Jan 22Liked by Justin Ling

I guess I'm happily out of the loop. I had no idea that Nazi's were posting on Substack until the rebellion of the righteous came to my reluctant attention. Like you I don't think I'm going anywhere. This is all too exhausting. Moving on, thanks for your link to your Wired article, and I look forward to following up on that. Despite the fact that my father's family are 1st gen Ukrainians, I understand the geopolitical consequences of a russian success.

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A thoughtful and informative piece as usual – which is why I subscribe to YOU, and only incidentally, come into contact with some “platform”, constructed as a market mechanism, and thus is obliged to be profitable.

Which makes me wonder what THAT means, and whether non-profit entities (like PBS) or a charitable model (like The Hub?) might have an internet role.

While, by contrast, I remember CBC and its behavior in respect of the “forbidden words”…and shudder; and I am wary of “official truth”, as history tells me I should be. Then there is the official FOI process, which is an oxymoron in Canada.

I also wonder how important anonymity is, in shaping the discourse and its impact on public or private interests; because it seems to me that that can be a significantly moderating influence in the “real” public square or a venue like a workplace.

Where, for example: identifying antisemitic protesters, or folks inclined to burn churches or topple statutes can have consequences. But this too is a difficult question, especially in respect of political views. “Should” we “know” that you are a “real Nazi” or an ISIS shill?

Finally, I love some of the adjectives that you report (but don’t use yourself) – like “healthy” and “wholesome” -- which, of course, are part and parcel of the associated with the (for profit) touting for “health food” and “alternative medicine”.

Keep up the good work!

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Jan 21Liked by Justin Ling

Great article. A few people I subscribe to in Substack have left, and i certainly intend to follow them to wherever they go, but I'm not going to drop those who have decided to stay and make a good case for it.

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I'm with you most of the way, Justin. The exception is your argument that "we should want companies which use technology, including algorithms, to promote positive and diverse conversation and ideologies". Allow me to repeat what I wrote in my own post on "Why I'm staying with Substack": "Perverse actors will always try but the enticement, for them as for legitimate writers, stems from Substack’s recent efforts to imitate social media by promoting/pushing other sites on the platform. I thought that getting away from all this pushing and algorithm-based manipulation was part of the point of writing and reading on Substack!"

My advice is to "Develop the Explore function further and let visitors/writers find their own preferred sites! And don’t be greedy."

At this point, Substack owners appear far from accepting my advice. Most of the emails I get from platform management are about "growing." Some of that is fine, of course, but the Recommendations algorithms should be abandoned. The bad that comes from it is outweighted by the "little blades of grass" that poked through in your experiment.

I've also long believed, like reader MacDowell, that anonymity does not encourage civil behaviour. I understand the need for anonymity in certain circumstances but that could be accommodated by special permission from the platform.

Keep up the good work.

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I vote that it's an actual improvement in that it's pushing against substack just taking over as yet another default-monopoly. I enthuse that BEAS, Moscrop, Wells, and America's "Volts" are all on the substack system, but it's disturbing that everybody picked one system.

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Can't words be fought with words?

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