How do I stop seeing the same boosted post again and again in Mastodon?

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 ⧉.

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You don’t need link shorteners on Mastodon

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?

There’s a known bug on the official iPhone/iPad app ⧉ which causes links to count for more than 23 characters. A fix has been proposed but it hasn’t been released yet. In the meantime, you can avoid this bug completely by using third party apps such as Toot!, Ice Cubes and Ivory, or by logging in through your server’s website.

But I want to track people who click on my links!

You can use link shorteners to track people, but you probably shouldn’t. Also, some people may wonder why you are using link shorteners when all links count for 23 characters anyway.

Why is it 23 characters?

Apparently Twitter’s original built-in link shortener used 23 characters. So when Mastodon removed the need for shorteners, they emphasised this by only counting 23 characters for all links.

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How to post a poll on Mastodon

It’s really easy:

  1. Log in through your server’s website or on an app
  2. Start a new post
  3. Click the poll icon, this usually looks like a bar chart 📊 (on some apps there may be no poll icon visible, but you can click the attachment icon and then select poll as an attachment)
  4. Write your question in the main part of the post
  5. Add up to four responses, and describe each option (you can use emoji too). Some servers running customised code may allow more than four responses.
  6. Set the duration, between 5 mins and 7 days
  7. Click Publish to post the poll!

Allowing multiple responses on polls

There’s a slightly hidden option when you’re posting a poll where you can allow people to choose more than one response. To switch on multiple responses:

  1. Log in through your server’s website
  2. Create the poll via the web interface as described above, but don’t post it yet
  3. Click on a circle next to one of the options, the circles will all change into rounded squares, and the poll will now allow multiple responses

If you want to go back to single response, click on a square to change it back to circles before you post.

Some third party apps also allow you to activate multiple responses for a poll.

⚠️ Warning about editing polls

You can edit polls the same way you edit posts, just go to ⋯ on the post and select Edit. However, when you edit the poll’s options it will automatically reset the poll’s results back to zero without any warning! (Editing the main text above the poll doesn’t reset it though.)

This behaviour is presumably to prevent abuse of the poll system, but the lack of warning can really catch people out (it certainly caught me out! 😅 ). For those comfortable using Github, there’s an open issue about this here ⧉.

I can’t find the poll button on my app!

Some third party apps have the poll button hidden away under the attachment button. Click attach, and then instead of choosing an image or video or audio file, choose a poll.

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How do I follow someone on Mastodon? How do I unfollow them?

You can follow someone on Mastodon by going to their profile page and clicking the Follow button.

You can unfollow them by clicking the same button again. The button may have a different label after you’ve followed someone (Unfollow, Following etc), but it will be in the same place on the screen.

If you’re trying to get someone’s profile page to appear so you can follow them, see the sections on discovering accounts to follow and using account addresses.

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How do I delete a post on Mastodon?

To delete one of your posts:

  1. Go to the post you want to delete
  2. Click the ⋯ icon
  3. Select “Delete”

This should delete the post straight away on your own server. Most other servers where the post is visible will delete it too, though in some cases there may be a delay in the deletion happening (as the other server may have a queue of tasks to work through).

In a small number of cases a deletion may not happen on the other server, for example if the other server is not working properly. If you’re concerned about how widely a post may be seen, you can restrict its visibility when you post it.

What does “Delete and re-draft” mean?

There are actually two delete options on Mastodon, Delete or Delete and re-draft. The first just deletes the message, but the second deletes the message and sends a copy of it to the post writing box so you can make changes and repost it. However, since the introduction of post editing on Mastodon this second option has been largely obsolete. The only time you would be likely to want to use re-drafting is if you want to change the visibility of a post, as this cannot be done through editing.

Bear in mind that both delete options delete the post, and any shares will be lost, links will break and replies will be orphaned. If you just want to make changes to the content, editing is a much better option.

Can I set old posts to self-delete automatically?

Yes! Click here to see instructions on how to delete posts after a certain time period.

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How to prevent your account being suggested to others in Mastodon

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:

  1. log in through your server’s website
  2. Go to Edit Profile > Suggest account to others
  3. Make sure the box is unticked and click Save changes. (If you want your account suggested, tick the box and save instead.)

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Filtering your Mastodon timeline to automatically hide posts containing certain words, phrases or hashtags

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.

To add a filter:

  1. Log in through your server’s website
  2. 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.)
  3. Click the Add new filter button
  4. 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.

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How to use Content Warnings (CWs) on Mastodon and the Fediverse

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.

How do I add a CW to a post I want to share?

You can’t add CWs to someone else’s post. The reason for this is such a feature could be mis-used to quote the post, which is deliberately not available on Mastodon.

A workaround is to do a reply to the post with a CW telling people to read the post above, and then share your reply.

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Hiding your posts from search engines on Mastodon and the Fediverse

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:

  1. Log in through your server’s website
  2. Go to Preferences > Other > Opt out of search engine indexing
  3. 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.

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How to hide your follows and followers in Mastodon

If you’re on a Mastodon server, you can keep your lists of follows and followers hidden on your profile if you want to:

  1. Log in through your server’s website
  2. Go to Edit profile > Hide your social graph
  3. Tick the box and click Save changes.

You will still be able to see your follows and follower lists when you look at your profile while logged in, but other people will not be able to see them.

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Restricting who can follow you in Mastodon

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:

  1. Log in through your server’s website
  2. 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.

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Blocking and muting on Mastodon

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:

  1. Either click ⋯ on one of their posts, or go to their profile and click the ⋯ or︙ button at the top
  2. Select Mute, Block or Block domain, depending on what you want
  3. 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.

⚠️ Important: If you are posting public posts they will still be visible to the blocked person when they log out, because public posts are visible to everyone on the internet. To restrict the audience for a post, use followers-only or mentions visibilities.

How do I keep track of who I’ve muted and blocked?

To view lists of all of your blocks and mutes:

  1. Log in through your server’s website
  2. Go to your profile page and click ︙
  3. Select Muted Users, Blocked Users or Blocked Domains
  4. 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.

  1. Open your Mastodon app or log in through your server’s website
  2. Go to the profile of the person whose boosts you want to hide
  3. Click on the ︙or ⋯ button at the top and select Hide boosts from… (or Hide reblogs on some apps)
  4. 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?

  1. Log onto your server’s website
  2. Click ⚙️ Preferences
  3. Click Notifications (on the mobile website click ☰ and then Notifications)
  4. Tick the box marked “Block direct messages from people you don’t follow”
  5. 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.

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How do I contact the people who run my server? How do I find out what my server’s rules are?

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.

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How to delete your Mastodon account

You can delete your Mastodon account at any time. There’s no cool-off period, the deletion happens as soon as you confirm it.

  1. Log in through your server’s website
  2. Go to Preferences > Account > Delete account
  3. 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.

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How to log out of your Mastodon account

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.

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How do I browse the Local timelines of other servers on Mastodon? Can I follow other servers’ Local timelines from my account?

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.

Many, many people have asked for this feature to be added to the website interface. If you want to vote for this and you are comfortable using Github, click here and give a thumbs up to the first post in this thread ⧉. This will let the developers know that the feature is wanted.

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What are the Local, Federated and Home timelines? How do I stop them scrolling too quickly?

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.
  • Federated shows all public posts that your server has noticed. Click here for a guide to which posts and accounts your server will notice. On larger servers Federated is an absolute nightmare to comprehend as there are so many posts on so many different topics.

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:

  1. Log in through your server’s website
  2. Go to ⚙️ Preferences
  3. 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.

How do I see another server’s Local timeline?

Click here for more info on how to do this.

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What are toots? What are boosts? What are CWs? What are instances? What is birdsite?

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.
  • CWs are Content Warnings, used to hide a post underneath a title. There’s detailed info about them here including why they exist and how to use them.
  • 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).

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Inviting people onto Mastodon and the Fediverse

The easiest way to invite friends, family or colleagues to join you on the Fediverse is to send them a link to ⧉ 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.

Once your friends are on the Fediverse, you can exchange addresses with them and follow each other. You don’t need to be on the same server as them, following and interacting with each other is the same experience even if you’re on different servers.

How do I invite people to join my server? Can I invite people if sign-ups are closed?

If you do want people to sign up on the same server as you, there’s an “invite” feature on Mastodon which lets you invite them directly to your server:

  1. Log in on your server’s website
  2. Go to Preferences > Invite people
  3. 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.

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Customising your Mastodon interface colours

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.

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Favourites vs. Bookmarks in Mastodon

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.

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Why can’t I quote other posts in Mastodon?

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.

Cage the Mastodon: An overview of features for dealing with abuse and harassment ⧉

However, comments in 2023 by the same lead developer imply that they are considering introducing some kind of quote post feature, possibly with an opt-in system to prevent quoting without consent.

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How do I pin posts on my Mastodon profile?

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.

To pin a post on Mastodon:

  1. Log in through your server’s website or a third party app (the official app doesn’t support pinning yet)
  2. Go to one of your own posts that you want to pin, click the ⋯ icon on the post and select Pin to profile.
  3. The post will now be pinned to your profile. To unpin it, click ⋯ on the post and select Unpin.

You can pin up to five posts at once on your Mastodon profile. To change the order of pinned posts, unpin a post and repin it to place it higher up the list.

Pinned posts will be the first thing people see when they look at your profile, and for various technical reasons pinned posts will be more widely seen on the Fediverse than normal posts.

(For technical people interested in this topic, Mastodon servers which encounter your account for the first time will automatically “backfill” all pinned posts on your profile.)

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How do I edit posts in Mastodon?

Screenshot of Mastodon web interface with edit button highlighted
Screenshot of Mastodon web interface with Edit button highlighted

Mastodon lets you edit your posts after they have been published:

  1. Go to one of your posts that you want to edit
  2. Click the ⋯ icon on the post
  3. Select “Edit”

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.)

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How do I share posts on Mastodon and the Fediverse?

You can share a post within the Fediverse by selecting the Boost button which is usually spinning arrows, something like this 🔃

You can share posts with people outside the Fediverse by selecting the Share option, which is often shown as an arrow leaving a square.

On Mastodon’s website version, you can also get a direct link to the post by clicking the ⋯ below a post and selecting Copy link to this post. Alternatively, you can get embedding code to put the post on your own blog or website by clicking ⋯ and selecting Embed.

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What are custom emoji? How do I access them? Can I add new ones?

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.

Server administrators can add any emoji they want. If you have ideas for custom emoji, contact your server’s admin and tell them about it. When admins add an emoji, everyone on their server is able to use it.

Admins can also block offensive custom emoji from other servers, so if you see any offensive emojis let your admin know by reporting that particular post.

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How do I post images, videos or audio in Mastodon? What can I attach to a post? How do I post GIFs?

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.

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Who can see my posts in Mastodon? How do I send DMs in Mastodon?

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 🌐.
  • Unlisted – Anyone can see it, but it won’t appear in the Explore section or the Local or Federated timelines, and won’t be searchable by hashtags. This can be useful for replying in threads, so that you’re not filling people’s timelines unnecessarily. Normally indicated by an open lock 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

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Is there a built-in language translation system on Mastodon?

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.

This feature is currently only on the website interface and also on the excellent third party app Fedilab ⧉.

The built-in translation uses open source translation provider LibreTranslate ⧉.

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Setting your language preferences on Mastodon and filtering out posts in other languages

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.

Interface language

The interface language is the language used on menus, buttons, labels, forms etc when you are logged in. To choose your Mastodon interface language:

  1. Log in through your server’s website
  2. 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:

  1. Log in through your server’s website
  2. Go to Preferences > Other > Filter languages
  3. Tick the boxes for languages you want to see and click Save changes
  4. 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.

Posting language

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:

  1. Log in through your server’s website
  2. Go to Preferences > Other > Posting language
  3. 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:

  1. Write the post but don’t publish it yet
  2. 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.

Contributing translations

If you want to add or correct translations on Mastodon, click here to go to the Mastodon translation website ⧉.

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Where are the trending posts and hashtags on Mastodon?

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.

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How to be notified when someone posts on Mastodon

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:

  1. Log in through your server’s website
  2. Go to the profile of the person you want to be notified about
  3. 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.

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How do I get my account discovered on Mastodon and the Fediverse?

If you want your account to be discovered by more people with similar interests, here are some tips:

  • Write something about yourself on your profile. It doesn’t have to be personal info, but it should let people know you’re a human being and give them some idea of what you’re interested in.
  • If you want your posts to be completely searchable, even without hashtags, you can opt into being part of the full text search system
  • If you have a website, include a link to it on your profile. Remember to have https:// at the beginning so that people can click on it. If you’re an official account, you might want to verify the website link too.
  • 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.
  • Pin your introduction post on your profile by clicking the post’s ⋯ icon and selecting Pin on profile. For various technical reasons to do with “backfilling”, pinned posts are much more visible than ordinary posts.
  • Remember to use hashtags in posts that you want to be discovered, as lots of people follow hashtags and they are a very popular discovery method on the Fediverse.
  • Include text descriptions on your images, video or audio. A lot more people will share those posts, as accessibility is valued on the Fediverse.
  • Join in with conversations, follow other people, and eventually you’ll get some follows back. See here for tips on how to find people to follow.
  • After you’ve been on here a while, add yourself to the directory at Trunk ⧉ and the directory at ⧉. There are instructions on these sites telling you how to add yoursrelf.
  • 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.

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What kind of accounts can I follow from Mastodon?

If you’re on Mastodon, you can follow other Mastodon accounts of course, but you can also follow accounts from many other types of Fediverse server such as PixelFed, PeerTube, Friendica, BookWyrm, OwnCast and many others.

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.

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Why does it say “Pending” when I try to follow someone on Mastodon?

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.

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How do I discover accounts to follow on Mastodon and the Fediverse?

There are lots of ways to discover interesting accounts on topics you are interested in, see below for a complete list.

(If you want to follow people you already know in real life, the most reliable way to do that is to exchange account addresses with them. Click here to go to the account address guide.)

Follow hashtags

Maybe the easiest way to to discover new accounts on particular topics is to follow hashtags. Posts with followed tags will appear in your home timeline automatically as soon as they’re posted, so you don’t have to go looking for them. Click here for more details on how to follow hashtags.

Join Groups

Groups are special kinds of accounts which share posts on particular topics. If you want to post to the group, you just mention the group’s account and your post gets shared with all the group’s followers. Click here for more details about groups and how they work.

Follow people to discover even more people

When you follow an account, that account will often share interesting posts from others, and pretty soon you’ll be following some of the authors of those shared posts too. There is no algorithm on Mastodon and the Fediverse, it’s all human beings, and word of mouth is a significant way to discover interesting accounts.

Discover people from Twitter on Mastodon and the Fediverse

There’s a special website called FediFinder which lets you discover the Mastodon / Fediverse accounts of people you currently follow on Twitter.

Browse directories

Another method is to browse human-run Fediverse directories. They only list a fraction of the users on the Fedi, but they’re a really good way of beginning the process of building up your timeline. The people you follow will then share posts from others, and soon you’ll be discovering even more accounts to follow just by browsing your own timeline.

Here are some good Fediverse directories:

Follow curators

There are human-run accounts dedicated to sharing interesting posts on specific topics or areas. Following them can offer you lots of suggestions for interesting accounts to follow.

Look at trending posts and hashtags

Mastodon has a built-in feature for seeing which posts and hashtags are trending, this can help you discover interesting accounts and active topics:

  • To access trends on your server’s website, click the # Explore link on the right of the screen. You can also browse Explore on other servers’ websites if you want to, as it doesn’t require logging in.
  • To access trends on the official apps click the magnifying glass and leave the search box blank. There’s no Explore label on the official apps, but it’s the same contents as Explore. This will show you trending posts and hashtags which will help you discover even more interesting people. There’s also an extra tab labelled “Community” which is the same thing as the Local timeline on the web interface.
  • You can also see trending posts and hashtags on third party apps, they will have their own interfaces for seeing them, usually labelled “Trending” or similar.

Trending posts are based on how often they have been recently shared, trending hashtags are based on how often they have been recently used.

Use StreetPass for Mastodon

There’s a free open source web browser extension called StreetPass for Mastodon ⧉ which checks if websites you’re browsing have featured their Mastodon address using a verified link. The extension gradually builds up a list of Mastodon accounts you might want to follow, based on which sites you’ve browsed.

Hang out on the timelines

Finally, the most traditional approach to discovery is simply to hang out on the timeline, search for particular hashtags, browse the Local or Federated timelines and follow any accounts you find interesting.

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How do I do likes and re-tweets in Mastodon? And what are bookmarks?

  • The Mastodon equivalent of “Likes” are “Favourites”, click the star ⭐ to favourite a post. Favouriting tells the author that you liked their post, but does not affect the post’s visibility at all.
  • The Mastodon equivalent of a “Re-Tweet” is a “Boost” (and some apps call it a “Re-Blog”). To boost a post, click the circular arrows 🔃 underneath it. Boosted posts will appear in the timeline of everyone who follows you, and boosting will also help a post appear on the trending posts chart in the Explore tab. Boosts are the only way to make a post more visible.
  • There’s also a third option called “Bookmarks” which lets you keep a private list of posts you want to read later. Only you can see your bookmarks, the people you bookmark do not know about it. To bookmark a post click ⋯ underneath the post and then “Bookmark” (some interfaces will also show a bookmark logo which you can click instead).

You can browse past Favourites and Bookmarks on your profile page on the official apps, on the icons on the right of the screen on the web, or with other interfaces on third party apps.

You can see all your past Boosts by browsing your profile page, they will be mixed in with your own posts in chronological order.

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How do I search for stuff on Mastodon? How do I use hashtags?

You can search for posts on Mastodon by typing words or hashtags into the search box.

  • To search on the official app, tap the magnifying glass icon at the bottom of the screen, and type in the search box at the top of the screen. The results will appear below it.
  • To search on your server’s website, type into the search box and press enter. The results will appear beside or below the search box, depending on your window size.
  • If you’re using the website through a phone, click on the 🔍 magnifying glass icon at the top.

If you’re searching for hashtags, they have to have a # at the beginning, and they can’t have any spaces or special characters in the middle.

If you want your post to be more easily found in searches, opt into full text searches and include lots of relevant hashtags. Remember to use CamelCase on hashtags that contain multiple words.

What order are search results shown in?

Chronological, with newest posts at the top.

I thought Mastodon only allowed searches with hashtags?

Until very recently, Mastodon searches were entirely based around hashtags. However, since version 4.2.0 (released in September 2023) Mastodon also allows full text searches where you just type what you want and it searches the entire texts of posts for matches.

HOWEVER… for privacy reasons the full text search is opt-in, so you can only get search results for people who have opted into their posts being included in full text searches.

How do I opt in to being searched by words as well as hashtags?

See the following link on how to opt in to being in full text search results.

Even when I search for stuff, there’s never anything I want!

If you’re on a very new server, it’s possible that it hasn’t noticed much of the Fediverse yet. Try asking your server’s admin if they might connect to a relay server, so that their server can see more of the Fediverse.

Are there any special operators for filtering searches on Mastodon?

Yes, Mastodon 4.2.0 introduces a number of operators you can use to filter with. You can use several of these within the same search:

  • has:media, has:poll, has:embed – Filters for posts with an attachment (images, audio, video), a poll, or a link that produces some kind of embedded media (such as a YouTube link).
  • language:fr using language codes – Filters for posts using that language, the example would filter for posts in French. Click here to see a complete list of language codes on Mastodon.
  • is:reply, is:sensitive – Filters for replies or posts marked as sensitive.
  • from:user, from:me – Filters for posts by particular user, the “me” tag searches only posts you have made yourself.
  • in:all, in:library – All filters for any post, library filters for posts you have interacted with or written yourself.
  • before:date, during:date, after:date – Filters for posts before, during or after the selected date. Dates are written in the format YYYY-MM-DD, so for example posts after 1st June 2023 would be after:2023-06-01

Make sure there’s no space between the : and the other words when using these operators.

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How do I customise my profile page? How do I verify my account?

All Fediverse platforms let you set a profile name, picture, banner image and short text or biog about yourself. You should see an edit button on your profile page which lets you change all these things.

Filling in your Mastodon profile metadata

On Mastodon, there’s also a special feature called Profile metadata which creates a special section of your profile page with clearly labelled website links or any other info you want to highlight about yourself.

To edit your profile’s Metadata feature:

  1. Log in through your server’s website
  2. Go to Edit profile > Profile metadata
  3. Fill in up to four labels and content. The labels can be text or emoji, the content can be links, text or emoji. If you do put links in, remember to put the https:// at the start so that they are clickable.
  4. Click Save changes

For example, you could have a label saying “My website” and “” as the content next to this label. Or you could have a label “Favourite pizza” and a pineapple emoji as the content. It’s totally up to you how you use this feature.

If you add a website link in your metadata, you can optionally verify it to prove you are the owner of the site.

Profile metadata appears as prominent boxes on the website version of Mastodon, and on the official apps it appears in the About section of your profile.

Verifying your account

You can verify your identity on the Fediverse by several methods, click here for more info about all of them.

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Can I use my account to log in on other servers?

No, but you don’t need to.

Your account only works on one server, because all the servers are independent. The server you joined is your gateway into the wider network, because all the different servers talk to each other despite being separately owned.

To use an analogy: you can’t sign in on Yahoo Mail with a Gmail account, but you can still send emails between Yahoo Mail and Gmail because all the different email servers talk to each other despite being separately owned.

You can of course have multiple accounts if you want to, but there’s no technical need to do this as you can follow people on other servers from a single account. People with multiple accounts on the Fediverse typically only do this for non-technical reasons, for example separate work and personal accounts.

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What’s my account’s address? How do I follow other people’s addresses? How can people follow my address?

One of the best ways to follow your friends on Mastodon and the Fediverse is to exchange account addresses with them.

All accounts on the Fediverse have a unique address that looks like this:

@ your username @ your server

Your address is visible on your profile page, just below your profile picture and display name.

Screenshot of Mastodon official app, with profile page visible and its account address highlighted
Account address on a profile, as seen through the official Mastodon app
Screenshot of Mastodon web interface with account address highlighted on profile.
Account address on a profile, as seen through the Mastodon web interface

If you want people to follow you on the Fediverse, give them your full account address from your profile. Addresses are by far the most reliable way to find an account’s profile. You can exchange Fediverse addresses with friends in real life the same way you would exchange phone numbers.

Each full account address is unique because only one account has that username on that server.

You can follow an account by copying and pasting its address into the search box on Mastodon (or whatever Fediverse server type you’re using) and then searching for it. The account associated with that address will appear in the search results, and clicking on it will take you to the account’s profile page. You can then follow it by clicking the Follow button.

If you can’t see the search box, click here to see how to access search on the apps and website.

An account address pasted into the search box on the official Mastodon app
An address pasted into the search box on the Mastodon desktop interface

Other types of Fediverse addresses will also work on Mastodon

As well as Mastodon addresses, the above process will also work with other types of Fediverse address including Pixelfed, PeerTube, OwnCast, BookWyrm, Friendica etc. When such an address is viewed within Mastodon it will look like a Mastodon profile, but it’s actually on another server type. If you open its original page you will see what it “really” looks like.

Why do Fediverse addresses look like email addresses?

Fediverse addresses look like email addresses because they use a similar structure for federating their networks together. Each server is independent and the servers talk to each other, so the address includes both the server’s name and the user’s name to make sure messages get to the correct account. Because only one person can register a particular username on a particular server, an account’s full address is always a unique combination.

Why does it usually show just the first part of my address in posts? Why does it sometimes show the full addresses?

In order to make the posts easier to read, Mastodon and many other Fedi platforms abbreviate addresses to just show the first part of the address when you’re @-ing people within a post. However, if there are two addresses with the same username being discussed in the same post, then Mastodon will show the entire addresses to avoid confusion.

Think of it like names and full names in real life: in a conversation you would probably just use part of someone’s name (“Have you met John?”), but if there were two identical names in the same conversation you might say both names in full to distinguish them (“Have you met John Smith and John McDonald?”).

Why can’t I just find accounts by searching?

You can find accounts by searching, however if an account is very new or if no one on your server has ever interacted with it, it may not be visible in search results yet. This is why account addresses are so useful, because they force your server to notice that account straight away.

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How do I use Mastodon through the web? How do I log in through my server’s website?

You can use Mastodon entirely through your server’s website if you prefer. This works especially well on computers, but the mobile web interface is good too and appears automatically on small screens. To log in through the web:

  1. Go to your server’s website
  2. Click the Sign in button
  3. Log in with the same email and password you use to sign in on the app

Each server is independent and has its own website you log into. The address of the website is usually the same as the name of the server. For example, if you joined Mastodon through the server you would log in through the website ⧉.

Because of the way the network is structured, there is no central website to log in from, so you must go to your server’s own website to log in. Although the servers talk to each other to form a single network, you have to log in on your own server so that you can access this shared network.

My password doesn’t work! I can’t remember my password! I can’t log in, help!

If you are unable to log in through your server’s website, try doing these steps in this order:

  1. Make sure you are logging in on the correct website. You have to log in through your own server’s site, which will usually be the same as the server’s name. If you don’t know your server’s name, it’s in the last part of your account address.
  2. Make sure you are typing the password correctly. Passwords are case sensitive, so you need to make sure each letter’s case is correct.
  3. Underneath the login form there will be a link that says something like “Forgotten password?” or “Having trouble logging in?”. Click this link, then enter your email address and it will send you an email with a reset link in it. If the email hasn’t arrived after a few minutes, check your spam folder in case it’s there,
  4. If you’re still having trouble logging in on Mastodon, go to your server’s website and click on the Learn more link (you don’t need to log in to do this). This link will take you to the server’s info page which always includes a public email address for that server’s admin. You can email them for help with getting your password changed.

By the way, if you have a computer using Mastodon through the website is perhaps the best way to experience it. Fans of the multicolumn Tweetdeck may also want to try the advanced web interface.

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Which Mastodon apps can I use? Should I use the official app or a third party app?

Most people tend to start on Mastodon through the official app, which is simply called “Mastodon” and available on the Apple App Store, Google Play and F-Droid.

However, you don’t need to use the official app at all! You will probably enjoy Mastodon more if you sign up on a server through ⧉ or Fedi.Garden ⧉ and then sign into your account using a third party app.

Mastodon was originally launched in 2016 and all of its apps were third party. The official app was only introduced in 2022 as new people were expecting there to be one, but it was intended just as a beginner’s app and was not meant to replace the third party apps. For these reasons, third party apps tend to have more features than the official app.

Because Mastodon uses open technical standards, all apps have equal access to all of Mastodon’s features. The official app has no special advantages or privileges.

Third party Mastodon apps

There are lots and lots of Mastodon and Fediverse apps out there. The official Mastodon website has a very long list ⧉, but if you just want a few quick simple suggestions here they are:

Tooot ⧉
Ice Cubes
Ivory ⧉

Mastodon’s web interface

You don’t even need an app at all! You can use Mastodon entirely through your server’s website. The Mastodon web interface is excellent and generally gets the latest features first. It can be used on computer, tablet or phone, and automatically changes to a mobile layout when used on a small screen.

On some phones, you can save the website as an icon and use it just like an app.

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Don’t join a big server on Mastodon!

When new people sign up on Mastodon and the Fediverse, they often assume that they must join the biggest server to have the best experience.

This isn’t true at all, for a number of reasons:

  • Servers of all sizes talk to each other to form a single giant network, and people can follow each other regardless of which server they are on. You don’t need to be on a large server to get lots of follows and followers.
  • The experience of following an account is absolutely identical, whether you’re on the same server or not. You don’t need to be on the same server as people you follow.
  • Larger servers usually have a much lower staff-to-member ratio, which means the moderation will be worse than on a smaller server. Also, because there are fewer staff per member, if something breaks it will be a lot harder to get hold of anyone who can fix it.
  • Smaller servers usually have a friendlier community atmosphere on their Local timelines, while the Local timeline on large servers is an unreadable firehose.
  • Large servers are much easier for nasty billionaires to buy out, which puts the network as a whole at risk. By staying on medium and small servers, you are helping to protect the network from anyone taking it over. is not anything special

A lot of the media still thinks that the “default” server is, but this just isn’t true. became a very big server mainly because it was the first Mastodon server, but it has no advantages or privileges over any other server. It would be like expecting the first station on a rail network to be somehow better than the other stations.

If you want your server to be busier

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

However, if you want to speed up this process of discovery, there are ways of doing this:

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What if a server closes down? What happens to my account?

Servers do sometimes decide to close down. However, all of the servers listed at ⧉ and Fedi.Garden ⧉ are required to give at least three months notice if this happens. This gives the server’s members time to transfer their accounts to other servers. The transfer process lets people keep their followers and follows.

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Which server should I join? How do I find out more about a server?

If you’re totally new to Mastodon and the Fediverse, the safest easiest way to join is probably to go to ⧉ or Fedi.Garden ⧉ and pick one of the listed servers. The servers listed there have all committed to specific standards of technical reliability and responsible content moderation ⧉.

How do I find out more about a server? What are the differences between servers?

You can find out more about a server by going to its website and clicking on the Learn more link on its front page (click the ⋯ button if you’re looking at the site on your phone). A server’s website address is usually the same as its name, so for example the server would be at the address ⧉

Each server is totally independent, makes its own rules, chooses which other servers it blocks and often has a general vibe. The sense of community is usually stronger on smaller and medium sized servers, especially on the server’s Local timeline.

One way of finding a reliable server is to sign up on a server that has been around a while. You can usually see how long the server has been going by clicking on the administrator’s profile link on the Learn more page. Because the admin is usually the one who founded the server, their joining date on their profile page usually tells you the server’s age too.

Do I need to join more than one server?

No. You don’t need to join more than one server, because the servers talk to each other seamlessly.

Should I join the biggest server?

No, joining the largest server is a bad idea. The Fediverse’s servers are connected together, so whether you’re on a small or large server the network size is the same.

Small and medium servers tend to have better moderation as the people running them are are easier to reach if you have any problems. Also, the “Local” timeline on small and medium servers tends to be much more fun to browse (click here for more info about local timelines).

Small and medium servers also protect the network as a whole. Large servers are more in danger of being bought out by nasty people.

Can I move my account if I change my mind about which server to join?

Yes! You can always transfer your account to a different server if you want to be somewhere else instead.

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Are there any other guides to Mastodon and the Fediverse?

Yes, there are lots of places you can get more help:

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What’s that rainbow pentagon thing that everyone seems to use on the Fediverse?

You mean this?

The most commonly used Fediverse logo, a bright multicoloured pentagon with corners marked by dots and lines joining the corners across the middle of the shape.

It’s the Fediverse logo!

Well, sort of. There’s no central authority on the Fediverse to choose an official logo, but many community members published their own suggestions and one of them has become very widely used. This is probably the nearest the Fediverse will ever get to an official logo.

The creator of the logo released it into the Public Domain, so anyone can use it for any purpose. It’s effectively the flag of the Fediverse, and used to represent it in discussions, videos, apps and lots of other contexts.

The logo’s creator published high quality versions of the logo available to download on Wikimedia Commons ⧉.

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What other kinds of servers are on the Fediverse?

As well as Mastodon ⧉, there are lots of other server types on the Fediverse, for example:

BookWyrm ⧉ – A social reading platform, an alternative to Amazon’s GoodReads

Friendica ⧉ – A general social network with no character limits, sort of like Facebook used to be on its older interface

Funkwhale ⧉ – Music and podcast storage and sharing

Kbin ⧉ – Link aggregation and discussion, sort of like Reddit

Mobilizon ⧉ – Event organisation, the Fedi’s alternative to Facebook Events

OwnCast ⧉ – Video livestreaming with a chat window at the side, very much in the style of Twitch

PeerTube ⧉ – YouTube-style video sharing site which uses P2P technology to allow even small servers to have videos go viral, as the more people view a video the more bandwidth it gets

PixelFed ⧉ – Photo sharing site, similar in style to Instagram and Tumblr

WordPress – Independently hosted WordPress blogs can be turned into Fediverse servers using a special plugin

WriteFreely ⧉ – Minimalist blog where focus is on the text, like a calmer version of Medium

…and that’s just some of them! If you’re a techy person, you can see more comprehensive lists of server types at FediDB ⧉ and delightful fediverse apps ⧉.

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Does Mastodon or the Fediverse use ads or trackers or algorithms or blockchain or cryptocurrency or anything annoying like that?


There are no ads, no trackers, the timeline shows all posts from everyone you follow in chronological order, and there is no blockchain/cryptocurrency/web3.

Fediverse servers connect to each other using traditional sustainable methods that email and websites have used for decades.

I thought “decentralised” meant blockchain/web3?


The so-called “web3” is just marketing crap that con artists have used to promote blockchain-based get-rich-quick schemes ⧉. Part of the deceptive marketing around web3 scams includes trying to steal the term “decentralised”, but in reality blockchain schemes are just about trying to make money through dodgy investments, they don’t care about their users.

Honest, proven, sustainable decentralised networks are nothing to do with blockchain/web3.

So, what is a true decentralised social network?

True decentralised networks are where many independent service providers talk to each other in a process known as “federation”, so that even people on totally different providers can still communicate. The Fediverse takes its name from this: it’s a Federated Universe of independent social network servers.

Federated networks have been around for centuries, and all of us have used them all our lives. The entire world is built around federated communications networks. The postal service is federated, different post offices around the world exchange letters and parcels. The traditional telephone network is federated, and so is email. That’s why you can make a call or send an email to someone else even if you’re using a completely different provider, because the providers on a federated network talk to each other.

Federated networks have been the default for human communications from the earliest days, since before computers or the internet even existed. It’s this sensible, sustainable, common sense tradition that the Fediverse is bringing to the modern social media world.

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Why is the Fediverse on so many separate servers?

The Fediverse is decentralised for many reasons:

  • It stops anyone buying the Fediverse out. There is no central server, so there’s no single thing anyone could purchase in order to take over the network. Twitter-Musk scenarios aren’t possible on the Fediverse.
  • It promotes higher quality moderation. Smaller servers tend to have higher quality moderation, because they have a much larger staff-to-member ratio. On massive servers, the number of staff per user is very low and the moderation quality tends to be much poorer.
  • It empowers the user. If the people running a Fedi server do something bad, users can move their accounts to a different Fedi server without losing their followers. This discourages server owners from doing anything bad in the first place, and gives users lots of options if the worst happens.
  • It lets anyone start their own server, even non-technical people (click here to find out how ⧉). The simplicity of a small server means it only costs about $8 per month from a managed hosting company which does all the technical stuff for you ⧉.
  • It means each server can make its own rules, so if there are any disagreements people can move to a different server with different rules, or even start their own server with rules they write themselves.
  • If one server goes down, other servers keep working. Problems on one server don’t bring down the whole network.
  • Servers don’t all have to use the same software. This diversity means if one kind of software doesn’t work properly, it doesn’t affect the whole network, and servers can switch to other software if they want. The diversity also allows servers to specialise in particular kinds of content for users who just want particular features, for example PeerTube specialises in video publishing, BookWyrm in book reviews etc.

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Who gets to start their own server?

Anyone. You don’t need tech skills, and you don’t need much money either.

If you use a managed hosting service, the price starts from around 8 euros or 8 dollars a month and the service will handle all the technical stuff.

Once your server is set up, you can follow people on other servers and they can follow you. You don’t have to do this though, it’s much easier to just join someone else’s server, but it’s there as an option. Many people enjoy growing their own server.

You can find out more info on running your own Fediverse server over on my other site GrowYourOwn.Services ⧉ and there’s a long-form Mastodon server tutorial ⧉ there too.

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Who sets the rules on the Fediverse? How do I find out what the rules are on my server?

The owner of a server sets the rules for that server. Some servers may have joint ownership through a co-operative, and some servers may consult their members for what the rules should be, but usually there is a single owner who simply decides what is appropriate.

If you go to a server’s website and click the “Learn more” link, you will be taken to that server’s info page which includes the server’s rules. It’s worth reading these before joining a server. They’re usually relatively short and written in clear plain language, so it’s not a big task.

Most servers will have rules against bigotry, abuse, threats etc, but it is totally up to a server’s owner to decide. That’s why it’s important to check a server’s rules before you sign up or transfer an account. They are not all the same and it’s best to know the kind of place you are joining.

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Who owns the Fediverse? Is the Fediverse owned by a corporation or venture capital firm? Can it be bought out by Google/Facebook/Elon Musk?

To the last two questions: no and no.

No one can buy the Fediverse or Mastodon because there is no single thing that could be bought. The Fedi is made up of thousands of independently owned and run servers, which makes it extremely difficult or impossible for anyone to buy the network.

Most Fedi servers belong to unpaid volunteers, or non-profit community groups and co-ops. The running costs are covered by the server owners themselves and donations from their users. There are no investors, no venture capital firms, no ads, no trackers.

Companies can start their own Fedi server if they want to, anyone can, but all they would control is their own server. They would have no control over the thousands of other servers out there.

The Fediverse is built on free and open source software, made by many independent groups, and the software copyrights are licensed in such a way that no company or organisation could ever take control of them.

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Do I need multiple accounts? Do I need to join lots of servers?

No. You only need one account on one server to follow and interact with people from all across the Fediverse.

Think of it like your telephone: you only need one phone with one SIM card to call anyone in the world.

You don’t need phones for every phone network, because the world’s phone networks talk to each other.

You don’t need an account for every Fediverse server, because the world’s Fediverse servers talk to each other.

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Transferring your Mastodon account to another server

(If you are running a brand new account and don’t have any followers yet, don’t bother doing all this! Just sign up on the server you want and delete your old account. These instructions are only for people who have followers and want to keep them.)

You can migrate your Mastodon account to another server if you want. Moving lets you keep your followers, follows, bookmarks, mute lists and block lists.

The instructions below might seem a bit complicated as they combine several different procedures together, but you only have to do these things once per migration.

Also, there’s a 30 day “cooldown period” after the transfer is complete when you cannot do another transfer. Be reasonably sure that your destination server is the one you want, because you’ll have to wait 30 days to try again if you want to do another transfer.

The transfer has to happen through the website interfaces of your old server and new server, so make sure you’re logged in through a web browser. The apps don’t support transfers at the moment.

How to choose a new server to move to

Choose a new server from ⧉ or ⧉. Both of these sites are human-curated and require all servers listed to promise certain standards of technical reliability and content moderation ⧉.

Do not use the really long automated non-curated server lists, as the automated lists tend to include unreliable servers too.

How to transfer your account to the new server

  1. Create a new account on the server you want to move to, but DO NOT delete the old account.
  2. Log into your NEW account on the new server’s website, go to Edit Profile > Moving From A Different Account, click on Create an account alias and follow the instructions.
  3. After you’ve finished the previous step, wait five minutes. The previous step can take a while for the server to actually carry out, and it’s important that it happens before you continue.
  4. When you’ve finished waiting, log into your OLD account on the old server’s website, go to Edit Profile > Move To A Different Account, click on Configure it here and follow the instructions. This will start transferring your followers to the new account. The accounts won’t transfer all in one go, they will come across in waves depending on how busy their own servers are. Some of your followers will automatically follow your new account straight away, while others may take hours (or in extreme cases even days!). Don’t worry though, you can carry on with the next steps while this is happening in the background.
  5. On your OLD account, go to Preferences > Import And Export > Data Export and download all the CSV files one file at a time by clicking on the CSV icons. However, DO NOT press the archive request button! Archive request has got nothing to do with transfers. (You of course may want to separately request an archive just so you have a personal copy of an account’s contents. This is especially relevant if your old server is closing down.)
  6. On your NEW account, go to Preferences > Import And Export > Import and upload the CSV files one at a time (the files which you just downloaded in the previous step). Remember to select the correct file type from the drop-down menu for each CSV file before you upload it.
  7. Even after the transfer, DO NOT delete your old account. It’s best to leave it where it is, because it will redirect people to your new account and leave your old posts intact.

Make sure you do all these steps in the correct order. If you miss stuff out, the transfer will fail or be incomplete.

After doing all these steps, your old account will redirect to the new one, and your followers, follows, bookmarks, mutes and blocks will transfer automatically. There may be a delay on some items transferring, do not worry if this happens.

Also note that some people on your follower list may take hours or even days to automatically follow your new account depending on how busy their own server is. There’s nothing you can do to speed this up, because it’s up to the follower’s server to process the update request. Busier servers may have longer processing queues and take longer to handle follower transfers, especially if there are lots of new members signing up. Also, in rare cases some followers may be accounts that followed you a long time ago but are on servers that since shut down, so they will never transfer.

What happens to my old posts? Do they transfer over as well?

Your old posts cannot be transferred. However, your old posts will still be accessible on the old server, as long as you don’t delete your old account. Also, your old posts will redirect people to your new account if people click on the username.

If you absolutely have to delete your old account for some reason, you can do so, but it will mean all your old posts will disappear and people will find it more difficult to find your new account.

If you want to make sure your content is completely under your control forever, you can start your own server for around US$8 a month on a managed hosting service ⧉. Managed hosting means the hosting company does all the technical stuff behind the scenes, so you don’t have to be a techy person to use this option.

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How do I join Mastodon and the Fediverse?

It’s really easy:

  1. Choose a Mastodon server on the Mastodon website ⧉ or through Fedi.Garden ⧉. All the servers listed on those sites have committed to certain standards of reliability and responsible content moderation ⧉.
  2. Click on the server you want, this will take you to the server’s own website where you can do the actual signing up.
  3. Once you have signed up, you can log in on that server’s website, or if you prefer you can use a Mastodon app.

Don’t worry too much which server you join, as you can always transfer your account to another server (including your follows and followers).

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What is Mastodon? What is the Fediverse?

Simplified diagram of the Fediverse, showing many kinds of social media servers connected together

If you make an ordinary phone call, your phone provider will connect to the phone provider of the person you’re calling. You don’t need to be on the same provider. This works worldwide and seamlessly, because all the hundreds of phone providers in the world talk to each other. From the user’s point of view, it’s as if all phones in the world are on the same network.

The Fediverse (or “Fedi”) is basically the same idea, but for social media. The Fediverse is a collection of thousands of independent social media servers that talk to each other seamlessly. This means that the millions of users on these servers can interact with each other as if they were on a single social network.

The most popular type of Fedi server is called Mastodon (or “Masto”) and works a bit like a calmer, more friendly version of Twitter. Click here for a cute animated video about Mastodon ⧉ that explains the basic principles of a federated social network, or click here for an even simpler explanation video ⧉. You might also want to watch this short video about the Fediverse ⧉ that emphasises the importance of common technical standards.

There are many kinds of Fediverse servers, often with a specific purpose such as photo sharing, video sharing, livestreaming, book clubs etc. Although the various types of servers work very differently, they talk to each other with a common technical standard called ActivityPub, which means even if you’re not on the same type of server, you can still interact as though you were.

How can totally different types of server communicate seamlessly?

This seamless interaction on the Fediverse works between servers of both the same type and different types. Each server type presents interactions as if they happened on that server, so from the user’s point of view they don’t see anything unusual about posts from other types of server.

For example, someone on a Mastodon server (which is Twitter-like) can follow an account on a PeerTube server (which is YouTube-like). When the account on a PeerTube server publishes a video, the person following that account from a Mastodon server will see the video appear in their timeline as if it was just a normal a Mastodon post with a video attached. If the person on the Mastodon server replies to the video post, the person on the PeerTube server will see that reply appear as a comment below their video, as if it was someone on their own PeerTube server commenting.

The process is so seamless, most people will probably never notice they are interacting with other servers and other types of server!

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