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 @Ashrand

like how the largest neighborhood on earth doesn't contain 1/3 of all we humans, it may be that this isn't a dataset that will follow Zipf's law inexorably, but instead will distribute like skin cells, some larger and smaller based in function, but none 1/3 of all the mass

or not, don't know, strange morning

@sydneyfalk @Ashrand 1/3 or 1/4 of the mass is indeed a lot for one conglomeration. It could be more, or it could be less. The exact shape of the distribution depends on the parameters, while the distribution itself is a good fit.

So in the future, when the fediverse population is 10m or 100m, the biggest instance may have a smaller weight, and yet the distribution would be Zipfian.

We'll see. This is an interesting phenomenon about emergence.


@Stoori @Ashrand

I'm personally hoping for more of a cell-style growth approach, because I'm increasingly convinced that hierarchical structures built to sink control of resources in a 1/3 Zipfian are kind of why there's bottlenecks of power and those are the source of a lot of unpleasantries

(but it's not like I'm really the person who would know, it's probably paranoid rambling)

@sydneyfalk @Ashrand Mere specialization doesn't prevent a Zipfian distribution, as is evident from company size data, for example.

So to really have an atomic distribution where even the largest instance would be a tiny fraction of the whole, would require a concerted effort to counteract the natural size distribution.

In a subset of instances this might happen, but on the whole there are always those who don't share the same goal.

@Stoori @Ashrand

while I understand this, the fact that a subfed or even a second or third fed can be created may help flatten things

I hope, anyway, because power consolidation is community poison, and user base size is power in social media

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