Horizontal organizations challenge: domain names

That’s a interesting proposal, but that also mean that there is a need for 3 people to do system administrations. As someone whose job is to do that since 10 years, I can safely say that it seems that most people do not want to do system administration.

So I think a first step is to solve that, which is what the CHATONS initiatives (or stuff like /r/selfhosted aim to do. And I think there is things to change. The current messaging around that topic is IMHO not working as well as it could, since people see system administration as a chore, while others chores like coding (see numerous discussions on burnout in Free software) or cooking (personal opinion) are seen as valuable and pleasurable activities.

So I think the perception of the activity in itself need to be changed before we can expect your proposal to be practical, and for that, I guess we have to ask to people why they see that as annoying.

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Here is another unfinished idea, fresh from this morning, to workaround the problem of domain names in the context of horizontal communities: set a time limit (a few years) and stick to it. The odds of problems related to the centralization of a domain name is inversely proportional to the lifetime of the project.

This could be applied to fedeproxy. It started January 2021 under the domain name fedeproxy.eu. It would make sense to me that its lifetime is set to be three years. It would become readonly in January 2024. As a member of the fedeproxy community, it means that I have no incentive in contributing to build a reputation for the fedeproxy name. Instead I will focus on working on the core concepts that fedeproxy stands for, namely forges and federation. Instead of reaching out to media outlets to get articles about fedeproxy, I would work on the wikipedia page for software forges (and it needs love). I would also work on the wikipedia page for federation and how it relates to software forges (this also needs love). In other words, I would work on the concept instead of the name.

In 2023, knowing that fedeproxy I will likely create a new project to get funding and keep working on the same concept under a different name, maybe with other people, maybe with different ideas and goals. Other fedeproxy members may decide on creating another project too. Assuming these newer projects are also set to have a three years lifetime, they will turn readonly in 2027 and another cycle begins. Some newer projects may be created by people who were working on different projects during the previous iteration.

From the point of view of people interested in using the concept of software forge federation, these cycles are of no interest. What matters is that the implementation of the concept provides a seamless upgrade path. A Debian GNU/Linux packager needs a upstream and a release channel from which to get newer releases. Although it implies a domain name is used at the time the package is first created, there is a process to handle a domain name change and a package name change. It is not common place but it happened. Knowing this name change will happen, the packaging and distribution of fedeproxy can prepare for it and make it as easy as possible on the user and the packager.

A unsolved problem remains: although there are ways to handle a project name change, there is no support for when a single project spawns two projects that diverge. fedeproxy could continue as (i) foobar and focus on feature X, (ii) frobnitz and focus on feature Y. The user will have to decide which one to choose.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot. I think about opencollective in regards to this, as they provide more than just holding of a community’s funds, they also offer holding of assets such as projects trademarks. I wonder if they could “own” domains, and then the renewal comes from the opencollective funds, and DNS is perhaps managed via OC dashboard. This allows multiple owners to manage things, and protects against a “rogue” owner, as OC would be able to act as an arbiter and by nature of how they operate everything is out in the open and transparent.

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