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                                                             on Gopher (inofficial)
   URI Visit Hacker News on the Web
       
       
       COMMENT PAGE FOR:
   URI   WhatsApp and most alternatives share the same problem
   DIR   text version
       
       
        ymolodtsov wrote 2 days ago:
        The problem is that federated protocols and platforms don't really
        evolve that well with a few exceptions. We had XMPP and it died. Then
        WhatsApp and Telegram showed us what truly modern messengers could be.
        When you can't make a change at the client level you won't be able to
        advance.
        
        So, even if you believe Matrix is the future and
        Signal/WhatsApp/Telegram have a drastic flaw, we couldn't get here
        without them.
       
        harry8 wrote 2 days ago:
        I wonder if signal ever really came under serious attack whether Moxie
        has a plan he's sitting on to decentralise it with its existing
        userbase?
        
        Of course people want to use these things with their phone. That's kind
        of 99.999% of the point. Apple and Goog have shown they control what
        the general population runs on their phone. Any doubt about their
        ability and willingness to unilaterally enforce that without due
        process and without even a full and thorough justification at a
        moment's notice has been removed along with parler from the app/play
        store. The sudden change in censorship stand in line with the democrats
        views happened exactly when it became clear the democrats were going to
        have control.
        
        They're coming for signal and will use domestic terrorism as the
        wrapping paper. There might be also some "think of the children" and
        "Isis terrorism" involved so be sure to be ready to be accused of being
        a sympathiser white supremacist, islamic terrorist, pedo is if you like
        your messaging private /because/ you /must/ have something to hide!
        (From people who work at a building that celebrates J. Edgar Hoover -
        how could you want to hide anything from them?)
       
        shmerl wrote 2 days ago:
        Agreed, decentralized and federated IM should really replace the
        horrors of walled gardens that remain in the dark ages to this day. But
        common greed and unscrupulous developers prevent progress. We are very
        lucky e-mail managed to break through this.
       
        throw7 wrote 2 days ago:
        I only use SMS/RCS, for the walled garden reason.  The other reason is
        is I can't stand the "social media" feature of having yourself
        broadcasted to all your "friends/contacts" the moment you join: HEY
        look everyone, your good buddy is here!  Absolutely the worst.
       
        zelphirkalt wrote 2 days ago:
        I usually see being connected to FB, the most notorious offender of
        data protection, as one major issue of WA. Not sure how the
        alternatives share that problem.
       
        toUser5 wrote 2 days ago:
        To most users Matrix is a walled garden under computer expert influence
        
        The only difference between any of them to the end user is some are
        privately funded/operated
        
        As technical inventions they’re all black boxes most users won’t
        understand
        
        Am I to audit all the code to make sure some Matrix node hasn’t
        figured me out?
        
        All blog posts like this do is reiterate for me that as clever as their
        understanding of a particular abstraction, programmers are opinionated
        humans looking to manipulate based upon the perception their insight is
        somehow better, like everyone else
        
        Someone somewhere can figure out who you are because you merely use a
        technology. It can all be traced back to a purchase or a manufacturer
        or a radio tower
        
        Pretending software can hide physical reality is weirdly cognitive
        dissonant
       
        scotty79 wrote 3 days ago:
        I think we dropped the ball by awarding copyright protections
        unconditionally.
        
        We should try to imitate patent protection and award copyright
        protections only if and for as long as software author publishes full
        description of the file formats and network protocols his software
        uses.
        
        That was idea with patent protections. You get protection on the
        condition that you disclose details of your design to enable
        interoperability by future inventors, manufacturers and users.
       
        eluusive wrote 3 days ago:
         [1] does not suffer from these problems.
        
   URI  [1]: https://stampchat.io
       
        flas9sd wrote 3 days ago:
        One-on-One chat windows, Group Rooms - the representation itself is
        very similar in most messengers. People wouldn't care about having
        multiple messengers installed if they only need to thumb one launcher
        icon. I think "non-agenda" oriented platforms like Signal and Matrix
        would be in a position to allow for such interfaces to be called up
        from.
        
        As with mail desktop app interfaces, chat-window design patterns have
        solidified on handhelds.
        
        I read about Beeper and am eager to learn about its inner workings, but
        what about platform support that the messenger Apps can open up to?
       
        bikamonki wrote 3 days ago:
        Sadly, only governments can break monopolies.
       
        haolez wrote 3 days ago:
        Kind of off topic, but why is Matrix better than XMPP? Genuine
        question. Just curious.
       
          ezst wrote 3 days ago:
          As of today, XMPP has a more diverse ecosystem of clients and servers
          implementations, that makes it much more versatile and resilient.
          
          Matrix addresses the theoretically interesting issue of distributed
          chatrooms, which makes the protocol and its implementation very
          complex and inefficient… while not adding much in practice (that's
          only my opinion, but I think this self-inflicted complexity has done
          nothing but a disservice to Matrix)
       
          Zash wrote 3 days ago:
          They're just subtly different. Why is X better than Y?
       
        netfortius wrote 3 days ago:
        Isn't this a known trajectory for all such [solutions]: ease of use,
        multi-platform, originally advertised privacy and security concern,
        critical mass gain ==> sell / be acquired (latter requiring a little
        extra $$$ effort from the acquirer part) to FB/Google/Amazon/etc.?
       
        mercacona wrote 3 days ago:
        “Walled gardens” are worth for stuff like communications. No one
        likes to speak in X and being “hacked” by someone that knows how to
        trick the speech so people will understand or see a different message.
        
        The downfall of email is a byproduct of “smart-ass” clients that
        add spy pixels, scheduled messages, automatic reminders, Rich HTML
        emails that looks horrible on mobile, etc.
        
        An standard protocol, and a standard app, is good for the people who
        just wants to communicate something with someone; may be hackers
        doesn’t get it, but I’m happy some like moxie does.
       
        annadane wrote 3 days ago:
        In fact, didn't Facebook when they bought Whatsapp remove some of the
        interoperability features? Very in line with the scumbags they are
       
        ComodoHacker wrote 3 days ago:
        To be fair, Telegram's protocol is open and there are many open-source
        clients with their established userbases. There's even a separate team
        at Telegram developing an official alternative client (Telegram X) to
        foster competition. Also, there's Matrix-Telegram bridge in
        development.
        So the article's point is only partially applicable to Telegram.
        
        >Why does everybody wanting to exchange messages need the same client?
        
        Why not go a step further and ask why everybody need the same protocol?
       
          ezst wrote 3 days ago:
          Would that bridge not require you to hold a telegram account? If not,
          then that's some true federation there, and they have my respect and
          praise (as an XMPPer).
       
            ComodoHacker wrote 3 days ago:
            You can't post anything to Telegram without an account. No bridge
            can change that.
       
              ezst wrote 3 days ago:
              Then Telegram is no better than other silos, and just slightly
              better than the worst of them in the sense that it lets you use a
              (puppet) third party client.
       
        GekkePrutser wrote 3 days ago:
        Yep Matrix FTW! It's really where we should be heading as it solves
        much more fundamental issues with IM than just the lack of privacy.
       
          zaik wrote 2 days ago:
          We are already there with XMPP.
       
        ppf wrote 3 days ago:
        They don't mention the other issue - Whatsapp and similar are, if
        anything, the worst form of social media. You have shallow
        conversations that dribble your attention away throughout your entire
        day, yet you have not gained any meaningful interaction.
       
          Retr0spectrum wrote 3 days ago:
          I don't know how to phrase this without it sounding unnecessarily
          mean, but maybe you're just talking to shallow people?
          
          Other than platforms with character count limits like Twitter, I
          don't see why the platform itself should have much affect on the
          depth or meaningfulness of conversations.
       
            ppf wrote 3 days ago:
            The textual content of a conversation is the tip of the iceberg in
            the information that is shared during a face-to-face conversation.
            
            If you include "face to face" in your "platforms", then it
            absolutely blows anything else out of the water in terms of depth
            and meaningfulness of conversations (on average).
            
            I left Whatsapp (and Signal) a few weeks ago, and feel like a
            better human.
       
          Strom wrote 3 days ago:
          This does not match my experience at all.
          
          There's no limit to the amount of text I can send and it's not
          ephemeral. Thus there's really nothing preventing me from typing out
          thoughtful messages, which I do.
          
          As for attention, anything can suck away attention if you let it. I
          don't find WhatsApp (or other similar chat apps) to be any worse than
          e-mail or snail mail. I look at them when I want to and no more.
          Again, there's no real rush, because the messages aren't ephemeral.
          [1]
          
          There are social media sites that truly lead towards shallow
          conversations, like reddit where a quick joke gets more upvotes, or
          twitter where you have a tiny character limit and your message gets
          immediately drowned by everyone else's latest angry tweet.
          
          What's more, I've seen plenty of shallow conversations face to face.
          Thus I think it depends very much on the specific human to human
          match whether they will have any meaningful deep conversations. If
          the humans are capable of it, they can do it on WhatsApp as easily as
          face to face. [2]
          
          --
          
          [1] Unless of course you specifically configure them to be ephemeral,
          e.g. in Signal.
          
          [2] Yes I realize that face to face has the benefit of body language,
          but WhatsApp has the benefit of remoteness and asynchronicity. Thus
          I'll call it a wash.
       
          iamben wrote 3 days ago:
          But on the flip side I have shallow conversations that dribble my
          attention away throughout my entire day.
          
          The first time I worked for myself - pre social media - was really,
          really lonely. This pandemic and lockdown is really, really lonely.
          
          I can silence my phone, I can turn the screen away from me. I can
          focus when I want to. But it's truly a blessing knowing I have
          WhatsApp groups with friends just bantering away throughout the day.
          Doesn't have to be meaningful, it's just great having that "water
          cooler" interaction.
       
            ppf wrote 3 days ago:
            That should frighten you. If Whatsapp went away tomorrow, would you
            have any friends?
       
              iamben wrote 3 days ago:
              I would, in exactly the same way I had friends the first time I
              was working from home. There's precisely nothing that stops me
              calling any one of them and having a "proper catch up". But
              sometimes we just need background chatter. Friendship is not
              defined by membership of a WhatsApp group.
              
              So no, it doesn't frighten me in the slightest.
       
        bjarneh wrote 3 days ago:
        > Sadly it’s not really used yet
        
        This is so hard to overcome. Many problems have technical solutions,
        but are still almost impossible to implement due to all sorts of other
        obstacles.
       
        antihero wrote 3 days ago:
        "Why does everybody wanting to exchange messages need the same client?"
        
        Gee I don't know, maybe standardisation has some sort of benefit that
        leads to a cohesive, consistent experience for all users as opposed to
        having a bunch of clients that all implement varying levels of the spec
        to various standards...
       
          cheph wrote 3 days ago:
          > Gee I don't know, maybe standardisation has some sort of benefit
          that leads to a cohesive, consistent experience for all users as
          opposed to having a bunch of clients that all implement varying
          levels of the spec to various standards...
          
          Supporting only one application is quite the opposite of
          standardization, it is vendor lock in. If it was standardized it
          would open up the opportunity to have more than one client.
       
        patrickaljord wrote 3 days ago:
        The problem with WhatsApp and Signal is that even though it's e2e, it
        uses your phone number as id which is the least privacy friendly id
        they could have picked.
       
          xenonite wrote 2 days ago:
          Well, use Threema then.
       
          alexmingoia wrote 3 days ago:
          It’s also impractical for digital nomads like myself who don’t
          use phone numbers at all. I haven’t used Signal, but what do I do
          if every X months I have a new phone number? Will it still work if I
          swap SIM cards?
       
            Marsymars wrote 2 days ago:
            Not having a stable phone number seems impractical in general.
            (e.g. You can’t set up 2FA for Apple or Google accounts without a
            phone number.)
            
            More practical is porting a regular number to a SIP service so that
            you can receive important things via app. (2FA short codes
            typically don’t work with numbers that are assigned to SIP
            providers, but work fine you you port over a number from a regular
            carrier.)
       
              alexmingoia wrote 2 days ago:
              Apple doesn’t require 2FA. I don’t have a Google account. All
              my accounts with 2FA use an Authenticator app. 2FA with SMS is
              insecure. If an account needs a phone, I use whatever number is
              in the SIM I’m using, and then it becomes outdated when I get a
              new SIM.
              
              It’s not practical to pay for a static phone number and SIP
              service. Phone numbers are stupid. They’re insecure, expensive,
              and region locked (no such thing as international number, many
              services only support numbers with specific country code).
       
                Marsymars wrote 2 days ago:
                > Apple doesn’t require 2FA.
                
                They do if you want to be able to log in to any of Apple’s
                developer portal.
                
                > It’s not practical to pay for a static phone number and SIP
                service.
                
                It’s cheap to the level of being negligible. Exact cost
                depends on what number you want to get, but I’ve got a North
                American number that after initial SIM and porting fees is
                indefinitely zero-cost.
                
                I wish we could do away with phone numbers. I’ve tried to do
                without, and found it impossible.
       
            Strom wrote 3 days ago:
            Not sure about Signal, but you can definitely change your phone
            number on WhatsApp. You will show up as a different person (with
            the same name) for other people though. The real effect of it is
            that the chat history will be split between these "persons" for
            others.
       
            perryizgr8 wrote 3 days ago:
            Whatsapp has an option to change your number.
       
            GekkePrutser wrote 3 days ago:
            It will, but you need to keep the sim card with the old number
            topped up so it doesn't expire, in case you ever need to log in
            again. The only way is to receive a text or call on that number,
            just like whatsapp.
       
        maxwellito wrote 3 days ago:
        The reason people move out of WhatsApp : to leave Facebook data
        collection.
        
        People are happy with walled gardens. Look at Apple success.
       
          comeonseriously wrote 3 days ago:
          People (normals) are happy with software that just works. If Apple's
          software stopped "just working", people would leave.
       
        CJefferson wrote 3 days ago:
        I really sympathise with this point of view, but when it comes to
        messaging with family and friends, I just don't really care. Matrix
        seems to want to be an IRC replacement rather than a one-to-one /
        small-group chat app. That's fine, but often not what I want.
        
        Teaching my mother in law to use Signal:
        
        Install. Accept permissions. Choose a PIN. I can send you messages. You
        can see your friends who already use Signal. Well done!
        
        Matrix:
        
        When you start you will get to choose from [matrix.org], swirly symbol
        "element matrix services" (the biggest and middle option, but not the
        one you want), or other.
        
        Choose matrix.org (nothing else, or we will get very confused). Then
        click "sign up". Then enter a username and password (need a username
        which no-one has used before, you can't use your email address. Make
        sure to remember it).
        
        Oh, but do put your email address in the next page, which is how people
        in practice are going to find you.
        
        Bonus feature: How do you join a room? Click on it. How do you leave?
        Maybe long-press the room name, or swipe? Nope, you enter the room,
        click on the triple dots, settings, scroll down, leave room.
        
        Bonus feature 2: Once you join a popular room, all users of that room
        are added to "Known users", making the list completely without value.
        How do I actually find people I know?
       
          forgotmypw17 wrote 2 days ago:
          The funny thing is that IRC is the last system which needs
          replacement. It's frustrating to see FOSS projects force-switch
          support communities to from IRC to Matrix, because IRC works great
          and has a lot of existing software, while Matrix requires a new,
          heavy client with tons of usability issues and few alternatives. (If
          you don't think there are usability issues, I challenge you go
          through the entire installation, registration, and connection process
          without using your pointing device, keyboard only.)
          
          For example, one browser's devs have decided to stop using IRC for
          support. That's OK, people can still hang out on IRC if they want to,
          right? Nope, they closed #browsername using the ban-on-join method,
          and if you don't know to look for ##browsername, the unofficial
          support channel, you're left with having to install yet another
          software package just to reach the official support channel?
       
          dvdgsng wrote 2 days ago:
          Or she could use OAuth with an existing login from Google, Apple,
          Facebook or even Github and Gitlab, if she fancies that more.
       
          upofadown wrote 3 days ago:
          >Install. Accept permissions. Choose a PIN. I can send you messages.
          You can see your friends who already use Signal. Well done!
          
          Sure but that does not in any way take away from the point that
          siloed messengers are a bad idea. If the XMPP/Matrix people wanted to
          they could set up a trusted third party server to link identities to
          phone numbers just like Signal does. They could even claim to use
          some sort of hardware enclave to do it. You could at that point
          create clients that were functionally identical to Signal but that
          worked on the respective federated networks. Heck you could probably
          do that with encrypted email and no one would much mind any added
          latency.
          
          When people are talking about messaging systems that do not
          interoperate they are complaining about the underlying protocols.
          Client useability is a whole other discussion. I think there is a
          tendency to confuse the two in this sort of discussion.
       
            rakoo wrote 2 days ago:
            >  If the XMPP/Matrix people wanted to they could set up a trusted
            third party server to link identities to phone numbers just like
            Signal does
            
            Signal is even simpler: they use the phone number as the
            identifier. So you could have an XMPP server with a given domain,
            and your phone number as your login. The whole SMS dance for making
            sure you own the number.
            
            That already exists: [1] . And yet it doesn't seem to have
            attracted that many people. I don't think it was an issue of
            usability though, it is not so far from Signal, but a publicity
            one.
            
   URI      [1]: https://quicksy.im/
       
            mixedCase wrote 3 days ago:
            > Sure but that does not in any way take away from the point that
            siloed messengers are a bad idea.
            
            Well, too bad! Usability trumps idealism when network effects are
            at play.
            
            > If the XMPP/Matrix people wanted to they could set up a trusted
            third party server to link identities to phone numbers just like
            Signal does
            
            Usability is so bad that you're defending Matrix and don't even
            know this is already available, just has terrible UX.
            
            Chat protocols don't matter at all if the final product isn't
            something grandma can easily use. Element has many of the pieces in
            place, but it needs go further.
            
            I say this as I use Matrix. I've set-up Matrix for my SO and family
            just to talk to me, you know, like a bastard. I want Matrix to
            succeed.
            
            But it's not going to happen unless it can match tit-for-tat the
            usability of things like WhatsApp or Telegram, even if that means
            having defaults that geeks find "icky", like railroading the user
            into a single instance (and hiding non-matrix homeservers in a
            corner), defaulting to using the phone number as an account without
            passwords, and auto-joining to an identity server.
       
              sorunome wrote 3 days ago:
              Have you tried other clients than Element yet? For phone, you
              could e.g. try FluffyChat or Ditto, and for Desktop you could try
              e.g. nheko or mirage
       
                mixedCase wrote 1 day ago:
                Thanks for the suggestions, I wasn't aware of either of them.
                
                Ditto has a dead website and it's not on the Play store,
                there's a link on its repo but it's dead. APKs are not viable
                for mainstream use.
                
                And I just tried onboarding someone on FluffyChat, and as of
                right now, it's non-viable as well. During the process I have
                to go back and forth between web browser and application which
                completely went over my mother's head despite the textual
                instructions, and when it's set-up it defaults to Matrix
                usernames instead of doing automatic contact resolution using
                an identity server.
                
                On the other hand, the UI is pretty nice and fits in well with
                native apps, if the app had a more serious, bland branding and
                a tamer color palette it would be up to task UI-wise.
       
              sceox wrote 3 days ago:
              Because Matrix allows any number of clients to be made, it's
              entirely possible for one client to do the things you list at the
              same time as other clients don't for the reasons you mention.
              
              If I had to guess, it won't be Element, it will be a new client
              preconfigured to some (not matrix.org) server.
       
                UncleMeat wrote 2 days ago:
                But they don't exist. "Someday, there will be a client that
                will make the signup process simple" is not a great argument
                for my mom when I'm trying to text her my holiday plans.
       
                sanderjd wrote 2 days ago:
                But why would anyone do it? What is the incentive to invest the
                resources into building an application with a good UX? This is
                why businesses win: aligned incentives.
       
                  chrisco255 wrote 2 days ago:
                  Same reason. You can build a business on top of the Matrix
                  protocol. You could create a slick UI and charge $5-$10 for
                  it. You could insert ads. You could add micropayments,
                  crypto, etc... whatever the market wants.
       
                    forgotmypw17 wrote 2 days ago:
                    Here's an idea, for anyone reading this to run with.
                    
                    Sell account packs, say 50 accounts for 10 bucks. Or maybe
                    10 accounts for 5 bucks. Or maybe 20 accounts for $30 a
                    year? Adjust it for both sustainability with your tech
                    model, I dunno about that.
                    
                    But the idea is to minimize the number of payments required
                    per account and per network, and allow one person to pay
                    for their entire group.
       
                      kitkat_new wrote 2 days ago:
                      Doesn't Element do this already?
                      
   URI                [1]: https://element.io/plans-and-pricing/pro
       
                        forgotmypw17 wrote 1 day ago:
                        Thanks! It looks like it does. This is validating, and
                        cheaper than I estimated.
       
          the__alchemist wrote 3 days ago:
          I still can't figure out how to verify my log in, or make the popups
          asking me to verify go away.
       
          BubuIIC wrote 3 days ago:
          > How do you leave? Maybe long-press the room name, or swipe? Nope,
          you enter the room, click on the triple dots, settings, scroll down,
          leave room.
          
          Long press sure works in a recent version of element-android. (And I
          remember that being the case for a long time, but might be mistaken
          here.)
       
          sweden wrote 3 days ago:
          While Element.io still has some UX points to improve upon, I wish
          people would be a bit more honest about the state of Matrix clients
          and less fatalist.
          
          There are other alternative Matrix clients that implement an
          experience closer to Whatsapp than Element, like Fluffychat.
       
          agumonkey wrote 3 days ago:
          if the matrix guy can read this, it's important, make things mean and
          lean.. not overly powerful to the point of alienating the mass
          market. Maybe have an expert mode for that.
       
            dosenbrot wrote 3 days ago:
            This. Using the app should be dead simple - with a default server,
            a default username, maybe even a pre set password (bound to the
            phone number or whatever, I'm not a fan of this but they all do it
            this way) and a feature adding contacts via link, qrcode, or
            phone-number. And then there should be a button for expert-mode
            giving you the complicated setup you want - choosing your own
            server, name, password and whatever.
       
          EGreg wrote 3 days ago:
          “I just don’t really care” sums up why all well-meaning
          attempts I have seen to switch Web 2.0 (the social Web) to open
          source have failed.
          
          Web 1.0 has Wordpress, Magento and a slew of other things. But for
          Web 2.0 people expect a growing number of real-time services, slick
          and easy to use, these days they all added audio chatrooms and video
          calls etc. Everything has to be super reliable, etc.
          
          It would take years to build a suite of components (chatrooms,
          events, managing subscriptions and notifications etc.) that could
          rival Facebook / Telegram / WhatsApp.
          
          I would like to think we did it at Qbix. But we are still playing
          catch-up to the big boys.
          
          User adoption will only come when something is good enough to be used
          as what’s currently out there.
          
          But once it comes, it has so many advantages: host where you want,
          configure components how you want.
          
          If you’re interested, look at the links in my profile.
       
          indymike wrote 3 days ago:
          "I just don't really care." (Comparison of matix.org and Signal
          follows)
          
          It's a lot easier when everyone is using it already. Federated and
          distributed chat has been really elusive, and that's surprising given
          that chat has been around forever. This article was interesting
          because it was about the core problem: how to get a bunch of diverse
          systems to support a standard mail protocol and is suggesting the
          protocol behind matrix be used, and not necessarily some
          implementation of a client.
       
          GekkePrutser wrote 3 days ago:
          If your mother in law can't even pick a username and password, how
          will she shop on Amazon, sign up with Google, book a flight? Most
          other mobile apps require you to sign up for an account too. And it
          bypasses the big problem of having to use your phone number (though
          you can already add it if you want for people to easily find you!)
          
          In regards to the UX of Elements, I think it's not great either but
          it's not the only matrix client. That's the great thing about Matrix.
       
            forgotmypw17 wrote 2 days ago:
            > If your mother in law can't even pick a username and password,
            how will she shop on Amazon, sign up with Google, book a flight?
            
            Here's a clue: Millions of people go about their lives without ever
            doing any of these things.
       
            amelius wrote 2 days ago:
            Yes. Also we should stop preferring X only because it is slightly
            more convenient or shiny, when there are alternatives which are
            better in more important ways.
       
            dep_b wrote 3 days ago:
            Yeah there's an SDK and a Kit, so the SDK just gives you the basic
            building blocks in terms of data and the Kit gives you some of the
            screens. But at least on iOS it all looks a bit outdated so I'm
            only using the data layer.
            
            BTW aren't you on tweakers as well?
       
            drcongo wrote 3 days ago:
            > And it bypasses the big problem of having to use your phone
            number
            
            To the vast majority of people this is a feature, not a problem.
            You sign up to WhatsApp by installing the app, that's pretty much
            it. Once it's installed, you can message anyone else you have a
            phone number who happens to have the app.
            
            You also don't need a username for Amazon, Google or booking a
            flight, and you certainly don't need to try to find out what
            someone else's username is before you can message them on WhatsApp.
       
            cosmodisk wrote 3 days ago:
            He's got a point tbh. We are having family members who are just
            about manage to operate WhatsApp. To talk about them booking
            flights or shopping on Amazon is the equivalent of flying to Mars
            tomorrow. I reckon there are tens if not hundreds of millions of
            users who just about manage to answer a call or reply to a message.
            An average HN reader is probably 0.01% in terms of understanding
            how to use tech, but there's 99.99% of others that not quite there
            yet.
       
              GekkePrutser wrote 3 days ago:
              But how do they pay their taxes? Sign up for electricity or a
              mobile phone? Literally everything now requires an electronic
              account somewhere.
              
              I now have 200+ accounts in my Password manager. Sure, I know I'm
              part of the 0.01%. But I can't imagine that there's anyone who
              does own a smartphone but still has less than 10 online accounts
              somewhere :) You just need them for too many basic necessities of
              life these days.
              
              It shouldn't be so much of a barrier, and if it is, they probably
              need help even with setting up Signal or Whatsapp too. After all
              that requires a google play or apple account to install from the
              store too.
       
                cosmodisk wrote 3 days ago:
                You see, that's the problem that you find it difficult to even
                comprehend that some people are like this. I often find myself
                thinking I'm clueless about computers just to slap myself in
                the face seconds later, as a reminder that the absolute
                majority on this planet is nowhere near my level. Even in
                professional environments, people struggle to do so many things
                tech related but unless you are one of them, you just assume
                everyone knows it. In some fields it's the opposite, where
                people tend to be arrogant because they think they know stuff
                everyone else has no clue about. Every time I meet a doctor and
                I throw in some phrases rarely used outside medical field, they
                immediately ask if I'm a doctor, because suddenly I stand
                somewhat higher in their eyes.
       
                alvarlagerlof wrote 3 days ago:
                They don't do it themselves
       
                drcongo wrote 3 days ago:
                You don't need to know someone else's username when paying your
                taxes, signing up for electricity or using a mobile phone.
       
                CJefferson wrote 3 days ago:
                In my experience they ask their children and grandchildren,
                which has become significantly harder during the pandemic.
       
                joshuaissac wrote 3 days ago:
                > But how do they pay their taxes?
                
                Have the employer or pension provider deduct any applicable
                taxes, and the rest gets paid to the payee. If they do not live
                in a country where that happens automatically, they could still
                hire a local accountant.
                
                > Sign up for electricity
                
                Can be done by phone. But if they already have electricity in
                their home, then even that is not necessary.
                
                > or a mobile phone?
                
                This can still be done in store. In some countries, in-store is
                still the only way.
                
                An online account may make some of these basic necessities
                cheaper and more convenient to access, but it is not the only
                option.
       
            andresp wrote 3 days ago:
            Exactly. This idea of tech barrier is massively overstated. We see
            people adapt to new tech all the time. The bigger issues are
            network effects, inertia/lazyness. Alternatives to the status quo
            are expected to be 10x better to justify mass exodus. Most people
            don't value privacy and freedom of speech that much.
       
            CJefferson wrote 3 days ago:
            Amazon doesn't have a username, it uses your email. Also, it
            doesn't give you a choice of "which amazon to sign up with", with 3
            options.
       
              Marsymars wrote 2 days ago:
              Though if you go to amazon., the accounts are sometimes,
              depending on TLD, entirely separate from your normal amazon, even
              if the site is in the same language and looks basically the same.
       
              ggm wrote 2 days ago:
              Amazon would happily make multiple accounts with the same email.
              I've managed this twice. Unwinding it is somewhat complex.
              
              "Oh yeah, you think your id is the mail. Well.. it isn't"
       
              arcturus17 wrote 3 days ago:
              This guy UXs.
       
          Hammershaft wrote 3 days ago:
          Seems like something that can be solved with a more streamlined
          client focused on usability. Consider the difference between setting
          up a custom domain on mxroute compared to just opening a gmail
          account. Both user experiences are possible on the email protocol.
          
          Personally I think we've been in something of a dark age for open
          protocols to our detriment, as oligopolistic companies have
          increasingly used walled gardens to manipulate or dominate. I'd like
          to see that trend reversed and protocols like this succeed. Maybe
          with the rise of the patron model we can actually sustainable fund
          people who do the work of maintaining these protocols.
       
          rwmj wrote 3 days ago:
          Moments of recognition reading this.  A couple of weeks ago at
          virtual FOSDEM I was trying to work out how to join the FOSDEM
          chatrooms using the Android app formerly known as Riot.im (now
          Element.io).  And I couldn't work it out - I gave up completely.  I'm
          an actual programmer and heavy IRC user!
       
            0xy wrote 21 hours 41 min ago:
            Element's security UI is indecipherable garbage. There's absolutely
            no way a casual user can figure it out. It's clear no UX designers
            were involved. It's clunky, buggy and feels very unstable.
       
            sammorrowdrums wrote 3 days ago:
            I actually felt that the instructions weren't that clear if you
            were joining via the app. I incidentally did join some of the rooms
            after the actual conference, but FOSDEM could have provided more
            instructions beyond "sign up on our server and use the web client"
            - the main Android App client, and most popular server are hardly
            niche. And many people already have that setup. I did eventually
            work out how to find the chats - but it took me a while too
       
              LegitShady wrote 3 days ago:
              The provided instructions would have allowed people to use it but
              the criticism of the ux remains
       
          dpatterbee wrote 3 days ago:
          I get what you're saying, but you seem to just be criticising
          element, not matrix. All of these are temporary problems which can be
          overcome with more time to hone the user experience.
          
          I would love to see another company come along and make another
          matrix-based chat app to compete with element, hopefully that would
          result in them both getting better much quicker.
       
            didibus wrote 2 days ago:
            The thing is criticizing Element is a criticism on Matrix.
            Interoperable protocols always also make it much harder to build a
            very usable client for. Even the great email is being "disrupted"
            with new closed alternatives like Slack, Discord, Teams, etc.
       
            CJefferson wrote 3 days ago:
            I hope so too, I'd be happy to suggest another client, if someone
            could make something as "ruthlessly simple" as the alternatives.
       
            spurgu wrote 3 days ago:
            Element has a sad amount of bugs/inconsistencies, even though
            they're being fixed/improved all the time. Message formatting
            issues for example between mobile and desktop clients are things
            that really put me off using it.
            
            I like the protocol, and I love the idea, but it's just nowhere
            near grandmother (or even mother) level of usability. And it's not
            nowhere near good enough for someone as anal as me. People in
            between might not get put off by all the issues though.
       
            pimeys wrote 3 days ago:
            Beeper seems to be one. Hopefully they allow more people to join
            their beta soon.
            
   URI      [1]: https://www.beeperhq.com/
       
              anthropodie wrote 3 days ago:
              Here's another I haven't tried it but it looks slick
              
   URI        [1]: https://github.com/syphon-org/syphon
       
          cheph wrote 3 days ago:
          I am heavily against switching from WhatsApp to Signal, but you have
          very good points, and I think Matrix should take note of these
          points. Technically Matrix can yield a very similar user experience
          to Signal, but there has to be more focus on actually doing it if it
          wants to be considered as a serious player in the same space as
          WhatsApp and Signal.
       
            tchalla wrote 3 days ago:
            > I am heavily against switching from WhatsApp to Signal,
            
            I'm curious - what are your arguments against the switch?
       
              cheph wrote 3 days ago:
              I think the article sums it up fairly well. Signal to me does not
              solve the fundamental problems inherent to WhatsApp, additionally
              it suffers from some of the more serious ones I have with
              WhatsApp (tied to phone number) and brings some new ones (no web
              client).
              
              And the places where Signal improves on WhatsApp relies entirely
              on trust which is what WhatsApp relied on until it broke trust.
              
              I would prefer to use Matrix/XMPP instead of Signal and WhatsApp.
       
                rimiform wrote 3 days ago:
                Signal has a desktop client, though? Not sure where that issue
                came from.
       
                shreyshrey wrote 3 days ago:
                Recommend trying out [1] . It is not tied to phone and it has a
                web/desktop client.
                
   URI          [1]: https://www.airsend.io
       
              perryizgr8 wrote 3 days ago:
              I dunno about cheph, but I feel Signal and Whatsapp are
              identical. There is literally no difference between the products
              in any way. In fact Whatsapp has some extra features on it.
       
                Marsymars wrote 2 days ago:
                Asides what the other user said about metadata, Signal is
                drastically better at multi-device support. WhatsApp only lets
                you log in one non-phone device at a time, and this device
                syncs via your phone so it doesn’t work if your phone is
                offline, and it doesn’t have an iPadOS app. Signal has
                desktop and iPadOS apps, and they all function independently of
                your phone once set up.
       
                waxpoeticwhy35 wrote 2 days ago:
                You are so wrong. Please read up on how far Signal goes to hide
                your metadata. WhatsApp  diarrhoea-shits it's metadata to
                Facebook's hungry mouth. Signal goes to such lengths even gifs
                are implemented so carefully as to preserve user privacy and
                security.
       
                GekkePrutser wrote 3 days ago:
                Same for me. Yet another walled garden. A slightly prettier
                garden, but when I make a big app move I want to solve more
                problems than just the privacy one.
       
          the_duke wrote 3 days ago:
          > Matrix seems to want to be an IRC replacement rather than a
          one-to-one / small-group chat app
          
          I don't  know where you get that impression.
          
          Matrix / Element works great for 1-1 and small group chats, the
          general UX issues aside.
       
            CJefferson wrote 3 days ago:
            When I go to 'group chat', rather than show me my friends I could
            group chat with, my screen is filled with "channels" I have no
            interest in.
            
            When I first signed up, I couldn't figure out (quickly) how to talk
            to anyone I know, just how to join channels full of people I don't
            know (which to me is like IRC).
       
            newswasboring wrote 3 days ago:
            > the general UX issues aside.
            
            I think those are the issues, at least according to the op. I mean,
            anyone can write a chat app. That tech has existed for ever.
            Putting the right UX on it is the hard problem good chat apps need
            to solve.
       
              joepie91_ wrote 3 days ago:
              Anyone can write a centralized chat app. Building a federated
              chat app is an order of magnitude more difficult, and is still a
              largely unexplored space.
       
                nathias wrote 2 days ago:
                actually chat apps started decentralized, irc was a protocol
                and it was by far the best communication tool
       
                newswasboring wrote 3 days ago:
                Let me rephrase a bit, and this is now my opinion not op's. The
                UX is the most important problem to solve. Sure making a secure
                federated chat app may be harder in quantifiable sense, the
                structures are not really know. But for UX, honestly speaking I
                feel like nothing is known. We can copy WhatsApp interface,
                just like you can copy signal/WhatsApp architecture. But is
                that really what makes them successful?
       
                Semaphor wrote 3 days ago:
                XMPP/Jabber explored it pretty well. And for a glorious few
                months, I could use a FLOSS client (with for me far superior UX
                to any other modern client) to talk to people on Facebook and
                GTalk as well as all proper Jabber servers.
       
                  newswasboring wrote 3 days ago:
                  I remember those days. It was so rewarding to be able to
                  throw together a Twitter and chat client in an afternoon
                  (especially as a very new coder). I don't think that kind of
                  stuff is possible any more.
       
          maxwellito wrote 3 days ago:
          +1
          
          Also about Matrix, the confusion when the client app doesn't have the
          same name as the protocol is so unfriendly for the non tech-savy
          users.
       
            ekianjo wrote 3 days ago:
            > client app doesn't have the same name
            
            it is not that hard to understand.
       
            GekkePrutser wrote 3 days ago:
            This is the thing about multiclient protocols. You don't look for
            SMTP in the app store either :) The whole point is having multiple
            clients so they can't all have the same name.
            
            Having said that, the 'default' app constantly changing their name
            (Vector -> Riot -> Element) is super annoying. I thought Riot was a
            stupid name (living in a city that regularly sees riots), but don't
            really get what was wrong with Vector in the first place :P
       
            dsr_ wrote 3 days ago:
            There are a bunch of people who think that their mail system is
            named Thunderbird.
       
            junon wrote 3 days ago:
            I was designing something similar to Matrix at one point several
            years back. The different names confused even myself when I was
            dabbling into Matrix.
            
            Matrix is cool, there's no doubt. The packaging is terrible, IMO.
            They really need a product manager.
       
              anticensor wrote 2 days ago:
              Do you have any links to share?
       
                junon wrote 1 day ago:
                Nah unfortunately not. I tabled that project a long time ago.
       
        cassepipe wrote 3 days ago:
        The reason why Signal is not an open protocol like email has been
        argumented by Signal creator Moxie before (can't find the article
        please help). It has pros (evolution is faster and thus it's easier to
        compete with proprietary solutions) and cons (single point of failure)
        and Signal devs are well aware of that. We should stop acting like
        Matrix and Signal are competing with each other. I happily use Matrix
        but my grandma will not, ever, not in this world. And my mother has a
        hard time figuring out what a browser is. If we want everyone to be
        somewhat protected, adoption cost must be lowest.
       
          z77dj3kl wrote 2 days ago:
          > Signal is not an open protocol
          
          It is an open protocol, it is not a federated protocol.
       
          mavhc wrote 3 days ago:
          Standard vs non Standard is often, but not always, the same as
          Federated vs Closed.
          
          In olden times (1990s), you needed standards because you had multiple
          platforms, and slow updates, people actually had to download and
          install an update to get it. Now with app stores and web apps updates
          are automatic. This means the rate of change can be faster and thus
          sticking to standards is causing more issues.
          
          The system that's coped best with keeping standards is HTML, it's
          flexible, it's full of inconsistencies, it's mostly developed by
          companies inventing things and seeing if they catch on, and then
          standardising those things. And pretty much everyone's just switched
          to using Chromium.
       
          ezst wrote 3 days ago:
          Also, for what's worth, my grandma uses XMPP just fine...
       
            m4lvin wrote 3 days ago:
            +1
            
            Also, "grandma" is an annoying cliche/placeholder. No law says that
            young males understand any kind of app or sign-up process
            immediately.
       
              cambalache wrote 3 days ago:
              Put any barrier between young males and their porn and your pet
              theory will crash down
       
              rimiform wrote 3 days ago:
              And yet look at the demographics of any service/app that has a
              slightly more complicated sign-up process.
       
              cassepipe wrote 3 days ago:
              I am literally talking about my grandma though. All of the other
              grand parents are dead. Young people (wether male or female) that
              have had access to a computer are generally more familiar with
              tools they grew up with which was my point. A lot of people, not
              even just old people, are not ready to spend more than one second
              when something does not work and will just switch to what they
              heard was working. Consider someone who does not know the
              difference between an OS and a browser, between 5G internet and
              WiFi etc. Having those people in mind matters when thinking about
              mass adoption (which is the goal when your target is mass
              surveillance by big gov).
       
          ezst wrote 3 days ago:
          Moxie's argument can be found in its essay "the ecosystem is
          moving"[1], which is highly fallacious. Moxie's Signal is about
          control and building for himself the same kind of monopoly as others
          currently enjoy. You can find evidence of that through the
          libresignal issue tracker on GitHub where he rationalizes barring
          access to 3rd party clients or servers[2].
          
          He sees federation as the technically superior approach (and as
          beneficial for privacy and security), but also as a threat to
          himself, which makes the point that he doesn't have your best
          interests at heart.
          
          [1]
          
   URI    [1]: https://gultsch.de/objection.html
   URI    [2]: https://github.com/LibreSignal/LibreSignal/issues/37#issueco...
       
            m4lvin wrote 3 days ago:
            Your link [1] is actually the answer to/against moxie by Daniel
            Gultsch. Please be fair and first give the original article so
            people can make up their own mind: [1] There is also a live talk by
            Moxie at 36C3:
            
   URI      [1]: https://signal.org/blog/the-ecosystem-is-moving/
   URI      [2]: https://app.media.ccc.de/v/36c3-11086-the_ecosystem_is_mov...
       
              ezst wrote 3 days ago:
              > Your link [1] is actually the answer to/against moxie by Daniel
              Gultsch.
              
              True, I meant to move the reference at the end of the sentence
              rather than linking the two as initially planned, ended-up doing
              half of that.
              
              > There is also a live talk by Moxie at 36C3
              
              IIRC, that's the one he didn't like to be ridiculed over and
              asked the organizers to take down.
       
                ergl wrote 2 days ago:
                > that's the one he didn't like to be ridiculed over and asked
                the organizers to take down.
                
                This is repeated every single time, when the reality is that
                Moxie asked the organizers _in advance_ not to record the
                talk[0]:
                
                > I just prefer to present something as part of a conversation
                that’s happening in a place, rather than a webinar that I’m
                broadcasting forever to the world. I have less faith in the
                internet as a place where a conversation can happen, and the
                timelessness of it decontextualizes.
                
                [0]:
                
   URI          [1]: https://twitter.com/moxie/status/1211427007596154881
       
          capableweb wrote 3 days ago:
          The problem with statements like "I happily use Matrix but my grandma
          will not, ever, not in this world" is that Matrix is more of a
          protocol than anything. So of course, your gradma would never use
          HTTP, but since browsers are now user friendly enough, everyone is
          using HTTP indirectly. Same can (will? Might?) happen with Matrix,
          where a popular applications get written on top of Matrix, and users
          don't even need to know about Matrix, just that stuff works. And when
          they move to another client, they can bring everything with them and
          stuff keeps working automatically.
       
            airza wrote 3 days ago:
            The problem is that it doesn't keep working automatically, because
            federated servers are in practice a hot mess of mismatched
            versioning and application support.
       
            mvanbaak wrote 3 days ago:
            And when a popular application get written, it will become the next
            walled garden.
            
            whatsapp uses xmpp. whatsapp became a closed system.
            
            PerfectClientXInTheFuture uses matrix. PerfectClientXInTheFuture
            becomes a closed system.
            
            Why? Because that way they can make more money.
            
            It's sad, but true.
       
              abandonliberty wrote 2 days ago:
              We need to move beyond being saddened by the nature of systems.
              It's like being sad about gravity, evolution, or the speed of
              light. Network effects, social/cultural-scale and emergent
              behavior are the same.
              
              If your design is subject to a failure, it's a failure of your
              design.
              
              This is an empowering viewpoint. Let's stop blaming factors
              outside our control and find ways to create resiliency.
              
              The problem is when a bunch of optimistic, altruistic, talented
              individuals just imagine we could choose to do better, like in
              the social dilemma. Similar environments and pressures will lead
              to similar outcome, like carcinization.
              
              Somehow we still manage to be surprised and disappointed when
              this happens.
       
              Seirdy wrote 2 days ago:
              There are measures we can take: provider and implementation
              diversity should curb this. Not everyone is "grandma" so not
              everyone needs to use a client for "grandma".
              
              I wrote about this in detail:
              
   URI        [1]: https://seirdy.one/2021/02/23/keeping-platforms-open.htm...
       
              sweden wrote 3 days ago:
              That's not how Matrix works. Please don't spread FUD.
       
              capableweb wrote 3 days ago:
              Whatsapp got bought by Facebook which changed their strategy
              100%. They used to ask users for a $1/year payment or something
              like that, but after being bought by Facebook, they now focus on
              just providing data to Facebook. I think one of the founders also
              have openly gone out and regretted the sale to Facebook - "At the
              end of the day, I sold my company. I sold my users’ privacy to
              a larger benefit. I made a choice and a compromise. I live with
              that every day." - [1] If we manage to keep the governance of the
              client and protocol open and participatory, I'm sure we can have
              clients/protocols that survive for longer. Just like we did with
              email and IRC in the past.
              
   URI        [1]: https://www.fastcompany.com/90242892/whatsapp-cofounder-...
       
                skinnymuch wrote 3 days ago:
                Barely any one paid the $1/year. My estimation from looking
                into this before is less than 2% of Android users ever paid. At
                most half of iPhone users paid $1 as whatsapp would switch
                between free or paid to get it.
                
                The founder regretting is a joke. Facebook isn’t buying you
                for $19B to leave the company alone forever. The guy is worth
                multiple billions. No one told him when it was being sold that
                privacy won’t remain the same? That seems too unlikely.
       
                Nowado wrote 3 days ago:
                So the plan is to keep on creating new protocols so that
                there's frequent, although not constant, stream of services
                that are already user-friendly, but not optimized for milking
                data yet?
                
                This doesn't strike me as a 'solution'.
       
                  capableweb wrote 3 days ago:
                  Not unless you misunderstand how protocols work.
                  
                  Milking data, user friendliness and open protocols are
                  orthogonal areas that gives different benefits. User
                  friendliness makes it so people actually use the product,
                  open protocols forces the service/application providers to
                  care more about the user (otherwise they leave for something
                  else, taking their data with them) and milking data can be
                  done no matter how good/bad user experience is and if the
                  protocol is closed/open.
       
            madeofpalk wrote 3 days ago:
            > Same can (will? Might?) happen with Matrix
            
            When will this happen, if ever?
       
              capableweb wrote 3 days ago:
              Well, no one knows when a new popular app appears, gain traction
              and how it looks like, otherwise we'd all be rich by now!
              
              What is sure is that people said the same thing about Matrix,
              Bitcoin (and more) that people were saying about HTTP/the web
              back in the day.
       
        mojuba wrote 3 days ago:
        Yes but email also used to be fragmented and walled garden'ed back in
        the early days of networking.
        
        Chat is still in its infancy as a technology. We are still trying to
        figure things out: what's the minimal necessary feature set? What
        should a server API provide to clients?
        
        And a myriad of behavior/feature/privacy questions that different
        messaging systems handle differently, for example: what happens when I
        leave a group chat - should others see me leaving? Can I leave quietly?
        Should I have a choice?
        
        Or: when I join a group, do I get access to the entire message history?
        Or: what happens when I block someone and then later message them -
        should the message history be restored? This and many other privacy
        related problems are handled in as many ways as there are messaging
        systems in wide use.
        
        Let alone handling of audio and video calls.
        
        Messaging and its feature set should stabilize as a standard way of
        communication before we can say to everyone: OK so now there's no
        reason you shouldn't use a standard protocol. If you don't, you are
        definitely a bad guy. Today though it's still not easy to make a case
        for standardization, in my opinion.
       
          mprovost wrote 3 days ago:
          ICQ came out in 1996, AIM in 1997, and MSN in 1999. I don't think
          it's fair to give the people working on this a pass by saying this is
          a new problem - working products have been shipping for over 20
          years. Some of the devs working on Signal and Matrix were probably
          born after ICQ was released.
          
          The reality is that all of these systems, including email, tend
          towards becoming walled gardens. Otherwise you end up with the same
          problem that email has which is that a huge percentage of it is spam.
          At this point email is basically a few connected walled gardens from
          the major providers. Before that the amount of spam was even larger.
       
            mojuba wrote 3 days ago:
            The problem is not in which year it started but whether the feature
            set is stable enough to be standardized - see my questions in the
            original comment. And that's just a few of them.
       
              mprovost wrote 3 days ago:
              Each of these chat applications have answered the questions you
              raised in their own way. Since we haven't converged on a single
              set of standard behaviours in 20+ years, it probably means there
              isn't a single right answer.
       
            OldTimeCoffee wrote 3 days ago:
            Part of the problem is that previously they were a value add as
            part of a service provider. There was no intent to generate revenue
            from it because the revenue came from the provider's operations. If
            I'm building a chat client now, though, I've got to find a revenue
            path. You need the walled garden so that you get lock-in and can
            find a revenue model from it.
       
          rebuilder wrote 3 days ago:
          Isn't having a well-specified protocol how you get features to
          stabilizes?
       
          bosswipe wrote 3 days ago:
          Chat is not in its infancy, it has been around almost as long as
          email.
       
        lordnacho wrote 3 days ago:
        I installed element the other day, clicking through what I thought were
        the most common settings.
        
        Am I supposed to see which of my friends are on it? I see none at the
        moment, and one of the main things that told me that Signal was gonna
        happen was when I started to get notifications about yet another non
        techie friend getting on it.
       
        ezst wrote 3 days ago:
        I wanted to like this piece for calling Signal for what it is: WhatsApp
        with better marketing (with a lot of security and privacy backed by
        obscurity), but if everyone is jumping ship from WhatsApp out of data
        syphoning concerns, I'm not sure that Matrix's insistance on
        replicating and distributing as much metadata as possible across its
        nodes is much better.
        
        The end game is probably P2P with "dumb" servers doing little more than
        just passing packets across the network (which kind of goes against
        battery efficiency on mobile devices), but in the meantime I'd rather
        bet on XMPP (which has diverse client+server implementations, tiny
        footprint even on a RPi, approachable and standardized protocol one can
        implement in a weekend) that's getting really good and hassle free to
        self host at a family & friends level.
       
          GekkePrutser wrote 3 days ago:
          Could you elaborate more about Matrix's metadata distribution? What
          exactly is being distributed and when? I'd like to see that if you
          have it as I wasn't aware of this.
          
          PS: I'm not trying to contradict you here, on the contrary. I'd like
          to deep dive into it as it is indeed a big issue. If Matrix really
          takes off (which I hope it does) I would want to avoid dataminers
          just federating to it and grabbing data that way.
          
          Of course some metadata would need to be able to be shared for the
          federated network to function. I understand that too.
       
            ezst wrote 3 days ago:
            Sure! The first "practical"* difference between Matrix and XMPP is
            that Matrix' chatrooms are "necessarily decentralized" (whereas in
            XMPP that's optional [1]).
            
            How it works is that users involved in a given room have their
            servers synchronize the room's state with each other (room state is
            messages, presence status, read receipts, "is composing" status,
            …) so when one server goes down/netsplits, messages, join/leave
            events, read markers, … can keep flowing among online users (and
            when the server goes up again, it might attempt to merge its state
            with that of the network while catching-up).
            
            This looks and behaves very much like a blockchain: you end-up with
            distributed "copies since origins" of the room + all its metadata
            all over the network (plus distributed inefficiency, but I
            digress).
            
            *: I put that quotes, because I don't believe it matters the
            slightest in practice. XMPP nodes can be easily distributed, which
            addresses the same reliability concern, but at a layer better
            suited to handle the complexity. WhatsApp runs on a fork of
            ejabberd (erlang), while Matrix homeservers, especially matrix.org
            are notorious for their terrible QoS/resources-hungriness while
            handling a fraction of the concurrent users.
            
            [1] 
            
   URI      [1]: https://xmpp.org/extensions/xep-0289.html
       
              GekkePrutser wrote 2 days ago:
              Thanks, I'll have to dig into the protocol, maybe do some
              sniffing on my homeserver :)
              
              I assume not every node gets the metadata for all the rooms in
              the world, just the ones its users participate in? Anyway looking
              forward to investigating this.
       
                ezst wrote 2 days ago:
                Indeed, that's just for the rooms where users are joined. But
                be aware that if you join a large room on matrix.org from your
                own homeserver, it might fill-up your disks with a lot of old
                state (and that might take large amounts of CPU+RAM for days,
                too).
       
          kenniskrag wrote 3 days ago:
          Can you recommend a self hosted setup? I want chat + forward to email
          if I'm offline.
       
            MattJ100 wrote 3 days ago:
            I'm the developer, but simple self-hosted XMPP is the goal of [1]
            There's no forward-to-mail, but happy to consider a feature
            request.
            
   URI      [1]: https://snikket.org/
       
            ezst wrote 3 days ago:
            I recommend (a recent) ejabberd if you don't know anything about
            XMPP: it does an excellent job coming with good default, clear,
            commented and foolproof config and once it's running you can
            literally forget about it.
            
            XMPP does manage offline message catch-up across all devices, and
            with good mobile clients I've never felt the need to redirect to
            email (especially these days with ubiquitous E2EE, that's not
            something you would want the server to be capable of doing), that
            said I believe it would be "easily" scripted up.
       
            beagle3 wrote 3 days ago:
            Google Delta Chat. It’s a chat protocol/server/client based on
            email. You only need the client - it will use your existing email
            account (and your recipients’); if you use the Delta client, it
            will appear as chat; if you don’t it will just be 2 line emails -
            and similarly for your addresses.
            
            When/if the actual server comes of age, you’ll have additional
            features like online indicators and stuff. Bit it’s already
            usable today (if somewhat wasteful in bandwidth and storage
            compared to e.g. Signal) and there are no new accounts to register
            or discover — it’s usable with standard email as transport.
       
              comeonseriously wrote 3 days ago:
              I wish this were more popular. I love the idea of using the email
              protocol for chats. Email servers are ubiquitous and, better,
              everyone can email everyone else and your contacts and you don't
              have to be on gmail or yahoo or anything else.
       
        airza wrote 3 days ago:
        I wish that the author had spent more time really thinking about _why_
        communication has moved away from email, or why XMPP/IRC never really
        caught on despite being vastly older than these app competitors (hint:
        it is because they are federated, and so making sweeping changes to the
        protocol/client in the name of UX becomes intractable.)
        
        It is _very_ frustrating that the internet has had messenger
        fragmentation since the beginning of time, but why can Matrix solve
        this problem if XMPP cannot?  Signal just works.
       
          betterunix2 wrote 3 days ago:
          "It is _very_ frustrating that the internet has had messenger
          fragmentation since the beginning of time"
          
          If you ignore IRC...
          
          "Signal just works."
          
          It also contributes to the fragmentation you complained about,
          because it is closed -- no federation, no third party clients, not
          even a web client.  If you are on a platform the Signal team does not
          have time to deal with then there is no option for you.  If you have
          a specific need that the Signal team cannot take the time to support,
          too bad.  More problematic than lacking federation is lacking any
          third party client software.
          
          Whenever I confront developers about this the conversation usually
          results in someone demanding a specific example of a user need they
          are not meeting; if I give one, they say, "Oh, we are planning that,
          but we first need to do $XYZ!" and if I say "there are needs we may
          not be aware of" they say "Well we are trying to do $this or $that,
          we can't solve everyone's problems!"  As if users who have unusual or
          overlooked needs deserve to be cut off from everyone else...
       
            hiq wrote 3 days ago:
            Signal is still an improvement over other non-federated messengers
            in that it's open-source, so you actually can try to improve the
            situation, although it's notoriously difficult. As an example of
            more platform support: [1] signal-cli is an example of a 3rd party
            client which is tolerated for now: [2] The main problem right now
            is that they don't have enough developers to take care of
            everything, but it's not specific to centralized services (no
            developer == no code). If you care about it, you can develop your
            own client using their library (à la signal-cli).
            
            Regarding your last paragraph: I could probably list 20 features
            I'd like to see in Signal. That doesn't mean I want somebody
            implementing them with no guarantee about how securely they are
            implemented. One of the main goals of Signal is to provide
            guarantees against dragnet surveillance, and that constraint takes
            precedence.
            
   URI      [1]: https://github.com/signalapp/ringrtc/pull/12
   URI      [2]: https://github.com/AsamK/signal-cli
       
              t3chguy wrote 3 days ago:
              Open Source but not actively accepting contributions is not a
              great place to be. Especially when you can't federate, so you are
              stuck using the central server which basically doesn't accept
              code contributions. Take a look at [1] Also it is somewhat
              interesting that this Open Source centralised Signal server,
              where centralisation means you can move quicker, hasn't seen a
              commit in 10 months.
              
              Compare it to Matrix Synapse [2] The story with the flagship
              clients in both spaces is very similar.
              
   URI        [1]: https://merge-chance.info/target?repo=https://github.com...
   URI        [2]: https://merge-chance.info/target?repo=https://github.com...
       
                hiq wrote 3 days ago:
                Sure, I was mostly comparing Signal to proprietary centralized
                messengers here, not to FOSS decentralized messengers. Indeed
                they could do better.
       
          ezst wrote 3 days ago:
          > _why_ communication has moved away from email
          
          Has it, though? I don't think we are any step closer now to dropping
          email than we were 25 years ago.
          
          > or why XMPP/IRC never really caught on despite being vastly older
          than these app competitors
          
          Could be the lack of marketing (because there isn't a corporation or
          venture capital money behind benefiting from exponential user base
          growth) and critical mass/peer-pressure as a result
          
          > making sweeping changes to the protocol/client in the name of UX
          becomes intractable.
          
          This starts to be dated, but is a counter-example: [1] XMPP keeps
          evolving, and probably faster, and with better adoption than
          something centralized like Skype for instance.
          Moreover, we've arguably less feature-packed messengers now than we
          had two decades ago.
          
          > It is _very_ frustrating that the internet has had messenger
          fragmentation since the beginning of time, but why can Matrix solve
          this problem if XMPP cannot? Signal just works.
          
          The irony. Signal contributes to fragmentation. We seem to pretend
          that it's a protocol/technical issue, but did you know that WhatsApp
          runs on XMPP, so did Google Talk, and Facebook Messenger early on?
          All those silos could open federation and let messages be exchanged
          across services, but chose not to do so (including Signal), because
          they have more to gain in keeping you hostage.
          
   URI    [1]: https://gultsch.de/objection.html
       
            hiq wrote 3 days ago:
            > Has it, though? I don't think we are any step closer now to
            dropping email than we were 25 years ago.
            
            I think OP meant that there's been a significant decrease in usage.
            In my case I can definitely relate to this for personal
            communications, I no longer send emails to personal acquaintances,
            I mostly use email for professional purposes, so I think OP's point
            stands.
            
            > Could be the lack of marketing (because there isn't a corporation
            or venture capital money behind benefiting from exponential user
            base growth) and critical mass/peer-pressure as a result
            
            Maybe marketing would work, but a killer feature is way more
            efficient, especially in the long run. WA offered users a way to
            text using the same phone numbers for free in countries where you
            had to pay. Decentralization, like being-open source, does not
            provide short-term benefits to a user, so you still need
            distinguishing features.
            
            > did you know that WhatsApp runs on XMPP [...] All those silos
            could open federation and let messages be exchanged across services
            but chose not to do so (including Signal), because they have more
            to gain in keeping you hostage.
            
            WA also uses the Signal Protocol, which I assume is not directly
            compatible with OMEMO (or this name wouldn't exist). From the
            little information I found, it uses a customized version of XMPP,
            which is also probably not directly compatible with XMPP.
            
            My point is that it's not as simple as setting COMPATIBLE=TRUE to
            make every network compatible with each other. I doubt Facebook
            deviated from the base protocol just for the sake of it (and there
            are simpler ways to prevent 3rd party clients), they wanted to
            implement something which was missing. They wanted to customize
            XMPP to add features (pretty much Moxie's argument against
            federation).
       
              ezst wrote 2 days ago:
              > In my case I can definitely relate to this for personal
              communications, I no longer send emails to personal acquaintances
              
              I think we can agree that they have different strengths, I
              haven't seen much change in my usage of email for chatting with
              personal acquaintances because email has never been going strong
              there, unlike Instant Messaging…
              
              > but a killer feature is way more efficient, especially in the
              long run
              
              …if one thing, popular IM of today pack less features, not
              more, than those they replaced. Remember the golden age of MSN
              messenger? You had whiteboards, tictactoe/chess/… games with
              friends, screen sharing, fancy fonts & colors, "now listening
              to:" , wizz, … Ironically, XMPP inherited all those features
              out of necessity to be compatible with all those protocols (and I
              don't think it matters the slightest).
              
              XMPP does have quite nice and unique features of its own, if
              check-out the other response :)
              
              > WA offered users a way to text using the same phone numbers for
              free in countries where you had to pay
              
              just like every other messenger then and now… (I'm not
              downplaying their coming ahead of this fierce competition, they
              must have done something right indeed, but "IM as a cheap
              alternatives to SMS" was popular a decade before WA)
              
              > WA also uses the Signal Protocol, which I assume is not
              directly compatible with OMEMO
              
              "Signal Protocol" is a mashup of encryption algorithms, signaling
              and session negotiation, at its very core there is the
              double-ratchet algorithm (for forward secrecy) and prekeys (for
              offline delivery), OMEMO is just that, implemented over XMPP
              primitives (with prekeys served over PubSub/PEP).
              
              > My point is that it's not as simple as setting COMPATIBLE=TRUE
              to make every network compatible with each other.
              
              Indeed, it would take some careful considerations, but eh, same
              can be said about TLS. At a first glance, I don't see anything
              radically difficult about it, the main point would probably be to
              offer a generic endpoint to serve prekeys and there's nothing
              revolutionary or difficult about that.
              
              > I doubt Facebook deviated from the base protocol just for the
              sake of it
              
              They did what every big business does: they optimized for their
              specific needs. When they decided that compatibility wasn't
              something they could monetize, they shut the gateway down and
              stopped caring about it. That tells nothing about the protocol,
              its capabilities, or of a presumed inability to extend it. For
              that matter, the X in XMPP stands for "eXtensible" protocol, and
              it's been quite good at keeping up for about 22 years, now :)
       
              rakoo wrote 2 days ago:
              > Decentralization, like being-open source, does not provide
              short-term benefits to a user, so you still need distinguishing
              features.
              
              XMPP's killer feature is, for me, its pubsub capability ( [1] ).
              From a technical point of view it's just an ordered key-value
              store with notification, but from a user point of view it allows
              way more uses than "simply" messaging: microblogging ( [2] , can
              replace twitter), generic status updating ( [3] ), good-old
              key-value store (keys for OMEMO), standard blogging (to replace
              Facebook)
              
              XMPP also has message types and threadings, so you can build
              stuff like forums (to replace Reddit), diffusion lists (like
              Telegram channels)...
              
              It has everything, and it is there to be used. Some clients have
              done it for some time now, it's not a technical problem anymore;
              it's a marketing problem. None of what Whatsapp or Facebook
              Messenger or Telegram or Signal do cannot be done by XMPP.
              
   URI        [1]: https://xmpp.org/extensions/xep-0060.html
   URI        [2]: https://xmpp.org/extensions/xep-0277.html
   URI        [3]: https://xmpp.org/extensions/xep-0163.html
       
            spurgu wrote 3 days ago:
            >> _why_ communication has moved away from email
            
            > Has it, though? I don't think we are any step closer now to
            dropping email than we were 25 years ago.
            
            Email feels more like a tool for reaching out than for
            communicating to me. I.e. it serves like an RSS feed and serves
            like a way for unknowns (or long lost friends/acquaintances) to
            reach out to you.
            
            Sure some people still use newsgroups and communicate daily over
            email, but for most people it's just a method to sign up for
            accounts in walled gardens.
       
              messo wrote 2 days ago:
              The email protocol is being used for instant messaging — check
              out DeltaChat. It works much better than I expected, and it is
              possibly the most desentralized solution there is.
       
              ezst wrote 3 days ago:
              Well, I don't know in which world you live, but in mine Outlook
              is alive and kicking, that's where purchase orders are confirmed,
              meetings with suppliers are organized, business decisions are
              made … and in the few instances where it's not going over
              Outlook, it's because it's on a GApps tenant, in which case it's
              GMail instead.
              
              The biggest threat to outlook and email today is probably
              MSTeams, and ironically enough, it federates just fine so that
              two employees from two distinct companies can chat as if they
              were on the same tenant.
       
                spurgu wrote 3 days ago:
                > Well, I don't know in which world you live, but in mine
                Outlook is alive and kicking, that's where purchase orders are
                confirmed, meetings with suppliers are organized, business
                decisions are made
                
                Stuff like that was what I meant. I wouldn't call receipts,
                calendar invitations and verification emails "communication"
                (as in person to person). I agree though that email is a prime
                medium for B2B communication, but within a company you'd
                usually use another medium (like Slack).
       
          foxrider wrote 3 days ago:
          I have an alternative view to offer here, because this to me sounds
          like you are leaving out a significant part of mobile messenger
          evolution. 
          Back when Smartphones weren't a thing most phones had JavaME, and the
          most popular networks for chatting were MSN, ICQ, AOL and others.
          I'll focus on ICQ specifically here because it's what's been popular
          where I live. It had been a messenger for people with computers, but
          then suddenly everyone started using it with an unofficial JavaME
          client Jimm. Literally every person with a phone, even though it was
          a complicated thing to do - you had to register on the ICQ website
          using a computer, build or download a pre-built Jimm for your phone
          (you had to cater it to the hardware, because phones had been very
          different back then from model to model) and log into ICQ from your
          phone. Most cellphone stores offered "Jimm setup" as a service for
          people who couldn't do it themselves. The reason for such popularity?
          SMS limitations made it very expensive to have long chats on the go,
          and ICQ demanded so little traffic that you could use it for a
          fraction of SMS costs. And of course, as most multi-clients at the
          time, Jimm had full XMPP support, after all ICQ, AOL and MSN were
          little more than slightly customized XMPP at the time. So switching
          to any other XMPP server was pretty trivial. 
          Anyway, this lasted for a long time, and then, sadly, a smartphone
          "revolution" happened. People started getting smartphones left and
          right, and unlike JavaME phones they were much, much worse for ICQ,
          XMPP or any other similar network. See, a JavaME phone was perfectly
          capable of maintaining connection to ICQ servers in the background,
          without draining your battery life too much. It was seamless, most
          phones at the time allowed for at least one app to run in the
          background at all times. But once Android and iOS came along -
          suddenly a phone had to either be sleeping all the time or had empty
          batteries in a few hours, and that was awful news for protocols that
          relied on continuous connection, like ICQ did.
          The only smartphone that played nice with these protocols that I know
          of is N900. 
          Sadly this, and this thing only killed XMPP, ICQ and others for an
          average person. If it wasn't for these protocols not playing well
          with smartphones, I have 0 doubts XMPP would be king right now.
       
          argvargc wrote 3 days ago:
          Isn't the fact neither XMPP nor IRC are e2e-encrypted a factor in
          them catching on?
          
          Nobody wants to use a messenger that's public, or that with a single
          centralised compromise/hack could make all their messages become so.
          
          To me that disqualifies them as even being potential solutions to the
          problem.
          
          Matrix has significant usability issues in its currently-available
          form(s) - but it at least meets the most basic of requirements that
          user messages are private, and does so fundamentally.
       
            betterunix2 wrote 3 days ago:
            Remember OTR messaging?  The benefit of an open system like XMPP is
            that you can add end-to-end encryption if you want to do so.
            
            Really though, why is end-to-end encryption the one thing that
            should disqualify a system?  What about a10y, i18n, etc.?  For a
            vision-impaired user a10y matters a whole lot more than encryption.
             That is the real point of openness and federation -- allowing
            users' needs to be met by any developers who have the time and
            inclination to do so, rather than leaving users at the mercy of a
            single team (or even a single person).
       
              hiq wrote 3 days ago:
              > Really though, why is end-to-end encryption the one thing that
              should disqualify a system?
              
              Because security as an afterthought is known to fail.
       
                betterunix2 wrote 3 days ago:
                Empathy, the Gnome messaging software, has yet to implement
                end-to-end encryption because of this mode of thinking.  Rather
                than implement OTR they said they felt it was better to
                implement a protocol with E2E built in since it would be
                supported by native clients (what does that even mean for
                XMPP?).  As a result, their users never had end-to-end
                encrypted messaging at all.
                
                That is what being religious about these things gets you. 
                Signal is completely closed and its users are at the mercy of
                the developers.  XMPP+OTR was a kludge but it worked and the
                only reason the outstanding problems were not resolved is that
                the cryptographers behind OTR decided to focus on Signal. 
                Matrix is basically irrelevant right now and whatever security
                benefits it might have are equally irrelevant because very few
                people are using it.
       
            Andrew_nenakhov wrote 3 days ago:
            XMPP lost popularity long before the public became (unhealthily)
            obsessed with encryption.
       
              argvargc wrote 3 days ago:
              Care to explain? I can't think of a single example where
              encrypting a private message passed over a public network would
              be unhealthy.
       
                Andrew_nenakhov wrote 4 hours 16 min ago:
                Users do not understand that E2EE means no easy device syncing
                and no serverside search, they just want to feel 'safe', but
                are not ready to perform such necessary things as fingerprint
                verification. And without verifying the identity of the remote
                party, E2EE is totally meaningless.
                
                Telegram's far better UX than Whatsapp is possible because they
                do not have e2ee on anything but Secret Chats (and I've never
                seen anyone on Telegram using them). See, for most users the
                promise of security is better than actual security and all
                attached UX problems.
       
            mouldysammich wrote 3 days ago:
            XMPP has omemo for encryption which is support by default by both
            major severs and every client i've tried -- especially the ones
            that aim for user-freindlyness likes conversations
       
          cheph wrote 3 days ago:
          WhatsApp just works also.
       
        luplex wrote 3 days ago:
        Matrix is eating the world of messengers. I'm very bullish on the
        protocol.
        
        There hasn't yet been a lot of thought around the economic incentives
        of matrix, like who is supposed to run a Homeserver?
       
          zaik wrote 2 days ago:
          If you believe the account of [0] then running a Matrix server is
          much more costly than running a XMPP server.
          
          [0]
          
   URI    [1]: https://wiki.404.city/en/XMPP_vs_Matrix
       
            luplex wrote 2 days ago:
            I would suspect so, since matrix is not about message passing, but
            about state synchronization, which is more data-intensive.
       
          kenniskrag wrote 3 days ago:
          I think the same people, wwo run own mail servers. You get better
          latencies if you will use it for calls for example.
       
       
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