What would a fediverse "governance" body look like?

At the moment the main issue in this thread, I feel, is that we are all in agreement wrt the fundamentals of the concepts, but are repeating these points over and over to each other with different words.

What we have defined here and in some of the related threads are a whole bunch of basic principles. Though we must not create tech for the sake of tech, these principles are there as first inputs to avoid that. And the translation process can start.

Repeating more of what we already know (click to expand)

Other than that, if I look at the real world, then it is in fact complex mesh this-or-that group of stakeholders. And that is perfectly fine. If your daughter attends school, you become a stakeholder on school policy. And if you are a coach of a hockey club, and children don’t become members anymore because school requires them spending their free time on homework, then you are a stakeholder in both school and sports club ‘communities’ and raising your voice to change governance.

Similarly moderation is also everywhere in real life. The ‘covid assistant’ in front of the supermarket saying “Wait a minute please, there are too many customers inside now.” moderates you. So does a traffic light, or ticket you drew when waiting in a queue.

We already have lots of “normal” power politics and invisible hierarchies in tech http://hamishcampbell.com/2021/04/24/governance-in-open-source-projects/ the plan is to mediate these existing issues with trust building democracy in a NATIVE fedivers way.

I know Starhawks work for a long time on the ground, its a good fluffy path to social change.

The gardening metaphor is a good one.

An important word that needs some thought is “permissionless”

The body is made up of three different, balanced groups:

  1. Stakeholders - the people who do the work, who run/mod the fediverse
  2. Users - the people who use the tools/services, who use the fediverse
  3. The Affiliate Stakeholders - the people who commit time to support the work of the fediverse

This is a very broken web we live in so let’s clarify issues. The names can change, they are placeholders

Anybody can become a stakeholder, in the case of the fediverse this is setting up and running an active instance - could use mastohost for the less technical to do this or a home hosted instance on a old laptop.

It’s simple if a user wont to become a stakeholder setup and mod an instance.

Users are self-explanatory, they buy in but don’t have time or focuses or inclination to run a part of the fedivers.

The Affiliate Stakeholders are a little more complex and are thus treated differently, it’s up to the body itself to decide if the play a active and useful role.

Nothing in this is top down, nothing is elitist, nothing is discriminatory, nothing is undemocratic. Its #KISS and looks safe to the “normal world” while at the same time being native to the fediverse and its roots.

All the coding is #4opens and based on #activertypub

We need a grant to make this happen who is helping to write the grant app.

Undated text Online governance - openwebgovernancebody - Gitea: Open Media Network

Starting work on funding for the fediverse #openweb apps:

The #openweb and WWW worked because they were #KISS we need to do the same, simple/human understandable at each step.


Then we would need a good coder for each project. So we are talking about employing 5 people for a year. Then get fallow on funding in 6-9 months to expand the crew and extend the funding.

We apply for funding for both projects so we need 3xhalf wages and a full wage for each project.

We use Open-Media-Network - Open Collective for the democratic holding of the funding.

Have code hosting at OMN - Gitea: Open Media Network

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This might be interesting and relevant:

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I found some great resources related to a more universal definition of a Governance domain model. First there’s: MetaGov and this research collective has - among others 2 subprojects, both experimental tools.

The Metagovernance Project is an interdisciplinary research collective. We build standards and infrastructure for digital self-governance.

Interesting is the paper Modular Politics: Toward a Governance Layer for OnlineCommunities (PDF) where e.g. in par. 3.8 Implementation strategies they show a governance model for social media mentioning Sortition…

Policy Kit

Consider the platforms you use for online communities today. These platforms only offer governance options that are top-down, autocratic, and punitive, involving admins and mods. But what if platforms could provide other types of governance, such as more democratic ones? What if communities could build for themselves the governance that suits their needs and values?

PolicyKit empowers online community members to concisely author a wide range of governance procedures and automatically carry out those procedures on their home platforms. Inspired by Nobel economist Elinor Ostrom, we’ve developed a framework that describes governance as a series of actions and policies , written in short programming scripts.

Community Rule

“For everyone to have the opportunity to be involved in a given group and to participate in its activities the structure must be explicit, not implicit. The rules of decision-making must be open and available to everyone, and this can happen only if they are formalized.” (Jo Freeman, “The Tyranny of Structurelessness”)

Too many of our communities adopt default governance practices that rely on the unchecked authority of founders, admins, or moderators, lacking even basic features of small-scale democracy. The purpose of CommunityRule is to help communities establish appropriate norms for decision-making, stewardship, and culture.

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It is the up and coming subject - lets make it happen.

Important not get lost in the #process geeks as that’s a dead end and has been for the 30 years I have been doing this and let’s keep it both #KISS and human understandable.

metagov.org It’s good that rich and famous Americans are working on building web “governance” as diversity is always good.

But its also bad as most people go for the rich high status American projects which has a long history of ending badly. Let’s do this #DIY please as diversity is always good.

It’s a balancing act. If the goal is to define Governance in a way that may find broad adoption, then a KISS approach that ignores most of the complexity will not achieve that. I argue that the breadth and scope with which they analyse the domain, is the proper one. In a translation to how such model fits within the Fediverse things can be left generalized, not fully specified to the deepest levels. The generalization works to simplify things, while it gives implementers the freedom to fill in holes at higher levels of granularity. This strategy is no different than the one that was applied to the AS/AP specs.

I still feel that in your preferred approach you want to take a single use case in this broader picture, i.e. a specialization, and implement that as a KISS approach. Specialising like that always makes things simpler, but also leads to something with narrower applcability.

As for the people involved, yes they are mostly academics, and yes they may have a more SV-mindset. They may understand community concepts very well, having studied them, but not exactly grasp the culture we like to see. I don’t know about that. But if that is problematic, then the bridge I have to sell you, is that the internet standards that we know and love, and use on a daily basis, were created by just such people.

I think we have something to offer them. On their page they mention some proprietary SaaS / social platforms, two blockchain projects, and instead of Fediverse they refer only to Mastodon. With Fediverse and AS/AP we have the perfect experimental playground. What they are seeking, according to the paper, is something that is:

  • Modular
  • Expressive
  • Portable
  • Interoperable

TADAAH   :tada:   → Linked Data, ActivityStreams, ActivityPub

So we might prepare a project for the standardization of a Governance vocabulary and related stuff, and invite them to collaborate. I still don’t know if that project matches what you have in mind :slight_smile:

Am talking to @dajbelshaw@fosstodon.org on mastodon and as he say the is circler hopelessness in thrieds like this…

First - human beings are messy, mashions are not messy.

Second - with this understanding we minermise the role of machines and maximise the role of humans. We BLOCK “common sense” attempts to remove messy as people are not machines.

Third – we keep it at a #KISS level “serving the humans trying to communicate” by getting out of the way and let the humans work it out and simply providing structure for the groups, we don’t define the groups.

A bridge that need building and maintaining to cross the chasm between horizontal and vertical thinking.

Its native “governance” and federates in the same way the as the project it governs in this it IS COUNTERINTUITIVE to mainstream ideas and “common sense” no bad thing, its why we are here.

You do understand that the world view you put forward is crossing talking to the project we are addressing in this thried?

We are doing a funding proposal to do the simple well tested project/workflow (which we know dues not scale) and roll it out trying federation to scale. We know this works to extent , look at the “Fediverse ” as a living example of this approach working to scale small to bigger.

Yes there will be lots of “smoke” and we could do with some help keeping the project clear of this

Documenting the process http://hamishcampbell.com/2021/05/21/talking-to-the-burocractic-coop-crew/

With the “governance” mess at #FSF #freenode etc. its past time to look beyond our current “undemocratic” models of #openweb projects

This is a outline using the fediverse as an example of a thought through coding project with good defaults for trying different approaches for better outcomes.

We HAVE to overcome our #stupidindividualism to have a hope of a better world.

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Interesting to see open/closed happening live with freenode and About Libera Chat | Libera Chat looking at this page the #openweb crew have moved to the vertical “grassroots” governance model http://hamishcampbell.com/2021/04/24/governance-in-open-source-projects/ oligarchy is the default outcome currently.

Interesting to see a #openweb project move from oligarchy to monarchy and then back to oligarchy.

It is an absolute war out there surrounding freenode, e.g. Gentoo Freenode channels have been hijacked | Hacker News

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Is there a Fediverse/ActivityPub IRC anywhere out there on the interwebs?

I know this thread has been a great resource and example of more abstract and higher-order thinking, but i also have a concrete problem that may be less abstract. When it comes to the FEP I think that I as an editor (i don’t want to speak for @lain and @pukkamustard ) could be more active in executing the process and making it more well-known. I haven’t been keeping up with my fellow editors – perhaps they are doing far more than me – I just know I’ve been failing in that regard.

I don’t know if the FEP power structure is an oligarchy or something else, i just know it’s probably in need of improvement in terms of response times, tooling, and promoting awareness. The governance question comes into play when trying to figure out how to enact the change that solves these problems, as editors are given wide latitude but nothing is said about how to add/remove or poke-and-prod-into-action the editors. Just comes down to personal conduct/responsibility at the moment, which works great if you trust the people that are editors, not so much if you don’t. I feel like I could unilaterally declare “I’m not an editor anymore” or, more controversially, “any objections to make so-and-so now an editor” but those actions don’t feel good to me. I can only imagine how powerless someone who isn’t an editor may feel, if they wanted to boot out an unproductive editor (ex: me).

From another forum:

Really good questions, thanks. Let’s try and address some issues.

The need for “governance” came out of a practical problem, the #activitypub community is made up of “cats” you know the slogan “herding cats” we were doing seminars outreach to powerful EU Eurocrats on why they should be interested in #activertypub and interesting they really are interested. We had no voice, only “cats” with everyone pushing their own tiny projects, it was a lot of work and stress, but we got the presentations done.

Back to the questions. A lot of the issues you are outlining are actually covered outside what is normally though of as process - It’s designed to be messy, it’s not designed to be tidy. Let’s illustrate this by answering each point.

Yep, they do, but they are subject to “recall”, and gain a lot from working with the “groups” the voices only get TOTAL power with consensus -1 which is a hard thing to acheave without the first working to building consensus through the body and groups and other voices.

You are right the is no sense checking in the formal sense, but remember the is no hard power, people only have to do things if they want to, its “governance” of a disorganization not a traditional power structer. if people get too “nutty” the is the power of “recall” if the body becomes to nutty the is the power of “dilution” more people can join the body.

The groups don’t have to talk to anyone, though will work better when they do, the voices can be involved or not worked better when they are - good to remember the “cats” at the beginning on this one.

The is no statute and no laws as this is “governance” with equation marks - there will be a growing body of mythos and traditions that people can call on when making decisions. There are no police or courts, nobody has to do anything - “cats”.

The body has negative power over the voices, it can recall them, which is the same as not signing off on their actions. The problem we are trying to solve is focus in a anarchistic/libertarian movement - how to talk to traditional burocraceys while still talking/being relevant to ourselves. The is a level of trust involved which is held in place by the #4opens

That’s a good question, that is not defined. It’s important to look at the codebase here, everything we talk about is the “default” the actual codebase can redefine just about every variable, it’s a set of tools for horazonatlish “governance” It’s up to the body to decide everything on how to use these tools if they change the default.

We have the traditional voting modals, we have a threshold etc.

The body can be restricted in size by fixing the first variable in this case it would be the instances/stakeholders or can be left to grow organically this is up to the body itself.

The group is made up of anybody in the body who needs to be a part of it - in this everything is a mirror of the same process #KISS You ask a hard question about “outside” experts/original submitter which i don’t have an easy solution to - so we would add it as an option that can be turned on or off.

They serve the same as the body, currently have two options 1 year, half every 6 month rolling to facilitate hand holding or easy/simple one year.

Due to the sortation and work load you will likely have a high turn over of new body members, the “recalling” will add to this as there are a lot of “nutters” sortation will bring up fresh people for the body to work :wink: this is a good thing as “trust” is built from this.

The voices are “trusted” to be a voice of the fedivers for their term, if they are not “trusted” they will be recalled to the body, and if they are nutters they will be recalled out of the body and a new member added ect.

Yep decisions can be made at different levels, on the image the thickness of the arrow coming out (with the blunt end) is the strength of that voice.

The group says it shite, and then move on, if the group keeps pushing shit then the voices ignore this group and in the end the body likely recalls it and replaces it with a new group - this is up to the body/voices.

Yes, sadly some good decisions that are not popular inside/outside the body/groups will be ignored we are still self “governing” cats the is no getting away from this.

Yep, based on the #4opens so everything is done with activertypub in open process, its a trust based network, if people won’t privacy then they can resign/not sign up from public governance and work through people who are happy to do open process.

Whistleblowering is a case for media not “governance” so is dealt with in this sister project Home - Open-Media-Network - Gitea: Open Media Network

Thank you for the interesting questions.

An interesting subject for this group is how this level of messy “governance” can cooperate with more formal models of governance like traditional cooperatives. The two are complementary - but the question is how :wink:

Gitea: Open Media Network


To answer a unasked question. The code is the traditional admins of the site. The body is users/the groups mods/the voices admins. We have as limited outside control as possible.

There are an optional bag of “limits” that can be added to actions to mediate out of control actions - like time-outs/consensus on actions etc. these are pick and mix, we put in a “default” set to start body’s off - It’s up to the body how these work ongoing.

The is power in default, it’s the main power of the coders and designers who build the codebase.

FYI: A great information resource I found via @m3me : RadicalxChange - Social Movement for Next-Gen Political Economies

10 posts were split to a new topic: Governance - Exploring what works and what doesn’t