📊 How do you define the fediverse?

There are many definitions of what the Fediverse is. I wonder which is the most common one.
Wikipedia seems to define the Fedi as all software that speaks ActivityPub and/or Diaspora and/or OStatus and/or Zot.

I’ve read definitions that only include software that speaks AktivityPub as well as software that speaks any federated protocol (that would e.g. include Matrix)

Then there is the question whether to include nazi instances and other instances that many instances defederate from.

So what do you include in your definition of the Fediverse
  • Activity Pub
  • Diaspora
  • OStatus
  • Zot
  • other protocols
  • questionable/evil instances

0 voters


I think you are talking about Matrix. Element is just a client like many others.^^

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I thought the name of the protocol changed too. ^^

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The Wikipedia page is really bad at defining what Fediverse is. I wonder about the purpose of this poll, as it takes the same technical direction as wikipedia. Like if I polled what the internet was and showed you this:

How do you define the internet?

[ ] TCP/IP
[ ] HTTP
[ ] UDP
[ ] other protocols
[ ] toxic social media

It does not make much sense to me, unless you are interested on a deeply technical level (but then the last option doesn’t fit in). Depending on how you meant this poll the text below may be off-topic, but wouldn’t it be interesting if we brainstormed more understandable definitions of Fediverse for the unitiated?


An interconnected set of different social networking applications that allows people to participate in their own communities and choose how they interact with other people. A person using the Fediverse is sometimes called a fedizen. The Fediverse is designed to allow individual freedom and control. In contrast to traditional social media it is based on open standards and decentralized, so that anyone can add new applications or host their own server for a community of fedizens.

Not at all perfect, but just a first try :slight_smile:


You are talking about a different kind of definition.
One is a description of the fediverse, which doesn’t say what’s included and what not.
And the other is a definition of what is included and what not, which doesn’t describe the fediverse.


Social networks aren’t defined by technology. They are defined by people.

What protocol somebody uses is totally irrelevant - a message is a message. Protocols are generally walls that projects create to lock people into their network and create metrics to drive growth. I created Zot (now called Nomad) and reject these concepts. We exchange messages with our friends irrelevant of what technology platform and protocol they use and traditionally have implemented every protocol we are able. Over the years we’ve “federated” with Diaspora, GNU-Social, ActivityPub, even Facebook and Twitter and email and RSS feeds and WordPress blogs (long before the ActivityPub plugin came along). This is a long winded way to say that my view of the fediverse is all about people and messages and finding ways to connect them even when the service they are using tries to prevent it. It actually has nothing to do with what protocols or platforms somebody does or doesn’t use.


If two people can’t send messages to each other, how can they both be said to be on the Fediverse?

If they can send each other messages it’s because of the technical detail that their two nodes share a protocol.

Talking about the technology is not very visionary, but it reflects reality on the ground.

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Agreed, but I was answering how I defined the fediverse. In raw terms I see it as people communicating (each) on their own terms without requiring overlords. Exactly how this happens or what technologies are used to achieve it is in my view mostly irrelevant.


It’s strange @aschrijver,

In contrast to traditional social media it is based on open standards and decentralized, so that anyone can add new applications or host their own server for a community of fedizens.

with your definition, you try to define the openness of the communities located in Fediverse as a unique selling point. And in the same breath you distinguish the entity “Fediverse” from the old world of “traditional social media” with “open standards” and “decentralisation”. Demarcation, restriction is the opposite of openness - isn’t it?

I think it is crucial what values people share, what goals these people pursue. I assume that it is not useful to use a technical aspect “Fedizen is someone who uses open standards * in communication” as an identity, distinguishing feature. Using decentralisation as Fediverse’s unique selling point makes no sense in my opinion. Because this suggests that the media used by non-Fedizens “out there”, e.g. newspapers, radio, TV, GAFA corporations, … are altogether centrally organised. I mean that ALL newspapers, broadcasting stations and GAFA corporations from which the Fediverse community wants to separate itself are controlled by a central office. But this is not the case.

An interconnected set of different social networking applications that allows people to participate in their own communities and choose how they interact with other people.

I think it is important to keep in mind that radio and TV are also networking applications when trying to achieve fedizens’ goals. They are networking applications that were used by people before new media emerged. Namely:

networking applications that allows people to participate in their own communities and choose how they interact with other people.

* free software is again different from open standards and is not a technical term.

Actually, the term Fediverse is superfluous

What I mean is that with the introduction of a new term like Fediverse, attention is suddenly drawn to the technical aspects. Although it is actually about universal values like human rights that apply everywhere - in personal encounters, on radio, TV, in print or so-called new media.

I can imagine that better progress on human rights enforcement could be achieved by focusing on cross-media cooperation in both old and new media and concentrating on the aspects that connect us humans - regardless of which communication channel we use - instead of isolating ourselves in a filter bubble like Fediverse and spending far too much time discussing the infinite technical details of this filter bubble.

Yes, I agree with a lot of those things @zharbird and my definition was hastily typed. It is very much as @macgirvin describes it with “Social networks aren’t defined by technology. They are defined by people.”

There’s only some of that in my definition (“people”, “participate”, “their own communities”, “interact with other people”). It is interesting to note, btw, how Wikipedia describes the terms that most people as so familiar with in everyday use:

"The Web": an information system where documents and other web resources are identified by Uniform Resource Locators (URLs, such as https://example.com/), which may be interlinked by hyperlinks, and are accessible over the Internet. The resources of the Web are transferred via the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), may be accessed by users by a software application called a web browser, and are published by a software application called a web server.

"The Internet": the global system of interconnected computer networks that uses the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to communicate between networks and devices. It is a network of networks that consists of private, public, academic, business, and government networks of local to global scope, linked by a broad array of electronic, wireless, and optical networking technologies.

Wow :exploding_head: Give that explanation to your granny and see the look on her face, ha ha.

Social media: interactive technologies that allow the creation or sharing/exchange of information, ideas, interests, and other forms of expression via virtual communities and networks.

"Social networking service": an online platform which people use to build social networks or social relationships with other people who share similar personal or career content, interests, activities, backgrounds or real-life connections.

Not great, though the last one is not too bad either. All these terms have in common that they are quite abstract and technical too (e.g. “internet”), and their definitions formal, yet by prolonged exposure their meaning is broadly well understood. Same will happen when FB and others launch the Metaverse.

Question is with our tiny size if we can rely on a similar process to happen. And what kind of definitions are needed to explain the concept? Do we need to make the technical distinction that sets Fediverse apart from these other terms, for instance?

Yes, there is Openness in adhering to open standards that allow interoperable services to exist anywhere on the internet / web and still integrate + communicate with each other. This in stark contrast to traditional social media that do not provide that. Proprietary walled garden that lock users into their own ecosystem and hardly interface to anything beyond it. Open vs. closed.

I think there’s value in having both. The social, human aspect, and the technical representation on the internet that sets it apart from other services. The technical part is secondary important, I fully agree, but constitutes an USP nonetheless.

Might give another shot at a definition later on, but curious the hear about other snappy defitions y’all folks brainstorm together :partying_face: :

BTW, Will point Antoine-Frédéric here, after their toot on somewhat related stuff.

I’ve thought a little more about the Fediverse under the shower and come to the conclusion it was a grassroots movement, technically leaning towards low-tech.

For example Pleroma’s lead developer (Lain) is proud about the fact that Pleroma can run on a $3/month VPS for yourself and your friends, or smoothly on a single-board computer like a Raspberry Pi or a Pine64A-LTS. PeerTube can be considered as a “low-tech” alternative to YouTube as it relies on pre-existing devices to stream videos (P2P), while I expect Google to buy servers proportionally to the number of videos that users upload. More generally, low-tech is a constraint for the Fediverse’s development, becausse the servers are paid with the sysadmins’ own funds or user subscriptions.

I don’t think I need to prove why the Fediverse can be considered as a grassroots movement : there are different groups of people focusing on an off-the-grid lifestyle, humane tech, resilient networks, low-level development, reclaiming the web… which is still a strong drive for Fediverse developers. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that @stman has found here a community of like-minded pseudonymous researchers interested in designing a different cyberspace architecture, free from TCP/IP.


I’d go so far to say that the Fediverse is only everything that can federate with Mastodon.

E.g. Lemmy uses ActivityPub, but doesn’t (yet?) ederate with Mastodon and the rest of the Fediverse.


That’s a good point. :thinking:

PS: Though I’d like the Fediverse to grow past the point where its defined by Mastodon.


Mastodon is a Microblogging app, so with this definition only apps that include microblogging capabilities or compatibility would be part of the Fediverse.

I’d define as any app that exhibits social networking capabilities in some form or other, based on ActivityPub / ActivityStreams specs that provide the social primitives that enable interoperability.


Well yeah. By my definition Pixelfed, Peertube, WriteFreely, Mobilizon and many others are part of the Fediverse.
But how can you say that Lemmy is part of the same -verse, if it can’t communicate with all the others?
I’m not saying it won’t ever be part of the fediverse. As soon as I can follow a discussion on Lemmy from Mastodon and/or others I’ll totally include it.


By supporting the same core protocols there’s the potential for broad-scale interoperability between various very different application types. It is unfortunate that in people’s perception Mastodon has become almost synonymous for Fediverse, as in Fediverse === Microblogging. It is much more than that. It is a decentralized ‘social fabric’.

It might very well be that various groups of applications emerge in different business domains that do not connect to the Microblogging domain. While interconnections with Microblogging might be made, they are not requirements. Yet these apps might drive the Fediverse open standards evolution in ways that indirectly Microblogging apps benefit from as well.

Like for instance FedeProxy in the Software Development domain. We always complain that software development is too technical-oriented and should take humans into account much more. If you consider all the processes that are at work in developing software and the various stakeholders / roles involved, you see that it is all deeply social.

Another domain might be ECommerce with webshops offering their wares in better ways than on the corporate web. Maybe with Bartering, Gifting and aspects of an Intention Economy baked in (where the consumer ‘advertises’ their need, and providers send them offers in hopes for a sale). No need for Microblogging, but potentially huge for the Fediverse.

Other domains… Knowledge Management, Open Science, Participatory Design, … , all might have Microblogging but it is not core to the domain itself. And here one might expect that maybe Mastodon will adapt their app to support it, instead of the other way round.


Hm, I get both your points.
Maybe it would be best to give them two different names.

  • One is defined as a huge social media network compiled of many different projects that can all communicate with each other.
  • The other is the decentralized internet based on Activity Pub.

Personally I’d call them Fediverse and Activity Pub respectively.


I have been sitting here trying to write an answer for 10 minutes, but rewrote it many times.

I’ve come to the conclusion, that I agree with Paula, except it doesn’t really matter if you have two different names for the two different things.
Though if you explain the Fediverse to a newbie it’s probably better to start with the social media definition.


I read Fediverse as “Fe-Diverse” or Federated Diversity, and we have the slogan at SocialHub of being “United in Diversity” along with moving towards “Social Networking Reimagined” (actual social, actual networks of people, instead of anti-social toxic userbases). The diversity mean that you don’t need to immediately ‘fit in’, but that by having common ground slowly but gradually things come closer together. All the while all fedizens can be ‘one big family’ and participate in the unique culture that extends to all apps whether they interoperate or not. For instance I feel that same culture on Lemmy just as well.