Join the herd on Mastodon

May 2017 update: I haven’t yet found a good workflow for cross-posting from birdsite to Mastodon, and I still don’t have a large network on Mastodon, so I have mostly stopped using it. I’ll keep checking in and posting now and then, but I do not see it becoming my new mainstay any time soon. Regardless, I will continue giving feedback in hopes that it will evolve into something that is “sticky” for me because birdsite is birdshit.

A few months ago I saw Aral Balkan tweet about a new social media app called Mastodon. With a Tweetdeck-like interface and compatibility with the GNU Social federation, I found the app easy enough to use, with a large network of interesting people to follow. I followed some people, sent my first “toot” (I am not sure if messages were called a “toot” yet) and… did not ever use the app again. This is not unusual: I’ve signed up and played around with many decentralized social apps before and most often I won’t use them more than once.


Today, something unusual did happen: I logged back in. I am officially a repeat user of Mastodon. Today, a bunch of people joined the network and it even got some press. So I dusted off my login credentials and went to check in on how things are going. Mastodon hasn’t changed much in the intervening time period but there are some subtle yet important improvements (such as 2FA support – gg).

I haven’t had a chance to look through every issue on GitHub or review every companion app so these might have been suggested or done already but here are the features that would make the app stickier for me:

  • A mobile client
  • Post scheduling
  • Post to/from other networks (including the big centralized ones)
  • Add search columns (and other types of columns that Tweet deck offers)
  • Mute whitelist (so you will see toots from people on your whitelist who would otherwise be muted)
  • Easy self-host options for muggles (e.g. Sandstorm is great)
  • Blockstack support (decentralized DNS, PKI, storage)
  • Search-by-word (this was intentionally not done for
  • Data analytics and visualization tools (I ❤ dataviz)
  • And of course, a bigger network.

I’m probably missing a bunch of other things that I won’t notice until I use Mastodon more. There is a tool you can use to find the people you follow and who follow you on Twitter that helps with bootstrapping your network. I will see if I can add Mastodon to my Blockstack ID so people who use that can find me on Mastodon. And I might even continue using the app to find and share content. Toot me.

Email is probably the most popular decentralized messaging protocol. Add yourself to my email contacts if you would like to stay in touch!

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