What would a fediverse "governance" body look like?

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?

Yep, the liberal foundation model will be forced onto us if the Fediverse is taken up buy large Burocratic orgs like the #EU and yes the will be a figleaf of “democracy” placed over the self-selecting oligarchy that will be put into place by “power politics” that this path embeds.

Yes this path is the default outcome.

This thried is about should we do something that is native to the Fediverse, and what would this look like?

So let’s pick up where I started outlining things before:

We have a complex problem statement; “How would a fediverse ‘governance’ body look like?” and we agreed it needs supportive technology to make it scale (i.e. the governance is not an exercise of pen and paper, casual chat and vidcalls).

Any real progress I think requires setting up a full-blown project in which to elaborate all ins and outs.

Note that this project might be part of the foundation I propose in the other thread, and that one of the objectives of the foundation might be to become part of this governance structure (dogfooding the solution) once deliverables start to materialize.

There’s a ton of work involved in this project, and it requires tons of time to be ‘sacrificed’ by volunteers (who may get some compensation for that, if that can be facilitated). One of the ideas behind the foundation is to provide the furtile ground in which these types of projects might find root and make them flourish.

Ultimately the success of these projects all depend on the interest for them, coming from the broader community (i.e. fedizens in this case). Facilitating is one thing, but at the start (and most often throughout the entire project) there’s requirement for people ‘pulling the cart’ (i.e. dedicate to doing the nudging and encouragement, oil the gears).

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How to build sustainability into projects like this http://hamishcampbell.com/2011/03/05/thoughts-on-alt-organising-from-2007/ am wondering if this workflow has changed?

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Great analysis and good article! Recognizable and probably applies beyond alt-projects as well. Don’t think much has changed, and maybe this cycle is only natural. If it is, then knowing about it plus anticipating is a means to mitigate its negative effects.

One aspect I feel is missing, is that these ‘persona types’ are too tightly bound to people, while I see them more as roles or stances. In that regard people are able to wear different hats if they have sufficient insight in their position and influence on a project (and are open-minded, willing to adapt). Some people may swap hats throughout the project based on perceived needs (i.e. they can wear multiple hats with grace).

The Fediverse having an anarchist structure does not mean that we cannot organize ourselves democratically and have to be satisfied with oligarchy. (It is just why I did not like the term governance body that much.)

The more democratic this group is organized the more credibly can we claim to speak for the Fediverse.

The Pirate Parties have been experimenting with such systems and I have not studied this in detail, but had the impression they feel it worked. Liquid democracy - Wikipedia

Already mentioned is model I like a lot: the citizen’s Assemblies, an advisory council of random citizens. It is reasonably democratic (still not completely representative as you cannot force people to participate, leading to self selection) and much better than just voting because people inform themselves and derive a much more nuanced position than just yes or no on a question. Citizens' assembly - Wikipedia

It seems possible to recreate something like that online; for interactive discussion time zones would be a bit of a problem, but with discussions in multiple over lapping time zones and some iterations that seems solvable.


People can change roles and can change projects and can change groups. I wonder how much the analysis changes at the level of the Fediverse as a collection of many roles, projects and groups, just like the internet or the web, distributed all over the world. At any one time, there will be projects in all of these levels.


Yes, indeed. I hadn’t considered it in that light. I think it will mitigate the problem even further, as people can hop around between projects & communities while still being active for the same cause.

Liquid democracy is interesting as a concept, especially what is says about the role of technology… highly applicable to fedi.

Some of that has a resemblance to an old article: The Tyranny of Stuctureless
Final part of the text offers some guidelines to follow:

There are some principles we can keep in mind that are essential to democratic structuring and are also politically effective:

  1. Delegation of specific authority to specific individuals for specific tasks by democratic procedures. Letting people assume jobs or tasks only by default means they are not dependably done. If people are selected to do a task, preferably after expressing an interest or willingness to do it, they have made a commitment which cannot so easily be ignored.
  2. Requiring all those to whom authority has been delegated to be responsible to those who selected them. This is how the group has control over people in positions of authority. Individuals may exercise power, but it is the group that has ultimate say over how the power is exercised.
  3. Distribution of authority among as many people as is reasonably possible. This prevents monopoly of power and requires those in positions of authority to consult with many others in the process of exercising it. It also gives many people the opportunity to have responsibility for specific tasks and thereby to learn different skills.
  4. Rotation of tasks among individuals. Responsibilities which are held too long by one person, formally or informally, come to be seen as that person’s “property” and are not easily relinquished or controlled by the group. Conversely, if tasks are rotated too frequently the individual does not have time to learn her job well and acquire the sense of satisfaction of doing a good job.
  5. Allocation of tasks along rational criteria. Selecting someone for a position because they are liked by the group or giving them hard work because they are disliked serves neither the group nor the person in the long run. Ability, interest, and responsibility have got to be the major concerns in such selection. People should be given an opportunity to learn skills they do not have, but this is best done through some sort of “apprenticeship” program rather than the “sink or swim” method. Having a responsibility one can’t handle well is demoralizing. Conversely, being blacklisted from doing what one can do well does not encourage one to develop one’s skills. Women have been punished for being competent throughout most of human history; the movement does not need to repeat this process.
  6. Diffusion of information to everyone as frequently as possible. Information is power. Access to information enhances one’s power. When an informal network spreads new ideas and information among themselves outside the group, they are already engaged in the process of forming an opinion – without the group participating. The more one knows about how things work and what is happening, the more politically effective one can be.
  7. Equal access to resources needed by the group. This is not always perfectly possible, but should be striven for. A member who maintains a monopoly over a needed resource (like a printing press owned by a husband, or a darkroom) can unduly influence the use of that resource. Skills and information are also resources. Members’ skills can be equitably available only when members are willing to teach what they know to others.

I think this is also present in the Sortition mechanism that @hamishcampbell has outlined.

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Good find, this is the foundation text of every grassroots movement I have been a part of - it’s what the “sortation governance body” is based off.

Worked in “modern tribalism” for all my life. Squats, protest camps, climate camp to indymedia, RTS to XR and even the horror of occupy. I like Rainbow Gatherings as a working example of this culture. They have been going 40 years and the core is still based on the founding traditions. These came from the Vietnam War rather than the mystical hippy shit people talk about.

The fedivers at its best is close to tribes than anything else, but it has to cross into the mainstream so thus the modern digital take on tribalism. If I set up a wiki you up for helping to make this happen - think the is the feeling to do it from the long convastion on mastodon.

Update I started a wiki Home - openwebgovernancebody - Gitea: Open Media Network

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Brining together the draft text on the dev site. You can edit by creating a gita account and then joining the repo.

NOTE The text here is not supposed to make everyone happy - it’s designed to bridge different groups in a good #UX and #KISS horizontalish way

Updated this text Online governance - openwebgovernancebody - Gitea: Open Media Network Modern “tribalism” is a good fit for the fediverse.

Needs to be more outreachy… help please…

(when I edit the tital it changes the URL…)

Discourse will redirect if the title has changed, just like GH does for repo names. The ID in the URL is the important part. You might use URL’s in shortened form too by replacing the title part with a dash ‘-’ char i.e. https://socialhub.activitypub.rocks/t/-/1497 (you might even leave out the dash, but it is not recommended)

Its gitea, the wiki is only average. Can you have a look through and think of better names

do work

And likely more… need translating in to NGO/funder speak without losing its meaning or changing the process.

|I really need help to translate into NGO English :slight_smile:

Looking at existing solutions Looking at existing projects - openwebgovernancebody - Gitea: Open Media Network

This looks like such a bunch of stuffed shirts who do you think we should talk to NGI FORUM 2021 | Participants about funding grassroots tech and governance?