Our next community meeting + 2024 budget: Project Mushroom's Latest

"Project Mushroom" in black text on a yellow background next to a yellow-and-black image of a mushroom.

Community meeting

The next Project Mushroom community meeting will take place Sunday, January 28th, 2024 — 1:00pm EST / 6:00pm UTC. You can join the meeting here: https://meet.jit.si/ConnectedMyceliumGrowingTogether

There are two agenda items at this meeting, which are described in detail in this newsletter. First, Sam Nabi will present our approach to federation with Threads and other large instances. Next, Craig Sloss will give an overview of our finances, we'll discuss what we'd like to use our funds for, and we'll vote on how to allocate our budget for 2024.

Our approach to Threads

TL;DR: On spore.social we will silence (not block) Threads along with other large, poorly-moderated Mastodon instances. Continuing our current policy, projectmushroom.social will have no interaction with Threads or any instance other than spore.social, and Threads will not have access to accounts on projectmushroom.social. At the same time, we'll prioritize discovery of many smaller communities that align with our values.

In our last newsletter, we asked you how you felt about Instagram/Meta's Threads and its plans for integrating with the Fediverse. As a climate justice-focused community that's trying to build a safe space on the Internet, we have higher standards for moderation than most other platforms and we wanted to take some time to decide on our approach. Responses to our survey were split, and spurred a lot of good discussion:

Threads, Instagram's Twitter clone, has been operating for about 6 months now. Like with most large corporate social media platforms, Threads is unable to adequately control hate speech along with racist, misogynist, transphobic, and violent content. It has blocked search terms related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We've seen the #FediPact movement gain steam across Mastodon, with many instance admins pre-emptively blocking access to Threads. Reasons for blocking Threads range from moderation concerns, to Meta's long history of illegal behaviour, to fears that Threads is pursuing a strategy of "embrace, extend, extinguish" that will let them influence how the fediverse develops and leave us worse off.

On the other hand, Threads represents a large community of people that might not otherwise get connected to the fediverse. It's likely you know friends and family from real life that use Threads but not Mastodon. It would be great to be able to communicate with them from your spore.social account.

This is the plan we've landed on:

  1. We will silence (not block) large, poorly-moderated servers including Threads, mastodon.social, mastodon.online, and mastodon.world. If you're a spore.social user, this means you won't see anything from those servers in your feed unless you intentionally follow someone. If you want to follow specific accounts, you can still search for their username in Mastodon.
  2. We will prioritize dozens of smaller instances that better align with our values and moderation practices. Prioritized servers will show up more often in the Explore tab.

You can read more about this in our moderation policy, which is a living document.

We will begin implementing this plan on February 1, 2023 (beginning with silencing threads.net, mastodon.social, mastodon.online, and mastodon.world). However, this is an ongoing discussion. Which other servers should we silence? Which ones should we prioritize? Please tell us your thoughts by e-mailing info@tryprojectmushroom.com or commenting here: https://spore.social/@crimini@projectmushroom.social/111791743628111190

Project Mushroom's 2024 Budget

One of the major topics of discussion at the Community Meeting is how we will allocate our funds for 2024. Last August, by migrating our Mastodon hosting from Azure to toot.io, we've been able to reduce our monthly expenses to roughly USD 200 per month while also reducing the work effort needed to maintain our Mastodon instances and improving reliability for members. We're now in a position where we have enough money available to start funding other initiatives as part of Project Mushroom, and to fairly compensate those who are doing the work.

Our current estimate is that we will have approximately USD $9,000 available over the course of the year to divide among various initiatives. At the community meeting, we'll use a budget polling tool to allow everyone to vote on a split. Some of the questions we'll discuss include

  • How much should we set aside as a reserve to allow Project Mushroom's Mastodon instances and newsletter to continue running in case of an unexpected loss of revenue?
  • Would we like to expand our moderation capabilities? Right now, we only have enough capacity to moderate passively, by responding to reports of posts that violate our rules. Adding to our moderation budget would allow us to pro-actively moderate posts that violate our rules, and improve the tools we use to assist with moderation.
  • Would we like to send newsletters more frequently? Right now the newsletter is being produced on a volunteer basis, roughly once per month. Funding the newsletter would allow us to recruit paid contributors and potentially produce the newsletter more frequently.
  • Would we like to professionally re-brand Project Mushroom to give it a look that is distinct from its former parent company? We could hire a professional graphic designer to produce a logo based on ideas from the community discussion that's been happening on Mastodon.

We'll also be taking new ideas during the community meeting, but it's easier for us if you tell us in advance so we can estimate costs and incorporate it as an option in the poll ahead of time. If you have any ideas that you'd like to add, please DM @CraigSloss@spore.social.

Chanterelle Chatter 2

Chanterelle Chatter is our monthly feature highlighting some of the popular posts on spore.social. This month, we'd like to draw your attention to this post that member @koreenbrennen@spore.social contributed under the #ClimateChange hashtag. Frequently reblogged and favourited, Koreen's post promotes "rewilding," which aims to remove human influence from natural ecosystems, as part of our response to mitigate climate change.

Some of the most frequently-used hashtags on spore.social over the past month have been #CeasefireNow and #GazaGenocide, as discussions focus on the ongoing war in Gaza. Member @marcia@spore.social demonstrates how to use the platform to spread calls to action, in this case, signing a petition asking her country to end its role in providing weapons:

You can follow these hashtags to follow the discussion, and be sure to include hashtags in your own posts to make it easier for others to find your posts!

We'd also like to give a shoutout to member @toddbohannon@spore.social, who's been curating a feed of news articles from a wide variety of sources. We recommend giving him a follow if you want to get a good range of news articles showing up in your timeline, and contribute to discussions on those articles. (Those of us from Canada especially appreciate the fact that we can post news articles on Mastodon, as big tech companies have blocked news links in our country!)

How to get involved in Project Mushroom

Project Mushroom is a Mastodon-based social network focused on climate and social justice. With over 641 monthly active users, we are one of the biggest activist communities on Mastodon. If you're not in the space yet, you can click here for an in-depth guide on how to get started on either our projectmushroom.social or spore.social servers.

Project Mushroom recently became independent of its former parent company, Currently Weather Service, and is now fully led by the community. Paid subscriptions to this newsletter now go 100% to funding Project Mushroom expenses, which are primarily server costs. We've recently added the option to make a one-time contribution as well. If you have the means, please consider joining the 199 other supporters who help us keep the lights on!