RIPE NCC Community Fund 2023

Continuing the discussion from Are we ready for the threats to the Fediverse and decentralization movement?:

Just to follow up on the funding topic: I submitted a proposal to obtain a grant from RIPE NCC Community Fund that would cover hosting costs of a few community assets (including here,,, etc. — still to be determined) so that we can have a nice cooperative setup to further our goals to create a decentralized organization.

As the proposal contains personal information, I will only share some parts. If you’d like to know more, please let me know.

Project description

ActivityPub is the fastest growing social media open standard. The SocialHub was created during the first ActivityPub conference, in October 2020 in Prague, to supplement the Social Web Incubator Community Group and encourage a strong, cooperative ActivityPub standard steering as a Special Interest Group. The need for a community infrastructure independent from W3C was felt as the proposed tools were limiting inclusiveness of non-W3C members, which form the bulk of the ActivityPub community ; and also because focusing on ActivityPub discussions on the SocialCG mailing-list felt spammy towards alternative routes chosen by others. This project aims to consolidate ongoing efforts towards self-sustainability of the developer community, identifying valuable assets that emerged over the last three years, and relieving the community of hosting burdens so we can focus on collective governance and the formation of a collective governing body for decentralized efforts.


SocialHub on the Fediverse

The first milestone (estimated M3) is to have ActivityPub support for our Discourse forum. This will be accompanied by a general acknowledgement from all involved parties and related websites.

SocialHub Code of Conduct

After 4 years of building community awareness and a strong, we can finalize a CoC that can serve in our collective events, sharing our unique community values emerged from active participation. Estimated: M6

ActivityPub Test Suite

All long-standing issues are closed, the online presence is now complete, and implementers can check standards-compliance against a running test suite. Estimated M9

The SocialHub Book

petites singularités release a book on the ActivityPub community practices and launch it at a SocialHub gathering to celebrate our achievements. Estimated M12.


Note that the requested amount is 30,000€ (the remaining 40k€ would be covered by petites singularités)

5000€ – Infrastructure (domain names, hosting, contribution to Codeberg)
10000€ – Administration and coordination
5000€ – Book creation, printing, and promotion
50000€ – Community animation and outreach
(e.g., SocialHub administration and moderation, onboarding and copyediting…)

Key performance indicators
  • Double number of SocialHub users (now 700)
  • Double number of software teams on the SocialHub (now 38)
  • 1000 copies of book printed
  • 300K page views per month (now 175K)
  • 10 press articles (now zero: we did not reach out)
Funded Activities
  • SocialHub community building
  • website
  • ActivityPub Test Suite
  • ActivityPub Guide for New Implementers
  • SocialHub Code of Conduct
  • Issues on Github ActivityStreams and ActivityPub repositories
  • Fediverse Enhancement Proposals on Codeberg FEP repository
  • Fediverse website assets:
  • The SocialHub book (in the Synware collection of non-profit Éditions petites singularités, released under Free Art License)
  • Fediverse Online Meeting 2023
  • SocialHub ActivityPub gathering 2024

I have received a negative result from the RIPE NCC Community Fund coordinator.

This does not mean the work has not to be done, just that it should be done with no means, or we must find other funding sources.

I am interested in documenting ActivityPub clients, as mentioned elsewhere.


That is a bummer, thanks much for trying and applying, @how :pray:

NLNet will set up a Commons-oriented fund in 2024:

We are happy to announce the new NGI Zero Commons Fund which will start at the beginning of 2024 and will last until mid 2027.

From: NLnet; Celebrating Five Years NGI Zero :)

yep, our ogb funding application was turned down as well:
Hello Hamish Campbell,

Thank you for submitting an application to the RIPE NCC Community Projects Fund.

The fact that we received over 50 application submissions this year, shows that there are many great project ideas out there in need of support. The selection committee reviewed applications from 26 different countries covering various areas of interest.

The quality of applications was extremely high and the Selection Committee had a difficult task in choosing the successful applicants. After careful consideration, the Selection Committee has decided not to fund your project this year.

All applications were scored using the same criteria and selected based on these scores. You can read more about the scoring process for applications in a RIPE Labs article here:

If you do have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Kind regards,

RIPE NCC Community Projects Fund Coordinator

I wonder is any #activertypub projects were funded?

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@how I’m curious if you’re making an application like this as an individual or an organisation?

This one was made on behalf of my non-profit association, petites singularités. The idea was to bootstrap a collective process beyond the SocialHub to impulse the will to create a dedicated foundation.

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Interesting. Just one thought in my mind is that sometimes folks reviewing applications like these will give “credit” (conscious or unconscious) if there’s an organisation specifically tied to the same purpose of the thing you’re applying for. Basically it helps with credibility.

Is there a reason why you can’t create an “ActivityPub Foundation”, explicitly referenced and tied to (and get some new news items on that website to make it feel current). I’m guessing there’s probably a reason why there isn’t an ActivityPub Foundation, and that ownership of the landing page and ActivityPub “brand” is not straightforward, but that’s where my mind starts with this kind of thing.

Basically, get the right people and “brand” behind it and it’ll significantly increase the likelihood of making a succesful grant application. Grant money for ActivityPub is more likely to flow to “ActivityPub” the organisation/brand, than an individual, or another organisation.

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petites singularités is pretty much the closest thing you can get from a European perspective. If you want to know why there’s no AP foundation yet, maybe start with looking up in the local search.

I’m sure there’s a long history :slight_smile: If you could summarise it briefly or point me in the right direction. It’s just that my gut is that that is one of the threshold issues to getting funding for this.

There are a few views on this, the “common sense” #NGO path, an example Presenting Fedi Foundation: Empowerment for SocialHub community

And the more “nativist” openweb path What would a fediverse "governance" body look like?

And then we have the #geekproblem path, which has been pushing the fep process the last 2 years, but I think they are avoiding the politics of actually touching this issue. Fair enough.

If the “native” openweb crew don’t move past their frackterd “left” mess issues then I think in the end the #NGO path will be imposed, It’s simply what happens, the is a long history to this.

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A topic after my own heart. Even some Elinor Ostrom references :heart:

I see.

Simply put, I think you need an actual legal entity here called the “ActivityPub Foundation”. How that entity is run and governed is another question. But if you have an actual thing with the name of the thing (i.e. “ActivityPub”), folks checking their boxes for a grant application are much more likely to look favourably on it.

I totally get the impulse to sort out the “how we work together” without any formal structure. But it does make things like grant applications harder. And, relatedly, can result in a lot of unacknowledged labour on the part of folks in the role of @how (and others).

This is why with Pavilion (a workers cooperative), I established it as a very simple UK corporation, and, post-brexit, Estonian corporation (easiest EU jurisdiction to register in), and then worked out the “how we work together” piece afterwards. Having that simple setup meant that we could easily work with clients and apply for grant applications while we were still figuring out the very difficult “how we work together” piece of the collective effort (we’re still figuring out pieces of it). This (i.e. the ActivityPub community) is a different kind of effort from Pavilion, but I think a similar kind of thing applies mutatis mutandis.

It does mean that you have to put some trust in whoever’s associated with the simple entity you set up, but I think that’s actually a much easier issue to manage (in this kind of situation) than the converse, namely burnout along with unacknowledged labour.

To be clear I don’t think the person with their name on the thing should be me, I have too many conflicts of interest, that’s not what I’m angling for here. But there should be an entity with “ActivityPub” in the name if you want to increase the chances of grants like this.

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The argument between structure and lack of structure is often a strawman. For example, the ogb project, that came out of the #EU outreach has a lot of structure BUT it is “nativist” rather than the hard structure that #NGO “foundation” people think of as structure, its interesting when people can’t see this, it’s a kind of blindness, hard subject to talk about.

Obviously, anything that works has lots of structure, the more important question is about the visibility and “native” democracy of this structure. A hard argument/talk to have, and we do keep failing on this, what to do?

Ideas please.

I’m actually not arguing for a specific kind of structure (or lack of structure) at all. My point is really just instrumental. To be sucessfull with grant applications you need a clear brand and a legal organisation (i.e. an incorporated entity) tied to a clear purpose.

The structural question is indeed a tricky one, but the key is to not try to resolve that before you get money for folks like @how doing unpaid work helping to keep the lights on. You need the money to help to figure out the structure (or lack thereof). And to be sucessful with grants you need a clear and compelling brand and purpose.

You could write a version of that purpose now, for the purpose of the grant, without needing to reach full consensus on it. To do that would require trust in whomever is legally associated with the organisation (maybe @how and @aschrijver?), but I think that’s a solvable problem.

My goal here isn’t to resolve the tricky structural debate. It’s to help “ActivityPub” win a grant application. I don’t want @how (or @aschrijver, or anyone else) to suffer burnout :slight_smile:


This is not exactly the case. When I mentioned: ‘all volunteer work’, I was thinking more about all the people who contribute to this community, especially @aschrijver and the @fep.hosts. I am paid for mentoring free software projects, so I consider this part of my work — I’ve been doing that for two decades, only the last five years have been paid (and not much), because I think this is required and fills a void in the free software world, where technique is often (mis-)considered as only code. When Lawrence Lessig stated that “code is law”, he certainly did not imply that only code is required to make a dent in the power structures of the world, that both (some) lawyers and (some) hackers are trying to address.

What we’ve been trying to do here is to gather a solid team of people interested in seeing the Fediverse thrive on the terms of the grassroots that made it be, without much backing, financial or otherwise. We made a lot of progress providing grants for the ActivityPub developers, but these are not structural, and are meant for code only, not for advancing the standards community. I don’t have the figures at hand, but I guess that members of this community have been receiving hundreds of thousands of euros in grants since the beginning. Except this money went to software development, not community building. The main goal of the RIPE NCC proposal was to funnel some money to @aschrijver in priority because of his heavy involvement, one could say commitment — per the definition of a hamburger, where the chicken is involved and the cow is committed. That is to say, the ActivityPub brand, because of the funding structures available to us, goes through software development, and what’s needed is funding for community building. Unless I missed something, there is no ongoing NGI0 grant suited for community building and the permanence of this community, that has been living on contributions by @cwebber for the domain, @rhiaro for the remote backups, and petites singularités (represented here by @natacha and @how) for the hosting costs.

Actually, we both did, but we recovered. :wink:

My understanding is that we should thrive to create a European cooperative society for all the developers, community managers, and ActivityPub promoters around from the grassroots. But this process requires a common understanding and trust in the process and in each other, that we’re slowly building, and barely achieving. Last “event” that made me a bit sad was the need to start over with the @well-being team because all of its members became unresponsive to onboard a new person.

I guess we’re taking the problem by different ends: I’d like the community to strengthen and take charge in order to create a representative structure, while you’re envisioning creating a structure and figuring the community involvement later.


Thanks for giving the background! You and others have clearly put a lot of effort and thought into this already.

The way I’d phrase it is that in order to create the representative structure and healthy community involvement you have to use a much simpler set of tools to allow you to do things like win grants.

Collective processes need time and attention to survive. That will require money. To get money you need a clear and compelling brand and a simple legal entity to use. That doesn’t mean you stop trying to figure out the community involvement at the same time.

What I’m saying is that you detach the specific questions of the legal entity and the brand from that process so you can use them effectively to win grants like this. That does not actually effect the ongoing community-led efforts to define the real “way you work”.

In other words you use the right tools to play the right game. Having a legal entity and a clear brand will help you in that game. And the collective effort, i.e. what you really care about, will benefit as a result.

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Just a minor note that this is quite hard to do (i.e. create a european cooperative society). Maybe eventually. I’d start with a much simpler structure, like an Estonian corporation.

You misread that topic. The word “foundation” does not refer to non-profit / NGO, just to “foundational technologies of the Fediverse”. So no #NGO path.

The website is an e-zine for collective publishing of AP/fedi-related technical articles. There was no interest at the time by anyone to participate in it. The site project is now under the Social Coding movement umbrella, and will be repurposed slightly (most likely to focus more in the direction of ForgeFed ecosystem).

I wholly agree with that, and also would like to thank you for all your input on this subject! :two_hearts:

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I don’t think we have a legal entity issue yet: we can use petites singularités for grant applications. But we don’t know where to apply. The SocialHub and petites singularités already have a successful track record both for outreach and for grant applications. What we lack is the knowledge where to find the right funds to apply to.

If there is interest in exploring a non-profit association for the ActivityPub community here at the SocialHub, I think this is worth doing. I’d be happy to learn a bit more about this. Would non-profit association or commercial association be what you have in mind?

We should then discuss the goals and ways of engagement, but before this, identify the kind of grants we can get our hands on.

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PS. The combination would be a Non-profit Venture, invented and used by @melanierieback of Radically Open Security. A combination non-profit + cooperative would be great (start with non-profit).

See: Post-growth enterpreneurship video course.


Only watched one ( , good stuff, it’s all the hashtags I have been talking about for the last 20 years in social tech, it is now #mainstreaming

But WE are stuck, on this forum, the fediverse copying #dotcons and in general, so real question what next for the avant-garde #mainstreaming in social tech? What next - that’s us, as the last 20 years has been largely poured down the drain, so little if any value in the current generations “common sense” to build from.

It’s why we are rebooting web01.5 and #nothingnew is a useful hashtag :slight_smile:

Update on this video:

It’s interesting that formal coops almost never work in reality, if they do work they tend to become shadows of the #deathcult

In contrast, activist organising works, often badly. But over all, activist organising is more successful at being an Alt than formal coops, the is a long unspoken history to back this up.

BUT our #mainstreaming always talks about formal coops, because they can ONLY see the shadow of the #deathcult

Activist organising is always fighting the #deathcult, so it rarely functions as this shadow.

The #NGO world is always this shadow.

OK I admit with the right/left mess, this is more of a mess to be composted.