I dread the day that silicon valley 'discovers' the fediverse and it starts getting popular in a Big way.

the day that happens is the day that VC money starts pouring into startups that will try to 'develop' (ie systematically colonize, commercialize, and exploit) the fediverse, which is, as of today, one of the few non-capitalist (as in non-commercialized) spaces left on the internet.

how do we prevent this from happening? how do we make it impossible for this to happen in the first place?

getting pretty frustrated with all the responses that essentially boil down to 'but what if we just like, didnt let capital accumulate, man?'

...that's not how any of this works. one does not simply wish away the inexorable logic of capitalism.

@gc I thought it happened once already, a few months ago. They got called out on some GPL thing and were made fun of relentlessly and disappeared. In the short run it seems to work but in the long run..

@gc Ze Frank used to host a thing he called The Show. He'd start every episode with a bizarre intro to scare away those looking to jump on the bandwagon. About 90 seconds in the intro would abruptly stop and Ze would ask "Are the new viewers gone yet?" Those that persisted were rewarded with a fabulous experience.

Perhaps there can be some collective, baked in deterrent like cold winters in Minnesota keeping out the "riff raff" as my former girlfriend's grandma used to say.

@awedjob @gc All the pointless infighting and arbitrary communication barriers enforced by some immature instance admins would fill that role?

@awedjob @gc AFAIK this is what #9front does. Just look at It's a meme dump.

@gc @awedjob I'm not saying that it's good that they do that, but it's a relevant data point.

@gc don't think you do - just when it happens other "fediverse" equivalents will appear, or continue to run in the background/alongside, as they always have.

those who are aware of them will continue.

and one day if we are lucky, people will simply ignore attempts at commercialisation and they will die of starvation


Grow the alternative enterprise community faster. Develop financing for enterprises that wish to exit as worker cooperatives, and financing for enterprises that start as worker cooperatives.

The Multifed? The capability to have a fediverse isolated from the general fediverse solves that problem. Strong protections on a user and instance level mean we can block compromised users and instances from invading a particular fediverse in the Multifed.

(I now dedicate myself to making "Multifed" a real word people use)


federation helps- a "toxic" instance can be isolated.

we need to evolve as humans for it to be impossible to happen. i don't think it's a matter of either legislation or technology (besides, both are owned by captialists/authoritarians)- it's a matter of prioritizing human relationships and liberation above hoarding.

don't know how to get there either: maybe one (small) step at a time.


1) Ensuring that the fediverse remains decentralised is a big part of it. Vigiliantly preventing singularities of accumulation actively discourages capital.

2) If you develop applications, make sure they're released under the AGPL 3.0 or GPL 3.0

In my case, I released a little library for IPFS recently, but made the licensing optional (AGPL3, GPL3, or MIT) because it can only be used to build decentralised things. It would make no sense to build barriers to prevent that from happening.

@gc you can't stop it from happening anymore than you could prevent people from commercializing email or the web. It's an open standard. Let them use it if they like. That's the beauty of it.
@hector @gc you saw what happened with hiveway though right? people on the fedi decided it was offensively stupid, and bullied it off the map.

@gc I've prepared by preemptively instance-blocking

@gc as a Fediverse developer, focus on user experience. Open source implementations are often colonized or replaced by startups who can attract users through superior user experience, even if their code is primitive.

Also, AGPL license everything.

@gc If this happens I think they will try to buy the biggest instances, pour money and developers into making the user experience - particularly on mobile - as slick as possible and then add ActivityPub extensions which make it incompatible with other instances. After enough time had passed they would then drop support for ActivityPub and OStatus.

That's pretty much how web 2.0 pushed out the earlier federated groupware systems.

Ways to work against this are:
* Make it easy to block bad instances
* Discourage very large instances with thousands of users, which will be the most attractive for colonization.
* Promote general awareness of the kinds of tactics which have been used in the past against federated systems
* Encourage users to value community above convenience. Colonizers will try to dazzle users with convenience and shiny/trendy features.
* Create a lot of noise if there is any company trying to subvert open protocols with their own extensions.
* Make it easy for users to switch instances, aka "nomadic identity" so that they can "vote with their feet" if an instance starts adopting bad policies. The difficulty of moving from one instance to another is definitely something which colonizers will try to exploit.
@gc Another way they might do this is with content exclusive to an instance (non-federating posts). They could then hire some celebrities or use an adsense-like system to attract users onto their instance. Once enough users were on their one giant instance they could then defederate entirely.

@bob @gc Other than awareness, I think encouraging a relatively low user to instance ratio is the single best longterm tactic. The bigger the diverse ecosystem of small instances is when money bags get involved, the harder it will be to control. I seem to read conflicting stuff on whether mastodon itself plays nicely with the rest of the fediverse as it is already though.

@bob @gc Worth noting that there is already a major corporate instance - Pawoo. The trick is that it's exclusively Japanese, so most people don't pay attention to it in the English-speaking Fediverse (other than to block its media, due to certain content posted there that's considered OK in Japan, and taboo at best, illegal at worst in the west).

They've done some pretty extensive modifications to the front end, AFAIK, too.

@bob @gc Another thing that's just *started* to become a problem is spam on the Fediverse.

E-mail as a federated protocol is under massive attack under the guise of anti-spam measures, after all, and I don't see anything inherent to ActivityPub or to Mastodon or Pleroma that improves the anti-spam situation relative to e-mail.

@bhtooefr @gc I havn't seen any spam here so far, but there was talk of closing spam accounts recently, so the spammers must be trying.

Unlike email the fediverse is authenticated and that will make life a lot harder for spammers.

@bob @bhtooefr @gc wait, what, you need to authenticate with your email provider in the same way you authenticate with your instance?

@charlag @bob @gc E-mail is... complicated.

So, you have a legacy of open SMTP relays - send whatever you want, claiming to be from wherever, and it'll transmit the message. SPF is designed to fight this, by only allowing certain servers to originate SMTP mail for a domain (if the domain's SPF record doesn't match, then something illegitimate is going on, and the message should be blocked).

@charlag @bob @gc You also have some SMTP servers without authentication - if you send a message claiming to be from the domain that the SMTP server handles, they'll accept it and send it out without authentication.

These bad practices are ending, at least - servers that do these things tend to be put on blocklists, and then nobody gets any of their e-mail - but then once you get on a blocklist, it's almost impossible to get off.

@bob @gc "Discourage very large instances with thousands of users, which will be the most attractive for colonization."

This is more important than people realize.

@mdm @gc @bob At the same time, how do we share the infrastructure we need? I am thinking we need more hosting cooperatives...

@mdm @bob I feel like we're generally safe. Even Ello has an order of magnitude more active users than the largest instances. Just in case, though, it should be a whole lot easier to migrate to a new server, automatically transferring all data and followers.

@gc aggressively federate. fragment enough to make assimilation across instances harder than communication across instances. proliferate implementations and clients and governance models. ground funding in co-ops, nonprofits, academic institutions, small business, and local governments. grapple sooner rather than later with the hazards of data-mining and marketing.

in other words: learn both the positive and negative lessons of e-mail, irc, usenet the pre-megacorp web, etc.

@gc Figure out with whom you want to federate, basically.

This is (and has been) one of IRC's greatest, most enduring strengths: you can set up your own, any time, and relay with the like-minded. Or just break links and tell them to talk to the hand.

@gc That already happened once though? I've already forgotten what the instance was called that had some weird blockchain tie-in but it didn't really disrupt the fediverse beyond lots of people talking about it. I guess I'm not too worried about corporations trying to take this from us; it seems fairly clear how to handle them in this setting.

@gc Say hello today! Sequoia has lead the first round of funding for @pixelfed! /s

@gc wonder if this is the actual issue - commercialization and the capital coming in?

It’s never really been about the money its self but more about who majority owns the platforms/ecosystem. Which in the past has been a small number of founders and investors.

NOW the users need to be the majority owners.

Coopertizing the Fediverse is the best possible to staving off a β€œcolonization” while not impeding the relevancy and growth of the Fediverse as whole which is equally important.

@gc Having read lots of responses to your post, there's some great ideas in there. Two stick our for me: capital likes scale, and on the interwebs isn't concerned with profit, merely the potential for profit, so keeping the size of instances down is a great way to keep the whole thing looking less attractive. Couple this with real baked in user ownership and control as we have with .

Avoiding privatisation-friendly licensing of code (e.g. Apache, MIT) is also a good thing.

@Graham_Mitchell @gc Totally agree. In addition, integrate with other cooperative platforms and organizations to help build the networks that will keep us all honest.

@Matt_Noyes @gc Interesting. I hadn't considered that. I guess that suggests a couple of options in its own right - the potential for integration of Mastodon software with other tools, and the integration of Mastodon communities as part of the fabric of a new cooperative digital mesh.

@gc we need to spread the cooperative model as much as possible, as fast as possible. Cooperatives are extremely resistant to buy-outs, both for practical and emotional reasons

@gc It's currently impossible to search statuses. KEEP THAT. That's a big stumbling block to monetization.

@gc one of the things I've done is at least keep tabs on the known corporate spaces that currently exist and added them as a special category on my blocklist so we can keep an eye on them and potentially remove some of their social power by defederating from them

@gc People with backing have tried to do this a couple times. They've failed by overestimating the degree to which it's commercialization-friendly. Also, they've used mastodon, which is AGPL. Also, generally speaking, they've broken federation in order to prevent their users from realizing they can switch to a less-shitty instance. It could be done more competently & I'm not sure how it would be best prevented

@gc We've gotten lucky in that j3st3r & John MacAffee are idiots & no non-idiots have tried it yet.

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