A tinted collage of a poll about funding fediverse communities with snippets of comments posted in response.

Yes, the fediverse will “win”

I’ve seen people online wondering whether this or that social network will “win”, whatever that means. And some get a bit nervous when they see a new site that’s not their favorite get a lot of media attention. Will that one “win”?

Reader, I am here to tell you that you have nothing to worry about. The fediverse already “won”. Let me show you how that happened.

I run a poll recently, and the results looked a bit too good. So I posted my poll on Reddit to get a bigger sample size. Results stayed pretty much the same.

Have you ever made a donation to a fediverse server admin?

— Stefan Bohacek (@stefan@stefanbohacek.online) 2023-05-03T19:32:48.000Z

And if you think, well, this is just one poll, I have some more good news for you.

Would you ever crowdfund a Fediverse server?

If so, tell me why.

— Chris Trottier (@atomicpoet@mastodon.social) 2023-03-06T23:45:24.656Z

Do you donate to the Mastodon project and/or your instance?

One time or recurring payments both qualify as donations.

— Paolo Amoroso (@amoroso@fosstodon.org) 2023-04-23T15:37:08.555Z

Question for instance admins. Is your server financially sustainable?

I'd say this applies to people running their personal instances.

— Stefan Bohacek (@stefan@stefanbohacek.online) 2023-05-22T15:39:21.724Z

People are genuinely excited about being part of this community, and actively support it. Twitter, on the other hand is struggling to entice its users to subscribe to their Twitter Blue service. And half of those who do subscribe end up cancelling their subscription.

A fun update on Often Wrong's complete failure: paid Twitter.

* Only 640k of Twitter's ~220-230 million users are paying for it.
* Over half of of the people originally paying for it have cancelled.
* 291k Elon SIMPs have less than 1,000 followers.
* 107k have fewer than 100.
* ~3300 have none at all.


— Paul Tenny (@BlueAmerica@mastodon.social) 2023-05-05T22:20:16.564Z

Mastodon, which currently represents a disproportionate part of the fediverse, continues to grow and evolve, and the developers have warmed up to features they originally deemed as unnecessary, or outright detrimental.

You asked for it, and it’s coming. Quote posts, search, and groups are on their way. In the meantime, check out the new onboarding experience launching today. blog.joinmastodon.org/2023/05/

— Mastodon (@Mastodon@mastodon.social) 2023-05-01T16:39:26.765Z

Other fediverse communities and software are experiencing growth as well.

✨ Improved Search + Stories

Cleaner search results with more details, and better postgres support

The Stories carousel will now show your own active story even if none of your followings have an active story

Now available!

Full-text search + mobile app stories shipping soon 😉

— pixelfed (@pixelfed@mastodon.social) 2023-05-05T13:03:39.515Z

Here's a graph for "Average Total Users by Month".

THIS is what hockey stick growth looks like!

And this doesn't even reflect what's been happening over the past two days!

— Chris Trottier (@atomicpoet@mastodon.social) 2023-05-04T02:47:08.870Z

And Twitter just keeps breaking or moving features behind a paywall. This is a fate that’s all too common for services which primarily exist to turn profit.

What about the next contender, Bluesky? They yet have to prove that their approach to decentralization actually works.

This might sound like a minor technical detail to most people, but consider this from Bluesky’s own blog, emphasis mine.

The federation architecture allows anyone to host a [Big Graph Service], though it’s a fairly resource-demanding service. In all likelihood, there may be a few large full-network providers, and then a long tail of partial-network providers.

You can read Chris Trottier’s breakdown of this blog post, but in essence, creating a new Bluesky community might just be too complex (apparently for no reason) and too costly, which means that people will end up on a few large nodes. (As of writing this article, there is only one node. And even that one may only be a “temporary proof of concept”? Confusing.)

And considering that ads, which never really worked all that well as a monetization scheme for Twitter, are not only coming to Bluesky, they are an integral part of it, we are likely to see a familiar story play out.

Ah, so that was the missing feature that required creating a brand new protocol, I see.

"Hard to sustain a company like this without ads in todays world"

12+ million fediverse users would beg to differ.

Source: stefanbohacek.online/@mikestev

— Stefan Bohacek (@stefan@stefanbohacek.online) 2023-04-24T13:35:18.329Z

So, Bluesky is really a company that needs to turn profit, while the fediverse is a grassroots community created to share and connect, with very dedicated members.

The fediverse doesn’t rely on any specific parts of itself. Mastodon can disappear tomorrow, and fediverse will still be here. If Bluesky itself fails, and it’s too difficult and/or too expensive to create new servers, then that’s it for them.

And if Bluesky won’t fail as a company? Then you still have the possibility of history repeating itself. As one of Twitter’s co-founders puts it:

Jack Dorsey explaining exactly why no single company should own a social media platform.

— Chris Trottier (@atomicpoet@mastodon.social) 2023-04-29T04:59:57.465Z

I’m not going to spend too much time here on Nostr, which mentions “private keys” and “protocols and clients” on its Getting Started page, making its target audience very limited, or any of the walled-off Twitter clones, which, again, need to make money off their userbase, putting themselves on Twitter’s worn out path.

It all really comes down what “winning” means to you. Yes, we’re still waiting for a lot of celebrities to join the fediverse. And government agencies.

But with all the grassroots support behind the fediverse, all we have to do is wait out the clock and let everyone else fail in all the familiar ways, trying to squeeze money out of its userbase.

In the meantime, join the fediverse, if you haven’t already, and keep on posting.

As we slowly watch cryptocurrency and NFTs get replaced by the next big fad in venture capitalism, AI, I'd just like to thank everyone fighting for a free and open internet.

— Stefan Bohacek (@stefan@stefanbohacek.online) 2023-02-22T15:10:41.496Z

The state of social media. I think people are ready for a change now. mastodon.social/@mastodonuserc

— Stefan Bohacek (@stefan@stefanbohacek.online) 2023-03-19T21:19:54.952Z

More from the blog

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