Organizing for SocialHub Community Empowerment

I hear your concern, i.e. that - given that funding is involved - gradually the foundation, set up to be as unceremonially as possible, would still devolve into a sort of ‘traditional NGO-like’ non-profit with governance policies and boards, etc.

This is something we should explicitly think about, so it does not happen. An incorporation as a non-profit seems prudent, because that gives the option to have a non-personal bank account, plus the requirement to have an administration that is legally in order (yearly verified by an accountant).

But that’s the formal side, and it is set up similarly (or exactly, if we choose so) as an OpenCollective Fiscal Host. Other than that the way the foundation operates should align as much as possible with culture, values and principles of both the Fediverse and Free Software movement.

It may pay on an hourly rate, or even provide on a (part-time) salary basis, those that involve themselves with community chores: Doing said chores - the boring and unthankful work that no one wants to do, but is nonetheless is required to knit a community together - is the premise for creating the foundation.

In addition for many or most of community tasks, it may offer them for anyone to pick up, and collect payment for doing so (e.g. like a bounty system). One of the tasks of the foundation is to raise the money that’s needed for all of this.

This is a bit cryptic, but assuming that with “dancing elephants and paper planes” you refer to federated applications…

Yes, that might be a very inspiring project to pursue as part of #fediversity:fediverse-futures and progressed by the foundation itself in her Roadmap. But it should not withhold us from starting with a KISS approach as just described: a non-profit, well-thought-out organisation, a website, and funding structure, all supported by using existing software.

That “normal” would indicate a failure to properly organize. I recommend reading 11 Practical Steps Towards Healthy Power Dynamics at Work | by Richard D. Bartlett | The Tuning Fork | Medium mentioned by @calummackervoy above, that - I also think - provides very good handholds to guide us.

Thanks a lot for your insights @calummackervoy, they are very valuable. Reading from the funding topic you spend on:

  • Gatherings (e.g. venue hire)
  • CoTech communication (e.g. stickers)
  • Outreach events
  • Internal tooling
  • Business development
  • Training
  • R&D innovation
  • Infrastructure
  • Mutual support

And I think this is an appropriate range of topics relevant to the foundation. I read you are using Loomio:

A group/thread will be formed at Loomio to screen potential spendings, primarily to understand how the fund can be used, what do we want to spend money on. A person/co-op can suggest what they want to spend money on and members will have a week to inspect the notion and block it if they disagree. If there are no objections, the spending is approved.

I have some experience with Loomio (mixed feelings, but they are evolving in a good direction). This type of application would be ideal for implementation as a federated app, as @hamishcampbell refers to. PS. I have personal long-term plans that are related to that.

My preference would be to keep things on this Discourse forum, which offers enough features to be equivalent if not better to Loomio. And it would save yet another tool where we need to spread our attention to.

( OT: I encourage you to post in #fediversity:fediverse-futures to ideate & brainstorm on how Startin’Blox fits with AS/AP/Fedi. )

2 Likes the link at the end, first article (ESF) kinda sumes up why I think this can become a mess.

Thanks @hamishcampbell I will read those links. As for the foundation initiative… there’s I think a nice analogy of how it should work, namely like Spiral Island created from recycled plastic bottles by Richart Sowa. I’ll post more on that later :slight_smile:

Update: I turned the analogy into a separate topic: SocialHub and Spiral Island: A Fediverse Foundation Analogy

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Link is dead to your article?

If I interpret things correctly, then in your first article you are saying that:

  • Fedi is at heart an anarchist project (I prefer to say “truly grassroots”, is more broad, less politically charged)
  • There are issues + there’s always a precarious balance between moving towards capitalism vs. (anarchist-flavored) socialism.
  • We lack firm socialist roots in SocialHub, where we just have a very loose structure and group of people.

Though I prefer not packaging in all the loaded political terminology, I agree with this in general.

In the second article you talk about the horizontal globalisation movement - a term I wasn’t familiar with - which I translate into encouragement and establishmentof healthy global and flat organization structures, as referred to above, with many groups involved and influencing decision-making based on strong democratic principles.

Very much agree with such movement. I think doing this right is sorely needed. Right now the world is full of groups doing really good things, but utterly fragmented and divided. New mechanisms that act as a binding force and unite people based on principles mutualism and synergy must be discovered and propagated (note that I am myself working on such things with innercircles which in its core is a life philosophy).

You then continue in the article to conclude that - while initially on a good track - things went wrong with horizontal globalisation, because:

  • The bad parts of human nature kicked in (a very generalized summary I made from the bullet points).
  • And to such extent (domination, authoritarian control) that it thwarted and sabotaged the entire process.

I hope my interpretation is more or less on the spot. I’ll muse a bit on it in context of this topic…

These dangers always exist, cannot be taken away. Instead they must be mitigated and not allowed to become dominant factors. I very much believe in the concept of mutualism here, and the win-wins they lead to and the opportunity to create additional synergy flows from mutualist relationships. In innercircles there’s a concept of continual maximization of synergy through mutualism in a virtuous cycle.

In that process the mechanism is such that, if parties act in self-interested ways, they place themselves outside of this loop, and naturally become less interesting to cooperate with. It is quite okay if they do so, its their own free choice, but they’ll miss out on their own opportunities. Opportunities, after all, are the ones you shape yourself. Also - when you scale such system globally - there are always enough other parties to choose from that do believe in mutualism and act accordingly.

I intentionally limited the Foundation concept to SocialHub only. Looking at the Spiral Island analogy, we are a very small group of island inhabitants, and our island is tiny. When we walk on it everything bounces and moves below our feet, and occasionally we get wet shoes. But our building tasks are quite manageable, and along the way we can experiment what works and what not. Failures are only learning experiences to do things better the next time.

With the current - too low - activity within the community, I feel that most AP devs and others interested in healthy fedi evolution, don’t grasp the importance of the analogy. That it is in their own interest to spend time at SocialHub, and that everything we do here, leads to direct mutualistic advantage further on.

This idea is what we must promote, and what imho should be one of the tasks of the Foundation itself. Not doing so will eventually and inevitably lead to the creation of many islands, not connected together, and just as fragmented and lonely any good initiative I mentioned above.

With mutualism central, ‘governance’ becomes easier and it is is in the realm of consensus decision-making.

Note, btw, that all these concepts are important for innercircles too, and I am looking for these concepts to be glued into federated, humane technology apps, to allow them to scale. My efforts with #fediversity:fediverse-futures e.g. the “Community Has No Boundary” paradigm, are part of furthering my ideas.

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This is both a step in a grassroots direction and some waving of smoke and mirrors :slight_smile:

“I intentionally limited the Foundation concept to SocialHub only” good move, but you know that if this works it will grow to become a governance body for the #fedivers, so we are talking about the same thing. The act of blowing smoke over this has a BAD HISTORY and bad outcomes, so best to say clearly what the agender is.

Q. who are we empowing with this body - no smoke please.
Q. blowing smoke over a process to get it to happen has bad outcomes, what ideas to get this to happen in plan site?

Are some starting issues

Not really, and there’s no smoke. I am a suggesting a foundation to SocialHub, nothing more nothing less. So consider this bulb:

  • The anode at the bottom is the Foundation
  • It feeds energy into the next ‘layer’, the SocialHub community
  • SocialHub members with knowledge gained through their collaboration, shine brilliant light into the Fedi through their apps.

There’s no direct influence on the fedi. Want to benefit from the foundation? Please join SocialHub and participate.

On Q1: We empower the devs directly. This forum contains tons of never addressed open issues, as no one has time for them. Meanwhile everyone goes their own way in their own issue tracker, and whatever chat app they use. The standardization track grinds really slowly, community doesn’t grow, new devs have a horrible time, and even existing devs are wasting time reinventing wheels (looking in other codebases, for instance).

On Q2: This whole conversation is already happening in plain site, and I am tooting about it. The foundation itself can also operate fully in the open. I don’t see a reason why there should be hidden agenda’s. Though maybe some things are trust-level-2 membership-only, just as they are now on this forum (i.e. the Wellbeing group access).

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IMO this is where we’re currently failing. Intead of focusing on the self-reflecting circle of developers, who are already sufficiently diverse and not aligned – everybody seems to have taken a part of the territory in the form of apps (pictures, videos, links, etc.) and converging towards my-app-is-doing-it-all, instead, we should look in the mirror and figure that most of the people here are white males sitting in comfortable chairs ; and do something to change this. We already started by inviting non-technicians (related to academy or policy) but it is very insufficient. What would make this community inviting to oppressed groups, that would empower them? This is the main issue I’m trying to figure out if I really want to bring a satisfactory response to this question.

Ongoing conversation is crucial to this process, isn’t it?



+100 here. My perception is that most ppl see the community forum here as a place where sometimes an interesting question comes in, or a nice event is organised, but not as the essential place where we work towards the next-gen versions of the technology + standards that all federated apps are ultimately standing on, and there’s a blindness to the fact that active participation here is ultimately a win-win for everyone, including for your own project.

Other than that I, of course, wholly agree that we should strive to empower any oppressed group. But in general I’d say this means we should be open and embracing to anyone and encourage them to participate, no matter what their background is (as long as they are adhering to our code of ethics policy, being the only condition).

We are a humane technology group, as I see it. So when it comes to oppressed groups we can specifically address topics to solving problems these groups have to deal with. And we should very explicitly advocate for oppressed groups and people to join our community. Joining should be in their interest, and after all they know the problem space best.

Problems like: how can we avoid toxicity to arise, how can we suppress it, how can we protect people from it. But also: how can we facilitate people that are not as highly educated, are lacking financial means to e.g. self-host infrastructure, help them set up organization and target non-English speaking regions of the world. And too: Help those that do not have the same freedoms we have, e.g. living in authoritarian regimes, or cultures where their being different is frowned upon. Etcetera.

nice discussion, I only wanted to add a fez notes, first while I really like the idea of a foundation, I think any discussion of it should be happening collectively and in this thread I mainly see the contribution of one person. To have any validity this idea should have more input, as chances are that many preople here have a lot of experience in groups and knowledge about organisational models.

Secondly my feeling is there are a lot of assumptions this post is starting from and I do not see them as obvious:

I understand this is second degree however I still I think it is a very strange assumption, first you assume that all people here are “devs” whatever that means.
Secondly you assume that people face up saying they do not have a long term professional plan within this community, I did not see this happening around here quite the contrary.

Well not sure what you mean by this but certainly there is absolutely no room in actual funding schemes for community organisation within AP, we probably should be looking fro these. Foundation is indeed a good idea, then it should be much larger then only encompassing the developers universe, and the first conversation here should be: with whom do we want to work.

Again I do not see this as a problem we have a lot running and what seems to be more needed as you also rightly say is to understand how to build meaningful community organisation.

Those groups are the only ones who have the answer and they already have community organisation systems. So best is to take from our time to ask them, rather then take from their time to ask them to come to us.
To understand what is needed by communities developers need to step out from their comfort zones, stop modelling what they think people need, and actively organize to inquire about what communities really need.


Wonderful, I love your feedback, @natacha. It is indeed a lot of my posts here, as I am sketching my thoughts to other SocialHub members. And in hopes of getting responses back, so… yours is very welcome.

I see this as start of a long-running process to collect the broad input that is indeed needed. Besides here, I’ve sent various toots on fedi, and currently running a poll. I will continue to inform fedi like that, among others.

Please take my assumptions with a grain of salt. They are meant to get a discussion going. The SocialHub has a heavy technical focus (e.g. one of my posts got response from another member that it was not technical enough for this forum). Also SocialCG meetups, while “everyone is welcome to participate” often have such high technical level, that I - as software developer - feel intimidated to raise my voice. I encounter this overly technical focus everywhere, also beyond SocialHub.

Since some time I am advocating to make this community more inclusive for people with a broad range of skills, expertise levels and backgrounds. And to combine our efforts in more holistic approach to fedi innovation. There is a lot of potential that remains untapped. So I started the #fediversity:fediverse-futures which I am also promoting on fedi and recently on Lemmy too.

All the things that require community activity progress very slowly or stall altogether, due mostly I think by lack of time by those involved. Numerous threads in this forum are inconclusive, with no satisfying outcome or follow-up. Open issues in the spec repo’s remain unaddressed. Meanwhile everyone is furthering their own apps, filling in the blanks in custom ways. It might not be bad, because at least there’s progress, but things can be so much more streamlined. And there’s a win-win for projects if they do so. Right now imho (may be just my impression) the fedi technology base is more diverging and fragmenting rather than converging on a common direction.

“innovation pace” was probably badly phrased. There’s no need for speed, but for streamlining, not wasting time unnecessary (preferably win time via synergy), and - importantly “we have a lot running” and what we already have is very hard and complex for newcomers to master. If the onboarding experience were better, we’d get a lot more helping hands.

In my proposal the goal is healthy evolution of the entire technology base on which the Fediverse stands. I see SocialHub as a community of technologists, which is much broader indeed than “devs”. As I see it: Everyone involved anywhere in the software / project / product development cycle in broadest sense, including those that advocate the technology.

The foundation supports SocialHub… ‘a foundation to a tech foundation’.

The community might be even broader positioned and also address socio-cultural and political etc. concerns, be a representative for entire fedi. But I’d argue against that, as that is just too much (at Humane Tech Community which I founded and still facilitate, a too broad audience was what made community engagement nigh impossible).

Fedi Poll: Active community engagement Yes / No

I sent a poll to fediverse. It will still run for 5 days and has 44 responses thus far:

#decentralization are key success factors of #fediverse … but they also come with weaknesses.

Fedi is still a brittle flower, and the #activitypub techbase it stands on is developed ad-hoc. Fragmented across projects & groups we create custom app extensions. #interoperability is on case-by-case basis, with few deep integrations across different app domains.

We must foster more cooperation, inclusive and growing community, advocacy at #SocialHub so we can go next-level.

  •   I agree. Strong community creates strong ecosystem

  •   It is fine as it is. Things move at their own pace

Will update the results here, once the poll is closed.

As a way of thinking about community I like “Community Digital Garden” as explained in this IndieHackers post:

Community Digital Garden

Community process cycle

When I think about what is needed to maintain a community digital garden, I think of these things:

  • the need for curation: the world moves fast, there needs to be a way to constantly stay on top of what is happening in your industry
  • the need for expertise: we need to be constantly tapping into people and their knowledge
  • the need for a process: just like a business, a community digital garden will die a death if there isn’t some kind of process to keep it in place.
  • and of course, the need to build community around all of these things

Some community garden thoughts that spring to mind:

  • When you build a community it is about growing together.
  • Things will look simple and clean to begin with, but can quickly become messy and disorganized.
  • When building a community it is easy to fall into the trap of getting measured by the number of posts, comments, or views, rather than the combined and potential value
  • It’s important to look at the long term value of content and what it means to your community
  • Members can easily default to (lazily) checking and posting from the homepage or forum, over taking time to search and discover
  • Educating your community about where you are heading is probably key to making it work as they can then hopefully align their actions to help you
  • It doesn’t need to mean that everyone has access to add or edit everything, it’s more about having some kind of commitment to creating continual value based on the contributions from the community

The foundation team addresses these things and would take care that the cycle runs smoothly.

This kinda thinking generally wins in the end as #mainstreaming is a down hill run - we need a stop running down this hill, really just stop for a bit to take a breath. Take a moment, contemplate, who are we empowering?


We live in oligarchy.

"Democracy arose from the idea that those who are equal in any respect are equal absolutely. All are alike free, therefore they claim that all are free absolutely… The next is when the democrats, on the grounds that they are all equal, claim equal participation in everything.

It is accepted as democratic when public offices are allocated by lot; and as oligarchic when they are filled by election."

The “liberal fig leaf” you put in front of the foundation will fall off the first time the wind blows.

Yes it is easy to run down this hill, yes you can force this into place, few people will try and stop you.

But before you do this please think - Do we in the fedivers want to live in oligarchy or are we actually building something different.

Results of the poll are in. Not too many respondents (47 in all):

  • 70% are in favor of fostering strong community.
  • 30% think things are fine as they currently are.

Update: Note that in terms of engagement 24% of our user base (107 out of 443) have visited the forum in the last 30 days (i.e. since @how announced the EC event). Not a bad number.

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Lets set up a BBB on this after soon after these current events.

Am working on fascinating stuff that comes for 30 years of actually working in and with radically decentralized networks. we do have working solutions to meany issues - the challenge is turning them into code and scaling them.


I could sign with both hands under this:

The tyranny of structurelessness comes to my mind. Not sure if I agreed with proposed solutions though.


Very interesting discussion. It actually made me feel like at home :upside_down_face:

Loosely related, I found recently Ukuvota which is a tool to facilitate cooperative decision making for collectives. The Manual is worth reading, imho.

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