We need to finish building the Fediverse

We need to finish building the Fediverse

Faced with the challenge of how to respond to the increasing enshittification of the web, and fuelled by a night out with Flipboard’s Mike McCue and Mastodon’s Eugen Rochko, Casey Newton of Platformer laughs and says:

“We need to finish building the Fediverse.”
“Hell yeah” responds Evan Prodromou on Threads the next day.

What does that mean in practice ? Here’s my top ten unfinished building blocks.

Let’s start with Trust and Safety.

Trust and Safety.

The heart of an ethical social web. Right now in the Fediverse it’s delegated to a small group of volunteers, many of whom are swamped. There are green shoots emerging here and there - like IFTAS Fedicheck and Connect, and FIRES. Bluesky has launched composable moderation. Farcaster has automod. And Mastodon’s CTO Renaud Chaput last summer published a radical manifesto for moderation by trusted third parties. All in all, plenty to finish building.

Spam filters.

Spam became a big talking point when the Fediverse was hit by a spam wave in early January. It’s another content issue currently left to the unpaid labour of server admins and moderators. Yet technical solutions abound. There are some amazing tools now, which can capture spam accounts before they finish signing up, or focus on cleaning up external posts. Pixelfed has shown what can be done with anti-spam filters and algorithms and we can roll out similar solutions across the Fediverse.

Next up: Safe spaces, Federation and Interoperability. These need to go hand in hand.

Safe spaces.

Fediverse servers aren’t just nodes. For many in the Fediverse they’re safe spaces. We need to nurture these spaces, and give their users more tools to do what they want. Like local-only posts, control over who sees replies, and easier ways to federate in rather than blocking out - like a safe list, instead of a deny list. We could add in Circles, like those being built by Bonfire. Work on this needs to go hand in hand with a push for more federation.

Bridging and Federation.

The Fediverse is currently edging along an opt-in bridge to Bluesky and garnering limited Fediverse sharing from Threads. The nostr bridge is blocked by most servers (it comes from the same developer as Truth.Social). To turn the Fediverse into a hub for the social web, we’ll need to go a lot further. Backed up with safe spaces for anyone who doesn’t want to participate. Otherwise we’ll just end up running multiple accounts everywhere, as is happening right now.

Multiple content formats.

Federation and bridges between micro-blogging platforms is only half the story. The other dimension of increased interoperability is between formats. Pixelfed is well integrated, as are Wordpress and Flipboard, which is great. There’s a fantastic working group in the Threadiverse, which is doing great things. Then there’s blogs - Ghost, Buttondown - both on the way. And Podcasting 2.0 is building on ActivityPub. So all these things are happening, but we need to pull them together into a useful user experience if we can.

A couple of things flow from this.

Portable Identity.

This is huge. The whole idea of decentralised networks is that everyone owns their social graph, and can take it with them when they move account or platform. We’re along way from this in reality. Mastodon has a solution involving multiple spreadsheets, and leaving your posts behind. It’s on the ATProto roadmap, but at the moment Bluesky is centralised. On nostr, all the accounts are already massively decentralised; on Farcaster partially so. Mike Macgirvin is working on bringing nomadic identity to the wider Fediverse, with linked accounts, which is a big step. The goal is fully fledged portable identity, first within the Fediverse, and ultimately across platforms.


This is a big gap in the Fediverse. Evan Prodromou has experimented with a premium account to capture payments. Bloggers, creators and journalists are pioneering patron supported newsletters and platforms - many of which are working. Ko-Fi and other tipping options abound. Podcasting 2.0 is building Value for Value, with Lightning boost. On other platforms, nostr is built around Zaps and Farcaster is built on Base. There must be so much we can learn from what they are doing - ideally without the friction of Blockchain wallets, tests and identity checks. Anuj Ahooja just flagged how there’s a big opportunity for Patreon to make a move here: waych this space.

To wrap up, here’s a few more unfinished bits of building to round out the top ten. All pretty chunky.

Onboarding organisations.

We need simple, effective on-ramps which give organisations what they want. Most social media is focused on individuals, brands and social media managers, not full organisation onboarding. Ben Werdmuller outlined what could be offered in a brilliant pitch for Fediverse VIP.  Flipboard, Dazzle Labs, and publishers like The Verge and 404 Media are heading down this path too. This is one space where the Fediverse has the edge. More heavy duty engineering and more heavy duty engineers.


Bluesky and Farcaster are demonstrations of how popular these can be, with tens of thousands of feeds and channels. The Fediverse has a semi-substitute where users can follow hashtags. This isn’t enough. We need to build in ways for users to create, curate and moderate channels, and easily share them across the network. Users should be able to post to channels, link to them just like hashtags or mentions, and easily discover the channels which interest them.

And above all this...


This is the mammoth in the room. Wikipedia has shown what can be done. Here in the Fediverse we have a smattering of co-ops, and some non-profit Foundations. Nathan Schneider, one of the admins at social.coop, is a world leading voice on community governance. And importantly, Erin Kissane and Darius Kazemi are part-way through a big study into Fediverse governance. Let’s see what they say - and take the opportunity to roll our more open governance across the Fediverse.

Build all these ten blocks and we’ll be well on the way towards finishing building the Fediverse.

There’s already a huge amount of activity by multiple developers and platforms. We’re doing our bit with Patchwork, offering our own set of patches to many of the issues outlined above.

Follow this blog for deep dives into the top ten and more as the new social web comes together.