I'm extremely pleased to launch Run Your Own Social: How to run a small social network site for you friends.

This is a guide book to running a small, tight-knit federated social network server. It comes from my year of experience running Friend Camp. It's focused largely on SOCIAL solutions, though it does touch on the technical.

I've tried to keep it technology-neutral, and it should be a pretty easy read for anyone who's been on the fediverse for a while.

@darius thanks for this site, very informative
I know all of it already, but it's a very good resource to share with bewcomers

@darius this is really great, by the way, darius. the concept, the execution, and the write-up. glad to have been a part of what seems like a really transformative experience for yourself and hopefully for others!

@darius Have you found that using a microblogging tool for more chatroom-esque conversations causes any unwanted friction?

There's some fundamental things about the microblogging model that I'm not really a fan of for community spaces, but with the local timeline I'm wondering if that mostly resolves itself in practice.

@clarity The local timeline, combined with the fact that we all get to know each other, pretty much resolves that in practice

@darius That's really cool. Do you ever end up wishing you had more than one "room" to chat in with a group that size? On discord or whatever I find that ~50 people often end up with two or three parallel conversations

@clarity Yeah. For my fork I'm hoping to add better hashtag functionality and "exclusive lists" that remove stuff that appears in the list from your home timeline. So you could have a list that is an open search for a hashtag, filter it local only, and there is your chat channel

@darius ah!! that's really interesting, I'll be curious to see how it ends up feeling

@darius @clarity This sounds like a feature I've been wanting for a while now. Basically lists for keywords, though not necessarily hashtags.

Being able to organize the main timeline by divvying it up based on subject matter can help a lot for people with busy timelines.

@darius @clarity And yeah, it would remove the content from the home timeline so as to prevent needless duplication. (Or at least have a toggle for doing so.)

@KitsuneAlicia @darius @clarity I'd really like to follow by topic instead of by user. I think more folks doing that would reduce the petty toxicity that pervades the "good" half of Fedi.

@USBloveDog @darius @clarity Theoretically, that's what hashtags are supposed to be for, but their lack of use -- especially on the Fediverse -- makes it hard to do so.

Also, it depersonalizes the relationship, which is what social media has always supposed to have been about.

@USBloveDog @darius @clarity So this is why I figure this would work better. We split up the home timeline to allow better organization over the stuff that people we follow talk about.

It helps us have conversations about topics on our own terms while still keeping things more personal than say, Reddit.

@KitsuneAlicia @darius @clarity

I swear that I'm the only user on my instance who is remotely consistent with #hashtags.

One thing that really made me wish to follow by topic is the number of small instance admins I follow and their posts about blocking other small instances clogging my home TL. Sure, it's less personal (b/c you're not seeing posts about the dating life of someone you follow for their science puns), but does seeing those posts make you care or more empathetic?

@darius @clarity
You mentioned movie nights in the article. Can you say more about that? Does it take over the timeline?

@fishpatrol @clarity It takes over the local timeline, yes. But doesn't federate.

@fishpatrol @clarity We use a special tool I wrote that mass DMs everyone on the server to coordinate. We all obtain the same mp4 and just press play at the same time and then post away

@darius @clarity
Sounds like fun :) I’ve been looking for a platform for an extended family group across many time zones, which is messy from the start. Slimming the timeline, either for interest or privacy, would be real good

@darius I love this, thank you for writing it. It provides possible answers to many questions I've been asking myself, and I think this approach would be a great direction for the fediverse to move into.

@darius Thank you, I've been thinking about running my own server for friends for a while. Your article explains what to expect and what is involved.

@darius super appreciate this, it's a great read! one issue with it though is the text color isn't set but the background is, so this happens with my configuration

@darius the advice here is all extremely good and tracks well with my experience running glorioustrainwrecks

@darius excellent work - congratulations on launching 💖

@darius this is really good, and inspiring. And I loved the aside about Dunbar's number.

@darius thanx for the good read!i appreciate reading it!

@darius "This is great! I should make sure there's a copy saved to the Wayback Machi--"

@EssDub it's going to take me a while to formulate organized thoughts on this. it's not easy (except for when it is, like when someone who many of us on the server transparently adore asks to join)

@darius congrats!!!! this is gorgeous and has such a well-thought-out vibe behind it

@darius Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful and inspiring guide! I do also wish for a future where we have thousands of these small instances...

The one thing that I wonder about is around which people I would draw a circle of fifty. And whether those people wouldn't prefer to be in other circles of fifty (or are already in one). In other words: do you foresee one person having multiple accounts or one account being part of multiple small groups of friends?

@hans I foresee the former. The only way I can imagine the latter working is something like Google+ Circles, which I mention in the document how I think it fails on a fundamental level. But I'd love to be proven wrong!

@darius So that requires Mastodon clients that allow for multiple accounts I guess...

I am experimenting with both variations.
This is a one-person instance which I federate from with lots of other people, some of whom live in multi-person sites, some single-person like mine.

I also have an account in

I like both of those experiences so far, but they are different, and will become more different if and when we get the AP economic networking features working.

But I agree about g+ circles...


@bhaugen @darius I guess we then all agree about the lure and then disappointment of Google Circles (that time when you would still experiment with Google products...)

@hans @bhaugen I got similar feedback when I posted this article on Twitter!

@darius Thank you for this! A quick thought about your note on neighborhoods—have you heard much of an ancient social network called Freenet and its Web of Trust idea? I got an oral history about it from someone who was there and thought of it while reading the end of your article:

@darius I feel like this is an eminently realistic and yet optimistic rebuttal to my blog post about why I *don't* run my own social for friends :)

@lmorchard @darius this is why I’ve run my Mastodon instance as single user—feeling out if I’m responsible enough to host a multi-user instance

@jasonscheirer @darius Haha, I too ran my own single-user Mastodon instance and then one weekend accidentally nuked the database. Which is why I'm on @nolan 's instance now :)

@lmorchard @jasonscheirer @nolan Yeah I ran my single user for a year and felt comfortable so then made the jump

@darius @jasonscheirer I decided last year that I would write my own single-serving ActivityPub instance rather than run my own single-user Mastodon.

Of course I've never gotten close to finishing it yet, but I did have some weird bots going for awhile

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Friend Camp

Hometown is adapted from Mastodon, a decentralized social network with no ads, no corporate surveillance, and ethical design.