Why I am Leaving Substack

Why I am Leaving Substack

by | 4 min read
Originally posted on newsletter.alexhyett.com
Published:
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This week, I am breaking my normal schedule of a Sunday email as The Curious Engineer is going to be moving off of Substack.

I have been thinking about doing this for a while. Last year I took some time to declutter my social networks with the main contenders being Twitter and Instagram. There were a couple of reasons for this:

  1. My time is limited and trying to spread myself across multiple social networks was exhausting, even if was just reposting the same content.
  2. Social networks come and go, and I don’t want to waste my limited time building something on someone else’s platform.

Leaving Twitter was an easy choice, I didn’t have a huge number of followers and Elon Musk was slowly turning Twitter into a dumpster fire. It started with Elon blocking links to other networks or purposefully slowing them down. Then only promoting content of the users who paid for the blue tick.

Finally, Elon put the nail on the Twitter coffin by allowing racist, anti-gay, antisemitic and other hateful people to succeed on his platform.

I feel for those that spent years building a following on Twitter, only for someone to come in and ruin everything, and it is completely out of their control. I didn’t want to fall victim to the same fate, so I moved to a self-hosted Mastodon instance.

Now I don’t have to worry about my server or account getting blocked or other people on my instance causing problems as it is just me.

Twitter was just the start of what will be a move to a self-hosted web for my content.

At the time Substack seemed like a healthy platform that I could build a following on. I didn’t think I would be effected by the actions of others on the platform as it was just a newsletter provider. However, Substack has become a lot more than that with its introduction of Notes and its recommendation network.

This would be fine if Substack shared my moral compass, but unfortunately it doesn’t. With Substack’s announcement that they will not be removing Pro-Nazi content from their platform it seems once again that I am forced to look for an alternative.

The only alternative that is guaranteed to not succumb to the same fate is the one that I host myself. Today I am going to take the time to move my newsletter over to a self-hosted Ghost instance.

You won’t need to do anything on your side, if all goes well then you should receive the next issue of this newsletter on Sunday 21st January as normal. The formatting will look a little different and the email will come from my own domain instead of substack.com but everything else will be much the same.

My main reluctance for moving away from Substack until now is the cost factor. Substack is free regardless of your subscriber size, whereas all other alternatives cost money if you have over 1,000 subscribers. I currently have 1,434 subscribers so hosting this newsletter myself is likely to cost around £30 a month which is fine at the moment.

If I ever get into the hundreds of thousands of subscribers, it will start costing hundreds a month. This newsletter will remain free but if you want to support it you can do via my Ko-Fi page.


❤️ Picks of the Week

📝 Article - Where have all the websites gone? I know many of you read my newsletter for the links at the bottom. We should all try and be curators of content rather than robots to the algorithms.

📝 Article - The curious case of the Raspberry Pi in the network closet. You have to love a mystery and this article shows some great technical detective work.

🛠️ Tool - Blazing 💥 fast terminal-ui for git written in rust 🦀. I mostly use git via the CLI, but I do occasionally rely on VS Code for the lesser used git commands. If you like having a UI for git but don’t want to leave the terminal then this might be a good alternative.

🛠️ Tool - Useful utilities and toys over DNS. Where there is a will, there is a way. Who new you could force DNS to do these things!

📝 Article - This holographic camera turns any window into an invisible camera. I like the idea of having a camera in the screen for phones and tablets. It would definitely solve the issue of it looking like you are looking in a different direction when talking to people. The hidden camera in doors and windows a privacy nightmare though.

📝 Article - The First Hit Generative AI Product After ChatGPT? Somehow, It’s Snapchat+. I must admit I am too old (or feel too old) for Snapchat, but it is interesting to see where AI is being used, even if it is just sending funny pictures to your friends.


💬 Quote of the Week

Liberty, taking the word in its concrete sense, consists in the ability to choose.

  • Simone Weil

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