Suspension might expose Mastodon’s following bugs

Mastodon continues to be buggy, and it reminds me of the failures I have seen on other platforms.

As detailed earlier, spammers hit (and, eventually, others), causing admins to limit their own instances’ connections with it. Two, and, went further and suspended the connections. Due to poor documentation, as far as I can make out, these admins were unaware that suspensions would sever the connections users of their instance had with those at the other place. I lost 500, Olivia St Redfern 400, and Byron C. Clark 1,000. (Oddly for me, two remained.)

I’m obviously unimpressed that such an extreme action was taken, but we can’t turn the clock back.

Very kindly, Si Dawson offered to help me, and others like me, try to re-create their connections.

Soon after the suspension last week, I requested my full archive. And again. And again. It never arrived. But Si could only run his scripts if he had our full archives, to see which addresses we had interacted with.

Today, that archive finally did, after yet a further request. In my opinion, this is poorer than anything I’ve ever experienced from Big Social. Even Twitter, in its death throes, could deliver my archive last year.

Also during this time, I tried to connect with some old friends who I remembered. Many had figured out what was missing and we managed to reconnect while the suspension (later downgraded to limiting) was still on. But it seems others would never work.

Carolyn Stirling, who I’ve enjoyed following on two platforms now, is one of many examples. I’ll mention her here only because there’s a public record of our dialogue.

My feed is not very Kiwi at all because good people like Carolyn are missing. Even the Radio New Zealand bot is dead. Carolyn’s following me, and in her app she is sure she is. I can now see that, but for a while I couldn’t. However, I can’t see her. On my end, Mastodon still says ‘Withdraw follow request’, the message it gives when the other person has not accepted. Again, Carolyn is sure that she has accepted me.

If I click ‘Withdraw’, and then ‘Follow’ (which is what the button becomes), Mastodon says I am following Carolyn, as the button changes to ‘Following’.

Until I return later, and it’s back to ‘Withdraw’.


Grace, the positive, friendly, and most public admin at tells me that there are no more restrictions against there. Yet nothing has changed about our ability to follow them. We might as well be limited.
I sent the files Si needed from my archive and he quickly came back with a list of hundreds of accounts that I had interacted with since I joined in 2017. It was incredible. (Thank you, Si!) I decided to work through them and begin reconnecting with people. To little avail: they wind up like Carolyn’s account, and I’m in a queue which they don’t see. The overwhelming majority of the ones I attempted tonight—and there were dozens—do not go through. I don’t follow them. Only eight worked.

And they can’t follow me back easily. There’s a caution message if they do click through:



This could well be poor software design, and its remedy might be complex. I’ve come across database issues like this before, notably at Vox, but also at Facebook. Call me a pessimist, but I can’t see this getting fixed. To a layman, it looks like some database corruption sparked by the suspension.

I could always leave for Vivaldi, where I already have an account, and start over. Mastodon supposedly has a way to let you migrate but so far a lot of its claims haven’t held up.

Calckey is looking really good right now. I don’t like the interface but at least the code is different enough and its founder is accessible.

Mastodon is better than OnlyKlans, but that’s a very low bar.

It’s less buggy than Facebook, but that’s also a very low bar.

All this in what was already a very tough month, with some of the lowest traffic I’ve seen on this blog. First it was Google and Bing failing, and now it’s the collapse of social media.
PS.: One more confirmation that we are blocked despite not being blocked:

P.PS.: Here’s Grace with what happened—and now things are at last normal, since the original block two Mondays ago:

I’m still thinking it was a mistake for Mastodon to nominate as the default. Once I recover things a bit more, it looks like I’ll move instances after six years. I expect that to be fraught with difficulties and another hit to the follower count. (Yes, I get that the count is not supposed to matter, but it sure impacts on this blog’s traffic.)

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2 thoughts on “Suspension might expose Mastodon’s following bugs

  1. I don’t see @[email protected] nor do I get a warning (since I can’t see it anyway).

    As for traffic, something wacky is going on in the world, but I don’t know that it has much to do with Mastodon.

    I seem to be getting a lot of referral spam, lately. So plenty of “traffic.” But I also think that (a) Bard and Bing Chat answers are replacing search results for real humans and they’re not digging much deeper; and (b) real humans think nothing of re-sharing absolute crap with a catchy headline, but are wary of clicking a link – any link – given to them by a real friend. It is discouraging, to say the least.

    I am disenchanted and bored by the internet, lately. And still, I can’t quite bring myself to quit it and become a digital hermit.

  2. Hi Holly, I’m not on It was who suspended (banned) for a period. In doing so I lost all my connections—and I have not recovered them. So much for owning my own data—when they can be lost at the whim of an admin.

    That’s sad about those LLM-driven programs. They have to be the least reliable source on the web!

    I still love my work but then if it weren’t for the print editions, I wonder if I would still be as interested …

    Your writing is still awesome. I still enjoy it. Nothing like decent writing—by a human.

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