WriteFreely: Long-form writing platform for the Fediverse

WriteFreely is intended for people who want to publish long articles on the Fediverse where the focus is on the text, with as few distractions as possible.

You can find out more from the official WriteFreely website ⧉, which includes a list of servers you can sign up on ⧉.

Alternatively, if you want to start your own blogging community, you can start your own WriteFreely server either by installing it yourself ⧉, or if you’re non-technical you can use a managed hosting service ⧉.

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WordPress: Turning your blog into a Fediverse server

If you have a WordPress blog, you can turn it into a Fediverse server, which means people will be able to follow the blog and comment on it from Mastodon etc.

This is now possible for all kinds of WordPress blogs, including free blogs on wordpress.com, paid blogs on wordpress.com and blogs hosted elsewhere that are powered by WordPress software. The method you use to activate Fediverse compatibility depends on the type of blog you have, but they all work using the same technology.

Free, personal and premium wordpress.com blogs

To turn your blog into a Fediverse server:

  1. Log into your wordpress.com account and go to Settings
  2. Go to Discussion
  3. Activate the option Enter the Fediverse
  4. Copy your blog’s Fediverse address which is shown below the option
  5. People will be able to follow this address from their Mastodon etc accounts

If you want people on Mastodon etc to follow your blog, advertise the blog’s address you copied in step 4 above.

Independently hosted WordPress blogs, business and commerce wordpress.com blogs

Independently hosted WordPress blogs, or those on wordpress.com with business and commerce plans, can become Fediverse servers by installing a special plug-in called ActivityPub for WordPress ⧉ (which is named after the technical protocol that Fediverse servers use to communicate). Here’s how to install it:

  1. Log into your WordPress blog’s dashboard
  2. Go to Plugins > Add new and search for “ActivityPub” (the correct plug-in is the one by Mattias Pfefferle & Automattic)
  3. Install the plug-in “ActivityPub” by Mattias Pfefferle & Automattic
  4. You may also need to also install the “WebFinger” plug-in by Pfefferle ⧉ to help the ActivityPub plug-in work properly.
  5. After everything has finished installing, go to your blog’s Plugins section and activate the ActivityPub plug-in.

If all has gone well, your blog should now be its own Fediverse server. It won’t look any different, but behind the scenes your blog and all of its author accounts will now have their own Fediverse account addresses. People can paste account addresses into the search box on Mastodon and other Fedi server types, and the blog or blog author will appear as a profile that they can follow and interact with.

How do I find my blog’s Fediverse address? Can I change the address?

On free, personal and premium wordpress.com blogs, log into your account and then go to Settings > Discussion Settings, then copy the blog’s Fediverse address at the bottom.

On independently hosted WordPress blogs (and business/commerce blogs on wordpress.com) go to Settings > ActivityPub to see your blog author account address, or Settings > ActivityPub > Settings > Change blog profile ID to see your blog’s overall address. Either of these can be followed from Mastodon etc. You can edit the blog’s overall address by typing a new address and then clicking Save changes at the bottom of the screen.

How do I get people to follow my blog from Mastodon etc?

The key to getting your account followers on Mastodon etc is encouraging people there to visit your blog’s or blog author’s Fediverse address. When they do so, they will see the blog’s profile page within Mastodon etc itself, and can click on the Follow button there.

Here are some ways you can encourage people to follow your blog on Mastodon etc:

  • If you have a Mastodon etc account, do a post where you talk about your blog and include your blog’s Fediverse address in the post. People reading your post will be able to click on the address to see its profile, and then they can click Follow just like they would for any other account.
  • On your WordPress blog, there is a special extra blocks in the post editor called Follow me on the Fediverse. Add one of these blocks when editing a page or post, and select the account of the blog author you want people to follow. People visiting the blog can click on it and will see a dialogue box explaining how they can follow the account from Mastodon etc.

What will people on Mastodon etc see if they follow my blog from there?

They will see your blog posts on their Mastodon etc timelines. You can set it to show the entire blog post, or just a partial excerpt with a link to read more, or just the link.

On the plug-in for independently hosted sites (or wordpress.com sites with business/commerce plans), you can choose how much of your posts are shown on Mastodon etc by doing the following:

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Go to ActivityPub
  3. Choose the Settings tab within ActivityPub
  4. Scroll down to the section marked Activities and choose your preferred option

Can people comment on my blog from Mastodon etc?

Yes. When they reply to your posts on Mastodon, those replies will appear as comments below that post on your blog. (This is assuming you have comments activated on your blog.)

Can I use this with my free blog on wordpress.com?

Yes! You can now turn any kind of WordPress blog into a Fediverse server, use the appropriate methods above to do so.

Previously the Fediverse was only available to independently hosted WordPress-powered blogs, but since October 2023 ⧉ it has become available to all WordPress blogs including all account tiers on wordpress.com.

So, is this linking my blog to my Mastodon account?

No. The plug-in turns the blog into its own Fediverse server. The blog itself will have its own Fediverse address, and so will each of your blog’s author accounts. If you’re using a custom domain name, the Fediverse address will have the custom domain at the end. If your blog is on wordpress.com, your blog’s Fediverse address will end in “wordpress.com”.

Because Fediverse platforms are compatible with each other, people on Mastodon etc will be able to follow a blog and they will see the blog posts appear on their home timelines as if they were ordinary Mastodon etc posts.

You can try this out by following your blog (or blog’s author account) from your Mastodon account, and mentioning the address in one of your posts on Mastodon. People will be able to click on the blog’s address and follow the blog’s account.

Can I display my blog’s followers from Mastodon etc on the blog itself?

Yes, there’s a special block in the WordPress editor called Fediverse Followers. Add this block to your page or post and select the account you want to display followers for, they will then be shown on your blog where the block is inserted.

I mentioned my blog’s address on Mastodon etc but it isn’t clickable. What do I do so that it leads to the profile page?

To make a clickable link to your blog’s account in a post on Mastodon etc, the address has to have an @ sign at the beginning. For some inexplicable reason this @ sign isn’t included at the start of the address displayed on WordPress so you’ll have to add it in yourself.

For example myblog@example.com would not be clickable, but @myblog@example.com would be clickable.

However, both versions of the address work when copy-pasting addresses into the search box on Mastodon etc.

I am still having problems with the plug-in and none of these suggestions work. Is there a support forum somewhere?

Yes, there’s an official support forum for the ActivityPub for WordPress plug-in ⧉.

Can I follow Mastodon etc accounts from my WordPress blog?

Yes and no.

The ActivityPub plug-in by itself will only let people follow you from Mastodon and other Fediverse platforms. If you want to follow other people who are on Mastodon etc, you will need to also install a different plug-in by a different author called Friends for WordPress ⧉. If you have both plug-ins installed, you can use your WordPress blog for both following and being followed on Mastodon etc. (The Friends plug-in also lets you follow RSS feeds.)

Where can I sign up for a WordPress blog?

Most independent web hosting providers will include the option of setting up a WordPress blog included in the monthly fee for your website. This approach normally gives you the most features and options including a vast range of plugins that add extra features to your site.

Alternatively, you can sign up for a free WordPress blog on “freemium” providers like wordpress.com ⧉, which are supported by advertising and paid-for features. This is a bit more restricted though, you may not be able to install plugins on the free plans.

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Finding people to follow on Pixelfed

To find people to follow on Pixelfed, you can use most of the same techniques and directories that Mastodon etc. users use.

Pixelfed is not just about Pixelfed accounts! You can also follow non-Pixelfed accounts from elsewhere on the Fediverse like Mastodon etc. To follow a non-Pixelfed account, paste its Fediverse address into the search box within Pixelfed. The account’s profile will then appear in the search results and you can click Follow to follow it.

After you follow them, non-Pixelfed posts will start appearing in your timeline but they will look just like Pixelfed posts, and you can interact with them in exactly the same way. The process is so seamless you probably won’t notice they’re from another type of server.

By default, Pixelfed only shows posts that include an attached image. If you want to see text-only posts as well, log into your Pixelfed account and go to Settings > Timelines > Show text-only posts, tick the box and click Submit.

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Pixelfed: Photo sharing on the Fediverse

Pixelfed is a photo and image sharing network on the Fediverse with a photo-oriented interface that includes albums, filters, moments etc. You can follow Pixelfed accounts from Mastodon, and Mastodon accounts from Pixelfed.

See the official site at pixelfed.org ⧉ to find out more.

Where do I sign up for Pixelfed?

The official site has a curated list of servers to join ⧉.

How do I use it? Which apps can I use?

Server website interface:

You don’t have to use an app at all if you don’t want to. Pixelfed can be used entirely through a server’s website on computers and smartphones, and has a good web interface. If you do want to use an app, there are a number of options (see below).

Dedicated Android apps:

Dedicated iPhone apps:

Mastodon apps:

Pixelfed is compatible with the Mastodon API so you can also use Mastodon apps with PixelFed accounts if you want. However, some Pixelfed-specific features may not be available.

How do I set up my own Pixelfed server?

If you are not technical you can host your own Pixelfed server through managed hosting ⧉, or if you are slightly techy you can use tools like YunoHost ⧉. If you are very techy and just want to install and maintain a server without any help, see the official documentation here ⧉.

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PeerTube: Video on the Fediverse

Screenshot of the PeerTube server fedi.video featuring many themed recommended playlists on topics such as animation, food, crafts, retro gaming etc.
Screenshot of the PeerTube server Fedi.Video ⧉

PeerTube ⧉ is a video platform for the Fediverse, sort of like Mastodon but for videos.

Just like Mastodon, PeerTube is spread out on many different servers that talk to each other. Also, because both PeerTube and Mastodon are part of the Fediverse, PeerTube accounts can be followed from Mastodon etc as well as from other PeerTube servers.

How do I watch PeerTube videos and follow PeerTube accounts? How can I follow them from Mastodon?

Please go to the guide to using PeerTube.

How do I upload videos to PeerTube?

Please go to the guide to publishing on PeerTube.

Where can I see an example of PeerTube in action?

If you just want to see an example of a working PeerTube server, have a look at fedi.video ⧉.

Which apps can I use with PeerTube?

You can follow and interact with PeerTube from your Mastodon account, including through your server’s website or any Mastodon app.

Alternatively, if you are using a PeerTube account yourself, you can use your PeerTube server’s website, or the Android apps Fedilab and NewPipe ⧉.

If you just want to watch videos without interacting, you can subscribe to PeerTube channels through your favourite podcast app.

What if I want to start my own PeerTube server?

There are basically three options:

Isn’t video really expensive to host?

Video sites are definitely more expensive to run than text-based social networks, but PeerTube has a clever system to keep the costs down.

When several people watch the same video, they start sharing their bandwidth on a peer-to-peer connection (which is where PeerTube gets its name). This significantly reduces the strain on the PeerTube server where the video is hosted, and it provides the greatest amount of help when the strain is greatest.

I thought PeerTube was a way to view YouTube videos with better privacy?

No. You’re probably thinking of a totally different project called Invidious ⧉

Does PeerTube run on blockchain or cryptocurrency or something?

No. None of the Fediverse uses blockchain or anything like it. The Fediverse runs on traditional sustainable servers federated in a structure similar to email.

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OwnCast: Live streaming and chat on the Fediverse

OwnCast is sort of the Fediverse’s alternative to Twitch, and lets people set up their own independent live streaming servers with built-in chat windows. People can follow OwnCast accounts from Mastodon etc. and they’ll see a post in their timeline when the stream goes live. They can also use their Mastodon account in the chat.

You can find out more about it on the official OwnCast website ⧉. If you just want to see what it looks like in action, there’s a demo server that streams 24/7 ⧉.

How do I find OwnCast streams to follow? How do I follow them?

There’s an official directory of streamers ⧉, and you can follow FediVideos ⧉ which boosts interesting streams (as well as other kinds of videos on the Fediverse).

If you want to try following a stream from Mastodon etc, click on the stream’s Follow button, usually just below the video window. Alternatively, you may see people mentioning a stream in posts on Mastodon etc, and clicking on the mention will bring up its profile page including a follow button.

What happens when a stream goes live?

If you’re following a stream from Mastodon etc and it goes live, a post will appear in your Mastodon etc timeline telling you about it along with a link to the livestream.

How do I verify my identity in chat? Can I use my Mastodon etc account to sign in on the chat?

Yes, you can verify your identity by connecting an OwnCast chat account to an account on Mastodon etc. Alternatively, you can register for a reserved name on the OwnCast server without needing an account anywhere else.

To do either of these things, click on the name button at the top of the stream and select Authenticate.

Do I need to register to chat?

No. By default you will be automatically assigned a temporary name made of two random words, and you can just chat using this identity. You can change this temporary display name without registering by clicking the name button at the top and selecting Change Name.

Bear in mind though that anyone can use an unauthenticated name, and authenticating is the only way to reserve a name.

How do I host my own livestream on OwnCast?

OwnCast runs on free open source software, so anyone is allowed to set up their own server. You will need a bit of technical knowledge to do this, but there are various options to make it easier explained at the quickstart guide ⧉.

Alternatively, you could approach someone who already runs their own server and they may be able to accommodate your stream on there.

Does OwnCast have emoji and things? What about donations?

There’s an emoji picker, and streams can be optionally set to display chat emoji in the main video window.

There’s no built-in bits-style donation system, but you can mention your donation links from other platforms in the stream.

Is there a video-on-demand (VOD) feature?

You can record streams locally and upload the recordings to accounts on PeerTube, which people can also follow from Mastodon etc.

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Mobilizon: Event organisation and discovery

Mobilizon is an event platform for the Fediverse which lets people and groups create events pages where participants can sign up, even if they don’t have an account. There’s lots more info on the official Mobilizon website ⧉.

Organisers can create a Mobilizon account on an existing server, or even start their own server if they prefer. Once an account is created, the organisers can use it to post event info pages where participants can say whether they are attending.

Mobilizon accounts can be followed from Mastodon etc, and when new events are added these will appear in followers’ timelines. They can then click through to the info page where they can find out more and say if they are interested.

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microblog.pub: Fediverse servers for individual users

Microblog.pub is a lightweight privacy-friendly single user ActivityPub server with a minimalist interface, whose accounts can be followed from other ActivityPub platforms including Mastodon etc. The platform features both short form notes and long form articles, and supports markdown formatting.

You’ll need some technical knowledge to install it as it’s not yet available through managed hosting. There’s more info about it on the official microblog website ⧉ and if you are familiar with server software you can find installation instructions here ⧉.

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GoToSocial: Safe and lightweight

GoToSocial is a new kind of Fediverse server which emphasises user safety, and is currently under development in alpha testing. If you’re a techy person, you can find out more from the official GoToSocial technical documentation site ⧉. It is still in its very very early stages though, not ready for prime time yet, and they would appreciate support in order to get to a release version more quickly ⧉.

The aim of GTS is protect users from trolls and other nasty people through either traditional blocklists or allowlists instead. Allowlists mean that all other servers are blocked automatically, and only servers specifically named in the allowlist are allowed access. Allowlists are the safest possible option for a federated server, though they do make it harder to discover new servers. It’s up to a server’s owner to decide where the balance between safety and discovery lies, and GTS aims to give them more options when deciding on a good balance.

GTS is also unusual because it doesn’t include a website interface, it can only be used through third party apps. Fortunately, it supports the Mastodon API which means it can be used through any Mastodon app, and there are lots of those for all platforms ⧉.

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Friendica: A flexible Fediverse server type with long posts

Friendica is a sort of Swiss Army knife of the Fediverse: it lets you follow and interact with Mastodon accounts, but it also lets you do a lot of things that other Fediverse server types can’t do. It can be more complicated to use, but if you can get the hang of it it offers features that other server types don’t have.

The website version of Friendica has an interface a bit like Facebook from a few years ago, lets you make long posts with no character limits, and follow accounts from all across the Fediverse including Mastodon etc. As well as posts, Friendica lets you create and share calendars, photo galleries and groups (though the groups work very differently to those on Facebook).

You can also follow RSS feeds, and each RSS post will appear in your home timeline as if it was from a normal account on the Fediverse, so it can be replied to or shared with others (the original RSS feed creator will not know about it though). Additionally, you can turn RSS feeds into specific Fediverse accounts that people on other Fedi server types can follow.

If you’re on the old Diaspora social network, you can use Friendica as a stepping stone to the Fediverse as it has compatibility with both. From Friendica you can follow Fedi accounts on Mastodon etc. and also Diaspora accounts, with everything displayed in one feed.

There is no dedicated Friendica app, but you can use it with most Mastodon apps, and if you have an Android device you can use the Fedilab app ⧉.

More info is available from the official Friendica website ⧉, and there are lists of servers to join on the Friendica directory ⧉.

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Importing your data into BookWyrm from Goodreads, LibraryThing, StoryGraph, OpenLibrary or Calibre

You can bring your account data from many other book services into BookWyrm. Here’s how:

  1. Log into the service you want to move from, and export your book data as a CSV file (here’s how to do this on Goodreads ⧉, other services may have their own methods)
  2. Log into BookWyrm, click on your account icon to bring up the main menu, then select Settings
  3. Select Data > Import
  4. From Data source, choose the service you’re importing data from (Goodreads, LibraryThing etc.)
  5. Click Browse and select the CSV file you exported in step 1
  6. Choose your preferred option from Privacy setting for imported reviews
  7. Click Import

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BookWyrm: A social network for people who enjoy reading

BookWyrm is the Fediverse’s alternative to Amazon’s Goodreads. BookWyrm servers let users keep track of which titles they’ve read, discover new books to read based on human recommendations (instead of algorithms), and publish their own reviews.

Can I follow BookWyrm accounts from Mastodon?

Yes! Because it’s part of the Fediverse, people on Mastodon etc can also follow BookWyrm users’ accounts, and followers will see BookWyrm reviews appear in their timeline.

How do I sign up for BookWyrm?

BookWyrm is federated like Mastodon, so you choose a server and then sign up on its website. Once you’ve got an account, you can sign in on the website or web app. You can follow and interact with people from other servers, so it doesn’t matter if you sign up on different servers.

You can see a list of recommended BookWyrm servers (also known as “instances”) to sign up on at joinbookwyrm.com/instances ⧉.

Is there a BookWyrm app?

There’s a BookWyrm web app which you can install on Android or iPhone/iPad. Please see the guide to web apps for how to install it.

I’ve already got an account on a different book site. Can I import my data to BookWyrm?

Yes! BookWyrm users can import their data from Goodreads, LibraryThing, StoryGraph, OpenLibrary and Calibre. Please see the guide to importing your data into BookWyrm.

Where does BookWyrm get its book data from? Can I add missing books?

BookWyrm’s book catalogue is based on information from Wikidata ⧉ and another Fediverse service Inventaire ⧉. If a book is missing, you can add information manually and there’s also support for barcode scanning.

Can I use my Mastodon account to log in on BookWyrm?

No, because every account on the Fediverse is tied to one specific server. But you can include a link to your BookWyrm account on your Mastodon profile.

Who can set up a BookWyrm server?

Under the terms of the BookWyrm project software, anyone (except corporations) is allowed to start their own BookWyrm server. The software is totally free of charge, but servers need to cover their own hosting costs. Setting up a BookWyrm server does require some tech skills.

Alternatively, if you are a top tier patron, you can also use a special managed BookWyrm hosting service ⧉ where BookWyrm’s lead developer personally maintains your BookWyrm server so that you don’t have to do any technical stuff.

Where can I find out more and follow BookWyrm news?

You can find out more about it on the official website at JoinBookWyrm.com ⧉ and there’s a Mastodon account you can follow at @bookwyrm@tech.lgbt ⧉ (the account’s posts are also on RSS here ⧉).

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Mastodon API: Using Mastodon apps with non-Mastodon accounts

Mastodon uses an open API for its servers, which means that anyone can write a Mastodon app and it can make full use of all of Mastodon’s features. This openness means third party Mastodon apps get just as much access to Mastodon’s features as official apps do, and many third party Masto apps are actually better than the official one.

However, a side-effect of this openness is that non-Mastodon Fediverse platforms can also make themselves compatible with the Mastodon API. This means that Mastodon apps will work with those non-Mastodon Fedi platforms too. For example, you can sign in on a Mastodon app using your PixelFed account.

Not every Fedi platform supports this, but many do. The easiest way to find out whether it works is to download a free Mastodon app and try signing in.

(It should be noted that Mastodon’s developers don’t officially support this, and if it stops working you need to check with the maintainers of your Fediverse platform. They probably need to update their software so that it remains compatible with the Masto API.)

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