Mobilizon's 1st beta release, with demo website

Hello,

We are very pleased to announce the release of Mobilizon's first beta! Please read the Framablog post (in English) for all the details.

Among other things, we announce that:

  • it's only a (beautiful) beginning;
  • we will update often, with new features;
  • the federation aspect is not there (yet), it's a work in progress;
  • we'll post a new progress report in December, which will focus on the federation;
  • we are still confident about the public release of a version 1 in the first half of 2020.

Best of all, you can try Mobilizon by going to test.mobilizon.org! Be careful, though: it is a demonstration website, where all data (accounts, events, etc.) will be deleted every 48 hours.

If you have any feedback, comments, bugs reports... you can share them with us on the dedicated space of our forum ((we can't promise that we will answer to everyone, but we will read each message!).

We hope you will enjoy this first result.

Best regards,

Framasoft

screenshot of Mobilizon's Explorer page

September 2019 Newsletter

Hello to each and every one,

Once again, we want to thank you for contributing to our campaign. We took advantage of the summer to move forward on the development of a number of features that you will mostly find in the first beta version of Mobilizon, which we want to release in little over a month.

We have developed "multi-identities", which make it possible for a person to compartmentalize their groups and activities as they wish, for example if they don't want their family to know about their cultural or activist activities. Thus, the registration and management of several minimum individual profiles are now integrated into Mobilizon's code. These profiles can be used to change identity when performing an action, for example when creating a new event or announcing participation in an event.

We also worked a lot on the different ways to display the event creation form. The challenge is to make it powerful, but also easy and quick to fill ?, depending on the case. Once your event is published, it is then possible for people who wish to join the event. The author of an event can edit it and delete it (it may seem obvious to you, but it happened very recently in the code!).

Here is an overview of a functional model of the form for creating and editing an event (in French, sorry about that)

Wireframe showing the event creation form

Keep in mind that's only a wireframe, a graphical skeleton that allows us to discuss on the interface. This is therefore not a screenshot representing the finished product.

The moderation features are partly present and will arrive with the first beta version. They will allow users to report content and admins to process these reports.

We also need to integrate the display of Mobilizon's home page when you are logged into your account. We first show upcoming events, but it will also display the events you have marked as favorites, the events of your groups and a few suggested events.

Here is an overview of a functional model of the home page. Not all the modules present will be available when the first beta version is released (again, note that this is a wireframe, a graphical skeleton)

Wireframe showing the home page dashboard

Finally, the possibility of creating an event and participating in it as anonymous (if the rules of the instance allow it) is still to be developed. This feature is expected to be available in October as well.

We are redoubling our efforts to be able to show you a nice first beta version in October. We thank you again for allowing us to create this beautiful tool.

Cheers
Framasoft

Photo by Jon Tyson

The Mobilizon fundraising is completed

Thanks to each of you, the fundraising counter for Mobilizon reached 58,689€, which is 8,689€ more than the third milestone! We would like to thank you all warmly for your support for this ambitious project. :-)

It is now up to us to keep our commitment to deliver the beta release of Mobilizon by mid-October 2019, with the features announced! And since you have supported us beyond our expectations (117%), we are committed to continuing the development of Mobilizon to offer you a V1 in the first half of 2020 which will consider your feedback and remarks in order to bring new features.

Here is a brief summary of these features:

  • registration by email/password or via another account on the fediverse (Mastodon, PeerTube, Plume, etc.)
  • creation / modification / deletion of profile accounts allowing the creation of several identities
  • creation / modification / deletion of groups
  • creation / modification / deletion of events from profile or group accounts
  • groups allowing the creation of several discussion channels (like a forum), simple surveys, task lists and a document repository (collections of stored resources)
  • multi-identity management: each identity will include a username, an avatar and a small description
  • possibility for Internet users to create an event without having an account (anonymous event) according to the administrator’s conditions
  • possibility for Internet users to register for an event without having an account (anonymous participation) according to the conditions of the administrator and the creator of the event instance
  • administration tools for instances (accounts management, setting up relationships with other instances)
  • necessary moderation tools: management of reports on accounts and contents
  • integration with the fediverse (ActivityPub): inter-connection of instances between them

It seems to be a lot, but we believe that we could do it! The entire #MobilizonTeam is mobilized throughout the summer to progress on the development of these features. You’ll be regularly informed of the progress of Mobilizon, the software of which you are the heroes and heroines!

3 questions to Marie-Cécile Godwin Paccard

Marie-Cécile Godwin Paccard is an independent designer and UX researcher. She supports individuals and organizations in defining their fundamental values and objectives by providing a systemic perspective. Her aim is to gather a deep understanding of people’s usages and to develop usable, ethical and inclusive tools.


Hello Marie-Cécile! You have helped the Mobilizon project team understanding the needs and uses of the people who will use it. Can you explain why it is particularly important for this project to consider the needs and expectations of future users?

Hello to the whole team! Studying needs and uses is essential if you want to design a software, a service or even an object to make it usable. Mobilizon’s purpose is to empower people to organize and gather together, and enable them to do it freely and with tools that respect their privacy. Therefore, it is instrumental to start talking about "uses" and "usage" at the very beginning of the thought process! The whole team wishes that existing communities take ownership of Mobilizon and that new communities are created. If we want this to succeed, we have to make the effort of reaching out to people in order to understand their needs, which problems they face every day and how they managed to overcome them so far, if they did.

When designing things which are meant to be used by people, you have to fight the urge to rely on your own assumptions, beliefs or fixed ideas. You have a duty to open your mind to the perception and experience of others. A quick "usage research" phase can give fast and valuable results and allow you to put a finger very early on problems and objectives you had not overseen yet. It helps questioning your first assumptions and take better decisions at a crucial stage of the project’s definition.


What was your approach to collect voices of these users and communities?

First, the team and I spent some precious time reflecting on the project’s purpose and ambitions, but also its political implications (because everything is political, especially in design and free softwares) as well as how Mobilizon would fit into Framasoft’s strategy. We reviewed the existing event organizing platforms and how they prevent people from organizing easily and freely. From there, I suggested a usage research plan to the team, to clearly define what we were going to focus on in the research phase. We launched a first online survey, which received nearly 300 responses. In this survey, we asked people about how they generally organize and gather using digital platforms, either as guests or as organizers. We collected valuable information on the problems they usually face, and which tools they would use or not, and why.

In a second step, we defined which kind of communities we wanted to interview. Once more, it was essential to start from "usage" and not socio-economic groups. Among others, we decided to seek out to some large, multi-layered communities who run public gatherings such as climate marches, specific communities who run events that are more niche or themed, and organizations for who privacy is very important, both for themselves and their event participants. I then started looking for people matching these usecases and asked them questions about how they organized themselves before, during and after an event. At this point, we are not talking about software, code or graphics yet: we are still focusing on the uses, the reality of organizing events and the real problems faced by the people who set them up.


How does this data contribute to the thought process to design Mobilizon’s functionalities?

Once the research phase is completed, we can draw conclusions from the collected data. We have a more precise vision of the reality of people’s uses and we can take informed decision about how to design a software that will fit them. The data will be a framework for decisions all along the design and coding process.

Some elements speak for themselves right away: if a specific problem pops up through practically all the interviews, it means that I have to keep it in mind throughout the design and development process and find the best way to solve it. Of course, there are human problems that Mobilizon will not be able to solve, for example the phenomenon of "no-show": people who say they will come to an event but do not show up in the end. Even if it is hard to tackle this behavioral issue with software, understanding why it bothers organizers will allow us us to take better decisions later on.'

Mobilizon is not meant to be a "one size fits all" software. Priority will be given to functionalities that seem essential to small communities for whom Mobilizon could be a game changer, both means and cost wise. But it will definitely not be able to replace Mattermost or WhatsApp and will never have the same firepower as Facebook. But Mobilizon will provide essential features so that the communities most vulnerable to surveillance capitalism can migrate out of the big platforms. Some organisations might still need hundreds of nested pads or Discord’s easy multi-user voice conversations!

Now that the research phase is mostly done,I am designing Mobilizon’s back office structure as well as the whole set of tools that will make it possible to create an event, a group or invite people in these groups to collaborate prior to an event. I am also working on how the concept of "identities" will be articulated. This functionality will make it possible for users to create different "facets" of their identity so they can compartmentalize some aspects of their social life. Last but not least, the moderation system is on my design list too!

The team and I still have a lot of questions to answer, for instance how Mobilizon will support people in the understanding of federation / instance concepts. We want to make sure that people get all the data they need to make the best informed decision for them and their community, be it if they choose to create an account on a specific instance or if they choose to have their own. This shall be applied on many facets of the software design, for instance during the on-boarding phase, or how the principles of instances and federation will translate in the interface.

We did it ! The 3rd milestone is reached ! Thanks !

Amazing ! We have just reached the 3rd milestone of Mobilizon’s fundraising and it’s thanks to you! We don’t know how to thank you for your support! This will give us the means to make the Mobilizon of our dreams come true!

Thus, the beta version of Mobilizon, which will be released in the fall of 2019, will enable the creation of groups, with messaging and exchange tools between members.

Mobilizon will also organize, display and manage the external tools the group already uses (for example: to write documents together). Finally, each person with an account can create several identities, in order to not display the same identity on each sports events, family meetings and activist actions.

It’s not over yet!

With this €50,000, we have the means to realize the best software we can make. If we get more money, we will neither do more, nor faster, but we can go further. Thus, every penny above this €50,000 level will be used to continue to make Mobilizon the alternative we all dream of.

Between the fall of 2019 and the V1 we want to publish in the first half of 2020, we will take notes of your feedbacks and comments in order to provide new features to Mobilizon. We have until Monday, July 10, midnight, Paris time (i.e. 22:00 GMT) to continue to finance Mobilizon so that the V1 can be as you expect. We are relying on you to talk about Mobilizon around you and on your favorite social media.

For activists from all over the world

The Mobilizon V1 is financed in its ideal version: let’s proclaim this great news to the people for whom we are developing it! Framasoft is a small French non profit organization: it is really hard for us to communicate outside our borders -_-…

That’s why you can help us! Share this page with your alters activists friends and with all people who are changing the world in their own language. This is a unique opportunity to tell them: "I’m not asking you to finance this project, it’s already done. I’m just asking you to keep an eye on this solution, to remember the name "Mobilizon", because one day it may help you to free your community from Facebook events."

We’re relying on you!

Already €30,000 worth of donations! Only €5,000 more to reach the second milestone!

Amazing! We’ve almost reached the second milestone of this fundraising! And that’s thanks to you!!! We really appreciate your encouragements! We hope to reach the 2nd milestone of €35 000 very soon. If we succeed, we commit to do everything we can to provide you with a fully federated Mobilizon around fall 2019.

What does a federated software mean?

It’s not easy to explain the principles of federation, but we’re going to try to keep it simple. The main interest of federation is to be decentralized, which means that the power isn’t centralized in the hands of only one person.

Contrary to GAFAM’s services, federated services don’t offer a big platform centralizing the whole world’s contents. Big Tech’s platforms concentrate millions of users on their servers. That gives them the dangerous powers to control information and to hoard users’ private data, using it for commercial profit (and who knows what other purposes). The Federation is a network of many small hosting providers connected to each others. When a provider install Mobilizon on his server, they create an instance, like a website where you can sign up, create and publish events.

Giving power to instances

We wish for Mobilizon to ease the instance’s administration. For example, we imagine a tool that will incite server administrators to explain their different choices: terms and conditions, code of conduct, moderation policy, federation policy, audience or subjects they promote, etc.'

Once set up, each instance can voluntarily decide whether or not to connect with others instances. This choice is based on its own choices, rules and internal policies. We want to include administration tools that give maximum control in the way you ask or agree to federate one instance to another, directly in the v1 release.

Making life easier for people

Let’s imagine that I am registered on my university instance called MobilizeDatCollege. For example, if this instance federates with the EcoMobilized instance, I could find, consult and register for a "Climate Walk" event from my MobilizeDatCollege account even if this event is created on EcoMobilized instance!

Federation doesn’t only allow you not to "put all your data in the same basket". It’s also the possibility of creating different doors into the Mobilizon federation, each instance offering its own conditions, identity, culture or interactions policies… Thus, I can pick the instance that corresponds to my expectations, which is always better than a centralized platform with "one-size-fits-all terms and conditions".

Speaking a common language

The ActivityPub protocol (which is the federation protocol chosen for Mobilizon) also allows you to interact with other softwares that speak the same "language". That is how PeerTube (alternative to YouTube) and Mastodon (alternative to Twitter) are linked: it’s possible to "follow" a PeerTube user from Mastodon, or even to comment on a video hosted on a PeerTube instance directly from a Mastodon account.

Integrating ActivityPub protocol in Mobilizon allows it to enter the Fediverse (contraction of federation and universe), which provides possibilities of interactions that we can’t imagine now! However this integration requires many hours of development and design…

Thanks to your donations and sharing, the good news is that we are very close to being able to afford it! Share and forward this news to inform your family and friends… because we’re counting on you!

The first step has been reached: thanks!

Honestly, we couldn’t imagine that we would reach this first step so quickly! In less than a week, you already supported the Mobilizon project up to €20,000.

This is an important step for us. First, because this money allows us to cover the sums already invested in Mobilizon’s conception and design. But, most importantly, we now know that we’ll have enough financial resources to create a version of Mobilizon, at the very least a free and basic one.

The question we are asking you with this fundraising is "should we create this alternative?" Your answer seems to be an enthousiastic "yes" and it warms our hearts!

However, this is not the time to stop! It is now, as this first step has been completed, it is now that we get to the serious part. Mobilizon will only make real sense if it becomes a federated free software. And integrating ActivityPub protocol represents several hours of coding.

Now the ball is in your court, for it is now that we can make the difference between a just free/libre project and a decentralized project which will offer more autonomy and independence to communities!

It’s up to you to spread the word and to convince your communities that this project matters.

You’ve already made €15,000 worth of donations! Only €5,000 more to reach the first milestone!

Thank you! 2 days after launching our fundraising campaign, we have almost reached the 1st milestone! We just achieved €15,000 and hope to reach the 1st milestone of €20,000 during the weekend. Such a crazy surge of donations gives us a lot of hope: not only hope of reaching the €20,000 milestone, but also hope of reaching our overall goal!

And now, it’s up to you!

We are a small French non-governmental organisation that knows how to reach out to the French FLOSS community. But it is more difficult for us to communicate about Mobilizon to a larger audience. We need you to help us reach alternative communities (activists, freedom fighters, environmental campaigners, etc.). So please go ahead and:

  • Share the information on your favourite social networks (even those we don’t really like!) using #JoinMobilizon!
  • Share the https://joinmobilizon.org website with your activist friends who also want to change the world!
  • Forward this information to the communities you are a part of. You can find inspiration and more info in our blog post!
  • Send the info to every person who dreams of a more ethical and free tool to gather, organize and mobilize.

Our only form of advertisement is the best we know: you!

The levels of Mobilizon crowdfunding

We believe in the need to create user-friendly software that allows people to organize their events away from Facebook or Meetup (and others).

We believe in it so deeply that we have invested time, work and money to imagine its design.

Since our association is financed only by donations, we set up this crowdfunding to ask you how far you want us to take the development of Mobilizon.

Level 1 - Free & basic version

This amount will cover our prototype expenses.

We will thus recover the sums fronted to design and promote the software, pay for the development time of its functionality as well as the work of the designers who contributed to its design.

The code will be returned to the community in a state that can be taken back by anyone.

Level 2 - Federated version

We will be able to implement an essential protocol to make Mobilizon a success: the ActivityPub federation. Thanks to the federation, any community will be able to install Mobilizon on its own servers, and connect each instance to the rest of the network.

This makes it possible to multiply the number of entry points and decentralise the data, and to connect to the fediverse which already includes Mastodon (an alternative to Twitter) and PeerTube (an alternative to YouTube).

We will also open a demo instance of this beta version, so that everyone can go and see for themselves what the software will look like.

Level 3 - Ideal version

This will give us the means to make the Mobilizon of our dreams come true!

Thus, Mobilizon will allow the creation of groups, with messaging tools and exchange between members. Mobilizon will also make it possible to display, organize and manage the external tools that your group already uses to create documents together or set the next meeting date, for example.

Lastly, each account holder will be able to create several identities, in order, for example, to display a different identity for sporting events, family reunions and activism marches.

And beyond – to version 1

We did the math: with €50,000, we will have the means to make the best software we can. If we receive more money, we won’t do more, or faster, but we can go further.

In the fall of 2019, we will release a beta version. From then on, with the feedback and comments we will receive, we will work toward a first complete release, a V1, which we aim to be ready in the first half of 2020.

But there’s a lot of work to do until we get there. We dream of setting up a mapping server to facilitate the localisation of events, of creating a Mobilizon app for smartphones, and much more…