Making a Good Start on Diaspora
This post is especially for people who are #newhere
. I'm writing it because it seems like a lot of people create accounts, send out a nice Hi I'm new
post (hopefully “Public” and not “All Aspects”), and then quietly disappear because it seems like there's nobody home because there's very little in their Stream (like a “news feed”) that interests them. #Diaspora
gets off to a slow start, and it's probably easy to mistake the leanness of your Stream for “nobody's home.”
I hope to explain why it seems so quiet in here at first, why that is actually a good
thing, and then suggest some ways to get off to a good start and bring you lots of great stuff to read, share, and talk about with new friends.
Hello? Is Anybody Hommmmmme?
You're new and ready to explore, but your Stream is almost empty and some of the posts on the subjects you #tagged
in your #profile
are months or years old! Your first thought: “Oh my, there's nobody else around that shares my interests!”
If you came here from #Facebook
or some other social network that is #centralized
it's probably easy to think so, because the information from every account on those other networks is stored on one big giant central hub, so everyone has access to everyone else, instantly. While that probably makes connecting with friends and people with shared interests really fast, it also offers no privacy and publishes whatever you say to everyone in the whole universe. I'm not going to repeat all the reasons why Diaspora is better than Facebook. You already know that, and that's why you're here! But if you were accustomed to a centralized network, this #federated
network might feel disappointing at first. Diaspora is not centralized, so we don't have instant access to every other person and group on Diaspora. Whatever shows up at first in our Stream is only what is stored on your #pod
. Newer pods have to “become aware” of content on other pods, and #tags
are not federated except in your profile.
How Your Profile Matters
By adding #tags
to your profile, other pods “become aware” of your interest in them, and then include that stuff in what it shares with your pod. Right now you can only use five tags in your profile. But after some of that content arrives you can follow those tags and then put new tags in your profile to bring in even more stuff. The only problem with that, is that changing your profile just to bring more content to your pod changes what people see when they look at your profile. I like my profile the way it is, and I don't necessarily want to make every subject that interests me made public. When you look me up, I may not want everyone to know that I'm interested in #ballet
. Maybe that's not something I want directly in my profile. So how do I bring flying elephant stuff to my Stream since putting #ballet
in the Search field brings up nothing? I've discovered that it's better to add Aspects than to just follow tags.
instead of subjects. You can even create a “group” of sorts just for people who share one particular interest, by making a new Aspect category. For example if there's something I want to share only with other #teenagers
, I have a category called “teenz” and have put my teenaged aspects in that category, and I can direct a post only to “teenz.”
Connect to People, not Tags
Some podmins have created “dummy accounts” on their pods that exist only to bring content to their pods. And users who write a lot about “general topics” have offered their Diaspora addresses publicly on the diaspora forum so people can “follow” them and find their stuff in their Stream. There are folks who you can add if you want more content about #privacy
, and I offer mine to help us #teens
find one another. For example, before I added Aspects, a search of #comics
in the Search field turned up nothing. But a week or so after following some people my age, that same search brought in a whole page full of posts about comics! That's the secret!
A Slow Start is Better
Because we don't get “targeted advertising” from people who pay Mister Zuckerburg for the right to intrude upon our news feed, we Diaspora users have to search for content that interests us instead of having some money-motivated jerk buy his way into our news feed, or “suggest” stuff that we might be interested in. It's actually better that way, even though it takes a bit longer. Think of it this way: You choose everything you see, on your own instead of having it handed to you by people who are either in it for advertising money or people who “collect friends” like trophies instead of friends. We're all about #freedom
here. Freedom carries responsibility with it. When I take responsibility for my own content, I am truly free. And like anything really worth having, it takes a little time and effort on my part. But it's better than giving up my freedom by handing over my content choices to a bunch of strangers. Enjoy the freedom! Welcome to Diaspora!