FTO’s Bills, February-April 2023

Wait, what day is it?! Yeesh, I’ve been terrible about keeping all of you updated on the server. Hang on, let me tabulate the costs for February and everything since…

Month Cost
November 2022 $26.06
December 2022 $8.73
January 2023 $4.75
February 2023 $0.19
March 2023 $0.00
April 2023 $0.00
May 2023 $0.00*

Bwhahaha!! I love it when a plan comes together. One of the critical things we need keep this server going is funds, either through keeping our costs down, raising funds up, or some combination of both. Thanks to some careful setup by myself, the cost side of the ledger is hilariously healthy.

That’s not the only critical thing, however. No doubt you’ve encountered more than one “Mastodon is dying” article before this point, but if you look carefully they mostly date from February. How do things look in May?

Total fediverse users. Line goes up!Huh, so the total number of users went from about ten million users in February 2023 to twelve million now, and that’s over twice as many users as a year ago? If you’re thinking that can’t be right, you’re on to something. This is the observed user count for the entire Fediverse, which encompasses two dozen separate platforms including Mastodon itself; however, Mastodon alone accounts for almost 80% of the entire Fediverse, and if you have a Mastodon account you can see most of the remaining 20%, so the numbers are still in the right ballpark.

However, that’s the total number of users; what about all those people who created a Mastodon account, then never touched it? Surely if we filtered out those accounts, we’d see a decline.

Fediverse users, last six months. Line goes up, then flattens.Nope! While the numbers do flatten somewhat, the Fediverse has been holding steady since February 2023 and is a good 3x more populous than a year ago. As the caption implies, this chart only counts users active in the last six months, but on the flip side that also means roughly half of the Fediverse has posted something in the last six months. Still, the flattening suggests we can make the numbers worse by only considering users active in the last month.

Fediverse users, active in the last month. Line shot up, but is slowly decaying down.That is indeed the case, though even here there’s more upside than down. Yes, the Fediverse peaked at four million monthly users sometime in December 2022 and has declined to about 2.25 million user now, but that number used to sit at roughly 600,000 as recently as October 2022. While there’s still more decay to come, there’s no way the monthly active users drops down below a million for quite some time.

Fediverse posts/comments in the last month. Line goes up!In the meantime, the number of posts (including boosts) in the last month has long since crossed the billion mark, and while growth is slowing it hasn’t stopped either. The general consensus is that Mastodon is more active than Twitter, sometimes even in terms of raw numbers. If there are counter-examples, I have yet to see one cross my feed. It’s not hard to find people praising it as better than Twitter. I mean, when it comes to sexism it’s hard to beat this:

it’s always #TDoV (#TransDayOfVisibility) on Fedi. only full-time dev on Mastodon other than Gargron and lead dev on Glitch? trans woman. lead dev of Akkoma? trans woman. GotoSocial? three-quarters of the core team are trans and/or enby. Calckey lead dev? they/he pronouns. one of the two editors and three of the five authors of the ActivityPub standard? trans and/or enby. dozens of other server, client, and tool Fediverse developers? trans. (including me.) and that’s just the code side of things.

cis people: you are on our turf.

Are there problems on the Fediverse? Of course! A lack of diversity is a common complaint, but as long as line goes up that’ll sort itself out. Already, I can find people betting there will be zero posts about the Met Gala, followed by a bunch of posts about the Met Gala. People still gripe about quote posts and a steep learning curve, but both are either being worked on or alreadyfixed“. Racism is still grumbled about, but that’s to be expected

… if anyone can set up their own instance, and the typical person is a little sexist/racist/etc., then the typical mod on the typical instance is a little sexist/racist/etc. There’s no employee training to help minimize that, and the only committee who could push back is your fellow mods. It’s very easy to create a walled garden where casual bigotry flourishes, and an outsider might not discover that until they’re inside the walls. You could try browsing the public timeline of an instance to audit their moderation, but there’s tens of thousands of instances federating around and some hide their public timeline.

… and the feeling isn’t universal. One anecdote I take heart in is this post, where an instance admin complained about the deluge of racist and sexist hate they’d received in the last hour. I checked FTO’s blocklist, and all four of the instances that had spewed bigotry had been blocked long ago on our server; had this person been a user of our instance, they wouldn’t have experienced any of that. If you scroll down the replies, said poster was directed towards an automatically-generated blocklist and instructed on how to import it into their own instance. The results spoke for themselves.

To summarize, the low cost of running a Mastodon server ensures it’ll be around a while. The numbers suggest there’s enough people on the Fediverse to keep it interesting. There are other issues and imperfections which could limit the number of people who join, but at minimum they’re being actively worked on. I suppose FTO could disappear if I get bored of it, but instead I’m haplessly addicted; our public stats page currently lists that our instance has made 8.98K posts/boosts, and my profile states I’m responsible for 8,864 of them. We’re currently up to six active users, two of which joined in the last week.

Want to join the party? The guest list is quite small and there are a few skill-testing questions, but the price remains free. Click here to join the federation.