As a few of you might have noticed, I haven’t updated the Turngren Philately Twitter account in a while, and that’s because I’ve been spending a lot of time on Mastodon. I’ll probably be locking or deleting the Twitter account soon.
Twitter seems to be on the decline — both in terms of actual site reliability as well as content and moderation — so it was a perfect time to start to really invest time into Mastodon. I’ve had a personal account for a few years as I’m an open-source enthusiast…so the idea of there being an open source and decentralized alternative has always been intriguing to me, but there was not (at that point) a critical mass of users to make it really “stick” for me. Events of the past 6 months or so have brought millions of people to Mastodon however, and it’s pretty amazing to watch it grow.
For anyone that has not heard of or looked into Mastodon, it’s a micro-blogging system that behaves — on the surface — somewhat similarly to Twitter. Short bits of text and images are submitted, similar to tweets (they’re called “toots” on Mastodon which I am immature enough to absolutely love). But there are a few key differences.
No one single entity can own it — the software itself is open-source, and there is no single central site — there is the “Fediverse” which is the name for a federated system of many, many servers that can all talk to each other. Each server is generally referred to as an “instance,” and any user on any instance can follow any user on any other instance.
Every instance has three main feeds. The home feed only shows you the accounts that you follow (no algorithm, and no ads which is fantastic). The local feed only shows posts made by people on the same instance as you, and federated shows everything posted by every account known to the current instance. On several of the larger servers — with over 50,000 users for instance — the federated feed is somewhat of a fire hose of information that goes by too quickly to digest.
Many instances are geared toward certain hobbies or interests…instances centered around art, journalism, board games, etc. I couldn’t find an instance centered around philately, so after a brief exchange with Ted Talks Stamps and Bob Collects Stamps I made it a goal to eventually start one.
At the time, there were not many hosting options that were affordable, and I knew I didn’t want to deal with self-hosting it on my own hardware or a VPS like Linode, so I put it off for a little while. As more and more people came over to Mastodon, I started to see there were more and more hosting options, so I finally started with mastohost and set up an account.
Thus, philately.social was born. I hadn’t really advertised it — I wanted to have just a few users to see how well it would work, starting with Bob and Ted. User accounts required approval from me. There were a few requests…then a few more…and now there’s dozens of us.
So, now I’m advertising it…come join us and let’s see if our little corner of the Fediverse can grow. As of right now, the demands on the server are minimal — so I’m on the cheapest tier of hosting, which is at a cost that I’m comfortable with maintaining more or less indefinitely (less than ten dollars per month) and I think there’s plenty of room before I would need to try to come up with some kind of funding arrangement. If we need to start moving up tiers — then I suppose we’ll go from there.
Accounts are still approved on an individual basis, but I’m usually able to get to approving accounts in a matter of hours (usually minutes while I’m awake, and hours if an account is created when I am asleep). The only reason I’ve left this in place is because I wanted to require at least just a few words from registrants as to why they want to join (reasons can be very short, like “I collect stamps”) to prevent accounts being created needlessly and repetetively.
So come join us at philately.social!
Andrew has been collecting since 2020, and created this website in 2022 to document his philatelic experiences.