Getting started in diaspora*
Part 2 – The interface
Note: if you are using a handheld device, you will be viewing the diaspora* interface designed for smaller screens. Click here for a guide to the mobile interface.
You’re now looking at an interface that might be unfamiliar to you. (If you’re still on the edit profile page, click the pod name or Stream at the left-hand end of the black header bar.) Let’s have a quick look at the layout and start to get familiar with it.
Because of the decentralized and open-source nature of diaspora*, it is possible for pod administrators to customize their pods. Therefore, depending on which pod you’re on, the interface might look very slightly different to how it’s described here. However, the essential elements should all be present, even if they are arranged slightly differently.
At the top of the screen is the header bar, which always remains in place, even when you scroll down the page. This header bar contains:
- your pod’s name, which takes you back to the stream page;
- links to your Stream and My activity pages;
- a notifications icon (we’ll cover this in Part 6);
- a conversations icon (also covered in Part 6);
- the search bar (more about this in Part 4);
- a personal drop-down menu with:
Beneath the header there are two columns:
- In the sidebar you’ll see links to the different content views available in diaspora*: Stream, My activity, @Mentions, My aspects, #Followed tags and Public activity. We’ll explain these next. There are also some links to help you invite your friends, welcome new users, find help, connect to external services such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Wordpress (if available on your pod), post to diaspora* from the rest of the web (the diaspora* “bookmarklet”) and on some pods, contact information for the pod’s administrator and a button to donate to the costs of keeping your pod running.
- The main column contains the content stream with a “publisher” box at the top. This is where the magic happens! We’ll cover using the publisher in Part 5.
The different views available in diaspora* are:
The “stream” is your home page in diaspora*. It aggregates all the posts available to you. That is:
- posts made by your contacts;
- public posts made containing #tags you follow;
- posts that @mention you;
- posts from the “Community spotlight,” if your pod has enabled this feature (see Part 7).
Posts in the stream are ordered according to the time of the original post.
Your “My activity” stream shows any posts which you have either liked or commented on. This is a useful way of catching up on any interactions you’ve been having in diaspora*. Posts in this stream are ordered according to the latest activity (comment or like) on each post.
When you click My activity, two sub-menu items will appear: Liked and Commented. Clicking one of these will show you a stream containing only the posts that you have liked or commented on.
This displays any posts made by other people @mentioning you. We’ll discuss @mentions in Part 5.
“My aspects” displays all posts made by all the people with whom you are sharing – that is, the people you have placed into your aspects. Don’t worry if you don’t know what an aspect is – we’re going to cover this in detail in the next part.
Click on My aspects in the menu to see the list of your aspects. You can view posts made to all aspects, or just to one or more individual aspects, by selecting and deselecting them from the aspect list in the menu.
This view displays all available posts (public posts and limited posts made to aspects you have been placed in) containing tags you follow. We’ll look at tags in more detail in Part 5.
In this view you will see a list of your tags. Clicking on a tag in the sidebar will take you to the stream for that tag. You can stop following a tag by clicking the cross by its name in the sidebar.
The public activity stream displays all public posts available to your pod, even posts created by people you aren’t sharing with and which don’t contain any tags you follow. That’s a lot of content!
There are other views available in diaspora*, which you can find by clicking links.
Click on any #tag in diaspora* to take you to the “tag stream.” This shows you a stream containing all the posts your pod knows about which use that #tag.
Click on the timestamp on any post to view that post and any comments on it in the “single-post view.” The timestamp is the link by the post author’s name that reads something like “2 hours ago.” If you want to send someone a link to a post in diaspora*, you can grab the post’s direct URL from here.
Clicking your name or profile image (your “avatar”) anywhere you see it takes you to your profile page. This shows you all the posts you have made in diaspora*. It also displays your profile photo, screen name, “about me” tags and your “diaspora* ID (which looks like an email address, starting with the user name you chose followed by the name of your pod).
Under your avatar you’ll see any extra profile information you have added, such as birthday, location, gender, biography and so on.
Click the blue Edit my profile button if you want to change any of your profile information (see Part 1).
You can also view someone else’s profile page by clicking their name or avatar. How much of a person’s profile information and posts are made available to you depends on the type of sharing relationship they have with you.
- If they are sharing with you, there will be a green tick next to their diaspora* ID. If not, there will be a gray circle.
- At the top right you’ll find an aspects button. If the person is not in one of your aspects, it will read “Add contact;” if they are, it will be green and show the name of the aspect you’ve placed them in. Click it to add them to an aspect. If you are ignoring that person, the button will be red and will read “Stop ignoring.”
- The following icons will be shown below the aspect selector button: a @mention icon if you are sharing with that person, a message (envelope) icon if you have mutual sharing, and an ignore icon.
Underneath the person’s name and ID are tabs to display their posts, their uploaded photos, and any of their contacts which they have made visible to you (which is explained in the next part, “Aspects”).
You can customise how diaspora* looks by choosing one of our color themes from the Settings menu (see Part 7). The current themes are:
- Original gray: this is the default diaspora* theme
- Original white background: the default theme, but with a white background. This looks more like the “old-school” diaspora* interface
- Dark green
- Egyptian blue
Your pod might have created some custom themes. If so, they’ll show up in the list along with our default themes.
That’s all you need to know about the interface for now. The first thing you will want to do is finding some people to start sharing with. However, before we get to that, let’s focus on something that features prominently throughout diaspora*: aspects.