For now this seems like it’s a losing battle, but for posterity, and just to give a different perspective and help you think about your project (or perhaps influence someone who creates a different project), I want to address some of these arguments. I say all of this out of love and respect: I wouldn’t be spending the time writing this if you hadn’t already made something which is really awesome.
Overall: privacy is important, but it is not the only Diaspora principle. It is a social network, so to a certain extent there has to be some accommodation of the types of how people actually function in social groups, which, being social, are not 100% private. So:
You need to add your family first and then you can share the photos with them.
This is not how actual humans in anyone’s family works. I can’t “add my family”, they have to choose to add themselves if they aren’t on Diaspora already. It is very hard to get my cousins and aunts to all sign up in advance for what is currently an empty screen that maybe next week we’ll have some cool pictures in it.
You can see it like in real life when you tell them to come over to watch the photos, and when they
don’t come, then they don’t see the photos. When you show more photos the next day and they come
over this time, then they see the new photos, but not the photos from yesterday.
A better real life analogy would be if you refuse to show your wedding album to anyone who you didn’t know at the time you got married. A lot of the purpose that we keep pictures is to tell people about the past experience that make us who we are today. What we do around campfires and at bars when we meet new people is to tell people about what we did in the past, perhaps earlier that day or last month, or whip out our phones and show them pictures of it. The prior set of posts is typically the social media equivalent of that.
sending all your past posts to new contacts would add a lot of load to the network and to smaller pods, because it’s not built for that case
I mean, Diaspora is built to exchange pictures and information between people who want to share it, and that’s what the podmins signed up for. If a person who sharing it elects to share with someone else, even if it’s a repost-to-new-contact, it’s sort of what the network and the pods are there for the first place, right? Do adapt what people want to the technology, or adapt the technology to what people want?
when you have a photo with some people, and they agreed that you share it with a group of people, they maybe don’t agree with sharing that old image with new members of the group
When you allow someone to share a photo or information with the group of people, it’s because you trust the person who’s doing the sharing. If you said that they can share a photo with their friends, then you trust them to share with new friends who are of the same type as their existing friends, and not that they’re going to become friends with 5000 people or all of their ex-girlfriends. Plus it’s not really private, when it has been shared, it can be copied-and-pasted outside the protocol. A social network is never going to be a fortress.
But if they don’t want to use it now, I don’t think they would use it later after you posted all the photos.
Again, this is not how I have observed humans to act in the wild. There’s a big difference between telling an aunt or a cousin or even an old friend from high school “hey there is this cool distributed social network that respect privacy and doesn’t have ads” and “hey there is this cool distributed social network that respects privacy and doesn’t have ads, and it already has a bunch of cute pictures of my daughter from the last few months”. It is the way people work (who are not computer programmers). The second one is much more enticing.
how to code a feature that allows you to do that but doesn’t allow other people to open up private conversations to people whom the earlier commenters would not be happy to be involved
First, I just want to point out that I don’t think that commenters currently would even know who their comments are being shared with, right? If you’re viewing a non-public post because someone has shared with you, all you see on the post is “Limited”, reflective of the asymmetrical nature of aspects. That asymmetry infers a kind of data ownership and control by the person who made the original post: they are the only one who knows who their non-public post was shared with. I wouldn’t make a lot of assumptions about privacy on a post where I don’t even know who my comments are visible to. I have to trust the originator of that post to manage it effectively.
Second, I think this gets back to my trust issue above, if I comment on someone else’s Limited post, I assume that’s part of their data, that I’ve essentially given it to them. If I don’t trust them with it, I wouldn’t be saying that to them. I don’t even know if they’ve shared it with their friends, their family, their acquaintances . . . why would it be bothered if it were shared with new people in those aspects?
Privacy or convenience: which is the more important?
Well, it’s a continuum not a binary. Privacy is one of the pillars of Diaspora , but it’s not the only one. Social-ness and control and freedom are also there. “Convenience” makes it sound trivial, but at a certain point things become so inconvenient that they are just not functional. Certainly if privacy trumped everything, and we trust no one, then a user wouldn’t be posting anything to anyone on the internet (or they would be post it anonymously), and only send emails to people with whom they had exchanged PGP keys IRL. But I would say we were dealing with here is not necessarily convenience, it’s basic functionality as to how people communicate and act in social groups. You have software that is for sharing thoughts and ideas with groups of people. And people want to use this kind of software to communicate their stories as timeline arcs – not just what happened today, but what happened last week, last month.
And if someone simply can’t join D* before you share some important, photo, you could always upload it again after they have joined.
“Hey, Aunt Sally just joined Diaspora, so sorry to the other 30 relatives and family, I have to post this picture again” (or, yeah, I could create an aspect just for Aunt Sally, and oh wait Uncle Jim just joined, another aspect for him . . .). Again, yes privacy is important, but it is one principle of several, and sociability and control are also Diaspora principles.
“But I think you might be in a minority of potential users.”
I’m not exactly alone here. This has been submitted as a github issue at least three separate times, and here we have at least a half dozen people showing up over the last year on this post in Discourse. To the extent that current Diaspora users are not all demanding this, I would assign that to survivorship bias: the kind of people who don’t mind not having this feature are the ones that stay on Diaspora. The kind of people who do mind this sort of thing try out Diaspora and are like “oh that doesn’t work they can’t see my old pictures” and they stop using it.
So, again, not expecting Diaspora core team to change its approach (another item I don’t have time to go into is that some of what is happening here is probably German vs American cultural differences on the balance of functionality vs privacy: differences unlikely to change no matter how much discourse, because they are based on different lived events), but I did want to put this all out there as food for thought and contemplation. The reason I care enough to spend my evening writing this is because I really do want to get my aunts and uncles and cousins and university friends off Facebook, to encourage means of online social communication that are decentralized, open-source, non-corporate, and non-capitalist. Diaspora seems so close. But if I can’t create a honeypot of “here’s cute kid pictures right now if you sign up” (for others it might be vacation pictures last month, or another person talked about a photographer who wanted people to be able to see his portfolio through time), I really don’t think I can do that, because that’s how those people behave. History and past shared experience is important for human social interactions. Maybe you are like “well my information is private, who cares about them,” but this kind of infrastructure changes the world we live in whether we use it or not (see: Analytica, Cambridge). What I want to see in the world, as a matter of general public interest, is open source social networking software that gives ordinary people a means to communicate socially in a way that mimics what they do in real life, minus the exploitation of ads, marketing, and all the rest of the corporate control. To me, worrying about whether a few more people might see my comments on someone’s post a year from now is a distant second place.
Thanks for reading.