Reasons to, and not to, donate to Diaspora

Reasons to, and not to, donate to Diaspora

I’ve been watching Diaspora with interest for a fair while now – and it looks like they’ve just (or about to) run out of cash, as they’re asking for more.

For those of you that haven’t heard of the project – Diaspora is essentially an open source Facebook alternative you get to host yourself, which arose pout of the (now much forgotten) great FB privacy hoohaw of a few years back.

And, of course, given our overriding interest in all things open source, and given that most people who can install WordPress, would probably be interested in a social networking platform that they can control (in addition to, cough, BuddyPress) – heck, it makes sense to discuss that here I reckon.

So without further ado, the question is… why should (or shouldn’t) you donate to the Diaspora project, to help them keep on plugging?

Reasons to donate to Diaspora

1. It’s a unique proposition, a individual focused (rather than, say, Elgg) social networking platform that isn’t manage on a third party platform… think bittorrent, think  dispersed and aggregated goodness, think the web, think cool!

2. It’s exceptionally well run and managed, just check out how they spent the 200k they have already spent, now that’s doing things transparently, effectively, leanly and, well, well!

3. It’s open source, and that’s something we should support

4. And it is, really, the only viable alternative to a 3rd party (be it Facebook, Twitter or whoever) dominated social networking scene – surely there’s a heap of potential there.

But… those aren’t the only considerations, there are also

Reasons not to donate to Diaspora

1. It’s struggling for any sort of traction, and I know the below is hardly a great (or accurate) measure of success, but I think it illustrates my point (this site,, picks up 200k+ unique visits p/month)

2. The dream of a social web run not being run off a centralized, commercial platform may well be completely fanciful (for example, I believe in our world is about to pass WordPress itself in the numbver of blogs hosted)

3. Doing so, would really mean you had to get involved with it, which would doubtless erode much of your time, energy and life… after all, we’ve gotta make time for Facebook and Twitter too, right?

4. Just read the comments of the RWW post, you;d certainly be in the minority that thinks it’s gonna work

But, but but, that doesn’t mean they are wrong, that it won’t gain traction and there isn’t hope for the project, or even a fork or idea inspired by it.

So, would you consider donating to Diaspora?

12 Responses


    Hi James,
    I agree with your points of view. But in addition; I think critical mass has been reached with globalized social networking. I believe that more focused “macro” or even “Micro” networks will begin to dominate people’s time as alternative pastimes in global social networking.
    Facebook has become so cluttered and intrusive, that the pendulum will now be swinging in the other direction. BUT – they won’t be seeking to replace facebook, they’ll be seeking to “supliment” facebook. Using their APIs will be essential to begin with – but even that will change in time.
    Google is a bit late in their bid for this market. +1 is a great idea that came later than it should have.
    I can see Diaspora becoming the new “home” of the open sources community. The coders, the old school IRC bunch… but not the mainstream public. Whether we like it or not, the sheeple can only follow one shepherd at a time. Unless Diaspora is able to become team players with facebook and twitter… they’ll remain a “niche network” much like LinkedIN. But that’s a good thing… and I agree that this is a good place to have the discussion as well. As for donating… well – If you use it, and if it provides you value… donate. That’s how I see it.


      That’s an exteremely interesting perspctive, and one that a lot of money is gambling against too!

      However, that doesn’t mean it won’t happen – perhap sin the same way that FB were the first folk to get privacy right, someone else, maybe Diaspora, maybe not, will be next to get localization right… after all, in the real world be belong to local communities.

      Facebbook might just become, the diaspora :)

    Dustin Goerndt

    Great post James. As brief as it was, I love seeing the comparison between diaspora and buddypress ;)

    You’re a major contributor to the wordpress market. Why can’t wordpress be called the facebook alternative?

    Why can’t the internet be the platform and the ping-back be the mention and the post be the share?

    Are not the differences really only semantics?

    How hard is it really to create an option that would almost totally allow wordpress users to export, load, or link activity to another wordpress install?

    What we are talking about here is of course a rebranding (forking) of the wordpress experience as it’s currently understood (that supports

    Considering the current wordpress contribution/knowledge base, what sort of social experience could emerge?

    I believe the ones who are brave enough to attempt this flip would emerge as history’s champions of social media.


      BP vs Diaspora… man, that’s a whole other post… or series of them!!!

      The rise of WP is interesting, and I believe you are right, that there is potential there, but I strongly suspect that the only folk who could pull it off would be ‘mattic, love em or, um, not love em.

      But I don’t thing that’s their game, their game is PIs, writing and publishing platforms – who knows, if someone wa sto really grab the bull by the horns……

    Afred G.

    There is another project out there which has potential. GNU Mediagoblin is a free/libre alternative to flickr and possibly youtube: it’s a media storage system, with the aim to become as social as it can. It’s also federated, like StatusNet (another great project).


    Do not point (1) goto and compare with – because is online for two weeks!


    I think what they are trying to do is admirable. I donated just a bit, mostly to show support rather than to offer a meaningful financial contribution. Still, I am excited to finally see what they’ve been up to, and I hope they are able to pull it off.

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