PSA: Choose your Mastodon instance

PSA: Choose your Mastodon instance

While I've written several guides and posts on Mastodon and the fediverse, the first step of joining is always the biggest obstacle: Choosing an instance to join. Seeing a demand for it, I put together this brief overview of 10 instances. You will often hear that there are "thousands of options available" and this is of course much too overwhelming for most people.

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Don't know what Mastodon even is? Start over here.

The intent of this short list is to:

  • Help steer you away from the biggest instances. Not only are the biggest instances contradictory to the idea of decentralisation, they also amass many users in short periods of time which can make them slow and unresponsive. It's also not uncommon for the biggest instances to be blocked by smaller instances, as the moderation of harmful content is not regarded as effective on high-population servers as one would wish.
  • Get you started. You will understand types of differences between instances, and perhaps after this feel more confident diving into the bigger directories of instances. Or you choose one from this list list and dive right in, which perhaps is the most valuable learning experience you can have. As a reminder: you can always move to another instance later, keeping your followers and follows. Your  posts will however not carry over, though you can of course download them.

10 Mastodon instances to consider

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Everyone on all instances can follow everyone else on all other instances. Unless there are blocks and suspensions preventing those connections. Those blocks most often apply to instances and people engaged in hate speech.

Each link below points to the about-page of that instance.

1) c.im (35K members)

"C.IM is a general, mainly English-speaking Mastodon community.

We fully subscribe to and comply with the Mastodon Server Covenant. A number of instance blocks are implemented to comply with the principles of the covenant."

2) fediscience (6K members)

"Fediscience is a social network for publishing scientists. Everyone is welcome to join from PhD student to professor, as well as researchers from outside of academia. There will be a lot of science talk on this server, but there is no need to only talk science."

3) fosstodon.org (23K members)

"Fosstodon is an English speaking Mastodon instance that is open to anyone who is interested in technology; particularly free & open source software."

4) hachyderm.io (13.3K members)

"Here we are trying to build a curated network of respectful professionals in the tech industry around the globe. Welcome anyone who follows the rules and needs a safe home or fresh start. We are hackers, professionals, enthusiasts, and are passionate about life, respect, and digital freedom. We believe in peace and balance. Safe space. Tech Industry. Economics. OSINT. News. Rust. Linux. Aurae. Kubernetes. Go. C. Infrastructure. Security. LGTBQIA+. Pets. Hobbies."

5) hci.social (1.6K members)

"This Mastodon instance is for the community of human-computer interaction researchers and practitioners. Mastodon is like Twitter but better because it’s open-source, decentralized, and federated. This instance is hosted on Google Cloud Platform servers"

6) indieweb.social (5.4K members)

"INDIEWEB.SOCIAL is an instance focused on the evolution of #Openeb, #Indieweb, #Fediverse, #Mastodon, #Humanetech and #Calm technologies."

7) ioc.exchange (13K members)

"We are a community of InfoSec professionals, hackers and tinkerers. Feel free to join and hang out!"

8) mindly.social (22K members)

"Mindly.Social aims to be a friendly, non-topic specific community focused on spreading positivity, expanding your knowledge and experiences, and just being plain old happy on social media for once.

We do not limit registration based on language or location, but keep in mind this instance is hosted in the US on the east coast so your experience may vary."

9) techhub.social (30K members)

"Techhub.social is a mastodon instance for passionate technologists."

10) universeodon.com

"Universeodon.com is for those who have a little curiosity. The kind of person who enjoys edutainment, reads books, watches science shows and loves to connect with people who view the universe through wonder. There are no forced topics here, but I hope you will find scientists, engineers, philosophers, physicists, and connect with people who share similar interests & passions."

What now?

Sign up on one of these instances or talk to your friends about evaluating more instances that they may know about. And maybe you'll feel comfortable browsing through the big directory on joinmastodon.org.

And don't worry. Choosing an instance doesn't mean you can't move to another one later on.

Other paths

You also still have the option of paying for managed hosting. You can host an instance for yourself, for family members or a group of like-minded individuals. You don't have to accept external signups on it, and you can still talk to everyone in the fediverse.

The affordable service I always recommend for this is masto.host.

Learning more

If you need some more guides and tips on using Mastodon, I've written several posts now tagged with the fediverse label. Feel free to explore them and the many resources I link to from these posts.

Wishing you many happy adventures in the fediverse.


P:S: My username is @axbom@social.xbm.se if you want to give me a follow. If you search for that username in the Mastodon search box you'll find me.


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