Architecture - Pay to Play to Keep a System Small  
Wednesday, December 29, 2010 at 8:42AM
Todd Hoff in Example, MySQL, Strategy

How do you keep a system small enough, while still being successful, that a simple scale-up strategy becomes the preferred architecture? StackOverflow, for example, could stick with a tool chain they were comfortable with because they had a natural brake on how fast they could grow: there are only so many programmers in the world. If this doesn't work for you, here's another natural braking strategy to consider: charge for your service. Paul Houle summarized this nicely as: avoid scaling problems by building a service that's profitable at a small scale.

This interesting point, one I hadn't properly considered before, was brought up by Maciej Ceglowski, co-founder of, in an interview with Leo Laporte and Amber MacArthur on their their [email protected] show.

Pinboard is a lean, mean, pay for bookmarking machine, a timely replacement for the nearly departed Delicious. And as a self professed anti-social bookmarking site, it emphasizes speed over socializing. Maciej considers Pinboard a personal archive, where you can keep a history of what you are reading: forever. When the demise of Delicious was announced, if Pinboard had been a free site they'd have been down immediately, but being a paid site helped flatten out their growth curve.

Bookmarking sites used to about sharing links with your friends, but Twitter has largely taken over that role. Twitter, however, is infamous for presenting only a small slice of your tweet history. What you really want is a big server sucking down your bookmarks from wherever you might bookmark them, and that's just what Pinboard does.

A few points struck me as particularly cool about Pinboard:







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