All best wishes to @Chris and family. In these dark days only love prevails.
Potentially great and bad news all in one message!
Obviously firstly best wishes to @Chris and family and the crisis they are dealing with.
Secondly, if there is the chance that the death of cake is not certain then I'm willing to do whatever I can to take part in it's resurgence.
I don't know how that can happen but I'm going to give it some thought. One obvious thing would be for everyone to continue posting as if they had never read this thread. A lack of content and action is the principle problem and making it worse isn't going to help at all.
I am curious, what the long term plan to monetise Cake was from the beginning as obviously it must have been intended to become self-funding if not profitable at some point. Was there a plan for advertising or subscriptions at some point?
I hope the writing on the wall disipitates so Cake can continue into the years to come.
I hope you are right! Your positivity and belief in Cake is appreciated!!!
I just find Cake and obviously want this Cake to last a long time and not bitten into for years to come.
As you can tell for the short time I've been on here, I am already loving it. To be honest it sort of reminds me a little bit of Mewe and MySpace came together, But a whole lot better than MySpace ever was. (Yeah I can't believe I just mentioned MySpace twice)!
Good insight! Yeah, MySpace was never that great. Cake is way better for sure!
I have to agree and disagree with you there, MySpace was great when it first came around and if I remember correctly it was good for the first couple of years then it started getting too many artists and musicians cluttering up the Streams which in turn diminished it as it turned most people off. That's when Facebook entered the premise now unfortunately Facebook is turning into MySpace with the added insult of selling your privacy and content.
I do agree with you that Cake is way better.
It was not inside info. I had sent him an email and he was simply responding to my email. It could have just as easily been anyone else who might have emailed him. He asked me to post that info on Cake, so I did so.
Gotcha! Well in any case, thank you for reaching out and passing on the info to the rest of us!
Hi everyone again!
Maybe we could all do something about it by contributing in the different ways, besides being present in 🍰
Of course there are time & financial weight... So for example taking a slice of the cake with a different responsibility. @S4-John which slice of the cake we are taking for Christmas? ☺️
I’ve always wondered when this time would come—even when we got together many months ago at Filoli, @Chris was racking his brain trying to figure out how to help Cake make the leap to viability. He has been working hard at this for quite a while! This must be a deep disappointment for him. But even if it is ultimately a disappointment, it has been an extraordinary experience. 👍🏻
Coincidentally, I happened to watch “The Social Dilemma” yesterday, and was struck by how many Silicon Valley insiders kept saying, “we never expected this [Facebook, Twitter, Google, Pinterest, Instagram, insert your favorite platform here] to become so awful.” That sentiment seemed so genuine, it made me worry a lot about Cake.
I have backed away from so many platforms in the past few months. Other than just an occasional (I hope helpful) comment posted on one or two other platforms, Cake has been where I dare start a conversation, and where I deeply appreciate the intelligent engagement that is lacking elsewhere. But I completely understand the need to move on when time is up.
As to Chris’s inquiry, I would prefer that the whole thing disappear rather than leaving it up on the web as a legacy artifact that no longer operates as it has. But that’s just me.
Thank you for everything, Chris.
Thanks so much for all the well-wishes and great posts. It makes me feel a lot better.
The COVID emergency was that my daughter tore the cartilage in her knee which would require flying to LAX for surgery, which caused my wife and I to drive to Oregon to watch her 5 kids because her husband is a very busy doc. So far so good.
This morning I drove her to the airport for tomorrow’s surgery and we learned there was a problem with her COVID test. The testing company was not going to be able to deliver test results before the surgery after all and no results no surgery. So she found herself in LA scrambling to get a quick test, which the surgicenter said they would not accept.
The surgicenter referred her to LA hospitals, who said you must be joking, the earliest they could test is January 5th.
Her husband finally got through to the surgeon and got him to agree to accepting the results of a quick test, but we worked on this all day.
Ouch! Torn knee cartilage doesn't sound fun and that all sounds like an epic hassle but at least you got the right result and it's a lot better than most people would have imagined after reading Covid related emergency.
Ok, so I've been on Cake for about three years. What drew me to the site was @Chris and him being a long-time family friend from church. We've done marathons together, gone to Africa together, etc. So, I consider him and his family to be close friends and I got on the site to show support.
I also am interested in trying new things and as a writer, I love to share my thoughts with people. In addition, I also felt that the concept behind Cake was good. Following topics, not people. Having conversations about topics that really interest you, etc.
I don't think any social media site out there has figured out the conversation part. They have bits and pieces of it, but not the fullness of what it takes to have meaningful conversations. That's what makes the creation of Cake interesting. It strives to accomplish something that other sites haven't. Even more boldly, Cake comes out and points the finger at other social media sites for failing to do so. It is for this reason that I believe Cake has the potential to pay real dividends.
However, there are five things that I think Cake should consider doing if it is to avoid doom and gloom. I will briefly share those five things with the hope of making the site better and giving Chris the type of feedback that he was hoping to get from this thread.
#1. More promotion of Cake via other social media platforms: While Cake strives to be different and unique from other social media platforms, that doesn't mean it should totally ignore them, either. Sites like Facebook and Twitter have tons of users, many of which I'm sure would be willing to join the Cake community if they only knew of its existence.
I think it would help if Cake had more of an active presence on Facebook and Twitter to promote some of the better, more enriching conversations we've had on here. I know that a Cake twitter account has already been set up and when used, it has done a decent job of promoting some interesting conversations. The problem is the account hasn't tweeted much. Typically 1-2 times a month and it hasn't tweeted or retweeted anything since June.
I understand that you don't want to tweet too much and that the goal is to siphon off users from these other platforms, but without tweeting or posting at all on these sites, you are also robbing yourself of a chance to promote your brand for free!
As for what type of content Cake should tweet out, I think tweeting out top conversations that have generated lots of responses should be the goal. This can of course include interesting panels, something I'll get into in my next point.
So, I think if Cake tweeted out 2-3 times a week key conversations that have generated at least a solid conversation (10+ comments), that would be a good place to start. You wouldn't be selling just the content, but the conversation around the content. Maybe someone reads a Cake post on Facebook or Twitter and thinks "Hey, I want to be in on that conversation" or "I wish I could join in on conversations like that" and sign up for Cake.
This is something that @JazliAziz has brought up multiple times on here. For good reason, I think.
#2. Run more panel conversations: When I've talked to Chris about his long-term vision for Cake, something he's brought up to me is the panel conversations. Bringing in notable people who are experts in their field and allowing every day people who are interested in that subject to pitch them questions and get their responses.
As a member of the media, I can tell you a lot of fans wish they were in my shoes to pitch questions to college basketball head coaches about the game that was just played. People want to connect with notables. If you brought in some notables to have a panel conversation and got everyday people to participate and pitch them questions, that could generate some real interest in the site.
Of course, you're not going to start with say Michelle Obama, but I'm sure there's a lot of highly qualified people in the science and tech industries that would be more than happy to participate in a panel conversation if asked. Maybe this avenue has been exhausted and/or the interest isn't there, but I do think running more panels and of course promoting them as I said in my first suggestion would really help the site's potential for growth.
#3. Focus on building up communities in areas that are already strong: The most followed topics on Cake are Apple, science, science news, technology, technology news, and computers. Politics, US politics, and Philosophy aren't far behind. There's some other topics I'm leaving out as well, but these are the main ones that come to mind.
When it comes to finding conversations that Cake can promote, I think these are the topics that should be getting the most attention. When I write a post on Cake, I always try to see if I can attach my post to at least one of these topics because I know these topics have tons of followers on Cake.
If Cake is going to grow, it's going to need content that attracts readers and quality conversations. Given that these topics have a solid following, Cake would be smart to focus their energies on creating thriving communities that area interested in these topics. I'm not saying Cake hasn't been doing that or that Cake should ignore the other topics on the site, but I do think when it comes to panels and conversations that are tweeted out, really focusing on these topics should be a focus.
Get a thriving community that is interested in science and tech on Cake first and then once that is really humming, the other topics of conversation can follow. E.g. Sports, which hasn't really taken off on here but has potential due to how much it is consumed online.
#4. Consider a premium/paid version: I respect the decision to not run ads on Cake, so if that option is a big no-no, then I think having a premium subscription model should be strongly considered. At GoldenBearReport.com, which is part of the Rivals.com network, we have a thriving community of diehard Cal fans that are willing to pay a monthly subscription, around $7.99 a month, to get access to our premium message boards and premium content. That premium content includes scoops on the basketball and football teams, exclusive interviews, and a message board community that is popping with fun conversations about all things Cal sports.
I'm not sure what premium a subscription to Cake would look like, but by paying $4.99 a month, premium subscribers could get access to more features like the ability to start more conversations, get first heads up on what panels are upcoming, the ability to have more reactions, multiple identities, etc. You could have "Premium Cake" be a followed topic where those with a paying subscription get the type of premium updates that I'm talking about. They can have more of a voice in the direction of the site and the type of content that will be produced.
#5. Consider a direct messaging option: I don't know feasible this is, but nearly every social media site has some form of direct messaging. Maybe this could be a premium feature? I think one thing that could keep people on Cake is the ability to direct message users. At Rivals, people are able to direct message each other via a private forum. Obviously, you don't want people to be spammed by unsolicited/unwanted messages, but there's an easy way to go about that. You could allow people to "follow each other" or something purely for the purposes of being able to direct message each other.
There have been times where I wish I could message @Pathfinder about a photo he posted or @Shewmaker about a cool religious post he had. Maybe I want to message @Glenn_Smith more about his photos of Saturn and Jupiter coming together, but I don't want to detract from the conversation on the main thread.
By being able to message people, you are able to draw closer to them and build more of a sense of community. I do think an ability to message people on Cake would really help create more user engagement.
Anyways, those are my five suggestions for how we can make Cake better/how Cake could have been better. I would feel bad if I never wrote this as I do love the community that we have created on here. We just gotta get the word out about how awesome this place is to the right people!
I would like to offer a completely unsolicited opinion about the probable/possible demise of cake. Obviously I am not one of the people who have poured passion and work into this, and as such understand that my opinion can be freely dismissed. But I really do care about this platform even though I haven't been here long.
The way I see it there are a couple of possible options.
1. The cake is considered eaten, it was tasty and we all loved it, but now it is time to wash the plate.
2. Things continue as they are, but somehow a way is found to attract more visitors and contributors, to reach that magical tipping point where a social network suddenly becomes 'a thing'. Of course Chris and others have been trying to do that for a long time and for whatever reason (which is quite frankly beyond me) it hasn't happened yet.
3. There are changes to the featureset of Cake, direct messaging, or whatever else has been suggested in the hope that this will draw more people to the platform. Personally I don't know how effective this would be, it's all clean and nice and works well right now.
4. Cake continues with, at least temporarily, some changes to the structure of how it is run/staffed and some cost cutting. I want to expand on this one a little bit....
I don't pretend to have any idea about how any of that is at the moment, but I imagine that for one thing someone, presumably @Chris spends a reasonable amount of time moderating and dealing with spam, etc. There aren't many posts right now so it's no big deal but it would be with a lot of content, and that load could be reduced by appointing some community moderators.
I also don't know how cake is hosted, I'm guessing that it's on AWS and I don't know how managed that hosting is or how much time someone is spending on server management, etc.
On this last point, we run an ethical and sustainable web hosting company and would like to make an offer. If Cake wanted to move and cut costs we would be willing to donate a server in Helsinki and server management services for a year. I don't know if that is something that would be useful or if it makes no difference to any of the bigger issues, but @Chris if you are interested then we could discuss it.
So here is one of the problems we've wrestled with: Cake is written with a lot of custom code and and a heavy dependence on third-party services. It took a small team of engineers and designers to build it and my expectation was we could raise some significant capital to sustain the team and add more for an Android app, etc. On our list of things to do was multiple images per post, private messages, good search, following people, improving the editor, feed, etc.
We attracted attention from the top-tier VCs and they circled but didn't commit to the big round because we didn't have enough growth. And that put us in the position of a chicken and egg problem we couldn't solve, even with patience.
One option we've been weighing is moving Cake to ADVrider's servers, which is what I did for years with ADV in SmugMug's data center until ADV had a business model by virtue of its size. @gorudy , who runs ADV, has been willing to assume Cake's operation costs, but Cake, with its custom code, is expensive to maintain.
One option I've floated with the team in the past is to simply use Xenforo, the forum software that ADV uses. Then we get multiple images per post, private messages, anti-spam protections, private forums, good moderation tools, the ability to follow people, etc. By good moderation tools, I mean we can do things like split threads, which we can't do now.
One of the problems of Cake is longer threads get slow and buried. Our search isn't very good. It's really hard to surface classic threads and that's what gives ADV a big advantage in things like ride reports, because one thread can last for the life of an adventure, whereas on Facebook it gets buried in a day.
If we were on Xenforo, the costs would fall to a fraction, we know how to administer it, it's faster and more feature rich. The problem is it looks like a forum. We can customize it to a certain extent, but it may never have the clean look of Cake. Eventually, if it reached a scale like ADV, you can charge for subscriptions like YouTube does, or serve ads.
If cake.co were on Xenforo with the gang we have here and the philosophy we have for better conversations, would you use it?
I would use it, but would new users?
Who is your competition? Is it, for example, Medium or Disqus?
Good questions. I think of Medium as a blogging platform, where you write an essay and maybe get some comments. It's broadcast and comment, not conversation.
Discus is comments for platforms that don't want to write and moderate their own commenting system, like small newspapers.
I think forums have better onboarding than we do and are clearer for new users to get started, but I dunno. @denise participates in one I started long ago for photography and SmugMug support, Digital Grin, but I think it has been declining in traffic forever. Flickr is a forum for photographers, but I think its traffic has been declining for years.
I think the real competition is Facebook Groups. And Reddit.
I will sound naive probably, but I like shiny and clean social media. And Cake is shiny and clean. Forums probably are good for a specific topic.... But I had never joined one... And here you can just think about something and post it. Well I would not join a forum, but there are millions who do!!!!!
Yep, Cake in the current incarnation is clean and a joy to use, which sets it apart from most forums. It's also not really the same functionality.
Forums seem to be in decline across the web generally unless they are niche specific, i.e. ADVrider or an industry specific thing, Lots of people have spent the last years generally moving from forums to FB groups.
There is some nice forum software out there, nodebb or xenforo for example, but to get them to look anything like Cake does now would be a massive amount of work as well.
Have you contemplated the idea of making the codebase open source and inviting contributors on Github or similar. It would mean the chance to develop the codebase, both adding and improving features and rewriting things that rely on third-party services, and also could attract some users to cake.co at the same time.
Reddit's tag is "the front page of the internet" I think right? They provide a lot of tools for people to start and manage/control their own community. So I suppose they're targeting those folks mainly? And the vast majority of participants follow from that, by what, googling an interest and a subreddit gets a hit? I actually have no idea how people find subreddits.
Seems to me that might be a core consideration, is it attractive to invest in a platform (as an enthusiast) in which you can start a conversation, but not build/manage/control/grow a community?
Seems at the end of the day, you need to attract enthusiasts, with differentiators that show participants can engage in a more satisfying way (for everyone) than on a site like reddit.
If you were an X enthusiast, why would you come here instead of starting a community on reddit? Why wouldn't you?
Frankly, I'm a bit surprised about your reaction to Medium. I think Medium hosts a lot of people who write in depth articles on topics people would love to discuss in equal depth. I don't think of it as a blog site (like Wordpress, for example). The front page of Medium, for example, has an article by Barack Obama that I can easily see someone linking here in order to facilitate a conversation about it. But I certainly can't really envisage him writing the article here, is that a problem?
Writing my last message led me to a thought. What about discussions on scientific journals, would that be a good use case for cake? I can imagine approaching schools, associations, institutions and building a community or even a whole ecosystem around discussions of journals.