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Best Mastodon tips and tricks for maximizing your experience on the Twitter alternative

Discover how to get started on Mastodon, a decentralized social media platform that offers a simpler and more thoughtful alternative to Twitter.

Twitter, once a popular social media platform, has been facing numerous issues lately, leading to dissatisfaction among its users. However, there is an alternative microblogging platform called Mastodon that offers a better experience. In this article, we will guide you on how to get started with Mastodon and explore its unique features.

Firstly, it is important to note that Mastodon is different from Twitter, although some users assume they are the same. While Mastodon may seem complex at first, it is actually simpler to use once you understand its nuances. One key difference is the emphasis on discussion rather than noise. So, if you're tired of the chaos on Twitter, Mastodon might be the solution for you.

To begin, you need to select a server when signing up for Mastodon. There are various servers available, ranging from general-interest ones to niche topic-oriented ones. It is advisable to review the admin policies of each server and see how they handle feedback and if they routinely blacklist users. The good news is that you can always switch servers while retaining your social connections.

Once you have chosen a server, it's time to introduce yourself. Make sure to add an avatar and a bio to your profile, as Mastodon users are wary of blank profiles. In the settings, you can use metadata to add a links table to your appearance. Additionally, to make yourself more discoverable, write a post with the #introduction hashtag.

Finding friends on Mastodon is easy. The platform has three main feeds: federated, local, and home. The federated feed shows everything, the local feed shows posts from your server, and the home feed shows posts from people you follow. You can use the Explore feed to search for specific people already on Mastodon. If you want to find the Mastodon handles of your Twitter follows, simply search for "Mastodon" on Twitter and filter the results to show people you follow.

Supporting the Mastodon system is crucial. Unlike Twitter, which relied on ad revenue, Mastodon is ad-free but requires financial support to operate. If you use Mastodon frequently, consider donating to your server's upkeep. Most servers have Patreons or similar platforms for donations.

To browse through posts on Mastodon, you can use the Posts tab under Explore. This tab shows posts that are gaining traction, similar to Twitter's "For you" section. While you cannot search for keywords, you can explore news and trending hashtags. Hashtags are also useful for finding topics of interest.

Following hashtags on Mastodon is easy. When you find a hashtag feed you like, simply tap or click the "+" icon to follow it. In Mastodon itself, saved hashtags can be found under the "⋮" menu or on your profile. Third-party clients may display them more prominently, such as in the main timeline view.

If you want to keep track of a Mastodon profile outside of the platform, you can view it in a browser, copy the URL, and add it to your RSS client. This way, the account's posts will always be available and won't get lost in your scrolling feed.

Boosting posts on Mastodon is similar to retweeting on Twitter. Unlike favoriting a post, which is just an acknowledgment to the person who posted it, boosting helps a post gain more visibility and traction.

Mastodon allows you to choose your audience when posting. By default, posts are public, but you can change this in the settings. You can also make individual posts "unlisted," meaning they won't show up on public timelines, or make them visible only to your followers. Direct messages are also available for sending posts to specific users. However, it's important to note that these messages are not end-to-end encrypted, and server admins may have access to them.

If you want to block or filter content on Mastodon, you can do so from the profile pages. The "⋮" menu offers options to mute or block an individual or their entire server. Additionally, you can use the Filters feature in the settings to hide or remove posts featuring specific words or phrases from your timelines.

To enhance the security of your Mastodon account, it is advisable to turn on two-factor authentication (2FA). In the Account section of the settings, you can find the option to enable 2FA. While Mastodon is not a major target for malicious individuals, it's always better to protect your account.

Content warnings (CWs) are an integral part of Mastodon's DNA. You can use CWs to shield posts that might trigger users or hide their content until actively tapped or clicked. It's a considerate feature that promotes a more inclusive and respectful environment.

For those missing TweetDeck, Mastodon offers a similar layout. In the Preferences section of the settings, you can enable the advanced web interface, which provides a familiar multi-column view. This feature works particularly well on iPad and can be saved to your home screen as a progressive web app.

Mastodon offers a variety of client apps for a customized experience. Tusker, for example, is known for its efficiency and ease of navigation. It allows you to reach any section of the app with just two taps. If you prefer a visually appealing interface, Elk is a progressive web app that resembles Twitter but without its drawbacks. And if you want even more customization options, consider using Fedilab, where nearly everything can be tailored to your preferences.

In conclusion, Mastodon provides a refreshing alternative to Twitter, offering a simpler and more discussion-oriented microblogging experience. By selecting a server, introducing yourself, finding friends, and supporting the system, you can make the most out of Mastodon. Remember to explore the various feeds, follow hashtags, and customize your privacy settings. With Mastodon, you can enjoy a social media platform that prioritizes meaningful conversations and user satisfaction.

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