Friends, I have a new draft paper that's inspired a bit by our challenges of governance on this platform: "Admins, Mods, and Benevolent Dictators for Life: The Implicit Feudalism of Online Communities"

I'd love any comments you might have.

@ntnsndr Will take a look at your conclusions, though the title is a bit ugggff...

@ntnsndr I mean it’s catchy all right, which is sort of what you want for a long academic paper and my interest is peaked for sure.

That line of thought about benevolent dictators in free software can, and also was born out of a fundamental misunderstanding of licenses, so its a bit icky for me, but I am stíl very keen to read it all soon.

@mareklach what's the misunderstanding? That commons licenses makes governance unimportant?

@ntnsndr Well no. But the assumption that ''while platforms may not explicitly proclaim or seek
to practice feudal ideology—to the contrary, many claim democratic ideals—a
latent feudalism lurks in design patterns that guide and limit user behavior'' is simply true of any non-self-hosted version of data storage in general no?

Not just social networks.

Also, I don't think that it's the toolset of Wikipedia that makes it feudalist, it's Jimmy Wales's political ideology as a person.

@mareklach I disagree, since Wikipedia is substantially more democratic than most MediaWiki instances.

@mareklach and I'd argue that self-hosted platforms are universally feudal because nobody would host software they can't control.

@ntnsndr That’s an interesting point and certainly true at a very base level.

@ntnsndr Well Wikipedia was democratic back in the day, but if you notice all the political pages parrot the mainstream narratives that agree with the establishment views regardless who’s the public face of it.

I say this because I think the concept of the platform is fine as a software, but its editorial process is a tightly controlled narrative promoting American imperialism, which‘s not the case when the project started.

But such a highly visited and cited website frames opinion

@ntnsndr I have some other thoughts, but a quick comment so I don't forget this: you have the year Microsoft acquired GitHub wrong.

@ntnsndr it's a good read! FWIW people have asked for eg an admin election feature in Loomio. My bias says it is easy to code that up wrong, and the existing general purpose decision tools are good enough. We have always tried to bend Loomio towards good messy human governance rather than bad clean algorithmic gov. I don't feel strongly about that though and really love the vision of a governance app store.

@richdecibels Thanks for this. Yes, I agree it's a tricky thing, and I can understand why it isn't a norm. But it's also surprising that it's not even a meaningful option anywhere at all, when it is so basic.

Thanks for reading!

Sign in to participate in the conversation is a cooperatively-run corner of the Fediverse. The instance is democratically governed by its members, who generally share an interest in the co-op model, but topics of discussion range widely.

If you are interested in joining our community, please review our Bylaws and Code of Conduct. If you agree with them, you may apply for membership on our instance via this link

Our instance is supported by sliding scale contributions of $1-10/mo made via Open Collective. You must have an active Open Collective account to apply for membership; you may set one up here