Welcome To Mastodon

So you’ve heard about Mastodon and you’re wondering… What is it? Will this replace Twitter? Why is it so confusing?

Right on. In light of the meltdown of Twitter following Elon Musk’s $44B purchase of the platform, there’s a lot of buzz and confusion about this new(ish) platform. This post should serve as an introduction and layman’s guide.

A Fediverse Primer

Mastodon… The Fediverse… What do these things mean?

A survey conducted by Ryan McNeely with a sample size of ~27,000 users showed that the present demographic of Mastodon skewed older. A smaller survey just a few days into Twitter’s new ownership showed similar results.

Does Mastodon replace Twitter?

No, it doesn’t.

Not everyone can quit twitter. But pockets of academia are evaluating and flocking (stampeding?) to the service.

What’s different? What’s The same?

There are three timelines, or feeds, to be aware of. Glenn Fleishman makes another analogy, comparing Twitter and Mastodon to nuclear reactors.

How To Sign Up

Many have likened the decentralized nature of Mastodon to email. You pick a provider, and mostly forget about it.

I like Sean Heber’s snail mail analogy a little more.

Either way you frame it, which server you pick doesn’t really matter. You can still follow anyone from any server on Mastodon.

Verify yourself for $8 Free

On Mastodon, you can verify your profile as yours by including a link to your profile on your website which has a rel="me" attribute on it. More documentation on this process here.


Anna Nicholson’s iPhone app roundup, which is missing Shihab Mehbob’s new app, Mammoth, which is now in beta. Looks like the Tapbots team are playing with the Mastodon APIs as well. Tootbot coming soon?

Tools for Migrants

Fedifinder looks for @user@host.tld, user@host.tld and host.tld/@user in the name, description, location, url field and pinned Tweet.

Twitodon is similar, but relies on users authenticating with Twitodon to create the link between their Twitter account and their Mastodon account. Meaning if you’re the first of your friends to use it, you won’t find them. But they will find you.

Import your twitter threads from a downloaded Twitter archive to Mastodon using this Powershell script by Lee Holmes.

Who to Follow

The best way to get into Mastodon is to find folks to follow. Fedi.Follows does a daily roundup of interesting folks. They also have a website at fedi.directory. [1]

You can also follow tags surrounding topics that you are interested in.

Tips I’ve picked up

There are a lot of things to learn about Mastodon and the Fediverse if you have a an interest. One of the best places to learn more is by visiting fedi.tips or by following the fedi.tips account on Mastodon.

Add .rss to a profile url to get an RSS feed for that user’s posts.

Manage Your Own Instance

The author of Fedi.Tips also wrote a guide on how to set up your own Mastodon server.

  1. fedi.follows and fedi.tips are run by the same helpful person. ↩︎