Goodbye - What went wrong and future steps
Let me start by saying I'm sorry. I sincerely apologize to you first and myself second. I'm shutting down Owlskip. I started the service between jobs in a hopeless attempt to rekindle my joy and love for web development. To spare you the boring details and a sob story (it isn't, but hey, I'm biased), I built it intending to develop it further, and I didn't.
The solution was buggy, and the premise I built it upon was flawed, which has led to many missed opportunities. But it also showed a lot of issues I hadn't seen while making this and only became clear after the fact.
They say hindsight is 20/20, and they're right whomever they are. One of the things that stung me in the rear was getting Owlskip domain name blocked on Facebook and possibly other platforms due to spam. That event is unfortunate because what I set out to create was a tool to help marketers do better at their job, not add more garbage to the Internet.
Yet, it ended up happening because people were able to create -limited- links for free. I wanted people to try things out before they made a purchase decision. Looking back, however, it was admirable but poorly executed. There are about ~3000 links created on the platform as of this writing; not all of them point at decent things.
Listing my mistakes can go on for a while. I believe this hasn't been my best work, but I'm determined to learn from it and move on. I still love the concept, however, so I'm not leaving it behind. However, I think it's time to close this chapter and re-evaluate what should happen next. Here are some thoughts about that
I want to rebuild Owlskip. However, one of the significant issues I faced while working on the product was not dedicating enough time to support myself with the necessary tooling I needed. This changes in the next iteration of rebuilding this.
Protect against spam
When I started, my hope was putting a paywall would be a deterrent to stop anyone from abusing the service. I missed the fact that opening up the possibility to try the service for free, even with limited features, was already a side door to this.
Moving forward, I know now that I need to offer a different solution to seeing and experiencing the software features before buying. I wanted to avoid free subscriptions and trial versions before; I'd still like to avoid that in the future.
I also think protecting against spam can be done on the software level, so I'd also like to prevent spammy or dodgy links from being used on the service in the future.
I intend to clean up the ~3000 links I have on the service now, only keeping legitimate ones and deleting the rest. It will break those illegitimate links. However, they never deserved to exist in the first place, nor become linkable through my service. I'm not applying any form of censorship here. My criteria are simple; if the link aids in distributing malware, drugs, child porn, gambling, weapons trading, or scamming, the link gets deleted.
The rest of the links will continue to work correctly indefinitely. I strongly advise you to revisit any Owlskip links you may have created in the past and replace them.
Thank you, that's all I have to say. A sincere thanks to everyone who used the service, emailed me about issues, and was patient enough to believe in this thing working. I'm sorry it hasn't worked out the way it should have but, thank you.
Stay safe, stay healthy and catch you next time, maybe!