A tweet pretends to be 140 chars, but a toot is 500 flat.
April 4, 2017 4:52 PM   Subscribe

Welcome! Mastodon is an open-source, federated,GNU Social-compatible microblogging server” developed by Eugen Rochko with some Patreon support. The main server is mastodon.social, but there are many others.
Per Casey Newton at The Verge, Mastodon launched six months ago with little notice. Since Twitter’s latest design change, however, sign ups on the main instance have gone through a sudden surge
The early adopters are voicing some dissatisfaction. with the crowd on Twitter, and signups on the main instance are currently locked. Never fear, Sarah Jeong at VICE Motherboard has a brief tour.
posted by Going To Maine (289 comments total) 42 users marked this as a favorite
 


So, I signed up, but on another instance. Is there any reason NOT to do that?

I guess I'm having a bit of trouble grokking the whole instances/federation thing.
posted by Chrysostom at 5:11 PM on April 4 [2 favorites]


...shame it only runs on Hurd.
posted by leotrotsky at 5:13 PM on April 4 [14 favorites]


In theory, with the whole federation scheme for bringing together content from multiple instances, it shouldn't matter where you set up shop in a general sense. I ended up setting up on .social as @joshmillard because that's where a friend was who turned me on to the whole thing a few months ago.

In practice, it's been chugging a bit under the strain of growing userbase so who knows how that'll play out long term for the local vs. federated content question.
posted by cortex at 5:14 PM on April 4 [1 favorite]


Per Jeong,
  • Any user can follow any other user on any instance
  • Any user on instance X can be subjected to that instance’s mod policies (enforcement unspecified)
  • If a user from instance X follows a user from instance Y, toots by users on instance Y will also appear in the federated timeline.
  • If the mods of instance X block instance Y, toots by users on instance Y will not appear in the federated timeline. I do not believe that means that an individual user can’t follow someone from instance Y.
I could have some of this wrong; Rochko provides some background here.
posted by Going To Maine at 5:15 PM on April 4 [1 favorite]


Ok, I signed up as larrybob on octodon.social.
posted by larrybob at 5:23 PM on April 4


RexfordGTugwell on social.targaryen.house
posted by Chrysostom at 5:31 PM on April 4 [1 favorite]


Huh, looks like I signed up for this a while back and have an account: https://mastodon.social/@migurski
posted by migurski at 5:38 PM on April 4 [1 favorite]


Signed up as ozjimbob on mastodon.social.

A cool thing about mastodon.social, I gather, is it's based in a jurisdiction where Nazi shit is literally illegal, so that should help keep the riff-raff out.
posted by Jimbob at 5:40 PM on April 4 [4 favorites]


Someone turned me on to Mastodon in the thread about App.Net's shutdown. I'm @sanspoint@mastodon.social but while they recover from the Massive User Influx, I set up shop as @sanspoint@icosahedron.website (which also turned off signups until they settle down.)

But hey, you an add me from any instance. Except awoo.space, which only federates with mastodon.social.
posted by SansPoint at 5:40 PM on April 4


Currently doing that "do I bother to reserve my handle or is this another ello/adn/etc situation" mental calculus.
posted by middleclasstool at 5:58 PM on April 4 [10 favorites]


Reserve your handle. Go on.
posted by Jimbob at 5:58 PM on April 4 [2 favorites]


Be warned - some guy already took the handle "mathowie."
posted by Chrysostom at 6:01 PM on April 4 [1 favorite]


To actually effectively reserve your handle, you'd actually have to do it on every single Mastodon instance, if I understand correctly how it works. One of the flaws in a distributed system versus a centralised one.
posted by tobascodagama at 6:02 PM on April 4 [3 favorites]


I've reserved my handle, because I lost my twitter @ to some k-pop fansite last time I cracked it with my own ragetweeting. prismatic7@octodon.social
posted by prismatic7 at 6:02 PM on April 4


Yeah, that's the two-tiered @ thing, I guess? @name@instance
posted by Chrysostom at 6:03 PM on April 4 [1 favorite]


Is it possible to move an account if, for example, the person running whatever random instance I join feels like not running it anymore?
posted by theodolite at 6:05 PM on April 4


I'm interested in a Twitter without the shitbirds. But how exactly do I know if I'm woke enough for each particular instance, or if I'm endorsing their ideology by joining, or if I'm supposed to make friends, or -- ? I don't get the etiquette.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:14 PM on April 4 [7 favorites]


I am so on board with this, and this one actually feels like it might stick.

schmod@octodon.social
posted by schmod at 6:15 PM on April 4


Is it possible to move an account if, for example, the person running whatever random instance I join feels like not running it anymore?

The FAQ describes how its federation works by drawing an analogy with e-mail. So I think that should set expectations for how things work as far as the relationship between you and any given instance.

If you really wanted to be secure in what happens with your toots, you can always run your own instance off a box under your desk or something. There doesn't seem to be an archive downloading feature yet, but there's an open GitHub feature request for it.
posted by tobascodagama at 6:26 PM on April 4


Made my account on one of the instances where it's literally illegal to be a Nazi.

My concern right now is how the instance owners will handle this sudden influx of users, at least a few of whom are bound to be alt-right/chan troublemakers. (My first Mastodon mute came within minutes of joining, when I saw someone on the federated timeline using "kek".)
posted by tobascodagama at 6:40 PM on April 4 [3 favorites]


jasonsteakums@octodon.social

From the octodon.social about page:

"I'm not Twitter, I'll fuck up nazis and bullies for fun, and get an AI to do it if I get bored."

SOLD.
posted by jason_steakums at 6:42 PM on April 4 [9 favorites]


Jesus. I work in technology and I can barely understand all this. Normal people had trouble understanding how Twitter worked when it first started, and that was designed to be consumer friendly... how the hell is this going to not be a social media version of IRC, i.e., populated entirely by people who compile their own OSes
posted by danny the boy at 6:45 PM on April 4 [21 favorites]


Has anyone tried the Tusky app for Android yet? I just get "This app could not obtain authentication from that server instance" when I try to point it to octodon.social, I guess maybe each instance has to okay app access?
posted by jason_steakums at 6:45 PM on April 4


i am literally just sitting here following mefites and garbling whatever comes out of my brain. old school style.
posted by prismatic7 at 6:46 PM on April 4 [1 favorite]


One of the reviews for Tusky says that it will only point to mastodon.social?
posted by Chrysostom at 6:47 PM on April 4


One of the reviews for Tusky says that it will only point to mastodon.social?
False! I'm using it on octodon right now.
posted by prismatic7 at 6:49 PM on April 4


I think you might need to authorise the app from within your Mastodon account settings?
posted by tobascodagama at 6:51 PM on April 4


This is really great but the federation thing is hanging me up, too. What happens if the instance I sign up with disappears? I have to start over from zero with a new one, right?
posted by not_the_water at 6:52 PM on April 4 [2 favorites]


But how exactly do I know if I'm woke enough for each particular instance, or if I'm endorsing their ideology by joining

Yeah I've already seen people stamping out their territory, declaring this and that to be a safe space (safe for who exactly isn't always clear, presumably just them). It will all sort itself out in the wash, I'm sure. Certainly, it seems to provide the capability for communities and individuals to isolate and defend themselves with a bit more granularity, so it's probably a positive.

Also, most importantly, you can have animated avatars.
posted by Jimbob at 6:53 PM on April 4


I have to start over from zero with a new one, right?

I notice, on mastodon.social at least, there is an import/export function, so presumably you don't have to start over, it looks like it may be possible to relocate relatively painlessly.
posted by Jimbob at 6:53 PM on April 4 [1 favorite]


I've got no "add" button under the authorized app settings. Weird. I'm just chalking it up to new platform bugginess and I'll give it a shot later. Also having timeouts when trying to follow some people, it's definitely in its early growing pains phase.
posted by jason_steakums at 6:54 PM on April 4


FWIW, I was able to access my instance with Tusky and 11t, but not Mastodroid.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:56 PM on April 4


I notice, on mastodon.social at least, there is an import/export function

The import/export feature that's available right now is restricted to just follow/block lists, unless I've missed something.
posted by tobascodagama at 6:56 PM on April 4


Samizdata@octodon.social, BTW. I tried a different instance earlier, but it never sent me the confirmation email.
posted by Samizdata at 6:59 PM on April 4


I signed up as joeyh@identi.ca. Literally a decade ago, but same protocol.

It's not about all people who compile their own OS's, instead you get all people who want to talk about distributed social networking. Meh. Eventually you start loosely hanging out with some even more weird and insular community on a website so much older it doesn't even have a white background.

I guess I'm trying to say, enjoy the ride.
posted by joeyh at 7:00 PM on April 4 [4 favorites]


Happened upon the Motherboard article earlier, and I created an account because this looks pretty cool. I have some gripes about the UI (mainly, the currently empty and almost always low importance notifications column being right in the middle and not being able to see the local and federated timelines at the same time), but as the service grows I'm sure that will be addressed.

Ashdroid@octodon.social
posted by Maladroid at 7:04 PM on April 4


What happens if the instance I sign up with disappears? I have to start over from zero with a new one, right?

Yeah, I tried joining .social earlier today, but stamped off in a huff because my name was already registered. But I just registered it on another instance, which makes sense, but makes me wonder how that sort of thing gets reconciled if eventually instances will be rolled into the original one, or this instance gets the hook or whatever.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:06 PM on April 4 [2 favorites]


But how exactly do I know if I'm woke enough for each particular instance, or if I'm endorsing their ideology by joining

Yeah I've already seen people stamping out their territory, declaring this and that to be a safe space (safe for who exactly isn't always clear, presumably just them). It will all sort itself out in the wash, I'm sure. Certainly, it seems to provide the capability for communities and individuals to isolate and defend themselves with a bit more granularity, so it's probably a positive.


To the extent that I have concerns about this being too technical, I think I'm more concerned that people on the left may expect too much of Mastodon. That is, there are no nazis right now, but only because no nazi instances of instances that don't quietly not enforce anti-nazi policies haven't been set up.

Which is fine, I should add, and surely better than the status quo. But I hope the explainers are already being written for why milo can't be banned from the service as a whole, because at some point folks will be confused.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:12 PM on April 4 [5 favorites]


Neat. I'm eskay8@octodon.social and I will explore this further...later.
posted by quaking fajita at 7:15 PM on April 4


Some of us are trying an experiment by posting something and adding #mefite to make searching MeFis out easier.
posted by Samizdata at 7:18 PM on April 4 [5 favorites]


That is, there are no nazis right now, but only because no nazi instances of instances that don't quietly not enforce anti-nazi policies haven't been set up.

I get the impression that entire instances can block each other. If you're on the (hypothetical) justicewarrior.social instance and some people from stormfront.social start some shit, justicewarrior.social can block everything from stormfront.social.
posted by Jpfed at 7:21 PM on April 4 [5 favorites]


So how is the global feed going to work when the service gets a serious number of users?
posted by Pyry at 7:23 PM on April 4


I'm digging the instances idea and I hope it goes somewhere. Just thinking about instances as a tool for art collectives and collaborative projects, where a group of creators has an instance that's just about that group and its member-cultivated aesthetic sounds kind of amazing. People would just remote follow into groups like that to tap into these cool little cultural ecosystems.
posted by jason_steakums at 7:29 PM on April 4 [1 favorite]


oneswellfoop@octodon.social

My life is an Open Book Source.
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:29 PM on April 4


I'm zachlipton@mastodon.xyz

Would a MeFi instance (unofficial of course) be something people might be interested in, or is that just going to cause further confusion and create a yet-another-account problem?
posted by zachlipton at 7:29 PM on April 4 [6 favorites]


So how is the global feed going to work when the service gets a serious number of users?

I imagine people will have to start paying money, there will suddenly be ads, the federation will get broken up a bit, or the entire thing will collapse. Either way, should be a fun ride.

Would a MeFi instance (unofficial of course) be something people might be interested in, or is that just going to cause further confusion and create a yet-another-account problem?

The best way to find out would be to pay to set one up…
posted by Going To Maine at 7:32 PM on April 4 [1 favorite]


I'm scruss @ the extinct pachyderm, as one might expect
posted by scruss at 7:45 PM on April 4


how the hell is this going to not be a social media version of IRC, i.e., populated entirely by people who compile their own OSes

You say that like it's a bad thing.
posted by scalefree at 7:46 PM on April 4 [2 favorites]


This is like thing #14 of late that I need to think up a username for.

(Has anyone taken 86Seven53ofNine?)
posted by postcommunism at 7:49 PM on April 4 [3 favorites]


The tech is old. There are plenty of nazis using such things. Back before the more visible and centralized bits of the internet were ruined by literal nazis, the main fear driving the development of less visible, more distributed systems like this was that special internet free speech absolutist fear of censorship by moderators / companies / government / the deep state / whatever.

You know, the kind of censorship that keeps nazis off your site. Who would have guessed, literal nazis are super into this argument too.
posted by ead at 7:50 PM on April 4


zachlipton: "I'm zachlipton@mastodon.xyz

Would a MeFi instance (unofficial of course) be something people might be interested in, or is that just going to cause further confusion and create a yet-another-account problem?
"

It might be interesting. I would considering running on one of my old Linux boxen (that I also use for Pi-hole, NAS, and the MeFi World Community Grid team contributions), but my connection is total pants.
posted by Samizdata at 7:53 PM on April 4


I can certainly create an instance, but the problem I'm having is that I'm not seeing a particularly good way to approve new members, so it would just be an entirely public one, and the URL is inherently exposed, so anyone could just show up and join.
posted by zachlipton at 7:56 PM on April 4


If anybody wanted to run their own instance, renting a VPS is probably the best way to go about it. But maybe if that's something people want to do, Projects would be a good place to coordinate it?
posted by tobascodagama at 8:03 PM on April 4


zachlipton: "I can certainly create an instance, but the problem I'm having is that I'm not seeing a particularly good way to approve new members, so it would just be an entirely public one, and the URL is inherently exposed, so anyone could just show up and join."

Maybe get a username dump from Cortex, then only allow accounts with those names?
posted by Samizdata at 8:05 PM on April 4 [1 favorite]


tobascodagama: "If anybody wanted to run their own instance, renting a VPS is probably the best way to go about it. But maybe if that's something people want to do, Projects would be a good place to coordinate it?"

I would but I am poor as hell, and have no plastic. See "but my connection is total pants."
posted by Samizdata at 8:06 PM on April 4


But I hope the explainers are already being written for why milo can't be banned from the service as a whole, because at some point folks will be confused.

As I mentioned above, the FAQ makes an analogy to email that I think is super, super helpful in understanding how the federation works. I think everybody can understand why banning Milo from GMail wouldn't prevent him from having a Yahoo account. Mastodon is basically the same thing, except that GMail can also refuse to receive any SMTP requests from Yahoo. (I mean, technically they can now, they just don't.)
posted by tobascodagama at 8:09 PM on April 4 [1 favorite]


I'm yeti@octodon.social, because I CAN BE YETI!

I don't promise to be interesting, let alone active. I suck at this social thing, tbh.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:16 PM on April 4 [1 favorite]


Maybe get a username dump from Cortex, then only allow accounts with those names?

Ideally you would hand-send users a confirmation MeMail (unless there’s going to be an API for that some day…) and use that instead of an email address, but it sounds complex. Perhaps you can pre-make accounts for people based on memailed requests, but that also creates a lot of friction as well.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:41 PM on April 4


Clearly the solution is some sort of mefi-captcha.
posted by Pyry at 8:45 PM on April 4


There’s already apparently an instance at witches.town, and now I’m a little sad not to be there.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:46 PM on April 4 [3 favorites]


This is all going to be confusing and wonderful when someone puts together a simple one-click instance generator service and instances start springing up by the thousands.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:49 PM on April 4


My RSS just fed me an article about a whole other Mastodon. Rock and Roll.
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:56 PM on April 4


My RSS just fed me an article about a whole other Mastodon. Rock and Roll.

Mastodon.social is in fact named after the rock band, which has many fine credentials but whose greatest work surely remains “Cut You Up With A Linoleum Knife”.
posted by Going To Maine at 9:01 PM on April 4 [4 favorites]


Apparently the issue with Tusky not connecting to octodon for me is an Android 7 thing... and here my phone just got updated to 7 mere hours before I tried using Tusky! Hopefully there will be a fix soon.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:26 PM on April 4 [1 favorite]


Do I need or want to join yet another social media thing?

No.

No, I absolutely do not.

*seconds pass*
*starts sign up process*

Goddamnit!
posted by hoodrich at 9:26 PM on April 4 [4 favorites]


I'm mbrubeck@mastodon.social. I'm trying hard to switch my attention from Twitter to Mastodon because I'd love to have more of my online time spent on services that aren't trying to get rich by showing me shitty ads. As always with social networks though, it depends on how many other people are willing to make the jump. Despite all of Twitter's problems, I really like the network of people I follow there.

I like the idea an instance for mefites. I don't think it'd need to be restricted; it could just advertise itself as being made for the MetaFilter community. A local timeline full of MeFi-ish folks would be fun. (I'm also thinking it'd be nice to have more than one account, on differently-focused instances, so people can choose whether to follow my "work" account or my more personal one, or both... I'd need a client that handles multiple accounts well, though.)
posted by mbrubeck at 9:34 PM on April 4 [2 favorites]


I'm Itaxpica@octodon.social, but seeing as I never used Twitter to begin with I'm not totally sure how much I'll be getting out of this.
posted by Itaxpica at 9:35 PM on April 4


I'm a pretty heavy twitter user but don't know if I'll be giving it up any time soon. A lot of the reasons I'm hanging around there are professional--many of my (science) colleagues are on twitter and most of them are not web/OSS geeks and aren't likely to want to switch to a new social network. Who knows, though.
posted by quaking fajita at 9:40 PM on April 4 [1 favorite]


Oh dear god all the toot jokes
posted by not_the_water at 9:44 PM on April 4 [1 favorite]


I'm not_the_water@octodon.social because why not keep the underscores
posted by not_the_water at 9:53 PM on April 4


It’s rather annoying that you can’t re-toot from someone’s profile page, even if you’re following them. Seems like a bit of a UX issue.
posted by Going To Maine at 9:54 PM on April 4 [1 favorite]


Much like IRC, this is going to become pretty much unusable if subjected to any serious amount of abuse, right?
posted by zachlipton at 10:00 PM on April 4 [2 favorites]


zachlipton: "Much like IRC, this is going to become pretty much unusable if subjected to any serious amount of abuse, right?"

Depends on the admin and the type of abuse, methinks.
posted by Samizdata at 10:05 PM on April 4 [2 favorites]


I've had brennen@mastodon.social for a while now (maybe I found out about it here? maybe somewhere else?), pretty much just intermittently lurking. I didn't feel all that in tune with the community aesthetic there, what with being constitutionally unable to care very much about games and anime and whatnot, but architecturally I am pretty darned on board with this one.

Will it take the place of hiding out on IRC for me? Not likely. But I am happy to support it and hope it weathers this particular storm of Getting Noticed by the Internet. I'm giving the author a couple bucks a month on Patreon now.

I'm probably not going to fire up an instance tonight, but depending on where this all goes I might could be persuaded. I need to give squiggle.city some love one of these days. Maybe it could have an attached Mastodon instance.
posted by brennen at 10:08 PM on April 4


E-mail went through a period around 2000–2005 where it almost became unusable because of abuse, until spam filtering and other mitigations caught up with the problem. Usenet is another federated system that's had its share of abuse problems, which certainly contributed to its decline.

Both the abuse and the responses to abuse changed the e-mail landscape a lot. It's much harder now for individuals or tiny organizations to run their own services, both because fighting abuse is now a full-time job and because everyone had to become less trusting of unknown servers. If the Mastodon network gets big enough and lasts long enough it will probably have to through some similar evolutions.

Christopher Allen Webber wrote a post today surveying the many techniques for fighting abuse in distributed systems (h/t Karen Rustad Tölva)
posted by mbrubeck at 10:13 PM on April 4 [4 favorites]


So I just joined and went to the public timeline, excited to see cool social justice related toots and whatnot and the first thing I read was a toot by freaking Trump. Is he on mastodon too, or is someone reposting his shit, or what? Kind of ruined the whole idea for me, especially the no Nazis promise.
posted by lollusc at 10:53 PM on April 4


fuckit. a Trump account turned up. at least I could block it straight away...
posted by prismatic7 at 10:53 PM on April 4




Well, shut the idea down everybody. It doesn’t work.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:06 PM on April 4


You say that like it's a bad thing.

No it's true, if there is anything we can all agree on it's that there aren't enough spaces on the internet for fedora wearing white dudes to talk about their favorite OS.
posted by danny the boy at 11:31 PM on April 4


Well, I grabbed my usual username on mastodon.cloud and octodon.social so I can see how this works, and maybe find some of my friends on here. Given the way it's ending up federated, that seems harder. You can't just try people's common usernames, since you also would need to guess which server they've ended up on. Search seems to be per-instance, not federated.
posted by JiBB at 11:43 PM on April 4 [1 favorite]


You say that like it's a bad thing.

No it's true, if there is anything we can all agree on it's that there aren't enough spaces on the internet for fedora wearing white dudes to talk about their favorite OS.

While conflating misogyny with nerdery certainly has its place in the world, it’s a weird road to go down when mastodon is heavily banking on some privacy controls and the idea that Twitter has screwed up some forms of abuse handling. This is an undeniably nerdy project, and it seems like bad form to suggest that whatever nerding is going to happen on the platform is going to have a deliberately discriminatory bent.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:45 PM on April 4 [11 favorites]


That said, I do think that there’s an interesting dynamic here where one of the known features of Twitter, along with its hordes of eggs, is “black Twitter”, and the last time I looked at stats about it it was a given that African-Americans had disproportionately high representation on the site. ( That may change.) It’ll be interesting to see how those race dynamics end up playing out on Mastodon instances in the longer term.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:48 PM on April 4 [5 favorites]




sure, what the hell.

ardgedee@octodon.social

It'll be interesting to see how minimizing the impact of shitposting turns out, because services federation is by usual definition intended to route around damage, where "damage" means lack of access to other services and data. Maybe it's going to end up being a lot of loosely-connected pod-communities. But in contrast, if there's somebody on watfoo.social who's hilarious and popular but the admin of my server has blocked watfoo entirely for reasons (excessive naziism, or just a falling out between admins), it looks like my only recourse will be to close shadow my account on watfoo and move.

When compared with the social scaling that Twitter provides (where you can use it either/both as a PR platform to scream at millions or a way to maintain steady semi-intimate contact with a dozen close friends), mastodon.social's social model seems prefer targeting the small-social-scale end; large-scale popularity might be harder to accomplish -- but it's the construction of in-media celebrities which drives the uptake of social platforms to sustainable business levels -- but this doesn't have a business model, it's more like a Usenet data distribution mesh with built-in conveniences for admins to cut arbitrary threads in that mesh as desired and some heavy emphasis on the social value/geek cred (and in online social networks, cred is all you get) of being on certain servers rather than others.
posted by ardgedee at 12:29 AM on April 5


Also like Usenet, there's a heavy emphasis on the volunteerism aspect, which is a little worrying. The stakes for setting up and taking down servers is low, and since accounts are bound to server instances, there's a risk of people's online personae winking in and out of existence, probably pretty regularly, especially if this ends up taking off in a big way.
posted by ardgedee at 12:34 AM on April 5


No it's true, if there is anything we can all agree on it's that there aren't enough spaces on the internet for fedora wearing white dudes to talk about their favorite OS.

This a shitty stereotype and you should feel bad.
posted by brennen at 12:45 AM on April 5 [3 favorites]


Seem to be a lot of French-speaking folks?
posted by Chrysostom at 1:04 AM on April 5


Also like Usenet, there's a heavy emphasis on the volunteerism aspect, which is a little worrying.

Perhaps Usenet is so old that all of its lessons must be relearned. But also, we live in a present where Slacks and subreddits are communities in themselves, and where volunteer moderation is the norm.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:10 AM on April 5 [1 favorite]


I look forward to the day animated gifs are recognised for the obnoxious behaviour they are – or, failing that, an option to pause/block all animated content without plugins.
posted by mushhushshu at 1:28 AM on April 5 [1 favorite]


Sure, but if the volunteer moderation doesn't happen, it's a steady decay, while if volunteer "running the server" stops, people just drop off the network and their identities are gone. There are plenty of ways that situation can be improved, from crowdfunded servers to more portable identities, but as it stands right now, I'm benefiting from the fact that some random person, and I have no clue who they are, setup a server and let me use it, and that's where my identity is.
posted by zachlipton at 1:36 AM on April 5 [1 favorite]


Yes, I have questions! But I'm giving it a whirl: taz@octodon.social. I found some Blue peeps already! But I tried to remotely follow Alvy Ampersand who's in social.tchncs.de, and got the floating mastodon of "We're sorry, but something went wrong."
posted by taz at 2:37 AM on April 5


I’m there! I have followed Taz!

Now what do I do?
posted by pharm at 3:01 AM on April 5


pharm! search #mefite and you'll find some people. Also you can choose a mefite following mefites and follow those mefites. I'm up to 24! party in da mastodon house or something!
posted by taz at 3:04 AM on April 5 [1 favorite]


(in other words, I don't know either!)
posted by taz at 3:04 AM on April 5 [3 favorites]


Also, apparently I simply can't follow anyone in social.tchncs.de. I just tried to add tobascodagama, and got the mastodon fail again. Maybe octodon.social is blocked by social.tchncs.de? This instances / federations, etc thing is a bit confusing.
posted by taz at 3:10 AM on April 5


from watching the tootline, it looks like social.tchncs.de is having issues...
posted by prismatic7 at 3:15 AM on April 5


People getting accounts on octodon.social should be aware of the fundraising links at the bottom of the site's about page. Support will go a long way towards alleviating @CobaltVelvet's inevitable admin-related headaches and keep the federation feed fed.
posted by ardgedee at 4:03 AM on April 5 [3 favorites]


I thought this was a pretty interesting toot on what federated social media means for #brands.

If this gains popularity, I definitely see a rift developing between "gregarious" instances and "curated" ones. Some admins are just gonna want to federate with a many other instances as they can, because they're in it for #engagement. Others are trying to enable a specific kind of community, so they'll be more selective about who they federate with. I think this is all quite good, for the most part.

Where things get tricky is with identity. Impersonation will get out of control quite quickly, and fighting it will be complicated by the fact that legitimate users will end up with accounts on multiple instances (because they want to separate their toots by topic or because they want to follow people in different federated circles or whatever else). So, without knowing somebody IRL and asking them what instances they're on, how do you know which accounts are real and which aren't?

The toot I linked above actually raises a good point about how this works for news orgs. If you want to talk to the real Wolf Blitzer, then he's at wolfman22@mastodon.cnn.com. Easy enough. And I could see a verified.mastodon.social instance popping up some day to verify celebrity accounts or something. But how do you know that tobascodagama@social.tchncs.de is the "real" me and that tobascodagama@fakenews.nazi is a malicious imposter?
posted by tobascodagama at 6:14 AM on April 5 [2 favorites]


I left Twitter a long time ago but I'll give this a try. I'm vaguelyartistic@octodon.social; prepare to be followed!
posted by Room 641-A at 6:20 AM on April 5


If this gains popularity, I definitely see a rift developing between "gregarious" instances and "curated" ones. Some admins are just gonna want to federate with a many other instances as they can, because they're in it for #engagement. Others are trying to enable a specific kind of community, so they'll be more selective about who they federate with. I think this is all quite good, for the most part.

I hear what you're saying, but it feels weird. In many ways Mastodon is analogous to email, but it's not like you'd ever want to not be able to talk to a particular email provider/server.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:32 AM on April 5 [1 favorite]


emelenjr@octodon.social
posted by emelenjr at 6:34 AM on April 5


The Brands are definitely coming, just saw an toot ad for Air France.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:39 AM on April 5


bondcliff@octodon.social
posted by bondcliff at 6:45 AM on April 5


I'm already out of my element: can someone please tell me how to search?
posted by Room 641-A at 6:48 AM on April 5


No Nazis? I'm in. soninlawofsam@octodon.social
posted by SonInLawOfSam at 6:53 AM on April 5


@sixohsix@icosahedron.website

I'm adding almost everyone in this thread, so spam away, friends!
posted by sixohsix at 6:55 AM on April 5


natematias@octodon.social

I'm fascinated to watch people from this community find each other to seed our networks. Patterns like this make sense. It's wonderful to know that I can find others, but it could reinforce network discrimination in the Mastodon network, something I've studied in the case of Twitter.

Also: ten years ago, platforms bragged that they were hosted in countries with minimal content laws. Fascinated to see a server advertise that they are hosted in a country with strong laws against hate speech. I guess that means we need to trust instance operators to have the resources to handle reports of illegal material, protect users from overreach, and keep their instance going. That's a big ask.
posted by honest knave at 6:55 AM on April 5 [2 favorites]


acb@mastodon.social. (I set it up a few months ago, only to find out that there was nobody there but a few copyright/privacy activists crossposting from Twitter.)
posted by acb at 7:02 AM on April 5


I hear what you're saying, but it feels weird. In many ways Mastodon is analogous to email, but it's not like you'd ever want to not be able to talk to a particular email provider/server.

Yes, it totally is like you'd ever want to not be able to talk to a particular email provider/server. Spammers can and do set up their own entirely malicious servers (including on unwitting third parties' computers). Server reputation is a really important piece of the fight against spam.

Incidentally, when my team wrote a mass unsolicited mailing tool for state legislators (sorry Wisconsinites), we had to be good emailing citizens (rate-limiting, pre-emptive MX record checking, etc.) to make sure we didn't poison the reputation of the Wisconsin government's email servers.
posted by Jpfed at 7:11 AM on April 5 [2 favorites]


sammyo@octodon

I've glanced at this briefly sometime ago and wondered how it could reach network effect critical mass. This just may do it. #mifimass

AWS or some other cloud needs to find some joint funding via "micropayments" method to support community efforts. I'm sure most here would do a nickle or a flat $5 but probably not ready to fund a $30/mo virtual host. Now a federated serverless implementation perhaps could be effective (most of the providers have a free-tier, aws is 10k invocations per month although in this case the db fees would probably not be insignificant).
posted by sammyo at 7:16 AM on April 5


I wonder whether anybody has considered integrating Mastodon with federated XMPP messaging; the two look similar in requirements, and bundling them could help both overcome network effects. (There are currently plenty of third-party XMPP servers, some open to the public, most home to only a few deep-geeks and privacy wonks, as everybody else uses WhatsApp or something.)
posted by acb at 7:20 AM on April 5 [2 favorites]


Much like IRC, this is going to become pretty much unusable if subjected to any serious amount of abuse, right?

I suspect more like reddit, where a lot of subreddits are terrible awful places, and a smaller number are varying degrees of decent depending on culture and/or moderation. But time will tell, I suppose.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:23 AM on April 5 [1 favorite]


I am cpi on mastodon.social.
posted by Theta States at 7:36 AM on April 5


will this be good for bitcoin?
posted by Theta States at 7:42 AM on April 5 [1 favorite]


I don't understand the instances thing in the slightest. If you're on X instance, can you see Toots from other instances? What is the purpose of allowing multiple users to have the same username?
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 7:48 AM on April 5


will this be good for bitcoin?

*Frink voice* Actually the blockchain would be a good way of handling accounts and identity verification across multiple instances
posted by jason_steakums at 7:53 AM on April 5 [7 favorites]


I don't understand the instances thing in the slightest. If you're on X instance, can you see Toots from other instances? What is the purpose of allowing multiple users to have the same username?

Mentally replace "instances" with "email servers".

If you're on one email server, you can get emails from people on other email servers. If you're on one instance, you can see toots (omg terrible term for this!) from people on other instances.

An email address has a name part and a server part: name@server. I don't know if there's a "purpose" to allowing people on different servers to use the same name, but more to the point there isn't a practical way to stop it, so we don't bother to try. Likewise, instances don't try to enforce name uniqueness among other instances.
posted by Jpfed at 8:08 AM on April 5 [3 favorites]


Hmm... I created an account as octodon.social/@Latkes but I don't understand anything at all, even like, how to edit my profile now that I've created it, or how to follow people, or anything. Is there a simple FAQ for the simple minded?
posted by latkes at 8:16 AM on April 5


And further, instances can have purposes (although I don't think they do much, yet). Like you could set up one specifically to talk about LGBT issues. And if there was an instance that was for neo-Nazis, you could then not federate with them at all.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:19 AM on April 5


There's a user guide on GitHub.

And further, instances can have purposes (although I don't think they do much, yet).

The most noteworthy example of this that I've seen so far is botsin.space, which is a Mastodon instance specifically for Mastodon bots.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:21 AM on April 5 [3 favorites]


The user guide is great but I literally can't see anything except just my profile. Is there like, a home page? Like, how do I see my "time line" equivalent? (I know I sound like a dumb old which hey, own it me!)
posted by latkes at 8:31 AM on April 5


If you're at https://octodon.social/web/timelines/public , you should see four columns - your search/new toot column, home column which is the timeline of people you actually follow, notifications, and then far right is more fungible - it can be a global timeline, one for your instance, someone's personal timeline.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:35 AM on April 5 [2 favorites]


Ah, better. I think my problems were stemming from the ancient version of Explorer I'm using here at work...
posted by latkes at 8:41 AM on April 5


Well OK. I'm daveprovost@octodon.social. I'm following a bunch of y'all from this thread, kind of at random for now.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:50 AM on April 5


I'm already out of my element: can someone please tell me how to search?

Took me a minute to find. And I mean a new minute, which is a long time, not a traditional 60-second one.

It's on the post column, not in the feeds columns, which is really not intuitive.
posted by greermahoney at 8:51 AM on April 5


Oh, gosh, and best of all, it looks like it's written in RubyOnRails, just like the original twitter server!

(mumble grumble, no one in open source heard of Erlang or think about a graph db for a social application?)
posted by sammyo at 9:09 AM on April 5 [3 favorites]


So the federated timeline is basically an unfiltered firehose of all Mastodon users, or just my instance?
posted by Rock Steady at 9:16 AM on April 5 [1 favorite]


User guide sez:
Mastodon has a "Federated" timeline, which is a collection of all public toots made by all local users as well as posts from remote users that are federated (because someone on your instance follows the remote user making the post).

In addition to the Federated Timeline, there's also a "Local" timeline, which only shows public toots made by users on your home instance.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:24 AM on April 5 [2 favorites]


Oh, gosh, and best of all, it looks like it's written in RubyOnRails, just like the original twitter server!

Could be worse: could be PHP.

Of course, at some point, it'll start falling over under load. Hopefully some forward-looking developers are reimplementing it in Scala or Erlang as we speak, for that very eventuality.
posted by acb at 9:39 AM on April 5


Go for the HackerNews hat trick and suggest they rewrite it in Rust as well.
posted by tobascodagama at 10:01 AM on April 5 [3 favorites]


Mefites + lack of nazis sounds good: rhorsman@octodon.social!
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 10:03 AM on April 5


Mastodon has OStatus support (an open standard for distributed status updates.) (Previously)

OStatus groups are indicated with an initial !.
For more info see !Fedgroups and this List of federated GNU social groups wiki.

Makes me think of Usenet.

To clarify, this is not Mastodon per se, but an outside thing that is supported in Mastodon, so a !grouptag will be hyperlinked from the desktop version of Mastodon as in this status update (which I seem to be having trouble loading on its own.)
posted by larrybob at 10:09 AM on April 5 [1 favorite]


One thing I really want in a Twitter-like social network is the ability to be like Tumblr or Medium sometimes, when you need it, basically having the option of longform posts which have their own feed - so you can follow a user's Twittery feed or their Tumblry feed or both, and you could have different default audiences/privacy settings for each feed, like private Toots and public longform posts (Poots, obv). So, uh, Mastodon should def give me that specific pony.

Also Mastodon should totally let you automatically sync a backup of your account and post history to Dropbox or whatever.
posted by jason_steakums at 10:21 AM on April 5


Mastodon pipes to IFTTT, so you COULD set it up yourself that way. (I back up my own tweets to a text file because it's so much more searchable than any other garbage option the native service providers.)
posted by Phire at 10:36 AM on April 5 [2 favorites]


One thing I really want in a Twitter-like social network is the ability to be like Tumblr or Medium sometimes, when you need it, basically having the option of longform posts which have their own feed

Mastodon already has the CW/Show More feature, so I think that building a TootLonger-style functionality into it might be a reasonable ask for the future.

As for fedgroups on Mastodon, the support seems limited at the moment to just creating a hyperlink. You can't join or follow a fedgroup through Mastodon.
posted by tobascodagama at 10:38 AM on April 5


Also, Mastodon's privacy model is broken; it has only two options: everything's public (and visible to everyone from teenage griefer mobs to tomorrow's creepy ad-targeting startups), or nothing's visible to the public, but everything is visible to everyone you follow. There is no way of disaggregating “people I follow” from “people I trust”, or ways of selectively filtering different posts (the people you talk about your favourite sports team/weekend DIY project/&c. with, the people you confide in about your recent breakup/pet death, the people you kvetch about politics to, the people you kvetch about Game Of Thrones to, and the people you just post photos from your holiday and/or complaints about the bus to).

LiveJournal got this right 20 years ago. Facebook got this right (largely stealing their model). As long as Mastodon is a broad-brush broadcast medium, it'll only be used for trivial things by people who are privacy conscious, and emotional dumps by the minority of people who have no filter. In both cases, the signal/noise ratio will be worse off for it.
posted by acb at 10:59 AM on April 5 [1 favorite]


Also, Mastodon's privacy model is broken;

If you’ve got the time, you could submit it to the issue-tracker.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:09 AM on April 5 [1 favorite]


octodon.social/@hairy_lobster

I can't for the life of me figure out how to remote-follow people that are not on octodon.social. I have no idea what to put into the username@domain field. So far it's rejected every permutation I've tried.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 11:24 AM on April 5


It should be: hairy_lobster@octodon.social
Works for me, at least.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:30 AM on April 5


Mastodon has per-post privacy settings, and does allow you to make some of your posts public even if your account is “private.” I agree that it really needs more privacy boundaries besides “followers” versus “everyone,” though. There have been several discussions about that, including this issue.

Hairy Lobster, you should put hairy_lobster@octodon.social in the username@domain field.
posted by mbrubeck at 11:31 AM on April 5 [2 favorites]


Oooh, yes, it does. Turns out I'm a complete moron and I kept using mastodon instead of octodon. Duh. Thanks!
posted by Hairy Lobster at 11:31 AM on April 5


Between this and Glitch I'm enjoying a few days of fantasizing that the open web isn't dead.
posted by Sokka shot first at 11:32 AM on April 5 [4 favorites]


JiBB: Well, I grabbed my usual username on mastodon.cloud

Damn, I like that domain more, so I also made a bad clone of myself: yeti@mastodon.cloud. I'm thinking it's overkill, but let's double down (up?).
posted by filthy light thief at 11:51 AM on April 5


Is this already available as a social media link thingy in MeFi user prefs? I didn't see it in the list but there's so many choices now that I might have missed it.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 12:05 PM on April 5


Is this already available as a social media link thingy in MeFi user prefs? I didn't see it in the list but there's so many choices now that I might have missed it.

Not yet, but I've asked frimble to look into it.
posted by cortex at 12:11 PM on April 5 [3 favorites]


Hairy Lobster: "Is this already available as a social media link thingy in MeFi user prefs? I didn't see it in the list but there's so many choices now that I might have missed it."

I was thinking of that last night, but my last two pony requests were incompletable, so I didn't want to push my luck.
posted by Samizdata at 12:18 PM on April 5


The Incompletable Pony should be our next Faves & Flags adventure.
posted by taz at 12:20 PM on April 5 [8 favorites]


Okay, I'm lynnever@octodon.social (and lyn_never@mastodon.social which I assume will come back to confuse me in the future).
posted by Lyn Never at 12:20 PM on April 5


How in the hell do all of you keep getting mastodon.social accounts?
posted by Samizdata at 12:26 PM on April 5 [3 favorites]


I signed up for mine in the previous wave of excitement, probably 3-4 months ago?
posted by Lyn Never at 12:28 PM on April 5 [1 favorite]


I will stick with my octodon.social as it skews pretty heavily geeky, which is a good thing, IMO.
posted by Samizdata at 12:30 PM on April 5


"What these articles fail to point out: This federated network based on the Ostatus standard isn’t new." An Admin: What if there was Twitter without Nazis?
posted by larrybob at 12:43 PM on April 5


I'm just glad nobody has insisted we call it GNU/Mastodon yet.
posted by zachlipton at 12:46 PM on April 5 [3 favorites]


CBrachyrhynchos@mastodon.social, likely following some people.

I have mixed feelings. I come to mastodon somewhat hypocritically after saying that I wasn't going to engage in a medium without a sense of boundaries. Communities need boundaries, not just in the sense of "no trolling or hate speech" but also in "we do ____ here." It's a design flaw that gets me out of a lot of big media. I don't do Facebook, because unfortunately I have people who know I'm queer, and people who don't (or pretend they don't). So the pressure of getting stuck in the middle of the not-so-civil, link warfare and I had to bail for my mental health. (For that matter, I really shouldn't be here either.)

Tagging ontologies are shit for that sort of thing. Late last year, a chunk of Tumblr blew up for a week because someone said "the moon is ace." Of course, "the moon is a lesbian" and anti-ace networks had to jump on. Another point of badness is queer vs. anti-queer. There's not really a clear reason why those circles should intersect. I think one of the reasons why Mastodon doesn't have full-text search is to minimize randos who use keyword searches to find targets for trolling and harassment.

I'm mildly tempted to spin up an explicitly LGBTQ-focused gnu social or mastodon instance (leaning a bit to gnu social, because I don't need to run both MariaDB and Postgres), but I suspect I'd probably burn out fairly quick by the drama that my zero-tolerance policy for "Discourse(tm)" would generate, and I doubt that I could sustain management of yet another VPN service.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 12:52 PM on April 5


"What these articles fail to point out: This federated network based on the Ostatus standard isn’t new."

I saw an interesting toot about that, actually:
Every time someone releases a new implementation with different-looking chrome on top, it can go through its own marketing and media cycle and garner new users. *And the network effect will be cumulative.*
posted by tobascodagama at 1:00 PM on April 5 [1 favorite]


I'm on octodon.social, too, although I haven't done anything with that one.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:03 PM on April 5


What these articles fail to point out: This federated network based on the Ostatus standard isn’t new." An Admin: What if there was Twitter without Nazis?

At least one of the sell points for Mastodon is that it's pretty easy to set up, while Gnu Social is confusing. Slack is successful, after all, because they've made IRC friendly for everyone.

Similarly, I find it funny that the Admin who wrote the article is happy comparing the federation with the jargon file-era of hacker culture in its chaotic inclusivity. But the two men who I think of as epitomizing that era are Richard Stallman and Eric S. Raymond, both of whom have massive misogyny issues.

That is to say that yes, maybe Gnu social has let folks get back to those wilder days, but let's not kid ourselves that those days were perfect. A new Internet, not an old one.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:11 PM on April 5 [1 favorite]


I've joined in the fray too: @emdeesee@octodon.social

I'm dubious about yet another social networking platform, but the very brief time I've been on has been made worth it by Michelle Obama's toots, alone. (@MichelleObama@social.targaryen.house)
posted by emdeesee at 1:13 PM on April 5


Interesting! As a counterpoint, I actually muted @MichelleObama@social.targaryen.house because I was all “Politics and/or political figures? No thanks! I’ve got two other websites for that.”
posted by Going To Maine at 1:40 PM on April 5 [1 favorite]


I'm pjern@mastodon.cloud
posted by pjern at 2:26 PM on April 5


So if you get accounts on several instances is there a linking process?
posted by sammyo at 2:43 PM on April 5


There is zero way that is Michelle Obama tooting.
posted by anthill at 2:58 PM on April 5 [1 favorite]


So if you get accounts on several instances is there a linking process?

As far as I know there’s no unification, conceivably, you could forward toots from different accounts to a primary one.
posted by Going To Maine at 2:59 PM on April 5


The Unification will come after the Third Reconciliation of the Valdrani.
posted by Chrysostom at 3:08 PM on April 5 [3 favorites]


> How in the hell do all of you keep getting mastodon.social accounts?

I hit the "sign up here" button -- or words along those lines -- and it let me? But I'm so overwhelmed that I can't even figure out how to tell you who or where I am.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:10 PM on April 5 [1 favorite]


> I hit the "sign up here" button -- or words along those lines -- and it let me

Argh, no, ignore me. I got that wrong. If I can't even figure out how to sign up properly, this might not be the platform for me.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:12 PM on April 5


There is zero way that is Michelle Obama tooting.

Sometimes you just hear or read a sentence and think: the year 2017, everybody
posted by Countess Elena at 3:29 PM on April 5 [11 favorites]


Don't give up The corpse in the library! My first 20 minutes there this morning were very confusing, but just randomly tooting your questions (once you've signed up) actually results in nice people giving helpful advice! Persevere!

I do think there needs to be a VERRRRYYY simple beginners faq created...
posted by latkes at 3:30 PM on April 5 [1 favorite]


From what I can tell, Mastodon is mostly the work-in-progress of one guy with some ideals and a willingness to work out bugs and features as requested by his users.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 3:32 PM on April 5 [1 favorite]


> “black Twitter”

Twitter for me is mostly a way of following journalists and other writers, especially African American ones. If the people I follow move to Mastodon I'll tag along -- I have no loyalty to any platform.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:38 PM on April 5 [2 favorites]


Twitter for me is mostly a way of following journalists and other writers, especially African American ones.

Man. Twitter for me is basically for comedians and porn stars. I... ...may not be a good person.


lumpenprole@octodon.social
posted by lumpenprole at 3:47 PM on April 5 [1 favorite]


Twitter for me is mostly a way of following journalists and other writers, especially African American ones. If the people I follow move to Mastodon I'll tag along -- I have no loyalty to any platform.

I value this about Twitter as well, probably one of the main things I value about it, so feel the same. However, I am excited to boost this tool in hopes it will attract lots of awesome users given it's potential as a non-profit-motivated, non-nazi-infested platform.
posted by latkes at 4:01 PM on April 5 [1 favorite]


I suck at creating clever handles (already tired of this one, but I'm wedded to it!) so I'm octodon.social/@fobo. I'll stalk all you good mefites shortly.
posted by Existential Dread at 4:07 PM on April 5


Im a little late to the party and I doubt I will be using this much, but I am social.targaryen.house/@superdrew. Uhhh. Witness me!?
posted by Literaryhero at 4:44 PM on April 5


mastodon.cloud/@eyeballkid

much like the tweeters, i prefer to follow mefites
posted by eyeballkid at 6:01 PM on April 5


Go for the HackerNews hat trick and suggest they rewrite it in Rust as well.

The nice thing about federated services like this is that instance A doesn't depend on the fact that instance B is written in Ruby. If someone wants to write a Rust version of this, there is no need for the Ruby implementation to go away at all; the instances care about the protocol, not the language(s) used to implement it.
posted by Jpfed at 7:00 PM on April 5 [5 favorites]


Rocking the spot at pianoblack at octodon.social. Bandwagons are awesome.

Yeah, Tusky kinda works but it's extremely laggy. I'll stick with the web interface for now.

Yay new shiny (ad free, Nazi free) thing!
posted by pianoblack at 8:15 PM on April 5


@pianoblack I *cannot* get Tusky to recognize the octodon instance. Ugh. And I despise it in my browser.
posted by greermahoney at 8:41 PM on April 5


For what it's worth, similar situations have existed for diaspora and LibreSocial. I don't think either ever really took off but I don't have the energy for much social media.
posted by koavf at 10:10 PM on April 5


What "similar situation" are we talking about? A surge of new users?
posted by Going To Maine at 11:46 PM on April 5


octodon.social/@spatch checking in. Saaa-lute!
posted by Spatch at 11:48 PM on April 5


I had signed up to some site rock-hosting.net before reading this. Was unimpressed as it was very quiet.

Starting to get it now and signed up with octodon.social as that seems to be where the cool kids are hanging out.

https://octodon.social/@twistedonion

Have my reservations about the way instances are set up but always up for giving open source/decentralised networks a go!
posted by twistedonion at 2:05 AM on April 6


The whole federation thing is going to be an absolute shitshow, and I'm 100% here for it. naxuu@octodon
posted by naju at 2:12 AM on April 6 [3 favorites]


I keep seeing this notice: "Friendly reminder that even if you trust your admin, direct messages can be read by them. Private communications should be done via tools designed for this." But I don't see any way of direct messaging anyway. (Not that I want to; I can't even manage to answer my email. But this is nagging at me.)
posted by taz at 6:20 AM on April 6


Well, I just signed up as sotonohito@octodon.social. Let's see how it goes
posted by sotonohito at 7:24 AM on April 6


Another one? Gah. Fine. FINE!

gazerrant@octodon.social
posted by Gaz Errant at 7:34 AM on April 6


Mastodon's only a few days old (in terms of general public awareness) and I'm already wishing there was a MeFi mastodon server, just for moderation purposes.

That everyone is dropping Twitter like a moldy potato is awesome, but the shitlords are already coming over. There are going to be a lot of flipped tables and ragequits from the mastodon federated universe when "fun and games" turns into "10 hours a day whack-a-mole for no pay" or signups get locked down so early that the barrier to entry becomes "several hours of dicking about in Linux" or "waiting for whatever vetting process an admin requires to manually create my account." (see also: 10 hours a day un-fun bullshit for no pay.)

The $5 sign-up would help greatly.

(Or mastodon can just be nerd wonderland. that might be okay too, but FB and Twitter will stick around as the primary platforms for social networking.)
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 7:40 AM on April 6 [5 favorites]


> I keep seeing this notice: "Friendly reminder that even if you trust your admin, direct messages can be read by them. Private communications should be done via tools designed for this." But I don't see any way of direct messaging anyway. (Not that I want to; I can't even manage to answer my email. But this is nagging at me.)

Click the globe icon below your toot box (heh) and select "Direct". Then just type in the username of whomever you want to message (like @ashdroid@octodon.social or just @ashdroid, if they are on the same instance); it'll let you autocomplete from those you follow.

I thought I saw Gargron@mastodon.social, developer of Mastodon, say that end-to-end encryption was in the works, but I can't find that toot now.
posted by Maladroid at 7:47 AM on April 6 [1 favorite]


I'm on mastodon.social but I think it's either dead or dying because of the load.
posted by Memo at 7:53 AM on April 6


I think what worries me right now is how federation interacts with different moderation levels.

Say I'm on cool.town, and someone on my instance is following people from shitlords.xyz. Ok, fine, the cool.town mods are on the ball and they shut down federation from shitlords.xyz. Problem solved. But maybe that same person is also following somebody on lazymods.social. lazymods.social is 75% cool people who are fine. But the other 25% is almost as bad as shitlords.xyz. What's our recourse, other than blocking the bad members of lazymods.social one-by-one or blacklisting lazymods.social and cutting ourselves off from the majority of members there who are fine?

And that's not even getting into really malicious cases where bots are making accounts just to follow people on other instances who boost people on the shitlord instances. And also Mastodon.social federates with GNU Social, which seems to have its fair share of shitlords (including an instance called "sealion.club", I shit you not), so this already isn't a theoretical discussion.

Anyway, now that the protocol/service are getting attention, a lot of instances are shutting down new registrations. Their owners are also asking for donations to help with running things, which is reasonable. But it would seem wise for more of the big instances to start charging people to get in the door, like MetaFilter does.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:54 AM on April 6 [4 favorites]


One good thing about Mastodon: no one is retweeting Eric Garland, Louise Mensch, or Sarah Kendzior (yet)
posted by Existential Dread at 7:55 AM on April 6 [3 favorites]


Okay, I'm in: nonasuch@octodon.social
posted by nonasuch at 7:59 AM on April 6


Does someone have a breakdown of the flavors of different instances yet? Like i fairly randomly chose octodon because Larry Bob did and I trust his awesome judgment (hi Larry Bob!) but when a friend asked me which instance she should sign up in I wasn't sure...
posted by latkes at 8:47 AM on April 6 [3 favorites]


> Sarah Kendzior

What's wrong with Kendzior, by the way? I see her name come up like that often, but I don't know what the controversy is.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:09 AM on April 6


She's perhaps mildly alarmist, but she's also generally correct and does real reporting. Definitely doesn't belong in the same sentence as Mensch, who's a blatant hack.
posted by tobascodagama at 9:22 AM on April 6


Say I'm on cool.town, and someone on my instance is following people from shitlords.xyz. Ok, fine, the cool.town mods are on the ball and they shut down federation from shitlords.xyz. Problem solved. But maybe that same person is also following somebody on lazymods.social. lazymods.social is 75% cool people who are fine. But the other 25% is almost as bad as shitlords.xyz. What's our recourse, other than blocking the bad members of lazymods.social one-by-one or blacklisting lazymods.social and cutting ourselves off from the majority of members there who are fine?

I have not joined at this point and everything I know comes from thirty minutes of reading this thread and a handful of the links from here, but...

Folks in lazymods.social only show up in the federated cool.town feed if someone from cool.town is following that particular user, right? So as long as cool.town folks are judicious about who they follow, everything is copacetic. But if they accidentally follow someone from the 25%, either they need to unfollow when they realize the mistake, or the admins need to individually block the offender. Or, if you eventually discover that practically everyone from lazymods.social is gradually turning out to be awful (or the sheer numbers are too big to individually block) then yes, you'd have to block the whole instance.

So basically, what you said, I think? If I have that right?
posted by nickmark at 9:32 AM on April 6


Not to derail too much, but basically it seems like Kendzior's brand has been "hey guys I'm totally right in predicting the Trump administration and here's why we need to be terrified" and it bugs me, but yeah she's not a hack like Mensch or Garland.
posted by Existential Dread at 10:13 AM on April 6


From what I understand about how Mastodon's federation works, and I might be talking out my ass here, but if lazymods.social gets blocked by cool.town; existing follow relationships are fine, it's only that lazymods.social's traffic won't appear in the federated timeline; which... frankly... is unusable at scale. So.. not much loss. What you lose is the implicit discovery if someone on lazymods.social adds in another cool person on lazymods.social to your discussion, and you can't see their reply traffic over on cool.town. The "add to canoe" problem _could_ be addressed.. maybe... in code. maybe.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 10:16 AM on April 6 [3 favorites]


Yeah, you're correct, but I think things will get more complicated than that when you look at how Twitter harassment has progressed.

For example:

On Twitter, there are people who use retweet to call in harassment on targets. In theory, cool.town can block members of shitlords.xyz from boosting toots from cool.town members.

But shitlord-adjacent folks on lazymods.social can still boost toots from cool.town, and members of shitlords.xyz can see those boosted toots. And the members of shitlords.xyz can use their local instance feed to coordinate a harassment campaign against specific users on cool.town using accounts that they've seeded across the various instances of the fediverse that have open registration policies.

Obviously, this is not a problem that's unique to Mastodon. But it is an issue caused by federation. The fediverse is only as strong as its most poorly-moderated instance, in other words.

I'm also concerned about the possibility of having, like, shitlord-adjacent accounts on lazymods.social that say borderline offensive shit all the time. (Think Gamerbro420 style, where most of the content is ok but then they occasionally rant about how annoying feminists are and they throw around the word "rape" a lot.) Then the shitlord users seed those shitlord-adjacent accounts across the fediverse by following them from completely innocuous accounts scattered across a bunch of different instances. That will pull the shitlord-adjacent accounts into everyone's federated feeds in a way that would be hard for instance admins to combat directly.

The combination of federated feeds and instances with mostly-good userbases but lazy mods could turn out to be a really great boon for harassers, even if the rest of Mastodon's distributed design empowered people to create intentional, well-moderated communities.
posted by tobascodagama at 10:18 AM on April 6 [1 favorite]




I guess we'll see what happens, but for the moment, at least, I'm loving the vibe. As someone over there said:
Twitter: The world is literally burning and we are all seriously going to die screaming.

Masotodon: Yep. Do your best! We believe in you! Do you like my art? You have such a great instance domain name!
Also, it turns out I'm just not a person who was made for 140 characters. The new commenting box feels so spacious and luxurious. :P
posted by taz at 10:34 AM on April 6 [4 favorites]


Yeah, Mastodon is working for me as a place to...actually chat? And see interesting random things.

Twitter at this point is 5% comedy and 95% where I follow politics.

Also, if you are on Android, the Twidere app is good.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:47 AM on April 6 [2 favorites]


am @strangechain@octodon.social

seems alright so far, there are cats
posted by strange chain at 10:49 AM on April 6 [1 favorite]


holy moly, it feels like octodon.social is having a lot of trouble right now. I ended up signing up at mastodon.network for right now, (follow me?) but picking an instance really feels like taking a shot in the dark right now.

Remember how long it took for free e-mail to become anything other than a complete mess? Remember how much spam was on hotmail? Remember how much downtime g-mail suffered from 2005-2006? Plus this is going to depend a little bit on moderation which is absolutely a learned skill that may not overlap with the type of skills needed to keep an server going.

But it's exciting.
posted by midmarch snowman at 11:12 AM on April 6 [2 favorites]


Reminds me of the old days
posted by taz at 11:25 AM on April 6 [4 favorites]


I am also on this thing as Lafe@mastodon.cloud. I've followed a bunch of y'all from this thread, and from searching for #mefite.
posted by Lafe at 11:55 AM on April 6


lli@octodon.social and mastodon.cloud (hooray, my preferred username was still available)

more entriespoststweetstoots about paintings and cats
posted by pernoctalian at 11:58 AM on April 6


Snagged @NMcCoy@witches.town during the daily signup window for that instance. Enjoying all the francophone toots (or jinxes?) there.
posted by NMcCoy at 12:00 PM on April 6


uhoh, I just saw someone unironically tooting about "thought leaders."

/girds loins, offers spare loingirders to those within reaching distance
posted by taz at 12:16 PM on April 6 [3 favorites]


IS IT DOES HAS ENCRYPTED?
posted by petebest at 3:15 PM on April 6


Mistyped my email address when claiming a handle on a different instance. This has locked the handle for… some amount of time, so we’ll see how this goes.
posted by Going To Maine at 4:26 PM on April 6


I'm likely reading this wrong, but the github search shows a default of bcrypt with options to use others.

However, my expectation is that's a pony request, not, like, a feature.
posted by petebest at 4:50 PM on April 6 [1 favorite]


IS IT DOES HAS ENCRYPTED?

If traffic between nodes isn't encrypted, it will only be a matter of time before either ISPs develop scripts for slurping the traffic and aggregating profiles on named posters on nodes, or some adtech startup sells them boxes for doing so. After all, under surveillance capitalism, ad brokers (and soon, firms snitching to insurers, landlords, mortgage brokers, employers and such about “indicators of high-risk behaviour” from their clients) will pay good money for a pipeline of intelligence on their subjects.
posted by acb at 5:31 PM on April 6


I'm not sure about the federated communications, but I do know for certain that nothing stored locally on the node (other than passwords) is encrypted. So, until the end-to-end encryption story gets fleshed out, assume that nothing is private.
posted by tobascodagama at 6:08 PM on April 6


BTW, if you're using the Stylish extension and a monitor with a wider aspect ration than 4:3, you might want to use Mastodon Variable Width.
posted by tobascodagama at 6:14 PM on April 6


I'm @pwl on octodon.social
posted by peeedro at 8:20 PM on April 6


I haven't the faintest fucking clue what's going on here but I grubstaked my username space as Devils_Rancher on Octodon.social.

Are there clients for this or is it all browser-based?
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:32 PM on April 6


Not sure if it’s me, or it, if it’s even happening, but mastodon.social isn’t letting me follow anyone right now. Sigh.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:32 PM on April 6


@devils rancher: Amaroq and tusky are mobile clients... they are... okay
@going_to_maine: yeah... wonder if that's one of the stress points when the servers near capacity. I have a couple accounts and noticed octodon getting creaky this morning around the same time it was impossible to add users from octodon to my mastodon.network account
posted by midmarch snowman at 3:13 AM on April 7


I'm jackmottram@mastodon.social.

After following everyone in this thread, I think I'm right in saying that the whole thing is doomed unless they make it much easier to follow folk on other instances. And the UI as a whole is just horribly confusing.

Tootstream seems a more relaxing way to read and toot, but it has some pretty hefty bugs - boosted toots look the same as normal toots, no apparent support for replies - and you need to know about virtualenvs and pip and all that stuff to get it running.

One good thing about Mastodon: no one is retweeting Eric Garland, Louise Mensch, or Sarah Kendzior (yet)

I just remembered that Mensch launched a Twitter clone back in 2012 called, with characteristic modesty, Menshn. It didn't last very long because it was rubbish, and because Mensch and her co-founder ended up hating each other so much they shut it down rather than continue working together.
posted by jack_mo at 6:33 AM on April 7


Apparently there's a change in nginx config that the instance admin needs to make to fix the Tusky issue - it's working for me now on octodon!
posted by jason_steakums at 8:02 AM on April 7 [1 favorite]


For what it’s worth, Mastodon Bridge seems to work quite well for finding folks on Twitter that are also present in the fediverse. It requires you to authorize it to access both your Twitter and Mastodon accounts, which is no fun and you might want to eventually turn off, but otherwise I haven’t a complaint.
posted by Going To Maine at 2:44 PM on April 7 [1 favorite]


To update my notes on Mastodon Bridge:
  1. If you have switched mastodon instances, Mastodon Bridge won’t notice. If you want to clue people in, you need to put it in your bio.
  2. If you have accounts on multiple instances, be sure to sign out of all of your other instance accounts before following people. The “follow” buttons on the main Mastodon Bridge site might work fine, but if you don’t trust them and say, click through to look at bob@mastodon.cloud’s account, be sure that you’re not signed into mastodon.cloud yourself unless that’s the instance from which you want to follow bob.
posted by Going To Maine at 5:48 PM on April 7


Also, Mastodon is really poor about telling you that you’ve already remote-followed someone. Another issue to open…
posted by Going To Maine at 5:50 PM on April 7 [1 favorite]


Also, probably worth calling out oulipo.social, where using the letter “e” or a proxy for it can get you banned. Seems like a cool challenge, though not one I want.
posted by Going To Maine at 5:54 PM on April 7 [5 favorites]


I'm going to call out witches.town, because witches.
posted by tobascodagama at 6:11 PM on April 7 [1 favorite]


Okay, I'm now on oulipo.social also, as @mbrubck. (Oh, and Oulipo's admin @mus also has a blog, which was a link in my FPP from not too long ago!)
posted by mbrubeck at 7:27 PM on April 7 [1 favorite]


So here's a thing I don't understand: I'm on octodon.social (@taz@octodon.social, if anyone wants to find me), I'm following you as @mbrubeck@mastodon.social, and when I click on your account you show up in my timeline as having 20 posts (plus how many you are following and how many following you), but when I click on your avatar in my timeline and it opens a new window with the https://mastodon.social/@mbrubeck url, your page shows you with 26 posts, and a greater number of following/followers.

I am now also following you as @mbrubck@oulipo.social, and in my timeline I see you as having 0 posts, following 0, and followers 1 (me). When I click on your avatar and go to https://oulipo.social/@mbrubck, your page shows you having 5 posts, following 5, and 6 followers.

I don't understand why this happens. Like sometimes someone follows me and I click on them and see zero activity, no bio info, and I don't recognize their handle, so I sort of wait to see what's up with them ... but maybe I'm just missing that they have a lot of activity on another instance if I don't happen to click on the avatar and open a new window in the url for their node.
posted by taz at 3:02 AM on April 8 [3 favorites]


I believe the deal is this:

Everything you see in the client view (web or app) comes directly from your home instance. This includes profiles/toots on other instances.

So, for you to be able to see mbrubck's toots, they'd need to be imported to your home instances federated timeline first. The ways that can happen are detailed here.

It's definitely counter-intuitive, but the upshot is that, if you want to see everything on somebody's profile who isn't on your instance, you need to open their profile link in a separate web browser window instead of clicking on it from a client.
posted by tobascodagama at 6:07 AM on April 8 [1 favorite]


The ways that can happen are detailed here.

Thanks for that!

So, to make sure you definitely see toots from an account on another instance, here's what you have to do:

1. Remote follow the account.
2. Toot a link to a toot by the account you're now following.
3. Search for the URL of the toot you just tooted a link to.
4. Favourite and/or boost the toot in question, which now shows up in the search results.
5. Refresh the page.
6. Wonder why the fuck you just wasted fifteen minutes doing 1-5 just to get the most basic feature of a social network to actually sodding work.
posted by jack_mo at 10:38 AM on April 8 [2 favorites]


Wonder why the fuck you just wasted fifteen minutes doing 1-5 just to get the most basic feature of a social network to actually sodding work.

It works the same way as they did before big-data put everything into massively parallel, centralized machine rooms for ease of mining your messages. Messages propagate from server to server via peer-to-peer protocols using background processes. When those backround processes are overloaded (as they've been this week, since we're talking about bleeding edge software not yet tested for thousands of users per instance) messages get delayed.

Note than in practice, peer-to-peer messaging is generally proven more robust than centralized messaging. An Amazon administrator mistypes a single command, and half the Web goes down for a working day. But most of those protocols and servers had a decade or so of aggressive optimization while Mastodon has less than a year of development in it.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 11:41 AM on April 8 [1 favorite]


Also, private and follower only posts do not propagate the same way but will appear on the user's page and may appear in different post counts. The you could be improved to recollect this.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 12:07 PM on April 8


It works the same way as they did before big-data put everything into massively parallel, centralized machine rooms for ease of mining your messages.

Twitter is about to turn eleven at this point, and Facebook is even older. This is, I think, a legit sticking point. We have expectations about quality of service now, and we can’t just make a decade of ease-of-use disappear from peoples’ memory.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:09 PM on April 8 [2 favorites]


For the record, at this point I have bagged:

going_to_maine@mastodon.social
going_to_maine@mastodon.cloud
going_to_maine@toot.cat
going_to_maine@witches.town
going_to_maine@cybre.space

but only the first is really seeing use at present.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:23 PM on April 8 [2 favorites]


I am sticking with Octodon for now, but I FINALLY scored a mastodon.social account today!

GO ME!
posted by Samizdata at 1:32 PM on April 8


Going to Maine: Twitter is about to turn eleven at this point, and Facebook is even older. This is, I think, a legit sticking point. We have expectations about quality of service now, and we can’t just make a decade of ease-of-use disappear from peoples’ memory.

SMTP and IRC are pushing 40. HTTP (still a distributed peer-to-peer system) is 25. RSS (a pull system) a little over 15. Complaining about a known scaling problem that didn't exist before bleeding-edge software went viral, has been discussed to death over the past week, and is being actively addressed through optimization and improved configuration is a pretty dumb critique of how a social network is "supposed to work."

Database bottlenecks processing messages under heavy load result has resulted in delays. The developer has been excessively transparent about why that's happening. A centralized system would face the same scaling problems. (For that matter, the software was experiencing lag processing local messages.)

But I think expectations need to be adjusted a bit. You can't have the benefits of decentralization, including a local timeline, culture, and moderation policy; and also have complete transparency of communication between nodes. Hopefully as the system matures, message lag between nodes will be routinely minimal as it is with SMTP.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 1:40 PM on April 8 [1 favorite]


I was on Twitter early enough to see the fail whale on a regular basis. I don't think I've seen the failephant even once.

Also, nobody but the witches are actually worth talking to anyway. :D
posted by tobascodagama at 7:02 PM on April 8


My "home" timeline on Octodon didn't update for 2 days. I reloaded, jiggled the prefs, & finally when I added someone, it refreshed.

I FINALLY scored a mastodon.social account today!


How did you manage that? The front page still says it's closed to new sign-ups. Is this like the 2002-2004 sekrit midnight MetaFilter 5 sign-ups backdoor?
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:40 AM on April 9


I saw a toot, yesterday I think, that said they were opening up mastedon registrations for a bit. I snagged one (@vaguelyartistic) but I'm not sure what to do with two accounts since I'm already on octodon.
posted by Room 641-A at 6:48 AM on April 9


I'm @jessypie@octodon.social. Also jessypie on witches.town and yiskahbiscuit on oulipo.social but I think I'm going to focus on the Octodon one while I figure out if this is going to stick at all for me. I'll follow everyone who posted here when I get the chance to do that.
posted by jessypie at 12:29 PM on April 9 [1 favorite]


So...my instance appears to have changed the some of the appearance stuff - homepage is a new color, Toot button reads something else, etc. Is there a userstyle that would just restore everything to default?

I checked userstyle.org, but most of them were focused on width or "light" versions.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:11 PM on April 9




Oh, also Mark Frauenfelder at Boing Boing: “The promises and problems of Mastodon, a Twitter alternative” - though this is essentially just a link to Sean Bonner on Medium: “Taking a ride on Mastodon”
posted by Going To Maine at 2:21 PM on April 10


oulipo.social is the coolest use of this medium i've seen so far. Who'd think composing a toot could be a fun little creative challenge in itself? The instance even prevents you from posting if you include an 'e'. I'm over there as naxuu.
posted by naju at 10:27 PM on April 10 [4 favorites]


Apple Music had a "Mastodon Essentials" playlist featured the other day, and I thought it was very witty of them until I realized the band has a new album out. They appear to be having some fun with it.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:41 AM on April 11


oulipo.social is the coolest use of this medium i've seen so far.

This is brilliant: grounds for Oulipo.social instantiation forbid "that fifth symbol" -- inscription is without it.

What an honor for G.P., author of La Disparition. (translation for Anglos: A Void.)
posted by larrybob at 12:26 PM on April 11 [2 favorites]


I see what you did there :)

I love how there's nothing in the Oulipo instance that includes an 'e'.

For instance, if you change something in your profile, instead of having the ordinary message like "Your changes have been saved", it says "Your modifications took!"
posted by naju at 12:59 PM on April 11 [1 favorite]


A librarian friend of mine has been telling me about this while I'm on my social media Lenten fast (Twitter was definitely my worst social media vice and love). I am still kinda confused why you would sign up for multiple Mastodon instances? Is it sort of like how you can have one Slack app but have to sign up for multiple channels, and can have different user names in each one?

Also, has anyone made a librarian or MeFi Mastodon instance yet?
posted by mostly vowels at 3:25 PM on April 11




I am still kinda confused why you would sign up for multiple Mastodon instances? Is it sort of like how you can have one Slack app but have to sign up for multiple channels, and can have different user names in each one?

Ostensible reasons might include:
  • The thrill of claiming you signed up during some narrow time window, or before all the cool kids got in on it, etc.
  • You just like having your name.
  • You want to read the local timeline for instance X as opposed to the federated timeline that contains all of the people from the different timelines across the instances with which X federates.
posted by Going To Maine at 4:48 PM on April 11 [1 favorite]


Well, what the hell. I'm @nubs@octodon.social.

I've tried to follow everyone I found using #mefite search.
posted by nubs at 4:48 PM on April 11


According to @staticsafe@zombocloud.com, There is apparently now a toot search engine that searches all public instances posted on instances.mastodon.xyz

You can find at at tootsearch.com
posted by Going To Maine at 4:57 PM on April 11


(It is not a very good search engine.)
posted by Going To Maine at 4:59 PM on April 11


A bit late to the party, but I signed up as @postmodem@octodon.social.
posted by defenestration at 9:59 AM on April 12


I’ve been dismissive of the significance of local timelines, but given the relatively low volume of posts and the interface’s bias towards showing you a “complete” timeline, perhaps I was mistaken.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:32 AM on April 12 [1 favorite]


I've been thinking a lot about how different the culture is at mastadon than either twitter or facebook. It reminds me in many ways of old chatroom culture (minus the sex.. at least so far... can imagine a CYBER instance doing very well!)

Anyway, one nice thing right now is there isn't so much of a sense of popular people yet, although some folks are bringing their popularity as they come over from twitter.

Twitter popularity is very stressful for me... It's like if every time I went to a party, Keanu Reeves was sitting in one corner, and Noam Chomsky in another. I would just feel intimidated and very dull by comparison.

I wonder if Mastodon will be able to maintain this sense of, "Hi stranger, let's get to know each other!" as more people join and establish their personas there.
posted by latkes at 11:04 AM on April 12 [2 favorites]


Come to think of it, I feel like this is a comment I may go make on Mastodon and see what other folks think there...
posted by latkes at 11:05 AM on April 12 [2 favorites]


There is something freeing about Mastodon right now; you don't have the sense that people are posturing and trying to carve out their space as an influential person. Or at least, I don't. I know that the lack of verification and the inability to secure your username across instances is worrying for the celebrities and the media companies, and I hope it keeps them away because I'm finding the lack of "brand presence" means that things feel more natural and authentic. At least right now.
posted by nubs at 3:11 PM on April 12


App.net was that way too, at least in the circles I traveled, and it was refreshingly earnest and vulnerable. That's the only argument I've seen to convince me to try Mastodon rather than just wait for Manton Reese's thing.

I dunno though. This thing seems complex, and I burned enough brain cycles on Twitter and Facebook before I bailed on them.
posted by middleclasstool at 3:49 PM on April 12


I'm catsashimi@octodon.social.
posted by Cash4Lead at 7:52 PM on April 12


Joined Octodon. Still not sure what I joined. But we'll see. I wasn't sure about Twitter when I first joined back in 2009. sonicbooming@octodon.social
posted by Fizz at 7:57 PM on April 12


How many instances should one follow? Hmm. It's very early days of twitter. Lots of random new interactions. Who knows what will happen.
posted by Fizz at 8:23 PM on April 12


There's a MeTa about Masto now, if folks are interested.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:10 AM on April 13 [2 favorites]


Samantha Cole at Motherboard on oulipo.social: “It's Like Tweeting, But You Can’t Use the Letter E”
posted by Going To Maine at 12:05 PM on April 13


okie dokie it's the orb on kompakt @enformedepoire on octodon.social
posted by en forme de poire at 4:02 PM on April 13


Margaret Rhodes at WIRED: “Like Twitter But Hate The Trolls? Try Mastodon”
posted by Going To Maine at 5:53 PM on April 13


(cybre.space is opening registrations at noon, if folks are instance hunting.)
posted by Going To Maine at 11:10 AM on April 14






That Sarah Jeong is so smart and funny.
posted by latkes at 10:07 PM on April 14 [1 favorite]


Yassssssssss
posted by en forme de poire at 3:16 AM on April 15


John Henry at Hackernoon: "Mastodon Is Dead In The Water"
posted by Going To Maine at 11:01 AM on April 16


Yeah, that piece seems to miss the point.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:48 PM on April 16


I dunno - I think it provides a decent lens through which to view Mastodon. There are plenty of people in Mastodon’s user base who want to think of Mastodon as a Twitter killer, and understanding those concerns is important, especially if you want to understand how Mastodon might actually end up persisting.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:52 PM on April 16


I'm not quite getting a bunch of the problems that he claims will (or have already) sunk Mastodon. In particular, I don't think he really gets the big benefit of decentralization, or what Mastodon will likely look like in the future.

He says:
running and administering your own social server is friggin’ expensive. Gargron has put a ton of work into getting mastodon.social to 40k active users. He is funding the project via a Patreon to pay for server/living costs, but mostly out of passion... I should pause here and say, if you’ve used Mastodon and you’re not contributing to his Patreon, friggin’ do so... In short, I have no alternatives to mastodon.social because no other instances can offer credible site reliability guarantees without the promise of monetary incentive, and I haven’t seen paid instances of Mastodon or other GNU Social instances available yet.
And the tweetstorm he links to approvingly says:
For Mastodon to be an adequate twitter replacement, it needs a billion users, roughly. Will a billion people donate? I doubt it. Mastodon was huge fun yesterday; it was many of the best people from twitter, talking uninhibitedly, without boring and nasty ones. Today it's mostly unusable; the server can't handle the load. That's with an influx of thousands. What happens if millions arrive?
Well, tweetstormer, it's incorrect to say that "Mastodon... is mostly unusable". I was using it just fine through the octodon.social instance. It would be more correct to say that the mastodon.social instance was mostly unusable (for a day or two). If a demand for joining an instance is too high, the server host can close the instance to new subscribers. Whether that number is at 50 users or 50,000. mastodon.social can be shuttered and exist as a mere memory, but thousands or hundreds of thousands of instances can keep Mastodon as a social service running. It might be useful to think of it in terms of Slack groups - you wouldn't say that the shuttering of the most populous Slack group means the end of Slack. Instead, Slack exists as hundreds of thousands of Slack teams, some of them only a handful of members, some of them thousands. Now imagine (not the case, just hypothetically speaking) each Slack team is running a decentralized instance of the entire Slack software package on its own server. Slack the company could go belly up and as long as those Slack teams are still happily maintaining their own tiny version of Slack, all is fine.

And, Medium writer, it's incorrect to suggest that you should donate to Gargron if you want Mastodon to survive. Mastodon will survive just fine, whether it's implemented through mastodon.social or not. Mastodon is just an open-source software package that exists on github. Anyone can take it, modify it, and run it on their server. If you want your instance to survive, then you're probably better off donating to your server host rather than to the author of Mastodon.

That mastodon.social has hiccups with a large number of users on that instance doesn't really mean the death of the service. It just means Mastodon will likely survive as a whole bunch of relatively tiny instances, that might resemble Slack teams in scope. Some of those instances will decide they can't afford to keep the server running, and those users will abandon their accounts and move to another instance.

No instance can offer site reliability guarantees. You just have to get used to the possibility that you'll wake up one day and your instance will have disappeared, and your account with it. But no internet service can offer reliability guarantees. One day Twitter will be gone. One day Spotify will be gone. The likelihood of your favorite site disappearing is much higher than it lasting for decades. Given this, what's more disastrous - the sole, single Twitter instance with billions of people disappearing, or one Mastodon instance out of countless many disappearing?
posted by naju at 3:04 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


Well, tweetstormer, it's incorrect to say that "Mastodon... is mostly unusable". I was using it just fine through the octodon.social instance. It would be more correct to say that the mastodon.social instance was mostly unusable (for a day or two).

Sure, but this means that you need a userbase willing to understand and tolerate this. At present, Mastodon has that. If Mastodon wants to grow to Twitter-levels of use, it needs to build up that tolerance among adopters. As it is, if Mastodon grows through surges and spurts that take instances down, it’s going to be a problem. (Heck, just look through this thread and others where people are trying to figure out what instance to join, and why. It’s puzzling.)

And, Medium writer, it's incorrect to suggest that you should donate to Gargron if you want Mastodon to survive. Mastodon will survive just fine, whether it's implemented through mastodon.social or not. Mastodon is just an open-source software package that exists on github. Anyone can take it, modify it, and run it on their server. If you want your instance to survive, then you're probably better off donating to your server host rather than to the author of Mastodon.

Mastodon will survive if it develops into a healthy, well-maintained, OSS project. At present it’s maintained largely by one dude on a starvation budget. Funding Gargron isn’t just funding mastodon.social - it’s funding future development of both the platform and its mobile apps, at least until such time as a healthy community of contributors develops. No community, no platform. No platform, no servers.

And also - people do develop stake in their identities. The idea that if mastadon.social went away everyone would seamlessly spread themselves around the Mastodon-speaking fediverse is… unlikely. Being able to deal with that contingency is important.
posted by Going To Maine at 3:27 PM on April 16


I highly doubt it will grow to Twitter levels of use, but I don't think that it needs to. To the extent the author at that link is doing this, I think it's entirely a false dichotomy to suggest that either Mastodon is a Twitter killer with Twitter levels of adoption, or it's dead in the water.

In fact, I suspect that the built-in layers of limiting growth per instance is desirable. Mastodon will grow at the level it's comfortable with, or shrink to compensate for a lack of demand. And it will do so organically, more or less, without the concerns that come with profit motives. Rather than something like Twitter, which grew large enough that it went public, and now is struggling to increase levels of growth and turn a profit while its shareholders grow restless and contemplate radical restructurings etc. Only in the world of Wall Street can a social service platform have such a huge global reach, userbase, and influence and still be considered a failure, but that's exactly what happened.
posted by naju at 3:56 PM on April 16 [3 favorites]


I haven’t seen paid instances of Mastodon or other GNU Social instances available yet.

capitalism.party (the domain is a play on the previously-registered anticapitalist.party) is a Mastodon server that charges a one-time $5 sign-up fee. Sound familiar?

The admin, Nick Johnson, wrote his own take on Mastodon sustainability in terms of both economics and community management.
posted by mbrubeck at 5:40 PM on April 16 [2 favorites]


Only in the world of Wall Street can a social service platform have such a huge global reach, userbase, and influence and still be considered a failure, but that's exactly what happened.

My impression is that Twitter is considered a “failure” because it hasn’t generated revenues equal to the amount invested in it yet?
posted by Going To Maine at 8:37 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


"Failure," depends entirely on your quality metrics. I'm sure twitter is a success in terms of mass adoption, and certainly journalism's love affair with twitter comes because it's a search engine for soundbites and outrage on any topic. Twitter allows for "journalists" to submit stories without putting on socks and underwear. It even saves them the mess of properly understanding their sources for the purpose of proper paraphrase and quoting. But twitter is hardly universal. In my circle it's used for organizational promotion only, and all the sociability is on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, or Pinterest. That's a mess of a tangent to say that journalism's love of twitter as the gold standard for online sociability is likely driven by a bias of convenience.

But as a system that allows for one to build intentional communities, twitter is pretty much a failure. At some point, platform designers need to recognize that economies of scale benefit cultural hegemonies. The most extreme expression of that is the twitter harassment mob.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 6:09 AM on April 17 [1 favorite]


It seems silly to cite inability to scale exponentially* over just a few days as an indication that the platform will fail. Twitter took years to reach it's current active user levels. And there were plenty of fail whales along the way.


*Sorry eviemath if I'm using that word wrong!
posted by latkes at 10:09 AM on April 17 [2 favorites]


Here's a fun new account:

@WritingPrompts@mastodon.social

Up to a challenge? Write <500 characters flash fiction every day! Post your stories with a hashtag #writingprompts! Bot made by @rayalez.

Today's prompt: An up-and-coming super-villain disguises himself and joins the world's premier super-hero team, planing to take them out from the inside. However there is one problem: he is beginning to suspect everyone else on the team is doing the same thing.
#writingprompts #writing
posted by Existential Dread at 3:10 PM on April 18 [2 favorites]


I highly doubt it will grow to Twitter levels of use, but I don't think that it needs to. To the extent the author at that link is doing this, I think it's entirely a false dichotomy to suggest that either Mastodon is a Twitter killer with Twitter levels of adoption, or it's dead in the water.

“Failure,” depends entirely on your quality metrics. I'm sure Twitter is a success in terms of mass adoption, and certainly journalism's love affair with twitter comes because it's a search engine for soundbites and outrage on any topic. Twitter allows for "journalists" to submit stories without putting on socks and underwear.

To continue on this note about Twitter as a “failure” or not and how one considers success for Mastodon, a personal note. I asked a friend if they were going to get a Mastodon account, & he gave me back a list of three prominent Twitter women of color and said that he’d probably switch over when one of them said that they were joining up. That’s fine and good, but as near as I can tell those accounts exist to engage in discourse with the broader Twitter populace; if one of those users switches away from Twitter, it’ll mean that Mastodon has gained enough of a user base to make it not worth engaging with Twitter and/or that Twitter has become enough of a troll-hole with inadequate blocking tools such that heavy-duty users give up on it.

This seems loosely possible but unlikely and as such it means that my friend will probably never come over. That doesn’t make Mastodon a failed platform, but I think it identifies a specific instance where the broad understanding of what the platform is and its intended purpose is creating a failure mode for me.
posted by Going To Maine at 5:11 PM on April 18 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I think Mastodon and Twitter are basically aiming at different goals here. And it's okay for people to use one and not the other, and it's okay for people to use both! I do a lot more personal engagement on Mastodon (in part because I'm using a pseudonym), but Twitter is really useful for following news and such.

The world is big enough for two sites.
posted by Chrysostom at 5:50 PM on April 18 [1 favorite]






Eugen Rochko (@Gargron) posted his April Patreon update: April post-mortem: The rise and rise of Mastodon.
posted by mbrubeck at 1:54 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


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