back to article Open 'Facebook killer' survives on cash donations

Diaspora, the social network that sells itself as a privacy-conscious alternative to Facebook, is relying on user donations instead of advertising to get it going. And by contrast to its other competitor, Google+, Diaspora also allows pseudonyms. The decentralised service aims to address some of the multitude of privacy and …


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  1. mark l 2 Silver badge

    "Diaspora's account was frozen for a short while by the eBay-owned payments biz, without explanation"

    Thats no surprise, paypal froze an account of mine with no explanation years ago, only a few quid in it so not really that bothered. The account is still alive though as i can login just it won't let me do anything while im there. I can't even close the account without resolving the issue. Which when i telephoned paypal to ask what it was they person on the phone didn't know and told me they would get me a call back from a supervisor which i never received.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      PayPal is not your pal

      A true bank cannot deprive you from accessing your money unless a court order says otherwise.

      PayPal declares that it has signed the bank charter, yet it still allows itself the right to block accounts without any court order or, it would appear, any valid reason.

      Deal with PayPal carefully. As long as it works, it's fine, but when it goes sour, you will suffer.

  2. mt1

    Google plus looks very similar to Diaspora

    Diaspora is open source so i wonder how that happened..hmm

    I wondered if they are branched of the same product?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Nope, just copied.

      Nope, Google+ just copied the "Aspects" idea for its "Circles" in G+.

      You know, copying the better ideas of others, dropping the bad stuff, and adding your own ideas?

      The kind of stuff people used to do before they called it "IP" and pretended they invented everything themselves?

    2. Shannon Jacobs

      Project Management? Nein, nein, nein!

      Good idea, maybe even a great idea, but dying for lack of project managements. Originally funded by Kickstarter, but actually overfunded so they tried to expand the project. They should have deferred the excess donations and finished the first modules. Instead, they went off to grandiose idea land, and I predict they will never get out of alpha world.

  3. Anonymous Hero

    Will fail due to pompous and high-falutin' name

    Yet another open source project with identity/name fail. If you want to encourage non-techies and your mum and dad to leave Facebook then they'll need to come up with a better name.

    I doubt that 70% of Facebook users even know what the word Diaspora means.

    1. captain veg Silver badge

      What's in a name

      What percentage of its users know what a "facebook" is?

      Are Apple Macintosh users under the impression that it is a waterproof coat?


    2. Robert E A Harvey

      Perhaps we need to name it facepalm?

    3. Jemma

      I dont know about that...

      I know at least any Jewish person with any knowledge of their history will, ditto anyone of Armenian or Irish, Welsh, Scottish stock and the list goes on and on (including any Russians whose ancestors weren't part of Stalins direct family). Practically any racial group who've had another/other racial group(s) put the boot into them since somewhere around 72CE will have an unenviable knowledge of it. Just because you had to look it up in a dictionary doesn't mean everyone else has a reading age of 12 and the charisma of a tabletop.

      Personally I think its a good use of the word, since the idea is to do the very same with your own personal entity, but in a controlled way that gives better (any) personal security to the individual concerned. The name Facebook is about as Aspergers as it gets as its the most basic simplistic description of what it does and is/was meant to be. (Disclaimer: I have a mild form of Aspergers/ASD myself - so I can say things like that, in the same way as I can make Essex girl jokes - being a girl and from Essex)

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yeah, let's keep it simple for everyone! I suggest a few alternatives for Britards whose vocabulary was welded shut when they were handed their GCSE results (or local authority letter asking why they quit school), although some of these may already be taken:

      BlokeSite, FriendPoke, InternetPeople, People, OnlineFaces, Blokes & Birds, ChatSite, PeopleFace, FriendSite, People I Know, People I Know Online...


    5. DN4

      Re: name

      Please enlighten me, WTF is facebook then? Some book with pictures of people's faces? I'm not from the US and the word doesn't mean anything to me.

    6. Iain

      *Looks up diaspora*

      I consider myself to have a good vocabulary, but I wasn't really sure on the meaning.

      Indeed it is a bit rubbish as their name, as although it mainly involves a migration of a population from one place to another, it falls down a bit when you get to:

      * A lot of these migrations are forced

      *And it generally involves a yearning to return, unless the migration has become permanent

      Maybe the down voters should've looked it up first :)

  4. Andrew Baines Silver badge


    Alpha product asks for my facebook account information - where could that go wrong then?

  5. PyLETS

    Social networking federation protocol needed

    I don't think this will scale or adequately respect privacy based on a donations provide single server/complex capacity model, any more than doing social networking using GNU Mailman would make any sense if all email lists had to run on a single server. If they can build sensible federation protocols, so anyone interested can run a Diaspora server, and user with account on any server can exchange information based on appropriate privacy/consent choices with friends on other servers, then the social network that results is no longer dependent upon any central organisation or point of failure.

    So when any open source server operator can install federated Diaspora e.g using

    apt-get install diaspora

    (or Fedora/BSD etc. equivalents) and edit a few config files that'll be one thing. Another will be having it run efficiently from a resources point of view - not entirely sure about Ruby being up to this job yet.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Open Social?

      What about Open Social?

    2. Anonymous Coward

      It is federated

      Speaking as someone running their own server ("pod" in Diaspora speak), it is federated.

      There are bits that can be improved on, but yes, you run a diaspora server, anyone with an account on one can exchange information with accounts on others, so there is no central point of failure.

      As for Ruby, I'm not very familiar with RubyOnRails, but you may be more on the money there. As a Debian developer, there's lots of bits to do before its as simple as "apt-get install diaspora". They have a very network-centric (github-centric) workflow. You check out the source from git, it downloads lots of Ruby packages. On the one hand, new features and bugfixes come fast , as in fcebook land, the code is in continuous development rather than "1.0 2.0 " releases. Very different from the stable-upgrades-every-year-or-two Debian model. But the other hand, tracking the security of that code is .. challenging.

  6. DrXym Silver badge

    Works pretty well

    Got my invite the other day and tried it out. It's best described as a mashup of twitter with facebook. It's pretty slow but it works quite well IMO.

    The biggest issue is the url - It doesn't make much sense once you've joined. Would be better if they directed somewhere else. Diaspora doesn't exactly roll off the tongue either.

  7. Drew V.

    How about...

    ...some advertising, but completely untargeted? (Because they're not gathering any information on users, obviously). Every ad would have be in English, for starters. Sorry, France.

    I would not object to such a change...much. We absolutely do need open alternatives to Fascesbook (not a typo, look it up when you look up "diaspora") but you're starting to wonder whether the Diaspora guys are remotely competent.

  8. Adrian Midgley 1

    I suppose they could learn one more word

    although it is clear that many people don't look things up, the proportion using the Web are probably a bit more likely to.

    1. LaeMing

      No need to look it up.

      Anyone who doesn't know what it means will simply take it as a name of an open-source social networking system.

      In English-speaking countries particularly, most people have personal names that are uncommon/obsolete words and you don't go rushing off for a dictionary every time you are introduced to someone new at a party!

      As pointed out above, that is what every non-USian did with the word 'facebook' (I only know what the word means outside online social-networking because I saw it mentioned in an article on the creation of Face Book once).

  9. Johnny Canuck


    A facebook is your school yearbook. You know, those books with a head shot of every kid in school in it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      Whoosh, the point flies by.

      In Britain and Ireland, we lack the concept of "A Facebook" or "School Yearbook", in most schools, not just the name for it.

      (Or at least we did. I wouldn't be suprised to see more of them come in, but its an American (from your name, the Larger sense of American) idea.

    2. Cyberspice

      A school year book?

      @Johnny What's a school year book? We don't have those either.

    3. Ole Juul


      I'm from Canada and we have year books, but here in the west calling it a "facebook" is unknown. I'm with LaeMing, it's just a name.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pretty bad

    Look them up on kickstarter. Many original backers are complaining. Then again, what do you expect from a bunch of Uni students with little to no experience in actual web development.

    We aren't in the year 2000 anymore. You do actually have to compete with the giants that have risen since.

  11. Mike Flex

    You know, those books with a head shot of every kid in school in it.

    No, I don't know, not this side of the pond. Not at school, nor at university. Seems to be creeping in for my children's generation though, along with other undesirable imports like school proms and stretch limo rides to same.

    (Do stretch limos have any function other than driving round town with t(w)een girls yelling out of the window? Is it me, etc?)

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    School Yearbooks

    Another friggin g US Import we don't need.

    As for School Proms.... Just another reason for the teenage pregnancy figures to rise.

    {Yep, I'm a grumpy old man}

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    IT Crowd

    They should use the name of the IT Crowds version of Facebook ..... "Friend Face"

    Except that they have already registered the domain in the UK, now that I have just done a quick search:

  14. Matt_payne666

    not so much the meaning of the name, but the ease of transposing it to type... facebook, whatever it means, is an amalgamation of two simple, single syllable, common words with very little scope for error...

    Dispora, whilst possibly a suitible title, is not a word that pops into ones head, nor is it overly memorable and to plenty of the great unwashed, a total arse to spell, I had to double check myself...

  15. Paul 98

    How do you even pronounce "Diaspora"?




    It's just a stupid name and will suffer the same fate as Linux on the desktop for the same reason - noone wants to learn the stupid names of the applications.

  16. Alex Walsh

    open source?

    Why not try oxwall now?

  17. Sirius Lee

    No wonder they need donations.

    "We do not currently support any version of Internet Explorer, though support is planned in the future"

    It beggars belief when a group of people have such an entrenched view of the world that they will do this kind of thing. When the project started IE would have 60-70% of the browser market. But they chose to do the "right" thing and eliminate 60-70% of their market. OK IE6 is down to something like 45% now but, still, locking out such a huge percentage of their market is 'heroic' (suicidal). And it says something about the attitude of the group.

    It's a shame because it seems like a good idea. But what 3rd parties can promote this social network when they would exclude a massive proportion of their interest group? Sure kids with nothing better to do than install the latest version of Chrome or Firefox or hang out at the Opera will be OK. But most of us that engage with social networks don't need to be worrying about whether people have the "right" browser.

    Bizarre. And probably doomed to failure.

  18. LoopyChew

    Facebook killer still on the loose, film at eleven

    As I have attempted to demonstrate with the topicline, "Facebook killer" sounds more to me like a serial murderer whose MO is seeking victims out on Facebook than it does a rival website.

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