It took me quite a while to realize that I have been here before.
When Google+ (the greatest social network I have used, by the way) was killed, somebody spun up Pluspora as a refuge. It was a Pod of something called diaspora. It was nice in the beginning, then gradually I interacted with it less – since, TBH, there wasn’t much content, and I also didn’t post much. Eventually, the person running the Pod died, and their family ended up switching it off.
So when that guy bought Twitter and proceeded to run it into the ground at unprecedented speed, the number of Twitter postings saying “find me on Mastodon @email@example.com” multiplied on my timeline.
Also, at work, we occasionally had a moment where we all shared our gratitude not to work for Twitter. But I digress.
Being a NetBSD dev, it seemed natural to me to register an account on mastodon.sdf.org. SDF was founded as a Public Unix System, giving out free shell accounts to people. They have been running on NetBSD for many years and form a valuable part of the NetBSD community.
The beginning was rough: The SDF Mastodon server had surpassed 15,000 users, just days after breaking through the 10,000 mark. Service was slow, there were lots of errors, and it was generally not super pleasant. However, within a few days, the SDF admins started adding a LOT more hardware to the service, and these days, latency and functionality are top-notch. I think instead of paying $8 for a blue checkmark, that money is better spent with a recurring SDF donation!
I alluded to this earlier, but diaspora and Mastodon are part of the Fediverse, so they federate. Just like in email, you can follow people from other servers, even using different software. For instance, Mastodon has a 500-character limit for posts, but you could follow someone using Plume for blogging, and their full blog posts would appear right on your timeline. Or I suppose you could follow someone’s PeerTube channel and have their videos appear on your timeline.
This is also how I eventually realized “Mastodon” and “diaspora” are really the same network: in the federated (global) timeline, a number of bots and people I already knew appeared.
If you are looking to come over to Mastodon, you probably want to do the following things:
- Create an account on some server. It’s nice if you like the “theme” or the other people on the same server, since then you can look at the list of all public local posts when you are looking for something to read.
- Add your new address to your Twitter account – name, bio, link, all are fine.
- Head over to https://fedifinder.glitch.me and let it find the Fediverse accounts for all the folks you follow on Twitter. You can download a CSV and import it in the Mastodon settings page, making you follow everyone automatically.
diaspora still exists. Hilariously, if you follow the “Sign up now!” link on their homepage, you eventually arrive at https://diaspora.fediverse.observer/go&software=diaspora, which lists … no open Pods for signup.