“Sure enough, the more people there are, the more fun it will be!”
Just a little bit.
I close the computer and say to myself. Hainan in January was not as warm as expected. The sea breeze blowing through the empty hotel lobby at one o’clock in the morning was still a bit cold. That’s all for today’s work.
Affected by the epidemic, children’s kindergartens have been closed. My mother said, why not come to Hainan for a month or so. I actually don’t like vacations very much, spending time on work is a happier thing for me. But whether I like it or not doesn’t seem to be that important. Thinking that children will be very happy at the seaside, I gave in. The agreed result is that they will come first, and I will be two weeks late, and I will come after the product is released. Mom happens to be on a business trip too, so she can work shifts.
I originally thought that the product should have been released by then, so that I can concentrate on playing with my children. Unfortunately not.
Taking care of children is really a full-time job. Mom is the hardest job in the world. Going to work and starting a business are much easier than taking care of children. Of course, I am also happy to have some rare alone time with my children. We went to Wenchang to watch the rocket launch, went to the sea to collect shells when the tide was low, drove around on the winding mountain road, looked for high reefs to climb, and went to the pier to buy lively fish and shrimp to eat… But, I can only hurry up and work while he is sleeping.
Entering January, our working status is facing more challenges. I am in Hainan, Teacher Fan has left the job, so I can only help out with some things at night, and KT’s baby is about to be born. Our time is limited, as if there is a countdown timer beating, urging us to open the door of the reading room as soon as possible.
The idea of ”opening internal testing” has been around for a long time. I took a look and the first draft of the planning plan was written in April 2022. At that time, we had just released the first version to the founding readers. Since the work of inviting pioneer readers was not smooth, we adjusted the original direct public release plan and added the step of expanding the internal test, hoping to invite more and founding readers. Readers with similar readers join. In the previous column, I also mentioned that it was halfway prepared at that time, and because I thought the product experience was not good enough and I didn’t have enough confidence in the results, the open beta was temporarily put on hold in August 2022. In October, after improving the product experience, we restarted the idea and pushed forward with full force.
The idea at the beginning was relatively simple, which was to rely on the founding readers to issue invitation codes. Readers who are often early adopters of Internet products should be familiar with the method of invitation codes. Every once in a while, a product will refresh the screen, and its invitation codes or posts asking for invitation codes will be everywhere. We are also very good at using this method. When Qingmang was released, it attracted many users in this way.
But we later felt that this approach was not suitable for the reading room. Those who like to chase invitation codes most are a group of users who are interested in the latest technology products, which is suitable for the marketing of user tool products. However, the reading room is a community product that advocates serious reading, and its tool attributes are not strong. Although there are intersections between users who like to try the latest Internet products and users who need to read carefully, from our past experience, there are not many. If users join with inaccurate expectations, the end users will be dissatisfied, and our word of mouth will also be affected. Moreover, if social media is filled with reading room invitation posters, it will be noise to users who are not interested, and it will appear cheap.
What kind of readers join the reading room, what will the reading atmosphere of the reading room look like. We know for sure that we would rather have fewer readers, and hope that the long-term reading atmosphere in the reading room will always be our ideal. Therefore, when we expand new readers, we still hope to be more conservative and cautious at the beginning.
In addition to being invited by existing readers, we hope that there is a way to stimulate active application from readers who are interested in serious reading. Also, who can join the closed beta? Who can’t join? The co-sponsors have established a code of conduct, but how to judge whether a person is suitable to participate in the internal test of the reading room, we think it should be decided by the founding readers.
KT has always wanted to do one thing, which is “annual article selection”. This idea came about last year… When we first started building the reading room in early 2022, our plan was to have a “rough room” that was “generally usable” during the Spring Festival, so that it could also be used as an “open day” for the reading room. “, open to everyone free of charge for a period of time, used to hold the annual article selection, and then start charging. Of course, everyone knows that we will not make the “generally usable” version until the end of the spring of 2022, so this solution will not come in handy.
Before the Spring Festival, I took some old newspapers collected in Beijing to the reading room, and we gathered together to read them for a long time. Many of them were from the Wenchuan Earthquake in 2008. I read them again today, and the shock at that time is still vivid in my mind. Unlike books, the words printed in newspapers are time-scaled. If you have the opportunity to read these words one year, ten years or even longer, they will not only preserve your memory at that time, but also create more new thoughts and feelings with you now.
This box of old newspapers at home has been moved around with me, not thrown away, and there is still a chance to be re-read after more than ten years. Today, our daily reading is on mobile phones, and it becomes even more difficult to retain such memories. Not to mention a year, many things are forgotten after a week, and they are submerged in the vast ocean of browsing records, and there is nowhere to find them. In recent years, the definition of “short video” has changed from eight minutes at the beginning to one minute and then ten seconds. Our attention span is getting shorter and shorter like a goldfish, and we still don’t have the patience to watch the video, let alone These need to settle down to read for ten minutes, or even several hours of text.
In a sense, wanting to make such a selection is not only to preserve part of the memory, but also a kind of confrontation: a confrontation with immortality, and a confrontation with the laws of mass communication we face.
This is the original intention of this selection. Just as the reading room should be public, this should also be a public selection, which does not have to have anything to do with the reading room. After much deliberation, we asked the question “Which article will have the most impact on you in 2022?”. We want this to be a subjective question, but objective to an identified individual. It is actually not easy to seriously answer this question. You need to carefully recall what you have read in the past year. For the convenience of answering questions, we listed for each reader the articles they spent the most time in the reading room, and it took me two or three hours to select an article.
In the end, the article with the most nominations was “Dialogue with Xiang Biao: In an Uncertain World, Building Your Own Rear Area” published by Gu Yu Lab. To quote our reader Yang Yuancheng when nominating: “I racked my brains until the early hours of the morning last night, and decided to nominate this as the 2022 article in the reading room… This interview with Xiang Biao can’t give any answers, but it can It helped me get out of my daily thoughts, float a little off the ground to a height of 30 meters and overlook the current life, gain some peace, and at the same time gain some new perspectives and new cognitions, which is a rare and precious part in the face of uncertainty The power of sex.”
What does this selection have to do with the open beta? We ended up bonding together. Readers who are not in the reading room can also participate in the nomination of articles for 2022, but since we still hope that this nomination is serious, the nomination of non-reading room readers needs to have a “effective” process. We have allocated a number of invitation places to readers in each reading room. After nomination by non-readers, existing readers in the reading room can see the nominated content in the reading room. Based on this, “pick” readers who are suitable to join the reading room and read carefully will be sent an invitation quota and the nomination will take effect at the same time. Through the “medium” of annual article selection, we hope that readers in the reading room can find like-minded friends, and at the same time, let the good content of this year flow and retain.
Finally, we also made an invitation code invitation function, so that readers can directly invite their friends. In order to avoid being abused, we wrote a reminder: “We only hope that you invite people around you who are already reading seriously, or who want to read seriously, to play in the reading room. You don’t have to send invitations everywhere.” I also really like our design this time The idea of the invitation code poster is to pick out the most frequent keywords in the inviter’s own “Mark” history, and then randomly light up four Chinese characters in it, like a few luminous words flashing in the dark night.
Finally, users who are invited to participate in the internal test also need to pay 99 yuan to enter the reading room. These measures are all to ensure that the readers who join are concerned about the matter of careful reading.
After managing an entrepreneurial team for more than ten years, what to do before the product goes online is already a muscle memory for me. A large part of my time is spent on product quality inspection: testing functions, finding bugs, sorting out bugs, asking engineers to fix bugs, acceptance… and work related to release and communication, preparing various articles and materials for release. In this process, many unexpected things will be found. For example, there is a new function in our version. If readers see an article in WeChat and want to read it in the reading room, they can forward the article to one of our companies. WeChat ID to save. Enterprise WeChat shows the name of our registered entity company by default, and the display in WeChat is very long. We didn’t realize this problem at first, but after we started testing, we found out that we hope to change to the word “reading room”, so that there are some procedures to go through. There are still many details that I can’t help but want to change, such as copywriting and so on. This kind of work is not big, but it is also time-consuming when added together.
This is why I thought it would be finished by the end of December, but in the end it was delayed until I was already in Hainan, so I hadn’t finished it yet. Remote work certainly isn’t as productive, and it can be frustrating when a partner can’t work full time. You finally realize that the biggest difference between working full-time and not working full-time is not how much time you can spend working, but whether you have enough attention, whether you can give feedback quickly enough, and so on.
I made a little innovation and also brought some troubles. For the nomination and internal test application, I hope that all the processes from submitting the application to payment can be completed within WeChat, not within the App. One is that the download process is a bit cumbersome because the app has not been officially released. It will be smoother to complete the pre-order work in WeChat; the other is that there is a need to wait from application to approval, and there is a way to inform applicants of the latest changes in a timely manner. , and I think for most ordinary people, WeChat is more effective than email, SMS, etc. This matter itself is not complicated, but it is a challenge for engineers to change from all things being done in the app to part of the work being done outside the app. There are also many links in the process that are found to be incompatible after being made, and then adjusted. Judging from the data after going online, the completion rate is indeed very high, but the debugging process took a lot of time.
Finally, when everything was ready, it was already twenty-eight years old. From the perspective of common sense, this time is not suitable for release, because most people are already busy looking forward to what to eat for the New Year’s Eve dinner. I had a quick discussion with KT about whether to delay the launch until Chinese New Year. But since it’s all done, let’s go live. Getting things done right now is more important than how effective they are.
In the middle of the night of the New Year’s Eve, we finally pushed out the official account.
Indeed nothing exploded. But there are still many serious readers who start to use the reading room. Opening the App every day, I feel that the notes and quality of the articles are very good, and I can feel the seriousness of the community. Our previous thought was that it was like a float parade in an amusement park. If there were only a few dozen spectators, it would not be particularly fun. Therefore, the empty reading room needs more people to join. Looking at it now, it was right. There are also pioneer readers who will tell me in private: “Sure enough, it becomes more fun when there are more people! The key is people!” Every note.
There are still not enough people at the moment, but when I open the reading room every day, recalling the mission I wrote more than a year ago (“Let serious readers have a place to live on the Internet”), I think we can still do it.