Blocking pachyderms

Openly and with wild abandon, I block ads and tracking with a self-hosted AdGuard instance on my home network. Sometimes I lose functionality, like when a Vimeo-based streaming app on AppleTV refuses to load any content because a tracking script fails, but for the most part, it's a successful scorched earth approach to living on the internet.

One of my favorite uses of an ab blocker is blocking distractions I can't stop myself. If you are using my wifi, you won't be able to scroll TikTok for hours on end—I did that a few times too many and now no one can. Here. At my house.

All of Meta's domains, blocked. Twitter? Blocked.

With my old ad blocker (PiHole), you could create a custom list of domains to block, which sounds great until you think about how many domains a single service uses. It's a lot to keep current. I like AdGuard because of its "Blocked Services" interface which lets you toggle a switch and keep, say, Amazon out of your network.

The one service in the list I didn't quite understand, though, was Mastodon. If Mastodon is federated, how can you block all of it?

So I looked at the source, which has no reference to Mastodon, but searching the entire organization, I found the tool that generates AdGuard's blocklists, and Mastodon's server list specifically. My original assumption was that AdGuard would block the obvious core Mastodon-branded servers (think, etc), but I could not have been more wrong: AdGuard queries the server list, sorts by size, and returns the top 100 largest instances, which are then blocked.

I don't believe this server list is part of the Mastodon API, but it existing seems pretty helpful. And a general round of round of applause for open-source software.

Now I'm off to block Mastodon so I can get some work done today.