Tech & The Web

I’ve Started a Mastodon Account and Already See Problems


With Elon Musk’s recent takeover of Twitter, some users are leaving that service with plans to create a Mastadon account as an alternative.

It has been a long time since Mastodons walked the earth. French naturalist Georges Cuvier coined the term for the giant elephant-like creature back in 1806. But Cuvier had not come face to face with one of them: He was using the term, which translates into “breast tooth,” because of nipple-like projections on the crowns of the mammal’s fossil molars. Though Mastodons died out some 11,000 years ago, the term suddenly appeared again. This time we encounter it whenever someone refers to a Mastodon account.

Mastodon Social is a lesser-known platform some users are flocking to as part of an exodus from Twitter.

I am in the process of creating a Mastadon account of my own. No, I don’t have plans to leave Twitter. But it’s good to at least check out what other services can and cannot do.

CNN Business published what it calls a “Beginner’s Guide” to the service, which it notes, with an emoji rather than an actual word, is on fire.

“On the surface Mastodon looks like Twitter,” BBC reports. “Account users write posts (called “toots”), which can be replied to, liked and re-posted, and they can follow each other.”

Under the hood, however, there are differences.

I created my own Mastodon account…and saw the frustration.

The first thing that struck me as odd was in choosing a server. Unlike Twitter — and every other social account I ever opened — when you create your account, it’s just one of many on the platform. But when you create your Mastodon account, you must select the server which will “house” that account.

You can move from one to the other. You can interact with other accounts just as you would on Twitter.

But I’ll admit trying to guess which server might be the best choice was a bit of a head-scratcher. As I’ve said before, I’m a Mac guy, not a PC guy. I don’t particularly care which server — or which port or bus or whatever — something requires. Just place it (or plug it in) where it needs to go and let me run with it.

I selected a server that I think might be the best — at least until I find something better — and decided to see what would happen.

I quickly learned the answer: Nothing. Nothing at all.

The service may be overwhelmed, but I’ve never seen delays like this.

Like most services that require an email address to sign-up, Mastodon wants to immediately send you an email to verify your account. No problem. Happens every day. So I wait.

And wait.

And wait some more.

My work email can sometimes take about five minutes or so to receive an email, so I’ve learned to at least be that patient even with my faster personal email address. I gave it about 15 minutes and moved on to other tasks.

I checked my email and there was still no verification. So I clicked the little “Didn’t receive” link so it would send me another one. Sometimes, I’ve learned, that first verification email seems to get lost. The second almost always gets through.

Don’t ask me why; I’m a Mac guy, remember?

So I waited.

I created the account at around 8 p.m. or so on Sunday. I didn’t get the confirmation email until 2:01 a.m. Monday morning. The follow-up email I requested when the first one didn’t immediately materialized shuffled into my inbox at 6 a.m.

At best, that’s a six-hour delay. The follow-up email took 10 hours to arrive!

In the time it took, something seemed to go awry with my password and I couldn’t login with the one I wrote down. So I clicked the “Forgot Password” link. You guessed it: Another major delay. But in this case, it took so long to receive the password reset link that it already appeared to have expired by the time I clicked it.

I requested another password reset at 10:28 a.m. on Tuesday. After more than 24 hours and two additional requests, I still have not received password reset options.

Mastodon may be a great service. But I can’t make that judgment call until the service lets me in for a test drive.

They may well be swamped because of an alleged “mass exodus” from Twitter.

But given the delays to get even the most basic things done before you make the first post, it looks as if they’re not quite ready for prime time.

the authorPatrick
Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.

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