About labyrinth.social

labyrinth.social is a small Mastodon server for friends of Tom Dickinson, using the Hometown fork of Mastodon.

This about/readme document is mirrored between the labyrinth.social server and github pages. Hopefully they will always be in sync. This is the latest version as of 7/9/2023.

What is this?

Let’s break that down into three different questions, increasingly granular as we go.

  1. What is Mastodon?
  2. What is Hometown?
  3. What is labyrinth.social?

What is Mastodon?

Mastodon is a social networking app. It’s a little like Twitter, in that you make short posts and follow/reply to other users. But it’s nothing like Twitter, in that it’s open source, decentralized, and has no ads.

If you don’t understand what I’m talking about, I get it. It’s a little hard to explain. But here are two pretty good explanations.

There are many Mastodon servers out there, all talking to one another. This is one of them.

What is Hometown?

This server uses Hometown, an alternate version of Mastodon created by Darius Kazemi. Hometown has been altered to add some additional features that aren’t in the main version of Mastodon. Yeah, you can do that! It’s one of the cool things about open source software.

The most major differences are local-only posting, and exclusive lists. See the Hometown wiki for more information on the project and how it differs from regular Mastodon.

What is labyrinth.social?

Labyrinth.social is a deliberately small Hometown instance created by Tom Dickinson, for a few friends. Currently there are about 10 active users. I intend to invite more people but I don’t think there will ever be more than around 50.

The name “labyrinth” was chosen because it is an interesting image/word that has a lot of different resonances, Mythology, design, architecture, puzzles, David Bowie in very tight pants, etc. My direct inspiration for using it comes from Jorge Luis Borges’ 1941 short story “The Garden of Forking Paths”, which is good and you should read it. Incidentally, if you’re wondering who the old guy is in the @admin avatar or the picture on the About page, that’s Borges.

Using labyrinth.social

How do I join?

labyrinth.social is invite only, and limited to Tom Dickinson’s friends. If you want to know more about how I’m deciding who to invite, check out the Invitation Policy. The general gist is that I am only planning on inviting a small number of people I know pretty well. If that describes you and you’re interested in joining, let me know!

That said, and you may already know this: even if you haven’t joined labyrinth.social, you can still follow me and the other labyrinth.social users. All you need is an account on any Mastodon server. Actually there are some other kinds of servers that work too, but if you’re new to all this then I recommend Mastodon.

If you’re looking for some other server to join, skip to this section in the middle of my “What is Mastodon?” post, which has some advice on how to find one to join.

Who is already using labyrinth.social?

As of this writing, about 10 people. You can browse the Profile Directory to see the users who have opted in to appearing in it. But not everybody necessarily has! By default, this page will show you all the accounts that the server is federated with, if you just want to see labyrinth.social users you will need to select “from labyrinth.social only”.


Users are required to read, at minimum, the Code of Conduct. It is recommended that you read the other policy documents as well.

These are not just boilerplate documents, they are largely original documents written by me, so my goal is for them to be clear and readable. Although some of them do have some boilerplate language in them.

Any significant updates to any of these policies will be announced from the @admin@labyrinth.social account.

Local-Only Posting

One of the most important differences between Hometown and vanilla Mastodon is the ability to use Local Only posting. In the context of Hometown, local only posting is a per-post security option that lets you set whether that post can federate out to other servers or not.

Click here to read more about local-only posting and how it works on labyrinth.social.


This instance uses Mutant Standard emoji, which are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

For the moment, I have chosen to add only a small subset of these emoji, most notably the custom flags and symbols from their Gender, Sexuality, and Relationships category. Other emojis from that set (or any other source) can be added by request to the admin.

Moderated Servers

If you’re a logged in user of labyrinth.social, you can see a list of moderated (silenced or suspended) servers here.

The list of moderated servers is not publicly available to non-users, but information may be available by request.

About this guide

This guide is published under a Creative Commons Zero v1.0 Universal license, which means you can copy and modify it, for any purpose you like. The guide is also built on an open-source repo on GitHub, so do whatever you want with it! You don’t need any additional permisison beyond what I’m stating here, but if you use this as a basis I’d love to hear about what you’ve done with it, so drop me a line at tom [at] nowwearealltom [dot] com.

I also want to point out that guide includes a Welcome page for prospective users who I’ve informally invited but haven’t sent an invite code to yet. Just calling it out here because it’s the only page that isn’t linked from any of the other pages on the guide (since it’s not tailored for a general audience), but might still be of interest if you’re curious about how I do things here.