Feneas handover


I share @how’s concerns about the refuse from Feneas to realize its stance is indeed political.

Cooperate with proprietary software editor is as much a political stance as refusing to do so.

And here come the paradox of tolerance: if we welcome intolerant projects (and proprietary software platform are known to be intolerant toward free and decentralized technologies that don’t align with their own interests), then intolerance will win in the end.

XMPP, emails, web standards… there is no shortage of examples of the embrace/extend/extinguish policy being applied by companies to benefit from open technologies then lock everything down to keep their position of power.

You cannot simply ignore that. It’s a threat, a real one, it happens all the time, and there is absolutely no reason it can’t happen to the fediverse (and related/similar ecosystems).

If you welcome proprietary projects in Feneas, you become enablers of this behaviour, because they will be able to use your resources to push their own agenda. There is no middle ground: you either care about this and do your best to prevent it (e.g. by refusing proprietary projects, by ensuring your members are agreeing with Free Software values, etc.), or you don’t care and let it happen, using your network resources.

I don’t expect to change anyone’s mind, but it was important to express this.


It’s not a question of want. It’s a question of when. And as I already said, there are proprietary platforms utilizing ActivityPub, and for sure more will follow. This is not dependent on what I or you do. You can’t own a spec and claim it for yourself. Would you try to stop HTML being used by proprietary platforms?

I refuse to accept the “bad guy” status here, for Feneas or myself. We’re FOSS people writing FOSS software being attacked by FOSS people for the time we spend in our free time to work on things we love. This makes me sad.

This is not political and no matter how many times you repeat it @how and @eliotberriot , it wont make it political, except to yourself.

I’ll repeat once again why we are here to offer our help so that it doesn’t get lost in the noise. We’re going to set up a forum for federated web discussion. We came to suggest cooperation from SocialHub to avoid the situation where there are multiple discussion places to point people to, for example in the case of people wanting to discuss interop issues. Often, to my experience, people either want to discuss these on their own favourite platform, a neutral platform or none at all. Not all platforms federate and ActivityPub is not the only way to federate.

We came here to suggest if SocialHub was to expand it’s focus, we would gladly sponsor it or fully run it. The latter was the favourable option from the current maintainers due to the fact that they have not had time to put into keeping the forum running. You might be happy with your project specific categories, but there are requests for new ones which have a long time unattended to, for example New category for ForgeFed?. We can help here by providing financially secure hosting and maintainer power, in the return of expanding focus outside ActivityPub.

The people who currently pay for this forum are happy with this solution. Unfortunately it seems due to the fact that we’re registered as a non-political association in Finland, @how has taken us up as the enemy.

Now, we’re going to set up a Discourse anyway, that will be welcome for anyone (and I mean everyone) who wants to discuss federated web technology. There is no rebranding effort that @nightpool claims - we’ve said multiple times we’re happy to keep the domain. We just want to pay the costs in exchange for expanding the scope of the forum.

If the current users of the forum feel this is not something that is a good thing to happen, let us have multiple forums then. Whether that is a big victory for the free software movement or not, I’m not going to judge on that.

But please stop talking about us as bad guys. This is why the proprietary side wins because the FOSS people fight among themselves.

I’ll leave further comments to actual questions about Feneas or what the handover would look like, or the future of SocialHub. Any further comments about politics will be ignored. Your claim that being not political is political is like calling an atheist religious.


Since @mxb’s concern seems to be about handing off the management of this space and coming back to @mxb’s primary development effort on Prismo, I am tempted to make a counter-offer to match the offer of Feneas with the following guarantees:

  1. socialhub.network shall remain the domain name for ActivityPub discussion to further coordination of the Fediverse development
  2. domain, hosting and sysadmin charges shall be taken over by a non-profit (e.g., Petites Singularités whose mission furthering free software and collective practices match this endeavor, or another that will guarantee the pursuit of software freedom and Internet standardization sought by the AP community), and current admins and moderators will remain in place, and always have a say on who, what, and how things work in this space
  3. we’ll work with the Discourse team and others to facilitate adoption of AP in Discourse so that this space can federate topics and discussions held elsewhere by each project on their own community space
  4. each software community will be able to handle their own category including their own moderators and staff
  5. we’ll work with the AP community and beyond to facilitate the emerge of a public digital network infrastructure that politically aligns with the goals of the Fediverse (and beyond) to re-establish voluntary network federation as the normal way to bring unhindered Internet communication to the people.


Okay! So this conversation has gone in a lot of different directions. I think it may be appropriate to make a few clarifying statements:

On the point of Feneas’ stance regarding the licenses of software projects: first and foremost, the members that are part of Feneas are all people who are either directly working on Libre federated communication systems, or people like me who study them and write about them. My point is, the core makeup of Feneas consists of Free Software and Open Source projects, ones that have been part of the space for a significantly long time. That will not change anytime soon.

The stance that @jaywink is taking is that while Feneas would ideally support FOSS federated projects by providing a space to talk, ask semantic questions, and share news of projects in development, we would not turn people away from discussion groups simply because their own projects (client or server) are proprietary. If someone develops a proprietary client for a proprietary platform, that is the decision of the developer. The act of doing such development shouldn’t preclude someone from taking a part in community discussions.

Realistically, we’re not going to kick someone out of the space just because their philosophy on software development differs. Like it or not, inside of this space or outside of it, those same developers will be able to get a lot of information by studying the projects that already successfully federate. In some cases, such as WriteFreely, proprietry projects end up getting re-released as Free Software.

In a nutshell: Feneas would not go out of their way to give any EXTRA support to proprietary projects, “support” in this case purely relating to providing a discussion space. We likely won’t accept donations or committee memberships from proprietary cloud services trying to be the next Google or Microsoft.


Fediverse servers whose developers and admins are tragically disconnected from the needs and feelings of Fediverse users, such servers may be a threat to the peace and harmony of the Fediverse. But if people participating in such work, for example proprietary ActivityPub implementations, come to talk and seek advice, I suggest we don’t automatically reject them. Me personally, I won’t hurry to help them either, I’ll be suspucious, I’ll ask about their views and intentions, I’ll challenge their motivation and choices. But I suggest we do speak with them.

I’m for saying the following: We embrace libre software in the public interest and we welcome discussion and cooperation on federation. That’s all. Whether proprietary software devs get help is up to the users. We don’t explicitly welcome them, but we also don’t explicitly ignore them.

Very possibly, they’ll struggle to find help, because everyone will be suspicious. And that’s okay.

I wouldn’t want to have categories for proprietary protocols and software on SocialHub though.

Side note, I’m uncomfortable with Feneas using a proprietary GitLab instance, and I wish they politely rejected the offer and used GitLab CE.

I don’t mind who funds and manages SocialHub (Feneas or other similar non profit), as long as it’s stable and managed and there is no explicit welcoming of projects that aren’t in the public interest (For example, possibly if SocialHub gets filled with categories for proprietary servers, I won’t feel comfortable there anymore). The peace and comfort and harmony in the community depends on us, on our decisions, on us helping protect it.


Thank you for raising concerns @how, @nightpool and @eliotberriot.

I also would like to voice my “-1” concern about a Feneas handover.

I would like to see an organisation shepharding the infrastructure of this platform have a mission statement that aligns with the free software movement. @eliotberriot’s comment explains the dangers of failing to do so very well.

To continue with @how’s counter-offer, I would support this alternative and could help if needed.


have I raised concerns about the handover? I don’t think I did. I don’t much care what happens to socialhub.network one way or another


I was referring to this. There is no pressing need to rebrand, I just wanted to point that out. We only suggested so because it was assumed the domain is not important (in agreement with current owners). It seems it is, so best kept as is, we’ve been totally fine with this all along.


It has become clear to us due to the constant confusion on what is the relationship of Feneas to Free Software that we need to document this. Thus, there will be a FOSS manifesto written which will be approved in the next annual general (summer) meeting sometime in May. Hopefully the next time we present us somewhere we wont have to go through a thread like this.

Please don’t take the current issue as “final text”, it’s just a set of ideas to work on.


Just a quick clarification on a question we were asked in our chatroom regarding clarifying what adding a “political focus” would mean for Feneas, since part of the criticism of several people here has been the “non-political” clause in our rules.

For one we would have to first define what is our political affiliation, which I’m not sure how that even goes with free software. Since “Free Software” is not a political party in Finland. The change would need to be made in an annual general meeting to the rules which then need to be approved by the Finnish registry for associations. I’m not sure what their criteria is for a “political affiliation” and whether Free Software counts as one. If they don’t accept the change, the rules don’t become official.

Next it would conflict with our Code of Conduct which explicitly says “no discrimination for political affiliations”, so that would require changing in an annual general meeting too. We can’t be politically affiliated and claim we don’t discriminate against people with other political affiliations.

We could possibly try and get rid of the clause, by just dropping it. I’ve seen some rules without it. I’m not sure however how that changes things for the better unless we drop the Code of Conduct clause about discrimination.

I hope this clears this part of our rules document a bit. It’s a legal document, written based on certain rules, not something we can just “make up”.


No, you’re mis-characterizing the issue. It has nothing to do with a clause in your rules. Nobody cares about your political affiliation or the rules of your association with regard to political affiliation or the lack thereof.


You earlier called it “problematic”.

I’m confused then. Just out of curiosity, what changes would you make to our rules, code of conduct or other documents to be happy? Just to understand what is missing.


I don’t think I ever read your rules. I stopped at the mission statement, that I quoted several times, telling you it was unacceptable. Please scroll up.


Thats… not actually our mission statement. I’ll quote it here for you. From the website, a longer version from the rules:

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.


Provide information related to federated web projects and technologies by utilising the expertise of our members.


Use funds given to us for (ethical) advertising and other marketing campaigns.


Directly sponsor the work of individuals or projects.


Organize events and hackathons.


Educate individuals about federated technologies.


Provide travel grants to events.

What you are quoting as official is a comment posted on a GitLab issue by the president of the committee (me), nothing to do with our mission statement. We have nothing written down about FOSS or non-FOSS. We’re going to change that with our FOSS manifesto, as linked earlier, since it has become clear we need one.

I’m sorry you’ve taken a personal dislike to our association and while there is nothing I can do about that, I feel that we have the right to clear our case here.


I just submitted a merge request with a draft FOSS manifesto for Feneas. Note that this will need to be accepted by our members and please note also it’s in merge request mode still, so open to comments and changes, until placed under vote in the next annual general meeting in (most likely) May.


Firstly, I want to thank @jaywink , @zauberstuhl and the rest of the folks at Fenneas for the good work they do, and acknowledge the wisdom of looking for an existing federation forum to bring into their orbit, rather than just setting up a new one.


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

I only just found the discussion. I get there is an existing admin gap to be filled here, but let’s give it a bit of time before assuming silence = consent.

discuss closer to the end of expiry whether we should protect old links with further renewals

I get that keeping an extra domain name alive is an ongoing cost, and a maintenance burden. But a lot of links now point to discussions here, and it would be good stewardship to avoid breaking them. Keeping the original domain alive also allows for the possibility of reversing the merger decision, if the goals and culture of the existing community here turns out not be to compatible with those of Fenneas.

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.

With all due respect for Fenneas, I see this is a good reason for the proposed merger not to go ahead. Socialhub.network has been a forum for the developers and supporters of free code projects to discuss and work on federation between their projects, to increase the network effect of the non-proprietary social web. Such a space is necessary and important.

Fenneas is entitled to their proprietary-friendly strategy, as was the XMPP Foundation before them, but those who don’t remember the last 20 years of internet history are doomed to repeat it. We are in the mess we are in (most web users being milked daily in corporate datafarms) because of proprietary Bad Actors being allowed to embrace, extend, and extinguish open standards:

  • i686 PC architecture: Microsoft
  • the web: Google, Facebook, Amazon
  • mailing lists: YahooGroups, GoogleGroups
  • email: Gmail
  • XMPP: GoogleTalk
  • Git: GitHub > Microsoft
  • Signal/Axylotl: WhatsApp
    etc etc etc

If Fenneas wants to run a federation forum that could end up helping proprietary Bad Actors take over the fediverse the same way, I think that would be naive, and put us all in serious danger. They have a right to do it anyway, and try to prove me wrong. But I think they ought to be willing make that argument, and put in the promotional work to bring in participants to a new forum on that basis, not try to retrofit the culture of an existing one.



[making software freedom a goal or principle in the Fenneas org rules] would make the association a political association under Finnish association law, which I’m not sure what it would mean.

IANAL and I’m certainly no expert on Finnish company law, but FWIW I suspect that “political affiliation” means a formal relationship with a political party or lobbying organization. Being formally aligned with the Finnish Pirate Party would definitely be “political affiliation”. Depending on how the Finnish law is written, being formally aligned with an org like FSF Europe that lobbies governments about software freedom might also be “political affiliation”. But I very much doubt that a clause saying that defending the 4 software freedoms is one of your goals, or that they are among your operating principles, would count as “political affiliation”.

As a parallel, are there any associations in Finland dedicated to slow food, permaculture, or sustainable agriculture? Are they considered to have a “political affiliation” if they make supporting organic farming as part of their goals, or give a definition of organic production as part of their principles? Perhaps so, but I would be surprised. If they were formally aligned with a Green Party OTOH, that would be an obvious “political affiliation”, and maybe if they were formally aligned with an environmentalist NGO like Greenpeace that lobbies governments.

This seems like something to ask a lawyer about, and maybe get a couple of second opinions.


Thanks for your comments @strypey. I’m not going to repeat some of the earlier discussion, please do check the later replies in this thread, including the FOSS manifesto declaration. The last thing we want to do is “help proprietary Bad Actors take over the fediverse”.

I just want to say that, really, if Facebook wants to implement ActivityPub, somehow I don’t think they will 1) come to SocialHub or 2) ask Feneas for help. They have tens of thousands of engineers so I’m pretty sure they can figure it out themselves.

I’m kind of saddened that many people here see it as a negative thing that for example Write.as was able to implement ActivityPub as a proprietary platform. Let’s hope no more proprietary implementers ever find ActivityPub :slight_smile:


Just read the rest of the discussion. Sorry for any repetition, but I think the XMPP parallel in particular was an important one to point out. You’re right that that a proprietary actor can implement AP and try to do to the fediverse what Google did to XMPP, it’s an unavoidable risk implicit in open standards. If (when) that happens, the main strategy we have to convince people not to fall for it is a) making sure that the UX of (and interop between) free code apps is as good as it can be, and b) encouraging people to act in the interest of their own freedom.


I’m kind of saddened that many people here see it as a negative thing that for example Write.as was able to implement ActivityPub as a proprietary platform.

I see your point. But you and I both know that there is a huge difference between corporations for whom proprietary software and “the cloud” are calculated enclosement strategies, and developers who just haven’t caught the software (and network) freedom train yet. There must be ways we can constitutionally embed software freedom in our orgs and forums to protect us (and net users generally) from the former, without excluding the latter.

The last thing we want to do is “help proprietary Bad Actors take over the fediverse”.

I know that, as I’m sure you know :slight_smile: But I suspect it will help put some people’s minds at rest to see it explicitly stated.


FYI, I’m taking a personal break from watching this thread and any other related threads for at least a week, due to personally getting tired of being accused of trying to sell the fediverse to proprietary software, while trying to do the exact opposite and explaining our view multiple times.

Please contact the other Feneas representatives should something need answering.