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In 2019, I was excited about Substack, thinking they were going to become an underdog and perhaps even an indie web. However, their poor UX and lack of a custom sending domain option deterred me from starting a newsletter. Five years later, they’ve added a Twitter-like posts feature with a centralized algorithm that siphons messages from other users into your reading feed, making it look like yet another “Birdapp killer” on a Facebook-looking app. Now, I’m allowed to create my email publication on a Substack subdomain (or connect my own for $50) and invite my readers from elsewhere to “their” platform. It’s a silo-web at its best! The core “newsletter first” promise hasn’t seen any improvement—there are still no custom sending domains.

technological futility