Jesse Lawson

buy me a coffee ☕ / GitHub / Mastodon

Oct 15, 2022

There's no true account portability in Mastodon

#Mastodon #Fediverse

TL;DR: As a user migrating from one Mastodon instance to another, I should be able to import all of my data (including previously written content) to the server I choose to identify with.

When the admin of mastodon.technology announced that the server would be shut down, I engaged the process of moving my account to another server. This involved downloading an archive of my data from the server and then bringing that archive into another server. Truth be told, the microblogging format is really not for me, but I, like any human, enjoy the ephemeral digital connections that happen from time to time.

Downloading my information was simple enough: Mastodon has a way to download an archive of your data, including all your posts. I was relieved to find that this was possible; several years ago I remember being really frustrated that I couldn’t get all the content I wrote out of another mastodon instance that was shutting down.

Uploading my content, though, was another story. While I can transfer over my followers and following (via linked account), I cannot import all of my past data—my posts, my images, my activity and rich history of what makes me me in a digital space. We are, after all, the sum total of our experiences, and while I get the appeal for some to start anew, I have a growing feeling that there are many out there like me who would prefer to keep all their history—the good, the bad, the ugly, and the mundane—when they move to a new instance.

Mastodon just wasn’t designed to be the kind of platform where you can move all your content around to different servers, so either we need to update Mastodon to allow for this to happen, which would have a significant impact to the server admin and hosting folks, create a new fork (in this economy?), or create a new solution built from the premise of true acccount portability.