This initiation guide to Mastodon is aimed at WordPress users but it will be useful for anyone, now that we are in full swing. #TwitterMigration.
At the time of updating this post, my Mastodon profile has only been active for two months. In these last 60 days I have dedicated myself, above all, to observing, learning the culture of the mastodonians, configuring my profile in a third-party instance and creating another new account in my own instance, migrating the data from the previous one.
10 things I like about Mastodon
Before going through this Mastodon Getting Started Guide, I’m going to highlight the ten things I like about this platform.
- It is a decentralized, open source network, made up of nodes (instances) that have their own rules but are interconnected with each other.
- You can create your own node on a server and set your rules.
- You can choose the node in which you are most comfortable but you can communicate with the rest of the nodes (if their administrator has not blocked yours)
- You can turn a WordPress blog into a Mastodon node.
- You can turn a WordPress blog into a Mastodon bot.
- You can follow, from Mastodon, users of other tools (PeerTube, PixelFeed, etc.) that share a protocol (ActivityPub, for example)
- There is no algorithm for prioritizing posts. The order of the toots (posts) on the timelines (there are several) is reverse chronological.
- You can’t comment on a retoot.
- There is no desire to get followers or likes.
- The atmosphere reminds me of the forums of the early 2000s, a prelude to the blog revolution.
Steps to follow
First, get to know the basics of Mastodon:
- Mastodon is not a commercial social network
- It was designed by a German developer as a decentralized network: Eugene Rochko.
- Nobody can buy Mastodon.
- There are no ads.
- There is no algorithm.
- No viral posts
1. Choose an instance
Mastodon is a decentralized social network that is based on the protocol ActivityPub and that allows users to create and join different instances. Each instance of Mastodon is independent and has its own policies, rules, and communities. When choosing a Mastodon instance to sign up for, there are several factors you can consider.
It is important to remember that once you join a Mastodon instance, it is possible to transfer your data to another instance without losing all your content and followers, although there may be exceptions. So choose carefully.
- Help tool to choose your instance: instances.social
- Instance list: fediverse.party/en/portal/servers/
- List of Twitter and Mastodon users: twittodon.com
2. Verify your profile
My current Mastodon profile is: @firstname.lastname@example.org
In getting started with Mastodon, it is essential to create a profile that involves uploading your photo and a banner, writing a description with hashtags and adding up to four links.
It is important to note that profile verification on Mastodon is not the same as account verification on other social networks, such as Twitter or Instagram, and does not guarantee any type of verification of the information you share on your profile. Profile verification on Mastodon is simply a way of indicating that your profile is authentic and represents a real person or organization.
Actually, what can be verified are the four links that you can include in the profile. The method is manual, copying the HTML code supplied, within the same profile, and pasting it on those pages that correspond to the link included in the profile.
The process is explained in the following video (in Spanish), which also shows how to turn your WordPress into a Mastodon instance or bot:
- 00:15 – How to verify links from your Mastodon profile.
- 05:10 – How to create a bot in Mastodon with updates from your WordPress blog.
- 07:05 – How to turn your WordPress installation into a kind of Mastodon instance. You can read this post.
Once the links, included in your profile, have been verified, they appear in green.
3. Enable two-factor authentication
Two-factor authentication is a security measure that you must implement in your profile. This will help prevent someone from stealing your account.
By enabling 2FA, you will be required to enter a verification code in addition to your username and password each time you log in or perform certain actions on your account. This helps prevent unauthorized access to your account and protect your data and privacy.
To enable 2FA on Mastodon, follow these steps:
- Log into your Mastodon account and go to your profile settings.
- This can vary in each instance. On federate.social, go to the “Account” section and there you will find an option to enable two-factor authentication. Click on “Two Factor Authentication” to start the process.
- Download a two-factor authentication app on your mobile phone like Google Authenticator. The app will provide you with a unique verification code each time you log in or perform certain actions on your Mastodon account.
- Follow the instructions to scan the QR code provided to you on Mastodon with your authenticator app. This will link your Mastodon account to the app and allow you to generate verification codes.
- Enter a verification code to confirm that you’ve successfully set up two-factor authentication.
- Keep your 2FA recovery codes in a safe place. If you lose access to your authenticator app or mobile phone, you can use these codes to regain access to your Mastodon account.
Once you have enabled 2FA on Mastodon, you will be required to enter a verification code each time you log in or perform certain actions on your account. Make sure you have access to your authenticator app or mobile phone so you can generate verification codes.
The first “toot” should be a formal presentation bearing the hashtag “Introduction”. This is mine:
5. Installing an app on the mobile
There are several mobile apps available for iOS and Android devices, which allow you to access a Mastodon instance from your device. I use Mastot because it is fast and includes the main functions. The official app is Mastodon.
Tusky is a free Mastodon app for Android with an attractive and easy to use user interface. It is available on Google Play.
6. Find profiles to follow
We are in 2004 again, so, first of all, a lot of calm.
With fedi.bihlink.com You can also find profiles of your interest. Register yours so that others can find you.
Another search tool for profiles by keywords: search.noc.social. Try “WordPress”.
Remember that the best way to let your Twitter followers know that you are on Mastodon is to add the link to your profile in your bio.
If you are looking for members of the WordPress contributor team, Daniel Auner is the instance administrator WP Toots and has created a list of them to import in your instance and that you can follow them.
Or try one of the other WordPress instances
- dewp.space (German community)
- fosstodon.org (free software)
- phpc.social (PHP community)
See also The WordPressers Guide to the Fediverse.
7. Tips to get started
Joining the fediverso is easy as we just saw. But the operation may not be so obvious to you. Here are some keys:
- Use them #hashtags as much as you can. You can continue to search, follow and pin hashtags. Mastodon’s desktop interface is similar to TweetDeck.
- Follow people you’re interested in, but create a few lists (on Mastodon, following a profile is required to add them to a list).
- In Mastodon there is a Content Warning. Explore this feature and remember that images should carry the ALT with their description.
- Use the filters to improve the quality of your timeline. That way, you could remove from your view all those toots that carry a RT or include Twitter crossposts.
- The Favorites (star) means that you liked the publication but they are not counted nor does it matter. It is a thank you that you give to the author of that toot.
- Republishing or Boost means that others will also see the publication. Retoots cannot be commented on.
8. Understand the different timelines.
We are finishing this initiation guide to Mastodon clarifying the difference between the different existing timelines.
In Mastodon you can follow profiles of your instance or any other.
In Mastodon there are three timelines:
- Beginning. Here you will see the toots and retoots of the people you follow, regardless of the instance they are in.
- Local. It does not mean geographical location but the timeline where you will see the toots of all the profiles of your instance. No reroots appear.
- Federated. Toots posted outside of your instance appear here, but only if they were posted by a user followed by someone from your instance or is a retoot of an account on your instance. If someone on your instance searches for another user’s URL and they post a toot, it will also appear on the federated timeline (I’d obviously like to test this). And if even one person from a given instance follows you, your public toots will be visible on the federated timeline to everyone in that instance.
If your toots are not public, they will not be seen on the local or federated timelines, only on your profile and by your followers on their home timelines.
9. Documentation about Mastodon
- Fedi.Tips is an informal, unofficial guide for non-technical people who want to use Mastodon and Fediverse in general. Explore the contents in the index below.
- official documentation.
- It’s not a bug, it’s a mastodon (in Spanish)
- #LaHoraDeMastodon (in Spanish)
- From newsletters about Mastodon (by José Luis Orihuela, in Spanish)
After working with the desktop interface for a month, I recommend:
- Set up your profile to delete toots. I automatically delete my posts once they reach a week, unless they match one of the exceptions listed (keep pinned posts, keep direct messages – not sure about this! – keep posts you’ve favorited, keep posts at that you have added a bookmark)
- Organize the profiles you follow into lists. In Mastodon it is necessary that you follow the profile that you are going to include in a list. Pin your lists and place them, in order of importance, from left to right. Mastodon’s desktop interface is similar to TweetDeck’s. The ideal would be no more than 5 lists but it is a matter of debugging.
- Follow a few tags (no more than 5) and pin those too, arranging them from left to right, in order of importance.
- Locate, from left to right, first the start timeline, then the fixed column of notifications; then the lists, then the tags and finally the local timeline.
- Use the federated timeline from time to time to discover new profiles or tags to follow.
- If you have followers in other languages, tooting in those languages is allowed. You can publish versions of each toot in those languages, or at least in the second language. In my case, I publish two versions (in Spanish and English) of my toots that I think are more relevant.
- Edit the images and write a description (ALT).
- Usa hashtags en tus toots.
- Do not imitate the culture of Twitter.
- Observe and ask.
- Answer, answer and answer; and spread, spread and spread (retoots)
- There is “sensitive content” with content warning (CW). Use it by writing a hidden text.
- Remember that DM’s are visible to the administrator and to anyone who, in addition to the recipient, is mentioned in the text. Messages are not end-to-end encrypted, so please do not send private information.
- If your instance supports donations, donate! The survival of your instance may depend on it.
Anything else? Suggest it to me in the comments or in a toot, and I will edit this post.
At Blogpocket, we have published the following guides on those topics:
- How to create your own Mastodon instance without being a web developer (in spanish)
- What is a federated WordPress blog and how to build one (in spanish)
- Your WordPress blog as an instance of Mastodon (fediverse) (in Spanish)
- How to integrate WordPress and Mastodon
- How to add a Mastodon share button on GitHub, WordPress and Blogger
In this initiation guide to Mastodon, the steps to follow to land on this decentralized platform have been quickly seen.
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