Discuss The Grassroots Fediverse organization structure

Discussion thread to Ideating organization structure for the Grassroots Fediverse (wiki)

In the wiki I have placed some first content to get things going. Made a What we have… and a What we may add… section.

I feel that we should count the W3C SWICG and W3C official repo’s to “What we have” but consider that the formal development track of our movement. One that’s in parallel with our grassroots evolution track.

I would also like to reiterate my opinion on the role of Mastodon wrt the Fediverse as a whole. Half of all the discussion I see in my timelines relating to fedi evolution, boils down to “Mastodon does this wrong”, “Mastodon should do this and should do that”, and “Mastodon is hampering fedi evolution”. Etcetera.

→ An endless stream of that kind thing.

And totally besides the point. We should stop spending all that effort and focus on how to fix it. Imho Mastodon is doing nothing wrong. They are a FOSS app, folks. They create software and they add features that fit what they want to build. And that happens to be a Twitter-like microblogging platform, loosely based on ActivityPub.

Let’s turn things around!

What has the Fediverse developer ecosystem to offer?

It is the ecosystem that should provide proper incentives for FOSS projects such as Mastodon to adopt new innovations. Lacking that, the only thing Mastodon and other projects in the lead can do is invent what they need for their apps.

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Not sure what form this should take. I would like something aka “FediVerse Application, we would like to see”. I also have two contributions for the list

  1. The FediVerse Marketplace. See offerbots.org. Scanning the FediVerse, the first post, I found mentioning this, is less than 3 hours old. I don’t know enough to formulate actual requirements for this project, so there is a lot of work to do …
  2. The FediVerse Messenger: As in let’s have fully encrypted messages. This is “easy” with hard details. I would claim

“mediaType”: “application/doubleratchet+signal

should be sufficient to achieve most of these goals. The only remaining question is how to implement the necessary “trust structure”.

that’s fine if you want a “mastodon network”, less so if you want a healthy WWW standard. sure, they’re not “doing anything wrong”, but they are in effect either flaunting standards or setting their own. arguably, part of this is because there isn’t a real “standard” beyond “POST to inbox”. so i think part of the solution has to be creating a framework for conformance profiles. “ActivityPub” as a brand name doesn’t suggest any sort of interoperability if the payloads are divergent or extra requirements are placed on top. another part of the solution should be promoting these standardized profiles as their own separate specs, so that people don’t default to looking only at what Mastodon does. (arguably, this is a harder problem to solve – the “mindshare” of mastodon causes people to not pay attention to anything else.)

i think a set of docs under the “fediverse” banner and hosted on activitypub.rocks is a good idea to combat this. i volunteer to manage such docs. i am in effect already doing so in part on my “wiki”, a static site hosted at wiki.trwnh.com and updated whenever i remember to commit my changes to sites/wiki.trwnh.com: port of my old wiki from dokuwiki+bookstack to hugo - wiki.trwnh.com - git.trwnh.com

errata and better examples might eventually even make their way into the “soft-forked” spec docs and make their way “upstream”.

we might also consider an activitypub implementer’s guide published by the w3c as a note, eventually

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  1. I’d like to see the idea of using Web-based protocol handlers to have some universal way to open objects on the FediVerse worked out and implemented.
    • Discuss how to handle that a user might want to open an object of type Image with a different application than an Article.
    • Discuss if one can implement something for cases like “I want to like this”, “I want to announce this”
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All I meant to say is that we can make it more attractive to Mastodon to take more active role in broader standardization efforts, when there’s a slightly more coordinated - yet still retaining its grassroots dynamics - ecosystem working in that direction.

Conformance profiles would be perfect. On the fedi Hrefna mentioned their interest to write a FEP here.

I made some notes in response to Dennis Schubert of Diaspora* critique of AS/AP some time ago. He describes AS/AP et al as constituting more of a “framework”. If we say to anyone “Implement the AS spec and join the Fediverse” we are raising wrong expectations. But we might bring more clarity to the individual components in this framework to ease the path towards reasonably interoperable apps.

Nice! I added your wiki link to the summary wiki. And a TODO item under activitypub.rocks as we should confer with @cwebber whether to get the docs site running from a repo in Fediverse codeberg org.

We can have something similar to Open Source Ideas for starters, as a repo under Fediverse codeberg org. A KISS way of starting. But fedi.foundation would also be perfect for this kind of thing. At Social Coding, long-term, we have an idea for a federated IdeationHub (an app idea in itself).

Can you create one and give me editing rights? I don’t think I can currently create a repository under fediverse.

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Done @helge … the repo is:

The activitypub.rocks website may be the place that presents these two separate parallel tracks clearly, and hence serves as a drilldown into all relevant Fediverse-related activity for anyone visiting it.

Update: On the front of the Docs site, I created an issue in @gabek’s fedidocs repo, that would provide a great starting point:

This diagram demonstates the idea of the two parallel tracks of organization, grassroots and formal:

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But FEP process is a formal process too. In theory, FEP process and W3C workgroup could complement each other. Two tracks can be imagined as two stages of standardization. Once proposal is finalized and there is a consensus between implementors that it would be beneficial to make it part of the core specification, the W3C workgroup can gather to translate the proposal into a set of changes to the specification document. This way a proposal like FEP-7888 can become a part of ActivityStreams Vocabulary spec, for example.

Unfortunately, this is not going to happen. People who are now trying to restart SWICG have shown zero interest in the FEP process and other things you put in “grassroots” category. I think the Fediverse would be better off without such steering.

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9 posts were split to a new topic: OGB Means Open Governance Body

I am definitely thinking this way as well. On the mailing list I proposed that the SWICG should have an “official” version of the FEP process, since the idea can theoretically be applied to any git repo preview + PURL service. However, I also noted that failure to take initiative there will probably lead to the FEP process proceeding as-is (and likely reifying further on w3id.org/fep as a basis for an “extension registry”, pending helge’s FEP or my upcoming rewrite of it.)

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I noticed the dynamic as well. Cross-pollination between the two tracks should be stimulated as much as possible. My own focus was mostly on ensuring the ‘grassroots parts’ keep going and hopefully growing, so there might be a proper counterweight and balance once corporations and such start to weigh in for real.

Frankly, I like thinking about timescales. This leads to the following picture:

Minimal time for a FEP to be finished 2 months.
Minimal time for W3C to be finished 2 years.

I think that it’s good someone is laying the ground work to get an ActivityPub update in 5 years …

However, I also think that the changes to the FediVerse will be more on the FEP timescale than on the W3C one.

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I agree. I see the biggest risk that a corporate player launches a FEP-equivalent initiative that blows FEP out of the water. Very well set up - scoped as Grassroots Evolution in diagram above - and with paid people maintaining things. Think similar to React or many other such places (e.g. language level can think of Golang or Typescript).

FYI, I am carrying the discussion forward with @gabek on the related Github issue: Open to migrate to Codeberg? · Issue #3 · gabek/fedidocs · GitHub

@angus I see you online… good moment to ask… are the federation plans re:Discourse still going strong. There might stuff we can add into this grassroots organization structure based on that.

A post was split to a new topic: The Coders Song