Don't know what Mastodon is? Read my Observations on Mastodon post first.
I'm all in over on Mastodon for #woollyweek. I thought I'd take a moment to jot down all the ways you can support Mastodon even if you're not running your own instance, aren't a programmer, or have a ton of time.
- Support a major Mastodon contributor. Find someone on the contributors list and support them in some way. Money helps but also following them on Mastodon, thanking them, sharing their posts, can also help. Personally I back Eugen Rochko who is the lead contributor. You can too via his Patreon.
- Support your instance. Each instance of Mastodon costs money to run. Usually each instance links to a way to donate from their home pages. Personally I support Valentin Ouvard's Mastodon.cloud since that is the instance I use. You can too via Patreon.
- Support the apps you use. In addition to the main Mastodon web app you may use a mobile app like Amaroq on iOS or Tusky on Android. If you do, these are built by different people than Mastodon itself. Personally I've contributed to John Gabelmann who developer Amaroq (which is excellent btw). You can contribute to Amaroq too via Paypal.
- Support the support staff. A few instances have brought on additional support persons to help them manage the community. When hundreds of thousands of new people are added to a new community and platform within just a few weeks there are tons of questions to be answered, problems to solve, and messages to communicate. Personally I've contributed to maloki. Even though she is the support person for Mastodon.social (an instance I do not use) I see her role as broader than a specific instance's support. You can support her too via Patreon.
- Support the community. There are a ton of ways to do this. Here are just a few: post original content to Mastodon, start conversations, participate in conversations you didn't start, boost an interesting post or two, help to welcome new users, if you see negativity try to help turn it around, and if you notice any abuse let your instance's Admin know.
- File bug reports. This software is still very much under active development. You may have noticed your instance being updated several times in recent weeks. With the entire platform under so much strain from the attention it has received, now is likely the very best time to find issues and report them. You can do so by signing up to Github and adding an issue there.
- Take time to clearly understand Mastodon so you can teach others. Don't just read the headlines on popular tech news sites. Dig in and learn what Mastodon is, how it works. Then, when you hear a conversation about Mastodon you can accurately describe these things to others. Mastodon isn't a Twitter killer as the press likes to position it as. So be sure to help spread good information about it.
- Be inclusive. Mastodon has exploded in France and Japan. Rather than complain about your local instance's timeline being filled with a language you do not understand, embrace the cultural diversity and try to learn a little of those languages or use a translation tool. You'll likely learn something!
- Have fun! Take time each day (or week, if you're busy) and poke around the community to find things you enjoy. Try to have fun with it.
You might be thinking "I don't have enough money to contribute to all of these things!". Yes, you probably do. This morning I bought a small coffee at Starbucks. It cost me $2.50. If I didn't buy this small coffee once per week that'd add up to $10 a month. If I spread out my patronage to each of the above people I can give a few dollars per month to each. Just these few dollars can go a very long way. Over 480,000 people have signed up to Mastodon. If just 5% of those people decided to contribute $10 a month that'd be $240,000 a month.
If you like something and want it to exist, back up that desire by trying to contribute to it in any small way that you can.