What next for the Diaspora community?

(Sean Tilley) #1

In the interest of using the Discourse more, I’ll open up with a post.

I know that overall, Diaspora is in good hands. We have a good group of active contributors, features are being developed, federation is being improved, and Diaspora has regular releases. In fact, we’ve hit a lot of milestones that were originally established in the beginning days of Loomio:

  • Federation was extracted into a gem, and now Diaspora uses it. The gem can more or less be used in other Rails applications, provided that you write code to map the right data and endpoints.
  • Also talking about federation, it was apparently greatly improved through refactoring
  • Diaspora is now part of the Debian repository.
  • Diaspora actually does have an API, as well as OpenID Connect support. To my knowledge, you can currently only read from it, but it is being worked on.
  • Themes are now possible, and Diaspora ships with several
  • There were a million fixes to the way the interface looked. When we started out, we had the Single Post View from Diaspora Beta.
  • A relay system now exists to bridge the gap between large pods and small pods

All in all, we’re doing better than GNU/HURD. :wink:

One question that comes to mind is this: how do we want to improve community engagement moving forward?

This question has a few different considerations to it.

Historically, Diaspora has a very present and persistent user community, in fact it is more active that most federated social networks out there. However, the amount of active contributors is a much smaller number compared to the amount of people actively using it.

What kind of direction do we want to take Diaspora?

As a Free Software / Open Source project, do we want more developers?
What kind of things do we want to work on? Do we have a roadmap, and do we need one?

In a lot of ways, I think Diaspora is actually relatively healthy compared to where it was just a few years ago. However, I occasionally wonder about the above questions, and I think we’re at a point where having a conversation about what we want to do next could be constructive.

(Dennis Schubert) #2

Your thoughts remind me a bit of the thoughts I had last summer. I’m far more relaxed nowadays…

Isn’t that always the case? I’d even go as far and claim that our contributor/user rate is pretty high since people are usually really interested in diasporas development. And even using diaspora is kind of contributing, isn’t it? :slight_smile:

We do not have a dedicated roadmap and honestly, I don’t think we need one. Every active contributor has their own goals and imaginations and that’s super cool. Some people want to work on Federation stability, some people want really bad to have an account migration feature and others want to finally implement mentions in comments. And I think that’s cool. We all treat diaspora* as a nice side-project we work on in our freetime, and we want to work on the stuff we really love to work on. I don’t think there is a need for a project-wide roadmap.

Even if someone wants to join without their own ideas, there are 62 confirmed bugs unresolved on GitHub and 240 feature requests tracked on GitHub. There is a lot of stuff to do and it’s pretty obvious what is important to the people involved and what is not important.

Well. That’s a very interesting question. The obvious answer is: Yes, sure! However, that entirely depends on the type of contributor. Right now, I don’t think we have the resources (or, FWIW, the motivation) to mentor a lot of “this is my first time contributing to Open Source” kind of people. Don’t get me wrong, these people are super awesome, but they take a lot of time to introduce and I am simply not sure if we want to do that.

These are just my two cents, looking forward to other opinions. Good to see you back. :wink:

(Sean Tilley) #3

You know, I actually like that perspective. I suppose there is nothing wrong with treating development as a hobby, and those that do contribute are working on things they care about. Still, as a volunteer coding project comprised of individual actors, I do wonder whether having some shared goals for what everyone is building towards would help.

Put another way, it’s sometimes fun to ask “What are we building, exactly?”

Would it be useful to have somebody try to declutter the issue tracker? Feature requests are great, except for the fact that they do tend to pile up.

Yeah, I get it. But we don’t exactly exist in a vacuum, nor do we have to reach out to absolute first-timers. Most of Diaspora is written in Ruby, and there are bound to be a good amount of Rubyists out there that might not mind being a part of this thing, too.

(Michael Vogel) #4

Although I’m only associated to Diaspora I might say some words as well :wink:

In fact I like it that Diaspora isn’t overcrowded with features. People don’t need much time to learn how to use it.

I would like to have only a few things more in Diaspora:

  • Groups (Forums)
  • Events (with people being able to attend to them)

These two things would help to move Diaspora away from “simply” a small talk tool to a tool that can be used for organizations as well.

(Comrade Senya) #5

I think that diaspora has a number of shortcomings that blocks the possible growth of its userbase. In order to overcome them we need developers who can implement missing features and fix nasty bugs. So it is one of our main necessities if we want to grow as a community.

(Benjamin Neff) #6

I also think that we don’t need a roadmap. Everybody works on what they think it’s most important or what they like the most. I have my own little roadmap/todo-list of features I want to add, and groups and events are on my list, and I also want to have an edit function. But that are all not small tasks and I only work in my spare time on diaspora, so it probably takes some time until it is done :wink: Or somebody else has the same goals and wants to help with this tasks, which leads us to:

As @comradesenya said: yes, we need more developers, but also as @denschub mentioned, we don’t have the resources to mentor/manage many newcomers. We “need” experienced people that are able to take an issue and do it independently and create a pull request that also doesn’t take much time to review :wink: But we have not yet found a crowd of experienced developers that are willing to work in their freetime. It wouldn’t be a problem if one has a question about the sourcecode (for example where to find something. It takes time to know the codebase), but if we need more time to “manage” a developer than when we do the feature ourselves, then it doesn’t really help (at least at the moment).

We also need more people who can review and test pull requests, because that is currently kind of a bottleneck. But for that you should know the codebase, so you also not easy to find such people.

But we are moving and slowly improving, it just takes time :slight_smile:

(Jonpatterns) #7

One reason to have a roadmap is to identity desired features that are unlikely to interest any of the current developers.

(Flaburgan) #8

That’s the reason I have been granted on github. However I don’t want to take decision alone. Maybe I should make a first sort and bring the issue I think we could close then we discuss about it on IRC, or something like that. I will work on it.

On the roadmap topic, I also feel like a roadmap can be too much, especially we don’t want to engage ourselves on any deadlines. But I agree we need to sort what’s important and what’s not in our hundreds of open feature issues. Priorities are enough for that. I put the “help wanted” label on what looks important to us.

On the moar developers topic: reviewers / mentors are the bottleneck imo, but sure more developers is always a good thing. Also, we are volunteers at the moment but if a contributor wishes to work on diaspora* as a way to earn money, it should be possible. We have bountysource (and the team as money there) so yes we could decide on what’s important for the project and add money on the issue.

(Dennis Schubert) #9

(sorry, I have to get a bit offtopic here)

You know what? Maybe that’s not a bad idea! If you feel strong about closing an issue, I am sure you have a good reason for that, so just go ahead and close it. Closed issues are not deleted and purged, they are still there and after all, it only takes a single click to reopen them. I usually leave a comment like “If someone feels strong about reopening this, do it!”, which results in everyone who is watching the repo being informed about this via email and/or Github notifications. If someone disagrees with you, we can have a discussion about that and see what we as a group decide, but you have no reason to not trust yourself in the first place.

You have been voted into a group with repo access because of the fact everyone is sure you can make the right decisions. And even if you don’t, nobody will hate you for that. (Well, at least I hope…)

(William Asiata) #10

Just randomly strolling through the interwebs today and came across this particularly interesting nugget of discourse among the Diaspora community, and wanted to share a couple of my thoughts and ideas I hope might add to the convo in some way.
For a while I’ve been thinking a lot about how ICT platforms can be crafted to enhance the development of political and social capital in local communities, especially geographically based communities.
The reason for my focus on geographically based communities (villages, regions and nations of the world) is because land and property is a super big deal that every human being is required to figure out how to manage with relation to each other. At the most fundamental level it is the great material challenge of life intrinsic to our very survival - and it is a challenge of great political import - no doubt everyone is aware of the great struggles for land and sovereignty that have plagued the entire world up to this very day - whether or not each of the actors involved are in the right or wrong I will refrain from saying, but I’m sure everyone can think of good examples of this issue, both locally and globally.

So what I’m getting at here is that since the turn of the Christian millennium heaps and heaps of awesome technologies have been realised into the world, and in the ICT sector, perhaps it is platforms like Diaspora, Loomio, The Full Circle Project, and Minds.com that seem to be at the leading edge of enabling communities to become empowered from within.
Loomio enables collective decision-making.
Diaspora is premised on enabling decentralised federalised community networks with customisable privacy
The Full Circle Project enables wise people to connect including a geographic implementation

However I’m trying to figure what is the next level need that remains to be realised.
And what I reckon is that if you integrate each of these aforementioned services together it creates the foundation needed for you to start making some next level shit that probably wouldn’t really be possible without combining all of the features that each of the mentioned platforms, and probably a few others, do separately.

The next level is to enable decentralised grassroot geo-community populations to federally and democratically organise with concentric/cellular tiers from subsets to a universally encompassing global superset. It would make for the generation of some intense social political capital, and perhaps even growing enough to eventually cause total change in the way the world does the whole ‘politicking’ game, from something grossly unethical and egotistically uninclusive, to something that is ethically optimised to such an extent that marginalising tendencies are minimised as much as possible and participatory access is almost universal.
Basically taking the desire for group, event, and market based features to the next level of desire.

  • Development of an ethical and radically transformative electoral method that subversively enables incremental change by gradually overwriting the way ‘leaders’ are currently chosen in the mainstream.

Basically it would be a platform aligned to realising via ICT augmented enhancement of social reality, the ideals of libertarian municipalism and democratic confederalism and other theories that attempt to delineate the politics of ‘social ecology’.

This is the kind of thing I dream of in a social networking app, something that provides the means for the creation of a new world OS, the social network app as a digital settings access panel for every person as sovereign individuals to participate together in designing and creating the collectively preferred ideal system of law and order, and deeply articulating the ideal balance of public, private, and personal elements.
Every pleb will become liberated. Every person of privilege will be equalised.

I hope to begin making moves towards this idea some time this year, so I might begin spending a bit of time studying the Diaspora* framework at some point, and the other mentioned platforms.

  • Math graduate, experienced community practitioner, and in my first year of a postgrad IT degree, looking to integrate all my prior learnings and experience into some kind of ICT platform.

(Jonpatterns) #12

Interesting ideas. Possibly off-topic, what features would your geocentric platform have?

(Flaburgan) #13

I started to do some bug triage last week and closed my first issues. Gotta check 'em all in the coming weeks, hopefully :wink:

(William Asiata) #14

I’m thinking it should have a user/member voting function for geo-local social institutions, and a whole lote more - currently working on incubating the idea with a team of fellow students.

(Muíran Shíoraí) #15

Has the concept of integrating Diaspora + Discourse been tossed around? The two look lke a synergistically perfect match.

A Ruby Gem or Discourse Plugin Bridge
Similar to:


and of course, here


To tightly integrate diaspora + discourse + wordpress would be a real trifecta, at least in my humble opinion.

(Jan Ulrich Hasecke) #16

In April I wrote a long blog post about “How to organize”. It is in German, so many can not read it. I’ll try to sum up a tldr.

If big central platforms are the problem, software is not the solution.
Not even real p2p software is the solution.
We need to organize in a different way.
In Germany we have a long tradition of cooperatives.
Cooperatives might be a part of the solution.
Then we have the entity “Öffentlich-rechtliche Institution”, I don’t know how to translate it.
It’s a public but not state controlled institution.
It does not always work perfectly, but it might be a part of the solution.

What I would suggest for the near future, is to foster the Diaspora community by cooperatively run pods.
Can we motivate organisations to set up a pod?
Shall we found new cooperatives and organisations to run a pod?
Pods operated by single persons are great but I host my data on other peoples computers.

How an we empower organisations to run their own pod?

(Muíran Shíoraí) #17

I have been working on that. If anyone had shown interest in my proposal to create a plugin or extension of Diaspora for Discourse, they would have learned this. I am incorporating a Union of Cooperatives, named Anarcho Pacifica. It’s DARPA-like R&D group is SUBVS.US Corp, wetware, software, hardware. It exclusively serves cooperatives of the union.

(Cristóbal ) #18

Hi :slight_smile:

I’ve using d* for three and a half years from now.
As a spanish speaking user, I gave my help to the spanish speaking newcomers translating some d* post to my mother language.

Many of them has left d* or their accounts are deactivated time ago.

It’s true that in mathematics the factor order doesn’t modify the final product, but, in diaspora the lacks of an useful API in a mobile app based world is a self shoot on our own feet, and in long term, it means a losing of interest on our newcomers.

I would like to know that API programming should be the center of d* development :slight_smile:

(Duvjones) #19

From what I have been hearing and seeing, it’s truly a question of resources. As much as I do agree that the lack of an API has made adoption limited, it’s also a question of how many programmers/engineers can be tossed at the problem and can maintain the API for a long period of time.

I am just a simple user here, I don’t have the answers to that.

(Cristóbal ) #20

Perhaps a new crowdfunding campaign could work…

(Duvjones) #21

That might be part of it, it would help fund some initiatives that is for sure.

I am more concern about the lack of noticed within the wider open-source community to be frank. Does Diaspora, for example, participate in Google’s Summer of Code (which is as much a thing of marketing as it is development)? How many colleges/universities know that diaspora exists and needs more minds?
We have a VERY large linux community here (at least from my experience), how much are we leveraging that with/to developments in diaspora?
To what ends do we market the federation to those that can help us?
When diaspora started, the technology of containers wasn’t much of a thing, now it is… what has been the response to that, have we made diaspora easy to work with such tech?

Again, I am just a user here. I don’t have the answer to those.
And to make matters more complicated, those are far from the only questions to be asked about the project.