My server instance does not find any toots in the remote world


I’m currently exploring Mastodon with my own server instance, have spent some hours with it and got the federation basically running. I can also crosspost with an Hubzilla instance, so things seems to work.

Call it a stupid beginners question, but I could not find an answer to this. Of course I want to explore some hashtags in the Mastodon fediverse and see what’s around outside. But whatever hashtag I’m searching for, my server does not deliver any responses except for things I’ve posted as a test on the same server. It seems that the global search does not work at all.

I’ve tried to add a relay, but they all are stuck in “waiting for approval”.

So how do I need to configure my server that the search queries are processed globally? It’s quite hard to find anyone to follow or get started when I do not find anything.

The only thing which gives me search responses is the App “Tootdon” on my iPad. But neither the “Toot!” app nor the web interface of my server are returning any results.

Any help is highly appreciated.


mastodon does not have a concept of “global search”. you should follow people you’re friends with or whose posts you find interesting. This is part of the reason we don’t really recommend single-user instances—we think it creates a much more vibrant community when a small group of friends or people who share an interest start a server together. As you discovered, your search results will only include statuses known locally by your server—that is, statuses made by people your server follows.

Relays are a way for single-user instances to get sent posts “as if” they were following a much larger group of people (it effectively works the same as following every user on all servers subscribed to the relay), but most relays i’ve seen are very low quality—filled with lots of spam and very little moderation.

Tootdon hacks in their own global search feature and they have gotten a lot of criticism for this—the community sees it as unwanted exposure for people who didn’t consent for their posts to be indexed by a centralized service. (especially because they silently send all posts seen by a user to their own servers to make this work)

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Thanks for your explanation, I think I understand the concept now :blush:

I’m currently testing, indeed I plan to deploy for a small community. Thanks for your response!

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