Diaspora vs. BuddyPress: Open Source Social Networking Matchup

Diaspora has recently released its source code into the hands of developers as the first major step in creating a decentralized social network. Now anyone can download Diaspora and start testing it. If you’re not familiar with Diaspora, it’s a project that gained quite a bit of popularity recently during Facebook’s latest controversial privacy breaches.

In their own words, Diaspora is:

The privacy aware, personally controlled, do-it-all, open source social network.

An alpha release is expected in October.

Wondering how Diaspora stacks up to BuddyPress?

Here’s a quick breakdown of their basic differences:

Structure: Distributed vs. Centralized

Though both social networks are open source, the structure of the user-to-user sharing process is very different. BuddyPress communities exist on one host where users sign into a central website to share their data and communicate with each other. Diaspora is a distributed social network, where users host their own seeds but can interact with others across the distributed network. Diaspora gives the user full control of his own data as well as when and how he shares it with others.

Platform: Ruby vs. PHP

Diaspora runs on Ruby, with a bit of Rails and other Ruby frameworks thrown in. BuddyPress runs on PHP, which has a much larger audience. More people are able to jump in and extend the project with a little bit of PHP knowledge. Diaspora may have limited itself in selecting Ruby to develop the project. BuddyPress users are growing and the project has a healthy, thriving development community. Diaspora may not be able to maintain as much momentum, given Ruby’s smaller community.

Licensing: GNU-AGPL-3.0 vs. GPL

Diaspora is sporting a GNU-AGPL-3.0, which will bring the project a very difficult road to walk. Anybody running it on a server needs to publish the modifications for the community. For this reason many companies and startups would be wise to select a platform with a license that protects their innovations on the platform. BuddyPress shares the WordPress GPL license. That means that if a company contracts custom modifications of BuddyPress for a project, it is not required to release that code to the community. Since the Diaspora network is decentralized, creation and use of custom modifications are considered distribution and therefore must be published for the community.

Data Portability:

Data Portability is high on the list for Diaspora features to be completed next:

Data portability: allow people to Oauth to a new seed and move their entire account to the new seed, and then notify all of their contacts of the change, so people can move around seamlessly.

BuddyPress does not have this option for individuals, nor is it on the roadmap for the future. While import/export of all BuddyPress user data is a possibility for the next release, portability of data for each individual member isn’t a high priority.

Like the idea of Diaspora but want it in WordPress form? Take a look at Socialriver. It’s another social network you’ll want to keep your eyes on. It’s a project built on the WordPress platform. Earlier this year we provided an introduction to Socialriver and are very excited to see where this project goes.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on BuddyPress, Diaspora and the future of social networking in general. Feel free to drop us a note in the comments.