A couple of people from various instances have mentioned that is confusing at first. So I decided to write a comprehensive guide on how to get started with Mastodon.

Hopefully this helps new users to Mastodon. Please do Boost if you feel it could be useful to others.

@kev Yeah, I tried to explain it to a friend and the understanding he came to was, "So it's like a shitty version of Reddit where you have to create an account for every subreddit?". I gave up in the end.

@puffinux it's a really difficult one to explain. I tend to not go in to the details and stick with "it's like twitter, only friendlier and more interesting."

@kev Yeah, that sums it up. There were a few people I communicated with through Twitter, but mostly I just followed brands, since there's so much of that on Twitter.

@puffinux @kev Yeah, I've had the same issue. That's a big part of why I wrote the "Mastodon is Better than Twitter: Elevator Pitch" post, which is a bit like Kev's new guide but more focused on pitching the advantages of Mastodon (and less on explaining how federation works—which is really important info, but not as relevant to getting people to switch)

@kev Great guide! I'd already read a few guides, and this is one of the clearer ones. I didn't realize that federation was driven by user follows—I thought it was something admins had to opt into. Very interesting!

Minor nit: The links to instances in your unordered list aren't displaying correctly (they show the Markdown source instead of the link)

@codesections I just noticed that myself. I've fixed the markdown and also added additional info about mobile apps. Static site is generating as we speak, so should be like in the next minute or so.

Thanks for the feedback. 👍

@kev I decided I like your guide to Mastodon so much that I've gone back and edited my Mastodon Elevator Pitch post to include a link to your guide for readers interested in the technical details.

@kev A really useful guide Kev, thanks. Reminds me I should POSSE more to my Mastodon and less direct tweets to T******! #indieweb


mastodon is like facebook but it doesn't suck

@kev @Gargron
Nice report. Congrats! I've seen similar ones but in Spanish (anyway faithfully your initial disclaimer is true about English).

Only a bit of disagree: I use favs as bookmarks, not really "likes".

@kev huh, apparently cloudflare doesn't allow me to see "email addresses" (instances in your blog) because javascript is disabled by default

@joop well that's weird, it must be picking up the handles as email addresses. Let me look in to it, I'll let you know if I can fix it.

@joop I've turned off email obfuscation, hopefully it will start displaying correctly for you soon. Thanks for pointing that out. 👍

@kev Very good work! Two tweaks I'd be tempted to make:

- in "The Fediverse", it might be worth noting that you don't have to remember everyone's full @name@instance; folks unfamiliar with Masto might inadvertently see that as a point of friction. Perhaps a screenshot showing the usual autocomplete once you start entering someone's username?

- in "Moderation Tools", perhaps note (AFAIK) that reports are sent to /your/ instance's admin, and /if you choose/, to the remote admin as well.

@porsupah you're not the first to mention the auto-complete thing, and you're absolutely right. I just added an extra paragraph and image to that effect.

I've deliberately stayed light on the reporting info, as it's pretty straightforward once someone actually knows where the option is.

Thanks for the feedback. 👍

@kev Great work ! Also when i got started i would have loved to be explained what the difference between public and unlisted is.

@kev Great article! I have some quibbles though. I believe the federated timeline is the sum of all the toots from accounts followed by users on your instance. Also federation is not unique to Mastodon. Federation is a property of ActivityPub, which Mastodon is built on. I know it is easy to overwhelm users with seemingly minor details but if users see Mastodon as equal to ActivityPub and no one uses Pleroma, or Pixelfed or other networks than we really haven't made progress.

@kev Thanks your great article !
Just a question : if I created a new instance without knowing any user on another instance, does this mean that my instance would stay isolated from the fediverse for ever ? If yes, can we conclude that there can be several separated fediverses ?

@kev Nice and simple, except trying to explain federation discovery, which cannot be simply explained.

Perhaps make mention when talking about the timelines that these are only the *public* toots; that unlisted, private, and reply toots aren't shown there?

Maybe it's outside your scope, but mention that the Fediverse isn't just Mastodon, that other services can use the same underlying tech in a compatible way?

@kev Also possibly outside the scope: You're not stuck with the first instance you pick, you can move if you find one you like better, and you can have multiple accounts if you like (and many do)

@kev great work!! I was thinking about make something like that but in spanish, so, I ask you, Can I translate your document with your credit and permission?

@jmanumeza yes. All my work is created under the CC4 attribution license. All I ask is you provide attribution. More info here:

@kev thanks! I will send you the url when I fhinish the work and I'll add the linkt to the original.


That is a terrific article!

The only thing I thought could use clarification is which h instance admins get notified when you report a user. I believe it is the reporting user's instance only... correct?

@kev It looks fine to me, and Im playing with for less than 5 mins. I just need 2 find where I can turn on and Im good

@kev Just got here (again) from that post via HN. Cleared a few things for me. Thanks!

@kev what is the license of this publication? I'd like to translate it on my website, are you OK with this? :)

@kev found your article on hackernews and joined mastodon for the first time. Thanks for sharing!

@kev "You can also Favourite a Toot. Which basically means that you support or agree with a Toot. It’s the same as a Facebook like, or a Twitter heart"

I'm not sure that's true. Isn't the intended purpose to add the toot in your favorite list, for easier retieval later? Though I admit in this case the counter shouldn't be there. I think you're right that a lot of people use it as a "like" button, but it's still not clear to me what's the initial purpose of that feature.

@kev Could also be interesting to mention that when you favorite, the author is informed, but no one else (as far as I know), while when you boost, all followers know it (obviously), but also anyone who look at your history.

@youen @kev favoriting or liking is always done first for the recipient. the list is so you can go back and unfavorite/review/etc for whatever reason. bookmarking is a different use case.

@trwnh @kev Ok, my misunderstanding then (though I quickly found out that it's mostly used to "like"). I guess the term "favorite" is a bit misleading, but then "like" was already taken by FB.

@youen @kev "Favorite" is because old Twitter used to call them favs before changing them to likes. Since Mastodon was built in 2016 by disgruntled Twitter users, it "changed them back", so to speak.

@kev many thanks, great overview.
As you mention instances are often based on interest - I would like to see groups of interests within an instance. E.g. if there's an instace for a region, it would be useful for me to join a group about a specific interest of people living in that region. I wouldn't like to open separate instances for each group of interest.

@markusdietz yeah, that would be cool. Kinda like Slack channels.

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