As Expected, Expectations Are Way Too High On Diaspora

from the you've-been-warned dept

Back in June, we wrote about some concerns we had about the amount of money and attention given to the NYU students who wanted to create Diaspora, a distributed Facebook. We had nothing against the project itself -- a distributed Facebook sounds great, even if other, similar projects have failed. If someone can do it right, that would be fantastic. Instead, the worry is that the combination of massive attention and a ton of money so early would (a) set up ridiculously high expectations while (b) limiting the team in adapting to a changing market. It's not clear if the second part is true, but the first part seems to certainly be coming true. When the team recently released it's extremely rough pre-alpha code, suddenly a bunch of security experts and the press pounced on them for having all sorts of security vulnerabilities.

But, uh, that's what you would expect at this stage of the game. It's pre-alpha for a reason, and they released it by saying that it had lots of security flaws. Now, your standard startup could release this kind of code without a huge spotlight shining on them, and it would give them time to work through the issues. But with so much attention on Diaspora, suddenly the press feels the need to point out every little flaw, even at the stage when such flaws are necessary. Hopefully the Diaspora team doesn't get exasperated by this -- because it could also make them either clam up, or start focusing too much on responding to these trumped up worries at this stage of the game.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    BruceLD, Sep 17th, 2010 @ 4:12pm

    Subject

    Instant FAIL if the project sounds a lot like an affliction of runny bowel movements and a fungal infection.

    Most unpleasant.

     

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  2.  
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    Modplan (profile), Sep 17th, 2010 @ 4:43pm

    Indeed, the entire reason why Diaspora is and has been released like this is to catch these problems and to spur development forward in general.

    Sometimes I wonder if over use of the term beta for all sorts of things has raised expectations of alpha and even pre-alpha services. The article also seems to point to users who apparently didn't take notice of any of these obvious concerns of alpha software.

    I've even seen people calling Diaspora vapourware long before it reached the scheduled time of public release.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2010 @ 4:55pm

    Re: Subject

    The scary thing is, you're so wrong, you're right.

    The "dia" in diarrhea (meaning "across" or "through"), and the word "spore" (meaning "seed"), have the same roots as diaspora.

    But that doesn't mean you'd necessarily seem less of an idiot if you learned some Greek.

     

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  4.  
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    Adam Fisk, Sep 17th, 2010 @ 5:22pm

    Haystack 2.0

    We're seeing a common problem here: really inexperienced developers trying to take on extremely complex problems. Maybe a symptom of all the Web 2.0 BS where you can just slap together a site in 2.0 seconds?

    With these two projects, that's the commonality. It's much easier to come up with an idea than to execute it. As someone said, there are no good ideas, just execution. When you're 20 years old you don't necessarily understand that, and both these projects are not Zuckerburg throwing up a site called "thefacebook" -- they're really much more complex.

     

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  5.  
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    Modplan (profile), Sep 17th, 2010 @ 7:25pm

    Re: Haystack 2.0

    We're seeing the common problem of people expecting beta or release quality software out of something that is pre-alpha, is advertised as pre-alpha and was always planned to open up development to help improve it, and nothing else.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2010 @ 8:12pm

    Give it time and it can morph into something wonderful.

    Secure transactions was solved by bitcoin, anonymity and security were solved by Osiris SP(Serverless Portal).

     

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  7.  
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    I know stuff..., Sep 18th, 2010 @ 7:07am

    More free money

    People pay a lot of money to have their systems tested and the flaws pointed out to them so that they can be fixed.


    Again, used correctly, this is an example of how popularity and the internet can be used to improve offerings. E.g. http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100830/04224810821.shtml

     

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  8.  
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    Svante Jorgensen (profile), Sep 18th, 2010 @ 11:03am

    Why all the judging?

    Why are people so quick to judge a project in such a early state?
    In reality, nobody knows how the project is going to turn out, or if it is going to be executed well. Nobody knows how many security holes it will have or how easy it will be to use, when the team finally reach v1.0 (or even beta). Just because they don't have a lot of experience, have too much money, too many expectations from others etc. etc., it doesn't mean that they can't make a piece of useful software in the end.

    Personally I'm looking forward to see the result.

     

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  9.  
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    Joe Mink, Sep 19th, 2010 @ 9:40am

    Did they read the "pre-alpha release" part?

    A pre-alpha release is expected to be bug-ridden and security flawed. It's purpose is to demonstrate a concept an attract developers and funding. IT'S NOT FOR END USERS.

    An alpha release is still expected to be bug-ridden, but mainly functional. It's purpose is to begin the testing cycle for correction of major bugs and addition of new minor features. IT'S NOT FOR END USERS.

    A beta release is expected to be fully functional, but still needing minor bug correction. IT'S NOT FOR END USERS.

    And then comes the release candidate! This is a complete product, completely debug to the max of the abilities of the developers. It will soon be released except some major hidden bug is found. IT'S NOT FOR END USERS.

    And only after all this we have a release version. This is the only one destined for end users.

    It's ridiculous to criticize a pre-alpha release because it's bug ridden and security flawed. This is what you would expect about it.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Software_release_life_cycle

     

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