Open Thinkering


Tag: Misskey

The Fediverse is made up of cities, towns, and villages

Fediverse symbol with emojis representing cities, towns, and villages

It’s been great to see so many people flood into the Fediverse over the last week or so. It’s mainly been people fleeing Twitter and signing up for Mastodon accounts at or, which are both instances run by Eugen Rochko, the founder, CEO and lead developer of Mastodon. He said earlier today that, since October 27th, there have been almost 200,000 new sign-ups, which is huge.

While it’s fantastic news that people are experimenting with Mastodon as an alternative to Twitter, there’s two concerns here:

  1. Newcomers default to the two ‘official’ instances — this leads to increased pressure on the server, which is run by volunteers and donations rather than Big Tech. Also, the experience in terms of the local timeline is vastly different on a server with tens or hundreds of thousands of users, compared to tens or hundreds of people.
  2. Mastodon is not the Fediverse — the thing that makes the Fediverse is the underlying standard on which is it is based. Mastodon implements this standard, ActivityPub, in its own particular way, and with additional technologies and approaches. The problem with one platform becoming much larger than others is that it gets to dictate the way that standards are implemented.

I had already set up a Pixelfed instance to run for people interested in sharing and discussing exercise and fitness-related activities. Yesterday, I set up a Misskey instance at for testing purposes. I’m paying for it myself and haven’t actually got the go-ahead from other WAO members to be running it, to be perfectly honest. It may stay up for days, weeks, months, or years. But if you’d like an account, let me know.

What makes the Fediverse unique, different, and resilient is lots of instances of different sizes (cities/towns/villages) running different software. Why not have a look to see if you can perhaps set up your own instance — it’s easy with managed hosting!

Fediverse field trip

After spending a long time researching various options for MoodleNet last year, I recently revisited the Fediverse with fresh eyes. I enjoy using Mastodon regularly, and have written about it here before, so didn’t include it in this roundup.

Here’s some of the social networks I played around with recently, in no particular order. It’s not meant to be a comprehensive overview, just what grabbed my attention given the context in which I’m currently working. That’s why I’ve called it a ‘field trip’ 😉


Weird name but pretty awesome social network that’s very popular in Japan. Like MoodleNet and Mastodon, it’s based on the ActivityPub protocol. In fact, if you’re a Mastodon user, it will feel somewhat familiar.

Things I like:

  • Drive (2TB storage!)
  • Lots of options for customisation, including ‘dark mode’
  • Easy search options
  • Connect lots of different services
  • API


‘Card’-based social network that uses a Bootstrap-style user interface. Quite complicated but seemingly flexible.

Things I like:

  • Very image-friendly
  • API
  • Data export


Pleroma is a very scalable social network based on Elixir. It’s like Mastodon, but snappier.

Things I like:

  • Clear Terms of Service
  • Very configurable (including formatting options)
  • ‘The whole known network’
  • Export data and delete account
  • Restrict access


A new social network to replace sites like Reddit. Users can vote up stories they’re interested in and add comments.

Things I like:

  • Clear, crisp design
  • Obvious what it’s to be used for
  • Simple profiles


Uses the XMPP protocol for backwards compatibility with a wide range of apps. Similar kind of communities and collections approach to MoodleNet, but focused on news.

Things I like:

  • Modals help users understand the interface
  • Focus on communities and curation
  • Option to chat as well as post publicly
  • Easy to share URLs
  • Clear who’s moderating communities


Based on Apache Wave (formerly Google Wave) which is now deprecated.

Things I like:

  • Combination of stream and wiki
  • Indication of who’s involved in creating/discussing threads
  • Everything feels editable


Uses the OStatus protocol and was the original basis for Mastodon (as far as I understand). Feels similar to Pleroma in some respects.

Things I like:

  • Feels like early Twitter
  • Easy to use
  • Configurable


Built in GoLang and uses the same federation protocol as Diaspora. Still in alpha.

Things I like:

  • Simple UI
  • Vote up/down posts
  • Private and public streams

Along with Mastodon, I didn’t include Pixelfed in here because I’m so familiar with it. I possibly should have included PeerTube, FriendicaDiaspora, and Scuttlebutt. Perhaps I’ll follow this up with a Part 2 sometime?