collaborators not consumers():

If we want to be an alternative to Facebook (or any other service of the addictive web) then we should deviate from not just their structures, but also their strategies. This is difficult. The philosophy of the modern web has saturated our world so thoroughly that corporate goals have the appearance of common sense.

When initially drafting onboarding and outreach material, I was trying to make Scuttlebutt absolutely accessible to anyone, and finding a linguistic way around the most difficult parts. This seemed innocent, but I realized that I was setting a personal goal for us to convert as many people as possible, as quickly as possible. This is not necessarily our best strategy, it is just the known strategy. This is the common sense approach-- to smooth away the rough edges to provide as simple of an experience to the most basic user.

But...I don't want users enjoying an experience. I want new friends helping us build a solarpunk future! This doesn't have to require an effortless onboarding, with subtle stickiness, that takes advantage of the network effect to reach market saturation. The future we're fighting for has no analog in mainstream tech, and so it's hard to articulate our strategy using their words. I know that we can feel it, though-- when a new person suddenly gets what we are attempting to do, it is like two instruments slowly coming into tune.

A key problem in the business strategy of the modern web is the behavior it engenders in its users. Users are not encouraged to be members of a site, but consumers of it. And when you are a consumer who is dissatisfied, you work to change the situation using the best method available to you. Specifically: harshly worded, loudly voiced complaints. The users of Facebook and Twitter regularly shout up to the creators, demanding change in the platforms in the same way I regularly write to Frosted Flakes, telling them their flakes need to be more crunchy. It's not effective, it's annoying to the employees, and a tension inevitably appears between the ungrateful consumers and the uncaring creators. This tension becomes one of the strongest feelings associated with the site.

If we pursue a growth strategy similar to traditional social networks, then new members will treat us like traditional social media companies. They'll assume we are manipulative, and hiding things, and absolutely needing their business. They'll expect features and polish in the same way a restaurant patron expects bread and reverent service, believing they have the upper hand in this interaction as they can always leave a bad review.

But, metaphorically, we are not trying to be a restaurant, we are trying to be a kitchen! We don't want consumers, we want collaborators. So let's grow in a way that invites collaboration! We won't reach everyone with this strategy, but the ones we do reach will be profoundly grateful and ready to help. I can say this from first-hand experience.