The Fediverse: the distributed social network
There’s so many guides out there on Mastodon. So, here’s my take on the Fediverse.
The Fediverse is a distributed social network. The easiest way to understand this is to think of it like email: you might use different email apps like Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, or something else. But you can still send emails to each other no matter which one you use. Now imagine you can do the same thing with Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and more. You can be on Twitter, but you can still like and retweet someone’s Instagram picture. You might be on Instagram, but you can reply to the comment someone on Twitter made.
So the “Twitters” of this network are:
- Mastodon: the most Twitter-like app.
- Pleroma: a little less popular, but has some additional and differing features.
- Misskey: the least used, but has a lot of novelty features.
And for the other apps:
- Pixelfed: like Instagram.
- PeerTube: like YouTube.
- WriteFreely: minimalist blogging. Clean and sleek look.
- Plume: also minimalist blogging. Younger than WriteFreely.
All these apps connect to each other: you can follow/interact with any account on any of these apps from any app you choose. So, what else is there to know?
Controlled by the people: Anyone can host their own servers (called “instances”). That means people control their own stuff they post (posts, pictures, videos), not by a social media corporation. What else does that mean?
Bonus for activists: If you own your own instance, your posts can’t be deleted from the entire network by one social media corporation. You can’t be banned from the entire network by one social media corporation. You can’t be easily censored whereas in TikTok, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, people often do.
Free from algorithms: You might be tired of a computer controlling the posts or videos that you see. You might be seeing the same, old type of things because of an algorithm. Or maybe you’re missing someone’s posts because they’re being buried by others and the algorithm decided it. On the Fediverse, posts are only ordered chronologically. So you can easily discover new and fresh things, people, and ideas. And people’s posts won’t get buried from sight.
Healthier online life: The Fediverse has options to hide statistics like follower/repost/like/reply counts from you or even from other people. There are also other options to curtail addictive social media use.
Variety with looks: You’re not bound to one look of whatever Fediverse app you choose. There are other looks you can pick, called “clients” or “front-ends.” Sometimes, these looks give you additional features not normally in the app!
Take a look inside
Two profiles dedicated to recommending users to follow:
- Mastodon•ART 🎨 Curator shares posts from artists.
- FediFollows recommends free/interesting software accounts and interesting people of a variety of interests.
Manually curated lists:
- Trunk is a manually managed list of people on the Fediverse who volunteer to be listed under categories of interests.
- fediverse.party has an extensive list of instances with concise descriptions. If you have trouble figuring out which instance to join the Fediverse through, this is a great place to start.
- Mastodon instances is an extensive list of Mastodon instances. Some have short descriptions written by the instance’s owner.
This page condenses how the Fediverse works. It aims to be a first-look introduction to the Fediverse, friendly to both the non-techy and techy. If you want to learn about it more in-depth, you can check out these resources:
- Getting Started With Mastodon: the beginner’s guide to Mastodon.
- Resources for Mastodon newbies: a collection of guides about Mastodon specifically. Contains guides for both non-techy and techy people.
- fediverse.party: About Fediverse: an introductory guide to the Fediverse for slightly more techy people. Contains pages describing each software that is part of it.
- Awesome Fediverse: a guide to the Fediverse for the more techy people.
- fediverse.space: visualize the network of instances.
- Pleroma User’s Guide [archive]: Pleroma guide for techy people.
- Mastodon & Fediverse for Beginners: Mastodon and Fediverse guide for slightly more techy people.
Get your own instance
- Masto.host: a paid service that hosts your Mastodon instance for you. No techy knowledge needed.
- CofeSpace: a free service that hosts your Pleroma instance for you. No techy knowledge needed.
- Run Pleroma on RaspberryPi: how to self-host a Pleroma instance on RaspberryPi. For techy people.
- Mastovue: view an instance’s local timeline.
- fedimojis.feuerfuchs.dev: display or download an instance’s emojis.
- forget: Mastodon automatic post deletion service.
- yeetdelete: Pleroma post deleting script inspired by forget.
- Pleroma Theme Repository: download Pleroma themes.
- RSS to ActivityPub Converter: turn any RSS feed into a profile you can follow on the Fediverse (allows you to follow Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and Tumblr accounts).
- Chris Were’s recommended Fediverse tools in the “Mastodon and fediverse tools” section of the page, there’s more Fediverse tools that I haven’t personally tried.
Related: Fediverse users I follow.