My short guide to getting started on Mastodon

This is mainly for users of my instance but can be used by anyone who wants to start using Mastodon. Everything you need to know is in these five bullet points – you don’t even need to check the footnotes.

  1. Join an instance.1 If you’re here you’re probably using mine – this will also suggest some people to follow. But any where there’s active users will work. If you can’t/won’t use mine, Mastodon.org.uk is fine.2 You can move later.
  2. Add a bio and a profile picture. Some people won’t talk to you or let you follow them if you don’t have one.
  3. Make a post introducing yourself with the hashtag #introduction and pin it to your profile. Include your interests and things you like to talk about – include hashtags for these too.
  4. Browse the posts on the #introduction hashtag, and hashtags for your interests, and follow people there who seem cool. Other people are doing the same thing! Feel free to follow me also.
  5. Interact often. Post stuff. Reply to stuff. Boost (i.e. “retweet”) things you like. To a large extent, you get out what you put in. Use hashtags liberally – they help people find your posts, and you to find theirs!

You really don’t need much more. The above will give you a solid list of accounts to follow, and allow you to be found by people who you might get on with and share interests with.

If you want to try more:

  • Browse “Federated”. This shows you all the posts that your instance can “see”. Follow people from that. (You’ll need to do this in a web browser since inexplicably the official Mastodon app doesn’t support it.)
  • Look at the hashtag #followfriday and the website FediDirectory.
  • Follow people boosted by people you follow.

I’ve deliberately left out technical details from this, because who cares.3 


1 An “instance”, or “server”, is a website you can register with to post on and access the Mastodon network, which is made up of lots of instances that connect to each other. You do not need to know any more.3

2 Usually I’d say “Mastodon.social” but it’s closed right now. “Real ale” fediverse users who disagree with this and think everyone should join small instances where they’ll never see anyone outside of them and will then inevitably get bored and leave are very welcome to not @ me on this point

3 Also do not @ me on this point. The reason I wrote this is that most of the “how to do Mastodon” guides start with long, boring technical descriptors of how “the fediverse” works. People reading these guides don’t care why you think federated social media is good, they want to know how they can use Mastodon to find fun people to read posts from and talk to.

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