If you tried to sign up for Mastodon before today and gave up, you might have an easier go of it this time.
In a blog post, the company announced a new onboarding experience that makes it easier for users to sign up for the decentralized social media app. Before today, users, in addition to choosing a username, would also be required to choose the instance or server they wanted their account to live on.
While this may seem like a simple enough concept, it tripped up a lot of potential users of the platform. Apps like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, since they were completed centralized and controlled by the companies that owned them, did not require this step. The added complexity of needing to choose a server in order to create an account became a barrier for some to sign up for the platform — or at least Mastodon thinks so.
The new onboarding experience for Mastodon will offer a “default sign-up option that works with a server we operate.” If users choose this option, they will create an account within the mastodon.social instance. While some may be concerned that Mastodon is basically advertising its own server over everyone else’s — since the whole point is to be decentralized — the company sees it as a way to get people who wouldn’t have signed up otherwise into the platform.
We believe it’s important for Mastodon to be good as a product on its own merits, and not just because of its ideology. If we only attract people who already care about decentralization, our ability to make decentralization mainstream becomes that much harder. Making the onboarding process as easy as possible helps new users get past the sign-up process and more quickly engage with others.
I actually just signed up for Mastodon and used the new default sign-up experience. It was really easy and I don’t feel like I’m trapped in Mastodon’s own server. I already have my eye on moving my account to the techhub.social instance.
As Mastodon makes its signup experience easier for newcomers to the decentralized social media experience, decentralized Twitter clone BlueSky continues to gain traction. We’ll have to see which decentralized network wins out over the other. Wait, can that happen with decentralized social media networks? Shouldn’t they work together? What is the fediverse?