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For new people wondering why Mastodon is on thousands of servers instead of one:

-It helps protect us all against Elon Musk scenarios. It's very difficult for anyone to buy a network made of thousands of independently owned servers. (It's the same reason why no one owns the world's email network, because there are so many independent providers out there.)

-If your server misbehaves (or sells out to a malevolent billionaire), you can move your account to a different server, or even to a brand new server. Decentralisation means you're never trapped on a site you hate.

-Mastodon is an open platform where anyone can start their own server, and they don't need tech knowledge if they use a service like https://masto.host or https://federation.spacebear.ee

...and there are lots more good reasons too, to do with servers using alternative Fediverse software etc, but I'll save that for a future post ๐Ÿ˜

#MastoTips #Mastodon #FediTips #Fediverse
I know reposting is a faux pas for some here, but I passed on the explanation for some twitter newbies, on twitter.

https://twitter.com/nonlinear/status/1519332036896600064?t=ER7iSQhJWWx9wf3gMSxt5g&s=19
I am new here and like the idea of de-centralization but I saw a huge problem comparing to centralized one and curious how can I solve it, I saw a lot of fake company accounts ( ie: TechCrunch ) and those accounts are sharing fake links which directly affected my opinion on credibility of the environment. If the rea TechCrunch joins mastodon how will I know that they are real one ?
There are a few methods for verifying identity, the easiest one is if a company hosts its own instance.

If you look at the full address of an account, the last part tells you which server it is on. This can prove whether it's official.

For example the European Union has an account at @EU_Commission which is on the europa.eu domain owned by the EU. This proves it is an official EU account.

Another alternative is to add a special code to your own website which proves that you own a specific account. This will cause your website address to turn green, verifying that you own the site, which in turn verifies your identity.

For example the Tor Project at @torproject has verified that it owns torproject.org, which is the official Tor Project site, so the account is also official.
Screenshot of the European Commission's Mastodon account profile, with the last part of its account address highlighted
Screenshot of the Tor Project's Mastodon profile with the verified website address highlighted
If TechCrunch joined Mastodon, I would expect them to either set up their own server at techcrunch.com or verify their website address as techcrunch.com, or both.

This would show they are the real account and not a fake.
You can verify your ownership of a website by going to Edit Profile > Profile Metadata, add your website address, copy the verification code and paste it into your website's page code, then click "Save Changes" on Mastodon.

Your website address will appear on your profile and it will be green to verify you own it.
Thanks for the answers! I hope the real TechCrunch joins to this platform soon.
Part of the problem is that the flagship Mastodon instance (mastodon.online) does not actively filter out the "bad actors" instances that host the fake accounts. Hence, you are seeing those fakes.

On a well moderated instance, this would not be an issue.

@feditips
Oh I totally see the reason, I'm just having the damnedest time figuring it out.
That's all very true, thank you.
Just one point: Google controls a big enough part of the emails of the world that its anti-spam policy makes it hard for small servers to function. When all my mail are classified as spam, even though there's only my own address on this server, Gmail is enforcing its monopoly position...
mastodon does not define the fediverse so "alternate fediverse software" does not exist, rather all the other platforms define the fediverse on the same level as mastodon does, or conversely mastodon too is "alternate fediverse software"

Amolith reshared this.

I'm trying to keep things simple for new people ๐Ÿ˜ so yeah, it's not strictly speaking accurate.

Yes, Mastodon is just part of a much bigger Fediverse. I was going to do a new thread about that later in the week, to encourage people to try PixelFed, PeerTube etc.
Please include direct alternatives to Mastodon like Misskey or Pleroma in that thread too
only including masto to me also seems quite western-centric. ignoring the fact that at least misskey is common (more common than mastodon i assume) in japan is not really nice towards that part of the world.
So is that why for all of those multiple servers we need multiple accounts...?
No, you don't need multiple accounts. One account is enough to communciate with other servers.

I'm on the server mstdn.social, you're on the server mastodon.online, but we can interact.

You only need one phone to make calls, you only need one email account to send emails, you only need one Mastodon account to interact with Mastodon.

The servers talk to each other, so when you use Mastodon it looks like you're on one network.
Ah because originally my friend had made an account on social but I couldn't follow him when I was on online so he had to delete his social account to make an online one so we could follow each other.
You can definitely follow people on mastodon.social from mastodon.online.

You didn't need to delete your account.
I'm very puzzled then as when they linked me to their account I tried to hit follow but it said I was not signed in when we tried.
1. Sign into Mastodon

2. Copy and paste your friend's Mastodon address into the search box

3. Your friend's account will apear in the search results, click on it and click follow
Here's how to find your address:

https://mstdn.social/@feditips/107248252715651564
so what makes one unique is your id (or handle) + server name it belongs to? In email terminology , emailID + Email server? But I can have same ID on Google and Yahoo and both can talk to each other. I assume thatโ€™s not the case here because there is some centralization where โ€œa serviceโ€ checks for uniqueness of ID (regardless of server)??
I'm new to all this, so hopefully someone will correct me if I'm wrong, but likening it to an email address is exactly right. The same name can be used across servers by the same or different people.

Email:
someone@gmail.com
someone@outlook.com
someone@yahoo.com

Mastodon/ Fediverse:
someone@mastodon.online
someone@mast.to
someone@mstdn.social
@speeb is exactly right, that's exactly how it works.

There is no central service checking stuff (unless you count the domain name system used by the internet in general).

There is no "fediverse" or "mastodon" central authority, just like there's no "email" central authority. It's just thousands of independent servers talking to each other.

Each Fediverse server has its own domain name and own set of users. The uniqueness comes from the combination of the username and the server, because only one person will have that username on that server.
thank you. It makes lot more sense now. Will move on to creating my own server now
Ha. I did the same, but I'm not entirely sure that's the right move because it might limit discovery. Really not sure yet.
The discovery issue can be somewhat helped by relay servers, but I don't know much about them as they're more of an admin thing.
so there is nothing centralized DNS? Or are you saying itโ€™s hard to be discovered? I donโ€™t want to be discovered ๐Ÿ˜€๐Ÿ˜€as much as I want to connect with other servers
I meant that if you start your own brand new instance, you won't see anyone and no one will see you. You then have to follow people and hope they follow back, and it can take time for new servers to get visibility on the Fediverse.

Relay servers make this process more quick by letting you federate without having to be followed directly. However, I have never used one so I can't say more than that!
interesting. I thought we can discover other server just as easily on personal servers as much as on mstdn for example. Thanks for clarifying
If you know someone's account address, or someone else knows your account address, there is no problem. You just enter the address and click follow.

But if someone is looking for you in a search, they will only find you if someone else on the their instance has followed you at some point.

People can still follow you, you're not blocked or anything, but it will just be harder to discover you if no one follows you.

Equally, if you're alone on a brand new server and you're not following anyone else, there will be no results in any of your searches.

That's the discoverability problem that relay servers try to help.

The discoverability problem goes away anyway (even without relays) as you follow more people and more people follow you, but it can take time.
Ah. I got it now.
Matrix might suit your needs, it's very popular on here. It's decentralised, free open source software.

You can follow them on here at @matrix and there's more info at https://matrix.org
XMPP is another alternative, but it's more messenger-like and less slack-like.

I prefer XMPP, but I don't want slack type features.

XMPP is also on here at @xmpp and at https://xmpp.org
and for all the German speaking People there is @markus from https://weingaertner-it.de/ to help you setup your own Instance of #Mastodon, #Pixelfed, #Funkwhale, #PeerTube, #Matrix and more. ๐Ÿ˜‰
Yes, Matrix has lots of support for Linux and mobiles (https://matrix.org/clients), you'll probably want Element.

By the way, the Fediverse has a Twitch-type livestreaming platform called @owncast

Because they're both part of the ActivityPub Fediverse, you can follow Owncast accounts from Mastodon, and you get informed when new streams begin.

It's still very new and missing some features, but might be worth following if you're a Twitch streamer.
One of the best things about this is that you can modify the code as you wish (but you also have to publish your source) so you can add features or change things you don't like.

(Open my profile on my instance for an example)
New here. At a glance it feels like Discord servers with social media profile/feed mechanics.
I just commissioned some art of my pup lmao, so now I have to check-in to micromanage that transaction lol.
I think Discord is centralised and closed source?

The servers here are all independently owned and run.
Aye, but the enduser experience is identical on the surface until someone 'above' attempts to exercise control.
It's... complicated ๐Ÿ˜

Each server on here can decide independently what is acceptable and block or filter. All the decisions are taken at a grassroots level instead of in some corporate boardroom.

And as you say, if there's disagreement over what is acceptable, people can move to different servers.

It reflects real life humanity better than centralised sites can ever do.
Just asking as Im kinda unclear: Can you follow profiles hosted on other server? or does it essentially limit you to the users on that server? Sorry if this has been asked before!!
You can follow anyone, doesn't matter what server they are on ๐Ÿ‘

Don't apologise, please ask any questions you have!
It's like email, you can email anyone even if they're using a totally different email provider.

The servers on Mastodon talk to each other, and when you use Mastodon it feels as if they are all one network.
Oooh thats awesome! Thanks for the info ^_^
you mentioned servers on mastodon talk to each other. Does that mean, there are โ€œotherโ€ pool of servers outside mastodon that it may not talk to?
No, I just meant that they connect together to form a single network, like email or the telephone.

You can call anyone from a phone, even if they're on a different phone company.

You can interact with anyone from Mastodon, even if they're on a different server.

If you want to dive a bit deeper, Mastodon is just one part of a bigger network called the Fediverse. Many of the people you interact with on Mastodon aren't actually on Mastodon, they are on other platforms that use the same technical standard for federation (called ActivityPub).

For example @messidor is on a platform called PixelFed, but you can interact with it here as if it was on Mastodon, because the PixelFed and Mastodon servers talk to each other too.

It's very cool and I'll do a big long thread about this soon!
how is redundancy or failover handled?
I'm not a dev or sysadmin so I can't give technical details, but each server is independently run so they will have their own arrangements for maintenance, reliability, backups etc.

If a server goes down, I think other servers will retry sending federation data up to a certain time limit. Perhaps similar to email?

The covenant signed by servers on the joinmastodon.org list includes specific requirements for reliable service (https://joinmastodon.org/covenant).
maybe it's me but the whole idea of hosted Mastodon instances seems like a contradiction in terms: we might as well go back to Wordpress. What's needed is to make it easier for people other than software engineers to set up and self-host their own instances.
"What's needed is to make it easier for people other than software engineers to set up and self-host their own instances."

But... that is literally what managed hosting services are doing? (Sorry, I'm not trying to be sarcastic, I am genuinely confused)

Bear in mind these aren't corporations running the managed hosting services I mentioned, they're nice people with accounts on here, you can message them and have a chat.

They also aren't trapping you on there, they let you export your instance to another provider, so you're not trapped on their services. You also own the domain the instance runs on, so they cannot hijack your instance.

If you're interested in people physically hosting at home, there are projects to help do that too such as #LibreServer, @freedomboxfndn and @yunohost, but they demand a bit more technical skill, at least in the setup phase, and not everyone has a suitable internet connection at home.
I think the other user is asking to see if we-the users can setup private server at home with less of a โ€œtechnical setupโ€. For my own knowledge are there any guides available to setup my own private server and still interact with community?
May I kindly ask for an explanation? Musk had bought a part of Twitter, said something concerning plans, but did nothing yet. I thought you should judge people by what they do but not what they say. Why there is so much panic then?
He is buying the whole of Twitter, and Twitter has accepted his offer:

https://twitter.com/FinancialTimes/status/1518667108644708352

And he is talking about making it all about "free speech" (which actually means whatever he thinks is acceptable).

Public forums with audiences trapped there simply should not be bought and sold by billionaires, especially someone like Musk.

We need to take back ownership of our public forums. Decentralised social media (like Mastodon and the Fediverse) is a good way to do that, because it lets us own and run social media ourselves instead of relying on corporations.
Thank you.
Sorry, still unclear. Let me correct my previous post:

"Musk had bought a WHOLE Twitter, said something concerning plans, but did nothing yet. I thought you should judge people by what they do but not what they say. Why there is so much panic then?"

Is there any difference in how much people own a public forum?
Yes, there's a vast difference.

On Twitter, Musk (through his executives) will decide the rules, while everyone else will have to obey him.

On here, if someone disagrees with a server's rules, they can move to another server with different rules, or set up their own server with their own rules.

There is no billionaire or megacorporation on here telling people what they can and can't do or say. We decide for ourselves what we can do or say, in thousands of independent communities that make up the Fediverse as a whole.

If there's an extreme disagreement servers can block other servers, but extreme disagreements are rare and most servers federate with most other servers, so the network remains intact.
Oh, I see.

I didn't see the difference in Twitter because there is just a change in the list of owners. Now I know who owns Twitter.

But in my opinion, nothing changed. There were a bunch of rulers who decide everything, now there is a single ruler who decide everything. Like for any other centralized social network.

So, if it was okay back then, why it's not okay now? They didn't know their rulers, but now they know and that's bad? They don't like Musk as a person?
Sooo... wow... okay a lot of people shared the previous post! Welcome again to all the new members!

It might be good if I clarified how Mastodon works, as some people think they need to sign up on multiple servers etc.

Short version: You do not need to sign up on multiple servers! Don't have FOMO! One server works fine!

Longer version:

Mastodon is a federated network, which means it's made of lots of independent servers that talk to each other.

And... everyone uses federated networks all the time! You probably use them so much you never even think about it ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

Telephones use a federated network, so does email.

You only need one phone to call anyone anywhere. It doesn't matter if they're on another phone company or in another country, because all phone companies are federated together into a single network.

That's how Mastodon works. You get an account, and you follow people you're interested in, and they appear in your timeline. It doesn't matter if they're on another server.
is there a way to look at a specific instance's timeline? Like if I wanted to see what was going on over at mastodon.art ?
this is exactly what I am looking for. But doesn't seem possible. Mastodon seems people centered, not topic centered. And I'm switching topics a lot. Only way to get inspired is looking at the fed timeline hoping that there is a post from the topic I'm currently interested in. With the correct hashtag. Problem #hashtagmania. You can't search fulltext. I know this is a deliberate decision.
You don't need to have separate accounts for different topics. You don't need to use particular servers for particular topics.

The network here is (deliberately) decentralised so that topics stretch across the entire network.

Some servers have a theme, but they aren't forums. People on those servers follow people outside them, and discuss topics other than the server's theme.

Using hashtags is by far the best way to join in with topics on here right now. These federate across the network, especially if you've been on here some time and have followers.

There is also an official groups feature on the way, they got funding from a foundation to do it a few months ago. That's going to take time though.

However, there is an unofficial groups feature which I will post about later. It involves a special kind of account people follow, which automatically boosts replies to it, so in effect it's a discussion group.
is there a way to look a a servers full local timeline without creating a new account?
Is there a way to merge accounts?
How do I go about posting something not the servers topic? Like if I'm interested in #tabletop I'm using a different account from when I'm asking a #tech question?
If you go to an instance's website and click on "what's happening" on the front page, this lets you see what's on there and what they are following.

But, if you do that you will notice that they are mostly following people outside their server. The network is designed like this so that it cannot be bought out. If one server got really cool that everyone wanted to be on, it would be in danger of a buyout by some random billionaire.

You can't merge accounts but you can transfer them from one server to another:

https://mstdn.social/@feditips/107939441820299376

And, hopefully I covered the topic thing ok in my previous post?
hmm, when I go e.g. to rollenspiel.social, there is no "What's happening" for me, only the profile list and (that servers?) federated list (maybe this is the what's happening feed, I got the German interface. No chance to get the local feed.
metalhead.club looks different - here the "What's happening" feed seems to be local. Is this an instance setting?
Yeah, some servers switch off the "what's happening" completely.

Yes, there is a setting on servers to allow federated content on the public timeline page. If it's switched off, it just shows local public posts. It's switched off by default, I think.
It's bloody clever if you ask me. I appreciate that you didn't ask me but it's too late now...๐Ÿคจ
I've found that I've had to join other instances just so I get better search results. The search seems to only search the federated feed and local feed, which is going to smaller on smaller instances. Makes it harder to find the people I want to connect with in the first place
I do use several alts, tho. in part to separate my toots by audience, but especially because each instance has its own particular view of the federation graph, and will reach different people and show me different things on the federated timeline/hashtag searches (details: https://wordsmith.social/elilla/a-futuristic-mastodon-introduction-for-2021 )
That article is incredibly based
Your way of writing is very straight-forward lmao

I really like how you clearly have different views than me (discovery being bad)
But you make it very clear how these mechanisms allow people to have agency over their own spaces

Also somehow the thought of defederating Nazi Servers is viscerally satisfying.
It's just boundries

I think there should be some way to democratise instance admin tho...
You can democratise a server by turning it into a co-op. That's where the users also have legal ownership of the server itself, and all decisions would be voted on. (This is how co-ops in the real world work, but it's traditionally been for food shops and other physical businesses.)

Each server is independent and can be run however its owner sees fit, including turning it into a co-op.

But that is then a real world legal procedure rather than a technical network issue.
Yeah.. thats probably the way to go

Trying to do trustless distributed hosting of an instance would probably not work at all

I was mainly just worrying about the fact that instances can be blocked without notice, and someone you follow there can appear to just be inactive - elilla mentioned this issue in her blog post

But i guess i can't expect tech to fix my trust issues lmao
You just need to check your followers out directly once in a while
For French-speaking people (and with CC for non French-speaking users), here is a very well explanation of how Mastodon and the Fediverse work. https://youtu.be/3PNatcybm1o
But how? I saw a recommendation for a photography server, and the only way to see the content there was to sign up for a second account.
That's not quite true.

You can see content from that server by following people you find interesting who happen to be on that server. You don't need an account there to follow people from there.

You can find people from a particular server by looking at its public directory.

Servers normally have an opt-in public directory on the front page of their website, where you can see people on the server and follow them from your own server.
however there is no:
- public stream (only local server one)
- backfilling (so you can only subscribe for future posts)
- global search
- global trends

Various *hacks* exist to trick these shortcomings but none of them gives a pleasure experience.
Why is it so slow today, and how long before this improves? Just uploading a header took a really long time.
It's not normally slow! ๐Ÿ˜

The number of active users is skyrocketing so it's putting more strain on the hardware. Admins are having to do quick upgrades etc. The speed of the Musk purchase took people by surprise.

It should improve once upgrades are in place and/or if the rush of new members calms down a bit.
thank you!!! I really needed that ๐Ÿ˜„
thank you, this is really helpful ๐Ÿ™‚
but it's much easier to follow other people's followers if you are on the same server, and local also gives mening og you are on a relevant server
...unless you want to interact with accounts on servers which are blocked from the one your account is on, for whatever reason...
supposing this federation of networks is why the input of data into sites that are known to traffic the data of those who use them for marketing and other third party purposes ends in spam calls and higher prices for end users who need to have security integrated daily. Would I be interesting and accurate in doing so?
Uh... I'm not completely sure what you mean?

There isn't really personal data collection on here, you only need to give an email address when you sign up.

There's no need for data collection because there are no ads and no shareholders.
sorry not complaining about the platform just have been getting many phishing phone calls and wonder if it is because of social media clicks
I'm cry-laughing that we can't use "like email!" as an explanation anymore because gmail is the only provider anyone uses now...

Roland Häder reshared this.

Somehow I lost my introductory soliloquey, explaining why I felt I was going to like it here, when I noticed my Toot was over budget by over 1,100 characters. As I cut the characters, to paste them to Google Keep, "Poof" went my Toot!

Oh nooooo! ๐Ÿ˜ฑ

I'm sorry. RIP epic toot.
Thanks for the info. You said it doesn't matter where my home account is, but from it, can I open a column with the local firehose from one more specific communities. Also, why are so users on mastodon.online? Is Eugen pushing general interest users toward that instance?
finally, words I can understand.
#TwitterRefugee
Is there any danger that the domain I sign up with goes down for whatever reason and I lose everything?
There's always that risk when you use any service on the internet.

However, you can reduce the dangers.

For Mastodon maybe the best starting point for choosing a server is https://joinmastodon.org/communities as they all promise to stick to a covenant (https://joinmastodon.org/covenant) which covers reliability, backups etc.

Also, you can move your account to another server if you are given warning of a closure. It's very rare that a server just disappears without warning.

You can also take backups of your follows and settings yourself, so if the worst happens you wouldn't be starting from scratch. If you log in on the server website, click on Preferences > Import & Export > Data Export and download the files to a safe place.
Nobody can pull an Elon on Mastodon because it's a federation?
Yeah, it would be extremely difficult/impossible for anyone to buy Mastodon due to it being a collection of over 3000 independent servers running free open software.
โ€ฆand not only federation between Mastodon instances, but for other services too. I run 2 instances myself and neither of them are Mastodon, but both are compatible with Mastodon.
what is an instance?
A Mastodon instance is the same thing as a Mastodon server. They're two different words for the same thing.
We need a MastoGlossary.
Remember that #masto.host is managed ... for you by the hosting company. This is why you pay a higher price than for those you have to manage by yourself.
if someone did sign up on multiple servers, what would be the best course of action then? Let the extra accounts lie dormant? Is there a way to delete them?
You can keep them, or delete them, or let them lie dormant. It's totally up to you!

Some people deliberately have different accounts, for example one for work and one for personal stuff, or perhaps a specially themed extra account.

It's totally a matter of taste.

And yes, you can always delete an account if you want to. Log in through the server website, select "Edit Profile" and then scroll to the bottom to the "Delete Account" section and follow the instructions. โš ๏ธ Bear in mind deletions are permanent!

If you've lost access to an account but still want to delete it, then contact the admin of the server and explain the situation.

The admin's fediverse address is on the front page of the server so you can DM them. Also, their email address (in case you have lost access to your only account) is on the "learn more" link from the front page.

All Mastodon servers have admin addresses publicly visible in case of problems logging in.
I have five accounts on different fedi platforms: Friendica (primary), Misskey, Pleroma, GNU Social and Mastodon. They all follow each other.

It's nice to see fedi from a different perspective sometimes, so I drop in on them from time to time.

My primary might be down. Pleroma makes it easier to scroll through the history of my primary account. Misskey and GNU Social allow me to upload PDFs and PNGs. Sometimes I want to see what a post looks like from Mastodon.

Misskey understands polls. GNU Social works better on a bad network. Pleroma still has some copies of posts from my previous Pleroma account. The Mastodon account has some copies of posts from the GNU Social account I had before that.
This entry was edited (7 months ago)
@IsaacThatsIt what I was saying, but better explained
The one thing I found difficult about it is it makes it harder to join and find out if you like Mastodon, and set preferences later. The need to pick a server first and find out how to choose isn't very compatible with my ADHD.
This is why I love & use Mastodon.
@Drew@Matrix.org@FediTips Some more Slack-looking projects are in the process of adding Matrix compatibility. Rocket.chat is one.
most importantly it let's us iterate and improve the network by experimenting with new server and client side features! Mastodon has changed a lot in the past 3 years, Twitter hasn't.
Finally! Freedom!
โ‡ง