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Show HN: Slow Social, a social network built for friends, not influencers (slowsocial.us)
752 points by CitrusFruits on April 16, 2022 | hide | past | favorite | 368 comments

Hey everyone, OP here.

I, like many others tend to waffle between loving and hating social media, so this is my take on what I think a better solution looks like. This is something I've been working on for the past couple of months and a concept that I think will be though provoking, if nothing else, to the HN community. If you want to read more on my thoughts and the story behind this, you can check out my blog post here: https://dev.to/duensing/introducing-slow-social-4a90

Besides that, I'm happy to answer questions and take criticism.

If it hasn't been mentioned, you should learn from the social media app Path.

It limited the amount of friends you could have. As a result, people didn't add friends because they didn't want to give up a space for a potential future connection. The scarcity worked against Path.

You might find the same result where people won't post because they'll be afraid of using up their allotment when they may have a better one later.

Thanks, that's a good tip! I'll definitely check them out.

And yup, definitely a concern. Makes me think that perhaps there's a possibility to not cap the posts, but rather have any posts outside of the first one in a week have something like a "secondary" tag. Then again, you might run into the problem that Instagram has where everyone stopped posting as soon as stories caught on.

Alas, it's a tricky problem.

Why not just allow your users to write their weekly post during all the week (and saving it while not publishing it) but just allowing to publish once a week ?

In doing so, there would be no real scarcity for the writer (the post can be edited to the infinity) and you encourage writing long prose.

Your UX should show that editing the post is the default option and publishing it should be some ritual (maybe send a notification when it is possible?)

I just tested, it works exactly this way. You start editing and do it over time until you publish it. It is not obvious from UX though.

Why not publish all the drafts, in whatever state they are. Just that for the whole week, you'll be able to work on that week's 1 post.

I think the weekly post idea really applies to the reader, not the writer. Perhaps you could get around this with a "digest" style of posting. I.e. I can write as many posts as I want, but it will only be published once a week as a digest of posts. This might fit better with human behavior too as it lowers the cost of a single post while still achieving the goal of updating friends on what's happening at a spaced interval.

Anyway, love the idea. Good luck!

Maybe you can only see one post per friend per week in the feed, but then you can click into their profile to see the whole of their posts.

I have nothing to add except I fully second this. Perhaps a counter icon indicating 'other posts exist'

Why don't you do something like consolidate any posts made within one week to one post? Some have suggested a blog-like digest that gets posted once a week. Why not do something like what you're doing but make it one long post with multiple updates (maybe with timestamps)

Say I post something about my weekend on Monday, it could be important about the loss of a family member or the birth of a child. Maybe I don't want to wait a number of days for that to appear on someone's feed...

But I could also post something new later that week. If it was consolidated into a weekly post it'd end up more like a digest at the end, and someone logging into the social network on Friday would see everything that happened to me so far that week.

It's a play on some of the ideas others have had, but the trick is timing. If my posts are digested to a weekly summary, it's going to reduce incentives for anyone to log in and use the platform on any day but "post day". Additionally if I'm free on Friday to spend time on there, but your new digest won't be posted until Saturday, I'm going to miss everything that's happened to you all week.

The ability to edit the weekly post seems like it could remedy this. Would probably see folks embrace the journaling approach by using headers to timestamp them.

That would be great!

I'm sick of articles needing follow ups or corrections instead get a separate, unlinked post.

Articles become stale but they get shared and referenced as if they're the final point on the subject.

Allow edits to the post, or allow the author to append short updates to it, or something else, but I think the rate limit is an interesting thing and worth sticking with at this stage. It's a principle that once you break would be hard to reestablish. The main risk is that slow posting probably means slow growth, and that is a reason to add some kind of exception -- but try to make it limited it, imo.

Maybe new users can make secondary posts, and as they post more and connect with people, you guide them somehow towards 1/week. Sort of reversing the traditional pattern that new users might need to be rate limited when they first sign up, instead what you want is for established users to post slowly.

Attenuate with a temporal component. Share short bursty material with the people you frequently interact with and dither out over time. Pin things you want your infrequent contacts to see. You keep your “free” speech while slowing the spread of batshit insane brain worms naturally.

I feel like you could achieve your aim by just cutting out the content that isn’t even posted by your friends (or is lazily shared by a friend, but originates with a commercial entity).

I would definitely not cap the posts, nor would I limit in any way their consumption. If I have something to say, why should I not be able to? And if I am interested in what someone does, I don't want to wait for a week to read it.

That said, it is important how the posts are presented. A person who posts all the time about each plate of food... might not be as interesting as another friend who writes only once a month, but usually about really interesting things. A good UI which puts control in the hands of the consumer (but easy to use - convenience matters) is the most important thing here imho.

Best of luck!

A "I only want to see [5] posts a day from Freddy" function would be good.

Everyone should get a post refresh at the exact same time. So if you don’t use your post that week, you lose it.

That seems like a bad idea, i want to post shortly after an event, not wait for a week

Then use twitter

People should be afraid to post. Erring on the side of less content is better, as the content isn’t all that valuable in the best of times.

It might very well be that the best social media is simple private messaging.

The app BeReal is getting press lately. The one post a day is a photo and they solve the holding back problem by making it an impulsive post at a preset time. It’s not supposed to communicate everything you did in a day only what you are doing in the scheduled moment.


I think your general vibe is good here, but I don't think you need the posting limit, necessarily. Compared to Facebook, to make it less about re-sharing spam and the like, and more like a conversation, what you need is:

* More emphasis on text (which you already have, great)

* Less emphasis on photos. I hate how when you create a post on FB with a lot of text and photos, photos get much more space within the post layout, it should be reversed if you want a conversation, and if people want to see a bigger version they can always click them to blow them up.

* Links aren't treated as special. You can include them in your posts and people can click them, but they shouldn't result in including a photo+description on the post.

* No sharing other people's posts. You can copy+paste and link to their post (which will only work for other friends of them), but no re-sharing.

Especially those last two mean that you don't get the 'spam' of people sharing content from other people or websites.

Anyway, overall great job, this is definitely something I wanna see. Facebook is full of news spam/hot takes and the like, Instagram is largely just photos and videos, I really want something that's focused on what my immediate friends and families wanna talk about (not just share photos of).

Just a word of caution on soliciting product feedback on here, HN users are a notoriously unrepresentative bunch (with a lot of bad ideas). Better to try ways to get it into the hands of more normal people and see what makes it go 'viral'

Maybe looking for what makes it go 'viral' is not the right approach for "a social network built for friends, not influencers".

They’re not mutually exclusive. WhatsApp had viral growth and it used mainly for friends. If it doesn’t have viral growth how else is it going to grow?

The rate limitation sounds good for a general audience of one's connections, but there are a lot of times when life calls for more frequent updates, particularly in times of emergency and medical crisis where the changes to one's life circumstances change by the day, if not by the hour. Posting, "Andy is in the hospital", then needing to wait a week to post, "Andy died 1 hour after being admitted to the hospital". One suggestion might be to allow posts to be threaded, so that updates to an initial post can be added without waiting an entire week.

Not the OP but I think the answer for this is that communication of medical/health issues is best handled by a more private form of media.

I don't have skin in this game and will probably never use it anyways, but to me that is a non starter for this whole project. Why would I want to limit how often my friends can post? The problem with FB isn't that my friends post to much, it's that I never see what my friends post.

Why would I want to limit my speed in my own car?

Because others exist

This argument makes sense to me in a public space, like twitter. But among a close knit group of friends? Not one bit. They are directly advertising this as a space built for "friends", not influencers. Having to time-filter your friends sounds like a really negative friendship dynamic.

If there was anything that we learned from the pandemic is people are not in any way considerate of others needs.

Then you can already use a Telegram channel. (Or an RSS feed if your friends can bother.) It fits your needs pretty well. You don’t need a new social media app.

For medical issues, I agree that private is usually best; or at least restricted to close friends and family. Imminent death often has an adjacent position, where people commonly wish to share with a broader audience.

However it was just an example of an emergency where one might strongly desire to update a broad range of friends and family quickly. Other situations might be natural disasters or a house fire where one "We're alive!" post might require a follow-up the next day with more details, needs, or grief.

It's just to say that an unyielding, global rate limit would not serve peoples' interests well.

I sometimes wonder whether our goal of making everything as convenient & frictionless as possible is part of our problem. By serving some of our short-term interests, are we jeopardizing our long-term interests?

I'm personally okay with seeing products that have well-intended friction built into them.

Maybe. The only reason I keep facebook active is because I have 25 first cousins, and that doesn't include their spouses, or the 25 children that comprise my younger first cousins once removed, some of who are adults already.

So when one of my 2 score aunts and uncles has a medical emergency, nobody wants to play phone tag around the world, even with group text messages.

Point being, even people without huge families like mine sometimes have big social groups.

I'd want to use both. Using private media is more reliable if you remember everyone relevant but that's hard.

I don't agree here. This social network is a tool for one method of communication. It doesn't need to be a platform for all types of communication. By trying to excel at everything, it would do nothing particularly well.

You choose the right tool for the job. If a friend is in critical care at the hospital with life threatening injuries, do you really think "slow social" is the appropriate service to use? That's just being silly. As the name suggests, this service is designed for the opposite type of communication. It's like complaining that Sharpie markers should make thinner lines because sometimes you need to write complex notes. Or, that Ferrari should modify their cars because sometimes you need to tow a boat.

I think there's a case to be made that whatever you write after a week of reflection will be of more value or at least higher quality than what you'd be able to send off immediately when someone dies. Certainly there's a need for a space that puts quality over immediacy. There are already a dozen channels by which you can update people with short bursts of information, but by their nature those channels are not well suited to more thoughtful posting.

This is exactly the app idea I pitched my wife with the working title “What’s Happening”. Which she had turned into a joke at my expense. I wish you luck!

FYI: when I gave my email address to sign up, the very bare email that hit my gmail inbox went straight to spam.

You're going to need to do more to keep it on the 'not spam' list, I think.

The link to follow 404s for me… perhaps because I put a plus sign in my email?

I'm really curious what your business model is and how you make money. I looked under those sections on the about page, but they don't actually answer the question.

The app is just launching, and it's a side hustle. Everything right now can run on a free tier, and I'm fairly certain I can support a _very_ sizeable amount of users for < $100 of operating overhead, which is cash I'd totally be willing to spare if I had thousands of users enjoying the app.

But, if I get there, the plan would be to explore charging something reasonable for a plus tier which would offer more formatting options, more pictures per post, and a couple other things, for something nominal like $3 of a month. That could help cover the overhead, and maybe would result in some cash on the side.

I think there's a lot of honesty and practicality in your response but not the transparency or clarity needed for this to scale. These networks require buy-in / critical mass to function as intended, and not knowing if I (or my friends) will agree to the pricing terms after I get my network on board is a hard stop for me.

I do like the idea. Well designed limitations can add a lot of appeal, and in social spaces especially they can be fun to play within.

None of the other social networks you were an early adopter of told your their future monetization plans did they?

Exactly. They’ve learned from experience what happens.

The two that I used to maintain personal connections and communicate in ways worth archiving were Myspace and Facebook. For Myspace I was a teen. Same with Facebook. My connections were from school so if either disappeared I'd just have to talk to them the next day. Also both had attained critical mass at some sort of scale by the time they popped up on my radar, and were fairly new ideas so it's not like I was able to shop around. I just went where my friends were.

I think perhaps an option is not to limit how often people can post, but limit how little they post, i.e. there is a minimum word limit for each post. Add the 'like' options for any general short response (agree, like, love, sad, angry, +1, haha, shock, thanks, etc), but having a minimum demands at least some effort into posting.

The obvious problem is people just posting /10char type responses to hit the character limit, but if it's a word limit with some AI that can recognise 'bad' patterns in structure it could be mitigated to an extent.

You could add a grammar checker and advise corrections or perhaps prompt to improve the message if particularly poor. This would be implemented for public posts only, because for private conversations it is not so relevant to positive discourse.

For years I've thought that dating sites could benefit from such post limits. If one could write 3 posts per day I think one would be more careful about what is posted and success might be shifted a bit from quantity of posts to their quality instead.

I like the idea. I think it would be nice to read in SlowSocial how will posts be treated. Will the company's algorithms read them? parse them? Put users into categories? I assume not, but it might be nice to display this in the front page.

And maybe there are useful ideas in https://www.humanetech.com/technologists ?

Have you talked to Joe Edelman? He would have all kinds of good ideas for you.

Who is Joe Edelman?

Def talk to Joe Edelman.

I like the idea because the restrictions on new friends seeing old posts is a similar vibe to one I’ve been thinking about for a long time.

I keep dreaming about an ephemeral social network that functions more like a party — posts expire after a time. I appreciate that there’s not a permanent record of every conversation at a party for people to review later.

Maybe I’m just nostalgic for FidoNet. We expired posts in Echomail groups because we had small hard drives. I appreciate that most of my youthful rants aren’t on archive.org. Unfortunately, some of the dumb nonsense I wrote in 1987 will outlive me.

I would enjoy the freedom to talk with friends and know it vanishes a few weeks later.

Looks great and love the concept. What’s the tech stack behind it?

I'm using Supabase, Sveltekit, Tailwind, SendGrid, and Netlify.

SvelteKit has been a lot of fun but definitely has a few rough edges. Supabase has been awesome, but as you can probably see, from the comments elsewhere, has some kinks around magic link based authentication.

FYI my magic link went to spam. Dunno if it's the gmail spam filter or the one in Apple Mail. But that's where it ended up. There was also a typo in the onboarding process ("from thos[e] close to you").

Do you understand the underlying technologies of Supabase and these other frameworks? Just curious.

And how are you liking supabase as opposed to other quick start solutions?

The email-based create-an-account link is 404ing for me, using an iPhone and Brave browser.

I’ve not used your service because I don’t know anyone who’s on it and I won’t invite anyone to a new social network right away. Too many burnt fingers. So what I am sharing is my social network wish list.

Give a minimum characters/words post and same for photo posts.

Do not show amount of reshares/likes (if at all you allow that; you should not - just let people reply to posts). Definitely add minimum words limits to comments/responses. Let the low effort appreciations or disagreements propagate heart to heart.

Have an idea of a non-searchable ID (I like that from https://slowly.app/ - very similar names as well :)) that one can have - it’s unique and decently readable and completely avoids “reserve the username as a real estate” bullshit of many social networks. You have one to but it isn’t apparent it can be used that way.

And I know it may not sound reasonable or even feasible but I wouldn’t mind some kind of federation. I am slowly tending to hate the walled gardens more and more.

As a general social network it may not take off and if it doesn’t then one wouldn’t want to just post in a circle of 3.5 people (that two and half being people who just opened accounts but are not active).

Once a week seems too less and too limiting. Will the weeks when one didn’t post be accumulated to a max accumulation (and even these can’t be used more than once a day, or once in a two days maybe)?

There’s no way to delete the old posts, or I can’t see one.

Clicking start conversation shares the other person’s email and intimates an email compose. Is that intentional? Or is it pre-alpha build?

Anyway, there was an old submission https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25731419. I don’t really remember a lot from it (definitely nothing from the post) but maybe give it a look.

Sorry, but why not just send an email to all your friends once a week?

I have no idea why we think we need to complicate our relationships with any third party...

The only reason why social media works is because it is horrible and addictive, Your product is neither of those, so it will never work.

3rd parties like email hosting providers or messaging services?

Pull works better for stories/updates because then the reader has control over how often they want to check in an see what their friends are doing.

“Oh but if you wanted that you could just something something with e-mail rules something something Dropbox curl ftpfs.”

This is great!

Coincidentally I've been working on a prototype that is almost the exact same idea. I had very similar motivations and a feeling that "slow social" (I was calling it the same thing even!) is something that can potentially break some people free from cycles of nonstop engagement and the unexpected downsides of always on, public and sharable social networks.

I hope you have success with it! Know that you're not alone in feeling like we need a solution like this. I think I'm far enough along with my prototype that I might as well see it through to completion anyways, but either way it's heartening to see that folks are feeling the same way I am about social networks.

Congrats on the build! I had a similar idea and worked on a similar project a few months back: https://infreq.social/ it obviously doesn't have the same polish that your project has, but the mission as far as what the end goal is for the frequency of the user viewing posts, and the ideal way of monetizing the platform are very much the same.

It's great to see that I'm not the only one with this crazy idea!

I wonder if a "leaky bucket" analogy might be interesting, with a bucket size >1. Say, 5 posts a week, you can make 5 today and then another one once the bucket empties enough.

Or maybe a couple categories: Cat 1, limited to 1 a week, cat 2 limited to 1 a day, cat 3 limited to, I dunno, a few times a day. Or 1/month, 1/week, 1/day? Then when I subscribe to someone I can pick which level I want?

I, personally, tend to prefer more smaller things, as opposed to a big wall of text. But, I'm also willing to admit this just might not be for me.

This is great, and I really appreciate the time you took to explain your thinking. I have similar feelings about the social networks out there, and I’m working on my own take on what I want. It’s very different than what you did, so I’m curious to try yours out and see what everyone has to say. We need more experiments like this - unabashedly anti-engagement and pro-utility.

Good luck with this!

Looks like this may work for older generations where the pace of life is different and things are less spontaneous. I’m looking forward to see where it will go.

older folk seem to have zero issues with facebook though. All over my feed and groups is 60+ people posting. Younger people have largely abandoned ship

I mean 35-40 and older, not the retirement age. 90% of my friends in this age have gone offline or keep their old blogs for posting. They may keep the accounts or even read some stuff sometimes, but social networks of 2010s are dead for them. This is in Europe though, maybe in other parts of the world it is different.

Does the .us TLD mean you are only interested in US users?

I’m guessing it’s “us” as in “something for all of us.”

Typo on the welcome - onboarding page: "get updates from thos close to you." /thos/those

One post per week is too limiting!! There are days when I want to talk to or mention 10 friends!

Why not IM those friends?

How do you plan to sustain this as user base grows? Ads, subscriptions, donations?


Affiliates. We may share your information with our affiliates, in which case we will require those affiliates to honor this privacy notice. Affiliates include our parent company and any subsidiaries, joint venture partners, or other companies that we control or that are under common control with us."

I would much prefer that this simply read: We do not share your information with anyone.

I don't plan on sharing personal information with any sort of entity, certainly not for profit. But, the personal information is stored on machines and manipulated by other companies, namely Supabase and SendGrid since its necessary for the site to function.

If this is the case, I would recommend a stronger word than "affiliate". My data is always being sold to marketing affiliates.

It's admirable that you're aware of the risk you're placing on your users, and willing to assuage them. If you're audience is HN, you might want to simply list the 3rd party runtime components you're using (and to go one better, review their privacy notices, recursively -- I can imagine a malefactor doing a backroom deal with a component provider to get kickbacks on data being shared down the line.) I would also include any front end components in this notice, like Cloudflare or GA.

Last but not least, it would be nice to know who's behind this, because none of these assurances mean anything if you're really a malefactor. I would recommend putting a real name or two in your "About" page.

For it to be available in EU at all I think they will have to list all of them anyway.

Just say that then

Respect the effort, but I think it's not going in quite the right direction. I don't think people need paternalistic restrictions on post frequency. People need to be liberated from engagement-optimizing algorithms and allowed to choose which activity is presented to them and in what order.

I don't think your first and second sentence are necessarily in conflict with each other. In fact, Slow Social has no algorithms for engagement-optimizing, it's part of the design of the application.

That being said, you absolutely _could_ be right on the restrictions on post frequency. Perhaps its not something any sort of large user base might not want. However, as far as I know it hasn't been tried before, and I think that makes it worth a shot.

Lastly, it's possible that restrictions on post frequency serve a segment of the population that might be underserved by current social media, and its something those people would thrive one. At this point we can't say for sure, but I'd love to find out.

Slowing things down has the virtue of being a much easier means of social engineering than figuring out how to empower users to control the flow of content that comes to them. I only have some sketchy ideas of how exactly it would work.

Definitely the starting point is to let users have a simple chronological option.

How does slowing things down make social engineering easier?

That’s a security term, and I’m not quite sure how it’s relevant to the OP.

Social engineering isn't just a security term. The use in security is inherited from a broader and pre-existing concept. It's about setting up conditions that influence people to behave in a desired way.

I assume they mean herding cats.

I have WhatsApp/iMessage groups for immediate friends and family who I don’t mind getting real time updates from. Everyone else, I am okay with periodically contacting as desired via text/audio/video call.

It seems pretty liberated, and I am not sure what more a social network website could offer. Outside of about 5 people, I have no interest in real time updates…I can wait to see photo albums next time I call or visit, like in the times before broadband. In fact I prefer it, so that there is a jumping off point for things to talk about.

I have the family SMS group as well.

I can't imagine having much use for a social network after all these years of social networks being awful, but maybe a truly different and more liberated one would offer some possibilities.

I agree. What I’d like is to be given control so that I can at least work on improving my social life and interactions. I want pro software but for socializing. Something like my calendar app, email app, Photoshop, etc.

Imagine if our email app changed their goal from empowering users to engaging users. We’d have email apps that surfaced only engaging emails you received and buried the rest. It would maximize our short term app usage engagement to the detriment of long term goals (getting work done). Gmail shows it’s possible to meld good algorithms (spam detection) with good user empowering features, while also being an ad-supported model!

You say that, but what if they choose paternalistic restrictions on post frequency?

"You must make all your choices yourself, and you must prefer that!" <- doesn't actually seem all that free, to me.

People act like any one website must support all use cases, all the time, when in reality, opting in to the site is also a choice; literally nothing on the Internet is required, you can choose not to participate (and all of the consequences, good or bad, that come with that choice).

I agree to some extent. The “medium is the message”; let the outcomes of post frequency be determined by the structure of the platform. Whether that structure should be more prescriptive than descriptive though is certainly up for debate.

One way to look at it is a restriction on post frequency, but the reason why modern social is so harmful is because unlimited post frequency means unlimited read frequency.

It isn't restricted post frequency, it is restricted read frequency.

Yeah, I definitely thought of this. It's kindof a chicken or the egg thing. Some of my friends had the suggestion of a weekly digest or something like that.

In the end, I opted for this since, from my perspective, there's a sort of solace knowing that I'm only "expected" to write at most once a week.

I must be some sort of freak libertarian. People are always talking about how they want or need their lifestyle to force them to do this and that. I would always rather have the choice.

It is a choice. The choice is: I will only write/read once a week, that is you making a choice about how you want to allocate time.

Personally I believe that the era of Facebook style social media networks have come and gone. It’s on the road to becoming a niche product, like family newsletters, not completely dead, but also not completely alive.

I can respect the work and the idea, but not many are going to sign up, the first mover types have been burned so badly by Facebook that they’re going to pass.

I like it. Think of it in inverse: no contact can send you more than one a week. You can safely add people you dint know well and not worry about them filling up your feed with shit. Also once a week is like blogging - you will get more thoughtful content.

I think the idea of paternalism comes from seeing people harm themselves by undertaking actions they were manipulated into taking, and confusing that with actions they'd have done on their own, independently.

What I object to is we skipped straight from exploitation to paternalism. Freedom was never an option on offer.

I think 'the algorithm' truly is the bogeyman of our time. Have you considered that it is precisely people themselves who crave engagement and that it is the often reviled paternalism which liberates people from following their worst instincts?

People crave engagement as much as they crave unhealthy food. Having a person stand behind you at all times with an infinite amount of the exact kind of burger you like isn't gonna help make you get thinner lol. And that's like the whole point of personalization algorithms.

> isn't gonna help make you get thinner lol.

sure as hell isn't but do you actually think the reason 65% of the American population is overweight is burger ads, rather than the simple fact that people unless very explicitly told not to will stuff their faces with cheap and delicious fast food? Do you think that requires coercion? Like in a world where McDonalds doesn't run ads, they all start working out and eat salads?

The algorithm itself only exists to satisfy a never-ending demand by people, it's nothing else than an internet conveyor belt.

When you walk into Twitter HQ and turn the algorithms off you think the people will greet you in the streets as liberators with flowers and open arms? You'll have a riot because Instagram and TikTok don't work any more

Nah I'm saying that some things have a level of healthy natural scarcity to them. That scarcity can be removed artificially to not always beneficial ends.

Would I want an unlimited supply of free chocolate? Sure. Would I trust myself with it? Definitely not. Same applies here.

I'm aware that for example Tiktok owes its entire popularity to its smart filtering and suggestions, but that's also why I've never tried it myself. It's like going out of your way to try heroin or something. You know it's not gonna end well.

Paternalism isn't categorically bad but I see it as a last resort. People have never had the option to filter out garbage from their feeds. If they did, there might be little need for paternalism.

Paternalism? Call it that if you want -- just realize the word choice is loaded.

Consider also: It can be useful to think of this as 'save me from my worst habits' or 'let my rational, planning self setup some guardrails for my self-defeating self'.

Also, ask this: Is maximum freedom achieved by letting one act on their whims? Try defining freedom as 'the practical likelihood of achieving a goal' rather than 'the theoretical possibility' of doing so. What are the advantages of seeing freedom in such a light?

When can constraints lead to better outcomes?

Philosophers have a lot to say on these topics.

I suggest moving past latching onto only one word (paternalism) that, for many people, can shut down critical and diverse thinking. Look at many perspectives and soak in the complexities.

The issue is you have built in a mechanism to prevent the site from gaining critical mass.

In order for a user to check the site, there would need to be 50 posts from their friends that they can read through.

For that to happen, they would need 500 friends for them to make 50 posts a week.

In order to reach 500 friends, you would need 100 million users, before that the network would be empty with nothing happening.

It’s better to limit the number of posts to 1 per day.

This way, you would be able to have some stuff going with 50 friends in some areas and 3 million users.

However, you need to get to 3 million users somehow with no value in your network, maybe you can get this through posts like this, but very difficult.

You also need to let users upload their contact list otherwise you won’t be able to build your social graph.

Isn’t one of the points about “slow” social that you don’t need to read 50 posts a day? I would be happy checking in once a week, the same day I am going to post my update.

Yes but it will be an empty desert with anything below 10m users, because only then would an average user would have 100 friends and 10 posts per week.

This seems a bit arbitrary?

I would be happy with one, or two posts a day...I only need 5 friends to post a week, at 10 I always have something to read, at 50 friends I am positively awash...

Introverts are a big crowd - a fact the socialites like Zuckerberg tend to forget. This will easily grow...

Agreed. I'll be looking forward to quoting your post when this social network grows and takes off over the next few years.

I feel like you could make a similar argument against Wordle:

You can only play one game a day! How are you going to get revenue if someone can only spend a few minutes a day on it?

People can play Wordle alone and get value. Not true for a social network

> You also need to let users upload their contact list otherwise you won’t be able to build your social graph.

In the context of legislation like GDPR and CCPA is this even legal in some jurisdictions any more? Genuinely not sure so any insight gratefully received.

As other people have mentioned but I think not quite nailed perfectly, restrictions on behavior aren't quite the right solution to the problems that plague social media. Some people think that the right move is to eliminate engagement optimization algorithms, and I think that's not quite exactly right either.

IMO the right solution is personal executive autonomy over content presentation and algorithmic optimization. By which I mean, I want to be able to make an "executive" choice over what kind of experience I want to have on a social platform. By "executive" I mean, I want to be able to make that choice explicitly, not implicitly by my behavior. For instance, an implicit choice is walking by a beautiful chocolate cake and being unable to resist eating it. An explicit choice is being able to architect my environment in advance, such that there are no beautiful chocolate cakes to tempt me.

The biggest problem with social media right now is that the incentives of the existing platforms do not allow people to make these choices explicitly. They do not allow us to craft our information environment using our higher order executive functions, they force us to do it using our reptillian brains, one moment at a time. Essentially, they force us to choose: either you get none of what social media has to offer, or you take every aspect of it, whether you like it or not.

Being able to explicitly say "for the next hour I want to be fed thirst traps and rage bait, but then I want that turned off" would be an amazing feature. People have a right to that kind of content if they want it. But they equally have a right to engage their higher cognitive functions and choose not to be expose to it if they don't want it, or choose to be able to architect the manner in which they are exposed to it.

> Being able to explicitly say "for the next hour I want to be fed thirst traps and rage bait, but then I want that turned off" would be an amazing feature.

Did you use Google Plus? I found the circle system to be so good for this. I like following artists, and sometimes they can be exceedingly political/depressed/self destructive and I can't take them in my "main feed". With G+ I could drop those people into a circle and then "dip into" the madness for a bit and hunt for gems, then leave before becoming overwhelmed.

Being able to "sort people" into groups on social media (using a single account) was just excellent. Here are my programmers, here are my RPG people, here are my RPG people that have a different core belief than the previous group of RPG people, here are my Artists, here are my Writers, here are my Sad But Brilliant people.

Then when they added collections so I could present the different "facets" of my interests and allow my followers to unsubscribe from those facets was excellent. I'll tag this post as gaming, this one as music, this one as bullshit hot takes, and you, my follower can say "I hate his taste in music" and never see it.

I miss it so much.

Also, the original ability to "circle share" was exceptional (and it's truly sad it was apparently abused into the ground by spammers). It allowed "real people" to curate groups of other real people around a certain topic, and then a new user (assuming they could find the curator) could then mass follow/watch those people.

"Here is a group of people who are creating things and having great conversations with each other. Check it out."

It was like someone opening a hidden door to a very nice party.

Don't know how to make something like that non-abusable or how to mitigate the abuse that killed it, but then I never saw it because I wasn't following spam circle shares.

google+ loss was a true tragedy.

Wow, Google+ sounds like it was actually pretty good. These are all features I've wished Twitter had.

When Google+ came out, I do remember avoiding it mostly out of spite, because Google were so overwhelmingly aggressive in trying to make me use it. And these days I'd probably never type my personal info into any Google property. Still, sounds like a shame it failed.

I think Google+ was just ahead of its time. Now a huge chunk of people are ready for a different platform.

I agree, it's not perfect. Maybe, just maybe though, it's better than other alternatives out there.

Your suggestions for being able to apply our "higher order executive function" to our social networks is honestly a great take, and a great suggestion. Unfortunately though, that's not something I can really build, even if I had the time, resources, and personnel. That sort of social network requires critical mass of content and would by definition almost, have to be a competitor or aggregator of other social networks. However, that's not the sort of social network I personally am interested in building either.

I think what you're describing definitely falls into our modern definition of a social network, but I also think that definition falls very short of the potential for technology to facilitate relationships. In my opinion, the "thirst traps and rage baits" totally have there place (they're a lot of fun!), but I don't think their place is in the same app as your best friend sharing about their mixed feelings of loss and euphoria as they move from one job to another.

That all being said, I think you bring up a really good talking point, one that I hope the people at Instagram, Snap, TikTok, etc. all pay attention to. As for me though, there's nothing I can really do about it other than start discussion.

Totally get that, and to be clear I think what you're doing is super cool. I should have given a more relevant example to you. I think the general category of "user autonomy" over how/what kinds of content they see or don't see is a better abstraction than restrictions on behavior.

So, for something like your network, that might mean rather than limiting how frequently people can post, give users the option to aggregate content from frequent posters in their feed. So, maybe I have a switch I can toggle that says, "show a unit of content from one person no more than once per day", where that single block of content is expandable, and gives some aggregated summary of how many things they posted / what its content was, that I can drill into if I want to, or quickly skim over if I don't care.

It's called RSS. and a feed reader.

I swear, people are too busy re-inventing the wheel when it already exists. use one of the literal hundreds of free services to write what you want and syndicate it. and use the same system to ingest exactly what you want.

We hit the nail on the head 2 decades ago. It's been rusting since.

Are there some readers that do some content curation for you on top of your subscriptions? The biggest issue I had with RSS (besides content discovery) is that some people blog multiple times a week while others only once in a while. I would like something that limits the amount of content I get based on how much they post: posts from people who blog only once in a while should be more prominently visible than others. Some way to mark posts as "I want more of that" or "I don't want more of that" would also be helpful to improve the curation without having to manually tweak parameters.

That works for the consumption side, but at least from what I've seen (it's been a while), the feed readers don't have so much share/comment/like side to them. Frankly, they seem to miss the social side. Again, maybe I'm just not using the right feed readers, but when I use some these days, they feel somewhat isolated, just receiving info, not also sending it.

Many sites including HN (https://news.ycombinator.com/rss) provide RSS feeds, so you could presumably navigate to the relevant page for the share/comment/like functionality. I realize that's not ideal but it seems well within reason to me.

Software exists to translate RSS feeds to ActivityPub actors (ex https://github.com/dariusk/rss-to-activitypub). Going the other direction, Pleroma provides RSS feeds. Not sure about Mastodon or Misskey.

> so you could presumably navigate to the relevant page for the share/comment/like functionality. I realize that's not ideal but it seems well within reason to me.

Oh yeah, I could. I guess I'm just believing more and more in the power of a familiar interface. I feel somewhat comfortable hopping around different sites and creating all sorts of accounts (on my computer, less so on my phone), yet I imagine many really don't want that hassle. If the comment box were the same everywhere, that could help, but still, I find sometimes if it takes that extra effort, I often won't do it.

> Software exists to translate RSS feeds to ActivityPub actors (ex https://github.com/dariusk/rss-to-activitypub). Going the other direction, Pleroma provides RSS feeds.

I may check it out for some of my sites, thank you.

Shameless plug: Airss does that. https://airss.roastidio.us

The reader can be used without login. To comment and share, you need to login to https://roastidio.us (free open registration)

Warning: I have very few users. So you will still feel isolated, unless you can gather a community yourself.

Ooo, I like the concept. I just logged in and submitted one for this URL: https://www.nytimes.com/live/2022/04/18/world/ukraine-russia...

Two things come up for me:

1. I'm curious, how do you imagine people will discover there are comments on a specific URL? Will it show up in their browser? An embed that sites can use to show it on their site? Other?

2. I found that the name made me feel a little confused and hesitant to engage, because I didn't want to roast the article I submitted. I get the feeling you started in one direction and may be opening up, but I'm not sure.

1, If you claim it, the comment will be sent to you via email. A cooperating web site can also embed the link. I am against javascript embedding though; too much of a privacy leak. So you cannot embed the comments directly in the original web site.

2, Admittedly the name is somewhat provoking. My point is to encourage different opinions. You have to find some value it the stuff that you roast or you will not spend your time commenting, right?

1, sweet, that sounds good.

2, I personally see roast as one type of emotional attack or speech act (still looking for a better term for it), along with praise, question, supplement, etc. I don't roast things much but I do the others so personally I may feel a bit repelled by the name. However others may feel attracted by it, there are lots of us internet folk :-) good luck!

Yes, I've been yearning for platforms really to just let me control the database query, basically. I want to be able to create custom filters/sorts/queries, or even choose some from an algorithm store, that lets me control how I view things.

For example, on Twitter, I love having the "latest tweets" option. But maybe I want to also have "only tweets from verified people with over 100 retweets from other verified people." This is somewhat possible on Tweetdeck, but not possible directly within Twitter itself.

It reminds me of the Facebook Graph Search, which I loved—"my friends of friends who speak Spanish who live in San Francisco." But FB shut that down a few years ago.

Makes me wonder what are the main reasons they don't implement such options to help us better choose how we see the data—is it technically difficult to implement? Does it run counter to the business model of placed advertisements? Does it really just unleash too much power in the hands of the users and make these companies afraid what might happen?

I'd love if they did implement the changes you suggest and I wonder why they haven't.

> Does it really just unleash too much power in the hands of the users and make these companies afraid what might happen?

Social media companies spend incredible resources trying to continuously improve the stickiness of the app so users keep coming back to it. Giving users total control over curation creates two big problems for this.

1) if I can cut out all of the BS in the feed, I can utilize the app more passively which likely reduces overall usage. I would try to get my social media into a weekly feed, which is not compatible with the business social media companies are trying to run. It's all about DAU's.

2) total curation makes researching and optimizing the UX for eyeballs more difficult because you introduce an entirely new set of variables into the equation. This increases the likelihood that behavioral research draws erroneous conclusions based on the patterns being observed. By controlling the drip of the content to the users, the company can control for this much more easily.

> 1) if I can cut out all of the BS in the feed, I can utilize the app more passively which likely reduces overall usage. I would try to get my social media into a weekly feed, which is not compatible with the business social media companies are trying to run. It's all about DAU's.

Fair point, some may use it much less. Ironically, I might use it even more, because now I can explore more. Being given only one path can bore me at times. Sometimes I want to choose my own path. I absolutely loved the Facebook Graph Search, but then it vanished and I'm back to just hoping that Facebook gives me what I want instead of letting me dive deeper. In other words, I spend a ton of time on Wikipedia rabbit holes even without an algorithm that tries to predict what I want.

> 2) total curation makes researching and optimizing the UX for eyeballs more difficult because you introduce an entirely new set of variables into the equation.

Ah, yeah, I agree with this. Fewer variables make it easier to run social experiments and behavioral research.

> Makes me wonder what are the main reasons they don't implement such options to help us better choose how we see the data...

Rather than anything nefarious, I think it might simply be down to the fact that it doesn't justify the engineering effort it would take to create a feed algo store or repo like you suggest considering how few people might actually use that feature.

The vast majority of people out there likely don't have the wherewithal, time nor inclination to carefully pick and tune the algo for their friend feed.

Maybe I overestimate how many people would use even simple sorting and filtering options if given the option.

Makes me wonder, how many people do you think have filters/rules/folders on their Gmail or other email inboxes? I assume a majority have some but maybe not.

When Facebook was first created, there was no feed. We flocked to it because it was useful for a few important reasons: 1) communicating with friends, 2) finding events to go to, 3) organizing groups, 4) storing and sharing photos, and 5) meeting new people (sometimes). It was great as a tool to supplement your social life.

When they introduced the feed, Facebook gradually became worse at all of those things. Facebook became less about being a useful tool and instead became a media sharing instrument for serving advertisements. Your entire post is about that aspect of it though, and really it's the problem with all social media. The feed design is fundamentally incompatable with providing the utility that was initially offered by Facebook. The feed is purely a tool for distribution and consumption, not forging connections or otherwise improving the lives of users.

The feed was introduced in 2006. Facebook was founded in 2004. Not many people “flocked” to Facebook before the feed.

I think the feed was chronological for a while. Did it switch to being non-chronological in 2006? I thought it was later than that.

The algorithmically generated feed was introduced in 2011.

Those first few years when it was limited to certain edu addressed fueled the hype and growth.

This is exactly what I was trying to say in my other post.

Currently I suspect the logic behind social media engagement algorithms is something like "feed the user more of what they have clicked on in the past". But in real life, I don't just do more of what I did in the past. Sometimes I choose to do different things. But in legacy social media like FB I can't choose to be offered anything different than what I clicked on in the past. I can't ask for the culture wars and political hot takes to fuck off so I can see normal friends and family posts (or vice versa).

This lack of choice in what we're offered is what's essentially inhuman about legacy social media.

Ahhh the original web vision and promise of the Semantic Web. Snippets of machine readable datum everywhere fetched and assembled for you by your own "intelligent agent".

The competition would be innovating better personal agents and data tagging.

I think TBL found the mother of all misunderestimations when they made http servers and browsers as step zero.

Neat idea but literally no one wants that. You think the average Joe wants to explicitly configure his social media algorithms?

Get real.

Does everyone in Path of Exile create their own loot filters?

You could, but most people download neversinks or someone else's custom filter.

This sounds like https://fraidyc.at which is delightfully weird and really functional at the same time

That early 2010s tumblr-esque UI is wonderful. Reminds me of MLKSHK. Good times.

the first social media platform I used was Reddit where you really can choose to be fed thirst traps or rage bait for the next hour by exclusively browsing one or two specific subreddits and I'm not sure I'd say that's much more healthy than fully algorithmic social media, it just has different problems.

Particularly the rage bait: I basically had to quit reddit because I realized the extent to which I engaged in rage bait made me a worse person.

It can have that problem if you make that choice. I use reddit extensively, mainly subscribed to a bunch of mostly small subs for my own set of narrow interests, and it works great.

yeah, that's fair. I was also in middle school at the time which is probably a bit too young to be using reddit, but I think that it's important to recognize that a social media platform that gives you high level control of the kind of content you see won't completely solve the problem of unhealthy social media usage, it will just make it easy for your usage to be either very healthy or very unhealthy. And that those unhealthy users will end up causing problems for the healthy users.

In a weird way I actually think that the weird stuff twitter has been doing to try to make it look like they're doing something about unhealthy social media usage (all the "remember the human" stuff) would probably be more effective on a reddit-type social media platform.

I think this is a good example of the folk wisdom that kids don't have the best decisionmaking skills. I spent time in many an IRC flamewar as a middle schooler myself, so I'm not judging :) of course. Reddit first came out while I was in high school and subreddits became a feature near the end of my time in HS. I definitely was making better choices about the content I consumed as a high schooler and I've gotten better as I've gotten older!

I deeply appreciate Reddit's openness to customizing the experience. The defaults suck, I agree, but you can choose to curate the experience how you like. Moreover despite lots of jaw clenching over financial incentives, Reddit still offers the Old Reddit interface _and_ an API which lets power users consume Reddit however they like. These values were pretty common among other fora/BBSes at the time. The experience one got on 4chan's /a/ or /jp/ was very different than /b/ or /pol/ or /soc/ (and most of 4chan's famed toxicity came from the latter 3 boards.) Forums were usually partitioned by topic.

> In a weird way I actually think that the weird stuff twitter has been doing to try to make it look like they're doing something about unhealthy social media usage (all the "remember the human" stuff) would probably be more effective on a reddit-type social media platform.

I don't think the algorithmic feed as-is is compatible with healthy usage, no matter what rhetoric a company uses. ML models need to not only take engagement as input but also some sort of personal toxicity input. I need to be able to say "content X is addictive to me but not for a good reason." The model also needs to offer as much transparency as possible to the user, offering things like partial dependence plots for auditing by the user. I'm not sure whether a ranking model trained that way can still provide good ad targeting performance. Moreover knobs like this are probably just too complex for a layperson to interact with. Many engineers don't understand how a partial dependence plot works let alone laypeople.

My problem with social media is about the lack of choice. I have no qualms that the majority will continue to use social media the way most people in the past would spend time mindlessly flipping TV channels or window shopping at malls and boutiques. But there was always alternatives. People that didn't want to spend time window shopping could be found in libraries, bookstores, bars, playing sports, or outdoors. Once you became an adult this was expected. That didn't mean I was ostracized from them. I encountered people in college who hung out in very different places than me but still connected with me over shared interests.

In the social media age every form of social media is siloed. If you're not on Twitter you can't engage with people on Twitter. If you're not on Facebook you can't see people's Facebook content. You _have_ to join the platform to reach people on the platform. I'd love to see a world of federated social media where we can all talk to each other no matter our hobbies and third places.

I mean, for what it's worth there's an aspect of this on Reddit, in the sense that you can choose which subreddits to join (and can maintain multiple accounts to keep your experiences separate).

Although I'm sure it's not perfect, it's not terrible either. Especially if you follow the perennial Reddit advice and unsubscribe from the massive default subs.

I kind of disagree about this: maybe it's different if you're more mature but reddit was my first social media platform, I used it a lot in middle school, and in my experience rage bait was a huge problem. Rage bait subreddits become more and more extreme over time, losing the ability to distinguish the people they hate from parodies of the people they hate and effectively building up an effigy/totem of "the other side" to concentrate that hate onto. When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. I eventually realized I had to quit reddit because the extent to which I engaged in rage bait made me a worse person.

Yeah I agree, had the same experience. I found I literally couldn’t get away from the rage bait either. They keep putting things in your feed even if your aren’t subscribed.

Reddit is also just an awful hive mind.

oof it's probably worse now than it was for me lol, when I used it I don't think they even had an algorithmic feed, just a subscribed and /r/all.

and yeah the hivemind stuff is pretty bad. I'm reminded of a talk that ViHart of all people did where they argued that in a McLuhanist "the medium is the message" way, reddit's focus on up and down votes and karma creates an extremely judgy and kind of adversarial experience that eventually breeds hiveminds. I'd also argue that reddit's focus on small communities managed individually by specific moderators creates an undercurrent of site drama that reliably rears its ugly head every few months or so, but I guess that's neither here nor there.

Your ideas and the OPs sound like solving drug addiction by offering a new less addictive drug. Obviously the addicts will continue using the addictive ones! I think the social problems can only be solved by legislation because the existence of even one Facebook is already the problem.

As a former opiate addict myself, I don't think that's true at all. Moving the choices of addiction from the simple parts of the brain to the higher parts is the whole game. If at any time while I was an addict, you had told me "I'll give you a week's supply, but after that, you can never use again", i'd have made that deal every time, even if I knew it would be enforced.

The problem of addiction is the problem of inter-temporal choice, and a broken discount function. Most addicts don't want to keep using in the executive part of their brain. They know it's self destructive, but they keep doing it anyway, because the next hit is always, in a very local sense, rational. The ability to bind your own hands is the way out.

While your example deal might work, that's not what new social media services are doing. They aren't preventing users from using the existing ones whenever they feel the urge.

I think such a network, while great in theory, would mostly be filled with techies like us, because by design, it favors intentional interaction over mindless swiping, giving advertisers less incentive to fund you and thus eventually struggling to remain solvent.

Now, if we put some regulation on dopamine loop limitations, such a network might absolutely THRIVE!

Just my personal take! Do I wish people engaged more actively with the idea that these products can be living breathing things that we also can exhibit influence over? Absolutely. Do I think the critical mass of such users exists today? Sadly not, but I hope one day to be proven wrong!

While I think this helps, Twitter has their 'lists' feature that effectively allows you to choose what timeline you want to view at any point; the only difference with your post is that it's not forced upon you, and perhaps you envision platform uses some ML model to classify posts from people you never follow. As it stands, people don't like the friction that comes with needing to hand-pick people to put into different twitter lists, so the feature is largely unused.

so, basically blogs and rss readers... with privacy features and channels for subscriptions.

sounds good to me.

> The goal of the company is to equally value the customer, environment, and profits. In other words, the model isn't to maximize profit like an investor backed startup, but rather to create a lean, useful piece of software that grows with its users and can sustain itself from every angle from day one.

If the owners are separate from the users, it's not set up for sustainability. If someone other than the users bear the risk of loss and upside of profits, it creates weird incentives whether you want it to or not.

Have you considered running it as a co-op? Every user has an equal stake in costs and profits and an equal voice in decisions. This model literally grows with its users, and it's the only one that does so.

I like this but it sounds like you've chosen the wrong model for running it. If I was going to use something like this (which I would like to, I think, if nothing else to share updates with families/close friends) I would want to own it equally with the other users.

That's an interesting idea! No I haven't considered that. B-Corp is what I was imagining, but a co-op is a great idea as well.

Lovely concept. Have a look at the work Commonwealth have done on digital platform cooperatives. https://www.common-wealth.co.uk/reports/digital-co-ops-and-t...

Couchsurfing converted to a B-corp, but that didn't work out well (for the members). I think co-op would put the emphasis back on the member experience and would have prevented Couchsurfing from killing its community and ruining its brand. CS also claimed that the B-corp meant it couldn't accept donations or do open source development, though I have no idea if that was true.

If you go for co-op, you could go one further and try for a non-profit co-op: https://smallbusiness.chron.com/nonprofit-coop-66008.html

RStudio, in my opinion one of the greatest companies in the world today, is a public benefit corp.

There are several advocacy groups that could help out:

https://ioo.coop (Internet of Ownership Coop) (Edit: currently down, a snapshot is available at https://web.archive.org/web/20211207224925/http://ioo.coop/ )

https://platform.coop (Platform Cooperativism site)

A good short read on the topic could be Nick Srnicek's Platform Capitalism; it covers concisely a lot of the economics involved.

I’m not sure how this works in the US but I would be worried about attracting liability for what happens on the platform.

How does that work?

That is exactly why I think one post per week and lack of global space is a great solution for a startup; it massively simplifies spam and other hostile content early detection and removal.

Has any technical product ever organized as a co op and been successful? Such a weird criticism…

Has any social network ever focused on users well-being and been successful? I think it’s not criticism but an interesting idea.

I too, am curious. It seems like Mastodon and other federated networks definitely have user well being and autonomy as a goal. However, for whatever reason, most of the more popular federated networks seem to aspire to be "X, but federated" instead of having drastically different user experiences.

Quite a few!


I think it's a valid concern to ask about incentive alignment - if you're wanting to do a tech-for-good project, you probably want to make sure that profiteering doesn't become the primary driver at a later date by making a Ulysses pact [1].

1: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ulysses_pact

It’s not a weird criticism. May not be unrealistic to be a co-op, fine that’s difficult. But don’t lie and say there’s no profit incentive to be had when there clearly is if owners of the platform are separate from individual users

The jury is obviously still out, but I think The Drivers Cooperative is pretty successful, and I'm optimistic that it will continue to be.


What an idea!

IMHO this is doing completely the opposite of the intended effect, because the concept is focused only on pleasing the content consumers, but it completely misses the point of what the content creators need and want out of it. And without content creators you have nothing.

The influencers are the ones who post in regular periods because it's a job for them, while ordinary people post whenever they find something interesting to say/share because their motivation is purely emotional - they're looking to channel their MOMENTARY excitement or frustrations about something. It has to happen immediately or it will not happen. Limiting them to a single post per week kinda kills all the fun, because you can't share what you feel when you feel it. System forces you to postpone the reaction until the next weekend, which means it breaks this emotional cycle and the reward of venting online. This would certainly make for a higher quality of reactions, but frankly what would be the motivation for me to sit on some thoughts for a whole week and then login to this service to post a single post, and then again be forced to wait a whole week for the next chance to say something? I can see myself doing something like that only if there's some personal gain in it, so IMHO in a long-term only influencers and self-promoters would be motivated to participate.

What? Opposite of intended effect for who? Platform owners or users? Most of us, users, want to get less but more relevant information.

Opposite of the idea that it's built "for friends, and not for influencers". One post per week is how influencers operate in order to create a sustainable flow of repetitive visits, not ordinary people posting just for fun.

Seeing a bit of debate concerning the most defining feature: one post a week.

This is my favorite aspect of the site!

What this really brings up is the distinction made ages ago about policy vs mechanism. Every social media platform out there has or basically uses the same mechanisms: interactive, submit text/photos/video, add "friends", and so on. You'll notice that Slow Social implements the mechanism of a social network.

So... what makes every social networking site different? It's the Policy! Most platforms had a few defining policies.

- Twitter: "tweets" must be quite short, originally emulating SMS, all tweets show up in your feed (not sure if this is true anymore).

- Facebook: add friends, must use your real name

- Quora: must use your real name, posts must take the form of either a question or an answer to a question (but comments may also be made)

- Reddit: Upvotes and Downvotes are first class citizens, users submit an idea, and the interface encourages lively discussion in the comments (this isn't technically policy, but more like culture).

And so we add Slow Social to the mix: must add a friend to your list for them to see your post or add their email, may only post once per week.

It's also just cool to experiment with new policies and see if they work.

So, Slow Social adds a new, perhaps daring policy so as to make things more enjoyable overall. As an aside, if I'm only allowed to post one thing per week for my friends, I can't help but think that that would encourage my writing to be more impactful, thoughtful, and polite. It would encourage good habits in written communication.

So needless to say, I'm signed up and looking forward to where this goes!

I like the idea of experimenting with a different styled social network.

I have built one such network myself. It's called Kyselo and it's for refugees from now-defunct social network Soup.io.

It's very different from today's social network in these things:

- it has strictly chronological timeline

- everything (except DM) is public (this makes leaks from seemingly private spaces impossible)

- but it encourages pseudonyms

- you can colour/style your profile page as you like - see for example my page - https://kyselo.eu/severak

- it's small and mostly meme based

Small userbase size and chronological timeline makes it very time saving (except when you are trying to find a right meme in your collection :-D).

It works fine for me but it will need some polishing before it's open to wide public. Now it's in semi-open beta (you have to ask me for invitation code).

This looks nice. If I were to use it, I would rely mostly on the mail-feature as none of my family/friends have signed up. That’s a nice feature!

But there’s one thing I reacted to, @citrusfruits. If I click the “start private conversation”-button, the email address of the user is revealed. That’s not bad in itself if the user is informed about it. But I didn’t see any information in the otherwise user friendly onboarding about revealing my email address.

How is it any different than old style blogging?

The whole social network thing is a attention grabbing game. Blogging, on the other hand, is talking into the void: I don't need anyone. All past attempts to combined the best parts of both has been combining the worst part of both: no freedom of speech and no audience.

I'd argue it's different because it has better privacy controls. Instead of all your content being public, it's all private and you can share it to a non Slow Social member via email. Additionally, it's a more focused, concentrated experience.

Otherwise, feel free to make blog posts. I think blogs are great.

Privacy is great; however requiring everyone to login adds frictions, which kill engagement.

Anyway, it is always good to see someone challenging the status quo. Good luck.

Yeah, and perhaps it will too much friction in the end. Or maybe it won't be. Either way, time will tell. Thanks for your feedback!

Email has privacy controls and is decentralized. Just send HTML emails to the friends you want to get it.

Email is push, this is pull. For stuff below the threshold of breaking news ("grandma has passed"), it would feel awfully presumptuous to email people.

It is a sad world when marketers boldly blast emails to us but we feel presumptuous to send emails to each other.

What marketers do is between them and their conscience. If I want to write about the dozen breakfast dishes from around the world I made during Corona, I do not want to have to wonder if this is worth asking for peoples attention. In a pull model, that point is moot.

OP, you should charge users a small amount ($24-50 a year), after a trial period. Keep it simple, free of ads and keep the timeline algorithm free.

I’m sure there are many who would love something like this and be willing to pay enough to cover costs and maybe generate a full time income for you. Good luck!!

I wouldn’t pay that much for what this is. I’m sure most of my friends wouldn’t. It’s a neat enough idea that I’d try the free tier, but it doesn’t offer anything compelling enough to make me want to pay for it. I’m not trying to be mean or dismissive; it’s a genuinely cool experiment, and I’d honestly love to see a social network where people actually said longer substantive things rather than low-effort shitposts (or, more and more, just sharing somebody else’s low-effort shitposts).

I don’t like the idea that people can’t see my earlier writings. That’s important to me, especially if I don’t share stuff often and I put effort into it. I don’t see the benefit in hiding that from my friends.

What I’m looking for these days is actual community, conversation, and connection. I think the effortless posting on Facebook/Twitter encourages kneejerk garbage (and blogs, sadly, have fallen into decline) so I really like the more “slow down and make something meaningful” philosophy here. If you can turn that into an actual community—one that offers something Reddit doesn’t—I’d pay for that.

IMO, building a social network is quite difficult nowadays because you can't monetize it right away. So you either have to bootstrap as a side project and build a community for years or getting paid by VC money early on.

We tried something similar [1] a few years ago. The limit is 5 posts per day. Our approach was minimalistic in a sense as you could post links only and no text, pictures, or videos.

We named it Turtle, symbolizing the opposite of the chatty twitter bird. It wasn't so clever from an SEO point of view though.

[1] https://turtle.community

If target userbase is HN like crowd, charging a small fee is fine. However, I feel this model won't be scalable to general public. Hybrid model (make payments or see ads) might also be worth exploring.

> OP, you should charge users a small amount ($24-50 a year)

This is a great way to ensure that the website fails by never hitting critical mass.

This is not a small amount. 3 USD is a small amount.

Love this idea, and love that it supports email updates. I think that makes it useful even if most (all) of my friends don't use it yet. That's something a lot of attempts at doing social networks differently miss: it needs to be useful even without all my friends being on it, or I'll just stop using it. I submitted my email and I'll check this out more in the coming days.

I'm glad someone else is a fan of the email updates. I think it makes gradual adoption much more feasible.

My first thought after reading the frontpage: this is my “liberation” from Facebook and all the things that FB is doing wrong. I click on “join today” and I see “continue with Facebook”. Why?

To minimize the friction of switching over for most regular folks. It doesn’t force you to use Facebook. You can use your email, Google and GitHub too.

Yup, this is exactly right. Facebook was the last OAuth provider I added because I don't love being tied to them, but at the end of the day some people just want the easiest way to authenticate possible, and Facebook is one of the largest authentication providers available in the world.

And to put it into perspective, yes Facebook is able to collect information about you when you use them as an authentication provider (like when you log in, how often, how long your sessions are), but beyond that it's a pretty narrow interaction.

Question: Does encouraging people to sign up with FB (bc it is faster/easier) also have the unwanted consequence of preventing them from leaving FB in the future? If they are signed up through to Slow Social via FB, can they still log in manually if their FB account has been deleted?

I see it as more of providing a false signal of adoption or success: if people need the friction to be as little as clicking a single button to "sign up" then they're not very convinced or committed to trying something new and likely not willing to invest time actually engaging with the system; all major platforms today used tricks or first mover mechanics for engagement to keep enough people on the platform long enough to make it sticky, rather than adding or creating or providing a wide breadth of usefulness/function to a wide variety of demographics - providing candy to the 80% at very low cost of ingredients vs. creating something of quality (product and service); dumb inflammatory sugary candy vs. quality nutrients that is trying to milk clicks and time engaging on a platform attempting to control and retain a user every moment.

It's really about reducing friction, not pumping up numbers. This is bootstrapped, not investor backed so there's no reason to skew the numbers.

As for the candy analogy, I think that's a bit cynical if all you're critiquing is the login system without looking at the actual application. Lots of quality applications provide login via Facebook: Spotify, Notion, Airbnb, etc. It has nothing to do with the actual apps itself, it's just the doorway.

Hey there. I didn't mean to insinuate that your intent was to do so - but I suppose the caution is to perhaps take that signal (# of signups) with at least a bit of a grain of salt; you likewise, as other commenters stated, could be turning off a set of demographics who want nothing to do with Facebook et al, and who may be your most passionated, motivated userbase you'd perhaps want to start off with. Pros and cons either way, it seems.

And to further clarify: I also wasn't criticizing your platform as part of my comment, I was referring to the status quo platforms - citing specifically all major platforms.

I do greatly appreciate anyone genuinely attempting to solve the problem - it's a very serious problem; obesity, literally, is a big problem in North America and growing globally (no pun intended) - and in big part is the capture of our information systems (including MSM/legacy media and platforms that have reached popularity and are ad funded/driven) by industrial complexes; with a sprinkling of foreign interests and bad actors interfering.

A lot of human time is sacrificed to maintain passwords for different websites; having a one-click sign in option saves a lot of people the time and headache of having to deal with a compromised account or forgotten password years in the future.

Who you give the gatekeeping keys to has importance and value.

The only other option is passwordless webauthn which has a lot of downsides compared to social sign in. Allowing people to sign in with social is a personal choice that i'm happy many sites give the option of using.

I'm not saying it shouldn't be an option but we should be conscious of who we give that login data to and how they're use/benefit from it and then misuse or waste the value they extract from it; be conscious of who we reward with our actions.

Because for them to even think of approaching a userbase size that can enjoy network effects, they will need to make signing-up as easy as possible. Using some of the other OAuths is a smart business decision in my opinion.

You can also sign up with GitHub, Google, and email.

Great to see more ideas in this space! A few years back my wife and I tried something kinda similar, Sundayy. We even launched on HN - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25848793

Some people still use Sundayy but it didn’t really take off. I am really glad we did it, but I’ll admit it got less exciting to work on when most users would fizzle out after a few weeks. My gut feel on why is that we didn’t do enough to compete with the dopamine drip feeding of typical social networks. Social networks are (amongst other things) a way to kill time and we didn’t offer that. This made it hard for users to make Sundayy core to their lives unless they were really committed, and then even if they did that it wasn’t very rewarding if none of their friends were equally committed.

For me personally I stopped using the product when I had some big personal news I needed to keep secret for a few months. It was very hard to write about other stuff on Sundayy because it was all I thought about. So I ended up writing nothing and broke the habit. That sucked - maybe I’ll pick it up again now I think about it.

Good luck OP. I hope this gives insight into some challenges you might face. I don’t have solutions to these challenges but hopefully you find some :) If you want to chat more on the topic feel free to reach out by email.

This is really cool! And those are some great insights. I just might send you an email.

If rich text formatting is your feature proposal for a social media network should I even care about it. Users care about a larger abstracted view about what you can do differently with what you can do with the smn interface. Flaunting rich text formatting feels like a core developer's achivement rather than a technology achievement. Do correct me if I am wrong.

I think what I was trying to get across is that you can do things more in a blog post styles as opposed to Twitter style quick bites. But maybe you're right it's not worth mentioning. The copy for the site hasn't gone through any focus group testing or anything like that.

Rich text formatting definitely is a plus for me in a social media app! I think it's better to specify such things, especially for users coming from Facebook/Twitter/etc with Facebook/Twitter-like expectations.

I think it's a good feature. The FB text box is almost insulting in its lack of features and options.

Constraints can be liberating and increase focus and creativity. See limited budget films vs formulaic blockbusters, or even twitters orignal 140 limit and how it led to the platform flourishing.

I think there is definitely room for a product like this, and maybe even some kind of max follower limit could also skew more to connection over influencers.

I love this segment of an interview with Charles Eames regarding design's need for constraints:

  Q: Does the creation of Design admit constraint?
  A: Design depends largely on constraints.

  Q: What constraints?
A: The sum of all constraints. Here is one of the few effective keys to the Design problem: the ability of the Designer to recognize as many of the constraints as possible; his willingness and enthusiasm for working within these constraints. Constraints of price, of size, of strength, of balance, of surface, of time, and so forth. Each problem has its own peculiar list.



It makes me so happy to see projects like this one get developed. A few months back, we started working on a pet project with a similar idea - to help people dissociate the good and honest writing on Twitter from all the links, threads, mentions, hashtags, and other engagement tactics. We called it BARE (https://bare.tw) and it offers an extremely spartan look over one's Twitter timeline. As TWiT's Leo Laporte called it "it shows you all the boring stuff."

I believe that with projects like SlowSocial and ours, we will help people find hidden gems among the "boring stuff."

Kudos, and will be happy to collaborate on further ideas.

The "new friends do not get to see old posts" seems very limiting, I would certainly want the option of being able to share some of my old posts with new friends, given that often new friends are made because of some overlap in real life history.

I understand that this platform is perhaps deliberately not trying to attract strangers, but other platforms that had taken this stance eventually all faded away because all my friends want to play at where the parties are at, and those tend not to be private networks of this sort. It might be possible to avoid this demise if this network grows to be sufficiently large, but it's hard to grow when all existing contents are invisible to new users.

You can share old posts with new friends, it's just on a post by post basis. But yeah, more fine grained control would be a nice feature.

> Posts are shared with all of your confirmed friends once published (let the people in your life know what you’ve been up to)

That part also seems weird to me, and also why I never really post anything to facebook these days (even if I used it more than once a month). Unless the things you're writing are stupidly generic they won't appeal to all your friends, especially since "social media friends" these days also means family, coworkers, acquaintences, that one guy you did a college project with and never talked to again, etc. Not actual friends.

I know which of my friends are interested in what, and I can share what I know they'll be interested in hearing via DMs, leading to more productive discussions. I'm not sure what the appeal of friend-only self posts even is these days, unless you're planning a get together of some sort.

If you're making a self post, there must be people that you don't know about that can see it, so there is some chance that you'll find someone new that's interested in what you posted. E.g. posting in fb or discord groups or in public like on reddit or here.

I was eager to register, but reading the TOS - I'm not sure any more.

> You acknowledge and agree that any questions, comments, suggestions, ideas, feedback, or other information regarding the Site ("Submissions") provided by you to us are non-confidential and shall become our sole property.

Is this normal? To be honest: I haven't read the facebook TOS - but at the same time I don't post on facebook. If slowsocial owns all the stuff I'm sending out to my friends - I'd rather stay with my email newsletter.

What do you think about this?

This is awesome, but I’d like to see it built on top of something like https://Manyver.se (SSB) where the content lives on user devices!

Social Networks should be like email providers. You choose one that fits you best, or deploy your own, without having to worry not being able to communicate with others.

Maybe we are long overdue for an open standard protocol for social interactions on the web. If you come to think of it, when the personal data itself isn't the property of the company behind the social network, there should be no reason not to share that information, so we can access it from a provider of convenience.

This is what locks people into harmful platforms. I can't go to slow social without all my friends coming with me, so I'm stuck with Instagram/whatsapp.

> I can't go to slow social without all my friends coming with me, so I'm stuck with Instagram/whatsapp.

This is partially correct. Slow Social would be a lot better if all your friends joined. However, my accommodation for this is that any post can be sent as en email as well. This lets you loop in people that aren't part of the network, and maybe never will be. It's not a perfect solution, but I hope it's better than nothing.

Well, the people that I know don't read their personal email unless they are looking for a password reset or a one time code.

once everyone started requiring an email as a user name, inboxes of normal people are just spam that's part of the deal for signing up for something.

It's basically useless these days, but it's not technically spam because they made you click the link when you signed up.

Sure you could unsubscribe, and I do, and my technical friends do, but the rest just ignore it unless they need it for a specific action. I'd have to call or text all my friends to let them know I'd sent them an email with a link to a post, and at that point, I could just text them the post and at that point, it's kinda . . . idk, not great.

I dunno, Substack is doing pretty well.

Maybe instead of a new "slow" network that enforces these rules, the consumer might want slow mode. Something that digests the fast-paced stuff. Maybe using heuristics to pare down the noisy, frivolous, or contentious stuff.

Or maybe this model and its intentional limitations is key.

> Maybe we are long overdue for an open standard protocol for social interactions on the web

We have those. They are called websites and emails.

Yeah but most websites don’t directly talk to each other. And email only covers some of what social media platforms have. It’s difficult to make and plan an event over email. But if I could make an event on a discord-like client, and my grandma can get updates on facebook, and so on, that would be an improvement from what we have now

> ActivityPub

Problem is that platforms don't see any incentive in letting their APIs loose like this.

> Maybe we are long overdue for an open standard protocol for social interactions on the web

This exists as a W3C recommendation (ActivityPub), and before that you had pioneers working on things like StatusNet and GNU Social, way back in 2008.

ActivityPub exists, it's just niche.

Maybe Elon will let mastodon instances interact with twitter or something. It'd be unlikely, but very cool

>I can't go to slow social without all my friends coming with me, so I'm stuck with Instagram/whatsapp.

That's the problem if these new social networks have nothing to add in terms of functionality. There are many examples for come-for-the-tool-stay-for-the-network strategies that work.

There is (was) Patchwork [1].

[1] https://github.com/ssbc/patchwork

You should give ActivityPub[1] a look. There are plenty of platforms based on this already.

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ActivityPub

Nice to see what I think is a trix[0] editor for the rich text posts.

[0] https://trix-editor.org/

Yup! It's Trix alright. I was pretty amazed out how heavy and complicated most rich text editors are. But then again, it's a pretty complex interaction they have to design around.

I kind of love it, but it sort of feels like the burn of social networks at this point is less about the bite sized crap stream and more that some entity now has my social network and interests saved for the purpose of targeting ads. Ads are the evil that drives the crap to keep us doom scrolling. Has this somehow found another revenue stream? Ads as a revenue stream is the issue, not the size or rate of posting.

Low overhead costs and charging users something like $3/mo would be the target for sustainability if the network ever starts to have significant operating expenses. Until then, it's really cheap to keep running.

Missed opportunity to call it "Slowcial" ;)

I had the same thought and had been holding my tongue. I think the more literal name probably suits the intent of the service better but my impulse to terrible portmanteau is screaming. :)

glacial ? or slocial?

It's an interesting idea, however the slow part of this social network doesn't make it built more for friends than an unrestricted network. It seems to solve the noise and lack of depth part, but that has just as much value outside of your close friends network. So I would focus the messaging around that part - slow and deep - rather than the friendship part.

And then there's the inherit issue of a restricted social network being disadvantaged in competition with other networks. If you limit the use or the reach of a social network, other networks who have more use and reach will grow faster. The reason the current major social networks are full of noise and over-engagement is not because people necessarily like that more or that other alternatives hasn't existed. It's because they won in the inevitable darwinistic battle a social network will join, where maximum reach and volume of content are key advantages.

I was building a social media network about 6 years ago. I failed to get enough users since the native apps were just web views that had a lack of notifications. @CitrusFruit How did you get so much attraction to slowsocial?

This seems odd to me (I am considered a Millennial). Social media for friends, are they really friends? I text, call, see in person my friends. A person does not have that many true friends in my experience.

Facebook should not exist for friends- mostly people bragging about something or another.

Facebook groups are extremely helpful. That as a social network makes more sense to me. For example, I can find a group of experts that have to do with carpet cleaning to answer questions.

So my two cents, your solving the wrong problem. Social networks are not for friends. I also understand I am most likely an outcast odd ball who feels this way.

Want a social network that's for friends only? simply make registering and adding others possible by phone numbers only, and make phone numbers always visible to friends.

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