I always liked Twitter a lot. After leaving Facebook many years ago, Twitter was my one and only social network. For me, the best thing about Twitter is the active tech community. While being a .NET developer my timeline was full of .NET content. To this day I follow (more or less) famous .NET devs and a couple of Microsoft employees. And of course, after switching to iOS development, I started following a lot of iOS devs. If you are in tech, Twitter is (or was?) a good place to stay up-to-date.
And then Elon came along... 🙄
First: I don't hate Elon Musk. To a certain extent, I like what he does. When it comes to Twitter, I even support the basic idea behind welcoming back previously banned accounts. But holy sh*t, Elon. You crossed a line. Laying off a ton of people by casually sending them an email? Charging fees for verification? And that's just the tip of the iceberg. But this post is not about Elon Musk or Twitter. It's about Mastodon and the Fediverse.
If you are on Twitter these days, chances are that you saw people tweeting their Mastodon profile. Mastodon is really cool. And people will sell as "It's like Twitter, but not being owned by a crazy billionaire". But that's not correct. Well, of course it is not owned by a billionaire. That part is true. But please don't expect it to be exactly like Twitter in all the other aspects.
The starting point
The most important thing is, that there is nothing like "the mastodon server(s)". It's a big difference. If you want to join Twitter you just go to twitter.com and create an account. Everybody does that. Not so in the Fediverse/on Mastodon. Sure, there are big instances like mastodon.online. But you have to understand, that it is not the instance. We will see how you can find the rights instance later in this post.
On Mastodon, everybody can have their own instance. But they all use the decentralized social networking protocol ActivityPub. This way you can communicate across instances and create your personal timeline/feed with users from any instance.
There is no "big algorithm" that will create a nice and shiny timeline/feed for you. You are in charge to create your timeline. You have to find folks to follow yourself. But we will get to that later.
No Ads. Just content.
And that's awesome. Enjoy your timeline. 🚀
My Mastodon Tips. 💡
Let's look at the things I learned in the last days. Maybe some of you will benefit from my insights.
Which server/instance should you join?
Good question. There are tons of instances out there. My recommendation is: Think about it, but don't overthink it. You can find a ton of lists, blog posts, and other tools that will help you find a good mastodon instance. A popular example is joinmastodon.org/en/servers. But again: Don't overthink it. If you are interested in tech, fosstodon.org might be a good fit for you. If you have no idea at all, mastodon.online could be a good starting point. And yes, I said "starting point". One of the awesome features of Mastodon is the "Move to another instance" feature. I used it today to move from mastodon.social to fosstodon.org. Sure, it comes with a certain cost. Your posts (or toots?) will not be moved. But if you, like me, just joined mastodon and realized that another instance would be a better fit, moving is simple.
How do I find folks to follow?
Well... that requires some work. The obvious way is searching for hashtags you are interested in and then follow the authors of the posts.
If you are especially interested in following people from your Twitter feed, you could also use tools like the Fedifinder. Fedifinder will go through all your followings and will try to extract mastodon URL from pinned tweets, user bios and URL fields. It's not the holy grail, but it's a start.
If you already found a good mastodon instance that fits your interests, you should also browse your local timeline. I'm on fosstodon.org where people post about development and open source all the time. The local timeline is a good way for me to discover and explore even more folks in tech.
Write an #introduction post
People in the Fediverse are really nice. Some of them are actively checking the #introduction hashtag on their instance to greet the new arrivals. If you want to get in touch with folks on your instance, write a post about yourself using the #introduction hashtag. And why not make the next step and check for new introduction posts yourself once in a while and say hello to a new instance buddy? 😄
One more thing
Of course, there is one more thing left. If you want to follow me on Mastodon, you can find me here: fosstodon.org/@n_develop
Happy Tooting 🎺