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.
And if you think, well, this is just one poll, I have some more good news for you.
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.
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.
Other fediverse communities and software are experiencing growth as well.
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.
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:
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.