Let’s Save Peach.

Illustration by Jason Reed

Hi. If you’re reading this, you probably already use Peach, a small and special app with thoughtful design choices that help create small and special communities. You probably also know that the app’s creators can no longer maintain it and want to find it a new home, where it will be both funded and cared for, with principle and in good faith.

We think the people who use Peach should own and operate Peach. There are just enough of us actively using the app — somewhere in the mid-thousands — to make this goal both feasible and challenging. Crowdfunding can pay for server costs, but someone has to collect the money. Crowdsourcing can provide direction, but someone has to hit the reset button when the server goes down.

Illustration by Emily Jeffers

For the last six months, a group of developers and designers has been quietly working on quality-of-life improvements and new features for Peach, using whatever means we have available. We’re called Cobbler Collective, and you may well have already seen some of the things our teammate Max, aka peachdad, has created. (Say hello, DogBot!)

Hi.

You may also have noticed that polls, group messages, and other unofficial features have started popping up in your feed. We can’t wait to show you what else we’ve got in the oven. We have the technical skill and the desire to keep Peach alive and improving, but we will need support from the community — with goodwill to earn the trust of Peach’s creators, with money to keep the servers running, and with direction and guidance to move the app forward in a way that serves everyone well.

We have a plan to save Peach, and we want to know what you think of it.

We’ve just launched a funding drive to demonstrate community backing and make the initial server handoff possible. If it doesn’t succeed, of course, anyone who has donated will be refunded. If it does, we’ll be forming a small corporation to handle the funds, and we’ll set up a subscription service via Patreon to make that funding sustainable.

A corporation needs people to run it. The Cobbler Collective — Josh (jcbbge), Maxwell Newberry (peachdad), Emily Jeffers and Brendan Adkins (brendn) — would compose the initial corporate board. When possible, we would transition to officer positions, accepting nominations for a rotating board whose membership would include and reflect the composition of Peach’s audience (primarily people who are not straight white cis men). And that board, in turn, would be able to select officers and guide the app down the line.

We want your help — not to take possession of Peach forever, but to get started building a foundation for its future.

To be clear, no one expects to get paid for this work right now. All funds collected would go toward sustaining or enhancing the app and its infrastructure. And while the company taking care of Peach would have to make tricky decisions, we want it to adhere to guiding principles inspired by those of Dreamwidth Studios:

Community ownership. The best way to keep Peach viable is to make sure that the people who use it are the ones who choose what to do with it. We would maintain a request and feedback channel for all users. While people supporting the app financially would always be able to vote with their wallets, our board’s chief duty would be to ensure that every voice on Peach was heard (regardless of whether they can afford to chip in for maintenance).

Transparency. No more mystery about how or how long Peach will remain operational. The future of the app would be an open book to all users, and so would the decision-making process to lead us there.

Open access. We would prioritize new features to give everyone power over their own archive data, and we would open-source Peach’s client and server code for community maintenance and development.

Privacy and respect. No banner ads, no promotional algorithms, and no protecting malign actors just to juice the user numbers. Peach is a network, not a publisher, and your personal connections would always be your own choice. That means never selling access to your data or your attention.

Freedom. Peach does not and should not place limits on your free expression, except as required by law or protect the viability of the app (no one likes spam). And while crowdfunding would be the best way to keep the servers running, Peach will never make you pay to use it.

Singularity. Peach matters to its audience because it set out differently from other platforms, with a desire to shelter and delight people, instead of focusing on unsustainable growth toward the lowest common denominator. Decisions about fixes and features should follow that impulse, not imitate the social media software herd.

Photo by Neil Conway

These are draft principles, still unratified, but we hope they are a clear statement of our intentions. Those of us who have stuck with Peach for this long did so because we all care about it, and because we care about the connections it has encouraged between us. That care deserves attention and care in return, and the platform and its unique structure deserve to stay alive.

If you like this plan, there are three things you can do.

First, post a link to this article on Peach (and, ok, twitter), and talk it over with your friends. See what emerges in your discussion and whether you spot things we still need to consider.

Second, if you’ve got a few bucks to spare this month, kick them over to the fundraiser to prove we can make this happen together!

And third, if you’ve got ideas or concerns about the plan, send the Cobbler Collective an email and let us hear what you have to say. (Especially if you are Dom Hofman or anyone else who helped make Peach so special in the first place.)

Let’s save Peach together. We’re the only ones who can.

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Brendan Adkins

Brendan Adkins

some of these tweets are by robots and others of them are by ghosts. are any of them by me, you may wonder? I'm a little bit of both

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