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Toot the Word Survey Finds Mastodon Increasingly Important to WordPress’ Community of Tooters

More than 200 users on Mastodon who consider themselves part of the WordPress community, responded to the recent Toot the Word 2023 Survey, which was conducted by the admins of five WordPress-oriented Mastodon instances. The purpose of the survey was to help those running these instances understand how important Mastodon is for the WordPress community and what they can do to improve their instances to foster a better meeting place.

Key findings from the survey have been published alongside the raw data on GitHub for anyone to analyze. More than 82% of respondents (172/209) said they frequently use Mastodon. The community is active and Mastodon is an important social channel for those who have adopted it in addition to their other networks.

A few other highlights from the published findings include:

  • Nearly all participants of the survey expect Mastodon to have some kind of influence on the WordPress community in the future, a majority thinks Mastodon will be very influential or extremely influential. Most of the participants want to see more WordPress content and community discussions on Mastodon in the future.
  • Generally, users on WordPress-oriented instances state that the communication with the community on Mastodon is important to their WordPress-related social media activity. They also are working with the community, or state that they are WordPress Community influencers, more often than users on common instances.

The survey also found that the respondents who rated themselves as important to the WordPress community seem higher in WordPress-related instances, which may mean that those looking for more relevant WordPress-related content and interactions are better-suited joining these existing instances rather than unrelated ones or creating their own.

“For me as an instance admin, it’s important to know that all the work I’m doing means something for the tooters on my instance and the entire community,” administrator Daniel Auener told the Tavern. “I think the survey has shown that many in the still small WP/Mastodon community see this network as important as I do. So I’m quite confident (as many of the surveys participants) that Mastodon will have its place in the WordPress community.”

Administrating a Mastodon instance is not trivial. The users depend on the administrator to keep everything up and running with system updates, hosting, community moderation, curating community lists, and other housekeeping tasks. Auener said his current hosting costs are $20-30/month and they are 70-80% covered by one-time donations and commitments on Patreon.

“If nothing more, the [survey] results will keep me and my wptoots-instance going,” Auener said. “I even hope that the results will show others within the community that Mastodon as a social network is worth supporting and finding their own ways to contribute.”

Auener hasn’t planned anything specific yet but based on the results it is clear that participants want to have more WordPress content in their timelines.

“I think one of the best ways of achieving that would be to onboard more WordPress sites to the fediverse via ActivityPub,” he said. “Working in that direction is something I’m thinking about.”

There is an ActivityPub plugin for WordPress that implements the ActivityPub protocol for so that readers can follow your site’s posts on Mastodon and other federated platforms that support ActivityPub. It is currently used by more than 2,000 WordPress sites and is one avenue for users to automate sharing their content across the fediverse. A search for Mastodon plugins turns up several other auto sharing plugins and Jetpack is also considering adding Mastodon support to Publicize after many requests on a ticket opened in 2017.

Some Mastodon users on other instances have considered switching to a WordPress-oriented instance, so increasing education for users on how to move to a new instance is another improvement Auener is considering.

“The data even seems to support that the quality of (WordPress-)conversation is better on our instances,” he said. “So spreading that information, helping people to move and keeping our instances a safe space for great WordPress discussions is another cause for action.”

Joining Mastodon’s federated network is still intimidating for some who are not familiar with how the instances work and are not sure which one to join. Others fear they may lose out on interactions and connections by moving to a lesser-used social network. This survey indicates that the WordPress-related instances are active and important to the community interacting there. Auener has created a document called The WordPressers Guide to the Fediverse for those who are new and want to learn more.

“I would like to align my work more with the WordPress community and the work all the amazing people in the community teams and initiatives do,” he said. “I’m quite new in the game and think I can learn a lot from people working within the community for years. I think Mastodon/the Fediverse aligns very well with WordPress values but there is still a lot of convincing to do.”