A couple of days ago, I installed Mastodon and created my own instance. You can now find me at @email@example.com.
The installation of the software, setup of the account and so on was pretty simple. The bigger problem is actually using the Fediverse properly. And I still have no idea how to do that.
My timeline is currently still pretty empty. I’m not sure whether I’m doing something wrong, but it seems that the Fediverse is simply not compatible with somebody setting up a single user instance and then using it. On a single user instance, the only thing I can do is following other people on other instances.
First of all: This does not seem to always work, depending on the instance. I did not have any problems with following for example @firstname.lastname@example.org (German digital policy journalism), but I got nothing but weird error messages when trying to follow people on mastodon.social. Trying to research those errors lead nowhere, but I’m pretty sure now that those accounts just had acceptance-only following enabled and just did not accept my follow request. And that’s perfectly fine. I just think that Mastodon could have made it way more clear that I was not actually running into a problem in my setup, but merely had to wait to get accepted.
So from where I’m sitting, it looks like “discoverability” simply does not exist in the Fediverse. Unless I manually go from one distinct instance to another and manually scroll through their public feeds and then manually follow some people, I won’t get anything out of it.
What’s also frustrating: Following people from foreign instances is fine and all. But what I would actually want is to be able to follow hashtags on foreign instances as well.
So to summarize: What I would want to do is to be able to say:
I want to follow Homelab content from this instance
I want do follow this random dozen people talking about homelabbing on this instance because they showed up in the public feed before I ran out of patience.
In conclusion: I think this is a mismatch of expectations more than anything else. I thought that just running my own instance, with only me on it, would be a normal use case. But now, it looks more like the Fediverse is more geared towards federating bigger, multiuser instances.
In fact, now that I think about it, I might have been thinking about the Matrix protocol (federated chat like WhatsApp instead of federated microblogging), which has an explicit feature called a homeserver. It doesn’t seem that this part of the Fediverse is really geared towards that.
But I have not given up yet. I will be looking at any interesting instance I can find and see whether I can build up an interesting feed just by following people. And I will keep tooting. Even though right now it fells a bit like screaming into the void. 😅