You can find local Mastodon instances around the world using the "Mastodon Near Me" project at:

umap.openstreetmap.fr/en/map/m

Click on map icons to see more details about local instances.

You can add instances via the project's git at github.com/jazmichaelking/mast or by messaging the project's leader at @jaz

The official Mastodon website has a list of instances sorted by topic:

joinmastodon.org/communities

All of the instances listed promise reliable servers and responsible moderation (see joinmastodon.org/covenant for details).

There are thousands more instances out there beyond this list, but this list is probably the safest starting point.

You can also create your own instance at masto.host or federation.spacebear.ee

Follow

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:
mstdn.social/@feditips/1053178

Here's how to take your follows, mutes, blocks etc to your new instance:
mstdn.social/@feditips/1053233

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 ?

@botaflo @Aquilenet

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:

communitywiki.org/trunk

mastodon.online/@FediFollows/1

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