I’ve been looking for alternative social media for the past while, and came across two platforms: diaspora* and Mastodon. Both are designed to be decentralized social networks and are free software.
I’ve been using diaspora* for just a little less than a year, and I have to say that I’m impressed. It borrows ideas from other networks, and it works well on my desktop. However, the mobile interface is still a little rough; it seems like it’s mostly geared towards desktop usage. There’s also a way to message other users, but it feels a little primitive.
The community behind diaspora* seems diverse. It was pleasant for me to find that I wasn’t the only LDS, conservative-libertarian, FOSS lover. That being said, there’s also plenty of people on the other side of the isle (except when it comes to FOSS, which makes complete sense). I mainly use diaspora* for my GNU/Linux news and as a notification for current events, in which it does well. However as a network to connect with friends, it’s slightly lacking as it is hard to get others on board. One of my concerns in switching to this platform was inappropriate content. Thankfully, this is not a problem because the terms of service prohibit this (for the server I’m on at least). One of the design ideas I’m a fan of is the idea of “aspects”. With aspects, you can fine tune who sees what post, and share with different aspects.
I’ve been using Mastodon for less then a month. Mastodon seems designed to directly compete with Twitter. It boasts a higher word count than Twitter and instead of sending “tweets” you send “toots” (Admit it, you laughed). The user interface seems very mobile oriented and the dark theme is easy on the eyes, but the interface isn’t nearly that impressive on the desktop. It supports pictures, as well as private and public toots. The mobile application also supports translation.
The community around Mastodon is much less impressive to me. The views tend to be radically anti-capitalist and overwhelmingly liberal. The lack of the ability to follow hashtags was also disappointing.
All in all
My experience with diaspora* has been good, and I wish I could say the same thing about Mastodon. In FOSS, community matters a lot, but it matters even more when it comes to FOSS social networks.