Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

> Resilience is provided by the protocol being simple enough to implement in a weekend, in your language of choice. Platform lock-in is impossible, since any client can republish any note to a different relay if one misbehaves or enacts a disagreeable policy.

That's a wonderful sentiment but we said the same thing about the web and email and both are effectively controlled by large companies.

Twitter is centralized due to being the creation of a single company, but that's not the fundamental problem.

The web and email got effectively centralized because distributed protocols create problems of search, filtering, abuse, identity, community continuity, etc. You can't easily solve them in a distributed way, and even if you _can_, you can't easily get everyone in the network to upgrade. Hence, providers arise that say "We're Nostr, only better!(tm)" or "We're the best way to find what you want on Nostr!" and they work on locking in their customers.

If you want to be resilient to monopolization you have to show how you're going to solve those other problems.




> The web and email got effectively centralized…

Woah there. I don't agree with this. The web is certainly not centralized (this is on Hacker News and not Facebook, right?) It follows a power law distribution where you have some players getting lots of traffic and then there are lots and lots of small traffic sites. But it's definitely decentralized.

_Google_ is something of a monopoly providing some of the features you list for the web at large, but there are others (Duck Duck Go, Bing) that are just a click away.

Gmail took a huge share of the email market by being a better product for the first several years of its existence (and being free also helped). That doesn't mean email is centralized: I've been using Fastmail for the last several years and it works _just fine_. I don't have the problems you list.

Anyhow, I agree with your point that a decentralized _social network_ needs to solve the problems you're listing. I just think the web and email are actually examples of technologies that remain decentralized.


Here here!

As a web developer, I think we've figured out maybe 1% of what the web is good for & capable of. There's still so much possibility, so many options, that any given person can go off & explore & play around with & succeed on. The field has never been more open for, more ready for new exciting possibilities, better set to start changing if we can make a real authentic honest outreach to users, that is a fair shake from tech, & not leaving cloud-giants holding all the cards & us with a couple magic beans.

The doom & gloom look at the macro of what the web is is really sad. It's a constant pity party. The ability to control & shape our information spaces to our liking & pick our paths has never been higher, has only gotten better as more protocols & standards, focused at purer social networking levels than the web medium at large, have arisen.

As a developer, it's been a one way street with us crafting better and better means of web development and deployment every single year, and what we're excitingly starting to see is more genuine & personal involvement not just with creating sites, but with creating interconnection, creating interlink, creating intermedia, not just on one big property, but across many voices. Nostr highlighting the idea of a relay, that who we relay is a vote of amplification, is semi-covert social commentary on picking your traffic, on selecting what gets to get shared out. There's no headier better more promising time than today (and the web continues to be the premier delightful connectable blank slate from with which to experiment & iterate).


Email is centralized in the sense that you might run your own server/domain but if Google decides you are bad and stops federating with you you might as well not exist. Who are you going to exchange mail with if most people are on Gmail?

That’s very different than Google banning your account where you can just switch to Bing for search.


Fair point, though I suspect that Google not accepting mail from a particular provider without good reason would cause a bit of an uproar.

I definitely wouldn't recommend that folks try to run their own mail servers, so it's true that email is more consolidated than the web.


A big topic of conversation at nostrica (nostr's first conference) last month was how to maintain decentralization. One of the biggest concerns was having a client or relay provider build features outside of the protocol to gain market share and enable them to lock-in users.

You are correct that there is no easy solution to these problems. There are draft NIPs that attempt to solve many of the problems you've described. You're welcome to join us in the conversation and work with us to try and solve these hard problems!

https://github.com/nostr-protocol/nips/pulls

PS- I don't think the web is effectively controlled by large companies. Email is a different story though. Hopefully we can build nostr to be more like the web than email.


Maybe nostr needs a Law of Jante/tall poppy lopper - any client or relay that gets too special gets blacklisted/punished by all the other clients/relays (to the extent possible through the protocol). Sorry if that is in a NIPS, there are 84 in that link and I can't read through them all.


To be clear: I am the submitter not the author. The link is just something I stumbled across while browsing ReclaimTheNet.


I think your "effectively controlled" is mostly meaningless.

There's orders of magnitude of difference between "started off as scattered and big companies now do a majority of the maintenance" vs actually CENTRALIZED, like Twitter.

My website and my email, from my domain, both exist generally as equals without any meaningfully strong influence from google or whatnot, e.g. censoring my website would be a practically completely different thing from the ridiculous mess that Twitter is becoming (if it isn't already.)


Email is not "controlled" by large companies. People choose to use large companies and let them read their emails because they are stupid. Email has not evolved in any way BECAUSE its NOT controlled by some company. If Google could, they would do even more evil with email that "just" reading all your mails.

To compare Twitter with email makes absolutely no sense. Yes Twitter is a totally controlled thing by a single company, email is not. You could say it for the web when it comes to net neutrality and where it does not exist anymore ...


What percentage of your reach do you lose if google blacklists your domain?


Not everyone needs "reach"¹. In my case, if Google blacklisted my domain, worst-case scenario would be a handful of people who wouldn't get my emails, and I'd have to reach them by other means. I'm actually dealing with this right now², except with AT&T instead of Google, and all that's lost is my ability to email my grandpa.

More realistically, even when Google "blacklists" a domain, it typically just means emails from it end up in spam. "Check your spam folder" is sufficiently disseminated advice-wise that it ain't really all that big of a deal in practice whether Google arbitrarily decides my mailserver doesn't look sufficiently legitimate. If Google's taking measures more extreme than sending emails to Spam, then it's almost certainly because the server operator is doing something horribly, horribly wrong - like "running an open relay" levels of wrong.

----

¹: I'd go further and argue that any emails from domains operated by people who actually do care about "reach" probably should be rejected and/or sent to Spam/Junk - namely, because they largely are spam/junk. Hell, I'd go further than that and say that I know of precisely zero domains which both care about "reach" and refrain from sending junk mail. I do know of plenty of domains that think they're special snowflakes whose unsolicited marketing fluff emails are totally legitimate and not at all spam and therefore it's totally unfair that their "reach" metrics are below 100% because of those big meanies and their spam filters. Needless to say, I take their complaints about their "reach" with a Dell PowerEdge R750 sized grain of salt.

²: Actually more severe than the usual case with Google, since AT&T does outright refuse to deliver mail from servers it doesn't like - and despite mine appearing on no blacklists of any sort, and despite AT&T repeatedly denying in various support fora that it maintains any blacklist of its own, I get hard bounces from their servers, and complete silence when following the very support processes said bounce emails describe. Oh well.


*silence*


FYI: comments like yours are more effective when posted at least a day later, lest they end up looking silly when the "silence" is eventually broken - as it is now.


It is still very effective, it took you a day later to respond to the parent.

OP Comment: 25 April 2023, 00:41:52 AM

Yours: 26 April 2023, 03:18:06 AM

I was expecting a response much earlier than that since the answer is very obvious. Instead you decided to come up with a typical anecdote which can easily be dismissed.

The main fact is, almost everyone knows that you lose LOTS of users emailing you once a provider like GMail blocks you as it is the most used email provider. [0]

[0] https://mailchimp.com/resources/most-used-email-service-prov...


> It is still very effective, it took you a day later to respond to the parent.

My apologies for not being terminally online.

> Instead you decided to come up with a typical anecdote which can easily be dismissed.

Which is fair, but

1. It still makes your "silence" comment look premature, and

2. If even I can still get mails delivered to GMail inboxen as an ordinary person running a personal mail server, an actual (legitimate) business should have no trouble with that whatsoever, and

3. There was more in that comment besides the anecdote, and your decision to dismiss it out-of-hand - much like your decision to prematurely declare the existence of "silence" on a topic - does not reflect charitably on you.

> The main fact is, almost everyone knows that you lose LOTS of users emailing you once a provider like GMail blocks you

Do you have any examples of GMail blocking its own users from sending an email to a domain it doesn't like? Like I mentioned in the other comment: it's more typical for it to be the other way around, and more typical than that for it to be a soft block (mail going to Spam) than a hard block (hard bouncing of mail).

Unless you've got such an example, calling that a "fact" (let alone the main one) would make Elastigirl pull a muscle; like sure, that'd indeed be pretty thoroughly inconvenient, much like it'd be inconvenient if Behemecoatyl took over my mind and compelled me to shut down my mail server, but I'm unaware for much (non-fictional) precedent for either. Even in my anecdotal case where AT&T does indeed hard-bounce emails from me to my grandpa, my grandpa can still send me emails just fine.


> My apologies for not being terminally online.

So says the one with 9000+ HN points, sitting here for a decade and still commenting here every. day.

There's no need for you to apologize for making me laugh at you for not being able to look at the time and it's clear you're very upset over the *silence* comment.

> 1. It still makes your "silence" comment look premature, and

Premature to what? The answer is obvious to everyone and the link I gave earlier already explains the amount of email users one would lose if they were filtered and blacklisted from Gmail which is the whole point of the parent's comment.

If I were to collect lots of emails for a newsletter, I can guarantee you that most of them will be Gmail users and if my domain was blacklisted by Gmail, my reach will be significantly limited, either having it being sent straight into the spam folder or even outright blocked by Gmail by the advanced spam filters.

> 2. If even I can still get mails delivered to GMail inboxen as an ordinary person running a personal mail server, an actual (legitimate) business should have no trouble with that whatsoever.

But most people still go with centralized services as outlined by the article I gave earlier, and they don't run their own email services either. What if this 'actual (legitimate) business' is using GSuite, Exchange, etc which has the same anti-spam checks and blacklists as well?

> Do you have any examples of GMail blocking its own users from sending an email to a domain it doesn't like?

It has been known that GMail has a so-called 'dangerous url' list(s) to prevent its own users from sending emails to domains on their blacklist. [0] There are countless reports on social media which GMail blocks the sending of emails from such domains. Once example: [1], and another [2].

In both cases either way, the centralized email providers get to decide what goes through their spam filters and blacklists and that negatively affect those running their own email servers and trying to reach users that are on centralized email providers like Gmail. Henceforth such problems like this [3].

So in conclusion: Your reach will be significantly limited if you do not pass Gmail's spam filters (or any other of the major email providers filters) and users don't run their own services because: (1) They are not techies or sysadmins, (2) Even if they were they can't deal with the insurmountable spam issues and (3) They would rather sign up to a managed solution on a centralized platform than maintain it themselves. Hence this again: [4]

[0] https://support.google.com/mail/troubleshooter/2696779#ts=92...

[1] https://twitter.com/rk_namo/status/1027469262556778497

[2] https://twitter.com/Marcia_Cat/status/1196387907172364295

[3] https://www.theverge.com/2022/10/13/23403259/google-gmail-re...

[4] https://mailchimp.com/resources/most-used-email-service-prov...


Rebuttal/response to/of your comment/thought/input. From the Wiki -

I ran across Nostr when I was looking for an excuse to do some network programming. I have a thing for small standards, and the Nostr spec was 75 lines of exactly what I was looking for.


> That's a wonderful sentiment but we said the same thing about the web and email

Really? Web browsers, web servers and mail servers are beasts. I don't see them being 'simple enough to implement in a weekend, in your language of choice'


Not now but in the beginning they were. The first version of HTML was basically just a hack that glued an SGML parser to the NeXTStep text view control. The web didn't support inline images because the NeXTStep control TBL used didn't support it. Then companies like Netscape came along and started adding features. The rest is history.


The identity is controlled by a cryptographic key on the client side so even if you get kicked of a server you and whoever is in contact with you can just grab your data from other relays.




Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: