Why Mastodon is Better for Crafters


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Why Mastodon (and ActivityPub) is Better for Crafters

Over the past week, I’ve been having a really awesome time using Mastodon. Recently there’s been a huge surge of people migrating over to the Fediverse thanks to the “interesting” developments over at Twitter.

This is fantastic news for people like us, because the Fediverse, Mastodon, and ActivityPub are much more hacker friendly and self-directed than the monolithic, proprietary networks like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.

In today’s stream, I want to make a case for why you should consider moving to the Fediverse for your social networking needs, especially if you’ve tried it before and weren’t that impressed in the past!

What is ActivityPub?

It’s a decentralized social networking protocol that enables many different servers to form one big federated network that people like to call the Fediverse.

The servers I referred to are typically called “instances” and they can serve a single person up to tens to hundreds or thousands of people.

So what is Mastodon? It’s only one implementation of this protocol with its own mature web and mobile clients. There are many others!


Each instance has its own rules and culture! Typically you pick a server based on the kind of local activity that is happening on that server.

How does it work?

How to get started with Mastodon

First, pick an instance to join and create an account. I have two recommendations, but there are a ton of different instances out there:

You can check out this site to search for many more: https://mastodon.help/instances

The Mastodon web client is really nice and you can get along really well with it first. They also seem to have mobile apps for Android and iOS.

On Android, I’ve been enjoying a client called Tusky: https://tusky.app/

Since this is an open protocol, anyone can make a client! Also, many of the clients, even if they sound like they are only for Mastodon, will also work with other ActivityPub server implementations.

How do I find people to follow?

Once you join an instance, here are the three most useful things you can do:

What if I don’t like the instance I picked?

If you want to switch to a different instance, you can migrate a decent amount of your data to the new account (including your followers!).

There is official documentation on how to migrate a Mastodon account to another instance:


It’s OK to pick a server and then move eventually!

Hosting your own instance

I haven’t done this yet, so I can’t claim any expertise. However, there is lots of information online about how to host your own Mastodon instance, even with one-click installation to cloud providers like DigitalOcean.

Official docs: https://docs.joinmastodon.org/user/run-your-own/

However, Mastodon’s backend is pretty complicated for a single-user instance. I’d only recommend running it if you plan to host a community of your own!

If you want a single-user server, consider another ActivityPub implementation like Pleroma or GotoSocial:

These implementations seem to have a much smaller footprint and simpler architecture, making them ideal for hosting on a very small VM, Raspberry PI, home server, etc.

I think hosting your own instance would actually be a great idea, I am considering it!

Using Mastodon in Emacs

Let’s take a look at a Mastodon (and ActivityPub) client for Emacs:


One important thing to note, you will want to set the following variables to refer to your instance URL and email address!

(setq mastodon-instance-url "https://fosstodon.org"
      mastodon-active-user "daviwil")

This package is in active development and things may be changing rapidly! Keep an eye on the Codeberg repository for updates.

Interesting use cases for ActivityPub

There are a couple of interesting ways that other platforms are using ActivityPub right now:

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