Developing Mastodon, I strive to use terminology that is familiar to as many people as possible so as to not put up unnecessary barriers in understanding. For this reason I am happy that we went away from calling posts "toots". It has always been a point of friction for people. Not that I dislike branding, quite the opposite, but in my experience receiving feedback over half a decade, it had a negative effect on the platform for little benefit.


Probably not a lot of people know this now, but Mastodon's web app started out with "Publish". In 2016 a famous YouTuber jokingly offered to support Mastodon's Patreon forever if I changed the button to say "Toot" instead. Needless to say, this was a really early, and not very informed decision. The first glimpse of attention and financial support. As a non-native speaker I had no idea there was another meaning.

I like that I was able to go back to "Publish" in the official iOS and Android apps. It may be less whimsical, and less branded, but after using the platform for such a long time, I'm perfectly happy with a button that just describes what it will do without trying to be cute (not that I dislike cute, I'd never part with our elephant illustrations). I have seen enough "Dr. Doom toots as he pleases" quotes in the first two years of Mastodon to last me a lifetime.

With the greatest of respect, sir,
I will be calling them toots forever.
🐘 💨

@Gargron That's a funny story actually :blobcatgiggle:

And ofc this was a logical decision back in the day! :toot: Personally I really don't mind how the button is being called as long as it makes sense, and in this case it totally does!

I have had nothing but positive replies from people online and AFK about it :blobcatgiggle: It uh.. takes the edge off or something :mastolol2:

This is one thing I really liked when I used friendica for the first time, their terminology is very clear. They have "like" and "dislike" buttons, where mastodon has a "favorite" button that acts as a like button. And they use the term "reshare" instead of "boost", it makes so much sense.

I'm glad you changed the name from toot to publish. Also a gentle reminder that #fediverse is a lot bigger than just mastodon, so every post you see on your timeline is not actually a "toot" 😀

@Gargron Sorry to cut your posts off with a question but will Mastodon have a "repost" button that we can comment on, something like a retweet with quote?

@alternative_be @felipeorleans @Gargron yeah, although I'd limit that option, like, only being able to quote toot people who enable that option, and having it disabled by default (and require bots to have it enabled?)

@ilyess thanks for the article. I Read, I understand and I agree with the position of Mastodon.

@PelayoNastaviek @alternative_be @felipeorleans @Gargron the possibility of quote-post only posts from bots would be cool! No ugly discussions, lots of fun memes

@alternative_be @felipeorleans it was a deliberate decision by @Gargron to not include this. He once posted/tooted about this but I can’t find it. The idea was that it makes the platform more toxic because it causes people to talk about each other instead of with each other

@KeepCool @alternative_be @felipeorleans @Gargron, not being able to quote somebody else makes the conversation more fractured, which is one of the things that I'm not too fond of about . There are little bits and pieces dotted around all over the place, and you have to go hunting for them to get the whole picture. Quickly linking back to the original post via hyperlinked quotes makes for a much more cohesive conversation and makes more sense. No toot is an island.

@NatureMC, so we are forced to do this manually and use up some of our allowed character limits simply because Mastodon must be different to Twitter, even though manually sharing a link is essentially doing the same thing, except Twitter doesn't count the link to the quoted tweet as part of the character limit when you retweet something and add your thoughts. I don't understand the resistance to this feature other than “Twitter do it do so it bad” mentality.

@mjwolfe every social media channel is different - it's up to us to choose the ones that fit us.🤷

@NatureMC, where I agree, it seems like the decision was a petty one - at least from what I've read. It would be nice if at least we were given another 100 characters to type with, so we could paste the links counted towards the character limit. Either the or let us attach links in the same way as attaching images.

@mjwolfe I really don't get why you need this feature so badly; if you want to share something along, boost. If you want to respond to it, reply. The absence of RT has done a lot to alleviate the ragebaiting on Twitter where tweets the sharer does not agree with are shared along anyway, with a sarcastic quote above. Boosts do not have that option, so if you boost something, it is generally assumed you agree; hence, bigots are given less platform.
But for what it's worth, every URL counts for 23 characters, regardless of length. And while has a 500 character limit, other instances changed that. As you can see from the length of this post, ours is longer, 2000.

@Mayana @NatureMC I guess it aggravates me that I can't easily share something I like while adding my thoughts or additional information. Even sharing a link takes multiple steps.

1. Open the sharing card
2. Scroll to where I can copy the link
3. Copy the link
4. Click to create my own post
5. Paste the link
6. Type my own thoughts or add info

That process could be significantly simplified with a button similar to the retweet button on Twitter.

@mjwolfe What is stopping you from boosting a post, then boosting your reply?

@Mayana @NatureMC nothing except the reply would appear on my feed out of context.

@mjwolfe It would not. The tagged user would be visible, as well as the boosted post before it. You could also finish each reply you wish to share in that way with "see last post" (or LB to save precious characters).

@Mayana @NatureMC, perhaps I need to learn to use Mastodon better, then but as someone who isn't very techy, who started using Mastodon and Diaspora to get away from the algorithmic way Twitter and Facebook forced me to see the content it wanted me to see rather than what I wanted to see, coupled with the heavy-handed way traditional social media bombarded me with ads, I often find the federated social media confusing.

It's not intuitive for people like me.

@mjwolfe There are definitely things that could be done better, I agree! I'm just not sure quote-posts are one of them, because of the reasons already explained. I don't think the convenience of a few users outweighs all the bad that they are so often used for elsewhere.
Perhaps this is even good for a perspective shift: not every opinion we have needs to be shared with everyone. In the end, perhaps that should be left to each user to choose. If they wish to see a post's replies, they can open it in a new tab and do so. If they wish to see any convos between two specific people, they can follow them. So on. And if they don't, that's OK. It is interacting and connecting with the people we are replying to that matters, not what others think about it.

@Mayana @NatureMC, you make some excellent points about needing to change the way that people use social media as mainstream social media has become so big that it's no longer “social.”

Which like I said is one of the reasons I left the two biggest platforms.

Perhaps a better onboarding process for new users, with a very light touch of an algorithm to help people find things they’re interested in, at the start.

Starting with nothing on a new platform is hard.

@felipeorleans @Gargron has stated in the past that it is a deliberate omission to keep people from talking about eachother rather than with eachother

@gustav @felipeorleans @Gargron
That's a very apt and succinct explanation! 👍🏼👏🏼🍻

@felipeorleans @Gargron It's used on the Birdsite to bully people, so no. It also fractures the conversation.

If you still want to quote something, you can add a link to the post you're referring to, just like a link to any other website.

@felipeorleans @Gargron I think it was done intentionally to protect people from the type of nasty interactions you see on the birdsite.

@cwdolunt @Gargron that's right. I didn't figure that. Some good Samaritan over here shared with this kind of thought and it's very reasonable, in my opinion.

@felipeorleans no, it is a deliberate decision to not have quote toots.

So does the great Egyptian Pharaoh Toot-Ench-Amun! @Gargron

@numpfply @Gargron TOOTo bene ragazzo! Or in German: Toot mir leid!

@Gargron Free software has traditionally had a major issue with off-putting names.

I've been very impressed with the prudence of your leadership of this project, and I would like to say that I 100% support you in this decision.
It's a solid choice that I think will help lead the project to wider adoption.

@Gargron i'd love to see it made customizable via the admin interface. a lot of people fork the software to modify superficial things like that, or the post length limitation, or the words used in notifications (<user> <verb>ed your <noun>). if it was easy for admins to customize, i think it'd be less of an issue to anyone what it's called. bigger, general instances could use the more generic "publish" or "post", and smaller communities could add flavor without much extra effort

@Gargron settings-> “replace publish with toot”

Now Dr doom gets to be satisfied :lul:

You should change it from "toot" to "honk" and start calling users "honkers". You can even have different options for character limits (big) and integrated markup style (natural) so some instances will be "big natural honkers".

This will get more eyes than any YouTuber endorsement.

@Gargron fwiw I always found the word toot a little embarrassing. Not because of the other meaning but just because it felt a bit too jokey. Is there a reason you chose "publish" over "post"?

@Gargron I think a better alternative would be “Post!”, especially for non-public posts and direct conversations.

@Gargron, this might sound weird, but I liked that it said “toot”. It made it seem different from other platforms.

“Publish” is so generic. “Toot” was very on-brand with the whole Mammoth theme.

I thought it was fantastic.

@Gargron I think "post" would be better. "Publish" is a little heavy for a tiny 500-character piece of text, it sounds more like you're putting out a book or an academic paper or something.

@Gargron what a great history to the name. TIL.

Yes, likely a good decision to take away friction. And I've seen countless HN discussion where people took offense, while others defended the name.

"Toot" will live on in the Urban Dictionary of the fediverse and people say it affectionally.

I am no sociologist but I feel that that simple "dare to be different" name might have contributed a lot to the current Fediverse culture we have, and which we like so much.

@Gargron So kurz ich auch im Fediverse unterwegs bin, ich nutze Mastodon gerade wegen der anderen Begrifflichkeiten. Man versuche dem geneigten Nutzer zu erklären, warum man auf deutsch bei anderen Plattformen zwitschert, (ver)bucht, aufstellt oder abschickt und doch immer *to post* benutzt. Wer weiß denn, dass "Google" sich von Googol ableitet, einer Bezeichnung eines neunjährigen für eine 1 mit hundert Nullen?

@Gargron Wer im SocialMedia-Umfeld trötet oder tootet, der erntet sofort Aufmerksamkeit und wird, nach eigener Erfahrung, gründlich ausgefragt. Aber wer fragt schon nach dem *Wo*, wen vom Posten die Rede ist?
Bei Twitter tweetet/zwitschert man eine Tweet.
Bei Mastodon trötet man einen Post/Beitrag?
Bei Facebook postet man einen Eintrag?

@gargron I'm English and any potential disparaging connotations associated with "toot" hadn't even occurred to me. I just took it at face value and its cuteness is appealing. I hope you make this change configurable so that instances have the option to stick with toot if they wish.

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