The two main Fediverse group providers at the moment are Chirp ⧉ and Guppe ⧉, they both work like this:
- Join a group by following its account address
- Posts from that group will start appearing in your Home timeline
- If you want to post something to the group, just include its account address in a public post
- If you want to leave a group, unfollow it
It’s somewhat similar to following hashtags, and people who have used email discussion lists will also find this structure very familiar.
Where can I discover existing groups?
Chirp groups are listed in the directory at chirp.social ⧉. You can follow a group by copying its account address (also known as a “handle”) and pasting this into the search box on your app or server website.
Guppe groups are listed on the bottom of the page at a.gup.pe ⧉ and there are following instructions on each group’s profile page.
How can I create a group? Are the groups moderated?
Chirp groups require you to create an admin account on the chirp.social ⧉ website. Because groups have a registered admin, it means the admin can also moderate the group.
Guppe groups don’t require any kind of registration, you can create a group simply by mentioning the group name in the form “@YourGroup@a.gup.pe”. However, because there’s no registration there is no way to moderate the group.
Groups federate content more effectively than hashtags
Hashtag follows and groups have some overlap, and appear to work in a similar way on the surface, but there are significant differences behind the scenes.
The biggest advantage of groups is you automatically see all of the group’s posts, even if they’re from accounts that haven’t federated to your server before. Because all the group’s posts are shared to all the members’ servers, you never miss a thing.
With hashtag follows, this mass federation doesn’t happen. Hashtag following means you will only see posts from accounts that already federate with your server. Hashtags are essentially passive filters for your server’s Federated timeline and do not actively draw in any new content.
What about Mastodon’s own built-in groups feature?
Mastodon has been developing a built-in groups feature for some time now, but it hasn’t been released yet. From the screenshots posted so far, it seems it will be more of a Facebook Groups type forum rather than a public discussion list.
However, it is unclear if Mastodon groups will work across the Fediverse or only on Mastodon. Chirp and Guppe are platform-neutral, and will work on any kind of Fediverse server that supports microblogging including Mastodon, Friendica and others.
Groups on Friendica
The Fediverse server type Friendica includes built-in group support, which works in a similar way to Chirp and Guppe. Creating a Friendica group requires a Friendica account, but anyone can join the group from other Fediverse server types including Mastodon servers.
A Friendica group can be moderated by the person who created it, and they can also add additional moderators to the same group.