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Are personal Mastodon instances bad for discovery?

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Are personal Mastodon instances bad for discovery?

Michael asks: How do you #federate a tiny #Mastodon instance?

Michael asks: How do you #federate a tiny #mastodon instance?

My first idea to address this was to create a follow account on my instance. I used that account to follow the admin accounts on the 15 biggest instances. If my understanding of federation is correct, then that means my instance is now aware of those instances and those instances are aware of mine. That is, my instance is now federated with all those instances. I’m skeptical that my understanding is correct though as when I look at my federated timeline, I’d expect it to be much busier than it actually is if I’m seeing activity from the 15 largest Mastodon instances.

By Michael Harley. Originally published 27/11/22.


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Hi, I’m new to Mastodon and the Fediverse, and have been trying to understand it better. My current understanding is that the Federated Timeline has a list of all the posts of users on other mastodon servers that your instance knows about. Since you’ve only followed the admins of the biggest 15 servers, your Federated Timeline will only show post from those users, not everyone on their servers.

Think about it, the amount of data for every single post on is huge. Having that replicated to every instance would use up so much bandwidth. So instances only get posts from people that that instance’s users have followed.

Hope this helps.


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  • Emma Kelley

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Paul Bartlett

@leonp Hoping any replies get re-posted, as they seem to be via email-only unless I missed something.