Intro post o/` and AMA

Hello! Benedict here. Thought I’d pop by to introduce myself. I’m excited to be working with Burak on Aether, and look forward to participate in the discussions here.

Some stuff about myself… I am interested in community mesh networks, and am around on Scuttlebutt and Cjdns/Yggdrasil circles.

In last several years, I spent a lot of time stewarding common spaces, where people pool resources together for a shared cause. I believe this practice applied to digital platforms can offer a better future than our current online spaces that are increasingly mediated by a handful of big tech companies. Aether to me is a common network, where folks agree to host each other’s content, and we will need to build features to allow each person to control what they want to see and share.

I am excited about Aether because Burak has built a beautiful app that escapes a lot of usability awkwardness burdening other p2p systems. That said, I am also mindful of our representation biases, and hope to bring more diverse voices to the Aether community. I’d love to see more art from different cultures and weird internet topics on Aether!

In the immediate future, I will focus on getting the next version launched with options for hosted and P2P communities, while chatting with y’all about Aether’s P2P future. AMA :slight_smile:


Also on:

aether://board/86e782e80681ac580b4d6d102b12e787c066e59f194fee57bb0bf83cc1e42fc6/thread/bd78195cf6ca51a623e6bd25c61061db83dde3c869dd339d4c12097b597d7096

Welcome! :tada:

(I’m also here — and also happy to answer questions, if any)

Hey there,
Welcome to the gang! Hope you’re doing well.

Since you said AMA :)…

  1. Should Aether organize real-life meetups in your opinion?
  2. How do you envision Aether’s future? What major goals & milestones would you like to reach over the short, medium and long term?
  3. In the past, I’ve made a number of suggestions to improve Aether, a number of which are relatively unimportant, while others touch on what I believe to be consequential issues that are impeding the growth of Aether’s community.
    Surprisingly, I have received little support for them so far, even though they seem objectively commonsensical to me and should imo rather be consensual.
    Therefore, I’d love to hear you opinion on them! :slight_smile:
    (There’s a post about it on meta:aether if you prefer to discuss this there.)
  4. Milk first or cereal first?

PS – you can check out all of my suggestions here (for which I’ve received 10 hearts so far \o/ ).


Here’s the old comment discussing issues that are imo hindering Aether’s growth.

I personally think that there’s a few urgent issues we need to fix before Aether can really start to thrive.

We need to create the right environment before we can start to see more activity here on Aether (a bit like in business: a business won’t grow if, e.g., it doesn’t have access to electricity to produce goods and good roads to transport them. Similarly, a new community won’t grow if it is hard to find, doesn’t get enough exposure and generally it and its content go unnoticed). Communities need their sun and water :slight_smile:

SFW content should be easily accessible (not hidden in the NSFW list), new communities should get enough exposure and be easy to find (not go unnoticed or be difficult to discover), new activity should be easy to see and respond to (not go unnoticed or be ignored).

If you haven’t checked out the “Browse communities” section in a while, you may realize that there’s a lot more communities than you thought there were, maybe some you would have liked to join.
That is the kind of situation we need to avoid. We shouldn’t miss content because we didn’t know it existed…

  1. Making all SFW content more accessible. Communities that haven’t been whitelisted are currently too difficult to access, unfortunately. We need to deal with the whitelist bottleneck so that new communities (and content) don’t go unnoticed and can get off the ground.
  2. Suggesting communities to users. e.g. in their homefeed, and show them newly-created communities, trending communities, etc. Currently, new communities lie at the end of the “Browse communities” list and are at a disadvantage compared to boards at the top of the list (less exposure, fewer new users). We need to make sure that new communities get enough exposure and don’t go unnoticed, so that they have a chance to grow and thrive.
  3. Organizing the list of all communities (“Browse communities” section) and a community’s threads. It would help keep Aether more tidy and organized and help users find the content they like. (Instead of browsing a single list (all communities mixed together), one would browse a list of lists of communities. Here’s a real-world example.)
  4. Highlighting new activity. On Tildes, they sort the front page’s threads by “Activity” (basically: display new threads, and bump up old threads when there’s a new comment). It highlights the latest content available and makes for a livelier homepage. It also helps keep threads alive longer, as it puts the latest comments under the spotlight.
  5. Highlighting new unread comments on subsequent visits, and to display their number next to the total count. It helps users come back to a thread a day later and continue the conversation. Scanning a thread to find new comments is too cumbersome. It should be easy for users to find new comments, so they don’t miss them. That would in turn help increase activity.

If you agree, please comment! The more support it gets, the more likely it is that it gets done!

Cheers!

Hey @hydravion thanks for the welcome, here are my thoughts on these.

Should Aether organize real-life meetups in your opinion?

Yes! Our network isn’t big enough for organizing our own local meetups, but one thing we could aim for is invite folks to conferences we plan to attend, and hold Aether gatherings. Of course, the pandemic makes this temporarily difficult, but @b and I discussed doing live calls or even going on people’s podcast to answer forum questions.

A lot of folks use Aether for its pseudonymity, and an irl meetup risks excluding them and their voices, so we want to find ways that they can be represented too.

How do you envision Aether’s future? What major goals & milestones would you like to reach over the short, medium and long term?

The short-term (next 4-6 months) @b and I will focus on building a sustainable business, which also means bringing a hosted private community offering. In fact, this has been the focus for the past year and we’re very close to shipping it. This will also allow us to build features on a single client app, instead of essentially maintaining two apps on limited capacity.

In parallel, we will be publishing regularly about topics especially relevant to our P2P network, on controversial topics like moderation design. We started a substack for this in addition to posting our blog.

Medium term (2021) I think getting the moderation features right, and rolled out, would be critical. As you said: “We need to create the right environment before we can start to see more activity here on Aether”. We want to be very clear on the Aether approach to moderation, and have technical features and community guidelines to back our approach. More concretely, the minting process is a way to prevent a network level abuse, but the human attention abuse (more subjective) isn’t fully rolled out. We have mod but not yet mod elections, and the ability to “deny hosting” to specific content is still under discussion. We need these in place, though they have a dependency on network size so it’s kinda a milk first or cereal first problem :wink:

I wrote about content and community as well as diversity and representation in the Aether thread. I also want to explore how the Aether network may work with other projects in the DWeb space. These would be my medium and long term goals.

In the past, I’ve made a number of suggestions to improve Aether, a number of which are relatively unimportant, while others touch on what I believe to be consequential issues that are impeding the growth of Aether’s community.
Surprisingly, I have received little support for them so far, even though they seem objectively commonsensical to me and should imo rather be consensual.

I just read through the list, thanks for posting all of these over time. I think some are pretty useful features that I would also like, for example “being able to reorganize communities in the sidebar”, yea that’s like objectively useful :smiley: some other ones may need more discussion.

I’m sure @b has read all of them, and the reason why the straightforward ones aren’t implemented is not bc the feature is bad, but bc of priorities.

I can broadly classify good feature requests into “existential” vs. “nice to have”, the former meaning “we absolutely must do this now otherwise there won’t be an Aether network anymore”. The former may be difficult tasks and not as visible, such as building a business to sustain development work and seeking a co-founder, and has been the 2020 focus. The latter aren’t ignored, they are tracked for triage when we have capacity to move beyond the “existential” issues to the “nice to have” ones.

It’s common to think that “small features” should be high priority, bc they are easy to implement, however the more we keep doing those, the more we push issues like “project sustainability” into the future, and many projects fail to make that transition and become abandoned bc the single founder can no longer afford to pay rent. Unlike big companies with budget to hire extra ppl for these, small projects like Aether just cannot afford to prioritize what are seemingly easy wins unfortunately. Let’s take Matrix for example, a much more established and well capitalized project, I still cannot rearrange rooms in my sidebar on their official Elements Desktop client.

As of last week, we now have set up an internal project board, and I just added the thread you linked to a new issue. @b and I also scheduled weekly “product meetings” to discuss this sort of stuff. This doesn’t mean we’ll have the feature in the next release, bc getting me up to speed alone will eat up @b’s time :slight_smile: (yea… tks Ben!) but it sets up a structure for us to load balance, and when we are able to onboard more folks, we may have capacity to implement all the “nice to haves” in parallel.

Here’s the old comment discussing issues that are imo hindering Aether’s growth.

These are the controversial features. For example “Making all SFW content more accessible.” I agree there is a high friction to discover content, but we aren’t at a place to default all content to SFW yet when “decentralized mod” isn’t fully rolled out yet. We need to make discovery better, but the solution isn’t obvious.

“Suggesting communities to users.” The implementation of that is probably controversial. The simple question of “should a user see any content they aren’t subscribed to?” This itself will find people on both sides :slight_smile: My personal take is, let’s get a lot more content into the network first, before we hold this discussion!

Milk first or cereal first?

Cereal first. The higher risk step needs a more robust roll-back strategy!