Adventures with Mastodon Single User Interface

It has been awhile since I have had the opportunity to sit down and write a blog post. Things have been hectic and some projects just fall by the wayside. One of the things I promised to do is write a blog post about my experiences running a single user instance.

 You’re all on your Own

After spending about a month on and learning the ups and downs of mastodon, I decided that the biggest thing I wanted to do was own my own instance where I could control my entire social media presence. Instead of existing on someone’s server, I wanted my own. So, I set up a single user interface.

One of the biggest challenges is not federation but re-connecting to everyone and seeing all the posts again. One of the major things that helped me is that I had already followed 100+ people so when I migrated my account, I was able to automatically re-follow all of them allowing my feed to fill up.

One of the impacts that never crossed my mind is that you immediately lose the use of the local feed portion of mastodon. If you were on a different instance, you could use that to see what was being talked about on the instance you inhabited but if you exist as a Single User Instance, all that page has is your own toots. You lose a major portion of finding new content to engage with.

What this does is make more effort required to explore other instances and follow people so that you can get a varied feed.

 If you don’t engage, you don’t exist.

Engaging and communicating becomes even more important because nobody can use their local feed button to find you and you will more than likely be drowned out in the federated feed. To engage and to be found and to talk with other people requires much more exploration and actually responding to posts with your thoughts and opinions so that more people see your handle.

I’m not saying that one should go and spam for attention or participate in clout chasing. I am simply pointing out the fact that the ability for someone to stumble on to you is much harder. You can join a relay but sometimes what you post is outweighed by the flood of what is sent to you.

This also means that the use of hashtags becomes critical. I have discovered it’s a fine line between two little hashtags and too much. 

Actively Managing your server is a Must

There is no one else on your instance that is blocking inappropriate or illegal servers, cleaning out the databases and media folders using the tootctl CLI. All the day to day managing to keep yourself up and running will be handled entirely by you.

(This won’t really apply if you are hosting with a site that promises to take care of that for you but many SUIs I have seen are hosted on their own machines).

It got so bad that I had to write a bash script to automate a lot of the cleaning for me weekly and still have to check on it to make sure it ran correctly, I don’t have to adjust the speed, etc.

This can become doubly worse if you follow a large relay and that relay can swamp your server, run you out of space, and when that happens, your instance goes down.

The safety and security of your server and your feed is one hundred percent on you.

 Need a Script?

I’ve actually offered the script I use for any Ubuntu servers on my public git. I’m still working on it but might give you a good place to start cleaning!

 Until next time!


— Jonathan S.