Mastodon as a Twitter substitute? Not ready for prime time.

A lot of people are looking at the Mastodon app as an alternative to Twitter, though some users will say that isn’t what it’s meant to be. (Last week I suspended my Twitter account and removed the app from my phone but didn’t delete my account.) Unlike Twitter, which is proprietary and privately owned, Mastodon is open source and decentralized, so nobody owns it. My immediate experience:

Before using the service, you have to choose an instance (a server) to connect to. There is little explanation of what each one is for, and they are mostly in Europe and the Far East. There isn’t much for US users. I was about to join one with a .cat extension but quickly realized it was for people in Catalonia.

I tried two apps to use it: the main Mastodon for iPhone app and Tootle for Mastodon. (You don’t tweet; you toot.) Both apps are beta quality at best. The first app wouldn’t publish a toot if I included an image from my phone. A couple of users told me this is a known bug. There also wasn’t a way of changing which server I was using. The Tootle app wouldn’t let me browse servers to attach to. I had to know the name I wanted and type it into a text box.

As a result, I removed both apps from my phone. Maybe at some point Mastodon will become friendly enough for widespread general use, but for now it’s directed at a small, niche audience.


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