How I see pump.io now

(lee este artículo en español)

TL;DR

  • Usable, strong potential, needs users and love
  • This is only my opinion!

Long version (too long…)

I’ve been using Pump.io since March 2013 for testing, and more intensively since the migration of Identi.ca in July 2013.
I’ve written some posts about Identi.ca, my favorite social network, and on the migration too.
After some months and active development in not only the core software, but a lot of third party services, and after lots of discussions, bugs, shared knowledge and ‘life in the pumpiverse’, how do I see the pump.io network now?

Note: this is my opinion as a, let’s say, involved user of pump.io. I say “involved” because I use it a lot, I’ve tried several clients, opened several bugs and tried to fix others, I do bug triage at the issue tracker and try to help newbies. But I’m not part of the pump.io developer team and I’m not in more contact with the project leader Evan Prodromou than any other user/fan can be. So beware, this is my particular, humble opinion and it does not reflect the official view of the pump.io project.

Usable

The Pump network

The software is usable. It’s installed not only in the E14N servers, other people have deployed it in their machines and they are using it. Some people have installed it in a Raspberry Pi, some in a VPS, some in a personal PC. Some people host just one user (themselves), other have more users (registration open, or by invitation).

E14N, the company offering the pump.io software, offers identi.ca for its previous users, and some public instances where you can register a new account at no cost: fmrl.me , pumprock.net , urmf.net , pumpbuddy.us , hotpump.net , pumpdog.me , pumpit.info , 1realtime.net , microca.st , pumpity.net.

The e14n.com server is also a pump.io server, but does not allow public registration.

The number of instances/users known by the OFirehose (a node where you can register your pump.io server, in order to offer a network-wide public timeline) is in pumplive.com. There are probably more instances in private networks or not registered there.

Jeremy Pope maintains the site pumpstatus.jpope.org where you can see the uptime and checks of many servers.

For what I’ve seen in this time, downtimes, when they are, are mostly due to hardware failures, problems related to configuration or system administration. In many cases the uptime is short due to reboots of the server to update the codebase, in order to get some new features or fix bugs. No longstanding open issues related to performance or operation errors show that they are fixed quickly, as far as I can tell.

From the sysadmin perspective: deploying/maintaining a pump.io server

About installing it, I cannot say it’s hard or easy. I consider myself a power user, sysadmin apprentice (enough knowledge to install a GNU/Linux distro, or a LAMP stack, or download and build source code if there’s not a package for that software in my distro, and the dependencies are listed somewhere).

I tried to install pump.io in my laptop (just for knowing if I’m able to do it, and test some tweaks in the code, not for daily use). In that time, node.js was not packaged for Debian, but I succeeded in downloading it, compiling, installing it, and then repeating the process for pump.io. However, I didn’t setup a database or so, because as I said I just wanted to test the user interface. Now that node.js is packaged for Debian, I suppose installing is becoming easier.

There is documentation about installing pump.io in several platforms in the wiki.

The Pump “ecosystem”

In addition to pump.io, E14N is developing some other pieces of software for certain features or tasks in the Pump network. Among them, we have:

  • OpenFarmGame is a social network game to show the possibilities of the pump network
  • Spamicity.info is a server that filters spam in the Pump network
  • OFireHose provides a public timeline of the Pump network in ActivityStreams format (JSON)
  • pump2rss provides a RSS feed of anybody’s public timeline
  • pump2status.net (in development) will allow to connect an account in pump.io with an account in StatusNet, acting as a bridge
  • ragtag.io (in development) will allow to see all the public objects in the Pump network tagged with a certain hashtag.

Other people have developed libraries, clients and tools for being used in the pump network. Most of them are linked in the pump.io wiki. The ones that I remark:

  • PyPump is a Python library for interacting with a pump.io server
  • Bashscriptville is a set of bash scripts that allows to post info from certain sources in the pump network, such as “The Word of the Day”, the XKCD comics, Shakespearean insults, the Astronomy Picture of the Day, and others.
  • The XR115 conversational bot joined pump.io and it’s learning there.

Needs users

Mainly because of the network effect. Success of a social network is highly dependant of the number of people using it (it also depends on it being flexible, powerful, shiny and so, but we could discuss which is first).
Other reason is that now, the majority of the pump.io users are StatusNet-biased. I like StatusNet, is a great software, but maybe we are stuck in trying to make pump.io be like StatusNet and new people may bring new, better ideas.

But from where can come users to pump.io? I see three kind of users:

  • People that don’t use any social network: if you’re new to social networks, please use one based on free software. It can be Pump.io, Friendica, Diaspora*… whatever. I know Pump.io, that’s why I recommend it. I came to pump.io like an accident, since I was using Identi.ca for microblogging, and knowing that the migration from StatusNet to pump.io was going to happen, I began to be curious about the platform. It’s new, so many things are still on development, but it’s new, flexible and modern, learning from other platform’s failures. Why not? And the most important thing: there’s cool people here! Not overwhelming activity, no adds, no spam (but if you want it, you can go to the firehose :)
  • People using other social networks: Pump.io can be another one, or a substitute for Facebook or Google+, for example. If you are a company or all your friends are in the other social networks, and “you cannot not be there”, maybe you’ll want to wait until we have bridges for crossposting everywhere (anyway, look at the ones that we have already, maybe they’re enough for your needs, or you can use Friendica for crossposting everywhere with minimal effort). If you have a certain interest in the libre software world (maybe you contribute in a project, or are a company based on libre software, or just like hacking), it’s nice that you have a presence in a libre software social network like this one.
  • People looking for social networks for private use: in my opinion, pump.io looks perfect for setting up a family private network or an institutional one inside the intranet. Remember, it is thought to be scalable up and down, and federated from the beginning. You can configure a common web interface but also give freedom to users for using the client that they like. We’re working on internationalization and localization, but if you cannot wait, you just translate the strings in the code and the utml templates and go. It’s free software, you can do it!  E14N is working on shipping plug-and-play pump.io boxes. Own your data, enjoy your communication.

Needs love

I’m just a pump.io user, I lurk in the IRC channel, in the issue tracker (well I do some bug-triaging), and follow Evan and the pump.io hackers. I’m by no means official voice of the pump.io needs or roadmap, but here you are my personal ideas on how pump.io could be improved and how can we help.

Roadmap

I’m sure that Evan has a clear roadmap for new pump.io features and bug-fixing. We can smell part of it in the issue tracker, since some issues have been tagged with a milestone, and others have been closed with the message that those things should be improved by third parties. But a clear roadmap could help users to know what to expect, and contributors to help more effectively.

Maybe it’s just a matter of classifying the opened issues by milestone, and write a wiki page. Mmm I’ll ask Evan about it.

On the user side, I think it’s useful to review the wiki from time to time to know the more important features that are already implemented (in pump.io itself or by third parties), and to search the issue tracker prior to posting a supossedly new problem. Or maybe ask in the IRC channel.

E14N ‘status’ page, contact page, and sysadmin helpers

I will not say how Evan has to rule his machines or his business. So please take this paragraph as just one humble opinion that can be moved to trash if it’s not useful.
E14N servers (specially identi.ca, but not only) are the public image of the pump.io software and network. And many people may not know to distinguish between a bug in the software than a puntual problem in the network or the system. Many people don’t know where to report problems or requests that are not tied to the software development, or they know that it’s by mail to admin [at] e14n.com but they don’t know if somebody already reported the problem.
For now, pumpstatus.jpope.org is being a great help and some people talk in the IRC channel when having issues, before sending an email. But having a “status” webpage where to look if we’re experiencing problems could help. And maybe giving writing rights on that page to some persons in the role of “sysadmin helpers” would help too.

Features that give control to the user

Pump.io is libre software, that means that the user can control what the program do. But not everybody knows how to hack on node.js in order to tweak the program to do what they want, or are not able to setup their own instance. Some features that in my opinion, would attract users and keep the existing users happy and involved:

  • Activate email recovery and notification in the rest of E14N servers different than Identi.ca
  • Ability to backup an account, delete an account, change the email address, configure email notifications.
  • Search posts and users.
  • Internationalization / localization of the web interface to different languages.
  • Display contexts in the web interface.
  • A public timeline (like the Firehose), accesible by a web browser, with no spam (or maybe a “hot topics” view, with the public posts that are shared or liked at any time). A window where a possible new user can look at.

Contributors!

Enrico Zini said once: “Don’t ask yourself what you can do for Debian. Ask yourself what Debian can do for you. Then work until you make it do it”. I think this thought goes well with Pump.io too. There are many pieces of code already written that you can copy or hack, and there are lots of projects (not only the core, remember the clients, libraries, side projects…) where your help is valuable.

Hey, and don’t say “I don’t know JavaScript nor node.js”. I don’t know either… but code is code, you can abstract the syntax and learn and understand (at least more or less) how it works. Other pieces of the pump.io ecosystem are written in other languages. Or you can help in the issue tracker trying to reproduce errores or finding duplicates, or read/write documentation or FAQs, suggest ideas, testing features/clients/platforms…

And if you are a programmer, please have a look at the issue tracker and pull requests from time to time. There are probably some proposals to fix some bugs that can be improved or supported in order to be merged quicker, or rejected so the sender can rethink his/her proposal or just go to help in other part of the code or the system.

Promotion

Finally, I think it would be nice to have a video presentation about pump.io (let’s say 5 minutes, maybe less) that can be translated to different languages and shared in everyplace to spread the word about this social network. Maybe it’s already done (if yes, please send me a link!). Maybe some users can try to make it. But I think that I’m not the suitable person for this task. Look at this post, it’s too looong! Write something for just 5 minutes is a torture for me :)

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About larjona

My name is Laura Arjona, I am a libre software user and fan of the free culture. If you want to contact me you can write an email to larjona [at] larjona [dot] net I am @larjona at identi.ca in the Pump.io social network. --- Me llamo Laura Arjona, soy usuaria de software libre y fan de la cultura libre. Si quieres contactar conmigo puedes escribir a larjona [en] larjona [punto] net Soy @larjona en el servidor identi.ca, de la red social Pump.io.
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14 Responses to How I see pump.io now

  1. JanKusanagi says:

    Nice ‘status report’. Very detailed.

    Keep it up! ;)

  2. JanKusanagi says:

    Have you thought about writing a (somewhat shorter) spanish version of this?

    • larjona says:

      Yes. I would like to have all my posts in both languages, but after posting, I feel lazy many times… But in this case, I think it could help since there’s not much info about pump.io in Spanish. I’ll try to post it this week. Thanks for suggesting it, it was what I needed to overcome lazyness!

      • JanKusanagi says:

        Yeah, translating every post would be a lot of work, but this one, as a big summary, is kind of special.

        We certainly need more spanish (and other languages) information about Pump, and every little step helps, I guess. And you clearly do a great job at writing ‘for the people’!

        In that spirit, I just made a (quick’n’dirty, but still) spanish page for Dianara =)

  3. Scorpio20 says:

    Hi, Thanks for great post, It was very informative.
    I don’t whether its a feature yet on pump.io, if a share button for pump.io can be added in the “share this” section of blog, that be kewl!

    • larjona says:

      Thanks for your comments!

      There’s no “Share in pump.io” button/code yet. There’s an open issue that maybe you want to track/work on: #771 (well, and its duplicate #825).

      For similar functionality, right now there’s hip2.it, a web service where you can login with your pump account and put the URL of the site that you’re hip to. There’s also ih8.it for hating, and @jpope was maintaining lurve.jpope.org for loving (but now it’s unavailable…). All these sites trigger an activity in your minor feed (your friends will see that in their Meanwhile column or tab, in a similar whay that when for example you plant potatoes in Open Farm Game).
      They’re free software: https://github.com/e14n/ih8.it and https://github.com/jpope777/lurve.it so you can tinker on them too :)

  4. Maj says:

    Wow! I learned about a bunch of neat resources I was unaware of (like http://pumpstatus.jpope.org/dashboard/events).
    Great roundup and very helpful for people like me who are not involved with the development but interested to know where we are and where we’re headed.
    Thanks!

  5. Thanks for your great information, the contents are quiet interesting.I will be waiting for your next post.
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  6. Pingback: Cómo veo pump.io ahora | The bright side

  7. UndeadPotato says:

    I just joined. But it’s hard to meet people without a search feature, I guess it’s meant for people you already know :P

    • larjona says:

      I agree that not being able to search users/posts is a problem.
      Here you are some things that you can do until we have search in pump.io (or hashtags):

      * Search with your favorite internet search engine about the terms that you like + pump.io, or + identi.ca (restrict to “last year”) , + microca.st …

      * Follow @evan (https://e14n.com/evan) so you get informed about news on the pump network, and lurk at his followers. Do the same with other people you begin to follow.

      * Look at the user lists known by @jpope’s pump: https://static.jpope.org/users.html Maybe you recognize somebody by the nickname, or you find institutional accounts you want to follow.

      * Lurk at the Firehose (you can install Pumpa in your PC or Puma in your Android device for that). Warning! There’s spam there! but you can also look at public posts from people, and if you like them, begin to follow them.

      * You can ask in other social networks or places to your friends if they have pump.io account, or invite them to pump.io

      Once that you follow some people, you’ll meet other people by them, as always has been in social networks.

  8. Thanks Larjona for your search help.

    I registered with pumpyourself.com, but once logged in I had no idea where to start.
    In Diaspora you instantly are connected to the stream.
    In pump.io you can set your profile, but you don’t see any activity from other members.
    I searched for help, but failed. So I felt rather stuck.

    Via the users list https://static.jpope.org/users.html I found your pump.io page.
    Your page as a live example made a lot things clear.

    pump.io definitively needs good user documentation!

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