ActivityPub: The “Worse Is Better” Approach to Federated Social Networking

In the modern day, myself and many other developers working on libre software have been exposed to a protocol design philosophy that emphasizes safety and correctness. That philosophy can be summarized with these goals:

  • Simplicity: the protocol must be simple to implement. It is more important for the protocol to be simple than the backend implementation.
  • Correctness: the protocol must be verifiably correct. Incorrect behavior is simply not allowed.
  • Safety: the protocol must be designed in a way that is safe. Behavior and functionality which risks safety is considered incorrect.
  • Completeness: the protocol must cover as many situations as is practical. All reasonably expected cases must be covered. Simplicity is not a valid excuse to reduce completeness.

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