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Mobilizon v2, now matured, like a good French wine

Mobilizon is our answer to the question: « How can we make it so that Climate Walks and demonstrations are not organized on Facebook? » This tool allows you to create groups, pages and events, without having to offer your data, update your status, tag your friends, share your photos…

« Frama is not just… »

Each week of Fall 2021, we want to present you the diversity of what Framasoft does. As these actions are funded by your donations (66% tax-free for Fench tax-payers), you can find a complete summary, in the form of cards to click and flip, on the website Support Framasoft.

➡️ Read this series of articles (FR, Oct – Dec 2021)

First, you will need to find where to register on Mobilizon. We do host Mobilizon.fr, but it is restricted to French speaking users (otherwise we wouldn’t be able to moderate). But we’ve got you covered: we propose a selection of other Mobilizon hosters on Mobilizon.org.

Card "Mobilizon" Mobilizon is a free and federated alternative to Facebook events and groups. Mobilizon is not a social network, and does not promote egos. Groups, on the other hand, can discuss, share resources, publish articles and organise their events.

Come again: what is Mobilizon?

Mobilizon is first and foremost a software, that web-hosters can install on a server, in order to create a platform, a Mobilizon web site. This Mobilizon web site can federate and thus synchronize its data with other Mobilizon web sites.

Imagine if Facebook were a network with several entry points, like emails. You would have the choice to sign up with this or that Facebook provider (just like you have the choice of your email provider). You’d choose such hoster because you feel you can trust them with your data, or to enforce a fair moderation. However, your Facebook provider would give you access to as many events and groups in the network as possible, because it would federate with the other hosts (just as you can receive emails from anyone, regardless of their provider).

That’s what Mobilizon is: a federated tool to publish your events, your pages, your information… and to focus on organizing your group.

Discover Mobilizon on the official website Join Mobilizon
Illustration : David Revoy (CC BY)

One year of updates from your feedbacks

It’s been a little over a year since we published the first version (v1) of Mobilizon. Let’s admit that proposing a tool to organize and gather your group in the midst of confinements and curfews was not such a smart idea!

Yet Mobilizon is a promising software, with more than 75 public hosts (we’re calling them instances) and an already international scope. It must be said that for the past year, we have been updating the software to provide you with much needed features.

Last March, we released version 1.1, which added a history of activities, the ability to display events by geographic proximity and access to RSS feeds (to subscribe to news feeds and not miss anything).

In late June, we released version 1.2, which includes a notification system (useful for informing participants of your event), and a clear improvement of the interface (more pleasant on mobile)

In mid-August, we released version 1.3 of Mobilizon. It allows a better management of groups, whose administrators or moderators can edit events or blog posts. Moreover, you can now add many metadata to events: accessibility level, Twitter account, live stream address…

Finally, we worked in partnership with Koena Connect (a French accessibility company) to improve the accessibility of Mobilizon. Koena Connect provided a direct feedback channel to the persons who find accessibility issues with our software.

Illustration : David Revoy (CC-By)

Mobilizon v2, a tool designed to serve you

Since this summer, we have been working hard (with our team of ONE paid developer who devotes 75% of his time to the project) to implement features inspired by your comments and requests.

From now on, it is possible for one of your Mobilizon profiles to follow the public activities of a group without having to join. You will have these events on your « My Events » page (now with a new filter system to display events). They will also appear on your home page and in your emails notifications (that you can turn off), as soon as this group publishes a public event.

People who organize events can now export a list of attendants, for example to check who has signed up and who comes. This list is downloadable in the most common formats (csv, odf, pdf), and for now only contains the names of profiles who have clicked « Participate » (and messages from anonymous accounts). But this is the beginning of a work that could be expanded, depending on your expectations.

Mobilizon v2 solves a real headache (and it was one to develop :p!): dealing with time zones. Now, if you organize an event in London, the time of your event will be associated with the British time zone by default.

Mobilizon will then convert the time for people who want to register from France, by displaying the time of the event on Paris time, for example. For this, Mobilizon looks at the time zone declared by your web browser (and you can control this setting in your account). This also allows Mobilizon to send you « the event starts in an hour » reminder emails at the right time, i.e.: yours (what a pleasure!)

A lot of work has been done to correctly display right to left languages; we had to adapt the interface itself. The tricky part was to adapt to « bidirectional » cases, where two languages with different reading directions are mixed, for example Mobilizon’s interface in French and an event described in Arabic.

You have asked for it (a lot), and it is even more relevant in times of pandemic, you now have the possibility to define an event as online, without geographical location. We’ve also added a new filter to the Mobilizon search, so you can see only « online » events among your results.

About the search engine, it is now possible to search among past events, just to find the ones that you liked.

We have implemented an automatic detection of the language of the events. When you write your event title and description, Mobilizon will assign a language to it. This allows for better accessibility for people who use a screen reader, but also improves on displaying the time of your event in its social media preview.

Finally, there are many, many tweaks that may seem small but are life changing. We worked on the emails look, on the cards presenting events or groups, and improved on the public view of groups (the alternative to Facebook « pages »). We also made progress in digital accessibility thanks to our exchanges with Koena.

Mobilizon can now easily run on ARM machines, which will facilitate self-hosting on nanocomputers (like Raspberry Pi) or with Yunohost, for example.

illustration : David Revoy (CC-By)

Join the Mobilizon Community

Mobilizon is still in the early stages of its life, with a very motivated community. There are lively discussions in our Matrix Room! The contributors who translate Mobilizon are amazingly efficient (thanks and lots of datalove to them!)

We don’t know exactly yet how we’ll improve on Mobilizon in 2022. Our intuitions tell us that we will have to work on making this solution better known to the people it could appeal to.

One way to manage it would be to improve content discovery (events, groups, their public page, the public articles of these groups) notably by working on search tools, filters, and so on.

But nothing is decided yet and we are eager to hear your feedback (on our forum or our Matrix lounge, for example) to know what direction to give to Mobilizon.

Illustration : David Revoy (CC BY)

 

As soon as we have a clearer roadmap proposal, we’ll be sure to let you know in the Mobilizon newsletter (so be sure to sign up here).

By coincidence, today the documentary Disappear – Under the Radar of Algorithms is released by ArteTV. Directed by Marc Meillassoux, this documentary features a performer trying to escape from the clutches of Facebook, and Mobilizon seems to play an important role in it…

Mobilizon is financed thanks to your donations

We remind you that this v2 of Mobilizon has been financed on our 2021 budget, so directly thanks to the donations of the people who support Framasoft. Indeed, Framasoft is a not-for-profit organization financed at 93% by your donations.

Because Framasoft is recognized as being of general interest by French authorities, donations to our association are tax deductible for French taxpayers. Thus, a donation of 100 € to Framasoft is, after deduction of income tax, 34 €.

We have explained, in this series of articles in French on the Framablog , all the actions that are financed by a donation to Framasoft. They are summarized in a set of (multilingual !) cards to click, flip and color on our support Framasoft page.

Thank you in advance for visiting and sharing this page. For those of you who can, please consider giving colors to our actions by making a donation to Framasoft.

Support Framasoft

 

This is Rȯse, the Mobilizon mascot.
Click on the image to read a photo novel that shows you a guided tour of Mobilizon.
illustration : David Revoy (CC-By)

 

Helpful links

 




Forget about Framaforms-the-software, make room for Yakforms !

After several years, Framasoft has decided to stop the developments of its software Framaforms, which provides you the same name service. And to avoid any confusion between the software’s name and the service named Framaforms (which remains open, don’t worry), we have decided to give it a new name: Yakforms. Let’s see what motivated this decision.

Please note:
The original French version of this article has been published on this blog on May 25th, 2021

Framaforms, its life, its work

Officially released on October 5, 2016 as an alternative to Google Forms, Framaforms is an online service that allows internet users to simply create forms, by dragging and dropping elements (text fields, checkboxes, drop-down menu, etc.), to share them and analyze the answers.

Unlike most of the services presented in the De-google-ify internet campaign, Framaforms is based on a software developed by one of the association’s employees. Framasoft has always preferred to offer and promote existing free-libre softwares that have their own community, rather than developing homemade solutions that need to be maintained and developed, not to mention user support. But no satisfying software was found to provide an alternative to Google Forms: most of the existing free-libre softwares were not online services, or were pretty hard to use or too expensive.

 

Sometimes at Framasoft, we have to make very difficult choices.

Also, Pyg, the general director of Framasoft at the time, decided to develop a simple and user-friendly tool. Considering his technical skills, he chose a solution using Drupal (one of the most intalled free-libre Content Management Software – or CMS – in the world) and the Webform module (for creating forms). Feel free to read his interview published at the time where he talked about his choices.

Four years and a half later, Framaforms is one of the most used services of Framasoft. In 2020, framaforms.org represented more than 36 million page views (a 250% increase compared to 2019). In the last twelve months (May 2020 to April 2021) alone, almost 100,000 forms were created on Framaforms where they collected over 2 million responses. Every week more than 1,000 of you create more than 3,000 forms. That’s really impressive!

 

Sometimes, we wonder why this service is so successfull! Of course, we did our best to promote it. Of course, internet users are more and more aware of the need to change their digital practices to protect their privacy. Of course, we know that asking for sensitive information, such as gender identity or sexual orientation, via a Google Forms is less and less common and acceptable.

But it seems that the main reason why you use Framaforms is just because one day, you were asked to submit a form hosted on framaforms.org and therefore you discovered the tool. Form creators indirectly become self-prescribers of the service to their audience. Submitting to a form gives you an active experience of the tool and then allows you to become a creator more easily. That confirms that Framaforms is a tool with a future.

The issue with Framaforms

However, since its development in 2016, Framaforms is a tool that hasn’t much evolved. As you can notice on the software’s repository, the team has regularly updated Drupal and the modules used, improved performances (especially by switching to php7 and changing servers), fixed identified bugs but added very few features (some in 2017).

Besides, since 2016, Framasoft is the new editor of two softwares: PeerTube and Mobilizon. With Framadate and Framaforms, Framasoft finds itself managing 4 different softwares, not to mention all the existing projects to which our association contributes. And it’s a lot for a small not-for-profit like ours. We decided that our capacity to develop should be focused on PeerTube and Mobilizon, at the cost of the two other tools.

 

Finally, because of its technical bases, Framaforms software wasn’t suitable for installation by other hosting companies: the process was arduous. This explains why Framaforms didn’t become much of a « swarm », unlike other successful softwares currently supported by a large community. So far, very few instances are installed, which increases the pressure on the Framaforms service that has to take care of all users’ burden.

That’s one of the main reasons why we welcomed Théo as an intern from February to July 2020. His main missions were to:

  • improve the software to make it more functional;
  • reduce the support load by actively participating in it;
  • simplify the installation process, in order to increase Framaforms instances’ number.

Théo worked very hard on new features. Among the most important ones:

  • creation of a direct contact form so that users can directly contact the form creator without using Framasoft support
  • design of an « Overview » page allowing Framaforms administrators to easily access statistics (total number of forms and users, « abusive » forms, etc.)
  • forms automatic deletion after an expiration period.

Details about the direct contact form.

Concerning the software installation process, Théo has created a Drupal installation profile for Framaforms offering instance administrators Framaforms module (enriched), and webform modules on which the software is based. Framaforms can now be installed directly via the Drupal interface rather than by manipulating files via a terminal. This simplifies the installation process, with the significant advantage that it’s very similar to the Drupal installation process.

Despite these improvements, Framasoft knows that, as long as the software has the same name than the associated service, people would always think that Framasoft is responsible for developing and maintaining the software.

Even though we don’t consider closing down the framaforms.org service, we don’t want to dedicate as much energy developing this tool. At least, we don’t want to be the only ones to do it, therefore we would like a development community to emerge who will take over Framaforms software to bring it new features.

Framaforms-the-software is dead, long live Yakforms!

The emergence of this community is needed to keep the software alive. Framaforms needs, at least, interventions on security flaws and functional bugs that may appear. And this software would also deserve new features, interface and ergonomy improvements, etc.

In order to prepare this community, we offered Théo to join the salaried team for a few months. His missions: to work on the internationalization (making the software translatable), to provide instances customization (allowing administrators to configure some elements such as the instance name, its formatting or its limitations) and to develop new features (limiting the number of answers per form and the number of forms per account). He also had to create a presentation website where everything about the software would be accessible, whether you are a simple user, an administrator or a developer.

The other important thing for us was to rename Framaforms to avoid any confusion with the framaforms.org service. After many brainstormings, we chose the name Yakforms to replace Framaforms. Why Yakforms? Well… this choice is both a combination of bad puns and the desire to have a mascot. So why a yak? The mystery remains, and we are committed to inventing a different answer every time we are asked. Because the only answer that matters, is the one given by the future development community created around this software (or that will copy it, « fork » it to give it a brand new direction, and a new name).

Théo also did his best to create a community around Yakforms. Therefore he thought a lot about different online spaces that would allow a community to exchange and pull together. He created a dedicated category on the Framacolibri forum and a website presenting the software: its main features, how to install an instance and how to contribute to its development.

 

Discover Yakforms’s new presentation website! https://yakforms.org

We hope that many of you will browse through it to learn more about the main features, to find out how to install it or participate in its development. Because this software won’t evolve without you. Joining the Yakforms community means participating in the software development: improving its code, rethinking its ergonomics, translating its interfaces or documenting its use.

So get hold of Yakforms! Install it, translate it, fork it, challenge it or offer feedback on the forum, etc. By releasing this project from Framasoft’s control, we hope that a diverse and strong community will take it further than we did. Yakforms is in your hands, and we look forward to seeing what you will do with it!

And a huge thanks to the #MemesTeam for their creativity!




You are invited to contribute to the future « Contributing to Free-Libre Open Source Software » MOOC by Télécom Paris and Framasoft

Interested in contributing to the contents production of a MOOC about FLOSS contribution? You already have a contribution experience and think it can be useful to new contributors? Join us!

The French original version of this article has been published on this blog on Feb. 4th, 2021.

Leading Internet users into the world of contribution

Last September we were so delighted to learn that Marc Jeanmougin, a research engineer at Télécom Paris, wanted Framasoft to be associated with his online course projet on FLOSS contributions that had just been funded by the Institut Mines-Télécom.

We have been dreaming about it: a MOOC to learn how to contribute to free-libre software

Developing digital tools that facilitate individuals’ contributions is one of the lines of our Contributopia campaign. On this subject we already have set up Contribateliers (and their online version Confinateliers): workshops to discover how each of us can contribute to free-libre software. Implemented in 2018 in Lyon, those interventions now take place in cities (Lyon, Paris, Toulouse, Grenoble and Nantes) allowing people to contribute to the free-libre software and free culture in a user-friendly way.

This is also the case with the Contribulle project we are hosting: a platform where projects with the same free-libre software values are connected with those without enough skills and contributors who could give them a hand. This nice initiative is slowly taking shape and we think it will be a great success in the coming months.

Finally, the aim with this Contributing to FLOSS MOOC is to allow developers to get both a theoretical (what is it about?) and practical introduction (how to contact somebody? and how to contribute?) to the world of FLOSS contribution.

All these initiatives allow users of free-libre services to learn how to contribute and to stop using a software only as if it were a finished product.

Contributing to develop the Contributing to FLOSS MOOC

After a first day in October, talking about pedagogical sequencing in a small committee, the prefiguration team decided that given the MOOC subject, it would not be totally far-fetched to allow people who want to co-produce contents with us to do so.

That’s why we have created a project on the Gitlab software forge. For now, few contents have been published on this contribution space. But you can still read the general outline of this future course.

The README.md of the GitLab project

We also have created a dedicated Matrix chatroom in order to have a daily and more informal exchange with you. Do not hesitate to join us there to learn more about this project.

We invite you to exchange in video conference on this project on February, 10th at 6:30pm. At the same time we will present you the general organization of the MOOC and the choices we have made both educationally (what angle on FLOSS we will try to take) and technically. We will also discuss how we envisage contributions to contents production.

If after this first exchange you want to help us with contents preparation, you can participate in 6 other online brainstorming sessions, each one dedicated to the contents of one week of the MOOC. They will take place on Mondays and Thursdays between 6:30pm and 8pm from February 11th to March 1st (details of access and contents will be published on the gitlab issues with each session).

GitLab issues with details of access and contents of the 6 meetings we offer.

We hope we will see many of you at those different events. But as we know it’s not always easy to be available on a set time slot, we offer to collect your reactions, feedbacks or comments before each session on our repository. Do not hesitate to write down whatever comes to your mind!




PeerTube v3 : it’s a live, a liiiiive !

Today we are releasing a major new version of PeerTube, our alternative to centralized video platforms like YouTube.

Please note:

Wait… What is PeerTube?

PeerTube is not a platform, it is a software.

Hosters can install this software on their servers and create a « PeerTube website » (an instance) where users can view and upload videos as an alternative to YouTube.

Unlike YouTube, PeerTube instances are :

  • Free: everyone has the right to use PeerTube software, you can look « under the hood » to see if the code is clean, you can even tweak it to your liking and share it!
  • Federated: each PeerTube site can synchronize with another to show their videos without hosting them on the server’s hard drive.
  • Decentralized: the videos use peer-to-peer streaming (from PeerTube to the internet user, but also from internet users to other internet users), to improve fluidity.
You are new to PeerTube and want to know more?
🔗 Joinpeertube.org

 

A v3 funded by your solidarity

In June 2020, we announced the steps of our roadmap for the next 6 months, up to PeerTube v3.

On this occasion, we launched a fundraising campaign, with the aim of financing the €60,000 that this development would cost us. Your have been very generous, as more than €68,000 have been raised.

A successful fundraising campaign, thanks to you!

We would like to thank you for this generosity especially in a difficult time for everyone. Thanks also to the sponsors of this v3, Octopuce (which proposes hosting and managed services of free-libre softwares, including PeerTube) and Code Lutin (development company specialising in free-libre software). But also the Debian project (one of the best known and most used free-libre GNU-Linux distributions) which, by their donation and their press release, gave PeerTube an international recognition.

Research, moderation, facilitation: key steps

The transition from v2.2 (June 2020 version) to v3 of PeerTube has been done in steps, with many minor improvements and at least one major development each time.

The global search of version 2.3, released during the summer, allows you to find videos in the whole federation (and not just in the federation-bubble of the PeerTube instance you are visiting).

The version 2.4 of September has improved the moderation tools, the display of playlists on external sites and the plugin system.

Illustration: David Revoy (CC-By)

At the end of September, we unveiled SepiaSearch, the PeerTube videos and channels search engine based on the global search feature. That feature was not intended to be a separate search engine, with its web interface and indexed PeerTube instance list. The constraint was to make it free and affordable, so that others could host their own PeerTube search engine, with their own rules. Your feedback helped us understand that this was expected and necessary, so we added this step to our roadmap.

click on the image to go to SepiaSearch, our PeerTube video and channel search engine.

From October onwards, development focused on live and peer-to-peer video streaming. It was a big undertaking. The fact that it happened in a difficult 2020 year (for everyone) didn’t help, but we managed to complete the challenge with almost no delay! (or very little? :p)

A minimalist and efficient peer-to-peer live stream

The great feature of this v3 is live streaming, and we are proud to say that it works very well! 🎉🎉🎉

Here is a link to the release, we hope that PeerTube Instances admin will apply the update soon!

We have detailed how it all works in the announcement of the publication of version 3 RC (for « release candidate ») which has been tested in the last few weeks.

Thank you to the Canard Réfractaire for their tests and feedback.

The main points to remember :

  • The lag (between video maker and audience) varies between 30 seconds and 1mn, as expected ;
  • Depending on the power of the server and its load (number of simultaneous live shows, transcoding, etc.), PeerTube can provide hundreds of simultaneous views (but we’re not sure that it will scale to thousands… at least not yet!);
  • Administration options are included for people hosting the instance;
  • The features are minimalist by design, and we have documented our recommendations for creating a live ;
  • The live can be done with most video streaming tool (we recommend the free-libre software OBS), with two options:
    • An « short-lived » live, with a unique identifier, will offer the possibility to save the video and display a replay on the same link;
    • A « permanent » live stream, which will work more like a Twitch channel, but without the replay option.

Illustration: David Revoy – License: CC-By 4.0

There is more than live in life

This v3 comes with many changes and improvements, thanks to the UX design work we did with Marie Cécile Godwin Paccard. Menus, notifications, administration and moderation tools have been redesigned.

Before menu redesign

After, with improved menus

This work on the menus is just one of the most visible examples of the many improvements that have been made to PeerTube to make its use more enjoyable. We are very pleased with the initial results and we are looking forward to continue this work.

« PeerTube, Backstage »

During the fundraising for this v3, a certain TomToom offered us an original contribution. Video director for Kintésens prod, he wanted to offer us a short behind-the-scenes movie about PeerTube. The challenge? To show the reality lived by our very small team, with our artisanal methods (we proudly claim the term), while respecting the will of Chocobozzz (the only paid developer on the project) not to show up on the screen and to devote his time to develop this v3.

The result? Here it is.

PeerTube’s Behind the Scenes, on Framatube
You can help us translate the French subtitles of this video by going on our translation tool.

PeerTube’s future

The next step? Getting some rest! In the meantime, don’t hesitate to give us as much feedback as possible on these new features, specifically on the live. It’s by reading your contributions on our forum that we can understand what is expected, what we need to prioritize, what needs to be corrected or improved.

We do not foresee any crowdfunding in 2021, nor to finance the future v4 of PeerTube. These fundraising put us in a paradoxical situation: we want to raise awareness about the software to raise funds, so people are interested in it, so they want to contribute, but we have little time to welcome them, because our very small team has to work hard to develop the features promised in the fundraising.

So we haven’t drawn up a strict roadmap for 2021, in order to keep ourselves available and react to the needs we perceive. We just know that the main theme of PeerTube v4 will be customization.

Centralized platforms give little power over the display of videos (newest, most viewed, just that category, etc.), the look of their platform, or even customization of the channels. Giving these capabilities back to the people seems to us to be an interesting and fun way to go.

If you wish to help us in this approach, do not hesitate to promote PeerTube around you (with the JoinPeertube website) or to financially support our not-for-profit.

Visit JoinPeertube.org Support Framasoft

 

Illustration: David Revoy – License: CC-By 4.0




What Framasoft would like to do in 2021 thanks to your donations

For 2021, Framasoft has many desires (we always have!): popular digital education, software developments and actions to participate in the web re-decentralization.

Please note:

Here are the main actions we plan to carry out next year. However 2020 confirmed us that we can’t take anything for granted and that everything can change. So this article is more a snapshot of our todo list for 2021 than a roadmap set in stone.

Here is what we plan to do next year if we are not forced to change our plans in the middle of the year and if we can. We hope you will help us accomplish it by joining our donators.

Taking more time to develop ethical tools

In 2021, Framasoft will obviously continue to work on softwares we have been developping for years. But this year we didn’t plan any fundraising for one of these softwares.

Indeed, if organizing a fundraising allows to know and finance an initiative, it’s also the start of a sprint to code mainstream features in time.

This year we want to work on improvements, on mediation tools: features that may seem less sexy but that are just as important. We also want to take time to better listen to your feedbacks and needs.

Illustration by David Revoy – Licence : CC-By 4.0

Finding a community for Framaforms (the software)

In 2021 Théo will spend a few more months with us to continue the work (already well underway) on the software behind Framaforms: bugs resolution and new features requested by users. Thanks to these improvements, Framaforms will be much easier to use and administrate.

One of Théo’s missions is to create a contribution community around this software. Our goal is that this software’s evolution doesn’t exclusively rest upon our small not-for-profit shoulders. We’ll publish a presentation website in the coming months.

Because Framaforms is one of our most visited services, we deeply hope that other people will be interested in this solution and will continue to keep it alive and to make it evolve. The need to free forms from Google is important: free-libre softwares have strong arguments in this area and the development effort can’t rely solely on our small not-for-profit.

Animation created by Gee (CC-By-SA) in 2016, for Framaforms’s release

Slidewalker, an alternative to Slideshare and Scribd

We have been dying to carry out this idea for years: to create a free-libre software so that hosters can offer online documents hosting and consulting service, an alternative to slideshare or scribd.

Slidewalker would help anyone share documents (not just slideshows) in open formats (open documents) or in PDF format. For those using closed formats (docx, xlsx, pptx…) we will find how to convert them into a PDF format. But if you want something better, ask Microsoft to open their proprietary formats.

Once hosted, the files could be described, viewed, embed and opened to comments (or not, it’s not compulsory!). We also think of group features and quotas… we don’t lack of ideas for this software.

But we are realistic and know that we will not achieve to develop all of them in 2021, nor on the V1. For example, it won’t be a federated tool this time! We don’t even know if we will provide a public instance of this software.

We want a simple and efficient tool that works without embellishments. So far, we have only imagined it. Let’s meet in 2021 to see how this plan will become true (if it does!).

Illustration by David Revoy – Licence : CC-By 4.0

Consolidating PeerTube towards its v4

As mentioned several times, PeerTube’s v3 including live and peer-to-peer video streaming should be released in January 2021. First, this « live » will be minimalistic (no chat and reaction tools, etc.) but we will probably develop it and add new tools. Your feedbacks will influence updates about the interface itself or in addition to this main feature.

Illustration by David Revoy – Licence : CC-By 4.0

In 2020, Marie-Cécile Godwin, our partner designer, directed interviews with video makers, instance administrators and Internet users who wanted to watch videos elsewhere than on web giants platforms. These interviews confirmed our impressions: it’s confusing to come across a federated software (PeerTube) when you are expecting to find a video sharing platform (« in YouTube’s style »).

Google and its co-workers wrongly accustom us and it’s difficult for Internet users to apprehend decentralized web and federation principles… That’s why in 2021 we would like to make this understanding easier.

We want to modify significantly the interface, for example by inserting educational elements. We would like people who visit ExampleTube to see at a glance if a video is hosted by ExampleTube or if it’s on an instance federated with ExampleTube. Identifying immediately where a video comes from can change everything for watchers, videomakers and instance administrators.

We would also like to improve contents discoverability of both videos and channels. Even if SepiaSearch, our search engine, is a wonderful tool to search for videos, you have to know what you’re looking for.

For those who just want to browse, only this JoinPeertube page offers you videos, channels and instances selections. Thus we would like to create a tool allowing instance administrators to present and recommend content. Videomakers will also be able to customize their PeerTube channels by highlighting a video, modifying their playlists, adding a banner or by recommending other channels.

Click to try SepiaSearch

A Mobilizon suited to your needs

By publishing Mobilizon’s first version in the end of last October, we have proved that it’s now possible for those who want to gather, mobilize and organize themselves to use a free-libre and federated tool. We look forward to improving Mobilizon in 2021.

For example, we would like to use your feedbacks from previous weeks by implementing a new notification system to easily see the activity of events you have signed up for and new contents published in groups.

But we don’t want to overwhelm you with notifications nor to offer you a poor imitation of a Facebook wall. It would be against the spirit of attention simplicity we wanted for this tool. We will take all the time needed to imagine the most appropriate notification system. It seems more a design complexity than a code issue. For this reason (and many more), we’ll keep working with Marie-Cécile Godwin.

Illustration by David Revoy – Licence : CC-By 4.0

We also want to improve events discoverability. In the « Explore » menu, you currently can search for events with geographical localization. But displaying them on a map could be another way to discover the events next to you.

Some of you told us that the events selected in the « Featured events » and « These events may interest you » sections, at the bottom of event pages, didn’t seem pertinent. Therefore we will try to make the selection criteria more understandable (title, tag, date, location, etc.).

Finally we’re planning to create a dedicated space for the different contributions (feedbacks, issues, translations, code and support to the installation, etc.) on JoinMobilizon. We will also consider your desires about this tool and probably add features we haven’t thought about yet.

Illustration by David Revoy – Licence : CC-By 4.0

Decentralizing to avoid power concentration

Web giants are a handful of companies who managed to get us spend as much time as possible in front of our screens, so they can best decide what will be displayed on them.

The more people use their tools, the more power web giants get and the more complicated it becomes for each of us to use alternative tools.

Even at our level (a huge level for a small not-for-profit organization but a very small comparing to Google and co) we can notice that. The more one of our services are, the more it attracts problematic uses (moderation or spam) and causes imbalance issues (and some moral dilemma for our team when we have to decide!).

One solution is to increase the number of services hosting. It’s a truth that we will uphold for many years: de-google-ifying is great, yes, but it is not enough. It’s just the first step in decentralizing one’s digital uses.

Illustration by David Revoy – Licence : CC-By 4.0

Providing alternatives to some Frama-services

In 2021, Framasoft will continue to remake some of our services into portals to the same tools but hosted by other trusted providers, most often members of the CHATONS collective. This is what we’ve already done with the services we closed in 2020: Framabee, Framanews and Framastory.

Here is the alternatives page to Framanews

We will close down very shortly Framapic, Framavectoriel, Framaclic, MyFrama and the former Framindmap version, replacing them with an « Alternative » page, similar to the one above. As we explained in this article, in mid-2021, Framasite, Framawiki, Framaboard, Framanotes, Framabin, Framabag and Framacalc will display alternatives.

We will also restrict uses of some other services during the year. Therefore you won’t be able to shorten new links via Frama.link anymore but the already shortened URLS will still work. We will also close down signing ups on Framasphère and Framapiaf (if you already have a Framapiaf account, nothing will change for you, whereas Framasphère will close in october).

However we consider not to restrict the Framalistes service this year contrary to what was indicated in our service closure schedule. Alternatives (even under another free-libre software) are uncommon and a much more used service in this period of social distancing. We will not restrict this service until we find a substainable solution.

More generally, in early 2021, we will reconsider our plans to « de-framasoft-ify the Internet ». Without questioning this approach, we thought this plan more than two years ago. And since then the world and the free-libre software landscape have changed: it’s time for a little update!

Illustrration de David Revoy
Illustration by David Revoy – Licence : CC-By 4.0

Supporting CHATONS (the Collective of Independent, transparent, open, neutral and ethical hosters providing FLOSS-based online services)

In 2021 we want to keep working on the coordination of CHATONS: the alternative hosting collective.

Each year, organizations that are collective’s members and alternative services they offer are increasing. That’s why in 2021 the collective thinks of reconsidering his website for you to find more easily the service or the organization that feets your needs the best.

We are currently reworking the collective’s wiki, aka the « litter », which should give you shortly access to all the documentation of the collective.

Finally, the collective CHATONS plans to build a new interface for its website, to better show the works carried out by the 90 organizations composing it.

A CHATONS basket because we know how much you love it!

Contributing to other’s digital tools

It’s always nice to participate in projects carried out by other organizations. In 2021, we will continue to support tool developments conducted by other organizations to which we have already contributed.

Released in 2019, Bénévalibre is a free-libre software allowing you to count volunteering hours within an association (French for not-for-profit NGO). Although the « all accounting » logic is not really part of our values, we think that such a requirement should not depend on proprietary softwares.

That’s the reason why friends of the April LibreAssociation group carried out this development and why we supported them. Since Bénévalibre’s v1 in September 2019, there has been a lot of hindsights and uses to know how to contribute to it and improve it in 2021.

Résistance à l’Agression Publicitaire, a French not-for-profit, that raises awareness about the place of advertising in our society: we did not expect them to develop a software. Yet the R.A.P association needed one to launch online petitions, so they coded it!

Petition tools need to be freed from surveillance capitalism mechanisms. In 2021 we will logistically and financially support the Pytitions software development in the hope to get rapidly to a general public version.

Illustration by David Revoy – Licence : CC-By 4.0

Contributing to people’s digital emancipation

We can’t list below all the popular education actions we will contribute to in 2021.

Firstly because some of these actions will be at the reflection phase and also because collective intelligence requires time and is hard to plan.

For example, in 2021 there may be a radical change of paradigm and functioning within our publishing house, Framabook. We may also think about the next MOOC CHATONS modules… but we haven’t decided yet.

Secondly, because some of these actions are carried out according to new needs, to wills coming together and to common schedules, etc.

Here are the outlines we can draw today. It will be very fun to compare this sketch with a more complete review of our popular education actions in the end of 2021.

Illustration by David Revoy – Licence : CC-By 4.0

We can’t wait seeing you again, away from keyboards!

In 2021 we hope the sanitary conditions will allow us to go back physically to our meetings, workshops, conferences or round-tables. Of course health comes first! Respecting our health and yours will be a main condition before accepting any of them.

This being said, we still hope that it will be possible because… we miss you! It’s important for us to meet regularly with different audiences and share opinions about web giant’s supremacy and the world that Surveillance Capitalism companies are planning for us.

Meanwhile we will continue our online meetings and we can already tell we have some planned for the first half of 2021!

Promoting the « Métacartes numérique éthique » (Cardgame to discover ethical digital alternatives)

Although the project was delayed (due to the pandemic), the Metacards « ethical digital alternatives » are being tested in many communities and the next workshop will take place on Dec. 18th, 2020 (register on Mobilizon!)

This tool that helps digital mediators to easily raise awareness on technology issues and to present alternatives that are respectful to Internet user’s should be released in 2021.

Framasoft will keep supporting this nice initiative we can’t wait to discover in 2021! To help producing it, we have (among others) pre-ordered games and we hope we will be able to spread this major animation system to amator and professional mediators.

the work plan for the Metacards « ethical digital alternatives » for the coming months.

Describing the Fediverse with a thesis or a drawing

For example, when we talk about PeerTube or Mobilizon, we see that it’s hard to tackle the concepts of « federated software », « instance » and « federation ». Indeed, those last twenty years, web giants have limited the web to « a website = a platform = a service » suggesting to most users that there is no alternative.

In 2021, we plan to work on making these concepts more accessible for everyone. For example, we asked LILA association (who made the « What Is PeerTube? » animated video) to produce some short videos popularizing key concepts.

At the same time, we are contributing to funding a thesis that started in Oct. 2020 at the UTC by Audrey Guélou entitled « Configurations techno-éthiques pour les médias sociaux décentralisés et fédérés » (Techno-ethical configurations for decentralized and federated social media).

A first step towards Framasoft cloud’s project

A year ago we were talking about our « Framasoft cloud » project: a service based on Nextcloud software giving easily access to many collaborative tools. Meanwhile, the world and our thoughts on this project have changed.

Due to the covid19 crisis, many people had to use new digital tools without any support. Even though we are spending more and more time « working/collaborating/cooperating/exchanging/producing » in front of our screens: most of us are not very comfortable with these digital practices.

Nextcloud remains a free-libre software that can meet these needs especially for an audience (organizations, collectives, etc.) wanting digital emancipation. In 2021, we want to devote time and energy to create awareness and understanding tools about what Nextcloud is (and isn’t), about what we can do with it and how… in order to increase your organization and collaboration abilities.

Illustration by David Revoy – Licence : CC-By 4.0

Taking time to think the Popular University UPLOAD project

This project of a Libre Open Accessible and Decentralized Popular University (UPLOAD) was conceived during Contributopia’s campaign in October 2017. In 2021, we will be far from completing it but we want to start defining it more concretely.

Our first goal it to create a space for people to get to a lot of re-appropriable knowledge (with contents under free-licence of course). This space should be able to adapt to many popular educational and empowerment uses.

It’s also to think about how digital coaches’ works could be facilitated so that these contents can be appropriated and organized online or physically.

In order to think of the most relevant tool, and how we could humbly contribute to this environment where many initiatives were launched before us, Framasoft gives itself one year to note what already exists on this matter and think about how this project could be organized to be the most effective.

Illustration by David Revoy – Licence : CC-By 4.0

A year to find each other

Let’s be honest: even us when we read this huge list, we don’t know how we will accomplish all of it! But if we look closely, most of the actions are the continuation of projects and partnerships or the first steps to develop ideas we have always liked.

2020 has been for us (and for everyone we suppose) a strange year that have shifted our priorities and where we have been a bit confused and overwhelmed.

Today if we had to describe how we think about 2021 in one word it will be « finding »: finding our marks, finding you back, and finding ourselves in action. Because we never lost the meaning of what we do, for you and with you.

In 2021, we want lead our way to this meaning given in our actions, towards these values of digital emancipation, power decentralization and popular education.

As Framasoft only lives from your donations, we hope you will follow us and support us once again in this direction.

Support Framasoft




Review of Framasoft’s actions in 2020 (excluding the lockdown period)

Our actions are funded by your donations, increased by your contributions and are useful because you share them and make them your own. Therefore we wanted to take the time to make an review of our main actions carried out in 2020.

Even though the year is not over yet we can already see what our association (35 members, 10 employees) has done with the resources received.

Note:

Setting freedoms in code

In digital world, code is law: people running the code have the power and responsibility to determine what will be possible or impossible to do.

That’s why we have taken the responsibility to develop some softwares: in order to experiment other ways to open up possibilities, to offer alternative ways to organize our digital exchanges.

Coding these softwares under free licenses allows us to limit this huge power over the code (so what makes the rules on our screens) thanks to transparency mechanisms, works for opening up to the community and to the possibility of alternative governances.

Illustration by David Revoy – License: CC-by 4.0

Reinforcing Framaforms to face Google Forms

When it opened in 2016, we didn’t imagine that Framaforms, our alternative to Google Forms, would be the most used service of the De-google-ify the Internet campaign!

At this time, the challenge was to show that Free Libre Open Source Softwares (FLOSS) plugins (here Drupal and Webforms) allows non-developers to hack a respectable alternative to Google Forms in 14 working days by adding only 60 lines of code!

Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have been using this tool. We asked Théo, our intern, to improve this tool. Thanks to him, Framaforms has been upgraded to v1, a version correcting many bugs, allowing the automatic erasure of expired forms and the display of a page to contacta form creator.

Following his internship, Théo has joined our salaried team for a few months to continue his work on Framaforms. The last version, v1.0.3, enables to install Framaforms software in other languages than French and includes several tools to fight against spam.

It may be a detail for you… But if you knew how many people contact our support service to talk to forms’ creators…

Mobilizon: to manage groups and events out of Facebook

Mobilizon is our free and federated tool to free our events and groups from Facebook. Mentioned in December 2018 and financed by a fund-raising in the spring of 2019, Mobilizon has been developed throughout 2020.

Following a delay in development (due to a global pandemic), the first version of Mobilizon was released in October, with:

  • a demo instance,
  • a presentation site,
  • a complete documentation,
  • a photo novel telling a case study,
  • our public instance (for the French speaking only)
  • and Mobilizon.org: a website to guide you according to your needs and find your way among all these tools!

Since the publication of this first version, there are many contributions to Mobilizon. Among them, an Android application has been created by Tom79 and you can find it on Google’s Playstore and on Fdroid, the free app catalogue.

Many other contributions (feedbacks, issues, translations, code and assistance to the installation, etc.) allow an update (version 1.0.2) that corrects many bugs while adding the possibility to join groups in one click, to install Mobilizon via Docker and to use the software in 14 different languages.

Illustration by David Revoy – Licence: CC-by 4.0

PeerTube: on its way to live streaming in the v3

That summer, we launched a fundraising to finance PeerTube’s third version, our free and federated alternative that generalizes video broadcasting.

While France and the world were affected (and still are) by a pandemic, we have chosen to break the codes of crowdfunding by assuring that we would develop v3 announced features (whether we raise the money or not) and giving whoever the possibility to participate to the financing of the 60 000€ that the project will cost.

The bet was achieved because almost €68 000 were raised thanks to important donations of structures as Octopuce, Code Lutin or the Debian Fondation that also gives us a great recognition of PeerTube’s usefulness.

Since June, we have developed and added many features to PeerTube: videos and channels global search (available on the search field of instances and on our search engine SepiaSearch as well), several moderation tools, significant improvements for playlists and to the plugin system… the list goes on!

Live and peer-to-peer video broadcasting is encoded but still needs to be tested and refined… Because even though this live will be minimalist (no chat or reaction tools, etc.), most of the work is in the details and finishing touches. We are planning to publish a nearly-finished version (the « Release Candidate » or « RC ») in mid-December and the stable v3 in January 2021.

Illustration by David Revoy – Licence: CC-by 4.0

Decentralizing is political

Since the launch of the De-google-ify Internet campaign in 2014, Framasoft works towards to:

  • raise awareness on data centralization by monopolistic actors (GAFAM, etc.);
  • offer alternative services on its servers to show that FLOSS presents ethical and practical tools;
  • swarm, spread these tools to increase ethical service hosting options and help internet users in seeking of digital emancipation.

In 2020, we focused on the swarming part with the objective that the services offered by Framasoft wouldn’t be a default solution anymore but a first step in its digital emancipation.

Illustration by David Revoy – Licence: CC-by 4.0

 

De-google-ify while keeping services on a human scale

Maintaining more than 30 online services involves to keep track of updates of all the free-libre softwares behind these services, while each one is developed by its community at their own pace. Once again this year, we have ensured to keep the offered services up to date, with important updates for Framadrive, Framagenda, Framatalk, Framaforms, Framapiaf, Framateam and this morning Framadate.

The more our services are known, the more attractive they become for malevolent uses, including spam. The cheats’ inventiveness is limitless, they want to show their fraudulent links at all costs. For months we have dedicated ourselves (and an article of this blog) to fight against such unwanted uses.

It was estimated early 2020 that about one million people were using our services every month. That’s a lot for a small not-for-profit of 35 members including 10 employees. As explained in the article about our actions during the first French lockdown, needs for online services skyrocketed, we had to change our ways of helping users.

That’s why we completed the work on our websites and tools to exchange with each other. Our contact page, our donation page and the contextual menu on all of our websites have been completely redesigned. The aim is for you to be autonomous by giving you directly adapted answers, and to favor mutual aid on our forum.

All these issues have a common trait: the overuse of our services compared to our team size, who has decided to moderate its growth. To compensate for this, we will continue to transform some of our services into portals to the same tools but that are installed in other trusted hosts, most often members of the CHATONS collective.

De google-ify the Internet, seen by Péhä (CC-By)

 

CHATONS, the Collective of Alternative Hosters

The CHATONS collective, whose members offer ethical online services according to the values of their Manifesto and the commitments in their Charter, grows and evolves. Throughout this year, Framasoft has been spending hours to coordinate the collective. The pleasant internal dynamic proves that it pays off.

During the year, in addition to the forum exchanges, the CHATONS held a monthly audio-meeting between available members. The collective was thus better organized to welcome new members, to revise and update the charter, or to contribute to the « litter »(the wiki where the CHATONS share technical, legal and administrative information, etc.)

Let’s note that during the French lockdown, the CHATONS opened a new website that offers nine online services without registration, and hosted ethically. Icing on the cake, these services are decentralized and you have nothing to do: choose one service and the website will transfer you randomly to one of the collective members offering this tool.

Today many actions are in progress: important improvements for the chatons.org website, statistical collecting tools in order to improve what the collective members offer, and of course, the welcoming of the future collective members planned for the end of the year!

Illustration by David Revoy – Licence: CC-by 4.0 Edit: stickers of this picture are available on David Revoy’s shop

Partnerships in our archipelago

Throughout the year, we kept maintaining the links that unite us to the partners composing our archipelago while creating new relationships.

Exchanges with many organizations (ArtyFarty, Alternatiba, Le réseau Information Jeunesse (the Youth Information Network), WebAssoc, LentCiné, Exodus Privacy, Designers Ethiques, L’Institut de Recherche et d’Innovation (Institute for Research and Innovation), the Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vests movement), etc.) on their conversion to free-libre tools show that more and more organizations wish to match their digital tools with the values they uphold. In order to show that this consistency is possible, we published 3 blogposts to document this process and we will keep doing it in 2021.

With some of these organizations, we go even further than simple exchanges and try to actively support them as much as we can in this methodology. For example, we help and support the InterHop collective approach that promotes the use of FLOSS in the health field (and especially on the French Health Data Hub). For a year, we freely provided a PeerTube server of high capacity to ImagoTV. And we work directly with Résistance à l’Agression Publicitaire (a French nonprofit fighting against aggressive advertisement) on Pytition, a software for free-libre petitions.

Moreover, driven by the Colibris movement and in partnership with AnimaCoop and Ritimo, we took part in the realization and organization of the online training course Créer un projet collectif : méthodes et outils éthiques (Create a collective project: ethical methods and tools for organizations). This online course that took place from November 2nd to December 3rd allows 55 persons to discover many free-libre collaborative tools. We have also gladly accepted to be part of a working group tht is developing content for a MOOC produced by Telecom Paris about How to contribute to FLOSS.

Finally, throughout the year, we have continued our partnership with Mélanie and Lilian who are producing the Métacartes Numérique Ethique (Ethical Digital Metacards). This physical card game (each linked to a website) helps people promote ethical digital technology by explaining concepts, encouraging new uses, presenting discussions and questioning the criteria for trust in a digital tool.

Illustration by David Revoy – Licence: CC-by 4.0

Emancipating through popular education

In a few years, Framasoft went from an « association promoting free-libre softwares and its culture » to « a popular education association on digital issues ». That’s not insignificant.

As our degooglization and decentralization experiments went by, we have figured out that FLOSS is not an end in itself. It’s a mean (necessary and insufficient) to favor software users’ emancipation. It is true for every digital content: sotfwares, cultural works, etc.

In the course of our interventions and supports, we have noticed that knowledge, know-how and concepts transmission is much more effective when it happens in equal relationships, where each learns from the experience of others and comes out enriched from this exchange.

That’s why we believe that contributing to digital emancipation means trying to apply (when you can, and if you succeed) popular education values and methods.

Illustration by David Revoy – Licence: CC-by 4.0

Spreading FLOSS and Commons’ culture

Last May, the volunteers of our publishing house, Framabook, published four short story collections written by Yann Kervran in his medieval universe, Hexagora. His Qit’a (volume 1 to 4) let us explore the time of the Crusades that the author evoke so vividly. Go to Framabook to download the first, second, third and fourth volume of the Qit’a (in French).

This year, Framabook published the fourth volume of Grise Bouille. « How code profiling can help us fight against tax evasion? Should we refuse to visit people owning a smart speaker? Is the industrial society about to collapse? » In this book, Gee answers these questions (and much more) by gathering the comic books, watercolors and texts published between July 2018 and September 2020 on his grisebouille.net blog. The anthology is available on Framabook (French).

This year again, the Framablog has been really active. The weekly web review Khryspresso is released by Khrys every Monday and is the joy of every follower of this informative rendezvous. Framalang translation group published many translations including the collection « Détruire le Capitalisme de Surveillance » by Cory Doctorow. Finally, in December we are going to reveal a great contribution with the audio reading of some Framablog articles.

We had the pleasure to work more often with David Revoy, the author of Pepeer & Carrot, the free-libre open source webcomic, who draws a lot of illustrations for us. We asked the father of Sepia (PeerTube mascot) and Rose (Mobilizon mascot) to regularly help us illustrate what we do, such as this Framablog article.

Illustration by David Revoy – Licence: CC-by 4.0

 

Sharing how to adopt ethical digital tools

In February, we published (in French) the first MOOC CHATONS module: « Internet: why and how to take back control? ». Co-conceived with the French organization La Ligue de l’enseignement, this online and open course can be followed in autonomy to discover how our digital landscape was built, invaded and walled by tech giants, and learn the ways to emancipate.

In March, we experimented a « librecours » to acquire the keys to FLOSS culture, especially those of free license. Whether you are a creator, a prescriber, a spectator, a student or all of the above, this course teaches you how to use online cultural content and spread your own. This first experience was lead by Stéphane Crozat (a Framasoft member and a teacher at UTC) and organized by some of our members. And it was very rewarding!

Last June, we revealed [RESOLU] (a guide to accompany organizations towards the adoption of free alternative solutions). It’s a highly contributopic project since it’s the result of the collaborative work of Framasoft, the « chaton » Picasoft and the « Mission Libre-Education Nouvelle des CEMEA ». [RESOLU] is a set of didactic sheets, under free-libre license and in PDF, web and paper format… to accompany towards FLOSS use organizations that act for the Social Solidarity Economy.

Created in partnership with the popular education collective La Dérivation, we published in September a directory of French actors of free digital accompanying. Even though it’s just a snapshot, it draws up an inventory of people, structures and organizations providing free digital accompanying with their contact details.

Illustration by David Revoy – Licence: CC-by 4.0

Talking to each other despite distance

Before the pandemic, we were faithful to our habit of speaking out in many events. At the beginning of the year, we participated (for example) to the hundredth anniversary of the League of Nations in Geneva, to the WebAssembly days, to the Digital Freedoms Festival, to an Alternatiba mini-village in Toulouse and to the Café des sciences of Chambéry.

The « contribateliers » are workshops where people can contribute to FLOSS without writing a single line of code (except if you like it!). While the contribateliers events spread in early 2020 (Lyon, Tours, Toulouse, Paris, Nantes…), their creators adapted themselves to the pandemic and offered « confinateliers », the online version of the « contribateliers ». Thanks to BBB, the free video conference software, two confinateliers took place this year, each gathering around 80 people in various video chatrooms to contribute to free-libre projects.

Framasoft kept intervening, remotely, to present digital issues and tools to get emancipated. Whether it’s to share in English our typically French experiments during the 35th anniversary of the FSF (Free Software Foundation), or to defend the dignity of the associative model during the online festival EthicsByDesign, we responded to many invitations to express ourselves online.

Free software activism successes in France with Pouhiou and Eda Nano – FSF 35th birthday

… by the way in 2020 we also farted.

 

Going through 2020 thanks to your trust

This year was complicated and difficult for everyone and it’s not easy to review it (to the extent where two articles were needed, including one explaining our actions during the first lockdown (French)).

If we were able to keep a free mind while doing what we did this year, it’s thanks to you. The support and trust we receive every year in donations, kind words, sympathy and contributions… all give meaning and significance to our experiments.

We truly thank you for accompanying us in this developments.

It’s the time of the year where we have to remind you that these actions have a cost and that Framasoft is almost exclusively funded by your donations. With tax relief (available for french taxpayers) a €100 donation to Framasoft represents €34 after deduction.

Thus, if you wish to support our actions and think you can afford it, don’t hesitate to click on the button below 😉

Support Framasoft




[Photo Novel] Guided tour of Mobilizon

« OK, so, what is Mobilizon? How can this free and federated tool help me to progressively do without Facebook for my groups, pages and events? And where do I go to get started, where do I sign up? »

Let’s answer these questions with a lot of pictures, and (relatively) few words.

This is Rȯse, the mascot of Mȯbilizon

Conceived and designed by David Revoy (the author-illustrator of Pepper and Carott, who has just self published albums of his webcomic), Rȯse represents the people for whom we designed Mobilizon.

Meet Rȯse, Mobilizon’s mascot.
illustration : David Revoy (CC-By)

A fennec whose wicks recall the star of a compass rose, Rȯse is autonomous, voluntary and lives in a beautiful but arid, sometimes hostile landscape. Rȯse needs to get together with her fellow fennecs beings to organize and mobilize themselves around actions that can change her world, one grain of sand at a time.

If you don’t recognize yourself in Rȯse, don’t panic: Mobilizon might still work for you! However, this service might surprise and confuse. You won’t find any ads, influencers, or the hobby where we watch the lives of our loved ones staged like a reality TV show.

To better understand our intentions and the choices behind Mobilizon, you can visit joinmobilizon.org (short version), or read our lengthy introductory article on the Framablog (detailed version).

illustration : David Revoy (CC-By)

Our photo novel: Rȯse Mobilize

Rȯse discovers an event on Mobilizon

Rȯse feels that the hyper-consumerist society in which we live is destroying the planet. One day, on one of her usual social media platform, Rȯse comes across a link to an event called « More trees, less ads! « The title amuses and challenges her, so she clicks.

She arrives on a website she has never seen before which seems to be called « Mobilizon ». She is invited to go and hide an advertising videoscreen by standing in front of it with an umbrella. She learns that those screens are not only polluting our public spaces with images that capture our attention, but they are also equipped with cameras and sensors that analyze the number of passers-by, their reactions, etc.

She would like to participate in the event presented but doesn’t want to create a new account on yet another site. Rȯse decides to participate « anonymously » in the event.

You do not need an account to participate in an event published on Mobilizon: the site simply asks Rȯse to confirm her participation by email. That’s OK, she already has a « trash » email address that she uses for her online shopping, and unfamiliar sites that may resell her contact information.

A few days later, Rȯse goes to the event site and meets the group of ContribUtopists. They invite her to exchange a quarter of an hour of her time, blocking the advertising screen with an umbrella, for a tree cutting that she could plant at home. Rȯse loves the idea and spends the morning sympathizing with the ContribUtopists.

Rȯse registers on Mobilizon

Benedict, the group’s organiser, explains to Rȯse that these screens work like Facebook: they impose advertising in our lives while capturing our behaviors and data. He advises Rȯse to go to mobilizon.org to find out for herself about the alternative that the ContribUtopists have chosen.

Rȯse is convinced, she wants to try Mobilizon. She understands she needs to find an instance, i.e. a Mobilizon website that will host her account and data. She tells herself that if she has to entrust her data, she wants to find a trusted host. So she goes to the « about » page of several Mobilizon instances to see how these hosts present themselves and what their rules are.

Rȯse has found her instance, and off she goes. She suspects that she is not going to leave Facebook overnight, but thinks that she can start by registering on Mobilizon, even if it means having to publish the links to the Mobilizon events and groups she wants to promote on Facebook.

 

Rȯse wants to join a group

Once her account is confirmed and her profile complete (finally a site that doesn’t require acres profile information!) Rȯse goes to the ContribUtopists page to join the group.

Unfortunately, the « join the group » button does not work and is grayed out. Obviously, you can’t ask to join a group, you have to be invited. When Rȯse looks into the matter, she realizes that it’s just a matter of time before this feature is added to the site.

She looks for ways to get invited to the ContribUtopists group and sees that there is a post « Join the ContribUtopists! » on the group’s page. These posts look a bit like a blog.

She follows the instructions and goes to the page of the event she attended and adds a comment reminding everyone who she is and asking to be invited to the group.

The surprise birthday of Rȯse’s mother

Rȯse’s mother’s birthday is coming up. Narcisse Boréal, her dad, asks her daughter how to organize a surprise party without using Facebook, so as not to blow the whistle. Rȯse, the family geek, explains to her dad how to create an account on Mobilizon.

Narcisse creates an event to invite family and friends to his partner’s surprise birthday party. It’s a fairly short form, and the options are self-explanatory.

Rȯse goes to her Mobilizon instance, but does not see the event created by her father. She realizes that he has registered on another Mobilizon website, another instance. Fortunately, these instances are federated: using the search bar of her instance, Rȯse can find the event that her father has created on his instance.

Rȯse compartmentalizes family and activism

Rȯse hesitates to register for her father’s event. She doesn’t want her family to see that she used this account for her activism within the ContribUtopists! So she decides to go to her account settings to create a new profile.

Rȯse registers for her dad’s event with this new profile, which she will use only for family events.

She takes the opportunity to share the event with a few family members and then exports the event to add the date to her online calendar.

Rȯse mobilizes for the ContribUtopists

In her notifications, Rȯse notices that the ContribUtopists have read her message and invited her to join the group. She goes back to her activist profile to accept the invitation.

In the group, she sees a new discussion about the lessons learned from the previous event and the group’s next initiative.

After a few weeks, Rȯse’s involvement and commitment did not go unnoticed. Benedict, the administrator of the ContribUtopists group on Mobilizon, decides to promote Rȯse as moderator of the group.

Rȯse makes collective intelligence work!

Becoming a moderator will allow Rȯse to organize the next ContribUtopists event. She creates a draft of the event « Another Collage on the Wall » to discuss it with the group.

However, Rȯse does not know how to best describe the event. She decides to make collective intelligence work for her and create a collaborative writing pad. On Mobilizon, this is done in two clicks, from the group’s Resources space.

The group worked well, the text is great. Rȯse just has to put it in the Another Collage on the Wall event description and publish it!

Prologue: Fennecs don’t fall far from the burrow

A few days later, Rȯse goes to the event. What a joy to see so many people registered! Suddenly, as she was reading the comments of the event, Rȯse utters a little cry of surprise:

Several members of her family registered for the Another Collage on the Wall event, without knowing that it was Rȯse who had organized it! There’s even her father asking to join the ContribUtopists.

With a smile, Rȯse thinks that she will have to show them how to create several profiles on Mobilizon, if they are interested.

illustration : David Revoy (CC-By)

Mobilizon.org, our gateway to Mobilizon

Not everyone is like Rȯse and everyone will have their own way of approaching Mobilizon: some will want to sign up right away, others will want to understand the political concepts behind the digital tool, and yet others will want to know how it works.

That’s why we created Mobilizon.org: it’s THE site to remember and share, which will direct you to

illustration : David Revoy (CC-By)

It took time and hard work to create all these tools. Our small association (35 members, 10 employees) is financed almost exclusively by donations. If you would like to support this work and encourage us to continue, you can do so by making a donation, which is tax deductible for French taxpayers.

Support Framasoft

Another way to support our actions is to take them over, use them and make them known. From now on, it is up to you to get together, organize and mobilize… with Mobilizon!

Get started on Mobilizon.org




Mobilizon. Your events. Your groups. Your data.

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.

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.

illustration: David Revoy (CC-By)

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.

illustration : David Revoy (CC-By)

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.

It is also healthier for you: it allows you to find your host, the one whose management, terms of use, business model, moderation charter, etc. match your values.

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.

An event on Mobilizon

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.

illustration : David Revoy (CC-By)

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.

« Do I have a Facebook face? »
— Mobilizon, freeing itself from the comparison

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!

illustration : David Revoy (CC-By)

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.

In the left column you can see that this is Rȯse’s second profile.

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.

A group page as seen by one of the members of this group

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 :

illustration : David Revoy (CC-By)

Mobilizon, a common contributor

Meet Rȯse, Mobilizon’s mascott.
illustration : David Revoy (CC-By)

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.

Support Framasoft

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!

Get started on Mobilizon.org