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New section on switching.social, for blogging alternatives. First entry is @write_as :

https://switching.social/ethical-alternatives-to-medium/

It would be nice to have a wider range of blogging alternatives too, perhaps alternatives to Tumblr, Blogger and Livejournal?

If you have any suggestions, let me know.

(#Plume is still in alpha testing)

#Blogs #Blogging #Bloggers #Writing #Publishing #Macroblogging #ActivityPub #Federation #Fediverse
Ethical Alternatives to Medium

@switchingsocial
write.as is open source but is it a free software?
@write_as

@nicod_ @write_as

There's more details about their open source plans here:

@switchingsocial Please, reconsider promoting @write_as until they actually release their "open source" code openly.

Currently, they are a have a GitHub with nothing _on_ it, which is #openwashing at its most despicable.

When https://github.com/writeas/Write.as has source code on it, I'm likely to throw my support fully behind it, because I would absolutely love an ActivityPub blog! Until then... no.

And, just to be clear, I'm not just doing the legendary "FOSS Fan Whine". I have absolutely nothing against charging for access to a service.

The problem is that, for a platform without a genuine commitment to open source and AP as a bolt-on, it would be super easy to pursue an embrace, extend, extinguish agenda toward the fediverse, and that's... not really an acceptable risk.

Publish the source and I'll help develop it. Keep it closed source, it's nothing other than a threat.

@tindall Where do you see a lack of commitment to open source?

And why does every fediverse platform have to be a from-scratch clone of some silo in order to be considered valid?

@pb

> Where do you see a lack of commitment to open source?

The service is up and running and charging for service and not only is the code not available, there's not even a firm timeline as to when it will be made available.

> And why does every fediverse platform have to be a from-scratch clone of some silo in order to be considered valid?

Excuse me? Where did I say that? Why do you think I think that? I'm currently working on a project that doesn't fit that description at all, FediDict.

@tindall

> there's not even a firm timeline as to when it will be made available.

Near the end of this year. https://discuss.write.as/t/activitypub-support/64

> Excuse me? Where did I say that?

You said "and AP as a bolt-on". Sounds like no one is allowed to support AP unless they're building something from scratch.

@pb That's exactly what I mean by "not a firm timeline".

> You said "and AP as a bolt-on". Sounds like no one is allowed to support AP unless they're building something from scratch.

"Bolt-on" and "from scratch" are not the only two options. Pleroma is a great example; it didn't have AP support originally, but it now fully supports AP and interoperates neatly with the rest of the fediverse.

Write.as, on the other hand, does not. Check out recent posts by @kaniini for more info.

@pb I think the point is being missed.

I have no issues at all with people charging for services.

I have no issue with people not releasing their source code when it isn't ready for public release.

What I have a problem with is projects that see all the work happening in the open, slap on a connector to that work, begin charging people for it, and still don't release that code.

If it's in a good enough state that people can pay for it, it's good enough for me to read, and contribute to, and learn from.

@tindall They had a paid service long before they launched AP support and are active on GitHub https://github.com/writeas

I'm afraid I'm still missing your point.

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i feel obligated to say that i like write.as and am not boosting this because i don’t. i object to @switchingsocial promoting it as open source when it’s not. but i’ve used write.as and i like it as a tool... and it would be cool to be able to see the code someday, but it’s hardly a dealbreaker for me for the things i use it for. @write_as

@ghost @write_as

I didn't promote this as open source, I promoted it as more privacy-friendly than Medium.

Medium requires all its users to log in through Facebook or Google, and tracks them with Google Analytics.

Write.as doesn't do anything like this, it is far more respectful of privacy.

Switching.social is meant for non-technical people looking for easy to use privacy-friendly alternatives. If there's a FLOSS alternative that's easy to use for non-technical people, please let me know!

@tindall @write_as @switchingsocial

I understand what you are saying, but "despicable" "openwashing" might be an overstatement.

We've seen a lot of people who for whatever reasons hesitate or don't put enuf time into actually publishing their code, but then they do. Finally.

So maybe, please get it out there? Don't hesitate? It is actually a priority?

@switchingsocial @write_as @tindall

Maybe another good principle is "work out in the open from day 1"?

@bhaugen @tindall @switchingsocial Yes, I've been doing that with all my other projects I started after Write.as, from HTMLhouse (https://github.com/writeas/htmlhouse) to Public.Bio (https://github.com/abunchtell/publicbio) and soon Read.as.

But right now the code is in an unmaintainable state, so I have to decide if it's more worth it to anger a small, vocal group of people by being closed source, or anger a larger audience by releasing subpar code that will constantly change without their input or consideration.

@write_as Absolutely fair. As I mentioned, I don't have anything against you keeping your code closed source as long as you need to get it in a shape where you want to release it.

What I'm concerned about, primarily, is switching.social promoting it as a "privacy friendly" option. We have no way to prove that it is privacy friendly if it isn't open source.

FWIW tho, even "releasing subpar code that will constantly change without [...] input or consideration" is the better option in my book. Let us help!

@tindall @write_as

Doing switching.social is a bit of a balancing act.

Open source is best, but if there are no alternatives at all then people will default to services we know are worse.

For example, we know Medium requires its users to sign up via Facebook or Google, and we know write.as doesn't.

We know write.as offers a "tor hidden service" to protect privacy, AFAIK Medium doesn't.

Is there some scenario in which write.as could be a greater threat to users' privacy than Medium?

@switchingsocial I can't think of one, at the moment. If that's your criterion, write.as certainly has a place on switching.social.

I would submit, though, that there is a difference between being better than the absolute garbage fire of a website that is Medium, and being desirable.

Write.as is certainly better than Medium, but it's not trustable in the same way an open source version would be, because you can't self-host it.

@tindall

I get where you're coming from 👍

There's some more rigorously chosen (but more technically demanding) options here:

https://switching.social/ethical-alternatives-for-advanced-users/

Prism Break is especially careful about privacy:

https://prism-break.org/en/
Ethical alternatives for advanced users

@tindall @switchingsocial

Are you looking specifically for blogging *service* alternatives? Because blogs themselves are very easy to self-host, and there are a lot of good options. Off the top of my head:
* Netlify
* GitHub pages
* GitLab pages
* Neocities
* Wordpress.org

And the first few can all be combined with open-source static site generators (#gutenberg, #hugo, #jeckyll, #gatsby, etc.).

My own blog (https://www.codesections.com/blog) is an example of this stack (Gutenberg + Netlify)

@codesections I, personally, am not looking for new blogging software. https://leotindall.com serves static files generated by Hugo and I'm very happy with it.

I do, however, plan to host a copy of write.as for a number of my non-technical friends as soon as I can, who want to write about radical politics. They currently use Tumblr and have tried Mastodon and don't like either; Tumblr because of the corporate nature and Mastodon because of the short-form posting baked into the interface.

@tindall

Sorry, I may have been unclear. The "you" in my last toot was @switchingsocial. I was intending to ask if they were tied to recommending a blogging-as-a-service offering as a #medium replacement, or if they would consider recommending self-hosting a static blog (which seems like a good Medium replacement even if it's different in some ways).

@codesections

Self-hosting is great if you can do it, but it's a bit beyond the scope of switching.social. The site is aimed at non-techies.

@switchingsocial

That makes sense. My opinion is that self hosting can be as easy/easier than publishing on Medium. If I wrote up a guide on how a non-technical user could set up a free self-hosted blog, is that something that you you'd consider adding to the guide?

@codesections

It's tricky! 😕

On the one hand, you're right, with the right software most people would be able to cope with simple self-hosting.

On the other hand, a lot of people will see using servers as something that just isn't for them. They just want a clear registration and sign-on page attached to an easy-to-use service.

The rule of thumb I'm trying to stick to is to only ask users to make one major change at a time. Self-hosting might be too many changes at once?

But... (1/2)

@codesections

...but there's a page on switching.social that links to more advanced guides:

https://switching.social/ethical-alternatives-for-advanced-users/

If you know/do a good self-hosting guide, it could be linked to from that page?

(2/2)
Ethical alternatives for advanced users