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The social network I'd like to try is this:

* Funded by subscriptions.

* Free from ads.

* Since it is not ad dependent, yes, it can also provide a chronological timeline.

* Two post types supported: Text and Photo. Because sometimes a photo does tell a thousand words.

* Links to websites not supported in posts. Avoids viral proliferation of dumbed down politics, fake news, or stupid memes. If you want to get to the web or read the news, don't use a social network. They're here for you to be social. As in talk. Chat. Write things about your day. Ask others about their day. You get the picture. Being social.

* Shares or "retweets" not supported. Also to disrupt viral spreading of stuff that is almost never about socializing, and nowadays instead disturbingly often about wanting to be virally spread as a goal in itself.

* And finally... "Likes" not supported. You don't chat with friends at a café to get nods, right? You chat because you have something to say. If what you post is never commented on, yes, you can take it as a hint that you have little interesting to say. You can then choose to ignore that, or not. Comments, a will by others to interact, were always the true "like" anyway. If you write to be "liked", as many on Facebook do, you write for the wrong reasons, at least on a SOCIAL network.

Since it is funded by subscriptions, it ought to lift the quality by this fact alone. Less shitposting. I guess one might say I want a social network. I have yet to see one that is just a social network.

> Funded by subscriptions

This sounds like it might be a good idea because it seems like it would remove the incentive to monetize personal information, but in practice it creates a barrier to adoption and makes the social network kinda useless.

I joined a subscription-based social network that was designed for expats [1]. It was by all-accounts well-designed, well-managed and had everything going for it. But no one in my circles are part of it, and the event lists were really thin because the network was really thin (and I live in one of the largest cities in the U.S.). It does "work" for some definitions of work, but it isn't very successful (though there seems to be enough people on it to make it sustainable--I wonder about retention rates past year 1).

I suspect the things on your list were conceived based on your circumscribed experiences and are not what the general market really wants. It could work in a more niche setting, but you'd have a hard time scaling the business model.

[1] https://www.internations.org/

> in practice it creates a barrier to adoption and makes the social network kinda useless

The main thing is that you're trying to bootstrap new cultural norms. If there weren't so much inertia around free services, people would probably be fine paying a few bucks per month for certain classes of services.

I've always thought it would be a great idea to fund message boards, communities, etc., by keeping track of users' individual resource usage and making that info visible to them.

GitHub is free for most, for example, and others pay for some extra perks. But even then, the price structure comes off as pretty arbitrary.

Since Patreon became a thing, I've seen some people set up funding goals that take the form of explaining that it takes, say, ~$85 per month to cover the costs of running servers, but that doesn't really accomplish what I'm talking about, since it's still too easy to treat it as a shared commons.

A running sum is able to make the point unambiguously; it says something along the lines of, "because of the requests we had to handle to serve your use of the site, we are now on the hook for paying $2.74 so far this month". If you're a magnanimous admin, you can continue operating free services, but just "soft bill" people with a pay-what-you-want scheme (by which I mean guilt them). If you're actually trying to cover costs you do hard billing, but offer the first year free or something, which also removes one of the barriers of getting started—so long as we're operating on the assumption that we've already managed to establish it as a new cultural norm.

Resource-proportionate billing also has the nice side benefit of getting people to be more conscious of wasting time on the site—breaking the cycle of idly refreshing the home page to procrastinate.

Right, it's not really a social "network" if it is just a collection of individuals, and charging individuals creates a barrier to network effects, especially with upfront subscription decisions as an immediate hurdle.

What you most likely really want for a self-sustaining social network is community funding where some self-clustering communal unit (the finding of which might be hard as here too you likely want communities to network and organically overlap together) is encouraged to grow organically as a network and raise funds together.

You can somewhat see experiments in this space in the Mastodon world where some instances try to define community boundaries, and find ways to together pay instance hosting costs.

Community funding as a topic also brings up the question of tax-funded as an option or even a necessity. Are social networks a public good? Are they maybe the true "highways" of the internet that should be governed as such?

A subscription doesn't necessarily have to be a barrier to new users. You could offer basic functionality for free with a subscription to unlock extra features. This sort of model has been very successful in other areas.

The freemium model is exactly what Internations uses. It's free to join but you have to pay to unlock certain features [1]. Unfortunately the market already has free alternatives (e.g. Meetup.com, Eventbrite, Slack.com etc.) that are more mainstream, have a larger inventory of events and people (network effect again), and that work better so it's pretty hard to provide a sufficiently differentiated product worth paying for.

[1] https://www.internations.org/support/faq/membership

It looks like Internations locks up basic functionality rather than bonus features. You can't have much of a social network if you can't "join groups and attend their activities"

I'm not super familiar with Meetup or Eventbrite, but Slack is freemium too.

Discord App does this really nicely. They keep their platform free for basic usage but you've to buy the bling. A vain, yet fun, spending keeps the platform alive.

People buy glittery items like make overs, buttons, or GIFs (not sure), very similar to what reddit gives you when you're gilded.

Probably, a social network can sell virtual tractors & houses to keep their platform alive.

Why do people have to pay for themselves? I’d pay for me and my social circle.

I’m sure there are lots of people who would pay for their friends. Most people have like 4 good friends, max, anyways. The rest are really just acquaintances, who may be on the network because someone else sponsored them.

And that’s how it can start off. Me and my close friends. I don’t really talk to the whole world so I don’t need the whole world on it. But if I have an acquaintance who is on the platform then great, we can connect on there, too.

And it doesn’t have to be a ridiculous sum. The company can still be very profitable with charging only $1/person/month. With 5 people that’s $60/yr. Facebook makes ~$25 per person in the US and Canada. That works out to 1/5 of facebook’s per-person profit. If a company made 1/5 of facebook’s profit (at facebooks scale), it would be an incredibly successful business.

Plus, facebook has a bunch of crappy UI that exists for the sole purpose of shipping ads. Without the incentive to ship ads to the user, the experience for the users would be waaaaay better. And without the need to collect and analyze so much data about each user, and then manage an ad distribution platform on top of that, the costs of running the platform would be lower.

I wonder how much of this problem is based in the subscription, or being satisfied with how existing networks already work? It's sad how current Facebook is seen as still not having enough disadvantages to it that they outweigh the advantages from a big following.

This seems to be such a key factor that you have to almost intentionally wreck the network for people to eventually, reluctantly, leave.

How about a model, where it is free to join and then you pay for extra storage or something. Sort of like iCloud.

I wonder if a 60 or 90 day free period would help [0]. This would allow you to invite people, who could then themselves try it out. After the free period if enough of your circle decided to stay, you could too.

[0] I feel 30 would be to short to round everyone up and get them to actually try it.

Amazon could probably make this happen as part of the prime membership. Seems like a natural next step given they've already got the photo portion covered

Except that Prime members still see ads and their data is still collected.

Facebook makes something like $25 per user on average. I’d pay that to Facebook if it meant no advertising and no tracking all year.

That's only in the US and Canada, globally it's more something like $5.

And you and I (and probably some more people of HN) would pay that. But 99% of the 2 billion people that use FB wouldn't.

I wouldn't pay a single dollar.

Case in point :-)

I wish it could at least be an option for those who'd prefer this way.

Definitely, agree. Like YouTube Red.

Wow. I thought the subscription fee of my suggestion might be problematic, as in too high. But if true, this is just plain ridiculous. That would also give you a chronological timeline and a much quicker way to sift through your feed and know when you're "done" than now.

Disabling links to websites in posts for the sake of preventing fake news is kind of sad. I get why but it feels like punishing the majority for the minority of bad actors. It’s also still possible to spread fake news without a link.

Anyways, this is your ideal network and so please disregard my opinion on how it should work :)

Shameless plug: - https://socii.network - https://hub.socii.network

I’m working on a social network that does most of what you mentioned. I never thought about reposts being a quick and easy way of stopping the spread of viral misinformation, I like that idea.

Looks interesting, I'm taking a look!

When most people think of social networks, they think of a way to connect with friends and family - not a way of discussing interesting issues (i.e. forums).

"Funded by subscriptions" more or less guarantees the former will not happen. People want stuff for free.

>Shares or "retweets" not supported. Also to disrupt viral spreading of stuff that is almost never about socializing, and nowadays instead disturbingly often about wanting to be virally spread as a goal in itself.

Sadly, reshares are part and parcel of a community - even before the days of the Internet. For many, gossip is part of socializing. A friend posted that he's just getting married. People will want to spread the word. How can they without reshares? Rewrite it themselves? Resharing is simply part of usual human interaction.

> Links to websites not supported in posts.

That seems, with all due respect, bananas. There are loads of reasons to have a link in your post, not least because you may use a third party photo host and you want to link to your holiday snaps without having to copy everything everywhere.

Even ignoring that though, you can't share recipes, tracks on youtube, programming blog posts, a cool pair of shoes, a link to a book your friend has been looking for for years...?

Links are the web, it would feel hollow without them.

I know. You lose these things, and I'd prefer that one wouldn't have to go there. But my experience of Facebook and Twitter has shown that a very large part of the links posted are to memes and politics and trying to prove people wrong, win Internet battles, or to show how great you are because you are linking to the latest new diets.

It is so rare to actually see people post "Here's the recipe for a great cake that I, myself, made today!" or "Here's the latest program that I have made!" or "Here's an excerpt of a new book I'm writing!" It's what I'd expect to see on a social network, but don't. Social networks to me have become strangely disconnected from the real personal lives. It's a filtered view and I think links exemplify it in the worst way. They're impersonal and often just point to random articles online. I've also found that I get more comments on text posts than links. People don't seem to even open them very often.

I can see a compromise though. Allow communities, like Facebook Groups, where links are allowed to be posted. So people can join food groups, programming groups, and so on. That way, you still avoid all the junk links and flooding your feed with e.g the latest makeup tips, while still opening channels for people who are interested in these things.

There could be two kinds of communities, too. Location-based communities (based on geolocation, a la Jodel) and interest based communities. I've found that location based communities can fill quite an interesting niche! People don't know each other, but what they discuss is all relatable, and if you travel, you can quickly get tips about the area, too.

It touches on another problem I have with Facebook and many other social networks. They assume that just because we have some sort of relationship with each other, maybe work, maybe old friends, maybe family, we may still not share interests. It's not always shared interests that make me follow people, but to just stay in touch.

More importantly,links can be used to prove a post is not fake news, i.e. cite your sources

Well, I'd have nothing against links in comments either.

My issue is really the spreading of viral links, fun and memes, or inflammatory posts, all that have become so common with time at least in my feed.

This seems like a reaction to Facebook. Almost no one cares about this enough to create " good Facebook. Here in India millions of barely educated people enjoy Facebook to keep up with family and friends. They don't know how to pay for things online and are not comfortable putting their cards on the internet.

I think you are conflicting what people want with what people would use!

Also: feeds are not ranked because of monetization...they are ranked because they work better that way

I don't know if feeds really work better that way. There are people I wish I was still following on Facebook because I'd like to get the highlights of what happens to them (moves, deaths, other important life events) but I had to drop them because they post trivial shit that gets dozens or hundreds of likes. Reactions were designed to help with that problem (sad news can get sad reactions so it can get elevated the same way a "liked" post can) but people still get more sad reactions when they post a link to a news article about pollution or kids dying in a car crash in another country than when they announce that they themselves have a serious illness.

I wish there was a social network that could somehow avoid people competing to post the highest volume of popular content, so they could relax and focus on posting information about themselves that other people want to know. But even if you were somehow able to force people to just post about themselves, no third-party content, there are plenty of people who would make a meal of it by posting endless videos about their grooming regimen, their cooking, or cute stuff their cat does. It all just devolves into competing for attention. Hmmm.

How about a social network in which everybody is guaranteed equal exposure, and posting more content only dilutes your own content, not everybody else's?

Whatever system Facebook was using to determine the contents of your feed back when Facebook was more enjoyable for you would probably still be the best system to use now. Someone clever should just recreate the Facebook from 2000's that everyone liked, call it something else and give the UI/UX a long-overdue upgrade.

You raise some good points...a ranked feed is certainly also not perfect...but at least you got the flexibility to do all the things you proposed.

I could be wrong but it already exists and it's getting traction: https://www.vero.co/

It's not perfect, nor does it hit all your points but it's a start (of a trend at the very least)


From the outside, Vero just seems like it's going to be a portal to a bunch of corporate services.

>Your friend just shared this cool Spotify song, please sign up for Spotify at Vero's special rate of $3.99 / month to listen.

Even on the landing page there is an advertisement for me to order a photo book of Prince.

This does not seem very social, it's just more hyped up media.

Yes, I'm actually on Vero! I'm a bit concerned about the backing (the people behind it) and their ideas about funding but hey... It's at least something, it's a try to fix maybe especially Instagram. I'll never be all too hard on people trying to fix things.

I'd add to that:

- Decentralized

- Designed with strong privacy and anonymity of its users in mind

Anonymity? Why be on a social network at all in that case? You might as well just maintain a blog.

Most of my friends appear to strongly want to have multiple personas on social networks: one per major hobby, one for family, one professional, etc.

People could still use nicks.

That's basically what the old internet and old BBS systems were like, before anyone cared to track and spy on their users.

I support subscription funding but most of the rest sounds terrible. When I go scuba diving and post underwater photos on Facebook the likes are useful feedback on whether or not I'm taking good pictures and help me improve as an amateur photographer. Plus I enjoy it when people share my photos. It makes the world a brighter place and hopefully encourages viewers not to trash the ocean.

You might like this Mastodon instance: https://photog.social

Mhh, why not go with a kickstarter style payment scheme? Have a campaign to fund the operating budget, another one to fund feature a and another one to fund feature b. You get user aligned prioritization for free while users are happy to be able to choose their level of support. Can’t believe I haven’t seen this model in action, yet!

You could set up a Mastodon instance to do exactly this. Why not try and see if there are others who like the model?

That seems like a very peculiar choice, and meant people won't like such a social network. This may reduce the most important factor of social networks, People.

I accomplish most of this (other than no-links-allowed) with iMessage threads with friends.

What you're saying sounds basically like chat.

It doesn't satisfy a number of the person's requirements.

sounds substantially similar to IRC. if text is supported, i don’t see how retweets and links could be blocked. so if you accept that you can’t prevent those things (except by user agreement), it sounds like slack fits the bill.

It exists and is called WhatsApp.

Check Vero

It will never work. Nobody will pay - no users.

Remember app.net?

Maybe the price was too high, I wonder if people would pay something like a dollar a month billed annually, or really cover costs and charge $19/year

Discord Nitro seems to be doing well, but no info on if it covers their costs.

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