Getting Started on Mastodon

(Step 4 of 5)

Mastodon Explainer

How Mastodon is different

Using Mastodon is easier once you learn one big difference from other social media platforms: You can access it on thousands of different websites.

This is Twitter.

Lots of people use it to talk to one another! It’s one big website, and the people who run it spend a lot of money to keep it going. Twitter uses advertising to pay the bills.

A single circle containing the Twitter logo, surrounded by lots of stick figures

Lately a few things have gone wrong with Twitter. 

Some people have moved to a different social network that’s pretty different than the ones you’re used to.

This is Mastodon.

Instead of one big website, it’s made up of lots of smaller websites, connected through a bunch of magic internet pipes.

A bunch of purple circles with a Mastodon logo inside. All the circles are connected together with purple pipes. Each circle has one or more stick figures standing around it.

Those magic internet pipes allow people on each Mastodon website to interact with people on all the other Mastodon websites.

Nobody owns Mastodon. Each website is run independently of the others, but they all mostly get along.

Most Mastodon websites rely on donations to pay the bills. That way, no single person or entity owns Mastodon.

The biggest difference between Mastodon and big social platforms is that you can access Mastodon via different websites (aka “servers” or “instances”).

If you want to sign up for Twitter, you just type in its website address.

Web browser address bar with twitter.com written inside

For Mastodon, though, there isn’t one single website; there are thousands.

No matter which one you join, you can talk with everyone on all the others, and you can switch whenever you want.

  • Web browser address bar with kpop.social written inside

    for K-pop fans

  • Web browser address bar with bologna.one written inside

    for people from Bologna, Italy

  • Web browser address bar with tech.lgbt written inside

    for LGBT people in tech

  • Web browser address bar with mas.to written inside

    a catch-all Mastodon website

These are just a few — there are thousands of Mastodon servers.

Once you’ve signed up, you can follow people from all the other Mastodon servers.

Mastodon gives you access to millions of peoples’ thoughts, just like Twitter.

A snapshot of what Mastodon looks like when visiting kpop.social

That’s it!

Adapted with gratitude from a great essay by Matt Brown.

Go to Step 5: Get a Great App