Goodbye - What went wrong and future steps

Let me just start by saying I'm sorry. No really, this is a sincere apology to you first and myself second. So what am I talking about?

Well, I'm shutting down Owlskip if you haven't figured that out yet. I started service in 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 with the intention of developing it further and I didn't.

The solution was buggy and the premise upon which it was built was flawed. This has led to a lot of missed opportunities. But it also showed a lot of issues I hadn't seen while building this and only became clear after the fact.

They say hindsight is 20/20, they're right whomever they are. One of the things that really stung me in the rear was getting Owlskip domain name blocked on Facebook and possibly other platforms due to spam.
This was unfortunate because what I set out to create was a tool to help marketeers do better at their job not add more garbage to the Internet.

This happened because of the ability to create a custom, albeit limited link for free. I wanted people to try things out before they made a purchase decision and looking back, it was an admirable cause but poorly carried out. There's roughly ~3000 links created on the platform as of this writing, not all of them point at decent things.

The second issue came about in my integration with Stripe, in no way or form was this Stripe's fault. It was and still is my absolute dumb mistake of not catering to the possibility that some people would have their Javascript disabled on their browser and that would result in them attempting to subscribe without a Credit Card which would fail the whole process. I saw this quite late but by then it was too late to fix.

What's next?

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's some thoughts about that


I'd like to rebuild Owlskip, one of the biggest issues I had working on this is not dedicating enough time to support myself with the necessary tooling I needed to successfully maintain this product as a solo creator. This changes in the next iteration of rebuilding this.

Protect against spam

When I started, my hope was putting a pay-wall would be a deterrent enough 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 features of the software 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 spam can be protected against on the software level, so I'd also like to prevent spammy or dodgy links from being used on the service in the future.

Current links

I intend to clean up the ~3000 links I have on the service now, only keeping legitimate ones and deleting the rest. This will break those other links but they never deserved to exist in the first place, nor become linkable through my service. I'm not applying any form of sensorship here, I'm following a simple criteria; if the link aids in the distribution of malware, drugs, child-porn, gambling, weapons trading or scamming then it will be deleted.
The rest of the links will continue to work properly indefinitely. You're advised to revisit your Owlskip links and remove them.

Final words

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!