Unicyclists on Mastodon (Twitter’s fast-growing contender)

So I am active on the fediverse as @ruari@velocipederider.com (on my personal instance) and also @ruario@vivaldi.net on the instance run by my company.

Anway, in recent months I have linked up with 19 other unicyclists there and I wondered if perhaps more of you are active there? I know that @r4nd1nt is there and I sort of forced @UniMyra to make an account. Anyone else?

[EDIT]: It is not actually just “Mastodon” it is the Fediverse (more on that a couple of posts down) but I will leave it with this eye catching / click bait-y title (for now) because that is what people will likely have heard in the news.


That would be great if you could explain a bit about what is Mastodon. Yeah I know, Google… :smile:

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Update/Edit: My original, general reply is here, but scroll down further for a much more in-depth understanding provided by Ruari.
Mastodon is like Wordpress. You don’t have to have Wordpress to have a website, but it is a way to create one.

You don’t have to use Mastodon to create “social network” but it is a way to create and manage it in/on the Fediverse, which is a bunch of decentralized little social networks installed on different servers (instances) throughout the internet.


Short version

“Mastodon” is like Twitter but not controlled by one company. It is decentralized but in the way the email system or telephone networks are decentralized (this is not some “blockchain” thing).

Longer version

Mastodon is a type of server software that provides access to a decentralized open-source social network (some people also informally use the word Mastodon to refer to the actual network itself). This network is made up of countless privately operating servers or “instances”. Some are public for everyone to join, others have restrictions on signing up.

You can post short posts, images, links and more, to share your thoughts and ideas with the world. It works similarly to most other social networks, particularly so Twitter.

Users on Mastodon instances can follow and interact with users on their instance, but they can also follow and interact with users on many other instances. You can think of Mastodon instances like email service providers. With any email account you can potentially message anyone, it does not matter who provides the underlying services or if you are on the same service as your friend. This is also true on Mastodon and the Fediverse.

In the same context as Mastodon, you will often also hear the term “The Fediverse”. Mastodon is currently the most popular Fediverse server software. The Fediverse, or sometimes just Fedi, stands for Federated Universe. It’s a collection of many different, independent social media servers (others include GoToSocial, Pleroma, Friendica, and PixelFed), which can interact with each other. The servers can do that thanks to a common technical standard called ActivityPub.


For those that are technical, here some technology terms to help you understand and visualise

Think of the Fediverse as equivalent to ‘Email’. Mastodon is like a specific email server software, e.g. Cyrus, Courier or Exchange. The method of communication between servers ActivityPub, is similar to how SMTP is used to relay messages.


There is a bit more to it than that, that is basically Mastodon but maybe I should explain why the fediverse and the underlying protocol (ActivityPub) are fun. While Mastodon emulates a Twitter like experience, some other software’s will emulate a different social media type. For example PixelFed looks more like Instagram or PeerTube looks like Youtube.

  • Mastodon = short message focussed (ui and look and feel)
  • Pixelfed = image focussed
  • Peertube = video focussed

But the very cool thing is that someone on a Mastodon server an follow and account on say a Pixelfed server (and vice versa). From the Mastodon side the user on Pixelfed will just look like normal Mastodon user who always posts pictures. :wink:


Oh and why is this hot now? Because people are fleeing Twitter and Mastodon is perhaps the most similar alternative. Almost everyone I know from Twitter moved here.

Read: https://twitterisgoinggreat.com

Though, keep in mind I might be biased. The company I run for runs an instance. I can post a video of me talking about my company and our new instance but I think at that point this will feel like advertising, so I will not unless people specifically request it.


I like this way to explain the difference between Mastodon and the fediverse! The only thing I would phrase differently is that I’d call the fediverse one social network where different instances become part of. That’s purely academic though and as always the reality is more difficult because instances can block other instances creating a fragmented network.

I’ll add a little bit of history here, even though I don’t know enough to go into detail. When I first joined the fediverse in about 2008, neither the term fediverse nor the protocol activity pub existed. There were two competing protocol, one used by Friedica and the more popular by Identica and the underlying software StatusNet - I think it was called OStatus. Later StatusNet became GNU Social which is also still around. Most of those projects nowadays also implement ActivityPub or disappeared.

You’ll find my #hubzilla link in my profile here - which is yet another software talking ActivityPub.

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Searching for #unicycle and #unicycling is a good way to find people who have included those hashtags in their bio or their introductory toots.


Yes, that is a good way to find me. :laughing:

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I created an account out of curiosity. :smile:

Maybe that would be better if this topic’s title was something like “unicyclists on Mastodon (Twitter’s fast-growing contender)”?

Because the current one is very cryptic for most people, I think.


Done but “Mastodont → Mastodon” (no T) :laughing:

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Wow. It’ll take a bit for my brain to process that :laughing:

Suppose things go as some imagine (Twitter crumbles, Mastodon -or another, easy-to-set-up app- grows exponentially). In that case, it could be worth a shot to see if a Unicyclist Fediverse app would be interesting.

Opinion welcome, since it’s all new for me, I didn’t know Mastodon and the Fediverse before this topic popped up on the forum. :smile:

I love the idea of Mastodon, but since I never figured out a use for Twitter I’m not sure I’ll bother with it. Happy for somebody to educate/persuade me!


True that a Twitter-like service would not be the most critical to supplement this forum. A peertube instance would be more in line (or a Pixelfed one). But the main challenge would be disk space requirements with time (especially with a Peertube instance!).


The first real use I found for Twitter was when Roger Davies and Sam Wakeling were (successfully) attempting to set a new world record for unicycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats, and Sam was tweeting progress reports.

(13 years on I still follow Sam, BTW. His tweets are still, IMO, worth reading).


Oh hey! I’m sporksmith :unicycle: :rust: (@sporksmith@hachyderm.io) - Hachyderm.io. We’ve already bumped into eachother over there :slight_smile:


Dozens of projects to make a distributed social network have come and gone. About 10 years ago, there was a big outrage over Facebook censoring content. A surge of projects popped up, hoping to replace it. I worked on one called Diaspora for a couple of years. Many of those projects died, some merged and eventually protocols and networks were established. Mastodon is just an app that uses those protocols. I wouldn’t call Mastodon or the networks new. Their popularity rises and falls as people wait for the next reason to be outraged.

It’s ironic that anyone would leave twitter for removing censorship, only to land on networks that have no censorship. Freedom of speech is the whole point of a de-centralized web. There are studies on how to censor the open networks, but if that happened, they would again fork into censored and uncensored realms. It’s an endless cycle.

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Welp, I thought this might be fun to tinker with but then reached analysis paralysis trying to choose an instance. Oh well.