In the United States in 2017 we've seen a barrage of attacks on the public, and efforts to dismantle protections that seek to keep us free, safe, and healthy. One area those attacks are aimed at is the very platform you're reading this on, the internet.
April was a month of relatively small changes that brought big improvements to the product. Recently, we've seen certain patterns emerge in how writers use Write.as, and last month we tweaked things to make them work more closely to what users expect.
We were also excited to launch a long- and frequently-requested feature, static pages.
Static pages. Now you can create an “About me” or other pages from a normal post — and it's super simple to do. Currently for Pro subscribers only.
Delete blogs. Now subscribers with multiple blogs can easily delete extra ones from their account. Deleting a blog automatically makes its posts anonymous, so now blogs can be used for things like temporary public spaces for your writing.
Export posts as zipped text files. To further our goals for data freedom, we've made it possible to export all of your posts as plain text files. And you don't need to be a subscriber to do it.
Nicer page titles. While we're flexible on how we pull out the title of a post, we noticed many posts still didn't have a great title for the reader's browser or search results. So now posts will always have a relevant title, even if you don't explicitly add one.
Markdown fixes. We made our Markdown more strict, so it works more closely to what we've outlined in our formatting guide. This fixed indented text, as well as certain horizontal rules.
We're happiest when we can talk to you, the writers. After all, you're the main reason we keep getting better and better. We like building a conversational company in Write.as, instead of one that merely dictates its wishes to the masses, expecting you to accept whatever we come up with. We take care of the overall vision, but you point out our blind spots and show us things we would've otherwise missed.
Now we want to know how we're doing from as many of you as possible: how useful have we been for you? What have we helped you accomplish? We ask these two questions in our latest writer survey, and would be forever grateful if you took half a minute to fill it out.
It's aimed at anyone who's used Write.as for a bit, so if you're just getting started, we'll gladly take your response after you've played with the product some more. Otherwise, the questions are multiple choice, with room to elaborate if you want to give us more detail. If you'd like to chat directly with us, remember we're always around. Thanks in advance for your feedback!
When you can speak your mind safely, the words come more easily. Mental blocks built by others' expectations are removed. The cogs of your brain are free to move again.
But you don't need to be alone to be free from expectations — you only need the right environment. Write.as aims to be that environment, from our conscientious apps to our small community of writers, all publishing under pseudonyms.
We know that great writers take the time to read and absorb the ideas around them, continually growing in style, method, and thought. Exposure to a variety of ideas helps us grow faster and see things in ways we never could've on our own. So a complete environment for recording our best thoughts needs a strong, constant source of inspiration.
Today we're opening read write.as to more writers, both subscriber and free. You don't even need to sign up to submit your writing. Now anyone can write freely, and share their words anonymously with our growing community.
Everyone will now see a “read.write.as” option in the editor menu when you've chosen to publish as Anonymous. Subscribers' posts will go straight to read.write.as, just like their public blog posts do, and free users' posts will get a pass from the Write.as moderation team first, to be sure we don't get inundated with spam or other harmful junk.
We recently published a set of community guidelines to help everyone understand why we might not accept a given post. We'll be continually updating this policy as more people write and new questions come up, but ultimately we want the writers to dictate their own guidelines. What kind of community do you want to see? How can we balance free speech and a safe environment? Keep in touch and help shape our fledgling space.
We tell all kinds of stories in a million different ways. Language is flexible enough to live on paper, ride on air waves, or get digitally accelerated to any corner of the globe. And that last ability creates language in many forms: images and text on blogs, websites, or social media.
The blog is where we at Write.as spend much of our rumination. We believe the format can (and should) be more than “just a blog.” But instead of a full-blown website, we want a beautiful, portable digital work.
We've gotten questions from users since the beginning asking how they could see others' posts. We've always planned to explore what a community of pseudonymous writers would look like, but we've also known the amount of work that comes with that territory. How do we provide a safe place where people can speak freely but grow from their interactions? And if we did create it, what could we do better than what already exists?
Most of these questions remain unanswered. We don't want to be another social network filled with impersonal likes and reblogs. We want to help people connect over writing, and form the most human bonds they can, even if it's happening over a wire.
So while we contemplate that, we're taking tiny steps towards that goal. It started last month when we created a Twitter account called @readwriteas. And today we're proud to launch the read.write.as site, as well as public blogs for publishing to it.
Right now, you'll need to be a subscriber (starting at $10/year) to publish. If you already are, you'll simply go to your blog's customize page and choose Public for your blog type. From there, any posts you publish (or have recently published) will go to read.write.as for everyone to check out. We'll also pick some interesting ones to send out on the Twitter account.
This is all still an experiment. With it, we hope to lay the foundation of a future community here on Write.as. If you're reading this, you're at the right place to help form a new tiny culture on the web — and we can't wait to see what you do with it.
As Tropical Depression #9 nears the Florida peninsula, we look back on our northern summer and reflect. What new insights did weeks of 100 degree weather bring us? How did our code fare in intermittent power outages from a summer of short-lived squalls?
Well the sweat of the summer is finally starting to dry, and even the deadly subtropics couldn't stop us from our code. It also didn't stop you, the writer. Write.as users collectively published over 1,200 posts this past month, and almost 100 new blogs were born!
This is great news, but our 2.0 features (blogs and accounts) have been delayed in getting to the mobile apps as we've gathered feedback on the web. Still, waiting has led us to some exciting new plans for features like static pages and offline support that you'll see soon.
Until that day, we have the Write.as of today — built on yesterday with its eyes on tomorrow. Here's what we did in August.
User Guides. We've summed up the basics in a set of simple guides. If you were wondering how to add links or photos to your blog posts, the guides have that. If you want to know what neat things we do behind the scenes, they have that too.
New paid plan. We took some of the Pro features we didn't want to keep from everyone and moved them into a smaller $10 per year “Casual” plan, so more people could enjoy them (and they are!).
“Read More” links. For those longer blog posts, now you can add a “Read More...” link to keep your blog home page cleaner.
Easily move posts between blogs. Subscribers can reap the benefits of having multiple blogs under one account. Once you have more than one blog, two clicks is all it takes to move posts between them. 💥
Microformats2 support. Every post and blog has information embedded in it that makes it friendlier for search engines and other sites to interact with. Now we also support microformats2, as the first of many steps towards more modern interactions with other places on the web.
Blog post embedding. Post embedding is back, and now works for blog posts. Just add /embed to any post URL and get the code to put it on any web page.
View counts on blogs. Page views are a good way to see how much your writing is reaching the world. So we've started counting page views on blogs like we already do on posts. For now they'll only show up in the API, but in the future you'll be able to see them online (and get an accurate number).
Reading Write.as. We've been thinking about ways for writers to share their posts with new audiences. So this month we started with a new Twitter account called @readwriteas. We're looking for stories, poetry, and thoughts you want to share with the world for us to send out, keeping you anonymous if you want. Anyone can submit their posts by tweeting them with the #readwriteas hashtag, or DMing us to submit in private.
This is all pretty exciting, but we really can't wait for everyone to see what's in store for mobile. If you'd like to get an early peek at the Android app (releasing first), join our beta and send us feedback when it's out. Then look for our iOS update coming later in the year.
The other week we talked about how important identity flexibility is to us. We explained how each Write.as blog is like a lightweight identity, independent and never linked to the others. And while Pro users get 10 of those blogs / identities now, we know that sometimes you just need a spare or two.
So today we're happy to announce a new “Casual” subscription plan, featuring some of our best new features. For $10 / year you can:
Publish up to 3 blogs
Make unlimited cross-posts to Twitter, Tumblr and Medium
Use a custom domain on your blogs
Export your entire account as JSON
We hope this plan will fit even the most occasional writer who still wants to directly support a product they love. And if it still doesn't fit you, let us know why so we can improve it. Enjoy!