I’d like to +1 the idea of implementing ActivityPub in Discourse. Initially, it could be a plug-in, like the Pterotype plug-in for WordPress, so those Discourse communities who want to experiment with it can do that. The results of those experiments could inform discussions about whether to make it a core feature.
In order to post this comment, I had to set up a new account here and use email or a datafarm (GH, gOgle, Titter etc) to confirm my email address. Even though I’ve been a good citizen on many Discourse forums over the years, I’m treated by this system as a first-time Discourse user (handholding UI, limits on links in comments etc).
Some of the potential benefits of federated Discourse:
- once I have an account on one Discourse forum, that could be my posting identity on any other (unless I want a separation of concerns). I don’t need to create a new account (and profile etc) for every forum I want to post in.
- my posting reputation can be aggregated across all the federated Discourse instances I post in. This is useful information for locals when I start posting on a new instance, whether I’m a good citizen, and bad one, or a vanilla one. It also means each new forum can recognize my Discourse experience level, and If I’m a good lad, I don’t have to start from scratch with posting permissions every time.
- Discourse can use other Discourse instances in the federation as third-party identity providers, instead of advertising corporate datafarms on the login page
Is there any web-federated system at scale that has actually worked, become popular, and is actively in use?
There’s a growing number of federated web apps, see the curated lists at fediverse.party. One instance monitoring site has data for nearly 3 million user accounts across all the federated web apps, of which about half were used to post something in the last 6 months, and about 500,000 in the last month. Many others may be lurkers who are reading but not posting.
So far, most are micro-blogging apps like Mastodon. But there are also apps for video-sharing (PeerTube), photo-sharing (PixelFed), blogs (write.as, Plume, and the Pterotype plug-in for WordPress), events (Mobilizon), pastebin (Distbin), and more. Thanks to standards like ActivityPub (also the Diaspora protocols and Zot), not only do they all federate within instances of their own software, but they can also federate with instances of other software using the same federation standards.
If anyone is interested in working on an AP plug-in for Discourse and looking for guidance, there is a Discourse forum at socialhub.network where developers from different projects compare notes about implementations, discuss ways to improve inter-operation and UX across instances and apps, and share related news.