To the chagrin of many Mastodon users, the software’s developer has decided to formally retire the word “toot,” a term long used to describe posts on the decentralized social media service.
The latest version of Mastodon — 4.0.0 — rolled out on Monday, introducing dozens of tweaks to the web app. Among them, the “Toot” button has been replaced with one that now simply says “Publish.” Many users lamented the change and said they planned to continue calling posts “toots” anyway.
Because Mastodon’s software is open source, the many third-party apps running it aren’t immediately affected. The iPhone app Metatext, for instance, has so far retained its Toot button.
Eugen Rochko, the software’s German creator, explained amid a flood of new users this month that he’d adopted the word “toot” early on at the urging of a popular Youtuber who’d offered him financial support as long as he continued using the term, which in addition to describing the noise created by a horn is — in American English at least — a synonym for the word “fart.”
Rochko said at the time he was unaware of the connotation.
“Probably not a lot of people know this now, but Mastodon’s web app started out with ‘Publish’. In 2016, a famous YouTuber jokingly offered to support Mastodon’s Patreon forever if I changed the button to say ‘Toot’ instead. Needless to say, this was a really early, and not very informed decision. The first glimpse of attention and financial support. As a non-native speaker I had no idea there was another meaning,” Rochko said in a post last May.
The word “toot” in German translates to “tröten,” which apparently just describes the sound made by wind instruments. (“Publish” meanwhile is “veröffentlichen,” which is obviously much longer and less fun to say.)
Earlier this month, Rochko explained the decision to formally abandon the toot:
“Developing Mastodon, I strive to use terminology that is familiar to as many people as possible so as not to put up unnecessary barriers in understanding. For this reason I am happy that we went away from calling posts ‘toots’. It has always been a point of friction for people,” he said, adding that using the word had a “negative effect” and offered little benefit.
At least several users had started using the hashtag #BringBackTheToot.
One user wrote: “It is the most shattering experience of a young person’s life when one morning they awake and quite reasonably say to themself: ‘I shall never toot again.’ When that moment comes, one’s ambition ceases.”
“The conscious mind may be compared to a fountain playing in the sun and falling back into the great subterranean pool of subconscious from which it rises to #toot again,” wrote another.
Other Mastodon changes include the ability to follow hashtags, filter followed accounts by language, and the ability of admin to create their own user roles (previously, the software had only 2 roles other than admin: user and moderator.) A full list of additions and changes can be viewed on Github.