Stems Social is a new server on the Bluesky social network supporting Handshake domains.
Bluesky is building an open protocol for decentralized social media. Bluesky uses domain names as handles, which gives users greater trust and control over their social identities online; this enables portability for not only your identity, but your network graph as well. By deferring to DNS for identity, you can tell which accounts are authentic based on the websites they’re associated with.
Domain names are an elegant solution for identity verification. DNS is an internet scale naming system that is already largely decentralized, except for the root zone. The root zone sits atop the DNS hierarchy and is controlled by ICANN. They decide who gets to own top-level domains and how they operate.
Handshake extends the DNS root zone onto its own open root namespace secured by proof of work. Doing so removes gatekeeping of top-level domains (TLDs) for more neutrality and transparency. Handshake is backwards compatible with DNS – designed to fit neatly into existing services for nameservers, web hosting, domain registrars, browsers and, yes, now Bluesky.
Stems Social is a “Personal Data Server”, or “PDS”, that uses a Handshake fullnode to verify Handshake domains as handles and resolve them to Bluesky DIDs.
We own the .stems top-level domain on Handshake and provide each user a .stems subdomain (e.g. alice.stems). However, users do not need a Handshake resolver themselves. The Stems Social server is accessible through frontends including the main Bluesky web client staging.bsky.app, the iOS app, and the Android app.
Users can then supply their own domain name to use as their handle, which can be either a traditional domain or Handshake domain. Allowed Handshake domains include subdomains on your own top-level domains (e.g. bsky.alice), subdomains from Handshake registrars (e.g. alice.tx), and Ethereum subdomains following the HIP5 standard (e.g. alice.records).
Note: Federation is not yet enabled in Bluesky (i.e. don't expect posts on the main bsky.social server to show up on Stems and vice versa). This will likely change as Bluesky evolves overtime.
Stems enables a variety of identity use cases.
Use subdomains under your own self-custodied TLD. No third party registrar is required.
Real name handles
Superlink is a registrar for first dot last name domains with over a million available last name TLDs.
Community namespaces like .records for music or .tx for Texans can organize on bluesky around a collective identity.
Entities with reserved TLDs, like Brave and Cloudflare, as well as other orgs can use subdomains as organization-wide naming (e.g. brendan.brave).
*Updated on April 26th
Invites are temporarily closed while we work on our new verification system. Further updates to come.
Fascinating! Out of curiosity, are you running the Bluesky team's open source Typescript PDS, with handshake extensions? Or did you write your own?
So when are you rolling out new invite codes