What would a fediverse "governance" body look like?

Sure, local knowledge matters more than academic knowledge. This is exactly the point of Ostrom’s Law.

I also recommend Anna Tsing’s Friction[1] that relates her work with the Dayak Meratus on the Borneo island of Indonesia. She makes the point of academic blindness (and beyond academics, occidental blindness to non-capitalistic approaches). Again: [what] works in practice can work in theory is a call to arms not to apply theory to practice, but rather to inform theory from practice. Practice may be able to do without theory, but the opposite is not true.

My conviction is that in our complex situations, good practice SHOULD inform theory, because then practitioners can reflect on their own path and bring more power to their action. Ignoring theory, or making it a byproduct of the Academy does not help. On the contrary, theory should always come from practice. This is something adamant about current “philosophers of technique” who don’t have a clue about using a computer or welding.

Ostrom’s books on the Governance of the Commons start from existing concrete situations from around the world. From her studies of these different (and unrelated) situations, she came up with the design principles that, she found, are common to all the successful institutional arrangements made by very different cultures about very different resources and situations (water management, fisheries, herding…). She also demonstrated that sub-optimal results or failures were correlated with not following these principles.

Note that I did not spend any time in academia: I am a dropout and proud autodidact. So it’s not like I’m not sympathetic to your view about academia. Still I’m confident there’s useful knowledge in places that I’m not politically or philosophically aligned with.

  1. Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection (2004)
    https://press.princeton.edu/books/paperback/9780691120652/friction ↩︎


Sounds good.

So what would “What would a fediverse “governance” body look like?” how do we make structers that fit with the no-control network of #activertypub and is both relevant, relatively affective and resistant to carrear/corp/highracy capture.

You can reference my blog post or come up with a different path - both are good :slight_smile:

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Here is the text from the blog post:

#Bluesky thinking of a “governance” body of the fedivers

“A resource arrangement that works in practice can work in theory”

What exists already?

The is a pretty sorted #activitypub crew, then some organizing sites/forums, the yearly conference. MOST importantly some “kings”, “princes” a bit of a tech/influencer aristocracy who currently hold much of the “power”.

Where do we go from here?

On online “governing body” to be the VOICE of the #fedivers – all done #4opens online:

We have a yearly voting/consensus (online) body made up of “stakeholders”

Who are the stakeholders-representatives:

  • One voice one instance – if you run an instance you get a vote – put the URL in as long as it’s online last year your vote counts.
  • The is then an equal number of votes based on a “user” lottery – have to opt in by adding your account name. This is refreshed every year.

Then we have other more complex stakeholders organizations:

  • Codebases – could be factored by installed based on instance registered above. You get a vote over a basic threshold and the body agrees.
  • fedivers events – any group that regularly runs events gets a “stakeholder” vote based on them doing it last year. If the body agrees to this.
  • fedivers support organizations get a vote if the body agrees to this.
  • activitypub standards crew – get votes through all the rest and can have a vote as a founding fedivers org.

Mods – ideas on how to give them a voice?

Groups and individuals could get more than one vote – which is fine.

This would give us

Some kind of representative “stakeholder” body.

How would the body work?

#techshit all ready has way to much LOOK at ME look AT me. I don’t like competitive elections as the shit float to the top

Let’s do a LOTTERY- from these “representatives/voters” a lottery decides 3-5 as #spokespeople then leave um to get on with it. There is a tick box to opt out of being in the “spokespeople” lottery, so you have too wont to do the extra work if you don’t want to.

They have the power to speak for the #fedivers and can add ideas to be voted on by the stakeholders (of course they would be subject to recall/impeachment if they fuck up too much).

Levels of “voice” any “member” can put in a public proposal to be voted on by the stakeholders – if it jumps that hoop then it can be edited/pushed by a open group of stakeholders (DANGERS maybe with some limited invited “experts”) though some semiformal #4opens process to jump to an agreement. Then agreements are acted on by the “spokespeople” up to them to take these ideas forward? If non are interested better luck next year with your agender.

Q. what dose digital online Community “democracy” look like

If it does not have elephants running around throwing paper planes it’s likely the wrong structure.

PS. of course these alt-ideas have been tried in the offline world and they generally DO NOT work. But this is no reason to go down the dead end of “liberal” foundation governances that also does not work

We need fresh ideas or to reboot something from before the #deathcult perverted all our thinking, likely a safer option


Celebrate the mess of humane “politics” to try to banish it is to resort to war in the end – have seen this way to meany times in alt-tech projects. Its both sad and bad liberal shit.

Lotteries take the “power” out of power politics… likely worth an experiment.

Compost and shovels are needed.

The current leadership model of the #fedivers is “aristocracy” this is the same model of most open source projects. The developer “king” works fine to an extent.

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#activitypub as a standard is interesting/attractive for the #EU and #NGO because of the #fediverse that is the community of people who use it. This is a community that currently has no voice. @aschrijver please help to make this happen.

The money can be held by https://opencollective.com and we can do some custom coding on top on an existing activitypub backend to build the #UX the funding comes from https://www.ngi.eu you could help write the proposal.

The end product would work as a stakeholder management tool for any federated online project so has use outside our ginypig community.

I don’t see this as anything productive or desirable. To me the interest of the Fediverse is the collation of multiple worlds that can co-exist peacefully. Having random people “speak for the Fediverse” sounds like removing all the diversity of an ongoing conversation. Your description proposes a process to elect random people to become responsible for a common voice, but 1) I can’t see that common voice developing, 2) you don’t really describe the responsibilities of this governance body.

I tend to agree that some kind of assembly with randomly chosen people can be useful. But to what end is not yet clear. In the commons, users and practionners get the primary role in shaping the arrangements. The arrangements take into account regeneration of resources, which is a bit complicated to consider in an electronic network environment. If the goal, as stated elsewhere by @rhiaro and quoted by @bengo is

A governance body cannot function as a random apparatus with no goals nor boundaries.

What we’ve been trying to do here at the SocialHub is to engage people in the common governance of the community, and the response has been overwhelmingly about technical cooperation, but this remains insufficient and we’d better ramp up this engagement, with more people and clearer goals. Nevertheless I do not think creating an artificial body outside of known and expressed needs is going anywhere.

True that.

I dislike the Open Collective approach, I much prefer https://Snowdrift.coop for that matter.

Helping on proposal writing is something the NGI0 mentors have been doing with a few projects here and elsewhere. It’s also a lot of what happens behind the scenes at PUBLIC.

I can clarify some points, the text has been updated here http://hamishcampbell.com/2021/03/13/bluesky-thinking-of-a-governance-body-of-the-fedivers

  • The body is made up of stakeholder one for each instance - you wont a voice you run an instance and register it. This is clearly the voice of the #Fediverse as they are the people running it.

  • This is then balanced dynamically by the same number of “users” who are interested in the pro
    cess, they are chosen by lottery from the registered accounts. Your choice to register or not your account as a possable stakeholder.

On registration the is a box you can untick if you do NOT do this then you are in the lottery to get “governing positions” Sortition - Wikipedia for a background on why this path.

Only people who want to be part of the governing body AND play an active role are enrolled in the lottery.

You second point “common voice” comes from the working groups, agen are made up of ONLY people who are interested in playing a role.

“serving the humans trying to communicate.” we get out of the way and let the humans work it out - we provide structer for the groups, we don’t define the groups.

SocialHub though an interesting tool has strong tech aristocracy which is not surprising as this is how almost all open source project run - the fedivers is something different which is why we do so badly at governance. Let’s continue to use the SocialHub for #activertypub organizing and possibly governance though it has no tools that I have found for the governance.

The money is a subject up for discusern, am just using https://opencollective.com as example.

Help would be needed to do the proposal and #UX

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The work flow would be:

Sign up for the site, then don’t untick the box for “do work” if you become a “stakeholder” every time a position opens the lottery picks a stakeholder to fill it if it is you and you would like to do the job - get to it. If you do not wont the job then resign and the lottery will pick a new person.

If you are not picked by the lottery for a job opening the is still a meany things you can do as a stakeholder in the groups. If you are not picked as a stakeholder you can still put ideas for the stakeholders to make into group decisions.

The outcome is something much more representative of the #Fediverse than we can currently think about let alone implement.

The is #nothingnew in this idea or implementation, some examples from Wikipedia


  • Law court juries are formed through sortition in some countries, such as the United States and United Kingdom.
  • Citizens’ assemblies have been used to provide input to policy makers. In 2004, a randomly selected group of citizens in British Columbia convened to propose a new electoral system. This Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform was repeated three years later in Ontario’s citizens’ assembly. However, neither assembly’s recommendations reached the required thresholds for implementation in subsequent referendums.
  • MASS LBP, a Canadian company inspired by the work of the Citizens’ Assemblies on Electoral Reform, has pioneered the use of Citizens’ Reference Panels for addressing a range of policy issues for public sector clients. The Reference Panels use civic lotteries, a modern form of sortition, to randomly select citizen-representatives from the general public.
  • Democracy In Practice, an international organization dedicated to democratic innovation, experimentation and capacity-building, has implemented sortition in schools in Bolivia, replacing student government elections with lotteries.[23]
  • Danish Consensus conferences give ordinary citizens a chance to make their voices heard in debates on public policy. The selection of citizens is not perfectly random, but still aims to be representative.
  • The South Australian Constitutional Convention was a deliberative opinion poll created to consider changes to the state constitution.
  • Private organizations can also use sortition. For example, the Samaritan Ministries health plan sometimes uses a panel of 13 randomly selected members to resolve disputes, which sometimes leads to policy changes.[24]
  • The Amish use sortition applied to a slate of nominees when they select their community leaders. In their process, formal members of the community each register a single private nomination, and candidates with a minimum threshold of nominations then stand for the random selection that follows.[25]
  • Citizens’ Initiative Review at Healthy Democracy uses a sortition based panel of citizen voters to review and comment on ballot initiative measures in the United States. The selection process utilizes random and stratified sampling techniques to create a representative 24-person panel which deliberates in order to evaluate the measure in question.[26]
  • The environmental group Extinction Rebellion has as one of its goals the introduction of a Citizens’ assembly that is given legislative power to make decisions about climate and ecological justice.[1]
  • Following the 1978 Meghalaya Legislative Assembly election, due to disagreements amongst the parties of the governing coalition, the Chief Minister’s position was chosen by drawing lots.[27]

“blue sky thinking”

Some stats

population ~ 4.152.753 accounts

active users ~ 1.192.023people

servers > 6.828 instances

Let’s be optimistic and say half the instances signed up that would be over 3000 instances stakeholders and thus 3000 user stakeholders for a total of 6000 and a number from affiliate groups. This number is likely too much, so we can put a limit to 100 chosen by lottery from the stakeholders instances, this is then matched by 100 from the user stakeholders for 200 stakeholders + 5-10 affiliates it’s up to the admin group to choice the right number to build a working community, if you don’t have enough good workers open the pool up if the is to much dicushern close the pool down, try different approaches.

Looking for feedback on this, its unoriginal and should work fine so fits the #fedivers

I agree with this view. I think there cannot be one single governance body. At least not in the form that is proposed, as it does not fit the grassroots nature of how the fediverse came into being, and the diversity and culture of the fedizens that participate in it.

Saying “not in this form”, because there are evolutions of the Fediverse that can address the issues you mention. I believe that, when we are shaping online social interactions, we should model them to desirable social interactions that exists and work well in the real world.

You indeed already mention some of these, like Sortition. But this will not be the model that is attractive to everyone. It is essential to have Freedom in any way, shape or form to be baked into the social networks. Currently we have a very limited model, where you choose an instance based on its Code of Conduct (and maybe the appeal of the domain name), and then you have Followers / Following under your control.

Elsewhere on this forum in #fediversity:fediverse-futures I introduced the Community has no Boundary paradigm. It is an abstraction layer that allows modeling Community more as it exists in the real-world. Here people participate in many communities in various roles and representations.

Applied to the Fediverse it would abstract individual instances away, as well as the application domain the instance provides. It is more task-oriented. With this model an instance may come with a full Community identity, or be just infrastructure where you have a fedi account. Note that this is a good thing:

The terminology of “Instance” is a highly technical term, that has no real-life equivalent

It unnecessarily seggregates the Fediverse into instance-bound boxes. In the Community model you would fulfill arbitrary amount of Roles (and possibly online identities, with more extensions in place) in arbitrary amount of Communities.

Now going onwards towards “Governance”. Of course there’s need for communities to be managed, and certain rules (if only the CoC) to be enforced. With the requirement of full Freedom, each community should be able to decide their own governance. Subsequently - based on that - another community may decide what role members of the first community may play in their governance.

So in that way an ‘overall governance’ of the Fediverse might be spun up. It of course carries a lot of complexity, and will take time to evolve to something practical (there are frameworks to understand and model the complexity, such as Engaged Theory).

Now, in order to express these Governance models, there may be extensions on top of Community model, that provide e.g. Governance Policies, expressed in a Linked Data vocabulary. You attach them to a community, but the policies themselves are reusable e.g. a Sortition policy.

Note further that multiple projects are creating governed community software, such as Loomio. But each of these is doing things in their own way, contained in their own software packages. A federation model for Governance Policies would break these artificial application boundaries, and once again put Fediverse on a more task-oriented approach to extending its capabilities (where application boundaries disappear, are irrelevant).

Finally, I just created a new post Federated Moderation: Towards Delegated Moderation? where one extended option is Moderation-as-a-Service. In Community has no Boundary + Governance Models, this would just be certain people in certain Roles (e.g. “Instance Moderator”) that can be discovered via the federation model.

Can we focus on #KISS - what are the “threat models” of the proposal this thread is about, we need
food for thought and talk

Let’s define the models and look at pros and cons - am interested in who gets empowered as an outcome of the process - because all the current #mainstreaming models have bad outcome on this criteria.

We need to do better and thus likely we need to do different.

20 years of this… can tell you stories over a beer if you like.

The topic title itself implies sketching visions of what a ‘fediverse-wide governance body’ may look like. But with that the concept itself is far from KISS. What would make it within reach, ultimately, is something that can be broken down into individual smaller parts that are implemented and gradually introduced in stages where each stage builds on top of the foundation provided by others.

But on the whole, I don’t think “one governance body” is realistic. That is a fundamental issue. In my post I am in favour of freedom of choice of what governance one wants, and this may vary depending on context.

The is nothing original in my outline for a “governance” body for the federated online groups. Here is a mainstream article on the issue Why elections are bad for democracy | Politics | The Guardian

The is no “one governance body” meany things are not in there because it is up to the groups themselves to decide on the outcomes. The outline above is a structer and a process for the group to decide.

Aristotle relates equality and democracy:

Democracy arose from the idea that those who are equal in any respect are equal absolutely. All are alike free, therefore they claim that all are free absolutely… The next is when the democrats, on the grounds that they are all equal, claim equal participation in everything.[6]

It is accepted as democratic when public offices are allocated by lot; and as oligarchic when they are filled by election.[7]

A foundation at best is an oligarchy with maybe a liberal fig leaf of democracy, its interesting to think if this is the way the fedivers sees itself? We should have a video meeting.

Hi Hamish,

In follow-up to our vidcall, discussing Governance models

Just looked at a good video explaining of DDD. Don’t know if it is the best, but it gives a good idea:

Also I did a quick search on ontologies related to Governance. Though I didn’t find directly usable things, some are interesting to link nonetheless:

Some more search might yield more useful input. But the domain needed to model ‘Governance’ in a generic way, probably needs to be adapted for our own use. Note, btw, that we are talking about a ‘meta model’ here: it should be able to express any policy instance (e.g. a Sortition Policy). And if that leads to too much complexity, then - just like with AS/AP - things will be left unspecified i.e. ‘holes’ that people can fill in for their own use case.

Our current working models of “governance” in open-source projects are Monarchy (the dictator for life), Aristocracy (the devs), oligarchy (the NGO, funders) and finally way out on the edge Democracy (the users).

If we are to have a positive social impact, we need to consciously shift from these medieval and early modern ideas of governance to something more modern. We need to recognize that it’s kinda a working dysfunctional joke at the movement. And to challenge this #geekproblem and the desire for control that comes with it is a first good step.


Have watched 3 videos on DDD and am still none the wiser

Maybe you can give examples based on this draft image.

There would be many useful tasks that could help the fediverse for a funded organization. For a project of mine I would like to work with Wikidata (a database related to Wikipedia) and the Wikimedia Foundation Germany was so kind to give us an hour of their time to help us find our way around Wikidata.

Wikipedia is decentralized (by language) and Wikimedia is decentralized (several large rich countries have a Wikimedia Foundation, which is funded by a call for donations on Wikipedia).

So a foundation model can be decentralized. While one worker cooperative can be highly centralized. I like cooperatives, but they are only decentralized and non-profit if we make it so, not by definition.

I have been thinking about a decentralized peer review system for the scientific literature, which is independent of journals (brands that are often owned by monopolistic abusive corporations). Maybe some of these thoughts are also applicable for the Fediverse or can at least start a discussion.

The peer review is organized in disciplinary groups (a bit like small journals, but then journals that do not publish the articles themselves). Because scientists are used to review for journals, I call these groups “review journals”. Each journal has an editorial board with respected scientists from their community. Internally these editors have all the power, I guess some here would call it oligarchy or dictatorship; you could also call it a corporation. But the power of the editors is limited by making it easy to start a new journal. So if the community is not satisfied with the editors, they can search for other editors and can start a new journal. (And they do not have to start from scratch because all the old reviews and comments have an open license.)

A relationship between this review system and the fediverse is that a scientific article may be relevant for multiple review journals/communities and I wanted to make it possible to share reviews and comments via AP. (But in the end the editors decide what is published in their journal, they are responsible for the quality.) And like the fediverse the (initially) central organization would only host one platform/instance and code the free source code. So costs and power are shared by many servers, hopefully run my research libraries and similar organizations.

Naturally, I should not be the one to decide how papers are reviewed, different researchers, editors and especially disciplines likely have a very different idea of how articles are to be reviewed. In the Fediverse every instance writes some sort of text what their rules are. I would like to see something in between where journals can sign up to organizations who have formulated a set of rules. And also sing up to organizations that check whether these rules are actually used or at least have a look when people complain (ombudsman).

For the development (of ideas and code) and support, I am thinking of creating an organization (initially one non-profit) that splits up when it gets too big. It should be written into their by-laws, that when they get to big, they have to make a plan on how to split up, give their funders the option on which part they prefer to fund and assign the funders who have no preference (do not respond). Hopefully, it will be legally possible to have funders agree to such terms so that no funders are lost when an organization splits. Like with GPL, the new organisations would again have these terms on getting too big in their by-laws, but otherwise they can be any organizational form and do any task that is useful, i.e. people are willing to fund. This is, at least, still a few years out for me, so the idea is not much more concrete than that yet.

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Interesting, we do need decentralized peer reviewed science.

You could set something up that would work this way with the #OMN codebase. An example would be the Resistance Exabition which I have yet to do a video about. Have a look at Indymedia Reboot - visionOntv for the grassroots media view of the #OMN project to get the outline.

This would be a more radical decentralized federated project than you outline - good to think about different approaches.

There are many peer review systems being build. We will have to see which one works. As far as possible I would like them to be compatible with each other. Maybe AP can help there, but most seem to use REST APIs.

I do not think that more decentralized is automatically better. Mastodon is great because of the good moderation. If everyone had their single-account instance this advantage would be gone.

We will have to see what the right mix is. Currently the scientific literature is quite decentralized, there are many journals and the moderation/review/publishing decisions are made on the journal level (not be the centralized publishers). That is something that should be maintained, the scientific literature should not become one big unstructured database, but it should also not be a fully decentralized blogging system.

(I had already commented on your OMN video 4 months ago. :blush: )

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