From hearing about diaspora* to becoming a recurrent user

We still have many feedback about diaspora* being “too complicated” to join, especially because of its decentralized nature (so having to choose a pod is a step where we possibly loose many new users).

I thought about it a bit, so here are my thoughts, please tell me what you think.

There are many ways new users can join diaspora*: they can be invited by their friends, they can arrive on the home page of a pod, they can click on the “shared from diaspora*” link of facebook or Twitter… But I’m focusing here on the “they arrive on the official website” one. There still is work to do so that people arrive on the official website and not on or another pod but I will not cover that topic here.

So the typical flow could be:

  1. The persons arrive on the official website and discover what diaspora* is
  2. They are interested about the project and want to register
  3. They arrive on a page to choose a pod, and choose one
  4. They register on the chosen pod
  5. They come back on the pod regularly, they now are diaspora* users!

At each of these steps, visitors can quit and will not become users. It is important to make these steps as easy to cross as possible. It would even be better to reduce the number of the steps. For example, for lazy visitors, we could pick up a pod automatically instead of asking them to choose.

At this point, do you have remarks about the steps? Do you see a different flow?

Step 1: The persons arrive on the official website and discover what diaspora* is

I feel like we could explain more clearly what diaspora* is, why it is like this, and how it works. Currently, the information are divided between the home page and the about page. I have a draft in mind I will try to work on it and share it soon.

Step 2: they are interested about the project and want to register

This can probably be summed up to a bigger button about joining the network. It will be part of my above draft.

Step 3: they arrive on a page to choose a pod, and choose one

Currently the join us button link to a small paragraph on the home page which links to the choose a pod wiki page which itself links to poduptime or the federation which themselves are not very obvious. And we also have the tutorials which explain part of the wiki page but are still linking to it.

I propose to make the Join us! button links to the tutorials, or to modify the home page (see my coming draft), because at the moment, the button is an anchor and when it’s clicked, the page scroll down but on desktop, it’s not obvious where it is going (as the screen is divided in 3 columns). The text can also be more concise and clearer. I’ll work on it.

And there is obviously the idea of picking a pod for the user, removing the hassle of choosing one. As @waithamai pointed in Add list of known pods to the website, the random select feature of has downsides. Picking a pod randomly means maybe picking a friendica one (we can solve that), but also maybe a pod with almost no users so not attractive, or a pod not up to date (we can also solve those points). Then, there is the hardest one: picking a pod which can be trusted, aka well managed, administrated by someone capable, with backups, good uptime etc.

The interesting point is, thanks to @comradesenya, users will soon be able to migrate between pods. That means the initial choice of your pod is not that important anymore as after the discovery phase, users are able to switch or even set up their own pod. So I am wondering (still not sure it is a good idea) if we could have a list of trusted pods where we could redirect the users, probably based on their location. The flow would be the following:

  • The visitors want to register, and simply click a “Join” button
  • They are located in the USA, the closest trusted pod is, they are redirected automatically to the registration page of
  • They start using diaspora* at, discovering many content and users (so creating connections which would have been hard to create on a small pod) without hassles, thanks to a pod greatly administrated and with many users.
  • The dhq account or even the podmin account publish (monthly?) reminders about migrating, either by setting up a pod or to a small one
  • Some users migrate, they don’t feel they are loosing content as the connection with their contacts are still there (and were easier to create than from a small pod)
  • diaspora* still is decentralized!

What do you think? Of course, that would mean a choice about which pods to include in the “trusted” list. Maybe we can start very short, with just, geraspora, and framasphere?

Step 4: They register on the chosen pod

The registration itself is already pretty easy. There still are some possible improvements, like not making the email address mandatory for example, but that’s not a priority imo.

Step 5: They come back on the pod regularly, they now are diaspora* users!

Here is an interesting point. Of course, we could do some marketing common callback, like sending an e-mail after 7 days of inactivity like “here is what you missed!” but I feel there are things to do first that are less intrusive. In my opinion we should first focus on the “getting started” experience. I mainly see two points:

  • Improve explanations about how diaspora* works. We had hundreds of time the same questions by new users on framasphere, so the podmin account now automatically sends a PM to a new user with the basics of diaspora*. Introduce yourself with a #newHere public message, follow tags to discover content and how to get help (the section, who to contact…). The /getting_started flow already does that, but definitely can be improved (as many users crossed it but still are asking questions).
  • Be able to come back! Remembering a pod after choosing it is not obvious. It even gets harder when we picked it automatically for the user! Some of them didn’t even noticed they left the web site. They then try to come back, arrive on or a famous pod like that, try to login, fail, and surrender, thinking diaspora* doesn’t work. My suggestion here is quite simple: send an e-mail to the users once they registered. Something pretty simple, welcoming them, remembering their username, and with a link to the pod. That way, they are able to find where they registered, so they can come back.

So, what’s next? I feel like I can work on the improvements of the diasporafoundation website, and probably on the “welcome new user” email. That’s mainly wording and design, maybe @goob will want to give me an hand?

The “automatic pick up of the closest trusted pod” however means some dev work, so not sure I can create a proof of concept alone. So if the idea is well received, maybe someone else can work on it? We first need to discuss if we want it anyway.


Step 1 does honestly sounds like we might have to consider a few things on the webpage, I am wondering if you are consider something of a redesign since it hasn’t been changed in a bit.

I am not sure if there needs to be anything for Step 2 since, if you are talking the diaspora foundation site then I would assume that the assumption is that by being on the site there is an interest in joining the network. If anything, I would suggest have the wording clear on what we do, and what we provide. OH, and don’t mention facebook… don’t even jokingly reference it. Doing so will invite being compared with it.

This one is going to be hard since, the federation, since it’s inception hasn’t focused on building smaller groups of pods that cover a multitude of subjects. Sure podmins can do that but diaspora and the rest of the federation haven’t (to my knowledge) promoted in such a direction, which makes a lot of pod’s pretty general in the subjects that the can cover.

The issue with this is that, selecting a pod that can handle any subject leaves the pod’s rather broad but for a network that does aim to be social, it would be better to focus on something that a user might be readily able to talk about.
Example: Myself. I like anime, comics and verity of entertainment. If I was looking for a pod, it would be better for me to be located at a pod that accommodates some of my passions than just dumping me at and call it a day. So far that hasn’t been the case, and for a social network, that is kind of glaring.

The only way that I see that changing is pushing the making of new pods into that direction. Because it also helps with…

Part of this happens to be that around most pods are the technical savvy and others, political actors. There are other subjects and communities to empower with a pod. Personally, what has kept me on diaspora is the art community that we have here, some of the pictures that I have seen are breath-taking and keep be coming back.
That said, there are quite a few other hashtags that I watch with not a lot of activity in them, and that would have to change to keep others coming back to diaspora.

There needs to be one pod list (page) associated with the foundation,
possibly a github project page – then the community can contribute.

Pressing “Join us” will then take you directly to that page.

At the top of the page:

Diaspora is a decentralized network of pods.
A pod is a server (computer) running the Diaspora platform (software).

There are reasons for everyone to care about choosing a pod.

  • pods closer to you might respond more quickly
  • your data is bound to the laws of the country where the pod is located
  • the terms of service and privacy policy are determined by each pod owner

If anyone reads that and says “too complicated”,
my reply is “You’re looking for a centralized platform.”

I release that draft via CC0.

I would have two lists.
The top list would be a refined list of pods
that have been around more than a year,
and are running the latest release (or previous version).
The bottom list would contain all pods.

In general I agree @flaburgan.
I just dislike your example-group of trusted pods:

Maybe we can start very short, with just, geraspora, and framasphere?

  • is the second-largest pod in the federation, second-most users (after jd) and second-most active users (after framasphere) I would not like to see the project support this trend.
  • geraspora has closed registrations
  • might be okay but is still pretty big (yes I know you are hoping for the migrations-feature). And has a slightly outdated version
  • framasphere is the biggest pod in active users atm. (and also outdated a little)

I would say: Let’s take a list of all pods from or (or harvest an own). Filter some pods (like private-size pods, closed registration, far outdated…) and remove the five biggest pods.

Then let’s create some type of “quiz”… where are you from? What type of services would you need? What type of user are you (company/organisation/person)? etc. and let’s score the pods and lead to that with the biggest score.

I think I could do that.

And now… as so often… I’m out of time -.- (I hate work!)

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With the current architecture of public post searching we want to make sure the pods are reasonably well populated with daily/monthly users. If we can exclude the top 5 pods and still hit that I would say it makes sense. Otherwise it can look incredibly barren very easily and the new user may get the impression that’s wht the entire ecosystem is like.

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Yep that’s exactly what I thought. Hence my proposal to focus on the big pods first and then promote the migration feature. But as said, I’m still not sure that’s the best idea. I will think more about this “choosing a pod problem”.

Any feedback on the other points? I will not have time to work on the draft of the new diaspora foundation home page before next week unfortunately so maybe it’s too soon to ask for opinions.

I think the e-mail suggestions are spot on: both sending a registration e-mail and perhaps reminder type e-mails. Lost accounts by picking (or having been picked) an esoteric server and then not remembering the URL is a problem mentioned by people I’ve seen in discussions around here (or maybe it was a thread on Diaspora proper) that it’d be interesting to overcome. The registration e-mails and reminder e-mails can at least help give them a clue. I know we don’t want to go to central registration in the service proper and a stated position on a Github thread on this topic was essentially “tough don’t forget your username or server”. If there was a commonly used, but not required, registration portal that most users interacted with and did these things that supported a “Forgot username” feature that could also be helpful. Maybe joindiaspora could track that and if someone tried to log into it with their full username it redirects to the appropriate pod?

This may be a tangent, and we can stop it at this point and create a new thread if it is, but the other concern about the pods are: security, data integrity, and availability. We have metrics on the last one pretty well nailed down. How do we ensure recommended pods have the other two squared away? One thought I had was to have scripts running that can feed a status end point, like our pod stats piece does. Maybe have a Lynis (open source tool) script that takes care of the first part and some other automated status checks that can be performed. That way there can be some warmer fuzzies that the pod is secure, their data isn’t going to accidentally disappear, it’s not overly burdened with daily users, etc.

Like I said: I think we shouldn’t force the concentration. This is a problem many decentral services face and I’m afraid people will not migrate in masses if there is no reason.

At the moment if someone asks me to recommend a pod (and I know nothing about the person) I do this:

Well and this is the list I recommend as tradeoff between “enough public content” (more but 500 active users) and “good for the network” (don’t let the biggest grow, instead let the second line catch up).

And this is only for normal personal accounts.
For typical “senders” like accounts with no need in much public postings like: RSS-Bots (or similar), corporations, other organisations etc. so accounts with the need to send their stuff to the world but with no need to get much postings wich ain’t explicitly sent to them. Those should register on a very small pod and try to find contacts on many (maybe all) pods to spread their messages.

Well I like most points you wrote

To be honest: I’m not sure if I want stupid users. Yes this was polemic but… you know I hear over and over again nobody would understand this “decentral”-thingy but must people use email, and nobody wonders why they can to a call from telecom to ATNT but “I have to choose a provider” (alias “pod”) is too complicated yah? Goddamnit!
Well I don’t have a solution because I just don’t get it why people say they don’t understand this decentral-aspect. Maybe it is because diaspora* has that “facebook killer”-image. But diaspora* isn’t like facebook it’s more like GNUsocial.

I am not sure if “they surf by the official site” is the most common way to find to diaspora* I hope it is but I don’t know, maybe we should do a poll or ask our contacts. But you wanted to assume this as the way you’d like to discuss here and I’d say your points are very right!

Erm where is the about-page? XD

Oh yes please make it clear. I “often” (like 3-5 times a year) register an account on some pod and usually I don’t setup a real mailadress, but I have to type in a fake-adress because the signup-form doesn’t accept it if I don’t.
@zauberstuhl told me once he deletes accounts when their mails bounce. Too bad, so maybe this should be the choice of the podmin.

Yes I agree.
I wrote I register accounts sometimes and sometimes I use a real mailadress. And one or two pods wrote me automated emails after I didn’t log in for a year or something and told me they would delete the account if I don’t come back. This was very okay (for me), I could decide if I want to keep that account or not and it would be easy to save it or to release it.

Well I think this thing is good in general but it’s a little overwhelming for new users. It’s just a huge bunch of information they face. Maybe we should create some type of… well I don’t know, maybe “quest” like the achivements here in discourse. Get a task, (like “write a public #newhere post” or “tell us your interest by setting up the five tags” etc.) fullfill the task, (get an achievement) get the next task I would love to see this as a bot doing but I’m afraid a bot cannot check every task it assigns. (like: didn’t the person write a bio if it doesn’t share with the bot).

Good idea. Of coarse this only works if the user has setup a valid mailadress, so a mail-validation is needed (while that validation might allready be the welcome-message you wrote about). If the user did not setup a mail adress maybe a splash-screen would help: “Things you need to remember besides your password: Your diaspora*-ID is and your pod is you have to come back here to log in”. Btw. the login-dialog should accept the username and the full id with the pod-url. If it isn’t the right pod it should just route the user to her pod. If the username is unknow it might be an idea to search for that username (like users search for users) and ask the user “is one of these your id? *list of hits*”

I mostly agree with @deusfigendi here (I also fixed the quotes in your last answer, I hope that’s OK).

That’s very true, nobody would leave a pod if there is no reason, if it works, they will stay. So we should decentralize from the beginning. Also monthly reminder-posts (which fla suggested) would just be annoying and spam, so I don’t want to do that. Also I wouldn’t recommend to migrate for fun. It still is a new identity (new ID), and it can’t be undone

I would use monthly active users (because when they had a big registration-storm 5 month ago, the 6 month could be high, but the pod could already be very inactive) and use everything between 500 and 100 (or maybe just everything above 100 and drop the top 5), which are already online for some month and have the latest version (or maybe second latest if there just was a new release).

Also a little quiz that asks you for the country (chose a pod near you for faster ping) and language (for communicating with the podmin) and maybe some more stuff would be useful.

A welcome/confirmation email would be useful, first you can search the mail later to remember your pod and/or username and second we can disable mail for invalid addresses which would mean less bouncing emails.

I’m not sure if this would work when it isn’t federated (if your friends can’t see your achievements, as they can see it here on discourse). And if you build something like this federated, it would be much more complicated, so I don’t know if it’s worth it. Also it could easily be faked (just send all achievements to all your friends) which would make it completely useless.

I disagree with this one. Fla already suggested that here, but I still think it’s a bad idea to redirect to other pods or show other known users. This could be a privacy issue, especially for users who wish to not be searchable and it’s also a bad idea to look like “you can just login on any pod, we redirect you”, because you still send your password to the wrong pod, and we shouldn’t support doing that.

That’s exactly the point here. When they don’t understand how pods work and why they should login to their pod, then they should probably just go back to whatever centralized service they used before.

Nobody would go to google-mail to login to their yahoo account and google wouldn’t redirect you to yahoo because they found your mail-address in an addressbook of one of their users.

mmmh okay! XD (Thank you)

As examples I’d like to call other “decentral” services, just to mention: hotmail/gmail/outlook on email and on XMPP and had to go away to decentral GNUsocial.
Sure, all those services don’t have a migration feature afaik but still… decentral networks tend to concentrate on a few nodes/providers.

I think the reminder was meant to get a user back who wrote a #newhere posting and left and never came back. I don’t think @flaburgan meant “every month” but “after ONE month if there was no activity” (and not after the second month XD). But you both wrote it’s a bad idea.

This should be automated. I don’t think we should take concrete numbers while the network is growing (or should we? Maybe it’s not a bad idea to let pods grow to 100 monthly users).
In the end I would do some kind of scoring. So a “good” number of 6m-users gives you score and a “good” number of 1m-users gives you score what results in: Most pods with a good 1m-user-number will get both.

Yah okay we should mention our small discussion about languages and such a quiz.
I wanted to create a mokup for such a quiz but I think I will not do it this morning, expect it at well maybe this afternoon 16:00 CET.

Ah you missunderstood, the point ain’t the achivements. The point is more to make the /getting_started flow a little… well less confusing.
At the moment you get a huge bunch of information all over your diaspora* page and it say “here look at the sidebar” and “here write a #newhere post” and “whoa look this is your stream” and “you can check your profile/settings” etc. So you see a lot of those yellow (?) bubbles and boxes and texts and you try to get all this stuff but in the end it’s somehow just confusing and in your line of sight.
Don’t get me wrong: I love this thing, I especially loved it when it was new (or when I discovered it XD). But I think it’s a little overwhelming for new users.

So and the idea was to split this information into small steps into many little tasks you can fullfill and get a new task. There is no need of “achievement” you can show to your friends, maybe for yourself maybe not visible at all, because it’s just a checkmark in the database “user did quest/task no.5”.

Think of it like a tutorial in a video game, step by step you get new tasks and quests which are getting more and more complex (maybe) and if you mastered all you know how to play the game. And you can stop whenever you think you allready know the game good enough.

I see and agree… maybe just the very first sentence?

(if it isn’t allready the case and I don’t know it).
So what I mean: should accept supertux as a username but also (and maybe even the mailadress?) because we tell the users “this is your username, this is your diaspora_id and this is your diaspora*-handle and this is you pod and…” and in the end they might think they must login using their mailadress, as at many other platforms.

Feel free to fix my formation flaws XD and I appreciate you informed me.

Oh a last word on this thread and to @flaburgan in general: I forgot to thank you for the ideas and the thread at the end of my reply. This might be kinda… German-efficiancy-rudeness so no offence meant when I concentrate on criticism, whatever I don’t mention is “done” by the first paragraph:

No, I meant this:

And I think monthly posts with the same text are annoying (we already have some of these posts, but accounts posting such weekly/monthly posts often end on my ignore list (and I don’t think it’s a good idea when people start ignoring the hq account :wink: ).

The /getting_started is the first page where you enter your name, avatar and some tags to follow, I think that is not very confusing and you can just skip it, if you don’t want it. But I think you mean the first visit of the stream?

Ah, you mean just a list of things people should do with checkboxes? So something like “your profile is 50% finished” that I saw on some other sites? And you can come back to this checklist later and complete it. I think that should be pretty easy to do. Maybe it doesn’t even need flags in the database for it, we can just check if a user has followed tags, or a avatar, or whatever :slight_smile:

I did that again: [quote] and [/quote] need to be on their own line, otherwise they aren’t recognized, but you can see that in the preview. If you don’t want to add these newlines you can just use simple markdown quotes with > quoted text :slight_smile:

Summary of this post: Yes Supertux88, yes and yes.

Ah okay, I was wrong about this.

Yes I do.

Well I don’t know about “checkboxes” here but: Yes, in general you got the idea. I thought about a bot who sends you a PM saying “hey, did you know you can fill your profile with five tags describing you. Do so and others will be able to find you by searching for those tags. But be careful: These self describing tags are always public, everyone can see them.”
And if the user did that another PM pops up: “Hey cool, you did the describe-yourself-in-5-words challange. Well talking about tags, try by yourself, search for a #hashtag to find interesting people”
And that task would be done if the user searched to a hashtag with at least one match on the people-column.

And so on. But for example a bot wouldn’t be able to check if you searched for something but the behavior could be similar to someone writing PMs to you (so the first task might be “read your messages”). And PMs… you can read and ignore them and maybe you fullfill the task by accident but you could keep ignoring it.
So that’s the idea atm.

I did that again: [quote] and [/quote] need to be on their own line

Ah okay, but why? This is not usual for BB-Code and BB-Code is meant to be “simplified HTML” and I can type HTML-Elements on as many lines I’d like to. DISCOURSE SUCKS! ;D

I thought I did :confused:

I think that’s way to complicated to build and also suboptimal in some points: It wouldn’t change the language when you change your settings, it wouldn’t update when something changes and it would be weird when you answer to the conversation but it’s only a bot that doesn’t answer your questions. Also it would just fill the database with useless bot-conversations.

I think a simple list with things a users should do at some point after the signup (set a name, avatar and tags to e found better, and write a newhere post, for example) and it could be done with a simple list with ticks in front of things already completed. This can also be updated when something changes or even elements added when there is a need for that because of new features.

If you want to have a full blown tutorial for all features, we could just link to the current tutorial or if that isn’t enough we could create an in-app tutorial with pop-overs as they are currently when you open the stream the first time, which would work much better (and also can be updated with changes) than a bot writing you messages.

Except those services aren’t in one giant “E-mail” system banner in one giant ecosystem. They are obviously independent services that communicate with each other over an established protocol. The e-mail analogy is good to describe federation to a point, but when we extend it too far it starts breaking down. Diaspora, Friendica, etc. appear as one ecosystem. People expect a different experience from them.

And yes, I do want Diaspora, or these other social internet alternatives to appeal to every day “stupid” users that want to get off Facebook, Twitter, etc… If putting something like what’s being discussed in front of the federated system helps that process I fail to see the problem with it.

Actually, that’s interesting. The foundation doesn’t provide a pod, nor a service. It provides a protocol (like SMTP). It also provides a software (diaspora) but nothing force you to use it to “speak” diaspora (see social home, ganggo, friendica…). And I would also love to see some very customized pods which would still be “diaspora” but… different. That would mean something nice.

No worries at all, I’m open to all remarks as long as they’re constructive.

So apart for the work on the official website that I still have to present (I should be able to work on it this week), I will work on the “Welcome email”. I also note this interesting idea about gamification of the registration, although it can be seen as intrusive for the user so it should be easily hiddeable.

I have been running a pod and using it for all of one week, so take my comments with a grain of salt. But my goal (which might not be everyone’s goal) for using diaspora is to largely replace Facebook. I am interested in private conversations, mainly with my close existing friends, in a social media style way. In particular, I’m not looking for a new way to meet random Internet people who might be cool. I have sufficient mechanisms for that. The only way that works, though, is if my friends, family, and people that had been using Facebook come with me. Most of those friends, family, and colleagues are not as technical as me and not able to do very much more than click a “join” button and click a few basic “share” buttons. I don’t know how to bring friends and family with me.

There are so many things that big social media platforms do to encourage people to flesh out their experience. Everything from “your profile is X%” complete feedback to “click here to suck in all your contacts”. Diaspora, in being hands-off and privacy respecting, does not give people who want to the ability to migrate their social media experience.

I feel like groups and group functionality is absolutely vital. And it needs to be named ‘groups’. It needs to map onto people’s existing expectations. That’s key to discoverability.

Groups of users have gravity. When a leader tells their group “let’s all do this on diaspora”, we get the synergy and network effects that the big social media platforms get. If we insist on only dealing with individuals, we’ll never get the gravity and network effects.

The discussion about the group feature in diaspora* is here. I agree new features is a way to have more recurrent users, but that’s not the topic of this thread, which is about improving user experience with the current software scope.

Ok. Being “recurrent” requires having people I want to talk to and people I want to hear from. The first thing a new user needs is something/someone to interact with. I’ll ignore the value that groups brings to that conversation.

Do we have the ability to help find “people you might know”? What about setting up the equivalent of a “bridge” like they did for Mastodon? Where people authorise the app to search their followers and find equivalent accounts in the fediverse? Could we create a similar thing for diaspora?

And what about people who aren’t looking to meet random people? Just people they already have some connection to?