That said, I deleted my Disqus account as part of a general cleanup and I'm glad I did.
The web needs to shift more to a model where people pay openly for services; ideally with micropayments or a Spotify-like subscription to ensure a large user base. Free products are ok as a gateway to the paid product, but not if the business model relies on selling data (either directly, or as in Facebook's case selling the processing of data).
I wonder why last.fm hasn't managed to leverage their data more, if that was really the biggest value of Spotify. Or perhaps they do and sell it to streaming services? Idc
Pandora has been geo-blocked and IIRC only serves the USA since 2007, and SoundCloud appears to me to be offering a different service.
Likely it is better on Apple devices but I don't use those.
Lots of podcasts are free from their source, Spotify doesn't even offer one of favorite ones (a weekly DJ mix, 500+ episodes strong) all you need is an app like AntennaPod (Android).
CHIRP Radio (Chicago): https://chirpradio.org
4ZZZ (Brisbane): https://www.4zzzfm.org.au
Both are ad-free, other than local community orgs and the occasional local independent business plug, and funded by listener donations. Big bonus: huge variety in their playlists, with the DJs playing whatever they feel like.
To listen to a podcast? A podcast is an audio file you download like any other file and play like any other audio file. Why do you need a dedicated app?
- There is no dedicated podcast homepage, only a set of service links (Spotify, Itunes, etc.).
- RSS itself may not be provided.
I do listen to many podcasts by going to a page and finding the single-episode download link,and playing that directly via mpv or other CLI tools. Success rate is falling, seems to be ~75% or so anecdotally. Often I'll curl the page, explode elements to one per line, and grep for '\.mp3' references. Even that fails often.
And yes, I use dedicated podcast apps to subscribe specifically, but I don't want or need to subscribe to every last podcast just to listen to a single episode.
Open standards promote interoperability. Profit comes by building walls and moats.
Profit seems to be winning.
I use a podcast app to favorite the RSS feeds of podcasts and other content. It then keeps track of which entries are new, can automatically download those new ones, and keep track of what I've already listened to. It makes it a lot easier than manually looking at the RSS feeds and downloading the files by hand.
Much better than Spotify, which only ever "recommended" artists I've already listened to, or artists I didn't like, or genres I didn't. If you listen to a wide variety of music, it doesn't know how to handle this apparently.
Yeah, their data breach exposing mine and 18 million other's accounts made it the last time I used them.
My team and I went ahead to describe how it will work, and will be releasing it in 2022 after building it openly on GitHub:
But watch the silent downvotes for this comment... and this is part of the reason why it won’t happen unless someone braves ridicule even of the very technologists who are supposedly for it.
There are many reasons to be skeptical, the biggest of which is that ads pay more (for now) than micropayments for digital content. But that’s not why stuff like this gets downvoted. It’s because the economics of capitalism make it so that you either have to be a big company with a huge fund behind the push for some micropayment standard, or you are not taken seriously.
This is a hobby project that we're launching in three weeks. If you are interested, come talk to us on matrix (https://matrix.to/#/#cactus:bordum.dk) or keep an eye on our (for now dummy-) landing page: https://cactus.chat/, https://gitlab.com/cactus-comments
> This domain is currently on the MetaMask domain warning list. This means that based on information available to us, MetaMask believes this domain could currently compromise your security and, as an added safety feature, MetaMask has restricted access to the site. To override this, please read the rest of this warning for instructions on how to continue at your own risk.
I've been working on a dumb git-like and been needing to add syncing. Being a git-like it could just centralize via SSH, but i had also debated a P2P platform like Matrix or IPFS.
You use case UI-embedded Matrix interaction is especially interesting to me, because some of the UIs i plan for on this git-like are WASM based, Offline enabled PWAs.
Thanks for your work here, super interesting!
If someone wants to comment on your blog, they can write their own blog post on their blog and send a webmention. That can get linked at the bottom of your blog post with a text snippet summary.
There's no "API" beyond "curl -i -d source=URL -d target=URL WEBMENTION_ENDPOINT" in the traditional sense. Using microformats markup for better exraction is optional.
The result is a federated system of comments owned and controlled by nobody except the original author. No need to use someone's Matrix server or spin up your own. It also imposes a bit of a barrier to entry (must have your own (micro)blog), but if you don't want any random person to leave a comment that can be a feature.
Services like brid.gy turn Fediverse and Twitter comments into Webmentions as well; I've thought about using it for Fediverse comments in the past, but I don't want to host a new program or rely on a third-party service.
We don't support any sort of threading yet, although Cerulean-style threading is definitely somewhere down the road. Although stuff like redactions and emoji reactions are a higher priority right now.
We're also keeping our eyes out for the upcoming spaces stuff. That might be useful for grouping comment sections.
I did find some bugs with the React component itself, but it wasn't bad enough to make me stop using it.
On the other hand: the whole reason that shady, dark pattern, privacy killers like disqus exist is because people won't pay for stuff. It's at least partly cultural. We'll pay for hosting, or internet access. Why won't we pay for other services if they're valuable to us?
A large part is messaging from the ad-tech industry. Facebook's positioning in its spat with Apple is a good example . "Free is your right!" "Free keeps small businesses afloat!".
"Free" is out the cage; it's never getting completely put put back in. But it seems inconsistent to both rail against privacy invasion and refuse to pay for stuff.
The problem isn't advertising in itself. The problem is that the law hasn't caught up (or doesn't want to catch up, thanks to corruption/lobbying by vested interests) with cracking down on large-scale non-consensual data collection (which we used to call spyware).
Ads are fine. The problem is that apparently ads don't pay enough and the advertising/data collection industry is engaging in unethical and potentially illegal practices of large-scale stalking (without informed consent) to try and get extra money.
ads pay plenty, just look at the size of google and facebook (granted, they've together largely consolidated the online advertising market, but it's still huge). greed is the simpler answer here.
1. Too many separate subscriptions become hard to manage. Example: the banks in my country don't allow direct access of my account movements to any budgeting apps so I have to tally everything manually because I want to track my expenses. There is a business idea here somewhere: a subscription aggregator or some such, where you can manage a total subscription budget per month and be able to cut a service easily (which is of course strongly against the interests of those you subscribed to).
2. Cynicism. I have physically met and conversed with people working in ad-tech. They have zero scruples. If you pay for a service these people will laugh at you, collect your money and then proceed to inject trackers and huge banners in the website/app with no regard that you paid for the service. You don't magically disappear from tracking once you pay. That's sadly a myth. Your narrative is correct on its surface but it was perverted and abused.
I agree that the free tier services is like running a charity and not everyone feels like they have to. There is a business opportunity for a better model of free trials and NOT to automatically subscribe you after a week or a month. Whether that new model is in the financial interest of the gatekeepers (Apple / Google and the apps in their stores) is another discussion entirely, though.
Finally, I am OK paying a few more bucks a month to my ISP. So let all those services figure out a way to charge the ISPs. I'll gladly pay anywhere from $5 to $50 extra a month for everything that I consumed that is viewed as non-free.
That, plus PayPal is ripping you off with currency conversions.
Not only for that. Also because they can make extra money off of it.
So no reason to not have "shady, dark pattern, privacy killers" even to services your customers pay for.
It's because of a focus on quality and responsibility that you don't do it, not because "we already make money since our service is non-free, so let's leave the extra ad money on the table".
My software Remarkbox is now free for all after having tried to sell it to people.
I'm wondering if an open subsidized approach could work: E.g. for every paid user you allow 100 (or at whatever threshold) users to sign up for the free tier. Possible one could also set up a monthly donation system that directly goes towards financing free accounts.
I'm sure something like that has been tried, but I haven't really been able to find any good examples for that.
I'm not talking about the costs of running your service to support them, but everything else. A part of your free userbase will expect the world for free and start demanding more, and as they outnumber your paid users by so much it can just be a huge distraction. The question is how many of these free users will convert to paying users?
I personally add a free tier to my products because I want to make the tool accessible to hobby and other small projects without a budget, but it's probably not a good business decision.
Something I've been considering: charge some small one-time payment, say $10, for a lifetime 'try-out' plan. Then when they want to upgrade to a subscription you give them that $10 as a discount for their subscription. It may filter those users that will never upgrade anyway.
Will we? Most personal websites i know of, including my own, fit perfectly within the free tiers of Netlify/Vercel/Firebase/S3+CloudFront/GitHub Pages/etc.
Big Tech is spending a lot of money on it, thousands of people and jobs and algorithms.
If you ask me, it's a fools errand and I hope that they waste their money trying to build a clean Internet.
Many blogs that I have visited which demonstrate or explain something technical with a comment section has: spam, accolades such as "great post thanks!" (not bad but kind of useless), and one I frequently see, broken English asking the author something like "please explaining how to building [complex thing] using circuit you post". I picture that last one coming from the "engineers" who build those hazardous off-the-line chargers you see at gas station check out counters.
Want to leave me a comment? Email me or go away.
Also, it allows to add more value to your blog at very little effort. If you have someone who comes along and points out another use-case for your information or raises a doubt which you can answer then your blog post has become more valuable.
If your blog is just so you can write what you currently think about things then there is little value.
That being said, the best comment platform for a blog is, imo, someone else's blog. If you want to leave a comment, write your own (micro)blog post and send a Webmention.
I wrote about this in another comment: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26043298
The common alternative these days is to have no comment section on your blog, but to post your blog posts to Twitter/Reddit/etc and have the discussion there.
That still builds community and drives traffic to your blog, but with greater potential network effects, and no tech/security overhead or need to be responsible for rando's comments.
I've been feeling it these days, helping my spouse with their art career.
I've been running a tech blog for 5+ years now and it has thousands of comments.
I happen to be using Disqus (not proudly, it is what it is), and I've only ever had to moderate a few comments. Disqus does a pretty good job at stopping blatant spam. Sometimes you get those people who reply with "Nice article, have you checked out example.com?" where it's clear they are just trying to drop a link to their service. But these rarely happen.
I like comments because it creates a sense of community, and sometimes with tech articles things get outdated so it's nice to wake up to see a comment saying something has changed. It's a good reminder to go in there and update your content.
I remember one of my Docker posts having something like 500 comments over the years (around setting up WSL 1 and Docker). The overall strategy worked and most comments were "Thanks, worked perfectly!" but there was a decent chunk of folks asking for tech support because it didn't work for them. Those were really beneficial to me because it helped discover some edge cases, some of which I reported back to Docker directly.
I'm a firm believer that if you're going to put stuff out there it's your responsibility to own it from beginning to end. That means writing it, making sure it's accurate, keeping it up to date, answering questions and everything in between.
For the sake of transparency here's the questions going through my mind and how I arrived at this decision based on using the free version of Disqus:
- A lot of people have a Disqus account and having a low barrier of entry to comment is important. When most folks don't need to create an account, that's kind of nice.
- Disqus has been around for a really long time and has handled billions of comments. This gives me confidence the service isn't going to be down for maintenance regularly, or just break one day.
- Disqus has a pretty good spam filter due to having so much volume. I would rather not be bothered by having to do manual spam moderation regularly and if I hooked up a 3rd party service to do that I would end up either having to pay for that, or you're still allowing another company to profit from your data.
- Disqus makes it pretty easy to moderate comments. You get notified of a new comment by email, click it, and then hit a drop down and figure out how you want to moderate it.
- Most developers are using some form of ad-blocker so Disqus' invasive ads are stopped. Although Disqus can still read the contents of the comments and profit from them in other ways (improve services around paid offerings, maybe selling the data to other companies doing ML around written text, etc.).
To be fair this is also why I haven't picked any semi-popular open source self hosted comment solutions. I wouldn't mind self hosting it alongside my blog on a $5 / month DigitalOcean server, but all of my objections apply to this as well. And now there's also the added risk of the code having security vulnerabilities that could potentially expose my server or even worse leak personal data from the people who have commented, such as their email address.
I could write the code myself which I've thought about for a while too, but the spam problem is still there. There's also allocating all of the time necessary to implement such a thing in a production ready way. When really all I want to do is create new blog posts / videos and have a way for folks to contribute to the conversation in a persisted way.
Most of the objections have been solved with Remarkbox. Users do not need an account to comment. We email you when new comments happens you can control how often by modifying your notification settings (immediately, daily, weekly digests)
The population of people with ad blockers is low, for example I'm a tech person but I do not use ad-blockers.
I hope you reconsider, I'd offer you white glove support to move.
As for spam it's not much of an issue on Remarkbox, but if it becomes a problem akismet will be integrated so you can apply your own API keys. This will filter the likely spam from the likely ham.
Have a great day!
What do you do to combat spam and what does the work flow look like to moderate it?
Is it possible to change the word "remark" to "reply" as an end user?
What does the work flow look like for users to edit their posts? Can they edit them forever or is it time locked sort of like HN's comments?
If a user deletes a reply, do all of the child replies get deleted or does the original parent reply that was deleted get renamed to "deleted" while keeping children replies in tact?
Is there a way to restrict users from posting links unless they have an account or are pre-approved? Do you mark those links as nofollow, ugc or something else?
Can you disable certain things like image tags so users can't embed images or other media (video, iframes, etc.)?
Is there a way to black list specific user names from being registered?
Can unverified users edit or delete their own messages? If so, how does that work?
If an unverified person creates an account later on, will their original unverified comments get changed to their new username?
Are registered user names from verified users protected from ever being used again?
How long are users verified for after using the magic link? What does the user experience look like for verified users who end up being logged out?
What would the migration process look like from Disqus to Remarkbox? Disqus doesn't give site owners the email addresses of users, which makes me think I would end up losing who posted what for thousands of comments since they would all be classified as "unverified" comments?
For posts with hundreds of comments, is there pagination or a load more feature?
Is it possible to lazy load the comments based on the scroll position of the device viewing the site? For example, your iframe isn't loaded until it's close to being visible? If so, is this an option you can turn on and off?
Is it possible to customize the date output of comments? I noticed it outputs dates like 8y, 213d ago which in my opinion is a bit unnatural.
Is there a way to customize the "link" functionality? Right now after clicking it, there's a jarring user experience where it auto-scrolls the page. I'm not sure what the intent of this is. Is it to prepare for a user to manually copy the link? Could that be replaced with a copy link to clipboard?
Have you given any thought on making a specific comment's date output the permalink href instead of the user name? I clicked a user name thinking it would show me a list of their comments but it was really their specific comment. I know you can click the avatar but it's really confusing because clicking a user name everywhere else would typically bring you to a user's profile, not the specific thing they created.
If a user verifies an account on site A, will they already be verified on site B? If so, is there a way to disable the link to show a user's comments since it would now be listing their comments from other sites.
From what region of the world do you host the embed link and serve the iframe from? Is there a CDN in front of it?
Can you get the count of comments near the remark comment box itself? When viewing a post that has a Disqus embed you can output the comment count above it. It's basically a part of the widget. That's a nice number to have.
Do you have a list of sites using Remarkbox that aren't your own sites?
The preview functionality is a bit wobbly, it jumps around a lot based on what you're typing. For example if I put a, b, c, d on 4 different lines it takes almost a full second for it to jump to 1 line since it's Markdown. Is there an option to make single line breaks be treated as <br> new lines so it's a bit more WYSIWYG?
Do you have a public status page showing the uptime of your platform?
I hope you don't mind the suggestions. I'm not trying to come off as one of those users who expect the world for nothing.
Just letting you know that personally some of these things are barriers that would prevent me from switching over and I like what you're trying to do, so I'm more than happy to take the time out to list them out.
If they get implemented, that's cool but if not no worries.
They certainly harvest visitor's data. There are many privacy-friendly comment systems as well as a 3rd party anti-spam service like OOPSpam that do not collect user data. It all boils down to the fact what is your local law says about privacy, and how much you care about your vistiors' privacy.
If there were a free fully managed comment system that you could embed onto a site that guaranteed user's privacy, didn't track anything, had billions of comments pumped through it to ensure it's technically adequate and they had multiple years of a good track record for reliability along with a spam filter that blocks 99% of spam hands free I would instantly switch. But I don't think any type of solution like this exists.
Just using OOPSpam alone comes with a $17 / month fee and based on its FAQ it looks like you need to call its API which means it wouldn't work with a static site like Disqus does because OOPSpam requires making an API call from a server with a secret key.
Because they enjoy the conversation that ensues?
>Many blogs that I have visited which demonstrate or explain something technical with a comment section has: spam, accolades such as "great post thanks!" (not bad but kind of useless), and one I frequently see, broken English asking the author something like "please explaining how to building [complex thing] using circuit you post".
That might be true for most/all technical blogs, it's not true for other kinds of blogs.
>Want to leave me a comment? Email me or go away.
That doesn't foster a community of discussion.
See blogs like LessWrong, Lambda the Ultimate and such.
As for spam, I've had very little spam since being on disqus. (~10yrs?) memory might be bad how along ago i switched to disqus. I will keep on using them.
Also useful to see the complete exchanges to learn different debugging approaches.
I switched out for ComentBox and let the theme designer know about the issue. I will also forward him this article and have a look at some of the other comment systems provided! Thanks!
I mean, even if you don't want to make money from your cool project or tutorial or whatever, you still want people to see it.
But man, I really hate Medium.
After switching to my own I re-wrote one of the articles of my old blogspot posts (word for word) and because my custom solution was so much easier on the eye, the post picked up and I got TV and Radio interview requests, etc.
Even reddit and hn hugs and thousands of concurrent users didn't bring it down.
You don't need Medium, you need to write stuff that people are interested in reading.
I had used Hugo before, but I'm learning some Full Stack dev now (I work in Data Science, so it isn't my main work) and making a blog could be a good exercise.
To be honest, this sounds like profit thinking as well. Why would one need "wide audience" when it's about their interest and hobbies? They need sincere search engines, that's all.
It's like sending invitations to your birthday party. It feels bad when just one person shows up.
> They need sincere search engines, that's all.
What exactly are you suggesting to the content creators?
That is called vanity in one word.
> What exactly are you suggesting to the content creators?
If it really is a hobby, one enjoys it on it's own. The "showcase" part shouldn't be essential for one to take joy in the process.
My recommendation is to find a space where one can share what they achieved, but it really doesn't (shouldn't) need to be a "wide audience", rather the opposite: a group of people who actually enjoy the same things. Enthusiasts, maybe even fans.
Showcasing isn't essential, but it can increase the enjoyment and it can benefit the others. That's why we have art galleries, trade fairs, talent shows, and Show HN threads.
I specifically asked about how "They need sincere search engines, that's all." What exactly content creators should do about it? Make their own, sacrificing time from their main hobby? Maybe one already exists. But then they need to tell their potential fans about it. How would they contact them? They might not even be aware they exist. I guess they could wait until the new sincere search engine reaches critical mass. But what until then?
As for the "wide audience", consider this. At one point in their lives, fans were part of the wide audience. They weren't born fans; they became them over time. So why shouldn't the content creators try to capture new fans from the larger audience? They don't have to - becoming too mainstream is a thing after all. But if they choose to do so, why not? Unless you oppose the creators growing their fans and popularity, in which case I don't know what to say.
Isn't this is a problem that search engines were intended to solve? Before they went into the ad business, I mean?
Google's daily search stats are getting harder to find, but with 3.8 billion Internet users and probably a few billion searches/day, it's likely single-digit searches per person per day, as a mean.
Algorithmic/stream discovery, as on Facebook, or HN, is at least an order of magnitude higher.
We don't want just the fruits of everyone's hobbyist weekend warrior free-time. We want it to be profitable to make the stuff we want to consume so that we get better content than hobby/charity content.
Also, most things aren't hobbyist cheap. Even in the era you're looking upon nostalgically, consider message boards. You'd either use a freemium solution like Proboards/Ezboard or you'd pay for hosting which could cost you $100+/mo if your forum was popular.
I have a feeling every time people talk about the old hobbyist internet, they're talking about brochure Angelfire websites they themselves never spent all that much time on. Most people want better content than that just like most people want to watch Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones, not hobbyists on Youtube.
Yet these threads always sound like "remember the good ol days before Breaking Bad when it was just hobbyist vlogs on Youtube? ahh, those were the days even though I didn't watch vlogs, they were boring."
Maybe things were different before the AOL era back when there was almost nothing online that we want to do online today, but I'm in my 30s and first got internet in the 90s with AOL and "profit motives" were always the driving force for why there were compelling things to do online, like playing Age of Empires multiplayer through MSN's Internet Gaming Zone platform in 1997.
> We want it to be profitable to make the stuff we want to consume so that we get better content than hobby/charity content.
We, huh? The most enriching content you've ever encountered on the web, was it churned out by the likes of about.com? The places you've had the most meaningful conversations, were they on platforms that regularly purge and actively censor content they deem not to be advertiser friendly? What you are describing sounds a lot more like network television to me. If you just want to zone out in front of the latest episode of "Dancing with the Stars", you already have that option.
I get the kneejerk assumption that if something even approaches the potential of being nostalgic, it must be the product of delusion. But that really isn't applicable here, as we all know the ways that technology and infrastructure has been twisted to benefit commercial interests at the expense of everyone else.
The friction point is not so much presenting/hosting content as "discovery" - finding interesting new people and new content. And that's much more complicated because it's full of perverse incentives.
Very true but with a few notable exceptions - successes such geek_at says he's had, others have pointed out that self-funded, self-hosted sites don't get the large visitor coverage of the big conglomerate/commercial sites. This stands to reason and it's a damn shame.
It seems to me a way around this would be to have a common universally-wide index type site where all the free, no-ads, no spying sites would be listed.
Similarity, this index site would be spy-free, no ads and free for visitors to use but those listed would pay a small listing fee to cover site running costs. To keep listing costs to a minimum the site would be non profit, revenue-neutral and run as a cooperative society or similar non profit structure.
To stop cohersive pressures from commercial interests, commercial, for profit sites/businesses would not be allowed to list.
The site itself would be indexed and cross referenced along topic lines using the Dewey Decimal Classification system or similar schemes that libraries use to classify books.
This would have the advantage of grouping likemined/likekind websites together in ways that were easy for visitors to browse from one to another. The listing for each site could also include a short description.
This index site would cover just about every topic imaginable and thus attract many sites for listing which would provide economies of scale. For example:
- Science/Physics/QM/Quantum Field Theory/Yang-Mills
- Philosophy/Utilitarianism/Jeremy Bentham
Right, the site could easily contain interests as diverse as any book library, and it could even have its own internal search engine.
It seems to me that we desperately need such an independant nonprofit site on the web. It's our only reasonable hope of escaping the centralization created by Facebook, Google, etc.
(these are popular with library nerds, but in practice the public wants a constant feed of links + discussion in some form, whether that's slashdot, digg, reddit, or twitter)
What I will say is that taxonomy and classification systems in general are problematic and have always been so. Anyone who has ever tried to sort and classify stuff knows this! I'm forever sorting the myriad of stuff on my PCs, smartphones, etc. into various classifications and then into appropriately named directories and it's an ongoing struggle.
If I dream up too few classifications then I end up with directories that don't have sufficiently specific names to find things, too many and I'll lose items in directories whose names that are a near match but not sufficiently so. If I ignore the obvious catalog/directory naming system and use a program such as Everything that finds stuff anywhere based on name then I'll lose the ability to browse (grouped) like subjects as their names won't necessarily be sufficiently alike. It's all a damn nuisance really.
Then there's the problem of what you classify by: subject, or author's name or physical object (a major problem in a general purpose catalog).
I could write an essay about nomenclature and how it's a significant problem for the web and IT generally. For instance, if people were a little more knowledgeable about taxonomy and classification in general - and that includes both general web users and website owners - then Google could be spared millions in electricity costs due to much more accurate search results first time around.
That said, existing classification systems have their uses even in days where electronic sorting has come into its own. Take a
physical book library for instance, I'll check out some subject in the catalog index then go to the book in question - and, as more often than not, I'll browse many of the nearby books on the same subject. The fact that they're grouped together by subject is very useful. If they were grouped alphabetically then this would not be possible.
I take your point that in practice the public's constant need for links, discussion etc. However, I don't see this as inconsistent with what I've suggested, especially so if one doesn't take a one-system-fits-all approach as is so often the case not only on the web but with software in general.
For instance, with Windows 8 when Microsoft moved away from the traditional IBM/CUA-like GUI to its new Metro GUI, it didn't allow users a choice to retain the old GUI. This programmer-know-best arrogrance permeates both software and the web like a bad smell and it does nobody any good.
I see no reason why the site I'm suggesting can't have multiple methods of access. The Dewey-type, search a la Everything, and also those along the lines you've suggested. Moreover, there's no reason it cannot have user comments in the same way Hacker News does.
The key to its success would be in having wide appeal - by providing both casual and sophisticated users a service suitable for each. As the saying goes, to each according to his/her needs.
On the other hand, I only have my experience to go on. I have no idea what youtube is like for everyone, only myself.
I hate all the tech blog posts that seem not about actually sharing useful info but instead about reputation building. I have no idea how much of youtube is that or if it will degenerate to that at some point. Maybe because the tech blog posts don't make money, only rep, they're being used to farm rep.
note: i'm not dissing all tech blogs. There are tons of people who write great and informative posts. I'm just saying that I run into enough that seem like they aren't about sharing, they're about rep farming, and it seems like a phenomenon
The big fish use up so much oxygen that the little fish in the pond shrivel up. They live, but in a stunted form.
All are inherently rivalrous
Even discounting any financial returns, howling into the void / winking in the dark fails to accomplish anything if there is no receiver or audience.
Ms. Typeset might be engaging in a form of personal journaling or meditation, but in a world that has so many competing distractions her curation is never shared, or even where perhaps it is but the potential community of interest, and the discovery tools possibly reaching it, are fractured and distracted to the point of dissolution ... the effort to communicate and gains of doing so are lost.
Mind that large audiences really aren't communities -- I'm talking Facebook or national broadcast scale. As Dave Winer observed, conversation doesn't scale very well. Dialogue between two people is its most intense form, and past a handfull of participants or so, what remains is mostly a set of serial monologues. Above 15 or so, the graph starts trending increasingly to a star, with one broadcaster and numerous recievers, collectively an audience. At sufficient scale, selling that audience to those who'd hope to advert its attention to their own message becomes a principle commercialisation model. The baiting message tends to the minimum viable common basis.
At extreme levels of specialisation, such as, say, aa maths PhD, the relevant community might easily fit in a small classroom. Possibly in a single car. My cursory analysis of Google+ communities by size and activity levels suggests diminishing returns above about 10,000 registered members, of whom perhaps 1--10% were highly active, so 100--1,000 participants, roughly within Dunbar's Number range. Extremely large groups are visible but not especially useful --- most seemed overrun with spam and memes.
Pursuit of that audience tends strongly to sacrifice or ignore nuanced, specialist, or niche interests, to the point of actively trying to steer potential members of such groups to the larger, and more monetisable, vulgar pool.
My own seeking of expressive outlets is an increasingly frustrating trade-off between the expressivity of the tools themselves (mostly formatting and media capabilities), technical hosting issues, audience discovery and cultivation, search, and related concerns. I'm hoping to learn, share, and discover. The sense that this used to be more viable back in the days when I used Usenet and mailing lists may be a Golden Age illusion, but its a damnedably persistent one.
I disagree strongly. My complaints are not merely theoretical. Addressed in the Reddit post below and the three internally-linked articles. That subreddit itself is a failed experiment at community-building and fostering. One of several. (There's also been the rare modest success.)
There was a time that intelligent conversation was ... reasonably easy to find online. You'd head to the appropriate Usenet group, later an email list, or, for a time, Slashdot.
Hacker News seems to be about as close to that as I can find at the moment. It has numerous flaws, and it definitely has its own niche. The moderation philosophy is excellent and the practice nearly always lives up to the goals.
I came to have a strong appreciation for the site by voicing disagreements to dang, generally in email, and though I sometimes disagree with specific decisions, the actions which are made are in general fair and serve the site's goals. The increasing politicisation over the past four-plus years has clearly been problematic, but HN's breasting of that surge has been largely admirable. Not that the occasional thread doesn't fall flat, and not that there aren't rampant attempts at manipulation. But as a whole, and compared to other platforms, the bottom's not fallen out, and the site's not become a complete cesspit.
Usenet was small. I've a copy of John Quarterman's The Matrix, an overview of online conversation forums and networks published in 1990 (it covers Usenet, it does not include WWW or Gopher). That includes DEC's estimates of Usenet activity. The total population with access was ~880,000, and I believe fewer than 150,000 active participants (posting activity). HN alone, a minuscule site by modern standards, is roughly comparable in size (precise statistics don't seem available, though this is my general understanding).
Usenet also had high barriers to entry, though based largely on interest and aptitude (by way of university campus access) rather than market-based rationing. Campus-based administration also helped moderate behaviour, though more overt mechanisms had to be developed with time, and ultimately Usenet could not scale to the hygenic-controls needs of a multimillion-user network, on several fronts, so discussion migrated elsewhere. (Yes, a tiny fraction remains on Usenet, but for all intents, it's dead, Jim. https://old.reddit.com/r/dredmorbius/comments/3c3xyu/why_use...)
It's not that you get trapped in some ED mutual admiration society. It's that the folks trying to launch or join an earnest discussion ... often cannot.
I do fundamentally believe that markets and information goods are a poor match. Attempts to "market it harder" to fix news, academic publishing, ratings, community, and most of all, conversation, seem to be a category error. https://old.reddit.com/r/dredmorbius/comments/2vm2da/why_inf...
Advertising seems remarkably pernicious, particular in its adtech instantiation.
Bitcoin ... well, that's another story ;-)
Once upon a time premium TV stations, like HBO, had no ads. After all, you were paying for them directly. Then they realized they could charge you a monthly subscription fee and show ads.
And all the theorizing about "but then a competitor that doesn't show ads would take all their customers" hasn't really panned out.
So I imagine the same thing would happen on the internet. Companies have all discovered that most people are willing to tolerate ads almost everywhere, giving them "free" revenue. So we get ads on things we pay for: Kindles, Microsoft Windows, etc.
I don't actually consider this remotely likely, but the world is getting weirder, so I'm not writing off the highly improbable so easily.
I see what you're saying, but you're referring to something like a "market-based solution" to this problem. The one and only market-based outcome is the one we have. This is a case of imperfect information. There's no reason to expect a market-only approach to deliver a desirable outcome when one party has so much more information than the other.
More on this:
If a paid service engages in data mining in violation of its own ToS, it is liable to be punished by law as soon as that leaks, so that’s another counter-incentive.
The expectation of free service is what enables shady practices: new companies can hardly compete on price with a giant that doesn’t charge money and is incentivised to keep users locked in by making migration to another service difficult.
Will it lose some users? Sure. Most? No.
You can buy a tv costing 4 digits that happily will harvest data and show you ads.
So never? People don't read the ToS and certainly don't judge services by it. It seems people have come to accept surveillance capitalism as a fact of life
Of course, there’s no “justice” to speak of if you get stuff for free, so paid social is where it’s at. Paying customer to service provider relationship is radically different from one of a product-to-dealer.
Normalising free service is exactly what incumbent de-facto monopolies want, it empowers them and destroys any potential for competition. They hate paying users because that’d mean actual responsibility and people voting with their money.
Most news is not actionable for the person reading it, except for popular apps where there are most users. The information needs to get to the right people at the right time to be actionable.
Just like paid cable television still includes ads, I fear even paying for content won't alone bring the end of ads and tracking, since providers can always make even more off both subscriptions and tracking...
I'm not seeing it. Newspapers and cable both heavily rely on ads. Credit card fees eat up way too much for small transactions. I had hoped Paypal would have addressed this 20 years ago. They seemed best positioned to bypass traditional credit card companies. Cryptocurrencies seem like it technically could work, but I don't see that happening.
One way around is the iTunes model. Where everything is bundled under a single company (Apple) that negotiates and/or batches transactions with credit card companies--or eats the fee on small transactions as a loss leader for larger ones. Patreon seems like a decent candidate for this. Another benefit of a centralized model is trust an familiarity. I'm more likely to use Apple or Patreon for subscriptions because individual companies suck with alerting you before reoccurring payments or letting you cancel.
How do you see the money side playing out?
Because of the fundamental asymmetry in the law: advertising+tracking don't require AML/KYC, cryptocurrencies (mostly) do.
If your users pay you with their attention or tracking data, you're not required to verify their identities, ask them if they're terrorists, store copies of their passports in some hacker-magnet database, or any of that.
If your users pay you with cryptocurrencies you have to do all of that.
The problem isn't a business problem or a technological problem, it's a regulatory problem. This outrageous double standard is massively subsidizing the adtech-surveillance monster. Require AML/KYC be performed on users before ads can be shown to them, and if ads are shown or data collected without AML/KYC, impose the same "corporate death penalty" allowed for AML/KYC failures. Or else eliminate AML/KYC for cryptocurrencies.
I've used cryptocurrencies here and there for online services (merch and digital services) and don't remember any additional scrutiny. I reasons I had in mind are the confusion and overhead of using crypto for the average person.
I guess if there were some regulatory requirements in a made-up "ideal" scenario, I would see it mirroring existing banks and credit cards where your source wallet was from a "sanctioned" account to track location for local taxes and whatnot. The onus wouldn't be put on the business other than having an allowlist (by prefix or something)--but none of that exists. I would think a lot more structure an institutions would need to exist anyway to make cryptocurrencies more palatable to individuals.
I disagree with a lot of Brave's approach. However their experience shows that this problem isn't theoretical. One company has already managed to deliver frictionless micropayments, and was told by the government that if they didn't add some friction back in (AML/KYC), executives would be going to prison.
This also led to a real mess with the operators of archive.today, who don't live in the USA and apparently aren't supported by the AML/KYC process being used. So a fairly large amount of money collected in order to support them is stuck and can't be paid out:
KYC: know your customers
The problem is not everyone has the means to pay for everything.
E.g. what if Youtube and other video sites switched to a paid only model? Youtube is full of educational videos which can help a poor person to learn stuff and make his situation better. Such persons would be at a disadvantage if they can't afford Youtube's fee.
The post tells the paid plans have all the same trackers.
Paid-for might be necessary for non-scummy, but it's certainly not sufficient.
There's also Coral (https://github.com/coralproject/talk) which used to be Mozilla + Vox project before Mozilla handed it over to Vox completely, but I have no experience with it.
Coral is more suited typically to larger organizations trying to power multi-site community tools. It has a powerful moderation system that's all open source! It's probably overkill for a static blog or small site.
Here it says 7 comments. But you only get to see one. You have to click into the discourse post to get more. This is due to Discourse's threading model. 6 of the comments were replying to the one on the blog post itself.
What parts of the web are that, if I may ask?
I think Discourse is popular in software and tech related organizations — I see it a lot on such websites.
(I'm developing it. Open source: https://github.com/debiki/talkyard. Not yet so well documented — soon time to add more docs, ... as per this nice discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26002656 )
Maybe give better steps to reproduce the issue, as it seems to only be happening to one other person?
It does seem like Commento's development has lost its momentum (last commit was 6 months ago). The author likely isn't getting more funding from Mozilla and is focusing on their primary money-maker, the cloud-hosted service.
May 2019 is almost two years now.
> Maybe give better steps to reproduce the issue, as it seems to only be happening to one other person?
Or maybe we're the only ones who bothered using/reporting it. I don't really have any STR, they consist of "Install Commento, try to log in, you can't".
It's still WIP but it supports comments approval, has a rate limiter, a challenge system to avoid spammers... I already use it for my personal blog.
There's also Isso and utterances (Github issues based)
 - https://posativ.org/isso/
 - https://github.com/utterance/utterances
I'm the founder and in 2021, in the face of the Monopolistic take over of speach and allowing communities to self-moderate, I've made the service free!
Worth reading the publicly released statement.
One alternative I’ve seen a few times recently is to start your own subreddit. Post your articles to it, link to the Reddit thread at the bottom of each posting, and let the conversation take place over there.
I never understood Commento's SSO system. We went with HMAC instead.
I never bought in to the hype, and considered carefully whether I want to "outsource" and give away comments and discussions to a third party, becoming tied to them and all the data tracking/gathering that they might choose to do in the future.
Fast forward 10 years or so, and here we are :-)
Own your data, people. Don't give it away just because something is nice and shiny today. Don't outsource data. And don't write articles only to post them on Facebook, LinkedIn or Medium (or Google+, remember that?).
This is AppNexus, the second-biggest display ad broker after Google. It can be argued that both Google and AppNexus facilitate the spreading of malware by injecting ads which sometimes aren't properly vetted, but simply calling it a malware site is very misleading.
Malware distribution by negligence and "malware site" are a hairs breadth apart on my scale, especially when it's negligence on behalf of an ad-broker.
That kind of negligence is what gives their entire industry a bad name. But then I consider trackers as malware anyway, as is my personal bias.
Not all free markets are bad (though many are, and many are less free than they appear). A good free product is good, but I would rather a good not-free one than a bad free one.
... and I won't read these fake advertorials if I don't get cheated into reading them by witholding the admission about what they are until the end.
I don't want to be lectured about Dark Patterns by a guy who deliberately misled me as his first and only interaction with me.
"If the product is free you're the product" is such a blatant statement people throw around like they don't have to prove their point anymore.
Our attention towards HN (and with that YC, it's accelerators and its startups) is the product. That's rather benign compared to most other "free" products, but it's still true.
I wish there was some kind of service or plugin (preferably not based on a centralized service) where one could easily leave comments on any site even if the site itself did not support comments.
Not exactly for comments, but look at https://hypothes.is
it is for collaborative note taking
IIRC the Dissenter extension was just that, albeit centralized.
I'm the founder and in 2021, the service is now Free for all to use.
Check out my reasons for opening up the service to all here: https://www.remarkbox.com/remarkbox-is-now-pay-what-you-can....
Big Tech must NOT have a monopoly on moderation!
The benefits of that method as I see it are: discussion can more easily go beyond particular blog posts, the website can potentially be fully static, and (sometimes an advantage, sometimes disadvantage) only the more interested people (in either the blog or community depending on how it is described) will bother subscribing. Also, it makes it possible (once you have subscribers at least) to first write posts to the list and get some comments before revealing it to the world. The main disadvantage I see for someone who otherwise finds the other tradeoffs ok is that people are understandibly more reluctant to reveal their email these days and many people don't have a basic conception of what a discussion mailing list is so it would be a good idea to have a general FAQ that describes the basics and links to some free email providers.
I see blocked requests to doubleclick.net, which is a Google advertising domain, on its website. And then a lot more third-party domains that weren't blocked. Such privacy, much wow.
- No third party code on my domain.
- Minimal code to write myself.
Most of these tools work using an iframe, so the code that they run on your domain is minimal but they end up loading as a script that injects the iframe. AFAICT the primary reason for this is is so that they can adjust the height of the iframe automatically. In some cases I could pull a pinned version of that API from NPM or similar however it would be nice if there was a truly minimal snippet that I could use.
It also makes me wonder, if iframes could have a dynamic height would this ecosystem flourish?
In the end I just added links at the bottom of each post to search for mentions on Reddit/Twitter and another link to share the post there. I then use a WebMentions bridge to collect responses. Right now I haven't published the code that displays WebMentions automatically but I might do that in the future.
As part of the process, the service showed me a page of comments from around the Web, and asked if they were mine, and, if so, would I like to associate them with the account.
I was horrified. They included some...rather “rash” comments that I had made, over the years (I was not always the stuffy boomer that I am now). Many were quite old, and, I had thought, made anonymously.
I scragged the process immediately, and made a vow to be a good boy, from then on (I had already made that choice, years earlier, but this solidified it).
Nowadays, I deliberately associate myself with my online comments. I nuked my last anonymous account years ago.
It is my opinion that anonymity is an illusion, these days. I feel that knowing my words can come back to haunt me, helps me to be more careful in what I say; just like in real life.
I wrote a blog post about integrating it into Next.js: https://richardwillis.info/blog/self-hosted-staticman-dokku-...
Heck, be the first to leave a comment!
It has one customer so far: my blog. https://blog.rendall.dev
FWIW, Facebook was doing the exact same thing. I think they still do, though I don't see it as much.
My only complaint with Commento was that automated moderating / spam filtering worked better in Disqus than Commento.
If you wanted to “own” the data, you could periodically scrape the tweet’s comments.
I think there’s a cool product somewhere in there.
I started building a small commenting system that fetches comments from social media postings (hackernews, reddit atm.)
It's not released yet, but You can sign up to know when it's ready. https://popvox.dev/
When your primary function is counting things, trusting the tallymen is critical. Multiple independent counts addresses this.
How true this is I don't know.
Dispensing with the counting avoids this need.
- it's yet another dependency on the back end (for a static site you may not even have a back end or a server you can install it on),
- it requires Java, which is possibly yet another dependency and platform,
- both of these need patching and updates
- I do not love comment storage in JSON because it complicates backups
- needs email configuration which can be something of a deliverability minefield, but Disqus handles this out of the box
Fundamentally it's more work/complexity than some people will be willing to put in. Disqus is easy. Just drop it into your relevant page templates and it'll work.
Users are checked based on IP whether they come from a GDPR country. If GDPR, they will be put in private mode. A user needs to create a profile and consent to sharing for tracking to begin.
Norwegian DPA opened an investigation as a result of our stories and Norwegians are now in private mode by default.
GDPR is for data in the EU. That is it. Not data outside the EU and not people outside the EU. An American in the EU is covered, an EU citizen in the US is not.
What you are saying would require that the EU could create laws that were above the Supreme Court in the US for example. It simply isn't true.
Or people who wish to extend the reach of GDPR so that others outside of the EU are protected too.
> What you are saying would require that the EU could create laws that were above the Supreme Court in the US for example
This is not true for multiple reasons. Check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PROTECT_Act_of_2003 specifically "Authorizes fines and/or imprisonment for up to 30 years for U.S. citizens or residents who engage in illicit sexual conduct abroad". The EU could punish US companies that have offices in the EU or income from the EU. Alternatively it could sanction them.
That being said it wouldn't require the EU to create laws which have jurisdiction above the US supreme court - if a company has any activity within Europe the European courts can act. There are other examples - for example UK libel law allows people under certain circumstances to sue for libel in the UK even if both parties are not UK citizens and the libel itself occurred outside the UK. Another example is the US CFTC which claims jurisdiction over all swaps transactions even if both parties are non-US and the swap itself happened outside the US.
It was originally just a tiny little project, amazing how things grow.
I used to be able to import users but they stopped exporting email addresses from the disqus XML.
So instead I import user surrogates.
Reach out directly, Remarkbox is free now!