Some questions to discover Mobilizon…

Resources

How do I sign up?

First of all, you need to find an instance of Mobilizon, i.e. a Mobilizon website that a host has installed on its server.

You will find our selection of instances at mobilizon.org. Please note this selection is based on our own criteria, which may not suit you.

You will find a more complete index of Mobilizon’s public instances on this page.

To better choose your Mobilizon instance, please read its “about” page. This should include who is hosting the instance, why, and under what conditions.

How do I install Mobilizon on my server?

You will find the method we recommend in our documentation on how to install Mobilizon on your server.

We will add to this documentation as and when contributors help us maintain other installation methods (Docker, etc.)

How do I learn how to use Mobilizon?

You can find our users guide for Mobilizon here.

If you can’t find the answer to your questions there, or if you think there is information missing, come discuss it with us on our contributors’ forum.

How can I contribute to the Mobilizon code?

First of all, you will need to be familiar with Git and Elixir. If you have no idea what we’re talking about, then the project isn't ready to receive your contributions in code yet. Sorry!

If you are versed in these tools, just go to the software repository, and write an issue or fork the repository to propose your own contributions.

Of course, it is always better to talk to each other beforehand. You can use our Matrix lounge for this.

How can I participate in Mobilizon if I don’t know how to code?

The easiest way is to come and talk to us in the Mobilizon dedicated space on our forum.

Please keep in mind that we are not a multinational tech company, nor even a start-up, but an association with less than 40 members (which carry out other projects in parallel). Don’t worry if it should take us a while to answer you. We’re listening!

Use

How can I promote what I do, what I am, on Mobilizon?

Note: if your goal is promotion, popularity, virality, celebrity, buzz, etc. Mobilizon is probably not the right tool for you.

Mobilizon allows you to publish events, and to organize within groups (including discussions, a space for shared links, and the publication of tickets).

Mobilizon is not a social media platform, nor a viral communication tool: it should rather be perceived as an autonomous space for your group, whose members will be able to follow any new content.

If you wish to popularize an event or the post your group has just published on Mobilizon, the best thing to do is to share the link on existing social media, mailing lists, and other means of social communication.

How can Mobilizon help me organize my group?

Mobilizon’s functionality has been designed to meet the needs of groups that wish to organize themselves internally while still having a public existence.

This translates into several tools, public and/or internal to the group:

  • (public) a presentation page of the group, including a description as well as events and public tickets;
  • (public or internal) an event publication tool;
  • (public or internal) a tool for publishing posts, like a minimalist blog;
  • (internal) a tool for group discussions, akin to a forum category;
  • (internal) a directory of the group’s useful links, with direct access to collaborative tools.

These tools are there to ensure that collective ventures are not limited to a hashtag and a gathering, giving the means of creating a collective and of encouraging people to do things together.

If it’s free, can I say whatever I want? Even unlawful stuff?

Being free does not mean being above the law! Every Mobilizon instance may decide on its own terms and conditions of use, within the laws that they are subject to.

For example, in France, content denying the Holocaust is prohibited, and can be reported to the authorities. Mobilizon enables Internet users to report problematic content to the people hosting each instance, and every hosting provider must then apply their moderation in accordance with their terms of use and the law.

The federated system, for its part, allows hosts to decide with whom they want to federate, or not, depending on the types of content or moderation policies of the others.

Who is responsible for the content published on Mobilizon?

Mobilizon is not a centralised platform: it is a software application. It allows a hosting provider to create an event management website, and groups. This type of website is called a Mobilizon instance.

The first person legally responsible is the user who publishes illegal or problematic content.

However, according to the laws of the country from which the Mobilizon instance originates, the host may also be co-responsible for any illegal content on their website.

For example, in France, any host informed in due and proper form of manifestly illegal content becomes co-responsible for it if they don't take steps to unpublish it as soon as possible.

How do I ask to join a group?

In Mobilizon version 1.0.0, it is not possible to request access to a group: the join a group button is shaded out on the public pages of each group.

However, we are displaying this button (along with a message explaining that “You can only be invited to groups at the moment”), because we want to integrate such a feature in the future.

In a federated tool, coding this button raises a multitude of complex use cases. We still need time to do things right.

In the meantime, feel free to comment on a group’s public event to let them know you wish to be invited!

Why can’t I follow a profile, or get my friends to follow my profile on Mobilizon?

Because Mobilizon is not a social media platform.

The tech giants use systems that manipulate our egos to lock our attention. Displaying in big numbers how many people “follow” us flatters our egos and pushes us to get involved and stage our lives on these platforms.

Allowing the activity of people to be tracked through digital tools can have disastrous consequences, while at the same time being of low interest for an event and group management tool.

On Mobilizon, it is the groups, not the individuals, that are at the heart of the core functionality.

Politics

Why doesn’t Mobilizon replace Facebook?

Mobilizon is not designed to be a “Facebook killer”.

We can see the danger of hosting an event page for a militant rally on Facebook, a monopolistic platform that escalates the scandals concerning about people’s private lives and the manipulation of public opinion. However, compared to those of the web giants, our means are modest.

Let’s start with a tool that may not do everything but does it well. A tool built on a solid foundation that can evolve through contributions.

We have made the choice to focus on the specific needs of a particular audience (activists), but this does not prevent different communities from using Mobilizon in other cases. In the longer term, we will be able to adapt the tool to these other audiences.

We do not want to reproduce the toxicity of Facebook. Surveillance capitalism uses the mechanisms of the attention economy to lock up our time, capture our behavior and impose advertising on us.

Mobilizon does not depend on such a business model: this is an opportunity to try to do better, by doing things differently.

Is it true that Mobilizon is developed for an activist audience? What if I’m not?

Yes, Mobilizon has been designed as a tool that responds primarily to the needs of activists seeking to gather, organize and mobilize.

This means that we interviewed people who identify themselves as activists in order to understand their digital practices, and better imagine the tool that would meet their expectations.

If the activist audience has been at the heart of our design, this does not mean that we exclude other use cases. We believe that if a tool is well enough designed to help a group organize a march, then it should cover the needs of a family organizing a surprise birthday party 😉!

Put another way, whoever you are, you are free to use Mobilizon as you see fit.

Who develops what in Mobilizon?

Mobilizon is developed by Framasoft, a French association of popular education on digital issues.

It employs a developer, tcit, who has been working on all the projects necessary for Mobilizon, since 2018:

  • Development of new functionalities and maintenance of the software;
  • Deliberating on the architecture, design, and future of Mobilizon (partnered with designer Marie-Cécile Godwin Paccard);
  • Preparation of new stable versions and communication (tickets, blog, changelog, etc.);
  • Creation and maintenance of the index of instances Mobilizon;
  • Creation and maintenance of the Mobilizon’s documentation;
  • Support for and discussions about Mobilizon projects on bugtrackers, the forum, the Matrix channel or by email;
  • Code reviews and integration of pull requests/merge requests, as well as support for features added by external contributors (bug fixes, documentation, factorisation, etc.);
  • Maintenance of several Mobilizon instances.

tcit also works on internal Framasoft projects. (Framagenda, Framapiaf, admin-sys, etc.). In other words, the management of Mobilizon is run by a single employee, who is responsible for all the projects in addition to other responsibilities in his workload.

Other volunteer and salaried members of Framasoft also contribute to the Mobilizon project, on various aspects (strategy, communication, documentation, development, community animation).

Mobilizon is not developed by a startup, with a team of of 50 people, and a workflow full of hyper-formatted processes.

Framasoft will therefore take time to improve the software, at their own pace and with their atypical methods which, until now, have proven to be quite effective.

Mobilizon is a tool, does that mean it is neutral? Apolitical?

No, it is not.

We believe that no tool is neutral: the way a tool is designed, as well as the imprint of this tool on our culture, influences our behavior. It is for these reasons that, for example, we have the reflex to grab a screwdriver by the handle.

Mobilizon is developed by Framasoft, a French association for popular education on digital issues.

Mobilizon is part of a number of actions that the Framasoft association has gathered in its campaign Contributopia. These actions aim to propose alternative digital tools to those provided by surveillance capitalism, so that people who are not recognized by such a system can create spaces for freedom.

As a result, the development of Mobilizon and/or the management of sites associated with the Mobilizon project (joinmobilizon.org, mobilizon.org, instances.mobilizon.org, etc.) may not appeal to everyone (in particular because of different ideas, ideologies or cultures).

We respect this, and remind you that all software of the Mobilizon project is free and can be duplicated and developed with other cultural influences.

Why did you do Mobilizon when there is GetTogether / Demosphere / etc.? What is the difference between these tools?

Before committing ourselves to two years of work to develop Mobilizon, we took the time to look at what was being done elsewhere, and to ask ourselves whether it would not be better to contribute to an existing project.

There are several other event and group management tools available that are fairly interesting, but we haven’t found any that meet all our criteria.

We wanted a free-libre open source software, federated according to the ActivityPub protocol, functional on a large scale, designed outside the economy of attention systems, that could meet the needs of an activist audience. Such software didn’t exist, so we made it.

We do not claim that Mobilizon is better than any of the other tools. It corresponds to an audience, a need. We also firmly believe that the diversity of projects is a good thing. Capitalism has taught us to think: “one desire, one need, one brand”, whether it’s a soda or a small yellow removable self-adhesive paper note. We believe that every tool has its place, and have not tried to make of Mobilizon a dominant tool.

Finally, we believe that coopetition will help free and federated tools set standards, and offer more robust and resilient protocols and uses.

Concepts

What is an instance?

When a person installs Mobilizon on their server, they create an instance of Mobilizon. Concretely, this is a website generated and managed by the Mobilizon software.

This Mobilizon website allows people to create accounts, groups, events, etc. The data created is then nested on the hard drive of the server of the Mobilizon instance. This is why we also say that it is a hosting.

One can compare this instance to a community center or an apartment building. Each person creating an account installs their belongings (their data, their digital contents) in the accommodation. Each group created takes possession, as it were, of one of the common rooms.

The users of these rooms may be under the impression they are taking possession of the premises… but in concrete terms, the owner of the walls, the one who is able to establish common rules and the procedures to enforce them, it is the host.

What is a host / hosting provider?

“Hosting provider” refers to the person, or more often the group of persons (association, company, collective, etc.) that offers an online service. In practice, these persons have a server on which they install software (e.g. Mobilizon software). This installation of the software, called an instance, is accessible online by the public, in the form of a Mobilizon website.

The public can therefore access this instance and interact with it, by creating an account, publishing events, discussing, etc. in a group. All of these actions are digital information, therefore data that is hosted on the hard drive of the host’s server.

A web host can be compared to a landlord who would open their accommodation to the public. Their role is both to ensure the maintenance of infrastructure (system administration), but also to set up and enforce internal rules and regulations (moderation, administration), or even to ensure good relations with the neighboring owners if the host decides to federate with them (federation policies).

What is the fediverse?

The fediverse refers to all software, instances and data which could interact together, as they speak the same language, i.e. the Activity Pub protocol.

In other words, the fediverse gathers all accounts, contents, instances and tools that have the ability to find themselves within the same federation.

A distinction must be made between fediverse and federation. Several different softwares use the Activity Pub protocol: PeerTube, Mastodon, Mobilizon, FunkWhale, etc.

These speak the same language and theoretically have the capacity to interact with each other: they are therefore part of the fediverse.

In practice, these interactions are still in their infancy, because they first need to be imagined and then implemented in the code of these software programs, and then released by updating the installation of these software on the host’s server.

When hosting providers allow their instance of one software to interact with the instance of another host, both these interconnected instances form a small piece of a federation.

Within the fediverse, there is not one federation, but rather numerous bubbles of federation, more or less isolated or interconnected.