GNU consensus' Frequently Answered Questions

GNU consensus is an umbrella project to facilitate coordination of free software social networking projects to encourage freedom, privacy, public space, and decentralization.


What are you going to do, concretely?

Our intent is to bring people around the table, and figure out a common strategy to reach our common goal: user freedom, and empowerment through free software.

We believe that the SWAT tests came with good intent, but were a bit too large a scope, and too specific. We want to propose simpler tests, that do not impose a pre-defined vision of the business logic of social networking software, but build on simple concepts, one at a time.

The starting point is "Hello, world.", or: A should send a message to B saying "Hello, world." We leave to the coders the choice of the technology, and let them report what they used to achieve this basic inter-operability. In this first test, we're not interested in all the gory details of identity, objects, messaging, etc. One baby step at a time. The first step is to start working together.

In other terms, we want to transition from a barely working federation, to a complete inter-operable federation, and from there transition to a fully peer-to-peer implementation. That is an omni-directional endeavor, and we need to reach a consensus for that.

Are you crazy?

"You're never gonna survive, unless... You get a little crazy!"

Where is the code?

Please have a look at our Stakeholders page.

Why do you recommend GPLv3+ and AGPLv3+?

We want to ensure that every stakeholder invests their energy knowing that everyone else is working for freedom. We don't impose the GPL on our partners. Some use Expat License, others the Apache2 License. But all do work for freedom.


You're promoting federation: isn't it what Faceboogle want?

We're promoting federation as a transitory state toward true peer-to-peer social networking. Facebook is monitoring a billion users. They need to break free.

You're promoting OStatus federation: isn't it broken? Why not use <insert your favorite protocol here>?

OStatus was a good start. Many prominent free social networking projects support it. New promising protocols are appearing, such as,, and new experiments are made, such as, and the Smallest Federated Wiki, etc.

We hope they all will be willing to work together to define ways to inter-operate.

Isn't federation flawed? How can I trust a commodity server?

In that sense, yes. You can't trust a server controlled by a third party. That's why we're looking at peer-to-peer solutions in the long run, and promote user control of their data, and end-to-end, secure solutions.

But not all use-cases require that amount of privacy. Federation makes a lot of sense for affinity groups, public contents, and local communities. We don't believe in one-size-fits-all.

We're expecting to work with the Freedom Box Foundation to reach a critical mass of users so that "commodity servers" reach our homes at an affordable price. Obtaining a legal protection of our own data, for the sake of the constitutional privacy of our homes, is an integral part of the strategy.


What's the problem with Facebook?

Schrödinger's cat is alive, or dead: nobody knows until an observer actually opens the box. In any case, the cat is never free.

Cousin Avi: Open the cat.

Bullet Tooth Tony: What do you mean "open the cat"?

cat | open
Couldn't get a file descriptor referring to console

Any Question?

Please send your questions to the mailing list.