social computing/distributed

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Distributed social computing is social computing which is does not depend on a single server or operator; it can continue to operate even if some of the servers on which it is hosted are taken off the internet for any reason.


Synonyms for "distributed" in this context include "decentralized", "peer-to-peer", and "federated". "Social computing" may also be referred to as "social networking", and a social computing application may be called a "social network", although those terms have slightly different meanings; see social computing.


The primary goals of distributed social computing are:

  • to prevent concentrations of arbitrary power, which is prone to abuse (see issuepedia:Google+/policy/naming)
  • to ensure that the social network can survive various events:
    • server failure
    • company failure
    • domain name seizure
    • internet connectivity disruption

Given that each node in a distributed network helps satisfy these goals, we will want to maximize the number of different implementations of the network. Any design for distributed social computing software should therefore be platform-agnostic.



  • Diaspora (site): this software appears to be somewhat more difficult to install, so I have not yet installed it. One criticism is that it was written by inexperienced student programmers who have not built in adequate security; another is that it seems to have burned through its startup funding (obtained through and lost momentum, so it may be on its way out -- although interest in distributed social networking has revived considerably in the wake of the Google+ "Real Names" fiasco. --Woozle 21:31, 18 August 2011 (EDT)
  • Friendika appears to be fairly far along, and successfully connects to Facebook, Diaspora, and supposedly Twitter.
  • Serverless (you have to install an app):

In Testing

These both provide a server running the software (partly as a demonstration, partly for testing, and partly as a fallback for those who don't want to install the software themselves) and also provide the software. So far, all known distributed social network services and software are provided for free, as it would be very difficult to impose a fee without driving users away.

  • Synereo (official) is in closed development as of 2015-02-10, but will be open source when released.

Under Development

Apparently Defunct

  • Appleseed (site): this purports to be distributed, but after installing it and playing around with it for a few minutes, I can't see how to connect it to other nodes. This may be a feature to be added later. Other features did not seem to be working correctly. --Woozle 21:31, 18 August 2011 (EDT) Now redirects to a Wikipedia page. --Woozle (talk) 07:55, 14 January 2017 (EST)
  • Safebook (site) is especially privacy/security conscious Site is a domain squatter as of 2017-01-14.
  • StatusNet (site) appears to be designed for federation, and also supports OAuth/OStatus Site is a domain squatter as of 2017-01-14.


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