Mastodon post length

I just posted to Mastodon and notice that it truncated at 291 characters, including the ellipses but not including the link. Please extend the shortening post length to take advantage of Mastodon’s 500-character limit.

Notwithstanding that tiny problem, cross-posting works great. My post to showed up on Mastodon and Tumblr in seconds, and looked perfect in both places (other than the truncation on Mastodon).

Thanks for doing a great job with I used it regularly until a year or two ago and then wandered off. You’ve been doing excellent work incrementing features and keeping the site going, and I’m grateful.


Thank you! I’m looking into expanding the truncation for Mastodon.


Could we get an extended mode in the web editor for Mastodon posts, so it’s visually clear when each respectively character limit (for both the MB Timeline and Mastodon Timeline) is reached without watching the actual character count? I could imagine color-coding the text, if that’s even possible.


It’s possible. The macOS app actually still colors the remaining text counter blue for < 140 characters, leftover from Twitter’s old limit.

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+1 for this.

Meta-query: Does the community prefer actual posts to bump feature requests, or is :heart:-ing the OP sufficient?

I prefer actual replies. To be honest, I don’t usually pay attention to the :heart: button.

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:smile: :+1:

For what it’s worth, I’ve disabled crossposting to mastodon, and I just cut-and-paste manually. Truncation to 280 characters is part of the reason, but only part. The other part is that in general, good formatting for a blog is not the same as good formatting for Mastodon.

I’m not hung up on this. The fediverse is evolving rapidly, and I expect cross-posting decisions I make today will not be the same decisions I make in a few months.

Just occurred to me: I see the same problem with post length when I try to view the ActivityPub feed for my blog through a Mastodon client.

Again, not a big deal, but definitely a bug.

Why truncate the post length at all?

Manton, you’ve commented elsewhere that you don’t see as a Mastodon instance–it’s a node in the fediverse? So why not just expose the entirety of every post via ActivityPub, and let the client or Mastodon instance at the other end of the wire decide whether and how much to truncate the post?

I’m still ignorant of how this all works, but if that means that posts added to my feed would never be truncated, I’d want some way to optionally specify an excerpt for some posts. My feed is a mix of micro- and long-form-blog posts, and I wouldn’t want the long-form ones ending up in social timelines in an unsummarized form.

When you say your feed, do you mean your feed, or your mastodon timeline?

I’m not proposing any change to the feed here–just to the face that shows to the fediverse (including Mastodon).

I expect there may be a good reason why my suggestion is a bad idea. I’m OK with that–and curious what it might be!

I have my own answer on that – I absolutely hate seeing huge blog posts in Mastodon, and a long post with embedded pictures would look terrible. Too many servers and clients do a bad job of sanitizing this resulting in a bad experience when you do this.

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I don’t think these are distinct. At least not when using one’s account as one’s mastodon identity. The case of cross-posting to mastodon is a different story, of course, but we still have to take the former situation into account if the same rules regarding truncation are applied everywhere.

Actually, I suppose that’s the question: would changing truncation behavior for, say, cross-posting change the behavior everywhere? If so, it seems as though having a one-size-fits-all truncation behavior isn’t as flexible as we need in these times of multiple feeds for multiple media. Is there a way of setting this behavior per target without exploding complexity?

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Each separate cross-posting service has its own truncation rules in, so it would be fine to change one without changing another. For example, Twitter could be 280 and Mastodon 500.

For posts sent out via ActivityPub, I’m not sure the best way to handle it. Currently it sends what you see in the timeline. That means for long posts with a title, just the title and link. I think it might be jarring to send the full post text to Mastodon… Technically I believe it would work, though, because there are forks of Mastodon that have much higher text limits. Mastodon wasn’t really designed as a full blog reader, so the experience might not be great for followers.


I agree with this… though also, in practice, I find just the title and a link jarring, too, with my feed. Title+link seems an appropriately sane default, but given my druthers, I’d love a way to customize an excerpt to go along with. Like an optional front-matter property or something?

But that sounds like a distinct feature from cross-posting truncation, so I’ll make a new thread.

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I think the most flexible recommendation in the past has been one of two things:

  1. Exposing customization of the summary template that Hugo has by default for users to customize in front matter or post metadata (default truncates at a certain character point).
  2. Exposing per-cross-post summary templates to customize.

I honestly think the truncate plus link is best, with sane truncation rules, which is what I think Manton has, he just hasn’t decided to raise the limit for Mastodon truncation yet.

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My two wishes for truncated posts are:

  1. Have the link in a separate line with a line break in between.
  2. Have the summary/truncated text support rich text.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the problem here is not or Mastodon. It’s me.

I’m doing the virtual equivalent of walking into a Kentucky Fried Chicken and complaining there’s too much chicken in there.

If Manton and his team think my suggestions are good, I will be pleased to have been helpful. And if they think I am full of stuff and nonsense, that’s fine too.

It’s a bit more complicated for Mastodon… each Mastodon instance can set its own limit. So a server might expect 140, 500, 10000. It depends where you’re crossposting to. :grimacing: