Since we launched first public version almost a year ago up until March 2013 we have been working on The Old Reader in “normal” mode. In March things became “nightmare”, but we kept working hard and got things done. First, we were out of evenings, then out of weekends and holidays, and then The Old Reader was the only thing left besides our jobs. Last week difficulty level was changed to “hell” in every possible aspect we could imagine, we have been sleep deprived for 10 days and this impacts us way too much. We have to look back.
The truth is, during last 5 months we have had no work life balance at all. The “life” variable was out of equation: you can limit hours, make up rules on time management, but this isn’t going to work if you’re running a project for hundreds of thousands of people. Let me tell you why: it tears us to bits if something is not working right, and we are doing everything we can to fix that. We can’t ignore an error message, a broken RAID array, or unanswered email. I personally spent my own first wedding anniversary fixing the migration last Sunday. Talk about “laid back” attitude now. And I won’t even start describing enormous sentimental attachment to The Old Reader that we have.
We would really like to switch the difficulty level back to “normal”. Not to be dreaded of a vacation. Do something else besides The Old Reader. Stop neglecting ourselves. Think of other projects. Get less distant from families and loved ones. The last part it’s the worst: when you are with your family, you can’t fall out of dialogues, nodding, smiling and responding something irrelevant while thinking of refactoring the backend, checking Graphite dashboard, glancing onto a Skype chat and replying on Twitter. You really need to be there, you need to be completely involved. We want to have this experience again.
That’s why The Old Reader has to change. We have closed user registration, and we plan to shut the public site down in two weeks. We started working on this project for ourselves and our friends, and we use The Old Reader on a daily basis, so we will launch a separate private site that will keep running. It will have faster refresh rate, more posts per feed, and properly working full-text search — we are sure that we can provide all this at a smaller scale without that much drama, just like we were doing before March.
The private site?
Accounts will be migrated to the private site automatically. We will whitelist everybody we know personally, along with all active accounts that were registered before March 13, 2013 — those are the people who had consciously signed up for The Old Reader rather than were simply looking for “a Google Reader replacement”. And of course, we will migrate all our awesome supporters and people who donated to keep the project running (if you sent us bitcoins, please get in touch to get identified). Later this week your account will get a distinct indication whether it will be migrated to the private site or not. If you see that message and believe that it’s wrong, or if all your friends are getting migrated and you are left behind — please, drop us a line.
Give me my data!
You will have two weeks to export your OPML file regardless of our decision. OPML export link is located at the bottom of the Settings page — use the top-right menu to get there. All posts that you saved for later by using Pocket integration will obviously remain in your Pocket account.
But you could…
For those who would like to start the usual “VC, funding, mentor” or “charge for the damn thing” mantras — please, spare it. We’re not in the Valley where it might be super-easy, and, after all, not everyone wants to be an entrepreneur. We just love making a good RSS reader.
We really want The Old Reader to be a big and successful project, with usable free accounts. But this is not possible to achieve with what we have, so unless someone resourceful takes over the project and brings it to the next level, it is not gonna happen. We had over 2 000 new registrations after the blackout last week. This is amazing and sad at the same time.
If anyone is interested in acquiring The Old Reader and making it better, we are very open and accepting proposals at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would be waiting for them for two weeks, supporting and maintaining The Old Reader as usual. Please don’t write us if you don’t have resources to maintain a site used by tens of thousands of people every day, or if you don’t know how you would improve The Old Reader. And please spare our time if you just want to buy the domain name and park a bunch of silly ads there — it’s not going to happen.
We value our community very much, and we will either pass the project to somebody who we know is going to take a good care of it, or we will switch it to private mode.
From one point of view, it’s not a big deal: “RSS is obsolete”, nobody died, we don’t owe anybody anything, you name it. Also, there are a lot of good readers around to choose from, a large part of them is smaller than The Old Reader and had not experienced growing pains of 80 000 daily active users in no time. But for us, it’s heartbreaking.
I will finally get back to work on my small studio — Bespoke Pixel — which has been run by my awesome partner all this time. Dmitry will keep being bright young software developer, making scalable and beautiful projects. Our team will stay together, and will keep working on making the private version of The Old Reader awesome.
We feel great responsibility for the project. We’d rather provide a smooth and awesome experience for 10 000 users than a crappy one for 420 000.
Sorry, each and everyone if we failed you. You are an incredible, supportive and helpful community. The best we could possibly hope for.
All the love, Elena Bulygina and Dmitry Krasnoukhov
Dang. I suspected a breaking point had passed during the outage, but it’s still disappointing to see The Old Reader shut down.
It’s a shame there’s no option to donate to keep your account at this point, but I suppose that would prompt thousands of people donating pennies apiece.
Looks like I’ll be migrating to CommaFeed in the near future.