What is Hoot?

Hoot is a free, open-source platform for building online discussion communities. It’s meant to be easy-to-use on any device, and easy for operators to run. Plus, we’re federated, allowing users to interact with communities and users on other Hoot sites or other platforms on the Fediverse!

What makes Hoot different from Mastodon?

Hoot is similar in function to sites like Reddit or Digg, or software such as phpBB, whereas Mastodon is more akin to websites like Twitter. Both use the same ActivityPub backend, but with different use cases in mind.

Is Hoot open source?

Yes, Hoot is open source with the MIT license. Not all the software associated with Hoot has the same license, mind you. The Mobile App is licensed with the GPL 3.0. Lotide, an essential component that handles communication with other servers, is licensed with the GNU Affero GPL v3 license. These are all open-source licenses.

What does it mean to be “Federated” or “Part of the Fediverse”?

“Federated” means that, instead of all the resources being held by a centralized entity like Tweetbook or Reddit, it is held across a variety of servers that can communicate with each other.
Think about how Email works: You have an email server. It runs software that can communicate with other email servers (SMTP). If you are CatLover42@gmail.com, and you want to send a message to DogsRFun33@yahoo.com, you can do that. You simply log into your gmail account, compose a message, and click send. Gmail will initiate a connection to Yahoo and send them the message. Yahoo will keep a copy of that message that the user can access. The same basic rules apply to other federated systems.

For Hoot, instead of using SMTP as the protocol, it uses ActivityPub. This means that your server can communicate with other servers (including those that run totally different software) and it will speak a common language. Your username is user@hootnode.tld and you can subscribe to communities with their own set of community names. This greatly expands the level of choice you have.

Is Hoot intended to be immutable and censorship-resistant? Is it a free-speech platform primarily?

Project Hoot has no interest in telling you how to run your server whatsoever, and has no opinion on what moderation policies you should put in place. If you want your server to be totally free-speech, where nothing is removed regardless of how offensive or grotesque or annoying it is, then that is your prerogative. Other servers are free to block content from your server if they so choose, users are free to stop using your server if it has too much spam, and you may have to deal with other issues, but that’s not our problem and not our business. Also, if you are so inclined, you can make it so only select people can post, only select communities can be followed, and that posts can be deleted and users banned arbitrarily and frequently. That is also your prerogative, and Project Hoot has no say over that, nor do we want say over that. The ultimate administrative moderation authority is vested upon the people who own the hardware. Your server, your rules. If users don’t like your server, they don’t have to use it, and are free to start their own server if they are so inclined.

Why doesn’t Hoot use a blockchain to store the posts, instead of having a federated model?

We are not hostile to software that wishes to use a blockchain to store user posts, that seems like a perfectly valid way to run things, however we decided not to do that because it makes it difficult to moderate and curate communities in a way that makes content enjoyable. We have considered using a blockchain specifically to store upvote/downvote data but are not currently working on any blockchain integrations. If you have a good idea, though, by all means join our Discord server or submit the idea to our Github!

Can I back up my subreddit to Hoot?

Lotide Mirror: This is a bot that can be used to mirror posts from a specific subreddit to a specific hoot server. These posts can then be federated so any server that has users following the content can access it.