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Hubzilla - Getting Started: 2. First Steps

    Creating your first channel

    Hubzilla is based on "channels". You could also look at channels as "identities": You create a channel and choose a Name and nickname, and this is how other people on the network will see you. This not dissimilar from other social networks, except that on Hubzilla, you can create several different channels (although the admin can limit the number of channels a user can create.) So without having to sign up for several different accounts, you can have different identities, and you switch between them from the channel menu.

    After you complete the registration process and sign in for the first time, you will be asked to "Create a Channel".


    Remember, you can be whoever you want on the free networks. There is no real name policy (unless the owner of the hub has set one, in which case you can sign up somewhere else if that's not what you want.)


    After you created your channel, you will be directed to a page where you can edit your profile, which you can fill with as much or as little information as you wish to share. Keep in mind that this first profile is public, so everybody looking at your channel will see what you put in here. It's possible to create further profiles which are only visible to the connections you specifically allow, but more on that later.


    There are four sections, "Personal", "Relationship", "Location", and "Miscellaneous", all fairly obivious.


    The "Miscellaneous" section is used in the directory, should you choose to publish your profile there - more on this later.

    In order to change your picture, click on "Profile Tools":


    At this point, since you only just signed up, you only have the option to upload a new picture from your computer. Later, after you uploaded more pictures, you can also choose "Select existing photo".
    (This hub has a plugin enabled which allows you to choose an avatar from, but that's optional and needs to be done by the admin.)


    After you upload your picture, you will be asked to crop it to a square format:


    Once satisfied with your crop, click "Done Editing" below the picture:


    Channel Privacy settings

    The next thing you should review are your channel's privacy settings. You can get there by clicking on the tiny version of your profile picture at the top left of the screen and then on "Settings":


    From here, choose "Security and Privacy Settings".

    Hubzilla has very advanced privacy controls. In order to simplify this, there are different roles for channels which control several privacy settings at once. Hubzilla also allows for the creation of forums and other "special" channels, but let's focus on a typical use case for social media. There is a detailed description of the feature in the Hubzilla help pages, but here's a short overview:

    • "Social - Federation" is the most permissive role. You will be listed in the Directory. Anybody on the free network will be able to comment on your public posts and send you private messages, and the default setting for your posts is public (you can override this last individually for each post.) Use with care.
    • "Social - Mostly Public" is slightly more restricted. You will still be listed in the directory, but only your connections will be allowed to comment even on your public posts and send you private messages.
    • "Social - Restricted" still lists you in the directory, but your posts no longer default to public.
    • "Social - Private" means what it says - it's similar to "Restricted", but now you're also not listed in the directory anymore.

    In "Federation" and "Mostly Public" mode, your picture uploads also default to public.

    The documentation seems to be slightly outdated in this case; it states that you can choose your channel role at creation time, but this only applies to additional channels, not the first one. This depends on what the admin set as default. This hub uses "Social - Private" because I don't want to force anybody to publish their profile, even if only by omission, but the Hubzilla default is "Social - Mostly Public", and if the admin never changed this, "Mostly Public" is what it is, so if you don't want to be listed in the directory you want to change this right away, otherwise it might take day or two until it's removed.

    If like me you want to use the default settings for "Social - Mostly Public", but you don't want to be listed, there's also "Expert mode". It's all the way at the bottom of the menu, "Custom / Expert Mode". When you select this, there's an option which controls directory listing:


    It also gives you very fine-grained control over who gets to do what on your channel.

    Now you're all set, go ahead and add some connections :-)