scratch your own itch

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Scratch your own itch is a key indieweb principle that helps everyone focus on working on things that make a difference to their own lives.

Make tools for yourself first, not for all of your friends or ”everyone“. If you design tools for some hypothetical user, they may not actually exist; if you make tools for yourself, you actually do exist. It's extremely hard to fight Metcalfe's law: you won't be able to convince all your friends to join the independent web. By making something that satisfies your needs, and is backwards compatible for others, e.g. by practicing POSSE, you benefit immediately, without having to convince anyone else. If and when others join, you all benefit. This principle is also known as scratch your own itch.


There may be more broadly appealing ways of saying "Scratch your own itch". It's worth brainstorming about such potential replacements.

Make What You Need

More direct than a metaphor, make what you need, expresses a method of focusing that parallels well with another principle, use what you make. In addition as a metaphor, we could use "cook what you want" or "cook what you hunger".

Or variant "make what you want". Not sure about need vs want as a focusing framing. Which is more similar to "itch"? Which is more broadly appealing?

Be The Change

"scratch your own itch" is as much as admonition to actually do the "scratching" yourself, as well as prioritizing "your own itch". In this regard it is expressing the "Be the change" expression common in forms like:

  • "Be the change you want to see in the world" (misattributed to Gandhi)
  • "Change yourself and you have done your part in the changing the the world. Every individual must change [their] own life if they want to live in a peaceful world", from "Para-gram" by Paramahansa Yogananda
  • "If you want to make the world a better place, Take a look at yourself, and then make a change" - Michael Jackson, "Man In The Mirror" (all profits from that single went to charity apparently, per

See Also