A netizen’s guide to Mastodon and the fediverse

Hey there! This article gets occasionally updated, so be sure to check back every now and then. You can also follow me on Mastodon.

netizen (plural netizens)

  1. (Internet) A member of the community of Internet users.
    Synonyms: Internet user, cybercitizen, cybernaut, internauta

Fediverse is not just one thing. It is made up of vibrant and diverse communities from around the world. And it can truly transform lives.

What are some fediverse success stories? Big or small.

Did you find a job through here? Did it save your business? Did anyone you know marry someone they met on here?

— Stefan Bohacek (@stefan@stefanbohacek.online) 2023-06-21T13:19:38.056Z

WE DID IT! The Texas Observer will remain open!

Our board just voted to rescind both the layoffs and the closure. We'll have more news soon, but we believe this is the start of a very positive transformation at our publication—and you were a huge part of it. THANK YOU! You proved to the world that !


— Texas Observer Lives! (@TexasObserver@texasobserver.social) 2023-03-29T22:09:50.785Z

Greetings everyone.

I have received many generous offerings of financial support to keep the instance running as-is and I would like to accept those offers (and if anyone else feel inclined).

I have re-activated the donation page at buymeacoffee.com/handmade.soci

Current expenses are $29/mo hosting on masto.host and $6/mo for the VPS running the boost bots.

I am truly touched by the outpouring of support both tangible and emotional.

@nebulos @welshpixie @Curator@artisan.chat @Curator@mastodon.art

— handmade.social admin :maker: (@maker@handmade.social) 2023-06-09T15:26:13.737Z

On a personal level, I've had multiple people reach out to me and offer translating jointhefediverse.net to other languages. This is a shout out to you all, folks!

— Stefan Bohacek (@stefan@stefanbohacek.online) 2023-06-21T16:32:15.542Z

There are many great guides about Mastodon, and the larger fediverse in general, that explain what it is, how to pick a server, and compare the best mobile apps.

But there’s nothing better than immersing yourself in the native cultures.

Here’s a selection of polls about Mastodon and fediverse, some of which I made myself, some made by others. I will continue adding more polls, so be sure to check back in every now and then. And let me know if you see a good poll!

And this is the really exciting thing. The fediverse is still very new, and we are all growing it together, by directly participating and asking questions, like these.

Who’s in the fediverse

Here’s a quick intro.

Is it me or does Mastodon seem to skew older? How old are you?

— Kevin (@KevinLikesMaps@eldritch.cafe) 2023-03-02T16:53:31.349Z

you know what I really want to know?
if there are really so many trans people here or if it only feels that way

so, are you trans?

— skye 🏳️‍⚧️ ze/hir (@skye@toot.cat) 2023-02-10T23:06:04.722Z

What connections on the fediverse are most important to you?

— Evan Prodromou (@evan@cosocial.ca) 2023-03-29T22:31:54.907Z

When you're here on Mastodon/in the fediverse, do you post, or do you just lurk?

— Stefan Bohacek (@stefan@stefanbohacek.online) 2023-03-24T14:06:52.148Z

How many active accounts do you have/manage in the fediverse?

(Feel free to leave a comment with more details on which networks you're on, and how you use them.)

— Stefan Bohacek (@stefan@stefanbohacek.online) 2023-04-22T13:48:04.837Z

Do you prefer to browse the fediverse on a computer or a mobile device?

(Feel free to share your favorite apps in the comments!)

— Stefan Bohacek (@stefan@stefanbohacek.online) 2023-04-20T13:37:34.121Z

Do you use the one-column or multi-column (advanced) web interface on Mastodon?

— Stefan Bohacek (@stefan@stefanbohacek.online) 2023-04-20T13:58:55.317Z

Do you blog?

— Stefan Bohacek (@stefan@stefanbohacek.online) 2023-03-28T17:30:48.571Z


Do you make anything, outside of your job?

(Share more about your hobbies in the comments, and feel free to include links!)

— Stefan Bohacek (@stefan@stefanbohacek.online) 2023-06-18T13:58:58.124Z

We’ve pretty much moved on from Twitter.


Poll: Why are you still posting to Twitter?

— Ged Maheux (@gedeonm@mastodon.social) 2023-03-18T21:59:04.346Z

And we’re better off for it.


Relative to other social media sites, how does being in the fediverse impact your mental health?

— Stefan Bohacek (@stefan@stefanbohacek.online) 2023-04-02T16:19:58.846Z

What is the tone of your most popular fediverse post?

— Stefan Bohacek (@stefan@stefanbohacek.online) 2023-08-28T23:43:20.983Z

We really do take care of our mental health.

How much time do you spend browsing the fediverse per day, on average?

— Stefan Bohacek (@stefan@stefanbohacek.online) 2023-04-19T11:57:05.326Z

Which of these notifications do you have enabled?

— Stefan Bohacek (@stefan@stefanbohacek.online) 2023-04-02T14:02:12.635Z

As a follow-up, do you enable all, some, or none of the notifications?

— Stefan Bohacek (@stefan@stefanbohacek.online) 2023-04-02T15:59:53.094Z

We like to keep things intimate.


What's the best number of users for a Mastodon instance?

— Evan Prodromou (@evan@cosocial.ca) 2023-04-08T13:24:20.537Z

We are a generous bunch.

Have you ever made a donation to a fediverse server admin?

— Stefan Bohacek (@stefan@stefanbohacek.online) 2023-05-03T19:32:48.000Z

Would you ever crowdfund a Fediverse server?

If so, tell me why.

— Chris Trottier (@atomicpoet@mastodon.social) 2023-03-06T23:45:24.656Z

Do you donate to the Mastodon project and/or your instance?

One time or recurring payments both qualify as donations.

— Paolo Amoroso (@amoroso@fosstodon.org) 2023-04-23T15:37:08.555Z

Question for instance admins. Is your server financially sustainable?

I'd say this applies to people running their personal instances.

— Stefan Bohacek (@stefan@stefanbohacek.online) 2023-05-22T15:39:21.724Z

Making everyone feel invited

Accessibility is super important to folks here. Mastodon, which I’m the most familiar with, makes it super easy to add captions to your images, and you can configure some mobile apps to not even let you post an image unless you describe it so that folks who rely on assistive technologies can enjoy them with the rest of us.

So, what do you do when you see a good post on here with an image that doesn't have a description/alt text?

— Stefan Bohacek (@stefan@stefanbohacek.online) 2023-02-06T14:17:27.224Z

When you write a description (alt text) for your images, do you typically:

— Stefan Bohacek (@stefan@stefanbohacek.online) 2023-04-21T14:17:58.534Z

Do you caption images when sharing them in 1-on-1 messages?

— Stefan Bohacek (@stefan@stefanbohacek.online) 2023-05-24T14:15:57.019Z

Question for folks, what kind of image descriptions do you prefer?

— Stefan Bohacek (@stefan@stefanbohacek.online) 2023-08-07T13:51:27.190Z

How we talk about it

Do you post in the fediverse, or on it? And is it the Fediverse, or just a casual fediverse?

What do you prefer: Fediverse or fediverse?

You might say it's a proper noun that refers to this specific community that we’re all using to communicate, and thus it should be capitalized. Or maybe you think that this argument is technically true for ‘internet’, and we all mostly don’t bother with capitalization for that either.

— Fediverse Report (@fediversereport@mastodon.social) 2023-02-28T15:27:26.706Z

Which would you say?

cc @stefan

— Mignon Fogarty (@grammargirl@zirk.us) 2023-03-02T03:04:26.882Z

Do you translate the word "fediverse" in your language?

— Stefan Bohacek (@stefan@stefanbohacek.online) 2023-05-26T16:19:07.430Z

If you’ve been on Mastodon since the early days, you will remember that posts used to be called “toots”. While the term is no longer officially in use, it has stuck for some.


Do you still refer to posts on Mastodon as "toots"?

— Stefan Bohacek (@stefan@stefanbohacek.online) 2023-04-16T16:12:38.852Z

We are the algorithm

There is no recommendation engine in the fediverse (although there are plenty tools that help you discover what’s popular), so things like #hashtags and self-boosting (reposting your own posts) are pretty normal here. And likes, or favorites, serve a different purpose.

Where do you put hashtags in your posts?

— Stefan Bohacek (@stefan@stefanbohacek.online) 2023-04-17T11:24:29.675Z

Why do you favorite a post?

— Stefan Bohacek (@stefan@stefanbohacek.online) 2023-04-24T17:59:24.659Z

How many pinned posts do you have on your profile?

— Stefan Bohacek (@stefan@stefanbohacek.online) 2023-05-02T18:31:26.120Z

How many hashtags do you follow? Feel free to share which ones in the comments!

— Stefan Bohacek (@stefan@stefanbohacek.online) 2023-08-14T20:54:06.604Z

Although not everyone is a fan of seeing the same post more than once. (Older version of the poll.)


How often should you boost your own posts?

— Stefan Bohacek (@stefan@stefanbohacek.online) 2023-07-22T15:10:10.145Z

But also, not many use content discovery tools, so you might want to time your most important posts for most engagement™.


Do you use any third party content discovery tools for Mastodon/fediverse?

A few examples:


Feel free to share more in the comments!

— Stefan Bohacek (@stefan@stefanbohacek.online) 2023-03-06T17:33:40.112Z

You have a lot of control over your data in the fediverse. Some platforms let you also delete it automatically after a certain period of time.


Do you have your posts set to automatically delete after a certain time period?


— Stefan Bohacek (@stefan@stefanbohacek.online) 2023-05-14T14:40:15.885Z

And if you do, what is the main reason?

— Stefan Bohacek (@stefan@stefanbohacek.online) 2023-05-14T14:42:34.901Z

Much like on Twitter, most platforms also let you make lists. On Mastodon in particular, you can only make private lists with accounts you follow.


Do you organize the accounts you follow into lists?

— Stefan Bohacek (@stefan@stefanbohacek.online) 2023-05-25T14:14:19.579Z

Before we joined the fediverse, we had to make a choice about which community is best for us. Here’s how we went about it.

How did you pick your first fediverse server that you joined?

Based on…

— Stefan Bohacek (@stefan@stefanbohacek.online) 2023-05-15T13:14:10.533Z

And if size mattered to you, did you join a large community, or a small one?

— Stefan Bohacek (@stefan@stefanbohacek.online) 2023-05-15T13:15:41.608Z

Are you still on the same server you signed up for when you joined the fediverse?

— Stefan Bohacek (@stefan@stefanbohacek.online) 2023-05-15T13:20:44.232Z

Does the name of the fediverse server you're currently on reflect any part of your personality or identity?

— Stefan Bohacek (@stefan@stefanbohacek.online) 2023-05-16T13:45:36.207Z

It is not unusual for a social network to have its share of automated accounts on it, but in the case of the fediverse, these are typically creative and useful bots that are quite popular across the network.

Do you like ?

— My friends call me Sam (@NeadReport@social.vivaldi.net) 2023-05-17T19:55:19.243Z

How many bots do you follow? (Including your own.)

— Stefan Bohacek (@stefan@stefanbohacek.online) 2023-05-19T00:08:38.888Z

How do you usually find new bots to follow?

— botwiki.org (@botwiki@mastodon.social) 2023-05-16T13:44:52.261Z

And more

Here’s a few sites and folks to check out and follow to learn more about the fediverse.

A few good tools for content discovery, mostly for Mastodon.

I hear some of you asking, will the fediverse win? Will Bluesky win? Well, I have some good news for you.


— Stefan Bohacek (@stefan@stefanbohacek.online) 2023-05-10T19:38:04.052Z

What's one unique thing about the fediverse server/community you're a member of?

— Stefan Bohacek (@stefan@stefanbohacek.online) 2023-05-02T14:09:24.465Z

As we slowly watch cryptocurrency and NFTs get replaced by the next big fad in venture capitalism, AI, I'd just like to thank everyone fighting for a free and open internet.

— Stefan Bohacek (@stefan@stefanbohacek.online) 2023-02-22T15:10:41.496Z

More from the blog

A tinted screenshot showing domains where I have followers and follow accounts blocked by one of Mastodon's instances.
A tinted, zoomed in screenshot of a JSON object showing server information about a Mastodon instance.
A tinted screenshot of an unlabeled scatter chart, with most data points grouped on the right.

📖 Visit blog