Hallo.gent logo

Say hello to your friends, the city, and to the world.

Hallo.gent empowers the citizens of the City of Ghent in Belgium with their own federated personal web site (FPWS) at their own domain. It’s the home of Hallobot, who guides you seamlessly through the process of registering, setting up, and getting started with your own Indie Site.

Our goal is to get this process down to a matter of a minute or two.

Citizens use their personal sites to interact with each other, with the greater fediverse (e.g., Mastodon), and with the City of Ghent.

This is the opposite of a “smart city” platform.

It’s a Smart Citizen platform.

Hallo.gent screenshots

Hallo.gent is currently running a demonstration version of the site. No new domains are registered or sites set up while using it but you can play with it to test the flow. The available.gent site is not currently set up to receive the Settings customisations carried out on Hallo.gent.

These are screenshots from the demonstration:

1: Check authorisation for free domain

Hallo.gent screenshot: 1

2: Pick domain

Hallo.gent screenshot: 2

3: Domain registration started, introduce idea of customising the site

Hallo.gent screenshot: 3

4: Settings screen

Hallo.gent screenshot: 4

5: Setttings screen (customised)

Hallo.gent screenshot: 5

6: Returned from settings screen, domain is ready

Hallo.gent screenshot: 6

Hallobot onboarding: wireframes

A friendly and seamless on-boarding process that takes people from the Hallo.gent site (which looks like an Indie Site) to your own Indie Site by customising it.

Step 1: check authorisation for free domain

Hallobot onboarding: Step 1

Step 2: pick domain

Hallobot onboarding: Step 2

Step 3: domain registration started, introduce idea of customising the site

Hallobot onboarding: Step 3

Step 4: lead person to the Settings screen to customise the site

Hallobot onboarding: Step 4

Step 5: Settings screen

Hallobot onboarding: Step 5

Step 6: Return from settings screen, check if domain is ready

Hallobot onboarding: Step 6

Step 6A: Domain is ready

Hallobot onboarding: Step 6A

Step 6B: Domain is not ready yet

Hallobot onboarding: Step 6B

Step 6B-2: Person provides their email address for asynchronous notification

Hallobot onboarding: Step 6B-2

Hallobot onboarding: script/text

  • English: alt text: Hallo.gent logo: a speech bubble that says “hallo.gent”
  • Nederlands:

Site title

  • English: Say hello to your friends, the city, and to the world.
  • Nederlands:

Site subtitle

  • English: From your own home on the Web, courtesy of Stad Gent.
  • Nederlands:


  • English: Home
  • Nederlands:


  • English: Mentions
  • Nederlands:


  • English: Private
  • Nederlands:
  • English: Search
  • Nederlands:

Hallobot Onboarding Script

(Common interface elements: “x time ago”, “Reply”)

Step 1


  • English: Hallo, I’m Hallobot. Did you get the secret code I mailed you
  • Nederlands:


  • English: [What secret code?] I did, it’s [enter code here] [Send]
  • Nederlands:

Step 2


  • English: I did, it’s {code}!
  • Nederlands:


  • English: Great! Let’s get you set up with your own web site. To start, you need to pick a domain name. This is the address of your site, where others will be able to find you.
  • Nederlands:


  • English: I want the name [enter name].gent! {Available|Not Available}{✓|✗} [Send]
  • Nederlands:

Step 3


  • English: I want the name {domain}!
  • Nederlands:


  • English: OK, I’ve ordered the name for you. I’ll let you know when it’s ready. Now, let’s set up your site! Ready?
  • Nederlands:


  • English: [Yes]
  • Nederlands:

Step 4


  • English: Yes!
  • Nederlands:


  • English: OK, to customise your site, press the Settings button shown by the arrow. When you’re ready, press the button again to exit Settings mode.
  • Nederlands:

Step 5 (Settings Screen)

Change your profile image

  • English: Change your profile image
  • Nederlands:

Your name

  • English: Your Name
  • Nederlands:

A short description of you

  • English: A short description of you
  • Nederlands:

Change your background image

  • English: Change your background image
  • Nederlands:

Navigation: Settings

Note: the wireframes are wrong, “Settings” should be the 4th item in the navigation bar and always be visible (disabled on the other steps). TODO: Update wireframes.

  • English: Settings
  • Nederlands:

Language (label)

  • English: Language
  • Nederlands:

Language (combobox)


  • Nederlands
  • English

Done (button)

  • English: Done
  • Nederlands:

Step 6


  • English: Done!
  • Nederlands:


  • English: Great… now there’s one last thing to customise to make this site truly yours. We have to change the address to your won domain. Let me check if the domain is ready…
  • Nederlands:

Step 6A


  • English: Your domain is ready! Ready to go there now?
  • Nederlands:


  • English: [Yes]
  • Nederlands:

Step 6B


  • English: The domain is taking a little time to register. I’ll keep checking and let you know when it is ready. If you don’t want to wait, give me your email address and I’ll send you an email when it is ready.
  • Nederlands:


  • English: Email me when it’s ready at [enter email address] [Submit]
  • Nederlands:

Step 6B-2


  • English: Email me when it’s ready at {email-address}.
  • Nederlands:


  • English: OK, I will email you when your domain is ready. You can go ahead and either close this window if you want or keep it open :)
  • Nederlands:

Sequence diagrams

S1: Overview

sequenceDiagram participant A as .Gent TLD participant B as City participant C as Services participant C2 as Hallo.gent participant D as Host participant E as Citizen participant F as Personal Site participant G as Other citizens A->>B: Domain names B-->C: (Provides) B->>E: Letter with redemption code E->>C2: Redeem code E->>C2: Choose Domain C2->>D: Register domain D->>D: Register domain (<1 min) D->>D: Setup site (<30 seconds) D->>C2: Site ready (see S2) C2->>E: Site ready! E->>F: Use F->>C: Interact with F->>G: Interact with

S2: Detail: Domain registry and site setup

Domain registry and site setup sequence diagram

Onboarding scenarios

A. Synchronous

  1. You receive a message from the city via an out-of-band channel (snail mail, email, text message, etc.) with a unique, easier to type URL, valid for one domain and a web site on which to redeem it. (We could also include a QR code option so, e.g., people with iPhones could just point their camera at it to visit the URL.)

  2. You visit the URL and choose a .Gent domain name

  3. Within 30 seconds you are up and running at your own domain with your own federated personal web site.

Design requirements

  1. Domain registration TTL close to zero (requires coordination with .Gent registrar – we are currently in talks)

  2. Server instance TTL within above-stated 30 second period (this is not an unsolved problem – we could have a buffer of N instances ready to go at all times).

  3. City cooperation for out-of-band communication. Not a problem; already have buy-in.

B. Asynchronous

First two steps are the same as A.

  1. You also enter your email address (or phone number)

  2. The web site informs you that you will receive an email (or a text message) when the site is ready.

  3. You get an email (or text message) when the web site is ready with a link to your own domain.

C. Geofenced

Authorisation for a free Indie Site with a free .gent domain may also use geographical location as the criteria. This would also include people whom the city calls “users” (anyone who uses the City and its services). It could also provide a tourism advantage (e.g., “take a little piece of the city with you…”, etc.)

Welcome/setup experience on the site itself

  1. On the welcome screen, you pick a password that is never communicated to the host.

  2. You are shown some people, city services, etc., that you can follow and given brief initial instructions.

  3. You’re up and running.

Author: Aral Balkan Last modified: 27/04/2018 Words: ~1200 Reading time: 6 min