So here is what setting up a new instance is like. You set up the software (hard/easy depending on your skills/hosting) and then Mastodon is running but nothing works. Then you follow people and slowly federating happens. After about a half hour some connections somewhere are made and it Just Works.
Server run by the main developers of the project It is not focused on any particular niche interest - everyone is welcome as long as you follow our code of conduct!