177 Comments

I don’t think you understand how different my audience and my interests are from my contact list.

I want to grow my network, not connect with my aunt Judie and the local pizza place.

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Giving your Contacts info seems like the very Orwellian situation most Substack writers have come here to avoid.

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Agreed. Hate this and hate that I can be found in someone else’s contacts list. I will simply stop engaging at any level.

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Substack seemed so sane up till now.

I wonder if being on the Internet for a certain length of time just rots the brain.

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Aug 15, 2023·edited Aug 15, 2023

No, they lost it when they created Notes and Chat. Stopped improving core features. Trying to be FB or Twitter, not Substack.

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As a Creator, Chat and Notes are awesome tools for me.

If I was just a reader I wonder how I'd feel about them.

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Really surprised at this sentiment, in advance I'd never have guessed anyone would have much of an objection to this, it's such a bog-standard feature on so many sites. I struggle to grasp how this qualifies as Orwellian.

If anything it's less intrusive than the version of this feature on every other site, because it's two-way (requiring both parties to have agreed before either can find the other in this way).

It's not something I'll use, or that I care much about, but hearing that *most* of the writers on here chose the platform to avoid this kind of discoverability reminds me that my own little bubble of substacks can't be representative of the whole.

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It should not escape anyone's notice that we have entered a newly authoritarian epoch. Couple that with the ubiquitous data harvesting on the part of both Government and Business, and you have a recipe for persecution of intellectuals rivaling the worst of the McCarthy era.

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I'd assume every website has people using it anonymously who wouldn't want to be identified, so they just choose to remain anonymous and not tell their IRL acquaintances to follow them on said site.

I don't understand what you mean by a whoke platform.

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Oh! I assumed it was an alternative spelling of woke, I was barking up completely the wrong tree

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Ha! No worries. All good.

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Yeah right shit, like I needed another effing email account! I'm off to unsubscribe to anyone that looks like they may be with the globalists. Paranoid? Yes.

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Aug 14, 2023·edited Aug 15, 2023

There we go, comments working and third post hits the spot 😆

Good info in this one. Helps explain it much more clearly. I like the stepping-stone flirtation of the Follow before the Subscribe.

Question: do you get notified if someone follows you?

edit: regarding contact lists from phone. Didn't see this before and I agree, I don't want to share my own contact list. Happy to have the follow feature and be able to follow, but sharing a list of contacts without my contacts having consent seems a bit...off.

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Yes, you do (and you can follow back right from the notification)

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I agree. I've never given apps access to my contacts.

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I like Substack because I don't have contact with people I know.

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This is a great feature! Question: Can you consider stop hosting/promoting white supremacists on your official podcast?

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How about you mute and block them and stop advocating for platforms to start censoring people from speaking. Sounds good to you?

Plus we all know what you mean by "white supremacists" it's basically anyone who doesn't have the same political views as you.

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Is there a way to toggle this off?

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hi Mary, yes you can definitely run your publication as usual without getting impacted by these new features. If you're not interested in following, you don't have to do so. Also, if you don't sync your contacts, your friends won't be able to find you when they sync theirs (it's a two-sided match). The only time you might get followers is if someone mentions you on Notes, but we hope that will expose your work to new potential readers. And as a reminder, even when readers discover your profile through Notes, the most prominent button on writer profiles is the big orange subscribe button. I hope this answers your question.

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Thank you. I wish the question about contact syncing were clarified more in the original post, though.

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Have you guys checked this feature with your legal department? This sounds like a walking and talking GDPR violation of EU law.

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Yes. As usual Substack hits it out of the park. Thank you Mel.

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This doesn't add up. If I cannot be found if not syncing I won't be able to find anybody in my phonebook either unless they're synced. I thought this was a genious platform and paid the one time fee to use my own domains on it and be able to write and keep my real life persona out of it. Now I will pack up and leave, loose that money and go back to Ghost and also explore patreon.

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Will the existing preference on whether Likes etc are public/private be honored or is there a new setting to toggle (to preserve privacy of new subscription for example) or has all activity on Substack become public as those post implies? Appreciate the clarification.

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This was my question also. I found this disturbing:

"For example, if you follow Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and “like” his posts, your followers will sometimes see those liked posts—and the option to subscribe to Kareem—in their Notes feed."

Who asked for this? My "likes" are not advertisements. I certainly don't want a creepy public catalogue of what posts I read or "like," and if this becomes the case, I will simply stop engaging with the platform and take my $ elsewhere.

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Substack gets worse every month. You claim you don't want to be like social media, and then implement feature after feature that does just that. This latest is another step in the wrong direction, another attempt to make the platform more like Twitter or Facebook or whatever. You have an awesome core mission, but aren't satisfied with sticking to it and making the core even better.

All these tacky add-ons just dilute what Substack used to be about.

And in this thread, I just learned that people's subscriber list is available to the public. What a rotten disappointment. One of the better things about Substack was that your connections (ie. subscribers) was private. With every move you make, it's more of the social status, competitive, look at my numbers! crap that drove me from Twitter. Big fail.

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Another misguided step by Substack. Trying to be a Twitter or FB instead of trying to be Substack and improve core features.

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Does this actually make it “easier to grow our subscriber base,” or does it just help you build a Twitter replacement, because ex-Twitter users don’t expect to get emails from everyone they follow? Won’t this reduce subscriber growth for authors who don’t use notes?

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I have but one friend and I already know where he lives.

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LOL, you have one more than me.

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Kat--It looks like we have each other at least.

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Kind of a bummer. What I love about substack is that it feels like a private little internet corner away from social media, and it feels like it’s becoming more and more social media-like

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I'm not sure I'm ... following you ... LOL ...

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Never, ever, under any circumstances would I give Substack or any platform access to my personal contacts. It feels slimy. And I would never want someone to do that with my info without my permission. Besides, my mechanic and my gas company don't care a flip about my writing.

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Q: Will there be a setting that allows writers to lock posts to followers? If followers by default have access to everything free subscribers do, this would not help writers build audiences. It would just fully convert the writer to an aspect of Substack’s UX for readers

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This could be a terrible mistake on management's part. Why subscribe? Why pay if you can just follow for free like on FB? In fact, it could be the end of Substack for working writers. Who agrees?

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You can already subscribe for free to every substack I've encountered, I'm not sure how a free follow is different in that sense.

Edit: this was clarified elsewhere "your subscribers [but not followers] will receive emails from you or see your posts in their app inbox".

I already have a rule on my inbox which deletes anything I get from Substack (as you aren't allowed to disable emails without also unsubscribing from a publication), so for my use case there isn't much difference.

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Do you mean "lock a note"? To not allow "followers" the ability to comment on the note? And, say, just allow free-subscribers and paid-subscribers the ability to comment on the note?

There is currently a "note lock" feature that allows only paid-subscribers the ability to comment on the note -- excluding free-subscribers. But, now that there are "followers", I'm wondering...

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Hi Jon. I’m actually thinking about posts as in published work. What are the access differentials btwn followers and free subs? When it comes to this new rollout, everything hinges on that imo

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Thanks. And, tangentially, you've reminded me of something....

Prior to today's roll-out of "followers"...

Regarding commenting on articles...

If I publish a "free-to-read article -- where I set comments to 'anyone can comment'", I had thought that, as minimum, the platform requires the person to be free-subscribed to my publication first, before they can be able to leave a comment. Is the platform designed to inject that extra step into the reader-commentor flow?

And now with "followers" (which are one step below free-subscribers, if you will), will they be able to leave a comment on my "free-to-read article where I set comments to 'anyone can comment'" -- without first free-subscribing?

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Aug 15, 2023·edited Aug 15, 2023

hey Jason, readers can only follow profiles and can't follow publication. This means only your subscribers will receive emails from you or see your posts in their app inbox. Your followers or free subscribers will not have access to any of your paid work.

Think of following as a way to keep up with what the people (not pubs) you like most are reading and saying on Substack. So if someone you follow likes or restacks your post, you get to see that activity, and hopefully, this will expose readers to more writers and writing on Substack. Hope this answers your question.

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Hi Mel. This will probably be great for Substack and possibly for writers who already have large subscriber counts. For writers trying to *build an audience*, much less promising news. Time will tell. Prior to this, either a reader saw your writing because they were an email subscriber, or they encountered your writing and *became* an email subscriber (or disappeared forever). As @Jonrappoport mentions below, now there's a whole other option, which is follow my Notes and likes, pop in and read my stuff, and never give up your email. Having "followers" is basically Disney Dollars. Off the platform they mean nothing.

But I hope my inclination here is wrong.

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How are the follow recommendations generated? They feel totally random or chronological.

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I'm curious, is anyone concerned that with so much more focus on Notes that there's a lot less reading or engagement on posts? I'm starting to wonder if there's a decrease or not as people spend more time on Notes and less time reading long-form posts.

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I think there's a tendency to prefer something short over something that involves more time. People are busy, things to do, places to go, etc. Substack promotes Notes as a really good way to connect and grow, but I think you're right that it actually takes time away from the pursuit of the longer form, and therefore is not the boon they want to sell it as.

I tried Notes at first, but after a while gave it up. Not only did it take up my time, it smells too much like Twitter for my taste.

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Looks like people I muted now showing up if someone I follow likes or restacks their post. Would be great to keep the mutes out of the Notes timeline.

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thanks for sharing Adam! people you muted should remain muted regardless of who’s sharing their posts. We’ll look into this

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