RFC: which projects are you interested in?

it's a new year – a new decade – and I decided to start it right by getting serious about some of my hobby activities. as a result, I revamped Volatile { .onion .i2p .ano } with a new site design (mimicking wowana.me's design because it's pleasant and simple) and information about the project going forward. you can see the full details on the information page { .onion .i2p .ano }, but the summary is: Volatile used to be a loose collection of services, and going forward I figure this is not the best approach. it means I cannot improve those services, and they remain mediocre. I want to improve those services, make them attractive for others, and for that I need a sustainable source of funding to drive the project forward. I'm doing this with the help of Volatile's new Open Collective, which allows people to donate, be recognised for their donations, and seeing how funding is used toward the collective.

along with Volatile, I also have personal projects that I've been putting off for far too long. I'm too ambitious for my own good, and having these projects pile up just ends up causing me stress, because I never think I have enough time to finish what I want. this combined with the fact that it's difficult for me to find a job (not due to a lack of trying), makes me concerned about where I should place my efforts in order to help me in life.

basically, all of this boils to one common thing: incentive. while I would love to work on my hobbies full-time, the prospect of doing so is complicated by the fact that I need money to live.

so, I'll pose this article in the form of a question to my readers: what would you be interested in seeing me bring into fruition? which projects would benefit you specifically, if I were to set everything aside and see a project to completion?

I hate asking for handouts, and I don't believe this is what I'm doing here; I've had people offer me small rewards in exchange for me completing something, but I've rarely been able to see those rewards through, either because of funding complications (I cannot accept fiat currencies easily) or because the one-time rewards would never have helped me to cover living expenses moving forward.

what I'm really asking here, is if you wanted to pay for something, what would you pay for? this input will help me put things into perspective a bit. I'm still hunting for a job, but I feel like it's good to explore other options in parallel, to have some sort of fallback and hopefully gain something out of what I actually enjoy doing.

below, I will enumerate what I have in mind to work on. it's a lot of things, but I would greatly appreciate if you reached out to me if anything catches your eye, or if you have suggestions for me going forward.


provided by the links in the introductory paragraph, you should have an idea of what I currently offer via Volatile and what I plan to offer in the future. just as a recap, I currently offer E-mail, XMPP, Matrix, Git, and ZNC to existing users only as a hobby. I have not yet opened up registration to any of them, because they are not in a state of readiness for the general public. but, I plan to work on them, add single sign-on for them, and offer them to those who donate to Volatile, as well as those who express a good-enough reason to wish to use the services. basically, pay what you want, which I believe is a fair enough model to at least cover hosting/maintenance costs as well as have buffer for expanding services.

as explained on the website, I also want to see other services through, such as Searx, Nextcloud, forums (mailing lists and/or NNTP), an issue tracker that would best-complement git, and alternatives to ZNC. for now I think sourcehut is in better shape for git, mailing lists, and bug trackers; so likely I will work on those at a later point in time. I am not going in precisely the same direction as sourcehut, but I do recognise them as a viable alternative to GitHub and GitLab. and as far as Searx, I'm not aiming to start just another Searx instance; I want to actively develop the project and add search engines that both I and others would use.

if there's anything that I didn't mention here but is still something you would want to see, and it's in the general spirit of decentralisation (think getting away from Google or working on peer-to-peer solutions), and you think it has promise – please let me know. chances are it's even crossed my mind but I just haven't listed it.

personal projects

aside from Volatile, there are also some things I wanted to work on in my own time.


possibly my most ambitious is achlys, a multiprotocol chat client for power users. I do not currently have a proper introductory web page or readme for achlys, but I can quote from the doc/Introduction file that I wrote:

It's a chat program with powerful design goals: - Modularity. The core code only has enough to load modules, access configuration, run the event loop, call hooks, and parse commands. The I/O and chat protocols are handled in loadable modules, allowing users to use only the functionality they need. - Scriptability. Since the core handles command parsing and much of achlys' functionality is built off scripts, the language needs to be powerful, intuitive, and domain-specific. This is a chat program, not a general-purpose scripting environment, so it makes sense to incorporate IRC-style commands and extend them a bit to be more natural and powerful to use. - Power usage. Achlys is designed ground-up to accomodate my messaging needs. After years of using various IRC and IM clients, I have realised they are all mediocre for how much time I spend in these programs. I use them to talk to friends and keep up on software development. Why can't my chat client be as natural and as powerful as my text editor? Why do I need to use a different program for each account? Why do I need compatibility shims such as ZNC and bitlbee when it could be built-in to my client?

I aim to solve issues with achlys that will hide some of the usability issues in popular chat protocols, because I have begun to realise that it doesn't matter what platforms I use anymore. they all suck, and it only matters where the communities are. so, I figured my efforts were best placed on the client-side of things. I want to support IRC, XMPP, Matrix, and more – all with one coherent interface. I want CLI, GUI, and a mobile app; and I want each interface to maximise its respective strengths. I want to offset the need for installing several mediocre clients just to talk to my friends and communities; I want one to rule them all.

others have expressed interest (along the lines of I'll try it out when it's finished) but I want to know the answer to the question: am I the only one who needs a client like this? am I the only one who cares about having a high-performance, intuitive client? or are there others out there who have been quietly waiting for the same thing?

web browsing (and native versus web apps)

I have also expressed complaints with the state of the modern web, how current desktop browsers all suck, how JavaScript is ruining everything. I've had interest in developing or assisting with:

online threat mitigation

this probably should end up being described as one of Volatile's proposed services but it's more than that, really. for a while now, CloudFlare and other proprietary, centralised solutions have ruled the (D)DoS mitigation market and claimed to be the forefront for web security and performance. but, I want to prove that FOSS can conquer in this market as well. I have wanted to provide people with the software, information, and services to combat abuse of online infrastructure. as someone who is steadfast against using CloudFlare, I would benefit from this as well.

I feel this is perhaps the most applicable project especially for those who want to dogfood FOSS on their entire stack, but simply don't have the methods to entirely do so. let me know if you wanted to ditch CloudFlare but still need a plug-and-play solution to counteract abuse, and tell me exactly what it is you look for in services like this.

again, I'm placing my ambitions on the table for everyone to see what I want to do. I want to see if I can make anything out of my ambitions, my hobbies, in order to reap the rewards from something I enjoy doing. something I can do to feel like I'm actively improving the world, rather than wasting my time.

this was also a good way to introduce what I'm doing with Volatile, and I hope that with this article, you may have gained interest into what I'm doing. if you have, you're free to join our community chat { .onion .i2p .ano } via IRC or Matrix, and ask questions, give suggestions, or just idle and hear what others are talking about. I really want Volatile itself to become something more – a platform for projects and services that can accomplish something toward online freedom and decentralisation.