How to Mastodon

Right now a lot of people are considering to join Mastodon, but aren’t quite sure how and/or what to do with it.

Those of you in the know: please share your experiences, tips, links…


Okay, I joined but if it only puts things in my feed that I follow how on earth do I find stuff?

When I signed up I was only presented with a short list of people, I chose George Takei because he was the only person I recognized. My feed is filled with only his posts.

I really don’t get it.

I need an algorithm to get me started.


Follow Cory and you’ll have a tonne of stuff every day!

Seriously though, if you don’t have a server you need to join or people that you want to follow maybe don’t bother and free up the time/ head space that you used to use on Twitter instead?


Just found this thread concerning new admins.



Okay, I’ll be that guy. This is like a thread “How to Outlook” when it’s about email.


There are different ways to get to things depending on your client, but in the web client on desktop, you have four feeds:

  • Home: only people you follow.
  • Local: everyone on your home instance.
  • Federated: Everything from everywhere (that your instance chooses to federate with), firehose-style. (This may not be directly accessible in mobile apps)
  • Explore: Active posts/hashtags/news, and “For you”.

If you want to use the Federated feed, do yourself a favor and turn on ‘Slow Mode’ in the preferences. This refreshes the feed with a click, otherwise it scrolls by very rapidly.


Here’s what I don’t get: I see a post by, say, George Takei. The dialogue bubble below the post shows that it has had 30 responses. I’d like to see what they are, so I click on the bubble. Surprise! It only allows me to respond, not to view any other responses. Why even show me the amount of engagement if I’m not allowed to follow the conversation?

Also, I’m a bit confused about how serendipity enters the picture - as bad as the algorithms in other social media are, they sometimes delivered the goods. I don’t see any real way to break out of one’s rigidly-defined lane with Mastodon. Sure, I can explicitly seach for people I’d find interesting to follow, but I often don’t know ahead of time who these people are. Mastodon seems to lend itself to social stovepiping, and I’m not sure how to avoid this.


Twitter does the same thing. Click on the replies icon and get the reply box (and I’ve been caught by that innumerable times.)

Click on the body of the toot. You’ll see replies.


Ah, ok! Thanks!

1 Like

I’m on the largest instance, Madtodon dot Online. Registrations have been limited to invite-onlqy due to server load.

… if people are confused about the jargon, it’s possible that the jargon is unnecessarily confusing


They’re doing an emergency evacuation of Twitter, so it takes time to realize that Mastodon (and especially a single instance of Mastodon) isn’t the only choice.

There was a time when people would give out several email addresses because that was walled gardens too. Once people adjust, a single platform like Twitter will probably seem as a strange as Compuserve being someone’s everything online.


How to mastodon:
1) decide which devices you’ll use it on
Are you using a computer? If you like programs, there’s Whalebird. Browser? Try your instance’s web interface, or a custom web interface like Pinafore once you’ve registered on an interface. iOS? Metatext. Android? Tusky.

2) decide if you want nudity / and or declaring how much you want to punch nazis
This is important!

Some servers disallow posts containing nudes, lewds, and uh doing the fisticuffs kind of pounding to nazis. If you don’t want to see these kinds of posts, look for a “balanced” server, like Vivaldi Social,,, or If you hate electoralism and want to punch nazis, the anarchist server Kolektiva would be happy to have you. There’s a news-oriented instance ( online as of a few months ago. If you’re a Christian, there are christian-focused servers, too.

public server list here: Servers - Mastodon

3) actually register on mastodon

4) start finding your flock
Migrating to Mastodon from that godforsaken bird app, is easy. Tools like FediFinder or Debirdify search through your followers or following to find any addresses they’ve posted, and then puts it in a neat little package. You then feed that package to your mastodon account by visiting your Mastodon server’s settings page (/settings/import/).

FediDirectory can help you find experts and interesting people.

The Local and /Public feed on your mastodon server displays every public post people make, as they make them, in real time. maintains a list of identity-verified journalists and which instance they’re on. Journalist-exclusive instances,, and, have closed-application-only memberships but are actual factual journalists.

  1. Tell people you’ve registered
    So, you’ve registered for mastodon. You’ve found people to follow.

But have you told your friends from the other place where to find you?

If you’re on twitter: edit your profile and insert your mastodon address in your profile. Your mastodon address looks like @username@server.address

  1. TIPS:

Enable Advanced Mode!

Easily find people to follow via search!

You can check out any time:

Moving instances is easy:
Visit /settings/migration if you find you created an account on another server and want to move your existing account to the other server!


If you have a RPi4 with 4+GB, and installing software toolchains doesn’t phase you, then this might be for you. Assuming your ISP allows servers, you can use a free DDNS domain, and then you’re cooking with gas.

I’ll say again: Mastodon will scale well if you want build up to a server farm and be the next, but it’s a tight fit on minimal hardware. There are other packages that are more frugal with ram, and will fit on lesser Pis. (Down to a Pi Zero W 2: Install your social media server into a Furby. You know you want to.)


I haven’t tried searching for things myself, but from what I understand, you can search hashtags of topics you’re interested in find accounts to follow that way.


Well, almost there!

I still have to federate, which will be another chore. In the end, I might need another freebee domain, so that it can live at the root of its own virtual host.

I have to say that this is not a practical route for the vast majority of people. It was a pain for me, and I had a lot of the pieces already in place. (Domain, dynamic DNS, ports forwarded to the Pi…)

(I remain impressed with ZeroNet’s ease of installation: git clone from the repository, have Python fetch the requirements, run, connected!)

Another route to “owning” your own federated node could be a site on cheap bottom-end cloud hosting. It also wouldn’t be something for most people to do, but if there aren’t already, there could be gig jobs in setting up and configuring them for people.


I have just sitting around doing nothing


Okay, it seems that until you follow things from a new node, it’s going to sit like a lump on a log. Obvious in retrospect, I guess. Now to find some good forums to follow. (Forums look like a big plus over Twitter.)

From the server logs, I need to do some url rewrites for a bunch of .well-known links to connect them where they’re supposed to go. (Perhaps that’s why they warn not to install Friendica as non-root path, without explaining it. Except, that’s sort of the purpose of .well-known links. :man_shrugging:)

1 Like

Can anyone recommend a good maker/artist/STEM/science teacher server? Or should I just go with a big one and not worry about it?

1 Like