Posts from Weblogs

AVC Infrastructure

A reader asked me if I had ever written about the infrastructure I use to run AVC. We both searched the archives and could not find a post on that topic.

So here it is:

1/ Content Management System – WordPress – I use the open source software version of WordPress to write these posts and manage them.

2/ Hosting Provider – Cloudways – I have used a number of hosting providers over the years. If you use WordPress, it is fairly easy to migrate from one to another. Cloudways is the current favorite.

3/ Comments – Twitter Comments Plugin – I have used various comment systems over the years. I am currently using a WordPress plugin to host the comments on Twitter.

4/ Email – Feedblitz – This allows me to send an email out to over 30,000 people whenever I post.

5/ Search – Algolia – Fast and simple site search.

It’s relatively easy to set all of this up and then you are not locked into a service provider. I strongly recommend this approach.

#Weblogs

Decentralized Media

Back in the early 2000s, it was exciting to blog and use social networks to create our own media and move away from the traditional media outlets. That was the pull that got me into blogging and got me investing in Twitter. It was a powerful feeling.

But a decade and a half later, it is obvious that we just replaced one type of media company for another and that we don’t really control our own media yet. I have a bit more control over this blog because I run it on my own domain using open source WordPress software, but most people are blogging on Medium or Substack or some other centralized service these days. And the social media platforms, well we know all about them in the wake of recent takedowns. You don’t control your own media platform if you run it on a centralized service.

So a few months ago, I mirrored this blog on Mirror, a decentralized blogging platform. You can view it here.

And yesterday, I claimed @fredwilson on Bitclout with this tweet:

Around that same time, I saw this post on Bitclout:

Here is the thing about blockchains and crypto – the data is public on the blockchain. Nobody controls it other than you with your private keys. And when you put open source software together with that, you get decentralized applications that nobody can mess with, not even the creators of those applications.

I don’t know if Mirror is the new WordPress or if Bitclout is the new Twitter. We will see. But it sure feels like we are back in the early 2000s again, experimenting with decentralizing media. I have the same feeling of excitement I had back then.

#blockchain#crypto#Weblogs

Typos

Yesterday’s post has this line in it:

I suspect all buy maybe two of those eleven funds have outperformed the public markets

As you can see, there is a typo there. “buy” should be “but”

A number of readers let me know about the typo, which I very much appreciate.

But for some reason, I am not all that motivated to change it.

I make typos all of the time in my emails and texts and other informal communication.

And I am increasingly seeing AVC as another form of informal communication.

AVC is me. I am human. Humans are imperfect. So AVC should be imperfect.

So there it is. I am letting it stand.

#Weblogs

Most Read Blog Posts On AVC

Last month, I wrote about the value of having a list of the most read posts on a blog. I said I wanted to create that for AVC.

Well, I am pleased to let you all know that we built it and it is now live on the AVC archives page. It looks like this:

I am very happy to see Fake Grimlock’s “Minimum Viable Personality” guest post on the list. I stopped having guests posts quite a few years ago now, but no question that was the very best of them.

The other one that I am happy to see on the list is “Employee Equity: How Much?” I know that post has helped so many founders think about that topic over the years.

This is a dynamic list. It pulls from AVC’s Google Analytics account and it will change over time. But some of these posts will stay on it, like the two I mentioned and probably a few others too.

I hope you all like this new feature. I think it is quite useful.

#Weblogs

Controlling Your Destiny

I am returning to a theme that I feel quite strongly about.

I blog on WordPress using a host that I have selected and can move from at any time. WordPress is open source software and I can download it and run it on my own machines if I want to. I don’t. But being able to do that is key.

Medium and Substack and Clubhouse and Twitter, etc, etc are fantastic. They make it drop dead simple for anyone to share their thoughts with the world.

But they are controlled by someone else. You can get kicked off. And when you get kicked off, you lose all of your followers, all of your content. Gone.

I’m not down for that.

Nor should you be.

#life lessons#Weblogs

Most Read Blog Posts

On the USV website, we show the most read blog posts by author.

Here are mine:

I want to do this for AVC too. I will ask my partner Nick who managed the construction of USV.com how he did that and will see if I can get that working on AVC.

When you’ve written 8,800 posts, there are sure to be some duds and some great ones. It would be nice to showcase the great ones.

#Weblogs

Some Email Stats

I was looking at my Feedblitz dashboard this morning. Feedblitz powers the daily email for this blog.

These are all of the emails/blog posts I have done this month:

As you can see the open rate hovers between a low of 33% (Ghost Pacer) and a high of 45% (Subscription Agreements).

The unsubscribe rate ranges from 0.02% to 0.075% (on my birthday!).

I suspect the click data is not instrumented properly because I can’t imagine that nobody clicks on any links in the posts. But since I am not trying to generate clicks, I don’t really care too much about that.

I don’t view AVC as an email newsletter. I view it as a blog. But it is both and this data shows that lots of people get it that way and enjoy it. That’s great.

#Weblogs

Short and Sweet

My friend Jonathan sent me a couple graphs he made of the content on AVC over the years.

Here is how word count has evolved over the years. I started out with short posts, got longer for a while, and am now back to the short post.

Here is how post count has evolved over the years. In the early days of AVC, I would post multiple times a day (like many people use Twitter today). I moved to the once a day post around the time Twitter came along, although I don’t think they are related, and have been doing that ever since.

So that’s how the short daily post format evolved here at AVC. It is neat to see it visualized like this.

#Weblogs

The Daily Email

AVC has always been a blog. But over time, it has also become a daily email.

Ten years ago, the average monthly visitors to the website was 100k. Now, it is around 60k.

But over the same ten year period, the daily email subscriber base has grown from 2,500 people to over 30k people.

That is the power of push media. That is the power of an email list.

#Weblogs

AVC Comments Migration Complete

Back when we launched the new AVC (AVC 3.0) and moved away from the Disqus comment system, I heard loudly and clearly that the folks who have left comments here at AVC, via Disqus, from 2007 to early 2020, would like to have their comments displayed at the bottom of all of those old blog posts.

That was not an easy thing to do because I wanted to migrate all of those comments out of Disqus into the AVC WordPress database so that we have full control over them and how to display them in the new AVC.

Disqus was super helpful in getting the comments out, but we ran into a number of issues given that massive number of comments. There were 459,000 comments left on AVC in the “Disqus era.” Think about that.

Here is an email the team at Storyware, who did the work, sent me explaining their process. They also migrated the comments on GothamGal.com and completed that last month.

At first we tried to use the official Disqus Plugin to migrate your comments, but their plugin resulted in errors each time we tried to process a batch of comments. We then looked at writing a custom migration script for the exported XML file that you obtained from Disqus. With nearly 500k comments, your migration file was 397.3 MB in size. This massive file wasn’t efficient for testing migration scripts so we tabled this, knowing that we would be migrating a small set of Disqus comments for GothamGal. 

The GothamGal export from Disqus turned out to be 27 MB, much smaller in size. We used her export file to then develop a CLI tool to process the XML file and migrate the comments into WordPress. This tool worked well, but it relies on holding a lot of items in memory: an array of the Disqus threads (your posts), an array of your Disqus comments, and an array of processed comments that we can use for associating parents with children. This same script just couldn’t handle an export file that’s the size of the one generated for avc.com

To run the Disqus to WordPress migration for AVC, we developed a plugin that allowed us to perform the following steps:

1/Process all of the threads in the XML file, and store them in a new database table. These threads are needed for grabbing the URL associated with each comment, which can then be used to associate each comment with a post in WordPress. 

2/Process all of the Disqus comments in the XML file and also store these in a new database table, which we can use to gradually migrate the comments into WordPress. We did still have to break the huge AVC Disqus export file into 16 pieces in order to save the comments from the XML file into the database 🙂

3/Use a Laravel-esque Queue system to run batches of migrations in the background, processing 5,000 comments with each batch. We used the WP Queue package from Delicious Brains for the basis of this functionality, and then created a REST endpoint for triggering the Queue to process. 

Storyware plans to clean up the plugin and release it as a developer tool in the near future. 

This turned out to be a pretty big project that took their time and my expense to get done. But I want to honor all of the work that the AVC community put into the comments and that has now been done.

You can see what a long comment thread looks like at the bottom of the infamous Marketing post from 2011.

We have noticed in the migration logs that some comments didn’t make it through because of changes in the associated post’s URL after publication, but the overwhelming majority of all your comments were migrated without issue. I do not plan to fix that. I don’t believe in letting perfect becoming the enemy of the good.

I am relieved that this is now complete. I hope you all are as well.

#Weblogs