Well, this blog post has been a long time in the making (9 months in fact).
I always say I’m going to blog more but time constraints and life get in the way.
I hope in this post to address the future of Pjuu. Just to put minds at ease, we are not going anywhere anytime soon!
In recent news: we’ve recently asked two members of the community to become moderators. I would like to both thank and welcome Pietlu and Johnnynull to the Pjuu team. I know there isn’t a lot to do at the moment as the community is very tight knit and friendly but just having you around to keep an eye on affairs makes us all sleep easy at night.
The following are my thoughts on the future of Pjuu and where I would like to see the project go in the coming years.
This isn’t really a point in the plan. We aren’t anything without our community and we’re hoping this grows in the coming years. Pjuu has never been about making money, gathering data, or creating a little corner of the internet to be used as an echo chamber. Our goal has always been ensuring users privacy online. I know we are not a glamorous decentralised or federated network but we are in a position where we can provide pjuu.com and the software behind it to any person on the internet who seeks to either join or create a social network. This plan will never change. Sure we may get too many users for us to handle with our small number of servers, but we don’t want to, and never will, advertise or sell your data. This has been the plan from the start, and will continue to be the plan for as long as me (Joe) and Ant have the ability to keep the site online and secure.
Development. I have been lazy when it comes to Pjuu in the last year. I have been busy with work and now no longer travel far, so time just isn’t as free as it once was. The whole of Pjuu was written on trains, a daily four-hour commute and this time has disappeared. I am going to put time aside each week to work on things that actually need doing, and are affecting all of us with them not being there. These include:
- New moderator dashboard and tools
- Migrate away from MongoDB to PostgreSQL. This should hopefully make things easier for any new developers who wish to join the project and for us by decreasing the amount of code to handle trivial things.
- Direct messaging. Just to speak to the moderators I have had to use e-mail and other social networks this is nothing if not annoying, and a massive gap in functionality.
- Translations. I don’t think that the majority of our user base speak English as a first language, not from observation but from locations that have been discussed or added to users profiles. One of our new moderators @pietlu is a German speaker so it’s about time everyone was welcomed in their native tongue.
- API. We’ve had a call for some features of an API in the past but have been unable to accommodate the requests. This seems strange to me now, I used to think it would stop data harvesting by third parties but we can do that with our design. This will also have the added benefits of supporting native mobile apps. At the moment Droidotter and iOtter are both just simple web views which make them less desirable.
- Themes. Not everyone likes the green and white, I may even be the only one. @johnnynull asked for a dark theme 10 months ago so this will be added.
- Video/Audio. Adding support for more upload formats would be great. As long as they don’t autoplay (which is annoying!), I think this will be a nice feature to have.
If the above features and changes are added I think we are on our way to a solid, social experience. We won’t need much beyond this as we don’t have any shareholders or stock prices to worry about.
The last point is that we (as in me) don’t do enough to show new users the awesome community that is (Pjuu)[https://pjuu.com]. I want to change this. I am not a marketing person, two years ago I even thought marketing was pointless, I was wrong! Pjuu has been alive for just over 3 years now, with my account being created on 18th March 2014. I don’t know how I will achieve this, and I have a lot of learning to do.
If anyone has any advice or ideas, I would love to hear them. I have a few friends who work in marketing and it appears that a £0.00 budget is not something they’re interested in. I thought this would be a good challenge for them but it appears development and marketing are two separate worlds.
I know this post is a bit boring (as are all my posts) and I am just saying stuff that you will have already heard me say if you’re in the community. I love Pjuu! I have enjoyed getting to know each and every user I have spoken to. I don’t care that in most cases I don’t know your name, your wife’s name, see pictures of your children or even, heaven forbid that I didn’t see a picture of that amazing meal you ate last night, that’s the beauty of Pjuu for me. I have had the opportunity to make friends and be part of something no matter how small, that keeps our private lives private as much as we choose but still allow us to socialise. I wouldn’t change it for all the Silicon Valley billions in the world (well maybe 1 of them wouldn’t go amiss :-P).
I also think the conundrum to how to keep Pjuu open, free and secure can only be solved by the community. It is hard to convince people of our goals as they have most likely had these promises in the past. In the coming year or two, I would like to pass as much control to the community as possible. This doesn’t mean the database - there, is the only piece of personally identifiable information, your email address. We don’t mind if it is useless or unused but never the less, that’s the thing we must keep sacred. I’m meaning the day to day decisions that will be needed, the directions we take and what we work on. These should all be a democratic affair and not down to me, Ant, Johnny, Pietlu, or any other individual - we are all equal in this community.
We are here to stay, even if my plans don’t get executed. If we left, it may not be a big deal to the world, if anything at all, but a little piece of the free and open Internet would disappear along with us, that’s worth staying for.
Thanks for your time.