Now that you have some contacts, it’s time to start sharing content with them.
You can communicate via diaspora* either by sharing a status message with a group of followers, or even to the whole of diaspora*; or by sending a private message to one or more mutual contacts. In this part we will focus on using the publisher and content stream to post and comment on status messages. We’ll look at sending a private message (which we call a "conversation") in Part 6.
Sharing content in diaspora* is done via the publisher, which is located at the top of the middle column on most pages in the diaspora* interface. You have probably already clicked it and most likely you weren’t able to resist posting something! Posting a status message is as simple as can be. A bit later in this tutorial we’ll look at some of the more complex things you can do with the publisher, but let’s start with an introduction.
The publisher may look like a dull, narrow box but do not let its appearance deceive you: beneath its minimalist appearance lies a treasure trove of features, which you can trigger by clicking in the box.
Once the publisher box has "come alive", you’ll see a range of buttons and icons. Before we look at them in detail, let’s ignore them and post a simple status message available only to your followers and mutual contacts.
To do this, all you need to do is to type your message – whatever you want to say to them, perhaps "This is my first post in diaspora*" – and press the Share button. And you've shared a message with your contacts!
OK, so what are those buttons all about?
This button is how you select who will be able to read your post. It is set to "All Aspects" by default: that is, everyone you have added to one of your aspects will be able to read the message, but no one else will be. In the simple message you just sent, because you wanted it visible just to your followers and the default is "All aspects", there was no need to change any settings before sharing your message.
With this button you can select any individual aspect to share with, or any combination of your aspects, by clicking on aspects in the list to select or unselect them. In this way you have complete control over who gets to read your messages, as we discussed in Part 3. If, on the other hand, you want to announce something to the whole world, select "Public", and there will be no restrictions on who can read your message.
On the right side of the text field is a camera icon that lets you upload 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.
Next to the camera is a "pin" icon which activates the locator feature. This enables you to add your location to posts. Click it and it will ask you whether you’re happy for it to determine your location using OpenStreetMaps, and if you allow this it will add your location to your post as a footnote. You can edit this location by clicking on the text once it appears.
The location give may be very exact, so you might want to edit out the specific address information and just give the town or region you’re in. It’s up to you!
Based on the connections you have made with your accounts on other social networks (Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr), there may be icons for these services under the publisher. Highlighting these posts your message to those services. We'll cover this in the next section, below.
The icon next to your connected services looks like a spanner. Clicking this will let you configure your connections with other social networks and services.
We’ll look at how to connect to other services in Part 7.
Between the aspects and share buttons is the last button – and a really useful one! This allows you to see what your post will look like, so you can be sure you’re happy with it before you actually post it. This can really help with correcting errors, and especially with text formatting, which we’ll deal with in Part 7.
That is all there is to know about the buttons and icons on the publisher. The real magic happens within the publisher itself. As well as plain text, you can add #tags, @mentions, links, format your text and embed photos, videos and audio. Wow!
Place a # (hash) symbol in front of a word and it becomes a #tag. What’s the use of this? Well, #tags are a great way of finding content that interests you; and of sharing content with people who are likely to be interested in it. You can search for tags by typing them in the search field in the header. You can also follow tags, so that any posts containing those tags appear in your stream – in fact, if you filled out the "Describe yourself in 5 words" part of your profile page, you’re already following those tags!
Say you like cooking and you post a message with "#cooking" in it. Anyone who follows the #cooking tag will now see your post appear in their streams. Of course for any follower of #cooking to see your post, you’ll have had to make it a public post; if you made it only to one or more aspects, only people in those aspects will be able to read it. You can also search for "#cooking" in the search bar, and you’ll be presented with a list of all posts tagged with "#cooking". That includes your own posts, posts by friends and public posts by other diasporans. You can see how this can be a fantastic tool for finding and sharing content with people who share your interests.
If your post might potentially cause offence or get someone into trouble for viewing it at work, please add the #nsfw ("not safe for work") #tag so that it will be hidden on people’s screens unless they choose to view it. There’s more on "NSFW" in Part 7
Did you know you can grab someone’s attention by "mentioning" them? Simply type a @ symbol followed by the name of one of your contacts. As you start typing their name (their screen name, not their user name) it will automatically be completed by diaspora*. Hit enter or click the name in the auto-completer and you’ll notice that it has changed to their full name, and the @ symbol has disappeared. Don’t worry, though; this will become an @mention once you have posted the message. The person you are mentioning will receive a notification of the mention on their notification page, and by email if they have asked to receive email notification of mentions.
Likewise other people can @mention you, and you’ll receive a notification in the header bar (and by email if you have set that option).
Note that you can only @mention people people in your aspects, and only in posts, not in comments.
There’s a lot you can do to make your text more varied: bold, italics, large headings and so on. diaspora* uses a simple mark-up system called Markdown. There’s more about how to use Markdown in this tutorial.
Want to include a link in your post? Just paste it into your message and it will automatically be converted to an inline link. You can also contain your link within your text by using Markdown.
You can also paste links to media sites such as YouTube, Vimeo, Soundcloud and others, and the video/audio file you’re linking to will become "embedded" in your post. Try it!
Note that the video/audio will only become embedded after you have posted your message, so you’ll have to refresh/reload the stream in order to see it. Occasionally it takes a while for the site which hosts the file you want to embed to respond with the embed information, so you might have to wait a short while and refresh the stream again.
If you have conntected your diaspora* account to your accounts on other services, clicking on one or more of the icons for those services below the publisher means your message will appear on those networks as well.
When you start writing a message with one of more of these icons highlighted, a character counter will show how many more characters are available to you: 140 for Twitter, 1000 for Tumblr, 63,206 for Facebook. In diaspora*, you can post a whopping 65,535 characters! The counter will always display the number of characters remaining for the service selected which allows the fewest characters; so, if you highlight the Twitter and Facebook logos, it will count down from 140 characters.
If your message is longer than the figure allowed by the service you're posting to, your message will appear truncated on that service, with a link to your post in diaspora*.
How about that? There’s plenty of thing you can do in your posts in diaspora*.
To try it out, why not make a public announcement that you’ve just arrived in diaspora*? This is a good way to get welcomed by people in our community, and to start to make connections.
To make a public post, just set the aspects button to Public, and type your post. If you didn’t do it earlier, why not introduce yourself to the diaspora* community by including the #newhere #tag? This way, people who follow that #tag will see your post and be able to welcome you. Include some of your interests as #tags as well, and you’ll find that people with similar interests to you will find you. Your message might be something like:
Hi everyone, I’m #newhere in diaspora*. I like #running, #literature and #rabbits.
Of course, you might not want to make a public post. If not, that’s fine – the important thing is that you know how to do it.
The content stream is a real-time display of status messages. Whenever someone you follow posts a status message, it gets added to the stream. Naturally you can comment on your own posts and those made by other people. You can also "like" and "reshare" other people’s messages and, if someone posts something you really don't want to see, you can hide it. All of this happens in the content stream, which can be found just below the publisher.
If there are no comments on a 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, the last three comments will be shown. You can expand the full thread by clicking the Show n more comments link.
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 and appreciated their post, without having to actually comment. 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. If you change your mind, you can remove your "like" by clicking the Unlike link which is now visible. But be aware that a notification about your like has already be sent!
Public posts made by other people can be reshared. In order to reshare a post, click the Reshare link, which can be found between the Like and Comment links. Resharing a post makes it visible to your followers, and can help spread a good message to a new audience.
When you hover your mouse pointer over one of your own posts or one of the comments, an x will appear in the top right corner, which allows you to delete the post or comment. You can also delete your own comments on other people’s posts.
If you don’t want to see someone else’s post again, you can hide it from your stream by clicking the x, just as you would to delete your own post.
If you find that a person’s posts are annoying, boring or offending you, you can ignore that person. This means that their posts will no longer appear in your stream; however, they will still be able to comment on, like or reshare your posts, and their comments on your and other people’s posts which appear in your stream will be visible to you. To ignore someone, hover over one of their posts and click the icon next to the little "x" in the top right corner – it looks like a person with a line through. When you ignore someone, their posts don’t immediately disappear; you’ll have to refresh the screen.
A list of people you are ignoring can be found in your account settings under Privacy. If you want to stop ignoring someone, you can remove them from that page.
You have now learned about the activity you will be performing most on diaspora*: posting status messages and commenting on and sharing those made by others. In the next part of this tutorial we will take a look at conversations: private messages shared with one or more contacts.