Why 3 timelines?


Hey I haven’t delved super deep into Mastodon yet, but is there a particular reason why it has 3 timelines on 1 screen? I get that there are different levels of active timelines in relationship to the person’s federated status (like there’s a timeline for all the instance and then a timeline for just people you follow and then your timeline right?)

But I don’t get quite why that’s all split up into multiple timelines like that. It kind of makes it hard to know what to focus on as a new user.

Aesthetically Mastodon looks fine, but it’s layout feels way cluttered and unfocused to me as someone coming to it new.


Federated timeline contains all toots that reach your instance from the others - it is pretty fast and definitely not a good idea to follow some specific users. It is great for casual conversations with strangers. In some situation local instance timeline can be overwhelming, too, so it is necessary to have your own (the leftmost) timeline. And a separate notifications window.

I like the way I can split my attention - to the most attentive on the left (home), to the less attentive but sometimes fun - on the right.

Also on some small instances the local timeline is a real gem, sometimes better than your own selection of followers.


I see why that could be useful for some but there are ways to visually distinguish those in a single feed. Personally I’d just be worried that having multiple feeds like this makes on boarding more difficult for the general public. If nothing else shouldn’t the tri feed be optional? I’m just saying there’s very clear ux reasons for the predominance of single feeds in social media.


To date there hasn’t been a lot of effort put into separating design from function, in the Mastodon code. The new 2.0 release seems to have some theming options, which may make it a lot easier to ‘skin’ a Mastodon instance.

I’ve dabbled a bit with Halcyon, which is a Twitter-clone UI for Mastodon, but it isn’t made to be a drop-in replacement for Mastodon, and requires users to re-authenticate with Mastodon to use Halcyon as an app with an auth token.

There’s also the Mastodon API which allows the (very) technically minded to craft their own UI from scratch, but that’s a huge job with a moving target as Mastodon is still piling on the new features.

I’m hoping 2.0 gives me the tools to make my instance more MINE. I agree about the 3-column layout, but I’ve a hundred other things I also want to tweak.


Cool yeah makes sense. If y’all want any help on that I’d live to help. I’m a UX designer who is learning frontend right now. I really don’t know a whole lot of web app stuff. I can do a little bit with react but I’ve really more done websites with php, css, html, and vanilla js. But if there was a way I could contribute I’d love to. Don’t really know where to get started though.


Hey, if you want to get started on a proper single-column layout for Mastodon, I’m fully on board. Massive code borrowing from the Mastodon main codebase for the .js functionality… Or whatever. I can’t make head or tail of the Mastodon code. Ruby is so abstracted from actual code I have to believe the people who use it are savants. (It’s always the case though, I can handle the hard stuff, but if you make it easy I can’t understand it at all)…

But yeah, I don’t need -help-, I need someone to do the majority of the heavy lifting. :wink:


Okay Yeah cool. I’d be down. I’ll take a look at the code and see what I can do :slight_smile:


Can we open a separate “column” with someone’s profile?


To be honest, I do not agree with a clone theme of Twitter, but the idea of having just one timeline much wider on a time on the screen, it’s much awsome.


Check out pinafore.social, it’s just that (a web app for Mastodon)!


This is awesome! I love the design for this!


This is actually not a reply – but I need to remind as many of you as possible – when you invited all the displaced Tumblr users in ( a noble and generous gesture) you forgot at least one thing. Many of the instruction pages make assumptions that reader already knows X.

However, you cannot make that assumption with us.

For example, I have been trying to sign up/in to Pinafore. But it wants an 'instance". Now, I was able to figure out that refers to the page/community that I belong marked to – but that’s it. I have no idea what exactly to put in that space marked “Add Instance”.

I’ve tried a couple of times, but it wants something specific. So, what does it want?


The URL of the Mastodon instance you want to join

EG “mastodon.social” or “humblr.social”


Just a heads up, I’m trying to run a single column instance using a vanilla install, no edits beyond css, please feel free to check it out (or to use it as your home base) https://toot.wales


Love this! This is great! It’s such a small change but it’s instantly easier for me to grok as someone coming from a vanilla twitter background.

Also do you have a repo or fork for the CSS? I’d love to check it out.


Sounds like a good idea, maybe I can get seom extra input to clean it up. I put something up at

let me know if it’s what you’re looking for.


Just click on its name from any other column.