Notes On Using Pond.Email

Subtitle: This would usually be shared on Pillowfort, but I don’t think some folks want to wait that long for some notes on using pond.email.

{Image Description: A blue smiling droplet icon that appears as Pond’s logo. /End description.}

How I heard about Pond: Someone mentioned it in a Discord server on the 31st of January [2021].

Also has anyone looked into pond??

It’s a completely email based socmed

Post, comment, follow “blogs”, all via email

Why I tried Pond: I thought it could be a relatively low-key way to share the announcement posts for the Gender Exploration Carnival.

First Impressions:

  • The idea sounds interesting, but it may take a little adjustment and experimentation to get used to, especially if you want to do formatting in your posts beyond the basic italics or bold.
  • Both the Pond Digest and Personal Digest are sent out on Fridays at 7 am [EST], so this doesn’t seem like the sort of environment for daily or multiple posts in a day type of posting.
  • I haven’t gotten a feel for who might be using Pond and what topics are being discussed, but it seems quiet enough to make Pillowfort (which a lot of newbies describe as dead) seem like a lively and active place in comparison.
  • Unlike other social media sites that you’re probably used to, there’s no indication of being able to mute or block someone, you seem to need to hold onto the weekly Pond Digests in order to see someone’s old posts, and there are no tags or blacklisting features.
  • It’s entirely possible that no one else you interact with has heard of Pond. You might feel like you’re sending emails into the void with even less to gauge readership or interest than sites that allow reactions, likes, or easier commenting.

Summary above the read-more:

  • Briefly, what appears on the site, and registration notes.
  • What appears in the welcome email.
  • Reading past Pond Digests.
  • How to post (including Markdown formatting).
  • My test account experience (including what happens when you follow someone and the mystery of how to comment).

Site: A droplet icon in a larger size than what appears in every email; personally, I think it’s kinda cute. A basic explanation of the premise and privacy around your information for pond.email. How to register.

Registration: The way that requests work is that you must include certain words (called magic words) in the subject line of your email. In order to register, you have to include “Register” or “Subscribe” in the subject line of your email. The site tells you to type the username you want in the body of the email, but according to the welcome email, that’s optional. If you leave the body of the email blank during registration, you will get a randomly assigned assortment of letters as your username. A welcome email should arrive within 1 or 2 minutes of sending a registration email.

One username per email. If you try to register with the same email again, you get the following:

Title: You’re already registered on Pond.

Body: Hi [email address you just used]!

You just tried to register this email address on Pond. Good news – you’re already registered. You don’t need to do anything else.

I would like to note that sending an “Unregister” or “Unsubscribe” email is not the same as deleting your account. If you want to delete your account and erase all posts you’ve made, you have to send an email with “Wipe [username]” or “Delete [username]” in the subject line. You’ll get a reply with the following:

Title: Your data has been wiped.

Body: Hi [email address]!

Your Pond account and all your posts have been removed from our server. It’s like you were never even here!

People you were following do not get a notification that they’ve lost a follower, but you can reuse the email address to register a new account if you’d like.

Welcome Email:

1. Reminder of the difference between the Pond Digest and Personal Digest, which are both sent out on Friday. (The Pond Digest is a list of every post from everyone during that week. The Personal Digest is a list of posts from only the people you follow.)

2. A list of the magic words that must be used in the subject field when sending an email to pond@pond.email. Register (or Subscribe) has already been used, and it has a corresponding Unregister / Unsubscribe. If you don’t type in the username you want in the body of that registration email, a random username will be generated for you. New ones:

  • Wipe / Delete –  Remove this email address from Pond and remove all the posts you’ve ever sent from Pond’s database.
  • Read – Receive the last Pond Digest sent out and add numbers for older ones. (The body of the email doesn’t have to be filled in.)
  • New / Post – The body of the email will be the post. (Use Markdown formatting.)
  • Undo – Deletes the last post sent to Pond. (Can be used multiple times in a row to delete several posts.)
  • Follow [username], and Unfollow [username].
  • Log / History – A log of your posts and comments in the Pond database.
  • Help / Test – A copy of the welcome guide will be sent to you. (“Got a specific problem? Email support@pond.email to talk to a person.”)

3. Privacy Policy & Code of Conduct.

Past Pond Digests:

There are two different options for accessing those. An email with “Read” in the subject line to pond@pond.email will supposedly get the last Pond Digest sent out. When I did this before Friday [5 Feb], I got the following:

Pond Digest #23: Pond’s been quiet this week – there aren’t any new posts. Fancy writing one?

(When the Pond Digest went out on 5 Feb 2021, it was labelled Pond Digest #23. Doing this on Friday, I got an email for Pond Digest #24 that had the same statement as above.) An email with “Read [number]” in the subject line should get that specific Pond Digest. I was able to get the 22nd Pond Digest by emailing “Read 22” to pond@pond.email [it has two posts by one user], and I got the last Pond Digest on Friday by emailing “Read 23”, but I haven’t been able to get any other one I’ve sent an email for. I created a throwaway username with a different email, and I still wasn’t able to request the 21st, 20th, 19th, or 18th Pond Digests.

It’s unclear whether I can only make a request for a prior Pond Digest once in a certain time interval, or if there’s no response for another reason (someone deleted posts, or there was no activity). I sent an email to support@pond.email on the 1st of February [2021], but I haven’t received a reply with an answer to that. (I’m unsure if the answers were considered too basic to answer, or if I didn’t include the correct magic words in the subject line.)

Posting:

Send an email with “Post” or “New” in the subject line of your email to pond@pond.email. Whatever is in the body of your email will be the post, and you are told in the welcome email to use Markdown formatting. You will get an email back within 1 or 2 minutes titled, “Post Saved”. The body will read:

We’ve saved your post and it’s been popped in the queue for the next digest. Here’s what it looks like:

[username]

[Your post as others will see it (not as you originally sent with Markdown formatting).]

Posted [Day] [Date] [Month] [Year]

Something not quite right? Just send us an email with the magic word ‘undo’ in the subject and we’ll delete it so you can try again.

As far as I can tell, the order that posts will appear in the Pond Digest is from newest to oldest. So, if you post something on Monday and Thursday, the Thursday post will be seen first. This might affect how you want to schedule posts that you want to be read in a certain order, but then again, you might not particularly care as long as the post appears in the Pond Digest. There’s no read-more, excerpt, or preview function, so if you post a rather long post, the entirety will show up in the Pond Digest.

Markdown Formatting:

The welcome email points you to this site with lessons and exercises, and there’s a place to test it out here. Some elements of this style of formatting will probably seem familiar because you’ve encountered it on certain blog or chat interfaces. To italicize, you type “*text*” with no spaces between the asterisks and text. To bold, you use two asterisks at the beginning and end of the text. Use an asterisk, plus sign, or hyphen to create an unordered (or bullet point) list. Either use a period or a “)” after a number to create an ordered (or numbered) list. Add four spaces before a list item in order to indent it (using nested bullets and such).

The site with lessons and exercises mostly covered other functions that, in my experience, were not quite as familiar. I don’t think I’ve ever had to use a referential link or had to use that style of image insertion, for example, but something quick for people who don’t want to click around on those sites:

Add “>” at the beginning of a line to blockquote, and press Enter twice to leave it. (You’re dealing with single-spaced text.) If you want to create an empty line within a blockquote, you add “>” to the empty line between the lines of text.

![alt](link to image) – You can use “alt” instead of filling in the alt text, if you have a reason to do so, but there can’t be any spaces between the exclamation mark, brackets, and parentheses.

[text](link) – This will add the hyperlink to the text. No spaces between the brackets and parentheses.

Use “# Header 1”, “## Header 2”, “### Header 3”, and so on for headers. You have to remember the one space between the number sign and the text. Tip for people who don’t use consecutive header styles: You still have to use the earlier header and erase it from the email to get your desired header’s formatting to look right (such as using and erasing Header 1 to get a proper Header 2).

This style of formatting does not care if you’re writing a regular sentence and end with a number. You have to add “\” between the number and period to prevent a list from happening.

Test Account (Following & Commenting):

Following: I created a test account [randomly generated] and followed myself by sending an email with “Follow gender-exploration-carnival” in the subject line. The carnival account got an email notification of a new follower, and the test account got a confirmation that you’re now following that username. The Pond Digest I could access had a link to ‘Follow this person’ next to the date of their post, which causes a window to open to send a “Follow [username]” email. Unless someone appears in the Pond Digest or you already know their username, there’s really not a way of finding new people to follow.

Commenting: The welcome email mentioned a comment log, and I created the test account, in part, because I wanted to know if I would have some sort of link or prompt in the Personal Digest telling me how to do so. I presume that I need to use a certain magic word in the subject line of an email, but I’m honestly not sure how that’s going to work out yet. After getting my first Personal Digest on 5 Feb 2021, I can say that the only option next to the post is “Follow this person”, and requesting a log of my posts and comments only shared the applicable posts, so I’m still not clear on how to comment.

2 thoughts on “Notes On Using Pond.Email”

  1. The premise is definitely distinctive, but I’m still at a loss for what it would best be used for. Seems to rule out anything that you’d want to be linkable.

    Like

    1. I can’t really speak to what others think pond.email is best for (because I’ve only run into one other person’s posts appearing in the Pond Digest so far), but it definitely seems like an alright Idea for a small group that already knows they want to see each other’s content.

      I dunno how this would work if anyone who posted something no one else wanted to see (but wasn’t outright against posting guidelines) showed up, or if a large amount of people showed up to post. (Would everyone long post to their hearts content? Or would there be excerpts and linking to offsite posts?) Is there actually a topic that’s supposed to link everyone together? I can’t really tell.

      Unless I’ve just had rotten luck with accessing past Pond Digests, there’s an ephemerality that I’m sure someone would like for certain content, but it seems like a way to see emails without having to share one’s email. (Pond addresses you by your email, but only your username is shown to other Pond accounts.)

      Liked by 1 person

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