Burners, furries, book lovers, bots, cuties, pizza lovers — there's a place for everyone in the federated Mastodon universe.
And if there isn't yet, there soon will be.
The distributed social network Mastodon burst into the popular consciousness last week, and is expanding at a rapid clip. There are over 216,000 users at the time of this writing, along with 684 instances being tracked — up from 649 just earlier in the day.
This is what a growing community looks like.
For the uninitiated: An instance is a server running Mastodon, and can be themed or not. Members of one instance can talk with members on other participating instances — the entire group of which is called the fediverse — if everyone decides to play nice. A user can, however, choose to keep what is tooted (aka posted) only within their instance. This neat privacy feature allows for narrowly focused instances to form.
Just how focused? Let's look at a few examples.
Burners.social launched on April 13, and is an instance for Burning Man attendees. Bookwitty.social is for people looking to discover new books. Cute.group is for "cuties." Memetastic.space is where anyone can go to "share and discuss dank memes and awful jokes." Meow.social is for furries. Oulipo.social is for those wishing to partake in a very specific French-born artistic movement. Party.personal.pizza is for, well, you get the idea.
Oh, and Botsin.space is an instance for "for bots and bot allies." Yes, bots. As in bots.
This is a semi-random sampling of the aforementioned 684 instances, and doesn't even include the gem Fart.social whose endearing motto is "No one should toot alone."
At present, the original "flagship" instance Mastodon.social still has the most users at 47,254, but many others are seeing new signups at a rapid clip.
Importantly, themed Mastodon instances don't rely on the so-called network effect as heavily as social media sites like Twitter. An instance doesn't necessarily need millions to join for it worthwhile — it just need the right people, and that's where the themed servers come in.
The aforementioned Burning Man instance, for example, would be incredibly valuable for people planning on attending the annual festival even if membership capped out at only this year's attendees.
That is why, even if Mastodon may not thrive in the same way as other venture-back social media networks, it will continue to exist as a go-to destination for hundreds of thousands of users.
Now excuse me as I head off to Fart.social — I have some tooting to do.