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Aether – Free, privacy-sensitive public communities (getaether.net)
290 points by HostFat on Nov 3, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 221 comments

Hey guys - Burak here. Ouch, this was supposed to be a ‘soft’ launch.

I’m here to answer any questions as usual. I’ll pick the best and try to add it to the FAQ on the site.

Looks good. But a native application? I would only install a native application if it comes from a source that has a proven trackrecord of being trustworthy.

Can you track how many people installed it, now that it is on HN?

You say it puts everyone on "one single universe with the same content". So it should be easy to put up an instance that provides a web interface to the content, right?

I would think that posting via the browser should also be possible without relying on a single server / authority. A user could hold a private key which they use to sign their posts. And then deliver the post via any server that offers an interface for it. Similar to how a Bitcoin transaction can be delivered via any server that offers such a service.

So it would still be decentralized but can be used via the browser.

Yes I can, because this is a developer preview version, and it has anonymous metrics in. Stable versions are going to ask in the onboarding if you want to join the anonymous metrics program (like Firefox).

Yes it would be easy - that would just be an another node that showed it’s read-only UI on the web. (You still need to mint proofs of work, so you would need an actual computer for posting.)

What’s the proof of work? Is it something common to protect p2p network from spam?

is it open sourced ?

It's not a native application. It's an Electron app. By the way it doesn't ask for an elevated permission.

Looks great, kudos on the `soft' launch.

* The FAQs say that the app is a p2p based app. What is the p2p protocol being used here? * How does it compare to libp2p, SSB, and others? * What's the security model, and how would the system mitigate Sybil attacks etc?

Are there any plans to have mobile apps (preferable native)? I think if people could use it on their mobile phones, it would be a game changer.


> The FAQs say that the app is a p2p based app. What is the p2p protocol being used here? * How does it compare to libp2p, SSB, and others? * What's the security model, and how would the system mitigate Sybil attacks etc?

It's built from scratch. It runs c0 subprotocol of Mim. You can see some basic comparisons here: https://getaether.net/docs/how_is_it_different_from/

Other questions - all good questions, but it depends on what your definition of security model is. Sybil attacks are prevented by cryptographic signatures and proof of work. Unique names are available to provide a good human-friendly polish over cryptographic signatures, as well.

> Are there any plans to have mobile apps (preferable native)? I think if people could use it on their mobile phones, it would be a game changer.

Yes, I would _love_ to have mobile apps. The system supports it, but I don't have the money to spend the time building them, or to pay someone to build them. In essence, it depends on how popular the project gets - if enough people support it financially, it would certainly be a first priority.

> It runs c0 subprotocol of Mim.

Can you elaborate? Googling these terms doesn't produce much other than a few papers using "MiM" to mean man-in-the-middle, as well as your comment itself!

I actually posted the protocol spec somewhere a few months ago, but it might have gotten taken down when I flipped the beta site into the production site.

Mim (comes from 'mime' from 'to replicate') is a HTTP based stateless protocol where the nodes communicate with each other via bog-standard HTTP GET and POST requests. The nodes can create caches for oft-requested data. c0 is a subprotocol of Mim that defines six graph objects, boards, threads, posts, userkeys, votes and truststates. the first four are obvious, the vote is a userkey > b|t|p relation, a trustste is a userkey > userkey relation. It creates a directed graph that is mostly acyclic.

It allows for efficient flood-network propagation of this graph based on time intervals, and it comes with certain patch semantics, so given a delta communicated from one node to another, there is always a way to apply that delta into the local node's graph in a way that does not create merge conflicts.

> I would _love_ to have mobile apps, The system supports it

If there's a library/protocol that could be embedded in a native app, I would love to play with it. I'm a mobile developer with some free time at hand. I'll drop you an email.

Not yet! The protocol docs should be out there, but I think they accidentally got taken down when I replaced the old site with the new one. It's actually a fairly simple, stateless protocol that works over HTTP, so you can very easily script it — it just outputs JSON api responses to GET and POST requests. There are JSON schemas available for it as well. You really won't need any special tools or libraries, just any bog standard HTTP library in any language should be able to handle it. If you're willing to give it a go send me an email (on profile) and I'll let you know when that is ready to give a shot.

Hit me up if you need help ! Email in profile

Can you post to this from Tor?

edit: oops, just found this https://meta.getaether.net/t/how-to-use-aether-behind-tor/53

Seems to overlap with what SSB is trying to accomplish. Do you see any opportunities for integrating with that or other protocols, maybe for tracking unique identities over time?

(backed on patreon btw)

Thank you! I’m a little hair on fire at the moment but if you want to claim your unique username, please reach out to me (I’m not sure if I have a way of reaching out to you through Patreon) and I’ll issue it.

I think parent was asking for your take on the secure scuttlebot protocol (SSB) and the overlap of goals. I would also be interested, thanks!

I think it's covered here: https://getaether.net/docs/how_is_it_different_from/#secure-...

In summary, SSB is, from what I can see, designed for non-public sharing of Twitter-like content between friends, and your data only traverses to people who follow you.

In contrast, Aether is explicitly designed to be a public space where you talk to people you don't know. It communicates everyone's information to everybody. To make that possible, Aether only accepts and transmits text (you can still link to stuff), while SSB can transmit other formats directly in the protocol itself.

(I might be horribly wrong: I'm not a SSB expert. Please correct me if so.)

Do threads refresh automatically in the Aether client, or is there some magic way in which one can do so?

c.f. aether://board/86e782e80681ac580b4d6d102b12e787c066e59f194fee57bb0bf83cc1e42fc6/thread/4932c494227ccd4f632c2ace1012f58fd79d0d531b2dcd148463491598c841d8

Check the status page reachable from bottom left - it will tell you the last frontend compile, how long it took. That’s the ‘refresh’ rate. Essentially, every minute or so.

Is the proof-of-work likely to be too much for a mobile to be able to do? If a mobile client were to be made, that is.

Also, does the proof-of-work scale, eg how the bitcoin network gets harder and harder as the hashing power increases.

Thanks for creating this!

How does the unique username perk for patrons work? Does it mean that people can still create "normal"-coloured usernames, but there can only be one orange "verified" one?

Yep, that's how it works.

I would like to give Aether2 a test run. The only version I can find is the old 1.2.3 release on GitHub. Others here seem to have version 2. Where can I get it?

https://getaether.net has the new one. If you get a green site, delete your browser cache and try again.

I get the "you've caught it before launch" alert when I click download.

There's something with Cloudflare and Netlify interacting in a weird way. I just removed CF caching from the frontend, so you should be able to use it normally now.

I thought about doing something like this with orbitdb. maybe large content, like video, could be using ipfs.

That would be very cool! Let me know if you ever implement it, Aether only delivers text at this moment.

will you provide .AppImage or Flatpak or Snap? or all of them?

You state that one of the purposes of this platform is to allow you the freedom to be wrong, but if people can save something before 6 months, how would you prevent someone from saving an embarrassing comment for future use against you? Or are you the only one capable of saving your own comments?

They can definitely save yours - and if you’re someone whose comments should be saved, be pseudonymous. What they can’t do is they can’t go back 14 years of history like they can on Twitter, after the fact, and find something out of context there.

Pseudonymity and ephemerality are the two sides of the same coin. One doesn’t protect without the other.

Have you considered the inequities that such a retention policy introduces into HOW history can be used?

The entrepreneurial (and governments) will archive everything to serve the wealthy (including governments), who will be able to use history to their ends. Those without resources will live in an eternal present, except where history is used against them.

To sell this kind of retention policy as a user-protecting feature is (in my view) at best naive, and at worst, disingenuous. This model increases the economic cost of mining history, but in doing so, entrenches existing wealth and power structures.

Thanks to the ever-decreasing cost-per-bit of storage, the internet is forever. The only hope for redemption lies in this permanence affecting everyone equally; otherwise we're doomed to (continue to) live in a world where only the wealthy and politically connected have read and write access to history.

There is an argument to be made there, but you're off on the difficulty of storing data. Reddit, even with its 250M+ users, generates only 8.5Gb per month of data. A $100 Western Digital hard drive could hold the entirety of Reddit's comment history. In other words, if you want to collect data, you can do it just as well if you're just a random guy on the street just as well as any government can. Aether can't prevent anyone from collecting data, just like Snapchat also cannot. But what it can do is that it can reduce the availability of historic data as much as possible, so the data is at least not accidentally collected.

> ... but in doing so, entrenches existing wealth and power structures.

What entrenches existing wealth and power structures is wealth and power. That's why it's valuable to have wealth and power. In other words, you could prefix that sentence with almost anything, and you'd still be right.

The 6 month thing is a storage problem where every node needs to store the app’s content.

The privacy thing is free marketing that came out of that constraint.

This is really a good marketing move tbh. Everybody wants privacy and nobody understands what it technically means.

The way I see it, it has some privacy. No node after the first hop will have any way to get ip information of the poster, or even know how many hops they are away from the poster.

There’s always the ‘analog hole’. Someone can take a screenshot. Probably won’t unless you are egregious about something. What this should prevent is someone going back in time and digging through your stuff for something embarrassing, if they weren’t associated with you before.

Nice! I remember hearing about Aether some time ago, and I'm glad to see development is continuing; I think the world needs more decentralized social networks. I plan to try it out and maybe post more in-depth feedback.

For now, though, since nobody else in this thread has mentioned it, I'm going to be that guy – sorry:

I wish it weren't Electron. I don't really expect it not to be; I realize your development resources are limited, and that it's the easiest way to make a cross-platform application, which is a must for a social network. Still, having to deal with a non-native UI makes it harder to truly enjoy using the app. Also, if it uses as much memory as Electron apps typically do, I'm going to want to quit it when it's not actively in use – but apparently Aether really wants to stay running in the background so it can continue to synchronize posts. (Is there a way to close the client but keep the backend running?)

I think native UI in dedicated applications is massively overrated. It's great if it's apart of the system, if there's a config menu or something you'd expect from the system itself, but I have never had a problem with Spotify or Discord in terms of 'non native'. They can be a lot better absolutely, but native look is far worse.

I know - given enough time and money, I'd make a CLI app using something like ncurses. Unfortunately though, the reality is that I just don't have the resources.

The backend is its own process, you could definitely find the binary in the application package and run it on its own — it's not bound to Electron in any other way. Electron is just the client, the frontend graph compiler, and the backend are two separate binaries that communicate with each other over gRPC. That means you could run any of these independently, as well. [0] The client is Electron, but nothing except the UI happens in JS, everything happens in the frontend and the backend, and they're both tiny, fast, native-compiled Go apps. My backend, for example, is 4.8mb, frontend I think is 6mb. The rest of the size of the app (70mb) is just Electron, its dependencies, and the whole enchilada that comes with it. I'm not happy about it either.

For better or worse, though, since the JS part of the app is nothing but its 'skin', it's as memory efficient as Electron apps get. No real processing happens in JS, it's all Go.

[0] That said, it's not something I support right now, because if you ran the backend separately and then started the app, you'd effectively be running two backends. There is not yet a way to tell the app package that it should connect to an existing backend running locally instead of starting one.

How about providing a WebExtension that exposes the bits that require a binary (e.g. P2P and possibly proof-of-work part if WASM does not work for you) or are provided by the platform, then you can waive the Electron requirement for those who do not want it, plus your web interface potentially works the same for read-only visitors and users (who have the web extension installed). You can also include the frontend bits in the WebExtension so no one relies on the website working anymore.

I haven’t worried about how much memory an app uses in many years. On a MacBook Pro with solid state storage, it’s just not noticeable. I did some testing a long time ago to see how the system behaved when apps used essentially all of the memory and then some.

I actually couldn’t tell. I don’t remember anymore if I tried playing a game or not, so that might have been noticeable. But my VMs and browsers and several emacs’ connected to several clojure repls didn’t even hiccup.

The fans ran high and the computer was hot, but otherwise it just wasn’t a thing.

Is it that different on windows or Linux? At work windows is abysmal, even with an ssd, but I blame all the antivirus and corporate spyware.


I do marvel at app binary sizes, just because my floppy disks used to hold jus 144k. I did a hello world in Haskell this morning and it was a meg or two. Hello world could fit on a floppy from the //e era. That’s something.

FYI, there doesn't appear to be any cryptocurrency involved, which is a plus for me.

> Communities can elect and impeach their own mods by voting.

If these are public communities that anyone can join pseudonymously (are they?) how does Aether prevent Sybil attacks, where a malicious actor joins a community using multiple identities and votes themselves into power?

Also, spam?

For both of your questions, the answer is proof of work.

For Sybils, that’s something I’ve considered. I’m thinking of making voting eligibility a trailing indicator where it tracks past activity to be considered a ‘citizen’ of that community, and allowing the mod team to temporaily lock down the community if they see such a thing happening.

Proof of work prevents small attackers to do that, but attacks with large computing power are not going to prevent this.

Unless you made your proof of work really hard, but then not a lot of people can participate.

What you need is a participation treshold to be hit before someone can vote. Kind of like HN limits your downvote until a certain karma threshold.

What are your thoughts about the phenomenon called tyranny of the majority?

Tyranny of the minority is worse

Hah. Perhaps. But that doesn't mean we should accept either.

How to prevent that tho? Everything seems to be at the risk of either the first or the second...

Good question. The framers of the US Constitution attempted to do it with a system of checks and balances... which works to a certain extent, but not perfectly. Point is just because it’s hard, that’s no reason to give up trying.

The framers put in protections against tyranny of the minority, yes. But it's not the electoral college (which Madison and Hamilton tried to get rid of after they saw how it behaved) or fptp voting, or minority rule.

You don't protect against tyranny of the majority by allowing minorities to dictate policy, that's just regular tyranny.

You protect against majorities by requiring supermajorities for all the most important functions of government: constitutional change, impeachment, and censure.

Does any existing kind of social network prevent that kind of attack? I don't believe so, and I'd think that's pretty difficult to accomplish. Aether does attempt to make this nontrivial, I believe, by requiring proof-of-work before posting things. I don't know, but possibly that proof-of-work also applies for impeachment votes (I hope it does!). Then depending on how hard that proof-of-work requirement is and how many people are already in the community, performing such an attack would become harder.

Reddit is experimenting with sybil-resistent voting on a sub I moderate (r/ethtrader). In fact there is a vote[0] going on to retain me as the first moderator. The sybil-resistence comes from weighting polls with community points (on our sub we call them donuts - don't ask). Donuts are intended to represent contribution to the community so derive from sub specific karma, being a mod, etc. It's still an experiment but I think it's going well so far.

[0] https://www.reddit.com/r/ethtrader/comments/9tm60s/governanc...

My understanding is that any participant action requires proof-of-work.

Social networks like Secure Scuttlebutt prevents this type of attack by syncing only data within social trust circles. So spammers and bots can vote up each other all they want, but their actions will not be visible outside of their little island unless someone explicitly "friends" one of them. Aether, being a global view of unpartitioned data, has a more difficult time tackling this type of attack, and its proof-of-work minting of user actions seem like a reasonable approach.

Reddit's way of doing it works pretty well. You create your own community with your own rules, then people join it if they like the way things are run. Only downside to Reddit is the subreddit name squating.

It’s definitely not a solved problem, which is why I was curious if Aether had any interesting solutions.

> What Aether does is, you can actually disable the mods that you don’t approve just for yourself, and those disables count as an impeach vote. If majority of the community agrees, the mod loses mod rights for a while for everyone. That makes it so that Aether communities are places where the content is what the current users of the communities want, not those who were there first by chance.

Even if "impeaching mods through votes" is unpractical, subscribing to an unmoderated view of the forum on your own accord is brilliant!

It is brilliant. The moderation layer is a like a data view.

I wonder, what happens if, going a step further, there are different moderation teams working on the same comment stream, and readers could flip between them at will? If you ever wondered what the other side was thinking, you could flip views and experience it.

Of course, you still need some absolute site rules to cover doxxing and illegalities.

> I wonder, what happens if, going a step further, there are different moderation teams working on the same comment stream, and readers could flip between them at will?

It already has that. :)

That is the whole point of moderation - you can choose who you want to be moderated by. (It’s on a per mod basis for now, though, but per mod team is a good idea. Thanks for the feature request!)

Maybe people you follow or "mark as trustworthy", should also be more relevant in what you see.

That's something that came to my mind as well. Probably there's something interesting following that path too — though for the time being I'm focused on getting the basics right first.

I like the way you sum this up Ixe. Your comment illicits a mental model like a manual transmission where the terrain (dynamics of the conversation) sets the context for what gear to select (which mods to have in place) , based on how much gas you are giving the engine, which is a personal choice of the driver. One driver may choose a very low gear to go down a hill (a conservative moderator that controls the decent of the vehicle) and another driver may wish to just coast down at high speed (very litte moderation). Same car, same terrain, different driver, different choice for what gear to keep it in. The mental model gets a little loose goosy when you consider that this is not a single person making the decision but rather a group, but oh well. Thanks Burak for making this platform. I'm really enjoying the ride so far!

I completed the mental model... It's. Like one of those 12 passenger 4x4 off road tour vans, or even a 100 passenger hydrofoil boat, where the driver has a reputation score, as do the passengers, and you can pick which boat you want to go on based on the expected conditions of the drive. If the boat ride is billed as a leisurely jaunt for calm bird watching, and the driver knows this is what the passengers want, and he decides to push the pedal to the metal and everyone is thrown about, the passengers can suspend the driver and pick one who understands the consensus of the what the groups specifications are. This has amazing potential as a platform for civil engagement and public works management and other areas of social coordination. I can't wait to get into this further.

Actually the group's decisions are made by singular decisions based on users, so your own decisions are prioritised over the group's. So if the group decides to impeach a mod, but you voted to keep the mod in place, that mod is still a mod for you, because you voted to support that guy — even if s/he is no longer a mod for the group.

For anybody who is curious as me:

> Aether is a product of Burak Nehbit (@nehbit). You can reach out at burak at getaether dot net.

> Burak Nehbit

> Burak is an ex-Google, ex-Facebook product designer and engineer. He specialises in end-to-end product experience, from product, UX, to API (developer) experience. He is an expert in the fields of distributed networks and monetisation (e.g: prior jobs at YouTube and Facebook).

> He was also the part of the team that built the next generation, material design AdWords at Google. (e.g: complex data visualisation, dashboards).

> He is available for consulting as a full-stack designer and engineer in distributed networks space. He lives in San Francisco.


If I remember right, Google hired him soon after he started the Aether project. I guess he's left Google by now.

So, Burak, care to share the thought behind your username? :)

Which username? I use @b on Aether.

I was teasing the parent- not being serious.

Ah okay, sorry! I’m the Burak mentioned above and I’m as puzzled as anyone else on why this was posted, and why this is the highest upvoted comment, to be honest. Make a thing for privacy and the next thing people do is post your info online - Satoshi had a point. :)

People got trust issues. They want to know if they can trust the maker. If not, privacy, schmivacy.

From the FAQ:

> How long does it take for a post to reach the most of the network?

> [...] Long answer [...]

> [...] In fact, it’s a little larger than one request in a minute, because some nodes are behind restrictive firewalls and NATs, and they cannot be reached, they can only make requests out.

Regardless of the actual FAQ discussed here, the statement is made that "some" nodes are behind NAT's, implying that most will not be behind NAT's. Living in the Netherlands, I'm not sure about countries overseas in the Americas, but here I'd wager >99% of normal household PC's will be behind a router implementing NAT. This makes actual peer-to-peer communication nigh impossible here, and I'm always doubtful about nice peer-to-peer solutions that claim to be cool and such but sneakily have the ever-present requirement that you have a public IP address. I don't. Nobody I know does, except for VPS's and so forth. But I generally don't run a graphical client on my VPS.

Of course, theoretically, this should be solved by IPv6. But really I wouldn't know how to start using that, and whether my provider has all the hardware and software in place to actually have this work. (And whether my provider-issued router supports it, as well.)

Can anyone chime in on how the situation regarding NAT's is in the Americas? And does anyone have a good source on how to get started with IPv6 communication between peers, when I don't even know the stuff I mentioned above?

EDIT: I see that Aether has/seems to have the option to work around this problem by allowing one to run the backend (the thing that actually connects to the peer-to-peer network) on a different machine than the client. That would enable using a VPS to run the backend.

> because some nodes are behind restrictive firewalls and NATs

That is just a weird turn of phrase on my part, will fix it. What I mean is:

because some nodes are behind restrictive firewalls and [restrictive] NATs.

In other words, most NATs work fine. Even if they don’t work fine, it has a process called a ‘reverse open’ where the inbound connection is requested by the receiving remote and the remote ‘captures’ and uses the same TCP socket.

Even if that doesn’t work, as you’ve discovered, you can run the backend Ona VPS.

Thanks for replying -- the client seems to work beautifully on osx here. It took some time to start showing post content, and I even restarted it once because it didn't seem to do that after a few minutes, but now it does, so that's good.

My NAT is apparently a restrictive one, since I've got "Mapping failed, no router, or router uncooperative" as my port mapping status. But as you predicted, I've indeed got some inbound connections, so yay.

I unfortunately am getting the same error however I'm not getting any inbound connections either


TIL what reverse open is; nifty.

Not all NAT's are relevant. As long as they respond to port mapping requests or use endpoint independent mappings they can be traversed.

Also note that IPv6 alone does not help because the recommended way to deploy it is to have firewalls in CPEs that block incoming connections by default, so applications still have to request the port to be opened, using the same protocols as for v4 NAT.

Moderation seems like a view layer on top of the content graph, right?

I feel like a feature to blacklist actual storage and distribution of a particular post by fingerprint is going to be needed, because I'm not cool with simply not rendering child porn or someone's banking details if I'm still storing it for 6 months, and transmitting that info for two weeks.

The payload is just text. You’re not carrying anything else.

But yes - for the very small, but not nonexistent case where a text itself can be not kosher, this is something that needs to be built in. It’s on my list.

The idea of impeaching mods sounds interesting, but unworkable. How do you stop hostile communities from brigading and removing each other’s mods?

It isn't a "democracy", votes have a different weight based on the past participation on the specific community sub.

Some type of social credit system with power at the local and global level. Give active and creditable participants in a single community more authority there by giving more votes. Global credibility (you play nice in other communities) additionally is factored into the users ability to influence. Make this credit consumable. This way a community that wants to disrupt another will have to overspend and leave themselves vulnerable to destruction. MAD in essence.

I wonder why can't one just pick mods for themselves. E.g. "subscribe" to a mod, meaning whatever that mod hides, you don't see. It could even be mutual.

That’s exactly how it works. Default mods are just that, default.

It'd be nice if I didn't have to download an application to use it. Open to a reddit alternative, but I care more about convenience than any sort of encryption a client would offer.

I dunno - when I saw 'decentralised' I assumed I'd have to download something. Isn't that how decentralised applications work?

It is theoretically possible to serve a web app from github pages and let the decentralized peer-to-peer application run in the user's web browser.

There are limitations and this approach might not be feasible for this application.

The web doesn't have to eat everything.

Since Aether is a peer-to-peer network, the client syncs content and becomes a node itself to scale up the network's capacity. It also allows the user to perform actions without letting a backend track your navigation history, etc. I don't think there is encryption done on the content, only signing and verifying with keys, as there is no concept of private messages in the Aether network at the moment.

Also the application takes 1-5 minutes to "download fresh content".

>Aether is a peer-to-peer app, and it has no servers. A result of this is that source IP of any specific public post cannot (easily) be determined.

Not possible. Either source IP's are in communication, meaning you know the active posters IP, or the content is being proxied from a centralized server.

I hate Discords lies in saying they won't sell user data, but at the least they know the real danger of how IP's are infact all that's needed to call a swatt team down to kill someone in the U.S.

If you want to build an actual private conscious platform you will have to do something like FreeNode where people can make their own 'servers' for free, but also make their own actual servers if they want to.

The posts are echoed across the network. You know where you got the post, you don’t know whether that post was created by that specific IP. Because you could have gotten the same post from all other nodes in the network as well.

Delivery IP is not the creation IP.

The IP by definition of a P2P network must be the creation IP at some point.

IP's delivering the content are liable for what they spread. Using client IP's to distribute data like a proxy only shifts the burden onto the clients themselves.

These are all problems that should be gone over in detail on Aethers site, and should have been the main problem to tackle in its protocol.

> Not possible. Either source IP's are in communication, meaning you know the active posters IP, or the content is being proxied from a centralized server.

Which of these is true of a P2P network of Tor hidden services?

e.g. https://ricochet.im/ is P2P chat that uses Tor hidden services. It neither has centralised servers nor leaks IP addresses.

TOR network is the inbetween between P2P and centralisation. TOR relies upon exit nodes and relays which are hosted purposefully by people all over the world. It's decentralized only in that there's random people to host the servers instead of paying for them yourself, but the clients do depend upon those servers.

Due to the usage of lots of servers the source IP is not easy to get and associate with any specific content. However if you control a relay and exit node, and data passes through those, you can put the dots together.(1) If a platform uses TLS you probably can't track though.

This is true of any server that proxies requests.

1. https://blog.torproject.org/one-cell-enough-break-tors-anony...

Hidden services don't use exit nodes.

The fact that Tor hidden services relies on the Tor network existing is no different to the fact that Internet services rely on the Internet existing.

How does it compare to RetroShare [1] ? RetroShare has been around for years and works quite well. It seems like Aether attempts to provide quite similar features.

[0] http://retroshare.net/

For linux users who don't want to install the snap, just try it out:

$ sudo mkdir /mnt/aether

$ sudo mount -t squashfs <downloaded.snap> /mnt/aether

$ /mnt/aether/aether

If you advertise a “privacy-sensitive” product, please don’t load css from googleapis.com and JS from googletagmanager.com on your website.

Actually don’t load anything from third parties. It’s a complete turn off.

I agree - but anybody who ever built anything would tell you it’s a tradeoff. Yes, I could get metrics through the server logs. But I’m just one single guy that built this thing. I don’t have the resources to build a privacy sensitive tool and a privacy sensitive page view reporter that tells me how many people visited a page, so I can improve it. One challenge at a time.

Why not use Piwik/Matomo?

Sounds good to me as it sounds like the individual is the ultimate end moderator allowing community moderators to try remove stuff but it is ultimately up to the individual if he wishes to see that content. I have to say I extremely dislike moderation. But this moderation it seems like I can choose. I am not a kid I want to choose. This seems like a good in between where offensive stuff may be stopped but no one will prevent you from removing the veil of secrecy should you curious mind want to see more.

Downloaded and installed, but no content has loaded in last 30min.

Same here. At first I thought it was the hug of death, but I feel like with p2p it should only get faster as more people join?

Inbounds conns. in last 15m 0

Last inbound Unknown

Outbound conns. in last 15m 0

Last outbound Unknown

Last outbound duration Unknown

It performs an initialization. You need to exit the program. Be aware that the “close” button only minimizes to the system tray

Same for me, it's "Catching up" and appears to connect to some ipv4 nodes, but nothing so far. Edit: it werks now!

How come this is called a privacy sensitive aplication while this is happening "and it has anonymous metrics in. Stable versions are going to ask in the onboarding if you want to join the anonymous metrics program (like Firefox)." ?

The dev should be upfront about it even when the prerelease versions are being used.

Tell us what those "anonymous metrics" are for instance.

Is the communication between nodes encrypted or transported over SSL?

To state the obvious, I can't download—"You caught it before the launch. :)"

That said, I really, really appreciate the native client here and I'm excited to try it out.

Maybe you should refresh your browser cache.

I am also unable to download and I doubt _my_ cache is the issue as I've never visited this site before. Is anyone able to download the Windows client (or any other)?

> Is anyone able to download the Windows client

Yeah, but with the same result as what another poster said

> Downloaded and installed, but no content has loaded in last 30min.

As of yet, the github page says

> Aether 2 last version: 2.0.0 (currently non-functional, in development) [..] (Not yet working, 80% complete)

and the last commit was 2 months ago :(

edit: this is how the page looks to me: https://i.imgur.com/2tsW5zv.png

The github isn't updated currently, I've also asked the dev about the update of the source code

Maybe there is an issue with the dns.

Those are the current links to download




Just as I was going to say "maybe it's my router", I checked the app again and saw it has loaded content, yay :)

Thank you, very helpful :)

>Communities can elect and impeach their own mods by voting.

This invites tyranny of the majority. Which will mean for certain topics where the community dislikes open discussion and questioning of ideas, divisiveness will grow because bad ideas can not be effectively challenged.

I've never seen a community that was completely open to discussion and where bad ideas disappeared because they were effectively challenged.

On the other hand, I've been in several communities where the mods had a clear agenda and the participants were helpless to change it.

I'd personally rather the people who are hostile to new ideas or critical thinking have their own communities and that their ability to harm other communities can be mitigated by a moderation system accountable to the users.

I do think there needs to be serious discussion about how to make communities that are good for people. The echo chamber and polarization effects tend to contract people into a smaller worldview. How to have a cohesive community that doesn't do that is essentially an unsolved problem in the social sciences.

I agree with most of what you said, but we might be looking at it from different angles.

Especially want to zero in on this:

>I'd personally rather the people who are hostile to new ideas or critical thinking have their own communities

A fact that you don't seem to have in your mind here is that often those people are the majority.

So you'll have majorities voting in mods who are hostile to new ideas and critical thinking.

With this platform we still get lock-in of polarized thinking and echo chambers.

I think your view here may be a little more pessimistic than mine.

I don't think the majority is opposed to critical thinking, although I think most people are bad at it. I also think most people are bad at civil and effective communication, so you may get toxic communities even from well-meaning people.

I'll be interested to see what happens. You may be right that communities will select mods that create echo chambers.

I'm a little more optimistic. Whichever way it goes, I think the ability to experiment (e.g. with weighted or modified voting schemes) with this sort of mechanic is definitely worth pursuing.

Yes you are optimistic.

> So you'll have majorities voting in mods who are hostile to new ideas and critical thinking.

>With this platform we still get lock-in of polarized thinking and echo chambers.

But there's nothing stopping you from creating your own sub that is more open...

That's kind of a snide answer though, right?

We need forums where close-minded people with calcified ideas can be challenged.

When there are new thinkers with challenging ideas, you are saying they can just go off in a separate space and talk only to other open minded people.

That's fine for them to do, but it's not enough in the sense that it doesn't reach the people it should. Closed minds can change, if challenged. If. Your suggestion doesn't achieve that.

Not snide, just realistic.

The scenario you're suggesting is one where most of the people in that sub have chosen to only see the "calcified" ideas. If I was a person who doesn't agree with those ideas, I wouldn't want to stay. A sub with elective moderation is not the forum to challenge people's ideas.

If it's a cat sub, then I wouldn't be surprised if I get moderated out if I'm going there and telling everyone how much better dogs are, even if it's true!

Say it's a sub for politics, if you want real open communication, then you could think about starting a different forum, eg "openminded_politics", and presumably most people who want to use that sub would be open to hearing different ideas.

I'm not sure how else you think it could operate. People who strongly dislike reading differing opinions are not going to read a sub with ideas they are opposed to. You think it's somehow possible to force them to read those ideas?

Won’t this be resolved the way it does on Reddit with people ejecting to more specific communities?

I’m a feminist for example, but I’m no longer welcome in mainstream feminist subreddits, so I subscribe to various more-specific-feminism subbreddits, and explicitly debate friendly ones.

I'm not too happy with that resolution though, because it leads to problems.

While it may seem to reduce short term conflict, it exacerbates the effect of many of us living in ever-more-impervious bubbles. Which could lead to larger problems down the road as people's shared understandings about reality diverge even more.

If enough people believe the same, then such segregation will not happen, because moderation will be self-moderated.

OTOH, if enough people really want all those bubbles, there isn't really anything you can do to stop them.

>If enough people believe the same, then such segregation will not happen

That's wishful thinking. Reality has shown that this isn't the case.

>there isn't really anything you can do to stop them.

You can challenge them on it. Unless they shut down challenges. Which is what this system enables.

Trying to install using snap, keep getting the following errors, any advice? Never stops retrying.

bee@blackandyellow:~/Downloads$ snap install --dangerous --devmode Aether-2.0.0-dev.5+1811030036.53a6bb49.snap

2018-11-03T11:59:53-04:00 INFO Waiting for restart...

2018-11-03T12:00:01-04:00 INFO auto-connect of snap "aether" will be retried because of "aether" - "core" conflict

EDIT: Snap files are an archive of sorts. I was able to extract it into a folder and run the file named "aether" to get it to work.

EDIT2: This gets the frontend working but I don't think it gets the backend working entirely.

@b here. Seems the snap isn’t able to boot because of a similarly named package? Linux isn’t officially supported right now, but there was somebody downthread that managed to get it to work with the —dangerous flag.

I created Rust sub. Feel free to join. Also, I don't see how to find or share link to a community. Is there a way to find community by a fingerprint?

Its getting blocked by AVAST and MALWAREBYTES (not surprising since I don't usually run random Internet supplied executables).

> Aether is a peer-to-peer app, and it has no servers. A result of this is that source IP of any specific public post cannot (easily) be determined.

Really? Doesn't p2p model actually expose your IP address to everybody you communicate to?

It is a flood network.

> A result of this is that source IP of any specific public post cannot (easily) be determined.

> "Communities can elect and impeach their own mods by voting. If a mod behaves inappropriately, users can disable that mod locally as well."

This sounds like it's definitely vulnerable to abuse. Democracy is nice, but I'm not sure it's a great idea in a situation like this where it's online with total anonymity and easy to vote fraudulently.

> "Aether keeps a 6 months of content by default. It's gone after."

I often want to search for stuff that seemed unimportant at the time a year or more later. We should focus on changing society so it's not so critical of statements people made years ago when they changed as a person, this is a better solution.

Skeptical of the value of community-building that Aether can provide, it seems like a novelty product to me. What is wrong with pseudononymous communities like Reddit & HN?

> We should focus on changing society so it's not so critical of statements people made years ago when they changed as a person

I'm a believer in progress long term, but I seriously doubt humanity is really capable of what you're describing in a way that's applied equally to all groups of people.

It seems several orders of magnitude much easier for people to develop the habit of recording information they might need later.

> It seems several orders of magnitude much easier for people to develop the habit of recording information they might need later.

6 months is fine for just social commentary and such, but it seems to me that a design like that effectively forces the community to be banal, because the community will not remember anything for any longer than that time.

Better if there was some mechanism by which the most-saved (upvoted?) posts are retained by the network as a whole for longer.

On, for example, Stackoverflow, most of the posts I've found useful have been more than 6 months old. 6 months is not such a long time unless we're talking about the latest pop culture hotness.

We are lucky Shakespeare didn't use a platform that forgets everything after 6 months.

Anything to worry about as far as attack vectors when running something like this? eg, could someone hack my computer more easily than they could from just running Facebook in a browser, etc?

Please add a way to copy a link to clipboard instead of opening it in the default browser.

Viewing/saving/url-copying a picture without opening the source in the default browser would also be great.

Why does it enforce CC-BY-SA? I never care about what are people going to do with comments I post, can't I choose WTFPL / CC0 / Unlicense instead?

Could you make the life span settable by the speaker? That is, the default is 6 months, but perhaps I want less? Or more (to be archived locally some way)?

Yup - check LocalMemoryDays key on your backend config. That controls the archival. That should be the largest value, and the network head and network memory should be smaller than that.

Maybe they can get Gab to adopt this.[1] Gab is having trouble finding hosting. This could go mainstream fast if it picked up the Gab crowd.

[1] gab.ai

>This could go mainstream fast if it picked up the Gab crowd

The "Gab crowd" doesn't have the cultural pull or influence that this would require.

They're loud and have reasonable numbers. Get some gun forums on there and there will be traffic.

Yeah, but the mainstream still wants nothing to do with them, although I suppose it depends on how you define mainstream.

Privacy-sensitive communication MUST be transport encrypted, if not end-to-end. What are the plans here and how soon will it be implemented?

WTF is is this "Minting proof-of-work for the entity..." thing when submitting comments? Does it mine BitCoins or something?

There is no mining of cryptocurrencies. You are spending CPU cycles to compute a proof so spamming the network with user actions is non-zero cost.

Are there any limitations on how large a post can be? Could a malicious user just post giant posts to make the network suffer?

I tried it, it didn't work. Sorry

> Communities can elect and impeach their own mods by voting.

Fyi, impeach means to hold a trial not to kick them out.

On this point I have to disagree. Democracy does not work well in foss communities and can easily be hijacked and makes it to easy to foster strife and divisions. I like the traditional foss way of being led by a BDFL where if you disagree with leadership you can "Just fork it".

Impeach: call into question the integrity or validity

Seems perfectly appropriate usage to me.

You're right,I was correcting a common misunderstanding.

Is Aether actually going to be hard for privacy-hostile governments to block or compromise?

I think the _scope_ of privacy here should be clarified. Content on Aether is public. There is no concept of private encrypted messaging. The privacy guarantee is that what content you view within the network, your navigation path, cannot be tracked by a server. This is because your node syncs _all_ the data, including the content that you don't navigate to. This is in contrast to the way many services track user behaviour by their username.

As discussed in other posts, it is difficult to discover origin IP of pseudonymous users, because in a flood network, when my node gets some information it is usually not from the IP where that information was generated. That is another privacy feature due to the way Aether distributes data.

Aether is more difficult to block than centralized services, since you will have to catch all the nodes instead of just one set of known IPs / domains. With great effort it is probably possible to DPI at ISPs to identify Aether traffic and drop? But being a peer-to-peer protocol, Aether can easily sync across VPN tunnels, run within private networks, or physical meshnet infrastructure independent of ISPs.

> This is because your node syncs _all_ the data, including the content that you don't navigate to.

All the data? Isn't it going to take a huge lot when the network grows popular?

So how does peer discovery work? How to find initial nodes to connect?

It seems there is some kind of bootstrap node running somewhere that clients connect to when they haven't got anything. The upside is that this bootstrap node isn't special, and anyone should (I believe?) be able to set up new bootstrap nodes. But I'm not sure on that part.

Yes, a bootstrap node is just a regular node with a bootstrap config flag. It doesn’t do anything special. You could make your own node a bootstrap node if you want. (Which is, by the way, is a bad idea - it changes how often other people connect to you in a way that makes bootstrapping easier but posting content harder).

I can't figure out how to use the snap.

I downloaded the snap and installed it from the command line with `snap install --dangerous Aether.snap`. Dangerous sounds dangerous... I'm not sure if it was a good idea, but it works and my system found the app when I searched for it. I clicked the "cat's bum icon" and we're away!

You are installing a program you downloaded off the internet.

The --dangerous is there to make you think about that for a moment as(or if you're lucky, before) you install.

‘Cat’s bum icon’ I might just make this the official name of the logo!

Is the linux tarball on the website updated to the most recent version? It runs under Arch, but just syncs endlessly. It's also a light client, where the Windows version is dark theme. I don't like using snaps, so this is preferred.

@b here. Snap version is untested - it compiles but no guarantees. I think some people got it to work downthread, you might want to check which flags they used.

Thanks for the reply. I'm talking about the tarball on https://www.getaether.net/linux_download.html

Link Location: https://github.com/nehbit/aether-public/releases/download/v1...

Looks like it's v1.2.3, released in 2014, so I'm guessing this client won't work? Might want to remove that link! :)

Oh wow - you got the old, old version from the prior site, v1.x. The new version is 2.0.0, it’s a completely different app. Clear your cache and go to getaeether.net again, that should give you the new site and new version.

It actually takes me to that old website when I use 'click here for other options' on Windows and my Arch machine, in incognito mode.

How do you get this to not turn into a fascist/racist trash bin worse than 4chan/b/ as other Reddit clones have seemingly fallen into?

The same way you prevent them from becoming progressice/racist trash bin worse than reddit.

You let them speak and prove them idiots. It's really not hard. Unless you're constantly on the side that's losing, then it's pretty miserable.

But know that even though you're losing now you can reformulated your arguments and try again because no ones going to censor you. You have all the same rights because you, like they, are people deserving respect, no matter how much you look down on them or hate them. And that's what I tell them about you.

Less hate more love.

>let them speak and prove them idiots. It's really not hard

No popular platform works like this. All working solutions involve hard moderation and separate forums/groups for different people.

>they, are people

Not necessarily.

Even if they are real people they may be paid propagandists, trolls or promoters. You need heavy moderation or access restrictions to make things work after the size of community grows. Eventually even moderation breaks down after the size grows.

The problem, however, is that people are unresponsive to arguments. We are not reasonable, unfortunately. People aren't coming to these places to learn. They don't want to learn.

I'm very curious as to how we can get out of this, because I really have a hard time understanding people and this is an enormous laboratory.

> unresponsive to arguments

Not just unresponsive to arguments, but will argue in bad faith, and it takes 10x as much effort to disprove someone's bad contentions than it does to produce them.

I agree with this position and wonder if there is any supporting evidence that speaks to this point that you know of?

And since everyone is unreasonable you think someone should be in charge of deciding what's reasonable at the barrel of a gun.

I really don't think you've thought your argument through.

An argument doesn't have to be reasonable. You have logos, pathos, and ethos [1] to convince somebody.

It's like a good sale, you identify what they want and then you show them a more social and friendly approach to reach their goal.


What if you don't want to prove them wrong, or indeed engage them at all? Not everyone is owed a debate, a response, or even eyeballs. There's plenty of interesting content out there that people are paid to read, what makes you think anyone who values their time would be willing to read racist trash for free?

That's perfectly fine. But just because you don't want to debate with someone does that mean they're not allowed to talk to each other?

In my opinion it's more important to let groups self-moderate and compartmentalize. We can have a peaceful talk because "they" are over there, where they don't disturb us.

> Not everyone is owed [...] even eyeballs.

Where to look is up to each pair of eyeballs.

> they... compartmentalize

And that's the key problem. People are more divided than ever, especially in politics, to the point where rational discussion is nearly impossible.

Instead of letting people separate into echo chambers, it seems much better to force everyone to be in the same space, which should result in people hearing each side of an argument. Use moderation to punish people who don't act civilly, which should eliminate the worst offenders.

I prefer things to be self moderated as much as possible, but not to the point where echo chambers can form. Some ideas:

- content gets removed after N reports - users with N reported posts get shadow-banned for some period (exponential scale) - users get N reports, which get replenished faster if reports result in content removal - users that brigade get their reports silently nixed (e.g. you consistently report content along with the same users)

Or something along those lines. Just having an open forum leads to one group out-shouting other groups, which leads to echo chambers. There must be some moderation, but not so much as to recreate the problem a different way.

What? No, we should not force people to share the same space as fascists and racists. It seems ridiculous to have to say it. If I were to encounter neo-nazis in real life, I would not engage in a civil discussion, confident that the police is there to make sure everyone is civil. I would walk away. Online, it's pretty much the same thing. I'm not sure why it's so hard to fathom that most people have more productive uses of their time than hearing what racists and fascists have to say.

You can still walk away, but the key point is that those who do not want to walk away will still hear differing (to theirs) opinions.

I think you want to narrow the overton window. My preference is to keep the overton window wide but have multiple subgroups along the continuum so that the outer percentiles only form small subgroups that don't dominate.

In other words echo chambers are only a problem when they are large and even worse when you have to choose one of two chambers dominated by either extreme. The political analogue would be the 2 party system in the US vs. the multi party parliaments with coalitions and fringe parties that you can find in europe.

I disagree. The small groups, especially the ones with self-amplifying „high echos“ in their groups are the ones (groups or individual members of that group) that easily radicalize. That‘s how terrorist cells, guerillas, and „lone wolf“ aggressors arise (left and right, political and social, agnostic and religious, whatever-you-can-think of extremists). Just check the news of the last months, I mean weeks…er, days!

And I‘m not saying your point about large echo chambers is wrong, it’s quite true (again, see recent news). But the problem is with any kind/size of echo chamber. And „echo chamber“ is a different thing than domain-specific groups like HN – it‘s only an echo chamber when HN is your only source of (tech/entrepreneurial) news/discussions. Note that even where you live can easily become an echo chamber if you rarely break out of it.

>literal Sieg Heil Nazis are people deserving respect

I respectfully disagree.

ETA: Sunlight isn't actually a disinfectant here. If it was, moderation-lite platforms wouldn't be full of fascist trash.

What actually happens is this: 1. Someone makes a moderation-lite platform in response to censorship on mainstream platforms 2. Thousands of awful people flock to the platform, along with two or three principled free speech advocates. Most normal people avoid it because they don't realistically need to worry about being banned from mainstream platforms and they don't want to deal with fascists. (Besides, the racist trolls aren't actually interested in open and respectful discourse. That's a lie.)

Conversely, as mainstream platforms ban more and more viewpoints, it does start to affect "normal people" as well - and that increases the potential userbase for all these alternative services to spring up.

"awful people" As in, people who are inherently awful, cannot be helped, and should therefore be cut out of society. Why stop there? Why not put them in prisons? Fine with that? Why stop there? Why waste resources on trash? Why not incinerate them in some kind of large cooking appliance? :^)

There‘s certainly a risk here but that is why we have laws. E.g. in Germany, showing fascist symbols is forbidden (unless it‘s an educational/historical context). It‘s up to the people and courts to ensure the law is not overstepping the boundaries of free expression, and it‘s up to the executive and judicial branch to ensure people don’t tend to prejudgement.

Oh, goodie, a community where every topic of conversation, no matter how mundane, turns into a "debate" about if [insert group here] are human or not and if it should be ok to own women and why don't we still send Jews to the gas chambers? Sounds like a pleasant place, I can't wait to spend my time there "debating" levelheaded reasonable people who I just "disagree" with.

You're not entitled to have every community be in your image.

It's all fun and "debate" until someone shoots up a synagogue.


Slippery slope fallacy.

No, that's how we got here. We're already below that point on the slope. Fascist trash bins leak, into the real world.

I feel like the cost of having open communication platforms is the existence of toxic communities.

The correct approach (IMO) is to educate people about these rather than to have some sort of censorship mechanism.

That is, unfortunately, unworkable. You cannot successful quarantine toxic people from non-toxic people in the same community. People who aren't toxic rarely want to spend their time around toxic people, and those that don't mind it are usually those who aren't the targets of the toxic people. A community with many members who are openly white supremacists might not be uncomfortable for other white people -- even if they themselves are not white supremacists -- but it's almost certainly unusable for those that are the target of the white supremacists ire. Look at any "open communication platform" that doesn't make any effort to ban "toxic" behaviour and you'll find that the toxic behaviour leaks into every aspect of the platform.

If a website permits members to be openly anti-semitic or racist or sexist then they will be anti-semitic, racist and sexist everywhere, whether that's a quarantined sub-community about anti-semitism, or a community about video games, make-up or curating art for galleries. No amount of education is going to encourage jewish people to spend their time talking to openly anti-semitic people about video games. If you permit toxic behaviour then you exclude anybody who feels threatened by that behaviour.

See my sibling comment. Should we (society) have quarantined and de-platformed homosexuals when they were (historically) considered "toxic"?

You can talk in hand-wavey sound bites about civil liberties that's not the world we've chosen to create, and it's hard to understand how you can earnestly compare racism and homosexuality. Are violent racists oppressed when they're not permitted to deny the rights of minorities, in the same way minorities are oppressed when they're not permitted to exercise their rights? Perhaps when you're philosophising in comments on the internet about civil liberties they're the same but in the real world they are not.

You cannot effectively allow people to individually "filter out" toxic behaviour within a community because toxic behaviour permeates all aspects of participation in a community. The views we hold are fundamental to all aspects of our lives: our lives are built upon our views. A violent anti-semite's beliefs are present in their views on politics, religion, video games, food, housing, travel, science, technology... you cannot effectively "filter out" the fundamentals of someone's view points without neutering their speech -- which is no different from de-platforming them.

A community is a group of people and a group of people is a collection of beliefs, a community is not a bunch of people who use the same website but are intentionally siloed because their beliefs are incompatible. People who favour the PlayStation 4 over the Xbox One can be part of a community with people who favour the Xbox One over the Playstation 4, but can people who wish death upon all jews be a part of a community with jewish people?

But that's exactly what you're doing. You're oppressing them by denying them the ability to speak because you believe (perhaps rightly) that their opinion and way of living is wrong. Would you actually not deny housing to a nazi? Openly fascist people ARE denied jobs, how can you imagine otherwise? "Closet" facists are allowed to have jobs, in the same way closet homosexuals were allowed to have jobs back when homosexuality was considered toxic.

There‘s still a huge difference between „certain people are not allowed to live“ vs. „I want to be allowed to love whomever I chose“. That former group should still not be excluded from certain basic „rights“, at least until they act on their beliefs (but that‘s up to the courts to decide). But again, you are comparing apples to oranges and questioning the moral principles the (at least Western) society is built on.

Anti-semites don't see things that way. They see Jewish people as attacking THEM, denying THEM the right to their way of existence. They might use the same language you use.

You bring up an important point, implementing equal rights does not reduce the rights of those who previously were oppressors, no matter how delusional their thinking is.

> You can talk in hand-wavey (sic.) sound bites about civil liberties

I'm not waving any hands. I'm firmly advocating self-filtering over authoritarian censorship as a means of regulating community content platforms. I am also explaining that I believe my stance is in tune with our guiding political principles in the US because it is the option that does not systemically promote oppression.

> that's not the world we've chosen to create,

What? It is exactly the world we intended to create in the US (you might have missed my caveat, and I noticed your spelling of favor). I'm referencing political philosophy from the federalist papers and from the prior art they're somewhat inspired by. Many of the people who founded the US were religiously oppressed and sought to create exactly a world that would prevent such oppression from manifesting again. It's where the whole separation of church and state comes from.

> and it's hard to understand how you can earnestly compare racism and homosexuality.

I'm not sure I follow. I'm not comparing homosexuality and racism. Where did I do that? But since you mention it, it actually sounds like you might not be aware of the extent to which homosexuals have historically been persecuted, experienced oppression, and had their liberties and even lives taken from them.

> Are violent racists oppressed when they're not permitted to deny the rights of minorities

Violent racists are jailed when they commit acts of violence. They could claim the mere existence of some class is oppressive and not allowing them to eradicate it infringes upon their rights. It's unlikely that strategy would get them anywhere because the right to genocide is not a universally understood and acknowledged human right (in the US, anyway).

Nobody is ever allowed to deny rights that we the people have agreed to defend--it's illegal because it's oppressive--that's the point. We are all supposed to enjoy the liberties we've agreed are core to our constitution, not just those of us who are "right". Saying, "Blacks aren't people" or, "Kill the Jews" does not deprive members of the respective class (or anyone) of their person-hood, or their liberty so we tolerate it even though it's stupid.

> Perhaps when you're philosophising (sic.) in comments on the internet about civil liberties they're the same but in the real world they are not.

I guess the internet isn't real life? If so, why do you care so much about de-platforming and censoring toxic minority views on internet community platforms? Anyway, I do not believe the ends justify the means. I do not support oppression or removal of civil liberties so that we can gosh darn it eradicate those pesky racists. To do so would required us to declare them sub-human (by constitutional definition) and strip them of their liberties and remove them from our communities. "Let's round up all the racists and get rid of them..." That sounds a little -ist or -azi for my tastes.

As to your last paragraph, anyone who thinks xbone is better than PS4 probably isn't human so they never had a chance anyway (;

> “I don't agree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

There are diametrically opposed subreddits, 4chan boards or even twitter feeds. People can definitely coexist. The coexistence is not always easy or 100% free of disturbance but most of the time they work well enough to let each group focus on their own things.

You're confusing platform and community. It's extremely rare that those aren't distinct, HN is one of the only examples that comes to mind.

Yes. To add, with the introduction of a global real-time communication network (the internet), we've also realized you must include mechanisms that make it easy for each individual to filter content so that they have the ability to remove themselves from situations that they consider oppressive, unethical, and/or immoral.

> I feel like the cost of having open communication platforms is the existence of toxic communities.

This topic has been discussed through history by many political philosophers. In the US, it's one of our founding principles. A strict non-unanimous majority rule is by definition oppressive. So how does one craft a society that keeps the majority of people happy while keeping in check the oppression a majority exerts upon dissenting "factions"? You preserve certain fundamental civil liberties and human rights for all your citizens. You do this so that a mere majority cannot infringe upon the liberties of minority groups. On top of that, the civil liberties you choose to universally defend are selected such that they give social agency to members regardless of faction allegiance. A faction may begin to feel oppressed by introduction of an ignorant law or by global change in social outlook (including reinterpretation of existing laws). The response is for the faction to exercise their social agency in order to effect political change that they otherwise don't have the numbers to outright decree.

If you allow people to communicate, some are going to say something "toxic". We pay this price so that as a society we retain a means for oppression to be discovered. Indeed two "toxic" homosexuals one day may be the voice for marriage equality the next.

Then use your exit rights and don’t participate.

And to facilitate the formation of insulated communities that don't interact with each other directly, without altogether removing any but the most toxic of communities from public search results.

It isn't possible, but you can choose which subs where you want to subscribe.

There will be a moderated list of subs (maintained by the main developer), but users will be free to try to find an join even the most controversial ones.

As someone who has spent the better part of their life advocating for openness, decentralization, etc... it pains me to believe this, but I'm not sure we can have both open decentralized communities and simultaneously a community that isn't overrun with toxicity.

If the goal is shitposting and edge-waddling I think it can be done, for a while anyway. However, if the goal is to have a space where discussion is meaningful, good faith, charitable, intelligent conversation, I'm not sure we can currently do this in a completely open way and still maintain a signal to noise ratio where sane people would willfully spend their valuable free time.

In our current iteration of tech, society, education levels, culture, and politics it seems that (so far) every time we create an open space, the moment it reaches a certain level of popularity, the noise levels reach a point where it is pretty much impossible to have meaningful, contextual, and nuanced conversations.

At the point that signal to noise ratio reaches unacceptable levels, we lose a critical mass of the people who made the space "special"

I really hope we can get around this someday, but sadly, so far the absolutist free-for-all spaces really offer diminishing returns for those of us who are busy. Rather than sifting through rubble to find gold, at least for me, I can think of many things I'd rather do than engage in a conversation with someone when there is a higher than average chance they aren't there in good faith and when entire segments of the community exist who are literally only in the space to engage in and spread sophistry.

At least for now, outside of invite only communities or high barrier of entry communities, spaces such as HN or SSC --both of which are largely unknown to the general public-- seem to offer the best blend of openness and time-well-spent conversations. But I'm not sure either of these could maintain the same level of conversation at scale.

If comments by Group B are considered "noise" by Group A, while Group A's own comments are considered "signal" then I would suggest that being unable to maintain a "good" signal to noise ratio indicates that the signal/noise has reversed. The argument you describe is entirely predicated on the fact that you are right (you being whomever) and they are wrong. This is where the breakdown occurs.

what is SSC?


Groups have moderators, users can subscribe to specific mods' decisions.

By getting a large enough userbase, and not repeating the cycle by banishing unwanted opinions.


paid unique usernames? I can foresee a lot of blackmail happening using this.

The app wasn't able to load a list of communities in ~15 minutes. Will test when a better version is available.

I found that on first run, the results returned were blank. Restarting fixed that.

>Introduction: What’s Aether?

>Aether gives you fresh, new content about the things you’re interested in.

>You can create a community for your friends, or for strangers that are interested in similar things. All communities are public, and everyone can write to any community. (There’ll be communities restricted to certain people, but we’re still working on that for now.)

>If you’re familiar with Reddit, Slashdot, or Usenet, it’s pretty similar. Aether does a two main things differently though. The first is that it’s ephemeral. The content disappears after a while. The other is, the communities are democratic, they elect their own leadership.

I hate these non-definitions. You've told me a lot of things, but I still don't know what is aether. Is it a website? a service? a protocol? an API?.

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