Because he is tired of repeating himself. 😂
Okay Todex. Isn’t it called Mastodon tho?
Even though Mastodon instances like to think of themselves as the center of the universe, they are but one server software that can get you into the Fediverse. Let me explain!
So what the hell is it????
I SAID LET ME EXPLAIN! *beats you with newspaper* D:<<<<
In the most simple view possible, the ‘Fediverse’ is a bunch of servers with people on them, which talk to each other through the internet.
On those servers, you commonly find one of three softwares. Mastodon, Pleroma or Misskey. They look different, and they have slightly different features, but they do all speak the same common protocol by which they can exchange data.
Data? You mean Tweets?
Basically. Micro-blog style text contents, but you can also post pictures, videos, audio (unlike twitter you have built-in audio players), and some instances also let you upload any filetype you like.
So I can tweet at people?
Yep. Though the Fediverse peeps like to call them something else. Mastodon calls them ‘Toots’, Pleroma calls them ‘Post’ and Misskey instances call them ‘Notes’.
That’s very very dumb!
I didn’t invent the names, or they’d be called CUMS ! But sure, the various names are confusing. But we can think of them as Tweets.
Kay. So how are they different from Twitter.
Well here is a big list of differences and samey things.
- There is not a single company with a huge pile of server farms and a Cloud that you upload your data onto.
- You will have your home on one of the Intances on the Fediverse. That instance (that server) is maintained and run by a real person that you can talk to, which (usually) has no commercial interest in regards to your data.
- There is usually a far more generous message length limit, in the thousands of characters. You can write more complex thoughts. This depends on the instance settings.
- You can (usually) have animated avatars and banners. (I can hear you gasping, I feel you! 😁 Twitter used to be fun like this too…)
- There are no advertisements, and there is no algorithm that messes with your feed. You see what the people you follow are posting, in chronological order.
- You have more control over who sees your tweets. You can choose if you would like your tweet to only be visible to people on your own instance, everyone who follows you, everyone everywhere, or just select people that you mention in the message.
- This last option is how you ‘DM’ people. Some instance softwares also have propriatery means to initiate DMs (like Misskey) but as long as you remember that to DM people, you need to change the setting where your message appears, you’ll be good.
- These options are presented as little icons near the text box where you compose your message. They’re self-explanatory and easy to find.
@people when you want to mention them. But the format is a bit different.
- On twitter, you just would say
@TodexSharkto reach me, for instance.
- On the Fediverse, that username includes the server name also. Similar to your email address!
You would reach me like this:
- Looks pretty dumb to have two @ signs in the full username, right? But it is required since your identity resides on your home instance.
- On twitter, you just would say
- You can like things.
- Mastodon gives you the least options to respond to things. (Ironic isn’t it ;B) On Pleroma and Misskey instances, you can respond with emoji reactions, and even custom emoji. Kida like on discord.
- Why is Mastodon not doing it?!?! Iunno? Cause they want to mimic twitter, and you can’t do that there either.
- Moving on!
- You can retweet things.
- You can block people. But you have a lot more control here.
- You can control whether you wish someone to be muted, or blocked.
- The person that runs your instance can also take more drastic steps. If an entire server is full of bigoted racists that make the life of you and your friends difficult, then the administrator of your instance can de-federate with that other server entirely. No messages can be passed between servers and you will enjoy peace and quiet without having to worry about that place again.
- Messages are not stored encrypted on the server. I would not be surprised if this will come as a feature eventually, but for the time being, the person that runs your instance is technically able to peek at your messages if they wanted to.
- The same is true for Twitter. But with Twitter, you have no idea who is doing it. For your home Fediverse instance, you know who is the admin. If you trust that person, then you can rest at ease.
You don’t have to read this right now and can proceed if you like.
Yeah I’ll check that later. How do I get an account??
You will need to find yourself an instance that you wish to make your home.
Is this going to be permanent? Can I change instances later?
For now this is going to be basically permanent. You can export your instance data, so your follows, your messages and such, but you would have to upload them again onto a different instance. And people from the outside would have to follow your new account on their own.
Oh but you can have accounts at multiple instances of course. Your email isn’t tied to one specific instance. So unlike Twitter, it is not hard to have alt accounts.
I see.. So how do I find a good home?
First of all: ask your friends. Also, check if your favorite artists or content creators have settled on a specific place.
Ah but how…?
The usernames? Remember they contain the server name. So if you are a fan of raptorjesus and you saw him mention his name as
@firstname.lastname@example.org then check out
satansleftnutsack.hell by visiting it in your browser.
And by visiting it I can make an account there?
You can check! If registrations are open, you will find a button or link that lets you register/sign up for an account. If the instance is overrun with new users, or simply doesn’t have open registrations, you might see a message that informs you how you can get an account. Usually an existing user or admin might have to toss you an invite link.
Some instances are semi-open and require someone to manually approve your account sign-up before you can use it.
And some instances are not open for registrations at all, and you’ll find nothing but a log-in form, but no registration button.
I see. What do I need to make an account?
That depends on the instance. If it runs a Mastodon variant, it usually requires a valid email address. Pleroma instances can opt not to use email – on my own instance I just need username and password, email isn’t necessary.
Do I need a phone number and tie it to an account?
Hell no. I haven’t seen an instance yet that needs a phone number. Makes no sense also. Just set a good secure password instead. The only reason twitter harrasses you for your phone number is so they can sell it to advertisement companies.
Oh good! So – there are differences between instances?
Yes of course! Some differences come from the server software they use. Mastodon tends to be the most twitter-like, but also most restrictive flavor, where Pleroma instances tend to be a bit more relaxed with requirements and generous with message lengths and also offers custom emoji, and Misskey instances are pretty playful places with a silly amount of extra features and formatting.
In addition to the differences in features and looks, there is also a big difference in the rules on each instance.
I noticed that Mastodon instances especially tend to be extremely anal about flagging everything with content-warnings as to avoid triggering people. The more mainstream and the less porny the instances get, the more excessive will this be enforced (at least this is my observation so far).
This might be something you absolutely want, or you might hate the idea.
TLDR; : Just pick an instance that has sensible rules in your view.
Ah so I have to check that the rules are something I am okay with?
Be sure to read it carefully. The things you retweet will be subjected to the same rules, even if they come from outside instances.
Oh wow I saw an instance that allows some REALLY sick shit Todex! I’M CRYING NOW!
Well, your instance admin can de-federate from that instance so you will never ever see any of it. It isn’t your problem and there is no point in attacking users of other intances that you don’t agree with.
So I don’t have to play Twitter police?
No, you don’t. Generally rules or rule violations are handled far better because instances tend to be small or medium in size, with a good ratio of users to mods. You can reach an actual human being that will actually look at your problem.
Gotcha. So let’s say I made an account, how do I then find people?
On the homepage of an instance you usually find a button that says something like: “Discover Users”, or “Browse Profile Directory” or “Public Timeline” or “Explore”. Click it, and you’ll find a feed or list populated by users on that instance.
Check a look at what they post, who they follow, and who follows them. Visit their profiles.
Well that sounds like Twitter alright.
Yep, once you are okay with going to other instances to check people out, it is just like a bunch of pre-filtered twitter accounts.
But the benefit is that each instance tends to have a common theme, so you find a lot of furries in one place, and a lot of bigoted racists in another, just depending on what it is you’re looking for.
Okay but how do I follow or like things on other places? Don’t I need an account there then?
No, your own home instance will do that for you.
You will usually find a button that says “Follow”, “Remote Follow” or such on profiles, and if you click on the like button under a message on a foreign instance, you will usually get a popup that ask you for your full username.
Enter it, and then your own home instance will get a ping and offer you to follow, or like things from the remote place.
Also sometimes your ad-blocker can adblock the Follow button by mistake, and you wind up not finding it. So check that this is off if you can’t find it :p
Aaaah! And when I follow someone on another place, do I see their posts in my home timeline?
Yes of course, that is the whole point of there being the Fediverse. Their posts will show up in your timeline just as if you had followed someone on twitter. It may take a min or two depending on how quickly your home instance’s server fetches the messages for you, but afterwards it is just like what you’re used to.
Alright… does it cost anything?
Nope. You might be able to support your instance admin with the server bill, but usually? No, it is free.
I’m a nerd and would like to host my own instance, can I do that?
Yeah of course you can.
How to host your own mastodon instance: https://docs.joinmastodon.org/user/run-your-own/ , how to host your own Pleroma instance: https://docs-develop.pleroma.social/ , how to run your own Misskey instance: https://misskey-hub.net/en/docs/install.html there is also a fork of misskey called Calckey you might want to check out: https://codeberg.org/thatonecalculator/calckey/ .
They’re all free and open source, you can fork them if you want to make custom things.
Oof, what hardware do I need for that?
The leanest of the bunch is Pleroma, which you can quite happily run on a Raspberry Pi with 2 gigs or ram, while having a small group of users. Mastodon requires more resources, and Misskey is an extremely hardware hungry thing.
Do I also need a domain name?
Obviously. I’ve seen a huge amount of cheeky and outlandish looking instance names. xD Seems to be the standard to think of odd names.
What do you run on your own instance?
I settled for Pleroma. I like the admin panel, and it doesn’t tie up my hands in needless restrictions like Mastodon does. Overall mastodon feels too restrictive and corporate in spirit to me.
I also tried Misskey, but the code is a mess, it is really hard to secure and to maintain and it imploded two virtual machines. *shrug* I did like some of its features though, very fun and silly.
Okay, I’m still unsure if this is for me. Can I just make an account some instance?
Yeah of course. Let’s see.. There are some public lists.
Note: Don’t post NSFW on those. They tend to be pretty strict in their rules. Just lurk and test some features.
Pleroma: hmm a bit more tricky. Check here: https://fediverse.party/en/pleroma/
Misskey: Even MOAR tricky because there aren’t that many of these. Try calc’s server: http://stop.voring.me/
Okay! Anything else I should be aware of?
Well yeah. Be weary of freshly created instances if you do not know the admin. Especially in reactionary times like these, where the stinky Musk is destabilizing Twitter, hundreds, if not thousands of new instances are made in a short timespan.
But many of those will close again a few months later as their owners becoming disillusioned with what they thought running an instance will be like. So look for something that has existed for a bit already, is not too large and overrun with users (tenthousands of users large instances tend to have poor mod response times and more chaos), and is not run by a total idiot.
As always, never post your sole copy of an artwork or picture on one instance and then delete the original. Keep your data copies.
VERY WELL. I am ready now!
Good on you! Do it!