After being more than six years on Twitter, I joined Mastodon a little more than a week ago. Here are some things I have learned, which might ease your start!

What is Mastodon?

Mastodon is a social network that is free to use, open-source and federated. In some sense, it has similar features as Twitter. Mastodon greatly grew in popularity since some capitalist has acquired Twitter.


Mastodon servers, sometimes called instances, can be run by anyone. This means that there is not one single Mastodon server, as with Twitter.

In order to join Mastodon, you first have to choose such a server. A list of servers that agreed upon a certain set of rules are listed on You can filter the list by their regions and topics. It makes sense to choose a server depending on your main area of interest. Also note that every server has it’s own rules, located on the /about page.

However, do not worry to much about this, as you can also switch between servers. Your decision also does not restrict who you can follow. It is possible to follow accounts that are located on other servers than yours.

Mobile Applications

As Mastodon has an open API, there are several mobile applications you can choose from. These mainly differ in their user interface and implemented functionalities. Unaware of this, I started with Mastodon by Mastodon gGmbH but changed to Metatext by Metabolist, LLC now.


There are three different timelines: They are called home, local and federated timeline. The home timeline contains the posts, also called toots, of accounts that you follow. The local timeline contains toots of accounts on your instance. The federated timeline additionally contains toots of every instance your instance knows of. Instance A knows of instance B if anyone of instance A is following someone on instance B.

Favourites and Boosts

As a Twitter user, you can think of favourites as likes and boosts as retweets. Boosting a toot will make it appear in the home timeline of your followers. Although being similar to likes, favourites seem to be used far less than likes on Twitter.

Something @Em0nM4stodon has drawn my attention to is that if you want to increase the reach of a toot, you must boost it:

Free to Use

Mastodon is free to use and not profit-oriented. This means that there is no algorithm that serves you the most addicting content to make you spend as much time on Mastodon as possible. You will simply see recent toots in your timelines. Also, there are no ads whatsoever. For me, it feels like I’m back in control of the content I consume compared to Twitter.

Further Reading

This blog post covered some basics. For more information, I can suggest this user guide. If you want to dig deep, you might want to read the official docs. I also really enjoyed this list of toots for an introduction. Many instances also have a @feditips account. Tips are usually collected under the hashtag #feditips.

Thanks for reading and have a great day.