How do we get more people involved?

I think diaspora’s biggest problem as a project is lack of people, so I’d like people to share their ideas for how we improve this situation.

Obviously developers are needed but that’s not the only thing, there are many other skills and functions that make a project like this work effectively.

Note: This discussion was imported from Loomio. Click here to view the original discussion.

Is it possible that we could involve some young students at different universities.

For example we could ask a “ruby” professor, that he/she should make some advertisement for this project. Maybe it is possible to involve some student for different easy jobs at diaspora.

Also there are different small projects in universities - you can make a announcement for a small project or a small feature which should be implemented.

Do you understand me idea? :wink:

I think this is a great idea. I’m personally not involved in helping out Diaspora because I haven’t got a clue about Ruby and other developer jobs. However, I would like to be able to contribute in other areas.

This sounds good to me. If students are given tasks in Diaspora development as part of their courses, it could really help. Of course, we needed to be guided by the core devs such as Raven24 and MrZYX, as there may be technical reasons why this wouldn’t work well. But in plain terms of recruiting more devs it sounds like an excellent idea. And students have plenty of time on their hands, and tend to be quite idealistic … perfect!

Another point is to talk about diaspora to big foss foundation / company like RedHat, Mozilla and co. They have a lot of knowledge, great developers and money. If we convince them to use our software, they will probably contribute and do a great job.

Here’s my thinking.

  1. Make it easy to install. We can do this by supporting packaging teams. When getting Diaspora set up is as easy as running “sudo apt-get install diaspora”, and following a configuration prompt. Part of the difficulty that newcomers have with developing for D* is that it’s been harder to set up in a development environment in the past.

  2. Strip out all the junk. We’re in the middle of doing this right now; but cleaning everything up and improving our docs goes a long way towards appealing to new developers.

  3. Make it modular. We ought to think about ways to make it easier to take apart different pieces of D*, especially if we want to ever have an extension/theme/plugin system in the future. Putting federation into its own layer has also been discussed.

  4. We need to fix federation by improving our queuing system; as well as adding global id’s to statuses has also been advocated by Mike Macgirvin of the Friendica project. We might want to think about adopting a new standard to build on, like Tent, or we might want to implement full OStatus compliance. Maybe we could set up the federation layer to have backends that we can switch in and out for talking to different networks that aren’t supported by Tent/OStatus.

  5. Add bigger features. Things like groups, chat, photo albums, apps, these are all things we can figure out in the long run. I think it would also be good to figure out what features are going to be “core features” (features that ship with Diaspora by default), and which ones could be extensions that podmins could add.

  6. Make it beautiful. Design a new default theme/UX as a community so that Diaspora doesn’t just appeal to other developers, but end users as well. Decentralized social is still a concept that isn’t fully understood or realized by most people, but there’s a number of ways we can make it meaningful and appealing. Really, decentralized social needs to be so appealing to people that they’d feel stupid for using centralized services and locking themselves down by being on a network like Facebook.

I also think working with students is a fantastic idea.

Sean, agree with all your points - very well thought-out post there - although I’d say the current UI is great in itself: a case-study in elegant simplicity. All I’d suggest is clearing up the side-bar a bit.

I’d be sad to see this UI go, but in the future I think it could be a good idea to allow users to install their own ‘skins’ so if they find the black-and-white look too boring, they can choose something more colourful.

Just a point on the university students idea… we did this with Loomio and it worked really well. A team of 8 agile web-dev students worked on Loomio for a semester. They knocked out several features for us and one of them is still actively contributing. So yeah, +1 for that idea. =)

I’d say that the way to get more people involved is to do our best not to present as prima donnas. That means being friendly, respectful and inclusive. Diversity widens the gene pool, ya know?

My greatest disappointment in this project is how cloistered and insular this group is. Not everyone, so I do not mean that as a blow torch statement, but I think that is the reputation here.

I think there is just too much ego and it turns people off.

As far as students? I think that might work, but remember, students will be in it for the grades. I don’t think that it is true that students have lots of free time. If they do, they probably aren’t doing well in school, and D* is just a distraction.

Just another side to that idea.

Hi, madamephilo, while you’re here, could you pop over to please? It seems you’re the only admin of that section, and only you can take action. Thanks.

@madamephilo yes I’ve encountered a certain amount of, lets say pricklyness from some people who seem to be heavily involved in the project as if me suggesting a feature or commenting on how something works is a personal affront to their hard work. I know how this works, I’ve got like it myself when I’ve worked hard on something.

Great idea about the students and Mozilla, does anyone have a good contact at Mozilla that we could talk to?

@Sean you make some valid points but much of your post reads like a jobs list, when to me part of the problem is there are not enough people to do the jobs we have already.

@Roger I’m also not able to help out with the coding but I’m trying to help out in other ways by using and promoting D, spotting bugs and simple improvements, and generally pointing things out that aren’t obvious to people who are heavily involved, which I hope is useful.

Robin your concerns have been raised by others. Like me! A few months ago!

This project is for coders and only coders, as I see it. It would be great if there was the maturity to open this up to other people, but the requirement is that you code, and if you don’t stay quiet.

Goob, you are not in the group anymore, I deleted you. If anyone does not want to be in the group “What is Community at Diaspora?” you are more than welcome to leave it. I am not holding anyone hostage there, so please do not represent it that way? Thanks. :slight_smile:

madamephile please don’t be a drama queen - just delete the subgroup as agreed by a vote ok? You are talking about openness but then you yourself don’t follow a clear majority decision.

And please don’t poison our community with slag talk. No one has told you to shut up. Diaspora* welcomes anyone to participate - but you have to participate by DOING something, not just talking about how things should be done.

So my question is - what are you doing to help Diaspora* except complaining that you are not allowed to participate?

To be fair (and because I like playing Devil’s Advocate), what have we really offered to non-developers as far as ways to help are concerned? Really, at the moment our ecosystem favors developers; that in and of itself is fine, but we’ve got quite a few non-coders that would still like to help out.

The truth is, I don’t think we’ve been as inclusive as we should be with non-devs. I could come up with a laundry list of ways just about anybody could help our project out right now, I’d be up to putting something together if Madame Philo and other community collaborators would be interested in making my job a little bit easier.

It’s not enough to tell someone to participate; we ought to come up with some suggestions of things they can help us with. and how. After all, we’re all here for the same reason: to help Diaspora succeed as a platform. :slight_smile:

Sean, any non-developer can start running that show - blaming the developers for not giving action points to non-developers is just wrong :slight_smile:

This project is for coders and only coders, as I see it.

Then you see it wrong (again). I’m not a coder, and I’ve been helping out in little ways for more than a year. This project is at an early stage at which the most activity is software development, but there’s also what we’ve been doing in Loomio - discussing and making decisions about the future direction of the project, and how we will organise ourselves to achieve these aims. And there will increasingly be work in writing documentation, copy for the website, and so on, as the software becomes more highly developed. And - if you want to be supportive of Diaspora - you can write blogs about what’s happening, how the development is progressing, what we hope to achieve in the future, and so on.

It’s plain silly to say that this is an exclusive group, because it has been made clear that anyone is welcome to join and help out, and open invites have been made on Diaspora. If people choose not to bother to join and help out, that is their choice. A small trickle of people have been joining the Loomio group and contributing since it started.

Re your ‘What is community at Diaspora?’ group, the majority vote was for that group to be closed because it was superflous to what is being done on Loomio. Merely kicking me out of the group suggests that you’re trying to form some sort of personal power base.

Sean, by all means write your ‘laundry’ list. You could post it as a blog post, or create an area in Github which are for non-dev projects, so that progress of those projects can be managed. Alternatively, we could reactivate the Teambox account which Yosem set up, it’s an open-source and free of charge (but not FOSS) tool for project management.

I apologise I have not been actively helping out as much as I’d like to have in recent weeks. This is only because of health problems, and I hope I’ll be able to help out more, soon. But would like to see a list of tasks so I could pick out and attempt any I felt up to tackling.

Let me add something positive to this discussion. I’ve looked up my local university (Bristol UK) and found that they have a Computer Science department, and found references to Ruby on their site.

When I have time I’ll give them a call and ask them if it would fit in with any of their courses for some students to contribute to Diaspora. I can also offer them the use of the domain name I’ve bought ( to set up a pod. As well as getting some development done this would create a (hopefully) well maintained UK pod, which there aren’t any of at the moment.

I think these ideas of involving student groups are great - absolutely supported and if anyone can organize something like this then please do! The devs will always be able to help find tasks once such groups are identified.

Unfortunately, there isn’t any lesson about Ruby at my school…