Starting a GNUsocial / Quitter Account, Step One

There are wikis about using GNUsocial (english, german).

I thought I’d do a step by step guide, inspired by an online blogging course I took part in over the last three weeks.

I’m doing it in english so more users can have access to it.

And I’m doing it in several instalments, as I find time, so it won’t be complete at first.

Step one: Choosing a GNUsocial / Quitter instance

So you are fed up with Twitter, and looking for an alternative, or some of your friends have moved to the federated network, and you want to join them.

What you have to know at this point is that even though there are many different public servers (called instances) which offer accounts, they are all federated. This means you can have an account on just one of these instances but communicate with the population of all the other instances, too.

Screenshot of the public timeline from, to be found at
Public timeline at, a german instance

So, before actually setting up an account, you get to choose an instance which fits your preferences.

A few points to consider:

  • Number of allowed characters per post:
    Some instances allow only 140 Characters per post, like, others allow many more.
  • Data protection: Instances are based in different countries, so if you are concerned, you may want to choose an instance in a country with strict laws, or anyway one based in a different country from yourself, so authorities have at least a few hoops to jump through if they want to obtain data.
  • Special interest: Most instances are not devoted to anything in particular.
    However, there are a few: Rainbowdash is for bronies (what are bronies?). There are two instances for „shitposting“. They became part of the federation when some users were banned from other instances for posting lots of notices with not much content (read the whole story). And then there’s, specially for sharing pictures. One instance is for talking about ADHS (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).
    An online magazine called Highland Arrow uses a GNU Social instance as community for comments on their site, and everything else you can do with any instance.
    There is also an instance for porn.
  • Maybe you want to be on the same instance as all your friends, or maybe you want to do the opposite and diversify. The federation encourages decentralization and distribution.
  • There is also the possibility of setting up your own GNUsocial instance, only we are not covering this today.
    If you want to do this, I’d recommend to get an account on an existing instance anyway, to connect to the admins who are running instances already, because they will help you out with advice if something does not work right away.

Here is a list of instances to choose from, and here is another one. And here.

If you have found a few instances that appeal to you, you can do one more thing and check their public timelines – yes there are more than one.

Each instance has a public timeline, where you can see everything the users of this instance publish, and you find it under the URL {instance}/main/public, for example
You can see what languages are used around there, when was the last activity, what are they talking about and so on.

Then there is the timeline of the whole known network. That is, known to this instance. An instance „knows“ accounts on other instances if they are being followed by its users. That means, if I follow an account on a different instance, their status updates show up in my own stream *and* in the whole known network timeline of my instance.

So, if you look at this special timeline of an instance, you see the posts of the instances‘ users and also the posts of everyone they follow on other instances.

The whole known network timeline goes by the URL {instance}/main/all, for example

So, choose wisely! 😀

– get an account
– use clients for smartphone and desktop
– connecting to your other social media profiles
– follow and be followed
– groups

I will need guest posts for clients and connecting to other social media, because I don’t do these and cannot tell you anything about it.

Also, please tell me in the comments if something is missing, and whether this is useful for you.

Don’t miss the next instalment, and follow this blog:

Gib deine E-Mail-Adresse ein, um diesem Blog zu folgen und per E-Mail Benachrichtigungen über neue Beiträge zu erhalten.


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