Is the fediverse healthy?
21

Hey, I am relatively new to the federated web and I only use lemmy currently. But I love the idea of an alternative social web ecosystem that is not ruled by big corporations. To see how the fediverse has developed in 2020 I decided to look into the stats (stats go from 2nd January 2020 til today) over at https://the-federation.info/:


No. of nodes:

6043 --> 7849 (+29.9%)

Users per Node:

817 --> 840 (+2.8%)

No. of users:

3,597,652 --> 4,153,555 (+15.5%)

Active users (6 Months):

1,348,965 --> 1,175,150 (-12.9%)

Active users (1 Month):

476,457 --> 432,75 (-9.2%)

Active users ratio:

0.132 --> 0.104 (-21.2%)


So before I say something about these numbers I want to warn you that these numbers are not the really correct because not all instances of the fediverse are not correctly listed in these statistics. This might be for a variety of reasons but I guess most of the unlisted instances just want to stay under the radar. However, I still think that these stats can give us an indication how things are going in the federation.

If we look solely at the number of nodes (+30%) and registered users (+15.5%) we can see that these numbers have risen within the last year. It might not be incredible growth that indicates mainstream adoption but I think it is nothing to be concerned about.

However, if we look at the active user stats we can see that activity activity has steadily decreased over the year. It seems like we have lost roughly 13% of active users within this year.

Tbh I don’t really know how to judge these numbers as I am pretty new to all of this. So I wanted to ask the users who have been here longer and might even use several federated services. Did you notice a decrease in activity? Is the fediverse healthy? If not, what might be the reason that the active user stats are on a downwards trend and how might we be able to change this?

Travis Skaalgard
17
edit-2
3M

A few years ago I tried to move to the Fediverse exclusively and basically found nobody to talk to. Over the past Plague Year I’ve attempted to do so again and I’m finding vibrant communities with tons of people to talk to. Mastodon and Matrix are the most active, I feel, followed by Lemmy. I use Diaspora but there aren’t many real people there. The point is, I think it’s growing and I think as long as we can stay accepting and open (and not bully people off the platform for small mistakes) then we can continue to grow it.

A note added after this comment was initially posted:

When I talk about being “open” and “accepting,” obviously I’m not talking about nazis. Fuck nazis. BUT we also shouldn’t be hostile to any and all newcomers for small disagreements and/or mistakes.

@soloninja
23M

Lemmy has really became active since release of federation

I’m alone on all the platforms that I joined.
The fediverse isn’t mainstream yet.

The fediverse has been chugging along for a decade now and for most of that time it had much less nodes/users than it has now. To me, it does seem like activity has been declining, but there will always be core groups of people who stay here. I don’t think the fediverse will ever rival the big platforms, because it will never be a cohesive system. It will always be small groups of nodes/peoples that can talk amongst themselves. We already see that with huge sections of the fediverse isolated from each other, either through blocking or incompatibility.

Separated islands works for some people who like the small communities, but not for others who don’t want to worry about which server their friends are on or miss out on some cool artist on a different platform.

@Nevar
73M

TIL the fediverse has been around for a decade.

IMO with apps like Lemmy, Mastodon, and Pixelfed becoming useable for the non-technical users in the past couple of years I think we’re at the beginning of exponential growth of the Fediverse.

It’s hard for me to tell. I currently see a lot of interesting content on Mastodon, and the people I follow don’t seem to be leaving any times soon. New platforms are being created (Lemmy looks like it will be a big one). I’ve also been able to discover artists who’s work didn’t relate to FLOSS having account and communicating on the Fediverse.

There indeed seems to be a lot of dead accounts on the Fediverse, but I’m sure it’s the same for most proprietary websites too. There will always be waves of people joining and leaving. But the Fediverse is healthy enough that I don’t expect it to die any time soon.

Kinetix
103M

I wouldn’t pay any attention to the numbers beyond the suggestion that “there’s some people here using some services”.

Did in to any of the projects - look at Matrix, the 2nd largest number of nodes, for example, and see that there are 0 users using it, 0% of the time for a total of 1 huge ghost town. (If you wanted to interpret the lack of reporting detail in that fashion)

Look at Pleroma, the next highest number of nodes, and see there’s no active users reported.

I think that over time, as more nodes from more projects are set up, are being used and aren’t reporting all the various details that the-federation.info could report on, the less useful the statistics there will be, especially around the ‘active users’ stats.

Last example - lemmy - Lemmy’s over-reporting users (Lemmy seems to count all the users it knows about (?) - not just the local users on an instance) and not reporting those ‘active user’ stats either.

So, I’d say the fediverse is doing fine - but you can’t really tell what’s going on from the-federation.info.

@nutomic
admin
63M

I think Lemmy correctly reports the local user count, but theres a problem cause the-federation.info follows redirects, so it counts both dev.lemmy.ml and lemmy.ml (meaning lemmy.ml users are counted twice).

Kinetix
33M

Is this the correct query?

`lemmy=# select count(*) from user_ where local = ‘t’;

count

10

(1 row)`

This is for lemmy.ca. Nodeinfo reports hundreds.

@nutomic
admin
33M

Yes that looks correct. Then you’re right there seems to be a bug. Please open an issue.

Dessalines
admin
43M

We also could fairly easily do counts for activity within the last month, etc. I think I have queries saved in an issue for those somewhere.

@nutomic
admin
23M

Its basically just the number of users which have posted or commented in the last month right? Plus maybe some more actions. Doesnt sound so hard.

Dessalines
admin
23M

Yup.

Kinetix
43M

Done, and I hope it’s not too many items mentioned in one bug report.

Maya
admin
93M

Anecdotally, I feel like there were independent e.g. illustrators who were game to try Mastodon and left when they saw tiny fractions of the engagement they get on ordinary social media. This is a big bummer to me. For visual art, we need the equivalents of the IG accounts that repost art with permission and link backs. For other stuff, I don’t know the answers.

ufra
63M

It’s somewhat cliche, but many (especially in SEO) were talking about the covid effect where many sites across the web experienced a meaningful bump in numbers as people moved much of their life online. I saw some stats back around april, but I don’t know how scientific they were. There might be more research on it. Point being, growth numbers could be a bit skewed by a hopefully outlier event.

Other factors like Jack Dorsey giving a nod back then to federation might also have contributed. I also don’t know how major platforms are portraying alternatives and if people are more or less inclined to try something new.

I admire your attempt to quantify it and would like to see more.

Mastodon’s API has an endpoint, /api/v1/instance/activity, that serves activity information. As far as I know there is not any other fediverse project serving activity information. Thanks to that API endpoint you can get real activity from every Mastodon server, activity meaning all users that logged in the last 12 weeks. I did a Python bot that collects all activities from all alive Mastodon servers (https://mastodont.cat/@activity). This is the last report from my bot (current week):

Registered users: 2961289 This week logins: 130708 Average server activity is 4.41%.

Yes, average activity is very low.

This year we saw a lot of progress in what moderation of instances mean. These numbers could be highly influenced by large changes in the network due to instance bannings like when Gab arrived and was quickly banned.

It’s healthier than Facebook and Twitter

How do their stats look?

They look fine for an alternative open source platform.
People join, some like it, few stay.

I’ve been using Mastodon for a couple of years now and it’s become significantly more active in that time from what I see anecdotally. That said, I’d say the key question for health is whether the community is big enough to support ongoing development and hosting. I think at this point the answer to both questions is a definite yes. There are millions of users in the Fediverse now, plenty of users are technical and are actively contributing.

I think we’ll see active users fluctuate over time, but I don’t see the core base of users abandoning Fediverse at this point because they’ve already established their social networks here.

I find it fascinating that lemmy is the only fedi thing you use

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