Decentralizing Raddle

Submitted by ziq in Anarchism (edited )

r/anarchism's active mods being mass-banned and r/fullcommunism being quarantined and stuck with a 'read about the crimes of communism' warning is pretty indicative of reddit's direction going forward. It will no longer be a platform to organize radical action against state/capital or even spread rad propaganda in any way, and people are going to have to seriously look for alternatives. Reddit has been cracking down on anything that could cost them advertisers for 2 years now and it's only going to get worse.

The only way raddle is gonna have wider appeal is if it's decentralized. Anarchists are sceptical of any platform being in the hands of a small group of people; even if they're other anarchists.

Emma has said she has some ideas about decentralizing the project, but other rad programmers need to contribute to the code if it's gonna happen any time soon.

Everyone always waits around for other people to do the work and then they complain that it's not exactly the perfect thing they wished it was as they were sitting on their asses doing nothing while emma was coding day and night to give them a viable alternative to reddit.

We need less complaining that ongoing rad projects aren't perfect yet (like anything can ever be perfect) and less tarnishing of the programmer and the admins and the mods and the users hard fucking work to give us a functioning libre meeting place that promotes anarchist principles.

Instead, we need more action from all the people that have the time and ability to contribute to the project.

This is a plea to all the radical programmers out there that have the ability to improve this project and make it even more anarchistic and decentralized in nature to please get to work.

People that would rather nitpick and demean and make empty excuses to continue their inaction are useless comrades and need not respond to this request with more smug excuses and slander.

Two years of hard work have already been poured into postmill; so it wouldn't even be that much work to take it to the next level. Other projects that have aimed to created a decentralized reddit alternative from scratch instead of adding to the postmill codebase (out of vain attachments to other programming languages) have gone nowhere.

Instead of dragging your feet, or starting another project from nothing, use what is already there and improve on it. Give back to the radical community. Mutual aid is good stuff.

Here's the git:

https://gitlab.com/edgyemma/Postmill

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ziq OP wrote (edited )

I also want to take this opportunity to thank /u/emma, who has almost single handedly coded this whole universe of ours with little gratitude and much snark from all the armchair anarchists that complain about the programming language she uses, the design choices she made, or the features she hasn't added yet... Seriously, send her bitcoins if you have them. No one is more deserving of your support.

I want to thank /u/Tequila_Wolf, our most prolific poster and site-admin and one of the coolest people I know.

/u/Fossidarity and /u/GrimWillow, the other site-admins that ensure this remains a safe space free of consumerist spam and capitalist propaganda-shilling bots.

/u/surreal, a great sys-admin that teaches me new stuff everyday.

And all the moderators on the hundreds of forums that work everyday to make their communities thrive.

And all the people that contribute all the links, creative OC and insightful / amusing comments that make this place worth visiting everyday.

You're all awesome.

And to smug reddit nitpickers that take every opportunity to diminish this community... This is for you.

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edmund_the_destroyer wrote

You can be awfully snarky and even nasty in your comments, zig. It was nice to see a considerate, compassionate, or (forgive the choice of adjectives) classy recognition of others from you.

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ziq OP wrote

If emma is the brain of raddle and tequila is the heart, I'm the rectum. I get rid of all the waste.

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thekraken wrote

Then I don't even want to see what happens if we get an enema up in here.

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GaldraChevaliere wrote

Would there be any solution you folk can think of for some kind of consensus/checked moderation? Like, from my perspective people kind of just decided 'okay Galdra's the mod for x y z forums now' and boof now I have power which presumably can only be checked by four or so other people. I trust the folk I'm working with to maintain a queer-friendly environment for sure, but we all have our own oversights and biases and I worry about misusing my power out of some personal reason, and I don't think it's unreasonable to be concerned about that regarding others either. Could we find a way to strike a balance between the volunteer moderator system and some kind of group consensus for major decisions like bans that aren't post-facto?

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ziq OP wrote (edited )

I'm fully in support of improving our consensus-reaching mechanism somehow, but we already have full moderator transparency, so if you do step out of line, I'll be the person leading the mob that will come for your head.

I'm skeptical of software being used to reach a consensus though because it can so easily be abused. I'd rather consensus be reached through open dialogue than by trusting a faceless piece of software to make our decisions. Such a system could easily be hijacked by bigots voting multiple times with different signatures; making it impossible to ban them.

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OldHippieChick wrote

Support.

I really have too much on my plate afk to WANT to win any popularity contests right now, but I want "my" forums trashed by trolls even less.

Fortunately I'm into fairly low traffic niche special interest stuff and it hasn't gotten interesting yet

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martasultan wrote

Anarchists are sceptical of any platform being in the hands of a small group of people; even if they're other anarchists.

One would imagine its at least better than using one owned by liberals, but I do understand the reason to be skeptical about it given what offering control to a small group of people usually does.

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Freux wrote

I'm curious about decentralizing, I'm assuming that each forum would be it's own thing? Since we're a small community, centralisation has been fine but I agree that decentralizing is needed to grow and advantageous in the long run.

As reddit ever been a platform to organise?

To emma, ziq and admins, I hope each time I've ask if something was possible it wasn't taken as a complain but simply as understanding what was possible to do as a user.

Thanks to everyone that keep this place alive!

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Brick wrote

As reddit ever been a platform to organise?

Occupy Wallstreet was organized there on r/anarchism when it first got started. Just an example.

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Freux wrote

Shouldn't that kind of stuff be in private? I mean you can announce stuff but the planning.

That's a fun fact of r/anarchism, I didn't even know of reddit at that time.

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ziq OP wrote (edited )

No because it was a huge ongoing protest in big cities all around the world that required huge numbers show up to be effective, there's no point in hiding it.

Planning direct action should be done privately tho.

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ziq OP wrote (edited )

That's the thing, we need minds that can figure out how to decentralize it (convert the existing database maybe? recode postmill to work with other databases?) and what form it would take. I don't think we should go the federated route because it's not working for Mastodon at all in avoiding hierarchy and stagnation.

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TheLegendaryBirdMonster wrote

I'm mot up to news with mastodon, what's the problem with its federation?

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ziq OP wrote (edited )

How it builds hierarchy / creates insular communities and a toxic witch-hunt atmosphere:

https://nolanlawson.com/2018/08/31/mastodon-and-the-challenges-of-abuse-in-a-federated-system/

Also a reddit comment I read today that explains the technical problems better than I can:

federation still puts the data on more points of failure and it pushes the client-server split.

from experience the matrix.org people can't keep their servers running at reasonable speeds and everyone suffers, even if they use a different homeserver

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edmund_the_destroyer wrote

Thanks for the link.

That Wil Wheaton story is terrible. It makes me think the right architecture is everything private only - you have to approval all followers and commenters. That has its own headache, but it seems like the world has limitless hordes of trolls waiting for doors to open into pleasant spaces, so they can burn it down.

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Freux wrote

Wouldn't it mean that there is a need to pay for hosting all those forums, instead of one host that has all the forums?

If it's about security, I find it safer to trust a few than having to trust one/a few per forum. At the end if someone doesn't trust f/anarchism and make their own f/anarchism2 that would just fragment the community. Private forum with encryption could work but then you might be hosting fascists without knowing.

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ziq OP wrote (edited )

It would mean there would be multiple instances of raddle. Everyone that wanted to could run their own instance.

So you could go to 5 different domains and they'd all have more or less the same content (perhaps moderated differently depending on each instance's culture), but hosted on different servers maintained by different people; so it would be much harder for states to take the whole network down. If one went down, the other 4 would still be there and all the content would be preserved.

There are already several postmill sites that exist, but they're all separate ecosystems and not connected at all except for sharing the same software. Already anyone can make their own postmill instance for just $5 monthly server costs, which is awesome. The next step would be to allow each instance to communicate with the other instances, so they can share content and maybe even user accounts if they choose to.

Maybe one instance will want to mirror our more mainstream forums like f/news, f/art or f/books but not the others. Maybe another instance would want to only mirror posts that get more than 10 upvotes for quality control.

These are all things that need to be explored by coders.

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Freux wrote

What about backups host on different servers only? Or else it just sound like raddle with bigotry added, it kinda ruined the main reason I joined raddle. Sure the current raddle would still exist but thinking someone is nice to then realise they have tons of "white men aren't the enemy" stuff on other instance kind of ruin it.

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ziq OP wrote (edited )

We already have daily backups on 3 servers. But only me, emma and surreal have the decryption keys to use them. They would be useless to anyone outside that circle.

If bigots made an instance, we would just exclude it from communicating with our instance altogether.

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Freux wrote

I can only see it all work if one instance = a few special forums for people to organise and that it's linked in the forum list on raddle. But it goes back that you need to trust more than those 3 people which makes it less safe.

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asdfasdf wrote

Unfortunately from experience, going from centralised to decentralised rarely works. You need to start with a provably decentralisable base and work from there. PHP isn't exactly a networking language either.

The fellas at Netfarm are working on a decentralised system which could fit the backend half of a decentralised forum, it's going to have a meta object protocol and ECDSA signing to keep stuff flexible and tamper proof.

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ziq OP wrote (edited )

What experience? You've been making nettle / netfarm which has never actually proven to be functional, but when did you try to adapt something like postmill to use a decentralized database? It might be difficult, but that doesn't mean it can't be done.

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asdfasdf wrote (edited )

I've seen quite a lot of projects which start as a centralised service but somehow everyone gets confused on how to make it decentralised. You have to consider what is too tricky to do at a distance, such as counting votes, and work out alternative solutions. (Votes aren't very good actually. People are quite different and just averaging out people's opinions isn't the best solution.)

Nettle did work but I overestimated what could be done with a relatively simple format and system. Netfarm's had a lot of refinement and theory applied and I've talked to several interested people who have contributed to the design. I've had messages from people who have experience with decentralised systems and folks who implement object systems for their day job.

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ziq OP wrote (edited )

It only 'works' when the software actually translates to a functioning communicative ecosystem that people want to use.

And isn't made by you.

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asdfasdf wrote (edited )

It would work if people were interested. Raddle and Postmill have that since you're somewhat of an influencer -- I'm not though. The main hurdles for web based nettle were to get object parsing and signatures working in the browser. I don't know much JavaScript and I'd rather not touch it with a ten foot pole, so I can't work on that. Writing markdown documents and using putfile worked perfectly fine though.

Edit since you did: popularity breeds complacency since you don't have to work for your following. Maybe trying to filter spam and bogus votes would be useful. I'm not the only person working on netfarm either, there's four of us designing and implementing our ideas. Ian's putting a lot of work into setting up a documentation system and they're certainly as much of a netfarm hacker as I am.

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ziq OP wrote (edited )

I'm gonna be perfectly blunt with you. The reason nettle didn't work was because the code wasn't up to snuff. I'm no coder but I've spoken to people that are and every one of them told me the same thing. You're still in high school so it's no big deal that you're inexperienced at coding, but there's no point in giving people false promises so that they get hyped for what is essentially vaporware.

You're not ready to code something this complicated while you're still learning. Decentralized software is as complex as it gets.

popularity breeds complacency since you don't have to work for your following

Ha. You have no idea how much work goes into bringing people here (despite your multiple attempts to sabotage those efforts). It's like a full time job just countering all the propaganda.

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asdfasdf wrote

The reason nettle didn't work was because the code wasn't up to snuff. Arrogant ego jerk goes here.

Who did you ask? ("Yourself" doesn't count.) You can't write a fucking CSS theme.

You're not ready to code something this complicated while you're still learning. Decentralized software is as complex as it gets.

Emma once told me I'd be able to write a lot more complex stuff than her very soon. I've surprised a lot of people, including professionals with PhDs, with what I've done and said in places like #lisp.

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Freux wrote

All I hear is "I'm really mature for my age".

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ziq OP wrote (edited )

I mean, you're currently talking to me on a forum that uses one of my css themes. They might be hacked together, but they work.

And just so we're clear: emma isn't one of the people I asked, so don't go harassing her again.

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asdfasdf wrote (edited )

Don't pretend you're any good at theming. Ever seen /f/newwave? That was eye hurting material. All your good themes are just hacks around shiningwing's material themes and my various themes.

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this_one wrote

I don't know much about the computer words, but isn't /f/newwave's theme more an issue of design and colour theory than an issue of coding?

It's not the most pleasant shade of green (unless it's blue rip), but it does function and, like, change the colours, right?

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ziq OP wrote

It's just a palette swap of the fresh theme. there are a dozen variations of that theme in bright pastel colors as well as more muted colors; to suit every taste. That particular version (like all the 'pastel' versions) is garish by design.

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asdfasdf wrote

I'll admit yes, colour theory is always important but there were noticeable problems with the theme itself. Visited links were an almost unreadable shade of grey since ziq forgot to add a:visited to the list of things that should have link colours.

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ziq OP wrote (edited )

Since I threw all those pastel variations together in a few hours after you and shiningwing insisted all your themes be deleted when you left, and I wanted to replace them with something so all the forums that used them would still have a theme, I don't really get your beef. Just don't use that theme. Or alternatively, don't use this site since you seem to hate everything about it and the code behind it.

EDIT: I just checked and the visited links on that forum are fine on my monitor... It didn't need a:visited.

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ziq OP wrote

Last I checked none of my themes use your code or shiningwing's and I really don't care about this conversation.

You're openly ban evading now, btw.

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Freux wrote

So you are saying that postmill and raddle work because of ziq's influence but what you are making doesn't work because you aren't like them? So we should all stay on postmill if we want things that work, got it!

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asdfasdf wrote

Spamming Reddit is usually a good way to get views, as long as you don't mind the traffic.

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ziq OP wrote (edited )

People don't use this site because I promote it on reddit. They use it because it's a great community that we've all worked hard to curate. Getting clicks doesn't create a community.

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pretzel_logic wrote

This is a plea to all the radical programmers out there that have the ability to improve this project and make it even more anarchistic and decentralized in nature to please get to work.

I know few programming languages but, I guess they're irrelevant to postmill (some them aren't used for networking). Maybe y'all can suggest something?

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ziq OP wrote

Learn php? :)

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pretzel_logic wrote (edited )

Yeah? Maybe C is relevant to postmill ... somehow?

EDIT: Also I'm not quiet familiar with jargons and concepts used in computer networks. What else can I do to help?

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ziq OP wrote (edited )

Maybe you could use another language to decentralize the database..? Postmill uses Symfony / SQL. Could Postmill be hacked to use IPFS or another decentralized database? I'm not smart enough to answer these questions.

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mofongo wrote

Knowledge is not the same as smart. I think of you as very smart, just because you don't have the knowledge to answer this question does not make you any less smart.

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rot wrote

Does this mean more voting threads?

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[deleted] wrote

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rot wrote

yawn wake me up for Congress Party 69

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KentTheramine wrote

Wait, was Raddle even Centralized in the first place?

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celebratedrecluse wrote

How can we decentralize raddle if we are to keep banning reactionaries/fuckers from trolling our shit? We need some kind of system that allows the community to not get washed in that crap, but doesn't rely on trusted admins-- maybe a system of shared moderation, built up by an algorithm that averages time in the community, upvotes per post, number of posts, and perhaps more, and allows "moderation" through the existing post vote system?

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throwaway wrote (edited )

Not a lot of people know PHP well enough to do meaningful work, and the ones that do would rather avoid it. In my humble opinion, we should rebuild from the ground up in some language that people actually like (python is the most popular lately, and will most likely continue to be so in the foreseeable future).

That'd also make room for correcting some of the basic flaws of Raddle, such as the administration. An anarchist space should not have this sort of hierarchies.

e: With all my respect for emma, of course. I'm not trying to snatch at their work, it's beyond impressive.

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ziq OP wrote (edited )

because the admins deleting spam and banning fascists are what is holding raddle back. /s

Anarchists on a website don't object to (community appointed) admins any more than the readers of an anarchist zine would object to editors. It's not a power structure, it's janitorial work where the janitors have to justify every clean up they do in the mod log and answer for their actions in f/meta if someone takes issue. Seeing a website / discussion forum as being the same thing as a society with rulers and servants is where you're going wrong. The admins are not our rulers; if anything they're our servants. You're engaging in fantasy if you think the admins have any power over your life for telling you not to be a bigot on the internet.

Anarchy doesn't mean 'free speech' and freedom from consequences for your speech or voat.co would be the ultimate representation of anarchy on the internet. Anarchy means we take out the trash when it presents itself in our space. Direct action. Mutual aid. Freedom of association. No platform for fascism. The constant rejection of authority. These are the principles this site is run by. This is anarchism.

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throwaway wrote (edited )

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying the admins are doing anything wrong, or that we can't have a "janitor" system! I just don't like how unstable and open to manipulation the administration system is.

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Freux wrote

There isn't much hierarchies here. Decision are public, they can be reversed. Some power are placed in the hands of a few, and they can be replace if needed be, they don't hold some supreme position. And i surely don't want people to have all the same power of banning and deleting post. It would be a tug of war. There is a huge difference between trusting when you know the people vs. strangers on the internet.

I'm sure decentralisation would solve your problem with admins though.

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throwaway wrote

Read my reply to ziq, I think you both misunderstood me a bit.

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Freux wrote

I think you mean the administrative tools but again voting isn't a tool for the admins. So I still don't get your point.

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throwaway wrote

No, I mean the process by which administrative power is delegated and recalled. It's too easy to manipulate, and not 'official' enough, in my opinion at least. For now it works, but if Raddle starts growing It'll be a struggle to maintain properly.

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[deleted] wrote

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throwaway wrote

You hit the nail on the head, thanks.

Take a look at /f/konsent. It might not be fit for online communities, but it's an interesting project for organizing in the real world.

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ziq OP wrote

It's a good way to demonstrate that democracy is a farce and replicating it here just so people can feel like they have decision-making power is a bad move. None of us have power or we wouldn't be on f/anarchism.

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arduinna wrote

It's a good way to demonstrate that democracy is a farce

Could we use, as an alternative to Konsent's direct democracy system, a Loomio setup hosted on the same site as Raddle with our own 'rules' for it aiming for consensus rather than consensus-based democracy? Based on my experiences with it its a very useful tool, though I haven't tried it in an 'open' environment.

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ziq OP wrote

Idk, it would have to tested to see what results from it sociologically.

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arduinna wrote

we should rebuild from the ground up in some language that people actually like

If I had a nickel for every time I heard this I'd be stepping up to the guillotine.

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