How I’m Using Mastodon Now

This essay is not a review of anything, it’s not a polemic, it’s not aimed at convincing you to act or refrain from action, it’s not a comprehensive introduction to a subject — it’s certainly not advice! It’s not essential, it doesn’t generalize, and I’m not even choosing my words carefully.1 I’m only writing it to avoid writing the essay I’m writing to avoid writing the essay I know I have to write. But it’s more than just a way to avoid writing other stuff, it’s some things I wish I could have read about Mastodon a few months ago, so I thought I’d write them down for other people.

First, I had to choose a server and make an account, which I did through the web. None of the advice I found about making this choice helped me at all, so I’m not repeating it, but it is necessary to choose one. First I joined, which I chose just because a bunch of people I knew on Twitter were on it. I’m not sure what was lacking, it might just have been that I didn’t yet understand how to use the client software, but for whatever reason it didn’t quite scratch that itch, you know the one I mean. Next I tried for essentially the same reason, a bunch of people I knew on Twitter were on it. It’s working really well for me, but as I said, it’s just as likely that I now know my client better. Someone I know chose from the start and were happy. If I had done that I feel like I would have been happy with that choice too.

Then I had to choose a phone client. I tried a few, but I don’t remember which ones. I settled on Fedilab because it’s on F-Droid, even though I ended up installing it from Google for some reason. It’s nice, and I especially like the robust multi-account support, which even the official web interface doesn’t do well (as far as I know). But it wasn’t until I learned to follow hashtags that I began to feel at home.

When you follow a hashtag the tagged toots2 show up in your timeline just like followed accounts. It essentially lets you construct your own toot-promotion algorithm from subjects that interest you. 3 Once I got a critical mass of hashtags my timeline really started popping, I started finding people to follow, and all of a sudden recently I realized I hadn’t even noticed that I hadn’t used other socials in like a really long time and I liked it! Then I had to put Fedilab in my app blocker so I could get some writing done. And now I feel at home in the Fediverse, where I’m Maybe I’ll see you over there some time!?

  1. This is the only intentionally false statement in here.
  2. Not a name I would have chosen.
  3. In some important technical ways this is not like an algorithm in the social-media-vernacular sense, but it helps me to think of it that way.

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