paula

introduction

Pixelfed is a decentral, federated, ad-free & free-software photoblogging Platform. Decentral and federated means that there are multiple servers which are all their own platforms, but they communicate with each other, building a larger social network. Pixelfed is actually part of the Fediverse.

What does Pixelfed feel like?

Pixelfed is a lot like Instagram. You can only post image posts and your profile will display thumbnails of the images you uploaded. You can like other people's images and comment on them.

What are some advantages over Instagram?

  • No tracking. Instagram is owned by Facebook and makes millions gathering your data. Behind Pixelfed there is no big company, but a community of volunteers. The decentral nature of Pixelfed means there is no one big data center with all the information of all users, but multiple servers with little data. You can even have your own server and own all your data yourself.
  • No ads & no algorithm. Pixelfed doesn't choose what you get to see and there are no ads.

How to get an account?

First you need to pick an instance – a server that will be home to your account. There is a list of instances ordered by the number of accounts they host here. If it's important to you to get a lot of followers you best pick an instance with lots of people on it. If you don't speak English there is e.g. Pixelfed.de for German speakers and Pixelfed.uno for Italians. Once you picked an instance, just visit it and click on “register”. You'll need an eMail address and a password.

How to get started with your account

First fill out your profile info. Upload an avatar, add a website if you have one and pick your pronouns. Next post your first image and maybe add some text about you. Who are you? What do you do? What kind of posts can people expect from you? Maybe use the #introduction or #introductions hashtags.

Visit the public timeline which can be found under /timeline/public and start liking some posts and following some people. Posts by people you follow will appear in the home timeline.

Federation

Federation, meaning the discovery of posts and users from other instances doesn't work perfectly for Pixelfed yet. Basically you can be seen and followed by anybody on the fediverse, but following profiles on other Pixelfed instances or elswhere on the Fediverse still has some flaws. To follow you, other people first have to discover your account and you can make that a lot easier by having a Mastodon account, where you share your Pixelfed posts.

Mobile Apps

Pixeldroid is an unofficial Pixelfed client for Android. For now there is no iOS app.

Further reading

Here you'll find a list of interesting links about Pixelfed.

written by Paula on 2021-01-9; last updated 2021-11-25

This article is derived from the social media section of the How to Live Without Google and Other Evil Tech Giants article. I'll concentrate on one super-network called the Fediverse.

Contents

Article 1: Mastodon & the Fediverse for Beginners

Article 2: The Fediverse for the Advanced

Article 3: Ecko, the Mastodon Fork Article 4: Beginners Guide to Pixelfed Article 5: Beginners Guide to WriteFreely (coming soon) Article 6: Beginners Guide to Peertube (coming soon) Article 7: Beginners Guide to ... ... Article x: Beginners Guide to Hosting Your Own Fediverse Instance

Terminology

The Fediverse is a free & federated (decentral but connected) social super-network. To understand how it works, you need to understand these terms (though some of them have different names in different parts of the Fediverse):

  • An identity is basically your profile. It has a unique address and is hosted on one of the many servers, also called instances.
  • An Instance is basically a small social network hosted on one server. Each instance can have it's own set of rules as for what content is allowed. You can also host your own instance. Each instance runs one software.
  • The software used on an instance is essential for the user experience and possibilities. See the list below.
  • Many software projects use the same protocol which enables instances to communicate with each other. Most software projects use Activity Pub. Some projects might not have full federation with other pojects yet. More on that later.
  • The Fediverse (federated universe) is the sum of all identities, on all instances using any software, communicating with any protocol. To be exact the Fediverse doesn't even include just Social Media projects. Any software that federates using one of the protocols is part f the Fediverse.
  • E.g.: My main identity is @PaulaToThePeople@ClimateJustice.social. “ClimateJustice.social” is the instance my identity is on. The software it uses is Mastodon. Thanks to the ActivityPub protocol I can follow identities on other instances that use e.g. Mastodon, GNU Social or PixelFed software.

Moving Instances

In Article 1 I taught you the basics of Mastodon. Now that you have a better understanding and some experience you might want to change instances. The good news: Moving from one Mastodon Instance to another can be done (almost*) without losing any followers or people you follow. The bad news: There is no such thing for the rest of the Fediverse and even if you move from Masto to Masto your posts won't be moved.

Moving from Mastodon to Mastodon

  1. Create the new account you want to move to if you didn't already. It doesn't have to be a new account.
  2. Log in to the account you want to move TO and go to Settings > Account > Moving from a different account.
  3. There enter the handle (@profilename@instance.whatever) of the account you want to move FROM.
  4. Now login with the account you want to move FROM and go to Settings > Account > Move to a different account.
  5. There enter the handle and password of the account you want to move TO and hit “Move Followers”.
  6. Wait for the followers to be moved and you're done.

Some facts:

  • The account you moved from will not be deleted but just deactivated and it will redirect to your new account. You can reactivate the account later on, but the followers will be gone (moved to the other account).
  • You can merge two or more accounts by moving from one to another or by moving both/all to a new one.
  • *Some followers from non-Mastodon instances won't move.

Moving from or to a non-Mastodon instance

Tip: Think hard if you really want to move or just create a second account.

These are just suggestions:

  1. Post on your old account that you will move to prepare your followers.
  2. Create the new account.
  3. Rename your old account to “profilename [old]“, “profilename [moved]” or similar.
  4. Create a post on your old account informing your followers that you moved. Display the handle of the new account prominently in that post and pin the post to your profile.
  5. Also put that message in the profile description of your old account.
  6. With your new account write an #introduction post and include some hashtags you used before.
  7. Wait a few weeks for your old followers to follow you again. In that time you can repeat point 4 one or two times.
  8. Go through your followers lists and manually inform the ones who didn't follow you again.
  9. Repost some of your better posts to your new profile. I did so using the hashtag #RecycledToot.

Software Projects

Microblogging (like Twitter)

Mastodon

main developer: Eugen @Gargron official website: joinmastodon.org official instance: mastodon.social & mastodon.online

Mastodon is the most well known software project in the Fediverse. Many people actually only know Mastodon and don't know that it's part of something bigger. They might even regularly interact with people on other networks and have no idea. It is not only the most well known, but probably also one of the smoothest working software projects in the Fediverse.

How it federates

Mastodon & Mastodon

Between different Mastodon instances you have full federation, which means you can interact with a user on a different instance just as well as with someone on the same instance as you. There are a few exceptions:

  • every instance has to discover other instances first, before the users and their posts are displayed e.g. in the federated timeline.
  • obviously if an instance moderator blocks another instance you can't interact with anyone there.
  • if your instance hasn't discovered another instance yet you might not find a user on that instance just by the name. You'll have to enter the full handle or the url in the search field
  • once you discovered and are following a user you might not see all their previous toots. If you enter the url of an old toot into your search field however you can discover that toot and from then on it will be displayed on the user's profile
  • posts that you and your instance haven't discovered yet will not be shown in the federated timeline and won't show up under hashtags they use
  • to discover more users and instances an instance admin can use activity relays or create a bot account that interacts with other instances automatically to discover them. If you don't want to be discovered by bots put #nobot in your profile description.

Mastodon & Pleroma & Gnu Social & Misskey

These software projects work very similar to Mastodon, so federation works about the same – at least that's my experience from the POV of Mastodon. It might be a bit different from the other side. Pleroma, like some Mastodon forks doesn't have the 500 character limit, but the posts can still be viewed in full in the extended view. In the feed you'll just see the first ~500 characters and a “show more” link, which takes you to the extended view.

Mastodon Forks

There are some Mastodon forks, so software that is based on Mastodon. They usually work about the same, but might have some extra features. I wrote a text on Ecko which is my favorite fork I can highly recommend.

Other microblogging software:

Macroblogging (like Wordpress)

WriteFreely

main developer: write.as official website: writefreely.org official list of instances: writefreely.org/instances

This very article is brought to you powered by WriteFreely.

How it federates

WriteFreely & WriteFreely

Not implemented yet. You can see posts by other users on your instance, but there is no federated feed yet.

WriteFreely & Mastodon

From WriteFreely you can see nothing else in the Fediverse, but from Mastodon you can see WriteFreely posts. They will only be the title of the post + a link though. You reply to the WriteFreely post, but the person on WriteFreely will not be notified and comments won't show up under the post. On Mastodon you can follow a WriteFreely account so all their posts will show up in your home feed.

WriteFreely & other parts of the Fediverse

Afaik most Fediverse software projects that work with ActivityPub will be able to discover WriteFreely users and posts just like Mastodon.

Other macroblogging software:

  • Plume

Social Network (like Facebook)

Friendica

main developer: Mike Macgirvin & Friendica Community official website: friendi.ca official list of public instances: dir.friendica.social

How it federates

In theory Friendica is probably the software project that can federate with the most other projects in the Fediverse, because it uses many protocols. The quality of the federation is sometimes not so great however.

My experience

With its many features Friendica can be a bit complicated. Also in my experience it is a bit slow. Maybe I just haven't been on a well-managed instance yet, or maybe the software just really is slow for now. Also some basic functions like following a user take 3 clicks instead of one and take you to a whole new page. Then you have to go back to continue where you were. This makes following a lot of users really time consuming.

Other Social Networks:

Photoblogging (like Instagram)

Pixelfed

main developer: @dansup official website: pixelfed.org official instance: pixelfed.social

How it federates

From Pixelfed to Pixelfed

You can follow Pixelfed profiles from other instances and they will show up in your home timeline. There is also a federated timeline, but it is not enabled at all Pixelfed instances. The federated timeline includes all posts by profiles people on your instance follow.

From Pixelfed to Mastodon

You can discover Pixelfed users and posts from Mastodon and interact with them just like you are used to with other Mastodon users. You might even think its just a Mastodon user who puts a picture in every one of their posts. On Pixelfed you can upload up to 6 photos in one post (or more depending on the instance) and you can add filters, a location and a license. On Mastodon you will only see 4 photos max, they will not display with the filter and there will be no location info and no license displayed.

More on Pixelfed

I wrote another guide. See here.

Video Hosting (like Youtube)

Peertube

main developer: Framasoft official website: joinpeertube.org official instance: peertube.social

How it federates

From Peertube to Peertube

Full federation as far as I can tell. Again instances first have to discover, or in this case follow, other instances.

From Peertube to Mastodon

From Peertube you can't discover other projects on the Fediverse yet, but from Mastodon you can see Peertube posts. They will appear with the title + the embedded video – no further text or hashtags. You can interact with the post as you are used to and the comments will appear under the video on the Peertube site. From Mastodon you can follow Peertube users and their channels.

A Video on Peertube

Audio Hosting (like Soundcloud)

Funkwhale

main developer: Agate Berriot & Funkwhale Community official website: funkwhale.audio official list of instances: funkwhale.audio/#get-started

How it federates

There is some federation between Funkwhale instances, but not with other projects in the Fediverse yet, as far as I can tell.

Events (like Facebook Events)

Mobilizon

main developer: Framasoft official website: joinmobilizon.org & mobilizon.org official instance: mobilizon.fr

How it federates

There is no federation between Mobilizon instances yet, but you can discover Mobilizon users and events from Mastodon. On Mastodon a Mobilizon event will only be a post with the title of the event and a link to it though. You can interact with the post and comments will be displayed under the event. The goal is that you'll be able to add events from any Mobilizon instance to your calendar, but you'll probably not be able to RSVP from other software projects.

Mobile Apps

  • Fedilab, along with Tusky, is my favorite mobile app for browsing the Fediverse. You can switch between different identities on Mastodon, Pleroma, Friendica, GNU Social, Peertube and Pixelfed instances.
  • Tusky is a bit simpler – both in a positive and a negative sense, but otherwise very similar.
  • AndStatus is another multi-account app, that works with Mastodon, GNU Social, Pump.io and also Twitter.

Links

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fediverse https://fediverse.town/ https://fediverse.party/ https://fediverse.network https://the-federation.info/ https://greenfediverse.frama.io/green-instances/ https://instances.social/ https://search.noc.social/

written by Paula on 2021-01-08. last edit on 2021-11-24.

Die deutsche Version findest du hier.

Contents

Article 1: Mastodon & Fediverse for Beginners

Article 2: Fediverse for the advanced Article 3: Ecko, the Mastodon Fork Article 4: Beginners Guide to Pixelfed Article 5: Beginners Guide to WriteFreely (coming soon) Article 6: Beginners Guide to Peertube (coming soon) Article 7: Beginners Guide to ... ... Article x: Beginners Guide to Hosting Your Own Fediverse Instance

What is Mastodon?

Mastodon is a microblogging platform. Microblogging means you have a blog with short (micro) posts. Usually you'll have a 500 characters limit for your posts. Unlike well known social media platforms, Mastodon is:

  • Free Software
  • not spying on you
  • decentralized
  • part of the Fediverse

Free Software

means software where the source code is freely available and can be used according to the 4 freedoms. For you that means that you can trust that there are no evil parts in the software because otherwise someone would have already found it and there would be an uproar. Since Mastodon is free software, there are also forks, like my personal favorite fork Ecko.

decentralized

(or federated) means that there is not one big server where everything happens, that can be hacked or have downtime. Instead there are many servers, they are never all down and hacking one won't get the hacker a lot of data.

What is the Fediverse?

Imagine Twitter, Facebook, Instagram & Co were all part of one giant network. That's basically what the fediverse is, except the parts are less well known, free & decentralized alternatives to those. E.g. Mastodon is like Twitter, Friendica is like Facebook, Pixelfed is like Instagram and there are many more. If you e.g. have a Mastodon account you can follow accounts on Friendica or Pixelfed and you might not even notice, that they are not Mastodon accounts.

How to get an account

Which network?

First you need to decide what part of the Fediverse you want to join. For this article I'm going to assume you want to join Mastodon. You can also start with a different network and a lot of what I'll write about will work about the same. You can find a comprehensive list of different networks in Article 2.

Which instance?

I'll explain instances better later. For now let's just say if Mastodon is part of the Fediverse, then each Mastodon instance is part of Mastodon. So instances are small networks. If you have lots of different interests a good start is mastodon.online, the official instance by the makers of Mastodon. If you have specific interests go to joinmastodon.org to find instances ordered by theme. E.g. my own instance climatejustice.social is listed under “Activism”.

What if the instance is not open?

There are 3 registration modes for instances: “Anyone can sign up”, “Approval required” and “Nobody can sign up”. For both the first and the second mode you can just register. The difference is that for the first mode you'll get a sign up email immediately, in the second case you'll have to wait for approval from a moderator. In my experience this usually doesn't take more than a day. In the 3rd case it's possible you can still sign up. Usually there will be a message displayed explaining why the instance is closed and/or how and under what circumstances you can still sign up. An example for this is climatejustice.global. Only if the message says that signups are not possible do you really have to find another instance.

How to get started with your account

Writing an intro post

If you're new it's always a good idea to write an intro post. Use the hashtag #introduction (#introductions and #intro are also used) and tell us about yourself. What are your hobbies, interests, political views, causes and – very important – pronouns. Of course only tell us what you are comfortable with. Use hashtags so you are more easily found. A good intro post will get you some boosts and follows from like-minded people. It's also a good idea to pin your intro post on your profile. If someone discovers your profile, they might not see any posts from before they discovered you. Unless you have pinned posts that is. Pinned posts are always discovered with the profile.

Filling your (home)-timeline(s) with interesting content

At the beginning your home timeline will be quite empty or filled with stuff from accounts you are automatically following if you sign up for a specific instance. That is often admin stuff, which might not interest you. If you want you can unfollow the accounts you are following to start new. But then it's a good idea to start following people who post interesting stuff. There are many ways to find those. You can for example browse recommendations under the hashtags #FollowFriday and #FollowRecommendation. There are also some lists out there showing accounts by category. E.g. there is Trunk. For climate justice specifically there is my list here. Then there is @FediFollows with recommendations ordered by category in this thread.

Once you follow a few people just check out the home timeline. There will be boosted posts from accounts you are not following yet. If you like what you see you can follow those too to fill the timeline more.

If you are using the advanced interface you can also create hashtag timelines. Just search for a hashtag and click on it. A new column will open which displays posts of that hashtag. In the top right corner you can click to pin the column. Once you did that you can click in the top right corner again and add additional hashtags to the column.

Best practices

To keep the Fediverse inclusive and free from surveillance here are some guidelines:

  1. Use image and video descriptions Describe what is going on in your videos and images for blind and deaf people. You don't need to do so in the post, but there is a caption function in Mastodon and most other softwares
  2. Use CamelCase When using hashtags that contain composite nouns or are even full sentences write the first letter of each word large. E.g. #FridaysForFuture or #WhatDoWeWantClimateJustice
  3. Don't use too many emoji. Screen readers read them as text and lots of emoji can be horrible to listen to.
  4. Don't repost retweets to the Fediverse There are Twitter-Mastodon crossposters. It is generally okay to use them, but try to avoid giving Twitter credit on Mastodon. Generally it's best to crosspost from Mastodon to Twitter but if you have to do it the other way around make sure you don't crosspost retweets and don't crosspost posts that contain Twitter handles.
  5. Avoid links to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Netflix, Spotify, ... There are alternatives for most of them. E.g if you have to link to a Twitter thread use Nitter (https://github.com/xnaas/nitter-instances), if you want to post a video and you have the rights to upload the video use Peertube, otherwise use Invidious (https://www.thailinux.com/invidious.html), if you want to link to Instagram use Bibliogram (https://git.sr.ht/~cadence/bibliogram-docs/tree/master/docs/Instances.md), ...

Further Articles and a Video

Getting started with Mastodon explains the user interface quite extensively, so if you are overwhelmed at first, this might help. Though note that this guide explains the old (or now known as advanced) interface. – by Kev Quirk, written on 2018-08-13

Guide To Mastodon is a very extensive guide that covers a whole lot of topics. – by Noëlle Anthony and contributors; constantly updated

Mastodon: friendly Microblogging is a short but comprehensive guide from what Mastodon is to Statistics. – by Izzy, written on 2020-01-06

The Fediverse: the distributed social network contains lots more of articles and resources.