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  • Doug Belshaw 7:57 am on September 1, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , social.coop   


    I deleted my account on the Mastodon instance social.coop yesterday. I still don’t fully understand what went down, but here’s some details from my perspective that I can point to in case people ask.

    Social.coop is/was an experiment in democratic, co-operative social networking that I joined in May 2017. I paid $3/month as a member and return got to participate not only in the social network but help make decisions in their Loomio group.

    It was great until recently. As with all groups that don’t have strong leadership, there was a lot of discussion and debate about what seemed like fairly minor things. One critical failure was the time it took to get a code of conduct in place and a policy about when social.coop would block other instances.

    There must have been some back story that I’m not aware of, but on Wednesday 29th August I ‘tooted’ that I’d weigh in on Loomio when people stopped arguing. In retrospect, should have posted that directly on Loomio rather than Mastodon. I also posted a few points that I thought were salient, including that I felt that the term ‘nazi’ was a form of shorthand and not specific enough for a policy.

    That wasn’t a helpful thing have said and I have apologised for my ignorance.

    On Thursday 30th some other Mastodon instances cited my toot as policy of social.coop and, without an explanation (other than “just no”) silenced/blocked the entire social.coop instance.

    I was willing to stick around and ride things out as there’s always bumps in the road with democratic experiments. However, people on social.coop started leaving, including key members who provide hosting for the instance. It was clear things weren’t going anywhere.

    So, I decided to delete my social.coop account. It’s a real shame, and I’m very sorry that I inadvertently upset people and caused so much drama. Suffice to say I’ve learned a lot from the experience.

    • Simon Grant 8:45 am on September 2, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Yes, it has been quite a learning experience, hasn’t it! For everyone who was part of that learning experience, I’d like to see if we can do some peer group learning, as I sense that we can learn a lot more through discussion than we can by ourselves alone.

    • Greg McVerry 12:11 pm on September 2, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Yes, I have come to believe that a decentralized approach to the web is better than a federated one. I quit scholar.social because I was a “cross-poster” and they force anyone publishing from their own domain to be “unlisted.” My application to social.coop was never approved.

      Instead be your own fed.

      A good ole blog roll that we share among friends and a chat group is all I need.

      • Doug Belshaw 3:16 pm on September 2, 2018 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks Greg. The problem with the ‘everyone has their own server’ model is that we’ve already tried that, and it failed. We’re now at a place where capitalist social media has made things so ways to use that we can’t provide an alternative that is difficult to set up.

    • Matt Noyes 6:43 pm on September 10, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      You left too soon. Keep an eye out for work being done in various areas to regenerate the co-op and consider re-engaging if the balance tilts toward hope.

      • Doug Belshaw 8:05 pm on September 10, 2018 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks Matt. I miss that timeline and wish social.coop every success. Sadly, no one did anything but DM support. It wasn’t enough.

    • jwmh 8:25 am on September 11, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      ask for a facilitator & trainer in nonviolent operating principles w 25+ years of experience (not me! but a teacher in the SF bay area whom i deeply respect & appreciate)

    • mike hales 9:00 am on September 11, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Greg – Until it’s a package, like any other app, there’s no way folks like me will host a server. I’ve not seen a command line for 25 years, or ever booted Terminal on my Macs, and have no desire to. My (not very well informed) hopes are with fully P2P Holochain, and open apps architecture, or maybe some Scuttlebuttish protocol (maybe even a wireless web?). But that’s some way up the pipeline (?) as an alternative to the everyday internet and platformed apps. Thank goodness for non-capitalist platforms like Loomio. Agnostic platforms like WordPress. Hosting coops. Etc. We’ll get by?

      Best wishes Doug. Hopefully we each get better at spotting our own ignorance before it pitches us into what turn out to be war zones A long haul though?

  • Doug Belshaw 4:21 pm on August 28, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Mayel de Borniol, , social.coop   

    Lower leftism 

    As Mastodon is decentralised, instances are ‘federated’ together using a social networking protocol called ActivityPub. Instances within the ‘Fediverse‘ can be more or less specialised. For example, social.coop is focused on co-operativism, humanities.one is for discussing the Humanities, and donteatanimals.org for discussing animal rights and veganism. There’s even a guide at joinmastodon.org for choosing an instance that suits you.

    I was talking with Mayel earlier today about some controversy there’s been around social.coop’s federation policy. Over and above the ability of individual users to block or mute other users, instance administrators can ‘silence’ other instances. The proposal was to implement a federation policy which states:

    An instance will be silenced if it meets any of the following criteria:

    • Explicitly allows something forbidden by Social.coop’s Code of Conduct
    • The instance has as one of its goals shitposting or the instance has no moderation policy.

    The following are examples of any of the instances that would be silenced:

    • sealion.club (shitposting)
    • shitposter.club (shitposting)
    • toot.love (no moderation)

    In practice, that means that if you’re a member of social.coop and toot.love is silenced by the administrators, then you don’t see any toots from that instance in the federated timeline. It also mutes any notifications from that instance. You can, however, still follow specific users from that instance and you’ll get notifications from them.

    I thought it was all pretty uncontroversial, to be honest. But then I’m a straight, white, middle-aged man who doesn’t have to deal with online/offline harassment.

    This brief conversation between Mayel and I reminded me of a post he’d shared a while back entitled Lower leftism: expanding upon the political map by Margaret Killjoy. It made me think in new ways about my own politics. You can read the post for the nuance, so I’ll skip straight to the diagram I found useful:

    Political map

    One thing that frustrates me about (what’s usually referred to as) ‘the Left’ is the constant in-fighting. Killjoy’s map, however, explains some of that. We’re not all advocating for the same future; it’s much more nuanced than ‘left’ vs ‘right’.

    A lower leftist is anyone whose politics fall into the anti-authoritarian, cooperative quadrant of the political map. It includes anarchists, Zapatistas, anti-state Marxists, democratic confederalists, libertarian municipalists, and a large number of traditional societies from across the globe… any society that does not desire a state and does desire economic cooperation. (While we’re at it, let’s throw in that we’re only talking about identity-tolerant societies, because regardless of how “anti-state” they claim to be, a society that persecutes people for ethnic, sexual, gender, or ability reasons is just as authoritarian in practice as any formal governmental society.)

    I wouldn’t call myself an ‘anarchist’ but I’m definitely some kind of left libertarian. As such, I fall squarely inside that purple ‘zone of solidarity’ — although probably closer towards the middle of the map. (Which explains, if you read the post, why I vote for The Green Party.)

    The key insight in Killjoy’s post for me is that we shouldn’t form alliances with those who seek different futures as it won’t end well:

    When considering strategic allies (in contrast to the natural allies to be found in the lower left quadrant), my suggestion is that we ought not prioritize one axis over another. We ought to only form strategic alliances with those who aim to push society — in relation to the existent society, rather than in relation to our ideal society — in the same directions that we do. We ought not, presumably, ally ourselves with those who aim to push society in a direction counter to our interests. This seems obvious, when written out, but is a mistake that lower leftists have made time and time again.

    I’ve still a lot of thinking to do around this.

    • mike hales 10:15 am on September 11, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Replied to this Doug, but my reply isn’t flagged as in your queue for moderation. It was a long one – d’you have a word limit?

      • Doug Belshaw 10:28 am on September 11, 2018 Permalink | Reply

        Hi Mike, not aware of any word limit, but as you say it’s not in my moderation queue 🙁

    • mike_hales 12:19 pm on September 12, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      I still couldn’t post for some reason. And what I wanted to offer was long. So I’ve posted it here https://www.foprop.org/lower-left. I hope you feel it meshes with your thoughts Doug?

      • Doug Belshaw 12:34 pm on September 12, 2018 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks Mike! I’ll take a look at this after this conference I’m attending 🙂

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