Come Join Me On Mastodon, Folks

A how-to guide for joining the rapidly-growing social network

Clive Thompson
9 min readNov 6, 2022



Now that Elon Musk is thrashing around inside the Twitter headquarters, many Twitter users are joining Mastodon — jussssst in case Twitter goes down in a flaming wreck.

I’m on Mastodon myself: I’m! I’ve been using it on and off for several years, and much more intensely in the last week.

Are you interested, too?

Read on and I’ll explain how you can try Mastodon yourself. Here’s my quick primer on The Most Simple Basics of Mastodon …

1) There’s no one big “central” place. Mastodon is lots of little places

Twitter has only one big server, which everyone logs into.

Mastodon doesn’t work that way. The way it works is you join a Mastodon server, and get an address at that server. Then you can follow people at nearly any other Mastodon instance. You and your followers don’t need to be on the same place!

When you see my Mastodon address, I signed up at, a Mastodon server run by a Twitter friend of mine. On that server, I picked the name @clive. So my full address becomes

A screenshot of the “find servers” page from

2) You can join an existing server, or run your own

How do you join a Mastodon server? There’s a big list of them here. You can search for one that’s focused around a hobby, or your industry, or a common obsession, or one run by people you know. Or you could host your own Mastodon server for a few dollars a month, point-and-click easy.

Check the rules for a server before you join. The person running the server gets to set whatever rules for behavior they want! If you like ’em, join. If you don’t, find another place. Some servers require you to apply, by explaining who you are and why you want to join.

(By the way, Mastodon “servers” are sometimes called Mastodon “instances”. The two words…



Clive Thompson

I write 2X a week on tech, science, culture — and how those collide. Writer at NYT mag/Wired; author, “Coders”.