Now that we have some followers it is time to start sharing.
There are currently two ways to communicate through Diaspora. One way is to share a status message with a group of followers; the other is sending a private message to one or more followers. In this part we will be focusing on using the publisher and content stream to post and comment on status messages. The next part of this tutorial will talk about sending a private message (a.k.a. “conversation”).
The first thing we are going to do is sharing a status message with our followers. This can be done through the publisher, which can be found on the top of the middle column on the main page. You have probably already clicked it and it is highly likely you could not resist posting something. In all honesty, posting a status message is as simple as can be. A bit further in this tutorial I do want to teach you some things you might not have been aware of but lets start with an introduction to the publisher first.
The publisher may look like a dull, narrow box but do not let its appearance deceive you! Beneath a brush of minimalism lays a range of buttons, which you can trigger by clicking on the collapsed publisher box.
On the right side of the text field you see a camera icon that lets you add photos to your message. You can either click on it and select some pictures from your computer, or drag the images straight from a folder to the button.
Beneath the text field there are multiple icons. The first icon is the Globe. This icon can be selected to make the post public to the world. This means that everyone can read and comment on the post, even when not connected to you or even being signed in to Diaspora. It is the button of complete openness!
The second standard icon is the Tool. Clicking this will let you configure your connections with other social networks and services. Based on the connections with other social network there will be more icons available to you, which upon highlighting makes Diaspora post the message to those networks as well. When you start writing to external services, a character counter will appear based on the restrictions of the networks you are posting to.
That is all there is to know about the buttons and icons on the publisher. The real magic is within the publisher itself. For example: did you already know you can mention someone? Simply type an “@” followed by the name of one of your contacts. The name will automatically be completed by Diaspora. Hit enter or click the name in the auto-completer and… it seems like nothing happened. Do not worry though! There will be a mention once you post the message. The person you are mentioning will receive a notification of the mention on their notification page. You can find your notifications in the header, next to the search bar.
But wait! There are more tricks in this magical box! You can use hashtags too. Hashtags, as said before, are words with a “#” symbol in front of them and allow you to search for posts by typing them in the search field in the header. Say you like soccer and you post a message with “#soccer” in it. You and your friends will now be able to search for “#soccer” in the search bar and you will be presented with a list of all posts tagged with “#soccer”. That includes your own posts, posts by friends and public posts by other Diasporans. If you made the post public, anyone will be able to find your post while searching for #soccer.
Want more features? You can also paste YouTube and Vimeo links in the publisher. When submitting your post these links will automatically be converted to an inline link with the name of the service and the video title. When you click the link in the posted message, the video will fade in right beneath the post.
You are also able to use formatting in your status messages and other text fields on Diaspora. An overview of the used codes can be found here.
Lets assume you wrote a nice status message to share. Normally this would be the point where you hit enter. That is because normally you share your message with everyone in your friends list and probably everyone else on the network too. On Diaspora, however, we have aspects. As I mentioned earlier it is possible to toggle the aspects in the left menu. By default, the publisher will send out the post to the contacts in the aspects you have currently selected in the left menu. Using the green button next to the share button you are able to easily add or exclude aspects, without reloading your stream. This allows for quick and intuitive post targeting. Note that if you do not come up with your own selection of aspects, the message will often be shared with “Your aspects”, which means it will be shared with all the aspects you have.
As a last step, decide whether or not you to make the message public and share it with one or more networks. When posting to another network you have to realize that the visibility of the post depends on the privacy settings on that specific network. Now hit that “Enter” button and get your message out there!
Naturally you will be able to comment on your posts and those made by other people. You are also able to “like” and “Reshare” their messages and, when they are really bad, hide them. All of this happens in the content stream, which can be found just below the publisher.
The content stream is a real-time stream of status messages. Whenever someone you follow posts a status message, it gets added to the stream. As the stream merely comprises messages, lets break it down to one message. Basically, there are two types of messages: those you made yourself and those made by people you follow. We will start with your own post.
Your own posts
If there are no comments on the post yet, click “comment” to open a comment field. When there are already comments below the post, the comment field will automatically be there. If more than three comments have been added, it will become possible to expand the full thread so you can read all comments on the post. It is also possible to collapse the thread, hiding all comments.
Next to the “comment” link you will find a “like” link. This can be used to give the owner of the post a sign that you have read their post, without having to actually comment. You can find the same link on comments by hovering over them. When you click the link, you will be added to a counter stating the amount of likes. Clicking this counter will show you the names of those who have liked the post. Also, if you feel that liking the post was a mistake, you can “unlike” it by clicking the unlike link which replaces the like. Please do note that a notification about your like has already be sent!
Deleting posts and comments
When you hover your mouse pointer over your post or one of the comments, an “X” will appear, which allows you to delete the post or comment.
Posts by others
There are a few differences between your own posts and those by others, the most notable of course being the inability to delete the post or its comments. Instead, you have two more features at your disposal.
Public posts by contacts can be reshared. When you reshare someone’s post, you will share the post with your followers while referring back to the original poster. In order to reshare a post, click the “Reshare” link, which can be found between the Like and Comment links.
Hiding someone’s post
Secondly, you are able to hide the posts of people you follow. Both your own status messages as well as those by contacts have the same “X” option. However, when you click the “X” on a contacts post, it hides the post from your stream. Do not panic; you will still be able to get it back by undoing it through the link you get after you clicked the “X”. Getting it back after reloading the screen, however, will be more difficult. It is said that you can still view the post on the contacts profile page from where you can get it back by hiding it there (which does seem illogical, I agree).
You have now learned about the activity you will be performing most on Diaspora: posting status messages and commenting on those by others. In the next part of this tutorial we will take a look at conversations; private messages to one or multiple contacts.