is not a good way to join Mastodon. If you’re already on it, you might want to move your account to a different Mastodon server.

The reason the Fediverse exists is to be spread out on lots of separate servers, it means no one person or company controls the network and if anyone does something bad they can be blocked by others.

By keeping the network spread out, if means if you are unhappy with how your server is run you can move elsewhere, or even start your own, and there are many other benefits for users. Click here for more about why the Fediverse is spread out on many servers. If everyone joins a single massive server like, the advantages of the Fediverse disappear.

I thought the largest server meant it was the best server?

No, this isn’t true:

  • The largest servers are the easiest for nasty billionaires to buy out, which puts the network as a whole at risk. By staying spread out on many servers, you are helping to protect the network from anyone taking it over.
  • The largest servers tend to have the worst staff-to-member ratio, which means the moderation will be worse. Also, if you have a technical problem it will be a lot harder to get hold of anyone who can fix it.
  • Servers of all sizes talk to each other to form a single giant network, and people can follow each other regardless of which server they are on. You don’t need to be on the largest server to follow your friends.
  • You don’t need to be on the largest server to get lots of follows and followers. The account ⧉ has over 200,000 followers but is on a single user server.
  • The experience of following an account is identical whether you’re on the same server or not. You don’t need to be on the same server as people you follow.
  • Smaller servers usually have a friendlier community atmosphere on their Local timelines, while the Local timeline on large servers is an unreadable firehose.

Why is in particular not a good server to join? What does “too big to defederate” mean?

There are four main problems with

  • is by far the largest Mastodon server now. As it becomes an ever-larger percentage of the overall network, the more it puts the Fediverse in danger of being bought out. It’s not a question of absolute numbers but of percentages: if most of the network is on one server, then that server effectively controls the overall network.
  • There’s a second problem:’s moderation has suffered, as the growth means it has fewer moderators per person. It is getting harder for’s moderators to keep tabs on what happens.
  • Added to this is a third danger: is so much larger than other servers, that other servers have become afraid of defederating it. Normally if a server’s moderation or behaviour goes downhill, other servers can block it, and the more a server is blocked the more isolated it becomes. This gives all servers an incentive to be well moderated. But if one server is far larger than the others, it makes it much harder to defederate because it would mean cutting users off from a massive chunk of the network. The more of the network is on a single server, the harder it becomes to block it, and the worse moderation becomes across the entire network.
  • The fourth issue with is who owns it: Mastodon gGmbH, the organisation owned by the lead developer of the software that all Mastodon servers run on. This organisation also owns the official Mastodon apps and the official Mastodon website, and owns the trademark for the word “Mastodon” in relation to social networks. This is a massive concentration of power in a single organisation owned by a single person.

Putting these together creates a nightmare scenario for the Fediverse: a server that is too big to block, with moderation going downhill, which controls the official apps and trademarks and website, and which is now using these official channels to grow their own server at the expense of other servers. In short, is helping to centralise a network which was set up to be decentralised.

How does control the official Mastodon apps and official Mastodon website? is owned by Mastodon gGmbH, the organisation owned by the lead developer of the software which runs on Mastodon servers. They also make the official mobile apps, and own the trademark of the word “Mastodon” in relation to social networks. There is a tremendous amount of power concentrated in one place here, and joining makes the situation even worse.

I’m already on How do I move my account elsewhere? Can I keep my followers and follows? Can I move back if I change my mind?

If you want to move your account to another server, click here to see the account transfer guide. You can keep your followers and follows, they will be moved automatically as long as you follow all the steps. You can move back to the old account if you change your mind.

Can someone steal my username if I move off

No. Once an account has been registered, no one else can ever register that username on that server. Even if an account is deleted, the server keeps a permanent list of usernames to prevent impersonations and will refuse signups with those usernames.

If I move off, will people know where to find my new account?

Yes, when you move servers your old account will redirect people to your new account. You can also manually add a message to your old account profile telling people about your new account.

But the Mastodon app said to join! Why would it do this if there was anything wrong with it?

The official Mastodon apps and official Mastodon website are owned by the same organisation as This organisation is owned by one person, the lead developer of the software which runs on all Mastodon servers.

Ths organisation has highly irresponsibly started driving people to sign up on by default, which goes against everything Mastodon stood for when it was founded. It’s unclear why they are doing this now when they opposed it before.

Isn’t it just easier for non-technical people to join a single server? Isn’t that why the official apps suggest joining

It makes sense to choose a server and say to unsure non-technical people “just sign up on this server”. That does make sign-ups easier.

However, it doesn’t make sense to tell new users to sign up on the largest server. Promoting the largest server doesn’t make it any easier to sign up, but it does put the network itself in danger. Also, centralising the network like this undermines the entire point of signing up on a decentralised network in the first place.

There are lots of other servers with good track records going back many years ⧉, these are the servers that new non-techy people should be steered towards. It will be just as easy for them to sign up on these servers, and it won’t put the network in danger.

But I thought is the default server? Doesn’t it have some special status in the network?

No, is not special in any way. All servers are totally independent, and do not depend on in any technical sense. became a very big server mainly because it was the first Mastodon server and is owned by the Mastodon software’s lead developer. It has no technical advantages or privileges over any other server. It would be like expecting the oldest telephone company to be better than the others because ir was first.

But even if everyone joined, it would still be decentralised? People could still join other servers?

There is nothing technically requiring Fediverse servers to federate. There is an option in Mastodon’s software called “isolated mode” where all federation is shut off and the server runs as a single centralised social network. It’s rarely used, but the technical option exists. If the people running wanted to stop federating with others, they could do so.

But even if the technical option didn’t exist, decentralisation is only meaningful on a network when the network is spread out. If most of a server’s interactions are with people on other servers, the server’s admin will be forced to consider the opinions and needs of other servers and rely on their existence. But if most of a server’s interactions are within that server, the server’s admin will no longer need to think about other servers and will no longer depend on their existence. The network will effectively be centralised.

There is also a precedent for decentralised networks becoming centralised: Facebook’s messenger system used to be part of a wider open messaging standard called XMPP, which allowed Facebook members to message with people outside Facebook. Then one day Facebook just switched off federation ⧉, and its members could only message with each other while those outside Facebook were cut off from Facebook members. If the XMPP network had been more spread out, it would have been much more difficult for Facebook to switch off federation.

What about the other non-Mastodon platforms on the Fediverse?

At the moment, Mastodon’s userbase is larger than all the other Fediverse platforms put together several times over.

It would be fantastic if other Fediverse server types took up a larger percentage of the Fediverse, and an ideal situation would be if no one platform had a majority. But as things stand, Mastodon servers have by far the largest percentage of the Fediverse’s total userbase.

I’m on a very new small server, but it seems a bit quiet. How do I make it busier?

If your server is quiet, especially if it is new, perhaps it can’t see the rest of the Fediverse yet. As more people sign up on your server, and as your server’s members follow accounts from other servers, it will gradually start noticing more of the Fediverse and start to feel busier.

However, if you want to speed up this process of discovering the rest of the Fediverse, there are ways of doing this:

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