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deadsuperhero

@deadsuperhero@lemmy.ml

Former Diaspora core team member, I work on various fediverse projects, and also spend my time making music and indie adventure games!

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Talking to Manton Reece about IndieWeb, Federation, and Personal Blogging ( wedistribute.org )

We sat down and interviewed Manton Reece, the creator of Micro.Blog. Micro.Blog is an IndieWeb platform with microblogging capabilities that marries a social experience with a more traditional personal website / blogging concept. It federates via ActivityPub, and has been a part of the Fediverse since 2018.

deadsuperhero OP Mod ,
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I dunno, federated communication systems have a very different utility than lemonade stands. 😅

deadsuperhero OP Mod ,
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They probably thought they'd reach a greater number of people. They're probably right.

deadsuperhero OP Mod ,
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Thing is, for federation to work, his team had to opt into it. The fact that his statuses and profile render natively in Mastodon and Akkoma are a pretty strong start.

I'd like to see Meta put their money where their mouths are, and finish the integration. I think we'll probably see that happen sooner rather than later.

deadsuperhero OP Mod ,
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I'd actually love to see something like this happen, as it seems to be something European governments and officials are embracing. To have something similar for the United States would be incredible.

I think at the moment, there's a real need for advocates, consultants, and vendors that can actually cater to government entities here. I would imagine there's probably some crazy data requirements needed for US Government Officials.

deadsuperhero OP Mod ,
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It feels like the fediverse is being gentrified

As someone who has repeatedly seen cities become gentrified (first Peoria, Illinois, then San Francisco, then Phoenix), I get what you're trying to say, but also don't think it's an appropriate metaphor.

The half that doesn’t federate with Meta will move on, like people priced out of their own neighborhoods by gentrification, and become the new “real fediverse” where people can go to live free from corporate interference.

Frankly, I think this is a bit melodramatic. The Anti-Threads part of the Fediverse will stay in their isolated bubble with little to no change, while the rest of the network continues to grow or change. It's not like operational costs are skyrocketing, or that hosting will become any more scarce or more difficult. It's not like the servers have to move to a different neighborhood. Gentrification is predicated on the finiteness of physical space and affordable places to live.

and become the new “real fediverse” where people can go to live free from corporate interference.

This is probably news to you, but there's not even a coherent, all-encompassing definition for what the Fediverse even is. The idea that there's a "real Fediverse" vs "Fake Fediverse" glosses over all kinds of history and nuance. The best anyone's gotten to defining it is by specifying protocols and interoperability, but even that doesn't quite cover it.

The Fediverse isn't just the parts you like, minus the parts you don't like.

deadsuperhero OP Mod ,
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You’re also screamingly White

Just because I have privilege doesn't mean I haven't experienced harsh realities that are relevant to this context. The idea that a person's race automatically qualifies or disqualifies them to speak on a subject without context or nuance is just silly.

You're out here mad because a dude expressed that it's stupid to compare server hosting for commodity open source communication software to societal decay caused by landlords, real estate developers, and people with four times the local income all rushing into a place and pricing out the people who already lived there. Y'know, something that actually has a real and tangible material effect.

deadsuperhero OP Mod ,
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Nice goalpost shifting, but miss me with your inane rambling, projection, and misplaced sense of entitlement. Just block me and move on.

deadsuperhero OP Mod ,
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It's not that crazy, the Threads devs are already looking at specific FEPs for things like quote posting. If they really wanted to, they could implement Lemmy-compatible community groups.

Decentered Podcast: Interview with creator of Blacksky ( wedistribute.org )

This ended up being such a great interview. I know some people will shrug it off, because it’s Bluesky and not Mastodon, but Rudy’s a super smart dude and an amazing guest, and he shed a lot of light on building a community space for black people on an emergent platform. There’s so much good info coming from this man!

deadsuperhero OP Mod ,
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Sadly, that's a little bit too chaotic for what we want to do. For this go-around, we're improvising with a modified WordPress plugin. Moving forward, we might do some custom development and integrate it with the ActivityPub-WordPress plugin to post out entries to the Fediverse.

deadsuperhero OP Mod ,
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Yeah. While I could take or leave Hubzilla's UI, this concept in particular was mind-blowing. The fact that it's like, 8 or 9 years old at this point, and the rest of the Fediverse barely supports it, is crazy to me.

deadsuperhero OP Mod ,
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No.

deadsuperhero OP Mod ,
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I think another way to look at it is that accounts are tightly coupled to instances, to the point of being a detriment. I've personally lost all of my data and had to start over from scratch 5 or 6 times due to servers suddenly going down over the years.

Groups are one way to abstract community functions up a level, and what's crazy is that Group Actors themselves could also have a similar thing. People have talked about merged cross-instance communities on Lemmy; this would be one way of enabling that.

deadsuperhero OP Mod ,
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You know, that's actually a really good point. Dansup tends to iterate on certain parts of his apps several times over, like how Pixelfed handles image uploads and filters prior to posting. It might be that just going with the simplest possible thing makes sense for right now, until a better approach can be devised.

deadsuperhero OP Mod ,
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He is a bit bombastic, and has a habit of biting off more than he can chew sometimes. I think these side-projects are ultimately useful, though, and probably help fend off boredom or burnout. Maybe he gets better at coding and design through doing that, I dunno.

Regardless, he's continues to do a lot of great development work.

deadsuperhero OP Mod ,
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So, one interesting aspect here is that you can log into it with your existing Mastodon or Pixelfed account. Loops and Sup both seem to be building on the idea that you can use existing Fediverse accounts to log in, meaning you don't necessarily need to create a new account and navigate a new platform all over again.

deadsuperhero OP Mod ,
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He's periodically shown updates on it. From talking to him, there are a number of challenges:

  • Being blocked by other features, like a UI refactor
  • Compatibility with other existing implementations (less of a problem now with the Group Federation FEP by @nutomic)
  • Wanting to include Private Groups
  • Bringing in moderation, assignment, and delegation tools for groups.
  • Dealing with unrelated issues pertaining to the day-to-day maintenance
  • Needing to break out new experiments in a branch to see how well an idea actually works

I think the biggest thing is that he probably does spread himself pretty thin at times, and is still learning how to rely on community pull requests and contributions. It can be a really hard thing to do, especially if you feel the need to provide the creative direction for how things ought to work.

deadsuperhero OP Mod ,
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So, to be clear, the story the article links to is specifically a case of local content that didn't actually federate. It was an accidental upload, he cancelled the post, it sat in storage, and even his admin was stumped about how to get it out.

I agree that with federation, it's a lot more messy. But, having provisions to delete things locally, and try to push out deletes across the network, is absolutely better than nothing.

The biggest issue I have is that there's really not much an admin can do at the moment if CSAM or some other horrific shit gets into pict-rs, short of using a tool to crawl through the database and use API calls to hackily delete things. Federation aside, at least make it easy for admins and mods to handle this on their home servers.

deadsuperhero OP Mod ,
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Yeah, I agree. I think the important thing is "was the local content scrubbed?" Because at least if that was done, the place of origin no longer has it.

Federated deletes will always be imperfect, but I'd rather have them than not have them.

What might actually be interesting would be if someone could figure out this type of content negotiation: deletes get federated, some servers miss it. Maybe there's a way to get servers to check the cache and, if a corresponding origin value is no longer there, dump it?

deadsuperhero OP Mod ,
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There's nothing wrong with having good third-party tools, that was not my point. db0 in particular has done some amazing, amazing work.

What's fucked, however, is having a project:

  • whose core infrastructure only offers the most threadbare tools
  • there's zero consideration from development on privacy, user safety, or basic controls to handle when shit hits the bed
  • the devs are stone silent when waves of CSAM crash through instances
  • they openly mock people or say they're "too busy to do this" when it comes to meeting the most basic expectations of how a social platform ought to work.

Like, this is not an attack on Lemmy itself, I think the platform can be a real force for good in the Fediverse. But let's be honest, this project is not going to live very long if nothing changes.

Basic things like having the ability to easily remove images from storage should be part of the core platform. The fact that this still isn't a thing even four years into the project is insane.

deadsuperhero OP Mod ,
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No, you're good, and we're mostly on the same page! My general expectation is that your server tries its best, maybe there are still copies out there, but you shrug and say "eh, I wiped my stuff locally, good enough".

But yeah, I agree that once something leaves your server in terms of the passage of data, there are no guarantees. And I do agree that significant structural changes are necessary and important for the network's continued evolution!

deadsuperhero OP Mod ,
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Hey everyone, I just wanted to thank you for the lively conversation and thought-provoking insights.

We don't have to agree on every point (or at all), but I've decided to synthesize a lot of thoughts and ideas from these conversations into a blog post: https://deadsuperhero.com/2024/03/economic-musings-on-federated-networks/

deadsuperhero OP Mod ,
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I'm a long-time contributor to the space, and have been here for over 15 years. I was on the Fediverse when it was literally one or two platforms, and I witnessed the whole thing grow and evolve. I've seen the entire thing take shape, and change with every subsequent wave of platform, user migration, and major pivot.

I also ran community management for one of the large-scale early projects here.

A huge motivating factor of mine has been to write about a nascent and evolving space that I'm passionate about, often because no one else has been writing about it. I grew my own publication, We Distribute, out of it, and it's my responsibility to report on different aspects of what happens in the space. Sometimes, the news is ugly.

My personal blog at my domain is unrelated to that, and is more just random brain droppings based on whenever I feel like putting out personal thoughts based on my experiences. There's nothing malicious about that.

deadsuperhero OP Mod ,
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It's not a bad thought, but the way some Fediverse software works, it can still get proxied and/or cached locally.

deadsuperhero OP Mod ,
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I take it you've never run a community instance. The problem is, laws vary by jurisdiction, and can have a very real effect on how you run your server when shit hits the fan.

We recently ran a story about a guy building his own Fediverse community and platform, who just happened to be a bit naive about the network. He's off in his corner, doing his own thing, people find his project and assume it's some kind of weird scraper. After disinformation came out about it, someone remote-loaded child pornography to his server, for the purpose of filling a report with the police.

The guy is based on Germany. Local jurisdiction requires one year of prison time minimum. It matters.

deadsuperhero OP Mod ,
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Look, no one is ungrateful for the work you and Dessalines are doing. I get it - I helped run a large-scale federated open source social network over a decade ago. It's an amazing, incredible experience - but, it's also grueling, demanding work, and community members and users can be incredibly fickle. Especially when it comes to living off of donations, and having to carve out a technical stack all by yourself. That shit is hard.

Here's the thing: your users, your community, your efforts in general, pretty much ride or die by the people who run instances of your software, advocate for your platform, and develop apps and tools for your ecosystem. If something is broken at a foundational level, it's ultimately your responsibility to decide what to do about it.

Code is not the only fruit of someone's labor here. Your community is doing a lot of labor for you too, and making even less money doing so. At some point, if people don't think their needs are being met to keep running their communities and stave off the worst of the worst, it's going to tank people's confidence. People will leave. And they'll talk on the way out. Optics matter.

I'm not saying you have to drop everything to accommodate some random concern right away. But some of the responses you've given to people that had reasonable asks, that had reasonable use-cases in ensuring smooth operations of instances in compliance of laws...some of your reactions are terrible.

If your default when someone asks you about GDPR compliant features is to scream at people, demand that they do the work for you, make excuses that you're too busy, or belittle someone because you disagree with someone, you're doing community management ass-backwards, and you're burning away community goodwill every time you do it. It's hostile and demoralizing, and people will come to resent you for it.

If you have such high demands then you shouldnt use it, and switch to another platform instead. And yes you are clearly stoking an attack against Lemmy, I wonder why you hate our project so much.

See, this is exactly what I'm talking about. Someone asks for something, points out problematic behavior, gives feedback on how something could be better, and you lean into the myopic belief that this is somehow an attack or an effort to undermine you. My brother in Christ, if there is any ill-will towards how you do things, it is because of your own behavior, not on the merits of your project, your political alignment, or who you are as a person.

I don't hate your project, but you need to pull your head out of your ass, and realize that you're dropping the fucking ball on trust and safety. People hosting instances aren't going to stick around forever if you keep defaulting to hostility.

deadsuperhero OP Mod ,
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If you can take a moment to move your massive, fragile ego out of the way, you'll realize it's not a hit piece. It's criticism of your behavior in reaction to what is frankly a reasonable set of requests.

Journalism is not just about serving as a propagandic mouthpiece to lionize you and your work. Sometimes, I have to report on subjects that are frankly horrible, people acting shitty, and how people in spaces react to that.

Effectively you are blowing the complaints of a single user completely out of proportion. It is true that we didnt respond ideally in the mentioned issue, but neither is it okay for a user to act so demanding towards open source developers who provide software for free.

This issue is basic fucking table stakes for user safety and data compliance, and the fact that it still does not exist after four years of being a project is wild to me. It creates liabilities for admins. The fact that it's still a problem, right now, illustrates that these things are not direct concerns in how you design software.

I find it very questionable that you publish this sort of hit piece against Lemmy without even bothering to ask for a comment from our side.

Your comments were in the GitHub issues.

deadsuperhero OP Mod ,
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Not at all.

deadsuperhero OP Mod ,
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I've reviewed both your and @Nutomic's comments, your latest blog updates, and GitHub PR's, and added a section accordingly: https://wedistribute.org/2024/03/lemmy-image-problem/#giving-credit

Thank you for your hard work, and for taking necessary steps to improve something that is essential for instance operators.

deadsuperhero OP Mod ,
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No, it's how I see you based on pretty much any time I observe you making a public comment. Which is unfair of me, admittedly, I can't possibly see everything you write. Most of the time, though, you come across as hostile, and read as though you're dunking on other people and projects.

Anyway, the article was updated somewhat to give proper credit for your recent developments and point to your fundraising efforts.

Have a nice day.

deadsuperhero OP Mod ,
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You’re not wrong to feel irked by this. However, if that’s the case, the Fediverse may not be for you. You’re probably better off over some place else, like Reddit or Bluesky, where decisions are taken centrally, investor money is driving development, and there’s a manager to complain to.

Thanks for the laugh, I've been on the network for almost the entirety of its lifetime and witnessed every development and major change. I've even helped run a major project in the early days.

deadsuperhero OP Mod ,
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Perhaps you could enlighten me on what Fediverse software does take “privacy, user safety, or basic controls to handle when shit hits the bed” into consideration, because I can’t think of any; they all just expect every other server in the network not to be malicious.

Friendica, Hubzilla, Streams, tentatively Bonfire, Pixelfed, PeerTube, Akkoma. Off the top of my head.

Interview About Building Trust & Safety in Decentralized Systems ( wedistribute.org )

Just wanted to share this interview we just put out with Jaz Michael-King, the guy that founded IFTAS. They're doing some really wild stuff trying to wrangle in harassment, spam, objectionable content, and CSAM, and are looking to provide tooling for the Fediverse, as well as trauma resources and training for moderators....

deadsuperhero OP Mod ,
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Bonfire Classic probably does just do microblogging, but the modularity of the platform would allow someone to build in support for that.

Given that one of the Flavors is Group-centric, it might already be possible.

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