A Web Pattern Language

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A domain of one's own

Gradients of privacy asserts that each individual has a right to control their own privacy preferences and be protected from invasions of their privacy online. In order for this to be true, each individual must have control over a domain of their own—meaning ownership of their personal data and, ideally, the power to fully customize a personal space on the web, whether the space is within a Website for a community, Website for one person, or Website for a business. Each person must be able to choose their preferred level of traffic and access and be free to change the space itself to suit their needs. This pattern is especially important (and increasingly rare) for Member alcoves in rented, high density Website for a community spaces like large social media hubs.

People need to be able to shape, extend, reconfigure, and repair their environment to feel truly at home within it. When the ability to shape a space is blocked because it is not owned by the people who use it, it won't be a living space that grows to meet their needs. And when there's no space to call your own, there's no opportunity to take refuge in quiet and solitude, and it's more difficult to share space with others.

"Not having a space you can call your own is dangerous. Everyone needs a sanctuary." –Marie Kondo

In our physical homes and neighborhoods, people feel more comfortable in spaces they have the freedom to modify to suit their needs and preferences. Often this looks like owning a private home, but it doesn't require financial ownership—rented and shared spaces can also provide a sense of control over a space and the freedom to tend it so it grows and adapts to the needs of the people who live there.

The benefits of a space to call your own are the same in online spaces. The web is a participatory space, not a passive space. It's at its best when the people who use it contribute to building it, but people won't do so if they are blocked from doing so or they don't feel they have a space they can change as they wish.

Even as people visit different websites, they can change their own experience using their web browser. They can change font sizes and colors, disable scripting features, and customize what they see as much as they wish without permanent change to the space they're visiting.

Traditionally, a "domain of one's own" on the web means literally that—a personal domain name and solo owned personal website with full control over what exists within that domain. While solo ownership is one example of what a domain of one's own might look like, it's also possible to maintain one within shared and rented spaces, although these spaces have distinct challenges to maintain boundaries.

In rented spaces especially, the primary owners of the space may choose to optimize individual profiles for consistency and data harvesting to make them cheap and profitable maintain, and limit people's ability to customize their own spaces and access their own data. This should be avoided as much as possible.

Within shared, rented, and personal websites, make sure each person has a well-defined space where they are free to shape and grow as they wish (styling, semantic structure, plugins, removing unwanted features). Make each space large enough for at least two "pages." In shared and rented spaces especially, provide an application programming interface (API) for extending the features of the space and easily accessing and modifying the data within it. Encourage each person to register their own domain name to map to their primary self-controlled space (whether that's a personal website, social media profile, or member page on a shared site). "Keep the emphasis in the definition of ownership in control, not in financial ownership." (79 Your own home – A Pattern Language)

Create a distinct, well-defined personal spaces using Personal site orbit and a Primary domain address. Don't restrict spaces to a single, flat "profile page"; allow them enough space to expand into a collection of a few pages consisting of a Home page and Hierarchy of links with varying degrees of publicness to provide a space for semi-private Web workshops and gardens. Allow programmatic customization through Application programming interface access and Style override.

Patterns that link here

Personal site orbit
While a personal website is the traditional center of A domain of one's own, people need a space that represents their presence and identity within each digital social environment they join

Gradients of privacy
As people navigate their days, they move through varying degrees of public and private life