Arindam Basu
5 min readNov 22, 2022

This is an interesting point and needs elaboration.

In theory, as Mastodon is part of fediverse, where you can create an account on any server and you should be able to ‘Follow’ other users throughout the Fediverse with just one account, and 'pull in' and 'push out' resources to any other servers. To read other people's posts in those servers, you will NOT need to create separate accounts, unless you want to.

I too have seen many people get very confused as to how do they 'start'. On the top of it, the https://joinmastodon.org website has too much information (information is good, I am not complaining, but this amount of information is overwhelming) and where they write on the button, "Create an Account", it should say, “Join a server” or something to that effect. But before that, they should write what means a server in plain English in the front page. But they don't.

Instead they write something like this:

> Your home feed should be filled with what matters to you most, not what a corporation thinks you should see. Radically different social media, back in the hands of the people

Well, it may be true, but what is more important just in time information to a new user is that they want to join a server and enjoy being part of the fediverse to easily post ideas, read other peoples’ posts, share and view images, voice, music, sound, and videos.

So, something like

> We are a group of connected servers and federate with each other. To find out more, join a server for free. To do so, click the button below and create an account on any server, then post and connect with each other

Who knows? Might be a tad little helpful message. True anyway.

This is the point!

You can join only one server or you can join as many servers as you want, but the idea is to connect everything from one place and be able to federate everywhere.

Let's pretend Logseq has created its own Mastodon instance (there are other choices like Pleroma, Misskey etc, but let's pretend for Logseq, and aiming at Logseq users you have created a server named `Logseq.tld`). All I need to do as a logseq user (IRL I am a shameless fan of logseq, ;-) ), is to join `logseq.tld`. So I visit the account creation page of Logseq.tld, create a username `foo`, say, so I will be known throughout the fediverse with `@foo@logseq.tld`. Then once within that server, i.e., within Logseq.tld, I can search everyone everywhere with their

@username@serve.tld

and add them. When I do so, I will be able to read their status updates on my HOME timeline.

I will also have a LOCAL timeline where I get to read the status updates of everyone who has created an account on my server, and they also get to read what I write there.

Then I have a FEDERATED timeline or GLOBAL timeline where I get to read what everyone in the entire Fediverse to which my server connects (that is, someone on myserver has 'boosted' or responded to, etc) has posted.

For a beginner, if you are interested in general conversation, it is perhaps more topical to join a large server such as `Mastodon.social`, create an account and enjoy the ENTIRE fediverse from there! (See more hints at the end of this response/article)

So where you write,

> All in all, even with all the Twitter meltdown I think I will be sticking to it for the time being. It is super easy to use, easy to find people to follow and still the place to be — especially given all the cross posting tools coming up to post in both Mastodon and Twitter — seems that “everyone jumping ship” is not quite true, yet

I totally hear you.

It's worthwhile IMHO to keep in mind that Twitter is but one 'instance' that does not 'federate' with the rest of them. That's the deal.

I have been using Mastodon since late 2016/early 2017 when it was released. I have now my own server that you can follow if you want, here is my address:

@arinbasu1@social.arinbasu.online

I believe as with many other things in life, the best way to enjoy the Fediverse is to try it out.

So, jump into any random server, start posting contents, start following people, and you will soon find out.

Basically, as you do so, keep four things in mind:

  • Mastodon and for that matter, Fediverse is about conversations. So join as many conversations as you can and you will soon find out interesting things.
  • You can practically post any thought content on any server but always check their policies first; you will find the policies on the first page or home page of the server or on a sidebar on your Mastodon webclient
  • Use hashtags at lib, and when you do, capitalise the first letter, so #Logseq, rather than #logseq as this helps people with learning or visual difficulties to make sense of what the hashtag is about. Also it helps to create #CamelCase hashtags.

See the following page for an interesting write-up

https://littleseedgroup.co.uk/why-you-should-use-capital-letters-in-hashtags/

  • When you post images, use an "Alt" statement to describe the image. Again, helps to be inclusive and allows people with visual impairment. Here is a good page to learn more about why:

https://accessibility.huit.harvard.edu/describe-content-images

  • Use "CW" where you can. CWs were meant to be 'warnings' or 'wrappers' alerting the reader what content is hidden beneath it. Earlier, people used to use CW for alerting sensitive or political content that were often fraught with controversy, but you can use it for hiding any long post for that matter

Techcrunch has a nice piece about it:

https://techcrunch.com/2022/11/08/what-is-mastodon/

That's about it.

  • If you haven't done so, pick any random server from the list at

https://joinmastodon.org/servers

This is a screenshot of the server page of Mastodon. Shows the choice options on the top and a list of popular servers below it
See the list of choices on the top and the list of servers below it

Set the following for your choices:

  • Legal Structure: Public organisation (rather than someone's private server)
  • Sign up: Instant (you want instant activation of account)
  • Language: English (YMMV, you can choose other languages as well, if you speak English this is a reasonable setting)

Then pick any server, create an account and off you go!

How about that for an easy guide to getting set up, :-)

Arindam Basu

I am a Medical Doctor and an Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Environmental Health at the University of Canterbury. Founder of TwinMe,