We’d like to give a quick status on the new Premium plans and thank you all for the support. It’s been a little over a week since we introduced the new paid accounts and the support from our community has been terrific. That said, we still have a ways to go to meet our goals and are working diligently to address as much of your input as possible.
Here are answers to many of the frequent questions that we’ve been receiving over the past week.
Q: Why no Paypal?
A: We just released Paypal payments. You can now use either secure credit card payments through Stripe, or checkout using Paypal.
Q: Why didn’t you do ads?
A: As we mentioned in our previous posts, we’re heavily committed to the open web and feel that ads put our neutrality in jeopardy. We haven’t completely ruled out future advertising for non-premium accounts, but we will do everything possible to avoid that decision.
Q: What happens when my grace period or trial expires and I’m over the free feed limit?
A: If you’re over the limit and your trial is expired, then your feeds will stop updating. We won’t ever lock you out of The Old Reader, and you’ll always be able to see what your friends are sharing, and you’ll always be able to export your subscriptions to OPML.
Q: Does “6 months of post storage” extend to shared items and comments?
A: We keep shared items and comments forever. Those are never removed. The only posts that will ever be removed are the read and unread posts that you haven’t shared, liked, or starred.
Q: If feed refreshes are shared, how do the tiered feed refresh speeds work?
A: We do our best to store and fetch only unique feeds, so we fetch new posts for a feed once, and deliver the new posts for each user who is subscribed to that feed.
So, if one of the users who is subscribed to that feed decides to become a premium user, all of the feeds that user is subscribed to will begin updating faster. Any free users subscribed to the same feeds will get the faster refresh time as well.
Q: What is the Instapaper and Readability integration?
A: Instapaper and Readability integration is setup, so that if you go into settings and authorize those services, any time you Star a post, it will be shared to to those services. You don’t need to click “Sent to” and be redirected off to the other site. Just click Star and it all happens in the background.
Q: Where’s the bookmarklet?
A: The bookmarklet is a high priority feature for us. We think it’s a very valuable feature to be able to take any article you come across and put it into The Old Reader for later reading. It’s a bit of a big change, since now we don’t have the concept of a post without a feed, but we’re on it and it will be available soon.
We are thrilled to announce that we are rolling out Premium accounts for The Old Reader. Since taking over the application in August we’ve made tremendous strides to improve the dependability and speed of the application. We’ve also begun the process of building and releasing heavily requested features and have worked diligently on user support. We believe The Old Reader is now truly a world-class application!
Our next goal is to ensure the long term financial viability of The Old Reader. Hosting, development, and support are not inexpensive and while it’s never been our goal to get rich off of this application, long term sustainability and growth will require revenue. So we explored several models for generating revenues including a premium offering and advertising. In the end, we’d like to avoid advertising as we feel it’s too invasive and runs counter to our strong belief in the open web. So we started working on a premium offering that would allow 90% of our users to continue on with a free account that is largely unchanged from what they are using today.
What will you get with The Old Reader Premium? - Full-text search - Faster feed refresh times - Up to 500 Subscriptions - 6 months of post storage - Instapaper and Readability integration - Early access to new features
What will it cost? The Old Reader Premium will cost $3/month or $30/year. However, for the next 2 weeks (or up to 5,000 accounts) we’ll be offering the service for $2/month or $20/year and we will lock you into that price for a minimum of the next 2 years. This is our way of saying thanks to our existing users and hopefully getting the Premium service off to a great start.
Do I have to upgrade? No! 90% of our users can continue on for free just as they are today. However, users with more than 100 feeds will need to upgrade to premium. Otherwise, all functionality will remain available to free accounts. We also offer a 2 week trial period for the premium service and will even allow that trial period to get extended for those still interested in moving to Premium.
We hope you are as excited about TOR Premium as we are. It’s a great value for a service that we know our users will love. Thanks for continuing to support us and thanks for using The Old Reader!
Last night we introduced another new feature called Send To. Like Starred items, this has been a frequently requested addition and something we’ve been itching to get into the application. Send To allows you to share posts from The Old Reader to external services such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Evernote, Google+, or email. By default, email, Facebook, and Twitter are available in your Send To list but you can add others or configure custom options in Settings under the Social tab. We’ve put together a short page with some common services you might want to add to your Share To list here. Email us with any you think would be a good fit for this list.
Also, there’s another small feature that went out last night. We added pubsubhubbub to the user’s profile RSS feed (http://theoldreader.com/profile/[USERNAME].rss), so profile RSS feeds now provide near real time updating. Small, but it might be worthy of mention.
We hope you like these new features as much as we do.
We’re excited to announce that starred items are now live in The Old Reader. This has been one of the most requested features and something we’ve felt belongs in the application for a long time. Hotkey (f) and API support are also available. Starred items will automatically be sent to pocket for users that have it activated.
As most of you know, our focus over the past few months was to increase performance and stability of The Old Reader. We’ve made tremendous strides and can now focus on adding functionality and making this tool a long-term sustainable platform built for the Open Web. The best is yet to come.
This post is not about the day to day operations of The Old Reader or anything of that nature. It’s about how our team came to get involved with RSS and how we see the future of this application and technology that we value so highly.
As a long time user of RSS and Google Reader, I’ve long appreciated the benefits of the technology. Like many people, my use of Google Reader faded a bit as social media platforms took hold. But, I’d always go back to Google Reader when I wanted to cut through the noise of social networks and focus on things I’m really passionate about. Google Reader wasn’t my “second screen” application where I’d go to take a break from work. It filled a much more essential need for me by providing these three features:
1. Unread items are kept in a queue. I don’t miss things. No algorithm chooses what to show me or not show me.
2. It’s an archive of blogs that I value and posts that I’ve read.
3. I can follow whatever I want from anywhere on the web. It embodies the openweb.
For my professional career in web research and development, I can’t really live without these features. I can follow twitter feeds or like Facebook pages, but I’m certain to miss important content from people who I highly value. I need those items queued, archived, and I need to be able to subscribe to anybody on the entire openweb. I can’t be limited to those authors who choose to enter into private social networks and I don’t want to have to constantly check my accounts for updates.
So this leads me to how we got involved in The Old Reader. When Google Reader shut it’s doors, my business partner Jim did some research and tried several services and suggested I’d like The Old Reader the best. So we both moved on over. I read some articles trying to understand why Google Reader would shut down and one really stuck with me. It hypothesized that Google had been following the lead of companies like Facebook and Twitter by turning their backs on the openweb and trying to build their own private/closed social networks. It’s frankly hard to argue against this theory.
However, we see this trend of migrating from the openweb to private networks as cyclical. How long will it be before your Facebook stream is so full of promoted content, bizarre algorithmic decisions, and tracking cookie based shopping cart reminders that you won’t be getting any valuable information? For as little as $60, a business can promote a page to Facebook users. It won’t be long before your news feed is worthless. So we jumped at the opportunity to get involved with developing and managing The Old Reader. We believe in it.
As we’ve been looking to grow our engineering team at Levee Labs and The Old Reader we’ve met with a number of bright young people that are surprisingly unaware of RSS. They say “I recognize the RSS icon, but haven’t really ever used it.” Is it possible that there is a lost generation of internet users that are completely unfamiliar with RSS? Are they unfamiliar with the idea of the openweb too? We believe that’s the case and we’ve been working hard to come up with ideas that’ll expose that generation to RSS, The Old Reader, and the openweb. It’s what made the internet great to begin with and it’s coming back.
We’d like to take a minute to thank the community of applications developers that have assisted in improving the user experience and accessibility of The Old Reader. Please take a moment to browse the list and let us know if there is anything we’re missing. New apps are still being added and developed specifically for The Old Reader and we’re thrilled to say that other prominent applications have us on the shortlist to be supported soon.
Along these same lines, please know that all of your feedback and voting at UserVoice is appreciated and something we take very seriously. Our first priority has been to transition The Old Reader and improve the architecture and performance. As many of you have noted, we’ve made huge strides in that area. In the near future, we plan to communicate more around specific features and begin making functional improvements.
We just wanted to say a quick hello and thank everybody for continuing to use The Old Reader. We’ve been hard at work making improvements and planning for the future. Thanks to everybody who has reached out to us, we’re working to get back in touch with each of you but please be patient with us during this busy time. We have some changes in store as we work to push this application into a long term sustainable position. We’ll be in touch soon.
As Ben mentioned in our previous post, our top priority right now is improving the stability of The Old Reader. To start, we’re going to get The Old Reader a much needed hardware upgrade. This week, we’ll be relocating the application to a top tier host located in the United States, tripling database capacity and adding over 10 times the network capacity.
The move is going to entail exporting all of the posts from about 6 million subscriptions, moving that data approximately 5000 miles and then importing it into the new database servers. This is a big move, and unfortunately it’s going to require about 48 hours of downtime.
The new environment will be ready to roll on Tuesday at which point we will begin the transfer and maintenance window. We’re shooting to begin that maintenance window at approximately 12AM GMT Wednesday. During this time, we’ll be frequently updating Twitter, Facebook and Status page to make sure you know as soon as it is back up and running.
We really do apologize that we’ll be down for so long. We’re avid users ourselves, and a couple days without The Old Reader is pretty tough for everyone. However, on the other side of this migration lies the stability and capacity that our favorite reader truly needs. Thank you for using The Old Reader and for your incredible patience.
We’re pleased to announce that The Old Reader will officially remain open to the public! The application now has a bigger team, significantly more resources, and a new corporate entity in the United States. We’re incredibly excited to be a part of this great web application and would like to share some details about its future as well as thank you for remaining loyal users. We’re big fans and users of The Old Reader and look forward to helping it grow and improve for years to come.
First off we want to say that it’s rare to have an application that inspires as much passion as The Old Reader has as of late. We think that’s a sign of greatness and all credit for that goes to the wonderful team that has been running the show including Dmitry and Elena. We’ve gotten to know them pretty well this past week and they are smart, honest, and passionate people. We’re happy to announce that they are still a part of the team and we hope they will be for a long time to come. The new team will be managing the project and adding to the engineering, communications, and system administration functions.
So now for the future. The Old Reader is going to retain all of its functionality and remain open to the public. Not only that, we’re going to do everything in our power to grow the user base which will only accentuate the things that make this application special. To facilitate these improvements, we’re going to be transitioning The Old Reader to a top tier hosting facility in the United States this coming week. It’s going to require some downtime and for that we sincerely apologize, but it’s also going to mean A LOT more servers, 10x faster networks, and long-term stability. We realize that doesn’t make the downtime easy but rest assured that things are looking up.
Over the coming weeks we’ll talk more about the new team of The Old Reader. We’re looking forward to introducing ourselves and making significant improvements to this incredible application. Thanks for reading and thanks for using The Old Reader!