why I join Mastodon

I’ve joined Mastodon four times. The first was in October or November 2016, on mastodon.social, when @shel first joined and told all of her friends; I stuck around for a bit, but only had two or so friends on it (@shel and @ebeth), and I had a large social group on Twitter, so i went back to ‘birdsite’ (Twitter, per bits of the fediverse).

now I’m back.

a couple of months ago, I picked @rowanlupton@mastodon.social back up1. In the time since, I’ve made more of an effort to explore the fediverse2 than I did when I first joined.

the local and federated timelines

The things that make Mastodon feel really special are the local and federated timelines:


The local timeline shows you everybody on your current instance. That is, if I look at my local timeline on toot.cafe, I’ll see “toots”3 from everybody with a toot.cafe username. This is the timeline that really exemplifies an instance’s personality/character.


The federated timeline shows toots from everybody who the instance knows of. To continue using toot.cafe as an example, that means that I can see toots from any user who is followed by somebody on toot.cafe. That is: if I use my @rowan@toot.cafe account to follow @user@mastodon.social, everybody on toot.cafe will see toots from @user@mastodon.social on their federated timeline. In my experience, the federated timeline tends to move too fast for me, so I just keep local open.


###toot.cafe Shortly after logging back into mastodon, I joined toot.cafe because I’d heard it was a good place for web development (it is!). I made some good connections there, including @cwebber, who co-wrote the ActivityPub spec, @sivy, @npd, and more, all of whom have helped me in varying ways throughout my development. I try to keep my computery stuff on here, so that people can filter what they follow from me.

###social.coop Around the same time as rejoining Mastodon (I’m fuzzy on timelines) I’d started contributing with Good Good Work. I’d been hoping to work with Little Weaver for a while already, so the coop idea wasn’t new to me, but I’m still surprised how quickly I caught the coop bug4. I’ve had a great time reading people’s thoughts on coops and anticapitalism and met @ntnsndr5. This is the instance where I’m the least active, but when I start figuring out coops enough to have more feelings about them, you can bet this is where I’ll be. I wrote a blog post about how I think that social.coop captures the spirit of mastodon

###cybre.space With each instance that I’ve joined, I’ve found a new community of people. On toot.cafe and social.coop, they have had specific shared interests — web development and cooperative businesses. Cybre.space is different. Here, the community6 is curated by common philosophies/ways of being. It feels much easier to make real friends here than on the other instances; less like a tool, and more like a social group. My account on cybre.space is set to private by default, because it’s my most personal space.


Mastodon is a special place to me. It looks a bit like Twitter, but the character is completely different; because of small design decisions like “not showing post likes by default” it becomes less of a popularity contest, in favor of being about the people. Mastodon, besides the technical excitement of federation, is, truly, a social network for humans.

you can follow me on the fediverse on toot.cafe, social.coop, and/or cybre.space.

  1. and started working on an ActivityPubimplementation in Python [return]
  2. the collection of Mastodon, gnu.social, and other interoperable servers are commonly referred to as the ‘fediverse’ [return]
  3. posts [return]
  4. “wait, but, surely [insert thing] should be a coop too?!” [return]
  5. a friend of Good Good Work [return]
  6. local timeline [return]