dotART as a Safe Space Instance
dotART may be an art instance, but our full and primary purpose is to provide a safe space for marginalised folk who also happen to do creative work. To this end, we have strong policies that shape the vibe of our community and allow our community to thrive in a harassment-free environment.
We have harsh defederation policies where we will defederate from any instance that we (the .art mod team) feel is a threat to the safety of our community; this can be for a variety of reasons, including being a far-right/conspiracy theory/'free speech' instance, not taking a hard stance against hate speech, poor moderation that enables trolling, etc.
We adopt a proactive style to moderation and defederation that, wherever possible, allows us to prevent harassment rather than to deal with it after it has already taken place. We don't demand other instances do things our way – one of the great things about the fediverse is that anyone can run their instance any way they like, and people can join instances with moderation styles that best fit the experience they want from their social media.
For example, we have some of the journalist instances limited because the people in our community are the people who are often treated incredibly poorly in journalism, and it should be their call whether or not they want to ineract with journalists. This is very specific to the vibe of our instance, but doesn't apply universally to all instances.
dotART has a reputation for 'blocking everybody', but the fediverse is huge. There are over 23,000 instances (https://fedidb.org). The biggest one, mastodon.social, who we don't block, has over 1.3 million total users. Our block list has 1024 instances on it (not all of them are blocks, either – some of them are just limits, and a big chunk of them are instances full of Twitter mirrors), and a huge number of them are tiny single-user or 'one person and a few of their friends' instances. The majority of our blocks are also instances who are well known for actively harassing people on instances that don't block them. There are also many, many instances that block much heavier than we do – but because we're big, we get noticed when we take moderation actions.
Most of the people in our community join our instance specifically because of the way we run it. They join via word of mouth from people telling their friends that this is a safe space. People who face unjust discrimination and who are ostracised by society can exist on our instance with thousands of other people who are both like them and also wonderfully different.
We get messages every day from our dotART-ists telling us they appreciate how we run the community, and we get overwhelming support from our community for the moderation decisions we make. We also don't hold a grudge over people who might want to leave our instance because it's too restrictive (and, in fact, encourage people to seek out a community that best fits them!) – again, the great thing about the fediverse is it allows for a multitude of communities that are managed in different styles and that suit a variety of needs.
So, if you're on mastodon.art, that's the kind of experience you will get. We appreciate it's not for everybody, but it's not meant to be for everybody. It's meant to be for the people who most need this kind of safety from social media.