FTO’s Bills, January 2023

It’s time to check in on the costs related to freethought.online, now that I have the complete numbers for January:

Month Cost
November 2022 $26.06
December 2022 $8.73
January 2023 $4.75

That was precisely what I was hoping for. If I spread out the $30 domain registration fee over twelve months, then the total monthly upkeep for FTO is less than the cost of Twitter Blue. Even if nobody else signed up for the thing, and assuming there’s no financial emergency, I could keep the server indefinitely. Inviting other people on is both a long-term goal and a pleasant bonus. The low cost also contributes towards checking another box off the Mastodon Server Covenant: I can easily afford three months worth of server fees, should I be forced to shut FTO down.

In other news, just a few days ago three key portions of Mastodon were hit with a DDoS attack: joinmastodon.org, the main gateway for most newcomers; mastodon.social, owned by the lead developer and the largest instance on the network; plus mastodon.online, which was also owned by the lead developer but was only the eighth largest instance. It looks like an attempt to shut down Mastodon.

I first learned about it on Mastodon. In fact, I would have been completely oblivious that anything was wrong if I hadn’t caught one or two posts about it. The hundred thousand active accounts tied to those instances had a bad day, but the rest of the fediverse carried on as usual. It’s one of the great bonuses of decentralized social media: no centralized server means it’s next to impossible to silence.

One theme I keep seeing repeated on Mastodon is that while the total user count is smaller than Twitter, the place is more active per capita. I thought I’d test that out in a more objective way. Perry Bacon Jr. has been a journalist for a while, just recently moving from FiveThirtyEight to the Washington Post. He’s more active on Twitter than Mastodon. Carl Zimmer is a journalist at the New York Times, with multiple books to his credit. He’s roughly equally active on both platforms. Both have been on Twitter since 2009, or earlier; Zimmer got a head start on Mastodon in 2018, but Bacon Jr. only joined in December of last year. I tracked down equivalent posts by both authors on each platform, and tallied up some stats.

Person Platform Follower Count Boosts per 1k followers Favorites per 1k followers
Perry Bacon Jr. Twitter 72,530 0.83 2.4
Perry Bacon Jr. Mastodon 3,302 2.1 3.6
Carl Zimmer Twitter 293,491 0.061 0.14
Carl Zimmer Mastodon 8,725 1.1 1.5

The sample size is pretty small, but there seems to be some truth to the meme. I’ll keep an eye out for more examples in future posts.