this is all from my experience being a silly little goofster in the Replit community for around 2 years now. I’ve been a Replit Rep and trending countless times, but all of this is opinion.
To Replit staff members reading this, please note that this is not meant to undermine your work in any way, but the management of the company and poor decisions leading to an upset and sinking community.
From the moment the new pricing was unveiled earlier this year, I knew the Replit ship would sink. Not only pricing, however the direction of the company as a whole.
I wake up today to see a new newsletter. Whereas before it would be cool community apps, some new feature and maybe a game jam, 4/5 of the latest newsletter’s headlines had “AI” in it.
And I’m just sad because what Replit could have been if it didn’t pivot audiences could have been amazing.
AI. Pricing. Professionals.
Back in the good ol’ days of Replit, you could spin up an obscure microservice that would do cool things, share it with the community and laugh with the folks on the Discord. If it was something like, for example, the checkmarks extension I made, you didn’t need to worry about hosting. Everything would either be Always-On or pinged for the good enough reliability of a small app that the community would use, build off of and enjoy.
Now, when you’re making something you’re asked to use Ghostwriter. Look! There’s extensions! Catch: it can’t add new file extension theming or change the editor. Apart from the distractions and mishaps of the IDE, everything would go smoothly.
When it’s time to upload to the community, you could either:
- Upload as-is with a clickbaity thumbnail so it would get past the first wave of impressions
- “Deploy” your project for 2x the normal cost of a cloud provider, when your silly little app doesn’t need it.
And when it’s on the community, there’s comments from spammers and scammers & no hope of popularity, swallowed by the endless sea of trending AI gimmicks with 3 likes.
I’ll go more in-depth with why I feel this way now, and what Replit could have been if it went in a better direction.
I don’t care about AI. People, generally, don’t care about AI.
It was a trend like crypto, but more frightening & world-changing. There’s no doubt that AI has many applications, however the oversaturation has made the public disinterested. In my opinion, the reality is that you won’t be able to talk to a computer to make an app, not for a long long while. The technology behind it right now isn’t capable of replacing jobs or even helping in obscure circumstances, even with a 100t model like GPT-4.
But Replit changed around AI, and now it’s falling with them. I remember the front page Repls getting hundreds of likes and the Twitter booming with accomplishments and anticipation… Now it’s just AI, Bard, and partnerships with Google. and nobody cares much.
Replit will NEVER BE visual studio code.
Replit will NEVER BE an established hosting provider.
Replit will NEVER BE go-to for professionals.
Yet we see Deployments at $211/month with the same bandwidth as a $4 DigitalOcean droplet.
We see focus on the power users and those willing to pay up for convenience.
There is a very good reason you never see Fireship make a “Replit in 100 seconds” video. It’s not built for professionals, and is too late to the party of cloud providers.
Deployments and Bounties and new pricing bundles are aimed towards a tiny group of companies & people who care about convenience more than anything. The large established community aren’t that.
What the community was, and still is, are young aspiring developers. When I share a Repl with the community, I don’t expect people with full time jobs to analyse and comment.
What I expect is a welcoming community of likeminded aspiring people to tinker with it, fork & remix it, make their own adaptations, spins & engage with it fully. This is like what scratch.mit.edu is, a community of many people and cultures, more younger, coming together and doing what they love.
This is what Replit was to me. It was the prototype feel of Scratch with a whole new layer of programming languages and opportunities to learn on and springboard off of.
Instead of focusing on this opportunity, Replit is targeting the wrong people. They don’t want to be like Scratch, they want to be one of the big players with AI and overpriced Deployments under their belt for senior Dev junkies to swoon over.
It hasn’t been working. Instead of growing a thriving community, the Trending tab is full of profit-driven gimmicks that garner little engagement compared to the Repls of budding community members. This is a wrong turn.
I saw Replit, before the shift into AI, professionals and profit, as the next big player in tech schooling.
It had the community of likeminded kids, teens and adults sharing little Repls.
It had an IDE that was in the sweet spot of not too terrible, not too professional, in the sweet spot.
It had courses like 100 days of code by our favourite British presenter.
It had partnerships with schools to bring this to the masses and people like the Replit Reps to inspire and drive.
Everything was set up: an established Learn centre, a budding community, forking and remixing, “good enough” computing that is great for prototypes and not full-fledged react bogus. Heck, it even had the amazing game engine Kaboom to make game building easy!
It could have become the next Scratch, the next Code.org where people by the millions who were interested in programming would jump on, create and share freely without a care in the world. It would be the centre of computer prototyping and mockup demos, all incased in an aspiring city of ever growing people saying “hey, I want a website”.
Not just the teens & kids but everyone could benefit, as one-click small machines preloaded with any programming language and library is a vital component of prototyping Replit NAILED. The quickest way to learn programming, try new ideas & springboard into more professional apps to bring everything to reality with having Replit to thank for it.
The Utopian Replit is gone.
The prominent community members have largely moved on after striking against terrible pricing and extremely poor community management.
Replit Reps was left in the dust after only one quarter.
Kaboom, the best glimmer of hope for the Utopian Replit is being kept alive by a few non-Replit contributors, lajbel & a shine of Mark.
The only non-AI updates I remember are from Ironclad, gifting us all an extensions update bright an early on a Monday.
And poor David Morgan is being forced to talk about Langchain.
and quite frankly, I think Replit will die. and im sad.