Mastodon: A New Hope for Social Networking

A few weeks ago, I tried in earnest to get set up and running with Mastodon. Unlike Twitter, which had little to no learning curve for me, Mastodon was nothing but confusing and frustrating at every turn. After spending way more time there in setup mode rather than using mode, I decided I’d put up with Twitter’s admin antics for now - and it was a relief to actually go back and use it. I don’t like Mastodon and won’t return. YMMV.

Agree with bjmajor; there is no (apparent) way to locate a particular mastodon group such as TWIT’s. I’ll wait until it’s less obtuse.

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I think way too much is made of the alleged difficulty of picking a server. As the article points out, the initial choice of server doesn’t matter that much, because it is pretty easy to change later without losing followers.

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Something I’ve not fully understood yet, is how does the forwarding work if you change server? Do other instances still contact your original server which then points them to your new server? Or is there some forwarding table that’s propagated amongst instances so it’s an internal lookup for each instance (e.g. @jzw@old.server ==> @jzw@new.server)? It seems the former would fail if the original server goes offline completely. And what happens if you move server a second time? I guess I’m struggling to get my head around the mechanism that allows one to change servers.

I’m no expert here, but based on a few web searches (including this article):

  • You can always do it manually. Back up your account (all your data except for actual posts), then restore it to a new account. This leaves it up to you to tell others about the new account. The old one remains active.
  • There is a redirect mechanism. When activated on an account, its profile will be updated with a redirect notice and will be excluded from searches. No other data is changed. The old account will not be fully usable, but you can still export data from it. You can cancel the redirection later.
  • There is a migration mechanism. This moves all your followers to the new account and sets up a redirection. Followers on servers that support the “Move” capability will automatically unfollow the old account and follow the new one. Followers on other servers will have to do it manually.
  • There is also a delete mechanism, which blows away everything. Restore is not possible and the old name can’t be used for new accounts. But there may be cached data on other servers.


There shouldn’t be a multi-hop access for followers (assuming you migrate and don’t just redirect). They will automatically be updated to the latest address.

If the original server goes down or if the old account is actually deleted, then that redirection will go away. Followers that haven’t yet updated will be stuck trying to figure out where you went.

Similarly for your posts. Posts are not moved to the new server, but remain available on the old one. If the old server goes down or the posts get deleted there, then they become unavailable, except maybe if another server has them cached.

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I’m if anybody wants to link up. My impressions have been:

  • It’s friendlier than Twitter.
  • I’ve had more followers and responses in a short time on Mastodon than I have in 9 years on Twitter.
  • It’s all very fleeting, so except for the flittering of responses I get, there is no action unless I go back in and do stuff.

So ultimately I don’t find it very interesting.

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I’m curious what you mean by this, and what you were expecting? I’m not a big social media user, but after following some interesting people, there’s always something to read.

Just ++ what David wrote. You can just go to your account settings on the existing account and make a few changes. I think the missing piece is that you need to export a list of whom you follow to import on your new account, which is just a few clicks to export on the old and import on the new.

It’s not a big deal to migrate, though you might lose some people who follow you. So it’s best to post some warning and potentially get the new account set up before discontinuing the old one. We’ll likely see continued improvement, too: pain points will keep getting sanded down as development proceeds.

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If you don’t make fresh posts, your older ones are rarely discovered and replied to (is maybe what Doug means, but also worth pointing out separately). Twitter, sometimes people find a thread or post from years before. Mastodon is much more timely and ephemeral because of the lack of ways to find old messages or have them surface through an algorithm or your own choice!

For most people, going to one of the main, free general instances is straightforward and you can just use the web app. The overhead of finding an instance is likely not important for most folks unless you are strictly trying to find a community, in which case a Discord server connected to a group, topic, podcast, fandom, is probably better.

Actually, in that sense, it’s not that much different from Twitter. So my semi-complaint is more about that kind of social media rather than Mastodon in particular. If anything, Mastodon is friendlier. Even though I’ve been a member of Twitter since 2009 I was never addicted to it and would go months without using it. Perhaps just sharing a link to an article sometimes.

Yes, if I go in and search #tags then I do find things to read and reply to. And just this morning I got another follow!

Well, Glenn, you finally made me do it! I am a long-time user of Twitteriffic app and loved it. When it was unceremoniously blocked from Twitter, that was the last straw. I have been using off and on since 2018, or so, and like many of the users there. But I was looking for something with a broader reach to still be able to see the folks I have been following on Twitter. And, this Mastodon looks like it does the trick. I do not have much to learn on the UI as I have been using CoSo for so long, so I am settling in for the long run.
Thanks for the article and tips!

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If you liked the experience of Twitterific (like TweetBot) then watch Tapbots as they made a client for Mastodon, Ivory, which I just found is in the App Store.

Better move quickly if you want to find your Twitter friends on Mastodon:

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I finally signed up for Mastodon yesterday ( I initially used the two still active apps mentioned in the article to populate my following list. Still, I found it easy to search in Mastodon for the other folks I follow on Twitter and quickly add the ones I really want to follow.

The process took about 10 minutes.

I just moved ti a different server this morning (after discovering that the admin of my server has not responded to any communication for over a month) and followed the instructions here:

So, yes, your old server had a redirect in case your followers’ accounts have not yet seen the notification of the move of your account. You have to create separate CSV files of muted accounts, lists, accounts that you are following that you can then upload to the account on your new server. It was pretty easy for me.


Really? Huh, I guess I never thought of Twitter as being any sort of historical record other than what was linked externally.

Your posts on Twitter are:

  • Searchable from Twitter across your entire timeline
  • Ingested by other companies and used in various kinds of database and searching products
  • Available in Google searches (to some extent, not all tweets)

I’ve gotten likes and replies to tweets I sent years ago. Not many, but then I don’t tweet much either.


If they are searchable, then that makes perfect sense.

My personal blog has several years-old articles that continue to get hits every week. I assume this is because search engines deliver it up to new readers all the time.