Worried about the dominance of big instances? No, really, this is quite natural.

As an emergent and self-governing system, it could be expected that the size distribution of #Mastodon instances roughly follows Zipf's law.

Does it?

At first you see the top 6 instances, and then the rest. But on a log-log scale the size distribution is close to a straight line, which would be expected from an emergent system.



The deviations are perhaps due to the still young age of the fediverse. Expect it to smooth out. But still, expect that the big instances will always dominate.

Data: 200 biggest instances from instances.social.



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Oh, one bonus toot. Based on the top 200 instances, the s factor of Zipf's law on the fediverse is approximately 1.3. If all the instances were taken into account, the factor could change. But I didn't find a quick way to grab the table other than manually, so I only used the top 200 instances.

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@Stoori In the context of technology though it's important to keep in mind that:

Zipf's law is often driven by unknown or unexamined variables and is not inherently the 'natural' case for all social systems without closer inquiry to eliminate potential causes as the culprit and -

It is a mistake to consider a natural property of emergent systems as a *desirable* property of any technology, or one that promotes the best conditions for it's proliferation and use.

@Ashrand Yeah, sure. The point is, if the fediverse is not centrally governed (that is, it emerges by itself as a laissez-faire system), it will end approximating the Zipf's law.

Of course now the question is, should there be some kind of central government of the fediverse to counter this development.

@Stoori I think that is why I consider it something to worry about.
If the point is decentralization then the fact that people either have to consider central instances that dictate the spec and the standard for content 'in charge' or accept a stewardship of some kind of to manage in the same way then you have already lost, if the point *isn't* decentralization then you need to have a broader conversation about the goals that the project has/should have and how it is doing right now first.

@Ashrand The easiest way would be to implement a hardcoded maximum number of users per instance (eg 10,000).

Of course it could be forked away, but then, in any case, how to stop instances growing too much? Stop federating with oversized instances? That would in practice split the fediverse into different sub-fediverses that are following different rules.

@Stoori @Ashrand I'm curious what your graphs look like if you only consider recently active users - anecdotally I've seen a lot of people serially hop between instances b/c, say, the local timeline is too busy to be useful, or a new, smaller, more targeted instance feels homier to them

I suspect some combination of making it dead easy to start instances / move instances w/o losing followers/history + individuals wanting to be on moderately sized (or moderateable!) will give us a fat tail

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@Lioness @Ashrand That would be interesting. However, the data for this is not readily available.

Another measure (available from the same source) could be the number of statuses, which of course grows only when users are active on an instance.

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