Why do people leave Mastodon? Why do they stay?

Regarding push notifications: they work on Subway Tooter, possibly other apps too. Not Play Store-version Tusky so far.

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Can I just say I love this :heart:️:robot:. These words already speak volumes on the type of inclusive and civilized discussion we can have here. Thank you @maloki

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I think that we should not guess if it’s a valid point or not but if:

  • We accept this reason and won’t try to fix it
  • We don’t think this is a good reason and will try to work to fix it.

If we don’t think it’s a good reason and tools to fix it already exist then we have a communication or an UX issue.


I help moderate a long running electronic dance music and alternative lifestyles forum which has recently moved from Vbulletin to Wordpress. On both we had social network share buttons; the way ours now work is there is a selection of “popular” ones (facebook, birbsite, reddit etc) and hovering over expands to show many others, including some I’ve never heard of.

Having a working Wordpress plugin for Masto integration would be very valuable (I did try one on my personal blog, but it doesn’t work on the latest version of WP)

  1. This is true.
  2. This is not true. In fact, lots see the growing amount of censorship and safe spaces as the problem of Mastodon.
  3. “Too white” sounds like the ideology of reverse KKK to me. I understand that racism is bad, but you don’t counter racism like that.
  4. And then they come back to Twitter as everything was the same.

I’d respond to the original question, Why do people leave Mastodon?, with a different question: Why has Mastodon become the most successful decentralized platform in such a short time?

If I’m not mistaken, Mastodon now has about the same number of accounts as Diaspora, but it took just 7 months versus 3 years. The “waves”, as mentioned, come and go, and it’s been shown again and again that there are always more lookie-lookers than active users of any platform. Why would Mastodon be any different? This forum will be the same way. Facebook, Twitter, and Wikipedia, despite their massive numbers, have massive amounts of dead accounts. Business as usual in the sign-up world.

Point is, let’s not be too concerned about what isn’t a concern yet, if ever. Mastodon is clearly doing something right. Or, maybe it’s a sign early adopters are getting tired of those other places and really want something different. I mean, who isn’t sick of the words “Facebook” and “Twitter” rattling in the brain… Or “Zuckerberg”, for that matter, and the other silicon calfs of worship. (Maybe it’s just me.)

And in that vein of thinking, Mastodon should not compare itself with centralized socmed platforms on the basis of population count. Centralized and decentralized are two different models of operation. It’s like comparing a skateboard with rollerblades – they share a medium and means (road, wheels, and leg muscles), but otherwise quite different too.

Mastodon should not copy every expected feature or functional trend associated with centralized social media. Give Masto some time to let it’s quick success gel into it’s own direction. It may set the new trend. Who knows. But not if it’s a copy-cat.

Frankly, social buttons all over a web UI sucks ass. And I know a lot of people who have left Facebook and/or Twitter, or will be soon because they are sick of those worlds. In my real existence, I work in digital communications, and social buttons are not only being seen as a bad design consideration (except by content marketers, of course; the people everyone is getting annoyed by), but they’re increasingly disliked for the shameless marketing purposes they often serve, solely. And let’s not even talk about the code bloat that social button injections add to websites.

Use them. Don’t use them, but…

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc are doing it right. Those platforms and the “tricks” they provide are designed to psychologically manipulate people.

Mastodon can be a lot better than the money-driven hucksters of Silicon Valley by showing what a ethical platform should be. Centralized socmed has the numbers right now, yes, but don’t overlook the fact those sites are showing their age and problems. Twitter can’t make money, and Facebook has a fake news problem.

Mastodon may only need to play the long game, not compete in the short run. Focus on being good and righteous and valuable — and the right people will come when they abandon what isn’t cool anymore, and they will help guide others in turn.


in the 2000s the EDM/rave forum I help moderate was one of the most popular worldwide, mentioned in BBC, Guardian and Daily Mail more than once.

This wasn’t as much fun as it might seem as it involved dealing with everything from trolls to covert surveillance and active intervention (including posting warnings on the forums) from UK domestic and international law enforcement - as you might expect they were looking for posts about large scale drug use or illegal occupations of land/buildings. Also fending off persistent fishing expeditions/datamining from journalists. The BBC have a whole unit at Caversham UK datamining social media as well as its more well known rôle of monitoring foreign broadcasters.

When moderators told people to be careful what they post on a public forum; some users bleated about “censorship” and a fair few walked away to Bebo [then popular with late teens/young adults] + facebook etc; only to all get themselves in actual trouble as these networks handed over to cops anything they wanted.

There was a more recent boom in users when loopholes in UK/EU drugs law permitted various substances to be openly traded online; this predictably fell off as soon as the laws were tightened up.

Most stuff on Mastodon isn’t even that controversial in comparison and the userbase much more diverse, but a lot of the so-called “censorship/safe spaces” on Mastodon (which only applies to some instances) is in many cases admins simply wanting an atmosphere of common decency as well as remaining compliant with their domestic legislation. As long as what is and isn’t allowed is transparent on each instance there isn’t a great problem, as you can always sign up to another instance.

In many countries its a legal requirement for anyone setting up an online service that is popular with young people under 25 who may be “vulnerable” (includes people with mental health issues, LGBT community, minority groups) to protect them as much as possible from harassment or other risks. (My day job is administering systems for healthcare and I have to know about safeguarding laws for EU and UK)

In Europe at least this doesn’t mean imposing heavy censorship (or the drugs section on our forum would have been closed down years ago) or handing over data to cops every week, just using common sense.

To be fair Mastodon seems to be the first of the independent social networks to even start addressing these issues as well as the complicated tech stuff.

Getting back to independent forums, if the 500 character limit is to remain on Masto; this is equally a good reason to build tools that allow it to be used to drive traffic to and from independent forums for longer form content - many of the folk who run such forums do not want to be locked in to the corporate social networks as they come from the generation that succesfully interacted online before they were around.


Let me reply on @shel:

  1. Yes! Great isn’t?! And many more features in such a long time! For the big corporate data miner Twitter this kind of features took a long long long time to implement.

  2. Muting some types of notifications only hides the harassment, it doesn’t block them. Currently Mastodon has one type of notification muting and a developer can easily extend that to more. I personally also like an admin to be able to automatically suspend dummy account after a certain amount of time.

  3. You can already filter out words in your home timeline in the webapp, so that’s a start. But I agree this would be a good feature to have. Languages are already filtered, so it wouldn’t be that hard to implement. Twidere already has this function and it works great. But keep in mind that the use-case of this feature in Twitter is not anti-harassment, but a general purpose content filter. I used it to filter out soccer/football related tweets.

  4. Agreed. I think an option to allow only people you follow to sent you a direct message is really needed. On the other hand it’s a great feature that you can continue a conversation privately and also to favorite these kind of toots.

But that’s it! As you already said, the report feature in Mastodon has a human scale. I tried to report hundreds of racists and other scum on Twitter. Not anyone had ever been suspended. Same as on Facebook. Only coordinated reporting campaigns will help. On Mastodon the admin can help an user much better. And now in the new version 1.4. a user can even block complete instances. Trust me, this is going to be better and better. But have patience.

You also said that Twitter hides those anti-harassment features. You know why? Because they don’t want people to find them. They are only there because digital rights organizations urged them to implement them. Thinking about it even more, I guess Twitter (and Facebook) benefit a lot from conflicts on their networks (more interaction, more data for people’s profiles).

[moderation: moved this post back to the original thread. Moving @shel's reply in a moment...]


  1. I said in my original post that Twitter having had more time to develop is another reason we don’t have features, that’s already acknowledged.

  2. Uh, I don’t understand what you mean. If someone repeatably sends harassing messages at me… which I’ll never see… then the impact is averted. They’re not harassing me they’re shouting at a wall.

  3. The current RegEx filter really doesn’t work well and it absolutely not user friendly. Writing my own reg ex to capture every word I want to filter is something I’d get assigned as homework in my Computational Linguistics course in college and you can’t expect anyone to use that who isn’t a professional computer scientist.

Side note: I am bothered by you urging me to have patience. I was directly asked by Eugen to bring up anti-harassment features that Twitter has and we don’t, that’s what my post was. I’m not sure how you could frame this as “impatience” when I was answering a question specifically asked, of me, a long-time contributor who regularly pushes for anti-harassment features. I literally wrote in my post “these are not here either due to OStatus limitations or because we simply have not had the time to implement them yet.”


Look, I understand your concerns and for a big part I agree Mastodon should implement these features. I also don’t understand why @maloki calls anti-harassment ‘niche development’, she probably will explain this.

  1. Not on notifications only, but on all content.
  2. These so called dummy accounts can also be new users, that don’t want to upload an avatar yet (for various reasons) and you want them to give an option to interact immediately. I think it’s better for admins to have a time limit on dummy accounts, so people are forced to interact.
  3. Still I like an option to limit this to people I follow.
  4. Agreed, but I don’t think this is a #1 priority right now.
  5. This is high priority, not only because of legal reasons, but also because of privacy and netiquette.

But again, give everyone time. It’s not a big corporation and they are still figuring out how to organize and prioritize software development.

I also still convinced that Mastodon is absolutely on the right track and that people shouldn’t compare it to much with those big corporate data silo’s (that’s what they are). For me having a booming open-source, non-corporate alternative to Twitter, is more important than features that are not there yet.

I made the mistake of not dumbing down this feature. Like. All it takes to use this is keyword1|keyword2|keyword3|etc but you can use the entirety of regex if you want. Should I have called the label something different? But then power users wouldn’t know it even supports regex.

The issue is that RegEx syntax is not entirely standard and there’s no syntax guide. If there was a “?” glyphicon somewhere that told you like… here is the RegEx syntax to use for it to work; and gave that kind of example, I think that more people would understand it. Ideally though you would have a larger space to write the words, and the syntax would be “word1, word2, word3, word4” etc, without having to specify “NOT” before them.

To the average human, the phrase “regular expression” brings to mind “Good morning!” (an expression you say regularly.) So rly just more hand-holding is needed. The feature is also pretty hidden, but I know that you wanted to at some point make the settings for the web interface a little more centralized.

When it comes to keyword filtering in notifications, that should be serverside, so that apps will filter the words out too, not just the web interface.


push notifications work ~okay-ish~ for me on Amaroq, although they often batch weirdly and it misses a few here and there.

I’d also like to add that, usability issues of regex aside, the discussion was around muting keywords in general – the regex filter presently only applies to the home timeline, and not to notifications, public timelines, or toot views/threads. For it to become a more effective personal content-curation tool, it may need to work in some or all of these other cases.



I read it as being critical of the stated reasons, not the people themselves, but maybe I’m presuming tone incorrectly. (I do that a lot.)

As for

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.

I’ve personally had very few experiences I considered harassment in some way on Masto so far, and while experiences on two very different social media setups are only so comparable, I’ve seen a LOT of people complaining about rampant harassment on Twitter, and I’ve seen a lot of really shitty people in the time I’ve spent looking on Twitter, and I haven’t seen anything like that so far on Masto. I can’t speak for statistics in either Twitter or Masto’s case, though.

I am sorry that you’ve experienced harassment on Masto. :frowning2:

I don’t think anybody’s reason(s) for using a site or not is ‘invalid’ for them, but that feedback is something the admins of the site have to try to find a way to codify and deal with, and while they don’t have structured ways of dealing with harassment, they’re working on that.

As for the tools on Twitter – I never saw most of those, only the ‘mute notifications from’ part you screenshotted. And the mute-notifications stuff wasn’t there for a long time, IIRC. If they’ve got better tools now for it, awesome. :slight_smile:

Hopefully some of that model will be useful information for developing tools to counter it on Masto. :slight_smile:

I’ve seen this handled with a toggle between ‘simple’ and ‘regex’ search. I’m not usually one to suggest adding buttons or switches lightly (though it might seem like I do suggest it a lot), but this is one of those things where ‘search’ is overloaded – some people want a full-bore regex tool for that. Some people want to see all the posts they can find that have ‘rutabega’ in them. The switch would let the tool handle both with a minimum of fuss.

I almost always argue that interfaces need simplification, but search is one of those quirky areas where some folks do actually need advanced features. Maybe a toggle would be a good idea? :slight_smile:

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Thanks for the cautionary advice. I’ve changed the topic title to include “Why do they stay?” for more optimism-inspired people :relaxed:


It’s a great point to focus on both aspects.

The people I see staying are mostly on well-admin’ed smaller instances. Things I’ve heard from them:

  • better conversations than on twitter
  • interesting people in a generally friendly environment
  • LGBTQ*-friendly and witch-friendly (at least in the places where I hang out)
  • a place where they can be somewhat insulated from the celebrity/politics/news focus and angry tone of other sites
  • a place where they can be more authntic and don’t have to perform the same way they do on Twitter
  • the goal of working with the community to build an environment where there are defenses to harassment

The reasons I hear for people leaving (or really cutting back how much time spend on Mastodon) are

  • they want something more like Twitter - news/politics/celebrity-focused, meme-friendly, with lots of pithy pundits and snark

  • not enough interesting conversations. until the modals came up, it was very hard to get started; and even now it’s very dependent on what you find interesting and the instance you originally wind up on.

  • skepticism or disappointment about how much of a priority privacy and anti-harassment/anti-racism actually is in Mastodon as a whole. this relates to @shel’s points 2 and 3, the high-profile harassment events, and developers’ prioritizations and interactions with the community


Some people here have put reasons people are leaving. Are these reason actually from statements of people leaving or are you just supposing from what you think people would leave?

A lot of people left Mastodon after a week or 2 and I honestly don’t know why with concrete evidence because once these people left, it’s hard to reach them ethically(I won’t look for their mail adresses in my instance DB to ask them why).

mine are from people i talked to either before or after they left (or cut way back) or toots i’ve seen from people i don’t necessarily know.

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