So you’ve finally had enough of the Birdsite? It’s time to leave, but Threads isn’t doing it for you, and you can’t find a decent guide to Mastodon? Well read on.
I’ll keep it simple. I won’t talk too much about instances or fediverses. Just follow these steps.
1. Join mastodon.ie
Go on, I’ll wait. Do it now.
Mastodon is run by volunteers, and it might take them a while to get back to you, but they’re usually on top of things. So go ahead, register now at mastodon.ie
I’ll wait. Come back once you’ve got your account confirmation.
2. Plug your handle in other places
You’ve probably still got an account over on Twitter. And Facebook. And Instagram. And maybe even LinkedIn. And probably a few other places I haven’t mentioned, and at least one I probably never heard of.
Some of those folks will be on Mastodon too. So put your mastodon account front and centre in your other profiles, so they know where to find you.
For instance, you can find me @email@example.com
3. Say Hello World
Write and pin an introduction, and put up a profile picture.
There’s no algorithm in Mastodon. People will follow you if you look interesting, or share the same interests. So put a picture in your profile. Add some information about yourself. Write and pin a post listing some of your interests, and hashtag them so they can be easily found.
Did I mention there’s no algorithm?
If you want to promote a post, boost it. Likes are feedback to the poster, but no one else sees them. Boosts show the post to all your followers.
4. Find Your Tribe
Search for #mastodaoine and follow anyone who used that as a hashtag. It’s popular with a lot of the people who migrated from Twitter since October 2023. Or search whatever TV show or movie you like, or football team, or book series or author or, well, anything really. Follow them all. Follow like crazy. This isn’t the birdsite, the algorithm isn’t going to push people at you. So follow everyone in sight, and engage. You can prune back later
5. Follow Follow Follow
Did I mention there’s no algorithm? Mastodon isn’t going to suggest people for you to follow.
So follow indiscriminately. Someone follows you? Follow back. Someone says something interesting? Follow them. Someone used a hashtag you were looking up. Follow.
People will follow back, your Home timeline will grow, and you can weed it later if you feel like it. Plus there’s a handy temporary mute feature, which allows you to mute for an hour, a day, a week or forever. Useful if someone you usually find interesting is suddenly flooding the timeline with an topic you don’t need to hear about.
6. Wheaton’s law
Put simply, don’t be a dick.
(And use your cop-on)
7. Take A Different View
Open mastodon.ie on the web, and set your default view to columns. To do this:
(a) Click Preferences [bottom right]
(b) Select “Enable advanced web interface”
(c) Save changes and go back to Mastodon
Left to Right, column 1 is where you Search and Post.
Column 2 is your Home. This is where you find the posts from the people you follow.
Column 3 contains Notifications/mentions. And also direct mentions, but trust me, you’re better off not using those.
Column 4: You get a choice here. The default is Getting Started, but see those icons on the left above column 1? They are, in order, Getting Started, Local, Federated and Logout. Clicking any of them changes Column 4.
I’d default to Local, and it will show you everyone on mastodon.ie [or whatever instance you picked]. This is handy, because you can scroll down the local timeline looking for people you know from Twitter and other sites, and new people you might want to know better. Again, the secret is to Follow, Follow, Follow.
Column 4 also allows you to view a single account, hashtag, or a thread.
Finally, the Federated timeline contains not just the people you follow, but people on other servers too. If you follow people on mastodon.foobar, then everyone from mastodon.foobar will show up on your federated timeline. The more people you follow, the busier Federated gets.
For phones and tablets, there’s an official app, but it’s limited. That’s deliberate, it’s intended as an introduction.
On Android, try Tusky. I can’t speak for Apple, but people seem pleased with Ivory.
9. Community Standards
People are fairly laid back, but one thing they will expect is that you label images with alt-text.
Content warnings are appreciated too. Think of them as headlines.
10. But Wait, There’s More…
Maybe read this too, I wrote it back when I started here: Chill Out – and I think it’s aged pretty well.
Mostly though, the key is to get them on mastodon.ie and follow the local feed. Enjoy yourself.
[Inspired by a question from Izzy Kamikaze]