My Name at My Domain

My outlook on this area of life is exemplified by the addresses I list on my “Contacts” page:

These are my addresses on different systems. See how they are all substantially the same (except for formatting and a subdomain)? They all take the form: <my-name> <at> <my-domain>. More importantly, see how they are all owned by myself? My addresses all belong to my domain, not to any service provider's domain.

In today's broken Internet we're told it's normal to identify ourself using addresses we don't own:

Two problems. First, what we call “our” addresses are in fact not ours at all, they are owned and controlled by the service providers. Second, we are forced to use lots of different addresses, a different one for each provider.

I call this an anti-pattern.

This practice is driven hard by commercial megacorp services, for the good old commercial reasons of lock-in and marketing. Unfortunately, and unnecessarily, it is also the common pattern on open/federated services.

What's the difference?

The owner of a domain has full control of what goes on there. In the first case, I or my family's administrator have full control over my identities at my domain. In the second case, each service provider has the control over the identities at their domain. Not only do they get to choose everything about how the account operates, data retention, banning it, charging for it, advertising on it. Also they get to choose what identifiers are registered by whom, and so in general people cannot expect to get the same prefix on every service. Some people attempt to do so, and accept the compromises when they can't.

What to do about it?

If I had grant money to spend I'd spend a good chunk making open services support bring-your-own-domain.

[1]: (I'm currently looking into Webfinger to fix the Fedi handle which is currently an outlier.)


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