Question/comment about federation behavior


Hello everyone.

I just set up an instance… Took me a little while to realize that I needed to go out and follow folks from other instances.

Once I did, it wasn’t clear what should happen. I was pretty convinced that I must have set something up wrong. But, finally one of the folks I followed posted something and it showed up on my instance.

So, I am asking here to clarify, since I haven’t been able to find documentation on this elsewhere:

How long after you follow someone should you expect their stuff to start showing up on your federated timeline?

If I’m understanding things correctly, only future posts by the people followed will be delivered into the instance. Is there a way to fill in older stuff? (For ease of browsing, search, etc)

As far as search, my impression is that only toots that have been federated to the instance are searched. Is that right?

There’s a resubscribe button on my admin dashboard in the ‘instances’ section. What does that do?

Are there recommendations for populating your instance with some content or making it easier for community members to explore?

Sorry if these are obvious questions - starting with a small instance it’s not totally clear how these things should work…


As you’ve found, only future posts will arrive at your instance. Federation is only mostly useful, not entirely useful. Things like the number of boosts or faves don’t federate well (or at all) and the information seen on a user’s profile on your instance will almost always differ from the information seen on their home instance.

If you want to populate your instance, some users have lists of their followers. I’ve imported such a list into my instance, and it basically filled it with the sorts of people other instances are home to. If you want to maintain a specific kind of flavour for your instance I recommend being a little more discriminating in your following. I regularly go through my list of followed people and silence them because OMG you guys. Just. Shut. Up.


Note that this is inaccurate now that 1.6 is out. Older instances running OStatus will still be troublesome, but up-to-date instances should more accurately reflect this data. Yay!