Fediverse numbers, do they matter?

Last updated on April 4, 2024

I have seen lots of people talking about the fediverse recently and the low numbers of users versus traditional platforms. This is the main reason I think that many dismiss platforms like Mastodon, Pixelfed and Peertube almost straight away. There is a perception that larger number equates to more engagement, and whilst broadly true there seems to be little interest in higher quality engagement. I have found services like Peertube a hard sell when the amount of views of most videos is in the hundreds compared to hundreds of thousands that are often achieved on Youtube for example.

This is really the main reason that people discount some of these great platforms. Having around 15 million user accounts on the fediverse simply cannot compete with the billion plus on Instagram, or 2 billion plus on Facebook. However I’d argue that the privacy, lack of ads and algorithms negates the lower numbers – but selling that to a causal user is nigh on impossible who want to see results, and see results quickly. You just cannot sell something when you cannot promise high numbers, and also have to explain that finding people to follow is harder than other platforms. Once you try – then it is just nigh on impossible – how can the fediverse compete? And, let’s be clear, that right now I don’t think it can in many ways, but it is improving. There needs to be some increase in numbers, for sure, but there also needs to be more awareness of the advantages and less focus on the disadvantages. But of course, for just an average person, it is just plain easier to use other platforms. If you started say an Instagram account today, quite quickly I’d imagine you could garner several hundred or even thousands of followers and follow large numbers back, thus getting engagement quickly and building up your new account fairly easily. If you did the same on Pixelfed then those numbers would be considerably lower, harder to achieve and the account would take a lot longer to achieve anywhere near the engagement of Instagram. Until this simple issue goes away, if it ever does, then the fediverse for many will remain a niche part of the internet.

I welcome comments,reblogs, boost and whatever for this post. I really hope the fediverse begins to get some more recognition – but at the moment I think it’s under utilised!

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