On the social-based Web and my reluctance to give it my time

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 11/09/2011 - 12:55

I recently started getting mails from no-reply@joindiaspora.com. Usually, a mail from no-reply@whatever is enough to make me believe that the admins of said whatever are clueless regarding what e-mail means and how should it work. And in this case, it really amazes me — If I get an invite to Diaspora*, right, I should not pester a hypothetical sysadmin@joindiaspora.com to get me off his list, but I should be able to reply to the person mailing me — Maybe requesting extra details on what he is inviting me to, or allowing me to tell him why I'm not interested. But yes, Diaspora* has fallen to the ease of requiring me to join their network to be able to communicate back with the "friend" who invited me.

Some of the (three?) readers of this site might not be familiar with the Diaspora* project. It is a free reimplementation (as far as I know) of something similar to Facebook — Free not only in the sense that it runs free software, but also because it is federated — Your data will not belong to a specific company (that is, you are not the value object they sell and make money with), but you can choose and switch (or become) the provider for your information. A very interesting proposal, socially and technically.

I find that a gross violation of netiquette. I should be able to reply to the mail - Even if in this case it were to (and sorry – As you are spreading my name/mail, you will excuse me if I spread your name ;-) ) fernando.estrada.invite1501335@joindiaspora.com. Such an (fictional FWIW) address would allow for mail to reach back the submitter by the same medium it was sent, without allowing open spamming into the network.

Now, what prompted me to write this mail (just before adding no-reply@joindiaspora.com to my blacklist) is the message I got (in an ugly HTML-only mail which erroneously promised to be text/plain, sigh...) is that Fernando sent me as the inviting message, «So, at least are you going to give Diaspora a chance?»

The answer is: No..

But not because of being a fundamentalist. Right, I am among what many people qualify as Free Software zealots, but many of my choices (as this one is) is in no way related to the software's freeness. I use non-free Web services, as much as many of you do. Yes, I tend to use them less, rather than more (as the tendency goes).

But the main reason I don't use Twitter is the same reason I don't use Identi.ca, its free counterpart — And the reason I'm not interested in Facebook is the same reason I will not join Diaspora* — Because I lack time for yet another stream of activity, of information, of things to do and think about.

Yes, even if I care about you and I want to follow what's going on in your life: The best way to do it is to sit over a cup of coffee, or have some dinner, or to meet once a year in the most amazing conference ever. Or we can be part of distributed projects together, and we will really interact lots. Or you can write a blog! I do follow the blogs of many of my friends (plus several planets), even if they have fallen out of fashion — A blog post pulls me to read it as it is a unit of information, not too much depending on context (a problem when I read somebody's Twitter/Identica lines: You have to hunt a lot of conversations to understand what's going on), gives a true dump of (at least one aspect of) your state of (mind|life|work), and is a referenceable unit I can forward to other people, or quote if needed.

So, yes, I might look old-fashioned, clinging to the tools of the last-decade for my Social Web presence. I will never be a Social Media Expert. I accept it — But please, don't think it is a Stallmanesque posture from me. It is just that of a person who can lose too much time, and needs to get some work done in the meantime.

(oh, of course: Blog posts also don't have to make much sense or be logically complete. But at least they allow me to post a full argument!)

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kevix's picture

sounds reasonible

I'm a user of Diaspora and some other website and A Free Software advocate. Many of the feature of Diaspora are not as user-friendly as they could be but FLOSS software is about freeness and not always up to the same level of functioning as its non-free counterpart. But its being worked-on. Just for the record, many of the features of it were copied into Google+, so its less like Facebook. Your reason for not using it are not unique to you as there are many people who value other more personal, immediate, focused, social interaction more highly and are not interesting in scanning the wasteland of social media 'status messages' and see it as a 'time sink' and might not like the accumulation of personal digital artifacts. I appreciate your blog post which is a way might mirror what I'd see as 'status messages' on a social media site anyway.

Craig's picture

Makes sense to me

I don't have Twitter or Identica and my Facebook account is largely dormant for the same reasons.

I personally hate those no-reply@whatever emails. If you (the sender) cannot be bothered to even let me reply back to you the way you are contacting me, why should I even read your email. Thanks for an interesting morning read.

Anonymous's picture

Not just three readers!

As in the title, it may even be four!

Mahomedalid Pacheco's picture

Not just four readers!

Or five.

-dsr-'s picture

Not just three -- Debian Planet

I look for articles in Debian Planet from you, because you are usually clear, succinct and interesting.

Grillo's picture


Yo creo que tienes arena en la vagina, jaja. Saludos Gunnar, rato sin verte, espero que todo ande bien.

Fernando C. Estrada's picture

Are you going to give Diaspora a chance? --> No

Hecho, entonces queda pendiente un café, una cena, vernos en Nicaragua, y que sigas mi blog xD

Saludos ;-)

P.D. Odio tu captcha :-(

gwolf's picture

Una de las cosas bonitas de un blog...

...Es que no tengo que ser explícito en lo que leo ;-) El día que encuentre algo a lo que quiera comentar, comentaré y punto (gracias por promocionar el unarchiver, a propósito, que me resultó útil).

Respecto al café — ¡Claro! Tú dí cuándo y dónde, me toca invitar. Respecto a la cena, será también un gusto. Vernos en Nicaragua... Espero que nos veamos antes de eso. Y respecto a mi captcha, no estoy tan convencido de que seas humano.

Daniela's picture


Or Six readers :-D!