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Ever since Elon Musk officially took the helm of Twitter, the internet has been chattering about Mastodon, a decentralized and open-source social network where some high-profile Twitter emigrants like Kathy GriffinStephen Fry and Rex Chapman have already landed.

One of the biggest obstacles to mass adoption for Mastodon is its less-than-user-friendly registration. Once you get past the initial learning curve, however, the sign-up process isn’t more difficult than starting a new email account.

Here’s the step-by-step process for creating a Mastodon account and getting started on the growing social network. For more about social media, get the latest on the Twitter–Elon Musk saga and read why Facebook is laying off 11,000 employees.

How do I join Mastodon?

Unlike Twitter, Mastodon is not a single website: It’s a decentralized network made up of thousands of websites talking to each other. To start posting on Mastodon and following other people, you’ll need to create an account on a specific Mastodon server or “instance.”

To start following people and posting messages on the Mastodon social service, you begin by joining one specific instance. Each server (if open for registration) has its own sign-up process, but the majority only require a username, email address and password.

Once you’ve joined a Mastodon instance, however, you’re not limited to just following people and posts on that server. You can follow, favorite, reblog or reply to any Mastodon account that’s connected to the larger Fediverse.

How do I find a Mastodon server to join?

The Mastodon organization provides a partial list of servers — about 100 — on its site. You can filter the servers by geographic region, language, topic registration process and whether or not they’re hosted by individuals or organizations. All servers on the official Mastodon site have agreed to follow the best practices of the Mastodon Server Covenant.

If you’re just testing Mastodon out, you might consider one of the official server instances run by the Mastodon organization. While the first and biggest — — has temporarily paused registration, a newer server is still open and picking up the slack.

If you want a bigger list of Mastodon servers to review, your best bet right now is, which offers a sortable list of about 4,000 Mastodon servers, as well as a wizard-style app that helps you choose a server that fits your requirements.

The site provides useful data about each Mastodon instance, including number of users, number of “statuses” (posts), server uptime percentage and which versions of the Mastodon software it is running. It also lets you filter servers by language; minimum/maximum number of users; and prohibited/allowed content such as nudity, pornography, advertisements or entertainment spoilers. You can also click any instance name —, for example, a server devoted to open-source software — to read a brief description of the community.

Once you’re actually on a Mastodon site, you can learn about the instance from its “about” page, browse community users on its “explore” page or view recent posts on its “public” page.

You should read the server rules for each Mastodon instance to make sure it’s a good fit, but don’t worry too much about which server you join. You can follow users on other servers and join and leave as many Mastodon servers as you’d like. If you do move around, Mastodon allows you to migrate all of your followers and lists with you.

How do I register for a Mastodon server?

Each Mastodon instance will have its own sign-up process, but the vast majority are the same. You provide a username, email address and password, check the box agreeing to the terms of service and server rules, and click “Sign Up.”

You’ll then see a notification asking you to check your email for a verification message. Click the “Verify email address” in that email message, and you’re done. You can now start posting on your Mastodon server and follow anyone in the Fediverse.

Because of the increased traffic to Mastodon servers since Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter, some of those registration emails are taking a long time to show up or never arriving at all.

When I registered for the server last week, I got a confirmation email in about 15 minutes. I’m still waiting for a verification email from for a registration attempt three days ago. Be patient, and try a new server if you can’t complete the registration for another.

After you verify your email address, your Mastodon account should be up and running. You can start posting or following people, though it will take a while to build up your feed. Web tools like Debirdify and FediFinder can jump-start the process by helping you find your Twitter contacts on Mastodon.

While most Mastodon servers offer the quick registration process described above, other, more private instances will ask that you apply for an invitation to the instance, which requires a manual review and longer registration time.


Butler, Peter. How to Join Mastodon, the Open-Source Twitter Replacement. 10 Nov, 2022,