Eric J Ma's Website

How to pick a Mastodon instance?

written by Eric J. Ma on 2022-11-06 | tags: social media mastodon twitter

One question I've gotten is which Mastodon instance should I go for?

Answer that question is actually anyone of them. This is OK because of the premise of Mastodon being active curation instead of algorithmic recommendations. On Twitter, content gets recommended to you. On Mastodon, you proactively seek out the people you want to follow, and their content is shown on your timeline.

Therefore, the first-order answer to the question, "which Mastodon instance should I sign up for?" is "any one of them!"

What I just mentioned implies that there's a second-order answer. A Mastodon instance is usually a self-organizing community of people with shared interests. Therefore, joining certain instances makes it easier to discover birds of the same feather - those you would find interesting to follow. Two examples of those communities are the deep/machine learning ( or biotechnology communities, two communities I would like to follow.

So how do we discover these communities? Thus far, I've allowed serendipity to help me discover these communities. This happens by simply paying attention to people's Twitter profiles as the mastodon migration happens, or social links in their personal websites and blogs. Naturally, this is more time consuming and requires more effort. Still, we get a much better curated and interesting timeline in exchange.

I send out a newsletter with tips and tools for data scientists. Come check it out at Substack.

If you would like to receive deeper, in-depth content as an early subscriber, come support me on Patreon!