Organizing for SocialHub Community Empowerment

Hi ! I don’t have very much experience with the Fediverse’s organisational practices, but I have some experience in co-operatives so I thought I’d just post some things I’ve picked up here and maybe they will be useful to you

This article by Richard Bartlett we found very useful in Code-Operative: 11 Practical Steps Towards Healthy Power Dynamics at Work | by Richard D. Bartlett | The Tuning Fork | Medium. I like that the post here meets well with “Break the power taboo”. In the past I’ve found that some of the organisations I’ve been in have pretended that power doesn’t exist and this can be quite damaging, it just masks where the power is (“we’re non-hierarchical, so everyone’s equal”)

I read an interesting paper about centralisation on Mastodon: I think it’s relevant because it shows how central power can develop for instances (e.g. because they’re popular) or for groups of people (e.g. if the most powerful instances are in the West). In co-ops power normally resides with the people that founded it, and with the people who contribute most. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it can be - for example I think this is one of the things which worries people about Twitter threatening to get involved on Mastodon (“embrace, extend, extinguish”)

I’ve seen a lot about Sociocracy recently and my experience of it so far in CoTech has been positive. The main innovations which I personally like:

  • it delegates responsibility to “circles” without allowing them to hold power over others or become a caste of their own
  • it replaces consensus (“all 20,000 of us agree that this is exactly what we want”. “Actually I don’t for any arbitrary reason… proposal blocks”) and voting (which often over-simplifies issues and encourages conflicts… “EU, yes or no?”), with consent (“all 20,000 of us agree that we can live with this” “Actually I don’t and I have a valid reason to withdraw my consent”)
  • through the system of “rounds” it is good at making sure everyone’s voices are heard
  • in my experience voting is sometimes necessary

There’s a London-based co-operative called Outlandish provides sociocracy training and has been doing it online throughout the pandemic. They did some for us and it’s been positive. If you like the sound of this I can put you in touch with someone

In terms of structure I think that “sharing the ownership” generally means using a co-operative model. That basically means that all members have 1 share each, equal voting rights and can’t acquire more shares than other members, but structure (“who is a member?”) and policy are fairly open-ended


Hi Paul, yes the fedi discussion was started from my general worries on the speed of progress, while we are in the midst of a maelstrom of tech developments that are accompanied with many harms of technology. My concern is that we at fediverse overestimate our strength and our ability to stay relevant in the long term.

The organic, grassroots nature of fedi has been our friend and reason for pride, given what has been achieved, but fragmented ad-hoc development is also now holding us back. There are tons of open issues within this community that need be addressed, and also we need to make it easier for others to help the healthy evolution of the Fediverse.

Thanks for your interesting posts! As I tooted you yesterday, it is not a ‘governance’ body per se that is needed, and certainly not a very formal one, rather than possibly a funded foundation to the SocialHub community that takes care of the community empowerment, and doing the chores to encourage collaboration and cooperation, in addition to healthy growth and both internal & external advocacy (having a common voice).

Other than that this “foundation to foster the tech foundation” should be as informal as possible, and fitting with the culture of FOSS and Fediverse folks as much as possible.

(Maybe @hamishcampbell will allow me to change the title of this thread to better reflect this, or we can start a new topic)

The article by Richard D. Bartlett is fantastic and inspiring. Note that I am very interested in Sociocracy 3.0 and possibly to bring this model to fediverse as a vocabulary extension. I also referred to it in Standardizing on a common Community domain as AP extension? (the “Community has no Boundary” paradigm).

Your centralisation concern is very valid, and also - on the development side of things - an issue, where many things are molded and adapted to how Mastodon develops. While they are providing a great Microblogging project, this is only one of the many, many domains + use cases that AS/AP lends itself to interoperability-wise. I created #fediversity:fediverse-futures to give more attention to those, and to also involve more people with different backgrounds and skillsets in the process.


a funded foundation to the SocialHub community that takes care of the community empowerment , and doing the chores to encourage collaboration and cooperation , in addition to healthy growth and both internal & external advocacy (having a common voice)

I like this paragraph a lot - I think it provides both a clear definition of the need for the organisation and of it’s boundaries

I think that it’s probably a universal need in decentralised networks, in CoTech we addressed similar needs in a similar way and even having a very small fund (less than £10,000) has made a huge difference in getting stuff done. Our documentation on it is public and describes how we manage it which might be useful. I think this post best covers it. The fund has only been going for a couple of years so I wouldn’t say our management of it is necessarily the “right answer” but it works for us

should be as informal as possible

I have a concern about informal - because I think that no matter what the scope of the body there will be a need for internal governance. I think that you might mean that you want the body to be as open and decentralised as possible?

If so I think that one of the things that I took away from Bartlett’s article and from past experiences of decentralised organising “going wrong”, is that when you don’t formalise or address power dynamics in an organisation, they still exist but they’re not clear. I think that it can end up being less open/decentralised without formalisation

I was reading about this problem at Valve. Notably Valve didn’t share the ownership, and I think this is probably their biggest error, but I think the other one is not breaking the power taboo, visible in all their public/leaked insistance that “there’s no bosses”. I think Valve is a horror story, but I’ve seen it in many organisations that it’s a hurdle to get over before “no power relations” becomes “healthily managed power relations”… because power relations are natural, right ? To illustrate my opinion on that I’d say that a healthy power relation is me deferring to you about the Fediverse’s needs because you have more experience with it than I do

I don’t think that it’s necessary to be a registered company to function like a co-operative, and I know that it’s not necessary to be an employee of a co-operative to be a member of it. A couple of the co-operatives I mentioned are freelancer’s co-operatives in the UK and France, and there are things like this community cinema owned by its volunteers which show how you can organise as a co-operative without being paid by it


Thanks for sharing the link to Sociocracy 3.0, I didn’t know these resources existed but I think they’re really clear :slight_smile:

Really cool to see the work on an ontology for modelling communities as well. Actually I joined this forum because I’m working on a Django framework to build federated apps which uses ActivityStreams, and it occurs to me that at least one of the clients has started defining a custom implementation to model communities :sweat_smile:

1 Like

How to get dancing elephants and paper planes into a “foundation” model :slight_smile:

  • Do something different - dancing elephants and paper planes.
  • Do something normal - control freekery and power politics games.
  • Do nothing - maybe it all just carries on or more likely decay and irrelevances.

#Activertypub is the first option and this is why we love it and are having this conversation.

I am strongly opposed to this, on the grounds that it is plutocratic method of oppressing poor people, i.e. the vast majority of the population of Earth. The only people copyrights benefit are the super-rich, since poor people are not able to enforce copyright.
Copyrights were made up by the super wealthy, for the super wealthy, and continue to destroy the common people, through a combination of impoverishing the common people, and also forcing them to be stupid, by limiting the amount of information they can afford to learn.
“The first copyright law was a censorship law.” The Surprising History of Copyright and The Promise of a Post-Copyright World – Question Copyright

Germany only excelled beyond other nations pre WWII, not because they were “aryan”, but because they had no copyrights. No Copyright Law: The Real Reason for Germany's Industrial Expansion? - DER SPIEGEL

If anything we need to be thinking of how we can port Z-Library to the Fediverse.
Something like peer-tube but for books and articles.

1 Like

Hi @Andrii. Please note that you are quoting from text that someone else (Rysiekúr) tooted, in a long fediverse discussion that indirectly triggered creation of this topic. Deep discussions and opinions about these subjects are way beyond the scope of this particular topic, and I kindly request you to stop trying to broaden the discussion to “the matters of the world”.

Here is once again what this topic is about:

  • A funded foundation to the SocialHub community (i.e. just the 400 members of this forum)
  • That takes care of the community empowerment (for and on behalf of these members)
  • Doing the chores to encourage and stimulate collaboration and cooperation (between members)
  • Fostering healthy growth (of the SocialHub community and the technology base it evolves)
  • Helps with both internal & external advocacy (based on the technology focus of this community)

And as I already explained you on the other thread when it comes to politics / public opinion / culture there is a narrowing - in a spectrum ranging from deeply involved to as-neutral-as-possible - when going from: Fediverse → SocialHub → Foundation.

This community evolves technology standards and the applications that build upon them. With that - until the SocialHub community decides differently - it is not a political action group of any kind. And even then the foundation does not take charge - as the members are in control - but merely adopts the stance upon which there is community consensus.

I’ll repeat from what I wrote before:

This is my opinion of what I think would work best foundation-wise.

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

1 Like

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.

1 Like

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).

1 Like

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.