Blocking and Muting Servers on Mastodon

(If you want to block or mute individual accounts, please see the Blocking and Muting Accounts on Mastodon guide.)

Ordinary individual users do not have any means to block entire servers on Mastodon. The only people who can block servers are the server admins, through a process called defederation.

But what about the “block domain” option? Doesn’t that block servers?

If a user goes to a profile or post and clicks on the ⋯ button, this does bring up an option called “Block domain” which sounds like it would block a server. However, this option just mutes the server, it hides the server’s posts from you but does not hide your posts from the server.

So, if I’m concerned about a particular server, how do I block it?

If you’re an ordinary user, you have two options if you want to cut off communications with a specific server:

  • Talk to your server’s admin and convince them to defederate the server you are concerned about.


If I move to another server, how do I find out if it blocks the server I’m worried about?

To see a server’s defederation list:

  1. Go to its website and click Learn More or ⋯, which takes you to its info page.
  2. Scroll down the info page until you get to the section marked Moderated Servers, and click this to open it.
  3. Scroll down the list until you get to the server you’re worried about. If it says “suspended” next to its name, that means the server has been defederated.

Note that for safety reasons some servers hide their defederation list, or obfuscate the names. If you are unable to see the defederation list, try messaging the server’s admin to ask if they have defederated the server you’re worried about.

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How to manually add a book on BookWyrm

Screenshot of search results on BookWyrm, with the "manually add book" link highlighted.
Screenshot of search results on a BookWyrm server, with the “Manually add book” link highlighted

BookWyrm has a built-in catalogue of books, which is based on open data from WikiData ⧉ in collaboration with Inventaire ⧉. This data is collaboratively written by volunteers, just like Wikipedia, so it is huge but does also have gaps.

If you can’t find the book you want, you can manually add it to BookWyrm by doing the following:

  1. Log in on your BookWyrm server and search for the book you want in the search box at the top of the screen.
  2. If you can’t find your book in the results, click the link at the bottom of the screen to include results from catalogues on other BookWyrm servers. This will give you even more search results.
  3. If you still can’t find your book, click on the Manually add book link at the bottom of the screen below the second set of search results.

Why is it so awkward? Why do I have to search first?

The idea of this setup is to discourage people from manually entering the details of books that are already in the catalogue. Duplicates cause headaches for other people trying to choose particular books, because they don’t know which one of the duplicates to select. By reducing the number of duplicates, the catalogue is kept easier to use.

Can I import book lists into BookWyrm from other sources?

Yes, if you have an existing account on Goodreads, LibraryThing, StoryGraph, OpenLibrary or Calibre you can import your book lists into BookWyrm.

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How do I get a link preview to appear in my post on Mastodon?

Screenshot of a post from Mastodon with a link in the body of the post and a link preview below the post. The preview has a short text description of the site being linked to, and there's an image in the preview taken from the header of the site being linked to.

Link previews are little boxes of information about a website link, often including an image and short text description, which appear below a post that includes that link.

To make a preview appear in your post, just include the link in the post. You don’t need to do anything else, because the link’s preview will be automatically generated.

Why doesn’t the preview appear when I include a link?

It may take some time for the preview to appear as it’s your server which does the generation, and it may have a queue of other tasks to deal with first. If you go back to the post later, the preview should be visible.

Why do previews sometimes look different on different servers?

At a technical level, previews are generated by the server of the person viewing a post, so people from different servers may see slightly different previews, depending on which version of Mastodon (or other Fediverse software) their server is running.

Why do some previews have pictures while others are just text?

Previews are generated based on the settings of the website being linked to. If the website doesn’t have any settings for preview images, the previews in links to that site will just be text.

I run a website, how do I add settings for preview images and descriptions?

Mastodon uses Open Graph information to generate previews. Website owners can include Open Graph code to provide information about their site.

Here are some examples taken from the Wikipedia article on the Open Graph Protocol, you can put them in the header of your site:

<meta property="og:title" content="Example title of article">
<meta property="og:site_name" content=" website">
<meta property="og:type" content="article">
<meta property="og:url" content="">
<meta property="og:image" content="">
<meta property="og:image" content="">
<meta property="og:description" content="This example article is an example of OpenGraph protocol.">

You don’t need to include all these tags, just the ones you want to include info about. For example if you want images in your preview, you should include the image tag with a link to the image you want to appear on a preview.

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How to subscribe to PeerTube channels through podcast apps

Every PeerTube channel has a feed link that can be subscribed to through most podcast apps such as AntennaPod, Apple Podcasts etc.

To subscribe via podcast apps, first you need to get the channel’s feed link:

  1. Go to a PeerTube channel’s profile page
  2. Click on the arrow on right side of its Subscribe button
  3. Copy the link from Subscribe via RSS option. If you’re using a phone or tablet, long-press and select Copy link. If you’re on a computer, click on the option to open the link and then copy the feed’s address from the bar at the top of the browser.

Once you’ve got the link, you can use it in your podcast app. Different apps will have different interfaces, but they should be broadly similar in how they work. Usually there will be a box for you to paste the feed link into.

As an example, here’s how to subscribe to a feed link in Apple Podcasts:

  1. Click on the Library tab at the bottom of the screen
  2. Click the ⋯ icon in the top right
  3. Select Follow show by URL
  4. Paste the link into the box, then click Follow

Does this work for video or audio podcasts?

Both! This works for both video and audio, as PeerTube lets people upload both video and audio files.

Can I listen to video episodes as just audio?

Usually yes, but it depends on the podcast app you’re using.

For example, in Apple Podcasts when you press play on a video podcast, the audio plays but the video is shown as a tiny preview (which you can expand to full screen if you want). You can even lock the screen which blanks it, but the audio will carry on playing.

Which podcast apps does this work on?

It should work on any podcast app that allows you to follow a podcast’s feed link. Different apps might call these links “URL” or “RSS” or “Feed” or “Syndication” or other terms, but they all involve the same process of pasting the link into the app.

Most podcast apps allow following podcasts by pasting links. On some podcast apps this may be the only method!

Is this for channels or accounts?

The channel page has a feed for just that channel, the account page has a feed that combines all of the account’s channels into one feed.

Can I download episodes to the podcast app to listen/watch offline?

Yes, if the uploader has enabled downloads. Just use your podcast app’s ordinary download function.

How do I promote my PeerTube channel to podcast app users?

Tell them what the feed link is for your channel, to save them having to do the steps above.

I’m viewing a PeerTube account or channel from Mastodon, how do I find its feed link?

Go to the account or channel’s original page, which will take you to its profile page on PeerTube. Then follow the steps above.

Will this feed work on RSS news feed readers too?

Yes, the same feed works on both RSS news apps and podcast apps.

Will podcast subscribers show on my channel’s subscriber numbers?

No. The subscriber number only shows people following you from the Fediverse (including other PeerTube accounts, Mastodon, Friendica etc). Podcast following works through passive feed subscription, it doesn’t send any kind of following data back to your server.

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How do I use PeerTube? How do I follow PeerTube accounts from Mastodon?

This is a guide for watching and interacting with PeerTube videos, and following PeerTube accounts. If you want to publish videos on PeerTube, please click here.

What is PeerTube anyway?

It’s a video platform for the Fediverse, kind of like YouTube but spread out on lots of servers that talk to each other instead of being on one site. Have a look at ⧉ if you want to see an example server.

Also here’s the really cool bit: because PeerTube and Mastodon are both part of the Fediverse, you can follow PeerTube accounts from Mastodon. You can also watch, comment on and like PeerTube videos entirely within Mastodon, using your Mastodon account.

How do I watch PeerTube videos?

If you just want to browse and search for PeerTube videos and don’t want to follow or interact, then the easiest method is probably to watch them directly on a PeerTube server website. You don’t need to register, there are no ads, no cookies etc, you can just watch videos in peace without having to do anything else. For an easy way to get started exploring PeerTube, I run a site at ⧉ which highlights interesting videos from across the whole PeerTube network.

Different servers will have different videos visible, depending on which other parts of PeerTube they federate with. If you can’t find the videos you want on the server you’re browsing, try using one of the discovery methods mentioned below.

How do I upload videos to PeerTube?

Please see the guide to publishing on PeerTube.

How do I follow PeerTube accounts from Mastodon?

There are many ways to follow PeerTube accounts, but the most popular by far is following them from Mastodon. This allows you to watch, follow and interact with PeerTube using your existing Mastodon account, and without leaving your Mastodon app or website. It’s so simple and seamless that many people who use it don’t even realise they are following PeerTube accounts!

To follow a PeerTube account on Mastodon:

  1. Find the PeerTube account’s fediverse address on its profile page
  2. Copy the account’s address and paste it into the search box in Mastodon, this will bring up the PeerTube account’s profile within Mastodon
  3. Go to the PeerTube profile
  4. Click Follow

…and that’s it! Videos from followed accounts will start appearing in your timeline. You can watch them within Mastodon by clicking the play button, or click on the link to watch the same video on its PeerTube server.

If you want to try this out, copy and paste the account address into the search box on Mastodon. This will bring up a PeerTube account which you can follow, and its videos will be visible on its profile page.

Can I comment and like PeerTube videos from Mastodon?

Yes! You can interact with PeerTube videos entirely within Mastodon.

If you are following a PeerTube account its videos will appear in your home timeline. The videos will look just like posts from Mastodon accounts, and you interact with them in exactly the same way. If you favourite a PeerTube video in Mastodon, it will appear as a thumbs up for that video in PeerTube. If you reply to a PeerTube video in Mastodon, it will appear as a comment below that video in PeerTube.

If you’re wondering how this is possible, it’s because PeerTube and Mastodon are both part of the Fediverse and use the same open technical standard (called ActivityPub) to communicate between servers. That means Mastodon servers can talk to PeerTube servers and vice versa.

How to discover PeerTube accounts to follow

There are lots of ways of discovering PeerTube accounts and videos:

  • Visit the website ⧉, which highlights nice videos from across PeerTube which you can browse or search. It does this using an allowlist system which screens out bad content before it can appear.
  • Follow the account ⧉ in Mastodon, it boosts interesting PeerTube videos every day. If you like a particular video and want to see more, click on the video’s profile link and click Follow. There is also a PeerTube playlist ⧉ you can watch which includes every video boosted by the account.
  • Browse the PeerTube section on Fedi.Directory ⧉, and click on an account to find out more. If you like it, copy and paste the account’s address into the search box on Mastodon and click Follow.
  • Some people on Mastodon may also mention their PeerTube account addressrs in their profiles. You can follow these addresses in Mastodon.
  • There is an official PeerTube search engine called SepiaSearch ⧉, which aims to search as many PeerTube servers and videos as possible to give the largest number of relevant current results. However, the downside of this is it may also contain nasty content. (The admins of SepiaSearch screen out bad content when it is reported, but because it uses a blocklist system instead of allowlist, bad stuff may sneak through if no one reports it.)

Following PeerTube accounts from PeerTube

Of course, you can just follow PeerTube accounts from PeerTube itself!

Using a PeerTube account allows you to comment, like, follow etc but also allows some things not possible through Mastodon, such as being creating playlists, saving videos to watch later and various other options such as donating to the creator. Some video accounts also offer file downloads if you want to watch the videos offline. The experience of using a PeerTube account is very similar to YouTube.

You can get a PeerTube account on any PeerTube server that is open for signups, for example ⧉ is a good one. If the video you want to interact with isn’t visible on the server you signed up on, you can make it appear by copying and pasting the video’s link into the search box on your PeerTube server. The video will appear, and you’ll then be able to interact with it and follow its creator’s account.

Can I use PeerTube accounts through an app instead of the website?

Yes, the Fedilab app can be used for PeerTube accounts as well as Mastodon ones, and there’s also a free open source app called NewPipe ⧉ which is PeerTube-compatible too. The PeerTube part of Fedilab is separate from the Mastodon section, and has an interface dedicated to PeerTube.

Also, if you just want to subscribe and watch/listen, but don’t want to comment or like, you might want to try following PeerTube through your favourite podcast app.

A video starts playing but it’s really jerky. How do I fix this?

If you pause a video, this will give the video a chance to load up a bit more so that it doesn’t have to keep stopping.

Also, some videos include a download link so you can watch it on your own device’s video player (this is optional though, it’s is up to the person who uploads the videos to decide if it will include a download link).

A video won’t load, or it says it’s not available. What do I do?

If a video says it cannot be accessed, try reloading the page and pressing play again.

The reason this happens is usually because the video is on a different server to the one you’re watching from, and occasionally the connection can get a bit flaky. Reloading the page usually fixes this problem.

If it still doesn’t load, it’s possible that the server actually hosting the video is down.

Following PeerTube channels and accounts on Podcast apps

If you just want to subscribe to a channel and don’t care about commenting or liking, you can follow any PeerTube channel or account through most podcast apps.

Following PeerTube accounts through RSS

If you’re a fan of using RSS news feeds, you can follow PeerTube accounts through RSS. To get an account’s RSS feed address, go to the account’s profile on PeerTube and click the options arrow next to the Subscribe button, one of the options wthatill be RSS.

As it’s RSS, interactions are impossible because RSS feeds are one directional.

Following PeerTube accounts from other Fediverse server types

There are also other Fediverse platforms which let you follow PeerTube accounts, such as Friendica. You can use exactly the same methods for following as detailed in the above section about Mastodon, it all works in the same way.

Why can’t I find what I want on PeerTube?

PeerTube is very new and most people publishing videos on it have only just got started. It has grown significantly since its early days, and hopefully the explosion of new users on Mastodon will make PeerTube grow even faster. If you want to see more content on PeerTube, it helps if you follow, comment and like the videos that are there already.

Another thing to bear in mind is that PeerTube is mainly built and run by volunteers. Each server has to cover its own operating costs, and the PeerTube platform’s software is developed by a non-profit organisation together with volunteer programmers. There are no VC investors or corporations funding PeerTube, the whole thing is a grassroots effort paid for by donations.

There’s a “friendly reminder” warning at the bottom of the page. What does it mean?

The warning is there for an abundance of transparency, rather than because of significant risk.

PeerTube reduces the stress on servers by sharing the bandwidth of people who are watching the same video at the same time. This allows small independent servers to exist more easily because it keeps costs down on popular videos.

In theory, because the bandwidth is being shared, someone watching the same video as you at exactly the same time as you might be able to see your IP address. However, this is not a built-in feature of PeerTube, it would require significant modifications by whoever did it, and all it would tell them is that someone with that IP address is watching that video. It wouldn’t by itself tell them who you are or any personal info.

Also, even seeing the IP address would be difficult for various technical reasons ⧉.

IP addresses are a short series of numbers that your internet provider assigns to your computer or phone whenever it connects to the internet. Everything on the internet has an IP address so that information can flow correctly from one place to another. IP addresses for ordinary internet users aren’t permanent, and may change every time you connect to the internet.

If you’re concerned about the risk of IP addresses being visible to others, bear in mind your IP address is already visible to any internet site you look at, or online app you interact with, because that’s how the internet knows where to send stuff. The only way to avoid IP addresses being exposed to others is to use a VPN ⧉.

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How to publish videos (and audio) on PeerTube

This is a guide to publishing on PeerTube, the Fediverse’s video platform. If you want help with just watching PeerTube videos and following PeerTube accounts, click here.

Why publish on PeerTube?

There are many reasons why people choose to publish on PeerTube:

  • PeerTube videos are shown without adverts or interruptions
  • PeerTube servers don’t insert trackers or try to invade people’s privacy
  • Video makers are not at the mercy of an opaque, ever-changing algorithm that manipulates search results
  • PeerTube is part of the Fediverse, which means PeerTube accounts can be followed and interacted with from any of the millions of accounts on Mastodon etc
  • PeerTube servers are totally independent and generally fairly small, so it’s easy to communicate directly with the owner if there’s a problem
  • You can create your own PeerTube server if you want complete control, ownership and flexibility over your video platform

1. Sign up on an existing server, or start your own server?

There are two main ways to publish on PeerTube: sign up on an existing server that belongs to someone else, or start your own server.

The existing server option is much easier, and is the most popular option for individual accounts. Bear in mind some servers allow you to sign up but don’t allow uploads, so you’ll have to find a server that allows uploads for its members. Some well-run servers where you can currently sign up and upload are listed below. By default they are general servers, but ones with a specific theme have been marked:

There are also some servers where uploads are possible but you need to contact the server admin directly in order to activate the upload function for your account:

You can also look at the account addresses of existing PeerTube accounts to see where they are hosted. Their server will be mentioned in the last part of their Fediverse address. To browse existing PeerTube accounts, have a look at ⧉.

Alternatively, you can start your own server! Starting your own server is a bit more complicated, but it gives you full control over the server and is favoured by large organisations such as the European Union ⧉ or the Blender Foundation ⧉. You may also want to start your own server for other people to sign up on.

Non-technical people can create their own server through a managed hosting service ⧉ which handles all the techy stuff behind the scenes for a monthly fee. Semi-technical people can use software like Yunohost ⧉ to set up a server on a VPS. Highly technical people can use PeerTube’s full manual instructions ⧉ to set up a server.

2. Accounts vs Channels

Whatever method you use to get onto PeerTube, you will need to create an account and channels for your videos to be uploaded to. Accounts are what you use to log into PeerTube, and channels are like categories for your videos to go into.

However, there is a complication here: the channel system doesn’t work properly on Mastodon. When people view PeerTube videos on Mastodon, they will see the video as being posted by your account and not your channel. Because of this situation, it’s recommended that you use separate PeerTube accounts if you’re wanting to have channels with separate identities, with just have one channel per account and the same name for both.

Channels do work well when viewed through PeerTube, but unfortunately most of the potential audience is on Mastodon where only accounts are visible.

3. Choose your account and channel address carefully

Every account and channel has a display name in big letters, and a Fediverse address in smaller letters below that.

You can change your account or channel display names any time you want, but the account and channel addresses have to stay the same. Fediverse addresses cannot be changed for the same reason that website addresses or email addresses cannot be changed, because any change to an address would break existing connections from other sites.

So, be really sure about your addresses when you are setting up an account and an channel, as you will need to stick with those addresses. If you need to change your identity or branding, changing the display name is a much safer option than fiddling with the addresses.

4. Upload your videos gradually, one at a time or in small batches. Do NOT upload them all at once.

You can upload videos through your server’s website, or though PeerTube-compatible apps like Fedilab.

Because of the way content federates across most of the Fediverse, it is highly recommended that you upload videos gradually, perhaps once a day at most, rather than uploading a huge load of videos all at once.

If you upload all your videos at once before you have any followers, Mastodon users will see your profile as totally blank and may not know you have uploaded any videos at all. Gradual uploads allows you to build up a following, which in turn allows your videos to federate to a much wider audience, gaining you even more followers.

If you’ve already uploaded all your videos in one batch, you can either take some down and reupload them gradually as your follower numbers grow, or you can boost some from your Mastodon account (if you have one). To boost videos on Mastodon, paste the video’s web address into the Mastodon search box, and then clicking the video’s boost button in Mastodon. This will cause the PeerTube video to federate to your Mastodon server and all the servers of people who follow your Mastodon account.

If you have an account on an existing video service, you can import videos directly to your PeerTube account using the Import with URL feature ⧉, but only do this for videos you have legal permission to share. Also bear in mind the automatic import feature reduces the picture quality of the video, and it’s better to upload the original file if you can ⧉.

5. Think about what time of day you upload

Most people on the Fediverse use chronological timelines, so they see posts appearing at the time they were written. On the Fediverse there isn’t an algorithm punishing or rewarding accounts, people simply follow and see all posts from everyone they follow.

This means it’s a good idea to publish videos at a time when your potential audience is awake and looking at their timelines. If you publish when your audience is sleeping, they are much less likely to see your video. (They might still see it from searches and shares, though.)

6. Tag your videos

Lots of people on Mastodon follow hashtags and search for hashtags, so it’s important to tag your PeerTube videos so that they will be noticed by Mastodon users.

To tag a video, to go the video’s Tags section and enter a word or phrase for a tag and then press enter. After you press enter, the tag will be created, and you can add another tag (you can have up to five on a video).

7. Let people know about your PeerTube account

If you have a Mastodon account, tell people about your PeerTube account’s address so they can follow it directly from Mastodon. For example you could post about it, put it in a pinned post, and list the account address on your profile.

If you want your videos to be as visible as possible to a wider audience, it is important to get Mastodon followers for your PeerTube account, because Mastodon has a much larger userbase than PeerTube. Mastodon followers mean each follower’s server will notice whatever videos you upload, and your videos will become visible and searchable to everyone on those Mastodon servers. However, this visibility will only apply to videos uploaded after you were followed, so that’s why it’s important to upload new content gradually as your follower numbers grow.

Alternatively, you can tell my accounts at FediFollows ⧉ and FediVideo ⧉ about your PeerTube account, and I might give it a shoutout!

8. Tell podcast app users how to subscribe to your PeerTube channel feeds

PeerTube channels can be subscribed to via most podcast apps. You might want to let people know this is an option for your PeerTube channel, there’s a guide to how to subscribe to PeerTube on podcast apps here.

Bear in mind though, like all podcasts this is one-directional so people won’t be able to like or comment from their podcast app. Also, podcast subscribers will not show up on your subscriber numbers, though it may show on your view numbers.

By the way, the same podcast link can also be used to subscribe through RSS news feed readers.

What kind of files can I upload to PeerTube? Can I upload audio-only files too?

PeerTube accepts uploads in lots of different video and audio formats. Here’s a complete list:

.webm, .ogv, .ogg, .mp4, .mkv, .mov, .qt, .mqv, .m4v, .flv, .wmv, .avi, .3gp, .3gpp, 3g2, 3gpp2, .nut, .mts, .m2ts, .mpv, .m2v, .m1v, .mpg, .mpe, .mpeg, .vob, .mxf, .mp3, .wma, .wav, .flac, .aac, .m4a, .ac3

If you upload an audio file, you can optionally add a still image as artwork. if you don’t add artwork, the audio file will play over a blank background.

Is there a PeerTube app which includes support for uploading videos?

Yes, the Fedilab app can be used to manage your PeerTube account including uploading videos. It’s mainly known as a Mastodon app, but it also includes full support for PeerTube accounts.

If PeerTube is ad-free, what does that mean for sponsorships and donations? Am I allowed to ask for donations? Am I allowed to upload sponsored videos?

Sponsorships and calls for donations are generally fine.

There are popular PeerTube accounts with sponsorships mentioned in their videos (for example The Linux Experiment ⧉), and many PeerTubers have donation links for viewers that want to support their content. This is all okay.

The “ad-free” description of PeerTube just means that there is no ad system, and there are no adverts or trackers inserted into videos or websites by PeerTube itself.

If you’re in any doubt about whether something is okay to upload to your server, check with your server admin about what is acceptable there. The server owners are the ones paying the bills for the video hosting, so it’s ultimately their call on what is allowed on their server.

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