I posted a thread on Twitter in early November about what I did to make myself comfortable there. I hadn’t started and really moved into a social media account since sometime around 2010, so there was some learning involved. I’ve since locked my Twitter account and set the content to delete over time, but a friend was looking for the content. So I’m moving it here.
Picking a Server
The Orbit had a Mastodon server (instance) when I started, so I learned more about this after I wrote my thread. Servers running Mastodon are part of the Fediverse, each with their own admins, moderators, and rules. Some are very new and in the process of learning through trial and error. Some will tolerate anything. Some work very hard to build communities and make safe spaces. Some customize the basic software.
It may take some time to know what you want from an instance, so understand you may change servers. That’s not unexpected. There are functions built into Mastodon to make that easier. The following are among the servers and/or moderators I’ve been impressed by:
- mastodon.lol: LGBTQ+ run and friendly, pro-antifa
- mastodon.art: for all kinds of artists
- wandering.shop: for the generally progressive SFF community
- tech.lgbt: what it says on the label
- toot.cat: not all about cats, but for cat people
- tenforward.social: Trek fans
- universeodon.com: general interest, leaning toward science
- mstdn.social: large general-interest with active moderation
Each server has its own rules, listed on its About page (for example: https://mstdn.social/about). If you’re good with those generally, go ahead and sign up. You’re not committed to stay there if you find somewhere better for you, and you’ll be able to take your community with you if you move.
Building Your Home Feed
Your home feed on Mastodon is your standard social media timeline but the way it was before social media companies went in hard on algorithmic sorting and intrusions. These are the people you choose to follow. It’s an empty feed until you find your people, and the Twitter thread I wrote was on how I filled it.
- As of this morning, my Mastodon feed feels like real social media. If you’re thinking about moving or are there but feeling a bit bereft, here’s what I did to get there.
- In the settings, I enabled the advanced view, which is much like TweetDeck. I may or may not keep it as my home feed grows, but having that much information right now is good. I also set my notification preferences right away.
- I turned on the federated timeline, which is a feed of all the people a server follows. It was useful to me because I’m on a small instance. Also great if you’re on an instance based in common interests. Maybe not if you’re on one of the huge instances.
- I muted people in the federated timeline liberally. Turns out my instance includes someone who really likes shitposters. But I also found people I knew there, as well as people who ask questions about Mastodon I also want the answers to.
- I found out about http://fedi.tips from that. There’s a great FAQ there. I’ve shared it with other people asking questions too, which makes the whole thing feel more social and friendly.
- I advertised my Mastodon profile on my other social media accounts. People I like followed me, which means I didn’t have to search for them.
I also search “Mastodon” occasionally on my other social media so I find my existing friends that way too.
@[email protected] btw
- When I joined Mastodon, I entered an existing culture. I kept my initial posts low key and friendly while I watched my feeds to see how other people use it. I learned how people commonly use content warnings and read a bunch of image descriptions.
- I figured out my following strategies would be different than here. There are people I don’t follow here because they’re so broadly retweeted by friends. That’s not a thing on Mastodon, at least not yet. There are people I follow here who don’t fit the vibe I’m building there.
- I watched my home and federated timelines for accounts on specialized instances. I went to the instances that looked relevant to me wandering.shop, http://botsin.space) and browsed the profiles there.
- I did the same thing with the following/follower lists of friends I have lots of people in common with. I found a bunch of friends with currently inactive accounts. I followed them anyway so I’ll see them when/if they become active.
- Today I have a bunch of content from friendly people! Yay! I’m chatting a bit so people don’t feel like they’re shouting into the void. Got enough of that on Twitter.
- I’m currently working on getting some of the other accounts I post for set up over there and figuring out how to post across sites without ongoing extra work. Most documentation is a bit out of date, so it’s a process. I’ll share as I sort it out.
- Additional notes: Following people on another server in the web interface can be kind of weird. Check the FAQ if you get frustrated.
- I’m mostly using the browser. If you’re on the app and don’t like it, explore third-party apps. Most people seem to prefer them.