How to start your initial follows on Mastodon

26th Apr 2022

Elon Musk has made it untenable for a number of Twitter users to stick around, and if you have seen Mastodon around you might be tempted to give it a go. I started to try it out yesterday but instantly got a bit overwhelmed at how different it was to what we're now used to. Mastodon isn't a place where you set up your account and wait for the algorithm to throw the "right" content at you; you have to actively go and search for it.

For that reason, it might be a bit daunting to first time users to get anything they want to see in their feed. I know it was for me, and I wanted something I could quickly replace Twitter with on my phone so that my muscle memory opened Mastodon, at least for a while.

I stumbled across this page which details "Trunks", or lists of people that are interested in certain subjects. That's a great place to start, and if you just read through that process and go through the manual actions of looking at each profile in lists you're interested in then great – that's probably the right thing to do. However...

What I did instead was go to the link for pytrunk, which is a little Python tool to help to automate the process. Read through their instructions and you'll speed up the process for sure. However...

I found myself pressing y for every profile that the tool suggested to me, because I'm going with an "innocent until proven guilty" approach and believing that these profiles are likely to put out some good content that I want to see. I'm happy to unfollow people if I see they're not adding to my feed. So I changed a couple of lines (around line 106 at the time of writing) in pytrunk.py to the following:

# follow = input('follow? (press y for yes)')
# if follow=='y':
# submit.click()
submit.click()

You could just remove the commented lines completely if you so wished, but either way what it does is just remove the prompt. With my settings that meant I'd followed around 100 accounts quite quickly that are likely to make my home feed feel more like home.

If you'd like to follow me on Mastodon, my profile is @[email protected]

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© Jason Dilworth 2022
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