männliche Person, die viel (Unsinn) redet.

The Gnusocial Project and what is holding it back .

Just some Thoughts about that Thing with GnuSocial about installing/running it and what is holding it back to become a real Alternative to Twitter in the not so distant future. 🙄

(English is NOT my native Language, keep that in mind, if you wondering about some Grammatical issues while reading the following Text!)

I have a History with Hosting and Stuff like that for many Years, so i know somehting (just a little bit) about that, maybe enough to get Things done for my own. The majority of other People out there maybe just noticed that they can host there own Stuff somewhere around the Internet and even that Process is so simplified right now, that really anyone can make use of it if they are willingly to just learn a tiny bit about the Steps on the way to it. 

So if it is so simple to just get a Hosting-Contract, with just a few Clicks, than installing GnuSocial on it should be that simple too. That’s the Point where it CRACKS for me! 

The one Problem with Alternatives is, to put it in simple Words, that they are mostly hard to own. 

Just take a look at how easy it is to create an Account on Twitter or Facebook or even Google+ and then compare that to the Process of installing and maintaining something like GnuSocial or anything else in that Range. Just „try“ to imagine if the Steps to install and run GnuSocial would be that „easy“ as WordPress is doing it for Years and i don’t mean that „managed-hosting“ on wordpress.com! What i mean is that you simply go to the Website and download the ZIP or TAR or whatever and push it up to your Hosting-Plan and after that you are taken by a helping Step-by-Step Grapical User Intercae to work you trough the whole Process of Installation. WOAH, that was Easy!

A Friend of Mine could do this and HE had NO CLUE about all that Hosting and Installation Process at all. Just after a few Minutes of reading and aksing me about how good/bad are some Hosters would be he got his own Blog in just a couple of Minutes. 

So if WE, in terms of a community, WANT that GnuSocial becoming THE Alternative to Twitter/Facebook/Google+ or whatever in the not so far future than the whole Process has to Change in a way to be more User-Friendly in Installation and using it!

I had a Conversation about the Process of Installation of GnuSocial, not long ago, with the Founder of Gnusocial.de and after that I got an idea about the different Perspectives with owing an Instance of GnuSocial. There are TWO and very different types of Admins out there. One with a whole Bunch of Knowledge about Linux and Stuff or Things you might need to manage a Server/VPS, and the other One that (barely) knows a bit about how to manage it’s own Hosting Plan.

Of course it is like a cakewalk for a well knowledge Admin to install and configure/maintaining a Instance of GnuSocial all by himself, because that’s what a Administrator do all day long in it’s Job to pay the Bills. I am good with that! 

On the other Side there is this so called normal User or End-User, that is used to just using Stuff with ease. This kind of User is soooo used to it that Stuff works out of the Box, with minimal Effort to activation and maintaining it. THAT’S the Type of USER who should use or even better, own an Instance of GnuSocial for himself AND that’s the turning point (IMHO) where they got scared of or lost.

As long as GnuSocial is (IMHO) so complicated to configure for a End-User, it won’t become A or THE federated Alternative! 
The following are just a couple of Examples that bugging me the most about GnuSocial:

  • Why is this Plugin, that make GnuSocial look like Twitter, NOT integrated from the beginning? Why it’s so complicated to get and installing it? 
  • Why is there no direct LINK TO A FILE (Zip/Tar) to download the whole thing? Why do I have to go to some ugly looking third-party website to get the installation package? 
  • Why looks the main Site of the GnuSocial Project soooo ugly, compared to Twitter? 
  • Why is the List of all those hosted Instances around the World not on that Project Page?
  • Why is the Package around 400 MB in Size? Do I really need all of it, if I am just want a private Instance? 

That are just a couple of my „Personal“ favorite Things about GnuSocial, that in my opinion, keeping the Project from becoming a REAL alternative to Twitter or Facebook or whatever they will call it next. Maybe I am just picky but I deeply think that a Part of those Problems are the Reason why GnuSocial is still a Niche in the Market of so called Micro-Blogging or Short-Messages Services like Twitter.

I know, there is a bunch of Work behind all of the Development and maintaining it as a Software for Free OpenSource. Just think about the Possibility if the whole Project would look a nicer, cleaner, maybe more streamlined and user-friendly to new User. This would be attract more of those users that are key for spreading the word and don’t tell me now that’s not what gnusocial has in mind for it. 

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1 Kommentar

Just to answer your main questions quickly:
– „Why is this Plugin, that make GnuSocial look like Twitter, NOT integrated from the beginning? Why it’s so complicated to get and installing it? “
Because not everyone wants it. It relies heavily on Javascript with can be a ressource hog. (

– „Why is there no direct LINK TO A FILE (Zip/Tar) to download the whole thing? Why do I have to go to some ugly looking third-party website to get the installation package?“
I answered the question already. There IS such link, no need to go any other website.

– „Why looks the main Site of the GnuSocial Project soooo ugly, compared to Twitter?“
Check theme „neo-gnu“. It looks okay.

– „Why is the List of all those hosted Instances around the World not on that Project Page?“
Because no one put it there. Yes, it’s that simple.

– „Why is the Package around 400 MB in Size? Do I really need all of it, if I am just want a private Instance?“
Simple answer: yes. You’re running a social network node with lots of features and libraries needed.

You have one basic misconception on the whole story. Just think of the access rights for content: you’re the only one writing things on your blog plus some commenters. That’s all under control by you and very low traffic.
A GNU Social node has to manage hundreds and thousands of pieces of content coming in
a) from local users on the website
b) via API clients
c) from external nodes
d) from external nodes running earlier versions of GS
e) from external nodes not even running GS but using the OStatus standard

The content can be:
– a post
– a post with a picture attached
– just a picture
– a repost
– a fave
– a reply
– the deletion of any of the above
– a new subscription
– an unsubscription
– a block/unblock
– the deletion of a whole account
– a private message plus replies to private messages

And after all of that is done, GS has to push everything out towards *all* known servers where at least one account has or had a subscription.

If your head is now filled whith all this – I can understand. But GS is not finished as it has to:
– manage sessions for users logging in via web or oAuth API keys
– take care for spammers, posting flooders, registration emails + confirmations…

Conclusion
No doubt, there are lots of pitfalls and open jobs in GS. I complain a lot as well. But all in all you’re comparing this complex structured social network node software with a quite „dumb“ blogging tool. And you can’t run such thing with a drive-by-shooting approach – and without accepting any help.