Mastodon – Migration: How to change your instance / server (and why)

    Actually, it does matter: the choice of your “home instance”. Supposedly, you can “chose ANY server” to start with #Mastodon and enter the #fediverse – and (they say) you don´t have to worry about it. Well, it turns out, this is not completely true…


    But before I dig a little deeper into the “why?” you may want to change your mastodon-server (this is how you arrived here in the first place – no?), I describe the “how?”.


    This post is for people a little familiar with that elephant already – but if your totally new, still wonder what this is all about or you just “don´t get Mastodon” – watch 👉🏼  this excellent 180 seconds video introduction: “it´s like e-mail”


    Mastodon - Logo


    How to change your mastodon instance / server :

    Let me tell you first, HOW to change the server – because this is indeed quite easy. You just have to follow a few simple steps.

    These steps are very well described by the friendly (& recommended) site here  👉🏼

    Basically it goes like this in 7 steps (TL;DR) :

    * create an account at a new server
    * click a few well specified buttons inside the new & old account
    * perform some export / import routine

    Here are the steps in more detail:

    Here’s how to do it:

    1. Create a new account on the server you want to move to, but DO NOT delete the old account.
    2. Log into your NEW account on the new server’s website, go to Edit Profile > Moving From A Different Account, click on Create an account alias and follow the instructions.
    3. After you’ve finished the previous step, wait five minutes. The previous step can take a while for the server to actually carry out, and it’s important that it happens before you continue.
    4. When you’ve finished waiting, log into your OLD account on the old server’s website, go to Edit Profile > Move To A Different Account, click on Configure it here and follow the instructions. This will start transferring your followers to the new account. The accounts won’t transfer all in one go, they will come across in waves depending on how busy their own servers are. Some of your followers will automatically follow your new account straight away, while others may take hours (or in extreme cases even days!). Don’t worry though, you can carry on with the next steps while this is happening in the background.
    5. On your OLD account, go to Preferences > Import And Export > Data Export and download all the CSV files one file at a time by clicking on the CSV icons. However, DO NOT press the archive request button! Archive request has got nothing to do with transfers. (You of course may want to separately request an archive just so you have a personal copy of an account’s contents. This is especially relevant if your old server is closing down.)
    6. On your NEW account, go to Preferences > Import And Export > Import and upload the CSV files one at a time (the files which you just downloaded in the previous step). Remember to select the correct file type from the drop-down menu for each CSV file before you upload it.
    7. Even after the transfer, DO NOT delete your old account. It’s best to leave it where it is, because it will redirect people to your new account and leave your old posts intact.


    In between step 1 & 2, you could actually edit your own profile, e.g.: add a picture & a description. I had falsely thought for a moment, that the “transfer” would also move my profile, but this is not happening. Basically the move is only a transfer of your contact list more or less = your followers & following. And it also installs a kind of redirect from your old account to the new one.

    That´s it.

    So, your profile, your description and your links you will have to be edited again anyhow – and you either can do this first or later.

    Attention: Your (old) posts will not be transferred ! They remain however on the old account (as long as you do not delete it).

    While it was overall an easy & quick process, I still have some issues with the transfer of my #bookmarks.

    But the most annoying factor for me was , that my “join date” changed. The public display of the date, when I started tooting  is a piece of vanity (experience), I happily admit to enjoy. (on my twitter account it was “June 2009”)

    So the new instance displays your new “join date” …voilá.


    the obstacles of onboarding

    “How & where shall I register?”

    This is the first question of #Newbies. And the … search for “the right server” …  … can actually take quite some time. At least, this is how it was for me in November 2022. The frequent recommendation, that it does not matter is only valid from a technical point of view – but not for the user experience. We (new) users want it easy & convenient. In today´s world, we are used to Apps, where registration takes only a minute and we can start using the software within 2 moments.

    How are we then supposed to have the patience to deal with the slower onboarding process of Mastodon?

    Yes, I understand: Mastodon is a software like email – and an instance is like an email provider. Consequently, the choice of the address & local environment is indeed not as important. Nevertheless, there are some obstacles in the relatively new Mastodon world, which are worth considering.

    Obstacles, which show, that choosing the right server actually DOES matter – at least a little.

    Maybe you have heard the advice to a new user “You should look for a place where you will be comfortable and that you will be proud to be a part of.” Well, this is not very easy, when you have no idea, who is who. How do you pick and chose any dish, if you do not know the local cuisine at all? Or even worse, you can not even read the menu (yet), as it is in a foreign language?

    For #newcomers, it would be only honest to say: “Hey, #masto is a free & diverse experience – and here is a list of proven and reliable general servers for an easy start – OR you will need to take some time and carefully look for your instance first via these search / helpers sites.” (see below for some links).



    the problems with blocking instances on Mastodon

    In any case, once we have chosen our new home, we would like the server to perform reliable and smooth. We are not interested in discussions in between the moderators of different instances; we don’t want to get involved into reasoning behind blocking. This is one actual problem in the fediverse yet similarly the nature of a decentralized system: that every server can block each other.

    Now, this does make a lot of sense (to keep hate, fascism, nazis, racist etc. out of the “global town square”)  , but it also require a certain amount of maturity and professionalism from the #moderators & #admins. In my short time on Mastodon, I have heard & experienced already at least 2 verified blockages, which do not really make sense from afar.

    I am not talking about blocking accounts (which is necessary and an individual decision), but I am talking about the blockage of seemingly moderated, harmless instances by other seemingly “normal” instances. Why did block On their website, I only find “instance full of journalists” as a reason .. but why is this a reason to block another server?

    Their added acronym “YMMV” – stands for: “your mileage may vary” – meaning: your opinion may be different – but it does not really help – does it?

    So I decided, that I did not want to make any of the servers involved my new mastodon-home-server.


    Why do MEDIUM  and Flipboard block (my old instance)? I was not able to find out, but only heard some rumours, there may have been one (?) user using racist comments. Of course we don´t tolerate racism anywhere – but can we not just block this user?

    well, many questions remain – but for me the blockage of my instance ( did have specific consequences. I was not able to FOLLOW for example Mike McCugh, CEO of Flipboard and also not the new CEO of MEDIUM Tony Stubblebine. Additionally – as I understand it – my #toots were not shown anymore to many users at a variety of other servers.

    So, I decided to move to an instance, which seems to be less controversial and more general… (and yes, I am fully aware of the implications of this decision, but this is another discussion)



    the future looks bright

    The good thing about this fast growing community is, that problems, concerns and issues are usually quite quickly resolved by some ingenious developer.
    The many complaints from #twittermigrants about not being able to re-post a #toot was for example enough reason for  Thomas Ricouard  to embed the option “quote toot” in the highly recommended IceCubes App  – a Mastodon client / APP for the Apple-Universe. (read the interesting developers story here


    And other things are getting much better, too, including a growing population. Journalists and Organisations like Wikipedia Wikipedia , Broadcasters like the German ZDF  and even some celebrities  started  to embrace this “strange new world”.


    Well, I am convinced and I too recommend this new world to anyone, who seriously wants a true alternative to the mass-social-media – and is willing to invest just a little bit more time and effort to “get it”.



    Still, it would be nice to know earlier in any #migration process about all the resources, which are freely available. Here are some, I remember at the moment:
    here is a quick personal list of some interesting and (I assume) reliable servers:


    my new server: – run by Ruud from the Netherlands

  – large server with a few VIPs – the biggest & original server, run by the German non-profit Mastodon gGmbH – the 2nd server from the original founder Eugen Rochko

  – general & fast – general, but focused more on, well #ClimateJustice – general, but more for tech & open source enthusiasts – green climate neutral server, run by Johan Empa from Sweden

  – the largest German (speaking) server


    Here are some smaller reliable ones, run by engaged individuals:

   , run by investigative US-Journalist Dave Troy  – founded by climate activist Eric Holthaus


    also interesting: – run by h-net (not only) for humanities & social sciences scholars
    the new – run by & for “Wikipedia enthusiasts”


    Who would YOU add? I particularly look for diverse voices and any server / community related to #culture, #CulturalHeritage or #WorldCulture. Please let me know and I will be happy to boost any recommendations.



    a possible universal “code of conduct” ?


    Last, but not least, I wonder, why there is not a universal “code of conduct” for old & new servers to sign, so that any user would know immediately, if this is a “general” server in the farther fediverse – or a more specialized group with its own rules.


    I think, many (new) users would be happy to support such a “code of conduct” (leaning onto the general rules of a civil society). All servers – not only big ones – who are moderated by admins, who understand the powers of discussions, differences and adhere to a tolerant society (which course include the tolerance paradox)… I think, we urgently need one. People need to be able to quickly chose something really reliable & trustworthy.


    If you have any ideas or comments about this or other topics in this post, please let me know.


    Good Luck with any #migration – see you out there…


    my (current) Mastodon handle:


    #MastodonMigration, #servermigration, #Twitanic, #RIPtwitter, #twittermigration