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I Can’t Stop Winning (blog.pinboard.in)
786 points by jashkenas on July 9, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 214 comments

As far as I'm concerned, Pinboard is the most reasonably managed digital product I pay for. No feature creep, no bloat, no overthinking it.

While Maciej notes accurately that death comes for us all, he's already outlasted the theoretically more powerful competitor that was Delicious.

I would say "I'm excited to see what's next for Pinboard," but I suspect the future is all it needs to be: The service will continue to function as designed, and that's all I really need.

I love Pinboard the way I love no other digital product I’ve ever owned or interacted with. If anyone wants to take lessons for the future of what digital products could and should be, they should learn their lessons from Pinboard. It’s a delightful and wonderful service.

This is extremely nice to read; thank you!

I love that you don't randomly fuck with the UI I've already learned for shits & giggles. I'm not saying it's perfect; just I've already learned to do my work and now I want to pay attention to other things.

I despise how the idiots at google and apple can't live without randomly permuting the android, gsuite, ios, and macos UIs all the time.

There is a pending android 9 update on my phone, and ios 12 on my ipad. Not today, Satan, not today!

> pending android 9 update

So that's who actually receives updates to Android. The one dude who doesn't appreciate them.

This has been discussed around here - if you have permanent UX staff, what are they going to do to justify their existence and how do they get promotions? They have to change things.

I think you can switch “UX staff” for anyone who works with developing the product, rather than maintaining it as it is. What is a developer going to do if the product is already done?

Create a new product

The question becomes - why do you have so many extraneous staff that they start making changes for the sake of change? If it doesn't result in growth, it's time to prune those people.maybe switch to consultants instead.

This is an interesting observation. I worked for Google for a number of years, and while the UX staff was light, our (relatively) small product did have dedicated staff.

That being said, Google's org is pretty fluid, there should be plenty of new projects in need of UX that you don't have to mess with old projects.

I wanna know who the UX people are on Youtube. I never understand what is the point of half the changes and have started to dislike the mobile app enough to actively avoid browsing for videos

Doesn't help that the recommender algorithm seems to surface completely random 8 year old videos in the "recommended" feed now

Hey, people now discover excellent videos through the eight-year-old recommendations: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=obinHg70l8U


On Android, NewPipe is much better than the Youtube app.

I haven't used Pinboard but you're damn right about this. Is like the supermarket, one day you find chocolates in one isle next week chocolates are in a completely different isle only that messing around with the UI infuriates users.

>Is like the supermarket, one day you find chocolates in one isle next week chocolates are in a completely different isle only

The supermarkets do that because it increases sales. While your hunting around you will see other products and between old chocolate location and new choclate location will be some products that people often purchase with choclate.

You might be annoyed but you will more likely give them more revenue. I wonder if the same is true 2ith ux design?

I love the stable UI too, because I've applied my own custom CSS to it, and written a userscript to give myself some extra functionality I want, like some highlighted tags in the popup window, and it never breaks.

Even without any tweaks, it works, and that's way more important than being pretty (to Pinboard's userbase of nerds at least). Usually UI refreshes come with features being broken or dropped altogether.

For what it’s worth, iOS 12 didn’t change that much. The main focus was performance, especially on older hardware.

The most visible change might be notifications, which are grouped by app and added a convenient option to revoke something’s notification privileges without digging through Settings.

If only reddit understood this

Hopefully you don't mind having highly vulnerable devices, then.

Thanks for staying awesome :)

Yes. No UI overhaul. No "improvements".

It. Just. Works.

If I use Chrome and the sync of bookmarks for that, across devices, why would I use Pinboard?

All these comments have me wanting to try it, but I'm not sure what I get over what I have. Thanks.

First, you rid yourself of the Google Overlord that is tracking any and all input from its user — You! On a more serious note, Pinboard can be incorporated into so many different services, even his competitors. Do you use Instapaper? Pinboard will sync everything you saved so you don’t have to worry about losing it after reading it. Same with Pocket. Or it’ll automatically grab embedded links from Twitter posts you “liked.” He makes it easy for you in import all of your Google bookmarks if you export them to HTML.

His API is a modified version of Delicious.

You have a built in Notes path that can also store (x) amount of notes.

Your account is as public or private you want it to be. You can make all bookmarks and user page private by default, or you can alter which tags you want to be public, etc. Best of all, nobody is tracking you. You can be an invisible user with a backlog of bookmarks spanning years and you will always have access to them.

Quick disclaimer: I’ve been using Pinboard since 2013-2014, before the new subscription model, and am fortunate enough to have paid an onetime-fee.

Don’t forget search...

The huge thing, and the reason it is worth paying for, is that it archives bookmarks automatically. Not archiving the bookmark itself, but a searchable archive of the page contents itself. This is great for bookmarking random dev blogs or documentation that I come across, if I even suspect I've searched for an issue before my first port of call is pinboard, since I can often find the exact page that solved the problem last time. Or, in the cases where the original site is offline or the page contents have changed.

I gladly pay the 25/year, the only software product I was ever happier paying for was sublime text.

How does Pinboard differ from a self-hosted service like Zotero?


A highlight for me was the ability to tag bookmarks, search through them, and manage them with bulk editing abilities.

Can you search through them only with the $25/year sub?

I think, and someone correct me if i’m wrong, that the $25/yr sub is mostly to enable archiving, which gives you full-text search through all of your bookmarks.

You can search by tag or URL on a standard account.

That is correct.

From a pure product perspective: 1. Tagging 2. Archiving 3. Not Google

From a human perspective: 1. Supporting a one-person SaaS (i.e. "the dream")

Pinboard is great if you use multiple different browsers on multiple different devices and want to be able to quickly access any bookmark anywhere. Or in an environment where you don't want to sync all of your bookmarks but you still want access. I also really like the tagging feature which I believe Chrome does not offer. The read / unread toggle is nice too.

What about the day when you decide that Chrome is not the browser for you anymore?

I export my bookmarks and import them to Firefox, and possibly use Pinboard then?

Agreed!! It's a no-nonsense service that just works. I use it everyday but don't have to think about it or relearn it as the years go by. I love it for what it is and am excited for the next 10 years.

I do love Pinboard as well, but I would really like to see it continue iterating.

There are some very useful features that would be great additions to the product though. Things like better Firefox integration, more powerful querying (e.g., it's not possible to search "unread starred bookmarks tagged with hn" today), and the open API being feature equivalent to the website to name a few.

I thought this is saying it won’t continue.. the whole death + backup part?

He’s speaking more of the human condition aspect of things. On a long enough timeline the survival rate for everyone drops to zero. Be prepared.

> What does the future hold for Pinboard? Death! The bus that one day comes for us all! The skeletal, icy hand on an unprepared shoulder! Pain, a flash of light, then numbing darkness. So back up your bookmarks.

I love this sentence, and the spirit of it.

Yes, it's that slavic pessimism combined with Gen-X fatalism that really gets me.

The whole post is a wonderful piece of self deprecation. I love it.

Me too! Especially when we know most services will eventually die, no matter it's Google+ or any trendy startup that will be acquired at some point.

If you like it, I highly recommend spending $0.99 on the app WeCroak. A review: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/01/when-de...

Some quotes from his website which is, by the way, deliciously non Javascript garbagy

"The site is reliable. Outages are rare and brief. The site has servers in San Jose and Sacramento, for better resiliency in case of a California earthquake."

Front page review: “One dude in his underpants somewhere who has five windows open to terminal servers.”

"The site has a sane business model that would be familiar to your grandparents."

"As every year, I'd like to thank all Pinboard users, old and new, for their support and their custom. I know there are lots of rival bookmarking services out there.

I will consume them, one by one, like I consumed the pie."

Can't really overstate the coolness of this dude

From the FAQ

Q: What happens if the guy who runs Pinboard gets hit by a bus?

A: The bus is likely to be fine. They don't go very fast and are designed with passenger safety in mind.


Love it. Also, I'm looking to quit my job and do small SaaS products for income, and this dude has really encouraged me to pursue it.

Are you the anxious type? (Entry ticket)

Are you saying being anxious is good or bad for this?

Coincidentally, I am :)

ironically the only thing that made me stay away from the service.

if he'd added a paragraph that said he'd put some $$ in escrow and some code/instructions with his will/lawyer the site will continue to run with a contractor while the business is auctioned off to one of it's users (or some such) I'd be much happier. as it stands - one guy in his underwear with a service that may or may not exist next year.

FWIW IIRC he does have a sysadmin as well who has been mentioned on Twitter before.

His CV has this little gem:

   > Flounder, Pinboard.in

I paid for Pinboard long ago—its vibe did strike something with me. (Back then I was using online bookmark managers, did not have the habit of paying for software, times were different). I stopped using it shortly after I paid for it though. I needed to save a lot of reading I had open in tabs once, and bookmarklet stopped functioning—I went to the main site and the UI was behaving erratically as well, so I figured APIs must be down or something.

The reason I left was not so much the outage itself but the fact that I paid for the service, while the free ones were right there available for me (Delicious anyone?). I felt a bit silly paying for the vibe and not something more primary.

EDIT: This was years ago, hopefully it’s more reliable now though I haven’t been following them too closely.

I've been using it daily for years and had no notable problems. I do pay for it. The archive functionality has been invaluable.

Additionally, Pinboard bought Delicious. The free ones aren't very good about staying in business owing to the fact that they all have costs but no revenue. Thus his claim to eventually eat them all because he has a simple, profitable, business model.

There is no them.

He's also a great follow on twitter

The funniest thing I remember was him talking about how upset Germans got when he said he didn’t do invoices. If they persisted, he’d send a blank invoice with instructions to just fill it out however they wanted, which just made them even madder.

What? I'm German. This is infuriating.

I now have to pay him and ask for an invoice just to experience this :-)

the tax offices here require invoices. i personally don't care at all but unfortunately i do need to pay taxes.

This is how the rich and poor are segregated in Germany. The system is to take too much from you, and let you reclaim that, theoretically once you've proven that you had tax-deductible expenses.

But it's enough to just "talk" to the "Finanzamt" to already get a baseline €1000 tax-deductible expense, without even needing to show them anything. Which makes me wonder, why not just deduct this from all income taxes, if you're willing to grant it to everyone, without any proof.

Sorry for sounding cynical now, but "dumb" and "busy" people are naturally disadvantaged from this system. That's not exactly... helping anyone. Except those who profit from the motto "A sucker born every minute!". But even they'd have more advantages, if their "suckers" had more cash at their disposal...

The 1000€ standard deduction is already accounted for in the monthly income tax withholdings.

For most people, the withhholdings match exactly the actual income tax or the December deductions are automatically adjusted so that they are (Lohnsteuerjahresausgleich) so there is no benefit in filing taxes.

Of course the system could be much better but I don't agree with the assessment that they keep money from the poor either purposefully or by negligence.

What? I always paid the same taxes each month, even in December, it never changed. You're sure we're talking about the same €1000 "Werbungskosten" and not the minimum wage after which income taxes become effective?

Furthermore, I did file my taxes as an employee once, and got some €80 back, so I considered it a waste of time.

My student friends at the time swore that I should do this, because of the 1k€ "Werbungskosten", and they also got about €80 out of it, but they were earning far less, so I don't know how the maths behind that is all supposed to work out.

I'm in an entirely different situation now, I run my own company, but no employees, and have yet to talk to a tax advisor. I'll know more by the end of the year, but trust me that there is some (in my subjective opinion, of course, objective) truth in the sentence, that "rich and poor are segregated by tax systems" and this is no coincidence.

Yes, I'm talking about the 1000€ Arbeitnehmerpauschbetrag (also known as Werbungskostenpauschale). This is already deducted while calculating your monthly payments, see § 39b Abs. 2 S. 5 Nr. 1 EStG.

If you have the same income each month (and there haven't been changes in law during the year) each monthly payment covers exactly 1/12 of your income tax. So in that case, the December payment is the same.

Do to different circumstances you might still get small sums back, as you noticed

...everything makes sense now! Thanks.

Australia has the same system. They'll give you $1000 without proof. I worked out that it's utterly pointless hoarding receipts and doing all the paperwork, because the difference between what I could claim with paperwork and without paperwork is maybe a couple hundred bucks. Not worth the effort.

And yet my partner got $7k back this financial year. It’s certainly not as simple as all that. I’ll be getting a decently large sum, though that’s because of a mistake I made!

nice :) I'm not saying it's not possible, and sometimes beneficial. But for me, it wasn't worth it.

I'm an Australian, how can I claim this $1k deduction?

Put a tax return in. Don't claim any deductions. They give you $1K back. Happened to me three years in a row.

Yeah, that's just not true.

See, your comment is funny!

Wait, aren't invoices a mandatory document you have to extend (if the client asks for it) when providing products or services in the States? (just asking out of curiosity; I'm European)

But I need the invoice.

Do you, though?

Yes I do.

He was great until he shifted his focus to 98% politics. Most of his posts used to be funny, now they're depressing.

Current reality is depressing. It’s not like he is distorting it for profit or anything.

Maciej is one of the few software people whose political tweets I go out of the way to read.

politics is depressing, but to me his twitter stream is an example of what we should strive for: making a product we care about that can fund other things we care about that people won't normally pay for. In his case it's funding attempts to make US politics less

I also like knowing that some of my $$$ is helping him do things like that.

Eh. I'm not sure what the point of Twitter is if not politics

Oh man, so much more. Humor (@loneblockbuster, @3yearletterman), earthquake news (@DrLucyJones, @DrWendyRocks), tech news or announcements (@patio11, @ircmaxell), and so on.

I mainly follow developers and artists who post work I’m interested in.

It's the quickest way to get breaking, local, or event-centric news.

It's the preferred means of communication for my utility company in the event of a blackout.

Some companies have contests for free swag; I've gotten an Atlassian hoodie and some hand tools from Digi-Key.

Especially when someone threatens to report him to "his boss" for poorly representing Pinboard on social media.

He's 'idlewords on HN.

His blog is also filled with tasty bits like that.

I've been a multi-year Pinboard user, and — since day 1 — have wondered why there more other services more like Pinboard.

> A one-person business is an exercise in long-term anxiety management, so I would say if you are already an anxious person, go ahead and start a business. You're not going to feel any worse.


Not to pitch in with low-value "me too thanks" style replies, but by god does this sum up the last 18 months of my life. Every time I feel comfortable, bam! Something new to keep me awake at night. It's one part exhausting and one part exhilarating and I'm not sure if I could go back to salaried work at this point.

> I'm not sure if I could go back to salaried work at this point.

I hope it's a choice!

I applied for a salaried position at IBM (I think?) for a Product Management position that I could have nailed, through a head-hunter that I knew was covering the position.

He said: "No way, dude. I wouldn't do that to them or you".

I said: "Why not?"

He said: "Because you are a startup guy".

I said: "Hey - I used to work at Motorola. At the global level. Scotland, Malaysia, I lived in Japan, Phoenix and Austin. I was a great corporate droid."

He said: "Used to be. Now you would just get a couple of paychecks into feeling less homeless-bound, and tell your boss or your boss's boss to fuck off and die."

I said: "No I wouldn't".

He said: "Yes you would - and you can't change my mind".


In my town, I am apparently branded "a startup guy".

Dude, I think the headhunter may be right. Just imagine when (and this is a when not an if) you are demanded to do an insanely stupid thing which you, your team, and your customers hate. It makes no sense but must be done asap. When you ask for justification, it’s because the VP, who never leaves his office except for extra long work lunches with the other executive staff, said it must be done. No logic, no reasoning, no arguing - just get it done. You have two choices:

1) Eat shit and do the stupid thing while a small part of you dies.

2) March into the VP’s office, tell him to fuck off, and walk out like a champ.

Which option do you choose?

Ha! I remember a meeting at Intel, Scottsdale, I think, with their old x386+DRM/crypto-coprocessor chip, where one of the directors (VPs?) got up and stood on the conference table, and urinated on the stupid proposal.

It was very rude but pretty declarative!

In any case - I would never have the moral rectitude to make that kind of statement.

I certainly wouldn't be making a statement in that particular way. But it's impossible to misinterpret, that's certainly true.

Nowadays there are cameras everywhere. I don't want to be (in)famous via a video. My autism can't handle that. But I surely have the balls to say no to my boss. If I'd urinate, no, it would not cross my mind. It's not so much the act itself, but coming up with it (and your position in the hierarchy).

3.) Unless it's extremely unethical -- if it's just hurting my ego, but not actually my person and my ability to sleep well for the rest of my life -- I would do the stupid thing, but tell anyone who asks (and some who don't) that I find it stupid. I'd also start openly musing about what will come after the honeymoon phase (of the VP with their stupid idea), and how the mess might be fixed once it's correctly recognized as a mess. If applicable, I might also be honest to the people who get bitten by that stupid change. Not sharing the interna of the stupid decision, but that it's definitely stupid and why. If I got fired for any of that, I'd walk out like a champ.

I don't backstab, but I also don't lie (which includes people I'm "supposed" to sell the stupid idea to as a great one, starting with myself), I respect the "chain of command" in a way, but never blindly, and wear that on my sleeve. That closes plenty doors, but far from all, and my general experiences with "standing up to my bosses" were surprisingly good. As long as it's because you care about the thing, and the clients of it, and as long as the boss is confident, in themselves and maybe even you, there should be some leeway for that.

I would put it on the bottom of the backlog.

Ahh, the developer version of standing in front of the tanks at Tiananmen Square.

Except I doubt you'd get fired/sued for doing it, which would be the corporate equivalent of what happened to tank man

Yeah, it's braver to stand up to him and tell him no. And I (or 'we', more accurately) have done that. Not to a VP, but to someone from business who insisted we should deploy a new feature to production as promised, when we decided it wouldn't be responsible to do so. And that was a meaningful feature, that we promised to deploy. It's just that we'd come to the conclusion that it wouldn't be prudent to do so at that time, so we didn't. Business guy didn't like it and spent some time screaming at someone (not me, fortunately).

It is absolutely important to be able to say no to people who outrank you.

That was, indeed, the joke.

This hypothetical applies to freelancers too.

I'd been a freelancer for a couple of years, when I talked to a recruiter about switching to a salaried position. He refused. Said there was no going back from freelancing to regular employee. At the time, I thought he was stupid and closed minded. Last year I wasted a couple of months proving him right.

i happily left freelance years ago because i got sick of the hustle of hunting down clients and then convincing them i was worth hiring and then convincing them not to shoot themselves in the foot and then watching them do it anyway and ..... ugh.

I'd happily work for myself with some sort of SAAS thing again, but no way i want to go back to freelancing unless I'm desperate.

There are different ways to freelance. I'm following the coward's way: recruiters ask me for big long-term projects, and I work as freelancer on those projects. Just one project at a time, little time and effort wasted on acquisition, and I still get more money and freedom than a regular employee.

Agree - if you hate your freelancing setup, consider a change in setup. I've basically got it where I have two long term ongoing clients where I'm effectively a part part time remote employee. Weekly checkins, do 10 hours a week, minimal fuss. If you aren't being respected as a professional, consider if your rate is too low. I'm charging $125/hr and it's actually increased the quality of clients. Of course this assumes you are sufficiently good enough to be worth a high rate and can self-manage.

Yeah, definitely a choice! I chose to quit a nice, salaried job in the city and move back to my small hometown and start a contracting business. Stressful, but it's working out great so far!

I worked in startups prior to that so it wasn't a huge leap outside my comfort zone I guess.

he's right though. I tried that. Didn't work. Lasted just over a year.

I've flipped back and forth between 1099 contracts and W2 jobs. What I found was once a stray cat always a stray cat. After running my own show I found my bosses could smell it on me and I got treated different.

I draw my inspiration from Pinboard in my own business, and I feel this effect quite acutely. Keep up the good work and keep down the anxiety, maciej :)

I was wondering. I'd read their blog occasionally over the years but never looked at the site. sourcehut was the first thing I thought of when the top comment got me to look at Pinboard itself.

I remember you from KnightOS, that OS for Ti calculators!!

I loved the line soon after that one:

> Running an online service solo puts one in the coffin corner between the Dunning Kruger effect and impostor syndrome.

This guy knows how to write.

You should read some of the greatest hits form his blog: https://idlewords.com/ - an excellent writer indeed.

An engineer's version of the tightly crafted allusory phrasing book authors love.

I just wanted to let you know that your post is #1 on Google if you search for the phrase "allusory phrasing".

I was wondering, what does it mean?

Allusory is an adjective that means "making allusion."

What I mean is phrasing that makes allusions. You'll find it in writing as a tool to expand meaning, change tone, add connotation, etc. It can lose power and clarity when the reader is unfamiliar with the underlying references.

Here, the writing brings in an aerodynamics concept (coffin corner), a famous bit of psychology about cognitive biases (Dunning Kruger), and a trueism about doubting one's own capacity (imposter syndrome).

Personally, the reference to coffin corner adds richness to the writing. It is from a completely different discipline, less commonly referenced in HN context than the other two, and immediately gives me a sense of greater breadth about the author's experiences.

And become a solo indie game developer! Wooo the roller coaster.

Part of me would like to do that. But part of me is also very consciously aware I'm terrible at self-managing / motivating, and that the indie game development market is flooded by people and games that are a lot more creative than the ones I could come up with who still aren't able to make ends meet years down the line.

But maybe I'm just cynical and afraid to get out of my comfort zone.

If you were doing it just for fun, with no expectation of a financial or reputational payoff, would you still like to do it? Would it feel different?

Yes, but I (we? I get the feeling I’m not alone in this...) never finish them. It’s always more fun to start the next one than finish the first.

The author is really good at writing. I read the article about December 2010 and found it equally funny and well-written as today’s article. https://blog.pinboard.in/2011/03/anatomy_of_a_crushing/

Definitely recommend his personal blog as well: https://idlewords.com/2016/05/shuffleboard_at_mcmurdo.htm

Yup; I get a strong very "P. G. Wodehouse" vibe from his writing.

EDIT: After looking at his resume, I'm fairly confident his writing style is heavily inspired by Wodehouse (he mentions about Jeeves and Wooster!).

Yes, and there are also hints of P.J. O'Rourke, I think, or perhaps a smidgen of more lighthearted Hunter Thompson.

I am glad to see him write that he is trying to win back customers. I use pinboard a lot and was worried it was going down when a post appeared here saying that parts of pinboard weren't working and the owner wasn't responding https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18749330

Parts of Pinboard now are working!

Back when archiving was getting pretty slow / iffy my plan, which I never put in place, was to simply buy another archiving account every month until the weight of either money or guilt simply overcame whatever obstacle was keeping it from working.

Many thanks for all the hard work you put in to the "other" activities you were involved in. Like, really. Thank you.

The gentleman has all the "cool" cred covered: https://idlewords.com/2016/05/shuffleboard_at_mcmurdo.htm

(I've been following his blog for ~12 years now, ever since I first read this one: https://idlewords.com/2007/04/the_alameda_weehawken_burrito_... )

Just clarifying, by 'follow' do you mean a manual poll by refreshing the home page? I don't even see an RSS feed... and he has no personal Twitter account, I don't know if @Pinboard is the a/c to follow (I don't want the site news, I just think his personal views are cool and his writing is extremely funny).

Feedly managed to find that for me. Works fine.

Your risk of seeing site news on @pinboard is low.

I continue to love Pinboard. I run a linkblog through it; it's not so much bookmarks for me as a small link-focussed blog. The HTML view (Pinboard's own) is ugly, but it works great in an RSS reader or as a Twitter / Mastodon account fed from the RSS.

It's so nice to have a simple, reliable service. I got a little cranky when the various Pinboard APIs started suffering some scaling problems, I think during the hiatus Maciej mentions as he was busy trying to save America. That's OK, we survived, although jury is still out on whether America will.

I would be interested to learn more about how you run a linkblog using Pinboard.

Man it’s so great to see sites like this continue to thrive.

At the same time, I am once again amazed at how little revenue a publicly touted successful project makes.

$200k/y. One developer? Digital nomad friendly? Freedom from the pointy haireds? No real need to do 40h/ week? I think that is damn fantastic revenue.

That's revenue, so not .. quite what he's taking home. Less cost of servers, then benefits which he's not getting from an employer, 401k matching, etc.

It adds up but yes .. the freedom is nice :)

Oh I’m not disputing it’s good for a single developer along with the freedom.

It’s just that these projects always get talked up as huge successful life changing products (like Bingo Card Creator and appointment reminders etc) and then have really small revenue numbers attached to them.

Don’t get me wrong, kudos to the developers for building something people love and that give them the lifestyle they want.

I just think these projects are often overhyped to seem more than what they actually are: lifestyle projects.

I mean, they are life-changing projects. This is not my lifestyle, but my life. What more do you want?

Frankly, if you don't have a bespoke Pagani Zonda with your initials in the model name, we're collectively unsure that your lifestyle has enough style or enough life. Thinking it over, I might not even invite you to my birthday party.

And to be very clear: I don’t think the developer in this case is overhyping anything. I think the community is.

His writing is super entertaining and he has made a great product.

It's a lot for a single developer. But not a lot for a product that has a lot of mind share and receives a lot of free publicity via outlets like this.

220k/yr is would probably be fine for most (he probably takes home less than that, but at the same time he can do whatever he wants).

However, I don't really like pinboard's "business" story - it seems, selfish, for lack of a better word. Pinboard lives and dies with Maciej and the people who have come to depend on that product may lose an amazing service if Maciej gets tired of running it.

He may never get tired of it, but pinboard is reminiscent to me of many one-man communities that were built in the early 2000s that just died once the admin left - and no one was equipped to take over because the admin never wanted to let anyone else in. So 220k is great, but is it enough to support at least one other person full time? Is everyone who uses pinboard aware that the services lives or dies with one man (I know its called out in the blog post).

When I see pinboard, I see less of a product that was made to provide value to others and more of a side project that lets the CEO live how he wants. Which is fine (I think Maciej is a great person - and I've donated to the Great Slate), but isn't my cup of tea when it comes to product responsibility.

I think the short history of web services has shown that depending solely on the whims of the founder is often much more reliable than the whims of VCs or other methods of running it. Delicious didn't live or die with Joshua Schachter, yet it's not around anymore.

And yeah, 220k/y is more than enough to support another person full time. Not everyone lives in SF and pays thousands for half a bedroom.

I suggest to take a look at this: https://killedbygoogle.com and think is single-person run business really that bad.

I think there's a sustainable middle ground between a one-man show and a multinational hundred billion dollar conglomerate fueled by VC money.

Well, a one-man community usually makes no money and nobody wants to take it over. But a business making 220k/yr? I bet he (or his relatives in the bus scenario) would find lots of people willing to maintain Pinboard for 220k/yr.

> However, I don't really like pinboard's "business" story - it seems, selfish, for lack of a better word.

How is it different than any other small business started to serve a community? Businesses close all the time for all kinds of reasons. If your favorite restaurant were to close because the owner and cook developed a serious illness, would you be upset at the selfishness of that person?

It feels like a lot of money to me.

> What does the future hold for Pinboard? Death! The bus that one day comes for us all! The skeletal, icy hand on an unprepared shoulder! Pain, a flash of light, then numbing darkness. So back up your bookmarks.

Is he shutting saying he's shutting it down, or just saying that's the future eventually?

He just described every digital service. There is no such thing as buying audible books or kindle books or iTunes movies. We’re just leasing it until their runway ends or they change their TOS

I'm 100% confident Maciej's "Our incredible journey!" blog post will one day be the most hilarious and popular entry here:


Fortunately, today is not that day. I hope it's a long time in the future...

If there was anything keeping on the internet, it is the fact that I may some day get to read that post.

Hopefully some day deep into my retirement.

Its a service ran by a single person. He croaks and its gone with no warning.

You should anticipate that as how your relationship with any non-big name service you use will end because that's how it will. It just won't be working one day, then the next. You'll hit the internet to find that the person running it died a month ago and the business with them.

I agree, with the caveat that the same holds for big-name services. It's only the mode of death that's different (bus accident vs. "our incredible journey" blog post).

Do you have a designated successor who can inherit the site and keep it working if you do suffer from an untimely accident?

In my experience the big names tend to give a warning but i agree that its best to plan for instant death in that case as well.

He just gave you that warning.

It's a curious fact that although of course humans are mortal, and in theory corporations aren't, in practice there are only a very tiny percentage of corporations that have outlasted a typical human lifespan. In fact the average lifespan of an SP&P 500 company is well under 20 years. Google it.

I don't think that's all that relevant as a customer unless those SP&P 500 companies ending regularly involves their services being turned off suddenly without warning.

I imagine a lot of those companies ending is the result of acquisitions/mergers where the services continue uninterrupted and in the vast majority of cases where that isn't true, there's a warning that it will end.

You can expect a warning.. unless their database gets overwritten and there are no backups! https://hardware.slashdot.org/story/09/01/02/1546214/why-mir...

(Granted, not an S&P500 company, but those have been known to fuck up as well)

That's nobody's business but the Turks.



Just the latter.

> A one-person business is an exercise in long-term anxiety management, so I would say if you are already an anxious person, go ahead and start a business. You're not going to feel any worse. You've already got the main skill set of staying up and worrying, so you might as well make some money.

This hits very close to home, guess I might as well embrace it! I'd probably be just as anxious at a normal job anyway and am determined to figure out anxiety management.

If you do, please let me know :)

One thing that helped me recently - I realized that my work is not a reflection on my value as a human being.

I grew up in a semistrict religious context, and regardless of whether it was intended, I internalized that everything I did was a reflection of my righteousness and value as a human and even to a degree my worthiness to be accepted into heaven.

I've since stopped practicing that kind of religion, but I realized I have still been treating say my freelance work as a _moral_ question - if I do it right, I am good, if I mess up, or take too long, or there are bugs, my emotions still process that as if my eternal soul is at stake. Leading to, procrastination, stress, and withdrawing from communication because I'm afraid of punishment.

I had some really good conversations with clients lately, just being upfront about my fears of blowing timelines and admitting to withdrawing, and they were very understanding and to hear them acknowledge that this stuff is hard and that I was doing a good job was massively motivating.

Hopefully most people don't have this issue, but if you do, it was very relieving to even just realize this is what I was doing, and am working with a really good therapist and a business coach to process and work through it, and I'm already seeing a lot less stress as a result.

Who remembers hacky, plastic lawn chair, Mac mini-era, old-school del.icio.us? Those were the days:


Aerons were deliberately shoved out of frame for that. The days change less than one might suspect.

"That is because I spent all of 2017 doing tech organizing, and then all of 2018 fundraising for the Congressional elections, and customers grew irate"

Oh yes. I was so close to giving up on Pinboard and hosting my bookmarks myself. Badly, probably.

I hope he doesn't find another hobby that is taking exactly 100% of his time.

Since a few months everything is back to normal, and that is great. But this episode showed the transience of things.

Great blog!

For anyone using Pinboard, Why would I use it instead of pocket?

I have been using pocket for a while and the overall feature set and mobile/browser support is great.

Check out https://pinboard.in/tour/. Pinboard's feature set is more geared towards bookmark management which happens to have a read later integration. It's quite different than Pocket.

I have a lifetime account that I don’t have any ongoing payments for. And now I feel a bit guilty.

I do too, but as an early adopter (long before the Delicious "sunset" fiasco), I did quite a bit of evangelizing for Pinboard. I'd like to think that some people signed up for paid accounts because of me, but I have no way of knowing.

I do too. I actually didn't even realize new accounts are on a yearly subscription model.

>>> one-person business is an exercise in long-term anxiety management, so I would say if you are already an anxious person, go ahead and start a business. You're not going to feel any worse. You've already got the main skill set of staying up and worrying, so you might as well make some money

Love it :-)

"you have to help your fate along"

Good old grandfatherknowledge. Reminded me of, "the gods help those, who help themself".

Usually nice things do not get presented on a silver plate to you. You have to act.

"Nine Fives Software"

I feel that.

I have been a Pinboard user since 2010. In fact, I got in at some point where the service offered free service forever. Thank you. I'm also a contributor to the drop in active users. I stopped using it for several years. Don't know why. Started using on a daily basis in the last year. Feel like I still don't use it nearly to my full benefit. Simple. Does basically one thing. For a service to be pretty close to perfect, it has to be simple.

I find it funny that the number of tags per bookmark has been falling. I've also increasingly given up tagging things in favor of relying on global search.

I'm Jonathan, founder of PageDash, a Pinboard alternative.

If you are looking for a Pinboard alternative, do try out https://www.PageDash.com (free tier of 30MB/month storage). Essentially, PageDash archives full pages for $29/year. We have been in business since 2017. Open to feedback. Thanks!

My feedback is I will crush you.

I don't think this is the time or place to advertise a rival product.

Pinboard is such an inspiration to my (one-person) entrepreneur journey!

Thank you for you work and please avoid those buses.

signed, an anxious customer

I didn't realize Pinboard is only 10 years old. It feels like it's been around forever.

Well, at its inception it was a retro reboot of 2003-era delicious, so at no point did it feel new and fresh to anyone.

What with the Botoșani reference, what were you doing in Romania?

My girlfriend was in the Peace Corps and I was freeloading.

Ah, thought for a moment you have relatives there or something. Was born nearby (Iași) and have good friends/college mates from Botoșani.

Ever thought about leveraging your skills/instincts/fame for much bigger impact other than through politics ;) ;) ? I'm in Seattle tired of big corp, cooking up with other ex-pat Romanians a service to disrupt the traditional ad model while preserving privacy and data ownership. Email is in my profile if at all interested.

LOL, that gave me a laugh. Thank you for the entertainment.

Care to share what you found so funny?

Well, first I almost got a bingo for 'leverage', 'impact' and 'disrupt'. And then I realised you asked idlewords to join you in ad business. That's just funny.

Didn't intend it to be funny but good for you.

Hating ads is misguided. Ads aren't going anywhere and network effects keep users and advertisers coming to Facebook and Google. The solution we see is going after the ad money with a different business model and use cases that give users control over their personal data while serving advertisers needs. That is disruption and idlewords could leverage sorry use his success and relative fame to more impact sorry effect on changing the status quo.

I subscribe to the blog via RSS, but it no longer updates with new posts it seems.

This community is so toxic!

One minute something doesn't look "awesome" so it's shite, next minute something looks "plain jane" and it's amazing.

Seriously guys, if this site was launched today it would be ripped to shreds, but it isn't, obviously because it does it's job, and is well known on HN, but if someone was to launch a bookmarking service with no react this and javascript that, it would be shot down so hard.

Fuck this, so many ideas people have but don't want to progress because of Silicocks.

P.S. I'm a paid member, and it's awesome!

I use it casually. I got one of the "lifetime" accounts so it doesn't cost me anything and I put the odd bookmark into it. Best tool for the cost. I wasn't really sure about recommending it to other people though since it felt like it was being neglected (I have a pet bug on the site that is 2 years old - probably a wontfix ). Feels better that he's giving it a bit more love.

I used to follow him on twitter but I get enough US politics already without following somebody who tweets about it 24x7.

I would love to read a book or longer-form content written by this author. His writing is just really funny, while also being sort of philosophical and semi-informative. Love it.

You’re in luck: https://idlewords.com

There are many wise quotes in that post, but this is my favourite.

> My grandpa sometimes said "you have to help your fate along".

I use pinboard daily, not so much to save bookmarks but to browse new content. I wrote a small hacky script to filter out links on "recent" page with more than X amount of other users that have it bookmarked too. It's not all new content but if people are bookmarking it, it must be at least worth a look.

I loved Pinboard when I was using it, but my biggest pain point was the lack of a decent Android app. It was cumbersome to get websites from my phone's browser into Pinboard. I'd easily pay $2/month for a polished, modern Android Pinboard client.

I've been happy with PinDroid. It adds Pinboard as a share target, so you can bookmark things from any app with a share menu (including your browser, obviously).


I was specifically thinking about Pindroid actually! It hasn't been updated in over two years. I had some weird issues where the back button of the share intent wouldn't correctly return me to the app I was sharing from, instead bringing me to my bookmarks. There were a few other little small things, but the fact that it's not being maintained anymore doesn't give me hope it'll ever be fixed.

Not sure how it would fit in your workflow, but you can avoid that back-button bug by using the "read later" share intent (it's the pin with a white background instead of blue). With that one you get a toast message saying the bookmark has been added but you never leave the original app.

That does mean you don't get to add tags at that time, though.

Nevermind, my brain wasn't working.

$2/month * 50,000 users = $1.2M per year. Where exactly do you live where that's a year's pay?

Try https://fastbmk.com/

It's a free alternative :)

> business is an exercise in long-term anxiety management, so I would say if you are already an anxious person, go ahead and start a business. You're not going to feel any worse. You've already got the main skill set of staying up and worrying, so you might as well make some money.

Never thought about this that way!

Hey Maciej <3

Why did revenue go down? Think it'll go back to growing in 2020?

The next paragraph explains it: he lost users due to being focused on other things, now he'll try to win them back.

it does not look like revenue is going down. he has made 222 in 2019 while we're still 6 months from the end of the year.

No, the revenue is for the completed preceding year.

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