Why Pixelfed?

Why I host a Pixelfed instance
Blog: Whitabootery
Categories: 5-minute read
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Since December 2018 I have hosted a Pixelfed server, intended for family and friend use but in actuality currently only used by myself and very occasionally my wife.

The reason that I’ve not applied a @dansup level of marketing to encourage my circle to move over to the platform yet is due to a few bugs and polish items that I am awaiting, but as we are edging closer to a version 1 release, I thought this might be a good time to jot down my thoughts on the application. Primarily intended for the audience that the instance is targeted towards.

I have previously written about the fediverse and why I have left facebook, google etc. so if you need a primer then that’s the place to go first.

What is Pixelfed?

Pixelfed - A free and ethical photo sharing platform.

Pixelfed is, in a nutshell, a free and open-source instagram replacement. It allows you to upload photos and short videos, create albums, collections and ephemeral stories and enables sharing and interaction across the fediverse.

Mastodon, Pleroma, Friendica etc. users can follow a Pixelfed account and interact with the posts and account owner from the safety and comfort of their own hidey-hole.

Further information can be found at pixelfed.org .

Why use Pixelfed?

I’ve been asked this question a couple of times by folks already using federated social media. Their reasoning is usually that the other application such as Mastodon and Pleroma not only allow you to upload media but also to have media only tabs so why have another account on a photo & video only site?

This is a fair question and I sometimes upload photos to my pleroma account rather than Pixelfed.

However, most of the applications that I host are provided on the basis of the use cases of family and friends. In my circles instagram is very popular and pixelfed is pretty close functionally to instagram, getting closer by the day and improving on the concept too.

Pixelfed Collection - Craft Beer

I do also use Pixelfed though and there are unique aspects of it that I like such as the organisational functions such as the ability to create collections or hashtags discovery groups.

Pixelfed Discover Page

I like that Pixelfed processes the photos on upload (massively decreasing storage space for me) and I like, though rarely use the photo editing functions such as cropping and filters.

I don’t think I ever used stories, if it was even called that on instagram, but I can understand why others might find it fun, interesting or useful.

An upcoming feature named circles which will enable you to create groups of friends/followers who you can share photos or video with and no-one else will see them. This sounds good, whether or not I’ll personally use it in practice remains to be seen.

Scopes enable you to manage the visibility of your posts, either:

  • public - visible by everyone via a public timeline
  • unlisted - will appear on publicly profile page but only followers can see in their timelines
  • followers only - can only be seen by followers even on profile
  • circles - SOON™

This enables me to have a private account for photos of my daughter which are only visible to people I personally approve - family and friends only. This is a common feature across fediverse applications.

Pixelfed visibility scopes

Embedding! You can now embed photos and profiles into other blogs or web pages, which is nice!

I like the developer(s). This is generally common for most of the open source apps that I use, the developers are generally very open to feedback and are excited that people are using their application. Marketing mogul and time-illusionary @dansup is no exception! I have had many interactions with him over the past 15 months or so, and whether it be a unique issue I was experiencing during initial set up, a feature suggestion or a bug report the interactions are always gratefully received and pleasantly handled, and wherever possible bugs are fixed as quickly as they are reported. This interaction means a great deal to me, it re-affirms my decision to leave faceless corporations in favour of people-oriented open source developers.

Wish list

As mentioned above, I have been waiting for the application to be in a more polished ate before trying to onboard family and friends and whilst I feel we are nearly there I have small list of outstanding tasks or features that I’m looking forward to being addressed:

  • A federated timeline or federated discover page - I think that the discover page will only really bask in it’s glory when it allows discovery of accounts and media from other Pixelfed instances.
  • Remote account avatars - Currently avatars for accounts from other remote instances are not pulled, it’s a minor thing but it makes the application feel unfinished (which it is of course!)
  • Fixing the bug I raised eons ago ;) - #1359
  • Notifications for all interactions - Currently notifications are limited and don’t include comments.
  • Ability to choose photo order when uploading multiples
  • Webfinger support - a bit jargon-y but makes searching for other accounts more user-friendly. Added since post
  • Instagram and Pixelfed imports - The ability to import media from instagram or other Pixelfed accounts. It’s coming, I’m patient.
  • Pixelfed app - There are a number of apps on your chosen phone OS and I like them, but I think having an official Pixelfed app will help bring people onboard.. most folk are used to an app per site which seems pretty inefficient to me but for this reason a Pixelfed app will be really help shift folk over to the platform. This is also in progress.

This list used to be a lot bigger and I’m sure it won’t be long before it shrinks again.

Pixelfed is a fantastic application and I look forward to encouraging tho close to me to join.

Pixelfed on Mastodon


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