Mastodon is making it easier for newcomers to create an account on the platform. On Monday, the decentralized network announced that it will start directing new users to create an account on mastodon.social instead of prompting them to choose from one of the thousands of other servers on the platform.
This update doesn’t mean that Mastodon’s taking away the ability for new users to sign up for an account in a specific community, though. It will simply present two separate options on its signup page: “Join mastodon.social” or “Pick my own server.” The service’s flagship mastodon.social server is the platform’s largest, but the network notes that users can swap instances at any time.
Prior to this change, creating a Mastodon account wasn’t as simple as just entering your email and making a password. Mastodon originally had users choose which instance, or community, they’d like their account to live on. For those new to the platform, this step is a bit intimidating, especially now that Mastodon now has over 12,000 instances users can join. Should you join mastodon.world or mastodon.online? Or should you go to something more focused, like birdon.social? It could be overwhelming and confusing for a new user to pick.
“If we only attract people who already care about decentralization, our ability to make decentralization mainstream becomes that much harder”
Still, the change could frustrate existing users and server operators who want to see Mastodon remain committed to its promise of being a decentralized platform, which is not governed by any one entity. However, Mastodon CEO Eugen Rochko says this change is necessary to help “new users get past the sign-up process and more quickly engage with others.”
“We believe it’s important for Mastodon to be good as a product on its own merits, and not just because of its ideology,” Rochko writes in the post announcing the change. “If we only attract people who already care about decentralization, our ability to make decentralization mainstream becomes that much harder.”
In addition to a new onboarding experience, Mastodon is also rolling out quote posts, improved content and profile search, and groups. Rochko also says the platform is working on improving its moderation tools, as well as “removing friction from decentralized features.”