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[Social-discuss] RFC: Free Social Forum

From: Vitaly Minko
Subject: [Social-discuss] RFC: Free Social Forum
Date: Thu, 17 Jun 2010 21:08:32 +0400
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux x86_64; en-US; rv: Gecko/20100425 Thunderbird/3.0.4


The GNU Social development is caused by the problem of keeping privacy in the
network. I'm glad to see the positive changes in this area. But I want to
discuss another problem, which is related to the first one. The most popular
tool for public discussion (forum) does not provide one of the most basic human
rights: freedoms of speech.


In accordance with the common approach for public discussion, the user
visits a web resource and posts threads and comments in here. This approach
has three main problems:

1. Monarchical government of a web resource.
2. Binding of a user to a web resource.
3. Non-free software of a web resource.

**Monarchical government** consists of two parts: owner of the resource and
moderators. Owner has infinite power over ordinary users. Moderators represent
the executive government. Even if the rules of the resource state that
moderators are to be chosen in accordance with the principles of democracy, it
does not meet the freedom standards, because in this case 51% of the users
control the remaining 49%.

**Binding of a user** results in impossibility of free migration of the users from one resource to another, because in this case the user looses all contacts
and published information.

**Non-free software** results in impossibility of changing the source code of a resource. Even if the codes themselves are published under the GPL licence, in order to apply changes the user has to create an alternative resource. Therefore
he will face the problem #2.


The following two crucial points are proposed:

1. Elimination of a resource.
2. Social equality of all members.

**Elimination of a resource** means usage of a global hierarchy for discussion similarly to the Usenet newsgroups. This approach automatically liquidates an owner and the user's need to migrate to alternative resources (i.e. solution for
the problem #2).

Rejecting a resource, we obviously need a distributed architecture (probably
based on P2P). In this case, all data is distributed and/or duplicated between the users. And programs for processing and representation of data may vary. The only requirement is to match the common protocol. This solves the problem #3.

**Social equality** ruins the remaining part of the monarchical government -
moderators (problem #1). All users have the same rights. Everybody can edit
their messages, ban another user and remove other's messages. But all the
changes apply only to the current user's data and do not effect others.

In order to simplify filtering of spam and other undesirable messages, the
system allows users to create a personal group of trusted users (friends). For every member of this group user may specify individual rules for applying the
filtering actions performed by this user. Besides that, in order to make the
rules more flexible, it may be useful to divide the filtering actions into
categories like spam, abuse, duplicate, etc.


1. Please let me know if you know about similar projects. I've found few P2P
forums listed by the link below, but none of them implements the concept in

2. Such system and the GNU Social will obviously have the common component -
social relations. Therefore I'm interested in possibility of
integration/connection such system into/with the GNU Social.

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