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So there was this thread[1] about what "federated" means. It's old so I don't wanna revive it, but here's my take:

IMO, federation is about two things:

1. Administrative Scalability.

This means that different service providers participating in the federation can have different policies (eg. wrt. moderation) and it's fine. The policies can be enforced locally without impacting everyone else.

2. Neutralization of Network Effect.

This means that everyone can relatively easily spin up a new service provider and join the federation without anyone's permission, and without the uphill battle against network effect. IOW, you can switch to a different provider or spin up your own one, and still keep in touch with your old friends / channels / communities /etc. without convincing everyone else to also switch.

If something doesn't satisfy the two conditions above, I wouldn't call it federated.

[1]: cmpwn.com/@sir/104127553459419

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