I made a Telegram bot for Mostly Harmless Ideas
And you can use it to read paid posts, among other cool stuff.
This is a short update about a small project I’m very excited to share with you. I made a Telegram bot to accompany Mostly Harmless Ideas. It lets you search all the archives, receive notifications of new posts (still WIP), and, most importantly, buy individual premium posts for a very small price.
What can this boy do?
The bot has a very barebones search functionality: if you type some query, it will suggest posts from the archive that match those keywords. Under the hood, it uses the same tech powering most search engines (i.e., full-text search based on BM25F, for all you nerds).
Besides that, I’m implementing notifications for new posts and a more powerful search based on LLMs, so you can ask direct questions and get answers straight out of the articles.
Finally, I implemented a single-post unlock feature for readers who don’t want (or can’t afford) to subscribe but still want to read a specific article.
So, what’s the deal with subscriptions?
A while back, I turned on paid subscriptions to offset some of the cost of making this blog while keeping the vast majority of my content open and free forever. So, for premium subscribers, I write a bi-weekly deep dive into recent AI topics, supporting the rest of my writing.
Now, if you’ve been around for a while, you know I’m extremely flexible with paid subscriptions: I give free comps to all new subscribers, regular commenters, and basically anyone who needs one, and I often make huge discounts.
However, some of you have sometimes requested the possibility of paying for a single post, which is not something that Substack implements. So this is my homebrew solution to that problem until a native solution appears.
Is this cheaper than a full subscription?
Well, it depends. If you are only interested in a subset of the Mostly Harmless posts, then, in principle, yes. A full yearly subscription right now is valued at $50, and I plan to charge $2 per individual post, so, at an average of 25 posts per year, both approaches balance out.
However, I always have some sort of special offer running, often with huge discounts of up to 50% for yearly plans, so in the long run, if you’re really interested in reading all my stuff, yearly subscriptions are better. I also plan to double down on premium content next year, including a monthly podcast —if the second law of thermodynamics allows me— so that yearly subscription will only get more valuable.
In any case, I don’t want to make this too much of an argument about numbers. If you feel you can contribute, whichever you decide to do, either with a subscription, a comment, a like, or a share on social media, I’ll be deeply grateful for your support.
Cool, where do I start?
You can access the bot right now at the following link:
And if you want to try the unlock post functionality, here are quick links to unlock my four last premium posts.
Can I have mine?
Haha! I thought you’d never ask. Of course, everything I do (or almost everything) is open source. This particular beast is in no shape for public sharing —no docs, no readme, no requirements.txt— but if you want to mess with it, give it a shot.
Eventually, I’ll get into better shape, and then I’ll make a post about how to run it yourself.
That was all for today. Hope you enjoy this new way to interact with Mostly Harmless Ideas. Again, feel free to subscribe and share if you like my content.