Fediverse Rankings: Top 30 Active Instances (Including Controversial Servers)

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So there are several different sites that track numerous instances across the Fediverse, & when it comes to the top sites (based upon user accounts), they offer different listings from each other (although the list rankings are similar).

Some instances are excluded due to controversial content (which is understandable), while others are not tracked due to the software use or whether the instance actually federates (also understandable).

For example @dansup@mastodon.social (the creator of Pixelfed) launched the beautifully designed FediDB whose top ten is:

FediDB top ten stats by Pixelfed

Instances Social (which was created by @TheKinrar@mastodon.xyz) primarily tracks Mastodon instances displays this top ten list:

Instances Social top ten instances

Meanwhile the Fediverse Observer (who I think is maintained by David Morley / @davidmorley@hackyderm.io) displays this top 15 list:

Top 15 sites by Fediverse Observer

Each site has a reason for the methodology for their respective listings.

However, I was still curious about a realistic listing of the top 30 active instances in the Fediverse (regardless of controversy).

My list will also technically not be accurate as I will exclude sites which are either test instances (full of fake accounts for testing purposes), twitter content scrapers or sites that are shutting down. Sites excluded are:

Sadly a Fediverse variant leads the list at number one.

Note: User stat numbers are constantly changing, so I will not include specific user counts for each instance.

1) Truth Social

Created by the infamous Agent Orange @realDonaldTrump@truthsocial.com, Truth Social currently boasts about two million users.

Truth Social is a defederated Mastadon variant that is also incorporates Soapbox within their site.

While many third party mobile app developers have banned connecting to Truth Social, you can still access the site via the official Mastodon Apps (although do so at your own risk).

2) Mastodon Social

Created by the Mastodon founder himself, Eugen Rochko (@Gargron@mastodon.social), Mastodon Social has surpassed over a million registered users thanks in part to being the first Mastodon server in existence as well as the default server when a person signs up for Mastodon within the iPhone, iPad or Android app.

3) Pawoo

Pawoo is the most popular Fediverse instance in Japan (with over 870,000 users) & for years it actually was the top Fediverse instance overall. Powered by Mastodon, the site was created by @pixiv@pawoo.net who later on transferred ownership to Russel.

Russel eventually transferred ownership of Pawoo to @Sujiyan@mstdn.jp (I was able to chat with Suji Yan over a lengthy zoom call), who currently maintains the site.

Pawoo is considered a controversial instance due to some of the Not Safe For Work content they allow. However, the site does legally comply with laws in both Japan & the United States (they routinely take down reported content & have hired moderators for the site).

4) MSTDN (Japan)

MSTDN.jp or MSTDN Japan is a general Mastodon instance boasting over 350,000 users. This instance also currently owned by Suji Yan (he owns 3 of the top ten instances in the Fediverse).

The site is primarily in Japanese (a language I am determine to learn someday), & aside from being a large instance, it’s similar to numerous (albeit smaller) Mastodon instances online.

5) Baraag

NSFW: Baraag is probably the most controversial Fediverse instance, as the site hosts uncensored art which many people (myself included) view as distasteful. This instance boasts over 290,000 users.

The site is administered by @satori@baraag.net & is hosted within the United States. Baraag only accepts registrations from artists (who have to be manually approved) & despite my objections to their content, they do comply with all of the laws in America (as least according to the courts).

6) Mastodon Cloud

Mastodon Cloud is the third Fediverse instance that is owned by Suji Yan & boasts over 255,000 users. The content seems to be a mixture of Japanese & English.

Aside from being one of the three Mastodon instances owned by Suji, it’s similar to many Mastodon instances that many users would encounter in the Fediverse.

7) MSTDN Social

MSTDN Social boasts over 197,000 users & is a general purpose Mastodon instance run by @stux@mstdn.social (who also runs numerous Fediverse instances from various platforms).

8) Misskey

Misskey IO is the first non-Mastodon Fediverse instance (or a variant of Mastodon) to appear in the top ten (boasting over 182,000 users), & it is powered by Misskey Software.

The site is owned & operated by the Misskey creator, @syuilo@misskey.io & is primarily in Japanese. Misskey culture is much more celebratory when compared to rival platforms, which might explain it’s rise in popularity over the past few months.

Misskey software is actually older than Mastodon by about two years (former was started in 2014 while Mastodon emerged in 2016) & boasts many features that are currently missing in Mastodon.

9) Mastodon Online

Mastodon Online was created by the Mastodon founder himself, Eugen Rochko & boasts over 177,000 users. It is a general purpose Mastodon instance.

10) Counter Social

Counter Social is a defederated Mastodon based variant that was allegedly started by Jay Bauer (unconfirmed), but the admin/owner is known online as @th3j35t3r@counter.social (aka Th3 J35t3r).

While having a reputation as a Hactivist, Th3 J35t3r decided to create a social networking site built upon:

Counter Social also boasts numerous other features like virtual reality realms, & generous file sharing options (an “ephemeral 500 terabytes” worth!) for premium users (which is $5 USD per month).

11) Mastodon World

Mastodon World is a general purpose Mastodon instance run by @ruud@mastodon.world which boasts over 164,000 users.

12) Mas.to

Mas.to is a general purpose Mastodon instance run by @trumpet@mas.to (this instance boasts over 159,000 users).

13) Pravda

Pravda is a controversial Mastodon instance that boasts over 142,000 users & is primarily in Russian. I am not sure who runs the site, but it is administered by @admin@pravda.me (a general admin account).

14) Micro Blog

Micro Blog is currently the most prominent, centralized social network to enter the Fediverse. This premium site is run by @manton@manton.org / @manton@micro.blog & boasts over 111,000 paying users.

Micro Blog comes across as a mixture of Tumblr & Mastodon, & is one of the few blogging platforms that supports ActivityPub

15) Diaspora Social

Diaspora Social is currently the largest, active instance which is powered by Diaspora.

The site boasts over 105,000 users, although that number could dramatically increase if numerous users port their accounts over from the Join Diaspora instance (the latter is shutting down soon).

16) GC2 (Japan)

GC2 is a Mastodon (variant‽) instance which boasts over 100,000 users (with most of the content in Japanese). I am not sure if they are using an older version of Mastodon or a slight fork, but the instance is relatively popular in Japan.

The instance is administered by @admin@gc2.jp (who I suspect also runs the site).

17) Pixelfed Social

Pixelfed Social is the original Pixelfed server run by @dansup@pixelfed.social & is the largest Pixelfed instance in the Fediverse (boasting over 78,000 users).

The platform & site boasts themselves as a Fediverse alternative to Instagram, & while I have no evidence of this, I believe Pixelfed is one of the reasons Facebook is entering the Fediverse via a pending Instagram proxy site.

18) Techhub Social

Techhub Social is a Mastodon instance for passionate technologists. The site is run by @nicdex@techhub.social & the site boasts over 76,000 users.

The instance is primarily in English & if you are a technical geek (like me) you will enjoy being a member of this site.

19) Universeodon

Universeodon is a Mastodon instance run by @supernovae@universeodon.com which currently boasts over 74,000 users.

Universeodon is a general purpose instance, although the site does focus on scientific (especially space) & is trying to be a home for engineers, physicists, philosophers, etcetera.

20) Mastodon SDF

Mastodon SDF is a Mastodon instance whose group’s history predates Mastodon, although the social side of the group originally started out on StatusNet

SDF stands for Super Dimension Fortress & Mastodon SDF currently boasts over 72,000 users. SDF is administrated by @sdf@mastodon.sdf.org & they also runs a smaller Pixelfed instance.

21) Mastodon App (UK)

Mastodon App UK is a Mastodon instance that embraces their British roots (as you can tell when visiting the site).

The instance is run by @wild1145@mastodonapp.uk & Mastodon App (UK) currently boasts over 71,000 users.

Update: I corrected the link for Mastodon App UK (auto correct fail! 😂). Thanks for letting me know @CandyCat@mastodon.xyz about this!

22) Masto AI

Masto AI is another large Mastodon instance run by Stux which currently boasts over 69,000 users.

This instance by Stux is not as large as MSTDN Social (the latter is currently the 7th largest Fediverse instance), but it is just as fun. 😀

23) Mastodon Uno

Mastodon Uno is currently the largest Italian speaking instance in the Fediverse, boasting over 67,000 users.

The instance is powered by Mastodon (obviously), & they also host sibling sites across various platforms & languages in the Fediverse.

Mastodon Uno is administered by @amministratore@mastodon.uno & aside from being in Italian, it is a general purpose Mastodon site.

24) Creation Innovation Motivation

Creation Innovation Motivation is a general purpose Mastodon instance who was able to obtain a valuable domain name (due to it’s shortness): C.im.

This instance is administered by @admin@c.im & boasts over 63,000 users.

For those who loathe Mastodon user interface, Creation Innovation Motivation has also embraced Soapbox & allows their users to access the Soapbox reimaged version of the instance over here.

25) Fosstodon

Fosstodon is a general purpose Mastodon site who more or less became famous (at least to me) over their server costs which exceed $2,000 a month (so if you use the platform, please donate to keep their server alive!).

Fosstodon is administrated by @fosstodon@fosstodon.org & the site boasts over 58,000 users.

26) Info Sec Exchange

Info Sec Exchange is a Mastodon instance with a focus on information security (which honestly is need more nowadays due to our hyper political climate).

Info Sec Exchange is run by @jerry@infosec.exchange & the instance currently boasts over 54,000 users.

27) Mastodon Top

Mastodon Top is a one of the largest French speaking Fediverse instances who currently boasts over 50,000 users & will probably pass 51,000 users in the near future.

The instance is run by @thomas_virtubox@mastodon.top & if you speak French or want to connect to anyone in France, this is the instance to join.

28) Brighteon Social

Brighteon Social is a controversial, defederated Mastodon variant (slight fork of Mastodon) who is primarily known for allowing numerous conspiracy theories to be broadcasted unchallenged (at least by moderators).

The site caters primarily to the ultra conservative side of the political spectrum, & despite the political perspectives (which for the record does not appeal to me), Brighteon does boast a beautiful user interface.

The site is administered by @BrighteonAdminOfficial@brighteon.social & currently boasts over 50,000 users.

29) MSTDN Party

MSTDN Party is a general purpose Mastodon site boasting over 49,000 users. The site is administered by @staff@mstdn.party & true to it’s name, the site is a bit more celebratory about life than your average Mastodon instance.

30) Hachyderm

Hacyderm is a Mastodon instance who caters towards professionals in the tech industry but is more or less an instance anyone can join & enjoy.

The site is administrated by @hackyderm@hackyderm.io & the site currently boasts over 47,000 users.

Conclusion

Yes, this list will probably change from the time of posting, as the Fediverse is still growing.

I do predict that when Instagram launches InstaPost (what I call it) in June, InstaPost will skyrocket to the number one spot ahead of Truth Social.

After that I expect many of the larger, centralized social services to embrace ActivityPub within the next 6 months, which means this list may look completely different 30 days from now.

👨🏾‍💻 by Darnell Clayton 🔛 @darnell@darnell.day

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