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Have you heard about diaspora*?

Posted by Estelle on November 6, 2017

Every now and then, we like to talk about the great projects that are being supported by WebTranslateIt. Diaspora* is one of them.

Diaspora* was founded in 2010 by Dan Grippi, Maxwell Salzberg, Raphael Sofaer and Ilya Zhitomirskiy.
They met at New York University’s Courant Institute and decided to create Facebook’s non-profit ethical competitor: a federated social network where decentralization, privacy and freedom are top priorities.

It was such a bold initiative that they got the attention of the media and even the New York Times wrote about them in an article entitled Four Nerds and A Cry to Arms Against Facebook.
Diaspora* has been around for 7 years now and is not ready to let go.

We asked Dennis Schubert, Project Manager, to tell us more about it.

WTI: Who are the people behind diaspora* and what was their main motivation?
D.S.: The project was founded by Dan Grippi, Maxwell Salzberg, Raphael Sofaer and Ilya Zhitomirskiy back in 2010. Back then, we basically only had Facebook and Twitter, both are centralized systems. Distributed systems have a lot of advantages, especially for social networks when it comes to topics like privacy or availability.
And since August 2012, diaspora* is completely managed and developed by a community team.

WTI: How is diaspora* maintained and developed?
D.S.: Diaspora* is based on a Ruby on Rails backend with a JavaScript heavy frontend and we currently have a team of 10-15 active code contributors. In total, 490 people contributed to the project on GitHub.
In addition, we use WebTranslateIt to translate both diaspora* and our website into 93 languages with the help of more than 600 volunteers.

WTI: How do you finance the project?
D.S.: We kinda… don’t. Technically, we do not collect money for the project itself since we do not have fixed expenses. However, we do use bountysource.com to allow people to put bounties on individual issues.
When someone wants to work on an issue, they can simply submit a pull request and when that’s done, they’ll get the bounty on that issue paid out.
Some contributors pick issues because of the bounties, however, some simply pick issues they deemed interesting.
In addition, bountysource.com allows people to donate money, which allows the maintainer team to put bounties on issues. We pick the issues based on user demand and by value to the project.

WTI: How many users do you have?
D.S.: Hard to say! We collect optional usage statistics on the-federation.info, which would bring us to 651.328 users right now.
However, publishing the statistics is entirely optional, so we cannot say how much users we actually have!

WTI: Are there any features your team is working on right now and for which you need help in priority?
D.S.: Well there are a lot of important issues, but most of them are not very
contributor-friendly. At bountysource, there is a list of issues with the highest bounties, so that’s what users feel is important. A guide on how to pick stuff to work on is written in our Get involved section and linked documents.

If you want to help out diaspora*, you know where to start :

WebTranslateIt offers a free subscription to every non profit organization in need of translating a project, even more so if it is an open source one so don’t hesitate to contact us if you need us.

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