I really liked Postsecret when I first found out about it, and I still make an effort to visit it every week. But I'd be lying if I didn't say that lately, Frank Warren (the guy who runs it) is pissing me off.

I think a part of my problem stems from the fact that he's using a blogging platform, but he's not really maintaining a blog. For starters, there are no comments allowed. Not on individual secrets, nor on the entire set of Sunday Secrets. While I understand it to an extent (especially disallowing comments on individual secrets), it still goes against the basic ideas of a blog. And quite frankly, it restricts conversations about the secrets, which I think have the potential to be really powerful. But maybe they'd just get overrun with internet douchebags, so this isn't a main concern of mine.

A bigger concern is the lack of an archive. If you only have one page, and can't go back to view previous entries, you are not blogging in any sense of the word. He's simply maintaining a website on a blogging site, which is silly. But beyond that, I don't understand why we can't view past secrets. Part of the point of Postsecret is that when I view the secrets, I see some that speak to me. But they don't all speak to me that week, and that's fine.

But why can't I, a month or two later, browse through old ones, and find some that maybe speak to me now? Blogger allows you to maintain these old posts, so there's no upkeep needed on his end. Frank Warren is making a conscious effort to deny us access to older secrets. It's his prerogative if he wants to do that, and I know that he doesn't "owe" us anything in particular, but I still think it's a dumb design decision to make. Just open them up to us!

Admittedly, these are minor gripes, especially since he offers this all for free, at his own time expense. Except that's where my third gripe comes in:

During the holidays, and again this week, I've seen him mention donations & book sales as the driving force behind what keeps Postsecret free. This week's message states:
"The only way I've been able to dedicate myself to this project for five years is through book sales. If you have bought the new book, thanks for keeping PostSecret alive, and the website free of paid advertisements."
This, so far as I can tell, is complete crap. Look at the URL for Postsecret - it's Very similar URL structure to my blog, right? That's because he hosts ON Blogger. Which is FREE.

That's right... the hosting for Postsecret costs nothing. Not even ads (you'll notice that my free blog has no ads either). But what about the photo hosting, you might be asking? Well, I'm not sure where he does it, but you could EASILY put the secrets on Flickr, using a free account. So thinly veiled threats that we might start getting ads on Postsecret if we don't get him more money are really offensive to me.

Yes, I know he travels to conferences and whatnot, but I'm pretty sure he gets paid for that. And he makes money off the books, so he's definitely turning a profit on the Postsecret project.

This is America - if he wants to milk Postsecret for all the money he can, then more power to him. But don't lie to us about it. If this is your only source of income, then fine - I think that's silly, but milk away. Just be straight with us. Be honest with the people who have opened their hearts and lives to you. They deserve better.

[End Rant]


Anonymous said...

I'm going to disagree with you on the comments piece...even though you, as an ORL-er, could sit down with friends or colleagues and have a great discussion about someone's post secret, the internet community is not so squeaky clean or intelligent. Comments would be fraught with judgement, racial, ethnic, and homophobic slurs, and would really cheapen the secret. I think, in the case of 'secrets,' it's best to listen, rather than respond.

But you bring up excellent points regarding the maintenance of the postsecret site. It is free. What is he complaining about? He could mean that book sales pay for his continued promotion of the book, but that kind of goes in circles.

If he allowed us to see old secrets, there wouldn't be a need for the books. He's done a good thing with these books, but he's also making a hefty sum. So it really comes down to profit.

And I'm pissed that he didn't post this past Sunday.

Jeremy said...

Like I said, there's a good chance they'd be overrun by fools on the internet, so the lack of comments is less worrisome. And i totally understand why he doesn't keep old secrets... it's all about profits.

Hence my main annoyance being the third point.

I just wish he wouldn't use a blog to do it if he's not going to maintain back-dated posts or allow comments. Spring for a damn website - it's like $5 a month.

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