I have been sharing knowledge and tech news updates ever since I can remember myself.
I am connected to almost any social network, and for me, it is a sanctuary from the everyday rush.
I like to read and expand my knowledge, the same as I like to share it with everyone.
Whenever I find free time, I am consuming news and updates everywhere I can find – from newsletters to social networks, on mobile apps, or my desktop.
In 1998 I began small, sharing tech news I found on the Internet with some friends via email.
It worked well for a couple of years, while I had a small group of friends where I knew which topics interest each of my friends, but it did not scale very well – I had to match topics to my friends and now and then I got a request to remove someone from my mailing lists.
In this blog post, I will share my experience using various social networks and my attempt to automate news sharing.
In 2008 a friend introduces me to Google Groups.
This platform allowed me to create many groups by common interests or topics.
For each group, I was able to create a unique email address and configure settings such as who can view conversations, who can post, etc.
One of the huge benefits of using Google Groups is the fact that it keeps an archive of all messages, in case someone would like to search for a topic published in the past.
As a group admin, I can send invitations to join a group via email.
Since I wanted to be able to share updates with anyone on the Internet, I decided to keep all my Google Groups public and available to join.
Limitations and issues I had with Google Groups over the years
A couple of months after I began using Google Groups, I found out that it became a source for spammers, since anyone can join and begin posting messages.
Searching Google documentation, I found a way to configure all my Google Groups to require message moderation (as you can read on the post "Approve or block new messages"), so I will be able to remove spammers and keep my Google Groups customers spam-free.
Sometime around 2021, I found out that I am unable to create a new Google Group, and since I wanted to keep sharing news, I had to look for an alternative.
The alternative I found was a service called Kill the Newsletter.
It generates a unique email address, where you can push your news and it converts each message to an Atom Feed, which I can use to spread my messages to other social networks (as I explain later in this post).
There are two main drawbacks to using the "Kill the Newsletter" service – it does not keep an archive of message history (it just sends an SMTP message), and the email address must be kept private, since there is no way to pause and moderate the messages, meaning anyone on the Internet can abuse this service to send messages on behalf of your unique email address.
The solution from my point of view was to send emails using BCC.
In 2009 I was introduced to Twitter.
In the beginning, I used to share a couple of tweets with my thoughts, but I quickly discovered the potential of Twitter.
A quick jump to Google Groups - it has a great feature – every group had a unique RSS feed URL.
Back in 2009, I found a service called Twitter Feed, which allowed me to push the RSS feeds from my Google Groups directly to my Twitter account, allowing me to expand to a list of readers of my posts.
It worked OK for a couple of years, but then Twitter Feed shut down their service and I had to look for an alternative.
I have checked several alternatives, and then I found IFTTT (If This Then That).
Using IFTTT I was able to create rules for pushing updates from my Google Groups RSS Feeds to my Twitter account, the same way I did with my Twitter Feed.
Limitations and issues I had with RSS Feeds and IFTTT over the years
I recall there was a limitation in Google Groups RSS Feeds where I was able to pull up to 15 feeds at a time, so whenever I post something in Google Group, I approve to post only 15 messages per day – for me, it is a small price to pay for the automation I get.
Sometime in 2021, people began to complain that their Google Groups RSS Feeds stopped working, as you can read in one of Google's forums.
I searched for an alternative to the built-in Google Groups RSS Feeds, and I found RSS.app
This service, although it cost me 9.99$ a month, allowed me to generate an RSS Feed from the base URL of each of my Google Groups, as you can read in the article "How to Get RSS Feeds from Websites", and update my rules previously created on IFTTT.
In 2022 I heard about Mastodon.
There were a lot of rumors on the Internet saying Mastodon will replace Twitter, following Elon Musk’s Twitter acquisition, so I opened an account in Mastodon, with the same goal – spread my news updates with the community, the same way I did with Twitter.
In the beginning, I used a service called Moa Party, which allowed me to sync every post I did on Twitter to my Mastodon account.
In February 2023, Twitter decided to shut down their API and the "Moa Party" service stopped working and I had to search for an alternative.
After reading many blog posts, I found a blog post published in 2017 called "How to Post to Mastodon from Anything Using IFTTT", which explains how to set up an IFTTT webhook and for me, it was the perfect alternative for pushing my Google Group RSS Feeds directly to my Mastodon account.
Limitations and issues I had with Mastodon over the years
It seems that some of the Mastodon servers' moderators are very sensitive to pushing a lot of messages automatically through webhooks.
About a week after I set up the mechanism for pushing messages through IFTTT webhooks, I received a message from the Mastodon server moderator with the title "Account limited".
When I tried to submit an appeal, I got back the message below:
"We limited the account because you are sending a significant number of messages per minute, with no real attempt to be social or engage with the community."
Since there was nothing I can do about it – "house rules…", I decided to create a new Mastodon account on another server, and using the guide "How to Migrate From One Mastodon Server to Another", I was able to migrate my Mastodon presence (including my followers) to a brand new server, hoping I will be able to decrease the chance of having the same issue again.
I joined LinkedIn in 2005 and I use it as my professional resume.
I keep my profile up to date and I use it to share my blog posts and highlights of news I found on the Internet.
I try to limit myself to a maximum of two posts per day, and recently I began creating posts, containing my opinion on various topics, adding links to previous blog posts I published in the past, combined with relevant hashtags, to get more audience to my posts.
I joined Instagram in 2014 following a recommendation from a friend.
My main use of this platform is what I call good life experience.
I use Instagram to share my hobby as a foodie.
I upload pictures (and videos) from restaurants I visit around the world with people from all over the place.
When I am sharing a picture from a place, I try to add descriptions of the dish and hashtags in English, so the people looking for good places to eat will have the best impression, while having some information about what they see in the picture.
I joined Medium in 2019 and I use it today as my main platform for writing my blog posts.
In most cases, I write about technology (mainly about cloud computing), but from time to time I write my own opinions on various topics (such as customer service, knowledge sharing, and more).
When I share posts on other platforms, I tend to link back to my original post on Medium, to get the readers back to this platform.
I use the Medium mobile app daily to look for new posts from the past couple of days.
There is no doubt a lot of knowledge is shared through this platform, but I see no reason to open paid articles since I will not be able to share them with readers who do not pay for membership.
In 2020 I joined the AWS Community Builders program.
The main platform where most of the community builders publish is DEV.to
This platform is very popular among developers around the world.
For writing on this platform, you need to learn Markdown language – it is not ideal or natural, but once you learn the basic concepts you can quickly write and publish new posts.
The Ops Community
In 2022 I was offered to join The Ops Community.
A new platform for developers and cloud engineers.
It is similar in terms of look and feels to DEV.to, and writing on this platform also need to learn Markdown.
To get more audience, I share my posts both in DEV.to and in the Ops Community.
I tend to say that I am living inside social networks.
Some of them, I am used to consuming information, and some of them are used to share knowledge with colleagues around the world.
I am trying to not mix between different content and different audience – for example, LinkedIn is used to engage with professional colleagues, while Instagram is used to share pictures of food with other foodies.
I invite everyone to find their target social network, learn how to use it (and for what purpose) and engage with others.
To make things simple, I am using the Linktree platform to share links to all the social networks I am active on – feel free to follow me or connect with me.
About the Author
Eyal Estrin is a cloud and information security architect, the owner of the blog Security & Cloud 24/7 and the author of the book Cloud Security Handbook, with more than 20 years in the IT industry.
Eyal is an AWS Community Builder since 2020.
You can connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.
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