Goodbye ello

When it appeared in 2014, the online service ello positioned itself as the anti-Facebook. No ads, no ‘sponsored’ posts, no selling user data, etc. Not long after the site went live, I wrangled an invite, and joined. It wasn’t terribly exciting, but there was none of the bullshit that frequently plagues Facebook and other social media platforms.

I primarily used ello to post the same things I was posting to my blog, and including a link. Eventually, I dropped the link, but continued to post the material to ello. The main difference was that when I posted images, I would post them at full resolution.

During this time, ello became a home for all sorts of creative types—writers, artists, photographers, graphic designers, fashion designers, and so on.

Despite ello’s relative obscurity (try asking someone you know about ello—they won’t have a clue), my posts routinely got more views there than this blog ever has. For example, my most popular post (I no longer remember what it was) had over 8,500 views—more views than this blog has had in every year of existence except for 2017. Even my lesser-viewed posts routinely attracted 160–200 views.

Earlier this year, while everything else in my life seemed to be going to shit, I was featured in ello’s Writing section: https://ello.co/ellowrites/post/ht8dodaglidj4ct9pvnjqa. Or, if the link doesn’t work:

In this screenshot from October 30, my featured status is indicated by the bright green circle with the check mark in it.

Unfortunately, that’s when the spam-laden increase in people following me began. There were a lot of folks with 0 views and no posts with the generic ello backgrounds; that I could handle. But then there were the obvious spam posts—purported dentists, real estate services, third-party tech services, escort services, porn, term paper-writng services, refurbished print cartridges, plumbers, driving schools, resume-writing services, and so on. All the shit that would normally be sent to your spam folder if it were e-mail.

Before long, it was not uncommon for me to have to spend about ten minutes every couple of days to flag and block these spam accounts. I mentioned this problem via ello’s accounts for enquiring about that sort of thing, and posted about it once or twice. But the problem persisted. On any given day, it was typical for only one or two of the dozen or more new followers showing up in my notifications list to be (or appear to be) legitimate new followers.

So, a few days ago, I thought I would DM the ello folks on Twitter. Apparently, they had disabled direct messaging. So I posted a tweet that mentioned them. As of this writing, I have received no response.

I made the decision earlier this week to leave ello, with this being my final post:

Never mind that I now had more than 1 million views there—even if that is an accurate figure, I have no way of knowing how many of them are legit. And the effort it takes to wade through all the spam leaves me too frustrated to want to do anything else on the site, meaning that the work of other contributors I might otherwise be interested in was being overlooked. And something I had not thought of until this very moment: how often was my work being overlooked because other people were encountering the same problem and becoming similarly frustrated?

In the end, I figure it’s not that different from a job that pays very well but delivers little personal benefit. Sure it pays great, but it simply isn’t worth the hassle.

So goodbye, ello. Goodbye.

(7 November 2018)