On Mastodon, hashtag following has been merged into the latest version of the software and will be introduced in the next update across all servers. It is already being tested on some servers such as mastodon.social and mastodon.online.
If you’re on a server that runs it, you can follow hashtags by logging in through the website, searching for a hashtag and then clicking the follow button in the top right corner of the results. Posts that are visible to your server which include that hashtag will then appear in your normal timeline, even if you’re not following the account that posted it. You can unfollow by searching for the same hashtag and clicking the unfollow button (which is in the same place the follow button was).
On Friendica, hashtag following has been available as standard for years now, and works in a very similar way: search for a hashtag and click the + logo in the top right corner to follow it. Posts with that tag will appear in your normal timeline.
Whatever platform you’re following from, it’s a really handy way of discovering interesting posts and new accounts to follow.
Note that this only shows posts in your timeline made after the follow began, so there may be a delay in seeing such posts appear in your timeline, depending on whether a new post with that tag has been published. Also, it only shows posts that are visible to your server anyway, it is not pulling posts in purely on the basis of the hashtag.
How do I verify my account?
There are several ways to verify your identity on the Fediverse, with perhaps the most famous being the green verified official website as shown in the screenshot above. This lets anyone with an official website or page on an official site prove who they are.
More info on how to do this below, but first a couple of warnings about how NOT to verify yourself:
- Don’t use badges next to your name. Because no one owns the Fediverse, there is no central authority to give out “verified” badges the way Twitter etc do. If you do see any Twitter-style verified badges these are just custom emoji and don’t mean anything, it’s just people messing around.
- Don’t use centralised “verification” services or sites, even if they seem to be friendly and/or temporary. As a huge rush of people are now heading onto the Fediverse, there are various brand new websites springing up trying to set themselves up as the one and only way to verify identity. It’s rubbish, don’t fall for it. The entire point of being on the Fediverse is to prevent any central authorities taking over, and there are already many tried and trusted ways to verify your identity on the Fediverse without using centralised services.
Here are the correct ways to verify who you are on the Fedi, going from simplest to most complex:
- If you’re already verified on Twitter etc, tell people about your Fediverse account and link to it, then link to this post on your Fediverse account. This will let people on the Fediverse know that you’re the same person who owns the verified account on Twitter etc.
- If you have an official website, link to your Fediverse account from your website and link to your website from your Fediverse account. If people already trust your website to be official, then by extension they will know your Fediverse account is official.
- On Mastodon, you can take the website method a step further. Log in through the website, go to Edit profile > Verification, copy and paste the HTML code into your website’s front page’s code. Add your website’s address into your profile’s Metadata section, remembering to include https:// at the beginning. After you’ve done all this, press the Save changes button in your profile settings. You will then see a link to your website on your Mastodon profile which has turned green with a green tick next to it, to verify you are the site’s owner.
- If you need to verify lots of accounts from a group or organisation, you might want to make your own Fediverse server as a subdomain of your official website. This is what the European Union did when they made their own Mastodon server ⧉ and their own PeerTube server ⧉. Because the European Union’s official website is at europa.eu, and their servers were all subdomains of europa.eu, it meant all the accounts on their servers could be trusted as being official EU Fediverse accounts. Making your own server on a subdomain is much easier and cheaper than you think.
And whatever you do, don’t use the “verified” emoji. This means nothing at all on the Fediverse, anyone can add it to their profiles.
My website verfication doesn’t work! The address won’t turn green!
Don’t panic, there are things you can do:
- Make sure that all the links to your Mastodon account on your website include rel=”me” in their link code. If there’s one without rel=”me”, for example in a dropdown menu, the verification process may fail.
- Bear in mind there may be some delay before your website address turns green on your profile, don’t worry if it doesn’t happen straight away. Also, as each server on the Fedi verfies addresses independently and at their own pace, people on some servers may see your address turn green before you do.
- The website address can be case sensitive, so try typing it entirely in lower case.
Using multiple accounts
First of all, it’s worth saying again that most people do not need to use multiple accounts. The Fediverse is designed in such a way that people on different servers can interact seamlessly, as if they were all on one network.
However, some people may need separate personal and work accounts, or an extra account that focuses on a specialist topic which they wish to keep separate from their main account.
Whatever your reasons, it’s very easy to use multiple accounts on Mastodon and the Fediverse: all you have to do is sign up on a different server for each account you want. Because the servers are independent, you can use the same email address for each account, and you can be signed into all the accounts simultaneously on the web or on an app. Signing up for accounts on different servers also means that if one server goes down you can use your alternative account on another server.
If you use the Fediverse through the web, you can log into all the accounts at once and switch views by keeping each account open in a separate tab.
Official and third party apps support multiple accounts too. You can be signed into all your accounts at once, and switch between them within the app. The interface for switching differs from app to app.
On the official Mastodon app, you can add accounts and switch between them by holding down your profile image in the bottom right corner. A menu will appear which lets you add or switch accounts.
Using the Lists feature on Mastodon
Mastodon includes a Lists feature which lets you create filtered versions of your Home timeline. For example, you could create a list which just shows posts from artists you follow, or news accounts, or whatever you like. (Note that for safety and privacy reasons, you cannot add accounts you do not follow to lists.)
You can create and use lists on the website version of Mastodon, and on third party Mastodon apps like Tusky for Android or Metatext for iPhone/iPad. However, it is not currently possible on the official app.
To create a list on the website interface using a computer:
- Open your profile page, then click on the section marked Following.
- Browse through the accounts you follow. When you find an account you want to add to a list, click on their name to open their profile page.
- On the profile of the person you want to add, click on the ︙ symbol and select Add or remove from lists. This will cause the Lists editor to open.
- If you want to add the person to new list, type a name for the new list into the white box marked New list title and then click the + sign next to the new list’s name. Alternatively, you can just click + next to an existing list’s name.
- Click anywhere outside the Lists editor box to close the editor.
- A link to your list will be visible on the right side of the screen. To see your list’s timeline, just click on its name. Lists start out empty but you will see posts on the list when someone on that list publishes their next post or boosts something.
- To edit or delete an existing list, click on the list’s name to open it and then click on the slider icon in the top right corner of the list. This editor also includes a search box for searching accounts you follow, if you prefer to add accounts to your list that way.
…and that’s it! You now have all the tools you need to use lists on Mastodon!
By the way, third party apps like Tusky for Android or Metatext for iPhone/iPad will have slightly different interfaces for lists, but it’s the same feature.
What does the padlock 🔒 mean next to people’s names on Mastodon?
On some people’s Mastodon profiles you’ll see a padlock icon 🔒 next to their names. This means they have “Require follow requests” mode switched on for their account, so any follows won’t be activated until the account owner has manually approved them.
If you’ve clicked follow on such an account, you’ll have to wait for approval before the follow goes through. You can cancel the follow request by clicking the follow button again (the follow button turns into a Cancel follow request button after a request has been sent).
You can switch follow requests on for your own account by going to Edit profile > Require follow requests, tick the box and click Save changes. To switch it off, untick the box and save.
Some people use this feature to filter out spammers, while others just want to restrict which kind of accounts can follow them. People usually state their follower requirements in their profile’s biog text, so it’s worth reading this if they have follow requests switched on.
Choosing a good username for the Fediverse
Fediverse addresses have two parts, the username and the server name. However, by default Mastodon and some other Fedi server types hide the server part of the address within posts to avoid looking too messy. This means that it’s a good idea to choose something distinctive for a username, so that when people see your account mentioned in a post it is clear that you are being talked about.
For example, if there was an account with the address @MarvellousWidgets@example.com, only @MarvellousWidgets would be visible on posts, though clicking on it would lead to a profile page where the full address appears. This is a good distinctive username because people can refer to it in discussions easily, and a post might say “Have you seen the latest release from @MarvellousWidgets? It’s very useful.”
On the other hand, if there was an account that had a much more generic username such as @email@example.com, all that people would see of its address in posts would be @software which would be very unclear and unmemorable. A discussion would look like this: “Have you seen the latest release from @software? It’s very useful.”. People would have to click through the username each time to know who you are talking about.
Those users on their own servers may think their custom domain gives them enough distinctiveness. However, people don’t see the domain part of Fedi addresses most of the time. Even people on their own domain need to think about distinctive usernames.
I’ve written a link but it isn’t clickable. How do I make it clickable?
If you want a clickable link within a post or on a profile, remember to include https:// at the beginning when you’re writing it. This tells Mastodon etc that you want the link to be clickable.
Twitter automatically changes anything with a dot in the middle into a clickable link, but this doesn’t happen on the Fediverse because some people want to include dots without making clickable links.
Mastodon also supports http:// (the non-secure version of https) and also more exotic kinds of link protocol including gemini://, dat://, dweb://, gopher://, ipfs:// and ssb://.
Customising your notifications
On Mastodon, you can customise your notifications to adjust what they tell you about and how they tell you.
On the website, go to your Notifications column and click on the slider icon in the top right corner. This provides lots of options to customise, and there are even more options if you scroll the menu down a bit.
On the official app, go to the main timeline and click on the cog / gear icon ⚙️, then scroll down to the notifications section. The official app’s options are more limited though, you will see a lot more options on the website version.
Crossposting between Mastodon and Twitter
You can automatically crosspost between Mastodon and Twitter in either direction using various third party sites. Crossposting means when you post on Mastodon the same content will also be posted on Twitter (or vice versa).
This can be controversial if you’re just mirroring your Twitter account to Mastodon without interacting on Mastodon at all. Some servers specifically ban such “zombie accounts”.
However, if you’re active on Mastodon and mirroring it to Twitter there’s no controversy at all.
What are “original pages”? Why are they so useful?
Every account and post on the Fediverse has an original version of itself on the server it comes from called an “original page”.
These original pages can be really, really useful on the Fediverse. They show the latest version of information on the page, and they allow you to force your server to notice people and posts it hadn’t noticed before, including pages from other types of Fediverse server.
On Mastodon, here’s how you can see these “original pages”:
- Log in through your server’s website
- Go to a profile or post and click on ⋯ or ︙
- Select “open original page”, which will open the original page in a new browser tab
This process can also be reversed. If you know the address of a Fediverse public page, you can copy and paste it into the search box on your own server, and the profile or post will then appear within your own server where you can interact with it. It works in a very similar way to account addresses.
The process is also cross-platform and works for any Fediverse server type. For example, if you know the web address of a PeerTube video or PixelFed account, you can copy and paste this address into the search box on your Mastodon server and the video or account will appear within your own server. You can then interact with them just like you would with Mastodon posts.
Original pages are also useful if you want to share a profile or post with people outside the Fediverse, as you don’t have to be logged in to see an original page.
What is “remote following” on the Fediverse? How do I avoid it being so cumbersome?
Remote following is where you go to an original page, and click the Follow or Subscribe button there. It will ask you to sign in, and you should follow the instructions in order to complete the follow.
For various technical reasons, this method is much more cumbersome than following someone within your own server, but there are a couple of ways you can make it easier.
- Don’t click the follow button on the public page. Instead, go to your own server or app, sign into your Fediverse account as normal, then copy and paste the web address or Fediverse address of the remote account’s original page into the search box. This will bring up the same account profile but within your own server’s interface, where you can just click Follow. This avoids having to do remote following at all.
- If you’re using Firefox on a computer, you can install the Simplified Federation add-on ⧉ which automatically signs you in when you’re doing a remote follow.
Remote following is meant more as a method of last resort, and you’ll find it a lot easier to follow people within your own server’s interface.
How do I see a profile or post on its home server?
You can see the original versions of any profile or post by accessing the original page. See the original page section above for more details.
This can be useful because sometimes the versions of profiles and threads stored on your server get out of date, due to the way the Fediverse handles federation. Going to the original page of a profile or post usually gives the most complete and up-to-date version.
How do I interact with posts that haven’t federated to my server?
If you can see a post on the public version of another Fediverse site, but you can’t see it within your own server, it may be because it hasn’t federated to your server yet.
You can force a post from another server to be visible on your own server by copying and pasting its web address into the search box on your own server. This works for posts from all kinds of Fediverse servers including Mastodon, PeerTube, PixelFed etc.
For example, if you browse videos on a PeerTube site ⧉, you can copy and paste the URL of any video into the search box on your Mastodon server, and you will then be able to interact with the PeerTube video entirely within Mastodon, including commenting (by replying), thumbs up (by liking) and subscribing (by following).
This ability to interact with another server’s post from within your server is one of the cornerstones of the Fediverse.
Browsing the Media tab
On Mastodon, if you want to see pictures, videos or audio posted by someone, and you don’t want to see their text posts or boosts, try clicking the Media tab on their profile page.
This is especially useful if you’re browsing for works on an artist’s profile, for example.
How do I mute notifications from a thread that I don’t want to take part in?
On Mastodon, if you have posted in a thread or been tagged in it, you can mute the conversation so that you won’t see any more notifications from it. No one will know you’ve done this.
Log in through the website or a third party app such as Toot!, go to one of your posts in the thread, click ⋯ and select Mute conversation. If you haven’t posted, go to a post in the thread where you were tagged, then select ⋯ and Mute conversation.
If you change your mind, go back to the thread and select Unmute conversation.
Hiding someone’s boosts without blocking or muting them
On Mastodon, if you follow someone but you don’t want to see their boosts, you can hide just their boosts without blocking or muting them. This doesn’t affect their normal posts, and they have no way of knowing you’re doing it.
Log in on the website, and go to the profile of the person whose boosts you want to hide. Click on the ︙ button and select Hide boosts from. If you change your mind, go back to their profile and select Show boosts from.
This only works on accounts you follow.
How to avoid accidentally unfollowing, boosting or deleting in Mastodon
Mastodon optionally asks you for confirmation when unfollowing someone, boosting a post or deleting a post.
You can switch these confirmations on or off by logging in through the website, then going to Preferences > Confirmation dialogs, tick the boxes for what you want confirmation for, then click Save changes.
Adjusting photo previews on Mastodon so they look nice
If you’re posting a photo on Mastodon through the website, click Edit on the photo before you actually post it. This will allow you to add a text description for blind people, and it will also let you adjust how the photo is cropped in the compact version of the post which is visible in people’s timelines.
Photos that have a 16:9 aspect ratio will not be cropped on the timeline, so you don’t need to adjust them at all (but do still remember to add a text description to keep them accessible!).
Customising Mastodon polls to allow multiple selections
The default poll on Mastodon allows people to select just one option. However, you can customise the poll so that it allows multiple options to be selected.
Log in through the website, and create the poll as normal, but don’t post it yet. Click on one of the circles next to the options. The circle will change into a square, and the poll will now allow multiple option selection. If you change your mind, click again to change it back to a circle and single option selection.
Creating draft posts
In Mastodon, there’s no official post draft feature, but unofficially you can use the “Delete & re-draft” option combined with DMs to create drafts:
- Log on through the website and create your draft post, but don’t publish yet.
- Set visibility to mentioned people only, and don’t mention anyone.
- When you’re ready to save it, publish it.
- When you want to edit it, go to your Direct Messages tab and find the draft.
- Click the draft open, click ⋯ and select Delete & re-draft, the draft will open in the message editing window
- When you’re ready to publish for real, set the visibility to the correct setting and add any mentions you want, then press the Publish button.
…alternatively, if you prefer, you could just use a text editor and copy and paste drafts from a text file on your computer or phone 😁
Some people seem to have much bigger character limits than me? What’s going on?
Most people on the Fediverse are on a standard Mastodon server, which has a 500 character limit for posts.
However, standard Mastodon is just one type of Fediverse server. There are lots of other server types including non-standard versions of Mastodon such as Glitch ⧉ and Hometown ⧉ and completely different server types that aren’t Mastodon at all.
If you see someone with posts that go beyond 500 characters, it’s probably because they’re on a different kind of server.
How do I browse the Local timeline on another server?
On Mastodon, many servers have a public link to their Local timeline on their website’s front page.
However, some servers have this option hidden.
Switching off automatic timeline scrolling
If you use Mastodon through the website and your timelines are scrolling too quickly for you to keep up with them, you might want to try switching to slow mode.
Slow mode stops automatic scrolling, and instead displays a message telling you how many posts are waiting to be displayed in the timeline. If you click on the message, it displays the waiting posts.
You can activate slow mode by going to Preferences > Slow Mode, then tick the box and click Save changes.
This applies to all timelines on the web interface including Home, Local, Federated and Notifications.
Don’t use dots / full stops / periods in usernames
Some Fediverse platforms allow you to use . in usernames while others don’t.
If you use dots in your username, it may make it impossible for you to be followed from some types of servers, including Mastodon servers.
The safest option in this situation is to just completely avoid using dots in usernames.
When I visited an account the profile was blank with no posts. Is it really blank? I’m sure there are posts there but I can’t see them.
It may or may not be blank.
Fediverse servers work like this: servers only notice accounts from other servers if someone follows or interacts with them. If no one on your server has ever followed an account on another server, the account may appear blank to you.
The reason servers work like this because of resources. If servers had to keep a copy of every post from every user on all the thousands of Fediverse servers in the world, their running costs would become prohibitively expensive (and most of those posts would probably never be read anyway).
This means people on very new or very small servers may sometimes see blank profiles even for popular accounts that have been around a while.
To check what the profile really looks like, log in to your account through the website, go to the profile and click on its profile picture. This should open the profile in a new tab on its home server, which will show all the public posts the account has ever made. On Mastodon, blank profiles will automatically have a link to their public profile on their home server
Unfortunately, public profile pages on other servers are notoriously difficult to interact with. You have to enter your username and password each time, and it’s generally fiddly. Fortunately there may be a solution available, called “backfilling”. This would mean as soon as you follow a blank profile your server would automatically check the account for past posts and display them on your server, and there would be no need to fiddle around with public pages. At time of writing it is the most popular suggestion on the Mastodon github site, so if you’re comfortable using github why not go and give it a thumbs up ⧉?
Another reason for blank profiles is this: if the account has follower requests on (which is usually indicated by a padlock 🔒 next to their name), and all its posts are follower-only, then you will not see any posts on their profile until you follow them and your follow request is accepted.
It’s a good idea to have at least some followers before posting your best content
Due to the way the Fediverse currently works, if you publish a post while you still have zero followers, that post will probably never be seen by anyone except people on your server. When people follow you, they will see your posts from that moment onwards, but there’s currently no backfilling to show them your previous posts.
One way round this problem is if people on other servers share your older posts, but they’re unlikely to do this if they never see it in the first place.
Another way round is if someone manually searches for the URLs of the older posts, but again they’re unlikely to do this if they don’t see the older posts in the first place.
Because of this, it’s a good idea to wait until you have at least some followers from other servers before you publish your most interesting stuff. Even a handful of followers will give your posts much more visibility across the Fediverse.
Which posts and accounts can I see from my server? How do I make my server notice posts and accounts that it can’t currently see?
If you are searching for something on the Fediverse, you will get different search results depending on which server your account is on. This is because each server sees a slightly different view of the Fediverse.
Your server can see the following content:
- All posts made by accounts on your server
- All accounts on your server
- All posts shared by at least one account on your server
- All posts made by accounts that at least one account on your server follows
- All accounts that at least one person on your server follows
- All posts shared by an account that least one account on your server follows
- All posts that have been searched for by their original page URL
- All accounts that have been searched for by their account address
- All posts pushed to your server by a relay server (if your server uses relays)
If a post isn’t visible from your server but you know it exists, you can force your server to notice it by copying and pasting the post’s URL from its original page on its home server into the search box on your server. This will make the post appear within your server so you can interact with it and search for it just like any other post. Click here for more details about original pages.
If a post isn’t visible from your server but you know it exists, you can force your server to notice it by copying and pasting the account’s account address into the search box on your server. Click here for more details about how to do this.
See the next question to find out why the Fediverse works like this.
Why doesn’t every Fediverse server show all posts ever made by all users from all other servers?
There are many thousands of Fediverse servers with millions of users in total, and this amount is growing all the time. Some of these servers have tens of millions of posts going back many years.
It would be horrifically expensive for every independent server to keep a complete, up-to-date record of every post ever made by every user on every other server. The only people who could afford such a system would be megacorporations like Facebook, Google, Twitter etc.
The entire point of the Fediverse is to allow small independent servers to exist as part of a larger network, so that the network is spread out on as many independent servers as possible (click here to find out why this is a good idea). The smallest Fedi server starts from about US$10 a month to run, and this low cost is possible because the server only needs to display posts and shares from people its users follow. Even the largest Fediverse servers are able to operate on a fraction of the budget of a commercial social network because they are only having to show posts their users have to see.
One feature currently missing from the Fediverse but which could be introduced to make thefederated system easier to use is “backfilling”, where an accounts old posts are automatically loaded to a server when someone on that server follows an account. See the next section for more info. At the moment you only see posts by an account made after you follow it, but with backfilling you’d see more of their past accounts too.
Maybe a server could backfill old posts when someone on the server follows an account for the first time?
This is a fair point, there is an argument for automatically backfilling at least a few of the most recent posts on accounts when they get their first follow on a server. Currently this is not available on the Fediverse, but it is technically totally possible to do.
The main thing holding it back has been concern about stress on servers, especially if an account has thousands of past posts to backfill. A possible compromise might be letting servers decide for themselves both if they backfill at all, and how many posts they backfill.
If you’re comfortable using Github, you can let the developers of Mastodon know you want this to happen by giving a thumbs up on the relevant issue ⧉, or if you have your own ideas you can contribute to the thread.
Using Mastodon through a keyboard
If you’re using Mastodon through the website on a computer, you can control it through your keyboard with the hotkeys feature.
Hotkeys are always on, press shift + ? (or just ? on some keyboard layouts) to see a complete guide to which keys do what. Some of the keys are only useful in the advanced web interface (multicolumn) mode, but most of them can be used with the default single column mode.
For your convenience, here’s the complete list:
|r||Reply to post|
|p||Open author’s profile|
|enter, o||Open post|
|x||Show/hide text behind CW|
|up, k||Move up in the list|
|down, j||Move down in the list|
|n||Focus compose textarea|
|alt+n||Start a new post|
|alt+x||Show/hide CW field|
|s||Focus search bar|
|esc||Unfocus compose textarea/search|
|g+h||Open home timeline|
|g+n||Open notifications column|
|g+l||Open local timeline|
|g+t||Open federated timeline|
|g+d||Open direct messages column|
|g+s||Open get started column|
|g+f||Open favourites list|
|g+p||Open pinned posts list|
|g+u||Open your profile|
|g+b||Open blocked users list|
|g+m||Open muted users list|
|g+r||Open follow requests list|
|?||Display hotkeys list|
Typing emoji through a keyboard on Mastodon
If you’re using Mastodon on a computer, you can type emoji directly with your keyboard.
Just type : (colon) and a keyword, a dropdown menu will appear with matching emoji and you can pick one with the arrow keys. For example :sun will bring up emoji matching the keyword “sun”.
If there are a lot of matches for a keyword, they may not all appear on the dropdown. If so, you’ll need to search for them from the picker icon in the top right corner of the editing box.
How to activate the Mastodon Advanced Web Interface
The original website version of Mastodon used a Tweetdeck-style interface, where your timeline, notifications and other features were all in separate columns, each of which could be permanently pinned. Some people enjoyed this system, but others found it confusing and overwhelming. Eventually a simpler single column interface was introduced, and became the default interface for new members.
However, the multi-column interface still exists! If you’re using Mastodon through the website, you can activate multi-column by going to Preferences > Enable Advanced Web Interface, tick the box then click Save Changes. You can switch it off by going to the preferences icon (the cog or gear icon) and unticking the box instead, then saving.
What is a bot account, and how do I mark my account as one?
On Mastodon, if you’re running an account that isn’t monitored by a human, it’s considered polite to mark it as a bot.
You can add the “bot” label to an account by signing in through the website and going to Edit profile > This is a bot account, then tick the box and click Save changes.
It’s not a pejorative term, it’s just used as a neutral label for accounts that post regularly but don’t have a human being replying. For example the How To Do Anything bot ⧉ is entirely automated but many people enjoy following it. Some bot accounts do interact, such as the Text Adventure bot ⧉, but there is no human being doing the interaction.
Embedding posts on your website
You can embed a Mastodon post on your website by logging in through the website, going to the post and clicking ⋯, then select Embed, then copy and paste the HTML code into your website’s page code. This also works anywhere that accepts HTML code in posts.
Following accounts through RSS
Some types of Fediverse servers let you follow accounts through RSS newsreader apps.
On Mastodon, you can follow any account through RSS by going to the account’s original page and adding .rss to the end of it. For example, the RSS feed for the FediTips account is https://firstname.lastname@example.org ⧉. Note that this only shows public posts, you will not see replies or followers-only posts on the feed.
On PeerTube, you can follow any account or channel through RSS by going to its page and clicking the Subscribe button, there will be an RSS subscription option at the bottom of the menu. You may also see RSS logos next to various features that give you RSS feeds for those features.
Why does it say “Follow request sent” when the account I want to follow doesn’t have follow requests switched on?
On the Fediverse, if you try to follow an account it sometimes says you’ve followed them but then a few minutes later it turns into a “follow request” message.
Usually, this is because you’ve tried to follow an account that needs manual approval of followers, and you have to wait for the owner to approve your request.
However, sometimes this message appears even when the account you’re trying to follow doesn’t have follower approval switched on. In this case, the message is caused by a software bug which has prevented the follow going through properly. This kind of bug is especially common if you’re trying to follow an account on a new or experimental type of Fediverse server.
If you see that an attempted follow has turned into a follow request, try cancelling the follow completely, wait for a while and then try clicking follow again. This sometimes helps the follow to go through properly. If it still doesn’t work, contact the administrator of the server that the account belongs to and explain your problem.
Seeing the first ever posts by a Mastodon account
You can see the oldest page of posts by a Mastodon account by going to its public profile page and adding ?min_id=0 to the end of the URL.