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Looking into Masto thinking about how to make it work...

Axel Dürkop @xldrkp

@Downes Do you mean how it could gain momentum and attract more twitter users? Or how to use it in a certain "educational" way?

· SubwayTooter · 0 · 1

@xldrkp It's not so much whether masto attracts more twitter users, it's whether it functions equally well. I'm still using Twitter more. Not that I use Twitter a lot either.

Can Masto be a global 'chat room' in a way twitter tried to be but ultimately failed?


Not sure what you mean with functions equally well compared to Twitter. I agree, Twitter failed as there is little discussion, more vain one way postings and a lot of negative vibes. Would you say it is a question of technology and UX/UI to make Masto work or one of social contracts and rules of usage?

I must say that 500 chars can lead to discussions based on arguments not on statements. That's a great chance here compared to Twitter.

@xldrkp At this point I'm thinking UX/UI. Of the four columns, only one is useful (the notifications). All I can do is see notifications and reply to them. I don't think I'm communicating at all with people in other instances (no idea how to know).


As I understand the logic here it is neccessary to have some people follow you from other instances and then appear in the timelines of those instances with toots of high visibility. As most people follow back you'll soon could have an instance overlapping bubble and are visible on the federated timelines. From this point on communication offers can start.

My approach here was to first look up user names I knew from Twitter and follow those I found.

@xldrkp Yesh. But there's no clear way to follow a person from another instance (except by chance should they show up in the federated timeline (at least, I assume this is the case)). So they have no way to follow me, either.

It's as though Mastodon defined 'community' as those people using a specific Masto instance rather than as a collection of people.

@xldrkp @Downes Well I guess that, just as back in the day I discovered people via 'blogrolls' on various sites I visited, so we should spend time doing that kind of thing.

This doesn't just have to be an open source decentralised version of (what) Twitter (has become).

@dajbelshaw @xldrkp

Right. There's no equivalent functionality here.

@xldrkp @Downes Twitter and other Silicon Valley companies have to show user acquisition and growth, hence the constant exhortation to upload your address book into their silo.

But here, of course, none of that matters.

@dajbelshaw @xldrkp

No, true. And there's no reason we should upload our address book to the silo here. But we should be able to share lists (privately?) with each other.

Which we sort of can do - I click on your name, then click on 'followers', and see the list. But it's only a local list - we're still stuck in our local instance.

@xldrkp @Downes Yes, that is a shame. I wonder if it's actually a design decision, or some kind of technical limitation? Doubt it's the latter.

I did an experiment a few years ago on Twitter where I only followed 150 people (after reading about Dunbar's number). More recently I've used lists for that on Twitter.

There's definitely something to be said for being intentional about who we connect and converse with, both in person and online.

@dajbelshaw @xldrkp

Dunbar's number is about right as an upper limit on the number of people you converse regularly with (versus 'follow').

I think it's a design feature. There are APIs - it may be that the developers looked to 3rd party applications to create multi-community communities. I don't know. But I'm sure it's not a technical limitation.

Except: the problem of multiple accounts on different instances.

@dajbelshaw @xldrkp @Downes

But here you have people from three instances in a conversation, so there's that.

I have found people to follow by recommendation: someone I follow boosts something from elsewhere into my timeline. The rough formula for this: I started with a mix of about 20 active users, and their prompts created just enough steady growth in recommendations that I developed my home timeline to run at the right pace for me.

Hope this is helpful.

@xldrkp @Downes @katebowles Yes, likewise. I think I actually follow everyone on my instance (<100)

@katebowles @xldrkp @dajbelshaw

So OK, I didn't notice people were on different instances. Still don't know how to follow them. ;)

I find that my timeline varies from running at 10 posts a minute (when someone I follow is in a conversation) to one post in a couple days (when they're not).

@katebowles @dajbelshaw @Downes

Yeah, quite similar to what I did. And I found interesting people I would never have found if I had searched for them.

I also did the "look through other peoples' follower list" thing.

@xldrkp @dajbelshaw @Downes

I think that's a big part of my mastodon experience: other interesting people I would never have found by looking. The human algorithm has introduced much more variation than Twitter's endless recommendation of "people who look a bit like you".

@katebowles @dajbelshaw @xldrkp

Oh yeah, don't get me wrong, I hate the way Twitter suggests complete and utter strangers to you (aka 'people who look like you', as you say).

@Downes @xldrkp @dajbelshaw

This method of slightly random introduction feels a bit more like sliding onto a bar stool next to someone you slightly know, and then after a while they introduce you to the person sitting the other side of them.

It's agreeable because it's not happening at speed dating speed. It's a quietly expanding circle.

@katebowles @dajbelshaw @xldrkp

And I think we come back to: all of this would be a lot easier if the interface weren't so awful.

I'm still only using the middle column. The left column shows my posts, but I don't really need that. I think the right column is trying to show a threaded discussion list right now, but it can't decide whether I'm in one conversation or three, and anyways it's in chrono order to it just keeps putting the old posts at the top.

@Downes @xldrkp @dajbelshaw

What do you have in the right column? (The right column either shows what you searched on or selected -- a person or a hashtag or a threaded conversation -- or the local or federated timeline.)

I find it useful for looking back over long running conversations, or persistent hashtags.

@katebowles @dajbelshaw @xldrkp @Downes Kaye, like you Use it to look at threads, but also to look at individual's posts and there threads.

@katebowles @Downes @xldrkp @dajbelshaw The left column for me shows all the posts of people I follow, not just my own posts. And the right column is as Kate says--it switches based on what you choose to show there.

@Downes @katebowles @dajbelshaw

Concerning the interface: I don't like it either. There is another instance called that appears a lot more like Twitter or Quitter.

Subway Tooter is an Android app that I got recommended by @socrates , the admin of my instance. It has the feature to have more than four slots that can be arranged in desired order - or deleted.

@xldrkp Just tried the Halcyon implementation - that's some lovely work - not that I particularly like the Twitter interface, but this is beautifully done.


I agree, that's a problem. But for me the choice to register on "" was that I heard it should be a place for scholars to meet. So, it was the dedication of the instance that attracted me.

Then, the question might be not which individual to follow but to visit another instance with a certain dedication or character that promises to be interesting. Like a club or bar you go to because you hope to meet interesting people.

@xldrkp Yeah but now we've simply created a new way of creating silos.

@Downes I think there is nothing wrong with people defining virtual places as some kind of home. But those become silos if it's not possible to easily connect outwards and inwards.