WriteFreely and his distance from write.as

When will it be possible to use email notifications in WriteFreely? This function has been available only for Pro users for over a year and since then there has been no news about when it would be available to be used in the self-hosted version.

On the server that is hosted my writefreely there is already a working mail server and I believe this is the reality for most other users. It’s not a hard thing to do. And WF should worry about just using it, the user should fill in the smtp credentials to make the submission. You shouldn’t worry about the configuration of postfix and other services, this is the user’s job. If he doesn’t want this headache, then write.as is his option.

I think write.as/writefreely is taking a different direction from the one that made it grow and attract users. The self-hosted version is being left aside and is lagging far behind write.as in terms of functions, when they should be the same. And more and more other services that are essential to a blog are depending on other closed source solutions[1] such as snap.as and *.as.

I have the impression that some services are created this way to make users subscribe to the paid version, just like Snap.as. At least there could be some way to allow the user to upload an image to the self-hosted version. After all, if we are hosting the instance, we also want to host the images. We don’t intend to rely on third party solutions like imgur.

Btw, I would like to take this opportunity to say to you, Americans and others who live in developed countries, that 5USD may be very little for what you have/gain, but those who live in countries with a depreciated currency, that’s a lot. In my country, the US dollar is worth more than 15x the local currency. Apart from the taxes I would have to pay to make the purchase via credit card.

I hope this message will not be ignored and that you will once again look with more affection at the opensource community.

[1] I assumed that snap.as doesn’t have the source code available because I couldn’t find it anywhere.

Thanks for your input, @beta! Happy to address these concerns.

First, in general, I’d mention that the best way to make sure that WriteFreely continues growing and keeping pace with Write.as is to contribute to the project – whether it’s code, documentation, or just telling more people about us. With a larger community of users that give something back to the project, we can continue giving it the attention it needs.

Otherwise, it’s important to remember that we’re an extremely small team with just one person working full-time on everything we’re building, from Write.as to WriteFreely. When it takes a long time to design, develop, test, deploy, get feedback, iterate, and release code for a feature, this is the reason. Again, the larger our WriteFreely community grows, the quicker we can do this!

Now, specifically:

We’re still in the process of ensuring this feature works reliably on Write.as, so it’s really dependent on that. In general, when there isn’t a ton of vocal demand for a large complicated feature like this, we wait until it’s completely solid rather than release it prematurely. If you and other users really need this feature, we’d love to hear about it so we can prioritize it better. But right now, things like photo hosting and everything in the “Next Release” column of the roadmap are higher priority for us.

We actually want to make setup as painless as possible for administrators so that they don’t have to turn to Write.as as the only alternative. From our perspective, admins are users just as much as writers / end users are.

Since it’s not really trivial to set up a mail server or all the DNS records needed to avoid spam folders from scratch, there’s a ton of work needed to release and document this feature, including in a way where it can be used with various mailing services. Again, we could use help here, and we’d appreciate anyone willing to deploy, test, and write documentation, so we can release this to everyone faster.

I know the service design is a bit unconventional, but there are reasons behind it rooted in user freedom, rather than vendor lock-in. We’ve purposely built WriteFreely to be modular – it’s focused on writing, so we can have other components that focus on visual content, the editing process, etc., and admins can easily replace each component with any service they want.

Snap.as and its open source equivalent will be well-suited for WriteFreely, but at its core it’s a very basic file hosting application that anyone can replicate. In fact, we encourage that! As long as you can put your photos on a public URL, you can use them with WriteFreely.

We do plan to support this in v1.0! Development is tracked here: T550.

I understand, as many of our users live outside of the US and Europe. Since we’re based in the US, we have to charge enough to cover our higher cost of living here. But we have a few ways we’re addressing the cost elsewhere in the world:

  • Bulk Pro subscriptions. We sell a bundle of subscriptions to individuals and organizations who want to distribute them to a group of people. Because the subscriptions are all paid for up-front, we can offer a large discount on the price per user.

  • Local WriteFreely instances. We’re working with interested parties to help them launch WriteFreely instances in their local community, completely free of charge. Ultimately, this is what we’d like to encourage: small, localized instances around the world, all run independently. We’re happy to help anyone who shares this goal with us!

Hope that clears some things up – let me know if you have any other concerns!