Well, it's been a year since I last posted here. I feel that I've easily lost track of time as I grow older, and by googling I found a plausible explanation. ChatGPT also provides another perspective, which is not entirely based on science but does offer a sense of comfort as well:


Back to the topic - though the whole year felt like a blink of an eye, a lot of things happened. Not only to me (on my personal level there are indeed some achievements & lessons I took notes of, maybe will share in another post?) but also to the world, and an important one is the recent Twitter fiasco. I first joined Twitter in October 2008 (fun fact: President Obama was one of my followers), and have been an active user since 2011 (one of the DAU for sure). To me, Twitter is not only a platform for information but also a place full of my digital life and memories. From there I met a handful of amazing people, and we even had some offline face time together which leads to everlasting relationships in the real world. I was able to reflect, relax and rewind. I picked up trendy topics and had in-depth conversations with avid practitioners in the same space, which is impossible given the physical boundaries among different continents. So Twitter has been, and is always special, in my mind. As a regular user, I don't want to talk too much about the recent policy changes since it becomes private. What motivates me to leave, though, is the following (looks like this act has been reversed, but still the scar is fresh in my mind):


Since the bloody layoff in early November, I've noticed Mastodon being mentioned a lot on my timeline. A quick search educates me that it is a decentralized, open-sourced social network that belongs to the greater Fediverse framework. I'd like to avoid using Mastodon to represent Fediverse though, just like you can't use Toyota as the synonym for the whole consumer automobile industry. Mastodon, though, is the most known, biggest Fediverse software implementation out there. I also have an account under the mastodon.world server, which I have no plan to stay forever as eventually I'll self-host an instance powered by Pleroma. For those who are still hesitant to make the move from Twitter to Fediverse, though, I hope to provide some tricks and observations so that your transition will be smooth as well.

Useful Tools

  • Mastodon instances: this site helps me quickly navigate and narrow down a list of candidate Mastodon servers to join. I like the Advanced list which allows me to rank servers by uptime, obs, and users. Rule of thumb: join the ones that are large enough with high uptime, so that you'll have the best user experience. Or maybe join your friends' servers, as word of mouth is the most basic but reliable source.
  • Fedifinder: this tool can scrape any Fediverse account published on Twitter from your following list. I didn't read the source code so unsure how it works, but I suspect it scans through your following's bio, user name and possibly the top 5 tweets to look for any known Fediverse instance link. We don't always have to use machine learning, simple pattern matching has an edge too :) I was able to follow ~85 friends in batch thanks to this tool.
  • Mastodon Twitter Sync: this package can automatically sync your toots to Twitter, and vice versa. Note: quote retweets on Twitter will be synchronized to Fediverse despite sync_retweets = False, that's because quote retweets != retweets. Also when synchronizing reblogs to Twitter, the original author name does not contain any server information. But no other complaints since it's a great free tool! It can also link your toots/tweets with your self-replies. Setting up using the Docker build is easy, but remember to take out the -t flag when running it in your crontab... my mailbox was bombarded with the error the input device is not a TTY when first set to run every 5 minutes...
  • Tooot: a Mastodon mobile client: it simply works with an elegant design. Though the main focus is for Chinese users, browsing toots in other languages (en & CJK based) is seamless. Sometimes, though, fetching the updates can be slowed. I wonder if it's an issue related to my server, though.


  • You don't have to follow users from the same server; as long as your server is not on the blocklist of another server, you should be able to search for the other user's handler (e.g. @[email protected]) and follow him/her. If this is the first time that the other user is being followed by someone on your server, it will take time to fetch his/her timeline. Otherwise you should see a couple of toots already present on your side.
  • Refreshing timelines can be a frustrating experience compared with Twitter, since my server seems to be popular with only limited resources. So, support the server owner in whatever means, if you can! The latency is a bit high but bearable. I plan to opt to self-host Pleroma mainly due to it being lightweight, and I'd like to have more control over my data just as how I decided to open up a self-host blog like this.
  • The 140-character limit no longer applies here! However I lost the ability to express long, consistent thoughts on a social platform... I'll pick it up gradually :)
  • You cannot quote & reply to a toot on Mastodon. Looks like this is a deliberate design choice but I'll much appreciate it. There is a workaround, though. You can always manually copy the link to a toot and paste it at the end of your toot, just like how you'd comment on any link on the web. It's just... blindly inconvenient :)

I probably will come back to this post to add more observations/technical details as my time on Mastodon/in Fediverse progresses. So stay tuned! In the meantime, happy holidays! Can't wait to see how 2023 will unfold for us.