Because I feel like what I say doesn't matter.
Dev.to was the place where I started writing. Before it, I never published what I wrote to any kind of blogging platform.
I created an article on responsiveness just to show it to my team back then, and as a random afterthought, I chose to give it some spotlight, at least a chance to be seen. You know, I had nothing to lose, anyway.
It worked. I started gaining followers, and all that good feedback helped me to get through depression, the worst period of my career.
Then there was that article on architecture that skyrocketed. After the traction it got, I really started to see myself as an author and not just a developer. I learned I could be heard, that I can at least teach somebody what I achieved, driven by obsession and pain. That feeling gave the purpose of what I do.
I saw this platform as a place where I have freedom to express my achievements, thoughts and even failures.
It turned out to be a mistake.
Pixelhunter shadowban incident
On Jun 17, 2021, I published an article on the project I made named Pixelhunter. It was never meant to be a paid gig — the idea came to me years ago, before I even knew anybody in the community. Guys just recognized the value in what I do and supported me, the gesture that I’m grateful for, and I made the full disclosure out of sincerity. That’s it.
The article was not a promotion. As a matter of fact, it only mentions the API factually, just “yep, I used an API”. Other than that, all 15k symbols, is my usual article filled with my personal pain, overcoming struggles and keeping perseverance while being amazed by the beauty that passes by.
Dev.to thought otherwise.
My article gained precisely 2 reactions — not something that I could expect, given my articles always being way more popular and some others’ articles like “how to declare a variable in JS” gaining a lot more.
Despite my article being sincere and highly graded by my peers because of what it delivered, it was shadowbanned just because of a mere fact that I received money for what I did.
With that gesture, Dev.to basically said to me that if I wanted to even mention some profit, I need to share the money with them. Instead of article value, they only saw lost profit.
Now I feel that what I say and what I teach doesn’t matter unless I pay the platform. It would not surprise me if this very article ends up shadowbanned as well.
Lack of actual community
Out of mere habitual inertia of seeing dev.to as a part of my digital home, I made a habit of spending at least 20 minutes a day on dev.to, writing comments and replying to other people. What I saw surprised me — dev.to is not a place where people teach other people and vice versa. It’s merely a self-promotion platform with “post and go” mechanics.
There are just about a dozen decent authors who are really trying to deliver value. Other tens of thousands of people are here just to be here. Some are crossposting trivial lessons just to gain followers, some are promoting their other ventures like coding vlogs. No one is here to stay, teach, and discuss peacefully.
As a dev.to moderator, I’m now deleting my previous similar articles, despite them not being sponsored in any sense, because they violate the rules just like my article on Pixelhunter do. Just like the API I used, the products I mentioned had free and paid plans:
- At least as tall as viewport, but taller if needed (the proper solution), for mentioning Codepen which has paid plan called Codepen Pro;
- Firefox sends data to Google by default. Here’s how to prevent it, for mentioning Mozilla which has a paid VPN product;
- How depression killed my dream project, for mentioning Product Hunt which has paid services;
- PWA Checklist 2021 (final and complete), for mentioning Notion which has paid plans;
- Introduction to Pragmatic Beauty, for mentioning NPM which has paid plans;
- Dangerous consequences of being a 10x engineer, for mentioning a YouTube channel that does sponsorships and accept monetary support on Patreon;
- Code of Conduct generator!, for mentioning Product Hunt;
- How to get rid of Apple censorship, or an open letter to Spotify, for mentioning Apple and Spotify;
- It’s okay to invent unusual things (lessons learned from the history of science), for mentioning Quake which is a commercial game;
- Scalable architecture without magic (and how to build it if you’re not Google), for mentioning Google which has paid products;
- My First Startup, for mentioning Instagram, which has paid services;
- PWA Checklist 2019, for mentioning The Noun Project which has paid plans;
- PWA and website responsiveness are not the same, for mentioning Samsung Galaxy Note, a commercial product.
I don’t think there are evil people among Dev.to administration. Mistakes happen. Often the platform, just like Indie Hackers, drifts off course, to somewhere the admins don’t want it to be.
But to me, it doesn’t matter anymore. I don’t care if I broke some rules of your inclusive community. I only care about the value I deliver and the thought process I expose in what I write.
You quit writing?
No. I will be posting all my articles to my self-hosted blog.
To me, even 10 of you matter more than all spambots and dead traffic in the world. In all that situation, I learned that the attention of one loyal reader can do more than a thousand of fake likes, because loyal readers value you because of who you are, not because of the platform you’re on. To them, you’re a personality and not just another FOMO-inducing, faceless “rockstar” in the feed.
Feel free to subscribe to the updates on Twitter and on Buy me a Coffee (you don’t have to pay anything). Freshly posted new articles will be announced there. I’ll continue posting on my own blog exclusively. Rather than just the dev stuff, I’ll be focusing on abstract concepts behind the code and the design I do daily, mental health, neurobiology and other stuff I find interesting, like ethics and human-computer interaction.
I don’t hold grudges. Sometimes we have no choice and no control over the emergent things that happen when the community becomes this big.
I hope things would change with Forem.
I sincerely wish you all good luck.