At the end of 2022 I was experimenting with Mastodon. I tried a bunch of different servers, the API, libraries and clients. I even made a bot and deployed it (shout-out to the awesome hachyderm team!). This article summarizes some social media gotchas I came across.
Willkommen in Deutschland
Unlike big tech that’s based in US - Mastodon is managed by a German non-profit company. This includes the software itself, the main server mastodon.social and some other servers like mastodon.online. So, while it’s also possible to pick a different instance hosted in US - be aware that by signing up for the main server you’re obliging yourself to comply with German law. Here’s a listing of instances that can be helpful
Different clients, different feature coverage
Mastodon is not only decentralied at the server level, but also at the client level. There is the official web client, mobile clients and different unofficial ones. Unofficial clients are worth trying out, as the default mobile clients lack features. For example, I had better experience using Tusky on Android than the official client. Here’s a comparison of clients
Other people can see when you were active on Mastodon - and unfollow you if you’re inactive. You can do it too. Go to https://<your_instance>/relationships i.e. https://hachyderm.io/relationships on the web client and it would show you the interface. Worth experimenting with!
Hashtags => global discovery
Unlike Twitter - content on mastodon isn’t globally searchable just by text. Hashtags is how global discovery is done - so be sure to add them to your posts. For example, “Looking for a job” won’t return you global results, but using hashtags like #HachyJobs or #Hiring will.
Liking doesn’t promote content as strongly
While on Twitter liking a post affects the popularity of the content and it’s possible to see “liked by” on the timeline - favouring (in Mastodon lingo) doesn’t work as strongly. Want to really push the content? Boost the content (retweet in Twitter lingo)