Important: We need Your Input on the Future of the SocialHub

The SocialHub was created to support the people building federated apps and to evolve the standards and practices that are foundations of the Fediverse. For many different reasons the SocialHub has now come to a stage where we must decide on its future.

Substrate Formation

The Fediverse with its many fedizens and independent projects that want to interoperate relies on the ability for the people involved to find each other, discuss how to solve challenge and innovate, and to “get-things-done”.

“Any decentralized [ecosystem] requires a centralized substrate, and the more decentralized the approach is the more important it is that you can count on the underlying system.”

— Byrne Hobart. The Promise and Paradox of Decentralization

The open standards and the people and processes, however formal or informal, are the common substrate upon which the entire Fediverse is built. No matter how grassroots chaotic, anarchist or individualist your approach this substrate is a given. And as app developer your app stands right upon it.

An unhealthy substrate, insufficient cooperation and everyone going it alone, directly reflects the health of the Fediverse as a whole. An organism with clogged veins that cannot grow. Some time ago I took notes on the health of the Fediverse substrate and the picture is bleak: ActivityPub related substrate - HedgeDoc

I have looked at several other major challenges for the Fediverse, and can only come to the conclusion that:

Without substrate Fediverse innovation is extremely hard, and over time fedi growth will likely stall.

This applies less to the existing, popular Microblogging applications who have their own “in-project” substrate. But it does apply to all the other places where Fediverse has so much potential still. Will we be able to tap into them, and grab the opportunities that exist? Reformulating the above:

There is a win-win for any federated app developer to participate and dedicate to a healthy substrate.

Fate of the SocialHub

Now the SocialHub is just one place where fedi’s future is discussed. We can say that:

  • SocialHub in combination with SocialCG has been active and rather successful in the past.
  • The forum over time has become a valuable archive of ActivityPub-related information.
  • Even now as just-a-forum there is still valuable discussion that helps people on their way.

For the future of the SocialHub there are roughly 3 options:

  1. SocialHub stops. The forum is archived so no information is lost.
  2. Just-a-Forum. Continue as we are now. Needs a minimum amount of moderation.
  3. Active community. Re-establish a position in Fediverse substrate formation.

Having spent so much time here in advocacy and encouragement I am sad about current “just-a-forum” state, and would be sadder still if the community would be disbanded. The third option of having an active, vibrant community is what I’d love to see.

But community means active participation, collective action, willingness to spend time, and commitment to be involved with all the tasks that are required to be done, including the boring chores.

In the poll below I ask you as SocialHub member where your preference is. Should you choose option 3) and opt for Community I’d like you to also respond to the thread with thoughts and ideas for how this community organization should look like. Anything is possible (e.g. organize on fediverse tools). If we boostrap as a community again we must put in place something that works for us, and offers the incentives to remain involved.

:boom: Poll: Your input is crucial !

Below is a poll with the 3 choices for SocialHub’s future. Poll is anonymous and results are visible after voting.

Future of SocialHub
  • It is okay if SocialHub stops and is archived. We have other means to communicate
  • SocialHub has value as a discussion forum. Real community as you describe exists elsewhere
  • We should revamp a vibrant SocialHub community and find an organization structure that works for us

0 voters

Please don’t refrain from giving feedback and thoughts on this matter! Thank you :pray:

Note that a very low response rate to the poll in itself is an indicator for the option we choose. So, if you read this as a member: DO VOTE :slight_smile:


5 Likes

This is a difficult one for me to answer.

Historically you can see the value of Social Hub as a community that has enabled change.

I don’t think without the showcase activity pub presentations we would have had the EU pilot. Quite a few people collaborated on here to work out the details for the presentations.

But I certainly haven’t spent alot of time on here and there was a huge factor as to why. Community safety.

When you are just coming into a community there are personalities that can seem larger than life and how folks behave out elsewhere does factor in to where you want to collaborate with them.

I feel sad it came to this. The challenge is how to revive the community on here when there are multiple factors. Because time and energy spent on community health here, takes that energy away from our own projects.

5 Likes

I’d love to see the Fediverse grow as/into a movement, where we all work together, towards a shared purpose, in coordination, and yet in decentralization. Creating a movement like that, a movement that can last and flourish, requires a good DNA. A body of knowledge about how the movement is organized, its vision, its culture, its story, its theory of change, its decision making processes, its information and resource flow mechanisms, and so on. We don’t have any “official” DNA at all!

People made stuff like OStatus and GNU Social and Diaspora and Pump.io (our history), and then a group of people created the ActivityPub specification, and Mastodon implemented it, and there was a w3c community group left to continue discussions about ActivityPub (our story), and from that point we were basically left alone to figure out what’s next :stuck_out_tongue: and I suppose this forum is part of this figuring-out. So, at least as far as I’m aware, we don’t have a big-picture plan. We’re a community (we have shared values), but we’re struggling to also be a movement (work together towards shared purpose).

We don’t have tools and systems in place for that. One of the reasons is that most people don’t have any such tools and don’t know such systems. Most people are familiar with the basic boss-employee relationship, i.e. do-as-I-say-otherwise-you-don’t-get-paid. Authority of the kind sometimes referred as “power over people”. There’s another kind, power with people, but nobody teaches us how to use it. From our parents, teachers, governments, bosses… all our lives we learn power over people.

What I’d love to do here is create a team of people, to deeply examine the situation and the obstacles, and create and curate together a system, a “DNA” for the fediverse movement. Clear instructions and stories and systems, based on very deep thinking and a lot of care.

My situation:

  • I have a personal Mastodon account, but I very rarely post there
  • I have 2 related fediverse projects, ForgeFed and Vervis, and I sometimes seek feedback/coordination on vocabulary related and AP related decisions, and then I come here and ask my questions and I get very valuable feedback
  • I have a Mastodon account for ForgeFed, which I enjoy using often
  • I’m confused about where the community is, how to feel connected, where to discuss stuff:
    • In my Mastodon main stream I just see tons of toots by many people about a huge variety of topics, I very rarely browse the stream
    • My primary way/habit to see relevant stuff on Mastodon is to look at Mentions of me in the Notifications section; but obviously most interesting stuff doesn’t mention me personally :stuck_out_tongue:
    • There are places like SocialHub forum, Social Coding forum, ForgeFriends forum,#social IRC/Matrix room, Forge Federation General matrix room, probably lots more… it feels scattered and I’m often unsure where to publish/seek which info
    • Discourse forums aren’t federated… it’s both annoying personally, and makes me worry that it negatively affects participation because it creates a separate world disconnected from the fediverse… I even thought a few days ago about implementing a simple federated forum in Vervis…
    • There’s even more places, such as Lemmy that you linked to, that I never even used - which Lemmy instances are there, and which of them (if it matters) hold discussions related to AP and the fediverse community, and how to keep track of everything…
4 Likes

Thanks @aschrijver for driving this topic!

I think this forum does/should continue to do the former. But standards and practices is something different that this forum probably shouldn’t engage in (we’ve had many other topics around this). I’ve received a lot of value from this forum when seeking support for AP protocol and how to get my fediverse apps working, and the forum has worked very well in this regard. Maybe I’m missing something, but why change that? Is it just because engagement/participation is low?

The lack of participation isn’t always because members aren’t interested. There may be other reasons. They may not really need so much support around their fediverse projects or just need to find time to work on them.

I’ve also found that lack of participation on Discourse may be because members aren’t notified when new posts are created. I personally use the RSS feeds that the forum makes available. That way, I’ll know when new topics are posted, and if I’m interested in it, I’ll comment and manually follow them. If not, it can be hard for members to even be aware of new topics.

5 Likes

There is an active and real community on this forum and the forum serves its purpose perfectly. Please don’t shut it down.

5 Likes

Thank you all for chiming in. It’s important to me, as one who stepped up to propose this forum at the first APConf and tried to make it federated – and failed so far, but we still have an ongoing option to bring this island into the Fediverse…

I thought nobody would be interested to continue, and felt really bad about having to take such a strong community decision. Now, I feel there is some space to improve on the usefulness of this forum and hope that former dwellers will come back soon and bring their insights and impetuousness anew to these parts of town.

Thank you @aschrijver for shaking the trees.

9 Likes

Glad we could help! :wink:

IMO this forum makes sense to continue to exist as a support forum for fediverse apps. But the standards and best practices governance should probably live somewhere else.

2 Likes

I would like to vote for:

We should revamp a vibrant SocialHub community and find an organization structure that works for us

but since I don’t have enough time to get involved, I will vote with:

SocialHub has value as a discussion forum. Real community as you describe exists elsewhere

This forum and Fediverse are tools for me to build and keep communities alive.
I am active in initiatives and try to prepare them for the Fediverse.

2 Likes

I voted for this being a vibrant community… because it is. I want nothing more than to be involved in the organization; I can write documentation, I’m learning several programming languages as self-enrichment and to contribute to open source communities at this moment; mostly C# and PowerShell at the moment since .NET ecosystem is ill-represented on the Fediverse, and I’m very good with communications and technical support having a degree in English as well as having been mentored throughout my college years in technology (I now work as a service desk representative at a hospital organization.) I can also help to make the Fediverse understandable for less technical people as well if that’s something people are interested in to keep the growth steady, but I agree with other posters on here that the specifications and what not should live somewhere else.

In terms of there being different communities being present to discuss the Fediverse… that’s because of the talking preferences that folks display; some prefer less instant communications such as forums, like this, while others prefer the chat format, like Matrix or IRC (hence the formation of the Social CG Matrix Server.) Something that could help bridge the gap, I think would be to somehow if technically possible, to bridge the Matrix server with this forum so that people can both see and respond to posts up here. Would help the community stay up.

1 Like

I wrote a bad fairy tail on this subject http://hamishcampbell.com/2022/09/17/let-us-tell-a-fabulous-story-of-social-technology/
CARROT

I selected option #2.

After this amount of time I just don’t see a grand reopening (option #3) happening.

Everyone can certainly appreciate what SocialHub had been and accomplished in the past, and a true forum structure is arguably much better than Chat/IM type arenas, but each project has it’s own Matrix or IRC communities, and there’s been an apparent lack of interest moving the standards and practices process forward elsewhere (where it belongs).

I do feel that, as a forum for discourse that is not temporaneous, there is much value here, yet there have been serious shortcomings that brought with them a question of confidence in the stability and long term viability of this site.

For example, a long period of instability. Answers to those who queried were of the, “hey we’re only a spare time volunteer best effort operation.” That doesn’t resonate well with someone who expects their participation to have the permanence that places like LQ or Dani have for a couple of decades…

IOW, if it’s going to have the aim of being a serious and available resource then having an actual structure as an entity is probably necessary - a nonprofit status is fine. The w3c, and the afore-mentioned operations all enjoy such an organizational anchoring, as does the EFF, FSF, and pretty much any group that expects to be an, option #3.

The months of intermittent and continually frequent downtime certainly tarnished the viability here, although thankfully, this resource didn’t disappear, as so many publicly speculated that it would… Will it, though? Has confidence that this will be part of a permanent resource returned?

There is certainly much, much, more that would have to be done to make this an option #3; resources to locate and track where other resources exist (and keeping it current), things like, where and what Fediverse tools are out there, like Fediverse.Network, FediDB, etc., how long they’ve been active and even if they still are, Summoner landing pages, even, that catalog and point to those places elsewhere makes this site valuable.

Also, where are the pages with links to the various discussion forums for the extant projects - which Matrix rooms, RocketChat, or IRC channels are available for specific types of participation? A perceived need to come to SocialHub on a regular basis for much more than a forum generalized around ActivityPub support is necessary to achieve such status, asking with a formal business structure.

Or it can just remain as it is - a hobby site where light forum based discussions take place only occasionally, due to the low volume of visitation and corresponding response times.

I enjoyed knowing the logo selection process was occuring here - and it’s archived, so so that is still available. You can’t get that from a chat system!

If SocialHub is going to be the “SocialHub”, then it needs to be that. Build those parts that aren’t directly related to a web forum, then others will link to it here as a resource elsewhere when people ask where the trove of resources is located, and it will once again become a vibrant community. Or not. Websites come and go all the time as they outlive their usefulness, and there’s no reason why SocialHub should, or will, be any different.

Has SocialHub engaged in direct outreach to reach and all of the various Fediverse projects, to encourage them to make project announcements here? There are a lot of simple things that can be done, or there can just be verbiage that, “hey we’re having hosting problems right now and we’re just a best effort volunteer hobby operation, we hope to have that resolved soon when time permits”.

If the goal is to make this an “in place”, then it needs to be made that. No amount of polling to hope so will resurrect this valuable resource with so much potential to be that “in place”.

And maybe it doesn’t need to be either. Just one of the many forums available might be just fine (option #2, that is).

:sailboat:

.

2 Likes

Agree with much of the written above, also to me this place has been very helpful and kind.

Something i notice is, that the entry barrier for getting active here might be to high. 1000 people have viewed this post, but only 20 voted.
So 1. this place apparently also has a lot of value to many people who take part by listening, but also 2. many people in this community apparently do not have an account.
So one way of creating more engagement here, could be to get more people signed up. This way the passive viewers are a step closer, to also answer on topics, which in return gives the initial posters more of a community feel.
So how to motivate people to sign up? Here’s an idea, tell me what you think.
We could ask all the good cyber ngos for 50 pieces of their best free merch, create 50 packages and send them out to everyone who introduces themselves below an “Hello, please introduce yourself in the comments” - Post.
I can volunteer for the package making and distribution, but would need help in organizing, communication with the ngos and carrying the post office fees.
Cheers!

1 Like

I think this forum is important and needs to be kept but it is missing many types of voices that would make it feel alive. I think there are many directions we could go from here but we need to start with some idea of who we contains. Do we only want the voices of programmers here? If not, then how do we make this place more inclusive to people with different types of knowledge?

4 Likes

Hey just to update that I was hoping to start in the meetings section regular virtual meetups that would be more directed to the technical side. To actually build stuff.
I am working on my own Fedigroup project and talking to other federated services developers really helped me to get it going.

I didn’t get the time to set the meetups and ask how people might want them, but I though I’d better note its in the plans and having the forum to set something like this up is really helpful!

2 Likes

My thinking on this mess is based on deep historical understanding of grassroots/DIY structures http://hamishcampbell.com/2011/03/05/thoughts-on-alt-organising-from-2007/

The original group who brought this activitypub/fedivers together went through these stages, they are now off the end of the article where this thread starts.

BUT the standard and project still exists, so the is space for a NEW group to take it on, the question is how not to simply repeat this mess/process and instead take a anti “common sense” path that comes from living though this expirence way to meany times.

The #OGB is an example path, have a look at it please.

Before replying in a negative way http://hamishcampbell.com/2022/09/26/mainstreaming-is-obviously-a-deathcult-we-do-need-to-keep-saying-this/