Why is Mastodon better than Twitter?

I found out about Mastodon only a few days ago, but I already know that I’ll stay there for a while. And it already feels like home.

Twitter

I have had an account on Twitter since 2009. That’s a long time. I have more than 40k tweets and 500 followers (while always following around 100 people). Probably for you, those numbers are not so big, but for me they’re huge. Especially considering the fact that I’m using this account in my native Polish language and I tweet about… nothing. Most of my feed is just pics of Ireland, a few words about TV series I’m currently watching and random thoughts like “6 cows just started running towards me. Fuck it, that’s not the walk I wanted.” For me, it’s just a place to hang out, meet new people, talk about stuff (and things). Not really a place to promote myself, my blog or my work, but of course, I share every post and sometimes tweet about CSS or fighting along with… well, anything.

Why Mastodon?

Honestly, I’m not sure. It kinda feels like good old Blip that we had in Poland, a Twitter-like microblog platform, where I met my almost-husband(TM). It’s just somewhere between those two. DMs look like those on Blip — which means that they’re displayed on your timeline and you need to check twice to make sure that it’s not public. You can’t follow tags (yet), but the community is small. Okay, not really anymore, but still, a lot smaller than Twitter, so people just follow and interact with randoms, using Local or Federated timelines to explore, and it’s awesome. Maybe it’s the charm of a new thing (it’s new for everyone there, people still follow a small number of accounts, so the timeline is not swamped), but maybe there is something more?

Differences

I have two accounts on Twitter, one in Polish and one in English. While on my Polish timeline I still can see random thoughts — my favourite kind of content, on the English one… It’s mostly the same, constantly, shared links. Ya know, Buffer says that you should tweet about a new note at different times, so why don’t you share it 3 times a day, every two days? That’s… sad. After a while, I just want to click the unfollow button. Seriously. My English account is focused on Battlefield and handwriting (stationery etc.), and it’s… boring. I tried to find new, interesting people* to follow, but it’s hard and I really enjoy only a few accounts there. Maybe that’s my fault, but I’ve found more interesting people on Mastodon in these last few days, than on (English) Twitter in… more than a year. And I’ve tried!

(* okay, let’s be clear here, I don’t need interesting people, like… firefighters etc. Just ordinary people, talking about everything and nothing, are good!)

During the last week on Mastodon, I’ve talked to people about Twinings’ tea losing flavour, public transport in Poland vs Ireland and Canada, developing on Windows 10 and… well, you name it!

Community

I tweeted about Winamp two days ago. Most of the responses: “Try (this) app, it’s better”, “What is Winamp? Is it some kind of disease?” and “Why not Spotify?”.

First of all: I didn’t ask for anyone’s opinion.

Second: Ignorance is… not cool. I mean, when people think that it’s funny to say they don’t know what Winamp (or Windows or Linux) is. Seriously? Pretending to be such a hipster is even lamer.

I posted a screenshot with Winamp on Mastodon, just a few minutes ago. No hate, just “wow, it’s so old and you’re still using it”. No bragging. Just stating the fact, that it’s uncommon.

500 characters

Besides the community, here’s the main difference between Mastodon and Twitter: 500 instead of 140. And that difference is huge, it’s everything. I’m there for a week and… it works. It just works. People usually still use around 100 characters in their toots, but they can write more. And they do. And it’s cool! 500 characters are enough to make a proper thought. You just write. You don’t need to constantly think about whether or not you’ll fit in character limit. It’s freedom.

I can quote my favourite song, not whole lyrics, but at least few lines I really want to share. Twitter said that it’s 68 characters above the limit. A half. How many tweets are in pieces? I do at least two a day. 140 characters are not enough, and people know about this, yet, Twitter is still ignoring it.

How to start?

Go to mastodon.social or just check the other instances list. Go there, read the rules and decide which one is for you. Choose your nick, set a profile pic. There. You’re here! On the local/federated timeline look for people to follow and don’t forget to write an #introduction toot. A common thing is to put an emoji after your name. I don’t know why, but it looks cool.

Yes, most of the instances are already connected, so you can follow people from all of them.

On Google Play you can find a few apps.

Tusky, the most popular one and only one stable, features a dark theme and everything you’ll need. Besides notifications (or that’s my phone because there are setting to those).

11t and Mastodroid are in Early Access (alpha), and they’re far from perfect. You can’t upload pics on Mastodroid and there are no time markers. 11t posted my toot 5 times with no option to delete it… The mobile version of the Mastodon website is usable.

But… nothing is perfect

I’m kidding.

Mastodon doesn’t have the edit button, but that might change. Fingers crossed for the ability to follow hashtags (yay, Blip). But you know what? It’s still developing. And that’s so good. Yes, Markdown support may be a thing.

And sure, on mastodon.social, the most popular instance, we can still get the occasional 500 internal server error, but I don’t mind. I came across the same error only a few days ago on Twitter. It happens.

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