Loomio
August 17th, 2014 23:38

How to make Diaspora* viral

MrFrety
MrFrety Public Seen by 469

Obviously, the key property of social networks is the positive feedback on user numbers.
Here are my ideas about how to get more people on diaspora.

*When visiting a pod the first thing the user should see is a very simple registration field.
*Simplicity is achieved by having only one field and one button. Namely username and “Get In”.
The Rest is set up automatically: A random password is generated and a cookie is placed on the user's computer, which replaces the need to remember a password for the moment. Later the user can look up the password in his settings and fill in additional data if he likes.
The average user doesn't delete cookies – ever.
*Place such registration forms all around the Internet. Like: Click on the diaspora-star, choose a username and comment on, whatever it is you're just watching, reading...

What do you think?

RZ

Renato Zippert August 18th, 2014 02:13

I agree that such actions would attract more users, but I'm skeptical about going viral with just that. Also do we want to / can receive them so fast?
* If the idea is to "convince" people to come to D* I think that maybe we should first invest on a campaign to inform people about why to leave facebook or such things, presenting D* as a plausible alternative. Then having an easy registration form will be most useful.
* If people come and get a bad experience (or at least do not stay long enough to find out how this works) they will go back and make it harder for others to come. We need to be confident about the time to make it viral.
* Such a simple registration gets users, but does not make for a good user experience later (imo, the person needs to be introduced to D*, like making their profile, before being thrown into the stream). Also there should be protection from spam, such as a captcha, email confirmation...
* I strongly believe that everyone should, preferably, host their own pod to take advantage of what makes D* so different from Facebook. Decentralization. Registering on pods is for those who can't take that route for some reason.

In general I like the idea of having just a few fields and spreading registration everywhere (I'd like to add something like it to my personal website), but I'm afraid that it could make a bad user experience for most users. I think this idea needs to be polished.

Jonne Haß

Jonne Haß August 18th, 2014 10:17

Obviously, the key property of social networks is the positive feedback on user numbers.

Of traditional social networks. They need it because that is what makes them financially valuable. I don't think we're a traditional social network, so I disagree with your key premise already.

MrFrety

MrFrety August 18th, 2014 12:30

@Jonne Haß:
Maybe we don't need the users for money. But everyone I told about Diaspora or any other alternative to facebook answered something like: "Yes, but nobody else is there."
In my opinion the statement you cited is more of a natural law than a matter of choice.

Jonne Haß

Jonne Haß August 18th, 2014 12:43

I have over 450 contacts on diaspora. Two of them which are friends I've not made on it. Two of my Twitter followers I've seen personally. The "nobody else is there" and it's induced "there need to be other people I know there" is just a another wrong premise induced by traditional SNs. Diaspora is for those that seek an alternative like it. We in no way depend on a big user base.

MrFrety

MrFrety August 18th, 2014 13:01

@renatozippert :
Thank you for your additional ideas!
**I agree to your first two points.
*About email confirmation: The way it works now, everyone can just use a temporary email service, such as Mailinator. So we're basically as far as allowing registration just by username.
I thought about Spam, too. I had just this idea, that inactive users are deleted after a certain amount of time. I hoped that you guys come up with good solutions.
*Naturally as a Diasporian I'm with you at your fourth point. Unfortunately until now setting up a pod is too difficult for most Internet users. Too make it simpler we could maybe develop some p2p approach for setting up a pod on your ordinary computer, that is only up when your computer is on (cf. p2p-search engine yacy). Or for those you have a raspberry pi or another 24/7 device hooked up to the Internet a debian packet that sets up everything as simple as "apt-get install diaspora" or the GUI packet manager and on windows server download->click. And for users who can't do anything of these, we need a way to register on a pod, that is even easier than it is right now.

RZ

Renato Zippert August 18th, 2014 14:28

@mrfrety
* About the email requirement, actually I didn't explain, my bad, but I meant for password retrieval just in case the user loses the cookie (it can happen for reasons beyond the user control, such as a system crash) and also the user may want to log from different devices. It's not that hard to make a spambot that reads confirmation mail...

  • About self hosting a pod, if it's that hard right now, shouldn't we focus on that to attract users, as that's our differential?
DJ

Daniel James August 18th, 2014 15:58

I LIKE IT!!

However I disagree that assigning a random password is the best way to promote engagement because it breaks the user registration paradigm most people expect from social sites, including e.g. facebook.

There are other paradigms which we could use instead, for example login via QR code (SQRL) - https://www.grc.com/sqrl/sqrl.htm - which would in any case be alot more secure than a plain password.

Augier

Augier August 18th, 2014 16:04

@mrfrety : The statement "D* needs to go viral" usually comes from "yes, I like it, but my friend don't want to come with me, because nobody is on it".

I think this is really bad idea to force users to come here, one way or another. I think, come to diaspora* has to still be a strong choice for a simple reason : it not yet a social-trash like Facebook is. And the reason Facebook is a social-trash is that everybody is on Facebook, so you need to be on Facebook and everybody posts boring thing on Facebook like "here is what I ate at lunch" so you need* to post boring thing on Facebook like "here is what I ate at lunch".

I don't think this is what most of us want. The reason to be of a social network is to keep contact with people you like or you fiind interresting. So, when somebody says "Yolo ! I have 35 568 friends on Facebook !" I just want to respond "Yeah ! You have absolutly know idea why !"

The problem of a social network is not the easyness of subscription nor the number of functionalities it provides. It who is on it and why he is on it.

Furthermore, if d* goes viral, we have the risk to see pods get filled with trash accounts, created to see, and never been used.

MrFrety

MrFrety August 18th, 2014 16:55

@augier
It's just that I'm afraid if the resistance to Facebook that diaspora partly represents stays to weak, this "social-trash" might just continue to take away more and more of peoples privacy. In the worst case dominate the Internet and thus bring the free world wide web for everyone to an end.

MrFrety

MrFrety August 18th, 2014 16:58

@danieljames

Now, that's something new! :-)

MrFrety

MrFrety August 18th, 2014 17:09

@renatozippert 's second point
Unless we educate people, there's a finite (small) amount of experts we can exhaust as user base this way. Presumed that we want D* to go viral, we wouldn't succeed with that strategy.

Augier

Augier August 18th, 2014 17:10

@mrfrety : I don't think d*'s community really represent a form of resistence. Most of the oldest contributors don't seem to consider d* as a"Facebook killer". Moreover, the two networks aren't incompatible. There is no competition between them.

On the other side, I don't think that people are really happy with Facebook. They just stay there beacause everyone is there...

And Facebook isn't the only threat, there's also twitter, g+, tinder, instagram, etc, etc.. d* cannot make everyone happy ;)

MrFrety

MrFrety August 18th, 2014 17:29

@jonnehass
Yes, there don't HAVE TO be other people you know there. I think, the idea, that you should only friend people you know in real life, was spread by facebook in order to gain data about the real social networks all their users are in. (In order to manipulate them more easily?)

Still I thought, it would be nice to know how to get more people on diaspora, that you like but who aren't computer experts. :-)

Augier

Augier August 18th, 2014 17:45

Still I thought, it would be nice to know how to get more people on diaspora, that you like but who aren’t computer experts. :-)

It would be cool, but there are very few skilled devs to work on d* a there's so much work to do :(

goob

goob August 18th, 2014 17:51

I agree with @jonnehass: one of the beauties of Diaspora is that it doesn't need to scramble for more and more flesh in order to feed itself or its investors.

Of course, everyone who wants to join is welcome to, and we don't want to be an exclusive club. The answer is to spread the word, and to keep improving the software so that the user experience becomes better and better. That way, people will know about it (because we've spread the word) and they'll want to join (because it's a really good network and the word-of-mouth about it is positive). We don't, however, need to create gimmicks in order to convince people to sign up. We can use reason to explain why moving to Diaspora is a good idea.

Doing things like assigning random passwords seems like it can only cause problems: I expect there would be a flood of people saying 'I signed up and now I can't sign in because I wasn't given a password'. And really, how much commitment does it take to fill out four fields (including the captcha). Of course, removing these fields, especially the captcha, will make it a lot easier for spambots to sign up multiple accounts.... Sticking links all over the web to trick people into signing up strikes me as one of the worst practices of privacy-invading commercial web organisations - let's not imitate that.

Let's focus on those two things I mentioned above to attract people who are interested in a different sort of social network:

  1. Improving the software and the user experience so that Diaspora will be more attractive to more people;
  2. Improve our external communication so that more and more people know that Diaspora exists, and know about the benefits it can offer; and also so that they are fully informed and able to make a choice before signing up, about things such as which pod to register with. We want people to be able to exercise their choice when joining Diaspora, not using techniques to remove the necessity and ability to use their choice.

We can leave the marketing ploys to the commercial operators with return-hungry investors.

MrFrety

MrFrety August 18th, 2014 18:06

@augier :
Well, there's competition in the sense of how much time you spend on which SN.
I meant, we need a "strong alternative to all SNs, that are selling their users data, are manipulative or don't care about privacy..."

Augier

Augier August 18th, 2014 18:11

Well, there’s competition in the sense of how much time you spend on which SN.

We do not eat availble brain time ;)

RZ

Renato Zippert August 18th, 2014 19:05

@goob :

Sticking links all over the web to trick people into signing up strikes me as one of the worst practices of privacy-invading commercial web organisations - let’s not imitate that."

I didn't imagine it like "tricking" people. I've imagained it like an article or something inviting people and giving the fields, but now I start to think that this might be dangerous, as people could be tricked into registering into malicious Pods this way, as it wouldn't be clear where the registration info is going to / coming from. I start to think it's a bad idea...


@mrfrety :

we need a “strong alternative to all SNs, that are selling their users data, are manipulative or don’t care about privacy…”

D* already is a strong alternative to all such SNs... I just think we need to have a great platform, so that people would "naturally" accept it as a replacement for facebook (which has many more features than D* does, for example), and it's not the point yet. Once we have that we need to figure out what exactly needs to be done to make people register and use the network. Is it advertising? Alerting people for privacy? Convincing them to come and make new friends? Convincing them to register and wait their current friends to do it too?
Google is still trying to make G+ the "next Facebook", but even they are having trouble, with all the resources they have. They have already managed to make tons of people register, but not yet so many to use it. What can we do that will be better than what Google did / is doing?

PS: I'm not sure if I'm even still on topic for this discussion...

Brent Bartlett

Brent Bartlett August 19th, 2014 05:39

It does worry me that even my more technically-minded friends are put off by D*. The reason is because the joining process is a bit confusing for people who aren't used to decentralized systems. Basically, I think that podupti.me should have a friendlier interface. For instance, you could sort the pods based upon whether or not they have open signups and what their location is. So, if I'm accessing the site from a computer in the US, it's going to give me pods in the US first. Basically, narrow it down and make it super-simple. You can still be choosy if you like, but I think that the page should have an algorithm that gives you the "best choices" first. Additionally, there should probably be some way to make it more obvious that it's the first place to go when joining.

I also thought that cubbi.es was a great way to make using D* "addictive". That would require somebody making a browser plug-in, though (at least).

goob

goob August 19th, 2014 10:41

There is certainly a lot more to be done to make Diaspora known and attractive, and to make the signup process (by which I mean the understanding of a distributed network and choice of a 'home' in Diaspora) less opaque. Merging Pod Uptime with the pod stats hub and placing this on the project's own website is one aim.

you could sort the pods based upon whether or not they have open signups and what their location is

You can already do both of these things (and more) on Pod Uptime. Just click a column header to have data ordered by that column.

I think that the page should have an algorithm that gives you the “best choices” first

It does exactly that. It has an algorithm which gives each pod a 'score' out of 20. Hover over any pod's name to see its score, and details of why it has that score. Pods which score below a certain level are hidden from the main list - you can access them via a link at the foot of the page.

there should probably be some way to make it more obvious that it’s the first place to go when joining

Well, it's linked from the project website's home page in the section on how to join... https://diasporafoundation.org/

You can suggest improvements to Pod Uptime on the Github repo for that project. It's not part of the main Diaspora code-base.

As I said, there's a lot more that we can do in putting out the word and explaining how things work (clearly it's not well understood how Pod Uptime works, for example, even among some long-time Diasporans) - but I don't think the proposals made at the top of this discussion are the way to do it.

Augier

Augier August 19th, 2014 13:23

There is certainly a lot more to be done to make Diaspora known and attractive, and to make the signup process (by which I mean the understanding of a distributed network and choice of a ‘home’ in Diaspora) less opaque.

About that, how about proposing to user paying turnkeys solution to host their pods ? I mean : the diaspora* foundation would take care about reserving a domain name, a host provider, install the solution and maintain it ?

The cost of the solution would only be the cost of the domain reservation, hosting plus a little margin for the maintenance ?

You can already do both of these things (and more) on Pod Uptime. Just click a column header to have data ordered by that column.

I think, maybe it should propose a pod. The user would only have to answer a few question, like "which country do you come from ?" and would select a pod or a list of pods based on the answers ?

Currently, choosing a pod is not very easy. E.g (base on the french version of diasporafoundation.org) : selecting "Choose a pod", redirects to the wiki, in english... You have to choose "Subscribe" to get to the list of pods and, believe me, this list is too much looong...

Having too much choice isn't a good thing. People don't want to spend too much time to choose a pod. I think the website should propose a list not longer than 5 or 6 items, eliminating the development pods.

And there is too much informations. For example, knowing the diaspora* version the pod runs in not revelant for the beginner I think...

Brad Koehn

Brad Koehn August 19th, 2014 15:02

And now, in the "be careful what you wish for" category…

Diaspora went viral enough that ISIS and the BBC picked it up.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-28843350

Augier

Augier August 19th, 2014 17:12

We can't control every user...

Augier

Augier August 19th, 2014 20:14

And now, in the “be careful what you wish for” category…
Diaspora went viral enough that ISIS and the BBC picked it up.
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-28843350

diaspora-fr.org is being invaded by them... Maybe it's time to make something ?
Should we create a thread to talk about the question ?

Sean Tilley

Sean Tilley August 20th, 2014 17:42

@augier Maybe we should invest in getting the TOS/PP code integrated into Diaspora pods so that podmins can say up front at the time of registration that they don't want to host that kind of content.

Augier

Augier August 20th, 2014 18:23

I don"t think TOS are going to stop terrorists... :(

Sean Tilley

Sean Tilley August 20th, 2014 22:16

No, but it certainly gives the podmin a bit of an extra buffer to purge those kinds of accounts, shrug and say "Hey, you agreed to this."

Brent Bartlett

Brent Bartlett August 21st, 2014 22:27

@goob That big list can be very bewildering to a new user. I was trying to sign up somebody I met at a local meetup. I had to first point out the link to podupti.me on the JoinDiaspora site. Then he just started at the list for about 5-10 minutes. I couldn't recommend a pod to him, because the one I use (diasp.org) isn't accepting any new users. (Which brings up the question: Why even have the closed pods in the default view in the first place?) He wound up scrolling around the table and his eyes glazed over. He never did sign up.

This guy is a techie. He's a programmer who runs Kubuntu on his laptop and owns a Firefox OS phone! If he's intimidated by the sign-up process, something is wrong. I know that's just one data point, but I've gotten similar reactions from other techie friends. I think this is something we should at least put some study into.

Brad Koehn

Brad Koehn August 22nd, 2014 04:06

Something to guide the user to a solution might help: have them identify their country and the countries with pods that are up and open (maybe with the option to filter develop/current/previous, then sort by uptime descending) might make it less daunting.

goob

goob August 22nd, 2014 09:49

I'll say it again: the tools available to help new users (explanations of how to choose and pod and how to sign up in the tutorials; Pod Uptime; and so on) can definitely be improved, as can our communication with the outside world about how diaspora* works. However, the solution is this; it is not to use marketing gimmicks to convince people to sign up.

Flaburgan

Flaburgan August 26th, 2014 15:14

As a podmin I can tell you, almost 50% of people who register never come back on diaspora. Let's work on the first User Experience to see these persons to connect again before trying to make more people signing up. diaspora* is already pretty known and more and more people are looking for alternatives to Facebook so I don't think promotion is where we should put energy at the moment. Here is the roadmap as I see it:

  1. Improve the user experience inside diaspora* (UI, federation, ability to install and manage a pod)
  2. Have a nice page on diasporafoundation.org which mixes podupti.me and the stats hub to allow people easily choose a pod
  3. Release 1.0, promote diaspora* and tell the press we are awesome
  4. Drink a beer.
Flaburgan

Flaburgan August 26th, 2014 15:26

I think that the page should have an algorithm that gives you the “best choices” first

That's a really good idea. A small div before the list with a text like "Looking for a pod to register? You would probably like one of those:" with 4 or 5 pods extracted with those criteria:

  • The country the visitor is coming from (get with his IP)
  • Only the pod with the last version of the code
  • If the user is using an unstable browser (Firefox Aurora or Nightly) he likes new features and don't care about stability => we can propose a dev pod
  • Only pods with the registration open and at least 95% of uptime

That would be awesome!

MrFrety

MrFrety August 28th, 2014 14:43

@jhass

We in no way depend on a big user base.

But the users depend on Diaspora!

;-)

Jonne Haß

Jonne Haß August 28th, 2014 19:13

But?

Corey Kimball

Corey Kimball October 24th, 2014 00:18

This is great.

-CK

Can

Can December 31st, 2014 02:56

Imagine there was a feature to send secret messages to facebook contacts. The message contains "**This is a secret message. Click here to read it".
Clicking on the link brings the facebook user to a diaspora website where he can read the message after entering a password or answering a personalised question (for example: "What was the name of the bar we met each other?"). This way you can introduce Diaspora to a FB user by letting him use its main feature and purpose: data privacy. And since the conversation between both users seems to contain sensitive data, the fb user might want to sign up as well in order to send a secret respond back.

Little useful tools like this which can be used directly without having to have a diaspora account could help.

goob

goob December 31st, 2014 11:13

Imagine there was a feature to send secret messages to facebook contacts. The message contains “**This is a secret message. Click here to read it”.
Clicking on the link brings the facebook user to a diaspora website where he can read the message after entering a password or answering a personalised question

Isn't that the kind of underhand trick for which people lambast the likes of Facebook? I don't think it would give the signal at all that Diaspora respects people's data and their choices, which is the signal we ought to be giving out.

Brent Bartlett

Brent Bartlett January 1st, 2015 21:59

I would much rather see two-way communication between Diaspora and Facebook, but I'm not sure if that's feasible.

Dani'el Levity

Dani'el Levity January 2nd, 2015 02:59

I'd say features are what diaspora needs to go more 'viral'.. Events, Groups, suggested friends, 'Open Graph' ..

Can

Can January 5th, 2015 04:47

Isn’t that the kind of underhand trick for which people lambast the likes of Facebook? I don’t think it would give the signal at all that Diaspora respects people’s data and their choices, which is the signal we ought to be giving out.

Actually that is the message I thought this feature would communicate :-)
Diaspora already has a Facebook integration which allows users to create posts on fb. My suggestion is to allow users to "crypt" their posts on fb if they want to share information with friends on fb without putting the whole information on fb servers. FB friends see an excerpt of your post, follow the link and view the information on diaspora and your data stays on your pod. It would display the diaspora user as a data privacy aware social media user.

Corey Kimball

Corey Kimball January 5th, 2015 12:12

Right on, man.

Augier

Augier January 7th, 2015 17:38

I would much rather see two-way communication between Diaspora and Facebook, but I’m not sure if that’s feasible.

It can. In theory, d* is already able to post on Facebook and FB streams do have RSS feeds. It is just about implementing an RSS reader for FB into d*.

GP

GP January 7th, 2015 17:55

How to make diaspora* "viral"? A full-featured native application for smartphones with instant messaging and push notifications.

Also a bit more centralized branding, such as re-opening joindiaspora.com. Turning it into a freemium service à la WordPress.com would not be bad for funding either.

Creating Groups and inviting organizations like the Fedora community to migrate from Google+ communities.

Target diaspora* to about-14-year-olds. Adapt the feature set accordingly (to make the network safer for kids).

Encourage the creation of pages and the establishment of brands (inviting schools, organizations, companies, etc.)

Local-focused features. That means things like events, restaurant ratings, local discovery, etc. Localization sharing.

Better photo managing and sharing. Allow hosted images to be commented upon, liked, reshared alone.

Auto-update hashtags. By default put a "Trending" section where users can see the trending hashtags from the whole federation.

Chatting.

Of course, these are suggestions for a "viral" social network and not for a social network focused on privacy and decentralization. Honestly, none of the people I know really care about privacy nor decentralization. And these are the people who must be convinced in order to make diaspora* truly viral.

However, I do not thing that current diaspora* users would really want the federation to become viral. Google+ changed completely when it started integrating comments into YouTube. Trolls and spammers became abundant. That can be viewed as a "flood" by the "first generation". And then the posts become more and more like those on Facebook.

JD

Joel Desermeau March 19th, 2016 05:01

I agree that an RSS feed in diaspora would be a beautiful decision.

Any possibility of taking into account an enterprise demographic? That would certainly help, and would be more likely to attract skilled programmers too.

What are some really crazy outside of the box ideas for spreading diaspora?

JD

Joel Desermeau March 20th, 2016 05:17

Let's rent a huge fucking 60kW directed energy weapon from the US Navy and etch "diaspora*" into the moon

JD

Joel Desermeau March 20th, 2016 05:23

Anyway, I'm willing to put quite a bit of effort into this. I know some of you guys might not want diaspora* to go viral, but it's more important than that. The work we're putting into this is so meaningful.