Tired of Twitter? Spam, jerks, and advertising got you down? Want to connect with the rest of the animation community in a meaningful way? Good news! Socel is for you. Read this post and find out why.
Social networks are getting a bit of a hammering as of late. Facebook leaks user data, lets others spy on users, and facilitates unsavoury characters in their goal of spreading false information and manipulating opinions. Twitter lets any computer that can access it have an account (no human needed), and has no problem with what some individuals want to say or postulate. All in all, the social networks we’ve been using for the better part of the last decade have issues, and they aren’t likely to get fixed any time soon.
The truly independent web never really went away and in fact is better than ever.
It’s therefore reassuring to learn that the established corporate social networks are not the only players in the game. In fact they’re far from it. The truly independent web never really went away and in fact is better than ever. Without getting too far into the weeds, the ‘benefits’ espoused by Silicon Valley aren’t exclusive to them at all. ‘Connecting people’, ‘bringing communities together’, ‘providing the tools for social interaction’ when thrown about by such companies are mostly buzzwords intended to serve their agendas. In the context of the independent web however, they are very real goals that the fulfil the initial intent of the internet.
Since it doesn’t get near the same level of marketing effort and free publicity in major media outlets, the independent web tends to move along silently until it suddenly enters the spotlight as people realise it offers a superior alternative to proprietary services.
Twitter Kinda Sucks
If you use Twitter you know what I’m talking about. If it isn’t killing off the favourite app you use to interact with the service, they’re screwing with the timelines so that it becomes impossible to see all the tweets you ought to be able to. The company also tends to ignore basic problems on its platform and when it does take notice, it offers users features they never asked for.
Twitter also embodies the old adage that if you are not paying for a product, you are the product. The company hoovers up data and turns it into tools with which to sell advertising. Changes aren’t made for the purposes of benefiting the user, they’re made to increase the company’s bottom line which is often at the expense of the user’s experience.
All in all, Twitter nowadays is less about connecting people and facilitating conversation than it is about voracious yelling, corporate marketing, and harbouring jerks.
Mastodon is a microblogging (read: Twitter-esque) service started by Eugen Rochko two years ago. Building upon efforts by others in the space, he released Mastodon as a fully-fledged platform that allows anyone to create their own version of Twitter (no, really) that ALSO talks to everyone else’s version of Twitter.
What sets Mastodon apart from Twitter isn’t just that anyone can run their own version, it’s that it’s made, run, and maintained by lots of individuals with a sincere and vested interest in seeing it being used in positive ways for users and the community at large.
Mastodon also has multiple timelines that reflect its federated nature. You have your usual home timeline of people you follow, and also the ‘firehouse’ timeline of every public post in the fediverse. In between both is the local timeline, where you can see public posts from other users but only those on the same service as yourself. This distinction is important as we’ll discuss below.
Mastodon currently hosts over one and half million users on over 1,500 unique servers!
So What’s ‘Socel’ Then?
Every server that hosts an implementation of Mastodon is called an instance. Instances have unique names to set them apart. Some admins choose to use a version of Mastodon in the name, while others choose a unique name. ‘Socel’ (a pun on ‘social’) will hopefully grow to become more than just a microblogging site so it was chosen as an instance name that is not explicitly tied to Mastodon.
Socel is open to anyone in the animation industry as well as related fields like illustration, video games, and comics.
What makes Socel stand out against sites like Twitter is that local timeline mentioned above. Since it shows the public posts of everyone else on Socel, you can browse what people are talking about without needing to follow them. It means that for an art-focused instance, you can see current trends and influences among peers without being overwhelmed by what people on other instances are talking about.
Why Should I Join?
Socel is intended to be a place where the animation and related communities can meet, share, discuss, and grow in ways that benefit them. The rules and moderation policies reflect what is best for the users, not what’s best for a company. There’s no annoying advertising and many tools are available to combat spam and problematic users. Socel is open to anyone in the animation industry as well as related fields like illustration, video games, and comics.
Mastodon and Socel evoke the early days of the web and social networks where finding cool new people and talking to them, discovering new influences, and just enjoying yourself in general were the order of the day. Socel users talk with one another, not to one another.
Signing up is quick and straightforward and an onboarding process will guide you around the home screen as you get started.
A Look at Socel’s Features
Now let’s take a look at some of Mastodon’s cool features available on Socel:
Want to post about the latest show but are concerned about spoilers or are simply looking to post on a topic that may be sensitive to some? You can do that with the ‘Content Warning’ feature which will make the toot look like this in others’ timeline:
These images also demonstrate the light and dark appearance options!
Unlike Twitter, on Socel you can select visibility options for each post instead of having to make your entire profile public or private. Instead, you can dictate one of multiple levels that can vary between posts in addition to setting a default option for your profile in the settings.
Custom Emojis and Toot Options
In addition to a range of custom emojis that is growing all the time (and accepting requests) there are a range of options for each toot. Of particular note is the ‘Delete & re-draft’ feature which can help when you suddenly notice that glaring typo after you hit the post button. By selecting it, the offending toot is deleted and you are brought back to the composing text box to edit things before posting again.
Toots are also threaded so follow-up and replies can be easily seen in the home screen. They can also contain images, GIFs, videos, and cards; useful for sharing websites or things that include additional information.
Profile pages are accessible from within Socel and also from the web at large. Check mine out above and at https://socel.net/@charleskenny
Cool! Where do I Sign Up?
Still have questions? Feel free to ask in a comment below or check out the cool animated video: