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      1 # RFC: which projects are you interested in?
      2 <!--[time 202001280505.55]-->
      4 it's a new year – a new decade – and I decided to start it right by
      5 getting serious about some of my hobby activities. as a result, I
      6 revamped [Volatile](altnet:// with a new site design
      7 (mimicking [](/)'s design because it's pleasant and simple) and
      8 information about the project going forward. you can see the full
      9 details on the [information page](altnet://,
     10 but the summary is: Volatile used to be a loose collection of services,
     11 and going forward I figure this is not the best approach. it means I
     12 cannot improve those services, and they remain mediocre. I want to
     13 improve those services, make them attractive for others, and for that I
     14 need a sustainable source of funding to drive the project forward. I'm
     15 doing this with the help of Volatile's new [Open
     16 Collective](, which allows people to
     17 donate, be recognised for their donations, and seeing how funding is
     18 used toward the collective.
     20 along with Volatile, I also have personal projects that I've been
     21 putting off for far too long. I'm too ambitious for my own good, and
     22 having these projects pile up just ends up causing me stress, because I
     23 never think I have enough time to finish what I want. this combined with
     24 the fact that it's difficult for me to find a job (not due to a lack of
     25 trying), makes me concerned about where I should place my efforts in
     26 order to help me in life.
     28 basically, all of this boils to one common thing: incentive. while I
     29 would love to work on my hobbies full-time, the prospect of doing so is
     30 complicated by the fact that I need money to live.
     32 so, I'll pose this article in the form of a question to my readers: what
     33 would *you* be interested in seeing me bring into fruition? which
     34 projects would benefit you specifically, if I were to set everything
     35 aside and see a project to completion?
     37 I hate asking for handouts, and I don't believe this is what I'm doing
     38 here; I've had people offer me small rewards in exchange for me
     39 completing something, but I've rarely been able to see those rewards
     40 through, either because of funding complications (I cannot accept fiat
     41 currencies easily) or because the one-time rewards would never have
     42 helped me to cover living expenses moving forward.
     44 what I'm really asking here, is if you wanted to pay for something, what
     45 would you pay for? this input will help me put things into perspective a
     46 bit. I'm still hunting for a job, but I feel like it's good to explore
     47 other options in parallel, to have some sort of fallback and hopefully
     48 gain something out of what I actually *enjoy* doing.
     50 below, I will enumerate what I have in mind to work on. it's a lot of
     51 things, but I would greatly appreciate if you [reached out to
     52 me](/contact.xht) if anything catches your eye, or if you have
     53 suggestions for me going forward.
     55 ## Volatile
     57 provided by the links in the introductory paragraph, you should have an
     58 idea of what I currently offer via Volatile and what I plan to offer in
     59 the future. just as a recap, I currently offer E-mail, XMPP, Matrix,
     60 Git, and ZNC to *existing users only* as a hobby. I have not yet opened
     61 up registration to any of them, because they are not in a state of
     62 readiness for the general public. but, I plan to work on them, add
     63 single sign-on for them, and offer them to those who donate to Volatile,
     64 as well as those who express a good-enough reason to wish to use the
     65 services. basically, pay what you want, which I believe is a fair enough
     66 model to at least cover hosting/maintenance costs as well as have buffer
     67 for expanding services.
     69 as explained on the website, I also want to see other services through,
     70 such as Searx, Nextcloud, forums (mailing lists and/or NNTP), an issue
     71 tracker that would best-complement git, and alternatives to ZNC. for now
     72 I think [sourcehut]( is in better shape for git, mailing
     73 lists, and bug trackers; so likely I will work on those at a later point
     74 in time. I am not going in precisely the same direction as sourcehut,
     75 but I do recognise them as a viable alternative to GitHub and GitLab.
     76 and as far as Searx, I'm not aiming to start <q>just another Searx
     77 instance</q>; I want to actively develop the project and add search
     78 engines that both I and others would use.
     80 if there's anything that I didn't mention here but is still something
     81 you would want to see, and it's in the general spirit of
     82 decentralisation (think getting away from Google or working on
     83 peer-to-peer solutions), and you think it has promise – please let me
     84 know. chances are it's even crossed my mind but I just haven't listed
     85 it.
     87 ## personal projects
     89 aside from Volatile, there are also some things I wanted to work on in
     90 my own time.
     92 ### achlys
     94 possibly my most ambitious is achlys, a multiprotocol chat client for
     95 power users. I do not currently have a proper introductory web page or
     96 readme for achlys, but I can quote from the `doc/Introduction` file that
     97 I wrote:
     99 > It's a chat program with powerful design goals:
    100 > - Modularity. The core code only has enough to load modules, access
    101 >   configuration, run the event loop, call hooks, and parse commands.
    102 >   The I/O and chat protocols are handled in loadable modules,
    103 >   allowing users to use only the functionality they need.
    104 > - Scriptability. Since the core handles command parsing and much of
    105 >   achlys' functionality is built off scripts, the language needs to
    106 >   be powerful, intuitive, and domain-specific. This is a chat
    107 >   program, not a general-purpose scripting environment, so it makes
    108 >   sense to incorporate IRC-style commands and extend them a bit to
    109 >   be more natural and powerful to use.
    110 > - Power usage. Achlys is designed ground-up to accomodate my
    111 >   messaging needs. After years of using various IRC and IM clients,
    112 >   I have realised they are all mediocre for how much time I spend in
    113 >   these programs. I use them to talk to friends and keep up on
    114 >   software development. Why can't my chat client be as natural and
    115 >   as powerful as my text editor? Why do I need to use a different
    116 >   program for each account? Why do I need compatibility shims such
    117 >   as ZNC and bitlbee when it could be built-in to my client?
    119 I aim to solve issues with achlys that will hide some of the usability
    120 issues in popular chat protocols, because I have begun to realise that
    121 it doesn't matter what platforms I use anymore. they all suck, and it
    122 only matters where the communities are. so, I figured my efforts were
    123 best placed on the client-side of things. I want to support IRC, XMPP,
    124 [Matrix](, and more – all with one coherent
    125 interface. I want CLI, GUI, and a mobile app; and I want each interface
    126 to maximise its respective strengths. I want to offset the need for
    127 installing several mediocre clients just to talk to my friends and
    128 communities; I want one to rule them all.
    130 others have expressed interest (along the lines of <q>I'll try it out
    131 when it's finished</q>) but I want to know the answer to the question:
    132 am I the only one who *needs* a client like this? am I the only one who
    133 cares about having a high-performance, intuitive client? or are there
    134 others out there who have been quietly waiting for the same thing?
    136 ### web browsing (and native versus web apps)
    138 I have also expressed complaints with the state of the modern web, how
    139 current desktop browsers all suck, how JavaScript is ruining everything.
    140 I've had interest in developing or assisting with:
    142 - native alternatives to web apps (including the fediverse)
    143 - alternative lightweight browsers (such as netsurf)
    144 - alternative web-browsing paradigms entirely – basically, instead of
    145   rendering HTML and CSS, you could have a domain-specific parsing
    146   language to pick out content from websites that you're actually
    147   interested in seeing. think <q>reader mode</q> in firefox but tailored
    148   for the entire web.
    150 ### online threat mitigation
    152 this probably should end up being described as one of Volatile's
    153 proposed <q>services</q> but it's more than that, really. for a while
    154 now, CloudFlare and other proprietary, centralised solutions have ruled
    155 the (D)DoS mitigation market and claimed to be the forefront for web
    156 security and performance. but, I want to prove that FOSS can conquer in
    157 this market as well. I have wanted to provide people with the software,
    158 information, and services to combat abuse of online infrastructure. as
    159 someone who is steadfast against using CloudFlare, I would benefit from
    160 this as well.
    162 I feel this is perhaps the most applicable project especially for those
    163 who want to dogfood FOSS on their entire stack, but simply don't have
    164 the methods to entirely do so. let me know if you wanted to ditch
    165 CloudFlare but still need a plug-and-play solution to counteract abuse,
    166 and tell me exactly what it is you look for in services like this.
    168 ----
    170 again, I'm placing my ambitions on the table for everyone to see what I
    171 *want* to do. I want to see if I can make anything out of my ambitions,
    172 my hobbies, in order to reap the rewards from something I *enjoy* doing.
    173 something I can do to feel like I'm actively improving the world, rather
    174 than wasting my time.
    176 this was also a good way to introduce what I'm doing with Volatile, and
    177 I hope that with this article, you may have gained interest into what
    178 I'm doing. if you have, you're free to [join our community
    179 chat](altnet:// via IRC or
    180 Matrix, and ask questions, give suggestions, or just idle and hear what
    181 others are talking about. I really want Volatile itself to become
    182 something more – a platform for projects and services that can
    183 accomplish something toward online freedom and decentralisation.