The cofounders still at Diaspora have announced that the social network will transition to being a “community project”.
Diaspora started out two years ago with the lofty goal of being the “anti-Facebook” social network. It aimed to do this by writing a social networking code that lets people deploy their own servers for their information which will build a network of people.
Four New York University students (Ilya Zhitomirskiy, Daniel Grippi, Maxwell Salzberg, and Raphael Sofaer) started the project that got its first big financial funding from a Kickstarter campaign.
The cofounders aimed to raise $10,000 in the campaign but ended up with more than $200,000 in funding after their campaign went viral.
Unfortunately, Ilya Zhitomirskiy passed away unexpectedly last year and Sofaer has since departed from the project.
Grippi and Salzberg has promised in an announcement that they will still be part of the Diaspora project but this announcement is a sign that they have moved on from the projects lofty goal.
Salzberg has indicated just recently that the team is now focusing on Makr.io, a social photo-editing site. Makr.io is currently a project of the team at the San Francisco Bay Area tech incubator Y Combinator.
The news that Diaspora will now be “turned over to the community” has earned its share of criticisms blaming the founders for wrecking the confidents of people on crowd-funded online services.
More specifically, critics say that the move has dampened the confidence of people and other enterprising developers of crowd-funded social networks aiming to take on the big names in the business.
Diaspora has posted a full statement on their blog as well as sent an email with the same statement to their users. Read the full emailed announcement after the break.
We have been overwhelmed with your support the past week after our annoucnment of Makr.io and the opening up of signups on joindiaspora.com. This week, we are excited to share with you some important Diaspora announcements.
When we started Diaspora two years ago, the project kicked off with amazing reception and support from people that believed in our ultimate goal: giving users ownership over their data. It’s a powerful idea, one that captured the imaginations of millions of people across the world. This vision has expanded and evolved over the past two years that we have been working on it as the project has grown.
Diaspora* began when we were still at NYU—just four guys trying to scratch our own itch. We had an idea about how social networks could work in a new and exciting way. We intended to be done over the course of a summer, and with an expected budget of $10,000 from our Kickstarter campaign. The reception of this idea was so good that we managed to reach 20 times the expected amount in donations, and the project expanded to cover far more than just a summer. It’s been over two years now, and we are proud of what Diaspora has become.
Today, the network has grown into thousands of people using our software in hundreds of installations across the web. There are hundreds of pods that have been created by community members, and it has become one of the biggest Github projects to date. It has been translated to almost fifty languages, with hundreds of developers worldwide contributing back to the project.
Diaspora has grown into something more than just a project four guys started in their office at school. It is bigger than any one of us, the money we raised, or the code we have written. It has developed into something that people all over the world care about and are inspired by. We think the time is right to reflect this reality, and put our code where our hearts lie.
Today, we are giving control of Diaspora to the community.
As a Free Software social project, we have an obligation to take this project further, for the good of the community that revolves around it. Putting the decisions for the project’s future in the hands of the community is one of the highest benefits of any FOSS project, and we’d like to bring this benefit to our users and developers. We still will remain as an important part this community as the founders, but we want to make sure we are including all of the people who care about Diaspora and want to see it succeed well into the future.
If you look around, you’ll see that we’ve made an effort to open up to the community more to help better serve it. We’ve opened up our Pivotal Tracker for community developers help join in (You can sign up here), we’ve launched a tool that deploys one-click installations to the Heroku app hosting service, and we’ve updated joindiaspora.com to be more community-centric, showcasing other pods a user can join.
This will not be an immediate shift over. Many details still need to be stepped through. It is going to be a gradual process to open up more and more to community governance over time. The goal is to make this an entirely community-driven and community-run project. Sean Tilley, our Open Source Community Manager will spearhead community efforts to see that this happens. Stay tuned to our blog for a message from Sean concerning next steps, as well as ways to get involved in helping with the transition process.
This is a new opportunity for Diaspora to grow further than ever before. We can’t wait to see what we can do together.
Daniel and Maxwell
PS. We also want to give special thanks to a few people who recently, and over the past few years, have shown us what a special community we have. It is by no means complete:
Mr ZYX, sean tilley, David Morley, Jan-Christoph Borchardt, Joe Braun, David Morley, Hans Fase, Florian Staudacher, Movilla, Stephan Schulz, Sarah Mei, Tom Scott, kinky joe, denschub, justin thomas, Steven Hancock, Diasp, Jason Robinson