Last August (2023) I had made the difficult decision to retire the PM Dude as a web property. I had felt that it had run its course, and frankly the cat-and-mouse game to try to remain anonymous had become almost impossible.
If it was the 1970’s (or even the 1980’s) it was possible to go off the grid. You could opt out, and <poof> disappear from the face of the earth. Today, that is impossible. The major tech platforms track you even if you do not have an active account. You can’t escape it.
This makes any attempt to remain anonymous futile. I got tired of it, and thus I tossed in the towel, posted a swan-song entry, and then a few days later grabbed a copy of my data, and followed the convoluted process to delete all traces of my account on Substack.
But during the interregnum a few people who had been reliable readers reached out to share how much they appreciated the snark, the real posts, and the shared frustrations.
I still have two properties on Substack. For what I do with them, it works well, and the scaffolding of quasi-social features (notes, restacks, and promotion) really does drive engagement.
That was fine until the Nazi’s came. Yes, I do not hunt that content down, but the fact that there are some really skeevy people, and that Substack is allowing them to monetize their writing is worrying.
As a potential exit strategy, I wanted to explore some of the alternatives to Substack.
What that means?
First, I grabbed a Buttondown account, and moved all my posts to their service. The import was trivial. You upload the .ZIP file to the import tool, and a few minutes later all your posts are up as “emails”.
Of course all the links were wrong, and images came over as links to the Substack CDN. Clearly I had a lot of clean up. One of the things you can do is to browse the archives. Although I would say that it was a worthy activity to go through all the posts to fix links (and some of my posts are so old that the links that inspired them are now dead. Boo!)
While I liked about Buttondown is what drew me to Ghost originally. You can write natively in Markdown, but you could sprinkle in some native HTML to get things to look just right.
But since the delivery mechanism is email, there are limits to how you can format things. Alas, most email readers limit rendering of HTML and CSS, so a lot of the niceties that I struggled with to make it look perfect get stripped out. They don’t look terrible, but it is depressing that my efforts were for naught. Nuts.
What to do?
Since I was digging deep into Buttondown, it became clear that it was more of a vehicle of delivery, an augmentation for another posting platform.
What to do?
I know, spin up a WordPress site!
Here we are!
The new PM Dude is here. It is a pretty plain site. I am recycling an old theme I bought in 2017 (but it is still actively being updated and maintained 6+ years later!)
I am also no longer trying to maintain anonymity. There have been enough hints over the years, and once I got disciplined for something I wrote.
I have gone through the posts and removed the ones that could cause trouble. Don’t worry, the snark and profanity are still first and foremost. I went from nearly 250 posts to just 96. Yeah, there was a lot of potentially bad things, a lot of expressed rage, and some trashing of thinly veiled former colleagues.
I do have a more serious site, The Product Bistro, where you might get some better advice for product management. I do try to keep that on point.
I also have a personal site, Sweaty Spice, where I post about politics, music, and other fun light-hearted topics.
If you want to just talk, drop me an email at email@example.com and we can chew the fat.
If you are reading this after clicking the link in an email, that means that you were a subscriber to the old PM Dude site. If you want to still be on the list, look to the right, or in the footer, there is a subscription form. If you enter your email, with a double opt in, you will be on the list, and part of my experiment to see how to migrate off of Substack seamlessly.