Episode 3

Interview with CalcKey of the Calc Project

Audio version: https://tunes.artemai.art/library/tracks/36977/

Intro: Quick note from Jared in post - the promised interview with Jared Zimmerman hasn’t happened yet, we’ll be bringing that to you in a future episode.. other than that … on with the show.

[intro music]

From our studios in Sydney Australia you are listening to ACROSS THE FEDIVERSE a weekly podcast covering the latest news, updates, developments and stories from every corner of the open, free, distributed web thingie we call the fediverse!

This is episode 3 for January 4th our first episode for 2023… Happy gregorian New Year everyone from all of us at Across the Fediverse; and when I saw all a huge thank you to Ada who has been helping out a load - with story contributions, extra research and helping moderate our lemmy community!

For your friends not yet on the fediverse - they can now find us in their usual podcast locations including Google, Spotify and as soon as they approve it Apple - if there’s a platform you can’t find us on - let us know.

Over the last week I sat down with both Calc from the CalcKey team and Jared Zimmerman creator of the Graze extension for Mastodon joining us to chat about their projects .. coming up after these messages and the headlines!

We want your help

Just like the eco-system we cover, this news depends on federation - federating YOUR stories in this case! We now have a Lemmy community, you can find it at links.artemai.art, if you want to contribute stories or surface links to the Across the Fediverse community this is the place to do it! https://links.artemai.art/c/acrossthefediverse

Additionally if you want to help script, record, edit, translate or otherwise help out making this podcast we’d love to hear from you. Find my contact details in the show notes.

The official primary source of this podcast is our funkwhale instance, which you can follow from anywhere on the fedivse by searching for @acrossthefediverse@tunes.artemai.art - our show notes are published on at https://blog.artemai.art/~/acrossthefediverse or you can follow my mastodon at @jared@social.artemai.art - please introduce yourself if you do!

Huge shout out to ARTemAI a pet project of mine where all our fediverse infrastructure is hosted; if your a creative, musician, band or artist and want fediverse hosting for your own domains or using ours, get in touch today at @artemai@social.artemai.art or diretly with me at @jared@social.artemai.art.

We’ve all in fediverse and open source here for the podcast with our show notes hosted on plume, our audio hosted on funkwhale, our scripts are compiled on the NextCloud collective app and our media files are shared between studio & edit using nextcloud and finally the recording editing and transcoding of audio is done with audacity.

If you’re new to the fediverse you can find great starting resources at fedi.tips.

I appreciate all your feedback however this project is a hobby, I’m not a journalist or a reporter, I’m a tech person who wants to talk to folks building things both software and communities on the fediverse; I’m not here to tell you what to think, I want to talk to folks and let you decide what you think about what they’re doing - particularly here I’m talking about last week’s interview with Boyter here… he explained why he built his tool and what he’s learnt from the experience - it’s up to you what you do with this information.

In news this week…

In a story similar to what we ran last week in our discussion with Boyter;

Reports came through our Lemmy community of a post made by Matt Cloy posted this week asking for commentary on a fediverse full-text search engine they had built; this had various issues which would result in the bypass of blocks, including IP and defederation blocks, requiring robots.txt entries to prevent crawling. They requested constructive feedback on the post.

The post, account and associated commentary has since disappeared; so why do we bring it up again? It’s mentioned here as a reminder that folks across the fediverse are protective of their content, their communities and the way we interoperate; if you’re thinking of building a tool that potentially compromises this in some way - please do it in collaboration with community and feedback.

Pixelfed faces legal action

Instagram parent company Meta has made threats of legal action against the Pixelfed project according to pixelfed’s Daniel Supernault. In a recent post Dan stated; “Someone who works at Meta reached out and advised me to rename the filters ASAP. Imagine being sued over css” #pixelfed

Dan has responded by pushing a commit to the pixelfed front end code base to place the letter “i” infront of any filter names in the user interface, at the time of recording there has been no communication from any other companies who may have an issue with this change!


Stop Press: Pixelfed Android v1.0.0.0 released. See pixelfed project for details.

Response from Suji Yan from Mask Networks

Suji Yan responded to our request for more comments in the last episode; he was taking some time off so we only exchanged text messages, but we appreciate him taking the time to address the questions we had; we’ve published those commends on our blog.

In summary though Suji stated that there’s currently no plans to change the name of the Social Coop Limited, nor is there any immediate plans to change the moderation policies of pawoo, at least not until they’ve had a chance to let the dust settle. Suji has however agreed to come back in the new year so he can explain his plans for the large instances under the control of Mask Netowrks.

https://blog.artemai.art/~/acrossthefediverse/Update on Mask Networks

Interview with Calc

Across the Fediverse: All right, we are deep diving across the fediverse once again. Today I am joined by Calc. Calc is behind the MissKey fork calkkey… How how are you today?

Calc: I’m good. Thank you for having me on. How are you?

Across the Fediverse: I am fantastic. It’s an absolute pleasure and thank you for your time today and I think it’s really important that we discuss the fediverse outside of what most people seem to think is the entire fediverse - masterdon and you’re behind a very interesting project in that space and particularly taking on mastodon head on - I guess being in the microblogging side of the fediverse. Can you tell me more about Calckey? Why it exists and what got you started on it?

Calc: Yeah, so Calckey is, I mean as you said another microblogging platform on the fediverse and essentially fulfills the role of masted on and more all in one software with in my opinion a frankly cleaner way to interface with it because a lot of people find mastodon clunky and hard to use and outdated because I mean It’s very…. I guess it… serves its purpose, but it’s not really fun to use for a lot of people.

Across the Fediverse: So one of the things a lot of fediverse users do ask when first around the fediverse is what app should I be using for for mastodon in most people’s cases? Do those same apps work over on Calckey?

Calc: No, they currently do not because they do not use the same API - So a lot of people come asking “Why is tusky not working, why is the mastodon app not working?”, Calckey is not mastodon. So right now we recommend using the PWA the progressive web app. Essentially where you click the three buttons on your browser then here’s an install button it asks your home to me and you get notifications offline support.. but on Android there is an app on the Play Store called APP on IOS there’s a $4.99 cent app called Social hub I believe - but right now the app that we’re focusing on is getting support for both IOS and Android on is another project.

I’m involved with called kiteke - it’s currently being developed on github. I’m working there more is like an ideas and project manager type position, but it’s getting first class support for Calkey and right now it has an Android build and just this morning we got our first IOS build working after about six months, so, yeah, the future of Calckey on mobile is going to be kiteke as well as your other accounts because it has Mastodon, Plemora, Misskey and Calckey support and it’s adding more and more even the new activity pub C2S API - they’re adding support for that. So kiteke’s goal is essentially to need all platforms on all platforms.

Across the Fediverse: What was the name of that, if you can spell it for us and tell folks where to find it?

Calc: kiteke kai T-e kai - right now you can only find builds on their github page, which is github.com slash kiteke dash betty slash kiteke. There’s a link in the readme too- we’re gonna have a test fight link up as well as Android.

Across the Fediverse: So tell me Calc, what got the project started? What was the reason for for doing another Mastodon?

Calc: So the reason for doing another Mastodon was actually because of Misskey. Misskey is a project that was started all the way back in 2014 by Swilo and his team It started as a bulletin board system, but as it got popular around 2017 2018. It turned to a mi.cro blocking competitor for mastodon and people seemed to really like it. It was feature rich It had a beautiful UI. It was very extendable and And Swilo eventually fell into the quote “benevolant dictator” and people wanted the community wanted more so that was around the time that time two forks started Calckey and foundkey. aWith two different goals, foundkey wanted to make the platform faster, more secure and less buggy and Calckey wanted to do that but also add more features at community requests… and turn it into something more than what Misskey was.

Across the Fediverse: When you say you adopted Community features. What are some of those features that that you adopted in Calckey that potentially Misskey and certainly Mastodon don’t have?

Calc: Yeah, definitely a big one was more admin customization I actually was a contributor to the Misskey project before my fork I had about 30 unmerged full requests that were sitting there for months and eventually that got out of date… a lot of those were for more admin customization of your instance like you could add splash screens, more custom icons. you could add banners, you could add logos - and that was probably one of the first things we started with and one of the second things was also a big request - that was the recommended timeline where administrators could have accounts that they recommend to users for you users.. and essentially have a timeline of the more people in the feed for people who generally don’t know how the Fediverse works - because you go to your home timeline after you make an account and there’s nothing there. You’re not following anybody - We’re in a big part of that was like the lack of discoverability in Misskey. It was a big problem people were crossing for discoverability - So I added the recommended timeline - people loved it!

Across the Fediverse: So we’re seeing a lot of reports especially from newer admins who suddenly became surprised at scale in some recent waves of migrations. How does Calckey handle scaling differently to say Mastodon and even Misskey and what are the advantages of Calckey [when scaling]?

Calc: So I would definitely say that the scaling is a lot better mostly because of the programming language - Mastodon is made in Ruby On rails and notoriously scales bad because most of its operations are synchronous and they’re done all at once. So if you have a six hundred thousand subscribere account and they post something your master known instance is going to try and deliver that to those 600,000 people all at once and it’s horrible for scaling and obviously, there’s a big refactor right now, but obviously it wasn’t taken into account when Mastodon was being written because it was never built for scale. Misskey and Calckey on the other hand jobs are breaking up jobs as much as possible and delivering asynchronously in a, frankly, just more superior job queue, that can handle things like failures and outages Even if your instance goes out it can handle picking it back up a lot faster, like I had to take my flagship instance down for two days due to hardware failure - I retrieved all of the posts coming in and all the outgoing messages - that was done in five minutes - That two days outage was clear in five minutes. Mastodon, I used to run a Mastodon server, We had maybe a six seven hour outage it took about that, took almost like, another half a day to catch up.

Across the Fediverse: you mentioned in there that Mastodon is a Ruby on rails stack. You didn’t mention what stack Calckey is?

Calc: Yes, so we’re actually in the middle of refactoring our stack currently we’re based on the Misskey code of node JS on the back end TypeScript on the front end with Vue and Postgres database, redis and all that but right now our one of our bigger goals since we’re bringing on more maintainers for Calckey is we’re gonna be redoing the back end and the front end slowly and surely starting with the back end and we’re gonna be rewriting that in rust. One big thing we’re gonna do with the database is is what I’ve seen almost no other project do not just in the Fediverse but almost in all of self-hosting we’re gonna have table by table database options for either the existing postgres tables or a new ScyllaDB tables, which is a document oriented database which scales a lot better It’s actually what discord uses for their database.

Across the Fediverse: You were saying before the bringing on more Maintainers for the Calckey project. How big is the team of actively engaged participants at the moment?

Calc: Well right now we have two Quote unquote full-time maintainers that would be me and Cleo and then we have a lot of people contributing issues a lot of people contributing PRs, a lot of people in the matrix support giving ideas, which is great. Those are all invaluable I mean the people that are consistently raising issues and PRs right now would probably be about I want to say four or five and then - we’re bringing in a couple of new maintainers as we speak we’re having them look at the code base - give them a couple tasks that we need to be done - see what their code quality is like and then if they’re interested and we’re interested in them as being a maintainer and they’ll join us. So right now we have about two or three people who for that one of whom was actually also a developer at the Misskey Project.

Across the Fediverse: How closely do you and the other *key projects - so that’s the both the forks there and Misskey, how closely do you attract the features that are adopted in each stack and is there much transference of those features and I guess we can also include Mastodon in that comparison?

Calc: Yeah, so I would say the one we track the most closely is FoundKey - I love the foundkey developers. They’re great people - shout outs to [names] - All those people they’re great. They’ve actually contributed to Calckey as well. We cherry pick a lot of their commits as well because we were forked around the same time although they’re based on an older version of Misskey they’re on 12.1 11 which they turned into their V13 versus we were a soft fork up until 12.1 19 then we hard-forked and made ours 13.

Across the Fediverse: So for the general user on the Fediverse whose only experience so far has been The same mastadon instance that everybody joined because a newspaper or somebody else had published an article about it. What would you say to them to encourage or where would you send them to encourage them to explore some of the other microblogging options that are as integrated and federated as Mastodon which is all their experience of the Fediverse so far?

Calc: Yeah, I mean I would definitely I’m opinionated to a point them to maybe a copy of the instance list. But if they also want to see an entire layout of things there’s some great blog posts I can’t remember the links off the top of my head and then also a website called Fediverse observer - which is great it tracks the stats of almost every Fediverse instance out there more accurately than any other site I’ve seen it has great instance tools based on location and user count and all that and It’s very unbiased. It’s nice to know and it’s not biased to Calckey, It’s just I mean, it’s whatever it thinks is the best for the user. So and it’s all automated which I think is great.

Across the Fediverse: As CalKkey is growing and actually, first, how fast is it growing do you have an idea of how many Calckey instances are out there right now? And as it is growing how do you feel the project itself and the user base is changing?

Calc: Well, I’m frankly open for all change. I mean at least good to change. Nothing malicious obviously, but I mean we’ve been seeing massive growth lately. Last month we were at about maybe 40 or 50 instances right now we’re approaching 100 with over 2100 people across all those instances obviously the stats are from the fediverse observer site, there could be even more because I know sometimes it doesn’t pick up on some servers. But right now there’s confirmed to be over I think now let me check the 92 instances, which I think is crazy I never expected it to grow this much very surprised with the growth a lot of that has been a misskey Instances switching from in misskey to Calckey.

Across the Fediverse: So to the other end of the spectrum from the users that are only just using Mastodon to folks more like me who use funkwhale, plume, pixelfed and mastodon and nextcloud as well on activitypub? and for those users how does Calckey offer better features for integration across the fediverse?

Calc: so Right now, I mean compared to Misskey at least we just added account migration in our latest biggest update. That was our V13 blocker, So now you can migrate your Mastodon, your pixel fed account I believe, your Plemora account or other Calckey account to any other Calckey instance, and I mean, it’s been kind of a breakthrough because a lot of people were like - Oh, I want to use Calckey, but I can’t take my old account with me. I can’t do this. now you can. Coming up in the future or our next update we’re gonna have a way for Mastodon admins to actually convert their instances database over to a Calckey instance on Postgres - which is going to be a large undertaking, but it’s in the works. We are thinking of adding pixelfed stories, we’re thinking of opening up the chat API to work with other services other than just Misskey and the big thing is is that we’re working on is federated interoperable groups because right now groups are local to your instance only.

Across the Fediverse: The Fediverse is a wide and varied place with plenty of corners, how do you feel that Calckey represents the diversity found across all the beings of the Fediverse And that’s both as a team developing it and the platform itself?

Calc: Yeah, well as the team developing it… actually all of our team is LGBT. I’m non binary and gay. Cleo is a trans woman, some other people who we are bringing on are also trans. And some of the people joining this as well are also on the neurodivergent spectrum as well. And we’re all working together to make this definitely a more diverse and inclusive platform. And the instances we’ve seen that crop up have been great like blahaj.zone is a Transfocused instance. We’ve seen other LGBT instances come up. We’ve seen black run instances come up, We’ve seen like safe spaces for people of color instances that have been more private and we hope to see more of that soon I mean, it’s great to see more diversity on the Fediverse and with features like private channels and chats and stuff like that I mean it can also help with decreasing harassment to more marginalized groups.

Across the Fediverse: How do you feel the maturity of the project is you did mentioned before a bit of a refactoring going on at the moment Do you feel that’s going to affect the maturity and stability of the project in the short term?

Calc: I Mean I can’t say for sure the future who knows what it holds It could be that I mean the great refactor is gonna be perfect right off the bat or that it’s gonna cause a lot of problems… We don’t have a way of knowing yet, and I don’t want to make promises in that field, but I’m hoping that it won’t affect the maturity - we’re still gonna maintain The the older API we’re gonna make a new API as well But the older one will always be accessible for older Misskey clients such as a Milky and misscat.

Across the Fediverse: And finally how high is the chance you think that the Calkey adoption will accelerate more and more as as this new refactoring and obviously the the increases in performance you’ll get from going to rest. How do you see that escalating over the next little while and is that why you’re onboarding those extra team now?

Calc: Well, we’re onboarding those extra team now because we have a very long-term roadmap the rest refactor is not gonna happen until V15 right now we’re on V13. V14 is gonna be focused on database stuff and more important features - because people have been asking for Federation with Mastodon edits, so that’ll be our final blocker for Mastodon feature parity. So I mean after that will like be 100% compatible with Mastodon and so much more. But then after that we’re gonna start working on rust in the back end, and the work on the front end - But that’s not gonna be for a while, so we want to take on developers now so that we can start to get people interested and familiar with the Calckey code base and our development practices the team all that so that we can really start to work together when the time comes to like buckle down on that refactoring so I mean right now rust is probably gonna come at the end of 2023.

Across the Fediverse: All right, and we’ll make sure to get a link to that roadmap to include in the show notes for folks who are interested in what the future of Calkey holds but look certainly, Calc, I really appreciate your time today and my appreciation to both you and cleo out there keeping the project ticking along and making everything happen . For our listeners I’ll get you to give out that URL again for your meta intsance

Calc: Thank you so much for having me in those types of talk with you that URL is i.calckey.cloud.

Across the Fediverse: Thank you so much for your time It’s been an absolute pleasure chatting to you today, and I look forward to having you or Cleo back on when you have some more announcements or developments or even just for one of our panel chats coming up in the future.

Calc: Of course, I know for a fact that I’d love to be here if Cleo wants to join as well I’m sure she’d want to as well and me and she seems very open to all that stuff as well.

Across the Fediverse: Well, thank you so much for your time today Calkey. It’s been an absolute pleasure hearing about the Calkey project

[Transcribed with OpenAI Whisper]


Hosted & Produced by Jared Quinn
(matrix: @jared:im.artemai.art)

Additional research & community moderation Ada Shovelace @ada@blahaj.zone
Fedi hosting provided by ARTemAI

Official Across the Fediverse:

Audio - @acrossthefediverse@tunes.artemai.art

Text - @acrossthefediverse@blog.artemai.art

Stories contributed from our lemmy community at

Theme Song (Intro & Outro) - Breaking News - by Humans Win and Lance Conrad.
Background Loop - Background (loop) by Aliaksei Yukhnevich.
Emotional Piano Loop - Creative Commons. Creator Unknown.

“Across the Fediverse” Logo & cover design by Jared Quinn (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)
Logo utilises the proposed Fediverse logo (public domain)

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Produced entirely on open source using Audacity, Nextcloud Files & Collectives & Jitsi on Linux.