A Proactive Proposal for Obsidian: Catalyst for Change

Dear Obsidian Community and Development Team,

I am writing this proposal with a deep admiration for the product you have created and an understanding of the necessity for sustainable development. We, the dedicated users of Obsidian, comprehend the difficulty of maintaining a product that strikes a balance between profitability and user satisfaction.

The Present Predicament

Our cherished Obsidian has been a sanctuary for collective knowledge, creativity, and intellectual exploration. However, as we continue on this journey, we notice a shift in focus. Obsidian’s recent emphasis on Sync and Publish services has sparked concerns among users. While these services provide a consistent revenue stream, they do not significantly enhance the core functionality of Obsidian, and can easily be accomplished with third party solutions. They almost feel like a separate venture.

“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” - Stephen Covey

The pursuit of passive income, though understandable, has begun to overshadow the primary mission — refining the Obsidian app. Many feature requests are left unattended, causing a growing dissatisfaction among users.

The Catalyst: A Potential Solution

Amidst this, we see a beacon of hope — the Catalyst license. The Catalyst is not just a revenue model, it’s a bridge that connects the development team with the users. It gives us early access to beta versions, prioritizes our feature requests, and brings us closer to the heart of Obsidian’s evolution.

Suggesting a Shift of Focus

Here are some basic ideas that could potentially help shift focus to the catalyst license, or something like it.

  • Monthly Subscription: Lower the entry barrier by introducing a monthly subscription model for the Catalyst. A $5/month model can attract more users, thus increasing the revenue while keeping the community engaged.

  • Lifetime Membership: Honor the early supporters by preserving their lifetime memberships. They believed in Obsidian when it was just an idea; they deserve to enjoy its benefits forever.

  • Feature Prioritization: Empower Catalyst members to vote on feature requests, forming a democratic system of prioritization. This ensures the development aligns with the needs of the most engaged users.

  • Catalyst-exclusive Features: Develop special features available only to Catalyst members. This not only incentivizes the subscription but also fosters a sense of exclusivity and community.

  • Community-driven Development: Encourage a more collaborative development process where Catalyst members can contribute to the code or suggest improvements. This can help expedite feature development and bug fixes, and foster a strong sense of community ownership.

“Innovation needs to be part of your culture. Consumers are transforming faster than we are, and if we don’t catch up, we’re in trouble.” - Ian Schafer

A Call to Action

This proposal is not just a call for change; it’s a call for action. It’s a call for Obsidian to return to its roots, to focus on what made it great — the core product. The Catalyst can be a driving force for this change, bridging the gap between income and innovation.

Let us not forget that Obsidian is not just a product; it’s a philosophy. It’s a testament to the power of ideas and the connections between them. It’s a tool that sharpens our thinking.

Let’s improve Obsidian, let’s strengthen the Catalyst, and collectively, let’s redefine the horizons of knowledge management.

“The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” - Steve Jobs"

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I think there are a couple of wrong assumptions underling your piece.

  1. Sync, Publish, (and Commercial) were always front and center as monetization ideas from the beginning.
    Reading your piece it seems that the team changed its mind at some point and moved from being a “user-sponsored project” (catalyst) to “free to use with paid services”. It was always the latter.

  2. You seem to think that the core app development has slowed down in favor of the team working on the paid services. This is not the case. The last major feature we shipped is properties and before that canvas.
    If we had prioritized Sync and Publish, we would have worked on making sync work in the background on mobile or making plugins work on published sites (both highly requested).


We don’t have plans to change Catalyst to a subscription.

This seems vague:

Many feature requests are left unattended, causing a growing dissatisfaction among users.

Can you be more specific? Keep in mind that the Obsidian team is small. You can take a look at our roadmap and changelog for a list of the frequent bug fixes and improvements we’re making based on user feedback.


Let’s keep it civil, especially if you’re going to wake a sleeping thread.

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