All about the Diaspora* social network

Part II – Interface and Aspects

You just signed up on Diaspora and you are looking at an unfamiliar interface. Lets have a quick look at the lay-out and get somewhat familiar with it.

The interface

The main interface, which you get to see straight after you signed up (picture below), can be divided into four parts. On top is the header, which scrolls with the page.

The header consists out of: 1. a Diaspora logo which takes you back to the stream page; 2. a search bar you can use to search for friends or hashtags; 3. a home button which takes you back to the stream page, just like the logo; 4. a contacts button which takes you to the contacts page; 5. a notifications button which shows the amount of unread notifications, shows you the last 6 notifications and takes you to the notifications page; 6. a conversations button which shows the amount of unread private messages and takes you to the conversations page; 7. a personal drop down menu consisting out of; 8. a link to your profile page; 9. a link to the settings page and; 10. a log out button.

Beneath the header there are three columns. In the left column are your aspects, which we will get to in a moment. The middle column contains the stream with a publisher located at the top. The publisher lets you post status messages to your followers. You will learn more about the publisher and content stream in part IV of this tutorial. In the column on the right you will find some small features like a friend inviter and a link to a bookmarklet.

That is all you need to know about the interface for now. The first thing you will want to do is getting some followers to start sharing with. However, before we go to the friending part lets focus on something that features prominently through Diaspora: Aspects.


An aspect would be best described as a list of people, based on their relationship with you. When you have just signed up you have four “example aspects”, namely Family, Work, Friends and Acquaintances. These can be found on your left hand. The idea is that you sort your family members and co-workers into their corresponding aspects. This will come in very handy when you start sharing, as you can share a message with a combination of aspects very easily. Of course you will not be able to sort all of your contacts in just four standard aspects. That is why we are going to add some aspects first.


To add an aspect, have a look at the bottom of the left menu. Click on the “Add an aspect” link and you will be presented with a pop-up window. Here you can choose a name for the new aspect. Making an aspect called “School” or “Sport buddies” makes sense but you can come up with any aspect you like. You may as well call the aspect “Losers” or “Hot girls”, as your contacts cannot see which of your aspects they are in. Below the name field is a check box. When checked, your contacts will be able to see the contacts who are in the same aspects as them, much like seeing a friend list on other social networks. When you have come up with a creative name for your aspect, click the “create” button. The aspect is being created and selected in the menu.


You can click the aspects in the menu to toggle them. Right now your new aspect will be selected, which can be seen by the bold font on the toggle. You can select more aspects if you want or you could deselect the currently selected aspect. When no specific aspects are selected, “Your aspects” will become selected, showing the posts from all aspects. Why not play around with it for a few seconds?This toggle system has two uses.

  • First and foremost it works as a filter on the content stream. For example, you could decide to only read the posts written by those who are in your Family aspect by having only your Family aspect selected.
  • Secondly the aspects selected in the left menu will be preset in the publisher when writing a new status message.

As you will have noticed the page you landed on after signing up is quite dynamic. However, it is still empty. Lets add some contacts to the new aspect you just made, or add some family or co-workers to the standard aspects.

Part I: Signing up | Part III: Follows & Followers