Temps de lecture 10 min
Mobilizon is our free-libre and federated tool to free events and groups from the clutches of Facebook. After two years of work, today we are releasing the first version of this software, along with a whole series of tools so that you can quickly get started.
- la version française originale de cet article est ici sur ce blog ;
- Discover how Mobilizon works in pictures, with our use case examples
Delayed because of pandemic
Announced almost two years ago on the Framablog (FR), Mobilizon was born of our need to offer a solid alternative to Facebook to friends who organize climate walks, LGBT+ association organisations and new educational workshops with that platform’s limited options.
The success of our fundraising campaign (spring 2019) reinforced our belief that there was great demand for such an alternative. To this end, we worked with designers to understand the expectations of activists who use Facebook to gather and organize.
We planned to launch the first version (the « v1 ») of Mobilizon this summer. Life, however, has other plans. A global pandemic and a French quarantine induced a rush on the online collaboration services our small association offers. Our entire team, including the developer who carries the Mobilizon project on his shoulders, put their activities on hold to contribute to the collective effort.
However, the stakes behind Mobilizon are high. In our opinion, to be successful, Mobilizon must be :
- Emancipatory. It is a software that we want to be free, federated and separate from the attention economy.
- Practical. Mobilizon is above all a tool for managing your events, your profiles and your groups.
- Welcoming. We have created and incorporated tools explaining how to use its features, to find your Mobilizon instance or even hos to install it yourself.
Building the freedoms that Facebook denies us
Federate to foster diversity
There is not one but several Mobilizons. By going to Mobilizon.org you will find a selection of instances : websites created by those who have installed Mobilizon software on their server. Each of these instances offers you the same service, but from a different host.
Multiplying Mobilizon instances is healthier for the Internet as it avoids the formation of web giants. Decentralizing usage over multiple Mobilizon instances prevents the creation of huge datasets that could be exploited for surveillance or mass manipulation.
Each of these Mobilizon instances can federate with others, as well as interacting with them. For example, if the « UniMobilized » and « MobilizedSports » instances are federated, UniMobilized user Camille will be able to register for the karate course her teacher has created on the MobilizedSports instance.
A software that respects your freedoms
Mobilizon is a free-libre software, so it respects your freedoms. This means for example, that its source code, the « recipe » that allows one to concoct Mobilizon, is made public for transparency’s sake. People who know how to code are free to browse the source code as they wish, to see for themselves whether there are hidden features (spoiler alert : there aren’t !).
Moreover, the culture of free-libre software is a community-driven culture of contribution. Mobilizon should therefore be seen as a digital commons, that everyone can use and to which everyone can contribute. Your remarks, feedback, skills (in translation, tests, explanations, code, etc.) will be considered as contributions to the common project.
Finally, if the direction given to the Mobilizon code does not suit you, you are completely free to create your own team and « fork » the software. Thus, several governances and directions can be given to the same initial project, which is a strong defence against any monopolization.
Saving your attention from the economy
The truth is, Mobilizon may feel confusing. Where most platforms gamble on your user experience and flatter your ego to better capture your attention and data, Mobilizon is a tool. It is not a hobby where you can scroll endlessly, simply a service to organize your events and groups.
Mobilizon is designed to not monopolize your attention : no infinite scrolling, no running to check likes and new friends.
Mobilizon makes it futile to inflate the number of participants in your event or the number of members in your group. When each account can create an infinite number of profiles, the numbers displayed by the membership counters are no longer an influencer’s badge.
Mobilizon is designed so that you can follow the news of a group, but not of an individual : it is impossible to follow a single profile. In Mobilizon, profiles have no « wall », « thread » or « story » : only groups can publish posts. The goal is to get rid of the self-promotional reflexes where we stage our lives to be the person at the center of our followers. With Mobilizon, it is not the ego but the collective that counts.
Finally, if there is no ability to like a comment or a message in a group discussion, it keeps the exchanges informative. This prevents the common exchange from turning into a dialogue-duel where you have to keep and save face.
In fact… we have to stop comparing Mobilizon to a free-libre Facebook clone. If user engagement is the new oil the giants of the web drill for, Mobilizon is an attempt, at our small level, of a tool designed for attentional sobriety.
A service for your events, your profiles, your groups.
Mobilizon allows you to register for events
On Mobilizon instances you can find many events published by organizers : date, location (geographical or online), description… The event form gives you quick access to essential information, as well as the ability to register, add the event to your calendar or share it.
The search bar will give you results that match your keywords, your location or a specific time. This search is done within the events on the Mobilizon website you are browsing, but also across all events on other Mobilizon websites to which yours is linked, or « federated ».
When the organizers allow it, you can participate anonymously in an event : no need to log in a Mobilizon account, only a confirmation email will be required !
One account, one instance, several profiles
If you wish to participate more actively in events and groups (or even organize them yourself), you will need to create an account on one of the existing Mobilizon instances.
Before signing up, remember to find out about the instance you are interested in (starting with its « about » page). By looking at who administers this instance, their content moderation policy, their business model, who they choose to federate with or not, etc., you will know if the governance they apply to their Mobilizon website is right for you.
A single account will allow you to create as many profiles as you want. Note that multiple profiles are not a cyber security measure (which should be provided by other tools and practices). It is a social partitioning tool, allowing you to display different facets of yourself depending on the social groups you are involved with.
This will allow you, for example, to reserve one profile to register for family birthdays and another for work-related conferences, or to distinguish between groups related to your hobbies and those where you organize your activist activities.
Groups to discuss and organize
Currently, you must wait until you have been invited into a Mobilizon group before selecting one of your profiles to join. You can also create and organize your own group to invite whoever you want and define roles (and therefore permissions) of the new members of the group you administer.
In Mobilizon, groups have a public page where you can display a short presentation of the group, upcoming events and the latest posts published.
In the group members’ area, members can (depending on their permission level) start and participate in discussions, create new events and public messages or add new resources (link to a collaborative writing pad, online survey, etc.) in the group resources page.
Mobilizon.org, the site to share
To help you find your way around and choose your instance, we designed Mobilizon.org. It’s a site that will guide you on your first steps, whether you want to get some info, test Mobilizon, find your instance, learn more, or contribute to Mobilizon’s future.
There you will find links to our facilitation tools, in French and English, such as :
- Our demo instance, which allows you to test Mobilizon with full impunity because all data is deleted every day ;
- The site JoinMobilizon.org which briefly presents the Mobilizon software and tool ;
- The complete documentation of Mobilizon, to teach you how to use it or how to install it on a server ;
- Our selection of instances federated together (including ours, open only to French-speakers, on mobilizon.fr), hosted by partners who have kindly agreed to jumpstart this Mobilizon federation with us ;
- A more complete index of the publicly available instances ;
- Our forum to contribute to the community around Mobilizon software ;
- Our translation platform for multilingual people who want to contribute ;
- The git repository for people who want to contribute to the code.
Mobilizon, a common contributor
From the very start, Mobilizon has been a collective adventure. Framasoft would first of all like to thank and congratulate the developer, an employee of the association, who has devoted nearly two years of his professional life to making this tool a reality.
Of course our thanks also go to all the members, volunteers and employees, who contributed to the project, as well as to Marie-Cécile Godwin (conception, UX design), Geoffrey Dorne (graphic & UI design) and David Revoy (illustrations).
Finally, we would like to thank all the people who believed in this project and supported it through their sharing, their attention and their money, especially during the fundraising that helped finance this first version.
In the coming months, Framasoft is eager to see the creation of a community that will take over the Mobilizon code and, in the long term, take charge of its maintenance. This will be done according to good will and over time, but we hope that this new chick will one day be strong enough from your contributions to leave the nest of our association.
In the meantime, we are going to be very attentive to your feedback, your corrections and your desires on the evolutions to be brought to this tool. We also have a few ideas on our side and we have no doubt that Mobilizon will grow in the coming months.
This work can be acheived thanks to the support and donations that finance our association. Donations represent 95 % of our income and give us our freedom of action. As Framasoft is recognized as being in the public interest, a donation of 100 € from a French taxpayer will, after deduction, be reduced to 34 €.
In the meantime, it is now up to you to mobilize to make Mobilizon known !