PubHubs Moderation update 2024-04-29

Completing This Phase

This is the last week of my funding on Moderator Tools for PubHubs. It has been a pleasure working with the PubHubs team. The time seems to go quickly.

Over the last few weeks I have been documenting everything about the Moderator Tools for PubHubs project on my dedicated web site,

To summarise, these are the main work areas in this project, linking to their web site sections:

  1. Civilised Discourse

    • Researching best practices to inform the longer term design of PubHubs moderation facilities.
  2. Disclosure of Identity Attributes

    • Building a moderation tool specific to PubHubs' special features.
  3. Draupnir for PubHubs

    • Adapting the best existing moderation tool from the regular Matrix ecosystem (Draupnir), evaluating and extending it.

Looking Back

How Did it Go? This is my own perspective.

Draupnir for PubHubs (item 3) was the first task. At the beginning of the project, it seemed clear that a good way to start would be to integrate the best available Matrix moderation tool, Draupnir, into PubHubs. I made it work, but it turns out that at this time Draupnir is not a very good fit for PubHubs's needs. Read more in the Draupnir for PubHubs section.

Disclosure of Identity Attributes (item 2) was undertaken next. This is about implementing a particular moderation feature, related to PubHubs's special identity system (IRMA/Yivi). Each participant is identified initially by a pseudonym. A moderator may ask a participant to disclose an attribute of their real identity, such as their registered home town), and the participant may provide a cryptographic proof (attestation) of the requested attribute, using Yivi. We now have a working implementation of this feature in PubHubs. There is a description, with screen-shots, in the Disclosure of Identity Attributes section.

Civilised Discourse (item 1): We needed a higher level plan for how to address moderation needs in PubHubs. Research suggested that provides a good role model. The foundation of its successful pattern for civilised discourse is structured around the idea of “Trust Levels”, guiding each new user gradually through increasing power and responsibility, up to possibly becoming a community leader. The other key idea is that the best kind of moderation is more about giving positive signals guiding towards intended behaviour than it is about reacting to negative behaviours. We copy and adapt these ideas to PubHubs, suggesting how to build successive features around this concept. See the Civilised Discourse section.

Each of these areas could be built on further. The Matrix moderation tool Draupnir turned out not to be such a useful building block as I had first assumed. However, we should keep an eye on upcoming developments from it and related projects from the wider Matrix world. Disclosure of Identity Attributes, with some work on a few aspects of its user experience, could be considered a complete feature. The Civilised Discourse concept has potential to guide the development of moderation-related features, in such a way as to promote desired behaviours as well as limiting undesired behaviours of a hub's community members.

Looking Forward

Where Next?

This was a part-time assignment and the depth of exploration was limited. It would be satisfying to take this work further forward. I intend to stay in touch with PubHubs, at least as a volunteer. I might also submit another funding application. I would be glad to do further work on moderator tooling or perhaps in another area that would be useful to them.

PubHubs is a great example of the kind of project I want to support. Software for the public good, built on freedom-respecting foundations of open standard protocols and free (libre) open source software (as listed on the Open Source page).

Besides PubHubs I will be looking to work on other projects in the field, especially those based on Matrix which I see as having great potential as an open standard for many kinds of messaging. I am particularly interested in public-benefit and personal use cases, enabling organisations and individuals who want to take their private messaging away from the tech monopolies and into their own hands.

#PubHubs #matrix

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