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A quick Mastodon migration guide for Twitter botanists

People are looking to leave Twitter, but where can they go to?

An ornate and stylised Mastodon in a metallic and Twitter-like blue against a rust coloured background.
An ornate and stylised Mastodon in a metallic and Twitter-like blue against a rust coloured background. Image created using DiffusionBee with the prompt “twitter to mastodon, Detailed and Intricate, Concept Art, Colored Pencil”.

The migration begins

As winter is approaching in the Northern Hemisphere, birds are migrating toward sunnier lands. But this year, unlike any others, a new, stranger type of migration is occurring : flocks of blue birds are leaving their nesting site to change into furry elephants. [and unless you have been living under a rock for the past months, you know exactly what we mean…]

That migration, occurring for many different reasons, is leaving everyone slightly lost in this new, unknown environment. Twitteratis do not know these strange new terms such as boosting, toot, server or fediverse. What is good though, is that this new environment has been welcoming and many have produced resource to find our way and understand the dynamics of this new ecosystem (such as here, here or here). Great resources are out there, and we do not need to produce a new one. 

I am alone here?

But one issue remains : how do we rebuild here? How do we find our friends and colleagues that we loved talking with on the bird site? In other words, where are the Mastodon Botanists? 

There are different ways to reconnect with your fellow scientists. We list some of them below. 

The first one, is to use a migration tool, such as Movetodon, to find who, amongst your Twitter followers, have a Mastodon account. Again, several tools exist, are well documented and work with varying accuracy. Just type in “twitter migration mastodon” in your preferred search engine and you will find what you need. 

The second solution is to browse through science oriented servers such as genomic.social, fediscience.org, ecoevo.social or scholar.social and find interesting accounts to follow (although not all servers allow you to see their members). 

The third way is to follow groups based on topics you are interested in, such as plants@a.gup.pe on plants or academicchatter@a.gup.pe on academic live. Groups look like regular users but they automatically share anything you send them with all of their followers.

Finally, a fourth option is to import lists of people to follow from existing resources. Since the migration began, several people have produced such opt-in lists and they are populating quickly. Mary Williams created a form to collect plant-lovers accounts on Mastodon, that already references more than 100 people and can be easily imported into your account (see here how to do it). And if you want to expand your horizon, you can even check this list of lists that contains all sorts of toothed academics : https://github.com/nathanlesage/academics-on-mastodon

Mastodon, so far

Personally, moving from Twitter to Mastodon felt a bit like moving from a big city to a small village. You are still in a human community, but smaller and with slightly different rules. It feels (for now at least) quieter, without the constant noise and endless suggestions pushed to you. The direct consequence of this is also that it feels more active and deliberate. You have to actively search for and find people to create a new network. Back to the village analogy, there is no more food delivered to your door, you have to go to an actual store to get your food. And finally, the most existing aspect to me is that we get to (re)create a (plant-based) community from the ground up, with new members and dynamics.

We do not have to copy what we had before, we can imagine what we want, to be more inclusive, open and connected. And we hope you will help us there!

Guillaume Lobet

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