The idea is this: What if Big Tech comes with FEP proposals to introduce ad-tech and surveillance capitalism related mechanisms into the Fediverse?
Currently the FEP Process is open to anyone. It is also very lightweight, informal and not in any way authoritative. FEP’s are more like good-practice recommendations. Anything goes. Some FEP might describe a fabulous functionality, another one an app-specific thing that no other app may ever implement.
In anticipation of FEP’s that are antithetical to the culture and values we hold dear on the Fediverse, values related to Internet Freedom and Digital Rights, should we draft guidelines that FEP’s must adhere to?
While working as the superintendent of a typing pool in the office of the Paymaster General in London, Mills performed as a honky-tonk pianist in the evenings and weekends. She was spotted by a talent scout while playing piano with a semi-professional band called The Astorians, at a dance at the Woodford Golf Club in Essex.
In 1961 she released her first record, "Mrs Mills Medley", a single that entered the Top Twenty of the UK Singles Chart.
At the age of 43, in December 1961, she made her first television appearance on The Billy Cotton Show. By the end of January 1962, she would be a household name, rising to fame during the same period as her stable-mates The Beatles, with whom she had shared space at Abbey Road Studios (as mentioned in the Beatles Anthology DVD bonus materials).
She toured the UK, making many appearances on TV and radio throughout the 1960s. Mills was also a successful recording artist overseas in territories where there were large numbers of economic migrants from the UK, including Australia, Canada and Hong Kong. Her career as an entertainer was to last well into the 1970s.
She was signed to a management contract by Eric Easton, who later went on to manage The Dave Clark Five and The Rolling Stones, and then signed a recording contract with Parlophone.
Her oeuvre consisted of British and international standards, plus cover versions of contemporary hits. Her covers included "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend", "Hello, Dolly!", "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles" and "Yellow Submarine", all of which were re-released by EMI in their 2003 compilation The Very Best of Mrs Mills.
on one hand, there is the line of thought that an FEP is just a proposal that describes a way that something might be done. under this line of thinking, it’s probably not a big deal for Meta et al to describe their practices in a formal document rather than doing it elsewhere.
on the other hand, there is the line of thought that an FEP is a Fediverse Enhancement Proposal, and that as such, any proposals should be aimed toward actually making the fediverse a better place. but this line of thinking would require the equivalent of some kind of process for voting on which proposals actually constitute an “enhancement”. i’m not sure how this might best be done, or if it should be done.
ultimately i’m not sure it matters unless a) Meta actually goes through with their fedi-compatibility plans, and b) Meta actually shows up to the community and wants to work together on standardization stuff.
in the case described above: i don’t think anyone is obligated to adopt every single FEP. perhaps the best outcome is simply that Meta writes a proposal and finalizes and implements it, but no one else does.
instead, the real power play is to gain a significant userbase. if you have enough users, you become a constituency, and if you have a majority of users, you get to EEE the whole thing. if you form connections, the connections are what has all the value. consequently, i think the more fruitful approach to avoiding this scenario is to simply cut off Meta before they ever have a chance to form connections.
I don’t see any problem with Facebook employees contributing to the FEP process. They can even write a proposal about inserting ads into feeds, but who will implement it? Fediverse consists of many independent platforms, and FEPs are not mandatory, so the most probable outcome of such proposal is everyone making fun of the authors.
To attack the network, Facebook (or any other entity) needs a point of centralization. For example: mastodon.social, or W3C SWICG, or hosting infrastructure. There’s no reason for them to go through the FEP process if it remains sufficiently decentralized. It is simply too much work when their proposals have the same weight as everyone’s else. But if the process will be reformed to be less inclusive and more top-down, it will become a more attractive target for bad actors. Moreso, that would be a violation of principles stated in FEP-a4ed:
The editor may request the authors to clarify, justify, or withdraw the proposal. Such a request must not reflect the personal bias of an editor. Rather, it will be made strictly to maintain a high quality of submissions.
The neutrality of editors is not some minor detail. It is the cornerstone of the FEP process, and people who have submitted proposals may have not done that otherwise.
I find the discussion about replacing existing process with another one much more concerning than some vague rumors about Facebook launching Twitter clone.
The FEP process is open to improvement but the way we’ve been operating since it was resurrected last year was in a problem-focused fashion. The way it works is if there is a problem, it should be posted to the issue tracker and we as a community should discuss whether it’s a valid problem. A valid problem comes with enough supporting evidence that the community can form rough consensus that it exists and requires action.
Only once proven should we turn toward solutions. Here I’m inclined to accept any pull request people offer. If that creates more problems, that’s ok because through iteration FEP keeps getting better and better for a wider number of uses.
Applying this process means we don’t need to anticipate. We react, but can do so swiftly and with a solid historical record on who participated and how it’s evolved.
If all this discussion has brought anything to light for me it’s that the above is still mostly in my head (based on Hintjens’ Collective Code Construction Contract) rather than formally adopted as the protocol by which the FEP project is maintained.
All that said, I’d like to invite everyone to create issues in the tracker so we can discuss any perceived problems in a focused and consistent manner.
Underlining this is a subject I talk about a lot (and I mean a lot) what are the shared values we use to make judgments, and best not to make smoke by saying we don’t make judgments because we obviously do.
I think there is a diversity of values that are best to honer as DIVERSITY.
Under this is something solid, #FOSS is there, and progressive/liberal excellence is mostly there, what else?
The W3C and the IETF both have signed up to open stand principles. Relevant to future work, or living standard. Similar principles, especially around openness, transparency and diversity I think may be beneficial.
I’ve intentionally left out point 5 because I think it’s too vague to be helpful.
Respectful cooperation between standards organizations, whereby each respects the autonomy, integrity, processes, and intellectual property rules of the others.
2. Adherence to Principles
Adherence to the five fundamental principles of standards development:
Due process. Decisions are made with equity and fairness among participants. No one party dominates or guides standards development. Standards processes are transparent and opportunities exist to appeal decisions. Processes for periodic standards review and updating are well defined.
Broad consensus. Processes allow for all views to be considered and addressed, such that agreement can be found across a range of interests.
Transparency. Standards organizations provide advance public notice of proposed standards development activities, the scope of work to be undertaken, and conditions for participation. Easily accessible records of decisions and the materials used in reaching those decisions are provided. Public comment periods are provided before final standards approval and adoption.
Balance. Standards activities are not exclusively dominated by any particular person, company or interest group.
Openness. Standards processes are open to all interested and informed parties.
3. Collective Empowerment
Commitment by affirming standards organizations and their participants to collective empowerment by striving for standards that:
are chosen and defined based on technical merit, as judged by the contributed expertise of each participant;
provide global interoperability, scalability, stability, and resiliency;
enable global competition;
serve as building blocks for further innovation; and
contribute to the creation of global communities, benefiting humanity.
Standards specifications are made accessible to all for implementation and deployment. Affirming standards organizations have defined procedures to develop specifications that can be implemented under fair terms. Given market diversity, fair terms may vary from royalty-free to fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms (FRAND).
Edit: I’ve added some annotation, from my experience. In italics are areas where standards bodies can slip up. I’ve put in bold two areas which I think are problematic. One is “open to all”. Standards bodies that operate WG under a fee model are prohibitive to those that cannot afford, esp. in open source. “Royalty Free” I think has in recent times become diluted by networks that hold data hostage using pre printed tokens are bought to create a network transition. Users are often mislead into this trap.
Edit2: I think the FEP process is largely good on most of this. Possibly the one area to look at is the text near: "appeal decisions*