Hello Internet! First, read my article on why I quit Telegram for some context of the unending abuse and exploitation of bot developers. Now, to the why and what's next for Voicy.
As you are all aware, Telegram has not delivered on the promise made in 2016 to distribute $1,000,000 among bot developers. They gave away $250,000 and called it quits. Back then, I, too, was brought to Telegram infrastructure partially because of this lucrative promise.
Then, in 2017 I launched @voicybot — a bot that instantly converts all voice messages (and videos) to text. I hadn't hesitated and submitted Voicy for the bot prize right away (as well as a few other bots). 5 years have passed, Voicy's active user base is 13,407,691 real people, it recognized 74,539,112 voice messages spanning 41.66 years of continuous speech. It supports over 80 different languages across 4 voice recognition engines.
It's a marvelous technological feat and has caused latency and denial of service troubles with the Telegram bot API multiple times. At peak, it was receiving over 10,000,000 requests per hour.
Recently, Telegram decided to introduce its voice recognition to premium subscribers. It takes longer to recognize a voice message, requires users to press a button to start recognition, and supports fewer languages — and the only engine it supports is owned by a corporation notorious for using user data in negative ways.
If, in the past, Telegram acknowledged bot developers that introduced a feature they later implemented themselves by the bot prize and support — now, these days seem to be over. The telegram team doesn't give a crap about bot developers anymore. Even worse, they openly and repeatedly laugh at bot developers or users who do Telegram stress testing and get their account history wiped.
Pavel Durov has reportedly suggested that users don't like this to "switch to WhatsApp." Well, Pavel, this seems to be the only way to go after years of neglect and ridicule. I'm executing my personal right for an exit, and I'll probably start sunsetting my other bots.
I urge other bot developers to follow suit. Telegram doesn't care about you at all — they will never support you unless you know the team personally from your high school days. Better platforms to use your talents will actively reward you if you build anything of value.
What can you do to keep using Voicy?
Voicy is fully open source. Feel free to fork and run your own instance.
What's next for me?
Same usual, I'm building products at bwl.gg, using cryptography to bring value to the bleeding edge of Zero Knowledge technology.
What can you do to change Telegram?
First of all, they will laugh you off and won't ever listen to you. But you can also tell Pavel and Telegram team what they are missing out on by giving up on the developers' community. In the end, more and more devs will abandon Telegram, and it will just have a graveyard of bots that don't function anymore.
Secondly, just quit Telegram altogether. It's not secure (none of your server-stored messages are e2e encrypted, except for secret chats that no one uses). Sadly, even WhatsApp and Viber are now more secure than Telegram. There's also Signal and Element if you want to be 100% sure your messages are secure.
None of this will change Telegram — but this is about you and your privacy and data, not about Telegram.
Can I buy @voicybot?
Sure, shoot me the price you want to pay to my PM. I can give you the handle and even transfer the server if the price is right. You might actually be the person (or the company) that will keep Voicy running!
It's been a journey, but we all had it coming. When a platform ignores developers that bring value, developers leave.
So long, and thanks for all the fish 🐬
Update: too many users asked me to keep running the Voicy instance and suggested adding donation-wall to it to pay for the servers. Did exactly that.