God I hate Mastodon's UI. Maybe modern UIs too? I have to hover over things to find out it's a link.

Except when I want to see replies to a post, I have to click the time it was posted- then it opens in a new tab? Oh, so to open it in Mastodon I have to click the ... text of the post? Clicking the space to the left of it highlights the post. Does that even do anything? They don't show URLs in my status bar?

Clicking on people's names in posts open up their toots on the very right, but it doesn't show any links on their profile or a permalink. To get that I have to ... click the same link but open it in a new tab? WTF To find my profile external link I have to post something, or click my name about my 'edit profile' in the create post column despite it having no underline.

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Did you know you when making a poll you can click the radio buttons (this name is never mentioned) to change them to checkboxes by ... clicking on the gray radio buttons when making a poll? Those barely visible circles?

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So these are the things I vaguely know about Mastodon from trial and error. Some things that are still confusing:

Do my followers see replies I write? Do they even see that I've made more than one toot for this multi-toot thread? Are toot threads bad for this reason? Should I add (cont) to tell people I'm planning on writing more?

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All of this exclusively talks about accessibility for FULLY ABLED PEOPLE. Mastodon isn't something I can even recommend to people that can't use a mouse let alone HAVE NO VISION. Tabbing through the Mastodon UI will infinitely scroll through my news feed and never let me get to notifications unless I spam it and race MY INTERNET CONNECTION.

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Maybe I'm supposed to use the hotkeys if I can't use a mouse. But 'focusing' one of the columns puts me back at the top, so I lose my position in reading it. I'm not sure how any of this plays with a screen reader. Probably not that well.

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I tried the simple UI and the navigation hotkeys just plain don't work, but now it shows URLs in people's profiles. In advanced too. Oops, I guess I was wrong about that earlier: You do see profile information. My bad.

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But wait, there's third party UIs! I can't self host them, so that just means I get mitmed as a service or whatever is the cool new thing. I understand that's not the fault of the third party UIs and more the state of the Internet as a whole, but it's another hurdle. Anyway, time for my UI reviews:

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Hyperspace beta: Much better accessibility. What's clickable is clear, and you can navigate using a keyboard despite that lack of hotkeys, which are needed to get back to the top from the infinite scroll. Linking to people's profiles isn't exposed as far as I can tell, which is a downside.


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Pinafore: Oh my god this is so much better it's not even funny. It has hotkeys, correct focusing, EXTERNAL PROFILE LINKS. I checked the github and it turns out 'accessibility' is a goal, so no wonder. Accessibility breeds ease of use and coherency for the most part.


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brutaldon: I wasn't too optimistic going in to this because the screenshots looked like trash, and it doesn't use Javascript which is apparently needed to do anything on the modern web now.

But it looks pretty good with its default theme, and doesn't use Javascript, and works in text browsers which is good for the web. I'd have to test it in DOS sometime to see how well this holds up. No keybinds though with Javascript on.


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It's unfair to compare all the Mastodon UIs directly since they each have a different UX and thus different expectations. So here's my personal summary:

Mastodon: Broken keybinds in single column mode, multi-column layout doesn't focus properly, unclear how to get external links to profiles and toot, unclear how to view replies to a toot.


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Hyperspace beta: No keybinds (hard to come back from infinite scroll), good focusing, clear how to view replies, clear how to get external toot link, unclear how to view author's page (you have to click the profile image of a person or use a hamburger menu, their name isn't highlighted), no external link to author's profile.

Pinafore: Good keybinds, good focusing, unclear how to get external links to toots, clear how to get external links to profiles, unclear how to view replies to toots. (cont

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Brutaldon: Doesn't require JS, better browser compatibility, no keybinds but doesn't infinitely scroll, good focusing, unclear how to get external links to toots or profiles, clear how to view replies, crappy themes.

Between them all it's a mixed bag. I feel like aside from the keybinds and focusing issues, most of these are fixable in the same way on each UI. Will post recommendations in next toot.

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1. Add 'view externally' buttons to each toot and profile. Hyperspace beta uses an icon for this in toots.
2. Make the the name of the toot creator and booster link to their profile. Hyperspace beta hides this in a drop-down menu, though the creator avatar photo is clickable.
3. Add 'view replies' button to toots. Mastodon and Pinaform require you to click the post text instead.

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