This post includes Fediverse accessibility resources as well.
I finally did it. I deleted Twitter off my phone and subsequent apps off my phone. I still kept my twitter account active because a bunch of IFTTT recipes still post to it and a bunch of places have linked to it in the past and I don’t want to give up my username to a bad actor or troll. I did, however, request my data, move completely to Mastodon on a writer focused instance, and checked to see who I follow is on the Fediverse at large. Shockingly, more than half my followers and almost all of my friends have made the switch.
I started using social media less a few years ago anyway, so this wasn’t a big change. In 2022, Elon Musk bought Twitter for a lump sum of money I will never have, which is why I’ve moved platforms completely. Even if you don’t have a Mastodon account, you can still follow me on Mastodon via RSS feed.
My decisions to move completely hinged on the fact that Musk will soon own my data. What’s even more upsetting is the lack of content moderation he plans to take with the platform. He’s a free speech absolutist. In this day and age that means no protection for hate speech at all. I have absolutely no doubt he won’t live by his own principles and ban others for calling him what he is, a belligerent spoiled man that can’t stand challengingly articulated ideas and opinions. Even so, that’s a whole lot of mess that will be arriving soon and I wanted to get off this train before it becomes a trainwreck.
I could go on and on about why I believe Twitter will, no longer, be a safe space for Disabled users ever again, but that will take up an additional blog post of it’s own to fully flesh it all out. In short, it’s never going to be a safe space for you as a Disabled writer again. like I said, I wanted off this Twitter trainwreck, now. Instead, I’d rather talk about the benefits of Mastodon for writers.
To understand Mastodon and how it works, you should know that even though it’s a different platform, it still operates like Twitter. It’s a social media platform that allows users to post short status messages up to 500 characters or more depending on where you sign up. You can follow users, direct message them, reply to posts, and post media such as images and videos as well as audio clips.
Mastodon is one small part of a connected software ecosystem called the Fediverse. Think of the Fediverse like a bridge that connects multiple platforms together by a protocol called Activity Pub.
Mastodon is the Twitter of the Fediverse. Mastodon operates on decentralized technology. This means, for example, you can join any kind of Mastodon server you want and still talk to a global network. There’s a ton of open servers to choose from. It’s much like email. When you sign up for an email address, you get the ability to talk to anybody with an email address. The Fediverse operates the same way. You can interact with anybody on the Fediverse.
Mastodon servers, known as instances, are like independently grown towns. You can join a town, and that town can talk to other towns, but each town has their own rules if you’d like to become a member of the town, or instance. For instance, there’s multiple instances explicitly for LGBT+ folks. There’s an instance for science fiction writers and readers. There’s an instance for any kind of artist. There’s even an instance for book lovers, such as myself. There are many more instances to browse and join. If you don’t like an instance, you can always move to a different instance and still talk to everybody else. You don’t have to stay on one instance.
If you post publicly, others will see your posts through a process called Federation. If an instance federates with your instance, then your message will show up on any instance that federates, or links with, your instance. If an instance chooses not to federate with another instance for any reason, your posts will not show up to their users.
To mention users on instances different from yours, you would include their complete handle, including, domain, in a post. It’s like email.
For example, to mention me on any instance, you would write, including the beginning @ sign, @firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some instances have closed registrations, like my instance. Write Out is an invite only instance so the mods and administrators can keep an eye on the instance. The moderators and administrators don’t want anybody posting anything spammy or hateful, so they wanted to make the instance invite only. Write Out has a lot of community rules but I picked it because it has an exceptional Disability policy.
If you’re a writer looking for a new home, Mastodon is perfect for you if you like to connect with interesting people and make new friends. Below, I have included some guides to Mastodon and some instances designed for writers.
Before you pick an instance, it’s worth noting their rules and how often they federate, or connect with, other instances. If you’d like a bigger audience, try picking an instance that doesn’t block a lot of instances. If you’d like more of an insular community, and are not looking for a big audience, pick an instance that doesn’t federate with a lot of servers and blocks a lot of instances. It’s all up to you! If you join an instance and then later decide to move to a new instance, you can migrate your account.
Below, you’ll find guides and a few instances for writers and bookish people.
- A screen reader guide to Mastodon.
- Users that describe and caption media
- modern guide that includes a directory of writers
- A very lengthy guide to Mastodon.
- Guide on migrating between instances.
- Quick start to Mastodon.
- Writers and readers to follow among other topics
These apps have been tested, and work very well with screen readers and other adaptive technology. You can try other third party apps here.
- Tweesecake offers basic Mastodon support. Mastodon documentation for Tweesecake is here.
- Pinafore. Web based app.
- Toot. iOS.
- Mercury. iOS
- Metatext. iOS.
- Tusky. Android. Also get Tusky on F-Droid