Why do people leave Mastodon? Why do they stay?


After a huge surge in new users (which I was a part of), the federated timeline activity slowed down. I’m curious why some people left Mastodon, or post less, etc. Has anyone heard feedback from people who gave the big “meh” after the novelty wore off? How about people who stayed after the surge? Why did they (or you) stay?

It would be useful to know when thinking of improvements.

Specialized development teams (and categories) for specific Mastodon feature-sets
Specialized development teams (and categories) for specific Mastodon feature-sets

a big stopping point for a lot of people is not having their “social graph” here. i.e. the people they usually talk to over on twitter or whatever. i had to accept when i came here that i would mostly be talking to strangers, and while i was fine with that other people might not be.

also, it’s hard to find w̶i̶l̶l̶i̶a̶m̶ ̶s̶h̶a̶t̶n̶e̶r̶ specific people if they’re on instances other than yours.


People might not have as much to talk about now when they have settled… In the beginning you will have a bunch of questions e.t.c… while you figure out the fediverse workings…


In my field (webdev), Twitter is just where you go, because that’s where the people are. If your job is devrel, for instance, then you can’t afford not to put your thoughts where the people are; part of your job description is to use your influence to educate people about <x product>, and if you have 15k followers on Twitter but only 20 on Mastodon then you know where to go. Even if you don’t explicitly work in devrel, Twitter is the more effective place to put big announcements about a software release, an upcoming conference, etc.

What I noticed was an initial huge surge of interest from my friends and colleagues who are into open-source software, decentralization, etc., and then after a few weeks most went back to Twitter. That’s OK; for those who remained, it’s fun to stay and chat in a place that’s a little off the beaten path.


Don’t forget there were also federation issues. Those were solved with version 1.3.3, but not every instance is running 1.3.3. My instance has less than 450 connections to other instances, but the global timeline is constantly updating.

But maybe you’re partly right. A lot of new accounts on my instance won’t even post something or some don’t login at all. I think a good feature would be to to automatically send an email to those ghost users after a few weeks and if they not respond, to suspend their account automatically after a few weeks.

And yes people are very sensitive for social pressure. So if their social friends don’t follow they feel alone and go back. I call those people weak :wink:


I think it’s like any surge of people to see a fad—the majority will come, register, look around, and then never return.

The level of community building across instances is also wildly variable. Some admins are very laissez-faire, and some are extremely engaged in driving participation and growing the community; some communities are very self-starting and some need admin help to grow. I think a lot of folks who set up servers are interested in trying out the technology rather than actually sticking around, too.


It’s a wave form. There’s been multiple in Mastodon’s history, and this is definitely not the last one, I think. Lots of people come at once, then a chunk forgets about it. But each wave is cumulative - next wave is bigger than the last and remaining users are always more than before.


I know a good number of people who stopped using Mastodon. The reasons they gave can be categorized as:

  1. “I already use a lot of social networks, I can’t keep up with another one.”

  2. “There isn’t enough to protect me from harassment.” “I felt exposed” “I feel less safe there than on Twitter.”

  3. Racist Users. Too white.

  4. To put it politely: Bad experiences interacting with lead developer(s) or people perceived as lead developers. (i.e. Gargron, Mal… in one case it was actually me and then we had a discussion where I apologized and it ended on this note of “I’m still not gonna use Mastodon anymore but I accept your apology.”)

  5. “I got really confused because everyone was talking about some meta-drama I didn’t understand and the only thing anyone seemed to talk about was Mastodon itself so I got bored and left.”

  6. “I realized all social media is bad actually.”

Some of these are more actionable than others. No I’m not disclosing names.


It’s very easy to join a social network and post a few times. It’s very difficult to make this social network a part of your daily life.

How many times have you moved cities? joined a new club? humans are creatures of habit, and social habits are the strongest of all.


Do push notifications still work in other apps? My Tusky has been without them since April. That might be part of the reason.


Just as an aside: notifications started working for me with the new f-droid version of Tusky - might be worth checking out.


To be honest there is a bit of a disconnect with how some users view mastodon as a social network. Since the only thing to compare it to is primarily twitter, users tend to view mastodon in that lens, as unfair as it is. Personally, I have had no reason to return, the talk around the federation has been brisk enough that it keeps me active but even among my friends, mastodon is a little confusing to get into at first with so many instances to sign up to and such.

That said, this is not the first time that I have seen this. Diaspora* suffers from this as well and the messaging is just as organic. The issue being that despite the fact that Diaspora still operates and is active, most random users come to the network expecting something like “facebook” and walk away from it when Diasopra doesn’t match it feature by feature. The discourse around diaspora (particularly after mastodon appeared for many [including myself] last month) has been that the network is “dead” despite all evidence to the contrary.
I think the messaging on how different mastodon is from other social sites is something that needs to happen within the project. We have to sell it (somewhat) to others, how different it is and how to get into it. We need to sell that and explain it plainly, if only to remove a roadblock.
Because even without trying, this is a discussion that has been happening for other users where the subject isn’t “Is Mastodon good?”, it’s “How good is mastodon compared to twitter?”

  1. Is a valid point

  2. Is not valid. It’s the other way around. Mastodon has many ways to fine-tune your privacy and to stop harassment. Twitter has only 2 settings; public timeline and completely hidden timeline, with no options to change that per tweet (like Mastodon).

  3. For racist users, see point 2. You and your instance admin can block them and silence them much more effective than on Twitter. Too white? We can’t force certain types of people to use Mastodon. These things have the grow organically. In Japan a leading image art site joined Mastodon and numbers where booming.

  4. Can’t comment on that (cause I don’t what had happened), but in every place where people work together there are tensions. Especially in open source project this is very visible because of its open nature.

  5. Partly true. When people talk mainly about the product itself, the product is not much used by the mainstream (not tech) users (so I’m glad we can talk about it here on Discourse to keep the Mastodon more human ;-). But when I look to the federate timeline on a large instance like mastodon.social I see that the non-tech toots are by far in the majority.

  6. That’s subjective. Also people have a bad experience with social media, cause of the large human data mining corporations. It’s very difficult to convince people that we are different.


2: It is, but during times of chaos and unexpected growth, people do not see that.

Those users (broadly speaking here):

  • Had a carefully curated cluster of friends on Twitter who Weren’t Shitty
  • Came to Masto to see if it’s gonna require less curation work on their part
  • Something like noagenda happens
  • They see a long discussion about freeze peach

And they felt like they knew where that discussion was going – the same place it went with Twitter. Nowhere. Which means they’d just have to start over collecting Not Shitty people.

Hence, they skip back to the devil they know, instead of the unfamiliar angel in the devil costume, to mangle the metaphor.

Trust is way more fragile for some folks than for others. :frowning: It’s not necessarily something fixable in retrospect, only in terms of how things are dealt with going forward, though. (IMO, obviously.)

3: Same deal on point A, point B (‘too white’) is way too complex for me to try to get into in this context.

5: Unfortunate, but also avoidable with growing pains.

6: Unavoidable as all social media is actually bad, and sometimes people will figure it out! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


I’m sorry but I don’t understand why you’re criticizing people for leaving Mastodon. To continue to use Mastodon is an active effort. I’m describing the reasons they gave. I don’t think any of them are “invalid.” Especially in regards to how safe someone feels. Twitter, at present, has more powerful anti-harassment tools for the individual, plain and simple. Early on I felt safer on Mastodon because it was small. I can now say I’ve experienced more harassment on Mastodon than on Twitter and have been less equipped to deal with it than I was when it happened on Twitter. A lot of it comes down to OStatus limitations or the fact that Mastodon development isn’t as far along.

Nobody’s description of their personal experience and reason for not continuing to use a website is invalid.


I’d like examples on this

  1. Silencing a conversation (we have just finished this! Yay! It’ll be here soon. But they had this first)

And then there’s this screenshot:

  1. Muting notifications from people who are probably dummy accounts

  2. Muting specific words!! This one is huge!! If I mute all the slurs I don’t like being called, then anyone calling me those slurs simply won’t be shown to me! This is an incredible anti-harassment feature.

  3. Direct messages can be filtered such that only certain people can do it. (Less relevant to us since we don’t have proper direct messages just direct posts.)

It’s also harder to circumvent blocks, and my private account there is very private. There’s no worries about oops I approved a follower I didn’t realize is on GNU/Social or Mastodon <1.3 and now my posts aren’t private. But these are issues that are with OStatus rather than Mastodon.

Mastodon has the upper-hand in terms of moderation powers from the admin-level. Twitter has the upper hand in individual-level tools. Also as much as I don’t trust their algorithmic filter, it legit does find heuristic methods to screen out harassment for me and when I disable it I get more weird stuff coming through I don’t wanna see. This is something I don’t think we should copy but it’s something they’ve added which works albeit in a sketchy way.

Twitter has hidden all of these features though. So people don’t know about them.

Specialized development teams (and categories) for specific Mastodon feature-sets

A post was split to a new topic: Niche development for Mastodon


Twitter got big with the Hudson river incident. It got big when Ashton K got on board and started talking about it in public. We got “tweet this” buttons and chrome extensions and bookmarklets to make it easier to publish.
Mastodon (to my knowledge) still misses these. Especially the Tweet This equivalent. Sorry, still can’t use that silly t-word to post a message on Mastodon.
When you see this button all over the place, it normalizes for casual use and heavy users can publish faster.


I find this interesting. Not because I believe it’s incorrect, but I have started to notice some type of tendency to move away from these buttons etc though. Or rather, streamline I guess. At some point the plugin would offer you “all the places” to share to, now most of them are narrowed down to a few.

As per the topic I split off, Niche development, is a good place to continue that discussion, as developing plugins and extensions is a totally different ballgame, and the API is accessible to everyone so inclined.