Mastodon Administration

Yesterday I wrote about starting my own Mastodon instance. It’s like a federated Twitter, and it’s really fun.

I wanted to create a place for tech folks to hang out, but I don’t have a lot of experience with server administration. So I chose Heroku. Things have gone… okay. Mostly good, even.

I’ve run into a number of scaling issues, 500 errors, questions I don’t know the answer to, yikes. So I’ve spent time searching for answers, scaling up Heroku Dynos, configuring DNS settings, and upgrading Postgres databases.

My hope is that these resources will be sufficient for some time while the community scales. I’m planning on starting a Patreon to help cover the hosting costs, and maybe even a little of my time. But I don’t want to start asking for help unless I’m certain that this is something I want to build in the long run.

Because this has taken time away from the rest of my life. If that cost is largely upfront, with ongoing costs not taking up a lot of time, then that’s great. But I can’t afford to give dozens of hours a month to this project. If things start looking dire, at least I know who to ask for help 😄

If you’re interested, here are the metrics for the Heroku app. The red numbers worry me. We’ll see how things go. I’m thinking of migrating the whole instance over to a Digital Ocean instance, which would bring the costs down considerably, but the limiting factor is my time.

At first I was really overwhelmed because things weren’t always running perfectly. Then I realized that this is just a process, an experiment, and I should relax. People have been thanking me for setting up the instance, which has felt really nice. Even if this space turns out to be ephemeral, it’s still its own community, and creating that community is really rewarding.

Once I accepted that the instance won’t be around forever, that at some point in the future it will shut down (all websites will eventually), once I accepted that fact, things became a lot less stressful. So what if GIF uploads aren’t work, or 2FA is broken? I’m opening GitHub issues to ask for help, and I’m getting helped. I’m contributing back documentation improvements. I’m learning a tonne about how to administer websites through firsthand experience and experimentation. And I’m helping contribute to an entire community of online communities.

So join, if you like, in a social media experiment and experience. It might not last – but nothing does – and in the mean time, you can have fun and meet new friends.

If you’re keen, I’m going to need help. Things on my agenda are:

  • define a code of conduct.
  • help to establish community norms.
  • respond to reported abuses.

If you’re interested in helping, let’s chat.

Please submit typo corrections on GitHub