Mastodon: How to Use It
A comprehensive introduction to Mastodon, the platform that everyone is switching to in favor of Twitter.
Apart than Twitter, most people have never heard of a microblogging service. So many of these people have been experiencing anxiety ever since all hell broke loose over there at the “bird” app.
It’s not like using Twitter was always enjoyable, but it was comfortable. But perhaps this is an opportunity to learn something better. Twitter always had the potential to be a site where people could have meaningful dialogues, but it frequently ended up feeding false narratives.
Many were leaving Twitter before the recent scandal due to trolling, doomscrolling, and posting stuff with only interaction in mind.
Several of those who left later established a community that is currently attracting a large number of visitors. Allow us to introduce Mastodon to you. At first sight, understanding Mastodon might be pretty overwhelming. We’re here to assist in any way we can because of this. Now let’s get started with the fundamentals.
A free and open-source program called Mastodon provides Twitter-like microblogging functionality. Now that it’s replacing Twitter, a comparison is not only understandable but would also aid in your understanding of some concepts. Nevertheless, if you try to make a precise comparison, it would not only narrow your comprehension of it but also do the platform a disservice. Therefore, as we move forward, have that in mind.
It is not a centralized network, to begin with, and no one corporation is its exclusive owner. It is a decentralized network instead (but not in a blockchain manner). Similar to email, it is more of a federated network where you can self-host social media applications. The platform, unlike the majority of the current internet, is not some sort of ploy for attention or revenue. The term “Social Networking that’s not for sale” can be found on the Mastodon website, and it’s rather accurate.
In contrast to the majority of the current social media platforms, it is primarily a place to cultivate connection rather than participation.
Using the Twitter model, you may also share posts on Mastodon, which are commonly referred to as “Toots.” It also features a “like” button and allows you to “boost” other people’s tweets, similar to retweeting. Both you and others can follow each other’s posts.
The comparison ends there, and Mastodon servers then enter the picture.
Servers for Mastodon
In contrast to Twitter, Mastodon is instead hosted over a number of servers, or “instances” as they are known there. Please bear with me because this is where things may become unclear to some. Earlier, we mentioned that Mastodon is an open-source
software that enables you to host the social media site on your own computer. A Mastodon server can therefore be run by anyone. Also, everyone that runs Mastodon on their server has control over how it is run.
Mastodon isn’t just one social networking site, to put it simply. Instead, there are countless autonomous Mastodon servers/instances, which are social networking websites. Hence, picking a server is the first thing you must do in order to get started.
There are different regulations, moderation procedures, terms of service, etc. for each server or instance. In essence, all decisions pertaining to a given server are made by the entity that owns it. That thing could be a person or a group of people.
The mastodon.social server, which Eugen Rochko, the creator of Mastodon, owns, must be among the most popular Mastodon servers. But, following Twitter’s big exodus to Mastodon, that service has been overloaded and is not currently taking registrations. However, there are a lot of alternative servers available.
Whatever server you choose will allow you to follow and communicate with users on other servers. But, the content you choose to upload must comply with the server’s policies, so picking the correct server is crucial.
How to Get Started with Mastodon
You must first select how you’re going to use Mastodon before you can begin. Both official apps and third-party apps are available for Mastodon. We advise either utilizing the official joinmastodon.org website from a PC browser or using the official Android/iOS apps. Once you get going, you may, of course, switch to a third-party app, some of which have a lot more functionality than the official app.
We’ll demonstrate the procedure using a web browser and the joinmastodon.org website. You can browse the posts and hashtags on a server before joining it if you use the browser rather than the mobile app.Hence, use your favourite browser to access the website. Then, select “New Account” from the menu.You’ll be taken to the Mastodon servers page. It does not contain a complete list of every server. Nonetheless, you can discover some excellent servers there in a variety of areas, like social, general, technology, media, art, LGBTQ+ community, politics, etc. Also, you can sort them by area or language.
You should check a server’s signup and content moderation rules before joining. Not every server is accessible. There are some that are open and let you sign up right away, some that need approval, and some that are invite-only. The registration forms are disabled on the invitation-only ones, and you can only register if you receive an invitation link.
For the other two, depending on the kind of server you picked, select the server and press either “Create Account” or “Application for an Account.”The page of the server will appear. To view the server posts, keep scrolling. Click “Read More” on the left to learn more about the server’s policies and other details.If not, proceed by clicking “New Account” on the right.There might be rules for the server. To continue, read them and click “Accept.”Next enter your information on the registration form, including your display name, username, email address, etc. If your registration is approval-based, you might also need to provide a reason for joining the server in a separate section; provide as much authenticity as you can to increase your chances of approval. After that, press the “Sign Up” button.A confirmation email will be sent to you directly if the signup server is open. You can start using the email after you click it. Otherwise, the server moderators will check your registration first. You won’t be permitted to join the account until you receive approval. The waiting period can last anywhere from 24 hours to more, depending on the server.
It’s time to start using Mastodon now that you have a user account.
Locate Accounts to Follow
Finding the correct people to follow is probably one of the first things you need to do after creating an account. There is no algorithm that pushes material to your home feed because Mastodon is founded on the fundamental principle of connection rather than engagement. You only see posts in chronological order from the people you are following.
It is simple to follow individuals who are a member of your server. As soon as you visit the server after activating your account, you’ll notice them.
But, you will need their whole address to locate them if you want to follow someone outside of your server. The username and server name/domain are the two components that make up a Mastodon address. For instance, @Gargron@mastodon.social is Eugene Rochko’s Mastodon social server address.
Enter the user’s username in the search field to find and follow them.
Posting or “tooting” on Mastodon will feel far more familiar to Twitter users than a lot of other things. We will discuss some unfamiliar things as well, though.
Enter your toot in the text area; it may contain up to 500 characters. By selecting the attachment or polls option, you may also post polls and add images, audio, video, and other media.
You can also insert links, mentions, hashtags, and personalized emojis in the content of your message.
You can use link shorteners on Mastodon, but they are not required because any link you provide in your message will be counted as 23 characters, regardless of how long it is. All you need to do is make sure your URL begins with https:// or http://
You must enter someone’s whole address, which is @username@domain, if you’re referencing them. The character limit only applies to the username, though. Also, you can omit the @domain portion if the user is already on your local server.
Moving on, let’s talk about hashtags. Mastodon’s search feature does not look for text, in contrast to Twitter, by design. Skip the hashtags if you don’t want a large user base to find your content. Use hashtags instead because there is no other way for those who don’t follow you to find your postings.
Also, by selecting the “Emoji” icon in the compose area, you may access the unique set of personalized emojis that each server offers.Now, the compose box will have the option “CW” available. Content Warning is referred to as CW. On Mastodon, you can submit any sensitive material concealed by a custom content warning. For this reason, as a general rule, try to be as considerate of other community members as you can. The warning can be for anything that could be upsetting for others.To publish the post, simply press the button and type the warning. Following that, your followers can decide whether to view the post or not.Moreover, you can modify the privacy settings. Once you’re finished, click “Publish.
“Your Feed’s Navigation
The posts from the individuals you follow are displayed on the “Home” tab.The most recent public postings made by users on the same server as you are displayed if you select the “Local” tab from the menu on the right.There is now a “Federated” option available as well. The most recent public posts on your server and many other servers in the Mastodon network are displayed in the Federated timeline.You can find more persons on the Federated timeline. But, one issue with it is how frequently it changes. You can do that by going to “Preferences.”Then select “Slow Mode” from the menu. To make the changes effective, click “Save Changes.”Instead of immediately updating the feed, turning on slow mode hides timeline updates behind a click, similar to how it works on Tumblr.The Explore page displays articles that are popular on your server and others in the Mastodon network.In either of these feeds, you can also boost (the equivalent of retweeting), like, comment on, and bookmark any post you come across.That is all there is to know about using Mastodon. There, hopefully, you’ll discover your community and make wonderful relationships!