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Mastodon: vitalize the timeline

Mastodon or the wider Fediverse are getting little boosts once in a while. New users often ask how to start and find interesting people here. Let me try to help out:

Timelines

/images/Mastodon/timelines.png
Local

As a new user you usually start by registering an account on an existing instance. Start visiting your local timeline to see what your instance neighbours are posting.

Federated

The universal timeline differs very much between instances. Depending on setup, daytime and interests the federated timeline can be more or less productive or even usable. You should give it a try but be prepared for lots of spam, inappropriate, dull and NSFW content.

Profile directory

The profile directory hides a pretty useful overview of active users on your and other instances. It is not necessarily activated on every instance.

Note

If you do not wish to be listed in the profile directory, you can deactivate that function in your profile settings Profile -> Appearance -> Suggest account to others.

Hashtags

The search function still leaves much to be desired so hashtags are the way to at least find something.

You can either search directly by typing in the search bar in the left column or visit the URL <instance>/tags/<tag>.

If you use the advanced web interface, you can pin a tag as separate column.

Conversely, this means that you should use hashtags yourself in your own posts to be able to be found by others.

People

With a little clicking and scrolling you should be able to find some profiles to take a closer look. If you don't have a clue where to start, you begin with following your own instance admin (go to the 'About' page).

Aside from posts/toots these are some entry points when looking at a profile:

  • Is the profile currently used? Mastodon has experienced some hypes here and there, many people move their profiles to other instances or have backup accounts - there are a lot of deserted profiles.

  • Who is the profile following?

  • By whom is the profile followed?

  • Which interests does this person have (short bio, featured hastags)?

  • Are there any more interesting profiles in the profile directory of this instance (see top navigation bar on any profile page)?

/images/Mastodon/profiledir.png
Trunk

Another user directory sorted by interests is Trunk. You can send a request if you want to be included.

You are basically leaping from tree to tree so bring some time and sit down.

Bots

People aren't everything. The Fediverse is based on free software and weird folks so of course there are bots. They've even got their own instance at botsin.space.

Regarding the predominantly serious issues being discussed on Mastodon bots can have the potential of cheering you up.

Become active

On Mastodon you don't just get entertained without own efforts. This is how you start:

  • fav what you like

  • boost what you really like

  • reply - a silly, funny, smart answer, a question, a "Thank you", what do you have to lose?

  • complete your profile in the following order: avatar, short bio, links, featured hashtags, pin one or few(!) relevant toots to your profile

  • create an #introduction toot and introduce yourself to the community

  • toot even if you think you are talking to a black hole

My personal and completely subjective tips

Do your own posts

Profile timelines that consist of boosts only are tedious, I tend to follow the original then.

Everydayness

Write something about you, something funny, profane, embarassing, ordinary, how was your day, how about a photo from outside? Better share a really silly showerthought than be the tenth to share that screenshot shit show of the day.

Mastodon interest bingo

You work in tech, are interested in FLOSS, data privacy, are politically active, ready for the revolution? All well and good, but this is not very unusual here (admittedly Mastodons are gregarious animals), what else matters for you? Do you have other hobbies (collecting stones, (niche) sports, handicrafts, watching rom coms, ...? Tell us.

CW

A short note to a hot topic: not every content has to be hidden behind a content warning. Quite the contrary I feel fooled and find it counterproductive to make excessive use of that function for any triviality.

Click

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