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WordPress(.org) is one of the few open source projects to have encouraged large numbers of non-technical users to download, setup, and host their own serverside software. I think the Ostatus "movement" could learn a lot from it.

A single OStatus-based PHP app, marketed well, and with an easy install path, might make widespread adoption of OStatus more likely. It could even piggyback on existing WordPress installations as a plugin. Then, anyone with a self-hosted WordPress blog would be able to host their own status updates under a fixed path appended to their existing blog, such as example.com/status/. It also offers the potential for anyone with a WordPress blog to become a provider of status pages for people who didn't want to host their own (because WordPress has an inbuilt user registration system), which could create a distributed, portable network with no lock-in.

There are supposedly 60 million WordPress installations out there. These users already understand the value of owning and hosting their own content. That's an awful lot of potential to kickstart the uptake of a distributed social network, and I'm not sure that anyone's thought to exploit this yet.

Great thoughts. I especially like the idea of a WordPress plugin to implement the OStatus protocol... looks like someone has already thought of that:


Once installed, there's nothing to stop you sharing your entire posts (or snippets) as OStatus messages.

That plugin's a good start. It's only been downloaded 708 times, though, possibly because it's not being actively developed or promoted, and perhaps also because it has a long list of dependencies that would make setup too hard for most.

I think it could also be a branding issue. If I was building a distributed OStatus-based social network on the back of private WordPress installations, I would:

1. Market it under a different name than "OStatus". WordPress users need not know that their blog is automatically syndicated via RSS, and users of this new social service need not know that it's powered by OStatus. It is easier to market ideas than it is to market technologies and protocols.

2. Present users with an interface they're familiar with from other social networks, without stealing intellectual property.

3. Create a pretty marketing page that sold the project on its merits as a free social network that nobody owns. Give it a mascot or a bold logo.

4. Encourage the thousands of WordPress-related blogs to write about it, with a goal to drive WordPress developer adoption that might trickle down to other WordPress users too.

I agree with all of your points! I started to build it as a pack of loosely connected plugins, because thats what OStatus is... a pack of combined open protocols...

With the actual structure you can decide if you want to use the whole pack or only single items and the complete OStatus pack will be compatible with all single plugins/specs.

I agree that the Name "OStatus for WordPress" is not that end-user friendly... but with a better name and a better installer it should be a good start!

If someone is willing to help, please let me know... Up to now it's only me working on all the OStatus plugins (pubsubhubbub, activitystreams, webfinger, salmon, ...)

As chrismdp said, great thoughts.

FYI, there also seems to be a drupal plugin: http://drupal.org/sandbox/sanduhrs/1132580 - but it seems to be experimental at the moment. Also, I did not try it out myself - yet.

At that point you have more or less invented rss again ;)

Actually, OStatus is based on RSS - it's mostly just feed.

This alone is why I didn't hold much hope for Diaspora. If you want mass open-source installations, LAMP.

How about a (literally) one click installation to Heroku?

Aaand now you're back to the "platform dependent on a single company" problem.

What if you could one-click deploy to Heroku, OpenShift or AppFog? OpenShift can even have multiple competing hosting providers or you can use the free hosting from Redhat (which includes a LOT more resources than Heroku's free plan). And of course you could still do the traditional dedicated/VPS type installation.

The problem is that I'll want one-click on something that you didn't think to support. For example, I want to put it on Windows Azure :)

I wasn't that familiar with Azure, but I had heard that they had Linux VMs now (which would be one option), but I did a little digging and it appears you can actually run RoR apps on the Windows side as well:


Start with a "LAMP compatible" app then. Most of these platforms can deploy PHP.

Yep, I agree. Wordpress installs on Azure with one click just fine.

as mentioned before they could follow the Wordpress model with one-click install for individuals that one a hosted solution.

And a download option for those who have the expertise to setup their own server.

There's not a whole lot that's proprietary about the Heroku platform.

Fair point.

That covers the convenience factor well, but not the cost factor. Heroku's great for the right kind of app, but no-one would have heard of WordPress if it required a Heroku install.

Better yet would be to get supported by CPanel/SimpleScripts (provided with millions of hosting accounts).

rstat.us has at least one user running on linode as well. Not much more to the set-up. deploying straight to AWS is also... surprisingly easy.

Couldn't agree more! If ppl want to build shit that anyone can run, then make it run on LAMP (i.e. any shared hosting/cpanel account)!

I suspect the necessity of the PHP path may be outdated.

Today, I imagine the lowest barrier to entry would be to build a one-button install on one of the many PaaS's with free tiers. Heroku, DotCloud, maybe even an Amazon micro EC2 instance.

Most blogs still run on shared hosting primarily for reasons of cost and a lot of people have existing shared hosting accounts that allow them to host multiple domains. If you're looking at individuals (the majority of whom are not typical HN readers and haven't gone down the PaaS path) installing this, it still makes sense to go LAMP.

Maybe within the HN ecosystem, but there are 10s of millions of wordpress installs running on the web. I would imagine only a very very small minority of said installs has any idea what a PaaS is. Those types of people are install wordpress on their $5/month hostgator accounts all day long because of stuff like fantastico making it a one click process as well.

Maybe I was unclear but I'm not asking to educate people about PaaS.

I'm proposing a button like [Create OStatus server]. It goes and provisions you a Heroku or DotCloud or Amazon account, creates an instance with everything installed, you get a link. Done.

We can make it way easier than installing Wordpress. The account provisioning part is tricky but all it takes is a good will partnership from one of the many PaaS providers, in exchange they get to upsell the owner to beefier paid servers.

Many people already have shared hosting. The vast majority of shared hosting uses (LA)MP.

I completely agree.

This is the DiSo project model: http://diso-project.org/

Create an OStatus plugin for WordPress first and go from there.

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