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Always Own Your Platform (alwaysownyourplatform.com)
463 points by rauhl 16 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 211 comments



Also, unavailable to most people.

Yes, I suppose it was kind of nice when the internet was only available to the tech-savvy, to those who didn't mind maintaining a second job as a Unix administrator. But for people who just wanted to _write_, it was not welcoming.

Yes, you can go to wordpress.com and sign up for your own blog, but then you're just on the wordpress platform, and subject to their whims. If your plan works, then wordpress.com becomes so big that they're the bad guys now.

Facebook, Medium, and others are here because we, the tech world, didn't give the rest of the world any other options. We didn't settle on a standard, containerized server platform that was simple enough for users to drag "Wordpress.server" onto "SomeHostingProvider.com" and get a working server. The tech ceiling was _always_ too high, and it was our own hubris that we weren't willing to build a more welcoming environment.


I think the problem is not with being tech-savvy but with not wanting to spend anything. It isn't difficult to create a ready-made self-maintaining decentralized publishing tool in the form of a VPS image that people could run. But then people would need to pay for hosting the VPS (single dollars per month) and probably for the software, so that somebody maintains it (also single dollars per month).

I think people are too cheap for that and will rather throw their work into one of the black holes (like facebook), than pony up those dollars.


Also, what happens when I'm not around to pay those peanuts? All gone? Not acceptable to most people.


This is a weird line to argue from... What guarantees any platform you use (yes, even including wordpress) won't delete you data or terminate your service agreement? Even more laughable, if it was unfairly terminated, how can you argue when you are dead?

If you want longevity -- and want a VPS, just load up your vps (in the case of DO) wallet, pre-purchase out your domain name for a few years in advance and sit back. That's the best you are going to get, without paying somebody specifically. If you are popular enough, your stuff will be archived anyway.

But for heavens sake, if you actually have a need for post-life longevity for your content, put it in a will. Plan for death.


Your data should be local and in your backups. It's then posted somewhere publicly when you want to share it.


Didn't people used to say that sort of thing about music? That people are too cheap so they'll just pirate everything?

Maybe it's convenience that is required.


I agree that its not money that is the obstacle. But I dont know if its convenience either - there are platforms out there now that will let anyone host a website with less effort than sigining up for facebook and learning the platform.

Maybe the problem is that unlike buying, music making a website requires people to be creative and the majority of people are just not creative and don't wish to be creative.


I agree that convenience is required, but hosting has an inherent cost to it, which can't be ignored. Similarly, maintaining software (any software!) has a cost to it, which we do our best to ignore, but which in the long term needs to be taken into account, otherwise we end up giving our data to corporations which offer "FREE" hosting and software.


I don't recall it being hubris. What happened when Web browsers appeared is that there was a brief period when a university (usually you were at a university) would host your pages, and you could believe the decentralized dream (if you heard that part), but there was a sudden commercial gold rush, and motivations switched to greed (not hubris).

You didn't want to see X happen; you wanted you to get the money for X happening. And maybe that reduced to you want you to get the money, and X was a path to that, and the actual X didn't matter.

Also, there were relatively few people who already understood Internet, online, or software development at the time. Perhaps the majority of people pitching Web startups were all new to all of that.

CS department culture never recovered from the gold rush, and a lot of the gold rush ideas were institutionalized.


This is a very interesting angle, care to expand upon it? Which gold rush ideas do you feel where institutionalized?


I've not fleshed out his angle on this, but the first thing that came to mind was the gamification of every social interaction. "Ratio-ing" on TWIT comes to mind. There was a time when we measured threads by the level of social engagement (response) rather than like/share and it was a good thing to have hundreds of replies and sub-conversations.


The real reason this isn't available to most relates to today's DDoS supporting Internet.

Today everyone has to use a CDN to even try to defend against such attacks; and all they do is bulk filter the attack out while degrading the end user transparency of the service. Under 'load' some websites have to load an active filter page and execute code on the clients to authenticate that it's a valid client, rather than an attacker.

The proper solution is to identify compromised devices and isolate them from the Internet. For hosts under attack to use a side channel to the ISPs routing the packets to ask them: "Please do not send anything from X to me for a bit; unless they satisfy to you that a user is in control." The request should be 'signed' by an end user key, authenticated by their ISP, and filtering should begin at the edge of that ISP. If they feel it necessary, they too can send a request to their ISP. Until this escalates to the backbones. Then it can press further back, down to the compromised node. That would allow infected end users to be quarantined, informed, allowed to download security updates and some other limited website interactions (manufacturer websites for updated firmware, some after-market firmware sites/tool sites like OpenWRT/DD-WRT/Linux distros, etc).

Fix the DDoS issue, also fix the home upload bandwidth issue, and you too can host your own family photos/videos.


> fix the home upload bandwidth issue

The “home upload bandwidth issue” is “it's not a thing consumers demand, and we have business-class service for people who do have a need forit.”

I'm not sure what there is to solve...


> also fix the home upload bandwidth issue, and you too can host your own family photos/videos.

Not possible without investing literally dozens of billions of dollars into laying fiber - and no matter where you look, actual physical infrastructure like roads, bridges and public transport is outright decaying so where should that money come from, and where in the world do enough actual digging crews exist to lay all that fiber.

DSL simply is physically unable to do symmetric high speed and for coax/cable-tv internet there always remains the problem of oversubscription.

This is the core fuck up of our time.


Is there any other physical reason for asymmetric speeds except the asymmetric spectrum allocation? Either for coax or adsl?

People don't usually use much upload and providers don't want you to upload, so you get lower upload speeds vs. download speeds, even in hardware and standards.


I assume you are talking about the US. Seems like a pretty reasonable investment if you cut some military funding or put a small tax on the richest Americans?


IMHO, there is no shortage of ways the US government's spending allocation could be improved; doesn't mean any of them are politically viable.


Or maybe, ask those consumers to pay $200/month for the Internet that they use, instead of stealing other people's money?


Creating essential infrastructure is stealing but having military spending higher than the next seven countries COMBINED is business as usual.


Well, the United States Constitution obligates the government to do a fair number of things. Providing IT infrastructure for people wanting to self-host family photo albums is not one of those things.

There is a mechanism for amending the constitution of the United States if enough people want to elect representatives to force other people to pay for their upload bandwidth.

Military spending is a different bucket. If you object to Military Spending (and I do, as you appear to do), take it up over at the counter of not-false-equivalences.


I am aware of the reality, I was just making a facetious comment.

I'm not in the US. We have our own problems here in Australia. We did all pay for IT infrastructure but the government completely fucked it up as expected.


The whole Telstra privatisation, split-up-ification, semi-not really privitization, going public with monopolist rights thing was a little weird to watch from over here. But, hey! At least some "very important people" made a lot of money!


If you get your own domain for that wordpress.com hosted site, you're free to move to other hosting if you need to.

One option is to learn enough to do it yourself on a barebones server, but that's not the only option. A google search for "wordpress hosting" turns up several turnkey solutions that a person without a lot of tech background could move to if they were sufficiently displeased with something wordpress.com did.

I think this is a good model for the hosting/platform piece of the puzzle. I'm not sure anyone has a great answer for discoverability yet


So I have been putting together a way for people to more easily make their own blogging platform. It would kind of mimic a blog or social media platform, but since everything is committed to a repository using the JAMstack it could easily be converted to a fully managed platform. Any feedback would be wonderful. https://your-media.netlify.com/post/make-your-own-media/ Everything is owned by the end user. This is only providing a recipe for people to use. I will also mention that https://www.stackbit.com/ is doing basically the same thing but more from a “Make life easier for Website designers” perspective.


The problem these platforms solve is more discoverability than it is actual hosting.

A blog hosted somewhere on some user-owned server is not going to be easily discovered.


It never was too high, the bar for what constitutes an education in at least the US has been far too low for far too long.


>The tech ceiling was _always_ too high, and it was our own hubris that we weren't willing to build a more welcoming environment.

I hate this meme and other criticism like it. It belittles work accomplished (asserting that there was nothing done). Ascribes intent from that perceived outcome (that nobody even tried). And ascribes motivation for that intent (hubris).

I haven't found a better way to demoralize people from trying in the future than this sort of quip.


> The tech ceiling was _always_ too high, and it was our own hubris that we weren't willing to build a more welcoming environment.

Building a more welcoming environment is a mountain of work, and most people would prefer to get paid for it.

And monetizing your work becomes a lot easier when you are a company selling an end-to-end product, then when you're a lone dev working off donations.


I seem to remember being able to use something like geocities, or a cheap/free /~user/ hosts and FrontPage or similar to generate badly formed HTML that let me share a lot of ideas before I was deeply familiar with programming and specialty knowledge.

Yeah, I had to learn about FTP, and not much more. There was a lot of availability, and diversity without a lot of overhead to it.


Well, we already have numerous explanations of why things are the way are. Is there any proposal for changing the status-quo that people can get behind? That is always the stumbling block. Only a handful of people seem to be bold enough to let their convictions guide them..


jesus, man why are the top comments to posts like this always like this? Is everyone on HN that apathetic and jaded?


Publish (on your) Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere (POSSE) is a much more flexible idea IMO. You ultimately own your content, and it's the source of truth, but it gets automatically syndicated out and linked back to whatever proprietary or open platforms you think people will see it on.

https://indieweb.org/POSSE



Silly that the page didn't link to IndieWeb.org - a whole community about exactly these principles.


Talking to the HN crowd about platform ownership is pointless. It's obvious that most people here are not able or willing to grasp the long-term consequences of super-centralization, including many so-called security and scalability experts. Not a big surprise, because a lot of them work for highly centralized platforms, aspire to become one, or to be bough by one.


Of course the HN crowd is willing and able to grasp the long-term consequences of super-centralization. But we also recognize that for the vast majority of the population, some of the benefits that a centralized solution provides - such as UX, discoverability and 'it just works' - are essential, and so far none of the well-meaning open alternatives can compete on those parameters, no matter how much I cheer for their cause. For the vast majority of people, a platform plagued by relatively vague issues like censorship and privacy is still better than a platform that is too cumbersome for me to understand or get started with (and let's be honest, that I've probably never even heard about) - it's simply a non-starter.


> UX, discoverability and 'it just works'

None of those are inherent to preventing users from controlling their data. A company can create (and make money off of) a product that provides all of them while using open protocols and data formats, with easy export functionality. I think the bigger problem is that users don't care whether they control their data, and companies are incentivized to maintain that control.


What? HN probably has the largest proportion of people who maintain their own websites out of any other major aggregator community.


>HN probably has the largest proportion of people who maintain their own websites

...on AWS.


Of course, no one is 100% independent. You could recursively find lack of independence:

You have your own website but its hosted on AWS

You host your website on your own servers, but they're in $COUNTRY

You have a guerrilla controlling a de facto state where your server is, but you still depend on the submarine cables.

You have a worldwide totalitarian dictatorship so you can host your website freely, but you depend on the sun for keeping the servers alive.

Your worldwide totalitarian dictatorship has mastered interstellar travel, but you're still in $YOUR_UNIVERSE.

Your scientists discover how to control the multiverse, but they're all going to big crunch eventually.


> ...on AWS.

OK, but it's trivial to move hosts, it's much harder to move from a content platform.


> ...on AWS.

so? you're not implying I'm supposed to buy land, erect my own datacenter on it and lease my own backbone connectivity just to host a blog?

I think the author's rebellion is against user-generated content, when everything you post becomes someone else's data. That's definitely not the case with any cloud hosting providers.


Using static hosting that can be moved somewhere else easily. URLs remain the same due to controlling the domain.


But they own the content and own the domain. If AWS suddenly dies, they'll have no problems switching to a new provider.


The statement probably holds true of people who self-host in their home as well. I currently run a cluster in my basement.


As long as your Internet connection has decent upstream speed and latency, this is still a good option. A Raspberry Pi, for cryin' out loud, is roughly equivalent to a Cray 1/X-MP, so the need for huge "server iron" to serve even fairly large sites is a thing of the past except for shared server providers who want thousands of sites per server. If your site is static and you're running off a RAM disk or SSD, then you're as fast as pretty much anything you can buy. That said, S3 or Netlify are really easy and bring CDN and redundancy to the party, and neither can really lock you in if your content generation and DNS is under your control.


Yep yep, I run a cluster of 5 ODroix XU4's (not radically different than a Raspberry Pi), and even doing a ton of video streaming through Emby (which I hate), everything tends to perform just find for the up-to-three concurrent users that are ever on it.


Yes, no doubt this community has the largest percentage in both categories of "self-hosting". I have VPS's in multiple countries as well as hosting from my home.


Or hosted by one of the large AMP caches with signed HTTP exchanges, if Google gets its way.


I can't even count how many people comment on this website about how they host their own mail servers.


Yep. Literally nothing is wrong with this. You're barking up the wrong tree.


I bet most people here totally grasp the long term consequences; it's just that they are eager to grab the short term benefits.


Or misjudge the probability of realising those consequences.


Duplication of fixed costs is an economic ill to be judiciously avoided.


Some of us realized long ago that feeling moral superiority in a professional context wasn't very valuable.


I already do. https://wordsandbuttons.online/ is just a static script-maintainable stand alone site. It has no 3rd-party platform but the web hosting. Moreover, I own the domain and don't really rely on anything provider-specific. I can migrate it any day and users wouldn't notice a thing.

I also use GitHub to host sources https://github.com/akalenuk/wordsandbuttons but it's just a convenience not a necessity.

The whole thing is just a set of HTML pages with embedded CSS and JS. There are no 3rd-party dependencies or even inner dependencies. No frameworks, no libraries. Each page is self-contained.

At first I thought that writing the whole thing from scratch would be cumbersome, that maybe I need some framework for plots and UI. Now I just enjoy the freedom I have. I can turn any UI idea that comes to mind into some JS code. And even if the code appears redundant because of no dependency policy, each page still comes tiny. With all the JS inside, every one my pages is still under 64KB.

This makes it not only lean and fast but reliable as well. Words And Buttons Online has 5'000-100'000 monthly visitors depending on success of every particular page; never had a problem with Reddit-effect.

In general, I am quite satisfied with this no-platform/no-dependencies decision. Yes, writing HTML manually is a bit tedious and sometimes boring, but the benefits way outweigh the cost.


100000 monthly is nothing. That's like 2 visits per minute.

Any random vps should handle 10-100s of visits per second (mostly limited by size of your pages and bandwidth if you use static content).


Can be done with dynamic content as well. I'm serving 10-100 per second with postgres, jetty and jstl/jsp on $10/month dedicated servers.


Well, you can hand-craft HTML is you want, but there is a huge variety of tools out there designed to give you full control of building and managing blogs and other websites (list sites courtesy of the Netlify folks): https://www.staticgen.com/ https://headlesscms.org/


Similar story here. I use pelican to generate my site. I wrote a very lightweight theme for it too (under 10k per page). I can host it anywhere that serves html.


I took a similar path with my personal site. I did get to the point though where I didn't want to duplicate things like my site banner across all my pages, so I ended up writing a very barebones site generator[0] for compiling handlebars templates.

[0] https://github.com/anderspitman/assg


This is sure a way to go too.

I prefer scripts to do monkey job for me instead of templates. They take html as input and produce html as output. It's trivial text processing. But this way every text pattern, even that I would have never thought of beforehand, may become a 'template' in the future.


How do you host it? Do you own the machine, or use a cloud VM?


I used to have a dedicated server, but I figured that with my needs, cheap shared hosting works just as good and at a fraction of a cost.


No point in owning your own platform unless you are in the business of building and running a platform.

The real advice is to always be ready to abandon your platform at any moment and move on to a new one should its policies no longer be in your favor. Always be preparing for this scenario. What’s your contingency plan?


Why give the platform all that seo. In the long past era we used to have a bunch of random webshops. Now sellers can barely survive unless they are on Etsy eBay or Amazon. We gave them all that free SEO and now we are wishing we didn't.


Yeah, and back in the day the random webshops you're referring to didn't do a fraction of the business that Ebay, Etsy and Shopify are doing now.

If people thought they could not pay those platforms' fees and still do OK, don't you think they would have? They're going to those platforms because that's where the shoppers are.

You can definitely attempt to control your own SEO, but most sellers are there to sell stuff now; they don't have time to learn SEO and implement it if it doesn't bring them more business or save them more time compared to using another merchant's platform.


As a consumer, though, it sure is a lot nicer to not have so many random webshops.


> Why give the platform all that seo.

Because the business-person gets something valuable in return. It's a fine tradeoff to make if you make it explicitly and have a strategy.


> We gave them all that free SEO and now we are wishing we didn't.

Isn't a search engine required by law to be non-biased?

So if you move to a different (or your own) platform, search engines should still allow people to find you just as easily.


>Isn't a search engine required by law to be non-biased?

No? Why would you think that? Google routinely puts its own properties at the top of search results.

>So if you move to a different (or your own) platform, search engines should still allow people to find you just as easily.

Even if search engines were required to be unbiased, that conclusion still wouldn't follow. The hidden assumption there is that you're the only one selling that particular good or service. In practice, though, you're not. If a user is searching for, say, shoes, what search result is better for them? A link to Amazon or eBay, where there are hundreds of types of shoes? Or a link to your shop, which has a much more limited selection?

There's a reason that people shop at Walmart instead of small general stores.


> The real advice is to always be ready to abandon your platform at any moment and move on to a new one should its policies no longer be in your favor. Always be preparing for this scenario.

Especially if you've built a business around a SaaS this is fairly impossible/difficult to do unless you don't embrace the features that set the SaaS apart, in which case, why bother with the SaaS at all.

I'm always an advocate for in-house control of any system that can't be abandoned in a week.


> What’s your contingency plan?

So you could rephrase(?) it as, "always own your platform"! Where "own" means to take ownership of one's choices and have a contingency plan, so one is not in the extremely embarrassing position of trying to blame one's bad business decisions on one's provider's business decisions (valid or not).


Exactly. These sorts of "Always" messages end up being overly simplistic. People should approach it as a business decision and part of that includes risk. I recruit a lot of authors into my publications and I'm hyper aware of the cases where we might not be offering a good deal. For example, for authors aspiring to write mainstream books, the size of their book advance is going to be heavily correlated with the size of their mailing list. So I always point out that these types of authors would be better off publishing first on their own site with an email collection CTA and then only secondarily republishing to other places like the pubs I run. However, not all authors have that goal and so they end up with totally different factors to weigh.


>The real advice is to always be ready to abandon your platform at any moment and move on to a new one should its policies no longer be in your favor.

Okay, but how is this advice useful or practical? You can't build or grow a business without being able to rely on at-least some core tech. It is hard enough having to turn a profit, and make payroll without the additional burden of having to structure an organization where any technology is easily removed, replaced ($) , tested (more $$) and staff re-trained (more $$$) at a moments notice (even more $$$). All that assuming that easy drop-in replacements exist. In my domain (pharma) such a business plan would be the quickest way to bankrupt a company.


I suppose that, since you are not in the "business" of owning a house, you prefer to be a guest of your friends, ready to abandon your bed at any moment and move on to another friend should you overstay your welcome.


What on earth kind of parallel is that?

The actual comparison here is that people who are not in the "business" of owning a house rent one, and are able to swap their rented house for a different one at will, taking advantage of market changes but also accepting the downsides of renting.


Not quite sure what point you’re trying to make.

But people rent apartments as a middle ground between owning a home and sleeping on a friend’s couch.


Mostly importantly, because pretty every company and platform will turn on you when it's politically/legally convenient for them.

We've seen it all the time on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Suddenly a post or video that's fine legally is blocked/removed because the angry mob is complaining about it with torches and pitchforks. A video or piece of content that's arguably under fair use is removed because a large compant files a claim or strike, legality be damned.

Having your own platform is a significant advantage there. It means you're a lot tougher to get rid of when the angry social media mob forms over something 'wrong' you said/did in the past, and many, many companies will not risk legal action by going after an independently hosted site/service.

Obviously that doesn't mean the site is invincible. A determined enough adversary can put pressure on hosting companies/registrars/cloudflare, and a DMCA notice can lead to a court case as well.

But many won't go to that level of effort, or depend on these platforms being willing to turn on their users at the drop of a dime.

Yeah that's not for everyone, and admittedly many users would fine on these platforms. But anyone even remotely likely to get into any type of controversy would certainly be best to own their own platform.


> Suddenly a post or video that's fine legally is blocked/removed because the angry mob is complaining about it with torches and pitchforks.

The standards are indeed bizarre.

You can read a book that lead to the deaths of millions of Jews in Europe, but not a rambling angry meme collection that lead to the deaths of dozens of Muslims in Australia.


Most people who post controversial content don't just want to put their views out there, they want to build a large audience and want their views to be successfully distributed or to make money from them. It's almost impossible to completely ban access from online content unless you are a nation state.

It seems reasonable to want free speech but entitled to want successfully monetized speech as a baseline.


I just came here to remind everyone that while this kind of things go on, wordpress is still free both as in free beer and in free software.

You can use wordpress.con as a hosted platform, pay for full customisation or host your own.

And you can start at any tier and move freely from/to the remaining ones.

I think all this fuss is really dumb, people had the answer to their problems in front of you the whole time yet they ignored it because it was not “cool”.

I guess that’s what you get for relying on “service-as-a-software-substitute”.


I second this. I spent a long part of my career bashing Wordpress and other PHP CMS platforms because of how hideously insecure they were, but came around about the time that Wordpress added the feature for automatic updates.


Early in my career, during and right after college, I did a lot of consulting for simple sites, many of which used word press. Even in that short time I frequently encountered clients who had their servers owned, and then used for spamming or hosting illegal content. This would go unnoticed by the company until their web host noticed and froze their account.

From some reps at the hosting companies I would contact, I got the sense that such incidents were quite common. And as a consultant, it made me hesitant to recommend WP to clients.

I think those kinds of issues are probably much more likely to be a culprit for people seeking other platforms, rather than WP just not being "cool."

If WP is better security-wise now, that's good, but it can understandably take a while to repair a reputation.


And don't forget to write your own compiler, OS, DE, and IDE, lest someone pull the rug out from under you. /s

Specialization is at the heart of increasing productivity. Let's say a given person makes awesome travel videos. If that person can find a way to broadcast and monetize those videos with YouTube, Vimeo, or whatever, that almost certainly makes more sense than devoting their time to maintaining their own streaming platform. That's time the person could have spent continuing to refine their actual product: travel videos.

Video editing and production are extremely time intensive tasks that require a lot of skill; people work on these skills their whole lives. Likewise, dev ops and infrastructure management are incredibly deep rabbit holes to jump down. The idea that every hobbyist blogger, photographer, and indie band should learn about server administration seems crazy to me.

Does not owning your platform have risks? Of course. Everything has risks and business is always about tradeoffs. Platforms like YouTube solve a lot of problems for content creators. For most creators, those benefits are going to outweigh the costs.


Except that so few people make money broadcasting on Youtube, it's very likely they'd make more by learning how to maintain their own streaming platform and using that knowledge ('consulting') to less technical (but more creative) people who think they can make money broadcasting on Youtube.


You should probably invest some time learning how incredibly hard and costly it is to make a streaming platform. Youtube can only do this at low costs because they do it at scale.

Also, The only people who could do this are already making tons of money. We're talking about people with high technical skills, not the people posting ASMR videos.

You also need to attract viewers to your platform, which is no small feat.


Well, yea, not just youtubers but also farmers, janitors, receptionists, construction workers, and so on could probably make more if they were instead competent dev ops engineers.

Of course, this gets at another reason why owning your own platform doesn’t make sense, which is that web infrastructure is a specialty that most people have no interest in, and if they did, probably limited innate ability and training.

If it were that easy for people to suddenly pivot into a 6 figure salary field...more people would.


If they actually made more by learning how to maintain their own streaming platform and offering that knowledge to less technical folks, nobody is stopping them from doing so.

I suspect such an industry does exist, but it's quite a bit smaller than both the number of people profitably creating content on YouTube and the number of employees of YouTube itself, which tells me that maybe the risk-adjusted returns of it aren't as great as you think.


  Not Found
  The requested URL / was not found on this server.

  Additionally, a 404 Not Found error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.
Always Own Your Platform


Talk about a self-defeating message. Now I get timeouts. Things you get on BigEvilHost's platform:

* SEO, discoverability

* ability to handle HN hug-of-death

* distribution

* some SRE/dev-op makes sure your article isn't 404'd

* backups

etc.

> Avoid unnecessary middlemen.

They just proved why they're necessary.


> ability to handle HN hug-of-death

Seriously, this is bullshit. When my blog was on the frontpage, CPU load on my single 1-core VPS peaked at 5% and bandwidth usage was about 1 megabit per second. No Netlify, no Cloudflare, no nothing. If your website cannot handle the HN crowd, it's just badly engineered. Period.

Source: https://xyrillian.de/thoughts/posts/latency-matters-aftermat...


Yeah: I honestly don't understand how people build websites that can't handle Hacker News levels of traffic... this site just isn't _that_ popular in the grand scheme of things.


The instant your website requires a database query to build the front page you're susceptible to the HN hug of death. Obviously you can build a scalable solution to handle traffic spikes, but there will always be the danger.

If you're talking about an ordinary webserver giving out an ordinary webpage you will run out of bandwidth long before you overload the server.


That's a bit dramatic. I've load-tested database backed sites on $5/month DO droplets and gotten > 1k requests per second for extended tests.

My primary site not only stores articles in the DB, but runs them through an extended, custom markdown parser upon retrieval, and processes and reports event data on every page load. It was still successfully returning ~250 reqs/sec before I'd bothered implementing any caching or pre-compilation of markdown at all.

In contrast, people recently HNed[1] are reporting about 12-15k visits over a day. That's something a single server on a $5/month VPS can handle in a minute

1) https://getpolarized.io/2019/04/02/getting-hacker-news-lesso...


> In contrast, people recently HNed[1] are reporting about 12-15k visits over a day.

This matches my experience. I think I got about 10k visits over the course of a day, 80% within the first three hours.


Yeah; static pages like blog posts should really be cached out from templates + data, to avoid this problem.


Depends on your database. S3 will handle the hug just fine.


A quick check shows the site is on DreamHost which offers $2.59 a month shared hosting which isn't going to handle the load (though they have the full assortment of hosting options you'd see, up to dedicated hardware).


I wonder how much variance there is in traffic for sites that are on the front-page. That variance could be based on a combination of the hour of the day (because of the varying timezones of HN readers), the day of the week (we don't all check every single day), and the particular topic of a post (I would think that the average individual doesn't click on everything). It could be that while your site was on the front-page, others at other times, other days, or of other topics could have received visits many times more (or less) than what you received.


Worthy of a submission of its own.


Same for me, I have a static HTML site and it never even broke a sweat.


A blog typically comes with a comment function. That's something dynamic which requires lookup in some sort of database. Your page is purely static and does not even have pagination between posts. Hosting that is trivial and nothing to boast about. Your comparison is really unfair and needlessly nasty.


If you're doing a database lookup for every page load for comments, you're doing something wrong. Also, you'll be moderating comments, unless you want your blog to become a cesspool of hatred or spam, so the page becomes even less dynamic. Myself, I'd put the comments on a separate resource so that the static page would never be affected by that load, whether POSTing or GETing, and load async. (so your static site is always up, even if your comment system falls over)


You are not doing something wrong, you are simply not designing for high-load. Loading things dynamically on every request is perfectly fine for almost any blog.

Moderation is offtopic. Putting comments on a different system seems like overzealous, premature optimisation...


A comment function doesn't necessarily require a database lookup for every request, you can cache the blog page for a second or two so that it doesn't collapse when getting a hundred requests per second.


Yes and that makes things magnitudes more complex than just serving a static HTML page.


Not really, it's just basic configuration of nginx or something like that. Putting up nginx with microcaching in front of your webserver is literally a five minute task. If you have no idea on how to do it, then it's going to take half an hour with some tutorials, so even in that case it's not that much more work than serving a static HTML page.


Oh how cool is that, I never even heard that term before. Thanks! It does look quite complex though, I have to learn about proxying and nginx.


Displaying comments doesn't have to be dynamic. Most need reviewing anyway. https://github.com/eduardoboucas/staticman


I would expect open connections to be the bottleneck (not CPU or mem). Do you just have very low latency and thus relatively few concurrent open connections (yes, I saw the graphs in your link, but it's hard to figure out how many concurrent connections are open at a time)?

EDIT: Downvoters, would really like to know why you're downvoting? Am I being naive in thinking a blog would be bottlenecked on connections?


My site has been on the front page a few times.

Concurrent requests were usually in the 400-800 range depending on where it ranked and what it was about. That's going by Google Analytics too which means it's likely higher since devs tend to disable as much tracking as possible.

nginx won't even break a sweat if you're on a low end VPS and are serving static content. You'll have pretty much the same latency as serving 1 concurrent request (single digit milliseconds + whatever network latency there is between your server and the visitor).


I have once handled a website being HNed and /.ed a few years ago. The issue turned out to be the default Apache config from distro, which was very ill-suited for such traffic, generating tons of processes which struggled to run on a small VPS. Switching to nginx fixed it; I suppose switching Apache to mpm_event model (or even just tuning the threading configuration) would be enough too.


Or low total bandwidth. A personal blog not expecting a lot of traffic may only have puddle of transfer bandwidth per month. Depending on the content of the post, that can max out a cap rather quickly.


I don’t understand the downvotes here.

A small blog can randomly get a 100,000 view spike. If the blog contains images and maybe even a gif it’s easy to blow through bandwidth caps for most free tiers.

I use netlify’s free tier but actually host my videos on BunnyCDN. I also make sure to optimize my pngs and jpgs. This isn't precautionary. It's actually necessary.


Everyone (or at least most people here) knows that Google has all those advantages. The issue is that we keep falling back on those advantages, rather than doing the work necessary to make owning your own platform realistic.

I also laughed at the irony of OP's site going down, but these are the growing pains that will ultimately be necessary if we don't want the internet to be walled gardens run by 3-4 companies.


As a comment upthread mentioned, there’s no fundamental technical obstacle. Free software and commodity hardware are plenty sufficient to match any specific technical challenge at the HN front page scale.

But running a web platform is a hard operational problem. Having all the pieces available doesn’t get you even halfway there; you have to spin them up and glue them together, and any number of relatively minor mistakes can mean the whole thing falls over. I’m not sure even in principle that can be reduced to a portable platform binary.


On the other hand, a big platform can arbitrarily delete your account/content with no recourse, or just shut down. Happens all the time.


A server in the cloud doesn't necessarily mean you're using the host company's application platform.

The article is "RSS and blogs vs YouTube, Facebook, Twitter. ..." not "iron in my closet vs. rented server".


Netlify or s3 or cloudflare + learning seo covers the above points.

Unless no one wants to learn stuff anymore. We need an evil corp because no one can change their oil anymore?


The HN "Hug-o-Death" can be handled by a potato unless your product is layers of bad code. No reasonable app should just die from 20MBps of traffic.


Have you considered: what if it's connected to a 10 MBps pipe?

(E.g. crappy residential DSL.)


Then the connection dies but if you get through (and any decent router should in that case just half bandwidth per connection) you get a working site, not a 404 or 500 or similar.


The server is responding, though, so maybe an argument for owning your platform is being able to permanently remove your content if you so choose?


Should return 410 Gone though.

Here's a cache from another more resilient platform: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:ybKXu0F...


And from an institution dedicated to preservation:

https://web.archive.org/web/20190610162920/http://www.always...


Define resilient. In one month that snapshot will be gone.


Lots of web hosting providers have this kind of thing on cheap tiers if you go over the quota. So we can speculate that we've HN-hugged it to death.


Or maybe it is a meta statement of what can go wrong. probably no :)


It'd better be! :-D

Lesson no 1: don't use shared web hosting.

Though looks more like Dreamhost removed a site that was hogging down a whole server thanks to HN.


Lesson no 2: Cache, cache, cache. Close that connection as quickly as you can.


Now, LoneStarr, you see that evil will always triumph -- because good doesn't scale.


Why do I love this quote so much?


From the Wayback Machine:

https://web.archive.org/web/20190324154559/http://alwaysowny...

> You know, it wasn't that long ago. There was RSS. There were blogs. There were sub-groups and communities. The weirdos found each other. The non-weirdos found each other. It wasn't perfect. But it was distributed. It was ours.

> It was yours.

> Now? The original dream of the web is dying. Facebook, Google, Twitter, Medium, and YouTube entice us to give them our creative work. They control what gets amplified and what gets monetized. A few conference rooms in Silicon Valley dictate our online culture.

> It's time to take it back. Stop giving away your work to people who don't care about it. Host it yourself. Distribute it via methods you control. Build your audience deliberately and on your own terms. Be in charge of the relationship with your audience. Deliver value and then ask for money. Avoid unnecessary middlemen.

> Always. Own. Your platform.

The pages says it was created by Sean Blanda. On his personal site http://seanblanda.com/, it says he's the Director of Editorial for InVision and founder of Pilcrow House.

He's got an active Twitter account -- last post was within a day -- so I guess he's comfortable not owning his platform.


Are you seriously trying to say that he can't make this point unless he builds his own twitter?

https://i.imgur.com/iBAIRqF.png


I'm both a programmer and a pedant, so my opinion is that he's allowed to make this point and be an active Twitter user if his domain is OwnYourPlatform.com, but not if his domain is AlwaysOwnYourPlatform.com. :)


He can always own his own platform and still use others'. Just the keep the pedantry going...


Or maybe 'AlwaysOwnYourMainPlatform(s).com'?


Why would this person use Twitter, and why wouldn't the reasons he comes up with for using Twitter not also be valid for using Facebook or Medium as well?


The original comic implies that abstaining from owning an iPhone is equivalent to not participating in society. Basically if your principles are so weak that you can't abstain from owning a luxury phone brand, which should take a literal bare minimum effort, then you don't really have these principles.

A Twitter account is not a requirement to participate in society either. You don't even have to build your own Twitter, there are a few open-source clones that can be self-hosted.


As a long-time holdout when it came to smartphones, and a big believer in things like personal privacy and having control of your own devices, I can't agree with that argument any more. Smartphones are ubiquitous, to the point where everyday public services do assume that almost everyone has one and there are significant or even prohibitive barriers for those who do not.

Sadly, the best you can hope to do now is to turn everything off that you don't want (which will probably mean fighting the defaults for at least an hour when you get a new device and still hoping you didn't miss something important) and stick to the essentials.

It shouldn't be this way. We have failed on this one. But you really can't avoid some of these modern technologies entirely now, unless you're willing to become some sort of modern-day hermit and not participate in a lot of normal parts of society.


It seems like Purism has a pretty decent user-benevolent smartphone in the works. If most services are available via website, it may be clunky but it'd work.

And many public services are offering APIs, so I can imagine their app store getting a pretty decent range of clients before long.


I was really hoping that one of the explicitly privacy-focused and user-controlled phones was going to hit the market before I gave in and bought, but sadly too many things were starting to get in the way and effectively forced my hand. At least for now, it's an Android/iOS duopoly for a lot of practical purposes.


I don't own HN, should I not post here?

Seriously, is the recommendation that everyone who posts content own the platform? That's impossible to have a shared location for content.


If you were relying on HN as a place to build your own brand, and maybe a business, in a way that was not robust to the future whims of HN's operators...then no, you should not post here.

If you're like me and just want to fuck around during the day and post a few things, then it's totally fine.

Searching for trivial proofs by contradiction in fields with lots of fuzzy variables is one of the worst habits of math/CS people.


Not the author, so no idea, but it seems to be directed more at people who put their content directly on other platforms to be doing wrong.

Creating content on yourblog.tld and linking to it from Twitter/Facebook/etc. is fine, but creating content on Twitter/Facebook/etc. prevents you from really owning it. Same audiences, but now you have control over the content (for the most part. People can copy your content or there is caching).


"Always own your platform" doesn't necessarily mean "never use someone else's platform."


This is important but it doesn't address the reasons why people don't own their own platform.

Audience.

Successful platforms have solved the empty room problem. Until there is a decentralized solution to that, there is nothing new to talk about.


And the answer is: syndicate. You see people doing this time and again. Leveraging a platform for audience, then driving traffic to their own site/someplace they own. "Their own platform." Not everyone will follow, but the people who truly value you will.


Actually I don't think that the audience is the problem, I think it's the "tech friction" Do you really want to figure out how to host your own HD videos without a video platform? How to run your own email list without an ESP? How to use SEO/SEM to attract an audience? How to host and maintain blog software? Handle your own payments?

Any company who's serious about their business, eventually gets there, but still they're not 100% independent. AWS is one of the biggest platform providers out there and they don't provide an audience, they merely smooth out the "tech friction" of building a tech company. It's not a coincidence that investors always seek SAAS/PAAS companies with massive switching costs, it's in fact the biggest type of moat there is. http://news.morningstar.com/classroom2/course.asp?docId=1440...

I agree with the poster who said that the solution isn't to "host your own" but to be ready to move providers at a moment's notice, to build resilience in your tech stack as much as possible so if your provider shafts you, it's easy to ditch them. This is really hard to do for small content creators/businesses as they don't have enough resources to make it happen. This is what the article should actually cover.


They're both problems.

Even after you solve the technical problems, you face an uphill battle of convincing people to log onto fwipsvlogs.com every day to get your new content, versus showing up in YouTube's recommended (or subscribed) videos list.


Isn't this what platforms like hackernews or google do?

Solving the empty room problem while still letting you own your own platform.


They solve it poorly. That's why HN allows up to three resubmissions for interesting material that fails to make the front page.

A lot of well-deserving stuff still doesn't get lucky, and never makes the front page.


What does / would solve it well?

Edit: also, for hackernews, why should it be about reaching the front page? There is only so much space there, and not reaching it does not mean not reaching anyone.


Reaching the front page: Thousands of readers.

Not reaching the front page: Maybe two or three readers.

If we're talking about solving discoverability, we cannot pretend that reaching one or two people is always going to yield the same success as reaching thousands.


If I post an article on Medium, will the platform drive traffic to it on its own? Is my job done at that point, or will I still need to generate interest by posting it around and getting a lot of visits before Medium suggests it?

When new readers enjoy the content will they come back to me or will they come back to Medium?


Do you have a medium account? Because I don’t, and I don’t think anyone in my network does either.

I can see why you would use YouTube, videos aren’t easy to self host, but I’m really not sure why anyone would chose medium above self-hosting or even using github pages.

But maybe I’m just special, and maybe everyone else has a medium account?


The old deal on Medium was that you could host content there and they would then promote your article across their network. Often that promotion could bring thousands or tens of thousands of readers (I've run a pub there for four years and I'm basing the numbers on that).

Then Medium switched to focusing on a subscription service which also came with a divide between articles that are inside the subscription service and those that aren't.

If you post outside the service, you get free hosting in exchange for Medium running "recommended stories" at the bottom of your post. These are essentially ads for the subscription service. But they don't promote your article or bring you any extra readers other than the ones that you bring yourself or who come through SEO. Obviously, this is a much less appealing deal than it used to be and so there's a sorting out where a lot of people who want to post outside Medium's subscription service are leaving.

However, if you post within their subscription service you get a pretty good deal. You keep your copyright and could republish elsewhere. Medium will promote your article to their readers. You'll still get SEO. You'll make some amount of money, not usually life changing money though especially if you have a programmer's salary. Also, more and more, you're likely to run into an editor who will at minimum offer to give your piece a copy edit and sometimes work with you on how to make your piece even better.


But does medium have readers? I mean, I read medium articles when they appear here on HN, but I’m not really a medium reader, and unlike personal blogs, where I will bookmark you if I find you interesting I’ll never come back to a medium author unless it’s by chance.

I mean, that’s as anecdotal as it gets, but I’ve never been very unique in my media consumption, so I’m fairly certain I’m not alone in this.


I'm sure there are plenty of people like you who aren't Medium users, but if I understand your question, you're asking how many people there are who are dedicated Medium readers.

I'm saying, yes, obviously there must be a lot because when we publish articles they get read by people from within the network. I also sometimes see my own stats split into web vs. app and the app numbers are about equal. Only dedicated users would be using the app. Then on top of that the money is coming from paying subscribers, the most dedicated type of user.

I'm not that interested in what the total number is across Medium because what actually effects me is how many show up at a given article. It's common to get thousands or tens of thousands. The best article I ever published got 1.1M total views with 407k views from within the Medium network. HackerNews or other external sources that drive you to Medium get counted as external views.


Oh, I forgot one of the most important changes in the deal. If you want to post inside the subscription service you can't include Calls to Action (with some exceptions). That's a huge cost for a lot of authors who are only writing in order to promote other things or collect email address. It's generally been a good deal for readers though, who are seeing less marketing pieces in their feeds.


Some of both. You'll still want to self-promote, but Medium will recommend your article to other readers, and followers will be notified when you post new articles.


No, chances are you'll still want to share it on Twitter, HN, or whatever other locations you have an audience with. The benefit is that I may be reading an article about natural language processing and then after it is done, your article about NTLK pops up near the bottom with a catchy title and then I decide to go to it and read it. All this while you and I have no networking connections whatsoever, yet you gained me as a reader.


Generic 'oh guys let's make world better' stuff, without explaining how it could be really done irl.

I mean, popular vlogger owning his own platform, really? Eating hosting costs, solving discoverability problem, etc?


Solve the underlying problem, which is:

What do I do now so that when the platform doesn't work, I still can?

Now the answer is obvious: you don't need to stop using platforms, you need to stop being dependent on any given platform.

Store all your videos in two different storage providers, plus your house archive. Have accounts on at least two different video distribution systems. Get people interested in seeing your own website regularly, so they don't just subscribe on one platform and ignore you otherwise. Get them engaged in several communities. Occasionally put special bits on just one of those video distributors, and then add them to the other(s) later. Get people used to following you.

This is, obviously, more work than just shoving everything to a Youtube channel, or just posting to Medium, or just hosting with Wordpress -- but the point is that when one of them folds, has a service disruption, declines your credit card, or is invaded by leet script kidz, your business survives and merely suffers from hiccups while you re-point things.


good advice to follow, but the problem is...

if you are 21 y.o. vlogger focused on barbell training and restoring old american muscle cars, this advice will sound like "dude just do more straight deadlifts and focus on hi-rep kroc rows, they will help you with development of your back" -- aka, some special gibberish speak. it takes so much knowledge to do so, it just won't happen.


People can learn how to do these things.

Sometimes, they don't want to.

Sometimes, they would rather not.

Sometimes, they would rather pay more money or spend less effort.

I would guess that your hypothetical vlogger is likely to just open a Youtube channel and pray, and they will get results consistent with that. It's not a business plan, and they didn't ask my advice.

If you see a business opportunity in making these things comprehensible or easier or more affordable to vloggers, you should go ahead and do that.


But "always own your own platform" is a message that tends to explain how to do it.

If lots of people own their platforms and are sharing links to their peers, they can solve the discoverability problem.

If they become collectively big enough, even video hosting can become commoditized. That is, you'd pay to host your videos, but multiple CDNs would compete to provide them, all under your domain.

And you can even distribute archival. If you're a vlogger, there is a whole mess of people who want to preserve your old content, possibly even because they dislike you. If you're willing to digitally sign those videos and release them under a liberal license, file hoarders can publish them via e.g. bit torrent.



It's not a counterpoint. It's the point.


It's an odd page that doesn't offer any solutions or calls to action... But "own your platform" is basically the principle of Mastodon [1], where you don't have to sacrifice the idea of "reach" because all individually hosted Mastodon servers are interoperable, so you can get followers and go viral all across the network.

[1]: https://joinmastodon.org


It's probably an alpha stage project that's in the feedback gathering phase. Given who's behind it, I fully expect this to become a fully "productized" thing later, replete with newsletter/ebook popups and some SaaS offering.


Despite marketers who told me to create custom content for Facebook and Tumblr, I focused on creating content for my website.

3 years later, I imagine it paid off. Facebook being pay to play and Tumblr never evolved to include my demographic makes the hindsight look good..

Brand name is important, but having your users come to a third party site for access to your own work sounds extremely risky.


This general movement has a “screw the system, man” vibe that I think steers it away from reality.

It’s already possible to own your platform. The problem that no one else will use it. Facebook/Twitter/YouTube are where everyone else is. That’s where audiences are, hence that’s where all the creators are, hence that’s where all the audiences are. These companies spend millions in research to make their apps as engaging as possible. Sometimes that takes the form of unhealthy Skinner box type psychological manipulation, but sometimes they are actually pretty good at suggesting content people want to consume.

Building up network effects and an engaging user experience takes a lot of money, labor, resources, research and executive organization that open source projects generally lack. We should work within the constraints of reality, and figure out policies that dictate what Facebook should/shouldn’t be allowed to do.


I agree with the advice although you can often make use of platforms without sacrificing too much in terms of SEO. For example, Medium and dev.to both allow you to import blog posts from your own site and they set the canonical URL to the original post hosted wherever you want.


Also, I imagine that Medium will eventually switch their payment terms to reward SEO and that might be a good deal for some people.

I just made an offer for someone's back catalog that was based on $7 CPM for their SEO traffic plus whatever they would have made in Medium's performance program. I think it would have worked out to about $12 CPM on what they would have gotten on their own.

That's probably not the peak CPM they could get if they went their own way. But it's not a bad deal given that they don't have to do any work besides just write.


If you ask me, we're already past the point of this being effective.

Coming from the perspective of creating and selling a PC game, do you really think you can be successful by posting it up on your website with a Stripe checkout button? (Actually you shouldn't even be using Stripe, but I digress). If you do, you're fooling yourself.

I think the same could be extended to a number of industries, e.g crafts that are sold on Pinterest/Etsy. To get back to where we were will require a complete overhaul of the entire system. Until then, we are beholden to our advertising masters.

I actually don't think it's all bad, though. 15 years ago, you didn't have nearly the options available to you to make money that you do now.


I think the spirit of the post is going ahead and host your PC game on steam or whatever platform you want, but also host it on your own site so you're not completely beholden to a third party.


When you have no way of turning more then single-digit percentages of your Steam sales into your-channel sales, the difference between 'completely beholden' and 'not completely beholden' is academic.

Can you handle a loss of 90% of your income? If not, it doesn't really matter that you have a side gig mowing lawns, in addition to your day job.


I suppose it depends on the circumstances. If the conditions under which steam no longer becomes viable are extreme enough, making a ruckus on Twitter would probably drive considerable traffic to your site.


Maybe own your content? If you can own your content it doesn't matter what's the platform. If the platform forces you to release control over your content, then it's a big red flag.


I host my own stuff on a vps that I rent, so I am already a big believer in "owning your platform". But I don't think this is always the wisest point.

My projects are rather small, and I plan to build a real business I might take care and actually use a managed platform just to not face hurdles in the beginning.

If the service succeeds and I can finance my time I would happily own my own platform. But stuff like databases is nice to have managed sometimes if you want to be able to go on vacation without worries.


Esp. relevant now given the concern around Medium …


The network isn't an issue. The entire problem is that those who are creating the network want to be the source content creator as well. We need good networks. We need good creators. The networks should incentivize good collaboration, curation, and give discoverability. Reddit is an example of this. Facebook and Medium want to take content.


Former enterprise AWS consultant here. Renting and leasing tech (AWS, GCP, Azure) is $$$$. At scale, a little cloud is okay for limited uses, but going down to EBGP and floor-up is cheaper. If a shop can't handle that, rent actual hardware (co-lo), not virtual servers because they cheat you with over-subscription.


Wappalyzer says the site is using Cloudflare.

Doesn't Cloudflare have many of the same issues the article discusses?

https://torrentfreak.com/cloudflare-terminates-service-to-sc...

https://torrentfreak.com/cloudflare-kicking-daily-stormer-is...


Not really, no.

Unless you use things like Cloudflare workers, there's basically no lock-in. Your visitors wouldn't even notice if you switched from Cloudflare.


To add to this message:

Use existing FAANG-or-whoever platform for what it's good at - finding target audience and land them on YOUR platform. Incentivize people to join your platform.

NEVER rely 100% of your business to other guy platform. Otherwise you're on a mercy of TOS and political, religious and whatever beliefs of the other guy.


Until "owning your platform" becomes as simple and as feature-full, and as valuable overall as using someone else's platform, this movement will always be akin to "the year of the Linux desktop". Always full of zeal, motivation, and good ideas, but lacking in adoption and execution.


I'm on my way there, now I just need a markdown driven, password protected, browser-editing supported CMS


the problem is owning your content and platform is not enough.

you need much, much better UX (User Experience). Millions of people are now using facebook groups thanks to its easy real-time comments and well thought out threads. Good luck having that on your blog.

Alternative software needs to be vastly improved and centralized(1) for this to work. This is the problem, nobody is incentivized to fix it, so there you go. You get monster proprietary platforms still growing.

(1) Some people think decentralized platforms is the solution - it totally isn't. It is bad UX. They first build it, then find out it doesn't work, and this repeats. Why should everyone take the hassle of hosting their stuff? Plus, syncing everyone in a single feed is not an easy problem. I guess email is the outlier here.


Is it still possible? I mean, how can an individual compete in someway with the giants as Facebook, Google, Twitter etc. How can you get visibility? How can you get the audience when everyone is somewhere else (even here in HNs)?


I assume owning your platform is also the reason why this is loading so slowly.


I'm of the opinion that we shouldn't all redundantly own our metaphorical washing machines. It's okay to have a collective model for washing machines.


Here's something for HN'ers to ponder.

Jeff Bezos published the reply to Mr Pecker's sex photos on Twitter[1] and Medium[2] instead of his own platform. (He does own his own domain "jeffbezos.com" as of 2011).

I'd love to hear HN readers' theories on why he used someone else's platform.

Let's lay out the factors we know that would favor JB using his own platform:

+ Obviously, JB is not a technology or internet luddite. He earned degrees in electrical engineering and computer science from Princeton University. He's probably seen HTML before so he could bang out a static page as a url such as "www.jeffbezos.com/MyReplyToMrPecker.htm" or use any web authoring tool.

+ But, he's also a busy guy because he runs Amazon so he doesn't have the time to do that himself. Therefore, he could simply pay anybody with sysadmin skills to put the text on his website. He's worth ~$160 billion so he can afford the staff. He also can afford the bandwidth costs to avoid the 404 errors that "alwaysownyourplatform.com" is having from the HN-hug-of-death.

So we are left with 2 possibilities:

1. Jeff Bezos is actually stupid and ignorant about the dangers of platforms like Medium and he needs to be lectured by Sean Blanda (author of "alwaysownyourplatform.com")

or

2. He already understands Sean Blanda's point and in fact can display the ultimate flex of "I already own my own platforms which includes AWS and the Washington Post."

And yet, JB posted on Twitter & Medium. He didn't even bother with the POSSE[3] advice. Why?

Does JB's reasons possibly overlap with others' reasons for using someone else's platform?

[1] https://twitter.com/JeffBezos/status/1093643321732464646

[2] https://medium.com/@jeffreypbezos/no-thank-you-mr-pecker-146...

[3] https://indieweb.org/POSSE


You are overthinking this. He used Twitter and Medium because people follow him on those platforms.


>He used Twitter and Medium because people follow him on those platforms.

Of course, yes. That's where the audience is. I'm pretty sure we all know that. (A small nitpick -- Bezos actually didn't have any followers on Medium before his first and only Medium post[1]. Therefore, he could have directed the Twitter link to a blog his own domain "jeffbezos.com" but he chose not to do that.)

>You are overthinking this.

Yes I am! And I want others to overthink it too. The point of my comment is to dissect the topic of this thread "Always Own Your Own Platform" -- by using a prominent counterexample.

JB didn't follow Sean Blanda's advice[2]. He also didn't adhere to the POSSE guideline. Why?

("Because JB's followers are there.")

Let's try to break the infinite loop of nonproductive discourse. _Why_ are JB's followers on Twitter? Even if they're on Twitter, why does JB even _care_ about that? He could have just followed Sean Blanda's advice and posted to "jeffbezos.com" -- but he did not. Let's overthink the reasons why Blanda's advice was not followed.

[1] only one Medium article by JB: https://medium.com/@jeffreypbezos

[2] https://twitter.com/SeanBlanda/status/1134076887821631488


Could you explain clearly what you are trying to convey? I don't think the Bezos example is very helpful since it's an outlier with a very specific situation.


>I don't think the Bezos example is very helpful since it's an outlier

He's an outlier in terms of being richer than Warren Buffet and Bill Gates but I would disagree he's an outlier in terms of the reasons for not following Blanda's advice.

I argue Bezos has similar reasons that many others have who also prefer to post on Twitter/Medium instead of "owning their own platform". Another example is Stewart Butterfield (CEO of Slack and cofounder of Flickr); he also posts to Twitter & Medium instead of owning his own platform. As a cofounder of Flickr, he's presumably self-educated on the tradeoffs of using others' platforms and yet he still chose to post on Twitter instead of his own "stewartbutterfield.com".

>Could you explain clearly what you are trying to convey?

The absolutism of "Always own your platform" is wrong.

The advice should be "Understand the _tradeoffs_ of using your own platform or someone elses's platform." -- It depends on your goals and going through the effort of "owning your own platform" to duplicate Youtube/Medium/etc may be a unnecessary distraction from your objectives.


All of these examples are almost non-sequiturs because these people operate in a different world altogether compared to the audience the article is supposed to target. They have their own huge things going on and are not waiting to make the front page of HN or any other metric relevant to a small scale user trying to make a name for themselves.

As the other user said I think we need a dose of Occam's razor in there. The posts went to Twitter and Medium because they're the relevant platforms du jour for this sort of famous person announcement. The employee in charge of social just put them there and voilà. I honestly doubt Bezos even gave a single thought to the finer points discussed here.


> relevant to a small scale user trying to make a name for themselves.

If you're small trying to become big, expending resources in trying to duplicate what Youtube or Medium does is often contrary to becoming big.

Mr. UnknownNobody hosting his own videos and writings at "www.unknownnobody.com" and charging a fee for access (as Blanda recommends) will severely limit his audience.

Blanda's simplistic advice only speaks in terms of the platform ownership. The more complex advice (but also more realistic) is that one can use others' platforms to build an audience so that he/she will eventually be in a position (recognition+money) to self-host a platform if that option makes sense.

E.g. There's nothing wrong with using Youtube to become a minor "youtube celebrity" and using that to launch into other non-Youtube things. (Patreon, real life concerts, etc.) Eventually, you may not need Youtube anymore. On the other hand, self-hosting videos with all the extra effort & expense may not be the best strategic use of time or money. Justin Bieber was discovered on Youtube in 2007. He becomes famous beyond Youtube. (Concert tours and tv.) In 2019, does he now own his own video server platform to stream his music videos? No. He still uses Youtube.

A lot of successful people don't own their own content distribution platform. They don't need to. Small scale users can learn from them to balance the tradeoffs. The "own your own platform" should not be an absolute goal. Instead, it should only be an optional strategy to further other big picture objectives.

>The posts went to Twitter and Medium because they're the relevant platforms du jour

If you read Blanda's website of advice, he wants to make those websites not relevant. ("RSS...blogs...original dream of the web") Therefore, Bezos shouldn't have posted his content there. (Notice that Blanda used example of VC capitalist Fred Wilson choosing not to post his content to Medium.) Bezos' response on Medium caused a media stir and it added more value to Medium. Blanda is advising people not to do that.

>I honestly doubt Bezos even gave a single thought to the finer points discussed here.

You really think he didn't seriously consider the ramifications of where to post his very public response to embarrassing penis photos? On the contrary, I think he, his lawyers, and his public relations team gave it a lot of thought. Maybe his lawyers and pr people made other suggestions and he overrode them but I think we can be confident he thought about the mechanics of readership of Medium. He cares about the perception of his message. It would've given a bad look to use his Washington Post (even though he owns it) as the vehicle for his personal counterattack.


I actually already agreed with most of what you said! It's just that you mentioned the audience problem, and I nodded my head, but then you seemed to have a further point relating to Bezos and others like him, and I couldn't figure out what you meant beyond that audience/disoverability problem. I understand your point now.


>, but then you seemed to have a further point relating to Bezos and others like him, and I couldn't figure out what you meant

Thanks for letting me know you tried to undertand my viewpoint. I think my earlier messages being confusion instead of clarity -- were caused by me not "showing all my cards". Allow me to go back to your earlier comment to explain further:

>All of these examples are almost non-sequiturs because these people operate in a different world altogether compared to the audience the article is supposed to target. They have their own huge things going on

I actually thought _I_ was one of the targets of Blanda's "alwaysownyourplatform" message. I don't have any huge things going on and _I'm_ in the audience he's trying to convince. But I didn't want my earlier replies to be about me or why I don't choose to prioritize owning my own platform. I figure nobody cares about my story. Therefore I chose to mention more prominent people like Bezos and Butterfield to avoid talking about me. The reasons they use someone else's platform would overlap with mine -- even though I'm not a famous person like them.

Unfortunately, I do think readers think I brought up irrelevant examples of people even though I was trying to emphasize their reasons for using Medium instead of their net worth. I don't run a big company but nevertheless, I also don't have an urgent business need to stream content from my own "www.jasode.com". That would be premature optimization and I have other much more important priorities than owning my own platform.

I think there was an unspoken underlying message in Blanda's plea that I didn't like. He seemed to be more concerned with weakening Twitter/Medium/Youtube rather than explaining how someone like me can use them as a stepping stone to other success. His messaging is more about harming the "big guys" rather than enabling the "small guys". I don't like simplistic advice that reduces down to platitudes rather than real discussion of tradeoffs and strategies of using others' platforms. His suggested idea of "build your audience on your own terms on your own website and charge them money" often means no audience at all.


I think that was jasode's point?


Can someone show me how to do this without running foul of my ISP's service agreement?


So I have been putting together a way for people to more easily make their own blogging platform. Everything is committed to a repository using the JAMstack. Any feedback would be wonderful. https://your-media.netlify.com/post/make-your-own-media/ Everything is owned by you the end user.


I m hopeful about distributed distribution, things like bitchute



Because they own their own platform, they can't handle HN traffic. Idealism, meet harsh reality.


There's something funny when this article links to several paywalled articles.


  (•_•)
  <)    )╯Always
  /    \
  
  \(•_•)
  (    (>  Own
  /    \
  
  (•_•)
  <)    )>  Your Platform
  /    \




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