On values and rules of LibreHosters


A recurring discussion is on what type of entities should be allowed to be part of the LibreHosters Network and how we should guide those decisions.

This discussion started at the founding meeting Amsterdam and a general consensus seemed to go around the focus on values (e.g. usage of free software, transparency, contribution to the commons, etc.) rather than rules (e.g. capping incomes, being commercial/non-commercial). Nevertheless, there is a lot to do and discuss here, because even values such transparency are hard to define and govern.

This discussion was again happening on a LibreHosters matrix channel. We find it more appropriate to continue discussing in this thread. Here is a summary of some of the debate points:

  • commercial/non-commercial, profit/non-profit

    • for profit/commercial entities can be part of the librehosters network when they are aligned with the values of the network.
    • for-profit/commercial entities were not explicitly of the table. More weight was giving if the entity was following the values
    • consensus on something like not being driven by market logic or commercial values, but still allowing for-profit and collectives that do go into the commercial market.
    • for profit entities were allowed but MUST follow the values. its not a choice i think
    • concern that a commercial entity can apply bigger marketing tools because they have a budget (pay influencers, produce viral videos, whatever new inventive way to make people consume they come up with) that might lead to a hollow out the librehosters movement (sell out)
    • for profit entities were allowed but MUST follow the values. It’s not a choice.
    • on one side, initiatives struggling with funding, giving back upstream and not commercially driven and on the other side commercially driven, claiming “don’t be evil” but hollowing out open source projects.
  • define rules or enforce transparency?

    • its possible we end up with a wage relativity requirement or similar still. which could also block those sorts of entities a bit
    • Or amount of profits must go to upstream projects?
    • how can any of these be controlled? And do we want to control such things at all?
    • rather focus on the transparency - and defining what is to be transparent: json file is a start, we can add more required attributes there as we go
    • if an entity can join the LH network more weight/focus will be given if an entitiy is yes or no following the values and less weight/focus if the enitiy is not/for profit.
    • this may also be an interesting cooperation partner for addressing how we include/exclude based on transparency and accountability: https://webtap.princeton.edu/
  • controlling?

    • how can any of these be controlled?
    • do we want to control such things at all?
    • better to attempt with values than with defining tonnes of rules
    • ‘controlling’ would fall under the yet-to-be-determined governance model
  • test cases as input for discussions and as quality check

    • a company like google but instead of their revenue model being ads (and making their users the product) their revenue model would be selling hosting services with a very high quality. They respect the values but they become a monopoly because everybody just pays for their awesome services.
      • counter-argument: a company like google would have their business model relying on processing and selling of private data of their users. Would be easily excluded with value setting
    • duckduckgo have ads, but don’t track personal search history: https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-revenue-generation-model-for-DuckDuckGo


This also seems like another good topic to discuss irl at congress (with voip possibilities).


Yes, please don’t make Congress too much of a decision center since many won’t be there. If you’re planning for VoIP, also plan to use this platform and the pads so remote participation can work – although I suspect I might be hiking in the mountains at that time. :slight_smile:

Thank you @gandhiano for summarizing the discussion in Amsterdam.


Of course, this is the main place for the conversation. irl is useful for having in depth conversations around the subjects that would risk veering offtopic strongly in linear threads. Decision making would not be the aim, and everyone here should be able to be involved and also track outcomes here rather than chasing them up all over.

Its likely this subject is too broad for a single thread and will become a number of discussion threads here over time on the various aspects mentioned in the post above. Especially the values will each need some more definition and perhaps a thread for each set of values or a values category could be a useful starting point for that.