Choosing a pod (Trusting a pod)

For a new user, the majority of resources seem to be focused around helping them find a pod that accepts new users, and one that has services you want, and maybe one that is more geographically close to you.

Unfortunately a significant part of the choice is a question of privacy and trust in the podmin, and this often goes unmentioned. On the pod uptime site, for example, only 11 pods have any sort of podmin statement. Many pods have no information at all about who operates them. For a private pod this is entirely understandable, but it should be unreasonable to expect any new user to sign up with a pod with an unknown operator.

So, partly as a personal question, and partly as a concern for the expansion of the diaspora network / the Federation, how does a user find a trustworthy pod?

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Yes I had the same problem. I even wondered why is it not possible to follow tags of particular pods.

I have an account for joindiaspora and didn’t want tonfollow particular people but tags.

If you don’t know the podmin personally, it might be difficult. One possibility would be to contact the podmin by mail and ask for more information, it may give you a more secure feeling. If you have a serious privacy concerns, you can also operate your own pod. I am running a small pod because it is fun, and it is my way to support the Diaspora* community.

Maybe it would be good to require or at least highly recommend having a podmin statement, and have that statement visible from the signup page?

I find it sort of bizarre that out of the links on the main page footer,

Powered by Diaspora* — Project discussions and support — What’s new? — Code — Pod statistics — Terms

only Terms and Statistics are relevant to the pod itself, and statistics is just an automatically generated page.

In fact, unless someone has customised their pod’s homepage, the only page that can give you any clue about who operates it is the terms of service, and even that is often just an auto-generated template.

As a user, both What’s New and Project Discussions seem like they should be about the pod itself - there is already a link to the diaspora* project on the left side. Wouldn’t it make more sense to have the code version link, link to a local page about what’s new in the recent update? And the Project discussions link could be removed entirely since it is again, not talking about the pod, but Diaspora*, which already has a link on the far left. This would leave you with:

Powered by Diaspora* — Code x.y.z — Pod statistics — Terms

with Code x.y.z being a link to a /version page which could be

source for this pod: link to /source.tar.gz

What’s new in this version:

  • blah
  • bar
  • foo

Actually could this then leave enough room for an About this Pod page?


In my opinion, if you care a lot about your data, you should set up your own pod.


That’s very true, but its not always feasible. Especially if someone just wants to try out Diaspora*, having to set up your own server is enough to make most people not bother.

That’s what the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy are for. Every pod has one; it’s up to the individual podmin whether they keep the default terms or modify them. A prospective user can use what the terms say (including whether or not there is any modification by the podmin) to help them decide whether this is the pod for them.

It is not possible to require any individual podmin to do anything in a distributed network built on Free Software. The project has given podmins the ability to do this, by providing a Terms and Privacy Policy into the core software, which podmins can adapt to their hearts’ content.

That’s why @comradesenya is working hard on the migration feature: you will soon be able to register on a pod, try it for a few weeks without important data, and once you decided diaspora* interests you, you can set up your own pod and move your account there :wink:

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Knowing someone only through a Terms of Service document is not, in my opinion, a good foundation for trust. It is entirely possible that a podmin may never have even looked at the terms that they are supposedly abiding by. A few pods I found even had broken terms pages, with the podmin email variable names sitting in unformatted text.

There is obviously no way to mandate something for all pods, but if the diaspora* network is to expand, I do not think you can expect every user to run their own pod. If people who are not going to use private pods cannot easily find a podmin to trust, I suspect they will not even bother trying Diaspora*.

If the choice for a prospective user is between Facebook/LinkedIn/VKontakte/whatever and some random podmin, I think people will stay with the devil they know, rather than a devil they can find very little information about.

I guess what I am trying to say is that far too much attention is paid to choosing a pod, when choosing a podmin is really what matters.

It probably does not help that unlike GNU Social or a forum, more content on Diaspora* is considered private which just increases the trust required for someone to sign up.

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I’m new to Diaspora and don’t get the pod thing. I’ve evidently already managed to successfully create an account. Why do I need a pod too??

Hi there,
Have a look at the Diaspora website, which gives a simple explanation of how the network is set up. Also have a look at the tutorials for new users, which will explain all that you need to know.

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hmmn, thanks for pointing me in the right direction. I think I fall in the same category as a lot of people who may be looking to an alternative to fb, in that I just want to sign up to a similar site without all the targeted ads and ethical questions.
I was hoping I could just do a quick sign up without having to do a lot of reading or get involved in anything remotely techy. (which is through sheer laziness I admit)

Would you mind if I ask a simple yes or no question; Now that I have an account, do I have to choose a pod?

@davidcharlton diaspora* is a decentralized network that consists of many individual servers. Each diaspora*-server is called a “pod”. As a normal user, you don’t need to run a server (pod) to use the network. You only need to know the url of the site where you signed up on. This site is “your pod” :slight_smile:
So, when you already have an account, you’ve already chosen a pod - you don’t need to do anything else, just continue using your account!

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Perfect. Thank you soooo much. That is exactly the infinite wanted. :smiley:

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Yes, just as Waithamai said, your account is on a ‘pod’, and that’s all you need to connect to the whole network. Sorry, I was in a rush and thought linking to the simple explanations on the website was the best way to help you.

Do read the tutorials I linked to at some point, as they will help answer a lot of your questions. If you have any questions that aren’t answered there, post a public post on Diaspora with the #help tag, and community members will help you.

Hope you enjoy using Diaspora.

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No worries. Thanks for your help. I should def read the tutorials and will do at some point :slight_smile:

Has anyone here considered getting in touch with their local public library about hosting a pod? Libraries are built on respecting user privacy and acting in people’s best interest. They also often have extra computer resources available. I believe this makes them ideal candidates for hosting personal data, and diaspora* could be just the right platform for them to use!

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