Response to Larry Sanger: What Decentralization Requires.

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Earlier today I have read a brilliant article titled What Decentralization Requires by Larry Sanger who is an accomplished intellectual, co-founder of Wikipedia, and an author of Essays on Free Knowledge. The article outlined principles and proposed requirements for decentralization in social media platforms. When I read it first time, immediately I was thinking of how it was describing what Hive blockchain does. Feel free to click the title of the article above and read the article yourself. If you do let me and Larry know what you think, and if Hive indeed is doing what is described in the article.

I did let Larry know on Twitter that article was great and it describes what Hive does. He wasn't convinced, which made me doubt myself and I read the article again. I came to the same conclusion. I am fascinated by the article. So, I decided make a post responding to the article and why I feel Hive does most of the things described in the article. Article is structured with explaining principles first and then the requirements for decentralized social media. I will follow the same structure and respond with my thoughts.

PRINCIPLES

1.Self-ownership

On Hive blockchain/network we attribute self-ownership to account ownership. Each user or participant of the Hive blockchain/network must have an account. Once account is created, the person in the possession of the private keys is the only owner of the account. Nobody else owns that account. Nobody else can sign transactions, be it social or financial transactions from that account. Nobody can alter or delete that account.

Using this account owner/user can present their identity to the network as they choose. Some choose to be anonymous, some don’t. It is a personal preference for each user.

With this ownership comes the responsibility for the owner to secure their private keys and keep them secure. Hive has several features that make keeping account secure easier. One of those features is each account has 5 private keys:

Posting key – used for social actions such as posting, commenting, voting.
Memo key – used to decrypt private transfer memos/messages
Active key – used for financial transactions/transfers
Owner key – used to reset all other keys. It is recommended to keep it offline at all times.
Master key – can be used instead of posting, memo, or active keys. Not recommended.

Moreover, Hive has an account recovery feature. To create an account on Hive, we need an account, which means somebody needs to create an account. Creating account on Hive blockchain costs small amount of credit resources or Hive tokens. That’s why transactions should be singed from an existing account. Usually, Apps, platforms, and games offer account creation for free for new users.

In case an account is compromised or keys are lost, using account recovery feature the account that created the account can help in recovering the account.

2.Data ownership.

While all social actions like posts, comments, upvotes, downvotes are all stored in the blockchain and publicly available to all, the ownership of the data belongs to the account owner. Only the account owner can publish posts, make comments, edit or delete them. When editing and deleting, once thing should be kept in mind is that original data would still be available in the blockchain, since data stored is immutable.

3.Platform-independent following.

Just like any other actions, following action can only be done by the account owner and only the account owner can follow, unfollow, or mute other users/accounts. All the followers of the account automatically follow the user/account on all platforms, apps, games as long as they are within the Hive network. Hive is an open source software, and is an open network. Any Apps, platforms, games can connect the blockchain and start implementing the use of the userbase and their following.

Hive already has a large and healthy ecosystem of Apps, platforms and games. The ecosystem keeps growing and any new Apps and platforms that connect to Hive automatically inherit the userbase with their following and followers intact.

4.Platform-agnostic posting.

On Hive we have general blogging platforms like hive.blog, peakd.com, ecency.com, Dapplr mobile app, etc. Posting in any of these platforms will automatically be displayed on others and same as posting on any of them. This creates a competition among these platforms to deliver a better user experience.

In addition to these platforms, we have community or interest-based Apps and platforms like leofinance.io, stemgeeks.net, stem.openhive.network, neoxian.city, ctptalk.com, sportstalksocial.com, etc. These platforms may not display all the posts from an account, but rather focus on the posts relevant to the community and the interest. However, all posts published on these platforms will still be available on platforms that display all posts. All data is stored on the same Hive blockchain.

There are games on Hive like Spliterlands, Dcity, Brewmaster, Rabona, etc. Video sharing Apps like 3Speak, and streaming platforms like Vimm.tv, microblogging apps like d.buzz. There are also services like dblog.org that help content creators to create personal blog website while still being connected to Hive ecosystem.

5.Decentralized moderation.

Hive has a unique way of appreciating content. Authors get monetary rewards for their posts and comments from Hive blockchain based on the result of upvotes and downvotes. Posts and comments have 7-day window for network participants to evaluate and cast their upvotes or downvotes. At the same time those who upvote also receive some upvotes. In the simplest terms 50% of the rewards go the author, and the other 50% distributed to those who upvoted based on their upvote weight and hive power (stake in the network). There is some gamification in place like those who discover under-rewarded posts first and upvote earlier than other may get higher rewards. There are author rewards and curation rewards. Crowd wisdom and stakes decide which posts get rewarded how much.

At the same time, since participants of the network have skin in the game, they would prefer the blockchain resources/rewards used for the benefit of the network and its growth. Any abusive behavior, plagiarism, illegal content, etc can be downvoted and deprived of the potential rewards. Some front-end Apps/platforms may also choose to make posts with negative rewards to be hidden. Even in those instances, there is a button that would make those posts visible if the user chose to see.

Usually higher reward posts move higher in trending page. All of these upvotes and downvotes rely on the participation of the users in a decentralized fashion. There are no central companies or entities that can unanimously decide on rewards distribution.

There is also communities feature on Hive. Anybody can create a community and users can choose to subscribe and unsubscribe from the communities. Moderation for communities is for the community admins, moderators, and members to decide.

6.Single conversation.

This sounds like the communities we have on Hive. People can create or join communities based on their interests and the community itself can assign roles to members, mute members, and moderate the discussions and content shared. How big the conversation is, I guess, would depend on participation and engagement.

7.Anti-monopoly.

Hive uses Delegated Proof of Stake protocol for governance of the blockchain, approving/disapproving community proposals, rewards distribution from Decentralized Hive Fund to work done to benefit the platform. There is no single entity that controls Hive. There is no single person who controls Hive. It is a truly community driven blockchain/network.

In fact, Hive was born as a result of a hostile takeover by Justin Sun when we were on Steem blockchain. Community fought against centralization and monopoly by a single company, by a single person. That’s why we have forked out and started Hive blockchain. Decentralization is our goal. It is not an easy task. It is not a state. It is what we advocate. It is what we promote. It is what we are building.

There is no company that can dictate governance on Hive. Governance of Hive, development on Hive, and where it’s heading is decided by the community in a decentralized fashion based on DPOS.

I believe nobody can take over the Hive blockchain to establish monopoly, which would require very large amount stakes. Even if someone attempted to do so, it would drive underlying asset price so high, it would become impossible.

REQUIREMENTS

1.User exportability.

The Hive blockchain is open and available for anybody. Users can easily export their data with running simple scripts. We have a vibrant and knowledgeable community of developers who are usually available to help. I have experimented with python a little bit and know exporting my posts can easily be done with python script.

Hive also has HiveSQL service run by a community member and provided for free. Users can export their data or any data on the blockchain using this service as well.

As users have full ownership of their accounts, they also have responsibility how to export their data to other platforms or personal websites if they choose to. There are plenty of tools and APIs available to accomplish such tasks on Hive.

2.Data exportability.

Same answer as above for data exportability. However, exporting followers would only be possible if the platform is within the Hive ecosystem or platform is connected to the Hive blockchain. For example, if you would choose to export your data to a personal website, you would also need to continue to be connected to Hive blockchain for your followers to be able to login using same account credentials and perform social actions.

If you chose to stay connected to Hive blockchain, there would be no need to export data either. Data can simply be streamed from the blockchain.

3.Interoperability.

This would require platforms to connect to the Hive blockchain. This requirement is the main one I believe there is much more work can be done on Hive in the future to create bridges with other decentralized networks. For centralized platforms, they will have to make the decisions to be part of the decentralized network by implementing Hive blockchain solutions.

4.Data inalienability.

I think I covered this requirement above responding to self-ownership and data ownership. Data is stored in the blockchain. It is immutable. Only the owner of the account can post, edit, or delete.

5.Moderation.

Users can choose which communities to join or not, which content to view or not on Hive. Users can easily mute accounts and never see their content on their feed or elsewhere until user decides to unmute. Hive Communities can decide themselves who will have what roles such as admin, moderators, etc.

6.Text representation.

I talked about this in data exportability that user data can easily be exported in json format using various APIs or services like HiveSQL. One more thing to add is that I believe data is stored in json format in the blockchain and can be retrieved in json format.

Moreover, simply adding .json at the end of a post or comment url in the browser will convert the post or comment to a json format right on the browser. You may try it on this post. Add .json at the end of the url and see what happens.

This method can be used to get basic user data as well. For example hive.blog/@geekgirl.json will show my data in json format.

7.Permanence (or uncesorability)

I am not sure why you don’t trust blockchain , it does make decentralization possible. Especially when applied to web applications, games, finances, and social media networks. User data stored on the Hive blockchain is immutable and nobody can delete it.

I tried to express my thoughts how the article described what Hive does and its ambitions to decentralized web, apps and gaming. I am sure I failed to answer some parts, or forgot to mention others. Building on Hive is ongoing and it is really not easy to keep up with all.

I do want to mention one of the best aspects of Hive. It is the Hive community. We have a vibrant global community from all corners of the world, from all walks of life. That is what makes Hive the truly the best.

I hope Larry Sanger will give Hive a try and find out for himself how awesome this place is and what a great potential it has to change the web towards more decentralized future that empowers ordinary people doing ordinary things in an extraordinary fashion.

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