smartphone-showing the home screen of social network mastodon

5 Master Lessons after a week on Mastodon

We don’t need to tell you that it was A wild few days in the Twitterverse. But in Mastodon, things were cool. This is, of course, as long as you don’t struggle to understand how to use a social network You may not have heard of him until a month ago.

We got it. Over the past week, we’ve been among the new Mastodon users trying to understand what the uniform schedule is and which server to log into. And after seven days of tossing every passing idea on the platform, we learned a number of things that might help you decide if a decentralized network is a good place to set up shop, no matter what happens with Twitter.

The steep learning curve is real

Twitter is (was?) popular, among other things, because it’s easy to use. You login, post, reply, like, retweet, repeat. Everyone can see your public tweets and your direct messages are private. basic.

But as I’ve read elsewhere, that’s not exactly how this platform works, and you can never really be sure who saw your posts. Mastodon is a decentralized social network, which means that there are a lot of different spaces (called servers, or instances) that run independently but are slightly connected at the same time. Mastodon creator Eugene Roshko The system is similar to an email—You can have a Gmail account, your friend can have a Yahoo Mail account, and you can still send messages to each other even though both platforms are different. This means that even though you and your friend have accounts in different states (such as mastodon.social and universodon.com), you can still follow and message each other.

[Related: Former Twitter employees warn of platform’s imminent collapse]

That kind of explains it, but not quite. As you can see, there is no way for your posts to reach every Mastodon server unless someone follows you on all of them or retweets your post. This platform is designed as a group of like-minded communities, as opposed to the massive public Twitter arena where everyone is trying to be heard by everyone. Because of this design, it’s going to be difficult for you to reach every Mastodon user, and you might not want to – they won’t all be interested in the same things you are. What helped us better understand this was useful scheme And a few more guides that we read about how to use the site.

The disturbing conclusion is that Mastodon is more complex than Twitter, so you’ll need to tweak. You’ll get there, but you’ll definitely have to put in a little work. If you are not willing to do that, you might be better off staying away.

Mastodon’s features are similar to Twitter’s but not quite the same

Mastodon looks a lot like the Bird app, which might trick you into thinking that once you wrap your mind around the whole multi-server thing, the rest is basically the same. Yes, not quite.

The biggest similarity is residence The timeline is full of posts from people you follow, but there are two other timelines as well: Sweetened And the united. The first is a stream of posts from people within your instance, so if you sign up for Mastodon. social (the largest and most diverse one), you’ll see posts by every other member of the community. Federated, on the other hand, is a feed that displays posts from people outside of your server, but not everyone on Mastodon. In order for posts to be published there, someone like you must follow that user or repost their content. The Unified Timeline is a good place to see what’s going on outside of your interests and find new people to follow, so it’s a great starting point if you want to build your following.

On Twitter, you get 280 characters to express yourself, while Mastodon gives you 500 characters. And you can still post polls, photos, GIFs, and video, but the platform doesn’t support the wide range of files that Twitter does. things like The number and weight of documents that you can upload It is also more limited. You’ll notice that you can easily reply (repost) and repost content from accounts you follow or pop up on the federated timeline, but you can’t quote it in a new post. Designed by Rochko like this intentionally, l Avoid increasing toxicity. The idea is that you interact directly with the author of the post, and not talk to your audience about someone else.

Finally, direct messaging is not as private as it seems on Twitter. There, you always have the option to message someone privately, in a place that seems separate from your main timeline. But in Mastodon, you can choose who sees each of your posts, and Direct Messages are just posts to a very restricted audience visible only to the people mentioned in them. These posts are not end-to-end encrypted, which is something Mastodon reminds you of every time you click on Earth symbol In the compose window and set your audience to Mention people only. Just a reminder—Twitter’s DMs are not end-to-end encrypted, so even though they live as private messages, people on Twitter or with access to Twitter’s servers may very well see their contents. This is the reason for some People have talked about deleting direct messages When Elon Musk took over.

Yes, everyone is much better, but that’s not necessarily a good thing

Mastodon’s cute nature was a huge selling point for people tired of Twitter’s fast-paced, often toxic nature. And it’s true: Mastodon is, in fact, a happier, kinder place where people don’t wait for someone to post something they consider stupid just so they can point it at their followers. There seems to be a more collaborative and supportive environment on Mastodon, which is especially nice when you’re a new user still struggling to figure things out. Ask a question and no one will call you a moron for not understanding it right away – people will actually help and redirect you to handy resources to make your life easier. shocking.

The problem is that some users (eg Sarah Jeong mentioned it in Vice for the first time in 2017) actually like some of the toxicity associated with twitter. No, they’re not masochists – because watching even the most inconsequential bits of a debate is interesting and can provide new perspectives that you haven’t even considered.

Coming from an environment as tough and gritty as Twitter, you might be surprised that the people on your server seem to dislike political banter. On mastodon.social, for example, users will thank you when you post political content behind a warning. That may change with an influx of Twitter users and the eventual creation of specialized servers where this kind of contentious discussion can take place. But as of the time of writing, mastodon.social and most of the other servers on the platform are still very apolitical places, and it seems like they will stay that way.

Surprise – Mastodon does not have a content algorithm. This means that no matter how many posts about your favorite bands, or how many movies-focused accounts you follow, your timeline won’t show you more of the same. It will just be a stream of posts in chronological order and nothing else.

Not having the platform constantly suggesting the same type of account and content means you won’t be isolated in a smaller bubble of like-minded people. You’ll already be in a semi-autonomous community of users with similar interests, so why divide further? But the lack of an algorithm also makes it difficult to know who to follow, and grow your followers if you want to reach a larger audience.

This is where hashtags come in. It’s your main way on Mastodon to categorize your posts and make them easier for other people to find. In fact, The search engine within the platform only works with hashtags It will not search the rest of the words or the content of posts as Twitter does. it seems, This is also by design It prevents users from easily finding people who can harass them.

Finding people is terribly unexpected

Another byproduct of not having an algorithm is that it is a bit difficult to find other users with similar interests. A quick search of your friends will show you that knowing how to interact with another user isn’t enough – you’ll need to know what server they’re on. second, This works just like emailAnd if you don’t know if your friend has a yahoo or gmail account, you won’t be able to find them and send them messages. So unless you know your friend’s full address, you may struggle to track him down.

Even following people from other instances whose content is right in front of you can be difficult. When you click or tap on a file Follow up icon Next to their name (someone with a plus sign above), you’ll see a pop-up alert with two options. You can either log into that person’s instance so you can follow them there (Mastodon allows you to join as many servers as you like), or you can copy the person’s full Mastodon address so you can manually paste it into your profile’s search bar and find them and follow them from there.

[Related: 3 Twitter alternatives, in case you’re looking]

Yes, it’s not a lot of work, but it sure is tedious, and it will be more annoying for new users who will have to go through this process over and over as they build their schedules. If you find yourself following a lot of people from a certain status that aren’t your own, you can move your profile to this instance. It’s an easy process but, as with a lot of things in Mastodon, you have to know how to do it.

Start by creating a profile on the server you want to go to. Keep in mind that some servers have special requirements or don’t allow new members at all. Once you’ve set up your new account, open Mastodon in a web browser, and go to PreferencesAnd the the account, and scroll down to Transfer from a different account. There, click Create an alias for the account And follow the steps. From your old server go to the accountscroll down to Move to a different accountAnd the and click Configure it here. Follow the instructions and you will be golden.

more Twitter alternatives It may appear in the coming months. It’s yet to be seen if Mastodon will turn out to be the world’s new water cooler, but if you find yourself in need of a place to pour your thoughts, this place might be as good as any – at least for now.


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