An Open Letter to

Reader was my favorite social network, hands down. I was incredibly sad to see it go. When I found out existed, I was giddy all day.

I wrote the team to thank them (hello at theoldreader dot com) and to also trouble shoot a bug. They were incredibly kind and prompt in response. After they fixed the glitch my massive address book was causing, I asked the following:

Next dreams:
What are privacy settings? Can only people I follow see my posts, only the friends of people I post comments to see those comments?
Multi-shares in same social network list people who shared rather than showing the post repeatedly.
But these are again, dreams, not issues.
Are we going to be able to pay the team a nominal amount to keep the project going? I would like to be able to support a group to do continued support rather than having this thing we all love die again.

Their response:

As per our privacy policy, all shared posts are currently public. We do have ‘private accounts’ feature in our roadmap that will allow users to expose their shared items only to a limited number of accounts they choose. However, this has very low priority for us; most users only read public RSS feeds that are available to everyone in the first place, so hiding them makes little sense.
We have discussed the mechanics of multi-sharing before and decided to stick to the current implementation to avoid mixing comments to two different shares into a single thread. Sometimes people discuss not the shared article itself, but rather the sharer’s comment to it – so, each shared post becomes unique in a way and deserves a separate comment thread.
At the moment The Old Reader is not backed up by any company, and we are still looking for the best way to allow our users to support the project. We will definitely update our blog when we decide on something, so make sure you are subscribed to it 🙂

Here is what I have sent them. I hope you’ll join me in politely, lovingly, requesting the same. I would also like you to be willing to throw in to support the team if that is the route they go.

I’d like to lobby that privacy get moved up the list. A few reasons, personal, individual, and communal. First, I work in humanitarian and disaster response, with volunteer technical communities and military alike. I also have an incredibly dark sense of humor. The people I work with tend to check out who I am and what I like – having another public space on which to express myself doesn’t really allow me to express myself. Those same working conditions also make it incredibly important that I be able to have a safe space to talk and connect.
On an individual level, I saw friends discover themselves because Reader was a safe space. Things like gender, sexuality, and approach in life are not things which can be held without care. People with very public lives have been able to go through self-discovery with a small group of trusted friends.
And finally, communal – while with privacy my own shares are only to those who I have approved, my comments on a friend’s share are visible to their friends. *This is essential* – there is at least one pairing from our previous ShareBro network which happened because of this serendipity in safe space. They are now married.

As it is now, it’s more like a Tumblr than it is like Reader. I hope you’ll institute the privacy and sharing layers sooner rather than later. Again, I’m happy to contribute what I can towards this being a sustainable effort.

All my best, and thanks again,


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