In the open

from inside

Over the past several months, we've seen a ton of new posts published on Much of it has been driven by our launch of ActivityPub support and people interested in starting a federated blog.

Another good portion of this growth has been driven by an audience using the platform as a pastebin for sharing links — and in some cases, for circumventing blocks of those shared links on other sites like Facebook.

We invested a significant amount of time last year months trying to keep this kind of content at bay, from manually flagging posts, to implementing rudimentary automated blocks, to even adding a reCAPTCHA test on signup — which we would really like to get rid of. Hosting vast quantities of posts like this reduces the quality of traffic we receive, fills up our database, and risks us having the domain viewed as a platform for spam / malicious content. Ultimately, it can harm everyone else that uses the platform as it's intended to be used.

With these things in mind, and the fact that we're pretty settled on the current pricing, we want to try out a new change on the free plan. We're presenting this here because we'd like your feedback on whether or not it'll adversely affect you.

Proposed change

The #proposed #change is an 8 post per day limit for free users, whether registered or not. For now, this would only affect users on the web (not our other apps). Casual and Pro users would still get unlimited published posts every day.

We feel this would be a pretty good solution to the problem:

  • Most regular users, who don't abuse the platform, shouldn't be affected by the limit
  • Most spammers post many times throughout the day — this would prevent that
  • Most spammers take advantage of the web app — this would directly address them
  • Spammers take advantage of anonymous / no-sign-up publishing, which we can normally do little to prevent — this would help prevent abuse there
  • Spammers generally aren't willing to pay — this forces them to do that or move on

This is just a starting number — we could imagine it eventually being reduced as low as 3 or 4, depending on your feedback. In the long-term, we also imagine this being a reason people upgrade to the Casual plan. With more people paying just $12 / year for, we can keep the price as low as we have it. If not, we may have to raise it, to make sure we remain financially sustainable.

So what do you think? Are you okay with this limit? Do you post multiple times in a day, and if so, how many times on average? Feel free to respond on our forums.

This month we revisited our pricing model and realized how much money we lose to processing fees each month on our $4 Pro plan. We found that 10.5% goes to our payment processor, Stripe, as opposed to only 3.5% when customers pay annually — a big difference in our revenue.

When we originally launched our annual Pro plan we wanted to keep the pricing straightforward, so we just multiplied the monthly price by 12 and called it a day. People didn't seem to mind, but still our monthly plan remains the most popular.

So beginning on Monday, March 5, we'll start passing on the savings we get when you subscribe to an annual Pro plan by permanently dropping the price to $40 per year. We hope it'll encourage more people to go yearly, helping us all save a bit of money.

For anyone currently on the $48 / year plan, you'll be able to switch to the $40 / year pricing when you want (we'll show a reminder in the app), and you'll see the savings the next time your subscription renews.

As always, let us know what you think of the new pricing!

#pricing #pro #changes

Next up on our roadmap is support for cross-posting to Mastodon!

If you haven't seen yet, our little Mastodon instance Writing Exchange has been growing into a nice little community lately (I'm active over there @matt).

I think federated services like Mastodon are what the web really needs, so I'm excited to add it as our next new publishing channel. We'll launch support in a few different working stages:

  • Cross-post to Writing Exchange. Users on our instance will be able to cross-post to their accounts there, and toots will essentially be the same thing cross-posted to Twitter, except with a 500-character limit.

  • Cross-post to any instance. Once we work out any potential issues, you'll be able to connect any Mastodon instance and cross-post there.

Once this is all done, we'll start on ActivityPub support. That will let you directly interact with the fediverse by optionally making your blog itself an account that people can follow and interact with from Mastodon (or any other service that speaks ActivityPub) — imagine a handle like or You can see what this will look like in action on PeerTube, where people can soon comment on videos via Mastodon — it's really cool.

ActivityPub support is also a major milestone in our work towards an open source, fully-federated blogging platform — a distant goal of ours. There will be more information about that soon, but for now, keep an eye out for Mastodon cross-posting!

~ Matt

On today's internet we're surrounded by numbers: how many “likes” a photo has; the number of times an article was shared; the average number of “stars” an app (or product or restaurant or movie) has received, and how many people have given it stars; how many times an app has been downloaded. On, right now we show how many views a post has.

Numbers are used for representing many things, but are generally only useful when combined with more data. Restaurant ratings won't necessarily tell you whether or not the food is good, or the service is bad, or some combination of those. App ratings won't necessarily tell you about missing functions in an app, or whether it'll solve the problem you're looking for. Ratings are only useful when paired with written reviews.

The way that numbers allow us to quickly compare things is great when we're in a rush, but bad when we care about discovering new things. A campsite might not have as many stars as Disney World when you're looking for something to do in the area, but you might still have a much more profoundly enjoyable time camping. A musician might not have the most downloads or plays, but could still easily become your favorite artist. An article with few “shares” might still be worth reading, just like one with few “views” might.

Basically, popularity numbers don't necessarily correlate with quality or enjoyment, but still tend to factor in to our natural decision-making. And we at want to be sure that numbers don't speak louder for writers than their words. So we're hiding public view counts from all posts, anonymous or not. They'll still be available for everyone through our API, but will only be shown to the original author on the web, since they benefit the most from knowing that people are seeing their work.

We hope this change will make the reading experience more enjoyable for everyone, and as always, we'd love to hear your thoughts!

We've kept a simple space so far, as a foundation to help get your words out to the world, and give readers a place to go when they take a break from writing. It's since grown to include a deep, diverse set of writers on a whole range of topics. As it continues to grow, we're now ready to start moving on to our next phase.

Soon, we'll be taking a minor step and adding the option for content notes on your blogs. This will let you mark your public blog as “not safe for work,” for example, and will simply show that content note (instead of the post's preview) on Adding a note won't affect your blog in any way outside of RWA, that is, the note won't show up while someone is already on your blog or reading its posts. This is simply the first step of many in letting readers have more control over their reading experience.

Next, we'll add new reader-focused features that'll let you customize the experience more and spread your favorite writing farther. For example:

  • Do you like “night mode” in the editor? You'll be able to read in that mode, as well, across all posts.
  • Want to keep track of a particular writer or let them know you like their writing? There will be a variety of simple ways to do that.
  • Want to help organize and curate writing into something new? You'll be able to.
  • Want to read on the go? Simple, dedicated mobile apps are on the roadmap.

These and more features will form a flexible space where anyone can go to hear new perspectives on a variety of topics, all from the writers on — and eventually other places on the web, too.

If you'd like to see us reach our big goals, you can help by spreading the word about

As always, keep in touch and let us know what else you'd like to see.

We're replacing the JSON export option for posts, which currently requires a Pro subscription, with a zip file export option available to everyone. You can export your posts now as a registered user.

There are a few reasons: based on our analytics, the JSON option is rarely used, especially when compared to CSV exporting. But most of all, a collection of plain text files is universally helpful, and furthers our goal of data freedom. And while Pro users can still export all of their data as JSON, all users can always access their data through our API. But let us know if you'd like the JSON option for posts back.

Since launching blogs last year, we've heard from several people that they'd like to be able to have static or persistent pages on their blog, for creating things like an About or Contact page.

As you can see on our roadmap, we're working on this feature now. In our normal style, it'll be a tiny addition that works by letting you “pin” individual posts to your blog, adding a link to the top of its home page, without any extra work from you. Any pinned post's title will become the link text, and for now, they'll be added in the order you pin them in. Later, we plan to make it easier for you to rearrange them.

Pro users will see this new feature as soon as we launch it within the next week.

A URL is is the first thing someone sees before reading your posts on Right now they can be a little unwieldy:

Yikes. We're not even sure why we thought 16 characters were necessary. Maybe we were a bit overzealous.

So we'd like to make them into something simpler, like this:

Ah, that's better.

Casual and Pro users will see this in the coming weeks.

We're considering hiding non-HTTPS images on blogs by default, with some sort of “show” button nearby, for users to click if they're okay with loading insecure content. This would impact a few things:

  • Readers would always see the lock icon in their browser on all non-custom-domain blogs
  • Anyone who's embedded insecure images would need to host their images securely to prevent them from being replaced with some sort of “insecure image hidden” message (or one less scary-sounding)

Because it could adversely affect some writers, we want to make sure most everyone is on board with / prepared for this change. It is ultimately better for everyone, both writers and readers, and falls in line with our goals to support a more widely-secure internet. While we are launching an image hosting product soon (, it's not the primary reason for this idea, and it will be just one of many options for users to securely host images for their blogs.

Let us know what you think of this change, especially if you think it'll negatively affect you.