Just like Twitter and Facebook, the decentralized social networks on The Fediverse allow you to follow your friends, see whatever they post, distilled into a timeline.
Because networks like Friendica and Mastodon aren’t hosted by a single entity, however, it can be difficult to figure out how to find your friends there at first, but don’t fret. Like signing up there is a bit of a learning curve, but you can get it down!
There are two pieces of information you need to know to find and follow someone on either Friendica or Mastodon. Like Twitter, you need to know their username. Unlike Twitter or Facebook, you need to know which instance they are on. This is like an email address. It’s not enough to know my email is phillipjreese, you also need to know that it’s @gmail.com.
Mastodon formats their usernames when tagging just like emails. My username on Mastodon is phillipjreese, but my instance is mastodon.technology. So to tag me, you’d use @email@example.com.
But before you tag me, you probably want to follow me. And to follow me, you have to find me. Mastodon makes this easier than Friendica.
On both networks, it’s easier to do this in a desktop browser than a mobile browser or the apps, so I’ll be showing you that.
Following on Mastodon
I: Following a link to their profile
If you come across a link to someone’s Mastodon profile page, and they are not on the instance that you are logged into, Mastodon makes it very easy to add them. Let’s try to follow web comics creator Chris Hollenbeck from his profile.
When you arrive at their profile, click the “follow” button
You will then enter your username and instance and click “Proceed to follow.”
This will take you to the screen that allows you to log into your instance to follow the user from your own account.
Once you’re logged in, you’re routed back to the “follow” screen. Click “follow,” and you’re set!
When you see the “success” page you know you’ve done it right!
You can try it out for yourself by using this link to my Mastodon profile, @firstname.lastname@example.org.
I: Finding them through search
If you have a username and instance, you can use the search in mastodon to find them. Let’s use search to find the joke writer Lumen, who is @email@example.com
Log into your instance of Mastodon, and find the “search” box.
Type in the username and click enter.
to narrow it down, type it in in the format @[username]@[instance].
Click the + button to follow the user.
If you’ve done it successfully, the “+” will become an “x.”
Following on Friendica
The best way to find users on Friendica is from their profile page. Let’s add Adam Gaskins, the admin of the social.LinuxLusers.com instance. We’ll go to his URL and find is “follow” button.
Click the “follow button” and you will be taken to the “friend connection request page,” where you can log in.
Once you hit “Submit Request,” you will be taken to your login page, once you are logged in, you should be redirected to the “Connect/follow” page, now on your own instance, and you should be able to hit “Submit Request, and finish the process. If you are not redirected to the page, go back to their profile once you are logged in, and hit “Follow” and “Submit Request” again.
If you were successful, you will see a page like this.
You can try it out for yourself using the link to my profile, https://nerdica.net/profile/phillipjreese.
It’s definitely not as simple as just following someone on Twitter or Facebook, but it’s also not brain surgery! After you do it a few times, it should become a piece of cake for you!