[Standards] MIX: The Nick Name Problem (TM) aka The Identity Crisis (TM)

Daniel Gultsch daniel at gultsch.de
Thu Nov 29 12:09:17 UTC 2018


I’ve been reading (parts of) MIX again. I might share some stray
observations at some point (Like why isn’t the submission-id not
reusing the origin-id) but those are all rather insignificant.

Today I want to discuss something else that has been worrying me for
quite a while. I have mentioned that in a thread somewhere but it
didn’t get a lot of attention.

I understand that a lot of the core designers of MIX are mostly after
'something like Slack' or other work place-y things. However I’m
coming from a 'personal IM' usecase aka 'The WhatsApp Clone' and I
feel that some of my use cases are not covered very well by MIX and I
would appreciate if MIX could cover my use case as well and not brush
it of as and afterthought just-do-an-extension-later kind of problem.
(By the way I’m not just talking as the developer of Conversations
here but as someone who implements 'proper' closed source
non-federating WhatsApp clones.)

So let me paint you a picture of my use case. In WhatsApp the user
creates an account; usually tied to a phone number - but that’s not
the point; and sets a Name and an Avatar. That name isn’t unique. It
would be pretty stupid if WhatsApp would prevent me from calling
myself 'Daniel' and would force me to call myself 'Daniel12345'. That
name and avatar is my identity on that chat system. When I’m in a
group chat with someone I’m still holding on to that identity. People
in that group chat expect to see that name and that avatar.

So when it comes to MUC my 'Identity Name' doesn’t map to MUC nick
names. MUC Nick names are unique. My identity name might not be. So
usually when I create WhatsApp-like group chats I set the nick to
something unique (most of the times the local part of my JID) and then
simply never display it but gather the 'true identity' by other means.
(Those other means can become pretty complicated and hacky)

So MIX in that regard is pretty close to MUC in that nick names are
unique for example. At least they are are somewhat optional. They are
not as much second class citizens as I would hope they would be - but
at least they are optional enough that I can ignore them.

But if I ignore them I have to discover the true identity of a JID
somehow. (That is display name (stored in a PEP node for example) and

In previous talks about MIX we have discussed creating 'avatar' and
other nodes on the mix channel. However even if we have those it would
basically mean that if I change something on my avatar or display name
I would then need to change them on every MIX channel I’m joined in.

That is pretty bad.

So one wild idea would be to do some automatic PEP subscription thing.
So the PAM - who knows what real JIDs I’m in channels with - would
automatically subscribe me to their PEP nodes. And only once per JID -
even if I'm in multiple rooms with that person - and then unsubscribe
me once I’m no longer in a group with that person (either because I
left those groups or because they left.) - Something like that.

I don’t want to narrow it down to that particular solution; I’m open
for everything. However I just wanted to describe that use case - I
think it is an important use case - that may or may not be on the
minds of the 'people behind MIX' that really needs a first class
solution. (As opposed to leaving this to some random extensions
someone in the future might come up with.)


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