relay-new.activitypub.ca - Docs
What Is A Relay?
A relay server is a way of distributing posts (sometimes known as "toots") between ActivityPub-compatible servers. A relay forwards ("Announces") all posts that it sees to all subscribers, and each subscriber forwards a copy of all public posts to all connected relays. This essentially means that when someone on a connected server makes a post, it'll show up in the Federated timeline (for Mastodon) or Known Network timeline (for Akkoma / Pleroma) of all other connected servers.
This relay adds some additional features on top of basic relay functionality, allowing subscribers to configure how their instances interact with the relay. Instances can subscribe to all posts, only posts with specific hashtags, or no posts at all and only publish messages to the relay. See the documentation below for more information on how to configure this.
In order to configure how an instance interacts with the relay, an instance administrator can send DMs to the relay's user with various commands. For example:Message to Relay
Response from Relay
Your instance's subscribe mode means you are publishing to the relay and receiving all messages from the relay.
Messages to the relay can also include parameters–e.g. to change the subscribe mode, or specify hashtags to subscribe to:Message to Relay
Response from Relay
@firstname.lastname@example.org subscribe-hashtag #hashtag1 #hashtag2
You are now subscribed to the following hashtags: #hashtag1 #hashtag2
||None||Show a summary of available relay commands.||The relay's help; try it and see!|
||None||Ask the relay for your instance's status on this relay.||
This relay has 5 subscribers.
Your instance's subscribe mode means you are publishing to the relay and receiving a filtered subset of messages from the relay.Hashtag Filters:
||"none", "all", or "filter"||
Change the subscribe mode for your instance on this
relay. The subscribe mode controls what posts from other
subscribers of this relay will reach your instance.
Setting this to "filter" allows you to configure
hashtag filters using the
||Updated subscribe mode from "none" to "all".|
||"none", "all"||Change the publish mode of your instance on this relay. This controls what posts from your instance are broadcast to other subscribers of this relay.||Updated publish mode from "none" to "all".|
||#hashtag1 #hashtag2||Add the listed hashtags to the set of hashtag filters for your instance. Posts with these hashtags will be delivered to your instance.||
You are now subscribed to the following hashtags:
||#hashtag1 #hashtag2||Remove the listed hashtags from the set of hashtag filters for your instance. Posts with these hashtags will no longer be delivered to your instance.||
You are now unsubscribed from the following hashtags:
Why use relays?
Using a relay can both help your server get additional reach in the Fediverse, and also ensure that users see posts from a wider variety of sources.
In short: a server is normally only aware of posts that it has "seen", typically because a user on your server follows a user on another instance. Posts that are seen by your server show up in the Federated / Known Network timelines, and can be found by users on your server when searching by hashtag. Similarly, posts made by users on your server are delivered to servers where someone on that server follows the local user, and can be seen on those servers by other users searching by hashtag.
Relays help this by sending all posts from your server, regardless of follower status or hashtag, to the relay. Normal relays will then forward all posts to all subscribers of the relay, ensuring that those posts can be seen by a broader set of users.
This relay software additionally allows filtering what you receive from the relay, rather than receiving everything that the relay sees.
Why would I care about filters?
If one server that's joined to a relay is sufficiently large, the number of posts from that large server can overwhelm smaller instances on the relay. By adding filtering support at the relay level, smaller instances can opt-in to only receiving posts with hashtags that they care about. This can drastically reduce the load on smaller servers, while still allowing their posts to reach a broader audience by being published to the relay server.
Does a relay bypass suspensions, silences, blocks, etc.?
Nope! Relays only announce posts to your server; your server treats those posts the same as if they were to be delivered directly from a suspended or silenced server.