A promotional image for Substack Notes

Substack Notes

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Updated Apr 18, 2023 at 02:41PM EDT by Zach.

Added Apr 16, 2023 at 09:15AM EDT by Aidan Walker.

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About

Substack Notes is a feature added to the blogging platform Substack that allows users to post shorter snippets of content and like, share or reply to content posted by other users. It was brought onto Substack's site in April 2023, a timing which led many to wonder if the feature (which looks similar to Twitter) was intended to replace or compete with Twitter, particularly after the platform's Substack ban controversy around the same time.

History

On April 5th, 2023, Substack announced that it would produce a new feature called Notes (mockup example shown below). The idea was to create "a way for writing, ideas, and discussion to travel through the Substack network." Already, Substack had developed a platform of blogs and newsletters, some of them highly popular and profitable. Notes promised to add a new social and recommendation component.[1]


Notes Home 1 Subscribed Emily Nunn 3m Now would be a good time for everyone to make a rainbow-colored dance salad. The simple, delicious Desi Salad from Chai Pani is a great choice! D 24 JASMINE SUN RESTACKED Elle Griffin 1h So true... 32 "Economic terms have a way of translating into military terms." Maak h G 0 0 + 19 A Notes 9 Home substack.com/notes What's on your mind? Subscribed Emily Nunn 3m Now would be a good time for everyone to make a rainbow- colored dance salad. The simple, delicious Desi Salad from Chai Pani is a great choice! 12 D 14 JASMINE SUN RESTACKED Elle Griffin 1h So true... *Economic terms have a way of translating into military terms." Noah Smith Noahpinion Subscribe 01 Nishant Jain 1d "The self may be royal, but it hungers like a pauper. It may be nourished for a moment by the inspection of such cocooned and tharn hut it remaine nor thirting

Shortly afterward, Twitter stopped hosting Substsack links on the platform. Many interpreted this as a response to possible competition from Substack. Shortly after, Substack itself produced a series of blog posts advocating for "a seismic shift in the media economy" and a "writer- and reader-first model."[2]

On April 11th, 2023, the Notes platform officially launched.[3] Many early posts focused on the platform itself, and the general philosophy around it. For example, Substack co-founder Hamish MacKenzie situated Notes inside of a vision for a new kind of social internet in an April 16th Note, which received 22 likes in roughly four hours (seen below).[4]


Hamish McKenzie 17h Disjointed Subscribe Our bet is that Twitter and all other ad-based social media will become TikTok. And then there'll be TikTok and Substack. Substack is for humans. D4 22 5 :

Features

The Notes platform is composed of a Home feed, which features Notes from people a user doesn't follow, and a Subscribed feed, which shows Notes from publications and users they do follow. The interface is simple and relatively uncluttered. An individual Note can include text, quotations and image embeds.

Users can like, "ReStack" or reply to Notes, similar to Twitter. An example of a Note (shown below) posted by journalist Taylor Lorenz shows the functionality on the user side.


Taylor Lorenz 14h I like having the chance to chat with all the people I never see anymore on Twitter bc it's too crowded with spam! S 15

The addition of Notes is a major change to Substack's business model, which was previously centered around producing software for writers to use, but with Notes turned towards producing a network for consumers and writers.[6]

Twitter Substack Ban

Twitter Substack Ban also known as Elon Musk's Twitter vs. Substack Notes Controversy, refers to Twitter's censorship of tweets that link to the subscription newsletter platform Substack. Substack announced its short-form "Notes" feature in early April 2023, which many took to be a direct competitor to Twitter. Twitter then retaliated by blocking Twitter embeds on Substack posts and subsequently throttling the ability to share Substack links on Twitter itself. The events also led to handpicked Twitter Files journalist Matt Taibbi announcing his departure from Twitter in favor of his platform on Substack. The censorship block against interacting with Substack links was eventually lifted on April 8th, however, searches for the term "Substack" began redirecting to the word "newsletter" instead. Centering prominently around Elon Musk's leadership at Twitter, the early April 2023 event sparked backlash online as the controversy became widely discussed and covered in the media.



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