green felt textured heart with the word 'felt' cut out

about Felt

Felt's mission is to make our lives better with technology. Our main product is felt-server, a free and open source toolkit for building and maintaining communities, publishing to the web, and collaborating with information. We also make related software for web development like felt-ui. We're @feltjs on GitHub and OpenCollective.

We plan to announce the felt-server alpha in Q2 2023. For updates subscribe to our our monthly newsletter and podcast.

Our values

  • we put the people who use our software first
  • sustainability through aligned incentives
  • intentional collaboration, community, and governance
  • accessibility, inclusivity, and diversity
  • open source, interoperability, and extensibility
  • distributed power and democracy
  • transparency and accountability
  • simplicity and efficiency
  • privacy by default
  • easy self-hosting on low-power hardware
  • fostering learning and experimentation

Felt is for collaboration

  • creation: the ability to create is a wonderful gift we all share β€” Felt will support authoring many kinds of media, beyond the familiar textbox our social media gives us today β€” imagine designing a novel conversation format to achieve a specific goal, like figuring out where to eat lunch with your friends, that's more structured than a chat and more freeform than a poll, and tailored to your group's specific needs
  • consumption: Felt has (plans for) the familiar social media content like text, images, videos, chats, forums, podcasts, and polls, as well as underexplored and novel forms of media like structured deliberations, virtual spaces with audio/visual streams, and, getting back to the real world, events β€” imagine going to lunch with friendsπŸ˜‹
  • curation: if creation and consumption are the primary inputs and outputs of our social systems, curation is the buzz of activity around them β€” in today's social media this includes liking posts and sharing links, and there remains a vast wilderness of tags, scores, lists, feeds, and other forms of curation β€” imagine sharing the lunch-with-friends decision-making conversation format with others, and discovering similar conversation formats made by the broader community, filtered and sorted to your needs


When can I use Felt?

Our current plan is to release the first alpha version of our software in Q1 2023.

Is Felt a secure private messenger?

This is a nuanced subject: to be clear, from a technical perspective, Felt is not a secure private messenger. Even though we support direct messages between individuals, we currently recommend using Matrix or Signal for those usecases.

We don't currently support E2EE and minimizing metadata; we hold the keys to your stuff, and you'll have to trust both us and your fellow community members with the data you share. We plan to offer E2EE in some contexts in the future, starting with the low-hanging fruit like ephemeral 1-to-1 chats, but Felt is designed to be a powerful programmable platform for communities, which makes privacy and security with good UX an extremely challenging problem. Matrix prioritizes privacy and security in a federated context; we prioritize UX in a centralized context. What goes for Mastodon goes for Felt: don't send anything in DMs that you don't trust the admin with, or anything sensitive at all.

Why isn't Felt decentralized or federated?

We expect our tech β€” which is focused on communities, not messaging β€” to eventually support a decentralized protocol standard, perhaps with ActivityPub or Matrix or both, but today we are focused on UX quality and implementation velocity. We find it much easier to deliver good UX with a centralized architecture given the nature of decentralized systems and our small self-funded team with no expertise in such things. If Matrix fits your usecases, we recommend considering using it instead of Felt. For microblogging, we recommend Mastodon.

Felt's focus is on communities and their custom needs, with an emphasis on delivering a polished UX in smaller scale, higher trust environments. We are however attempting to follow the standard ActivityPub/Fediverse/Mastodon/etc ActivityStreams vocabulary, (but not ActivityPub the federated protocol, not yet) setting us up for potential future compatibility. We're also maintaining JSON schemas that can be used in any programming language, so at least our off-spec stuff is machine-readable.

What features does Felt have?

Some highlights:

  • chats, boards and forums for any speed of communication
  • malleable media that we can design and share collaborativley
  • a moderation and shared governance system
  • note taking and sharing
  • tasks and todo lists
  • server software that's easy to self-host
  • and more coming
How much does Felt cost?

If you want to self host, you can go spin up your own instance today on your own hardware for free.

If that sounds like a pain though, check out for details on paid hosting and communites.

Why does Felt use permissive and public domain software licenses instead of copyleft?

Currently, all of our public software is licensed either permissively with the MIT License or public domain with the Unlicense. This is not a statement against reciprocal copyleft licenses; on the contrary, we enthusiastically support people choosing strong copyleft licenses like the AGPL. The current consensus of Felt's membership is to use permissive and public domain licenses; each member has their own reasons, and this is subject to change. Please be aware: this means contributions to our projects are subject to the license of each repo, which currently allow usage in closed-source proprietary products, and each repo's license may change in the future subject to the co-op's governance procedures. The current licenses are compatible with changing to a copyleft license in the future.

Free and open source

Felt is free and open source software released under the permissive MIT License (see Wikipedia). It's designed to be easily self-hosted on low-power hardware, so you can run a private instance for your communities and maintain full control.