Here are some things to consider when choosing a pod for your diaspora account. (These are not in order of importance, except maybe number 1. Nonetheless, each point is important to consider when picking the pod for you.)
1.) Consider hosting your own pod so that you have full control over your data! I will write more on how to do this as I myself learn. (One day, perhaps you can easily host it on a Freedom Box directly from home.) Update: At the moment, Diaspora’s federation makes hosting a small pod impractical, as public posts and hashtags appear not to work so well when communicating with smaller pods. Furthermore, there is no easy user-end installation for pods for the time being. The core team has expressed their support for developing both federation and user-end pod installation, but at the moment these features are underdeveloped.
2.) If you decide to use a public pod, get some info about your pod. There are two main sources for information on D* pods at this point, as far as I can tell:
- Go to http://diaspora.wk3.org/, where you can find information on performance, size, features, encryption, transparency, and country. This is an extremely helpful list of pod ratings, and is accessible to any new user. (This site is run by wk3.org.)
- Go to http://podupti.me/, where you can get information on pod uptime, how long the pod has been around, location, etc. (This site is run by David Morley, who also runs diasp.org.)
Personally, I would not recommend signing up at joindiaspora.com, as the server is often overloaded and slow. There are other pods to choose from, and perhaps (3)-(4) can help you find the right one for you.
3.) Choose a pod admin you can trust. How can you tell if you can trust a pod admin? I don’t know, and I think D* would really benefit by having more information on this. I say this not to scare users away from Diaspora—I think most admins at this point believe in D* and would not do anything to break trust with the users—but that doesn’t mean things won’t change in the future.
In my opinion, pod admin trust is one of the most important reasons for making the improvement of federation a priority at this point. I do not want to trust someone with my data; I want to have control of my data. I hope improved federation and user-end pod installation are developed posthaste for this reason.
4.) Choose a pod in your country. Why? Well, legally the data should be under the laws in the country where the data is stored. (I am not a lawyer, but that makes sense to me.) This means that your data should be subject to the laws of your country.
As diasp0ra.ca states: “(A pod is a Diaspora server.) If you do not trust that your pod admin has your best interests at heart (or at least that (s)he won’t do things with your data that you wouldn’t want done), then find a pod admin that you do trust, or become your own pod admin.”
The rating site http://diaspora.wk3.org/ (above) gives a specific breakdown of how they rate transparency, which is somewhat clear:
– C Legal details of the pod’s owner
– D Easy to find contact address
– E otherwise
Another thing to consider is how active a pod admin is. Some pod admins are very active in their pod, for example, Pistos at diasp0ra.ca
and Rove Monteux at happeningin.eu and Christophe at wk3.org are in regular contact with their users in presenting new features, etc. I am sure there are others, but I don’t know about them. Furthermore, Christophe at wk3.org provides his email address on the log in page, which gives you the possibility of contacting him directly. David Morley at diasp.org runs a blog for his pod.
Rumor has it that private messages are stored in plain text on the server. Update: Sean Tilley writes: “I seem to recall that Private Messages federate just like Limited Statuses do, via an encrypted Salmon Slap. https://github.com/diaspora/diaspora/wiki/Diaspora%27s-federation-protocol has a bit to say about it, as do some of the other pages on the Wiki.” Update: In the comments, JaSK writes: “[A]s far as I can see messages are indeed stored in cleartext, or can easily be descrypted by the server host.” He/She asks: “[W]hy is there no end-to-end encryption in diaspora?” Thus, I do not know what the situation is. Again, point number 3 is really important: Trust Your Pod Admin. I imagine a pod admin has access to all information on a pod. (Can any pod admins reading this provide more information?) Just something to keep in mind when considering how private you really are. Of course this is probably something to consider for every website you visit.
I will add to this as I learn more. Please feel free to leave some suggestions/info in the comments!
=== Related Posts on PillowFortress===
– Diaspora* Tutorials For Newbies: An Overview (Diaspora* Alpha)