I still have high hopes for Escargot, always had. You might feel unmotivated seeing all these other devs go missing, and the community getting smaller than it appared to be in the start, but I think the job you are doing - the fact that you are doing it, for months - as some others have done their bit share in the past, compensates it all. Of course, its a niche community as you said, but you have been helping to bring a lot of people’s long desire to see the best messenger ever back to life, and that alone is a lot. To me, personally. MSN is tied to a lot of people’s memories from several years, as it was present for so much time, so it is special to be able to experience this again.
Now, I’ve said this a lot of times to friends, and I’ll say it again: Escargot is a niche community as of today for obvious reasons, but it has the potential to grow a lot, lot bigger. That’s because of the hard and dedicated work of people like you, a passionate community, and the fact that it is undoubtedly the best messenger that is, with the highest number of fun features available as of today afaik.
But, in my opinion, for Escargot to reach it’s potential and grow exponentially, it needs to expand itself out of the desktop platform. I know a lot of MSN users don’t like the idea of the messenger mobile, and that’s fine, but we have to accept the reality: most people, today, of any age, have settled in the mobile platform for years now. People use mobile for work, for researching, solving everyday problems, chatting, dating, watching Netflix, YouTube and whatnot. This is where people are at. Our colleagues, from school or uni, our co-workers, our friends (including the ones that used to talk to us on MSN back in the day), our family relatives. Pretty much everyone. In some places of the world they are on WhatsApp, in others it’s iMessager, LINE, wechat, Telegram. Some even use a messager on PC often, like Discord, but it also has a good app for mobile available. The list goes on and on, but in the end it’s all the same. All the other people out of our niche are in the mainstream platform, and this is the people we need to reach out to if we want the Escargot community to grow a lot bigger as we desire it to be. We cannot forget that MSN, or WLM, was the all-time around chatting app, and then it simply wasn’t anymore. That’s when the mainstream platform changed and Microsoft failed to migrate successfully, and others simply did it first all around the world.
Some years ago I was sick of using such a bland app to talk to my friends (in my country, that’s WhatsApp), and I ended up finding an asian messager app from a Taiwanese start-up, called Cubie Messenger. It had it all. Emoticons (proper emoticons, not emojis), stickers, custom stickers (pretty much like custom emoticons in MSN), drawing, music and file transfer as a whole, YouTube player so people could watch and talk at the same time, flash messages, group chats, it was also available on desktop on a lite version, and even had a side-platform built in the app for people to meet. We couldn’t be happier back then to have found a place to talk that resembled MSN so much. My point is: my friends and I kept using this app to talk for years, but I am entirely certain it only happened because it was available on mobile. I would’ve never been able to convince them (or even some relatives and not-so-close friends) to come if it was available on desktop only.
That above is one of the crucial points, the other one is marketing really. Most, if not all people I know, have no idea Escargot is a thing. It simply doesn’t get to them. I have even heard acquaintances saying something along the lines “I miss MSN, it’s sad that it doesn’t exist anymore”, when Escargot had already been out for more than one year. No one besides the actual community knows about it, really. I try to let other people know about it when I can, but that’s not enough. It would be good if the community got together to think of an efficient way to try and make Escargot more popular, because the fact of how much it is unknown definitely draws it back.
Please don’t get me wrong also: I’m not taking the desktop clients development for granted. I have always liked using MSN on desktop better, actually, and I don’t think this will ever change. I just know that it’s not the case with most people today. And, of course, I can’t deny how happy I would be if I could use WLM on a daily bases when I’m on transit, out of home, and, hell, even when going out. Much better than checking notifications from damn WhatSapp
I know it’s pretty much easier said than done, but these are two crucial points for an app to grow nowadays. I really think it’s worth talking about them, but I never see it being done much. As for providing Escargot on mobile platform, I know Mercury Messenger is already a thing and that it was enough of a struggle to make it happen, but I think that, for the impact that this matter has on numbers, it still is worth talking about it, even if it doesn’t get anywhere. People already use several apps everyday and they won’t get convinced to spend some minutes of their day to try out a new one unless it has a modern, comfortable design to keep them there. Regarding marketing, paying for it is definitely not a thing because it’s not on anyone’s plans since no one is getting paid but doing it out of passion, but maybe there are ways? If anyone could reach out to just one or a few YouTubers to help in this regard it would be great.
Well I’ve already written a Bible, so I’ll stop here. @OhHelloThereImTheGuy, just know that, I know I can say for a lot of people here when I tell you that I am really grateful for all the work you have done and been doing. If you feel like resting, do it. If you feel like leaving it, do it. If you feel like you want to keep going, do it! Just don’t think for a second that there aren’t a lot of people that are not only really greateful but got extremely happy with the work that has been made. Even people that don’t know you appreciate your work, as every week I see people on my contacts list excited for WLM 2009. Do what you feel like doing, and stay proud of what you have accomplished! =)