What is Mastodon?
It’s a blend of social media you’ve used before — a little bit of Twitter, a little bit of Facebook, a little bit of this and that from other sources.
The key differences; it’s non-commercial (no ads, no behavioral shepherding, no timeline manipulation) and it’s federated, meaning each “instance” of Mastodon is independently operated, but networks with other instances. You can think of each instance as a neighborhood with its own distinct character.
Instances typically form around shared interests; technology, sports, politics, identities, activities, etc. There are over 6000 instances now; chances are you’ll find one that feels like home. Create an account there and explore.
You get three timelines instead of just one.
Communication between neighborhoods appears in the federated timeline.
Communication in your own neighborhood appears in the local timeline.
The people you follow appear in your Home timeline.
The “official” Mastodon mobile app doesn’t show the federated timeline. Third-party clients do.
Recommended alternative apps include:
IOS: MetaText or Toot!
Android: Tusky or Fedilab
More options here: https://joinmastodon.org/apps
On desktop, any modern web browser works great.
One of the perks of non-commercial social media — it’s not constantly pressuring you to move to the app.
Mastodon instances aren’t shoving ads in your face every minute. It’s not trying to modify your behavior through nags, or hiding key settings, or manipulating your timeline. Once you get accustomed to this much more chill atmosphere, the more inviting it becomes.
If you’re not clear on what a federated timeline or an instance is, that’s ok; everyone starts somewhere. Mastodon is a big beast, but an interesting one after you learn how it works. Mastodon is its own thing; leave expectations at the door.
Text searches don’t work. Search on hashtags instead.
New User Guide:
A service that enables cross-posting between Mastodon and Twitter:
A tool that can check your Twitter lists (following and followers) and return a downloadable list of all the people you engage with on Twitter who are also already on Mastodon. It will also tell you which Mastodon instances they’re on:
Open source transparency – this graphic shows who can see your posts and whose posts you can see.