Profiles and posts on Mastodon and the Fediverse have public versions you can share with people who aren't on the Fediverse.

To see the public version of a profile, click on the profile picture. This will open the public version of the profile in a new tab.

To see the public version of a post, click on the datestamp below the post. This will open the public version of the post in a new tab.

These "public pages" are handy for sharing with friends, because they don't require logging in to see them.

Public pages are also very useful for something else:

If you paste the URL address of a public page into the search box on Mastodon, and then search for it, the post or profile will appear within your server. This is handy if you cannot find a post or person by searching, but you know they exist on another server.

Searching for a URL like this forces your server to "notice" the profile or post.

It also works with URLs from PeerTube, PixelFed etc.


This has a UX downside bc of poor implementation.

1. The mastodon logo is usually in the corner of any instance you visit. Ppl can traverse instances thinking they are still on the same server.

2. Registered users can get lost this way esp if they have elevated privacy settings turned on in their browser; users won't realize why they cannot easily reply, boost, etc. (Technically this is due to 1st party isolation.)


So this bifurcation between accessing an element "directly" vs via your home instance might be considered a design flaw unless something is done to smooth out the bumps.


What would you suggest as a better alternative? (Genuine question)

@feditips @tasket dont know if it would work, but standardized iframe urls in place/overlayed over the like/follow buttons?
The timestamp/profile link would include a query param that can be used by the other instance to determine the instance you're coming from

Authentication can be handled inside the frame, with access to cookies/local storage

Might be a horrible idea by the way, could be very unsafe/janky

@feditips @tasket you know, like the horrible face book like buttons that are everywhere

@kartonrad @feditips

Would it be enough to just have instances use their own ident/logo in the top corner? Then user knows they are not on home instance.

& since we're talking about browsers specifically(?), could support a multi-window or copy/paste solution... like a drop target on "Federated" to "view non-local toot". #ideas

@kartonrad @feditips Another option would be to make all the obvious click-on links to use the home instance via address, except maybe for the dropdown 'copy link' menu item.

@tasket @feditips yeah, just directly link to that "you are about to follow" page, when the home instance is already specified in the url


Yes, it isn't obvious that you can do this, I post it mainly as a "secret trick" that people may find useful.

However, I think the Mastodon logo makes things easier to use, on balance.

If there is no Mastodon logo and no common "look and feel", people may not realise that the servers federate together to form a single network.

On the XMPP messenger network, for example, the servers have no common logos, no common look, no common format of any kind (some refer to Jabber, some to XMPP, and some to neither!). They seem like they are totally different services with no connections. In reality XMPP is a single network that federates well, but this is not communicated at all because of the lack of any common branding.

At least when I've tried to help new people onto federated alternatives, branding inconsistency has caused more problems than it solves. But your experiences may differ?

@feditips There is already a mastodon blurb in the lower-left. So the logo is just a misleading cue; it should be replaced with an instance-specific logo (the site's identity).

Main site logo should never contradict what is in the location bar. It may even be easier to setup phishing sites because this was made standard practice.


Because I like to middle-click on tweets/toots to use multiple tabs, I've often found myself facing the "login to your home instance" auth popup.

On edit-2: The foreign instance site is what hosts the popup asking for home address. Then I don't remember... does it shift from foreign site to home site when password is asked? @Gargron

personally i dislike opening any federated links in new tabs because if i want to like/RT/reply i have to go through multiple steps to do so, including typing in my account name in a popup. i get it, but it's a lot of friction and usually results in me not doing anything with the toot.

also it defaults to dark mode which angers my eyes.

as for the unified logo problem, small mastodon logo + larger instance logo?

@feditips that said, thank you for the clear explanation on how public links work!


You don't have to do the multiple steps if you paste that link into your own server's search box.

Doing the copy and paste trick makes the post or profile appear within your own server, where you are already logged in.

@feditips right, thank you! that is at least a little less cumbersome.


I should add that I don't think the developers want this to be cumbersome, but equally they don't want to use any central account system that could be taken over by Google, Twitter, Facebook etc.

Another option some people propose, of every server automatically noticing all other posts by all people on all other servers, would make servers so expensive that ordinary people could no longer afford to run them. (The environmental impact would also be much worse as there would be so much duplication.)

The impression I get is that the current cumbersome way of doing things might be the "least worst" option because it protects us from nasty people. (But I am not a developer.)

@feditips What is the best app for mastodon?? Official or unofficial ( mention the name please )


It depends what you want! Different people have different priorities.

Most of them are free, so try several and see which one fits your needs.

@feditips the normal urls work for this too though! if you have a url for a specific post or profile, you don't need to be logged in to see even if it's not the public url (eg I could see from a guest browser)
it also works in the search bar, I often take urls of posts I see on and find them here that way (using the link from, not the public url)
ofc maybe it only works if ur server knew of that profile/post anyway?

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