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    It’s OK for most of our contributions to go away some day. We’re not as special as we were told growing up, and we’ll be a lot happier if we learn to accept transience.

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      Issue: User Interface Dictatorship

      Reddit is one of the few platforms where third-party interfaces in form of mobile apps are still enjoying a lot of use. This does not seem like a great example to pick.

      Secondly, there is no way to have features that you can use that do not affect other people’s interface.

      Any of those mobile apps could choose to implement this reminder feature for themselves, either storing reminders locally or communicating with a third-party service (like the bot), but with dedicated UI. But somebody decided it has to be a bot. Why? Because that way you build something useful for all users, despite UI fragmentation. Reddit’s wide choice of mobile apps also hinders Reddit-the-company from implementing features properly, i.e. post reminders that look like Slack’s and not like a random IRC bot.

      That doesn’t mean they’ll do it, of course, or even use that power over UX for good in general, but you’re only talking about technical limitations in that example.

      Issue: User Account Hurdle

      I feel like this is an argument for more centralization? Clearly the solution is to Sign in with Facebook everywhere!

      Issue: No Backup, No Distribution

      Yeah. I feel like that’s always the strongest argument, and the one that actually connects to user’s realities.

      I do have to say that one notable exception here is StackOverflow, which in my experience has been both more reliable and permanent than somebody writing advice on their own blog.

      Even with YouTube-dl and similar examples, GitHub also has been more reliable for me as a user looking for sourcecode than somebody’s random GitLab instance which has been down since 2 years because they decided it was not worth the administrative effort or even the domain renewal anymore (and didn’t bother migrating their code to anywhere else). Not to mention that the few projects that do successfully host their own sourcecode sometimes have UI that one really has to get used to (mostly because it is old or bad).

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        Hacker News is even more open than Reddit. They offer access to the full api (https://github.com/HackerNews/API) so third-party readers are definitely available.

        Both Reddit and HN have backups. There is a HN archive on Google’s BigQuery (updated daily iirc) and Reddit has https://files.pushshift.io/reddit/ as well as a BigQuery dump. This does lag behind by a few months though.

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          I love BigQuery as an archive. It just sits there, and when I want to look at the data, I can just write SQL and start getting answers. The delay is frustrating though. It’d be cool if these archives were maintained by sites themselves rather than third-party researchers.

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          Reddit is one of the few platforms where third-party interfaces in form of mobile apps are still enjoying a lot of use. This does not seem like a great example to pick.

          Except they’re intentionally using dark patterns to “encourage” you to use their mobile app. At least, that’s why when I use reddit on my phone, I have to use desktop mode.

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            That particular section in the blogpost was about individualized UIs and was using Reddit as an example of centralized UI, which I find not to be a good example. It doesn’t matter what future aspirations of Reddit Inc are, right now people are using Reddit like that.

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          I think there was a great opportunity in the mid-nineties, when desktop computers were first becoming popular, for everyone to have a home server, and if that had happened we would live in a better world. It would be like having your own boiler or washing machine.

          I have a dream of making an all-in-one easy-install package for home server setup, complete with personal website, self-hosted email, and everything, but I’m not sure it’s doable.

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            Microsoft published a real children’s book titled “Mommy, Why is There a Server in the House?” to promote a version of Windows 7 (“Windows Home Server”) which was intended to be something like this.

            https://www.betaarchive.com/wiki/images/6/67/Mommy%2C_Why_is_There_a_Server_in_the_House.pdf [1.5mb PDF]

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              Wow this was hilarious, thank you for sharing!

              This feels like it came out of a bizarre alternate reality where Microsoft was actually cool.

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              Dedicate those efforts to the FreedomBox project, they have built exactly that including hardware. And it’s backed by Debian.

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                I have a dream of making an all-in-one easy-install package for home server setup, complete with personal website, self-hosted email, and everything, but I’m not sure it’s doable.

                That sounds really cool. But how do you make it visible on the wider internet? I’ve heard it’s hard to host things from home (because NAT? maybe also you don’t have a fixed IP?). Is that something the box could come pre-configured to overcome?

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                  I host some things from my home. You’d have to set up a fixed IP. I haven’t interacted with many routers other than the one at my home, so I don’t know how easy (or more specifically “automizable”) it is to set up things there. Another concern is making sure your server and network is secured, since your loved one’s devices and information can get affected because of your mistakes. So far I’ve been (hopefully) making it harder by only exposing things to the public on obscure ports as well as restricting permissions for users on my server.

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                    IP is definitely an issue, but there are solutions. One is dynamic DNS, another is paying for a fixed IP. If there had been wider IPv6 adoption back when it came out, it wouldn’t be an issue now.

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                    A lot of people just can’t really afford their own home server. Not everyone is a software dev with a cushy salary).

                    It also sound like a security and management nightmare. Folk struggle with setting up WiFi, never mind the whole update/maintenance issue of a home server. Even with the best of efforts, this will be hard, and we all know that in reality people will buy cheap stuff from vendors who put less-than best effort in.

                    People certainly don’t want to put any time in to this kind of stuff, which is reasonable as there are more important things in life than managing a home server.

                    I don’t really see any way how “everyone having a home server” could work, both economically and operationally.

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                      What I have in mind is cheaper than I think you’re imagining - you could run one on a Pi. Or people would take it out of their phone budget.

                      Making it dead simple for people to use is certainly very important, that’s why I specified plug-and-play, but there’s no reason we can’t have an android equivalent for home servers. We just don’t.

                      It’s complicated to set up a home server now because we’ve collectively not bothered to make it easy, because anyone who does is already tech-inclined and either knows all the knobs or is willing to put in the time to learn them, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

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                        There’s loads of projects are try to make it easy, but it’s not that simple as the technology and concepts aren’t easy.

                        You’d need a Pi, some reasonably sized disk, enclosure, software, support department, etc. It’ll easily be a €100 retail price, which is a lot of money for some people especially when the alternative is free.

                        And now everyone has everything those on their PiServer, so how do you back this up? You don’t really want all data to be lost when a fire breaks out, someone burgles your house, or the disk breaks, so you’d need some form of backup – preferably remote. This will cost money as well, and in practice a lot of people will simply not back up.

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                          If you have a point you’re trying to make beyond “it’s difficult” I don’t see it.

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                    If you’re bringing something to the block party that you want to keep at home, bring it back home, yes.

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                      I was a bit surprised to see Usenet recommended here. Are there any active newsgroups with still reasonable discussion?

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                        The D programming language still runs a private nntp server (with a web frontend at forum.dlang.org) and I’m pretty happy with it.

                        Every few weeks though someone comes in and asks for reddit style voting. I’m glad the maintainers continue to resist such requests.

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                          I heard it’s still great for pirating movies.

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                            Can confirm, just got a usenet TV/movie downloading setup going and it’s worked incredibly well.

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                          If I talk to you then it is “lost” as well. These kind of platforms – including Lobsters – are all about having conversations. They don’t need to be kept until the end of days.

                          Of course, there is some historical value in keeping these kind of things for future historians. but long-term availability of this kind of stuff is hard in the digital age no matter the platform or technology, as hard drives simply don’t keep as well as stone tablets or even paper.

                          those services don’t provide any possibility to extract or synchronize content


                          I mean … that’s how I save the stuff that I write and want to save for whatever reason, usually to turn it in to a more permanent post on my site (which I usually don’t end up doing anyway, so I have a large directory with Reddit and Lobsters comments I wrote).

                          Not everything needs to have a complex solution. Is it an ideal solution to extract everything you ever wrote? Not really, but if you’re writing something that you think is worthwhile then it works well enough.

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                            It is good the author didn’t also mention Lobsters.

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                              But what about real life? If I discuss something with you in a coffee shop, it could turn our lives in different directions and yet, when we walk out the front door, it’s as though it never happened.

                              Isn’t this just the same thing?

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                                Part of the argument is that they are mad ISPs can’t censor centralized services like they can individual sites?