Mastodon – what I know that you may need to

So I’ve been on Mastodon for a little longer that most, and I’ve taken some time to look into how it works. So I’m a little ahead of the curve. And lots of people are asking questions about it.

There are a ton of posts about it. But perhaps you trust me more than other random strangers? Here’s my take.

My thing is: You don’t have to move to it. You can stay on Twitter (though there are MANY good reasons not to right now). You can also move to other places like Tumblr. Or stay on Instagram or Facebook. You really don’t have to.

But you probably want to make an informed choice. So here’s my general info.

  • Yes, Mastodon is quite a lot like Twitter, but it also has a lot of differences
  • Mastodon has different “servers” (sometimes called “instances”). Each server is like a little self-contained mini-Twitter. BUT, servers can talk to each other. You will hear this called “federation”.
  • Some people say it’s “like email” because if you have GMail you can send and receive messages to someone with Outlook. And it IS like that, but there are other things about the server that you are on that are important.
  • So if you sign up for an account on, say, mastodon.social (which I wouldn’t recommend because it’s overloaded), you can see posts by me on the server that I’m on: fosstodon.org.
  • Each server has its own rules (these are on the “about” page for the server). So check these out before you join. My server, for example, forbids a thing called “s**tposting” and “spam”. Generally these rules are A Good Thing(TM).
  • You also get to see a “local feed” from your own server. So if you’re into, say, bollards, and you joins the bollards.lol server then your local feed will be full of people talking about bollards. This may or may not be of interest to you. (Other servers are available.)
  • You can move servers. But not, like, every day. And there are limitations to it. Like, your posts don’t move with you, but your followers do.
  • Mastodon has the appearance of being “free as in beer”. But it is costing someone – the person running the server – money to run it and time to moderate it. So please, please, PLEASE consider sending your server admins a few ┬ús to support them.
  • There’s no ads or algorithms. “Likes” don’t influence who sees something. There’s no “Look! Here’s a post from someone that someone you follow follows liked.” Or “Here’s a random video of a bollard that you’re seeing just, because, well, Bollards are cool right now.”

I will take further questions.

But not about bollards.

Sorry if you love bollards.