The official Mastodon website has a list of instances sorted by topic:
All of the instances listed promise reliable servers and responsible moderation (see https://joinmastodon.org/covenant for details).
There are thousands more instances out there beyond this list, but this list is probably the safest starting point.
Don't worry if you pick the wrong instance, because you can move your Mastodon account from one instance to another. If you move, you can take your followers, follows and additional data with you.
Here's how to take your followers to your new instance:
Here's how to take your follows, mutes, blocks etc to your new instance:
If you're on a big instance with lots of members, you might want to consider moving to a smaller instance.
Smaller instances can give members personal attention, as the admin has more time to deal with messages and feedback. They also tend to have more interesting local timelines if you pick an instance that matches a favourite topic.
Using smaller instances also protects the Fediverse from nasty people or companies, because a spread-out Fediverse is much harder to hack or buy.
@feditips The fact that you can migrate so easily your account amazes me. It's just amazing, it should be like that with every federated project, so if you do not like one server you can just move on.
@feditips second this. Especially when starting out in the fediverse, a smaller instance helps to meet people.
@feditips I have 2 mastodon accounts, on two small and local instances (and use this account most). I was surprised to see how different the local as well as public timelines are. But it made me wonder : am I missing some interesting peoples just because I can't see them from where I am? That worry me somehow, since yeah : I'm on a local instance.
Poke @Aquilenet qu'en pensez vous ?
Yeah, that is a potential downside of smaller instances where people don't follow many others.
However, as soon as one person on your instance follows someone or shares a post, they become visible to you in searches.
Also, I think there are relay servers which allow smaller instances to see a wider range of people and posts?
And on top of that, you can find interesting people to follow from the community directories:
Totally valid question! 👍
An instance is just the site you signed up on. That's all!
In your case, it's mastodon.social.
In my case, it's mstdn.social.
You can see a person's instance on their profile page, in the address under their profile picture.
If you change instances, it means you have to sign in on a different site.
Instances may have different people running them, different rules, different features etc which is why people may move.
Fediverse instances are kind of like phone network operators: even if people sign up with different operators, they can still communicate with each other.
The reason the Fedi has instances is so that if something goes wrong on one of them, people can just move to another one. You can't do that on Facebook, Twitter etc.
@feditips Thank you for your quick and helpful explanation. Can I be a conscientious objector from moving to different instances? The more I have to plunge into new instances, communications websites (Slack, Guilded, Trello, etc., etc.), the more I feel I'm losing contact with third-dimensional reality as I've traditionally understood it.
Yeah, sure, it's whatever you want to get from it :)
Part of the culture on the Fediverse is to discourage features which get people addicted to social media.
That's why (for example) you can't see the number of likes or replies in timelines, and why there are no algorithms suggesting posts.
@feditips Ah - I was wondering why, when I boosted a tweet, that didn't show up.
If I hop from Instance to instance, do my followers and followees automatically come along with me?
Is there a list of instances in case I want to engage in cross-instance travel and would I need a different password for each one?
Also (last question, I promise), can I have more than one Mastodon Social account keyed to the same e-mail address? On Twitter, it's one to a customer.
Thanks for being so helpful.
Ask as many Qs as you want, that's what I'm here for!
You can take your follows and followers with you when you change instances. Here's how it works:
There are thousands of instances out there, but probably the best starting point for beginners is the official list:
They call them communities on the list, but it's the same thing as instances.
You can get unlimited accounts with the same email address if you sign up on a different instance for each account.
I would strongly recommend doing multiple accounts this way, because it means even if one instance goes down you still have access to your other accounts on other instances. (This is a trick that Twitter cannot do, because it has only a single instance.)
You don't need a different password on each instance, but in general on the internet it's best to use different passwords on different sites, in case one site has a security breach.
(I have never heard of breaches on Mastodon instances, but it can't hurt to be careful.)
By the way, here's an official animation to describe how the Fediverse works. It's a few years old and there are a lot more people on here now, but the principles remain the same:
@feditips Since you're being so helpful, I do have a few more questions: How many people are there on Mastodon Social? I've applied to join Mastodon Art; it only seems to have about 1K active users. I'm mostly about mid-leftish politics and books/writing/literature (including my own); would you have any suggestions of instances that might be appropriate for me?
Mastodon.social is massive, 600k users. I would strongly recommend going on a different instance.
You can still communicate with those on mastodon.social from other instances, but there will be less danger of any instance getting too large.
I think https://wandering.shop has a lot of writers on it too?
Also, you might want to check out https://joinbookwyrm.com which is a Fediverse alternative to GoodReads.
Bear in mind it's a good thing if an instance is small: you get to communicate with the millions of people on the Fediverse, but you also get a more personal service from the instance admin.
It's also easier to make new friends on smaller instances, by browsing the "local" timeline occasionally.
On larger instances like mastodon.social, the local timeline is just a firehose that's impossible to read.
Asking permission usually just means writing a single sentence saying why you want to join.
It's not there as any kind of big test or anything, it's just to prove you're a human being and not a spamming robot. The person running the instance will personally read every application, so they will recognise human-written responses.
Bookwyrm has many different instances, they have different policies on how to join.
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