Mastodon, the getting started guide

Mastodon, the getting started guide

So now that Twitter has been sold and is already in trouble, with dropping ad revenue, mass layoffs, and the prospect of accounts previously banned for hate-speech returning, it's no surprise that a lot of people are looking to move to other platforms.

Enter Mastodon, a decentralised platform that's similar in look and feel but quite different under the hood. It can be a bit tricky to wrap your head around at the start but it's not too complicated...

A mastodon post from with text: Every Mastodon explanation is like "It's very simple, your account is part of a kerflunk, and each kerflunk can talk to each other as part of a bumblurt. At the moment everyone you flurgle can see your bloops but only people IN your kerflunk can quark your nerps. Kinda like email."
I swear, it's not as bad as it sounds...

Instead of being a single website, it's a network of interconnected instances of Mastodon servers. This means that no one super-rich moron person can just buy the entire platform. Because they are all servers in a larger federated universe, it's sometimes referred to as the fediverse, presumably by the same people who think metaverse is a good name.

Getting started

You can join any Mastodon server (a list can be found at but with that account you can follow users on any Mastodon server so it doesn't matter which one you join initially but you may want to join one based on some interest or geographical area. For example, most of Irish Twitter migrated to the server.

Now you're set up to stop tweeting and start tooting (the mastodon puns start now).

Migrating from Twitter

If you want to see who you follow on Twitter that's already moved to Mastodon you can use Twitodon, a service where you can log in to both Twitter and Mastodon and it will give you a list of your Twitter follows who have also used the service and their Mastodon accounts. It's worth checking back on it every now and then as it will show more accounts the more people who use it.

Mobile Apps

Mastodon has plenty of choice for mobile apps but personally for iOS I've found Metatext to be an excellent app. (App Store link)

Although I haven't tried myself for Android comes recommended, give it a try and see what you think. (Web site and Play Store link).

Using the site

Like Twitter, Mastodon makes entensive use of hashtags, you can use them to find topics and people across the entire federation of Mastodon instances.

Mastodon doesn't have any algorithms for displaying toots, instead you have a number of feeds available, there's Home which shows the people you follow regardless of what server they signed up on, Local shows everyone on your home server and Federated which shows posts from all servers in the Mastodon network.

Screenshot of a navigation menu from Mastodon, options are "Home", "Notifications", "Explore", "Local", "Federated", "Direct Messages", "Favourites", "Bookmarks", and "Lists"
Home, Local and Federated are the three main feeds in Mastodon

You can follow and block people just like Twitter but you also have the ability to block an entire Mastodon instance, so if someone decides to set up their own Mastodon instance to spout whatever hate, you can avoid harassment from them by blocking the entire server.

Because there's no algorithm you won't see posts based on your likes, your like here is just purely to tell the author you liked their post but you can boost a post similar to retweeting it. At the moment there's no functionality similar to quote tweeting which again, seems to be a design choice to prevent harassment.

Mastodon also includes the option of a content warning, it's an optional mask that covers the content of a post with an editable warning message. This means you can post about sensitive topics, but also means that you can easily put spoiler warnings on shows. For users in Europe or further east who want to watch a show that's only available the day after in the USA, it can be an absolute godsend. When House of the Dragon comes back for season 2, I'm begging anyone who watches it live on HBO to please use them!

The techie bit

Mastodon and most of it's clients are open source. If you're interested in helping make any part of the ecosystem a better place, please join in! Check out Mastodon's source code on GitHub and help make it even better

Share Tweet Send