A close-up photo of a mobile phone showing the app icon of Mastodon and just out of frame, the icon for Twitter.

Elon Musk buys Twitter, people move to Mastodon.

The title says a lot. The world’s richest man, Elon Musk, bought the social networking website Twitter at the end of October 2022 (BBC News). As a result of that purchase, a lot of users were unhappy and fled.

The alternative? Mastodon. It’s not run by one single user, but anyone can install the software on their own server. Or, if you’re not that technical, you can just join one of the many servers that already exist.

Because there are many servers, this means the Mastodon network can’t ever be bought up by one individual. This also makes it really tough to tell exactly how many people have given up Twitter for Mastodon – but the answer is seemingly a lot as some of the larger Mastodon sites struggled with the new influx of users, and others reporting massive percentage increases (The Guardian).

A logo that riffs on the Oslo Kommune logo, but features a mastodon instead of St Hallvard.
The logo for the Mastodon instance oslo.town

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you will know that I run a version of Mastodon called oslo.town. During October, the site added 100 new people. During the first five days of November, the site grew by an additional 170 people, bringing the total number of people to 680.

A journalist, writing for the Norwegian technology website kode24.no reached out and asked some questions about the growth in traffic and subsequently featured me in an article on their website (This article is in Norwegian).

If you live in the Greater Oslo area, or are interested in Oslo for another reason, feel free to sign up to oslo.town and create your first Mastodon account! If you already have a Mastodon account, you can follow me: @matt@oslo.town

And that’s pretty much the update for this blog post. However, people have a lot of questions about Mastodon, so I’m going to continue below with a Frequently Asked Questions. If you are interested, keep reading…

Frequently Asked Questions (about Mastodon)

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Is Mastodon the same as Twitter?

Mastodon is similar to Twitter, but they are not quite the same. Many of the basic features are the same; you have a Home timeline which shows posts from people you follow, you can follow people and they can follow you back, you can write new posts and share others’ posts to your followers, you can create polls, etc.

However, Mastodon and Twitter work slightly differently and so it can be confusing to new people who sign up to Mastodon.

Where should I sign up for a Mastodon account?

If you are unsure of where you should first sign up for your Mastodon account, you can go to this big list of Mastodon sites and choose a website that you think sounds funny, or similar to your interests.

You’re an artist? mastodon.art
An avid reader? bookwor.ms
Climate activist? climatejustice.social

There’s a Mastodon for Star Trek fans, people who like ska music, for people who wear monocles. I’m sure you can find your niche somewhere.

If you decide later that you don’t like where you signed up, you can always ‘Migrate your account’ to a new home, taking all your followers with you.

What is my Mastodon username?

Your Mastodon username will be the name you picked + the name of the site you signed up on. For example, I signed up as @matt at oslo.town.

My username is therefore @matt@oslo.town.

This works similar to email. If you sign up on Outlook, your email address is probably username@outlook.com but if you signed up at Yahoo! it would be username@yahoo.com.

Do I need to sign up to other servers to read messages on them?

No. You only need one account on one server. From there, you can follow anyone you want – regardless of which server they use – if you know their username.

Simply type their username into the search box on your Mastodon app or website and they should show up. OR, you could visit their page and hit the big ‘Follow’ button and follow the instructions.

How do I find people to follow on Mastodon?

You can find people to follow on Mastodon in a few different ways.

Using and searching for #hashtags.
This will allow you to see posts around particular topics or live events. As a starting point, you can try searching for #introduction and will see posts by new people to Mastodon introducing themselves.

Do you know their username?
If you know a person’s username, you can put it into the search box and it will show up. If the Mastodon server you use has never ‘met’ this person before, it could take a few seconds before they show up.

‘Explore’ special interest Mastodon servers.
Every one of the many Mastodon servers has an Explore page. This is usually at server.name/explore. For example, visiting oslo.town/explore will show you people on oslo.town and each profile will have a ‘Follow’ button.

Is there a Mastodon app for Android / iPhone?

There is a Mastodon app for Android and a Mastodon app for iPhone. These are the two official apps by the Mastodon team. However, there are many more Mastodon apps available.

The official apps are a good starting point, but I also like Tooot for iPhone and have heard good things about Tusky for Android.

Okay, enough.

Thank you for reading this far. If you made it here and still don’t have a Mastodon account, you probably should just sign up now as you clearly like to waste time on the internet.



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