Fediverse in 2021

05.01.22 Author(s): @lostinlight ,

Happy 2022, fedizens!

At the end of each year we traditionally compile a digest of what’s happened in Fediverse (beginning with 2019 and 2020).

So, buckle your seatbelts and lets travel back in time. Let us watch the progress of glorious Fediverse in the past year.

Fedi spaceship exploring decentralized worlds Credits: image from Pixabay

Fediverse in numbers

In 2021 Fediverse expanded from 5.027 to 7.744 known servers. That’s about +2.700 nodes! An impressive growth, compared to previous couple of years that showed a stable trend of 900-1.000 new servers a year.

In June fediverse.party started counting Plume, Lemmy and Mobilizon in yearly statistics. They account for only 222 servers though, so the rest of the statistics spike definitely indicates that Fediverse is growing! By the way, we launched our own Fediverse crawler in November, to make sure that these numbers are as accurate as possible.

Pie chart showing most popular TLDs in Fediverse Credits: pie chart by Minoru

The ammount of registered accounts went back up to 2019 levels and by the end of 2021 slightly surpassed that benchmark, reaching ~4.500.000.

We, fedizens, know that numbers aren’t the most important thing in the world. But grown-ups like numbers.

Illustration of Little Prince and the Fox sitting on a planet Credits: image by Devran Topallar, Pixabay license

So let’s mention that, despite smaller userbase, Fediverse is showing its true potential for free open source projects: those developers who officially join our corner of the Internet enjoy higher follower numbers than on centralized social networks. \O/

Seven networks growing most rapidly in online servers in 2021 were:

• Misskey 🎉 ~ quadrupled server numbers (+220)

• PeerTube 🎉 ~ tripled server numbers (+760)

• Funkwhale 🎉 ~ tripled server numbers (+83)

• Pleroma 🎉 ~ doubled server numbers (+483)

• WriteFreely 🎉 ~ doubled server numbers (+180)

• Pixelfed 🎉 ~ doubled server numbers (+106)

• Mastodon 🎉 ~ +28% (+792)

Note: these numbers are an approximation based on statistics voluntarily provided by server administrators. Servers go offline / online every hour, every day, so the numbers reflect only part of Fediverse at the time this article was published.

Fediverse in projects

At least 14 new projects joined Fediverse in 2021!

🌟 GoToSocial – social network server written in Golang

🌟 Owncast – self-hosted live streaming platform

🌟 Castopod – open-source platform made for podcasters who want to engage and interact with their audience

🌟 Inventaire – platform for cataloguing and sharing physical books from personal collections and independent libraries

🌟 GoBlog – simple blogging system written in Go

🌟 Stringer – ActivityPub and Laravel powered decentralized blogging platform for the masses

🌟 bopwiki – simple “microwiki” implementation, fairly similar to the Zettelkasten system

🌟 Wolfgame – a game akin to Mafia; once started, it simulates a day/night cycle and allows players to vote on who might be a werewolf during the day

🌟 Dharma – federated community-building platform for Eve Online corporations

🌟 lectrn – social network for humans that is free, decentralized, open, and easy to use

🌟 Catcast-D – federated video live streaming platform

🌟 FChannel – libre, self-hostable imageboard platform that utilizes ActivityPub

🌟 MatticNote – ActivityPub compatible social network that aims to be easy for everyone to use

🌟 hvxahv – multifunctional decentralized social network implementation

→ For the full list of Fediverse projects in development see Miscellaneous page.

Project forks:

🥄 Ecko – fork of Mastodon to optimize toward community, that is making it as easy as possible to contribute

🥄 Acropolis – fork of diaspora that’s making it as easy as possible to contribute

New extensions:

💎 Group Actor – groups work with any software that implements Mastodon client API; has moderation, admin announcements

Fediverse ecosystem

In July Inexcode relaunched fediverse.space - a beautiful project that has previously been developed by Tao Bojlén and that got a second life thanks to its codebase being open source! In August Paula launched a new forum for any discussions related to Fediverse - fediverse.town. In November Minoru open sourced Fediverse nodes list to help public statistics hubs and to empower new ecosystem developments! And by the end of the year, Fediverse Wiki project was launched.

Space photo background with major Fedi ecosystem URLs listed Credits: background image by Alex Antropov, Pixabay license

Let’s make even more useful, quality projects around Fedi! And, please, may they not rely on avoidable 3rd-party dependencies, like Google Fonts, Cloudflare and other centralized trackers.

More and more official institutions are moving towards FOSS and Fediverse:

• In 2021 Noyb.eu officially established its presence (for the second time:);

• Museums explore federated networks: Beeld en Geluid, the Netherlands Sound & Vision museum, and museum of retro Computers in Kishinev installed their own PeerTube servers; European Institute for Contemporary Art and Science opened a Mastodon account;

• New accounts of German politicians keep popping up;

• Universities are joining federated networks too.

There have also been ideas to set up an official Fediverse foundation, a legal entity to provide extra opportunities for contributors who want to work on improving Fediverse. Arnold Schrijver has been working on fedi.foundation, and Paula started a discussion about first steps needed for the creation of such an organization. Would you like to be part of this initiative? Join the discussion!

Fediverse 2021 timeline

✔ January 7: PeerTube version 3 is out, complete with live streaming feature and a behind-the-scenes 💡 short film

✔ January 17: Lemmur, a mobile client for Lemmy, has its first release

✔ February: Pleroma surpasses the 1.000 servers milestone

✔ March 10: a wave of new users migrates into the Russian constellation of Fediverse

✔ April: NGI Zero organize a series of webinars and workshops called “ActivityPub for Administrations”

✔ April 2: Castopod, a platform for podcasters, joins Fediverse

✔ April 18: diaspora* releases a new minor version. Jonne Haß , one of the core team members, continues work on a new native app for Android and iOS – you can already help with translations and beta test it (the app will work for pods running the develop branch v0.7.99.0 where the API is available)

✔ May: Fediverse holds its very own Fedivision song contest

✔ May 17: Tusky, a popular Fediverse mobile app, is temporarily removed from Google Play Store, because Google doesn’t understand decentralization. Users who’d downloaded it on FDroid weren’t affected. Google had already threatened to remove Fediverse apps in 2020, so this is becoming a nice yearly tradition.

✔ May 18: Fediverse 🐣 celebrates its 13 birthday

✔ May 26: Smithereen, a project offering the look and features similar to Vkontakte, makes its first beta release

✔ June: Owncast is awarded a grant by the NLnet Foundation to support work around federation and ActivityPub

✔ June: PeerTube surpasses the 1.000 servers milestone and becomes second most popular ActivityPub project by node count (after Mastodon)

✔ July 5: WriteFreely, a blogging Fediverse platform, shares an up-to-date roadmap for the next 6 months

✔ July 18: GNU Social maintainers release a long-awaited version 2.0 with ActivityPub support, and later publish some updates and plans for version 3

✔ August 4: Bookwyrm, a social reading and reviewing platform, gets an official website

✔ August 8: Pleroma 2.4.0 is released, featuring many fixes, additions and improvements

✔ August 13: Mastodon is registered as a non-profit organization

✔ September: Fedi stats hub Poduptime gets re-branded and becomes Fediverse.observer

✔ September 1: first Owncast tests of federation over ActivityPub

✔ September: Facebook is caught following Twitter’s practice and flagging posts with links to certain Fediverse related websites

✔ September 8: Pixelfed’s latest stable release adds media licenses, federated stories and improved mod and admin tools

✔ September 25: Friendica “Siberian Iris” is out, with scheduled postings, better notification system and admin panel improvements

✔ September 28: Gitea, a community-maintained Git project, adds NodeInfo support, getting one step closer to ActivityPub federation between code forges

✔ September 28: Funkwhale’s official Android app becomes available on FDroid.

✔ November: Mastodon fork Truth.Social, associated with the former president of the United States, Donald J. Trump, is open sourced after pressure from the maintainers of Mastodon

✔ November 9: Hubzilla introduces version 6.4 that improves file upload performance and all-in-one channel cloning via network

✔ November 13: GoToSocial project makes its first beta release

✔ November 13: Lemmur (Lemmy client) receives funding from NGIZero NLnet foundation

✔ November 14: Lemmy starts federating with several other Fedi projects

✔ November 21: diaspora* core team reveales its short-term plans for the future

✔ November 22: FedeProxy, a project that will allow code forges to interoperate, gets rebranded to ForgeFriends. Earlier in the year developers behind the project got a grant from NGI DAPSI

✔ November 23: Mobilizon releases version 2 with many tweaks and improvements

✔ November 30: PeerTube version 4 is out, bringing advanced filter features that improve moderation and administration

✔ December 6: Bonfire team who are working on customizable ActivityPub software share their new beautiful website communicating the vision and the motivations behind the project

✔ December 7: Inventaire becomes part of Fediverse

✔ December 26: Bonfire is awarded a grant from the Culture of Solidarity Fund to support cross-border cultural initiatives of solidarity in times of uncertainty and “infodemic”

Is any important 2021 event missing? Feel free to suggest it in issues or send a suggestion in a direct message.

Fediverse.party news

Feneas, the organization hosting this website and its repository, may soon shut down. This is sad news. Huge thanks to all the Feneas team, and personally to Jason Robinson and Lukas Matt, for your work, for always being patient and helpful. Good luck in all your future endeavours!

Fediverse.party is in search of a new home. It would be nice to move to another GitLab instance. But, as stability and reliability are more important than certain software, we’ll most likely migrate to Codeberg. Let’s wait and see how it works out.

Move slow and build things to last! Here’s to another great year. 🎉

Fediverse is mostly run by volunteers who spend their own money to keep the network going. If you enjoy being on Fediverse, please, consider sponsoring your own local server or donating to Fedi project you most often use.