Pinboard.in, the "anti-social bookmarking" site has always been an interesting company, with one man behind it. It started in 2007, charging a one-time fee of $3, which it very s-l-o-w-l-y raised. I think, when I paid in January $2011 it was up to around $7. Its founder, Maciej Ceglowski wanted to make enough money for it to become his full-time job, without having to resort to making money from advertising. He succeeded quite well, where others failed or floundered. There was another, very aesthetically pleasing site called Magnol.ia, which died a sudden, painful death when its server crashed and everyone's bookmarks were irretrievably lost. There was a decentralized service based on Status.net, called Freelicio.us, which was alive for awhile. I tried both of those, as well as Pinboard's much larger competitor Delicio.us. Ceglowski bought it in 2017, joking that no one should ever try to mess with Pinboard. I think it sounded funnier when he said it. He's a witty and intelligent writer and social commentator, with his head and his heart in the right place.
Although I stopped and started using it a few times, sometimes for long periods, I currently have 7,657 bookmarks on Pinboard. But now I think I've decided to stop using it. A few years ago Pinboard changed its business model and started charging new users an annual fee of $11. That's now up to $22. A couple of days ago, I got an email from him:
My name is Maciej, I run the bookmarking site Pinboard, and I’m writing to ask for your help.
You joined the site back when there was a one-time signup fee. Back then, charging for bookmarking online was unheard of, and the fee was more of an anti-spam measure than a revenue model.
In 2015, I changed Pinboard over to a subscription site, where even “basic” users (who don’t use the archiving feature) have to pay an annual fee. But I did not make this change retroactive, since that felt like going back on a promise.
Today I’m asking you to voluntarily change the way you use the site by going to https://pinboard.in/convert and converting your account to a ‘modern’ one, the kind you have to pay for every year.
Let me explain why:
I would describe my work like single-handedly running a restaurant in an old château. It’s cool and fun, and the ambiance is great, but occasionally the soup is served cold or not at all because I have to chase a bunch of bats out of the kitchen, or replace a collapsed beam, while the diners sit and wait. This is no fun for either me or the diners, who rightfully complain that it ruins their dinner.
Having more paying users would let me hire some dedicated carpenters and and bat-chasers that would let me focus on the cooking.
Second, it’s become rather hard to have two populations of users, one of whom pays annually for a service that the other gets for free. Right now, about 2/3 of Pinboard users with basic accounts are people who signed up, like you did, in 2009 or 2010 with a one-time payment. The remaining 1/3 pays $22 a year. I have noticed this has created some feelings of annoyance in the paying group, odd expectations in the one-time group, and a general confusion about pricing policy.
I even have a person in mind—a great Romanian guy who interned with me in 2013, and is a longtime fan of the site. He’s capable, effective, and I would love to work with him again. And as a way of thanking you, converted users will get access to these features first.
Since this is Pinboard, you are also welcome to ignore all of the new stuff and just use it the way it has always been.
So my pitch is this: if you are getting more than $1.80/month of value from using Pinboard (which is what the site costs these days), I ask you to convert to a regular account as a token of your support.
Tradtionally, a company in my position would take outside investment, or bring in a VC with a big story about growth, or pivot to a new market. But I much prefer for it to the site to remain independent, ornery, and self-sufficient. I take my work seriously and want the site to be around for the rest of my professional life.
If you can help me do that by putting things on a firmer financial basis, then I’ll be grateful to you! And I promise you will see the benefits.You’ll even get emoji flair (optional) to go next to your username. It’s a win/win/win/win proposition.
That URL again is: https://pinboard.in/convert
Let me know if you have questions, or comments, or find this request deeply offensive, or deeply inoffensive, or anywhere in between. Right now I’m reaching out to just the oldest of old users, and would be grateful to hear your thoughts.
Ceglowski is right, that $22 is not a lot of money to pay, but together with all the other services we pay for, the expenses mount, and I am slowly trying to eliminate payment for cloud services, in favour of the decentralized model of self-hosting. I pay a small annual amount for Fastmail, because I don't want to monkey too much with my email. Previous experiments have resulted in losing some emails. I pay Disroot for Nextcloud. There, I have a dilemma, because if the idea is to protect one's data by backing it up in the cloud, it doesn't make much sense to host it at home - the equipment could be stolen; the house could burn down. But Disroot is a non-profit organization rather than a company. I don't mind paying them, or making micro-payments to others who are enabling decentralized services. I can't afford much: I deliberately keep my income low, but I can afford a little, so I think it's better to use that little to support the kind of development that I want to see.
So regarding bookmarking, I have three uses for it:
- Links that I need to retain for services that I use, sites that I need to go to.
- Blogs and news sites that I return to, to check on occasionally.
- Links to news stories that I want to share; usually here on Hubzilla, or send to friends.
For the first two, I use mainly my browser's bookmarking system. (Mostly I was using this, rather than Pinboard for these kinds of bookmarks.) I don't think any browser does bookmarking very well, and it's a pity that browsers can't use a common file system so that different browsers could rely on the same bookmarks. There are browsers - like, I think, Epiphany, that use tags rather than folders. And there are extensions that can add tags to bookmarks rather than rely just on the folder tree. To make bookmarking a bit easier I keep bookmark folders in my browser bar, which works reasonably well.
For No. 3, social bookmarking, I spent a couple of hours looking into this and decided on the following: there are extensions for Chrome based and Mozilla based browsers that enable one to copy the URL and title of the current page to the clipboard. (I can in parallel copy some selected text by using XFCE's clipboard manager). I can then paste the bookmarks into a Day entry of Cherrytree notes, where I can start to collect material for a blogpost. (F8 opens a day entry). Then I can copy everything into Hubzilla when I'm ready to make a blog post. I'll see how it works for me.
✭ Al jazeera staff bemused at rightwing US venture
“So far the co-workers I’ve talked to are just dumbfounded,” said an Al Jazeera employee who asked not to be named. “They didn’t know it was coming and are confused why they would do this."
What a whacky idea Al Jazeera has there. I'm not surprised its journalists are up in arms.
✭ Amnesty strips Alexei Navalny of 'prisoner of conscience' status | Alexei Navalny | The Guardian
'the term “prisoner of conscience” denoted specific criteria established by Amnesty International ... “nothing Navalny has said in the past justifies his current detention”'.
It's easy to forget, when newspapers adopt their current darlings, that dissidents are just fallible human beings too, whom power can easily corrupt. For so long we were reading stories about Aung Sang Su Kyi with watery eyes. Then, when she came to power, she turned out to be not as nice as we had expected. And now she's the underdog again. So should we be so surprised when we hear that Navalny previously espoused right-wing anti-immigrant causes, that, when it became more expedient, he pushed aside?
✭ Joe Biden speaks to Saudi Arabia's King Salman before release of Khashoggi murder report | Joe Biden | The Guardian
"The White House has made clear that Biden considers the 85-year-old king his counterpart, rather than the crown prince, who runs an increasingly repressive regime in Riyadh."
The other day I watched the film, "The Dissident" by Bryan Fogel. It's a good film about the Khashoggi assassination. As with Navalny and Aung San Su Kyi, Khashoggi was no angel. The well-to-do cigar smoking, ex-regime insider who flees Saudi Arabia only when his position becomes insecure... The campaign he funds to counter the Saudi government's army of Twitter trolls with an opposing army of Twitter trolls... At the age of 60, the temptation to marry a a young woman less than half his age, after his own wife is "forced" to divorce him... well I don't know. But after watching the film, no one can dispute the monstrousness of the Saudi regime and its de-facto ruler.
✭ Coronavirus live news: Israel suspends vaccine donations to allies after backlash | World news | The Guardian
“following criticism at home and abroad of so-called vaccine diplomacy after it planned to send token amounts of jabs to foreign allies rather than Palestinians.”
Israel is using the vaccines as a cynical bribe for getting poorer nations to move their embassies from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
✭ Lady Gaga's dog walker shot, two of her French bulldogs stolen - CNN