By default, brand new Mastodon and Fediverse servers will be totally blank, with no users or posts visible at all. Searches will produce no results.
As people start signing up and posting and following accounts from other servers, the timelines and search results will start to fill up as the server starts noticing more of the Fediverse. However, this discovery process can be very slow to begin with, and those on new servers may sometimes be frustrated by the slowness.
Server admins can speed up this process by subscribing to relays which push new content to their server from other servers, or using scripts that fetch missing posts from threads and profiles.
How to subscribe to a relay server on Mastodon
- Log into your server’s website using your server’s admin account
- Go to ⚙️ Preferences > Administration > Relays
- Click Setup A Relay Connection
- Paste the URL of the relay into the box and click Save And Enable
⚠️ WARNING: Some relays are better moderated than others. Some relays may contain content that breaks your own server’s rules, or may even be illegal in your country. It’s really important to check what kind of content a relay contains before you connect your own server to it. Relays are usually based on specific servers, so you can see such a relay’s content by browsing its server’s Federated feed and reading that server’s rules.
Also, bear in mind large and general relays may fill your server with content that you mostly aren’t interested in, and use up lots of resources at the same time. Smaller, more specific relays may be much better suited to your server’s resources.
Finding general relays
There’s a list of Fediverse relays at RelayList.com ⧉. Please bear in mind the warnings above before using this list, and check that the content on the relays is suitable for your server.
FediBuzz Relay: Custom relays on specific topics
This is a new service that lets you subscribe to custom relays based on specific hashtags or specific other servers. This can greatly reduce the amount of resources required by relays, as it only sends posts that are relevant to the topics you have selected for your server. You can find out more on its website at relay.fedi.buzz ⧉.
Using scripts to fill in missing posts from profiles and threads
There’s a new tool called FediFetcher ⧉ which can be used to automatically backfill missing posts from profiles and conversation threads. It runs independently of the Fediverse server, but it needs access tokens for every user that it backfills for, so it is generally aimed at single-user servers or servers where the admin knows all the users. It also requires good technical skills for running the tool.