What would a fediverse "governance" body look like?

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The peer review is organized in disciplinary groups (a bit like small journals, but then journals that do not publish the articles themselves).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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I really love where the discussion is going. @VictorVenema it is so nice to see you here, welcome! (Victor and I know each other from fedi, and we are co-maintainers of delightful-open-science).

Key question: How to ensure all the ideas expressed here take flight?

I think we all observe that the needs expressed here are shared much more broadly on the web. There’s a trend growing where tons of similar initiatives take shape in one form or another. In order to bring things together we MUST find common denominators and create building blocks on top of which we can stand!

Note: This is the Spiral Island analogy I outlined before. Creating an archipelago of interacting cooperatives, communities, companies and institutions.

It should also be clear that this goes WELL BEYOND what can encompassed in a single code project. We need to go into specification space in order to allow anyone to build their own island, add plastic bottles to their base, build stuff on top, and build bridges and walkways to other islands. Specifications can be full-blown standards, or they are Linked Data (AS/AP or otherwise) extensions and vocabularies that are commonly accepted.

Here’s where domain analysis and domain-driven design (DDD) come into play. It provides Strategic Design that is especially well-suited to break down the complexity into manageable parts, while keeping non-technical domain experts in the loop, all along the way.

You are a domain expert in grassroots governance with 30 years of experience who proposes a “Sortition model” that relates to an “OpenWeb Governance Body”. And you want it to eventually have a fediverse-wide, or even web-wide applicability. While it may start small, it should be universal enough to gradually scale and encompass that scope.

The question is: In a “United by Diversity” fediverse, will this be the only governance in use, or are there people who don’t to adhere to this and use different governance models? Will they be excluded from participation in the organization you propose, then?

Additional question: Will there be many other forms of governance that apply at different scopes and contexts? I think the clear answer is YES. For instance an Organization (an actor) generally dictates their own internal governance structure and rules, while a Group within the organization might yet have a different governance. So does Governance apply to Actors then?

Not exactly. A Document might also have governance rules. For a Document governance rules might dictate that it is Moderated before it becomes available somewhere. In general many domain-specific entities might be ‘governed’ in some form or other.

Without domain analysis, and - hopefully - some form of standardization that results from it, you might say “Screw it, I’ll just implement the easy way and choose my own implementation”. You implement Sortition and someone else does too. Result is that with N amount of governance models and M amount of implementations per model, we end up with N x M custom solutions, and Interoperability is out the door.

The entire SocialHub community exists to avoid that situation.

So we are going to analyse the Governance domain. With this we start with having the simplest top-level generalization, and gradually add more detail as we talk to domain experts and incorporate their feedback. So, for example:

An Object may be subjected to governance.

But this is very vague. We can define a new domain term for different forms of governance called “Governance Policy”, and since we are already in the Governance bounded context, we can simply say Policy.

An Object may have a Policy assignment.

Note the word ‘assignment’. This may hint to other domain language that must be elaborated. Also an object may have different policies depending on ‘context’… another term to explore. We might promote “Policy Assignment” to become domain terminology.

  • An Object may have a Policy Assignment.
  • A Policy Assignment is the set of policies that apply to an object

At every level new questions are raised… Who is doing the assignment? What is the meaning of an object that is governed? What are the relationships to other domain entities? How can we describe the policy context?


The above are mere examples!

Domain experts and analysts need to come up with a Governance domain model that makes the most sense, and uses a familiar, easy-to-understand ‘ubiquitous language’. While analysing the domain, additional subdomains may be identified that can exist independently (and form a ‘context map’).

One of the requirements is that it should not become too complex. So in places where there are too many variations we may leave ‘holes’ in the spec that will be filled in with custom implementations (just like what we did for AS/AP).

Now to come back to “OpenWeb Governance Body” - your domain of interest - it might boil down to be specified as a Sortition Policy that applies to Community relationships. I.e. having Social Network + Community + Governance subdomains in its context map.

With well-defined (sub)domains in place, others can jump in and add additional extensions to them, e.g. @bhaugen and @lynnfoster might add Value Flows domain to the mix.


This is an interesting question:

it’s a permissionless process/structure so is open, the group that forms using the tools decide who is a part of the group or not - and it can/will divide into a web of connecting instances of governance as a natural human process of group formation. The is no exclusion, always diversity - in this it’s a natural fit for the fedivers.

If people are stupid (and we live in the era of #stupidindividualism) each governance instance will have one member and NO POWER

To get POWER people have to work together, this is built into the code. You can only hold it for a limited time so it’s important to use this time to get stuff done. HORDING of power is limited, it flows through the community and by this flow it energies and solidifies the community - building horizontal power to challenge/change vertical power #KISS

I imagine people will try and push for http://hamishcampbell.com/2021/04/24/governance-in-open-source-projects/ all the existing power structers BEFORE Democracy. As we are “permissionless” we can’t stop them from doing this. We just have to do better, and being native to the fedivers is a big help here.

We touch on where power comes from is this thried.

In the fedivers path it comes from different places than a corporation, a government, courts, police etc. we need to think and build with this difference and NOT try and drag the fedivers back to the normal path.

REMEMBER the fedivers works BECAUSE it’s different.

It’s easy to forget this important thing when #mainstreaming agenders grab and hold.

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One way of keeping power structures in place is to never question it. I think this is happening too much lately in this community. As power remains unquestioned, it remains in place. Who are you afraid of? would be an interesting question to ask around.

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While I admit I too enjoy drawing nice static boxes and unchanging point-A-to-B arrows for governance things, I imagine a governance body in this space would be very fluid and accommodating* of people coming and going, for sure it would help me keep the FEP process going… :sweat_smile:

*y’all are already accommodating and not knocking at my door, but I also mean beyond that: in a way where responsibility can ultimately be carried out.

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Yep that’s the digram above.

The question that is missing in almost all these conversations is “who are we empowering” think i did a blog post on this http://hamishcampbell.com/2021/04/24/governance-in-open-source-projects/

We have big problems in alt-tech

"Look thought my tech news feed and mutter Uttley pointless… utterly pointless… stupidly pointless… dangerously pointless…naively evil… innocently evil… just plain evil…

Muttering under breath… We need to do better in alt-tech."

It’s a mess, we need shovels to make compost to plant seeds of the world we won’t.

What would doing better look like?

Think starting with the #4opens would remove 90% of the cuff thus revealing the real potential for good outcomes.

Yep, the outline above is just a process scaffolding all the decisions on how things work will be up to the members of the body. Our power is only the power of “default”

Default effect - Wikipedia this sadly is a #dotcons view of the idea, but good to get us to start thinking.

We remove all HARD default choices that we can, we build in a small number of #KISS tools and then let the body members work out themselves how to use them.

An example - The story of CS is good soon after getting #dotcons money - the website was redesigned.

“The new interface just didn’t lend itself to interpersonal connection-making,” Bear recalls.

The tools active Couchsurfers had used to self-organize—group pages, event invites, and a wiki—were all removed. Since then, more redesigns have simplified the interface, most notably turning city pages into a newsfeed.

“The site has become more of a Facebook clone and a place for people mostly looking for free places to stay and for socializing in,” says Mike Gazbacho, who recently closed his account. “It disappoints me that most members don’t host at all.”

Let the member make their own process - open vs closed - we have to overcome the #geekproblem to have hope for alt-tech.

Is the “governance” body an answer to “Who do I call if I want to speak to the Fediverse?”

If it is to be a point of contact for outsiders and newcomers, we do not need the heavy term “governance” body. If people want to speak to Wikipedia they call Wikimedia and have a reasonable expectation that they are in touch with the community and can speak on their behalf.

Wikimedia avoided the question whether they are the government or support staff by using a made up term Wikimedia. We could do that and call ourselves something with social media and maybe hub? That gives you the flexibility to adapt to changing roles while building up trust and power by being useful to the community.

It’s the correct word Governance - Wikipedia “Governance is the way rules, norms and actions are structured, sustained, regulated and held accountable”

We are doing this already from this prospective http://hamishcampbell.com/2021/04/24/governance-in-open-source-projects/

What would this look like to you?

The Fediverse is not a coding project. The open standard, decentralization and interoperability makes it anarchism of action. #AntonConstandse

Irrespective of how these coding projects are governed internally, for the Fediverse they are actions. Anarchism is not listed in your blog post. We cannot regulate rules, norms nor actions, not hold people effectively accountable. Especially developers of apps with their own funding. Maybe if we do a good job one day we can nudge things in a better direction.

Gentle nudging, encouragement, is I think a good way to describe the intention of the foundation (figuratively, as a base both for the community and the technology) outlined in Organizing for SocialHub Community Empowerment. But in a much more restricted scope: applying just to the SocialHub community where diverse technologists and fedizens engage to expand the groundwork of the Fediverse (i.e. the floating base of our Spiral Island archipelago :grin: )

This is an interesting comment. Good point about the Fediverse being anarchism as this is likely the best description of the community.

A represents the Greek anarkhia (‘without ruler/authority’), and the circle can be read as the letter O , standing for order or organization ,

We currently have a Herding cats governance in the Fediverse and the projects that make it up

  • An idiom denoting a futile attempt to control or organize a class of entities which are inherently uncontrollable

This was very evident in the outreach to the #EU project.

We have the A but we do not have the O - in this thried we are asking what would the O look like in a online social tech project?