Quote Tweets On Mastodon Are Pointless

Dec 30, 2022 • Extra Ordinary

Among tech enthusiasts, Mastodon is well and truly taking off as the new online water cooler in place of Twitter.

There are a few growing pains — any platform that takes on a huge influx of users will get that. Issues with servers being overloaded, complaints that the platform design cannot support social movements and that the network is less friendly to marginalized people.

One of the chief complaints even among the Mastodon enthusiasts (of which I am one) is the lack of a quote-tweet equivalent feature. If you are not familiar, or if you are reading this in a post-Twitter future, a quote tweet looks like this:


— D. Griffin Jones (@dgriffinj0nes) October 12, 2022

People who follow me will see both the original tweet and my comment, both of which happen to be the same in this case. Compare that to a reply, which looks like this:

I may be thirteen years late, but The Weather Channel’s “The Best of Smooth Jazz” is a really fire album

— D. Griffin Jones (@dgriffinj0nes) September 17, 2020

You might be confused what the difference is if you don’t use Twitter a lot. Functionally, they are the same feature: a tweet of mine that is in response to another. The only difference to the end user is in the presentation.

This is why Mastodon doesn’t need quote tweets: Twitter doesn’t even need quote tweets. When people ask for quote tweets, what they actually want is a way to show their reply with the context of the original post on the timeline.

In a way, Mastodon has already laid the groundwork for this. Every post has a variety of visibility options: Public (visible for all), Unlisted (visible for all, but opted-out of discovery features), Followers Only (visible only to your followers) and Mentioned People Only (visible only to people mentioned in the post).

What I propose is that replies add an additional toggle: Show With Context. Enabling this will show both the original post with your reply on your timeline. I think it’s the simplest solution that solves the heart of the problem.

And you know what? If this is my biggest problem with Mastodon, we’re in a pretty good spot. Things could be ever so much worse.

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