Code of Conduct established. If you’re interested, I’d like your assistance.

>>> Click here <<< for an etherpad with a draft Code of Conduct. Please follow the instructions at the top of the pad if you’d like to contribute!

Temporary logo for the purposes of illustration created by DALL-E 2