The long anticipated time has arrived. Manton Reece’s Micro.blog is rolling out to Kickstarter backers. I’ve been on the platform for a while, but it is a lot of fun to see new folks showing up every day and talking to each other. Once you have access go ahead and say hi. I have seen some confusion from different quarters about what Micro.blog is, so let me give you my simplest explanation.
Micro.blog is a social timeline, similar to Twitter, where you can post short snippets of text with links and photos, and converse with others. The biggest difference from most other social networks is where these short posts come from. They come from people’s own websites, where they control the content and can do whatever they like. Micro.blog aggregates its feeds from each member’s personal site and gives people chances to reply and favorite content on the the service.
One of my favorite things about what Manton and team are doing is that Micro.blog can be a vibrant community but all the members own their own content. If, in the distant future, Micro.blog ceases to exist your posts are still on your own website and ready to interact with whatever communities become available. For those who have followed blogs for a long time, it doesn’t come as a shock that a personal website can outlast companies worth billions of dollars, but as long as you keep your domain registered and have a website hosted they totally can.
You can either set up your microblog feed on your own site or pay a small monthly fee for Micro.blog to host a site for you. Micro.blog also provides an iPhone app that allows you to browse and interact with the timeline, and post to your blog and subsequently the Micro.blog community.1 There are familiar social network features, including filters for photo blogging, with more planned for future releases. There really is a lot of potential to make the service an essential place to have great discussions online, especially because of its business model.
Micro.blog is a freemium product that is not supported by ads. If you use a feed from a site hosted elsewhere the service is essentially free, but there are many who will prefer to let Micro.blog set up a site for them and pay a hosting fee. I think that this is a smart way to go. I backed the service on Kickstarter and plan to continue paying for it in order to support its existence. However, as someone who prefers to tinker and build my own site, I think it would be cool to offer a patronage, non-hosted account for people like me. I don’t think it would be necessary to lock any features behind this tier, although a cool badge would be fun.2
Another cool attribute of Micro.blog’s content aggregation role is the freedom it gives the service to deal with abuse, an issue that plagues other social networks, particularly Twitter. Since everyone’s posts live on their own site, the service’s community guidelines can be more strictly enforced. If someone begins to harass other members of the service their content can simply be cut off. A banned user can still post whatever they want on their own site, but Micro.blog can take action to make sure that members of its service do not have to see it. Common social features, like replies and follower counts are also being carefully considered before complete rollout in order to make sure they preserve a healthy community. Building a safe and healthy community is something that Manton feels very strongly about. To the point that his Kickstarter’s successful stretch goal was to hire a community manager as his first employee. Jean MacDonald is the community manager and brings a wealth of experience to the table. I trust them to balance difficult priorities and bring careful consideration to the growing community.
In short I think Micro.blog is a great service and as soon as it becomes public you should give it a try.