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HPR4116: Response to 4109: Building community without SEO

Hosted by hobs on 2024-05-13 00:00:00
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I was inspired by Knightwise's episode 4109 on future-proofing HPR.
I agree with many of your criticisms, but I'm not sure that a marketing strategy is the best way forward. Many of the most successful and sustainable businesses and organizations have been built on word-of-mouth.
For example I heard of Google, Zoom, Gmail, Facebook, Slack, Twitter, Discord, etc from my IRL friends and coworkers rather than from a marketing message. And most of the open source communities I'm a part of (Linux, Python, Firefox, Hugging Face, etc) are successful precisely because their success is not subject to a BigTech algorithm or exploitative terms-and-conditions.
Most open source projects are able to build community much by actively resisting the temptation to create a marketing message or social media campaign and instead focusing on the authenticity and quality of their "product" and catering to their contributors' and users niche needs and sensibilities.

Points of agreement (Rapoport Rule #2)

  • I share Knightwise's love and concern for the HPR community
  • I agree the intro theme song and voiceover could be accelerated and improved
  • I whole-heartedly agree the comments interface could be made easier to use
  • I agree that the HPR community feels like a monastery or convent. Perhaps faith in FOSS is a kind of religious belief or value that supersedes normal human instincts and drives.
  • I 100% support hackers that evangelize for HPR on their favorite bigtech social media platforms.

My FOSS podcatcher Antennapod, automatically skips the intro. I had to rewind in order to hear the episode number and host username in order to compose my reply.
And I have trouble engaging with the comments interface on the HPR site.
I wasn't even aware of comments on my previous episodes and once I did learn of it I found it easier to reply on Mastodon rather than on the HPR website.
As a community, I think we take it on faith that there is a place in the world for people like us that just want to share ideas, unmediated by shadow-banning, rug-pulling corporations and attention-hacking algorithms. I want to have a conversation with thoughtful people. I don't want to be engaged or monetized or exploited

  • A young person that is turned off after 3 seconds of retro-sounding audio is likely to not enjoy the "sound of woodwork (2442)" or "overlanding" audio journals (4037) of semi-retired geeks.
  • Many of us know that what we do in life cannot be measured in dollars or like button clicks, but rather by the quality of our friendships and the collective ideas that we share.
  • Zombies on Facebook, Twitter, Discord and Slack must eventually "see the light" for themselves and come flocking to "the small web" as they did during Xitter's decline.
  • HPR has been a significant positive force in my life and I would hate to sully its openness and authenticity with SEO or other marketing strategies (I know this is not what you proposed)
  • I think the enshittified Discord network is the wrong business to entrust with our community, for one thing, its app doesn't work on Linux
  • Marketing and SEO are effective tools for growth-seeking businesses, but ill-suited for an open source community
  • Anyone interested in business strategy would enjoy the eye-opening book The Internet Con by Cory Doctorow at the EFF.
  • Open source communities such as Reddit, Reddis, Terraform, Mongo, Substack, Medium, and MySQL were destroyed by growth-hackers pulling the rug out from under open source contributors and authors who eventually rebelled to fork or reverse-engineer these products and "win the day."
  • We geeks at HPR are not alone in our disaffection with business-mediated social interactions. Look at the mass eexodus from twitter. And the exit from substack. And from open source communities like reddit, reddis, terraform, mongo, and mysql. If you want to contribute your labor to a newly enshittified product they are actively seeking new contributors (and marketers) as their founding engineers abandon ship and create their own forks.
  • People share personal private contact information here that could endanger their emotional and financial well-being and information security if it were exposed to a scammer/malware platform like Discord. Discord sells your phone number to con-artists and scammers. And Xitter users talk about the blue checkmark validating their social value, but it's really a mark of shame. Discord hawks a similarly worthless token of social cred, and paywalls something as fundamental to communication as emojies. No thanks. They can take their dancing robot and bursting-heart emojies and shove 'em where the sun don't shine.

Enhance the comments interface?

  • Would a bridge server that pulled from our RSS feed and posted to an HPRbot channel on Mastodon help?
  • I've not tried BlueSky yet
  • We could even auto-post to Xitter and Facebook in the same way that Threads evangelizes Facebook to the Fediverse
  • It might be possible to directly connect the comments feed on HPR to Mastodon or BlueSky automatically.


HPR Comments

Ken Fallon says: The link appears invalid

RE: hpr4116::2024-05-13 Response to 4109: Building community without SEO by hobs
00:19:18 Listen in ogg, spx, or mp3 format.
Just had some time to look at the Discord link but it doesn't appear to be working


hobs says: mastodon comments

RE: hpr4116::2024-05-13 Response to 4109: Building community without SEO by hobs
00:19:18 Listen in ogg, spx, or mp3 format.
That's awesome that you're considering 2-way sync of mastodon comments with hpr.org comments. I find it much easier to interact with hosts there where threads are maintained.
I assumed 2-way sync would be a "bridge too far" ;) and was only thinking of 1-way push from HPR to mastodon when i suggested that feature.

Mastodon Comments

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