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I’m on Mastodon what now?

If you’re a Mastodon (aka fediverse) newbie here are some tips about what to do next.

(If you’re not already setup on Mastodon here’s a good guide on getting setup over there. There is also a guide to choosing a server here.)

First of all, welcome aboard it’s great to have you join our non-commercial space. 👋

Essential step one: write an introduction toot, explain who you are, what your passions are, and make liberal use of hashtags (because that’s how we find stuff over here). Except, of course, if you want to just lurk – that’s totally ok too!

The basics:

We are the algorithm!

Toots = tweets

Boosts = Retweets

Quote toots do not exist for reasons, so you’ll have to do these the old manual way we used to on Twitter back in the day.

Favourites are just between you and the person whose toot you faved. But do it liberally to share that little dopamine hit.

Boosting toots is essential. The only way we find new stuff is from us because we are the algorithm. There is no central corporation deciding what we see.

CW = Content Warning or Content Wrapper. Think of it like a subject line on an email. It is a way to empower people to choose not to see that piece of content. I have come to be a huge fan of CWs.

Hashtags are the way to find things. Use them liberally like an Insta influencer. Don’t forget to use camel case to assist with accessibility. Some good ones to follow are #fediverse and #FediTips

Search does not exist like a Google search in the fediverse. But you can search for hashtags, this is why I recommend that newbies pin hashtags they are interested in, boost toots they find interesting, and follow folks they find via hashtags. Also you can search for users. There is an excellent overview on how to search here:

Filters are great on mastodon. You’ve got lots of control.

Firstly, if you’re using the web interface on mastodon then go into settings and click the box for “Enable advanced web interface” as this will give you a nice TweetDeck like user interface.

Mastodon is not one central corporation. It is more like a series of independent villages who’ve chosen to confederate. Your server (aka instance) is probably run by a tiny handful of volunteers. Try to find a way to give them some cash to help keep the wheels on (many of them have a Patreon).

And blocking works well too. You can block or mute individuals. And you can block entire instances. Here is a story from 2019 about how they dealt with Nazis.

Also alt-text on images is important here for accessibility (as notes) in their image below so we can be inclusive.

Image of a mastodon holding a phone with text reminding folks to add alt text to images

If you like a toot and think you might want to find it again in future please bookmark it immediately. Otherwise it will be lost like tears in rain.

Direct Messages (aka DMs) they’re different and I always suggest shifting any sensitive chats to Signal. Here’s a summary from Marcus Hutchins from his excellent overview “A Twitter User’s Guide to Mastodon” :

“Something to also be wary of is similar to how Twitter staff can read your DMs, so can Mastodon instance staff. If you send a DM to someone on another instance, both the staff on the sending and receiving instance could read your message if they wanted to. Just like on any social media platform, I do not advise using DMs to share sensitive information. Use DMs for normal discussions, or exchanging contacts. Any sensitive information should be sent via an End-to-end encrypted messaging app like Signal, WhatsApp, Telegram, or Wire.”

Moving servers (aka instances) is easy and you can take your followers with you. You might want to do this if, for example, your servers get acquired by a bunch of crypto grifters? 🤷‍♀️ Check out this from #FediTips

Keeping track of posts by Kenn White: “Small mastodon hack: if there are people you follow who only post occasionally and you don’t want to miss, you can click on their profiles and get a notice anytime they do write something. Make sure your notifications settings are enabled for “posts” too.”

Also I’m finding to be a good resource for what’s going on.

Oh and you can make an RSS feed out of any account on Mastodon by adding .rss to the end of its url. (Thanks 🙏 Dave Winer).

Update 18/06/2023: via ‪‬ “This is an excellent website to share to people who have joined Mastodon but haven’t stuck around. It’s the user on-boarding that Mastodon should provide when you create your account. It would make sure new users’ timeline isn’t empty, but instead filled messages that are interesting to them.”

Good luck. You can find me at @kcarruthers on