Bye bye Clecs

I’ve just received an email telling me that Clecs is coming to an end in a couple of weeks’ time.

For those unaware of it, Clecs was an attempt to build a wholly Welsh social networking platform, a kind of Cymraeg Twitter clone.

It launched three years ago, but never really reached the kind of critical mass that allows networks to pull in a self-sustaining number of users and subsequently advertisers. I gave up posting on it last Autumn when it became apparent that I was one of only around a dozen other regulars.

It’s a shame, but there’s always something positive, something to be learned at least, from ‘failures’ like this.


I think it shows a slightly worrying thing, which is that now that our preferred social channels tend to have such a prominent place in our lives, new offerings have no choice but to be every bit as technically good - in other words, the barriers to entry are pretty significant now.

When social was brand new, you could stick up a forum on free software and get real involvement (Maes-E) - but now, if you put serious money into it but you’re just a bit less smooth than Twitter or Facebook, you’re just not going to keep people on board.

I suspect that means it’s going to be tough to build a successful Welsh-only social environment online now…


That’s a shame. As you know I was one of the latter members.

Edit -
Yes it seemed to be busy before my time but then went quiet. I’d guess most went over to Twitter (?)

I don’t mind the presentation (quite like it actually) as I’m also on another site (Sabre-roads) which also uses an older design.

TBH my biggest problem was getting on there, through the password security. Probably my fault. I just tried again unsuccessfully, so I emailed them to thank them for their hard work over the years.

1 Like

It is a worrying thing - as someone who has been an avid internet user for 24 years now (jeez, how to feel old…) I have been quite concerned by the increasing Facebook-ification and Twitter-fication of the world.

Not that I don’t use those two websites myself - but it does worry me that it seems to have swallowed up a big part of what the Internet used to be.

I used to be a member of so many forums, I used to have so many websites that I’d go to on a regular basis.

Bands don’t even really have websites now - just Facebook pages.


There are several other aspects, I think. One is USP - a killer feature or angle that none of the other networks can or do offer, at least during the critical establishment period. After that, the big guys will either copy you (Facebook video calling was introduced just weeks after Google+ unveiled hangouts), or simply buy you (Instagram, bought by Facebook two years after launch), if they think that your feature is compelling enough.

With Clecs, the USP was the Welsh language, obviously, and I suspect that this conflicted with another aspect which is breadth of appeal. I keep up with friends on Facebook and Politics/Welsh affairs on Twitter. Instagram I just use a a fancy photo app that automatically posts through to Twitter (and from there to Facebook). Although I have many Welsh-speaking friends, and much of Welsh political commentary is available through the medium of Welsh, if I used a wholly Welsh platform I would be missing out in terms of both my friendships and my interest in public affairs.

Unless people could be persuaded to compartmentalise the Welsh language part of their lives into one particular social network, something like Clecs is bound to struggle. Maybe for learners who are consumed by the process of learning and excited by the new world they are discovering, a separate Welsh app makes sense. But once the language becomes just a humdrum part of your everyday life, using too many networks for too many separate things is just too clumsy.


Yes. I’m old enough to remember the punk rock days of the internet when contributing was as important as consuming. One of the wonderful things about this very forum for me is that it recaptures that spirit of sharing, discussing rather than arguing, and putting something back in rather than just passively consuming.


There was a really interesting documentary on the radio recently about the web, as opposed to the internet (I think).

They interviewed someone who was part of the original web and I think it was a sort of private club of (internet) users. I’m trying unsuccessfully not to use “internet” but hopefully you know what I mean.

Anyway, they were gutted, when they reluctantly had to throw it open to all and sundry.


Well, unfortunately I’ve got the same e-mail but the things to be even more sad, those “a cuple of weeks” is next week, precisely on 24th May. They started 4 years ago and I’ve seen the glory of it and the (unfortunately) inevitable ending. I tried to use it for quite a while and I’ve got as many of you followed as I could find but even at the beginning there were not many of those on “higher positions” of SSiW who would “clec” much. Many posted only some clecs and went away so our mini SSiW network became more and more quiet until I went quiet too.

I agree with @robbruce about that learners might be more eager to post there than those of us who use Welsh on a daily basis one way or another.

“You using Welsh on a daily basis!?” you’d say … Yes in a way I do so if not the other way than to a bit teasing and “torturing” my co-workers greeting them in Welsh and asking them how they are … They can’t speak but understand what I’m asking though.

And yes, there’s something to learn from “failure” for sure. I was actually a bit sad that I couldn’t find some businesses like BBC Radio Cymru and them alike or if they are there they posted just one and only clec (like S4C for example). Such brnads should be the leaders in making one network in solely one language alive but except for some first weeks there was not quite real interest in being present there.

So, tomorrow one week on the Clecs will be no more …

Hwyl fawr @Clecs a diolch am y popeth.

And for all interested, here on their Facebook page is their whole statement - unfortunately for those who didn’t learn enough to understand yet - in Welsh.

1 Like

I got the email this morning too.
I used clecs a bit when it first started, but I never really got the hang of it. I didn’t quite understand how it worked. I tried for a while and then got busy with other stuff. I then came back later to try again, but it had gone pretty quite by then.
I do use Instagram and I follow s4c on there. I only mention this for anyone wanting some easy reading practice. They usually put just one or two sentences about an upcoming program and often a translation underneath that you need to click to see. I’m surprised by how often I understand what they’ve written.
But that is getting off topic. I am sorry clecs is going and I should have persevered and used it more.


Yes, seems to have killed forums, and email too, at least for a lot of former users.

I was part of a group of original users (by accident of employment), and predecessors to the internet (academics here will remember “Janet” - UK Joint academic Network, and some may remember Bitnet).

It definitely changed when it became more open; in some ways better, in some ways worse. Obviously it was a change that had to come, and it will change again, unrecognisably, before we know it.

But back on topic:
With hindsight, I don’t think Clecs had a chance really. If you want to tweet in Welsh, well, you tweet in Welsh, with other Welsh speakers. You don’t really need a special platform for that.

1 Like


Look what became of MySpace for example. It was meant to be kind of network for musicians and other artists members follow them and enjoy their work. Not that I found it any good even in early days of it but still it was way better than it is today. The whole MySpace experience was way better.

Look at Spaces Live. It was trashed and even if part of it stil exists it’s nothing to be holding to. Yahooo went to something I really don’t like anymore and all other (even big) social networks are way worse than at the beginning.

Forums? I was a member of about 20 if not more, I had 3 or 4 of my own … it all died quite quickly.

So yes … FB, Twitter and even G+ are the greedy animals which swollow everything what comes to their way! Well, such specialized forums as our is will still be here as long as we use it and take it as a kind of junction for all who use SSi or even those who don’t and learn languages.

And if I ponder thoughts upon Clecs a bit more: I many times had the feeling not that just Welsh language should be used (what is the only right thing) but that only (more or less) the things related to Welsh and Wales should be posted on so (at least my) ideas of what to write prety much disappeared quickly. I at one point felt that pictures I’ve posted at the end were something not in anybody’s interest so I stopped to do that aswell.

1 Like

I was interested to know how unusual I was for not using Facebook or Twitter and these stats are interesting?

Although overall about 80% of the population above 11 years old are on Facebook, which is quite astounding, more than half of the 45+ age group are still not Facebook Users. I wonder how many of the registered users are actually active as well - I have a facebook account, but have never used it.

Facebook is taking over the world, but there is still a large group of people who are doing things differently and I wouldn’t rule out scope for something different, just yet - there is still a large group, with the greatest spending power who haven’t quite succumbed and may need different sorts of products and ideas.

1 Like

Yes, I still like to use forums. They have a nice feel to them. Really sad about Clecs. BTW, is it the same Clecs as the 90s Welsh magazine?

1 Like

I take your point, and it’s an important one - at the same time, what you say here is, I think, an increasingly common picture - we use multiple platforms up to a point - in which case, being able to dip in and out of a Welsh-only environment (where you’re more likely to find other speakers you didn’t previously know) could be a strong enough usecase - as long as it’s smooth and easy enough.

I think something not a million miles from Tweetdeck might have mileage - if you could identify Welsh only streams, but swap quickly from them to your other languages…

1 Like

Hence your brief exchange with Rhodri Nwdls yesterday about the abandoned Ffrwti! I thought that’s what it was about. I’m not sure that the (free and easy-to-implement) AI to identify Welsh tweets is quite there - it’s still common to see Translate from Indonesian under friends’ tweets, for example, particularly short messages. It’s an interesting idea though, breaking your twitter feed up into a cultural matrix - only [list of languages] tweets, only [any language] tweets from people who have tweeted in [list of languages] in the last [user configurable] time period, only threads including people tweeting in [list of languages] from [geographical area] etc. Cool idea!

1 Like

You’re absolutely right, it’s not - Ffrwti needed extra editing, which was one of the problems it faced.

I’m thinking that if we can build a reliable way (via an inevitable need for volunteer help) to gain access to a wider sea of Welsh content, we might then be able to make that readable in ways that would incline towards interaction… and maybe that would create the conditions for a language-based community grouping…

It’ll be interesting to see what sort of momentum we can build with @TyddynPorffor over the next few months…

1 Like

It’s that critical mass thing isn’t it. I do also tend to feel there’s some tangential value to the non-Welsh speakers in my life have some of my Welsh in their feeds rather than gheotted away.

On the tech coding 'automating recognition of Welsh language tweets" - something for the hacio’r Iaith coding chitchat tonight?

Seems like something the Corpus Cymraeg dataset ought to be eventually useful for?

1 Like

The extra dimension is, of course, the casual nature of much of the language on Twitter. I’m pretty sure that it’s the most informal tweets (from the likes of Gareth the orang utan) that cause Twitter to offer to translate from amusingly distant languages.

1 Like

Slightly off-topic, but talking of the Corpus and Bangor Uni, together with coding reminded me of a conversation I had with a primary school teacher about coding and Macsen and whether this might be a tool to help with engagement with coding in the classroom. The response was that it sounded great and did I know anything about coding to help out and the answer is no I don’t and neither did the teacher - so simple idea, but a lack of expertise and competence to follow it through.

As a basis for a school project it looks great - you can build your own Alexa, using copies of the actual parts, speakers and microphone, same housing etc through raspberry pi distributors - the speech engine side of things, with Ivona, is relatively trivial and they have used that to demo a simple functional system and I would love to see schools more engaged with developing this further, by interacting with Bangor, who could maybe help devise how this could be taught and developed in schools, because the schools need all the help they can get here as well I suspect and although it looks pretty simple stuff, it needs a bit of expertise in the background to drive it forward.

The end result could be a means of extending coding and other electronics skill sets, in a simple way, plus a better Welsh version of Alexa etc, that kids can make for themselves and maybe take home, to use in the house.

1 Like

Yes, I think this is a valuable aspect. Part of why I think collation (rather than direct competition) is part of what should happen next…