At the Chaos Communication Congress 32c3 in Hamburg last year, there was a talk by Katharina Nocun named "A New Kid on the Block - Conditions for a Successful Market Entry of Decentralized Social Networks". The short abstract is this:
The leading social networks are the powerful new gatekeepers of the digital age. Proprietary de facto standards of the dominant companies have lead to the emergence of virtual “information silos” that can barely communicate with one another. Has Diaspora really lost the war? Or is there still a chance to succeed?
Maybe some of you attended that talk or have already seen the recording. For those who haven't, here it is for your convenience:
It's all about Social Networks and Gated Communities vs. open communities. It's like Facebook on the Gated Community side and Diaspora as an example on the other, the open side.
At timecode 17:20 Katharina mentions that the Top10 of Diaspora pods have more than half a million users. But when you look more closely at the statistics from the-federation.info you can spot a different result that is most likely true for marketing statistic of Facebook as well: there is a difference between total users and current active users. Whereas indeed the total users are easily surpassing the half million users mark, it's a total different issue for the active users count of the last month: 15488 active users in total versus 546783 total users of the Top10 Diaspora sites. That's only 2.83% of active users. A quite awful turnaround rate.
Many users are just quick lurkers, that came passing by, looking at Diaspora (and other alternative networks), get a quick login and a first try-out and never come back after a few days. I can confirm this from my own Friendica node at Nerdica.net where I currently have a total of 13 users: 7 users never posted any content, 1 user is already automatically set to expired because of this, and 8 users never came back after first day of registration.
Therefor I cannot confirm with Katharinas conclusion that Diaspora "is not dead, it's pretty alive". All these alternative Social Networks are pretty much dead or - to put it in more friendly words - are alive in a rather small niche or small communities like data/privacy aware peoples.
Am I happy about this?
No, definitely not, because I am one of these data/privacy aware activits. I'm no big fan of such monolithic and centralized networks like Facebook. I'm a enthusiastic advocate of self-hosting and decentralized platforms and communication protocols, such as XMPP.
So, what can be done about these kind of Gated Communities like Facebook? Are you still on Facebook, because most of your family and friends are over there and not on Diaspora/Friendica? Are you still using Skype instead of XMPP? Why are you doing this? I'm really interested in this, because I don't understand it.
PS: please watch the video in full length! Katharina has some other good points as well! :)