Picking a server: Use the search function at joinmastodon.org. It’ll take you a while, but that’s just because you have a lot of choices. Remember that the vast majority of servers can “talk to” each other and, if you decide later to move to a different one, you can do so with a process that automatically transfers over your lists of followers and those who follow you. (It does not migrate posts, however.)
Client software for Apple devices: On the Mac, I’ve found nothing better than the Tweetdeck-like “Advanced web interface” available from logging into your chosen server in a browser. You can do that on iOS and iPadOS, too, but there I personally suggest either Metatext or the official Mastodon app, in that order. Some still use Toot! but lately I hear that it’s no longer being developed actively; indeed, I’ve heard similar complaints (although not as pointed) about Metatext, so YMMV for sure.
I joined Mastodon last week, and sort of randomly picked a server (Instance). It seems ok, but I wonder if it can scale. Now that I’ve spent some time at Mastodon, I might consider moving to somewhere else, maybe something in the US.
TidBITS should host its own instance, perhaps as a benefit to subscribers!
I imagine the influx of new users to Mastodon will spark some new apps soon, currently I mostly use the web version, or MetaText on my iOS devices.
A nice thought, but hosting a public Mastodon instance brings with it a host of content moderation issues, even if access were restricted to the highly intelligent, erudite, and unusually attractive members of the TidBITS community. I suspect Adam has all the moderation duties he’d ever want just taking care of TidBITS Talk.
The thing that stopped me was there seems to be no way of starting a Mastodon account for all the forums at once. If it’s possible (and it should be possible) it’s not clear at all from the App and the sign-in process that this is so.
Also in terms of the forums themselves, all I found was a short list of very specific and “small” topics of no real interest to me.
Whatever else Mastodon is, it’s no Twitter alternative, and it’s not very well explained or user friendly considering the massive opportunity of the moment they are facing.
They aren’t forums. Those are lists of specific Mastodon servers or instances. Think of it like email; you have gmail, he has an iCloud account, she has a private domain mail account, but you can all send and receive email from and to each other.
You join a particular Mastodon server; maybe it’s connected to a locale or subject you are interested in, or maybe it was open or you received an invite. Once you have an account, you can follow anyone else (they may need to approve you), though you will need to copy and paste the full address of someone not on the same server as you (Their profile makes this simple with a button to copy their address).
It’s not Twitter, but it is similar; more like early Twitter.
Just bear in mind that “they” are a loose association of mostly volunteer server operators, users, and developers. Things in the fediverse aren’t likely to ever be focused and monolithic – which is both its strength and its weakness.
Any account (almost) on (almost) any server will be able to follow/interact with accounts on (almost) any other server, but subject to the whims of the particular server operators.
In many (certainly not all) respects, the Mastadon “fediverse” network reminds me of the Usenet messaging system whose “newsgroups” were one of the most popular ways to discuss everything prior to the rise of social media.
So far, nothing’s changed on twitter that affects me particularly. I don’t have a check mark and don’t want one, so the sub fee isn’t a worry. Mainly the only effect to this point is the hyperventilating by people I follow on what might happen. I realize it’s different for everyone, but I don’t see a need to switch to anything else at the moment.