Back in 2019 I left Facebook and frankly haven’t missed it - even through the pandemic and repeated lockdowns here in the UK. I did however retain a presence on Twitter, two in fact - although I deleted the lesser used one earlier this year.

For me, Twitter was a place I consumed information from prominent names in software development rather than risking the wrath of some nobody because they claimed to be offended by something I’d posted (I really don’t have time for that crap, maybe it’s my age).

Well, with Twitter now apparently in freefall I started to wonder what I would do if (when??) it hits the ground. I’d already looked at Mastodon but just couldn’t get my head around the concept of a federated network, where there is no central server but a growing collection of individual communities connected by the ActivityPub protocol. This collection is generally referred to as the Fediverse.

In July, with all the uncertainty around Elon buying Twitter, I decided to give it another go - but where to start?

Many ‘all you need to know about Mastodon’ posts explain the concept of federation by comparing mobile phone or email providers, i.e. just because you are using one service doesn’t mean you can’t connect to and speak with people using other services. But the age old question is - which provider (or in this case, server) do you pick? I suppose the second question is …. does it really matter?

I initially joined the instance but after a month or so I opted to up sticks and move to, an instance run by the podcast network that produce a number of shows I listen to on a regular basis. The community there obviously listen to the same podcasts so my local feed is filled with conversations from like minded people - and who wouldn’t want that?

The process of moving instances was not difficult and when I arrived on my new instance I didn’t have to start from scratch building my following either. Not only was I able to export a list of people I was following and import them to my new home but I was able to take my existing followers with me as well. The only thing I lost was the posts on the original server ….. yes, I said I wasn’t difficult, I didn’t say it was perfect (but then few things in life are, are they?).

Mind you, there is a way around this - I could stand up my own Mastodon instance, that way I’d be in full control of the data. I did look into this but ultimately decided it really wasn’t worth the effort of maintaining the server (security patches, version updates etc) and of course the cost of hosting. If the network was to go away then I would just need to move to another instance taking my followers and followees with me. Yes I would lose all ‘my’ posts again but then again, I’m no Shakespeare or Dalai Lama - there’s unlikey to be anything world changing in there so why be so precious about it?

But that’s all well and good - but if nobody else is using the fediverse then what’s the point? Isn’t it really lonely and quiet over here? Well, no not really. Many of the development ‘rockstars’ I referred to at the top of this post have appeared over here so I’m getting a much of the content that I was before. Moreover I’m connecting with other developers across the world, many who didn’t have a presence on Twitter at all.

As it stands today I’ve not really posted that much, or even visted, Twitter (or the birdsite as we call it over here) and when I do I feel just a little dirty. There’s usually some ‘10 things you must know about x’ or ‘you won’t believe what happened next’ posts along with UK MPs throwing their sleeze around (glass houses anyone?), click-bait and tabloid nonsense.