My First Impression Of Mastodon

November 22, 2022
#social #exploring
Mastodon with a tree in the background and people watching it walk by. Soft orange light with a cyan-lit sky. 3D-rendered with AI.

What is Mastodon? 🦣

Mastodon is a decentralized microblogging platform, very similar to Twitter. Just instead of a tweet you send a toot, and a few other differences - the most notable the above-mentioned decentralization.

I spin up a Vue-themed Mastodon server to get to know the platform a bit better.

Why not using something that already exists?

Since Elon Musk took over Twitter, a lot of people have left the platform and a small panick broke lose.

Me personally, I don't think Twitter will be going anywhere anytime soon, but I wanted to check out the alternative anyways because people have been raving about is, and Mastodon has been gaining a lot of users very fast.

If you like Twitter (as I do), you can keep using that. But if you are intrigued by this new network, stay and learn more.

What does decentralized mean?

Decentralized means that there is not a single server that runs the app, rather than an x-amount of servers. Mastodon calls this the "fediverse" (federated universe).

Does this mean that you have to create a user for each server? NO! This is something I see beginners do, but there is no need. The different Mastodon servers can communicate between one another. With one single user you create, you can interact with others without a problem.

Instead of a user like @themarcba on Twitter, you get a username with the server domain as a suffix, e.g.


The fact that it is decentralized gives a bunch of advantages.

  • It's open-source, so you can contribute
  • The data is not in the hands of one single company
  • You have a cleaner timeline than on Twitter because you just see the things that actually happen on your timeline. You don't get suggestions from other posts someone else made.
  • You can spin up your own server (with a cool domain if you like)
  • The server admin can upload custom emojis, which can be fun to work with


All of this sounds pretty neat, right. But there are also a few downsides.

While your timeline doesn't get filled with stuff you don't want, this also means that it's hard to find people. Discovering other users with similar interests is a challenge, and so far I have only been able to do it by adding people I know from Twitter.

There are a few more downsides:

  • The signup process is confusing, which is off-putting for many potential users
  • The overall UI and UX is not the greatest.
  • When the server admin deletes the instance, your stuff is gone

How to run your own server

Running your own server is easy - you just need to install and configure Mastodon and you're good to go. There are a few services that make this easy for you. I used a Digital Ocean droplet, which configures everything and you are basically good to go. All you need is a domain and a mail server.

I have already run into a few disk space problems, because I didn't configure an S3 instance to store all the files. This is a real issue, because it means that my users were offline for half an hour.

Running a server requires work, because you need to maintain it.

How To Create An Account?

If you are not interested into running you own server, helps you find a server that fits your needs. As I mentioned, this is the most confuising part, but after a while you get the hang of it.

If you are into Vue.js, you can also join my instance:

Summary ✨

I started playing around with Mastodon out of curiosity, but it turns out that I like the experience. My timeline is much cleaner. As mentioned above, the only downside is that it costs a bit of effort to find other users with similar interests (unless you join a themed server).

I don't think that Twitter will collapse and everyone will have to join Mastodon or some other social media platform. But it doesn't hurt exploring the current landscape.

If you manage to sign up, add me by searching the username

🚀 If you liked this article, follow me on Twitter. That is where I am most active.
📸 Photo by Midjourney (prompts by Marc Backes)