When I share something on the web, I do so because I have a need to voice something. I have written articles, open source software, blog posts, curated image galleries, hosted forums and gaming fan sites, and more.

I have had my fair share of positive feedback, and learned early on how to ignore the latent negativity. I have been happy with my little corner of the web. About a year ago, however, I started to realize that I had very gradually stopped sharing my thoughts and creations over the course of several years. I simply stopped posting and maintaining my websites. It was after retiring one of my longest running gaming websites that I understood I had no place left where to share my thoughts.

I had to reflect on the reasons for a while, and found that the main issue was that for all the work I put into it, there was so very little given back. I was a little shocked to realize that I had let myself be carried away by the hustle culture of the social web. I had all but forgotten why I was putting content online in the first place. Thinking of the work needed to maintain
good quality websites or articles made me give up before I even started.

Not sharing anymore turned into a latent frustration. Of course, I am on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and the like, where sharing content is deceptively easy. I have always been partial to owning and personally controlling my content, however. As a result, I am mostly a consumer there. Also, the fact that these platforms are being designed from the ground up to make you dependent on them has always made me suspicious enough not to rely on them for my own content.

It was a PHP (the programming language) conference talk by Jürgen Geuter (see the article on why we need to bring back shitty websites) that gave me the first steps to a solution. Jürgen talked about how people used to put their content online before the big social platforms, and how the web was more diverse. Granted, many of those small websites were not well-designed, but that was never the point. You whipped together a small HTML page, put it online, and could show it to your friends and family.

The key revelation for me here was that it is still possible to upload simple HTML pages today. I had been butting my head against the hurdle of having to set up a high-quality website to share my content, but it had never been a hard requirement. It is one of those precious facepalm moments in my life. Especially since in my development work, I often use iterative development paradigms, where I start with a minimal version of a feature, and then add to it as needed. I needed this reminder that I can create a shitty little website anytime with minimal work, and start sharing right away.

Since then, I have launched this website, and it has rekindled my love for sharing things. I started with a really simple page, and have slowly made it evolve. It was great to have a way to share my thoughts again. To focus solely on the need to express myself, regardless of who is there to read, see or hear it. To not care how well the website is designed. To not care to even look at the website visitor statistics, not allowing visitors to comment, not offering any social media sharing buttons. All this has been way more liberating than I expected.

One could argue that I am removing the social aspect of the web, and I think that's at least partially true. There are no instant communication channels in the form of comments, ratings or likes, yet anyone can still reach out to me via email. Your feedback will not be visible for the world to see, and it requires a bit more effort for sure, but if you feel the need to react, that should not be a hurdle. I do appreciate feedback and the time it takes to write something.

The lack of feedback is what shocks most of the people I talk to about this. This is where my personal experience comes in, though: I have come to see many times that the web is alive even without feedback. There are people who appreciate content very much, but who do not feel the need to express it. This is not a failing on their part, either: The content I share is freely given. There is no obligation to react to it, or to thank me for it.

To further illustrate why I am not bothered by the lack of feedback, I want to share two short stories that have contributed to shaping my view on this topic.

EVE Online gaming blog

I played EVE Online for about 10 years, and almost from day one, I started a Captain's Log style of blog. I wrote about my character's adventures, their progression, and the game in general. I had the occasional comment on my posts, but nothing to indicate that I had any regular visitors. I was happy to just document my own voyage, thinking that some of my experiences could be useful to other players.

Being a lone wolf at heart (which is a contradiction in a massively multiplayer game, I'll grant you that), I started a corporation (guild) for other lone wolf type players to get together, without strings attached. It was through this corporation that I met a player who had been reading my blog. He had started playing EVE because of it, which was quite a shock to me. I had never expected to affect someone in this way through my ramblings.

Over the years, several other players told me that my blog had inspired them in one form or another.

Company-Internal Howto

In a company I worked for, we had to set up a VPN to connect to the company's intranet. The instructions were overly complex, and as I usually do, I wrote a simpler bullet-point-based howto for myself. I put this into the company's internal wiki and bookmarked it to easily find it again, and forgot about it.

About a year later, I gave a video presentation about new features for an internal tool I was developing. Afterward, I was approached by a colleague who told me she saw me in the presentation, and thought to thank me for the howto. It had helped her to set up the VPN on her machine, as well as a whole team of colleagues she had needed to onboard for a project.

Like my gaming blog, I had no idea my microscopic howto could have such an impact. Interesting to note too is that none of the people who used my howto gave it a rating to express their gratitude (it's a one-click button on the page). Had she not seen me in the presentation, she would likely not even have reached out.

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There are more stories like these, but they are good examples. I am not concerned with the lack of feedback because I have seen that my content can have an impact without any social interaction. I trust that by putting something online, there may be someone who will find it useful, inspiring, or entertaining. It is not a certainty, but it is a possibility—and in the end, that and fulfilling my need to share is more than enough for me.

In fact, not having any social pressure has allowed me to do things I would not have considered doing before. Case in point: The rating system I have developed for the image galleries in this website. It looks and works like a regular 5-star rating system, but the statistics it collects are designed to be meaningless. I made it fun to click on all different stars by showing a different reaction message for each star, so there is no way to reliably tell if the ratings on an image are genuine.

You can try it out for yourself for example in the Cyberpunk gallery or the Starfield gallery.

P. S. I don't know if you are reading this, but if you are, cheers! Who knows; maybe you've shared something that has had an impact on me, too. Thank you for that.

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