Federation protocols and federation with other social networks

N Nick Public Seen by 106

There is work under way to separate the diaspora federation layer, and hopefully this will lead to diaspora's federation working. As I understand it, this work will not determine what protocol diaspora uses, and may even allow diaspora to support multiple federation protocols.

Seems to me like an agreed standard for decentralised social network federation should be a major outcome that the diaspora project should be working towards - and that this needs to be something that can be used by other social networks. I think it would be really good to work with a few other distributed social networks (movim, friendica and ostatus come to mind as to my mind projects with potential) from an early stage to develop a protocol that can be flexibly and easily extended and some kind of process/foundation that becomes the agreed way of agreeing and improving this.

I'm creating this discussion so we can start thinking about a) what federation protocol we should use for diaspora, and b) how we work with other decentralised social networks to make it something that others can use


goob Sat 17 Aug 2013 3:16PM

Nick, yes it's a good idea, and we already have at least one discussion on loomio on this very issue. Have a look back.


Nick Sat 17 Aug 2013 3:19PM

It seems to me like contacting other federated social networks and trying to form a working group (could initially just be a mailing list) to try and develop an interoperable protocol might be a good start?

I also saw this link from an earlier discussion, which seems to be for a federated social network standard: http://www.w3.org/community/fedsocweb/ - diaspora should probably participate in this. Maybe we could also try and work with the free software foundation?

Also, lastly these two posts investigate some of the possibility of diaspora federating with email: https://www.loomio.org/discussions/5304 and https://www.loomio.org/discussions/5305 and even of using email/smtp as the federation protocol. Which as a widely used standard would have some clear advantages, though probably some big disadvantages as well.

I also wonder whether xmpp might be an option? But enough from me - thoughts?


Nick Sat 17 Aug 2013 3:33PM

hey @goob , what is the previous discussion you mean? I had a search and couldn't find anything specific.

If you mean regards xmpp, there is this: https://www.loomio.org/discussions/3678 (but it is specifically about chat) and this: https://www.loomio.org/discussions/691 (but it's a pretty technical discussion and I don't really understand what it's about).
interestingly, the movim social network uses xmpp for most of its federation.


goob Sat 17 Aug 2013 7:25PM

There have been various discussions, Nick. Here's one as an example, about potentially using Tent's protocol. If you're interested, you could use the search facility for terms such as 'federation', 'protocol', and perhaps 'networks', which might bring up other results. I don't have time to go hunting myself.


rekado Sat 17 Aug 2013 11:50PM

I also wonder whether xmpp might be an option?

I'll say what I always say when XMPP is mentioned: it's no silver bullet. There are at least three classes of protocols out there: those sitting on top of HTTP, those built on top of XMPP and those built on plain TCP/IP. There is nothing inherently more "compatible" about XMPP than any of the other options.

XMPP is used as the transport layer. What is actually wrapped in XMPP stanzas is up to the user of the protocol.

(Libertree uses XMPP; used plain TCP/IP before.)


Nick Sun 18 Aug 2013 1:45PM

@rekado forgive me a limited understanding but what does the transport layer actually mean? I though that diaspora already used activity streams (which would be the content? and is already an open and increasingly widely used standard) - what would be the federation protocol be as opposed to a transport layer?

@goob - yes there have been previous discussions (I did actually try searching, but thanks for that link) but not with specific suggestion as to how we might work towards a widely agreed standard. I've offered some suggesstions here as to how that might happen.


goob Wed 21 Aug 2013 6:22PM

not with specific suggestion as to how we might work towards a widely agreed standard.

The conclusion of previous discussions was basically: there is as yet no one protocol which appears to be in a position to become a standard, so we need to keep watching the various protocols to see how they fare, and keep talking with people who are working on those other protocols in order to try to all work together towards eventually adopting a standard that we can all use.


Nick Wed 21 Aug 2013 10:37PM

It would be good if there was a diaspora developer in that w3c group though (I couldn't see one, though maybe there is)


OpenLifeChallenge Mon 14 Oct 2013 9:14AM

Would definitely be good to hear about the Federation workgroup - @elfpavlik any news about collaborating with W3C?


Sam Gleske Mon 21 Oct 2013 2:07PM

I think a mailing list would be better for reaching out to other social networks. Asking them to join loomio is a bit much. It makes more sense to use a mailing list for Federation protocol discussion.

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