[RFC] Mastodon instance for the LLVM community


Mastodon is a decentralized social networking service, which started out as a healthier alternative to X. It started out with a very small community, but has experience healthy growth since late 2022, and is the platform of choice today for most academics and free software people. The community is distributed across different instances, which federate with each other, producing a global timeline across all instances for every user. Not too long ago, social.kernel.org launched, and it is an instance dedicated to Linux maintainers and regular contributors. Several notable organizations such as LWN are on Mastodon as well. While there are some LLVM people on Mastodon as well, distributed across different instances, I was thinking about creating a social.llvm.org to bring LLVM contributors together for the purpose of:

  • Advertising their work on the instance-specific timeline, improving discoverability.
  • Interacting with reviewers on patches, who are sometimes missing from the IRC channel and Discord.
  • Talking about other topics that interest them.
  • Advertise the broader LLVM community to the general public.

A non-exhaustive list of LLVM contributors already on Mastodon are:

  • Alex Bradbury, and LLVM weekly
  • Chandler Carruth
  • Nick Desaulniers
  • John Regehr
  • Nathan Chancellor
  • Kristof Beyls
  • me, Ramkumar Ramachandra

I’m posting to find out if LLVM contributors would be interested in such a thing, and if the LLVM Foundation would endorse this project.


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While I moved most of my activity to Mastodon and so far it has been positive I don’t think we should encourage splitting communication on PRs and related topics over more sites. It feels like Discord has built a pretty good momentum and I have been using it pretty effectively for discussing PRs and related work. I would like to see more focus on getting folks to use Discord for PR discussions more before we spending limited time and energy on another platform.

I personally would discourage folks from reaching out to me on Mastodon to discuss PRs and ask them to reach out to me on Discord instead.

Mastodon is awesome for promoting llvm and broader discussions though.

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I guess what I don’t really understand is why a new instance would help?

There are a lot of great tech-focused instances that I would recommend being part of rather than starting another. Running a Mastodon instance requires a significant investment in moderation work to be inclusive due to the federated nature of the system.

My personal recommendation is https://hachyderm.io/ specifically because of the amazing folks investing in moderation and the community there. There are other good instances as well though. IMO the key is having a decent size and investment in community and moderation in order to be successful.


The biggest thing that social.kernel.org has done is to attract kernel folk who were previously not on Mastodon to join, and create healthy high-quality instance-local discourse.

Would moderation be an issue if we only accept contributors with a significant number of non-trivial commits, similar to the policy on social.kernel.org? Besides the fact that this would be quite a small instance with tens of people, what exactly would we need to moderate?

EDIT: From my limited experience on GitHub, people consistently contributing good patches are well-behaved, and I’ve seen no cases requiring moderation on GitHub PRs.

Okay, @chandlerc has clarified that off-instance moderation is also part of an instance-admin’s responsibility. Perhaps the costs of starting a new instance outweigh the benefits then.

I tend to agree with chandler on understanding why a new instance is preferred, Mastadon isn’t something I have spent a ton of time exploring so he would know more about pros and cons.

However, I would highly recommend not limiting participation to only those who commit patches. As a project we value all kinds of contribution and not just code. I am not sure how this is different than discord/discourse in the sense that anyone should be able to join and if they don’t follow policies or code of conduct, they get removed.

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Thanks for starting a thread. As someone who is still somewhat new to mastodon, it feels unclear to me what the benefits of our own instance are, vs using existing ones. Should I have joined a different instance than the one I did? Does one instance provide benefits over others? These are all unclear to me; so I don’t see what’s the point of adding more. I’m ignorant of pros/cons; or at least the stated pros thus far in this thread don’t seem compelling enough to justify doing something other than pointing folks to existing instances.

I’ve been using Mastodon as my main “social media I use to talk to technical people”.

For me, it’s been a drop-in replacement for C++/compiler Twitter.

The typical use-case I’ve observed is pretty much the Twitter use-case. That is, current folks on Mastodon usually want to post about a mix of their interests, and that usually swings towards compilers, but isn’t limited to compilers. I’m not sure if a dedicated instance would be popular with most contributors, because they want to post about many things.