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Author's profile photo Jim Spath

Is it time to join the elephant parade? Or: what is this Mastodon doing in my web?

If you follow current tech events, you surely know a large investor recently took over a large social media site. Today, I’m putting my detective hat on the coatrack to share my views on migrating from one “social” site to another. Perhaps you recall Geocities, or MySpace, or way further back, CompuServe? Those were thriving but then something better (or just flashier) came along. Maybe not better, but the promise of “more signal less noise” is to be desired.

I heard about Mastodon from another SAP Community member a few months ago, wrangled an invite, then set up the skeletal account steps. You know the drill, a short bio, a picture, and an introductory post. The site encourages hashtags, so I threw a few of them into my bio. Just need to remember to use something other than “#fail”.

Fast forward to the end of October, and the twitter corporate takeover. There was much angst among some that the carefully built society of friends, contacts, and others would be damaged by a mercurial leader, hence leading to the great migration to Mastodon.

I don’t need to write details on the comparative design architecture, because this has been done for the SAP Community:

Use the Fediverse instead of Twitter, LinkedIn, …

And further back, this prescient post:

Microblogging as an addition to SAP Community – introducing Mastondon (GNUSocial / Fediverse )

And today, I found out there is a (new) Mastodon for the SAP community:





You can see by the user counts this is very early in a ramp-up phase. Yet, Mastodon has been around for years, so the impact of “new users” on “old users” is yet to be realized. One fediverse site I just looked at says they are shutting downLast week, with […] news, the fediverse generally experienced extra traffic with an influx of new users.”


  • New tech, or at least unfamiliar. Some folks like tackling the unknown.
  • Open source. Mastodon code is fully available. (I see this as a plus)
  • Explore new worlds, meet new people.


  • New tech; for those who don’t like the unknown.
  • Federated design can be challenging to navigate
  • Apps on the weak side, features in flux (i.e. translations).
    • Search doesn’t work right on my Android tablet in the web client
    • Browsing the federated stream causes jumpy rendering
    • Private messages aren’t encrypted (yet)

I happened to join first an instance ( that is based in Germany, harkening back to the early hacker days of the Chaos Computer Club. While I don’t speak or even read German, seeing all of those posts reminds me of reading ABAP commentary from the R/3 3.x days. While a few SAP community people are there, I’ve found others on similar fedi-sites.

The instance pictured above was set up by Helmut Tammen with this announcement:

We are live. 
From now on you can register your account at 
After the approval (may take some time, depending on my workload) 
you can use it to interact with other Fediverse users.
Come in and join us.


From what I’ve learned, you can migrate from one fedi-site to another, though there are potential issues with followers and history. The number of scripts/tools to find Mastodon users on twitter so you can follow them again is inspiring (as long as no data leaks or other surprises are found in these “wild-west-grub-stakes-claim” days).

I put “(mastodon at” into my twitter bio; not saying this to gain followers but as advice for people to find followers with mutual interests. Other people have altered their handle to display their new address in every post, like this:


Mastodon listing on twitter



p.s. Part of this post title is a takeoff on the Groucho Marx joke from Animal Crackers about an elephant in pajamas.

p.p.s You can follow who you like, of course, but one person I’d recommend outside the SAP main eco-sphere is: “”.


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      Author's profile photo Helmut Tammen
      Helmut Tammen

      Wow!! Fantastic Jim.

      Thank you very much

      Author's profile photo Jim Spath
      Jim Spath
      Blog Post Author

      Helmut - thank you!

      I tried to update my bio here but unless someone knew this was a Mastodon address it would not be very revealing.



      SAP Community Elsewhere links

      Author's profile photo Antonio Maradiaga
      Antonio Maradiaga

      You can also use the @username@instance.url. In my case I've shared my Mastodon presence like that in my SAP Community profile - See you there 🙂

      Author's profile photo Damian Tometzki
      Damian Tometzki

      Hello Mr Tammen,

      great to see saptodon for SAP Architects and Developers.Perhaps you can accept my invite from dtometzki

      Many Thanks



      Author's profile photo Jim Spath
      Jim Spath
      Blog Post Author

      Helmut Tammen I would be interested to hear about the workload required to set up your "SAPtoDON" instance. Particularly intrigued by whether you will get help:


      But I think in near future we will get some additional moderators will help us to maintain this server. If you want to support send us a message.


      Author's profile photo Helmut Tammen
      Helmut Tammen

      Hi Jim Spath,

      the technical setup was done very quickly.

      • Register a domain (5 minutes)
      • Finding a Mastodon hoster (1 hour)
      • Order a Mastodon server at the Mastodon hoster and clarify some questions (I took a small one from Germany, 1-2 hours)

      The server was available within a few hours.

      The configuration took a bit more time.

      • Define server rules (2-4 hours)
      • Write terms of use and privacy policies (~ 6 hours)
      • Defining servers that are banned cause of harassment, porn content, violence, ... (2-3 hours)

      If I sum that up I'm at ~ 15 hours of work.

      But especially the work on the terms of use and privacy policies was very interesting cause I haven't thought about it in that depth before. Cause I'm living in Germany and german digital laws are not always simple I wanted to fulfill them of course. A podcast (in german) which discussed these topics helped me very much.

      Regarding the help issue: I currently can manage / moderate this server on my own. It's not much work and I learn what I can do as a server admin on the job. So currently it's great fun.

      Author's profile photo Andreas Huppert
      Andreas Huppert

      SAP should have its own Mastodon instance, in addition/to complement the SAP Community (that might be even a reuse of if Helmut allows it). Reasons:

      • It starts with the same reasons why SAP has accounts posting on every major social network: reach the people on the platforms where they are. Mastodon is no longer niche, so we should be there. I guess we have many interactions on social networks with people which do not bother to create a SAP Community account.
      • It would be easy to mark official accounts or SAP employees on SAP Mastodon, which is not possible on other social media.
      • SAP controls its own server, which is also not possible on other social platforms, so it can enforce its own rules for a nice atmosphere.
      • It makes SAP look progressive - at least if we do it quickly instead of lagging behind
      • SAP could automatically set up accounts for each employee, which is not possible with other social networks.
      • It would help SAP employees to separate business related activity from private activity (SAP Mastodon for business related stuff, other accounts for private activity)

      Other companies already do this (NY Times, Heise, ...), even the german goverment has created its own Mastodon instance with great success - they are onboarding institutions daily which had trouble using platforms in countries outside of the EU. Companies and individual users terminate their Twitter accounts.

      SAP would need to decide if they allow non-employees to have accounts on SAP Mastodon or not. Both has its pros and cons, especially considering the overlap with SAP Community accounts.

      A discussion about companies/institions starting their own Mastodon instances:

      Please comment - what do you think? Especially a statement from Thomas Grassl would be great.

      Author's profile photo Jim Spath
      Jim Spath
      Blog Post Author

      Andreas Huppert thank you for the perspective. These discussions must be happening in multiple corporations and organizations that built out large Twitter presences. Just look around at packaging, for example:


      4 social media icons on a package

      Communication teams must be scrambling with damage control plans right now, as rumors and other mass media effects ebb and flow.

      For myself, I can see benefits of both community-hosted instances, and corporate-managed. From what Helmut Tammen shared, the set-up is trivial. But the strategy of deciding on platform rules/policies and broadcasting that seems an order of magnitude more difficult for a big entity than a sole proprietor.

      My only quibble with "makes SAP look progressive" is that I'd rather see a community-led, carefully curated instance built out than one thrown together to appear to be ahead of the curve.

      Is Mastodon "the one"? We will see.


      Author's profile photo Andreas Huppert
      Andreas Huppert

      Jim Spath Thanks for the feedback. I guess Mastodon will be by no means exclusive, but it has new and unique possibilities which the other platforms do not have.

      Author's profile photo Lee Barnard
      Lee Barnard
      I am not familiar with the platform, but from the point of view of accessibility, our audiences could benefit from less reliability on the sort of social media platforms that do not support features like alt texts for images, subtitles for videos - assuming that Mastodon would support these important accessibility features.
      The many people who share messages on social media and who are aware of the shortcomings of some of the platforms, currently struggle with workarounds such as adding alt texts manually as comments or having to produce videos with open (burnt-in) captions where closed captions would be the better option.
      Author's profile photo Jim Spath
      Jim Spath
      Blog Post Author

      Lee Barnard this is such a great comment that I posted separately on it:

      Second thoughts on the great Mastodon Migration

      Short (tl;dr) synopsis: Mastodon has great potential for better accessibility and being open source will help that happen.

      Author's profile photo Florian Halder
      Florian Halder


      it would be great to get news about all the different SAP Developer topics on Mastodon instead of Twitter.

      Author's profile photo Helmut Tammen
      Helmut Tammen

      Thank you Andreas Huppert for this discussion. It is very helpful.

      When I wrote this blog post in July 2022, I had the hope that a discussion on the topic would arise and that SAP would perhaps make everything it currently posts on #birdsite & Co available on Mastodon as well.
      Unfortunately, both failed to materialise. When Mr Musk took over Twitter, I was fed up and decided to switch completely to Mastodon, regardless of whether people follow me or not. I want to be able to control my data and my contributions on the internet.
      When a fellow asked me whether it wouldn't make sense to run a "SAP" Mastodon server, I acted quickly. If SAP were to provide its own community server, I would be quite prepared to give up the domain even though I think they should use a domain like

      In my view, Mastodon and the Fediverse are only the beginning of a new, self-determined Internet. Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the "inventor" of the internet, has developed the vision of Web 3.0, called Solid (not related to the Web 3.0 the blockchain community propagates). Here, a wide variety of data is not managed in the databases of the big companies, but is held by the users of the internet in their own pods and released to the companies for processing. See also this article for some more high-level information.
      Here, SAP could show how progressive they are by perhaps first converting their community and then more and more business applications to it.

      Thank you for your support.

      P.S. The European Union is also on Mastodon.

      Author's profile photo Thomas Grassl
      Thomas Grassl

      From a community strategy, we differentiate between the core functionality SAP provides (Q&A, Blogging, Discussions, ...) and community-supporting social networks. For the core, we want to ensure the community members can use and get the maximum out. This is naturally done by focusing on SAP topics and the members know that they will get through the focus the best discussion, answers, and ideas.

      Social networks like Twitter are much broader and they can have any type of topic. SAP is active as well to engage within these networks but we also recognized these need to stay independent to drive the larger reach.

      I have not had a chance to personally go and explore Mastodon more, it is not very clear how it will evolve, and as pointed out in the discussions it's a space to watch how it develops.

      Author's profile photo Helmut Tammen
      Helmut Tammen

      Hi Thomas,

      would be no big effort for SAP to create a few Mastodon users at whatever server SAP likes (own instance, saptodon or any of the other thousands of servers around the world) and post everything that's going to Twitter also to Mastodon. Mastodon has an API to automate that.

      SAP could also use crossposting (e.g. via MOA Party) between Twitter and Mastodon but I think you can do better, can't you?

      Posting to Mastodon would be a statement not just the support of another social media platform: "We at SAP respect and support all those people who attach a lot of importance to free, self controlled communication without tracking and advertising".

      If SAP Community would support the Web 3.0 ideas of Tim Berners-Lee (s. above) I would be the happiest man. But I start dreaming of the unreachable, sorry.