Getting started in diaspora*

Part 6 – Notifications and conversations

The last big feature you should definitely know about is “conversations.” Before we do that, however, let’s mention notifications.


Clicking the notifications icon (which looks like a bell) in the header bar brings down a drop-down list showing the most recent notifications for you. If you have unread notifications, this will appear as a number in red over the icon.


Notifications tend to take the form “Alice has commented on Bob’s post,” “Alice started sharing with you,” or “Alice has mentioned you in a post.” From this drop-down, you can:

  • Click the person’s name to view their profile page.
  • Click the text snippet to view that post.
  • Click Mark all as read.
  • Click View all to go to the Notifications page.

The notifications page shows you all previous notifications made to you, 25 to a page.


A conversation is a private communication between two or more people. It’s a little bit like sending and receiving emails within diaspora*. To access this feature, click the envelope icon in the header bar.

The conversations page consists of two columns: on the left, a list of conversations you have been involved in; on the right, a view of the currently selected conversation (if any).

Conversations page

If no existing conversation has been selected, there will be a “new conversation” form in the main column, where you can start a new conversation. If it’s not shown, use the New message button at the top of the menu.

You can only start conversations with people with whom you have mutual sharing.

When you start typing a name into the “To” line, a drop-down list of suggestions will appear, just like when you @mention someone. Click the name of the person you want to contact (and add anyone else you want to include in the conversation), add a subject in the “Subject” line, type your message and off you go! It is that simple. You can also use text formatting here, so feel free to add bold titles and big headers in your message.

In the menu, you’ll see a list of conversations, with the conversation title, the avatar and name of the most recent contributor to the conversation, and to the right the number of contributions to the conversation in gray (plus a number in red if there are unread messages), and the time since the last contribution. If there are more than two people involved in the conversation, you will see a bar with a number in it over the bottom of the avatar on the left. Move your cursor over the conversation to see who else is involved.

You can read a conversation by clicking it in the menu, after which it will open on the right. At the top you will find a list of all the people included in the conversation. Make sure to check this before starting to gossip! There may well be more people included in the conversation, all of whom will see your reply.

Replying to a conversation is pretty straightforward. Once it’s displayed on your screen, simply type your reply into the publisher window at the bottom of the conversation, and press the Reply button.

It is possible to remove a conversation from your list. This can be done by selecting the conversation in the left-hand menu and then clicking the x in the top right corner. This will mean that you won’t receive any new replies, but it does not delete the conversation from other people’s accounts. They will still be able to continue the conversation, but you will no longer be a part of it.

That is all there is to be said about conversations. You have almost got through the tutorial! It’s time to read the last part!

Part 5 – Start sharing! | Part 7 – Finishing up