How to Join Mastodon
The Twitter-like network of social networks, demystified.
Difficulty Level 0 - Just Join Already
- Go to mastodon.social and click "Create Account". Sign up like you would for anything else.
- Make a profile.
- Use the webpage version on desktop and mobile, or get the official app on iOS or Android.
- Stick to the federated timeline.
This will look and feel a lot like Early Twitter (before The Algorithm), but without as many ad and spam accounts. You can configure your app or the website to only show you posts in languages you understand under your Settings under Preferences > Other > Filter Languages.
Difficulty Level 1 - The Normie Way
- Go to joinmastodon.org and Find a Server that's right for you.
- Go to that server's page and make a profile.
- Use the webpage version, or the mobile app, or even look at things like third-party apps, but be warned that some of them will value Features over Usability.
- Hit that federated timeline some of the time, but since you signed up for a server you hand-picked, you might find that the local timeline is more your speed.
Difficulty Level 2 - A Little More In-Depth
- Find a Server like in Level 1. Know that sometimes these are called "instances".
- Learn the facts about federation™:
- Your server can see all the other servers out there, unless your admins have blocked some.
- Every server out there can see you and your posts, unless their admins blocked your server.
- You can follow (nearly) anyone, on any server. (See above for blocking.)
- (Nearly) anyone, on any server, can follow you.
- This is why there are three timelines:
- Home, to see posts from people you follow
- Local, to see posts from people on your server
- Federated, to see posts from all the servers (except the blocked ones).
- You can also individually block any user or any server.
- With this knowledge, check your prospective server's About page and rules to see what you can and cannot post, and expect to see there, including which servers are moderated or blocked. Make an informed decision about your server.
- Know that your server is run by volunteers! Pony up a little cash to help with hosting, if you can, and be patient with moderators. They're almost guaranteed to do a better job than Twitter Support, if you give them the chance.
- You might even try mobile apps that have a few more Features. I like Subway Tooter.
- If you decide you don't love your server, you can move! Create an account on a new server, then from your new account settings, go to Account > Account Settings > Moving From a Different Account and make an alias. From your old account, go to Account > Account Settings > Moving To a Different Account and click the "configure it here" link.
Difficulty Level 3 - Hacking The Gibson
- Choose a couple of servers you like. Maybe they serve different of your personal interests, or something. There isn't necessarily one perfect place for you.
- Make accounts for yourself on both. Make your profile pictures match or something obvious, so people know it's just you on both instances.
- Maybe make a bot or something, using the Mastodon API. There may or may not be libraries available in your preferred language.
- Help your admins know what accounts and servers are doing shady stuff. Help other users know what to block.
- Get into the Fediverse: Misskey, Pleroma, Pixelfed, PeerTube, Friendica, and other services that use ActivityPub to communicate with each other and with Mastodon.
Difficulty Level 4 - Mastogod
- Host your own Mastodon server. I hear this is not terribly hard anymore, but also not for the faint of heart.