@catchphrasedan decided to recount his first 10000 hours on Ello. It's an interesting read, and I thought I'd do something similar.
(First off: This is going to be in the style of a time starved techie, which isn't the best way to approach Ello. Large parts may look like whining, but are intended as mere reflections, not thoughtless criticism. During the writing of this post, Ello's new year redesign was launched, which may or may not make some points moot. And I'm nothing but impressed by what @ello has accomplished. With that in mind, let's start!)
My first impression of Ello, in March, 2014, was that of a pretty desolate place. I knew nobody (apart from the one person that got me in), and everything looked very different from anything I'd seen before. I came from the Facebook and Google+ worlds, and at Ello, I had to struggle to find the Post button. I occasionally still do, because it really is discreet.
I'm pretty much a text person. When I looked around for people to follow, I felt stabbed by eye-piercing animgifs (an expression that probably say something about my age; in my time, a gif was a static image, and if it moved, it was an animgif) and left strangely unaffected by lots of images without captions, but very supportive and encouraging comments. To me, Ello was a strange, silent place, where people seemed to know eachother without having to communicate with words.
(The eye-piercing part is, of course, just my personal experience. I'm pretty convinced their creators didn't mean to offend, but created something that looked good to the creator; I can't take that beauty away from the creations. It's just not my slice of bread.)
There are ways to find people on Ello. @catchphrasedan spent many of his first 10000 hours on Ello on Ello, while I haven't really found the time to do that. I check in from time to time, browse through the Discover categories (that's another area that has improved greatly since Ello's inception; while I don't remember exactly how it was then, I find it better now), and read some bits here and there that looks interesting.
Which leads me to the next part of my first 10000 hours on Ello: Confusion.
Ello is Ello. Ello does things the Ello way, and that way isn't always the most conventional or intuitive way. I'm pretty sure these things have been discussed, designed and implemented by people who know what they want to do, and how. And from time to time, that's differently.
But that's how some people (and Outlook) like it, I suppose, and the subject has been beaten to death numerous times already. Or, as it is, the previous one, it just looks to me like it isn't. Then you realize that it really isn't, because it's referring to the next one. You visit a post, and the first comment is something really strange and off topic. I find that way of consuming content incredibly confusing. Pretty early in my Ello cereer I noticed the top posting of comments, and, as always, thought that was an unfortunate design decision.
Back to Discover: This is a great feature, which enable you to browse through recent or popular posts. For me, it works fine on the desktop, but not all that great in the (Android) phone. It's part my fault, but it is part Ello's fault, too:
On the phone, my use pattern while browsing social media is pretty cautious. I open my stream, follow a link, go back to my stream, follow the next link, perhaps follow another link and then go all the way back to my stream. When I'm done, I go back to close the site and back to close the browser.
Edit 20160411: Time to make amendments again! Half by mistake, half by curiosity, I tried the back button. It now takes me back to where I came from, not to the beginning of where I came from. In my book, that's improvement of user experience. Thank you, Ello! (Which I apparently should address @wtf to make sure things come through. Let's see if updates trigger notifications, shall we? :) (20160513: Apparently not, but now it should, according to @dcdoran's post. Nice.) /End edit
One thing that I don't know if I actually experienced, if I took part in some kind of A/B test or if my browser just glitched, is that when I followed the excerpt in Discover, I ended up at the first ...or last, rather, comment. The top one, right after the post text. That was a really surprising destination that forced me to scroll to the top of the posting to read it. Anyway, I'm unable to reproduce this behaviour, and I'm entirely prepared to write it off as imagination.
There are a number of minor niggles that bother me, and one thing that I find curious:
1: There is no edit history on Ello? Is the platform actually troll free to the extent that an edit history isn't necessary? Other platforms with the post editing feature have found it necessary to expose the edit history, due to people trolling eachother, but not Ello?
2: This is, really, nitpicking, but on the other hand, if people begin nitpicking on your stuff, they haven't got anything important to rant about:
The expanding menu in the top. Expanding things are tricky to get right, and that menu is no exception. The situation has improved; before, I think every item expanded and contracted, while the current version just move Notifications and Search around. Still, it works fine if used left to right, but going right to left, from Search to Notifications, makes you miss Notifications and go directly to Starred.
If I were a nice and considerate commenter, I'd cobble together a demo of a possible workarond, where items know from which side they are entered and exited, and modify their expansion-contraction pattern accordingly, but this post is already about two months old (you can't get the exact posting date and time from Ello posts?) from thought to post, and I'm eager to start something new. Two months? I really should hop on Twitter instead...
3: Notice the notification dot above? I'm not sure how or why, but get the impression that Ello keep tabs on notifications per device, not per user. If I log in with my computer, and received some love or comments, I get notified about it. When I check it out, the notification dot is removed. A month later, when I log in with my phone, I get a notification that I have something to check out, and yes, it's the same notification that I cleared on my computer before.
If I clear local data associated with Ello, my suspicion is confirmed: Ello doesn't manage which notifications you've seen on the server, but per browser, using cookies or something similar.
It's an infrastructure choice. Not the same most other platforms chose, but nevertheless a choice.
Enough complaining! Something I really like with Ello is the possibility to intersperse your text with images. You don't have complete creative freedom, but you do get to put as many images as you want in your post, in the places you want them, instead of one in the bottom and possibly a link to go with it.
I like the concept of communities, though I find it unnecessarily difficult to find the Community Directory page. The concept of communities is in no way unique to Ello, but I think the initial lack of communities was. This is another way Ello improved since I joined.
Now that I've written this much about a social platform I've been on for almost two years, and still know very little about, I think it's time to actually start using it.
Now, where is it? Ah, there!