Some remarks after using Hubzilla for some months.
I set up a Hubzilla pod for a small group of users to test. My idea is still to provide an alternative to Facebook like social media that is (kinda) decentralized, thus harder to censor and way more privacy friendly. *diaspora would have been my first choice where it not for a lack of a groups feature, which is just killing.
First of all: thank you everyone who contributes to Hubzilla. I can see a lot of work went and is going in to it! And the "log on to another hub using your hubs credentials" deserves a special mention: it is simply briliant and works flawlessly (except for Friendica, but I don't know if it should even work on that).
Hubzilla is a very technical product as far as I can tell. It can do just about anything. The problem is: users don't.
Some of my experiences and of my test users:
What kind of links? Plink, LLink, Mid? There is no description of what these do, nor is it obvious in some other way. I figured out the mid link gets me a nice preview in Telegram...
Share link button! Instead of "view source" there should be a button directly visible on a post (or right click) to share a link via XXX or copy it to the clipboard with an explanation of what that link does or how it should be used.
Suggested channels based on what? Just connections? They seem a bit random, could be due to the small user base.
How to DM a user from the GUI? When I click on the users' channel, there is no option like "send message"? Is it the "Share" option? I cannot see who I am sharing it with then, is that a private message or a public post on the users channel? (I think the latter.)
How to post to a forum from the GUI? When I create a new message there is no option to select a channel to post it to? You can only do that by going to your channel page, clicking on stream filter, selecting Forum and then posting from there?
Link to favorite channels or forums? There is a forum link in your HQ, but not for channels? There is a link to forums under the networks page, but that does not contain forums under your own profile or something? I see the Hubzilla Support Forum, but not my own which I am connected to... (This might actually fix the problem above this one as well.)
There is no way to quickly fiend your friends as far as I can tell. You go to the channels page and then scroll through it to fiend a friend. But that page is more like an introduction to people you do not know (well): a much cleaner page with just the picture and the name and less clutter would be preferable? Maybe just an "add to favorites" button system or something?
When I click on a post in my channel and click on (expand/unfold) I see the whole post, but not the replies. I have to click on "replies" for that.
A lot of the above is probably possible, because of a misconfiguration or requires reading the manual. But in my opinion the learning curve to actually post something and get connected to friends on Hubzilla is just to high for the average user. Mind you: FB, Instagram, LinkedIn do not keep their interfaces clean, simple and clutter free because they have less options (helps). This is because they know the level of IT and reasoning skills of the average user and act accordingly.
I have setup a meeting with my test users to see if they feel it is feasable to open up the instance to more users (about 500, with a lot more connections behind those) or that it is just to "hard". The problem is: I can provide no alternative.
My "wish" would be a platform with the options of Hubzilla and the ease of use and familiarity of *diaspora and (even better) Mastodon with the event options of Mobilizon. I had some users test Mastodon as a Twitter alternative and most just really liked it, but for the absence of friends of course :P
I just wanted to share my feedback and that of the small group of complete novice test users. It is meant as constructive criticism. I for a fact really hope Hubzilla can grow to be a real alternative to the centralized power of the tech giants! But for that to work people need to be able to use it without searching for, and reading, a manual.