The Worst Part of Running Your Own Mastodon Server

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 2 min read
The Worst Part of Running Your Own Mastodon Server

I recently wrote about how federation works on Mastodon servers, and one result of how this all works is that if you're running a server for just yourself, your visibility into posts from people you don't follow is significantly limited.

This isn't a big deal most of the time, as I mostly care about what the people I follow are posting, and I get to see all of that just fine (including replies and like/boost counts).

It gets tricky when someone boosts a post into your feed from someone you don't follow. In most cases, to me it will appear is if the post has only gotten one interaction…a single boost. Now again, most of the time this is fine because I don't need to know how many other people liked or boosted something to know if I want to do those as well.

But then we come to the cases like the the screenshot at the top of this blog post. This is one of those posts where the fun part isn't the original post, but the replies to it. Sadly, in Ivory, it looks like there is no intereaction at all going on here. But if you just load the post in your browser, you'll see that it's got plenty of interactions that I'd like to see.

My solution for the time being is to hit the gear button on the post and selecting "open link to post" to see it in a Safari View Controller.

My Suggestion

I know the mock up above is crude and is a small touch target, but hey, I'm doing for free and this took 5 seconds 😂

I haven't looked at the Mastodon API to know if this is possible, but it would be kinda nice if apps could give me a button that would query for replies in cases like this. Maybe there could be logic around only showing it in certain circumstances, like if the post was boosted into my feed and it has zero replies.

I do suspect that authentication with my account means apps can't really do this at all, but maybe there's a clever workaround. Hell, it would be janky as hell, but you could maybe even screen scrape the HTML of the web page for this post and parse that…although I can already hear the devs reading this shuddering at the mere suggestion, so scratch that one.

Ultimately, this isn't the end of the world, but it's something to know about if you're thinking of going to a solo or very, very small server.