Splash screen for Grandparents and nontechnical users

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

Exactly. I’ve tried to get a number of friends to connect on Diaspora and every time I hear back, “Too complicated. I’ll stick with fB.”

There needs to be a quick entrance and spool up for users to get connected to freinds/family/etc.

Sure, have an Advanced button for users who want to be complicated, but the default should be EASY.

Users should be able to have a pod randomly (with in certain parameters that can be programmatically used to filter (currrent sw rev, high uptime, good rating for privacy, low latency to end user, etc.)) selected for them if they desire (or be specific with an Advanced button). This should all happen from a common splash screen. The info input should then create their ID/etc on the pod. An email should be sent confirming their ID and pod hostname for their future reference.

For continued use, there should be a single entry point (i.e. diaspora.com/org/net/etc) - Simple spalsh screen, Login with user name… ok, that’s easy enough, now we have to get creative -
being a distributed system is where this gets a little more complicated - having users remember which pod hostname to log into is too complicated for the average user (yes, I know, let’s not judge)… So why not have a directory service assist in the background? In this case, the end user types in their userid, they click a “login” button where upon their ID is looked up and they are ported to their pod, the user ID is forwarded to the correct pod, and they are prompted for passwd. Two step log in process, just like for many other services today.

There’s no reason Diapsora can’t be distributed on the back end and look and act homogenous on the front… Being complicated just for complicated’s sake is no way to design a system for the average user.

If Diaspora is trying to provide a solution that embodies freedom and privacy for the masses, then the Diaspora community needs to design for the masses, not for the few CompSci graduates.

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I’m one of those non-technical users. I invite my friends to join my pod, that way they can connect to me and to each other instantly. Once they do, then I can “tutor” them on Diaspora stuff.

Joining a pod that has alot of users has some advantages too. Some of the smaller ones are too quiet, with next to nothing in the Stream.

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The best way to do it is with examples. Perhaps someone could know a web designer whom would be able to do a mockup and show it to the core team?.
For now, this is the most successful attempt I could find on Floss networks.

Stop calling anything a rabbit hole, it’s off-putting

First, congratulations on realizing why diaspora, as it exists now, is no threat to Facebook. Facebook’s recent sins got me looking for an easy to use alternative, not because I need it, but because the people I want to friend (like my age 20-something kids) need it.
Second, I hope you are never named as a co-defendant on an age discrimination lawsuit. Your comments here will cause any judge to rule for the plaintiff. Do you realize the people who invented the Internet are all old enough to be great-grandparents now? TBL, RMS, Linus? Old enough to be Grandparents. Your assumption that people that age can’t know about code and networks is pretty insulting to those of us that do.
Sorry to reply after 10 long months, but geez…

So, did you seriously create an account just to post this? While the original wording can, indeed, be improved, there is no reason to drag this discussion into this level of attacks. Please don’t.

It is very true that diaspora* (and the whole federated network world, to be honest) has some hard edges for less-technical people to get cut on. It’s good to have a discussion on those issues, and maybe eventually come up with a solution. So let’s keep this discussion on the topic, and not on how the topic was phrased.

I created an account (before I saw this thread) because I’m interested in a distributed social network and I have some time to help with code. I think it’s constructive, and not not negative or an attack, to point out the issues with a post that will insult many people and could have legal consequences. In a professional environment a subject line lumping grandparents with non-technical people could easily get the OP written up by HR. It should not be acceptable here.

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@jbartas, I look forward to your code contributions. If you haven’t already found it, here’s diaspora*'s guide to contributing.

Thanks for the link - very helpful, especially the “newcomer” tags.