Beliefs and Principles Guiding the Urbit Project

We believe.

May 10, 2016

Curtis Yarvin + Galen Wolfe-Pauly

~sorreg-namtyv + ~ravmel-ropdyl


We believe that general-purpose computing is an essential tool to unlock the power of individual creativity.

We believe that ownership, privacy and control don't need to be sacrificed in exchange for usability, accessibility and reliability.

We believe in the power of the informed crowd to develop and maintain software, through the IETF principles of sincerity and rough consensus. The ability of the engineering community to govern itself through republican forms is not an abstract theory; it's a proven fact.

We believe in both free speech and individual accountability. We believe that a healthy network is one with diverse and well-defined communities, and clear, user-controlled, boundaries between public and private space.

We believe that no software system can replace human trust and communication. Dialogue, judgment and governance are essential to communities of all scales. Code and law can reduce conflict in the common case; they can never handle all exceptions.


Here are some principles of Urbit. Where principles conflict, the first stated takes precedence.

Digital independence

Digital independence is independent control of your own general-purpose computer which holds your own primary data. Urbit's ultimate purpose is to make practical digital independence a useful and widely available product.

Code is law

Wherever possible, the rules of Urbit must be executable as code. Wherever possible, code must be self-enforcing. If not, it must be perfectly defined. If not, it must not be stated.

Sovereignty is conserved

Even where code is law, exceptional situations demanding effective collective action will always arise. There must always be a collective authority to solve these problems.

Two known problems in Urbit that require central authority are approval of software updates and activation of the network. But there will certainly be others.

Purpose of collective authority

Urbit, as opposed to the Tlon corporation, is a republic. Its government has one task: promoting, preserving and protecting Urbit. It may take any legal action which advances this goal. Any other actions are ultra vires, out of scope. Urbit is not a general-purpose charity.

Decentralized control

Urbit should never fall under any kind of central control. All transitions in galaxy ownership should divide positions, not unite them.

Galaxy and star ownership should also be separated. It is harmful for a single entity to hold both galaxies and stars.

Property is contingent

Property rights are contingent and accidental, not moral or meritorious. A property register does not record why an owner deserves some property. Ownership is neither a reward nor a right; it is a fact.

Governance is by stake

Ultimately, Urbit must be governed by those who own it. In each tier, equal stakes must hold equal authority.


Urbit does not admit a tradeoff between anarchy and tyranny, order and liberty. Urbit has zero tolerance for abuse, nor does it facilitate censorship.

Urbit will do everything possible to help you block content you don't want to see. It does nothing to help you block content you don't want others to see.

Trolling considered harmful

If you post content on Urbit which may offend or disturb any significant group of users, it is your responsibility to mark it properly for automatic blocking.

Sockpuppets considered harmful

The only legitimate reason for one individual to use multiple identities is to maintain multiple active pseudonyms. But multiple identities must never interact in the same context.

Not a darknet

Urbit is not a darknet. It does not break real-world laws. It is not designed to facilitate the breaking of real-world laws. For any problem that lawbreakers have, there must always be a better solution that is not Urbit.

Responsibility to route

As long as they are not facilitating violations of any of these principles, or laws in their own jurisdictions, stars and galaxies are responsible for routing their children. They are also collectively responsible for escape-routing the children of stars and galaxies which fail in their responsibility.