How can organisations or groups run a Mastodon server?

Running any kind of social media server is a big topic, especially if it’s a jointly-owned server run by a group, collective, business etc.

The legal side of things depends on where your organisation is based and what your organisation’s existing structure is. Your local laws will provide various options for joint ownership structures, for example co-operatives are popular in many countries. Usually a Mastodon server can be jointly owned and managed just like anything else that belongs to your organisation.

How does joint management of a Mastodon server work in practice?

Many people can jointly run a single Mastodon server by using the “roles” system, where accounts are assigned special privileges by the owners of the server. These privileges allow staff to do things that ordinary members can’t do, for example delete posts or block users. Different roles have different amounts and types of privilege.

There are a number of pre-made roles (Owner, Admin, Moderator) but completely new roles can also be created with highly customised sets of abilities. The “Owner” account is the highest-ranked role and has the final word on everything, so this is normally given to people most trusted by your organisation. You can assign several accounts as owners if you want.

If your organisation needs a hierarchy, there is an optional priority system for roles so that if two staff members disagree on certain actions, the higher priority role gets the final decision.

The profiles of staff carry a special badge with their role name, so everyone on your server can see that they are staff.

How to give a server member a special role

  1. Log in through an account that has the power to assign roles. Owners can assign any role, other staff members may also be able to (depending on what privileges they have been given).
  2. Go to Preferences > Moderation > Accounts
  3. Click on the member you want to assign a role to
  4. Scroll down to the Roles section of the page and click on Change role
  5. Select the correct role and click Save changes

How to adjust existing roles or create new roles

  1. Log in through an account with power to create roles (usually Owners)
  2. Go to Preferences > Administration > Roles
  3. To edit an existing role click the Edit button next to it, to create a new role click the Add role button at the top of the screen

Note that there are a lot of differnet abilities that can be assigned to roles (see below). You may want to err on the side of caution and only assign abilities that you’re totally sure you want them to have.

Screenshot of Mastodon's role creation feature, showing a very long list of various abilities that can be assigned to the role such as managing reports, blocking users, creating emoji etc.
Screenshot of the role creation screen showing all the abilities that can be assigned to the role

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