Mon 31 Dec 2018 3:50PM

Open profile standard

OS Oli SB Public Seen by 66

What's the latest / best open profile standard - and if none are usable, why!?


Oli SB Mon 31 Dec 2018 4:15PM

I'm wondering about open profiles. It seems to me they still represent a key missing ingredient for the OAE and the wider decentralised web. But I'm failing to find any decent solution/s.

To be clear, when I say 'open profile standard' I mean a protocol which allows a user to create and self host (or host on a centralized / corporate or decentralized / public system) a file containing their profile info for which they can specify permissions in order to control what is shared with whom. The purpose being, to reduce repetition for the user by allowing them to create and control just one profile file, which can be used across multiple services and sites and ultimately to increase interoperability between services by facilitating Single Sign On (SSO).

I see there was this idea back in 1997 (!) https://www.w3.org/TR/NOTE-OPS-OverHTTP

...and know that OpenID attempted to solve some of the same challenges, and are now working on and encouraging use of OpenID Connect https://openid.net/connect/faq/

But OpenID doesn't seem to enable me to create and share my profile with people / services that I chose... or allow me to add fields in an open way, according to my own preferences.

Since profiles, for individuals, groups and businesses, (even without the security element of "identity" - which is not really what I am talking about here - and is clearly a hard nut to crack) are so key to all open app functions and services, I wonder why an open standard has not developed? Or if I am (most likely) missing something?

For example, Solid, Holo, Mastodon and any other decentralized service/s all need / use / are all going to need 'profiles' to work, but surely none of them should be attempting to implement their 'own' unique profile standard. Wouldn't they be wiser to simply call on the same open standard?

Very interested to hear what others think about this?

HNY to you all :)


Lynn Foster Mon 31 Dec 2018 4:34PM

:thumbsup: @olisb for this comment. And HNY to you too :)

I'd like to add one piece that I think is important, and that is we should distinguish User and Agent. User is credentials. Agent is the person (or organization/group). An Agent can have many user credentials, both over time and of different types. That technology is changing so fast right now, I think it is important for us in OAE-land to not conflate the User and Agent concepts.


Oli SB Mon 31 Dec 2018 4:39PM

Good point - I mean Agent where I have said User.


Darren Tue 1 Jan 2019 2:52PM

Hey Oli,

I've been trying out Hubzilla which provides multiple profiles with access permissions

For anyone that isnt aware Hubzilla is one in a number of iterations of federating social network software that includes Friendica, Red, Matrix & Osada, which were all initiated by Mike Macgirvin and all share a lot of code. So some, maybe all, of these projects share the same functionality.

Theres a bit of info about profiles on this page.


Thats a help page on (what I think is?) a Hubzilla server, but it talks about Red, I think Red evolved into Hubzilla (and Red/Matrix died?) Its all a bit confusing and although I'd used Friendica prior to Red I didnt follow what was going on.

If you want to dig into code Osada may be the most useful place to look. As far as I can tell its very similar to hubzilla, but designed to work as smoothly as possible with zot (the protocol this stuff uses), activitypub and diaspora. (Hubzilla works with all these too, but stuff between the different protocols can break with some activities, which was why Osada was developed)

Brief description of osada

I've not really explored profiles so I'm not sure if profile stuff only works inside of zot or if different permission levels can be granted over other protocols or in other ways


Bob Haugen Tue 1 Jan 2019 3:01PM

We're (me, @lynnfoster and @ivan116 ) are looking at ActivityPub for an OAE-style economic network software project, and have not settled on an identity scheme yet. Zot is in the mix, but there are a lot of arguments and disrespect between the people who are involved in all the different variations and implementations of fediverse protocols. In particular, Macgirvin disses ActivityPub, altho the AP people respect Zot (but don't use it).


Oli SB Tue 1 Jan 2019 7:27PM

Hey @darren4
That's such a great answer :) I didn't know about any of that...

Sounds very cool

Has anyone here installed it?

@darren4 where were you / are you trying out Hubzilla?



Lynn Foster Mon 31 Dec 2018 7:00PM

Re. open standards, ValueFlows has a simple flexible model for Agents and AgentRelationships, with partial compatibility with ActivityStreams. VF doesn't have a lot of the agent properties people will need for their profiles. And it doesn't have a separate Profile class where an Agent can maintain multiple Profiles - which some people feel is a requirement.

On the other hand, we would be happy to entertain additions if we here in OAE wanted to work together on a more full-bodied Agent standard for purposes of people maintaining and controlling their own data in one place.


Bob Haugen Mon 31 Dec 2018 7:12PM

See also https://github.com/holodex/personator

(Not a total solution to all these problems, but related.)


Oli SB Tue 1 Jan 2019 7:34PM

Highly related - thanks Bob.
That's almost as simple as I was imagining this should work.
E.g. if Agents could add their own fields to a simple file like that, which could be generated and hosted anywhere the Agent wanted - and had it's own .profile suffix or similar reference in the URL, surely we would be a lot closer to being able to a lot more really distributed stuff!?