Feneas handover


#1

Hello everyone!

As you probably noticed (or not), i’m not really present on this forum anymore and i can’t really put all my heart in running and managing it. It deserves way more love i’m able to give right now. It started as a cool idea in my head but had overwhelmed me faster i could expect. I think it deserves some serious management and promotion as, let’s face it, it’s becoming more and more important fediverse place on the internet.

Luckily, people behind https://feneas.org has recently reached me to talk about possible handover and i’m super happy to confirm they are perfect for such operation. I’ll still be admin in here (and all the other admins will still have the permissions they had).

@jaywink - it would be great if you could introduce yourself and Feneas to everyone and write a bit more about the technical details :slight_smile:

Thanks!


Generic federated web forum
#2

Hello everyone :wave:

Thank you @mxb and the other admins for giving this opportunity.

About Feneas

Feneas (short from “Federated Networks Association”) is a legal non-profit registered in Finland. It was founded in August 2018 by me and @zauberstuhl after years of wishing for such an organization to exist. The main focus of the association, as per the name suggests, is to further the federated web. You can read more about our mission.

Why SocialHub?

We also provide various services for members and non-members alike, funded my membership fees. Collecting membership fees is what allows us to provide reliability into the services we run. This is why we think we’ll be good hosts for SocialHub. We can take care of the payments and actual day-to-day sysadmin stuff while the current and any new admins can take care of the content.

The idea for setting up a forum for people to discuss the federated web was submitted to us from the outside. Before doing that we decided it’s better to first ask if we could collaborate with SocialHub instead of running another “competing” forum. We’re happy that such collaboration might happen.

Domain

We’re happy to either keep running via the current domain or slowly migrate to something like talk.feneas.org, whichever feels best to the community. If we’re expected to pay for the domain, we would however need to have it transferred to us.

Infrastructure

We will set up a Discourse running in the Helsinki datacenter of Hetzner, which is where all the other Feneas stuff runs. Access to the servers and database is restricted currently to only a few committee persons, though we should document this a bit better for the future (makes note to himself).

Admins

Current admins will stay as they are. The only thing we would like is to enlargen the scope of the forum, so that instead of only ActivityPub projects, the forum would have categories for other protocols and projects, where needed, as long as the focus stays on the federated web. The current admins should be able to control any further changes into admins and/or other team changes. We’ve got a few people interested in helping out.

Sorry for the hastily written post, busy day at work :slight_smile: Feel free to ask any questions.


#3

:+1: looking forward to it


#4

“I’ll still be admin in here (and all the other admins will still have the permissions they had).”

this comes as good news on the surface of it; but i suggest that “all the other admins” should be identified on the website and contactable through some channel other than the website itself - mxb is currently noted as the only point of contact; and i have been trying to reach mxb for over a month now with no response - this single point of contact is a real problem when that person becomes unresponsive for whatever reason - as newcomers here, we were seriously doubting if this website had any future at all

beyond a graceful change of management, there needs to be a re-structuring of authority to avoid such excessively long communication voids in the future - this means for example: multiple admins with email addresses posted publicly or least a chat room where an admin is always available (the key factor being that it should be on a separate host, such as IRC or email in case the server itself is the problem); and more importantly, multiple admins who can get a shell on the server at any moment such as now, when the system is not sending login emails - anything less is unprofessional and of dubious reliability for the dev teams that direct users to the service; and would amount to very little noticeable change from the perspective of those teams and their users

for example, when logging into the website just now to post this reply, the website would not send the login email nor the password reset email - if i did not remember my password i would be locked out of my account until the admin reads and responds to my support email, which as noted above, i have been waiting for over a month to happen


#5

“The main focus of the association, as per the name suggests, is to further the federated web.”

it should not go without saying, that there is nothing in “Federated Networks Association” that implies or even suggests “the web” - “federated networking” in all of its glory, has been around for longer than the web - email for example, the poster-child of network federation, is every bit as important today as it ever was for the purpose of managing one’s own digital communications - GPG and git are other examples of extremely important and popular federated technologies that are completely orthogonal to the web - to focus entirely on the web would be a dis-service to the big-picture concept under the umbrella term: “federated networks”, as well as blindly ignoring the fact that the most popular federated networks in history and still today are not websites - the fact that they do not require a web browser, in no way diminishes their value - in fact, many would argue that to be among their strong points

i can see value in steering more of the web toward federation and self-hosting; but it would be a glaring over-sight to prioritize web-centric tools over federated tools that do not require users to blindly execute code that they can not read first - fully free software, where all source code can be inspected before executing it, should be recommended at least equally, if not more - in fact, as security and privacy are among the most important merits of federation, as touted by it’s latest wave of proponents, then self-hosted federated tools without javascript should be recommended with the highest priority in all cases where that option exists

“… the forum would have categories for other protocols and projects, where needed, as long as the focus stays on the federated web.”

again, i could not object more with the unnnatural “web” constraint - there is no reason to exclude projects that are not websites - “federated web” is but one sub-set of the larger primary concept of: “network federation” and “user-controlled internet services”; which is what the “federated web” specialty derives it’s entire actual value from - i find it highly dubious to focus on the web, at the exclusion of all other networking platforms - what exactly is the justification in that obviously myopic view?


#6

Out of curiosity - why?


#7

because blindly executing computer code without the possibility of reading it first is a huge privacy concern - privacy-minded folks are adamant about that - in extreme cases, a security concern too

at the very least, the code is practically proprietary if the user has no way of modifying and replacing it easily and robustly, regardless of whether the author publishes it under some free license

javascript is notorious for it’s potential to behave in ways other than what the user wants or is aware of; but freely licensed servers running locally and native desktop programs do not have that deficiency, so it is much more responsible to encourage the use of those whenever possible

what disturbs me in this case, is that not only does that wording not prefer nor even encourage native applications, but the wording there seems to indicate that they should be excluded from the website entirely


#8

Absolutely agree. Feneas has a chatroom you can always shout in and the email addresses of the committee are also listed there ([email protected]). If something would be wrong with the forum after transition, those shouting to the committee should work :slight_smile: While I agree totally the Discourse usernames of the admins should be visible here in some intro page, I don’t think it should be required for their personal names or emails to be visible.

Please however remember that even if Feneas takes this over we’re still all volunteers. There will be no “next day SLA” or anything like that. We all do this for fun and as much as we have time. We don’t get paid to work on Feneas projects.

I think the focus of both Feneas as an organization and what kind of platforms are “federated” is better discussed in another topic. For sure we would create a “Feneas” category here then for that kind of discussion.


#9

np i did not intend to be too demanding - anything more than a single point of contact would be good - an email adress plus a chat room with multiple admins in it, all on separate servers, that should be quite sufficient to get messages through in even the worst cases


#10

Personally, I’m really happy to see this development - I think this Discourse community would very much be a good fit for what Feneas is trying to accomplish (the advancement of federated communication systems + a space for developers of those systems to talk about their projects, challenges, and ideas)

In regards to @bill-auger, one thing to understand is that many of the volunteer developers in this space are building web platforms - most of them are built with the intention of providing open APIs for clients that can be used on the desktop, in other web applications, on mobile devices, and even in terminal applications. While I absolutely agree that we should support more types of applications and platforms, it’s worth understanding that many people that founded this space (and Feneas as well) started off developing their own federated web platforms.

Part of our initiative is to provide web applications that have the form factor and user experience of modern web applications, while having the underlying infrastructure that supports federation across different platforms and systems. A driving factor for why we do what we do is to provide people who are tied to modern centralized service silos an alternative capable of approximating what they like about the current web services they use.

This does not mean that we would exclude other types of application platforms, just that we tend to prefer web applications that can provide APIs for the kinds of clients you’re describing.


#11

It feels like there is either support or not a huge demand for debating this. Shall we go forward?

Discussion with @mxb and @dansup privately came out with the following plan for the domain:

  • create talk.feneas.org
  • redirect socialhub.network to the new subdomain until it expires (renewal happening now for a year by @dansup )
  • discuss closer to the end of expiry whether we should protect old links with further renewals

#12

This discussion comes as a surprise to me. It’s only 6 days old, and is not related to our previous discussion (Generic federated web forum) that was not answered for a month. So I’d rather make a huge demand for debating this on grounds mentioned in the linked post, and previous grounds that were not answered by Feneas elsewhere.

On Feneas’s website, at https://feneas.org/mission/, one can read (emphasis mine):

Federated Networks Association Ry is a non-profit volunteer organization that aims to spread knowledge about federated web projects and help people and projects involved in this area. The association is politically non-aligned.

After this sentence was proven problematic, the Feneas team came up with clarification. Here (https://git.feneas.org/feneas/association/issues/45#note_5016), @jaywink, you wrote:

The mission

As an association we’re a “Federated Networks Association”. Our mission indicates we want to further federation as a concept and technology. One really important point here to me is that we don’t discriminate against people or projects that are not FLOSS, or even OSS. If a proprietary platform comes to us for help or people building proprietary platforms join the association - great!

This clarification, obviously, contrasts with the chosen license of most of the projects active on socialhub.network. During FOSDEM 2019, it was asked to @cwebber what would happen in the event of a proprietary platform embracing ActivityPub. Chris deflected the question as unanswerable, but @natacha insisted, claiming it was indeed a very important prospect, since the Fediverse, the Federation, and the IndieWeb all came from the need to step away from such platforms.

From this perspective, and given that @mxb “can’t really put all [@mxb’s] heart in running and managing it”, I think this option deserves some serious thinking if effectively socialhub.network is “becoming more and more important fediverse place on the internet.”

I’m concerned that this discussion did not happen in public on this platform from the start. At least the decision to hand over this space to a third party should be considering the best interest of the community that makes it happen in the long term. When I see Feneas’ clarification and the proposal to drop the domain and move the discussion under their name, I am not convinced they are perfect for such an operation, and that this space will remain a “social hub network” to further development of free software in the public interest.


#13

That was problematic to you cause you want us to be political.

It does NOT! We are simply saying that we want to help and support people. Not respecting licenses would be against the law… btw defamation is against the law too (looking at your public posts).

I know… cause the whole feneas committee was sitting with you in that very room.
We are FOSS enthusiasts, developers and supporters like everyone else in this forum…


#14

I would just like to chime in and say that I would favour keeping the domain; cannot really wrap my mind around it, but I don’t think talk.feneas.org is the right domain for this forum.


#15

This is very opinionated and generalizing things a lot from the perspective of the free software movement. A lot of people just want to run their own stuff. I’m willing to say aloud that a majority of the fediverse does not have political motives for running their own stuff. Please prove me wrong.

I’m going to repeat that not being politically aligned is set in the rules of Feneas and it will not be changing unless a majority of the members of the association choose to amend the rules. This would make the association a political association under Finnish association law, which I’m not sure what it would mean.

We’re also not going to declare that non-FOSS projects are not welcome to discuss and work with us and our members. We’re a federated web organization, not a free software organization. I realize this is a pain point for you, from our previous encounters related to this, and I respect that.

However, I have no knowledge that SocialHub was set up as a discussion forum for only free software projects. Last time I asked, it was set up for ActivityPub discussion. Whatever Christopher or anyone else thinks about proprietary platforms using ActivityPub, it’s simply not theirs to say. No one owns ActivityPub and no one can restrict using it.

Since this issue came up, I’m going to say that if Feneas takes over SocialHub, there should be no restriction on users from proprietary platforms wanting to discuss the federated web and to for example get help in implementing ActivityPub in their platform.

The Fediverse cannot grow by telling people they are not welcome. We can expand only by adoption and embracing other projects. This is not sell out, it’s win-win for everyone, the FOSS projects and the users of proprietary platforms joining the fediverse. It however is not political and I realize that is the issue we disagree on.

It did. We logged https://git.feneas.org/feneas/association/issues/22 as soon as the issue was submitted to us privately. We cannot control how people submit ideas to us. We then submitted Generic federated web forum as soon as we realized there would be overlap and running two forums would make no sense. You commented on that so you must know the discussion was public. Then we discussed privately with @mxb only about technical details. Once an agreement on those was reached, the discussion continued here.

I’m not sure why we’re being called a third-party. Third-party looking from which point of view? Are we not a part of the community?

We offered to keep the forum running as SocialHub or use our own. @mxb and @dansup both told us dropping SocialHub would be better.

TL/DR; I think the question to be resolved is: should this forum be restricted to free software only? Our opinion is no since the fediverse should not be limited by software license. It isn’t even now, there are proprietary platforms already implementing ActivityPub. Well, one of them open sourced their software after they had done it (write.as, now writefreely). Proving embracing is better than fighting.


#16

FTR, if anyone is wondering, no Feneas does not run proprietary software. All the software we run as services or produce is FOSS.

(slight disclaimer for GitLab which is FOSS but we have an enterprise license as donation from GitLab Inc)


#17

Keeping the domain is a possibility. We don’t even have to decide upon it now. The domain is still owned by @dansup and he is keeping it and has renewed it for a year. If this forum should keep the domain after that time, it can be transferred to Feneas for renewal, or dansup can renew it, whichever works best.

The decision is up to the users and current admins to make.


#18

honestly I have to agree with you :wink: I like the current TLD as well
but as @jaywink already said we don’t have to decide that now.


#19

This is political.

This is highly political. My question to you is: why in the world would you like proprietary platforms to join the ActivityPub Fediverse for?

This is political.

This is political, depending on your position – privileged or oppressed, what you embrace, and what you fight. Sometimes you don’t really have a choice but to fight. G and M from the GMAFIA developed a methodology known as Embrace, Extend, Extinguish.

Since we know Feneas wants to proceed with this handover, and we all know your position, I would appreciate that other people not associated with Feneas can state their own. I will abstain from posting further unless the political stance above that is proposed as apolitical is questioned, in which case I will be happy to make a counter-offer.


#20

I have some thoughts about the technical proposal of the plan (I don’t understand the apparently pressing need to “rebrand” the forum under a new domain name), but this discussion seems to have been swallowed by the “is FOSS political” debate, so two thoughts on that:

  1. I think that a lot of the disagreement so far has been conflating “political” (as defined under finnish law for associations) and “political” (anything related to ideology). this seems like a purely definitional argument to me, and I suggest we taboo the word “political” in future discussion, so that we can more further unpack the terms that we’re discussing. going back and forth and saying something is political vs is not political is not advancing the debate.

  2. I, personally, believe strongly that the fediverse should resist proprietary capture as an existential threat. This is why all the software i write and contribute to is AGPL, for example. But I think the question of whether that means “only free software projects are allowed a voice in our space” is a subtler one (is chromium a free software project? It uses a FOSS license, and it participates in good faith with standards discussions, but it still wields a disproportionate amount of user share and development is ultimately driven by the priorities of Google as a business). I don’t believe that our discussion spaces need to take a hard stand one way or another on this issue until we can address it on a more case-by-case basis.