[Proposal] Community effort - Hubzilla - Social plaform with great potential.

Hi guys.

So as you know we are playing around with hubzilla. It’s a social platform with a lot of potential but we need to put quite some effort to make it look and feel like a polished service. The amount of customization and settings, although amazing can make it very complicated for users in the beginning. Lack of proper howtos (videos, texts etc) might be also problematic and hard to grasp, especially when trying to cover all the aspects (did you know you can make webpages in hubzilla?!). In order for hubzilla to really shine, we need also a very slick yet simple theme(UI).

All those things require a lot of work from a bigger then current disroot team. Therefore we would like to call out to the community and other people that wish to make hubzilla a great place for your local communities to help us achieve it. On disroot we have number of tools to coordinate such work. Therefore there are number of questions we would like to ask and decide together upon.

  1. Shall we have a meeting? (talk, get to know eachother, hear of peoples ideas and wishes, brainstorm etc)
  • video/audio conference
  • realtime chat (matrix)
  • just forum thread
  1. How to organize the work
  • Forum discussions
  • Dedicated matrix room
  • Taiga board (either as separate project or epic/part disroot main project)
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Short update on conversation form matrix.

Currently the idea is to create separate taiga project for works on hubzilla and a seperate matrix room for discussion and coordinating works on hubzilla.

There is one more idea to perhaps use hubzilla’s forum feature.

Todays update:

  1. For communication, coordination, we’ve decided to use:
  • matrix: #dis-hub:disroot.org - for realtime discussion, coordination etc (chat)
  • taiga for coordinating the works, project planning and issue reporting
  • Forum (threads with [Hubzilla] prefix and #hubzilla tags - for notes, brainstorming, wikis etc.
  1. We’ve updated hubzilla to new release candidate of upcoming version 3.4. Since our hub is not production ready we thought to see whats coming in new version and at the same time contribute to hubzilla project by reporting bugs and issues we notice.

  2. Work on default settings has began. We’ve went through most part of the settings. We’ve enabled or disabled some and locked things that seemed obvious to have set on or others that we wont be supporting. Thanks to ‘locking’ feature, those settings are no longer visible for users when navigating to ‘settings’ section. It makes the general process less overwhelming and confusing (eg. option to set multiple profiles. since poeple who want mutiple profiles, will just make them while others won’t; we dont need a option for that). We believe selected defaults are very good and will make onboarding and usage easier for average users.

  3. Our hub is federating with firendica, hubzilla, diaspora, gnu-social and others by default. This means every new user can interact with all those networks without enabling it first in options. There is howver an option to not federate with anyone to cater to all user needs.

  4. Work on theming has begun. We’ most probably going to modify the existing default theme.

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Short update
We’ve fixed small issues such as inability to upload images, fixed some server setup etc.

@antilopa managed to create a base theme from derived from the default hubzilla (redbasic) theme, so we can properly start working on new theme.

All the disrooters that jumped on the train helping out, are now busy testing, trying, breaking and documenting all the million features hubzilla brings.

I’d like to jump in as a beta tester of the Disroot Hubzilla hub. How can I do that?

IIRC it’s up at https://hub.disroot.org

Thanks @bhh

@strypey just use your disroot credentials to login.

When I first tested Hubzilla a year or so back, there were a couple of things I thought would improve the UX. Perhaps these things could be tried in the Disroot hub?

Firstly, it would be good to walk people through cloning their channel to another hub as part of the onboarding process. Nomadic Identity is one of the killer features of Hubzilla/ Zot, allowing users’ identity and data to be independent of hosts. I lost the first set of channels I set up when the hub I used went down and never came back, and it put me off trying Hubzilla again for ages. That would have been avoided if the app had told me I could clone them onto another hub, and at least offered to guide me through the process for each channel I set up.

The second idea is about posting styles. It might become less relevant once all the federated networks implement ActivityPub (except Diaspora who currently don’t plan to), but I think it’s worth being aware of. The two current federated super-networks (the OStatus fediverse and the Diaspora federation) have very different styles of posting.

  • OStatus is for micro-blogging; short, public posts in plain text, using links to embed images, video etc.
  • Diaspora (like Hubzilla) is more like federated social blogging (imagine if LiveJournal and Dreamwidth could federate with each other); they’re intended for longer posts, which can be public or private, contain multiple links, and media files can be shared as posts rather than just embedded.

Given this, I think it would be good if the Hubzilla UI supported (at least) 2 separate ways to create new posts. Both kinds of posts would be federated via Zot to all Hubzilla hubs, and any other software that implements Zot in the future:

  • one would be for micro-blog posts: editing would be plain text only (no MarkDown), and only allow public messages, and it would federate posts via OStatus
  • one for longer posts, private posts, and posts with multiple links: editing would allow MarkDown, posts could be public or private, and it would federate posts via Diaspora protocol

The third thing is about realtime chat. It would be amazing if I could use the same account I use on Hubzilla for realtime chat, with the same list of contacts available for chatting. Diaspora has done this by building in an XMPP client, and sharing the pod’s contact list as a roster on an XMPP server, just like gOgle did with the GMail address book and gOgle Talk. Pleroma is working on server-to-server chat using IRC.

I’m not sure what the best technical approach is. But if a user is using the same username on the same domain (eg Disroot.org) for email, social (micro-)blogging, and realtime chat, it makes sense that this is a unified identity. In that case, it makes sense to use the same contact list across all these services, rather than the user having to manually add the same people to an email address book, connect with them on Diaspora/ Hubzilla, and add them to a chat roster.

One other thing, it would great to be able to import accounts into Hubzilla from social instances running Diaspora, Mastodon etc. No idea how to do that, but I’m imagining some kind of script that implements just enough of the Nomadic Identity part of Zot on each of the other platforms, to allow the essential info to be imported into a hub. Just a thought.

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One other thing, I think it would be great for Hubzilla servers to set up automatic mutual aid backups using channel cloning. Each hubs could find a backup buddy, or groups of hubs could form backup clusters, and every channel on one hub could be automatically cloned to their buddy/ cluster. That way, even if users haven’t got their heads around how to use Nomadic Identity, one hub going down (temporarily or permanently) wouldn’t result in catastrophic loss of data. Each hub would just need to let users know where else they can also login and use their channels if their home hub goes down.

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Hi! Lots of good ideas! We’re working on making the Hubzilla experience as easier and enjoyable as possible. So feedback is really welcome. We have a XMPP and a Matrix room for it if you want to send suggestions, have questions or just want participate testing, documenting or the way you want to.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Update on things.

Seems like long time passed since last update. So here is some highlights

  1. Great team of disrooters kicked of cooking amazing tutorials https://git.fosscommunity.in/disroot/howto/tree/DisHub/pages/10.DisHub (once completed it will be pulled to https://howto.disroot.org)
  2. We have a first version of the theme. Looks cool already, and there are more improvements to come (other hubs seem to pick it up as well \o/ yay \o/) Our very disrootty theme called: beetroot
  3. General default settings have been improved (all accounts by default will share with diaspora*, activitypub networks so also mastodon and alike), new users will by default be part of diaspora community and #newhere which should help finding themselfs around, etc
  4. We are also trying to improve things upstream, @Antilopa did her first pull request to hubzilla, and we hope we can help improving the platform for everyones benefit.

There is still some bugs and small issues to be solve server side, but everything looks very cool and we are getting closer and closer to the state where people will find the onboarding easier.

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Just in case this confuses anyone, Diaspora federation uses its own standard set of protocols (a home-baked variation of the OStatus standard), while pretty much all the other federated networks are moving to ActivityPub (or already have). Hubzilla can communicate using both the Diaspora and ActivityPub standards, as well as its own Zot protocol

What does this mean for the future of the Disroot instance of Diaspora? Will you be maintaining this as well as Hubzilla for the forseeable future? Or is there a plan to help Disrooters migrate from Diaspora to Hubzilla?

This is really exciting! I’ve been promoting Hubzilla a lot but I always feel I have to add the disclaimer that the UX needs work. Disroot is a highly responsive and user-driven service organization, and now that Disrooters are participating in Hubzilla dev, I look forward to seeing the UX of vanilla Hubzilla improve.

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