10 Jun 2023 ~ 3 min read

Notes on Mastodon for Newcomers

Tagged with
Alt text missing for Notes on Mastodon for Newcomers. Please reach out and let me know.

Photo by John Benitez on Unsplash

From one newb to another

If you are part of the recent influx of new Tooters(?), welcome! I assume you know what Mastodon and the Fediverse is, so I won’t bother explaining in this post. What I’ll do instead is outline some things I learnt that helped me, and add some resources that might help you get comfortable on your new elephant.

I joined Mastodon in November 2022. For some reason I think I joined earlier, but this is when I created @ademagic@indieweb.social. My main motivation wasn’t the fediverse, or new tech, or even the twitter acquisition… I wanted more signal and less noise, and felt that more control over my feed could give me that.

You can find a stream-of-consciousness-esque journal/thread of my experience with Mastodon… over on Twitter.

Useful Resources

Below are some things that have helped me make my Mastodon experience more useful.

The Newcomer’s Guide to Mastodon from a Crusty Old-Timer

This inspired me to write this. It’s quite a long read and full of good info, but it taught me some new things that I thought I’d distil into a post. If you came to this post hoping to know what Mastodon/The Fediverse is, this’ll tell you that too.


A handy mapper of your “follows’ follows”, useful for suggesting accounts you may like. This was a massive difference to my feed. What I did before was look for useful servers and trawl them. Granted, the more people you follow the more useful it gets, so if you’re on/near 0, you can find some servers on Mastodon’s Instance Picker.

How I verified myself on Mastodon

Shameless self plug. There are plenty of instructions about on how verification on Mastodon works, but my experience varied a little so I wrote a post about it.

Things I learned that you might find useful

Not really resources, but facts that made pieces in my head click together.

This isn’t twitter

Obvious now, sure. Despite some similarities, once you figure out that you should not be expecting a feed to come to you fully curated by an algorithm, you’ll be better off.

You have to maintain and constantly prune your feed to keep it useful. Finding new accounts, servers and hashtags to follow, and subsequently which to remove and which words to mute, are part of your new job as your own content algorithm. It’s worth it, I promise.

Basic vs Advanced UI

Most Mastodon UI looks a lot like Twitter. Some servers (my own included) have even implemented the “BirdUI” which could almost be a direct clone. This is ok, and helps with the transition over.

You can decide between this UI and the “Advanced” UI, which surfaces your notifications and feeds all on one screen. Not quite my jam, but if you’re comfortable in TweetDeck, you may like it. You can set this up by going to Preferences > Appearance > Enable Advanced Web Interface.

Private Notes

You can add notes (that only you can see) to the page of any account. This could be useful if you want to remember how you found certain accounts, or if you want to summarize what they typically toot about, or anything else really. Uncomfortable in theory, handy in practice.

It’s a freeform textbox on any account you find on Mastodon. You can find the “Note” section on the profile page, right below their display picture.

Headshot of Miko

Thanks for reading. I'm Miko, a UI Developer from Sydney, Australia.
You can follow me on Mastodon or Twitter, see my code on GitHub, or connect with me on LinkedIn.