MeFites on Mastodon? April 12, 2017 6:57 PM   Subscribe

I'm curious about the hot new Twitter alternative--it's decentralized, it's noncommercial, it's anti-Nazi, etc. But as with all social networks, it's only as good as the people you know on it. So if you're on Mastodon, tell what you think of the service so far, and if you recommend any particular instance.
posted by Cash4Lead to MetaFilter-Related at 6:57 PM (82 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

A lot of discussion of it in the thread on the blue: A tweet pretends to be 140 chars, but a toot is 500 flat.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 7:02 PM on April 12 [3 favorites]


Also this Ask might interest you. Personally I'm on social.tchncs.de.
posted by snap, crackle and pop at 8:29 PM on April 12 [1 favorite]


A lot of people seem to be on witches.town, which gives me the impression of having more of a particular ethos/culture than many other instances.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:32 PM on April 12 [1 favorite]


So far, I really dig it; it's got a bustling, loosy-goosy Early Days feel to it with a lot of fragmented self-organizing going on within and across instances as folks figure out what the heck they're even doing with it.

It's been interesting to me watching all the hubbub the last week as I've spent time more seriously on it, after having popped in several months ago from a MeFi friend's suggestion to just mildly kick the tires when things were quieter.

I'm on mastadon.social (as @joshmillard), the OG instance, because four months ago that sorta was the instance, and it's been nice the last few days to see the crazy traffic ease up and the maintainer tweak some stuff such that it's no longer falling over under the attention is just sorta behaving the way its supposed to. We were having huge delays in the feeds for a few days, stuff showing up 1-3 hours after it was posted in timelines and so on, but that all seems better now.

I've seen a lot of mefites hanging out on octodon.social, a few on witches.town, a few on mastadon.xyz, and a smattering of other instances; I really like the federated "just pick one" idea behind it where this doesn't have to be a do-or-die sort of decision, though, and am curious to hear more field reports.

Also, noting that several folks have asked about adding mastodon to the "also on" social stuffs list for our profile pages. We're planning to add it when we get a chance.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:35 PM on April 12 [7 favorites]


Many of the folks in the thread signed up for octodon.social, but as noted witches.town is proving popular as well; since sign-ups are only open for 30 minutes at 8 PM Paris time, you’ll need to be prompt. I rather like cybre.space, though sign-ups seem closed at the moment. toot.cat has a lot of cat pics.

The particular federated instance you are on doesn’t really matter unless you decide to closely track the local timeline (contra the federated timeline). If you know who you want to follow (e.g. MetaFilter folks, friends from college, people you know from Twitter) you’ll see them wherever you go.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:40 PM on April 12 [4 favorites]


I'm hopeful about the future of specific interest focused instances (knitterstodon, blackstodon, recipestodon, butchstodon, could be anything! Seems like endless possibilities!) but for now even though I signed up in two instances I'm just sticking with octodon.social. We'll see where it goes.

I really appreciate the chill atmosphere. I do think there are some design features that minimize some of what is hardest about twitter. So I'm optimistic. I just logged into twitter for a few minutes and was struck by how stressful it is compared to mastodon.
posted by latkes at 9:16 PM on April 12 [1 favorite]


Is there a way for me to view a whole community feed that I don't have a login for? So can I look at all the toot.cat toots? Or do I need to create an account there to do so?
posted by latkes at 9:17 PM on April 12


Is there a way for me to view a whole community feed that I don't have a login for? So can I look at all the toot.cat toots? Or do I need to create an account there to do so?

No, unfortunately you need a login to see a local timeline.
posted by Going To Maine at 9:22 PM on April 12


Did you catch this post about oulipo.social? A bunch of us got Mastodon accounts using oulipo.social to play around on it (this is my tootin' account). Warning: figuring out what to say is proving difficult.
posted by knuckle tattoos at 10:00 PM on April 12 [6 favorites]


I like the larger character limit, it feels a bit more like old-school blogging when you can expand on a thought without a slightly clumsy Twitter thread. I'm not sure I have a long-term use for Mastodon yet but in the short-term I'm just following every Mefite I find to get a kind of Mefi-specific social network. Here's me.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:12 AM on April 13 [1 favorite]


I just can't do it. I've been burned too many times investing resources building a network. Ello, Diaspora, Path, and on and on. The value in a network of strangers for me is

1) a minimum mass of interesting users and
2) The likelihood that other users of interest will join conversations.

Having a hundred different tiny social networks with vague specializations all of which will require my care and feeding in order to get value proposition until they go IPO seems like a Jaron Lanier nightmare to me. For this, I prefer to spend time on the less toxic corners of Reddit.

Clearly Twitter has jumped the shark, but there it is.
posted by softlord at 4:52 AM on April 13 [9 favorites]


I am really out of the loop on social media (that's what comes from several years of a transient lifestyle), but as Club Penguin and GeoCities both appear to be down and I've long forgotten my usernames and passwords for them anyway, I might give this one a go to pass the afternoon. Is Telnet access an option?
posted by Wordshore at 6:37 AM on April 13 [4 favorites]


It needs to be significantly better than the hot old Twitter alternative, viz., simply avoiding Twitter or anything that looks even vaguely like it.
posted by Wolfdog at 6:45 AM on April 13


mastadon.social
mastadon.xyz

This is my one issue with the name Eugen chose- people aren't sure how to spell it. Two Os, folks, just like toot.

I'm pretty sure mastadon.social used to redirect to mastodon.social, but it now 302s to instances.mastodon.xyz. mastadon.xyz is some shifty looking javascript that I'm not going to bother figuring out.
posted by zamboni at 7:07 AM on April 13


mostodan
mastadoon
moistodon
posted by Wolfdog at 7:09 AM on April 13 [4 favorites]


I just try to remind myself that people affectionally call it "masto" sometimes.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:10 AM on April 13 [2 favorites]


@rickscully as always. Maybe I will keep a tab open now that cortex and mathowie are there.
posted by terrapin at 7:38 AM on April 13


"(e.g. MetaFilter folks, friends from college, people you know from Twitter) you’ll see them wherever you go."

I couldn't get that tool to allow me to log into to Mastodon to check.
posted by terrapin at 7:39 AM on April 13


how you masta-doin'?
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:42 AM on April 13 [2 favorites]


Come crawling fasterdon
posted by Wolfdog at 7:45 AM on April 13


@bondcliff on octodon.social

I don't really get it, I guess. I mean I know it's Twitter minus Nazis and corporations and whatnot, but it reminds me of setting up a desktop with Linux where you can do 75% of what you did before but the other 25% is a pain in the ass, or only sometimes works, or you need to google for days to figure something out or whatever and it's not worth it so you just go back to what you did before. I'm just kind of at the point in my life and career in IT where I just want things to work and be easy and don't have time to figure out stuff that isn't easy. It's 2017, everything should be easy but it's not and I have no patience for things that are not easy.

Yes, I should probably register @oldmanyellingatcloud. I get that.

I haven't given up on it yet, I'll give it more of a chance but I really like good ol' Twitter and Facebook and I have blocked and muted enough that my exposure to Nazis is very limited.
posted by bondcliff at 8:04 AM on April 13 [7 favorites]


I'm @daveprovost@octodon.social. I also think this is really interesting, and for now feels quite different from Twitter. There are some interesting questions that will arise as (if?) Mastodon continues to grow, and I think it is quite possible that the "end" state of Mastodon looks very different from Twitter.

More like a collection of huge group chats that are connected to each other in complicated and ever-shifting ways. I don't think there will ever be a single collective consciousness like you have on Twitter - instances and individuals will be too quick to defederate from each other (often for very good reasons, probably sometimes for silly reasons) for that to develop.

Maybe a decent analogy for what I am picturing is like the difference in the TV landscape pre- and post-cable. The monolith that was network TV became fractured into dozens of little fiefdoms that are barely aware of each other's existence.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:07 AM on April 13 [1 favorite]


I'm @gilrain@witches.town. I'm very low-volume, but what I post will generally be weird humor and photos of my cat.
posted by gilrain at 8:14 AM on April 13


The last thing the world needs is a twitter clone. Even without Nazis and corporations, there's still 5 zillion other flavors of assholes to deal with. Besides, the problem is the format itself. It's not conducive to deep thinking, just smartass sound bites.
posted by jonmc at 8:36 AM on April 13 [1 favorite]


I'm @nubs@octodon.social. I'm finding it interesting; it has a wide open feel to it right now where everyone is kinda trying to see what it might do/be. It might be nothing and collapse, or it might become something. I think there's value in the attempt; as a society, we seem to be very quick to ditch ideas and new things like this very quickly because it's different or not as easy as the old tools we're used to. I've read a few "think pieces" from the media about how this is doomed to fail and horrible and all of that, and I'm left to wonder if that is because of the federated nature of the setup - the media/brands/famous can't establish an account and use it to promote their brand as easily, while the rest of us plebes might just be enjoying a platform where we don't feel pressure to be "on".
posted by nubs at 8:38 AM on April 13 [1 favorite]


One thing you should know before signing up is that, as far as I can tell, there is no way to delete your account, short of hollering for help from the maintainer of the instance. I played with it for a while and now want out, but the fact that I can't terminate my account at will by hitting a button is a serious flaw. If I had known about the absence of this absolutely basic function before signing up, I wouldn't have bothered.

(Yes, I know it's an open issue. That just means the service isn't anywhere near ready for public use, in my view.)
posted by informavore at 8:38 AM on April 13 [2 favorites]


I'm not a very technical person. Can someone explain what these "instances" are? Like what are these things things in Going To Maine's comment:

Many of the folks in the thread signed up for octodon.social, but as noted witches.town is proving popular as well; since sign-ups are only open for 30 minutes at 8 PM Paris time, you’ll need to be prompt. I rather like cybre.space, though sign-ups seem closed at the moment. toot.cat has a lot of cat pics.

Other comments list still more sites. Are these different services? Or versions of the same service?

I was just excited that Emperor of Sand is the top-selling album in the US this week, but apparently it's not that Mastodon.
posted by Sangermaine at 8:40 AM on April 13 [1 favorite]


So an instance is a server running a copy of the software that makes Mastodon stuff go. It's roughly equivalent to running an email server, or running a usenet server, except in this case what's being handled on the server is something along the lines of running your own version of twitter. An email server stores and sends and receives email data, allowing folks with local access to it to read the emails that it's storing and communicating with other email servers to exchange messages to and from remote users on other servers. A Masto instance does the same thing except with 500-char messages, user profile data, follow/star/boost info, etc.

So each instance is its own thing that could operate independently of the whole collection of Masto instances; if you only ever want to look at messages from people on your instance, you're all set. And an instance could set itself to be totally isolated like this.

But part of the appeal here is being able to communicate between instances, in a sort of automagical way. So most instances are communicating with most other instances; this collection of inter-connected instances is the "federation" (or "fediverse").
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:47 AM on April 13 [4 favorites]


And the fact that different instances can operate in slightly different ways is both an interesting thing about the platform and one of the places where strange bumpy things might happen as folks sort out the edge cases, though that strangeness is likely to be limited to interactions with instances with unusual configurations rather than endemic; it seems likely that most instances will stick to a fairly stock set of configurations and functionality and limit their distinctions in practice and functionality to cosmetic and local cultural ethos type things.

The likeliest pain point right now for federating content from many distinct instances seems to me to be disagreements over whether and when and how to (a) use and (b) in the face of disagreement, enforce things like warning etiquette, NSFW filters, and general topical prescriptions and proscriptions. It's fine (and a good feature, I think, of this decentralized, many-instances setup) that different servers/subcommunities can have their own rules and be self-determining about their limits and focus and ethos and so on, but the toolset for dealing with unreconcilable differences between any pair of instances is probably going to need to be built out and tested some more before there'll be better solutions available than just full on cutting the communication cord between various sets of instances to make the problem go away.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:54 AM on April 13 [2 favorites]


I'm not a very technical person. Can someone explain what these "instances" are?

I'm not technical either, but my understanding is this:

-the code for running mastodon is open & accessible, so anyone with the right skills and knowledge can get it and set up a mastodon server/instance.
-each instance can set it's own rules in terms of what is/isn't acceptable and allowed (for example, the instance that doesn't allow the letter "e" as a silly example, but many instances are setting rules around behavior/norms and may also form around specific interests/communities)
-you have a timeline that only shows what is happening on your "local" instance, but there is a "federated" timeline that collects what is going on from (potentially) all the other instances. But each instance admin can decide what other instances get into the federated timeline and/or decide if they want to be part of the federated timeline. So instances have control over that aspect and can block themselves off from as much or as little as they choose.
-you can follow people on other instances - for example, cortex is not on the same instance I am, but I can follow & interact with him without problem. I'm assuming I couldn't follow someone from an instance my instance decided to block, however.

It creates lots of interesting possibilities, but also some challenges. You can't control your username across all instances, for example, which is why some celebrities (like William Shatner) don't like it; and as of right now, there's no way to delete your profile & content easily, as mentioned above.
posted by nubs at 8:57 AM on April 13 [2 favorites]


Is Telnet access an option?

You joke but there is a command-line client. (Twitter also has one.)
posted by Going To Maine at 9:16 AM on April 13 [2 favorites]


I'm not a very technical person. Can someone explain what these "instances" are? Like what are these things things in Going To Maine's comment:

1. An instance is the equivalent of an email server. (Closer to a usenet server, but email is more broadly known.) Your identity is @username@servername. @jane@mastodon.social is an person on mastodon.social. @june@witches.town is a person on witches.town.

2. Instances/servers have a shared local timeline. Everyone on mastodon.social can see @jane's public messages.

3. You can follow people on other instances/servers if you know their ID. @jane follows @june. @june's public messages appear on @jane's personal timeline.

4. Public messages "known" to an instance/server are visible on a federated timeline. @jane follows @june. Everyone on mastodon.social can then see @june's public messages.

5. Instances/servers have administrators who do different levels of moderation, ranging from blocking individuals to entire instances/servers.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 9:17 AM on April 13 [2 favorites]


I am @larrybob@octodon.social and I also created an account at @larrybob@oulipo.social.

I am enjoying the playfulness. The other day I tooted "All Mastodon is #WeirdMastodon."

I'm adjusting to the 500-character post size and it's more conducive to micro-blogging than Twitter, in that you can get more of a mini-essay in via one post, rather than stringing them together. It has a different rhythm than Twitter.

There's a mix of Early Days feel which also for me is mixed in with nostalgia for past Early Days. People have pointed out similarities of the federation model of Mastodon to Fidonet, which allowed sharing of messages between Bulletin Board Systems (BBS.) And also similarities to UUCP and Usenet newsgroups in terms of passing on information from system to system.
posted by larrybob at 9:59 AM on April 13 [3 favorites]


The last thing the world needs is a Twitter clone

This is perhaps worth a little pushback, though less from a standpoint of what the world actually needs and more from the position that the platform is seeing a small boom.

GNU social, the base on which Mastodon is built, has been around for a while. Very few people were paying attention to it because no one needed a wild and woolier version of Twitter, which has made a dedicated practice of our big having oversight. Also, given the number of times I've seen people link to twitter threads and the number of ways twitter has artificially relaxed their character counts, its becoming clear that the 140 character limit is a meh constraint.

Mastodon's little blip of popularity suggests that people want moderation, or at least regulation of content. They are leaving Twitter for a service that is selling itself as being more constrained. It also has longer posts, which is nice and keeps threads short, but the sell is the ability to ban folks and put content warnings around things. The sell is politeness.

That doesn't mean that Mastodon will become the biggest thing. It might dwindle down to near zero users. But it provides a further incentive for corporate social networks to get their acts together and enforce decency.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:07 AM on April 13 [4 favorites]


Does no one else have the "toot" = "fart" word association?
Maybe it's a parent with young kids thing, but if hear "@jane tooted", I'm not thinking social media.

I hope it does well, it has a lot of features that Twitter should steal but "toot"?
I can't get past it.
posted by madajb at 11:33 AM on April 13 [3 favorites]


I think I can assure you that everyone using mastodon has that association.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:04 PM on April 13 [6 favorites]


I mean you get to call Mastodon shade "subtooting." Subtooting! That's a feature.
posted by knuckle tattoos at 12:15 PM on April 13 [2 favorites]


Is there any particular reason people in the main thread mostly chose octodon.social over e.g. mastodon.xyz?
posted by en forme de poire at 12:27 PM on April 13


@dubovsky@mastodon.network

Toot, toot.
posted by introp at 12:38 PM on April 13


Does no one else have the "toot" = "fart" word association?

In my head I've been pronouncing "toots" like the term of endearment, as in "tootsie".
posted by Cash4Lead at 12:45 PM on April 13 [1 favorite]


> Is there any particular reason people in the main thread mostly chose octodon.social over e.g. mastodon.xyz?

Timing and opportunity, mostly. When the options all look the same to you, may as well go where everybody else seems to be going. Anyway I'm currently @ardgedee@octodon.social
posted by ardgedee at 12:47 PM on April 13


Mastodon's little blip of popularity suggests that people want moderation, or at least regulation of content.

To build on that a little further, I think that what Mastodon really offers that an actual "Twitter clone" like Ello doesn't is a sense of community.

Instances have a lot of ways they can differentiate themselves. A large number of them seem fine with just serving as a load balancer to mastodon.social, but others have differentiated themselves by promising an (even higher) degree of moderation, an appealing theme (witches! cyberpunk!), a funny or useful gimmick (bots only! posts with the letter e will be deleted!), or a specialised topic (functional programming).

The killer feature is that, unlike all of those thousands of single-topic PHPBBs from the early 2000s, users on any instance in the fediverse can talk to users on any other instance in the fediverse. This is what cortex was talking about. If I'm on witches.town, and I see a cool person on cybre.space, I can go follow them, at which point their posts will end up in my Home feed and in my instance's Federated feed. It naturally builds up from a small community (your instance) to a larger one (the fediverse) by pulling in these other users in a curated way.
posted by tobascodagama at 1:49 PM on April 13 [6 favorites]


@CBrachyrhynchos@mastodon.social

The platform fills a microblogging itch I have to share stuff without putting in the work to develop a full blog post. I can't do that on Facebook because Facebook provides only thin walls between my friends, family, and co-workers. I can't do that on twitter comfortably without the threat of alt-right harassment mobs. I can't do that on tumblr comfortably due to certain flavors of "social justice" harassment (anti-trans, anti-bi, anti-queer, and anti-ace to be specific.)

It's possible that might go south at some point in the future. I'm moderately skeptical that social networks can scale without serious problems. Communities need microclimates. But it might prompt the next generation of tools that allow for the development for social microclimates.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 2:42 PM on April 13 [2 favorites]


I love the reminder that there are still ways of having that "wild, untamed frontier" sense of possibility and connection-forming that characterized much of the internet for me in the 90s. Worth checking out just for that.

It needs a critical mass before I'll really spend a bunch of time on it, like all other newfangled social networks - I really don't like the early adoption crowd for any social network, all techies and UX designers and journalists, and endless explication of the platform itself, all of which I find terminally dull - but I'm impressed with the feature set, particularly the CW and NSFW functionality. I'm intrigued by the whole instance and federation thing, but I'm not convinced it will actually be sustainable if the masses come on board. Despite the good talk about banning Nazis, I predict a similar situation to Reddit possible in the medium itself, with a huge amount of drama, instance-brigading, free-speech-vs-SJWs nastiness, and etc. (There's already a slew of instances that are dedicated to trolling, hatespeech, kiddie porn, and who knows what else - the good instance hosts know to ban those instances, but not all of them will) I'm not liking that instance hosts have so much visibility into users' private messages, and can set their own rules on how the content is treated or sold to third parties - it means you have to know your instance hosts and trust them to be good people, essentially. Also, it's too easy for your instance to go belly-up without warning, with no easy way to transfer or archive your account. A way to move your account (with all your friends, toots, etc.) to another instance painlessly would be nice, or have a single universal account that can work on multiple instances. Until such features exist, I wouldn't get too attached to anything.

Anyway, will be keeping an eye on it! I'm @naxuu at octodon.social and oulipo.social, holler at me
posted by naju at 4:02 PM on April 13 [5 favorites]


(There's already a slew of instances that are dedicated to trolling, hatespeech, kiddie porn, and who knows what else - the good instance hosts know to ban those instances, but not all of them will)

To a certain extent, it's a distinction without a difference, but most of those are actually GNU Social instances. Mastodon is based on GNU Social, and it's entirely possible for a Mastodon instance to federate with a GNU Social instance and vice versa.

So, that explains the difference in culture a bit. The GNU Social part of the fediverse was attracted to the whole idea of 100% unregulated speech, the Mastodon part is much more interested in community moderation. Not that anything stops anybody from setting up shitposting.nazis as a Mastodon instance and trying to join the fediverse, but yeah.

I expect the federation connections to switch from using a blacklist model to a whitelist model at some point, at least as an option for instance admins to choose.
posted by tobascodagama at 4:26 PM on April 13 [1 favorite]


One thing you should know before signing up is that, as far as I can tell, there is no way to delete your account, short of hollering for help from the maintainer of the instance. I played with it for a while and now want out, but the fact that I can't terminate my account at will by hitting a button is a serious flaw. If I had known about the absence of this absolutely basic function before signing up, I wouldn't have bothered.

Even if you deleted your account on the instance, your federated toots - that is, your posts that have been sent to other instances - would still be there, on the other instances. You couldn't delete them any more than you can delete emails you've sent from the recipient's inbox.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:05 PM on April 13 [3 favorites]


It is possible to propagate deletions across servers, at least within the Mastodon part of the fediverse. I'm not sure whether this uses Atom Tombstones or some other message format, and whether it's also supported by other OStatus implementations. Of course, just like with blogs or Twitter or anything else on the public internet, there's always the possibility that someone still has a saved copy archived somewhere.
posted by mbrubeck at 9:00 AM on April 14 [2 favorites]


I'm @nopetopus@octodon.social, although I haven't really figured out yet if I'm going to do anything there. (As for "why octodon?" it's a combination of "I'd heard of it", "I like cephalopods a lot", and "I took a look at a few instances and some of them had 'about' type pages about who was running them and what their general adminning/modding stance was, and this one seemed like it was run by someone on a wavelength that I recognized as not that far off from my own.")
posted by Stacey at 9:51 AM on April 14 [1 favorite]


(There's already a slew of instances that are dedicated to trolling, hatespeech, kiddie porn, and who knows what else - the good instance hosts know to ban those instances, but not all of them will)

To a certain extent, it's a distinction without a difference, but most of those are actually GNU Social instances. Mastodon is based on GNU Social, and it's entirely possible for a Mastodon instance to federate with a GNU Social instance and vice versa.

It is, I would argue, a distinction with a difference: content warnings and NSFW filters on mastodon will not be noticed by other GNU Social instances and will be stripped out. The affordances in Mastodon, to whatever extent they were added on post-facto in a jury-rigged way that needs repair, are intended to shape community norms differently than is done by other GNU Social instances.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:35 AM on April 14 [2 favorites]


I have to admit, I don't understand the decision to allow GNU Social instances to federate with Mastodon instances. It's intended to be a new platform with its own community norms; so why not act accordingly and make the Mastodon federated universe completely separate?
posted by naju at 12:13 PM on April 14


Maybe ask @gargron
posted by Going To Maine at 12:35 PM on April 14 [1 favorite]


I don't think that locking in to a single software project running on a single language is a good idea. I've actually been thinking of running a small GNU Social node partly because I'm marginally more familiar with php and mysql than I arm with ruby and Postgresql. Also, GNU Social instances vary in culture as well.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 2:26 PM on April 14


tenforward.social, you guys
posted by knuckle tattoos at 6:23 PM on April 14 [4 favorites]


GASP can we also have Riker googling on Mastodon
posted by en forme de poire at 3:17 AM on April 15 [2 favorites]


how do i dismount mammoth
posted by Going To Maine at 12:36 PM on April 15 [1 favorite]


I am @fobo@octodon.social, and I am a big fan of Mastodon, or at least instances like octodon, witches.town, cybre.space, etc. It's full of creative folks sharing whatever it is they do, photos and short fiction and 8-bit art. It's supportive and interesting and most people appear sensitive and willing to use CWs to accommodate one another. Hell, CWs are fodder for some great jokes too. Facebook is humblebrag central, Twitter is an anxiety attack personified, but Mastodon is really enjoyable.
posted by Existential Dread at 3:35 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


It would be nice if you could follow an instance, rather than just a person.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:00 PM on April 16 [2 favorites]


I'm @adrianhon@mastodon.social - signed up around the same time as cortex did, although I'm now thinking I'll move to a smaller instance when I find the right one. It's neat being on the OG instance but 50,000 users makes the Local and Federated timelines mostly unusable. It'd be much more fun to be on a smaller instance with 100-1000 people...
posted by adrianhon at 3:51 PM on April 18


@rhorsman@octodon.social

I like how Masto is quiet without being dead.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 1:51 PM on April 19 [1 favorite]


Here's me. I've been grabbing up everyone in this thread...
posted by prismatic7 at 9:02 PM on April 19 [1 favorite]


For what it's worth, I'm @oneswellfoop@octodon.social but still unsure what I'm going to do with myself here.
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:34 AM on April 20


@jad@octodon.social

It remains to be seen if I'll still be using this in a week, but for now, yaaaay
posted by duffell at 6:20 AM on April 20


Considering Metafilter has a core competency of selecting and utilizing content moderators, a reputation for longevity and stability, an engaged user base, and past success with shutting down new user registrations periodically to manage growth, I should think you have an opportunity here to start a metafilter.com mastodon paid service for $5 a pop lifetime.

That's the simple approach. The complex approach is also having a mastodon.metafilter.com subsite that shows local (not federated) posts that meet the criteria for federation appearing similar to posts on the blue, with responses appearing similar to comments within each post.

Just sayin'.
posted by davejay at 11:40 AM on April 20 [2 favorites]


(and then you could engage with a mastodon.metafilter.com thread through the website, just like a normal thread, but only if you had a mastodon account for metafilter.com...)
posted by davejay at 12:08 PM on April 20


probably we'd just want to sync that up with the gopher server somehow
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:25 PM on April 20 [3 favorites]


So, there is in fact an instance that charges a $5 entry fee, but nobody's using it because it's called capitalism.party.

One reason that I think entry fees work for Metafilter but might not for most Mastodon instances is that Metafilter supplements its income from new registrations with ad revenue. Mastodon has no standard technique for serving ads, so you'd have to come up with your own method of serving ads to web users and also measuring engagement with those ads.

Not an impossible request; Mastodon is built on Rails, so it's pretty extensible, and I think most of those problems are likely already solved with various Rails gems. But so many Mastodon users are particularly excited to belong to web communities where advertisers and #brands have no sway over the platform, so I think you'd have an uphill battle convincing people to move over to a paid instance that uses ads.

Of course, it's possible I'm wrong and that Mastodon is cheap enough to host that, at least for the first year or two, an instance could be run off the entry fee with no ads.

Another reason that I don't think up-front charges for creating Mastodon instances will work is that, as of now, there's really no good way to "preview" an instance before you join. $5 to make a Metafilter account is an easy sell, because you can lurk the site and read all the posts and comments, which gives you a good idea of the value you're getting from your $5, especially compared with all the other link aggregating sites available to you. You can't do that yet on Mastodon, and I don't think entry fees (or even subscriptions) will catch on until you can.
posted by tobascodagama at 12:29 PM on April 20 [1 favorite]


At present, most instances are federated. Paying for an instance doesn't make sense unless it lets you have something exclusive. You'd have to make a hard sell to show that the local timeline is worth paying for.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:40 PM on April 20 [1 favorite]


there's really no good way to "preview" an instance before you join

As it happens, someone has rigged up an instance previewer.
posted by Cash4Lead at 7:09 PM on April 20 [2 favorites]


One reason that I think entry fees work for Metafilter but might not for most Mastodon instances is that Metafilter supplements its income from new registrations with ad revenue. Mastodon has no standard technique for serving ads, so you'd have to come up with your own method of serving ads to web users and also measuring engagement with those ads.

That's why I like the idea of having the federated feed be echoed as yet another set of content (as a subsite), as those pages can have ads like the other subsites do.

At present, most instances are federated. Paying for an instance doesn't make sense unless it lets you have something exclusive.

In my head, I'm thinking about one of the linked articles, above, that suggested you're taking a big chance setting your personal address up with any given federated instance, because you don't know how they're going to moderate and how likely you are to be perma-banned without recourse. MetaFilter has a long, known, mostly public-facing moderation track record, and ditto how the banhammer lands, so your $5 basically pays for an address without those moderation/banning unknowns.
posted by davejay at 7:03 PM on April 24 [1 favorite]


In my head, I'm thinking about one of the linked articles, above, that suggested you're taking a big chance setting your personal address up with any given federated instance, because you don't know how they're going to moderate and how likely you are to be perma-banned without recourse. MetaFilter has a long, known, mostly public-facing moderation track record, and ditto how the banhammer lands, so your $5 basically pays for an address without those moderation/banning unknowns.

I love the idea that reputation of a site or moderator would be this important, but I just don’t know if the Mastodon fediverse is shaping up this way; moderation isn’t particularly stringent, and the more that people follow each other across different sites the less the identity of your site matters. That said, everything is still in a state of flux and some kind of balkanization could well emerge.

One interesting example of this kind of reputation mattering now: on cybre.space of the instances where I have an account, the GNU Social Site sealion.club has been silenced in the federated timeline. (This seems to be a pretty common block, and given their Gamergate theming and the slogan “We are a federation of microbloggers and shitposters who care about free speech” I can see why.) However, it turns out that @chr, the instance’s founder, appears to havean account over there. Now, possibly this is a deliberate bit of crappy mimicry by some troll (quite possible), or perhaps a good admin needs an account everywhere, but in the long-term knowing that your admin does indeed care about your interests will matter. At some point that could mean an actual legal contract, perhaps.
posted by Going To Maine at 3:55 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


(The admin apparently knows nothing about this, so let’s call it trolling. Nonetheless, it stands as a hypothetical.)
posted by Going To Maine at 4:22 PM on April 25


On a related note, we’ve also seen a mastodon server casualty, the sort of thing you’re likely to get when someone is throwing together an instance for kicks on their own time. RIP, rabbit.zone:
Hi I accidentally ran docker-compose down on the db instance so all the data is gone and I don't really feel like running a mastodon instance anymore. You can find a list of instances that are more likely to stay around at https://instances.mastodon.xyz/. Also you can follow me and yell at me about this at @dra@mastodon.social
So yeah - dependency, uptime, and recoverability are all things I can see people needing to pay for.
posted by Going To Maine at 4:26 PM on April 25 [2 favorites]


(It’s a bit hilarious to see all of the instances at https://instances.mastodon.xyz/ that are reporting nearly 100% uptime without also reporting how old each instance is.)
posted by Going To Maine at 4:28 PM on April 25


The most recent update to iOS Mastodon app Amaroq (1.1.0) is able to allow a person to switch between multiple instances.

It took me a bit to figure out that now you switch between local and federated timelines by clicking in the upper right when you are in either the local or federated timeline. This swaps the icons for local and federated between the upper right and bottom left.
posted by larrybob at 5:46 PM on April 25


I'm a little late here, but I've jumped on the bandwagon. @scruffy

I joined sleeklounge.com (and like 5 more because I didn't really understand what the heck the instance thing was all about for a little while). Seems to be all right so far.
posted by scruffy-looking nerfherder at 9:55 AM on April 26


Metafilter: Seems to be all right so far.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:53 AM on April 26


Sure, I'll jump in. I'm rodneylives at mastodon.cloud.
posted by JHarris at 6:21 PM on April 26 [1 favorite]


If you're the sort of person who likes Twitter in theory but in practice finds it to be a full-on psychological assault, will Mastodon appeal to you? I deleted my Twitter account because it felt like a space where behavior that would otherwise get you labeled as a miserable, petty emotional vampire in most other circumstances was the baseline mode of interaction. Like, I realized after enough instances of a screenshotted thread from six months ago captioned with "remember when i told this total fucken moron that the album they said was good is actually stupid middlebrow garbage" or a cheap rebuke that had 1K retweets because it contained the phrase "my good bitch" that maybe it wasn't a great environment. You might say that I was following the wrong people, but that sort of thing didn't seem to be isolated to any particular sub-niche that I cared about, even the ones that were nominally primarily concerned with being humane and inclusive. So is Mastodon that?
posted by invitapriore at 8:54 PM on April 26 [1 favorite]


No, I don’t think so. But there are caveats to that:
  • Mastodon is still not very popular. As it gets bigger, I imagine the federated timeline will get increasingly abrasive, because people like abrasiveness. As it is, I suspect that there’s not really a good way for jerkishness to go viral yet.
  • There might be some really gross stuff going on but it’s in Japanese or French or Spanish so you just can’t read it.
  • You won’t see a lot of “my good bitch” yet, but there are sassy users around who use the platform as a medium for saying the things they wish they’d said.
  • There’s definitely a lot of “capitalism is the worst” types of burns, and there have been a few fights over the quality of the discourse, whether things are misogynistic or racist, etc. So people have opinions and provide some acid, but that happens here as well.
  • People can theme instances around whatever they want, and some instances have more-or-less abrasive framings. witches.town and anticapitalism.party are pretty sassy, I think - though pretty explicity anti-misogynistic in their framing. By contrast, toot.cat is mostly about pictures of cats. wandering.shop tries to be like a local sci-fi convention. If you find an instance that’s got a deliberately laid back vibe, it’ll be laid back. Besides, the smaller instances have like 100 people on them, so being a high-profile jerk doesn’t yet fly.
posted by Going To Maine at 9:18 PM on April 26 [2 favorites]


I am explicitly looking for communities that are actively anti-capitalist, anti-racist, and anti-misogynistic, for what it's worth -- I think that
Twitter's emotional corrosiveness is orthogonal (often ironically) to those positions.
posted by invitapriore at 9:26 PM on April 26 [1 favorite]


I'm @sldownard@olifantje.net. So far this node seems pretty quiet except for quite a lot of posts in Spanish, which I can't read, which makes the local feed a little boring. But I have earned a fave already, for a post about stuffing my face with fresh blueberries, so apparently we are few but we are bound by the universality of sale berry love.
posted by sldownard at 11:25 PM on April 26


I am explicitly looking for communities that are actively anti-capitalist, anti-racist, and anti-misogynistic, for what it's worth -- I think that
Twitter's emotional corrosiveness is orthogonal (often ironically) to those positions.


That might prove to be the case with Mastodon, or it might not - certainly it’s the talk on many instances, so you should be able to find something to try. I am unclear, however, to what extent these propositions have yet been put to the test on any instance.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:33 PM on April 26


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