This post is meant by no means to be a complete guide – I’m still a very beginner with this (for me) new platform. I see it more as a constant WIP where I collect tips and tricks and complement my understanding along the way of discovering “the other side”.
For all those of you who are thinking of moving to Mastodon, the best words to describe it over there: friendly and calm 🐘 My experience has been only positive so far (it may of course change, the longer I’m there - but let’s hope not 😉). The only glitch I experienced: The iPhone app “Mastodon” was a bit laggy and my instance had some capacity/performance issues but I’m optimistic it will improve. One thing one has to always keep in mind: it’s voluntary-based and it’s impressive what people have set up and keep running 👏
With Mastodon, social media is thought differently and it feels much more like a quiet haven compared to what a busy Facebook or Twitter timeline looks like. If you want to know more and why Mastodon won’t be exactly like Twitter, The Conversation has a good overview.
I enjoy being over at Mastodon and my feeling is that conversations are more important than writing posts that generate likes. When you start using Mastodon, it really feels like some kind of a Pied Piper vision coming true - and the best part (I think) is actually that it doesn’t have an algorithm that feeds your “news feed” or your “timeline” but it’s really the people you follow and the topics you’re interested in.
I hope we’ll all be able to maintain this environment (although some changes may be inevitable (and maybe also positive) with so many people coming over and forming the network). I’m curious about what the future holds for us 🤗
But how do you get started if you also want to join the party?
Image an elephant/mastodon in blue holding a “hello” sign.
It’s easy to choose between instances (the first question you’ll encounter when thinking about signing up). There’s a questionnaire/filter function that suggests possible ones. While the choice is important (Mastodon is decentralized and an influx of users on “your chosen server instance” can affect your experience), I didn’t overthink it. Things change so quickly these days and, as far as I understand, migration within Mastodon is also generally possible. And choosing one server instance over another doesn’t mean that you’re limited to your specific instance and cannot interact with others. You can interact with (and follow - unless they restrict it) everyone on Mastodon across servers!
If you have your Mastodon account now up and running, add a bio 😊 This helps people to get to know you and it feels more like a social gathering than an anonymous network. You can also add your Mastodon handle to your Twitter profile so that people can find you.
The next steps show how it works with debirdify.
Screenshot showing the import function of Mastodon where you can select to upload people you are following from Twitter
And now you’ll have to wait a bit (it took a few hours for me but it worked 😊). With more and more people moving, it might make sense to repeat this step now and then. If you’re still wondering which server instance you should use, the app also shows you where your people are currently at Mastodon. So this might be also a good starting point. It can look like this:
Image showing a donut chart with the distribution of users across server instances.
If you are looking for interesting (new) people to follow, Social Search helps you to find people based on keywords. Here’s how it looks like when I type in “rladies”:
Screenshot showing a list of accounts at Mastodon when looking for the keyword “rladies”
While it’s a decentralized system where servers have their own rules and manners, here’s a nice summary of how tooting works at Mastodon.
There are a few things that I discovered that are different than on Twitter:
GIF showing the commands git add, git commit, git push, git pull in a sequential order
And now, and that’s definitely one thing I really like about Mastodon: there’s a great netiquette of introductions. So just introduce yourself by adding the hashtag
#introduction 🤗 (and pin it to your profile)
The search function does not work as you expect it to. It doesn’t have a full text search. So it’s best to bookmark a toot once you see (and like) it.
If you want to have a verification sign (it’s not a blue check mark but green and for free ✅), you can add
<a rel="me" href="instance/your_mastodon-handle"></a> on your website and link the website to your profile. I use Hugo Portio and added it to the
head.html file. Here’s more to it and Alison Hill also Hugo also updated the Apéro theme.
If you are over on Mastodon 🐘 + you are a Hugo Apéro user, please update your theme to get the fancy Mastodon website check ✅— Alison Hill (@apreshill) November 11, 2022
Thanks to @cedricbatailler for the PR and the accompanying blog post!https://t.co/91x7E1BCDb
(the rel="me" attribute is added now automatically) pic.twitter.com/gOGPpZuiEW
It also works for your GitHub profile if your Mastadon page is the only website you’re referring to in your GitHub profile (adding the reference to your README doesn’t work - unfortunately). There are two options, how you can add the verification on your GitHub page:
Writing direct messages is tricky (I didn’t fully figure it out yet, to be honest). Here’s a good guide on how it works (and why you should rethink the use of private messages on social media platforms).
But with all the contact info that people provide in their bios, it’s also easy to reach out to them in other ways - which is a nice feature 😊
At the time of writing this post, there were two major apps for iOS around that I tried. I first started with “Mastodon” and experienced some lags. I read that there will be more work on the app - so good news! Until then, I switched to “Metatext” which, for me, works like a charm.
Update - April 23, 2023: The official Mastodon app works better now (and it has also a multi-account view - very neat!). There is also a “new kid” around: Ice Cubes - it’s my favorite so far!
I cant believe it but the #rstats package rtoot to interact with the mastodon API is on its way to CRAN🤩.— David Schoch (@schochastics) November 11, 2022
introductory blog post: https://t.co/eskL1w8JnW
submit issues here: https://t.co/wrjDtBdI0F pic.twitter.com/n25PeL0l1y
This blog post was last updated April 23, 2023.
Tooting is tweeting at Mastodon. ↩︎