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Show HN: Pony – a messenger for mindful correspondence

  • 524 points
  • 9 hours ago

  • @dmitryminkovsky
  • Created a post
  • • 181 comments

Show HN: Pony – a messenger for mindful correspondence


@hyperpallium2 48 minutes

Replying to @dmitryminkovsky 🎙

This concept for a forum could be interesting.

I sometimes write thoughtful replies to HN submissions many hours later, after ruminating, but HN has moved on to the next new thing. (It is a "news" site after all).

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@jerjerjer 5 hours

Good idea. Now just to persuade someone to use this too.

Super happy you're offering a direct APK download. That's how all android apps should be available.

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@hudvin 7 hours

I was thinking about similar service for emails/news/forums/social networks. Main idea the same - slow updates.

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@alexk307 8 hours

Great idea!

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@tomaskafka 8 hours

I love the idea and the brand, but that's how I use email anyway :).

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@elischleifer 2 hours

As someone who lived with the pony express this brings back memories :)

I like this micro-blogging distribution concept. It's like a micro substack distribution.

As someone who generally abhors social networking, I like anything that has substance and limits spam.

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Very nice.

Can each msg have it's own pickup / delivery time? For example, I might want Msg A to Person X be lunch-ish, but B to Y might be after work.

An example scenario might be a personal trainer reminding X to eat and health lunch, but Y gets an after work nudge to go to the guy.

Note: I realize such things could be self-reminders (read: TODO app) but there's sonething to be said for hearing from someone else and possibly being accountable to them as well.

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@Daegalus 6 hours

this is great, solid implementation and very similar to an idea I had floating around in my head. glad to see it live. while I don't have anyone to message yet, I plan to put this on my social media profiles as a contact point.

any concerns about spam? I figure it won't be as bad as most services but I still for see people sending spam if it gets even moderately popular.

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@Pxtl 8 hours

That's a charming idea. I could see how email bridging might be a way to achieve network effect, but then email bridging might just turn it into another email client.

I'm surprised you took the approach that pickup = delivery. I would assume you'd have a lag between them, with only cancellation allowed in that gap. Basically "you have N minutes to reconsider this thing you wrote, if you've changed your mind and want to edit it you have to defer to next pickup".

I would think a "mindful correspondence" system would have an enforced gap between composition and delivery to avoid "oops I clicked send at 6:29 PM but it's wrong and I need to change it".

I mean, this is based on my experience in email and twitter, which you've rightly identified as the opposite of "mindful" correspondence (where "submit" and "deliver" are the same action), and personal experience with business apps that make heavy use of fixed daily jobs (where "submit" and "deliver" are the same action at one very specific deadline that everybody is rushing to hit).

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@vorpalhex 8 hours

Neat idea. Lovely interface.

However, no mention of monetization strategy. Are you selling my personal data? Do you show me ads? Do you intend to sell subscriptions?

Also, no E2E _and_ it's not open source/self-hostable. I need at least one of those. Either I don't need to trust you because things are E2E encrypted, or you establish trust by letting me see and verify code.

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@leros 3 hours

I love this idea. I don't practically know how I'd get others to use it though.

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@edpichler 2 hours

Great project. I understood the reasoning about the problem he wants to solve. Brilliant. I hope it get traction.

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@divbzero 3 hours

Are there email clients that group emails by sender in the same way that messaging clients do? I realized recently that an email client structured in this way could encourage long-form messaging similar to what Pony aims to do, though such an email client would still lack the once-a-day dynamic.

Alternatively, Pony could maybe piggyback on email by providing an email address that proxies to each Pony account.

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@feanaro 7 hours

If you made this a Matrix client, I think you'd really have something. Using the matrix-rust-sdk, you could even get E2EE that people are requesting for free.

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@malfist 8 hours

I love this thought process. I've gotten into the habit of only checking my email at work when I sign in and when I leave for the day.

I know you don't integrate with email because of some time critical messages, but I wonder if you could still integrate as an email/sms app and allow temporary overrides (kinda like how pihole let's you pause it for 5 minutes).

That'd be downright awesome

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@dbuxton 7 hours

I did something a little similar to this with Apps Script to deliver my non-urgent email (everything except from a few approved senders) once in the morning and once in the evening.

It's only a slight exaggeration to say that it has changed my life!

If anyone is interested I'll dig out the code and share.

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@ChandSethi 4 hours

This is so wholesome. I like how these new types of tastes on traditional messaging keep showing up. Otherwise, all messaging apps are some packaging of chat bubbles, video/voice calls, and attaching files.

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@m1sta_ 2 hours

App isn't working. I tried to login with Facebook and a new Xperia phone and it just went back to the login screen.

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@m1sta_ 2 hours

Not working for new Facebook login via Android (Xperia 5ii)

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@NoGravitas 5 hours

Alternative: share email over UUCP with your friends, only run uucico once a day. You can edit your outgoing mail spool until uucico picks it up!

(For bonus modern security and convenience, use NNCP for this; possibly have packets delivered by an urchin with a thumb drive.)

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@emodendroket 7 hours

Ironically, the post used to come around several times a day.

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@mistik956 39 minutes

Ok I get it now.

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@robotmay 7 hours

I've had this idea knocking about for a while so it's really nice to see that I wasn't the only one who thought it might work. This looks like a nice implementation - I'm excited to give it a go!

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@dangerwill 7 hours

This is the first new app idea that has given me joy in at least a year :)

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@spanktheuser 4 hours

I long for a corporate messaging service that incorporates deliberate scheduling. Being forced to choose specific business-wide delivery windows, alongside a /discouraged/ urgent option, feels as though it would go a long way to ameliorating the interrupt-driven messaging culture of most organizations.

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@sflicht 2 hours

I can't be the only one who thinks this idea is terrible. "What if we make the product worse, perhaps people will like it better?"

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@thih9 3 hours

I really like the idea; congrats on the launch!

I noticed the In App Purchase names are "Massive", "Generous", "Enormous"; I think these are donations (based on your comment in this submission), but I wouldn't know that without visiting the HN thread. If they're donations, I'd change the In App Purchase names to something like "Donation: Massive", etc.

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@criddell 6 hours

This is really cool. What frameworks or technologies is this built on?

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@steelbrain 8 hours

Thanks for working on this. It reminds me of a social app called Slowly (https://slowly.app/en/) where you write "letters" to people and they are delivered based on the approximate physical distance between them.

It's common for letters across countries to take >12 or sometimes even >24 hours. It's led people to a lot of meaningful relationships/friendships, they publish some as stories: https://slowly.app/en/story/featured/

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@yumraj 2 hours

Few thoughts/comments:

- I like the overall idea and execution seems great. It's even free so you're reducing a lot of friction, great job.

- My gut reaction is that except in very few settings, once a day delivery is going to be problematic. Perhaps a once an hour, or once every 2-3 hours delivery could be supported. Unfortunately that will defeat the entire purpose, so am not really sure. I guess you'll have to just wait and watch how it's being adopted and adjust if needed.

- Not sure how the backend works, but if you're pooling all requests for delivery at the same time you will have very high peaks with mostly idle time in between. Am curious how you are adjusting for that? AWS Lambda??

- How about delivering the messages via email over SMTP, so that this becomes an email client and takes care of having person at the other end also having Pony. A lot of people may like reading/drafting emails at quiet times, periodically say every 2 hours. Again, this is not inline with the original intent of this, so not suggesting you change anything just something to keep in mind depending on the traction you get.

All the best!!

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@gotostatement 8 hours

I think it's a really cool idea but you have a network effect issue. I would expect it to be hard to get enough of my friends on it for it to be useful. Integrations with existing message apps and environments would be ideal, though I'm not exactly sure how that would look.

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@keppy 5 hours

In the past you would boast if your IM software was instant/fast. We all wanted real time everything if only to push the SOTA. But the results aren't ideal; we have slack overload, zoom fatigue, gmail addiction etc. I think there is a trend, now that fast is the baseline, where we will see more software that intentionally gives people space & time to think and reflect.

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@rekoros 1 hour

Very nice!

Many years ago I lived in a house without a phone - the only meaningful way to communicate with faraway friends was sending and receiving paper letters via post. In many ways, that cadence was a great way to maintain relationships over many years, with minimal mental overhead.

Maybe Pony should send/receive messages once a week/month, instead of daily :-)

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@charles_f 1 hour

Love the idea, I'm so annoyed by receiving train of thoughts over 10 messages, their corresponding notifications and a 15m timespan.

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@mro_name 8 hours

wonderful

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@toshk 5 hours

Awesome, problem is to convince everyone to use pony. Would be great to move this to for instance browser extensions for slack, gmail, and if techincally possible whatsapp.

At least my sending can get scheduled. And maybe also autoresponders.

Wont be exactly the same.

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@bschwindHN 7 hours

The concept reminds me of my friend's service, Kermpany E-Mail:

https://e-mail.kermpany.com/

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@andy0x2a 7 hours

This is a really cool idea.

I'm wondering what your approach to scalability is, as it seems like you're going to have large bursts of traffic every half hour ( with certain hours having much more traffic depending on demographics).

If this messenger takes off, how are you going to deal with say for example all of India having their messages deliver all at once in the evening?

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@nikolay 1 hour

This reminds me of ShortMail.com, but somewhat better. Congrats on the launch! Let us know how we can get verified (like you)!

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@yitchelle 6 hours

Could you just turn off the notifications on your messenging apps?

That is what I do for all messenging apps except for SMS. I would check them in my downtime in the evening.

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@r_singh 5 hours

Cool concept, wonder which user segment would be passionate enough for the app to overcome the challenges posed by network effects...

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@cloogshicer 7 hours

I really wish we had a unified messenger (that collects messages from Email, WhatsApp, Telegram, Signal, etc.) with this feature. Would be so amazing.

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@locallost 7 hours

It's very smooth to use, or at least to onboard. Did not try to actually send a message yet, but will try soon. That brings me a bit to maybe my first issue: not really sure how to use it since nobody I know uses it yet. I'd be ok with some way of people to discover me, at least in this early stage where nobody is spamming :-). Also, if I get some people to try it, I'm pretty sure some will raise questions about the privacy of messages, who gets to read them etc. so you might want to look into that (yes, I know it applies to pretty much everything else also).

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@spoonjim 5 hours

15 years ago I worked for a company that only delivered internal mail once an hour. Was a really good system that I’ve never seen anywhere else.

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@mcbishop 3 hours

My significant other is my only Telegram contact — used only for urgent stuff. We used email for non-urgent communication, but I didn't like having our one-on-one writing mixed with all the outside noise. We just switched to Pony for the non-urgent stuff. I anticipate her being my only Pony contact.

Anyway, I'm stoked to have Pony. Thanks!

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@godot 1 hour

The idea/term of "Outbox" really reminds me of email of the old days (in the 90s) where you have a desktop email client (e.g. Eudora, or Internet Mail and News, or even earlier versions of Outlook Express) that don't do auto-sends, and only connect to your POP3/SMTP servers when you click Send and Receive. This was probably due to internet being on dial-up and being billed by the minutes was common so users limited their internet time (e.g. disconnect from internet if writing a long email response, etc.). I have a lot of nostalgia from those days vs the always-on culture now.

I like that you were able to spot this particular usage pattern as something to narrow in on for your product. I don't know if this would catch on as a trend (for example, like ephemeral messaging did when Snap came out), but I wish you all the best!

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@drodil 6 hours

I wish there was such feature in Outlook. Any way to do a plugin for that with this idea? :)

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@carreau 7 hours

What the best/recognizable way to advertise the someone can write to me using pony. Can there be like ponyto://myusername@ponymessenger.com ?

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@abadger9 5 hours

Nice work! I'm building a messenger as well which plays on time dynamics (differently) as side project, your UI is phenomenal. Happy to see a thoughtful take on messenger apps, imo the current model is (1) stale (2) 20-30 years old without any interesting innovations other than emojies/channel organization.

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@wanderingmind 3 hours

One suggestion from my side is to add a delivery at 12:00AM. This will help to create a unique long form communication on special occasion days (birthday, wedding day, graduation) that is not achievable in other messengers. This can be a unique value of Pony that can help with customer uptake.

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@foodstances 8 hours

You've reinvented UUCP

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@andrewshadura 8 hours

"FidoNet experience" :)

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Hello HN!

Pony is a messenger without a send button. When you're finished composing a message, instead of sending it right away, you put it in your outbox. Once a day—in the morning (5:30am), afternoon (12:00pm), or evening (6:30pm)—Pony picks up anything that's in your outbox and delivers any new messages that may have arrived. You can edit a message until it's picked up, move it into drafts, or delete it altogether.

I built Pony because email makes it hard to keep up lasting correspondences with people. I think the main reason for this is because email is dominated by "transactional" communication—time-critical messages that are tied to some particular interaction: order confirmations, password resets, etc. All of these things tend to bury interpersonal correspondence. The same goes for texting and chat platforms: they may be good for keeping in touch with people and for making plans, but messages come and go quickly and they're not really spaces designed for more thoughtful correspondence.

Pony, on the other hand, encourages thoughtful communication and acts as a barrier to anything time-sensitive. It's a highly predictable space and unless you've received a delivery, you know that when you open the app, nothing will have changed. And although Pony encourages you to take your time and not communicate reflexively, it also sets a "micro-deadline" every day, which creates structure that helps keep the correspondence going.

I've started a blog, so if you're interested in reading more: https://www.ponymessenger.com/blog/2021-11-15/humans-are-not.... (RSS is available at https://www.ponymessenger.com/feeds/blog.xml.)

If you like this concept, please sign up and try it out! It's available for iOS, Android, and the web. This is a completely self-funded project. You can contribute inside the iOS app using In-app Purchases or in the web app using Braintree/PayPal. You can also buy me a coffee: https://www.buymeacoffee.com/dmitryminkovsky.

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@tailspin2019 7 hours

Looks really great but E2EE is important to me.

Also this:

> data is not encrypted at rest [0]

I realise this is a one-person startup, but personally I would want more focus around privacy and security for a new messaging app. It’s going to be a key requirement for a lot of people I think.

Being a one person startup, this is even more important, as the “company” behind this is likely not to have the same level of security measures that a larger company would have (I know this is an assumption but it’s a reasonable one).

I absolutely love the concept and the execution so far looks great. We do need a messaging app like this!

[0] https://www.ponymessenger.com/privacy

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