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Hello to all you brilliant new people on Mastodon and the Fediverse!

Welcome! 👋

If you're wondering how to get started on here, take a look at this guide for beginners:

mstdn.social/@feditips/1075370

If there's anything you want to know, if you have any questions, reply to this post or send me a message and I will try to find the answer 🤔 (And don't worry if you think it's a stupid question, there's no such thing!)

People new to Mastodon, are you confused by all the different sites and servers you can sign up on?

Don't be, it's really easy!

You know email, right?

With email, you go to an email provider, sign up and they give you an address. Then, when someone wants to email you, you tell them your address. It doesn't matter if they use a different provider, because all the providers talk to each other.

Well Mastodon is the same, but with social media!

You can sign up on any Mastodon server and you'll get an address with that server's name at the end, something like @ username @ server

For example, I signed up on mstdn.social and my address is @ feditips @ mstdn.social

People who signed up on other Mastodon servers can interact with you by @-ing this full address. You can see people's addresses on their profile page (see the attached image for an example).

Mastodon servers are also known as "instances". It doesn't matter which word you use, they are the same thing.

Just to make clear, you can interact with users from other Mastodon servers by putting their address into the search box and pressing enter.

Their profile link will appear in the search results, click on it to see their profile. You can then follow them, read their posts or interact in any other way. Click on their profile's "..." button to see even more options.

See the attached image for an example.

You only need one account to interact with people, even if they are on another server. The whole point of Mastodon is that people on one server can interact with people on thousands of other servers.

Mastodon is part of the Fediverse.

The Fediverse is a collection of alternative social networks which are connected together through a common technical standard called ActivityPub.

People on the Fediverse can follow, comment, like or message each other seamlessly.

For example, the account @craftykat is on a video platform called PeerTube, but you can follow them, watch the videos, give them a like and comment on them without leaving Mastodon. Try it yourself!

Another example you can try interacting with is @Picturavis, which is on a photo platform called PixelFed.

When you use Mastodon, a lot of the accounts you talk to are actually not on Mastodon!

It can take a bit of time to get your head round this, because centralised social networks like Twitter or Facebook deliberately stifle interoperability.

The Fedi is different, no one owns it so there's no restriction on what people do with it. The ordinary user is all that matters on the Fedi 💪

If you're on Mastodon, you don't need to do anything special to interact with other Fediverse platforms.

Their posts will look just like Mastodon posts, and you'll interact with them the same way. You probably won't even notice you are interacting with anything outside Mastodon!

See the attached images below for an example of interacting with a PeerTube video from within Mastodon. The account used in the example is @yesterkitchen, you can try interacting with it yourself if you like.

By the way, to see what a post looks like on its home platform, click on its datestamp at the end of the post. This will open it in a new browser tab or window.

When you're signing up to Mastodon, the first step is to choose a site to sign up on. This is your server (also known as an instance), and your address will have its name at the end.

All Mastodon servers are independently owned and run, but they allow you to talk to people on other servers. Even if there's just two people on a server, you can still follow millions of others elsewhere on Mastodon and the Fediverse from that server.

The easiest way to choose one is from the official Mastodon directory:

joinmastodon.org/communities

All of the servers listed are signed up to a covenant of reliability and responsible moderation (joinmastodon.org/covenant).

You don't have to use these, there are thousands of others out there, but these are maybe good starting points for beginners.

Don't worry too much about choosing though, you can always move your account to another one if you like. There's a post about how to do that here: mstdn.social/@feditips/1079394

p.s. The official directory is the same as the list you choose a server from when you install the official Mastodon app.

The app also lets you enter the address of a different server not on the list, if you prefer.

You don't have to join someone else's server. You can always set up your own Mastodon instance.

It gives you maximum privacy, you can set your own rules, customise the server settings and provide your friends and family with accounts. Many co-ops and community organisations have their own Mastodon servers.

You don't even need any server skills, because you can use "managed hosting" services such as masto.host or federation.spacebear.ee. They do all the technical stuff like installation and upgrades, while you run things through the normal Mastodon browser interface.

(Of course if you *do* have server skills, you can install and maintain the Masto software from scratch yourself using the official documentation at docs.joinmastodon.org)

@feditips Hey
Is there a possibility to write several hashtags in a row? And why does each hashtag I write show up in my comments, or how can I turn this off?
Thanks in advance
peace

@saitam

I think you're on a Friendica server so it handles hashtags a bit differently. If I remember right, they get moved to a separate section under the message?

I am not sure what you mean by "several tags in a row"? What happens if you just write several hashtags?

@saitam

It's been a while since I used Friendica, I can't remember how I separated the tags.

Have you tried asking on the Friendica help forum? It's at forum.friendi.ca/~helpers

@feditips Yes Friendica, yes they are separate under the message. If I write several words, they appear as one hashtag: E.g. #question hashtag friendica, insteat of #question #question #friendica

@feditips maybe im not new. but what file types are supported by masto? im sure graphics (png, apng, gif, jpg) does it support sending text files or code snippets (like js ir python). does it support matroska videos (mkv)?

@hacknorris

Good question, here's what the Mastodon manual says about attachment types:

Images: PNG, JPG, GIF up to 8MB. Up to 4 images can be attached.

Animated GIFs are converted to soundless MP4s. You can also upload soundless MP4 and WebM, which will be handled the same way.

Videos: MP4, M4V, MOV, WebM up to 40MB. Video will be transcoded to H.264 MP4 with a maximum bitrate of 1300kbps and framerate of 60fps.

Audio: MP3, OGG, WAV, FLAC, OPUS, AAC, M4A, 3GP up to 40MB. Audio will be transcoded to MP3 using V2 VBR (roughly 192kbps).

...so no, there are no text files or code snippets on Mastodon. I don't think MKVs either unless it's something to do with wrappers?

You can see the manual itself by clicking on "Documentation" at the bottom of the screen, or the direct link is docs.joinmastodon.org

@feditips when I try to follow someone from another instance, why do I have to put my username (I am using the web client)? Can't it automatically detect that?

@__head__ @feditips I agree it's annoying to have the pop up on the web client. Do we need to login and logout for every instance? I think this what confuses new users.

@DarkWraithLord @feditips I also get confused when I click a new instance and it asks me to log in or create an account. Ability to create accounts on multiple instances is very new to me coming from twitter, where it is a single account (barring alts of course). Or are these things equivalent to alts?

@__head__ @feditips Sorry, I'm not familiar with alts. I find it cool to have different instances but connecting to them is a different story. Wish it was simple, maybe I'm missing something?

@__head__ @DarkWraithLord

You don't need to create multiple accounts, you can interact with every other instance from your own instance.

@__head__ @DarkWraithLord

It's the same with email, you don't need an account on every email provider.

All you need is one email account on one provider, that's enough to interact with all other providers.

You don't need a gmail account to send an email to gmail addresses, you don't need a hotmail account to send to hotmail addresses etc.

All you need is one account, and that lets you interact with all the other accounts even if they're on other servers.

@feditips @DarkWraithLord the analogy to email is really nice, thanks! Things are making more sense now, having to read the docs for a social network is a bit new :D!

@__head__ Well, try it out:

- Click on @marmarper and you should access my profile from your instance's URL. Then you can directly follow me by clicking the button.
- Click on graz.social/@marmarper and you access it from my instance's page. Then you have to insert your mastodon address first to get forwarded to your instance.

@feditips

@__head__ @DarkWraithLord

You don't have to enter your username if you're logged into Mastodon and browsing people's profiles entirely within Mastodon.

You can avoid having to log in again by copying and pasting people's usernames into the search box, then interacting with them from there.

For example, while logged into Mastodon, try copying and pasting someone's Mastodon address into the search box and press enter. This will bring up their user profile which you can follow them from, or otherwise interact with. This also works with profile URLs.

The only time you are asked to enter your username is if you're looking at a public profile page without being logged in on that instance. This is the page that appears when you click on someone's profile image.

Just to show the difference, I've attached a couple of screenshots below: the first is your profile that appears to me while I'm logged in, and the other is your public profile page that appears if I click on your profile image.

@feditips @__head__ That is a good tip to copy/paste when using the web client. Thanks.

@__head__ @feditips I was also confused by this at first 😅
If I simply click on your username, that will open your profile view from my own instance (floss.social) and I can simply follow you by clicking "follow". However, if I ALT+click (open in new tab/window) then that will take me to your profile on *your* instance's webpage (mstodon.social). At that point I'm on mastodon.social, so to follow you on floss.social I will need to enter my username/instance.

@__head__ @feditips And the reason it's like this is because mastodon.social and floss.social are completely different websites and mastodon instances. I happen to have an account on both of these, and I am currently logged in with my two accounts on these two instances both in the same browser 😄

@sigsegv Is there any benefit to having accounts on multiple instances other than to separate identities/conversations? And can it be done with the same email-id?

Mastodon Screenshot Tips + Funny Story Using Dark Mode... :) 

@feditips
It's a good FediTips - I've made some visual variations of your screenshots to help make it more easier to see

Summary of pictures:

- Add visible (lighter colours, yellow on black for example or just not dark colours)

- Larger font (you had space too)
Also people can read picture from far away / without loading big picture! (using my screenshots I can read it from preview and learn quicker! I couldn't see writing before- too small)

Just to keep in mind - you're tips are doing great - just big and yellow will help magnify your magnificent work!

2nd funny story relating to this search box in the top left)

For a long time I am using my monitor on 0 brightness, 10 Contrast... Try it (so not 50:50 or 0:50 as normal but super low and eyes can work x10) and I'd realised (until asking you one day) that I'd never seen that box before because it was so dark on my screen!! LOLS

(modified examples attached)

- Includes cutting out parts occasionally (like 3rd panel as it's less important / can be included in other pics)... which also helps make preview bigger

@freeschool

Thanks for the feedback, I will try to make the font brighter and clearer next time.

About your dark monitor, maybe it would help to switch to a high contrast theme?

You can do this in Mastodon by going to Preferences > Site Theme, select "High contrast" and pick "save changes".

@feditips
Great - feel free to use my versions and repost (the cropped ones without 3 panels showing)
And if you need something just let me know.
For the dark monitor I can just up the contrast but now I know it's there I can still use in 'dark dark mode!' (L:
But actually you have a point I'll try it now! Always useful thanks FediTips !!

@feditips
> For example, the account @craftykat is on a video platform called PeerTube, but you can follow them, watch the videos, give them a like and comment on them without leaving Mastodon. Try it yourself!

Depends on the desktop/mobile client, e. g. doesn't work with Twidere X.

@feditips@mstdn.social @yesterkitchen@tilvids.com I have noticed that there are some formatting differences but nothing the user could do anything about and nothing that could really harm the intent of the post.

this for example.

@feditips our server is an example of self-hosting privately. There are only two people on this instance.

@feditips After registering and following you, first post i see is right on spot what i was looking for, to host my own instance :) Guess this is more then coincidence LOL

@feditips @chris FYI https://Fediverse.express is helpful at setting up your own instance on a cheap VPS. I tested it out not too long ago and it worked well.

@ray @chris

I personally wouldn't recommend Fediverse Express.

@feditips @yesterkitchen Also, question. Is there any data privacy agreement relative to Mastodon? I mean what if someone IDs me and I've got all this history on Mastodon, am I vulnerable? or? mulling over how much I want to invest where

@localish @yesterkitchen

It's a long topic but basically privacy here is much better than on Facebook or Twitter, as Mastodon isn't selling anyone's data and there are no ads either.

You also don't have to use real names or profile pictures.

You can control the privacy of your posts to be either public (visible to anyone), unlisted (visible to anyone but not shown on public timeline), followers only, and direct (only visible to people mentioned in the post).

It's a balancing act because if you keep your posts completely private no one will find them to discuss them, whereas if you set them public anyone can see it.

You can ask posts not to be catalogued by search engines by going to Preferences > Other > Opt out of search engine indexing, tick it and click "save changes".

Also bear in mind DMs here are not end-to-end encrypted (yet) so they shouldn't be used for anything safety-critical.

@feditips @yesterkitchen Thank you so much! #learningmastodon Wondering...do the Mastodon server admins have to agree to any "principles"? or could Google set one up? I appreciate that it's anonymous, but with AI and a decent parallel processor, it's not hard to figure out who everyone is.

@localish @yesterkitchen

Each server is independent and the owner decides the rules (though some are co-ops). You can see your server's rules by clicking on "about this server", and this also gives a contact email for the owner.

Having said that, servers listed on the official Mastodon website (at joinmastodon.org/communities) have to agree to a covenant if they want to be listed (joinmastodon.org/covenant). Servers not listed don't have to agree to this.

Google could set up a server, but most other servers would probably refuse to federate with it. Something similar happened a few years ago when a nazi server called Gab started up, but the rest of the Fediverse refused to federate with it and Gab was completely isolated.

A bigger danger would be if Google bought an existing server with lots of users, but hopefully everyone would jump ship from that server if it happened.

This is why smaller servers are encouraged, to reduce this danger.

@localish

By the way, your IP address and email are only visible to the admin of the server you log in on. None of the other servers have access to this.

So, if Google did start a server, it wouldn't give them access to anyone's details except those who signed up on Google's server (and none of us are stupid enough to do that 😉 ).

I guess they could try to mine some info from public posts, but they could do that anyway from anything public, from websites etc. This is why it's a bad idea to use your real name or real details in public online.

@feditips but they could have a fake name and start a server. how would we know it's google?

@localish

It's very unlikely they would do it anonymously, especially if it's a small server with just a few dozen or few hundred members. What would they have to gain?

Even in the worst case scenario, all they would know about you is an IP address and an email. If you use a temporary email and a VPN, and if you never post personal data, they would have zero info on you at all.

If you wanted to be hyper careful though, you can start your own server through a service like masto.host or federation.spacebear.ee. You don't need tech knowledge, it costs a few dollars a month.

@feditips @yesterkitchen Oooo...some are coops? how can we find the cooperatives? how would we know if Google bought a Mastodon server?

@localish

Yes, there are lots of co-ops on here, for example social.coop

If you search for that should get you some leads?

@feditips Ooo...! I just did that! I had searched #coop, and saw "0" as in how many people are talking and was discouraged. But I see now that people might have posted a day ago. So I'll be busy following #coop people! thanks!!! #learningmastodon mastodon

@feditips
Re-edited version (as said, and so you don't have to do it)
-changed font colour
-font size
-3rd panel cropped to keep main focus

@feditips the biggest confusion I had getting started with mastodon was whether I had to create logins for each instance, and then choosing the right instance as my primary. Maybe there should be a big flashing "I'm a n00b" cta button on each login/signup page.

@wilrnh

That button is what I am trying to be 😁

There is a lot of behind the scenes stuff making it easier, for example the instances that the official website and official app suggests are all signed up to a covenant that guarantees uptime and responsible moderation (joinmastodon.org/covenant).

So, pretty much any instance from the official method of signing up should be okay.

Also, there's the option in settings to move your account to another instance if you change your mind.

But yeah, there is a fundamental difference between the centralised Twitter and decentralised Mastodon.

However, this is how email and telephones work, you don't need a separate phone for each network, so I think everyone is capable of getting used to the idea of decentralisation 👍

@feditips@mstdn.social
not perfect but close enough to get the general idea across.

Mastodon servers are also known as "instances".
that bit is a little off, at least as i understand things which is just barely.

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