There are several reasons, primarily because of speed, reliability, and curiosity:
- I am having fun; installing the server and exploring the technology is just something I love doing.
- I am not in any way, shape, or form committed to the federated social network. I can neglect the virtual machine at any point in time or keep it updated with regular working snapshots.
- I am ensuring that I have the options instead of delegating those options to some stranger on the Internet.
First, unlike Twitter, most Mastodon instances are operated by individuals, volunteers running the server application on hardware they own (or at a cloud service they hire). While it may sound like a fun proposition to host a Mastodon party, it attracts many people to these open servers. Most users need to realize that no big company is paying the bills and putting in the work to maintain and update the software; they grew up on Facebook and Twitter, so the thought does not even cross their minds. More users mean more computer resources. Every system has its limits, and speed, or lack thereof, is the first thing you notice missing on popular servers.
I like the services I use to be fast, something significant company-backed propositions like Twitter and Facebook have no problem delivering. However, speed is not guaranteed in the Mastodon federation realm of servers, so I am hosting my server with the hardware it needs to be performant.
Some of these servers may vanish at any moment in time. Some may grow beyond the ability to administrate the Linux platform and keep fresh backups on hand, or the owner may eventually be unable or unwilling to pay for hardware and electricity bills.
Should you join my server https://mrnet.pt? Unless you are not bothered to have your account data lost and committed to a DNS domain I own (for as long as I keep paying for it), the answer should be "no". I have no idea if I will want to keep this server for a few days or a lifetime. However, if you want to see how Mastodon works, with no pre-conceived expectations on how long you will be able to use this server of mine, just testing the waters... let me know, and I'll send you an invite.
Sounds like a precarious investment of your time in social media?
The bad news is that the same goes for every other Mastodon server out there! Unlike big-tech-based social media sites, we are talking about volunteers, private individuals footing the bills and their own time. Make of it what you want, but I needed to ensure the fate of my Mastodon account was in my hands.
If you decide to join my Mastodon instance, let me tell you that I may take it down to use the computer for a few hours for something else. See, my hardware, my electricity, no commitment to your needs. If you're okay with "it will be available to you when it's available to me" then great, have fun.
I am a geek. I like technology. Looking at the Mastodon server side of things is fun for me. Yes, it will be a pain to maintain over time, there will be downtime episodes, and none of that bothers me. But, quite the opposite, it looks like a great hobby for those rainy days.
I dislike Ruby on rails with a passion. The masochist in me just decided to do it.
My Mastodon: https://mrnet.pt/web/@pls