nostr - Notes and Other Stuff Transmitted by Relays

The simplest open protocol that is able to create a censorship-resistant global “social” network once and for all.

It doesn’t rely on any trusted central server, hence it is resilient; it is based on cryptographic keys and signatures, so it is tamperproof; it does not rely on P2P techniques, therefore it works.

Very short summary of how it works, if you don’t plan to read anything else:

Everybody runs a client. It can be a native client, a web client, etc. To publish something, you write a post, sign it with your key and send it to multiple relays (servers hosted by someone else, or yourself). To get updates from other people, you ask multiple relays if they know anything about these other people. Anyone can run a relay. A relay is very simple and dumb. It does nothing besides accepting posts from some people and forwarding to others. Relays don’t have to be trusted. Signatures are verified on the client side.

This is needed because other solutions are broken:

The problem with Twitter

The problem with Mastodon and similar programs

The problem with SSB (Secure Scuttlebutt)

The problem with other solutions that require everybody to run their own server

How does Nostr work?

How does it solve the problems the networks above can’t?


I don’t know, but I imagine it has to do with the fact that people making social networks are either companies wanting to make money or P2P activists who want to make a thing completely without servers. They both fail to see the specific mix of both worlds that Nostr uses.

First, you must know them and get their public key somehow, either by asking or by seeing it referenced somewhere. Once you’re inside a Nostr social network you’ll be able to see them interacting with other people and then you can also start following and interacting with these others.

You won’t be able to communicate with that person. But there are hints on events that can be used so that your client software (or you, manually) knows how to connect to the other person’s relay and interact with them. There are other ideas on how to solve this too in the future but we can’t ever promise perfect reachability, no protocol can.

No, but you can get some estimates if relays cooperate in an extra-protocol way.

The question is misleading. It assumes that relays are free dumb pipes that exist such that people can move data around through them. In this case yes, the incentives would not exist. This in fact could be said of DHT nodes in all other p2p network stacks: what incentive is there for people to run DHT nodes?

There are literally thousands of VPS providers scattered all around the globe today, there is not only AWS or Azure. AWS or Azure are exactly the providers used by single centralized service providers that need a lot of scale, and even then not just these two. For smaller relay servers any VPS will do the job very well.

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