That make Belletristica unique
In this article, we'd like to share our seven most important philosophies, which accompanied us during development, and played a major part in what a nice place Belle has become. And although our approach may not be suitable for every project out there, we would absolutely love to see more developers applying them throughout the internet.
Writing should be fun, and not punishing. We never indended to be some elitist group, where everbody needs to be perfect.
Of course, writing is a great art, one that requires years or even decades of improving yourself, but this doesn't mean that your first steps as a writer aren't worth sharing. Moreover, we always wanted to create a place, where even experienced writers can experiment with styles and make basic mistakes, without being afraid of losing their reputation.
Mastering the craft is a lifelong journey. But instead of bashing everything that isn't great, we prefer to offer our community a vast playground to form and explore their skills while giving them the tools to successfully build upon their talents in their own pace.
While only few of us may become professional athletes, everyone should be able enjoy a walk in the park, or even join a marathon. For us, the very same goes with writing.
We borrowed this principle from the gaming industry, more specifically, we tried to apply the concept of early access games. While often done wrong, some of our favorite video games became incredibly great, mainly because the developers had embraced the idea of working hand in hand with their community from the very start.
That's why we published the prototype of Belletristica at the earliest possible state, after merely two months of development. Granted, we always tried to deliver a working and well designed software, but on launch day, Belletristica was nothing but the minimum viable product - you were able to upload texts, rate and comment them, and hang out in the chat. That was about it. Back then, we didn't even have a PM system, can you believe that?
To this day, we lost count of how many times our community came up with ingenious ways to improve the software, or even whole new features. It is, however, safe to say that Belle wouldn't have turned out even half as great without your constant support.
Our core idea is to make stuff that is as user-friendly as possible. That's sometimes a problem, because user-friendly is not always strategical.
For example: We know we shouldn't let guests have access to nearly everything without having to sign up first. But our authors want their stuff to get read, and new users maybe want to lurk around for a little while, before they decide if they're willing to join. Yes, we probably shouldat least have some annoying popup message, which shows up every now and then and urges you to sign up. But to be honest, we don't like such things.
We believe that "being awesome" is stronger than any strategy, because people will know the difference. While certain strategies like pop-ups and content restrictions may yield greater short-time benefits, nothing compares to a dedicated community that genuinely loves and supports the project.
This is one point we're especially proud of: We're completely independent and no one is going to tell us what to do. We have no investors, and we won't get any. But why?
Because investors would probably ruin it.
Yes, that may sound a bit harsh, and you might think that we hate investors. But that's not quite it. The truth is, we think investors basically are a great concept, and make a lot of cool stuff happen that wouldn't be possible otherwise.
But investors gotta invest - and usually not because they're particularly excited about a project. Nobody will just fund your stuff while being all cool about it, like "We don't mind, do however you see fit". Once they throw money at a project like Belle, it's no big secret that they expect said project to return profit as soon as possible.
That means: Loads of annoying ads, paid content, premium memberships or even worse... micro payments. As you can imagine, we don't want any of this and we certainly don't want a bunch of nicely dressed guys, who neither know how to write nor code, to tell us what to do with Belle.
And while we may not have a large team, a multi-million dollar budget (or any budget to be honest), I'd say we did a pretty decent job so far, with only 2 programmers working in their free time.
While we were coding Belletristica, Sebi would always say:
And he was right. There's always another feature to implement, another detail to improve and another idea to be had... As with writing, perfection can never be achieved, it can only be pursued.
So that's our promise to you: We will never just say "That's it. Belletristica is done, go have fun with it!" There are always more updates coming out, and there will always be little features and fixes between them.
And not just updates... as I write this, plans for Belletristica 2.0 are already in the making.
Belletristica was never intended to be some faceless platform where everyone can express their opinions no matter how wrong, stupid and hurtful they may be. As a community, we have certain values that are non-negotiable.
Now don't get this the wrong way - we're totally in favor of free speech and everything, but there are just some kinds of malevolent paradigms we are not willing to support.
Our community was founded under the idea, that every human being, of any race, gender, religion and sexual orientation is equally valuable and we all have the same rights and deserve to be treated respectfully.
If you honestly disagree with this statement, don't join.
We could code all we want, but without our community, Belletristica would be just a cold and lifeless piece of software - and we're always aware of this.
That's why we would never say anything as dumb as "It's free, so don't complain". Belletristica may not cost you any money, but we know full well that our users spend an incredible amount of time, work, energy and love on their accounts. And that's not even counting the initial amount of trust you had to bring up just to give us a chance.
Nine months in, and we're still celebrating everys single text upload. We really do. After all, we're just building the canvas, but you are painting the picture.
Ben Wendtner is an Austrian writer and sofware developer, as well as one of the founders of BelletristicaZum Profil