Paolo Amoroso's Journal

fediverse

I joined Mastodon over a month ago. But I've been seeing a noticeable increase in my follower count since Twitter announced Elon Musk acquired it. Many people are likely checking out the fediverse.

I wondered how these new followers find me, as Mastodon has no algorithmic recommendations and few discoverability tools. It turns out they see my toots boosted by other users, monitor hashtags I tag my toots with, or browse the Trunk for the Fediverse lists. I rely on similar resources for populating my Mastodon feed.

This hints the Mastodon community is proactive, not passive and apathetic like the many Twitter users who consume only what the algorithms feed them and don't step outside of the platform's walled garden.

#fediverse

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A week ago I joined Mastodon and soon faced a common hurdle: following enough interesting users to populate my feed.

It's not as easy as it seems as Mastodon has no algorithmic recommendations and doesn't support full-text search of toots. Although Mastodon instances come with a profile directory, this coarse filter lumps together mostly random profiles loosely tied by a generic match with the topics and themes an instance is about.

How did I get started?

I seeded my feed by browsing the results of hashtag searches for topics I'm interested in. This produced a handful of people to follow.

Next, for a finer grained filter, I browsed several more profiles from a number of sources:

  • people followed by the users I follow
  • people boosted or mentioned by the users I follow
  • people who follow me, reply to, or boost my toots
  • hashtag searches I monitor
  • local timeline

When I came across a promising toot from these sources, I reviewed the author's profile for consistent posts with similar quality or themes. I discarded the profiles who toot only occasionally content matching my criteria and followed the others.

Now I'm following a dozen users. Although not many, these profiles are a good result after just a week. And the toots in my feed are enough for generating a compounding amount of relevant candidates to iterate the process.

#fediverse

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To dip my toes in the fediverse, yesterday I joined the mastodon.technology Mastodon instance for people interested in technology. I signed up as @amoroso@mastodon.technology but my journal was already in the fediverse as @paolo@journal.paoloamoroso.com

I had been meaning to do it for a while. My decision to dial down on Twitter gave me the motivation to sit down and try the platform.

Using Mastodon

I read the Mastodon user documentation, but playing with the system a bit was enough to get me up to speed with most of the features.

The website is clean and smooth and lets me do the customizations I really need, such as setting a light theme and changing the language to English. I like the TweetDeck-like advanced web interface. I initially planned to try a Mastodon client for my Android devices. However, the PWA works so well on mobile that it's good enough for me.

I expected more confusion between the local and the federated timeline, but figuring which is which and where to get what I want turned out to be easy.

The community

Within hours of joining Mastodon and posting two toots, I gained 2 followers and a few favorites and boosts. I also got into a couple of interesting conversations. On Twitter, it would have taken me months to reach a comparable level of engagement.

My first impression is people on Mastodon care about sharing and discussion rather than building a following like on traditional social platforms. It's also a place where more people who do cool niche projects and stuff hang out. For example, I immediately followed Techy Things, a computer engineering hobbyist who designs and builds his own Z80-based single-board computers.

I'm looking forward to exploring the fediverse in more depth.

#fediverse

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