A Fediverse example, illustrated

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I have written previously about what the Fediverse is, and how it works. But maybe some pictures will help.

Here's a snapshot of a photo gallery page created by Bernard Landgraf:

Screenshot of a Pixelfed page, showing a gallery of photos.

He's posting from his account on pixelfed.de, a photo-sharing site running Pixelfed software, which is a Fediverse substitute for Instagram. There are about 25,000 people with accounts on pixelfed.de, and it is one of about 450 independently-operated Pixelfed sites.

He posted this nice photo of a Roller, a colorful European bird:

Roller, sitting on a branch.

I don't know Bernard Landgraf, but one of my Fediverse acquaintances, Soh Kam Yung, saw the above photo and "boosted" it so that his Fediverse contacts would also see it. But Soh Kam Yung isn't using a Pixelfed site. He's got an account at mstdn.io, which runs Mastodon. You may have heard of Mastodon, because it's popular among people who are leaving Twitter due to Elon Musk's antics. There are thousands of independent Mastodon sites.

Mastodon resembles Twitter: you can post and view photos, but it is primarily for "microblogging" with a limit of 500 characters per post. So when Soh Kam Yung sees a photo that came from Pixelfed, it looks entirely different on his own feed:

Screenshot from a Mastodon feed, including a photo originally from Pixelfed.

Thanks to Soh Kam Yung, this photo showed up on my own feed. And I'm on yet a different sort of Fediverse server, called Streams. It's my very own site, with only one member. And here's what I see:

Screenshot of my Streams feed, showing the same posted photo.

Streams is superficially more like Facebook, although with a lot of features Zuckerberg would never allow. There might be a couple hundred Streams users in the world. No matter, I can interact with the Fediverse just as well as if I were one of the 7½ million Mastodon users. I posted a "Great photo" comment from Streams, and as you can see from my 2nd screenshot above, Bernard Landgraf received it on his Pixelfed photo page.

That's how the Fediverse works, when everything is working right. ("Not working right" is a topic for a different post.)