Cake
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    • Just like most startups, the most common downfall of any community platform is the lack of market fit and a business plan to go along with it. If Cake does not intend to sell my data to advertisers, how is this platform planning to become profitable enough to sustain itself?

    • Hi and thanks for the question. 🤔I don't know if you've read Chaos Monkeys, Antonio García Martínez's disturbing New York Times bestseller about how Facebook makes money, but I found it utterly fascinating.

      The question was, how can they tell what ads you'd like to see—what you are likely to buy—from the photo you liked about your cousin's graduation? The answer was they mostly couldn't. But they did have your true identity and could buy offline data to correlate with it.

      We want to stay a zillion miles away from that model.

      Our situation is very different because we're about following your interests instead of your friends and family. In a conversation about Nikon mirrorless cameras, advertisers have a reasonable idea of what ads are appropriate, and you don't have to be creeped out about why an ad from Nikon would appear somewhere in the conversation. Our layout is similar to Instagram's where high-fidelity ads are possible.

      For people like me who are annoyed by ads, we hope to have a subscription model similar to YouTube Red someday. Ads and a complementary subscription model are off in the future somewhere, but they are what we're implementing on a forum I started, Adventure Rider, and the membership seems happy with that combination. We don't track our members or sell their data over there either, and don't need to.

    • Sorry to go all "Redneck" on y'all. But, it you wanna' see how NOT to do it, visit the Cummins Forum. Seriously.

      I rarely do any surfing (*Is that still a word?) from my phone. I do most of my internet stuff from the desktop in our home. It's an old desktop. And, that Site will bring my old dinosaur to its knees.

      There's a helluva' business plan...

      Have so many ads that your Site can choke a desktop.

    • We're on a hijack here, but I work on old gear as well and newspaper websites are awful. Also, I do some soccer writing and a website called football.london unfailingly crashes my Firefox tab.

      Cake has such a clean, elegant design that I worry about what I'm missing. The only thing that I can think of so far is that new comments don't push a thread back up in the feed, only in one's Activity folder, thus limiting awareness of a thread to its original participants.

    • I don't see it as a possible hijack. I look at it more like a QA/QC thing. If I'm a Site Owner, I'd definitely want to know what I'm doing wrong....or, in this case, what I should possibly avoid doing.

      Ads are great, from a money-making standpoint. But, it's probably pretty easy to forget that they can also be self-defeating. They don't do much good if your Site traffic declines by 30, 40, or even 50%.

      The Forum I mentioned reminds me of ADV in a lotta' ways. There are a lotta' good folks, from some vary diverse backgrounds, that bring knowledge acquired over many years. If you lose just one of those folks, you've lost. And, the Site Owner(s) has/have lost sight of that, by forgetting why folks go to the Site.

      It really is a shame. YMMV.

    • Chris, thanks for clarifying. I'm new here--just stumbled in a week or two ago, and I knew your name from my time at General Magic (though I don't think we overlapped) and decided to sign up. The thing I'm most wondering is: what exactly *is* Cake? I dug around and couldn't find a statement on its exact purpose or mission. I like what I'm seeing (I'm still here!) but still trying to figure it out.

      BTW, I had no idea you were involved with Adventure Rider. I've lurked there for years, and it's very high signal-to-noise--and so too is Cake. Great work on community building.

    • Chris MacAskill

      Hi Josh! Small world. 😁

      For me, Cake is an outgrowth of ADVrider. I started ADV as a hobby purely for the love of Adventure Motorcycling. We never expected it to last and keep growing these past 17 years given the rise of Yahoo Groups, MySpace, Friendster, Facebook, etc. Those companies had billion$ and armies of engineers and we had, uh, a $250 license to forum software. And yet it grew to 2 million monthly active users, and I get non-stop fan mail about it.

      The thing is, on Facebook you follow people and on ADV you follow your interests. We all have interests (like motorcycling) beyond what we can talk about with our friends & family on Facebook.

      We were restricted by what we could do on ADV by forum software. For example, there is a constant desire to add sub-forums for other brands of motorcycles. With forum software, you can only add so many before it gets crazy because the only way to find them is by browsing, not via search. And people want to add their own, not have to beg mods to do it.

      With Cake when you start a conversation, you can choose the topics from existing ones (and see follower counts for topics), or you can add your own topics for others to follow. Cake is also general, not limited to Adventure Motorcycling.

      Here's another example that I think will be important to all of our futures: at ADV, Jesse Evers wrote a Chrome plugin so you could read ride reports and filter out all comments—except from the original poster. More signal, less noise. What you'd really like, tho, is to let everyone on the ride post, but the forum software doesn't provide a way to do that, even with Jesse's plugin. So we built that at Cake, where you can form a panel conversation of, say, 6 people. The world can read it, Cake members can react, only the panel can post.

      Sounds foreign at first because the Internet is the only venue on earth where there is an expectation that anyone can post. So along came Nazis and Russian trolls, and away went a lot of people whose voices were silenced because they were driven off Twitter or wherever.

      In a panel conversation, they don't get driven off because it's just like panels in the real world where the expectation is we all benefit from letting the panel speak. When we scale to millions of people, I think this will be revolutionary. I believe the world will ask where this been for so long.

      No?

    • I prefer to pay for content with the assurance that I see data consistent with my interests. Having been an ADV'r for nigh on 13 years, I witnessed it's transformation from Beemer centric to mostly brand agnostic (save for the inherent HD bias). I think you are headed in the right direction with Cake..as I heard on a recent podcast of "the move"...it's all about content.

    • Thanks, dolomoto. We've got a lot of things going with ADV at the moment. One is to get a subscription program going so people who don't want to see ads can subscribe instead. That's me.

      Another is sponsoring articles. For example, sending people to cover Dakar or a motorcycle show and paying them to do it.

    • Thanks for the discussion. I think what I'm hearing is that, if ADVrider didn't already exist and you wanted to create it today, Cake would be the place to do so. Is that vaguely correct? Like a discussion forum, it's focused around conversation, but unlike prior discussion forums, there's ways to create differing types of discussions (like panels--great idea) and of course Cake is not inherently topic-centric.

      I think the tough meta-issue is that newbies stumbling into Cake (like me) have a hard time understanding what's here, who's here, and most importantly should I join and jump in? With topic-centric sites like ADVrider it's more obvious--if you're into adventure riding, that's the place. I'm still trying to figure out if there's an equivalent statement for Cake.

    • I think the tough meta-issue is that newbies stumbling into Cake (like me) have a hard time understanding what's here, who's here, and most importantly should I join and jump in? With topic-centric sites like ADVrider it's more obvious--if you're into adventure riding, that's the place. I'm still trying to figure out if there's an equivalent statement for Cake.

      Hey Josh,

      Sorry it's taken me so long to respond to this. I remember thinking about it and then it got away. It feels very important and we've heard it several times.

      One of the problems we were trying to solve is on a forum when the number of topics gets large, it's hard to add more without a mind-blowing layout because you find them by browsing. Another problem is the cognitive load of asking yourself which subforum or subreddit your thread goes in, because it may span many and do you cross-post?

      We had seen how Twitter and Instagram do it with hashtags, how Medium does it with topics, and we thought solutions like that would scale. You could assign two or more to a conversation, you could find them by searching, we can tell you how many followers each has, you can follow them and maybe get alerts for something happening in them in the future, etc.

      But you're right, it's different and takes some time to figure out, which is bad. Any suggestions to improve it? I wonder, for example, if you are browsing a topic and choose the + button to start a new conversation, whether we should pre-fill the topic you're looking at as a suggestion.

    You've been invited!