needs a complete rethink

Hello folks

Someone pointed out to me that they didn’t feel was a great introduction to Mastodon and so I’ve been bothering my nearest and dearest making them try and sign up for Mastodon and toot without any instruction so I can watch them struggle.

It strikes me that the website is suitable for how things were but not so much how things are now.

There’s no clear purpose to the page - it seems to alternate between telling me I should sign up and then telling me I should host an instance but it’s actually easy to miss how to sign up

Choosing an instance (which I always thought was overstated as a problem) is actually a real huge hassle for completely new people because they’re given the impression it’s an important thing, they feel like moving accounts is not going to be easy and then straight away they have to choose based on very limited information which is largely superfluous from their perspective.

My barometer for how non-geeky people find user experience (wife) had some pretty extensive feedback ranging from “drop the star trek reference - that makes me think it’s not for me” and “why is is telling me the colour codes already when I don’t have an account yet”

To reiterate, I think is fine for a techie/nerdy/opensource enthusiast audience but our users are much broader now


“That’s great Nico but what are you going to do about it?”

Well I suggest the best thing to do is strip out all non essential information and move those bits to other pages, put what remains in a logical order and make it much easier for someone to get from being curious about this Mastodon thing to tooting away

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This was my experience, I ended up choosing fosstodon because “open source, uhh, I guess?” I didn’t actually know anything about it, there was no way for me to know anything about it to make an informed choice without already being part of the community.

There are too many choices, there should be a limited and clear set, with the option to choose an alternative.

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Some ideas of what the main categories could be:

  • Artists: illustrators, painters, writers, 3d artists, designers
  • Gamers: streamers, players, journalists
  • Professionals: lawyers, journalists, business types
  • Techies: open source enthusiasts, software developers, electronics engineers
  • Socialites: everyone else?

Of course it’s impossible to categorise all of society, and nobody should try to do that. It would be better to proudly display a ‘more’ option.

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That’s some great feedback matey, appreciate it.

Perhaps there should be a curated list of instances that explicitly welcome newbies (some aren’t really for new people, I think it’s fair to say)

This could be basically broken down into general purpose and a selection of specific interest ones.

There needs to be a brief explanation that many established tooters use multiple instances for different kinds of content and also that moving instances is No Big Deal once you find yourself gravitating a certain way

Someone tooted me this in response to sharing this thread:

I feel strongly that the biggest thing that needs to be changed is switching the labeling of instances away from identity and to interest.

(E.g, from “I am a: gamer” to “I like: games”)

That (imo) would go a long way towards making the choice of instance feel less overwhelming—that way, you’re not picking a defining trait, just listing something you like.

Probably unpopular option: just show the 1,2,3-step process to join

While I fully support the ability of Mastodon to foster niche communities with their own rules, my hypothesis is that right now, a lot of people want Twitter but without the Bad Stuff. In other words, get them using a friendly Mastodon instance as fast an easily as possible

Don’t hide the fact that their are other instances, just play to the MVP use case for Mastodon. If people are looking for something more niche, they’ll put the extra effort to read a bit more and browse the fediverse.

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I definitely get that argument. Maybe make m.s a dedicated beginners instance and boot people into niche communities or elsewhere later, haha

Potential problems:

m.s is already creaking a lot lately

Decentralisation is a key selling point for many

If m.s becomes much more nooby other instances may start muting it

It’s kind of against our founding principles

Eliminate choice paralysis one way or another. The current sign up widget isn’t really that bad, it should probably just be way higher up on the page :).


Please see new user experience · Issue #4870 · tootsuite/mastodon · GitHub for piles and piles of ideas on this which have been gathering dust for as much as a year.

It needs a search function too — Visited it this morning and couldn’t find a way to search for a specific instance to see if it was online or not. I expect most people would want this feature.

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