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I don't understand some of the terms used on this page, where can I find out what they mean?

You can find an explanation of words in our Definitions page.

What is the United Federation of Instances?

The United Federation of Instances (UFoI) is essentially an open invite group of servers that federate with each other under a common set of rules for federation and processes to resolve inter-instance problems.

Is the “United Federation of Instances” named that way because it intends to be the EU or UN of the Fediverse?

No, don’t take it too seriously, it’s just a funny name that fits nicely with a group that wants to federate on mutual terms. If anything, think of the United Federation of Planets from Star Trek.

Why is the acronym UFoI instead of UFI?

It came down to two reasons:

  • Three letter domains are really expensive.
  • UFI acronym has numerous other more well used terms associated with it.
What’s the goal behind the UFoI?

UFoI intends to make federation for members an easier process, we know the base standards required for federation and we have a process for managing inter-federation disputes in a way that we anticipate will reduce issues of both unfairness and harassment. We also want to be a federation that servers want to join because we’re focused on keeping things mutually beneficial for everyone.

Does suspension/defederation have any technical negative consequences?

Server suspension can be destructive. It harms users because it harms users’ effective abilities to control their data like migrating their accounts and they may feel trapped. Alternatives like limiting a server do not hinder user choice while giving very much similar results in preventing abuse issues.

When does the UFoI consider server suspension or defederation necessary?

The UFoI does not impose server suspension, but it freely allows members to do so between each other in situations where a technical issue or illegal possession of materials demand it and cannot be prevented through other means. Consider if limiting a user, rejecting media, or limiting an instance might be more suitable.

What if instead of suspension or defederation I instead block a member server at the firewall level?

This is only acceptable in cases where it's acceptable to suspend/defederate a member server as it creates many similar problems.

If I only limit/silence a server without suspending/defederating it, and then another user boosts a post from that silenced server, doesn't that mean my users will see the post?

This is a widespread belief, but no. We have tested this, and posts from silenced servers are not visible, even if boosted by an unsilenced user, even a user on your own server.

If I don't suspend/defederate a server, then that server can see posts from my server, how can I stop it in that circumstance?

Despite widespread belief, when servers are suspended/defederated that does not stop the content potentially reaching them unless they also mutually suspended/defederated your server.

Why is the UFoI a walled garden?

The UFoI is not a walled garden. The scope of the UFoI ends immediately for servers outside of it. Members and non-members can federate or not freely. This is not within the concerns of the UFoI to manage.

How do I join the UFoI relay?

The UFoI currently does not operate a relay nor require any instance to utilise one.

What are the kind of rules the UFoI requires?

The UFoI endeavours to find the mutually minimum sensible rules that most (but not all) would find acceptable to do federation. The UFoI calls these rules the Code of Ethics. Terms around preventing things like harassment, calls to violence, hate speech or some basic standards behind when content warnings are applicable or tagging.

Isn't the way the UFoI setup allowing TERFs and Nazis into the federation?

The rules covering hate speech exclude Nazis and TERFs along with other bad actors, while not being so strict they impose a monoculture.

My server has much stricter rules, does that mean we’re incompatible with the UFoI?

Not at all! Many servers likely will. This is only an agreement to federate between servers. This does not place restrictions on how you handle incoming content from servers. It just asks that you keep federating even if you employ every other moderation feature at your disposal. Your own rules and moderation still need to meet the Code of Ethics, even if you are stronger on other aspects that the UFoI is not.

Why would we, a server which has mostly trans members want to be in a group that wants us *not* to defederate from those who's only aim is to make our lives worse?

Because the federation has strict rules against hate, the members in the federation should not meet that criteria, which makes it easier to find friendly servers. Further, with alternate moderation functionality like silencing being available, it offers very much the same effect without the technical negative consequences.

What should happen when someone on a member server breaks the code of ethics?

The member server with the offender should moderate internally against it. Other member servers that federate with that member server can further choose to moderate against that user or the entire server, with exception of suspending the member server in most scenarios. The UFoI does not define how servers should handle their local moderation in detail, only that they meet the standards in the Code of Ethics.

What if a member server fails to moderate the problems sufficiently?

It’s recommended member servers utilise whatever moderation actions they feel are necessary without suspending the offending member server. Suspension of entire servers is acceptable in cases where technical issues demand it, or legal issues like possession laws are in place and the alternatives such as limiting a user, rejecting media, or limiting an instance are insufficient to comply with the law. The issues further should be reported so that the UFoI can find an amicable resolution.

Won't the UFoI make it possible for an server to hide behind imaginary due process?

No. As all member servers can already take other moderation actions that have a similar impact to defederation regardless of the decision made by the UFoI. The due process followed is evidence based, giving both parties an equal opportunity to provide evidence. After which point, this may result in the eviction of a member. Further the investivation, evidence and results will be publicly assessible, there is no hiding.

What if a server decides they want to leave?

They are free to do so at a moments notice, the only requirement to leave is an official notification to the UFoI council in doing so.

If a server has left or has been expelled, does that mean the UFoI will defederate with them?

The UFoI does not regulate federation between member and non-member servers. These are choices up to individual servers.

If a server leaves or has been expelled, can they re-join?

Any server that leaves or has been expelled is free to reapply and will need to go through the vetting process again. Whether or not a server will be accepted is based on belief of compliance to the UFoI constitution.

Who can suggest a change to the UFoI constitution?


I think the UFoI should change the constitution to do this thing, how do I do that?

You can create an issue ticket or create a merge request for your proposal, at which point feedback can be taken from the community.

Amendments would require the UFoI population to vote and require a 2/3 majority vote with atleast a 100 vote quorum.

Is it really necessary to have a majority of 2/3?

It is common that core bylaws require a super majority (2/3) while more common decisions that are governed by the bylaws need a simple majority (1/2). There is a very critical reason for this.

The main reason is with 1/2 majority then any clause that is highly disputed having near 50% support on either side will change every other day. every time support hits 50.1% the bylaw gets added then when support drops to 49.9% the bylaw is dropped. This is highly disruptive.

Moreover it means the rules that fall outside of the bylaws (in our case mostly inter-instance moderation decisions) would be "reset" by changes in the bylaws and cause past precedence to be erased… Imagine the case where a bylaw gets dropped due to 49.9% support and now 100 new instances apply and qualify and get in, then the next day when 50.1% support hits the bylaw is readded and we have to kick out those 100 again… With the application process being a bit rigorous this would cause significant disruptions.

Sadly, bylaws would need to be 2/3rds majority if we want them to be workable at all. It’s the reason this is the norm in both organizational bylaws and constitutions of countries.

Who can raise an inter-instance complaint to the UFoI for investigation?


Who assesses if an inter-instance complaint is eligible for mediation by the UFoI?

Council members should review the complaint and determine if this is a problem that the UFoI should handle. Information disclosed publicly may hide some details like usernames and profile pictures to protect individuals.

When a complaint is raised, how does the UFoI ensure fairness for all parties?

All parties are granted an ability to provide evidence to a complaint and due process is followed.

Won't the UFoI increase the length of time bad actors are allowed to continue to misbehave while the UFoI deliberates?

No! All member servers still have access to using server limits/silencing, this effectively stops the behaviour from being a problem and in the edge cases where it's a problem, exemptions are in place for suspension/defederation regardless. This further gives good actors on those instances an opportunity to migrate their accounts when they see their server has become problematic and will not feel locked into staying on the server.

Suppose I’m in the group, and a new server joins. They immediately start harassing my users. If I follow the bylaws, that’d mean I’d have to go through a process of gathering evidence, then persuading UFoI’s board that they should kick the bad instance out. In the mean time, they’re harassing my users and my hands are tied?

No! All member servers still have access to using server limits/silencing immediately, therefore any harassment will immediately cease like taking a defederation action. Further, your server is free to leave at any time.

If the UFoI finds an instance in gross violation, are they suspended/defederated?

No, in the case of a gross violation and the UFoI council does not believe that they can be remedied, the UFoI council at worst can revoke membership. Once the instance is no longer a member, member servers have the freedom to continue federation or not with the offending instance.

Aren't you just centralizing a power structure, the antithesis of Mastodon and ActivityPub?

No, we aren't imposing any rules on anything outside of the UFoI, and that includes who the UFoI members choose federate or not with. Members are free to leave at any time. This is just a group of servers that want to federate with each other under a common set of rules. Servers that decide to federate with each other because they have a common set of ideas isn't unusual in the Fediverse. The only difference that we offer is that we state exactly what that minimum is for all servers involved and try to set a process to make day-to-day federation matters within the UFoI easier for all involved.

Isn't this just creating an exclusive home for right-wing servers or left-wing servers?

No! The UFoI intends to be apolitical. Racism and other hateful discrimination is not inherently right-wing nor left-wing, despite a high correlation in the current political climate. The rules should prevent expression of such things anyway. Instances can include left-wing or right-wing politics, or even both. Only if those don't also include hate speech, there should be no problem.

My server members do not want to see right-wing/left-wing politics, why should we be forced to see content from those servers?

No instances are forced to see content from another. Instances are free to limit/silence instances or limit individuals that they do not want to consume content from.

How are council members elected?

Council members by elected by verified unique users on each UFoI member server.

How does the UFoI prevent ballot stuffing?

The users that vote will have the way they voted and their usernames accessible. If investigated and the users appear to be not real users, this will put the server up for review and the pre-existing council will need to consider the next actions to take.

How does the UFoI ensure that a large user server cannot dominate the conversation?

Only one individual can be a council representative per server regardless of the size. As the number of council representatives are dictated by the number of users across the UFoI, this creates more seats to fill that would be difficult for a large user server to coordinate voting on with just their exclusive interests. In the situation where a conspiracy takes place, the larger it becomes, the greater it increases the chance that it will be uncovered.

The UFoI does mention some useful alternatives to de-federation. So why not just make that a pledge, and leave it at that?

There is no reason a server couldn't make that pledge if they wanted. It is fully their choice if they don't want to agree to a common set of rules for federation and having some processes to resolve some inter-instance issues.

All this, so members can be vetted and approved or canceled, but without enforceable ramifications?

One problem that has been observed with defederation in the fediverse is that some are very quick to make a awful claim about another server when they defederate them. Other servers will feel compelled to duplicate the same defederation. For example, if a 10,000 user large server defederates a 10 user instance for racism. It's not unusual other admins are going to automatically assume it's true regardless of the actual reality, if the issues were instead simply, "don't like them", this would not get blindy duplicated. By nature of the UFoI having a due process system, this should at the very least show there is something to be questioned if the server is still a UFoI member. This should also hopefully reduce much of the inter-server conflicts that arise from similar situations.

What is a UFoI coalition?

Within the UFoI some subset of the instance members may come together and form a coalition with its own stricter set of rules than those of the wider federation while complying to the UFoI requirements.

The primary purposes of a UFoI Coalition are, as follows:

  1. To maintain lists of servers for a particular purpose. These may be block lists and other bad-actors or lists of good-actor servers or, in general, any list for any purpose.
  2. The lists maintained by a coalition must adhere to the due process of the UFoI.
  3. The process to admit new members into a coalition must also adhere to the UFoI standards for due process.
  4. The coalition may require members of the coalition to take some action on the members of a list in order to qualify for admittance to a coalition. For example, they may require non-UFoI members of a list to be defederated from, or require federation with, members of the list as well. Alternatively, not silencing or requiring silencing of a set of servers within and outside the UFoI.
Why does the UFoI not impose due process standards for member instances wishing to suspend/defederate servers outside of the federation?

The problem is that this then becomes a ‘soft’ block list, and we are trying to focus on federating between willing members, not blocking. It’s possible to form a coalition inside the UFoI that could adhere to additional concepts like this, but the coalition would be responsible to perform the leg work for any extra terms they impose.

Do I need to form a UFoI coalition to impose stricter rules with friendly servers?

No. The UFoI coalition concept exists because it introduces a clear set of expectations for standards, creating one is not mandatory.

Why did you remove the list of servers?

The list of servers was originally a proof of concept for the website based on everyone who sent in an application. As we had not vetted any servers due to our constitution still being in draft, a harassment campaign was kicked off to force servers to leave or block the UFoI because of association with objectionable servers in the member list that had not been vetted yet. UFoI was totally unprepared to handle this circumstance due to the fact the federation had not even been launched yet and processes for handling this also were not finalised.

Some of this may have been caused by confusion that people some people thought that the UFoI was finalised and launched.

Is any instance an official instance?

Not until we officially launch.

I’ve noticed the activity has died down, why is that?

Unfortunately, due to the earlier mishap with the instance list, the abuse has forced us to work with potential applicant servers and some other contributors in private to prevent further harassment. This has not changed the launch plan to be publicly auditable when we launch.