maique
maique

What If? notes.maique.eu

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gdp
gdp

@maique Did you write that post on HEY World?

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SimonWoods
SimonWoods

@gdp @maique Looks like Scribbles?

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maique
maique

@SimonWoods @gdp It is Scribbles 😎

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manton
manton

@maique Thanks for writing this up. I know it's going to take time to rebuild trust in the service after stability problems. Only one question: is there actually technical lock-in, or is it because no other platform can do what Micro.blog can do? I try really, really hard to avoid lock-in so want to know about this.

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odd
odd

@maique Very good write up. I share your experience, and are not planning on leaving anytime soon, but I think if the service was growing a bit faster, more persons could step in.

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crossingthethreshold
crossingthethreshold

@maique Thank you for writing this up. I think that it was very fair and honest.

Scribbles, yes?

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odd
odd

@manton @maique I think it’s user retention, not lock-in as such, but else I was nodding along to this post.

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maique
maique

@manton I complain because I care. Not sure about the technical lock-in, as I’ve never tried to move out. I suppose I’d be left with a full archive, that I’d be able to import elsewhere. I trust it would not be an issue. I recently moved a large Ghost blog into a new hosting provider, and the zipped archive they provided was impressively easy to import, the many GB it had. I believe yours would be as good as that.

I also cannot say I’ve found another platform that has so many, or this specific set, of features attached to it. We could tie a few sites together to accomplish the same, but I haven’t found one exactly like yours, no. Kudos on the feature set. That has never been an issue.

The issue, as you mentioned, is trust, regarding stability. Trust in the team is, of course, unchanged.

The lock-in, for me, is more an emotional one. I have given a bit of myself to the blog, to the platform, to the community. And have gotten tenfold in return. That’s what has me locked-in. Not the technical bits, but the personal part. The group of people who, for some reason, gathered around your product. The people that, for the most part, still stick around, even when they’re complaining. I’d miss them a lot more than any feature you have on the service.

And, for that, I will always thank you.

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pratik
pratik

@maique Thanks for writing this. While we have been busy with other things on Micro.blog, I know you have been wrestling with reliability. While I haven't experienced those problems lately, I have experienced them before. But I never know when it may not work so the reliability part is important (it just works). I'm less of a technical person than you are ("Heck, I have an ssh app on the iPhone, with pings configured for all the feeds that I’m importing into my M.b account" - WHAT!!!)

Everyone and their cousin has a social network with working notifications, why do they keep failing here? The only way to get them reliably is to use Gluon, a really nice app made by Vincent Ritter.

Mine are working now, but they didn't intermittently. But ironically, Vincent also makes the official Micro.blog iOS app, so this is indeed befuddling.

I would be lying if I hadn't thought about moving elsewhere (before last week), but not lately. But yeah, I hate to disrupt my workflow again - Drafts, Mimi, etc. And I just moved the older posts from Blot 😫 So yeah, there's that technical lock-in.

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bryan
bryan

@maique well considered and written.

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manton
manton

@maique Thank you! That's really helpful. So glad you're part of the community. And we'll always support that feature you mention where people can participate even while their blog is somewhere else.

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maique
maique

@bryan Thank you.

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maique
maique

@pratik I’ve seen, and kept a distance, from your issues. Much bigger than mine, for sure.

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maique
maique

@zwin Just the web editor. Truth be told, I wanted to see if I could do it for such a long post. I did, but missed Drafts a lot!

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numericcitizen
numericcitizen

@maique great piece! Very well balanced. I can see that you're very fond of M.b. I do wish the service had no issues at all but I guess it's not possible. Yet, interoperability is hard to do and maintain. I don't try to defend M.b. but it is what it is. On the support issue, I did experience a few hours of downtime in the past. But, what I've been thinking recently is how I could become a volunteer to help @manton ... spending some time on help.micro.blog and answer the easy ones while leaving the more complex questions to Manton? i don't know, but I'm open to help in one way or another.. because I love Micro.blog.

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maique
maique

@crossingthethreshold Thanks. Scribbles, yes.

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ridwan
ridwan

@pratik You moved out of Blot? Why? I think it is a good service; bit expensive though.

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rom
rom

@manton @maique I think the issue is not trust on the team, of course, but on the team's chosen infrastructure. I believe that this can be improved, but then again, it might require higher costs.

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pimoore
pimoore

@maique That was a really great read; an honest, up front take on the pros and cons of this platform. I share your concerns about the reliability of late, and have also had support questions go unanswered. My biggest point of contention continues to be the technical issues and limitations to Micro.blog, that its Hugo backend doesn’t suffer from directly: lack of URL and slug control, inability to disable the .html extension (this one really bothers me), only tags (no categories), and a couple of other configuration changes from Hugo that didn’t work when I tried them in MB (and of course I can’t recall them now). I don’t understand why features of Hugo have been disabled or not available, without the option for power users to toggle them back on. Micro.blog should support everything Hugo does, in my honest opinion.

In the same vein, there are longstanding feature requests in addition to the above that seem to have fallen by the wayside. It feels to me as though these kinds of core, technical things have taken a back seat to the social aspects of the platform such as ActivityPub, and crossposting. Like yourself, I think a shift away from these indieweb features for a while to refocus on core additions, and stability, would help to re-strengthen trust. Things as basic as notifications should just work, yet they simply don’t. I gave up trying and asking about them, they’re disabled entirely.

The flip side to all of this—you rightly point out—is the frictionless publishing. It really does make posting easy and open, with numerous choices of apps and workflows. It fully embraces Markdown and the speed of static sites, while removing the need for things like esoteric (IMO) git workflows and messing around with CDN uploads and configurations. It offers so many extras under the hood like books, podcasts, and bookmarks, without having to manage these things under separate services or platforms. And there truly are some genuine and fantastic people here.

No doubt this is why I’m also going back and forth in my head to carefully weigh my options. Moving a blog takes work, and a rethinking of priorities, workflows, and potential caveats. To be fair, there are other factors independent of Micro.blog that are part of my decision whether to move my blog—they would be regardless of the pros and cons of MB itself.

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jsonbecker
jsonbecker

@pimoore a lot of the social features in Micro.blog (and indieweb in general) are tied to URLs. So I can understand how there are all kinds of subtle ways that URL controls will break other parts of the system. But Manton has said this is likely coming. FWIW, Hugo itself is deeply unclear on tag versus category distinctions and they basically operate identically just giving you two different systems.

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pimoore
pimoore

@jsonbecker Yeah I don’t disagree that the URL controls would be complex under those circumstances. In that case perhaps it would’ve been better if they had been available from the start (Jekyll also would’ve allowed customization in this regard), so as not to create the potential for breakage when these social aspects were added into the mix. Obviously that’s neither here nor there at this point, just an observational hindsight. I think having permalinks that can be specified like 11ty would be ideal: dates and slugs in micro posts, and only the full slug (no 3 word truncation in either case) for long form.

Tags and categories aren’t a “dealbreaker”, but having more broadly based categories in addition to specific tags—that’s how they make sense to me—would allow more organization of content.

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jsonbecker
jsonbecker

@pimoore I hear you— but you’re talking like someone who wants a complex Hugo blog. By and large, MB was social software first, that wrapped around static blog hosting. Not blog hosting with an API for posting that later grew social. Organizing your content is pretty antithetical to the core idea of Mb which is make it easy as social media to post to your own blog. It’s specially about bringing the things that drew people to write on Twitter instead of their blog back to having a blog with all those benefits. Those of us who want piddly complex custom blogs are kind of outside the core initial idea and while supported, has to be balanced against losing what this is supposed to be.

An API in front of Hugo means this conversation doesn’t ever happen. I never find you. I probably never bother to reply.

I’m not saying you’re wrong by any stretch— I suspect custom URLs will be here within a year or two, for example. But as a product manager I feel almost compelled to support the challenge of not losing the original vision and differentiator to chase the super power users.

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In reply to
jsonbecker
jsonbecker

@pimoore tl;dr people who give a shit about .html at the end of the URL are pretty far outside the thesis of “Make it as easy to write to a site you own as social media was to post to”

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SimonWoods
SimonWoods

@jsonbecker @pimoore Yep, Jason is right. 💯

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bjhess
bjhess

@maique Thanks for sharing all of your blog thinking. Really interesting!

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SimonWoods
SimonWoods

@pimoore @jsonbecker I mean, I do think there is a lot of value to be had from treating your super users as well as possible — the balance of these decisions is difficult mostly because the team is so small, and that can't be changed with the snap of Manton's fingers.

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pimoore
pimoore

@jsonbecker I don’t disagree, those are all very fair and valid points. This balance between the two extremes of easy publishing, while having full control, has been the crux of my ongoing—and current—internal debate. When push comes to shove, I guess I need to decide what depth and type of content I want to have on my site, and how much control I want, need, or am willing to give up. To be fair, that’s not a failing of Micro.blog, rather a result of my being a nitpicky bastard. :)

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SimonWoods
SimonWoods

@pimoore @jsonbecker Maybe we could make those Apple-style working groups, for the different areas of interest in the platform. "Hi Manton, here are the group's latest findings... yes those are double-sided, why do you ask"

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jsonbecker
jsonbecker

@pimoore I mean you're talking to someone who has considered writing his own blogging software several times because the thing he wants isn't possible in Hugo, so I get the impulse. Then I remember I actually do blog now and that's something I shouldn't forget.

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jarrod
jarrod

@jsonbecker That’s a really good point, and bears keeping in mind when I’m requesting nitpicky stuff. I do want those things, but it’s kind like coming here expecting 1:1 feature parity with Mastodon when it was specifically created to avoid some of those pitfalls (likes, boosts, hashtags, etc.). This place is different, and that’s okay. And if I’m not okay with it, there are countless other social networks and blogging platforms that allow one to nitpick, albeit with other bits from the MB experience missing. Everything is a tradeoff.

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pimoore
pimoore

@jsonbecker For sure I hear you on that. I don’t want to be one of those people that writes a single post about moving to a new blogging tool, then is never heard from again. 😂

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petebrown
petebrown

@jsonbecker 💯

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pratik
pratik

@ridwan My main website/domain is still on Blot and I'm grandfathered in to the original lower price ($20/yr) However, I wanted a certain look on my blog plus have other activities (Books, Now, etc.) tied in. If I put the effort into Blot, maybe I can but I'll have to get the paid Dropbox plan for space.

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vincent
vincent

@pratik @maique — Just wanted to chime in on the excellent post! Regarding the official app, there are some constraints I have to work with especially on the "speed" of the timelines. I have some ideas in my head for a few months now how to improve that — the gist is though that those views are web based and basically render from the MB server — that means it can be slow when you're in Europe. In fact, that's why I originally built Gluon because it was so frustratingly slow. I need to convince Manton to use native views, or come up with a solution that saves the web view state and have smarter loading (which I am thinking about above). There are many things in the official app, though, that would be awesome to have in Gluon too.

For notifications — I know. Have been asking for this to be fixed too. Sometimes they do work, but generally they do not because something is happening server side — and I am mainly concentrating on the "app" space right now due to limited time — I built my custom notification handling for Gluon because I wanted a little bit more control 😏.

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pratik
pratik

@vincent @maique Thanks for that clarification. I guess you and Manton have much to discuss regarding design, especially at the backend. I don't understand much of it, but if Gluon as a third-party app can work better than the native app, there's something wrong.

Also, regarding the ecosystem, it hasn't taken off much. Gluon is the only third-party app apart from people hacking RSS feed readers to read Micro.blog. And IIRC, you had considered shutting down Gluon (that's when I stopped using it).

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pratik
pratik

@zwin @vincent @maique I agree 100% on the principle (should do better than the official app). I use the official app coz I can edit posts, add tags to bookmarks, etc. Gluon has those nice touches like indicators on posts that may have replies, etc. But working notifications should be a special feature, right? Both apps have different interaction elements so you can't really switch between the two. Many things are done server-side so you can't use one app for only-posts and the other for conversations & replies. Lillihub gets close to being the perfect app but it's primarily a web app and works best on the desktop. So I'm saying this is lots of inconsistencies for a small service with ~7K monthly users.

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vincent
vincent

@zwin @pratik @maique — I get you. You have to take into account that I am working on MB with a very limited scope with only best intentions. I'd love to do more, but I really can't because it's a balance.

Gluon is a personal project and I can do what I want with it, and pretty much have been. Yes, it lacks features and I do want to put more effort into it — and I do — but it's also something I do not charge for (yet?) so it has to be a balance of free work and paid work.

With MB I have a set scope and I have to stick to that, even though sometimes I want to do more and try and push features — but then again it's a balancing act. Officially I have 3 days a month here. I usually do more than that, and sometimes less because I have other things on. So I have to work with that limitation and scope of a project (which is mainly apps right now). Outside of that I try and fix anything when Manton is away when we have an emergency and try at least to keep things going, whilst relaying what I can. Then I also reply to people saying things will get fixed or looked at — but I probably should stop doing that because you would think I am here full time or hold the answers 🤣

I do want to see more third-party apps, and did push for them in the past — MB also has open-sourced the official app for people to look at. At the end of day, I'm freelancing here, making apps — whilst I am a little bit more involved than perhaps I technically should be, I don't really get involved too much when it comes to the business side (which is fine with me). Personally I also want it to improve on the technical side of things and bringing in more devs — but it's not up to me. There are many fixes and updates happening a lot of the time in the code that Manton is working on.

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pratik
pratik

@vincent From my side at least, I totally get it and understand your part-time role and limited scope within the Micro.blog LLC. Hence I never direct my help requests for official Micro.blog stuff to you but always appreciate when you step in even when you don’t have to. You’re definitely putting in more time than you’re paid to from my POV.

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vincent
vincent

@pratik ✌️ — Actually, it's a good amount considering there are times where I don't do too much, so it balances out very nicely. I'm lucky really that there is flexibility.

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crossingthethreshold
crossingthethreshold

@pratik Echoing your words here. Thank you @vincent for your support of this community.

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ridwan
ridwan

@pratik I think now David offers support to Google Drive. If he does with OneDrive it would be awesome. I got 28GB of free storage from Dropbox. All thanks to early adoption during my uni days. 🤣

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pratik
pratik

@ridwan It was buggy when I tried using it. This was last year, I think so I moved it back to DropBox which works fantastically all the time. And 28 GB? I've a measly 6.

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