Using Mastodon Social Media

Here are a few quick notes to help some friends understand Mastodon as a replacement for Twitter.

  • You know how you can get text messages on your phone from people who have different kinds of phones and use different cellular providers? That’s how Mastodon works. People run lots of Mastodon servers. Some are big, some are small, but they all speak the same language. You can sign up on one server and still follow and interact with people on other servers.
  • Finding the server you want to start on may be the most difficult part right now. I found one related to roleplaying games. There are hundreds of them, but only a few show up on the Mastodon Social website.
  • If the server you are on decides to shut down, you can easily transfer your whole Mastodon account and everything to another server. It it built into the system.
  • Different servers have different rules. No one person owns all the servers. No one can buy Mastodon.
  • The web interface for Mastodon looks a lot like Tweet Deck if you switch it to the “advanced” version. You can set up columns for the post that happen locally on that server, for the people you follow, for a list of people your follow or a list based on topic. You can follow the entire universe (Fediverse) of Mastodon tweets if you want (I don’t). This allows you to curate your feed.
  • There is no algorithm in Mastodon deciding what you should see.
  • There are no suggestions of stupid shit.
  • If someone you follow boosts (retweets) stuff you don’t want to see, you can set it so that you don’t see boosts from that person.

The mobile app does not allow as much customization, but it is still better than Twitter for most of the reasons above.

Here’s a screenshot of my Mastodon page (below). I’m using it mostly to follow people in the tabletop RPG world. Those on my home server show up in the Local Timeline. Those I follow on other servers are all in a list of “Gamers Elsewhere” I created, and show up in that column. You can change the order of the columns, turn them off, etc.


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