Closing the official BSL instance
While it was always planed (and disclosed as such since the beginning) I decided to close the official instance of BirdsiteLIVE a bit earlier than expected. Here's why.
The aim of the project
Since not everyone may be familiar with the project, let me clearly state my motivations for it.
On the fediverse there was (and maybe still is) a trend of creating public accounts combined with a crossposter to bring twitter content here. This is an issue in many ways: it pollutes local and federated timelines with ghosts accounts, it creates publicly available mirrors, and is not great for multiple other reasons.
After a lot of debates and discussions with other fediverse users, I decided to create a service that would fulfill this need (and ease up a fediverse migration) while operating on a private and “personal usage” philosophy. The fact that ActivityPub permits to publish content under “follower-only” mode was ideal in this regard.
So cool, problem solved, we just need to convince admins to clean up the remaining bots now? Well...
The blind spot
As many seasoned users of the fediverse, I never use the search functionality for other reasons than resolving full handles and URLs.
If you're not already aware of it, due to the decentralized aspect of the fediverse (and contrary to the centralized functionality of common social networks) search isn't really working the way you might think: due to technical limitations, it will only look into the known accounts of the instance, that is a limited to a very limited view of the fediverse depending on the size of your instance, the age of the accounts, etc. Since the most reliable way to find and follow an account is to provide a full handle (@user@domain) or the URL to the profile, my guess is we all end to ignore this flaw and stop thinking of it.
The arrival of unacclimated migrants from the Hellsite
(if you're one of them, before you jump to your phone to tell me how horrible person I am, I'm just messing with you, you're impolite, noisy and driven with the birdsite habit to create indignation posts to get visibility, but hey! You're the victim of those services. And now you're safe. There is no need to behave this way here, there is no algorithm to surf on and what you will find here is a (mostly) peaceful place where we discuss more than we throw 2 words arguments to each other to appear clever. Sincerely and unironically, welcome here)
The issue with newcomers is they manage to pass through the “choose your instance” dilemma, log in, happily find the new UI full of promises and... oh yeah. Use the search engine to see if some of their friends are here. Oh no.
Let's say I'm happy words aren't the most effective way to kill someone since they would still be feeding on my corpse currently. 😶
BSL accounts are meant to be used under an educated understanding of what it is, what it does and how it does it. This clearly can't be the case when displaying those accounts on a search result list at the “I just arrived” state of evolution to a proper fedizen. And I understand how it can lead to misunderstandings, doubts, disbelief, anger and other great sentiments that leads to harmony and peaceful exchanges.
There is a solution that would fix this issue, I've reached Mastodon's dev months ago and reached them recently again to add a new label on the bots so that they don't appear on a partial search and only when using full handles / URL (you can't guess them, if you're in possession of one, you know what it is).
I'm sure they're very busy (and a bit mad at me too!) and that's ok, but the thing is the issue is still here currently. And that, that's not ok.
Closing the instance
So yeah. I'm closing it. Not much to say here. It's the best solution in my reach currently. I just hope people won't create again crossposters everywhere in response (if you read this, please don't).
If you're an instance owner
Please consider restricting the usage and availability of your instance, at least until a better solution is found and available.
The best way to use the software currently (in the way it was meant to be used), is to restrict it to a personal instance (or a small instance of seasoned users) and prevent other instances to be able to reach it (via ACLs, Firewall rules, etc) to prevent the creation of searchable accounts.
Also since the software isn't working in a truly private way due to this flaw, it could be a good thing that you check Twitter API conditions again and decide if you think those are still met, or not, and act consequently. There is diverse opinions about it, and I don't want you to trust my understanding of it (not a lawyer, etc).
What if I'm still mad at you?
Oh yeah. You can still write me delicate brutalities that you guys excels in (be original and entertaining please!). But while I lived in many countries, I'm still French in my DNA and I might answer with the best way, we, French people, deal with such content:
Jokes aside, I hope this article will help people to understand what BSL is, maybe stop harassing admins about it, and help evacuate some steam from everyone. You're free to share it, obviously.
And if you're one of those newcomers, again, welcome here, I'm sure you'll love your stay among us.