A True Alternative to Instagram

The idea started with the following tweet.


Right now this is just me, thinking loudly. If you’re feeling the same itches you’re more than welcome to join scratching.

So what should an alternative to Instagram look like?

  • Time well spent: the primary metric of success should be if using the app makes users happy in the long run
    • Notifications must be as unobtrusive as possible (maybe even as opt-in)
    • No addictive, dark patterns (such as holding back reactions over time to artificially drive engagement)
  • Payed by its users
    • makes it possible to tailor the entire experience towards its users (not to advertisers).
    • If possible, $/€ 1 per user per month or 10$/€  annually (that’s just what I’d be willing to spend without thinking any further about it, I have absolutely no idea if economically feasible)
    • Sustainable business model, here for the long run
    • Could a nonprofit, donation-based model such as Wikipedia be feasible?
    • No advertising
    • No venture capital
  • Privacy matters.
    • No third-party tracking
    • Simple, powerful privacy settings (per account and per-post privacy settings)
  • Chronological timelines: Because aren’t we all fed up with the trend of not-so-intelligent algorithms that want to decide what we see when? Nothing should be kept back from users, except they deliberately decide to hide it (via feature such as muting of hashtags or people)
  • Public API: Having a well defined API should be a primary goal before working on native applications. This encourages the development of a ecosystem of third party apps. Think of Twitter before they killed off everything that made them successful in the first place.
  • Prevent Feature Creep: Optimizing and fixing core functionality should always take precedence over adding new feature.
  • Not about profits: While it would be awesome if the team’s time could be compensated, the main objective is not make money but to create something useful we’re missing on the internet.

More Ideas and Questions

  • Open Source? While I’ve absolutely nothing against open sourcing I’m sceptical of the overhead that comes with maintaining an open source project, which is why I’d like to start off keeping things private any only going open source if there are resources to do it well.
  • Upload size: High-resolution uploads would be cool. Even better if there were some client-side options upon uploading:
  • Minify images to save bandwidth:
    • Never
    • Always
    • On cellular
  • Groups / Circles While certainly not part of a MVP it’s a nice idea to have groups with whom to share images
  • Albums, Events, Videos, Exploring by Location… it’s easy to come up with a plethora of ideas and build a massive backlog. Personally I think it’s fun to ponder upon these as long as the primary goals don’t get out of focus.

Up next

  • Find people, assess skills, build a team, define responsibilities
  • Collaboration software (e.g. Notion, Gitter, Trello, Asana, Github, …)
  • Name & Branding
  • Define a minimal viable product
  • Choose a tech stack
  • Setup a design / UX workflow
  • Create mockups
  • Find solutions to legal & financial questions

If you’re interested please reach out via web mention, comment or on twitter.

Side note

I’m aware of and do like projects such as micro.blog and mastodon. What I’m having in mind is clearly centred around image sharing and I want that to be reflected in every aspect of a prospective product.


Daniel Ehniss April 13, 2018 Reply

Your initial tweet, as well as this post, find some resonance within me. I really like sharing images and enjoy the community-aspects, but am annoyed by the silo. One of the crucial points seems to be finding a community that is willing to move to a new service …

Daniel Wentsch April 13, 2018 Reply

Yes, that’s why it’s so hard to replace Twitter. For photos I see it a bit different though. I’m totally fine if I can convince a very small circle of friends and family. And if, in the end, it was only good for the things we learned along the way I wouldn’t be too sad neither.

Johannes April 13, 2018 Reply

Still very much interested. I would however absolutely go open source. Having well defined and well meaning intentions mean nothing if transparency is missing.

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