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

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

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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:

.

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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!

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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?

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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!

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This comes from this Looking for Volunteers: Organize a Fediverse training for EU representatives - #34 by how how to link the two in this CMS?

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/

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I’ll share my personal experiences and opinions if it’s all helpful.

I rarely come here because I generally feel like the discussions are very high level and academic, when my interest in the Fediverse, ActivityPub and the ecosystem is very practical. So when threads get created about the theory and ideals of things I generally just tune out because I have code to write and features to build and those two sides of things don’t feel like they coexist.

All that being said, I’m sure the high level and academic discussions need to exist, just personally I don’t find myself interested in that side of it and wouldn’t know how to take part even if I was.

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I think this forum has value as an informal watercooler where people who care about the ongoing evolution of the fediverse can gather and hash things out. Any time there is an issue that affects more than one project - eg what’s the best way to implement a federated replacement for FarceBook groups? - this is one place we can try to launch a broader discussion about it, one that includes perspectives from developers, active users, and instance hosts. Unlike the more ephemeral watercooler banter in the 'verse and chat rooms, discussions here are archived and potentially discoverable for anyone interested in the issue. So I think it’s fine for threads - or the forum as a whole - to wind down, when everything that anyone currently has to say, has been said. Then get reactivated later, when new ideas come up, or previously suggested solutions have been trialled and the results available for analysis and iteration.

Anyone feeling frustrated by low levels of participation needs to keep in mind that a lot of people in the ethical tech movement live on the fringes of society, often on minimal incomes, and our ability to participate is subject to what’s going on in our lives, and in the wider world. I’ve been around long enough to remember lulls in online volunteer participation for a couple of years after the DotCom bubble burst in 2000, and after the GFC in 2008. I’ve not been participating much over the past couple of years, because like a lot of people, my lifeboat was swamped in a big way by 2020, and I’ve been too busy bailing furiously to have much time or enthusiasm for online projects. But that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped caring, or that I won’t participate more in the future as life settles down a bit.

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This is, in itself, a problem that needs tackling. There’s no reason why, in a technological society, programmers of the commons are left aside, while programmers of surveillance and other violent systems are well paid.

As a reminder, I will point to the still ongoing NGI Zero funding scheme that has already brought a lot to the ActivityPub community. This is far from perfect, but it can help people get by and focus on their software while receiving a comfortable income. I wish this scheme would work for community as well : doing more docs, gatherings, specification work…

I also wish, and have been for years, that free software be considered public infrastructure, and financed as such.

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After starting this topic I have withheld from interacting on this thread. Besides lack of time, I really wanted people to vent their own ideas and give feedback first, and many good responses were given thus far.

I am no longer moderator, and will not come to summarize and ping people, suggest ideas…

In dev circles you sometimes here: “Show, Don’t Tell”. It’s a bit passive-aggressive, showing you don’t value communication with others until after they did some lonely work. There’s something it as well. Amusingly it also applies to community building and engaging with peers. And here the talking talks. It is the “Show” part of the quote, as it were :slight_smile:

If one thing became clear in communities as grassroots as the Fediverse and its related SocialHub it is that people must show their own initiative and pick things up. Or nothing will happen. Just-a-forum is the default state, if @how and @nightpool continue to be kind enough and willing to do continue to provide it. Vibrant, active community involves us all. If you want that, but you lurk, you won’t get it.

Since a week I am deeply involved in the solutions-side regarding shenanigans with Gitea Ltd where community seeks alternative options, and there was mention of a DoOcracy there:

DoOcracy

A do-ocracy (also sometimes do-opoly, which is a more obvious pun on “duopoly”) is an organizational structure in which individuals choose roles and tasks for themselves and execute them. Responsibilities attach to people who do the work, rather than elected or selected officials.

Now, I don’t know what is best for SocialHub. I’ve spent sweat and tears here, trying. What I do know is that we might just start with a DoOcracy to figure out the best way forward. And let things run from there…

“Show, Don’t Tell” :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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YES… for all its problems (and delights) this is a how the fediverse works, so it is a native aproch which is respect.

Though CommunityWiki: Do Ocracy the link is VERY non-historical, sadly like most current web knolage, the ideas do not come from burning man abovusly, they inherited this mind set from What is a Rainbow Gathering? - visionOntv were burning man came from, PS. this still exists and is MUCH bigger than burning man if on purpose much less visible.

Looking back a bit more, these ideas matured in protest grassroots movements over the last hundred years, and likely go back to the digger and before…

Likely the best place we can learn ways to organize and link is this rich social history of lived expirence #OGB

UPDATE:
Rereading this, am imagining not very constructive replys if any, so worthwhile taking the time to say why.

All working alt ideas/work gets consumed by #mainstreaming the history we most often see is this not the original ideas/work. Thus, I keep going on about “lived history” as a path out of this current mess and work on projects such as http://visionon.tv and https://www.historyofresistance.org to highlight what works from the people who actually made things work, not the “consumed” version of history we to often link to online.

UPDATE2
humm this does not come across helpful, it’s truly a mess, what to do, ideas?

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100% agree. But this doesn’t just affect programmers. The ethical tech movement also needs to find ways to fund a living for UX/UI designers, community management, etc. A lot of the funding you mention is only available to fund work on code. Which is a bit like funding a restaurant by only paying the cooks, not the people who design the menus, wait the tables, or do the accounts.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that these funds exists and I encourage everyone in our movements to make use of them. But my feeling is that long term, social enterprises/ platform cooperative models are what we need to provide the missing financial layer to our organizational stack.

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Not only do I agree with you, and I also like the restaurant metaphor because this is the case. At petites singularités we have been ringing the bell since day one for NGI Zero to promote not only code. Hopefully, in the new set of projects running through 2026, we get more of non-code sponsored. Unfortunately we are not the ones to select who gets the funding, and so far the criteria are mostly “technical”, in the most reductive way that one can understand technicity – despite we all know within free software that “technique” is mostly about transmission. So please, when you apply, try putting in some community management and design features so the funders get to choose what matters beyond code.

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By my count there 18 people who voted to revamp and work on org structure. Though I have no special power on this forum and have only been around for a year or so, I volunteer to take an active role in fostering this transition.

Edit: Now that I’ve had a chance to read through all the responses, I can see a range of feelings which include the need for more of a plan, being inclusive of everyone not just programmers, that this future is going to be set by the doers, a need for more practical content, and lastly the funding question came up.

I’ve known for almost two decades now that free software is incredibly valuable and that there’s a disconnect between that value and what’s paid for it. In the last 5 years, I took an increasing interest in social media but just last year wanted to pursue the overlap which brought me to the Fediverse. A couple months after diving in, I realized there’s got to be a right way to do this so I went searching for free software best practices. The journey from there helped me realize that the community not the software is primary. That means that if we want any project to be successful we have to set things up to build a healthy community.

We need a strong mission, the community has to be easy to join but not tribal, we need strong protocols so that we can self-organize, and we need tolerance for all kinds of backgrounds because that diversity helps us do the most good for the most people. There’s a lot more I can share behind this and I feel like I’ve located a good playbook.

From the above I feel like we can grow SocialHub itself to be sustainable, help standards move elsewhere, and start making real progress toward whatever mission we agree on.

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@aschrijver Question about the poll. Does it have an end time? I think if we set one in a while it’ll help to push for more votes and feedback and help to convert this interest into doing.

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It doesn’t and I can also no longer edit the topic post. Above I mentioned DoOcracy and would suggest to approach anyone who responded in favour of reviving SocialHub with ways how they can help with that.

And I suggest also to not stumble on the definition of DoOcracy as @hamishcampbell puts it in historical context. On Discuss Social Coding I described it as just meaning:

“pick up any task you want, and then steer it to completion”.

A new governance structure need to be set up to turn this place from a forum into a healthy community again. The biggest barriers to that before have been: To incentivise current dev community to do more than what’s in their immediate self-interest, and help divide the chores of community work. It is a win-win to their own projects eventually.

Currently the situation has significantly changed. While there is near zero substrate (people and processes to uphold the ecosystem), with the twitter migration and media attention for Mastodon there’s Corporate Interest™. The fediverse is full with ‘The Wolves of Silicon Valley’ as it were. That means:

If corporate interests turn into a Corporate Takeover trend, and there’s no community-driven hub where it is logical to contribute, then corporations will completely take over this activity and wrest control away from the community entirely.

There will be SocialHub(s) somewhere else and new W3C Working Group(s) with the usual corporate leadership driving Fediverse vNext open industry standards.

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Cats… we have really fucked up on this one…

OK, into the wild west did not end well for the Indians, that’s us, how could the Indians have turned round the history of the USA?

I do not have enough historic background to that, but in analogy to SocialHub it might have helped if Indians from the east would’ve convinced as-yet unaffected Indian tribes from the west to engage in the fight early on.

A lot of bad history in this link United we stand, divided we fall - Wikipedia cats and “governance” of #fediversity we have almost no time left to turn this around.

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#OGB we had the opportunity to code, build and embed in our culture a well understood historical way of horizontal working a year ago What would a fediverse "governance" body look like? when the need for this become obvious from our #EU outreach.

We would now have “voices” to talk to this #mainstreming influx, democratically base and native to our project. We don’t have this.

Cats and #geekproblem #blocking comes to mind.

What #KISS to do now? Ideas?