Participation: SocialHub, swicg mailing list and w3c wiki

@eprodrom asked a question on the swicg (Social Web Incubator Community Group) mailing list about why people were asking questions about AP/AS2 on SocialHub instead of there. @melvincarvalho posted a response that captures my situation well. He said,

the CG and mailing list can be less inclusive since participants need a real name, employer consent, and a signed legal agreement.

This was an issue for me when I started signing up to join the mailing list. My employer is not a web company and has no interest in the w3c, but they are very paranoid and would simply say no rather than even think about it. I’ve been working for them for 15 years, so I have a pretty good idea of how they would respond. The same issue prevents me from participating as a collaborator on the w3c wiki.

I’ve participated in a few other open-source organizations that required legal agreements, but they didn’t require employer consent.

W3C Community Groups (CGs) offer a casual environment for collaboration.

The legal requirements made it not feel very casual to me. I’m not criticizing. They are free to do what they want and I’m sure they have very good reasons for it. However, I’m very happy there are places like SocialHub where I can participate.

I monitor the swicg mailing list (via the hypermail archives) and I highly recommend following it even if you can’t contribute there.

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Another reason why is that many people on this list are not interested in ActivityPub, and one of the points of making the SocialHub was to keep the list quiet so that the ActivityPub crowd would not take it over.

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Another reason: The mailing list format is bad.

Frankly, working on improving social on a mailing list, is a fail of “practice what you preach” in my book.


I totally get that. What I mean is that from a W3C POV community groups are considered quite casual, as compared with working groups.

When AP was made in the working group we didnt know if anyone would use it. The requirement was 2 implementations and a test suite to become a W3C REC. Even the chair that was making it wanted more implementations and said 2 is the minimum, but it’s kind of ‘lame’.

Mastodon came along and changed everything. After that AP/fedi moved to the grass roots and free software, and away from the W3C. Grass roots has a good track record of creating open specs. The W3C mailing list still has some use, as it’s historically interested parties, and some current ones such as nightpool.

What I would say there’s value in, is that if you have an idea and you want it to be protected from patents and stuff, you can put it on the mailing list then it becomes prior art.

But I think to capture the energy of the fediverse you must have an open, inclusive process. This is in contrast to the previous, closed, w3c WG process, where you have to pay for access. Even though I was an invited expert I was required to fly to paris, pay my flights, hotel, conference tickets, out of my own pocket. To have a say in a WG you generally need your employer to pay a large sum to the w3c and be nominated by them.

I cant see a W3C WG process aligning with the way that the fediverse has developed, but you never know. The CG mailing list is more casual in the sense that you dont have to pay to be a member, but yes, there are other barriers.


This needs to be verified, but I believe you can subscribe to a w3c mailing list even if you are not a member

I also think you can reply to a public list, as a non member, but you dont get voting rights

This is from memory, that would have to be confirmed.

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I may remind of the wiki post about bringing more cohesion to otherwise fragmented efforts in our grassroots movement. And the related discussion thread Continuing the DoOcracy. Let’s build those bridges so that each effort reinforces the whole. Here repeating the concept I drew about that structure:


I had a different impression when trying to sign up for the list from the CG page, but I could have misinterpreted something. If you verify it, please let me know. Thanks.

Am I understanding correctly? Are you saying they wanted to limit AP discussion on the swicg mailing list by creating SocialHub? If so, I’m in the right place. :wink:

I like this diagram. You might want to add the w3c wiki since that’s another place for collaboration.

Thanks, may do that. Though the diagram is merely indicative of the rough division. The actual structure depends on who is willing to seek extra cohesion/cross-pollination and number of sub-blocks depends on that. For instance fedi-devs is asked to join, but that’s still pending. Also I didn’t hear from @cwebber


Not they, “we”… At the first APConf meeting organized by @Sebastian in Prague, we discussed the creation of the SocialHub. There was no consensus among all SWICG participants, many were not there (WebMentions, Microformats, etc.), so instead of rebooting the list with too much intensity wrt ActivityPub, we decided to build this platform, in the hope it would, one day not too far away, federate — we’re almost there, but the mailing-list restarted with a strong ActivityPub focus, mostly because people missed that part. :wink:


Oof, I agree with you, the mailing list UX is pretty rough. There’s definitely a part of the Fediverse and specification community that prefers mailing list discussions to forums (largely having to do with email being an open standard, vs forums). But there’s also a (likely even larger) community that hates mailing lists and prefers forums like SocialHub.

@how - maybe there’s a way for us to cross-post or otherwise bridge the SWICG mailing list, and SocialHub forum? That might address the preferences of both groups in a fairly painless and transparent way.

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We could certainly mirror the SWICG list here, but would that be fine with the SocialCG chairs and W3C rules doing so? Since the web archive is public, I can’t see why not. Posting to the list would still require subscribing to it, and I’m not willing to allow posting from the forum to there since it would confuse the mailing list.

@how got it, thanks. Sounds like we have some details to work out, but it’s not unfeasible. (To at least mirror it one way, sounds like).

An advantage of having a local mirror is that we could directly quote from the list and discuss here, then come back to the list with some elaborate response, or track actions to be taken, especially in coordination with the work on Codeberg.


What benefit are you looking for here?

There is already more being discussed on SocialHub than I can process. So what this would entail is diluting people’s attention even further. I would much prefer to make the separation clearer.

Personally, I want SocialHub a place to be for people doing stuff. The main medium of doing being FEP. You start working/thinking about something. You document it in a FEP and discuss it here.

This is a much lighter approach than a consensus based approach such as the W3C and thus SWICG should provide. It’s completely ok for a FEP to fail, be stupid, joke, … I don’t think something should be a W3C recommendation if you put a 10% success chance on it.

I would argue that fep-612d has something like 10% chance of success, when I wrote it. It’s basically just me stating the obvious. However, it states the obvious in a way people can implement it.


Yes it would be good to develop a clearer separation. Though there will be an intersection.

This is a feature, not a bug . If SH reaches its potential as a forum for all issues relevant to fediverse dev, there will be far more discussions here than any one person could hope to digest.

I totally support the FEP process and the use of SH to incubate and discuss FEPs. But did you notice you’re only including writing code as “doing stuff”? There’s a lot of stuff that needs doing to evolve the fediverse that isn’t coding, and like protocol standards, much of it needs discussing so we don’t end up working at cross-purposes.


Just FYI the “join the group” link doesn’t work for SWICG (Social Web Incubator Community Group) and the group is now closed (Social Web | Working Groups | Discover W3C groups | W3C), so the docs on participating there seem invalid :confused:

Hi @unboring - the SWICG is definitely not closed (though the WG, the working group, is closed).
To join the CG, go to Social Web Incubator Community Group, log in or create an account, and you should see a Join Group button on the right (slightly down on the page).

I suppose it’s just that the links in https:// www .w3. org /community/socialcg/2016/11/18/call-for-participation-in-social-web-incubator-community-group/ are invalid.