Why can’t I quote other posts in Mastodon?

If you’re used to Twitter, you may be wondering why there’s no equivalent of the “quote tweet” on Mastodon.

This was a deliberate design decision taken many years ago by the makers of Mastodon. Here are the lead developer’s comments on it:

Another feature that has been requested almost since the start, and which I keep rejecting is quoting messages. Coming back to my disclaimer, of course it’s impossible to prevent people from sharing screenshots or linking to public resources, but quoting messages is immediately actionable. It makes it a lot easier for people to immediately engage with the quoted content… and it usually doesn’t lead to anything good. When people use quotes to reply to other people, conversations become performative power plays. “Heed, my followers, how I dunk on this fool!” When you use the reply function, your message is broadcast only to people who happen to follow you both. It means one person’s follower count doesn’t play a massive role in the conversation. A quote, on the other hand, very often invites the followers to join in on the conversation, and whoever has got more of them ends up having the upper hand and massively stressing out the other person.

Cage the Mastodon: An overview of features for dealing with abuse and harassment ⧉

So, that’s it then? No quoting on Mastodon ever?

It might still happen.

Comments in 2023 by the same lead developer imply that they are considering introducing some kind of quote post feature, possibly with an opt-in system to prevent quoting without consent. Also, quoting posts is in the “Planned” category of the official Mastodon roadmap ⧉.

But I have already seen posts with things quoted in them! What is going on?

Okay, this is where it gets slightly complicated…

There are many different types of server on the Fediverse, not just Mastodon. Some server types may have formatting options that are understood by Mastodon and displayed correctly, even if those formatting options aren’t available within Mastodon itself. That’s why you occasionally see quoted text within posts. (That’s also why you occasionally see rich text like bold, italics, underlining etc.)

However, as far as Mastodon is concerned, at a technical level this not a quoted post but a normal post with some quote-style formatting within it, together with text copied from another post.

Some Mastodon apps say they allow quoting? How can they do this if quoting isn’t possible on Mastodon?

Some third party Mastodon apps do have a quote feature, but this usually only looks like a quoted post to other people using the same app. If you’re viewing it through the official apps or the website interface, it looks like a normal post with text from another post copy-pasted into it.

And again, at a technical level these kinds of “quote posts” are treated by standard Mastodon servers as a normal post with text copied into it from another post.

Is there any workaround I can do to quote posts in standard Mastodon?

In the absence of any official quoting feature, you can just copy the text from the post you want to quote and include a link back to the original, so that people can see it in context. You might also want to mention the author’s account in your post so they know they are being quoted.

↩ Back to the front page