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Confusion In The Land of Mastodon Features

  • Adam Douglas

Ever since the release of Mastodon version 4 has been deployed on my Mastodon instance, Fosstodon, I’ve been lost in understanding some software features of the web application. Though it is my understanding these features are a part of the system no matter what client would be used. Saying that though I can understand that not all clients have all the features implemented let alone updated to Mastodon version 4. For purpose of this post I will focus on the web application so to not create further confusion.

First off, I must say I love Mastodon and I appreciate the hard work everyone that is involved in the Mastodon software project. These complaints, frustrations or confusion of features is just me putting my thoughts out there to see what I may learn from my readers.

What is Mastodon?

A free and open source software for running a self-hosted decentralized social network. Each node or instance has its own code of conduct, terms of service and privacy policy, privacy options and moderation policies.

What is an End User?

A user that uses a product (e.g. Mastodon web application) and is not associated to the development or support of the product.

Each user has the ability to feature up to 10 desired hashtags on one’s own profile. This is a helpful feature as it allows for others to browse through certain types of posts. The part that comes confusing is the fact that for whatever reason only a maximum of 3 hashtags are ever shown on the user’s profile. This doesn’t seem to matter if you are logged in or not. Nor does it appear to randomize which hashtags are shown. So we are left with the question, how does this feature suppose to behave?

Each user can choose to feature someone else’s profile on your own profile. This is done by clicking a user’s context menu on a specific user’s profile page and then adding or removing as a featured profile. In the past 4 random featured profiles would be displayed on the user’s profile page no matter if you were logged in or not. Now however, I have no idea where the featured profiles are supposed to appear. What is the maximum amount of featured profiles one can have?

Another issue is how does one manager featured profiles? There is no known list to manage them which is rather odd since this ability has been provided for featured hashtags under preferences > profile > featured hashtags. I don’t know how someone is to remember all the people one has chosen as a featured profile. Then there is the whole questions of what if that featured profile doesn’t exist or has changed? Can’t seem to remove these.

Pinned Posts

I find pinned posts not clear enough to the reader. As it stands a user can choose to pin up to 5 public posts to the top of all other chronological posts, and they are located under the “posts” tab of a profile page. This seems clear yet it is not. For some reason one can pin more than 5 posts now, yet it doesn’t seem work. No error message is displayed. Pinned posts are identified by a pin icon next to text that reads “Pinned post”. Though this isn’t always the case. I’ve found some of mine are not displaying the icon or text yet if I check it is marked as pinned. As well this identification is too subtle in my opinion and should have something more dramatic. Though not sure what exactly. Some clients I’ve noticed have a separate tab called “Pinned Posts”.

Follow Hashtags

Having the ability to follow hashtags is wonderful and very useful. The confusion comes in when you start to follow a few hashtags and realize how am I to manage the followed hashtags? I thought at first I would find them under my profile > followers, but I was wrong. This all seems strange to me that one has to remember all the hashtags one has followed and then search for each one individually just so you can unfollow. A list of followed hashtags seems like a much better approach to manage them.

Closing Thoughts

Hopefully as the software progresses such issues will be ironed out. As a new user or even a veteran the official documentation does not seem to match all these features I’ve talked about and just leaves more questions than answers. I’ve searched through Mastodon software project issues, and I’ve yet to see a response if the problems will be fixed or even explain them, let alone be acknowledged. Here are a few issues I found that you might find interesting, and hopefully we will get some answers or fixes in the near future.

In the meantime why not gain some clarity in reading my Mastodon Profile Setup documentation?

This is post 40 of 100, and is round 2 of the 100 Days To Offload challenge.

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