Find Your SFF Tribe On Mastodon
15th November 2022It's almost 5 years since I first joined Mastodon, and back then I wrote a piece about which instances were a good fit for SFF fans and writers. Some of them are still going, whilst others have closed down in the meantime.
With the current implosion at Twitter, there's no doubt that a sizeable chunk of the SFF community has decamped to other places. This leaves a lot of people with a dilemma. Where has everyone gone, and how do you reconnect with your old contacts on another place?
The first thing is to decide which instance, or community, to join on Mastodon. This isn't a big decision, because if you change your mind and want to decamp to another server on Mastodon, you can point it to your new home and take all your contacts with you. The Mastodon blog has guides to using it, including how to switch accounts.
Choosing a smaller, on-topic instance makes it a lot easier to find all of your friends again. This is partly because more of them will pop up on your "home" timeline. And it's also because many instances have a directory. You can find this at https://INSTANCE.URL/explore , replacing INSTANCE.URL with the address of the Mastodon website you want to look through. From there, you can browse user accounts and find people to follow.
Another way to find out where your people have gone is through Twitter itself, since some people have helpfully added their Mastodon addresses to their Twitter bios or to posts in their timelines. This isn't a great solution, however, because many people haven't done this, and a few have already deleted their profiles altogether. If you were following more than a few dozen people, this is monumentally time-consuming, so a better way would be to automate the process. There are tools such as Fedifinder, Debirdify, and Twitodon that do this. I haven't tried any of them, but all three are open source.
SpreadsheetsThere are a few spreadsheets doing the rounds, for people interested in specific topics. These are useful to an extent, but the lists they capture will only be a fraction of the people you're following. Still, I have been able to use lists people have made to find people who create comics, and another collecting historian usernames, which is something I find useful for book research.
HashtagsMastodon has hashtags that are searchable. #Bookstodon is a popular one, as well as old familiar ones such as #SFF and #WritingLife. It's helpful to put them in Camel Case (#WritingLife rather than #writinglife) so that screen readers can understand them. A lot of people are making introduction posts, or re-introduction posts, due to the influx of new Mastodon users, and these posts usually feature a slew of hashtags which are a useful way for people to find each other and to be found.
© Ros Jackson