Splash screen for Grandparents and nontechnical users

Facebook dropped the ball and a unique window of opportunity has just open up for Diaspora*, to attract new users, in mass, but it will close just as fast.

Let there be a prompt on the home page, or a splash screen, that allows a new user to select one, of two paths, into the rabbit hole when experiencing their first impression of the project, when registering as a new user. One path is for people, such as grandparents who are more accustom to a dial-up phone or anyone else who eschews computer jargon, who are not technically inclined, and the other path leads to the current set-up employed to both inform and register a new user.

Create an automated system to assist a new user who wants to create an account, keep it simple, really simple, for individuals who are not technical or proficient with a computer. Many people don’t care about a centralized or decentralized network, don’t yet care if their data is being harvested and sold (on FB), don’t care about pods, hard drives, or wingnuts for that matter, so make the automated system for these people who just want to create an account to socialize with their friends/family and/or the global community. In time, if these new users return and continue to use the system and develop the curiosity to discover more about how diaspora* works, they can peruse the wiki and tutorials at their leisure.

Registration log-in prompts a new user for a diaspora* ID, but I have yet to find any information on the site to explain both what it is and what I should enter, so I left it blank.

If not a splash screen, atop the web page, offer two radio buttons for registering a new account. One might say, “New user non-technical registration” and the other “Registration for computer programmers”.



Here is a real-time example, earlier today a user on Facebook attempt to encourage his friend to join diaspora*, to which the user Justin Winland replied, “too much work”. I don’t know the guy, but he appears to be a middle age man who admires Mark Twain, so if he has a problem with diaspora* I can only imagine that people like my father will not even get past the home screen, let alone register an account.

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I am an elder and a writer doing quantum reality work. I want a membership site w entry via my site and tho I have a great host w many of the tools used here I just do not have time. I am looking for geek help. Anyone available. My site is WP.

Contact me asap please. My material is being stolen and I want this to be a quantum learning center and marketplace…anyone? I do not want a splash screen, tho I need that. I want a private hub. Thanks, np

There is already such a system in process.

On the project’s home page there is a ‘Sign up’ button. Clicking that takes you to PodUptime. At the top of that page is a button that reads ‘Confused? Auto pick a pod for you’. Click that and you’ll be taken to the sign-up page of a random pod. Eh bien voilà!

That should be simple enough for anyone who wants to move to a new network. But user inertia is a different matter. Some people will want to stay on Facebook, and that’s fine.

Sorry, but this response denotes part of the problem, a complicated way to resolve complicated instructions, go figure? Employing good ergonomic design, a new user should not need to waste time experiencing frustration to explore a “simpler” avenue.


Choosing a pod is a fundamental aspect of joining this distributed network.

You could simply send them your pod’s URL if you think it’s going to be a problem.

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I’ll try one more time to convey what seems obvious to me. Imagine that you are a person who has absolutely no interest in computers other than to turn it on, point and click to open a web program like Firefox, Explorer, or Chrome, point and click to open a web program like Facebook, answer a few questions to register an account, point and click to post a message on a social network, etc. These individuals do not have any interest to learn about what’s a pod, what’s a distributed network, what’s a URL, all they want is a social network that isn’t going to market their personal data. These people have just as much a reason to enjoy using a good social network system, as well as people who want to indulge in tech speak and jargon, but diaspora* is not accessible to these people.

I guess it isn’t possible, being too difficult, to use a programming language to completely automate the registration process for those people who will never take the time to learn about the term URL, yet can enter their personal information to register with Facebook? I guess these nontechnical people don’t deserve access to diasopra*?

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

  • pods closer to you will probably respond more quickly
  • your data is bound to the laws of the country where the pod is hosted
  • the terms of service and privacy policy are actually determined by each pod owner
  • pods with more members will likely have more connections and therefore more content returned in a tag search

“Registration log-in prompts a new user for a diaspora* ID, but I have yet to find any information on the site to explain both what it is and what I should enter, so I left it blank.”

The diaspora ID is like username@podname.com
I’m not sure where it is prompting you for that.
When I register at a pod it asks for a username.
When I login it also asks for a username.

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Please note, I am not trying to suggest that much of anything be changed with the current system, merely that a new feature be created on the homepage to expedite an automated registration for nontechnical people, to get their foot in the door, to register, but so far, the traffic we are generating is not interested. The current layout of the homepage is too technical for the target audience that I am trying to help. The layout of diaspora* may appear to be straight forward, simple, plain, and easy to navigate, to people accustom to computers, but there are people who find that it is overwhelming, “too much work”. The news cycle will eventually phases out the FB issue, when it is no longer in the headlines, and the opportunity to attract new users will fade with it, along with my comments.

Re: diaspora* ID, during the process to enter information to register I was prompted to enter a diaspora* ID along with my name, user name, email, etc.

Interesting project. I took notice when it was founded but have not yet used it.

Perhaps someone can suggest another social network, similar to diaspora*, that is easier to use for my target audience?

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

There are reasons to care, yes, but that does not mean people will care, or will know why to care.

The concept of a “pod” was not intuitive to me, and I am a software developer. I wonder what less technologically-savvy users think, which definitely seems to be the concern of OP.

The “reasons for everyone to care” are great points, though, and would likely be the cornerstone of a fantastic UX improvement to get people into Diaspora more simply.

On the diasporafoundation home page, I click “Join Us” and then see:

Find a pod that suits you. You might prefer a smaller pod, one which allows cross-posting to external services (such as Twitter), one based near you, or one based in a country that you know has good data security policies… The choice is yours! You can even host a pod yourself if you have some sysadmin skills.

I get no explanation of what a Pod is, or why I should care. There’s something about Twitter, but I thought this wasn’t Twitter or Facebook… I’m confused.

What if, instead, the text addressed the reasons for caring?

Instead of the text above, what if there was something more like this:

Welcome to the Diaspora community! To create an account on Diaspora, please choose your country so your data is safely stored within your country:
[[ Dropdown menu to choose country ]] and perhaps a few country flag icons to click on so some users don’t even need to use the dropdown

That gives context to why someone should care about a Pod, and an action to perform to move to the next step of signing up.

And I bet lots of people can understand and even enjoy picking their own country, giving them a little more assurance that their data will be in safer hands (or so we hope!).

In the meantime, to get around the confusion of what a Pod is for my less technical friends, I have simply encouraged them to go to https://diasp.org

It’s worked for at least one friend of mine who is not a software developer, which I consider a success! :tada:

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Mr. Becker, Thank you! I appreciate the new link and will use it.

On the project’s home page there is a ‘Sign up’ button. Clicking that takes you to PodUptime2. At the top of that page is a button that reads ‘Confused? Auto pick a pod for you’. Click that and you’ll be taken to the sign-up page of a random pod. Eh bien voilà!

I noticed this when I first looked at Diaspora earlier this week.

I clicked it and was very concerned with what I saw, which is this:
39 AM

Problems for me, a technologically-savvy computer user:

  • The domain is .it - um, this is in Italy? I do not live there, so I do not want my data there.
  • There’s a skull and crossbones… this sure does not seem friendly, and seems straight out of a 1990s movie about computer hacking
  • There is ZERO information about who runs this, and the domain name and skull and crossbones makes me think

That should be simple enough for anyone who wants to move to a new network

The three things bullets I mentioned above led me to not use this approach. I just tried it again and I was sent to a .de domain.

I see there are countries in the list on PodUptime. Could a button be added, or the current button modified, to randomly choose a Pod in your same country? It looks like the page already does country detection, since any value of “US” in the Location column is green for me, and that’s where I am located.

Can some Pods decline to be included in the “Auto pick a pod” button, too? I have a feeling this hubzilla.it site is not interested in any old random person signing up, hence the imagery and sparse homepage.

Just some thoughts. Glad to read all this chatter - I really hope more people can come to use a distributed system like Diaspora!

You bet Jeremy. Just a heads up, though, that I picked a Pod at random from the list on PodUptime - I don’t know if it’s the best, and I unfortunately don’t know who runs it or if I should be trusting them with my data.

But I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt for now, especially because it will make this all simple for my friends and encourage moving away from Facebook :slight_smile:

hubzilla.it is actually a hubzilla “hub”, which I guess is running the diaspora addon,
thereby allowing it to federate with diaspora pods.
I didn’t realize they included hubs in that list.
On one hand, it’s nice that they include that since hubzilla is the other platform I recommend.
On the other hand, it seems more logical to only have a list of diaspora pods,
since people came (in theory) to use the diaspora platform, not just be a part of the network.
I would put hubs in a secondary list, and exclude them from the random choice.

I would probably replace the random choice button.
My first thought is to have it ask if it’s OK to check the person’s location,
and then choose a pod in that country or nearest that country,
possibly the one with the most users.

Please note that PodUptime is a separate project, run by the podmin of diasp.org (one of the longest-established Diaspora pods). It has its own GitHub repository, so if you want to suggest changes to PodUptime, follow the GitHub link on its home page.

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That is one of the most difficult things in choosing a home in a decentralised network, and in a free-software project in which anyone is free to install and use – and even adapt – the software, it’s difficult to know how to improve that situation for prospective users.

One thing to consider is the length of time a pod has been running. PodUptime’s detailed view shows how long a pod has been running, and its uptime. If a pod has been going a long time there’s a better likelihood that anything bad about it will have become evident, and if its uptime is good, that shows it’s reliable.

But yes; if you’re using a pod run by someone else, you are trusting them with your data. Diaspora gives two freedoms here: the freedom to choose which pod to trust (which can be difficult, as you’ve all been saying), and the freedom to choose how much information about yourself you give. You don’t have to use your real name and you don’t even have to provide a real email address. So you can limit the data available to your podmin.

The ideal would be for pod installation and maintenance to be so simple that even non-technical users can run their own pod, just like installing and running any other app. But in spite of much work on this, there’s still a long way to go before that becomes a reality.

.it is indeed the top-level domain for Italy, but that doesn’t mean that is where the server is located. The server running hubzilla.it appears to be located in Germany (you’ll find a lot of nodes located there, because the country has some of the best privacy protections in law).

You can use Flagfox’s Geotool IP lookup to find where a domain’s server is located, and whois.com is useful for finding out information about the person who registered a domain.

One thing you can do is connect with the network by setting up a pod on a random pod and giving away the minimum information about yourself (fake name, fake email address), and then ask Diaspora’s community about their experiences with different pods. You can then make a more informed decision about a longer-term home for your data. But there will always be an element of trust when asking someone else to host your data for you.

Encryption of data on pods has been rejected because it would add to processor load so much that hosting a pod would be too expensive for most people, and even that wouldn’t stop a rogue podmin from accessing user data, as this comment from one of the project leaders explains.

Hope that helps somewhat.

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Strictly saying, there is no guarantee that a randomly picked diaspora pod will not market user’s personal data. Diaspora is free software and can be used for any purpose, for data mining too. Each pod has it’s own privacy terms (sometimes implicitly though), so if you want to recommend something as “respecting your privacy” you should recommend individual pods and not the network at whole. Pods are what provide services to users. The federated network can’t make guarantees as a single entity.


Yes, please! I just signed on and have no idea what’s going on here. It took major effort just to find HOW to register! I was ready to do screenshots and email someone. I’m giving this a try because I saw this site recommended in a Boing Boing comment thread discussions alternatives to a Facebook.


@Lisa, I recommend having a look at the diaspora* project website, which explains how it all works. Particularly read the tutorials (link at the top of that website), the first section of which explains the ‘pod’ system and how to choose one and sign up.

This seems related to this discussion here. There has been a good job of documenting how to do things which works for sufficiently motivated tech savvy users. That’s a lot of inertia to overcome for converting your average internet user into regular Diaspora users though. : From hearing about diaspora* to becoming a recurrent user