the never-ending fedi guide pt 3: customizing ur experience
Mastodon and the rest of the Fedi can be confusing and overwhelming, but it offers lots of ways to customize your experience and timelines.
as the first part of my #TechGossip series, I have gone over, and will continue to go over in this guide, different parts of Mastodon in my previous #FediGuide posts. Part one goes over features, part two goes over fediquette. i will not be going over Every part i went over already, but just going over the user experience things in here.
now, most of the ways to customize Masto are in your preferences, but not all. i will be starting there, however.
when you first open your preferences, you’ll be brought to the appearance section.
you can change the language interface, for those whose first language isn’t english. you can also change the site theme if you dislike the dark theme.
under this is the option to turn on the “advanced web interface” which is the original way Masto looked when it first came out!
this mode gives you three columns, but you can add more. the three basic columns do not include the posting section, as that is always there. you have your home timeline, your notifications, and whatever you are looking at (another timeline, a post, a users profile). you can add more columns by opening up what you want in the last column, clicking on the slide hamburger menu on the top right of the column and clicking “pin”. another column will then open up for you to continue browsing, as well.
continuing down the list, you’ll find some accessibility features including: slow mode, where posts will not automatically fall into the TL as they are posted, but instead you must click something to show the newer posts; turning on or off auto-played gifs; reducing motion in animations; disabling swipe motions; and using the systems default font.
you can also crop oversized images in their preview icon, just below those accessibility options.
you are given the choice to display trends, if you are not interested in them or if your server does not use/approve them.
confirmation dialog options are next for unfollowing, boosting, and deleting posts.
this last section will appeal to more people as you can choose whether or not you want to see sensitive media or CW.
you can choose to display all media, hide/blur all media, or only hide/blur media marked as sensitive. you can also choose to show colorful gradients of images as they are hidden/blurred.
this section also includes the ability to automatically expand the CW of all posts.
going just above, the profile area is something important to look at as well. you can update your bio, display name, and the cosmetics of your profile from here.
you can also toggle follow requests, if the account is a bot or not, if you would like your profile to be suggested in the suggested profiles/who to follow area of the explore function, and if you would like to “hide your social graph” which hides your follows/followers.
you may ask: why would i want to use any of those things?
follow requests are a great security tool to make sure malicious people are not trying to follow you. hate following is real, for some reason. some people’s preference just may also be to have only a small amount of people following them, and this is a great tool for that. and unlike other social media sites, you can still post publicly/be boosted even if you toggle this on.
bot accounts exist, and are sometimes really neat, but some people block any bots on sight (for various reasons) so if you use this for your account and you are actually not a bot you may run into some issues.
some people again, may not want large exposure and may turn off the ability to be in the suggested profiles area. but this is also a good tool for safety, as federation issues often make it so even blocked profiles show up in the “who to follow” area, which can cause issues for those who are targeted/harassed.
hiding your social graph can also be used as protection, as often if someone is a target, those who target them may also go after others in their followers. choosing to hide your followers/follows is also a way to break through the idea that people with more followers are a better source or more important, or that people who don’t follow a bunch of others are less informed or whatever.
using profile metadata and the code in the verification area you can sort of verify yourself here! the code/link can be put onto your website or blog, and the link to said website or blog in your profile metadata will show with a green color and check next to it on your profile. my personal profile @firstname.lastname@example.org links to this blog, and the link is verified (for a visual example).
you can also migrate or delete your account here.
account migration is a great tool to help your followers find you if your move to a different instance.
you must first have the new account to start the process. then, you click the “configure it here” for moving to a different account. you will fill out the @ of your new account, and your current password for the current account. after, a banner will appear on your profile stating you have moved, with a link to your new account.
on your new account, you will follow a similar procedure of linking your old account to your new one, but banners are not added. it’s not a necessary step, but it is a nice one.
jumping back down to the next area: the notification section, where you can choose which actions give you notifications: including the ability to turn off many notifications from people who do not follow you or folks you do not follow. these are all fairly self-explanatory.
the other section holds a few important choices as well such as opting our of search indexing, and your standard privacy settings for posts, including always marking your own media as sensitive. you can also select which languages you will see on your public timelines.
the next really great section to check is filters! this allows you to set words or phrases to hide in your timelines. you can select which timelines, how long you want to filter it for, etc. a great new feature is that filters will show up in your timelines with the word/phrase that triggered the filter, and allow you to display it anyway.
this is great for people who may be easily triggered, or just have an intense dislike of certain topics/words. not everyone uses CW the same, so finding key words or phrases to filter things is important.
it is also important to note that because of filters, people should self-filter sparingly. mistyping names purposely, or using asterisks to filter things out is unnecessary on Masto as there is no searching feature that allows you to search by words.
automated post deletion is the next stop on our list! you can set up your posts to automatically be deleted after a certain period of time, but with caveats such as keeping pinned posts, keeping media posts, keeping polls, keeping if you have bookmarked your own posts, etc. including if posts are favorited/boosted by the number of favs/boosts. this is a really awesome feature, imo.
the account area is our next stop. this contains ways to change your password and email, but also to migrate or delete your account.
you can also set up two-factor auth, and review your authorized apps in this area.
import and export may not make a lot of sense to you, but it is a great migration tool, or a way to look into your old posts (since you cannot search through them).
you can download files of your follows, blocks, lists, and/or request your archive of posts. you cannot upload your posts, but your other files can be uploaded to a new account. it does not automatically follow people whose account is locked, it will send them a request.
looking for an old post you wrote? you can use your archive in Andi’s Mastodon Archive to look through them to find what you are looking for.
outside of the preferences area you can find tools via the slider hamburger menus at the top right of the interface when on certain screens.
on the home timeline, you can turn off boosts from others, and replies from others showing up in that timeline.
on the notifications tab, you can do a lot of customizing: firstly, you can clear them—the font is tiny and up top and hard to miss; you can highlight unread notifications; you can toggle desktop notifications if you are not on mobile for all types of notifications, you can also toggle the sound for them as well as if they show up in your notifications at all. take a look and change it up to your hearts content.
why wouldn’t you want your notifications to show up, though? well, for an example, mastodon’s new update added the ability to edit, and with that edit, a notification gets sent to anyone who liked/boosted that post. sometimes, that can be too much for people and they may turn it off.
there is a section called “new post” and i will admit i have no idea what that’s about or what it would change if you toggled it off.
in the federated and local timelines, you can change it so the timeline is media only. the federated timeline has the option to have only remote content, which, again, i am not entirely sure what difference that makes when you toggle it on or off.
if you know what those features do, feel free to explain them in replies lmao
blocking, reporting, and muting are important individual tools you have as a single person on a sever you do not own/run.
reporting, blocking, and/or muting people who break your servers rules is a great way to make sure they do not remain with access to your server, even if they are not on the same one as you.
to report, block, and/or mute someone, you can do it two ways: through their profile, or through one of their posts. by clicking the elipses (…) icon on the bottom right of the post, you will see the options to block the person, mute the person, and report the person. you will also see the option to block their entire domain.
blocking the person prevents them from following you, and should prevent them from seeing/interacting with your posts, and you should no longer see them on timelines.
muting the person prevents you from seeing the person on timelines, and replies, but they can still see and interact with your posts. i believe they could also follow you, but i am unsure of this.
blocking the entire domain essentially silences or mutes the domain for you individually. you will not see other people from that server, but i do believe they can still see/interact and follow you.
when you report a post, three sort of vague options come up: I don’t like it, It’s spam, and It’s something else.
if you click “I don’t like it” i do not believe it sends a report to your admins at all—which is absurd lmao. so, just don’t use that.
if it is spam, click the spam option.
if it is anything else that breaks your servers rules, click the last option and include the offending post or posts.
next, you will be given an option to add a comment: please do! even if it seems obvious, it can help the mods go through reports a little quicker to have a summary. it can be as simple as “sealioning, homophobic slurs”. but, you can go into as much detail as you would like. for instance, i reported someone who was new to the fediverse, but actually came here to stalk me, so i explained that in the comments even though his posts were harassment anyway.
finally, you have the option to send the report to the offending instances admin as well. your username is not attached to the report, so even if the whole server is garage, the other admin will not know who made the report, but your admin will. so i encourage you to forward your reports always. (on the admin side your admin will know if you did send the report forward to the other server admin).
from there, your admin or moderators can limit, silence, or suspend the individual person or entire instance from interacting with your server depending on how they handle things.