Since version 4.2.0, Mastodon allows full text search where the entire contents of posts is included when people do searches.
For privacy and safety reasons, the full text search feature is entirely on an opt-in basis. By default your posts are NOT available to search by that method, and you have to actively opt into full text search to make your public posts searchable without hashtags.
To opt into full text search:
Log in through your server’s website
Click on your profile icon
Click on Edit Profile
Click on the tab labelled Privacy & Reach
Tick the box marked Include public posts in search results
Click the Save Changes button at the bottom of the screen
If you change your mind, do the same steps again but untick the box and then save changes.
At first glance appears to be pretty standard, but once you start going through the options and settings there is so much more under the surface. Many, many useful features and good support for non-Mastodon Fediverse servers. It’s not the best-looking app, but that doesn’t matter because it does lots of things other apps cannot do.
All the standard extras available the web interface such as post editing, pinned posts, hashtag follows, lists, filters, trending tags, trending posts etc.
All the timelines (Home, Local, Federated, Explore) are there, as are all the visibilities (Public, Unlisted, Followers-Only, Mentions-Only and Local-Only (for servers that support local-only posts))
Free open source software
Allows users to be muted just on home timeline while still appearing on lists, which is great for creating multiple separate timelines from the same account. (Also, you can set lists to automatically include home muted users.)
Scheduled posts and scheduled boosts, including boosts of own or others’ posts
Post drafts, automatically asks you if you close a message without posting it
Built-in translation, built-in dictionary and spell checker
Good support for non-Mastodon Fediverse server types including Pixelfed, PeerTube, Friendica etc. Also includes support for extra features on Mastodon forks such as Glitch and Hometown.
PeerTube interface is particularly good, allows all the options from the web interface including uploads, and Fedilab can easily be used as a dedicated PeerTube app
Customisable timeline and interface options, colour themes, adjustable text and icon sizes.
Conversation thread maps
Lets you fetch data from remote servers which allows conversations and profiles to be updated with information that hasn’t federated to your server yet.
Optional privacy features for links such as UTM stripping, and using alternative frontends for links to popular services (for example Nitter to view Twitter links, Invidious to view YouTube links etc).
Lots more options such as automatic cache clearance.
Not sure one way or other
Fedilab is a paid app on Google Play but free-of-charge on F-Droid. This is as the developer wishes to encourage people onto alternatives to Google Play.
Some of the formatting could be slicker and neater, for example metadata tables on profiles look a bit messy
Some English translations slightly odd, such as “trending messages” when it means trending posts
Occasional weird bugs, for example the Manage Timelines page brings up a “No timelines was found on this instance” error message
Hints & Tips
Polls can be added to posts by clicking the attachment button (the paperclip) and selecting the poll icon
You can jump to the top of a timeline by double-tapping the timeline’s icon
If a post is boosted by a lot of people, you may see it repeatedly in your timeline. This can be annoying if you’re tired of seeing it.
There is already a feature in Mastodon to prevent this happening, called Group Boosts, and it is on by default, you don’t need to do anything to switch it on. Unfortunately, it is hardcoded to allow boosts to repeat after 40 other posts have been in your timeline. This limit worked okay in the early days of the Fediverse when things were quieter, but nowadays with millions of people online you are a lot more likely to see repeated boosts.
This 40 posts limit cannot currently be adjusted by users or admins, but hopefully the developers could allow this to happen. If you are comfortable using github, you can vote for this limit to be adjustable by giving a thumbs up to the first post in this thread ⧉.
There is a built-in post scheduler feature on Mastodon, which lets you write a post in advance and set it to be automatically posted at a particular time. For some unexplained reason it is not accessible from the official Mastodon interface, possibly because the developers have not written an interface for it yet.
However, it is still there and works fine, and you can access it through third party apps such as Tusky and Fedilab ⧉. You can also use third party websites such as FediPlan ⧉ and Buffer ⧉ to schedule posts on Mastodon.
There’s a website called FediFinder which helps you find the Mastodon / Fediverse accounts of people you currently follow on Twitter. To use it, just go to fedifinder.glitch.me ⧉ and follow the instructions.
Each server on the Fediverse is independent, and can choose to cut off connections to any other server if it wants to do so. This process of blocking other servers on the Fediverse is known as “defederation” or “fediblocking”.
Usually this is done for the sake of user safety, for example if another server is failing to moderate abusive behaviour, but it can be for any reason that the server admin considers important.
If you’re an admin on a Mastodon server, here is how to defederate other servers on the Fediverse:
Log into your admin account on your server’s website
Go to Preferences > Moderation > Federation
Click Add New Domain Block
Enter the domain name of the server you want to block (for example “threads.net”)
From the Severity dropdown menu select Suspend
Optionally add comments if you want to remind yourself why you blocked them, or if you have a public list that explains your server’s blocks
Click Create Block
Once you’ve done this, your server will refuse connections from the blocked server and any follows from those servers will be removed.
These blocks work for any Fediverse server type, so you can block non-Mastodon servers as well.
Do I have to do this for every single server I want to block?
Yes, you can choose Limit from the Severity menu instead of Suspend. Limiting (also known as Silencing) does not cut off connections, and allows follows to carry on, but it hides all posts from that server unless people are following the account that makes them.
What if I change my mind? How do I unblock servers?
To remove a domain block:
Log into your admin account on your server’s website
Go to Preferences > Moderation > Federation
Click on the domain you want to unblock
Click Undo Domain Block
If I unblock a server, will people’s follows be restored?
When an admin defederates a server, that cuts off all the follows between that server and the admin’s server.
Unblocking a server allows people to follow each other again, but it does not automatically restore follows that existed before the defederation happened. This is an important reason to consider carefully before defederating a server.
If you want to distance yourself from a server but don’t want to cut off follows, use the Limit/Silence option instead of Suspend.
Kbin is a Reddit-style link aggregator and discussion platform for the Fediverse. As it communicates using the ActivityPub protocol, Kbin servers can communicate with other Fediverse server types such as Mastodon etc.
Log in on your server’s website using your admin account.
Go to Preferences > Moderation > Federation
Click the Import button at the top
Browse for the blocklist’s .csv file, then click Upload
You will be presented with a list of servers to block. If there are servers with existing connections to your server, they will be automatically unticked. If you want to include these in the block, tick them.
When you want to implement the blocklist, click Import in the top right corner of the list and click OK to confirm.
Once the list is successfully imported, the blocks will appear alongside your existing blocks. If necessary, you can remove blocks from the list just like any manually added block.
Will it block people that have already followed me, or that I already follow?
Before any blocks happen, the blocklist import process will highlight servers on the list that your server already has connections to. You will be given the option of either going ahead with blocking those servers, or leaving them off the blocklist. By default it will leave them off the blocklist, unless you choose to add them back in.
If you block a particular server, then all the follows and followers from that particular server will lose their connections to your server.
Go to Preferences > Automated post deletion (on mobile you may need to click ☰ first)
Choose the Age threshold to set how long posts are around before they’re deleted
Set the exceptions for posts you want to keep
Tick the box at the top marked Automatically delete old posts
Click the Save changes button
If you want to stop deleting posts automatically, UN-tick the box and click the Save changes button.
I activated this but it hasn’t deleted posts that are way past the threshold. What’s going on?
If servers are busy, they create queues of tasks to work through. Automated deletion tends to go at the back of the queue, so it may take longer to happen than other tasks. If the settings are correct and it’s way past the deadline for the deletions to happen, ask your server’s admin for advice.
How does this affect server running costs?
When this feature is discussed, the issue of server running costs is often raised.
On the one hand, automated stuff always adds extra tasks for the server to carry out. On the other hand though, it would mean the server doesn’t have to store as much data so it would save money on storage costs, especially if the deleted posts have media attachments. It would also reduce storage for any servers that have federated the posts being deleted.
You would have to speak to your server’s admin to find out exactly how it affects their setup, as different servers may have different resources available.
I asked a couple of very large server admins for their thoughts on how this balances out. Both of them said the added tasks were insignificant compared to everything else the servers have to do. Both of them also said deleting posts (especially posts with media attachments) saves storage, but one of them added that there may be fees to be paid if the deletions happen for very recent posts. On their server, it would be cheaper to only delete posts more than 90 days old, and leave any newer posts intact.
If you want to post something to the group, just include its account address in a public post
If you want to leave a group, unfollow it
It’s somewhat similar to following hashtags, and people who have used email discussion lists will also find this structure very familiar.
The two main Fediverse group providers at the moment are Chirp ⧉ and Guppe ⧉. They are platform-neutral, and their groups can be followed from all kinds of Fediverse servers including Mastodon, GoToSocial, Friendica etc.
Chirp has its own directory at chirp.social ⧉, and Guppe has a list of their top 50 active groups at the bottom of their website at a.gup.pe ⧉.
How can I create a group? Are the groups moderated? What if I see something unsuitable?
Guppe groups don’t require any kind of registration, you can create a group simply by mentioning the group name in the form “@YourGroupNameHere@a.gup.pe”. However, because there’s no registration there is no way to moderate the group directly, and they rely on members reporting bad posts to their server admin.
Chirp groups require you to create an admin account on the chirp.social ⧉ website. Because groups have a registered admin, it means the admin can moderate the group themselves instead of relying on server admins.
What do I do if I see spam or something unsuitable in a group?
Whatever kind of group you are following, you can report, mute and block just like you would with non-group posts.
When you report bad posts, the admins on your server (and possibly also the server of the spammer/troll) can take action to block it and remove it.
Groups federate content more effectively than hashtags
Hashtag follows and groups have some overlap, and appear to work in a similar way on the surface, but there are significant differences behind the scenes.
The biggest advantage of groups is you automatically see all of the group’s posts, even if they’re from accounts that haven’t federated to your server before. Because all the group’s posts are shared to all the members’ servers, you never miss a thing.
With hashtag follows, this mass federation doesn’t happen. Hashtag following means you will only see posts from accounts that already federate with your server. Hashtags are essentially passive filters for your server’s Federated timeline and do not actively draw in any new content.
What about Mastodon’s own built-in groups feature?
However, it is unclear if Mastodon groups will work across the Fediverse or only on Mastodon. Chirp and Guppe are platform-neutral, and will work on any kind of Fediverse server that supports microblogging including Mastodon, Friendica and others.
Groups on Friendica
The Fediverse server type Friendica includes built-in group support, which works in a similar way to Chirp and Guppe. Creating a Friendica group requires a Friendica account, but anyone can join the group from other Fediverse server types including Mastodon servers.
A Friendica group can be moderated by the person who created it, and they can also add additional moderators to the same group.
All links on Mastodon count as 23 characters towards your post’s character limit, no matter how long they really are. Because of this, there is no need to use link shortener services on Mastodon.
Mastodon does this because it’s much better for privacy that links remain in their original form, as link shortener services tend to track the people that click on them. It also means the links will continue to work in the future and aren’t dependent on the existence of the link shortener service.
The official iPhone/iPad app counts it as more than 23 characters?
By default, brand new Mastodon and Fediverse servers will be totally blank, with no users or posts visible at all. Searches will produce no results.
As people start signing up and posting and following accounts from other servers, the timelines and search results will start to fill up as the server starts noticing more of the Fediverse. However, this discovery process can be very slow to begin with, and those on new servers may sometimes be frustrated by the slowness.
Server admins can speed up this process by subscribing to relays which push new content to their server from other servers, or using scripts that fetch missing posts from threads and profiles.
How to subscribe to a relay server on Mastodon
Log into your server’s website using your server’s admin account
Go to ⚙️ Preferences > Administration > Relays
Click Setup A Relay Connection
Paste the URL of the relay into the box and click Save And Enable
⚠️ WARNING: Some relays are better moderated than others. Some relays may contain content that breaks your own server’s rules, or may even be illegal in your country. It’s really important to check what kind of content a relay contains before you connect your own server to it. Relays are usually based on specific servers, so you can see such a relay’s content by browsing its server’s Federated feed and reading that server’s rules.
Also, bear in mind large and general relays may fill your server with content that you mostly aren’t interested in, and use up lots of resources at the same time. Smaller, more specific relays may be much better suited to your server’s resources.
Finding general relays
There’s a list of Fediverse relays at RelayList.com ⧉. Please bear in mind the warnings above before using this list, and check that the content on the relays is suitable for your server.
FediBuzz Relay: Custom relays on specific topics
This is a new service that lets you subscribe to custom relays based on specific hashtags or specific other servers. This can greatly reduce the amount of resources required by relays, as it only sends posts that are relevant to the topics you have selected for your server. You can find out more on its website at relay.fedi.buzz ⧉.
Using scripts to fill in missing posts from profiles and threads
There’s a new tool called FediFetcher ⧉ which can be used to automatically backfill missing posts from profiles and conversation threads. It runs independently of the Fediverse server, but it needs access tokens for every user that it backfills for, so it is generally aimed at single-user servers or servers where the admin knows all the users. It also requires good technical skills for running the tool.
When a new user joins your Mastodon server, by default they are shown a list of accounts to follow. This recommendation list is drawn from two different places in the admin settings.
The first place is a manual list of accounts you want to always be recommended, which is always shown at the top of the list.
The other place is an automatic pool of accounts that are randomly recommended to new users. The pool is based on which accounts your existing users are following, but you can edit this pool if you want to remove accounts from it.
Set accounts that your server always recommends to new users:
Log into your server’s website with your admin account
Go to Preferences > Administration > Server Settings > DIscovery > Always recommend these accounts to new users
Paste in the account addresses of the accounts you want to recommend, separated by commas. They can be accounts from your server or from other servers, as long as the account address is written in full.
Click the Save changes button
Edit the random pool of recommended accounts:
Log into your server’s website with your admin account
Go to Moderation > Follow Recommendations
To remove an account from the pool, tick the box next to it and click Suppress follow recommendation
To bring an account back into the pool, click the Suppressed link at the top of the list, then tick the account you want to bring back and click Restore follow recommendation
You can set different recommendation pools for different languages by clicking the For language dropdown menu
One of the most fun features of running your own Mastodon server is the ability to add custom emoji. All members of your server can use them, and they will be visible in your member’s posts that federate to other servers. You can also clone custom emoji from other servers, or block them if you see something unsuitable.
To access emoji settings, log into your server’s website with your administrator’s account, then go to Preferences > Administration > Custom emoji.
When you first log in, you will see a long list of all the custom emoji visible to your server, including your own and those of all the servers you federate with. To show just your own click the Local tab at the top, to show just those on other servers click Remote.
Adding your own custom emoji
Custom emoji can be PNG or GIF files up to 50kb in size, and can be still or animated. They can also contain transparent backgrounds. (If you want to create your own from scratch, there’s a useful guide by Laura Kalbag here ⧉.)
To add your own custom emoji:
Log in with your admin account on your server’s website
Go to Preferences > Administration > Custom Emojis
Click the Upload button in the top right corner
Add a shortcode, which is a word or words which describes what the emoji looks like. If you use several words, write them as CamelCase or with underscores separating them. Shortcodes are really important as they let blind people hear emoji through screen reader apps.
Browse for the image file and click the Upload button at the bottom
Cloning emoji from other servers
To clone an emoji from another server, tick the box next to it on the custom emoji admin list, and click Copy. If you’re looking for a particular emoji on a long list, use its shortcode in the search box.
Blocking emoji from other servers
To block an emoji from another server, for example if it is offensive, tick the box next to it on the emoji admin list and click Disable or Delete.
When a Fediverse server is created, you have to give it its own name. This can be a domain name (example.com) or subdomain (social.example.com). People can use this server name when signing into their account on an app, or when using the server through a web browser.
The best domain names are usually short, easy to spell and memorable. You may want to avoid offensive words, as they can make it difficult to tell people about your server on other platforms. If you already own a domain, you can use subdomains for your servers.
It’s also probably a good idea to use a name that doesn’t mention the software that it is running. For example, if you were making a Mastodon server you probably shouldn’t mention the word Mastodon in the domain or subdomain. Software projects tend to change over the years, in their content, leadership or maintenance, and it may be that in the future you want to switch to a different kind of software on your server. It could be confusing for your users if your server mentions one kind of software but runs another. Alternatively, software projects sometimes rename themselves, and this too can cause confusion for your server’s users. On top of this, some software projects trademark their names and only let servers use the name if they’re running that specific software. This could make it legally difficult for your server to transition to another kind of software in the future.
There are three different ways you can make your own server on the Fediverse:
Easiest by far is to use a managed hosting service, where you pay a monthly fee to the hosting company and they do all the technical stuff behind the scenes, including installation, upgrades, maintenance etc. This is so easy that it allows non-technical people to have their own servers. You can find out a lot more about this by visiting my other site Grow Your Own Services, especially the section on growing your own social network ⧉.
A medium difficulty option is getting a VPS or home computer and installing special software intended for people who run their own servers, such as YunoHost ⧉, FreedomBox ⧉ or LibreServer ⧉. This requires some technical knowledge, especially to install the software, but after the initial set-up the process the rest is done through a graphical interface and relatively painless.
The most difficult option is to install and maintain everything from scratch. This demands the most technical knowledge, but also provides the most flexibility. You can find installation instructions for all Fediverse platforms in their documentation, usually on their official website. For example, Mastodon’s installation instructions are here ⧉.
Some Fediverse server types are available to set up through all three options, others may only be available by manually installing from scratch.
If you have an independently hosted blog powered by WordPress, you can add a special plug-in that turns it into a Fediverse server. When the plug-in is installed, people will be able to follow and interact with your blog posts from Mastodon and other types of Fediverse server.
The plug-in is called ActivityPub for WordPress ⧉, and is named after the technical protocol that Fediverse servers use to communicate. Here’s how to install it:
Log into your WordPress blog’s dashboard
Go to Plugins > Add new and search for “ActivityPub” (the correct plug-in is the one by Mattias Pfefferle & Automattic)
Install the plug-in “ActivityPub” by Mattias Pfefferle & Automattic
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 will now have its own Fediverse account address. People can paste this address into the search box on Mastodon and other Fedi server types, and your blog will appear as a profile that they can follow and interact with.
You can find out your blog’s account address by going to the WordPress dashboard’s Users section and click on the user that writes the blog. Scroll down to the bottom of their profile options page and the Fedi address will be listed there. Give this address to anyone who wants to follow that user’s blog on Mastodon or the rest of the Fediverse.
What will people on Mastodon etc see if they follow my blog?
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. Replies to these posts can optionally become comments on the blog.
You can choose how posts are displayed by going to the ActivityPub option in your WordPress dashboard’s Settings menu. (This will be available after you’ve installed the plug-in.)
Can I use this with my free blog on wordpress.com?
No, not at the moment.
Free blogs on wordpress.com do not allow installation of plug-ins. You will need an independently hosted WordPress-powered blog that allows plug-ins. The vast majority of independent web hosting companies offer WordPress with plug-ins even on their lowest-price hosting plans.
You can also use it with the paid tier on wordpress.com as this does allow plug-ins, but this tier is expensive compared to independently hosted options. You are probably better off going to an indie hosting company.
I thought wordpress.com was the same as WordPress?
Nope. WordPress ⧉ is the free open source software that powers many blogs and websites, and it is available to use as standard on thousands of web hosting companies. It’s so common that hosting companies usually let you install it on their plans by just clicking a button.
WordPress.com is the most famous WordPress hosting company because it offers free blogs, in the hopes that people upgrade to a paid blog with them. However, because they offer free blogs they also have to charge a lot more for their paid tiers in order to cover their costs.
If you switch to an indie hosting company instead of wordpress.com, the indie companies’ monthly fees are usually a fraction of the price because they don’t need to cover the cost of any free users.
So, is this linking my blog to my Mastodon account?
No. The plug-in turns the blog into its own Fediverse server, and the author accounts on the blog become Fediverse accounts with their own account addresses that include the domain name of the blog (such as @firstname.lastname@example.org).
Because Fediverse platforms are compatible with each other, people on Mastodon etc will be able to follow the blog’s authors, and they will see the blog posts on their home timelines as if they were ordinary Mastodon etc posts.
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.
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.
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).
PeerTube is a video server for the Fediverse, and allows anyone to start their own independent video site.
PeerTube videos are distributed using clever peer-to-peer technology which means the more people watch a video the more bandwidth it will receive. This allows even smaller servers to host viral videos without needing data centres.
I’m already on Mastodon, do I need a PeerTube account?
If you just want to watch, like, comment and subscribe to PeerTube video accounts, you can do all of those things entirely from within Mastodon. You can follow PeerTube accounts the same way you follow Mastodon accounts, and they have similar account addresses too.
When you follow a PeerTube account from Mastodon, new videos published by that account will appear in your Mastodon timeline, and they will look exactly like ordinary Mastodon posts but with a video embedded in them. If you like one of these posts, it will show as a thumbs up for that video on PeerTube, and if you reply to one of these posts it will show up as a comment on PeerTube.
Of course, you can do all these things within PeerTube as well, but then you would have to have a PeerTube account. Having a PeerTube account also lets you create playlists, save videos for later and upload your own videos.
Bear in mind you can only request an account, there is no guarantee your request will be accepted. Videos take up a lot of space on servers, and the server owners are generally supported by donations from users, so they may not always have room to accept new users.
What kind of files can I upload to PeerTube? Can I upload audio too?
PeerTube accepts uploads in lots of different video and audio formats. Here’s a complete list:
You can use PeerTube servers through web browsers on any platform, and there are also Android apps such as FediLab and TubeLab ⧉.
What about RSS?
You can follow any PeerTube account through RSS if you prefer. Just go to the account’s web page on PeerTube and open the options menu next to the “Subscribe” button. One of the options will be to subscribe via RSS, which will include the account’s feed address.
OwnCast is sort of the Fediverse’s alternative to Twitch, and lets people set up their own independent live streaming servers which form part of the Fediverse. People can follow OwnCast accounts from Mastodon etc. and they’ll see a post in their timeline when the stream goes live.
If you want to try following a stream from Mastodon etc, click on the stream’s Follow button (the one with the rainbow Fediverse logo on it). This button is usually just below the video window in the desktop view. Alternatively, you may see people mentioning a stream in posts, and clicking on the mention will bring up its profile including a follow button.
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 ⧉.
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.
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.
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 ⧉.
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 ⧉.
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.
BookWyrm users can import their data from GoodReads, LibraryThing, StoryGraph, OpenLibrary and Calibre, and there’s also a book catalogue built-in (based on information from Wikidata ⧉ and another Fediverse service Inventaire ⧉) if people want to add titles by hand. There’s also support for barcode scanning.
Because it’s part of the Fediverse, people on Mastodon etc. can also follow BookWyrm users’ accounts and see BookWyrm reviews appear in their timeline.
Under the terms of the BookWyrm project software, anyone (except corporations) can start their own BookWyrm server, and there’s a list of existing servers to join at joinbookwyrm.com/instances ⧉. If you are a top tier patron, you can also get a managed hosting service ⧉ where BookWyrm’s lead developer personally maintains your BookWyrm server so that you don’t have to do any technical stuff.
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.)
If you’re posting a photo on Mastodon through your server’s 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!).
On the Fediverse, and especially on Mastodon, if you try to follow an account it sometimes says you’ve followed them but then it turns into a “follow request sent” message.
Usually, this means 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. You can tell if an account requires approval as it will have a padlock icon 🔒 on its profile next to the username.
They don’t have follow requests switched on, so why does it say they do?
Sometimes this message appears even when the account you’re trying to follow doesn’t have manual approval mode switched on. In this case, the message may be caused by several other things:
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.
A server is overwhelmed with new members signing up all at once, and struggling to keep up with all the requests it is receiving.
The server of the person you’re trying to follow has silenced your server. This restricts communications between the two servers.
If you see that an attempted follow has turned into a follow request but the other account doesn’t have requests switched on, try leaving it for a while as it may just be a temporary glitch. If that doesn’t help, try cancelling the follow completely, wait for a while and then try clicking follow again, which sometimes helps the follow to go through properly. If it still doesn’t work, contact your own server admin, and if they can’t help try contacting the admin of the server for the account you’re trying to follow.
Due to the way the Fediverse currently works, if you publish a post while you still have zero followers, that post will probably not be visible to anyone except people on your server. When people follow you, they will see your posts from that moment onwards, but there’s generally no backfilling to show them your previous posts.
In general 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, as you only need one follower from a server to make your posts visible to that entire server.
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.
Viewing the latest and most complete version of an account
To check what the profile really looks like, log in to your account through the website, go to the profile, click on ︙ and then “Open original page”. 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.
Fortunately there may be a possible solution on the way called “backfilling”. This would mean as soon as you follow someone your server would automatically check the account for past posts and display some or all of them on your server. With backfilling there would never be blank profiles, and there would be much less need to fiddle around with original pages. At time of writing backfilling is the most popular suggestion on the Mastodon github site, and if you’re comfortable using github you can go and give it a thumbs up ⧉.
How to prevent your profile from ever looking blank
If you pin some of your posts to your profile, these will automatically be backfilled, and your profile will never appear blank to anyone. You can pin up to five posts on a profile, and these can include attached photos, video and audio, so they’re a great way of introducing your account to potential followers. Click here to find out how to pin posts.
There are tens of thousands of Fediverse servers with millions of users in total, and this amount is growing all the time. There are hundreds of millions of posts going back almost a decade.
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 whole point of the Fediverse is to allow small independent servers to exist as part of a larger network, so that the network is as spread out 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 showing posts their users have to see. (If you’re interested, there’s a complete list of what a server can see here.)
Couldn’t Mastodon at least show a few old posts instead of blank profiles?
Having said all of the above, there are definitely ways that the current system of federation could be improved. One feature currently missing from the Fediverse is “backfilling”, where an account’s old posts are automatically loaded to a server when someone on that server follows an account. At the moment you only see posts made by an account after at least one person on your server has followed it, but with backfilling their past posts would become visible too. (Incidentally, Mastodon does already backfill pinned posts.)
The main thing preventing backfilling from being used 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 if they will allow backfilling, and how many posts they are willing to backfill. Perhaps smaller servers could allow at least a few posts to be backfilled in order to avoid possible blank profiles.
If you’re comfortable using Github, you can let the developers of Mastodon know you want some kind of backfilling to be possible by giving a thumbs up on the relevant issue ⧉, and if you have your own ideas you can contribute to the thread.
If you are searching for something on Mastodon and 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 accounts on your server
All posts made by accounts on your server
All posts shared by at least one account on your server
All accounts that at least one account on your server follows
All posts made by accounts that at least one account on your server follows
All posts shared by an account that least one account on your server follows
How do I make my server notice more posts and accounts?
If a post isn’t visible from your server but you know it exists, you can manually 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.
On Mastodon, if you have posted in a thread or been tagged in it, but you don’t want to take part any more, you can mute the conversation so that you won’t get notifications from it. No one will know you’ve done this, and it will only affect that thread:
On Mastodon, if you follow someone and you want to see their posts but not 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 your server’s 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.
You can optionally have Mastodon ask 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 your server’s website, then going to Preferences > Confirmation dialogs, tick the boxes for what you want confirmation for, then click Save changes.
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 your server’s 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 on a square to change it back to a circle, which means single option selection.
Most people on the Fediverse are on a standard Mastodon server, which has a 500 character limit for posts.
However, a lot of people are on servers running customised versions of Mastodon where the admin has altered the character limit, or they are on non-standard “forked” versions of Mastodon such as Glitch ⧉ and Hometown ⧉, or perhaps on completely different Fediverse server types that aren’t Mastodon at all. These other kinds of servers may have totally different character limits, sometimes in the thousands, tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands.
Despite their differences, these servers are all part of the Fediverse and you will see posts from all kinds of servers appear on your timelines. If it is a particularly long post, you may see it truncated on your timeline with a “Read more” link you can click on to show the full text.
By default, Mastodon servers’ websites use a simple single column interface.
However, if you’re using the website through a computer (or a tablet/phone in horizontal mode) there is also an optional multicolumn interface you can use instead. Here’s how to activate it:
Log in through your server’s website as usual
Click ⚙️ Preferences
Tick the box marked Enable Advanced Web Interface and click the Save Changes button
Click the Back to Mastodon link at the left of the screen
If you’re already in multicolumn and you want to go back to the normal single column interface, here’s how to do it:
Click on the ⚙️ cog gear icon
UN-tick the box marked Enable Advanced Web Interface and click the Save Changes button
Click the Back to Mastodon link
Pinning columns on the Advanced Web Interface
When you first use it, the advanced web interface only contains four columns with one of these columns dedicated to whatever you last selected. Every time you select something, it replaces the contents of this fourth column.
However, if you want to keep a column permanently visible you can pin it:
To pin a column, click on the slider icon in the top right corner of the column and select Pin.
To unpin a column, click the slider same slider icon and select Unpin
When you pin a column, it expands the interface sideways, and some people have lots of pinned columns. Pinning is well suited to widescreen monitors, and you can scroll the interface sideways to see any columns that don’t fit on the screen.
Advanced hashtag searches with pinned columns
If you pin a hashtag search and then click the pinned column’s slider icon again, you will see some additional options which let you combine hashtag searches into the same column with special filters:
Any means it will show posts that contain one or more of those hashtags
All means it will show posts that contain all of those tags
None means it will hide posts containing those tags
Using Advanced mode through your keyboard
The Mastodon web interface can be controlled almost entirely through your keyboard, click here to see the section on hotkeys for more details. These hotkeys also include some commands that only work in Advanced mode.
Why are there two interfaces?
The original website version of Mastodon from 2016 used the multicolumn interface, but while some enjoyed it others found it confusing and overwhelming. Eventually a simpler single column interface was introduced, and single column became the default. The multicolumn interface was renamed “advanced” and made available as an optional mode in settings.
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.
Bot accounts can be very useful or entertaining, 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 so they use a bot label.
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.
If you’re using Mastodon through your server’s website on a computer, you can control it almost entirely through your keyboard. Particular keys will carry out particular functions, and you can type emoji too.
Hotkeys on Mastodon
Hotkeys are always on, press shift + ? (or just ? on some keyboard layouts) to see a complete guide to which keys do what.
If you’re using Mastodon on a computer, you can type emoji directly with your keyboard.
Just type : (colon) and a keyword without a space. A dropdown menu will appear with the top five matching emoji, and you can pick one with the arrow keys. For example :sun will bring up the top five emoji matching the keyword “sun”.
If there are more than five matches for a keyword, they will 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.
The keywords are based on the alt text of an emoji. If you’re wondering how to search for a particular emoji in future, find it in the picker and then hover your mouse over it. The alt text will appear, and you will be able to use this keyword to bring the emoji up using your keyboard.
Remote following is where you go to an original page which is not on your own server, and click the Follow or Subscribe button there. By default, it will ask you to sign in again, because it’s asking your own server who you are.
This method is obviously pretty cumbersome, but there are several ways you can avoid having to sign in again:
If you’re using Mastodon through a computer, you can install the FediAct browser extension which lets you interact with original pages without having to log in again. You can get FediAct for Firefox ⧉ and FediAct for Chrome ⧉. This lets you do follows and also other interactions on the original page such as likes, replies etc.
If you don’t want to install any extensions but you don’t want to have to sign in again and again, go to your own server’s website or your app, sign into your account as normal, then copy and paste the web address or Fediverse address of the 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 method avoids having to do remote following at all, and you won’t have to keep signing in. After you’ve done this once, your server will remember the account and you will be able to find it again by just searching within your own server.
Remote following is meant more as a method of last resort, and you’ll find it a lot easier to follow people from other servers within your own server’s interface.
Every account and post on the Fediverse has an original version of itself on the server it comes from called an “original page”. This page shows the latest and most complete version of a profile or post. As well as letting you see an up-to-date version of itself, original pages can be really useful for many other purposes too.
Finding a profile or post’s original page
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
Once the page is open, the original page’s web address will be visible in the browser’s address bar at the top.
Using original page addresses to interact with posts and profiles
If there’s a profile or post that you can’t find by searching on your server, you can use original pages to force your server to notice people and posts it hadn’t noticed before, including pages from other types of Fediverse server. Just copy and paste the original page’s address into the search box on Mastodon, and it will make that post or profile appear within your own server, where you will be able to interact with it directly.
The process is cross-platform and works for any Fediverse server type. For example if you know the web address of a PeerTube video or Pixelfed photo, you can paste it into the search box on Mastodon and the video or photo will appear within Mastodon. You will then be able to interact with it as if it was a Mastodon post.
Sharing Fediverse content using original page addresses
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 them. Just give people the original page’s web address and it will open in any browser.
You can copy a link to an original page directly to your clipboard by going to a post, clicking ⋯ and then “Copy link to post”. This link goes to the post’s original page.
You can automatically crosspost between Mastodon and Twitter in either direction using third party services. 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”.
Going in the other direction, if you’re active on Mastodon and mirroring it to Twitter, there’s no controversy at all.
Which crossposting services are available?
Professional paid crossposting services such as Buffer ⧉ are still working.
However, most free crossposting services have shut down due to Elon Musk’s shutdown of Twitter’s free API.
On Mastodon, you can customise your notifications to adjust what they tell you about and how they tell you.
On your server’s 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.
Third party apps will have various different interfaces for customising notifications, but they’ll usually be in their settings section.
If you want a clickable website link within a post or on a profile on Mastodon, remember to include https:// at the beginning when you’re writing it. This tells the server 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.
As well as website links, you can also use many other kinds of links. All of these will work as clickable links on Mastodon: https://, http://, gemini://, dat://, dweb://, gopher://, ipfs:// and ssb://
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, as 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.
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.
Mastodon includes a Lists feature which lets you create mini-timelines based on accounts you follow. For example, you could create a list which just shows posts from artists you follow, or just news accounts, or whatever kind of theme you want. (Note that for safety and privacy reasons, you cannot add accounts you do not follow to lists. However, see the advice below for hiding the contents of Lists from your Home timeline.)
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 will have slightly different interfaces for lists, but it’s the same feature.
Can I view accounts on Lists without them appearing on my Home timeline?
Yes! Starting on Mastodon version 4.2.0, you can hide posts by accounts on your lists from appearing on your Home timeline:
Log in through your server’s website
Go to the Lists section
Click on the list you want to hide on Home
Click on the slider icon in the top right corner
Select Hide these posts from home
This means you can have lists that are entirely separate from your Home timeline.
Why do I have to follow accounts that I add to Lists?
The following requirement is for the sake of safety and privacy.
On some social networks such as Twitter, list features have been misused by trolls and bullies to make lists of victims.
On Mastodon, the follow requirement gives people more control over being listed. If an account has follow requests activated, it lets them control whose lists they may end up on, and if an account blocks someone that also prevents them being added to that person’s lists.
First of all, it’s worth saying 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. For most people, one account is enough, because it lets you interact with people on the whole network.
Whatever your reasons, it’s very easy to use multiple accounts on Mastodon and the Fediverse! Here are some tips:
If you are going to have multiple accounts, it’s strongly recommended that you sign up on a different server for each account. Because the servers are independent, you can use the same email address for all of them and you can be signed into all the accounts simultaneously on the web and on apps. Signing up for accounts on different servers also means that if one server goes down your alternative accounts will still work.
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 let you be signed into multiple accounts at once, and switch between them whenever you want. 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.
There used to be a bug in the edit feature which prevented descriptions being edited. However, the bug was fixed in Mastodon version 4.1.0, so as long as your server is running 4.1.0 or higher then you should be able to edit descriptions just like you would edit the rest of the post.
You can see which version your server is running by going to your server’s website and looking at the bottom of the screen. If you’re on a phone browser, you may need to tap the ⋯ icon and then scroll to the bottom of the screen.
If your server is still running an older version of Mastodon, there is a workaround which does let you add descriptions through editing:
If you’re not used to adding text descriptions, it’s unfortunately quite easy to forget. However, help is available! If you follow the Please Caption bot at @PleaseCaption@botsin.space ⧉, it will automatically tell you if you’ve forgotten to add a text description.
Text descriptions are expected on the Fediverse, it’s seen as good manners to be considerate of screen reader users. By the time you’ve been doing it for a while, it becomes second nature.
There are a lot of people on Mastodon and the Fediverse who use screen readers to convert text into audio, including blind people, partially sighted people and those with many other disabilities. There are five easy things abled people can do to help screen readers work better with what they’ve posted:
When posting an image or video, click on the “edit” or “caption” button (or write directly on top of the image on some apps) and then add a text description of what is visible. Read it to yourself afterwards, and see if you are able to imagine the important parts of the picture from what you have written. When you’ve finished, remember to click the “Apply” button if if necessary.
When posting hashtags, use CamelCase (where each word begins with a capital letter), for example #DogsOfMastodon instead of #dogsofmastodon. The capital letters allow screen reader apps to separate the words correctly and read the hashtag out loud properly.
Don’t do that “sarcastic text” thing where you make fun of someone by having random letters as capitals, because random capitals prevent a screen reader from working properly.
If you’re sighted and you see the hashtag #Alt4Me underneath an image post, it means a blind person wants you to write a description of the image. Reply to the post with the tag and give them the description.
Also, if you’re a sighted person and you see a remarkable image that doesn’t have a descrption and no one has requested one yet, be pro-active and reply with a description using the tag #Alt4You which will let blind people find your description more easily.
Note that sometimes an image may have no description but there is an #Alt4Me tag added to it by the poster. It may be that the poster is unable to add a description (for example due to having a disability themselves), but is aware that one is needed so they have pre-emptively added the tag.
This is a bit technical, but there’s a little-known feature on Mastodon called “Authorized Fetch”, aka “Secure Mode”. By default it is switched off as it uses more resources and can cause compatibility problems with servers running older software.
However, if it is switched on it makes user blocks more effective, as it makes it harder for blocked people on other servers to interact with public posts from people who blocked them. (It only really helps with public posts, private posts are already protected against trolls.)
It can only be activated by your server’s administrator. It might be worth asking them if they have Authorized Fetch switched on in order to better protect their users. There’s a technical description of Authorized Fetch here ⧉ which they might find useful.
Authorized Fetch cannot be switched on from the graphical interface, it requires manually editing a certain file on the server. If a server is on a managed hosting service, the server admin can ask the managed hosting company to switch it on for them.
If you’re needing to send sensitive information, use an E2EE messaging system instead.
In theory, the owner of your server could read at your DMs in the server’s database, and you’ll often hear people say “The admin can read your DMs”. This is not quite the whole story. An admin would need a certain level of technical skill, as there is no way to view DMs in Mastodon’s admin interface. The server owner would have to look directly at the database itself to read a DM, and ignore Mastodon’s interface completely.
To keep your Mastodon account extra safe, you can activate 2FA by logging in through your server’s website, then going to ⚙️ Preferences > Account > Two Factor Auth, then follow the instructions.
Activating 2FA means that even if someone finds out your password they still cannot log into your account, as logins will also require the code from your 2FA app or physical security key. The 2FA code from an app will change each time you log in, so only someone with access to your 2FA app or key can log into your account. 2FA apps are available for all types of phones and computers.
You only need to use a 2FA app when you log in, so if you stay logged in it won’t ask for your 2FA.
Setting up 2FA is slightly tricky, and it will require you to keep a permanent copy of a special code in a safe place, preferably printed out and kept at home with your other important documents. This special code lets you access your account if you lose access to your 2FA app or key. If you’re not technically minded, you might want to get help from a trusted friend or relative in setting it up. Make sure they are people you trust, as the backup code would allow them access to your account.
Once it has been set up, 2FA is extremely easy to use: the 2FA app displays a code and you simply type this in when you log in with your normal password.
There are many, many apps that work with 2FA on Mastodon. For example Raivo and Aegis are popular. Apple’s keychain also includes built-in 2FA support. The technical name for these kinds of apps is “TOTP” or “Authenticator”, and you may see them listed under these keywords in your favourite app store.
Also, just to make clear, 2FA apps do not know what you are doing with them. They just passively display a list of security codes based on a particular timestamp and account keys. 2FA apps are essentially elaborate clocks, but instead of displaying the time they display ever-changing access codes. Your account’s server also knows what time it is, and that’s how it knows whether your 2FA access code is correct at the moment you log in.
On Mastodon, there’s a feature that automatically suggests accounts to follow when people first join a server, and when they click on the For You tab in Explore or Search. It is based on how many people on that server follow the account and boost its posts, and server admins can optionally add suggestions manually too.
If you don’t want your account suggested to others:
log in through your server’s website
Go to Edit Profile > Suggest account to others
Make sure the box is unticked and click Save changes. (If you want your account suggested, tick the box and save instead.)
On Mastodon, you can set your timeline to automatically hide or block posts featuring certain words, phrases, or hashtags. You can choose to block them completely, or hide them behind a warning that you can open manually.
This isn’t just about offensive posts, it can be filtering for any reason at all. Some people use filters to hide Wordle posts for example. Your filters are private, and they will apply in the apps as well as on the website.
Go to ⚙️ Preferences > Filters (On the mobile website you have to click ⚙️ and then ☰ and then Filters, on the computer desktop website the Filters link will be on the left side of the Preferences page.)
Click the Add new filter button
Choose the settings you want, then click Save new filter
Some tips which might help with creating filters:
The Title section at the start of a filter is just a name you want to give the filter so you remember what it does. It isn’t the actual words the filter uses.
You can add the filtered words and phrases in the Keywords section at the bottom. They aren’t case sensitive.
The filter will look for these keywords in entire posts, including the actual content, hashtags, account addresses or web addresses mentioned in posts.
Filters work retrospectively, so posts made before the filter was created will also be filtered.
You can add more words and phrases to the same filter by clicking the + Add keyword link at the bottom of the page. The filter will be triggered if any of the words or phrases are present.
You don’t need to include # on filtered hashtags, these will automatically be blocked if they contain a filter’s keyword.
You can make filters temporary by setting the Expire after section. By default this is set to “never” which means the filter is permanent.
The Filter contexts section lets you apply the filter to specific parts of Mastodon. If you want it applied everywhere, tick all the boxes.
If you have the Whole word option on the filter ticked, it means the filter only applies to posts containing exactly that word. If you UN-tick this option, the filter will also apply to posts that have that word with other letters or numbers next to it without spaces, for example within another word, or a different form of the same word.
You can edit or delete filters at any time by going back to the Filters section in ⚙️ Preferences.
Content Warnings (CWs) are optional Fediverse features which hide the content of a post behind a warning message. The post can be revealed by clicking on the warning.
Content warnings are for any kind of content where the person reading may not want to read it right that minute, but they may want to read later. It could be something serious like upsetting news, or less serious like film spoilers. There’s also a very strong Fediverse tradition that those who are able to should use CWs when talking about emotive topics such as politics or religion. It is also often used for potentially “not safe for work” content such as gore or nudity.
You can add a content warning while writing a post by clicking on “CW” or “warning” or ⚠️ or other similar icons at the bottom of the editing window. Remember to write a warning that gives people a clear idea of what to expect within the post itself, without them having to actually open it. Try to very briefly say why they might not want to open it right that minute.
What if I want to open lots of CWs at once?
On Mastodon, you can make all the CWs in a thread open or close at once by clicking the eye icon in the top right corner of the thread.
If you don’t want to see any CWs at all, you can make Mastodon open all CW posts by default by going to Preferences > Always expand posts marked with content warnings, tick the box and click Save changes.
Is it compulsory to use CWs?
No one is forced to use CWs, but it is considered polite and considerate to do so. Imagine going into a restaurant and shouting loudly at others about your political opinions, you could do it but others may not appreciate it. In extreme cases you might be asked to leave.
CWs are also an accessibility feature, as they allow people who have traumas triggered by certain topics to read potentially triggering posts when they are mentally prepared to do so. It’s important to emphasise the point that CWs are not about avoiding topics, it’s exactly the opposite: CWs make triggering posts accessible to people who would otherwise have to avoid them, in the same way that text descriptions make images accessible to blind people. They widen your post’s audience.
Having said that, it is a bad idea to call people out for not using CWs! Some people will have legitimate reasons for not using CWs, for example someone who is currently going through a serious personal trauma, or perhaps is being persecuted or under threat of violence. It is not appropriate to demand CWs from someone who is going through something really horrific in their real world life. They may have much bigger things to worry about than social media, and we should help them deal with these bigger things however we can.
Even if someone should be using CWs, having public arguments about rules is not necessarily the best way to get someone to obey them, especially if they’re new to the Fediverse.
If there’s a post you think should be CWed and there’s no obvious reason why it isn’t, check the rules on your server and then ask your server admin for advice on what to do. They set the rules, and they are ultimately the ones that decide what is allowed on there.
In short, CWs are a balancing act, and require a lot of social skill (that’s why this section is so long!). The existence of CWs brings the Fediverse a tiny bit closer to the complexities of everyday life in the real world, where reading the room is essential to getting on with people. No one is going to get this right all the time, but simply being aware of CWs as an option and using them when you feel appropriate and able will make the Fediverse a much more accessible and pleasant place to be.
If you use a public visibility setting on a post, it will be visible to everyone, even people who aren’t Fediverse members. This means the post may be indexed by search engines.
You can either make your posts invisible to search engines, or ask search engines not to index your public posts.
Prevent a post being visible to search engines
The surest and safest way to prevent a post ending up on a search engine’s index is to use a non-public visibility setting. Followers-only and Mentioned settings cannot be seen by search engines, so they will not be indexed.
Ask search engines not to index your posts
Mastodon also has an option to request that search engines don’t index your public posts:
Log in through your server’s website
Go to Preferences > Other > Opt out of search engine indexing
Tick the box and click Save changes
However, bear in mind it’s up to a search engine to decide if it wants to honour this request, and less honest search engines may decide to ignore your request. If you want a post to remain off search engines, it’s much safer to use a non-public setting.
On Mastodon, you can use a follow request system to restrict who can follow you. When it’s switched on, no one can follow you unless you manually approve their request. This can be used to screen who follows you, for example some people use it to screen out spammers.
To restrict who can follow you:
Log in through your server’s website
Go to Edit profile > Require follow requests, tick the box and click Save changes
After you’ve done this, a padlock icon 🔒 will appear next to your username on your profile. Anyone who clicks follow will send a friend request that you have to approve before the follow is activated.
If you change your mind about using friend requests, go back to Edit profile > Require follow requests, untick the box and click Save changes.
Blank profile pictures do NOT mean spammers
Don’t screen followers out just because they have blank profile pictures. Many blind users don’t use profile pictures, but they will have text in their profile. The best way to screen potential followers is to read what they have written about themselves and what they have posted.
It is totally fine to block or mute people on Mastodon and the Fediverse. It is not considered rude or unusual to do so. Use it as freely as you want!
To block or mute someone on Mastodon:
Either click ⋯ on one of their posts, or go to their profile and click the ⋯ or︙ button at the top
Select Mute, Block or Block domain, depending on what you want
If you change your mind, do the same thing again but select Unmute or Unblock
Here’s what these options mean:
Mutes are the softest option. When you mute someone you will no longer see their posts and you won’t see posts that mention them. You can also optionally mute notifications from them. People who are muted will not know they are muted, and they will still be able to follow you, see your posts and interact.
Blocks are the harder option. When you block someone, it does everything a mute does but also prevents them following you and hides your posts from them while they are logged in.
Domain blocks are the most extreme option, and they will block not only that account but all accounts using the same server, and remove any follows from that server. You probably don’t need to do this. The only times this is advisable is if a server is full of nasty people and the server administrator is refusing to do anything about it, or if the server is actually owned by the person you want to block.
How do I keep track of who I’ve muted and blocked?
To view lists of all of your blocks and mutes:
Log in through your server’s website
Go to your profile page and click ︙
Select Muted Users, Blocked Users or Blocked Domains
If you want to remove a mute or block, click the icon next to a name on the list
How do I do a temporary mute?
To have a temporary mute on Mastodon, log in through your server’s website and it will offer you the option of setting a duration when you’re confirming the mute. Set the duration to however long you want the mute to last.
How do I mute just someone’s boosts?
On Mastodon, if you follow someone and you want to see their posts but not 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.
Open your Mastodon app or log in through your server’s website
Go to the profile of the person whose boosts you want to hide
Click on the ︙or ⋯ button at the top and select Hide boosts from… (or Hide reblogs on some apps)
If you change your mind, go back to their profile and select Show boosts from… (or Show reblogs)
This only works on accounts you follow.
What happens to DMs sent by someone I’ve muted or blocked?
If you mute or block someone, you won’t see any DMs from them by default. However if you decide to browse their profile you will see any DMs sent to you in their profile timeline.
If you remove a mute or block, DMs will start arriving as normal, but any DMs sent during the mute or block will only be visible by going to their profile.
How do I block DMs from people I don’t follow?
Log onto your server’s website
Click ⚙️ Preferences
Click Notifications (on the mobile website click ☰ and then Notifications)
Tick the box marked “Block direct messages from people you don’t follow”
Click the Save Changes button
If you change your mind, repeat these steps but untick the same box.
Also, if you are blocking DMs from strangers, you might want to mention this on your profile description to avoid any misunderstandings. (This avoids situations where people are trying to contact you for legitimate reasons but think you’re ignoring them.)
Another thing to bear in mind is it will also block private replies in threads from people you don’t follow, as these are technically the same as DMs on Mastodon.
If you have any problems with the server which can’t be addressed through the reporting system, you can email the administrator (or “admin”) of your server directly.
On Mastodon, you can find the public email address of your server admin on the server’s About page. The same page also lists the server’s rules. To find it, go to your server’s website and click on “Learn More”. You don’t need to be logged in. The email address will be listed in the top half of the About page, just above the list of rules. It is worth reading the rule list as it varies from server to server, and it is usually written in plain language that is easy to understand.
Reporting anti-social accounts is a good idea as it’s the main way server administrators find out about nasty behavour. Once admins are made aware of a problem, they can take action using special blocking tools that are not available to ordinary users.
How do I report posts or accounts on Mastodon?
To report a post click ⋯ on the bottom of the post and select Report.
To report an account, go to its profile and click ︙ or ⋯, then select Report.
Remember to include examples!
Whatever you’re reporting, it’s really important to include examples of what the account has done wrong. Simply reporting the account with no examples creates a lot of work for the moderators, and it may make it impossible for them to moderate effectively.
On Mastodon, the reporting wizard includes options to select posts from that account, and if you’re reporting via a post then that post will be automatically selected as an example to include on the report.
If possible, tell the account’s own server too
Mastodon reporting forms include the option to also send an anonymous report to the server of the account that wrote the post. This is usually a good idea, because only a user’s home server has the power to suspend or delete their account. Other servers can block accounts, but in the worst cases it may be better that a nasty account is deleted at source.
However, there is a caveat to this: if the problematic user’s entire server is also problematic, it may be best not to include them in the report. Such servers tend to lash out when people report their behaviour. Your own server admin will be able to block problematic servers completely, which is usually the best way of dealing with such servers.
What do I do about accounts that just boost nasty stuff?
If there’s an account that boosts lots of problematic posts, go to their profile and report them from there (by clicking ︙ or ⋯). If you do this though, remember to mention in the comments section of the report the boosts that are problematic and why, so that the moderator can locate them more easily.
What exactly ARE the rules on the Fediverse?
Each server is totally independent and sets its own rules for acceptable behaviour. If you go to a server’s about page you should see a copy of its rules. If possible, it’s worth reading this before you sign up on a server, as it can tell you a lot about their approach to moderation.
If there’s something bad happening and it isn’t covered by the rules, report it. There will often be bad situations that could not have been anticipated by the admin when writing the rules, and they depend on user reports to find out about them.
If you’re in any doubt about what is acceptable, ask your server’s admin for advice. If there’s something wrong with their approach or attitude, you might want to consider transferring your account to another server.
You don’t need to reveal any kind of personal information about yourself on the Fediverse. Use any name you want, and any picture (or no picture at all).
The only information you need to give when signing up on a Fediverse server is an email address, and you can use an email alias if you want to keep it secret. The only other data a Fedi server might see is your computer’s or phone’s IP address, but this is hidden if you’re using a VPN or Tor.
Revealing personal information on the internet is a bad idea in general, as it makes unwanted tracking and identity theft much more likely.
You can delete your Mastodon account at any time. There’s no cool-off period, the deletion happens as soon as you confirm it.
Log in through your server’s website
Go to Preferences > Account > Delete account
Click Proceed here and follow the instructions. It will ask you for your password to confirm the deletion.
⚠️ After you confirm deletion, it will delete your account straight away and it cannot be restored. Be really sure you want to do this. Once it’s deleted, it is gone forever and no one can bring it back.
After an account is deleted, no one else will be able to use that username on that server, in order to prevent anyone impersonating a deleted user. If you want to sign up for a new account on the same server, you’ll need to think of a new username.
On Mastodon, if you’re logged in on your server’s website, you can log out by clicking the ︙ (in desktop mode) or the ☰ (in mobile mode) and selecting Logout at the bottom of the menu.
If you’re logged in on the official apps, you can log out by clicking the ⚙️ settings icon and selecting Sign out at the bottom of the menu.
The third party apps will have various ways of logging out, usually on their settings pages.
IMPORTANT NOTE: You don’t have to log out to use a different account on a different server, you can be logged in on multiple accounts at once. The websites, the official apps and the third party apps all support being logged in on several different accounts at once, as long as the accounts are on separate servers. To log in on another account on the website just go to the other server’s site and log in. To log in on another account on the apps, click and hold your profile picture in the bottom right corner of the screen.
On Mastodon, you can browse other servers’ Local feeds by going to the server’s website and clicking the “Local” link. You don’t need to log in, anyone can look at the feed because Local feeds only show public posts anyway.
What about following another server’s Local timeline?
Some third party Mastodon apps (Fedilab and Subway Tooter on Android, Ice Cubes on iPhone/iPad) let you follow the Local timelines of other servers. The website interface and the official apps do not have this feature yet.
Most Fediverse server types including Mastodon have options to show three different timelines: Home, Local or Federated. They might have slightly different names depending on the server type, but they’re usually something like this.
Home is the normal timeline that you see by default. It shows you all the posts from all the people you follow in chronological order. This is what you see when you log in to your account.
Local (also known as Community on some apps) shows all the public posts made by all the people on your server. On larger servers this can be a so-called firehose that is too random and unfiltered. However, on smaller servers this can be a really interesting feed to read, especially if the server is well moderated. Many people on small servers discover new accounts to follow through the Local feed.
To view the Local feed on the official Mastodon app by clicking the magnifying glass and then scrolling to the “Community” tab. Community is just another name for Local, they are exactly the same thing.
The official Mastodon app doesn’t show the Federated feed at all, but you can see it by switching to a third party Mastodon app, or by logging in through your server’s website.
The timelines are scrolling way too quickly, I can’t keep up with them! Help!
If you’re logged in through your Mastodon server’s website, you can optionally use “slow mode” to stop all automatic scrolling on feeds. When slow mode is activated, the feed will only show new posts when you manually click a special link at the top of the feed. To switch it on:
Log in through your server’s website
Go to ⚙️ Preferences
Tick the box marked Slow Mode, then click the button marked Save Changes
To deactivate slow mode, do exactly the same thing but UN-tick the Slow Mode box and click Save Changes.
Mastodon and the Fediverse have a number of common terms which you may not have heard of on other social networks. Here’s a guide:
Toots are posts, the Mastodon equivalent of tweets. The mascot for Mastodon is a mastodon, an ancient relative of the elephant ⧉, and “toot” is sort of the sound an elephant makes. Programmers sometimes call them statuses.
Boosts are shared posts, the Mastodon equivalent of a re-tweet. Programmers sometimes call them re-blogs. If you boost a post, it will appear in the home timelines of your followers.
Instances are the sites you can sign up on on the Fediverse, also known as “servers”. They were also known as “communities” for a while, and some people call them “nodes”. All of these are just different names for exactly the same thing: the site you signed up on. If someone talks about Fediverse instances, they are talking about Fediverse servers, they are one and the same.
“Birdsite” and “Hellsite” are nicknames for Twitter, sometimes indicated by a bird on fire (it’s a comment on how discussions on Twitter very often turn into horrible arguments).
The easiest way to invite friends, family or colleagues to join you on the Fediverse is to send them a link to JoinMastodon.org ⧉ or Fedi.Garden ⧉ or another Fediverse “on-boarding” website. Once they’ve signed up on a server, they can use their account to sign in on their server’s website or on a comptible app.
Choose the settings you want for your invitation links and then click Generate.
Some servers close themselves to new sign-ups if they get too full, but still allow existing members to generate invitations. If your friend is unable to sign up on your server directly due to it closing to new members, they may still be able to sign up if you send them an invitation.
If you’re using Mastodon through the website, you can choose your interface colours by going to Preferences > Site theme, choose the theme you want and click Save changes. By default Mastodon servers come with a dark theme, light theme and high contrast theme, but some servers have a lot more options. If you want more themes, ask your server administrator about it.
If you’re using Mastodon through the official app, you can choose interface colours by clicking the cog gear icon ⚙️ and select Automatic, Always Dark or Always Light, then click Done. There’s also a toggle switch to activate “True Black”, which gives the dark mode a much darker background colour than usual.
Mastodon has two ways to mark posts: Favourites and Bookmarks. These are similar, but they differ in important ways. Here’s a quick comparison:
Favourites can be added by clicking on the star icon below a post. Favourites are pretty much the Mastodon equivalent of likes, and usually used to indicate you enjoy or appreciate a post. When you add a favourite, the person who posted it will get a notification and your profile may be visible on the list of people who favourited it.
Bookmarks can be added either by clicking on the bookmark icon below a post, or if it isn’t visible click on the ⋯ to open the menu and select Bookmark. Bookmarks are totally private, no one else sees what you bookmark. No one gets any notifications when you add a bookmark.
On the official apps, you can see your past favourites and bookmarks on apps by clicking on your profile picture to go to your profile page, then click on the “Favourites” (Star) or “Bookmarks” (Bookmark) icons.
On your server’s website, you can see your past favourites and bookmarks by clicking on the “Favourites” or “Bookmarks” icons at the right side of the screen.
If you’re used to Twitter, you may be wondering why there’s no equivalent of the “quote tweet” on Mastodon.
This was a deliberate design decision taken many years ago by the makers of Mastodon. Here are the lead developer’s comments on it:
Another feature that has been requested almost since the start, and which I keep rejecting is quoting messages. Coming back to my disclaimer, of course it’s impossible to prevent people from sharing screenshots or linking to public resources, but quoting messages is immediately actionable. It makes it a lot easier for people to immediately engage with the quoted content… and it usually doesn’t lead to anything good. When people use quotes to reply to other people, conversations become performative power plays. “Heed, my followers, how I dunk on this fool!” When you use the reply function, your message is broadcast only to people who happen to follow you both. It means one person’s follower count doesn’t play a massive role in the conversation. A quote, on the other hand, very often invites the followers to join in on the conversation, and whoever has got more of them ends up having the upper hand and massively stressing out the other person.
Pinned posts are posts that appear at the top of your profile page, above your normal posts. Many people use them as introductions, but they can be used for any purpose, for example artists often use them as mini-portfolios with images, video or audio attached.
Mastodon lets you edit your posts after they have been published:
Go to one of your posts that you want to edit
Click the ⋯ icon on the post
This works on your server’s website, the official apps and third party apps. Third party apps may have a slightly different interface depending on which app you use.
When a post is edited, people who have interacted with it will receive a notification in case they want to change their interaction. There will also be a note on the post showing it has been edited along with links to previous versions so that others can see how it has changed. These measures together reduce the chance of anyone abusing the editing feature.
(There was a bug in the first version of editing which meant you couldn’t edit image descriptions. However, version 4.1.0 of the Mastodon server software fixed this.)
Every Mastodon server (and some other Fedi server types) can add their own custom emoji, which can be used alongside standard emoji. People on other servers can see your server’s custom emoji, but cannot type them. The emoji can be stills, or short animations within certain size limits.
Here’s how to use them:
If you’re logged in through your server’s website, you can access the custom emoji through by clicking the emoji picker icon 😂 in the top right of the post writing window. The picker normally has custom emoji at the top and the standard ones below them.
if you’re using apps, the custom and standard emoji are normally in two separate menus. For standard emoji use the emoji button on your phone’s own on-screen keyboard, for custom emoji use the app’s own emoji icon when writing a post.
On Mastodon, you can attach up to four images, or one video file, or one audio file when making a post. Click on the paperclip 📎 or landscape 🌄 icon to attach something to your post.
Images can be PNG, JPG or GIF (including animations). The maximum file size is usually 8mb per image.
Video clips can be MP4, M4V, MOV or WebM files. The maximum file size is usually 40mb, but there is no limit on running time.
Audio clips can be MP3, OGG, WAV, FLAC, OPUS, AAC, M4A or 3GP files. The maximum file size is usually 40mb, but there is no limit on running time. (If you’re uploading OPUS files, you need to rename them to have a .ogg extension instead of .opus, due to a known bug ⧉.)
File size limits may vary on different servers, but these are the defaults. Ask your server admin if you have problems with uploads. Note that if your server is unusually busy (for example if there are unprecedented numbers of new users signing up all at once) then file uploads may slow down or stop for a while.
Remember to add text descriptions to attached files before posting, so that they can be accessible to people with disabilities. You can do this by clicking Edit on the file before posting, or writing on top of the file itself on the official apps. For video clips, remember to describe both the audio and video, so that both deaf and blind people are able to find out what’s going on.
There is no GIF picker on Mastodon due to the federated nature of the Fediverse. However, if you post a link to GIF it will automatically be embedded when you post it, as if the GIF had been chosen from a picker. Alternatively, if you have the actual GIF file stored on your computer or phone, you can upload it as an image.
On Mastodon there are four types of post visibility. You can set the visibility of a post by clicking the icon that represents it in the row below the message editing window. It’s usually a 🌐, 🔒, 👥 or @ icon. You can set the default visibility by logging in through the website and going to Preferences > Other > Posting privacy, then set what you want as default in the menu and click Save changes.
Some more details about each setting:
Public – Anyone can see it, even people who aren’t on the Fediverse. If you go to a person’s public profile page you will see all their public posts. This is normally indicated by a globe icon 🌐.
Followers-only – Only your followers can see these, normally indicated by a lock 🔒 or people 👥 icon. If you use this setting, it’s a good idea to switch on follower requests, otherwise anyone could follow you to see your followers-only posts. You can do this by logging in on your server’s website, going to Edit profile > Require follow requests, tick the box and click Save changes.
Mentioned – Only people you @ within the message can see this kind of post, it’s normally indicated by an @ symbol. This is the Mastodon equivalent of DMs. IMPORTANT: Only mention people if you want them to see the message. If you want to talk about an account without them seeing the message, don’t @ them.
Sending DMs in Mastodon
You can send DMs by setting a post’s visibility to Mentioned, then @ the people you want to receive the DM. If you log in through the website, there’s a Direct messages option in the menu which lets you see all your mentioned posts in an inbox.
If you @ someone in a DM, they will be able to see it
⚠️ In all modes including DMs, if you @ someone in a post, they will see that post! Be really careful who you @ in a post because it’s the same thing as sending them a message.
I can’t see Unlisted as an option on my app?
Unlisted is available as a visibility option on almost all versions of Mastodon including the websites and the third party apps, but not on the official apps. For some weird reason the developers of the official Mastodon apps decided to leave it out. If you’re comfortable using Github, you can let the developers know you want it added on the iOS version ⧉ and the Android version ⧉.
Setting your default post visibility
You can set which visibility is your default by logging in on your server’s website and going to Preferences > Other > Posting Privacy, choose the default you want and click Save changes. This is only a default, you can still override it for individual posts by clicking the visibility icon.
Is it possible to edit post visibility?
You cannot edit the visibility of a post after you’ve published it, so make sure you choose the correct visibility before posting! If you absolutely have to change the visibility, your only option is to delete the post and start again, which is most easily done by clicking ⋯ below the post and then Delete & re-draft. If you use this option, the original post will cease to exist, its boosts and bookmarks will disappear, links to it will break and its replies will be orphaned.
Who can see my boosts?
When you boost a post, it will immediately appear in the home timelines of all your followers. The original author of the post will also get a notification to say that you boosted their post.
When do replies appear in the Home timeline?
Replies will appear in your Home timeline if any one of these are true:
The reply mentions you
You wrote the reply
The reply is by someone you follow AND mentions someone else you follow
Someone you follow is replying to themselves to create a thread
When do Unlisted posts appear in the Home timeline?
Unlisted has a slightly complicated behaviour pattern in the Home timeline, and this isn’t officially documented for some reason. Here’s how it works:
Unlisted posts and replies from people you follow WILL appear in your Home timeline, unless they are a reply to someone you don’t follow. If they’re a reply to someone you don’t follow, they WILL NOT appear in your Home timeline.
Or if you want a complete list:
Unlisted posts (not replies) from people you follow WILL appear in your Home timeline
Unlisted posts and replies boosted by people you follow WILL appear in your Home timeline
Unlisted replies between two people you follow WILL appear in your Home timeline. This also includes a person you follow replying to themselves, for example if they are posting a thread.
Unlisted replies between a person you follow and another person you don’t follow WILL NOT appear in your Home timeline
Yes, it is now available to all Mastodon servers. If your server is running the service, you will see a “Translate” link underneath a post in a different language. If you don’t see these links, ask your server admin about it.
The feature relies on knowing which language you speak, so make sure your account’s language preferences are set correctly, as this will allow the system to automatically suggest translations for you. If you have the incorrect language set on a post, it may confuse the translation system.
There are lots of language options on Mastodon to help you understand other people, and help other people understand you. At the time of writing there are 95 different languages and dialects to choose from.
The interface language is the language used on menus, buttons, labels, forms etc when you are logged in. To choose your Mastodon interface language:
Log in through your server’s website
Go to Preferences > Interface language, pick the language you want and click Save changes
Filtering timelines by language
You can filter Mastodon timelines by language:
Log in through your server’s website
Go to Preferences > Other > Filter languages
Tick the boxes for languages you want to see and click Save changes
To switch the language filter off (so that you see all languages), make sure all the boxes are UN-ticked and click Save changes
When the language filter is on, posts in other languages will no longer appear in your timelines. However, if you follow someone this will override the language filter and show you all their posts regardless of language used.
It’s important to set your posting language, because it means people using language filters to show your language will see your posts. Setting this also allows other people to automatically translate your posts using Mastodon’s built-in translation system.
To set which language you post in:
Log in through your server’s website
Go to Preferences > Other > Posting language
Choose which language you use most often and click Save changes
If you post in multiple languages, you can change which language you’re using each time you’re writing a post:
Write the post but don’t publish it yet
Select the language you are writing from the language button. The language button is a two letter country code in the bottom row of icons, for example EN for English.
By default the button will be your selected posting language, unless you are replying to a post marked in another language in which case it will be set to that language.
The language button should remember your most recently chosen languages at the top of the menu.
Mastodon has a section called Explore which shows trending posts and hashtags.
On your server’s website, just click on the # Explore link on the right to see trending posts, tags and links. You don’t need to be logged in, and you can even browse Explore on other servers’ websites if you like. The trending posts and tags on different servers will be slightly different as they have different views of the Fediverse. You do need to be logged in if you want to interact with the posts, however.
On the official Mastodon apps click on the magnifying glass at the bottom of the screen and it will show you trending posts, tags and news by default (there’s also a Community tab which shows the latest public posts on your server). Don’t type or click anything in the search box, otherwise it will try to find items related to a search instead.
Third party apps display trends in various different ways using their own interfaces. However, they usually use the word “Trending” in some way to indicate the Explore section.
On all Fediverse servers, when you follow someone you’ll see all their posts in your home timeline in chronological order. No posts will be hidden, but when you follow a lot of people it can be easy to miss some of the posts in a complete timeline.
In Mastodon, if there are particular accounts where you really need to see their posts, and you don’t have time to go through your timeline every day, you can set these accounts to also notify you when they post. They will still be in your timeline as normal, but you’ll also see an alert in your Notifications section.
Here’s how to do it:
Log in through your server’s website
Go to the profile of the person you want to be notified about
Click the bell icon 🔔 next to their follow/unfollow button.
Note that this only works for people you follow. If you want to stop notifications, click the same bell icon again.
Can I do this through apps too?
Yes, but they may sometimes have a slightly different interface. For example the Toot! app has a “Notify” button on profile pages instead of a bell.
Make sure the first line of your profile text sums you up well, as Fediverse discovery systems often only show the first line.
If you want to, add a profile picture and header image, but these are both optional. Blind people often don’t use images on their profiles, so it is totally normal for a profile to have no images on it.
Write a public post saying something about yourself, and include the hashtags #Introduction, #Introductions and #NewHere. Try also searching for these hashtags and replying to other people’s introductions.
On Mastodon, log in through your server’s website, go to Edit profile > Suggest account to others, tick the box and click Save changes. This will add you to automated follow suggestions that others may see.
When to post your best content
Don’t post your best content when you have literally zero followers. Fediverse servers “notice” posts from accounts that their members follow. If you post stuff when you have 0 followers then your post won’t be visible to anyone except users on your own server. Even having a handful of followers will make your posts a lot more visible, because all of your followers’ servers will notice what you post.
Also, the following process is so seamless that you probably won’t even notice you are following accounts outside Mastodon! They will look just like any other account on your timeline, and you will appear the same way to them. Fediverse servers always display content in their own style, regardless of the style used on the server the content came from.
If you’re using Masto through the website, you can see what an account really looks like by going to the account’s profile page, clicking ︙ and then “Show original page”. This will open the account’s public profile page on its home server.
Following a non-Mastodon Fediverse account is easy, it’s exactly the same process as following a Mastodon account: if you can already see their profile just click Follow, or if you have their account address paste it into the search box and it will display their profile.
Usually it means the account has follow requests switched on, so they have to manually approve all follows. You can tell if an account has this switched on because it will have a padlock next to their name on their profile page.
Alternatively, it may be that your server is just really, really busy and has put your follow in a queue to deal with it later. If this is the case, just leave it pending and the follow will happen eventually.
A third possibility is there’s a bug somewhere, as a broken follow sometimes triggers the “Pending” message even when there’s no follow request or busy server.
Don’t assume someone is rejecting your follow just because it says “pending”. Leave it pending for a while to give it time to work through any possible queues. If it still says pending after a few days, contact the person directly and ask them if they are aware this is happening.