Finding an apt analogy for piracy

I quote an analogy which exemplifies just why piracy is disruptive to obsolete business models, but not harmful.

Piracy

So my article on the ethics of piracy was posted in the /r/games subreddit and the thread pretty much exploded in arguments. I only saw it half an hour before I had to go to a Faun concert (and then straight to bed because I was working early next day), so I could only properly respond 16 hours after the fact, at which point everyone had already moved on. Still I did leave some answers in that first half-hour but I quickly found out I could barely get a word in sidewise, before being downvoted below the viewing threshold. Oh well, not unexpected I guess (albeit mildly ironic, given how anti-pirates are under the delusion that their opinions are unpopular). And it wasn’t just me, anyone who wasn’t explicitly negative toward piracy, was downvoted, even for simply stating facts.

Anyway, one of the classic problems when discussing piracy is finding an analogy that approximates the same dynamics. Anti-pirates will insist on using analogies relating to physical theft, such as shoplifting, car theft and so on, while pro-piracy people try to use analogies that simulate the zero harm caused to the current owner. It almost impossible to see eye to  eye on this between these two camps, but on the aforementioned thread, someone did make an analogy that I think is compelling in pointing out how piracy disrupts business models.

Quoth mrbobgray

Essentially, the current business model of video games is like this:

I paint a picture. It is a wonderful picture, and everyone loves it. I realize that people will pay me to see it, so I put it in a closed off room and charge people to come in and see it. This works fine for awhile, and I make a lot of money; then one day, everyone on earth develops x-ray vision. This sucks for me, because suddenly I realize that people no longer need to pay me to see my painting; they can stop by any time they like and see it.

What’s an artist to do? How can I possibly make money from my work?

What the video game industry currently does is simple; they ask the government to make it illegal to use x-ray vision on the walls to my house. Ta-da! Everyone has to pay me to see my painting again.

There is a problem though; it is essentially impossible for the government to tell who is using x-ray vision to look through my walls, and who is merely looking at my house. Thus, some people choose to simply ignore the government, and view my painting using their x-ray vision. There is nothing to physically stop them, and it doesn’t prevent others from listening to the government and paying to see it. I can say that I have lost money from those illegal peeping toms, but have I? How much? Neither I or the government know, because we have no way to tell who of the people using x-ray vision would be willing to pay to see my painting.

The problem with this system is obvious: it is reliant on an old, out-dated set of assumptions; namely, that people don’t have x-ray vision. Instead of adapting to new developments, a law was passed to simply pretend those developments don’t exist. This is where we are with digital goods and copyright laws.

Computers and the internet are truly incredible, amazing things. The ability to store and transfer incredible amounts of data near instantaneously has changed humanity as we know it. So why are we fighting it? Why do we pretend that it doesn’t exist?

The idea is not to prevent people from using the new, amazing developments we have as a society; the old model is fundamentally broken. What has to happen now is finding ways of utilizing these new developments to create even more value. Don’t ask me what that is, because if I knew, I’d be busy counting my millions.

 

What are the ethics of Piracy?

Is it ethically wrong to pirate games? I refute 4 common arguments for this.

The Jolly Roger of Barbossa's Crew, which was ...

So, the moderators of /r/gaming in reddit have decided to make a grandstand against Piracy and as these things go, a big discussion spawned up around this announcement. I jumped in as well, and that turned out into a long thread about the ethics of pirating games. So I decided to expand and clarify my opinion on that point.

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’re most likely already familiar with my general opinion on piracy (Long story short: I’m strongly supportive of it.). It is for this reason that I cannot stand silent when the usual moralizing against pirates crops up (with alarming frequency) on reddit.

There are a few common arguments for the moral condemnation of digital piracy which I’ll attempt to refute in this post.

Nobody deserves to experience a game or other intellectual property against its creator’s wishes.

The argument here relies on the concept that whoever creates a game gets to choose who is allowed to experience it arbitrarily. At the most basic level, it tries to shoehorn an intangible or infinite good, such as an idea or a specific expression of an idea, into the natural limitations of a tangible or finite good, such as, say, furniture.

This principle – that the creator decides who gets to use it – comes as almost a law of nature for tangible goods because it is built-in the concept of trade required before any use by another person can happen. In other words, before I can experience sitting in a chair, I have to acquire it from the chair’s creator which implies an agreement. The same is true for services rendered, which might be intangible as well, but are still tied to a finite good which is time spent by the one performing the service. So if I want to experience someone playing music to me, I need to have an agreement from them doing so.

The only reason why an exchange is happening in most of these situations, is because this is the norm for distribution we use in our current economic system and because the experiencing of these goods or services is a zero-sum. This means that if two people want to use the same goods or services, an exchange needs to happen to keep things fair and civil, or another socioeconomic system needs to be in effect, where sharing and communal ownership is an accepted scenario. For bad or for worse, the latter option is dismissed and outright, and thus by necessity market exchange become the only good scenario. To put it simply: If you want to acquire a good or service, the only moral option is to compensate its current owner (usually the creator) for it.

Given that for most people, this is the only moral way to acquire goods, it is not difficult to see why it’s immediately juxtaposed on something which does not need it: intangible and infinite goods.

In other words, the above moral condemnation relies in internalized moral values coming from an upbringing within a market system such as Capitalism where all other options for distribution are marginalized, dismissed and demonized. When market agreement for the acquisition of goods and services is all you know as morally acceptable, it is not hard to see why the acquisition of “digital goods” will be considered as immoral is such a market agreement did not occur beforehand.

It is because of this that for many people, even those who pirate themselves, it feels wrong to see people acquiring games without paying for them in some way. It is this feeling of moral condemnation, from which I believe most people start  and proceed to claim that it’s wrong for someone to experience (“acquire” ) digital goods without the agreement of its owner. But this moral sentiment has no basis because the same laws of distribution do no apply. There is no zero-sum game between current owner and anyone else. If anything, the concept of ownership itself loses its meaning when talking about intangible goods and we start talking about replication of goods, rather than exchange.

It is for these reasons that I cannot simply accept the above ethical proposition, which relies on nothing else than societal conditioning. However, most of the time, if you ask the person proposing the above “why”,  then a different justification may be presented.

Game developers expend tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars to create games. They deserve to be rewarded for their efforts and costs.

While I agree that someone who creates something very popular should be rewarded accordingly by society, the argument that someone doing something costly (in time or money) deserves to be compensated does not convince. I could bake very expensive mud pies but it would still not entitle me to money for them. If you’re going to support a market system, the whole point is to give people a reason to buy your product or hire your services. One cannot support a market system in one hand, and on the other claim that someone is entitled to reward for effort and cost extended

The main problem here is not that people are pirating games, but rather that the companies making them are still confused about what they are really selling. Copyright law allows someone to pretend that an infinite good is finite, by artificially limiting its supply. It is for this reason that game companies still create games with the misguided assumption that they are creating commodities, rather than services. This is a flawed business model which is built on top of a very flawed institution: Copyrights.

But copyright is realistically ((Theoretically it’s a law created to promote progress and the arts, but multiple studies and the actual number of modern creative works prove that it is not only unnecessary for this purpose, but actively harmful)) a law created and enforced specifically to support a specific business model: That of selling books in a technological level where printing books is not affordable for the everyday consumer.

So now we have multibillion dollar industries, built around a business model, relying on a law for a different technological era, applied on things it’s not meant to apply to (digital goods). There is no valid reason why any informed consumer should respect such a business model – and this is why the latest generations simply don’t.

A developer of an expensive game, absolutely deserves to be rewarded if their game is popular, but they do not deserve to rely on an obsolete business model, just so that they can achieve hyper-profits; because that’s what it boils down to. Business models relying on artificial state-granted monopolies such as copyrights are by design far more profitable than business models made with the digital age in mind. And there’s no doubt about it that the latter can be profitable as well. Any look at the MMORPG industry as well as the indie game industry will show that the latest trends are for free-to-play games which monetize their audience through other methods.

These may still be relying on copyrights to a larger or smaller extent, but those proto-business models are still evolving and it’s very likely that forms will be found through which one will be able to monetize even free software games.

If a developer wants to give their game away for free, more power to them, but if they want to sell it at 59.99$ a pop, we have to respect that.

This is a variation of the very first argument and relies on the same assumption: That the owner (usually the creator) gets to decide arbitrarily if and how we are to experience their product. I’ve already explained why this is an emotional argument and why it does not apply to infinite and intangible goods so I will not repeat myself.

I will however point the borderline schizophrenic way that this is applied to games (and attempted to be applied to other digital goods as well) where they want games to both be considered individual products, for the purpose of selling them to you as a package and at the same time want them to be considered services as well, for which you need to acquire a revocable license which you are not allowed to transfer to others.

In other words, the developers want to have their cake and eat it too. They pretend that the best part of tangible and finite goods (for their bottom line) apply, while requesting laws and moralizing against that the best parts of the same types of goods, so that the consumer cannot use them.

It is disappointing that opponents of piracy will gladly grant the creators of content the freedom to pretend whatever they wish, simply because they accept the above maxim. That the creator/owner gets to decide how you experience their goods.

But I see no reason why the creator/owner gets to decide which laws of nature apply.

If everyone got those games that costed millions to create for free, then the companies making them would stop.

I’ve dealt with this argument extensively in my analysis of the Economics of Piracy so I won’t go into detail. Suffice to say that this is a very flawed understanding of how content creation works within a supply & demand market economy. In short: if there is a demand, someone will find a way to make money fulfilling it.  If the previous business models fail to achieve this, then new business models will evolve to perform this task.

Consider this: 8 years ago, it was unthinkable that an MMO could function without monthly subscriptions. And yet, slowly and as the audience increased, MMOs have discovered that monthly subscriptions are less important than a large user base, and have slowly progressed towards a free-2-play model in order to attract more initial customers. The business plan has changed and now the demand is satisfied for high quality MMOs, while still allowing the companies behind them to make money.

Or take Team Fortress 2: In a day where most AAA games come out at full price with frequent and expensive DLC; TF2 has increased its profits tenfold by going completely free and providing all its (frequent) updates for free as well.

And these are only the beginning. It is completely false to say that if people could get the games for free, such games would not be made. What is true to say, is that the companies which refuse to change their business model to fit with the times and the advances in technology, will go down with them.

But it is not moral to respect the wishes of a company who wants to sustain itself on obsolete plans.

Quote of the Day: Immortality

The internet makes our thoughts live forever.

Quoth happybadger

The time is 16:33 on 18 October, 2011 AD. In a fraction of a second after I click “save”, this comment will be readable by you- someone whom I have never met and who may be on the other side of a planet living in a country which I’ve only heard of from a Wikipedia article or brief mention on the BBC.

This comment will have travelled thousands of kilometres within a second of clicking save. Within minutes, it will be picked up by electronic spiders which comb the internet for new content and index it. Within an hour you should be able to google the first sentence of this paragraph and see my comment, within a day it should be on every search engine online.

If this comment goes viral, millions of people will be viewing it simultaneously and it will be rehosted many hundreds or thousands of times. You don’t know my name or anything about me, but you’ll have countless platforms to read the words I’ve written.

In a year, those same websites will still exist. The indexed passage will still exist. You can google the first sentence of this paragraph and find my comment. Within a decade every cell in my body will have recycled itself and I will effectively cease to exist as the same creature I am now, but these words will stay exactly as I wrote them. In under a century my cells will stop recycling and I’ll stop existing altogether, but these words will stay exactly as I wrote them.

As long as the data exists on some server in some data centre within some country on whatever planet we have colonised, my great-great-great grandchildren will read this comment as I wrote it more than a century before. Their great-great-great grandchildren, though they will have no idea who I was, will be able to read this comment as I wrote it in an age so barbaric that they can’t fathom living in it.

This comment will last as long as computers last, whether it gets one upvote or a thousand upvotes. If we don’t blow ourselves up before we leave Earth, we can assume that it will exist for thousands, if not millions, of years. Beings which are augmented through technology and natural evolution, so advanced that they’re an entirely different species than me, will either translate older languages or learn to speak my monkeytongue and read this comment in an environment I cannot possibly imagine.

It’s now 16:53, 18 October, 2011 AD, in Chicago, Illinois. I stopped halfway though this to get a drink. Water is still relatively clean and plentiful, and looking up the sky was a pale blue and free of smog. I’ll probably never leave this planet, let alone the solar system in which I’m writing this comment, and whoever and wherever and whatever and whenever you are you will have seen a perfect snapshot of this moment in time, one that was heard around the globe within a second and preserved for all eternity within a day. If the rest of this thread survives as well, you’ll have 477 other snapshots to read through as well- each of them perfectly preserved for as long as we remain civilised.

But seriously, true immortality is your own wikipedia page 😉

I seem to have caught a bad case of the MRM.

In which I’m being invaded by MRAs

MRM ofA sketch of a male face, sporting a neckbeard course stands for “Men’s Rights Movement”, something composed entirely of self-titled MRAs, who don’t actually do any activism, except troll and harass feminists online. Case in point, this article of mine, which unfortunately caught the attention of an MRAs who promptly called forth a troll brigade. And for the last few days, I’ve been receiving increasingly inane comments, such as:

I never cease bemusement at the fact that you paranoids keep lying about your fantasy world of so-called rape culture, replete with the overwhelming abundance of so-called rape jokes (none of which I’ve ever heard). You’re always gonna protect women from being raped, despite the fact that no man in his right mind would ever have sex with you, especially forcible sex. Get the help you so sorely need, will ya?

The immediate assumption that I’m female nonwithstanding, it is completely nonsensical in every way. Even if I was a female, what does not having sex have to do with protecting women from being raped? Only an MRA knows.

No one has said that rape is not serious, but I’ll go ahead and do that. A famous feminist once said that men can learn from being falsely accused of rape. Well, I throw that right back, that women can learn from being raped

This comment just takes the cake. That person then continued posting shit, but presumed to also start posting links to various MRA crap, which I promptly deleted.

The way you write tells us you’re a woman, clamato, and a bad liar to boot!. It’s especially evident the way you imply you’re not a woman … without specifically denying it in print.

There was a weird certainty from the invading MRAs that I’m female. Which is perplexing since I have a gallery full of my ugly bearded face.

one thing you apologists for false rape accusers are forgetting………….is that when the law becomes unwilling to protect men from false rape allegations, there WILL become a time when the law is going to be unable to protect false accusers from their victims

Ah yes, no MRA trollvasion would be complete without this classic canard. “Just you wait” whispers the sexually frustrated neckbeard between clenched teeth “Soon there will come a reckoning when us nice guys refuse to stay virgin and take matters into our own hands.” Or something like it, I’m sure.

And lets not forget the actual forum post. I tried to parse what the original poster was saying, but the replies were in some kind of MRA code language and I couldn’t understand what the hell “ES&D you lameass!!” and “LSOS! Go to hell!” are supposed to convey. I guess “Eat Shit & Die” is the first, but I have no idea how that is a valid argument.

Anyway, the trollvasion is currently going strong, as every reply in the forum pushes the topic up, allowing new MRAs to see the link and come here to vomit their opinion all over the place. I’m not worried though, these things tend not to linger. Kinda like an early cold.

EDIT: Egads, here come more of them

Incidentally, with a name like Divide By Zer0 this guy is probably a socially awkward programmer or computer science student who thinks he will help his chances with women by betraying his own gender. I’ve met a few dipshits just like him in real life, one of whom is pushing 40 and still hasn’t learned anything.

Oh the gnashing of teeth.

The end of a chapter.

I’ve stepped down as a moderator of /r/anarchism.

Ever since 2010 I’ve been one of the moderators in reddit’s /r/anarchism. Due to the nature of reddit, I was also one of the most “untouchable” ones, meaning that I couldn’t be demodded by almost nobody else, except one other person above me. I got so high up this technological hierarchy of sorts, because I was one of the most known and suggested people around  the Great Shitstorm of 2010 and was simply the second one who was added.

I’ve been planning to demod myself since the start of 2011, both for my own emotional calm (since we seem to be having persistent drama around /r/@) and to allow others to step up without me being seen as a “leader”. Unfortunately I felt compelled to stay for various reasons, primarily the common unilateral actions from other mods and the heavy-handed and ban-happy rhetoric that I saw many people asking for.

Today however it was suggested to me by another mod that we both stand down and I guess it just clicked. It’s been long enough, I have implemented two succesful initiatives in /r/anarchism: the tendency icons and the Confederation of Anarchist Reddits so I think my tenure has been succesful. There’s also no drama or shitstorm currently unfolding, so my stepping down won’t be spinned into something it’s not.

I won’t be leaving the decision-making process or the community of course, but I’ll be doing it on the same equal footing as the rest of the “plebs”. And we’ll see how it goes.

One part of my mind is very wary that the banhappy crowd will take over and democratic decision making will go the way of the Dodo, as already a lot of decisions are being taken in a knee-jerk reaction rather than through consensus or democratic agreement. Another part, fully expects that I will be banned on some flimsy excuse by the few mods that openly hate me (because I reverse unilateral actions too much and thus I am a “reactionary liberal”).

It was good while it lasted folks. 🙂

Once again comparing false rape accusations to actual rape.

Redditors insist that being accused of rape is just as bas or worse as being raped

I had a discussion on this issue again on reddit. I thought I’d repost my comments here. Unfortunately the person I was talking to deleted their comments, but I’ve quoted a part of it. Basically that person claimed that they had both been raped and been falsely accused of rape and both scarred them deeply. They were using their personal experiences to argue that false rape accusations can be just as bad as being raped. So I wrote

Were you convicted? Same thing can happen for being convicted of murder, or any other serious crime.

Not to mention that this is not necessarily what happens to all who are accused of rape. Much of the time, the rape victim is not believed at all, their tale trivialized, or they are victim-blamed.

Yes, it sucks to be considered guilty for something you didn’t do. If there’s enough evidence to convict you, it can totally ruin a life and nobody deserves that. But accusing someone of rape is nothing compared to being raped.

Simply being falsely accused does not always lead to anything bad happening. Being raped always leaves permanent scars.

The basic point is that the results of fale accusation and rapes always vary. Some victims might take it better than others. But rape, on average, has far far worse results and occurs with far higher frequency.

Finally, within the current system there is a kind of zero sum effect between false rape accusations and actual rapes. We’re still at a point in time where many kind of rapes are not considered “rape-rape” (as some clueless media personas have called it) and there’s still a huge amount of rapes that don’t see justice because the victim was afraid to come out for fear of being accused and victim blamed. By making the culture more focused on false-rape accusations (i.e. more skeptic towards accusations of rape), is just going to make victim blaming even worse and thus more women are unlikely to even come out.

There is no perfect solution within the sociopolitical system we live in (which is why, and others, are rather radical about the change we need to have). But until then, I find it absurd to compare something that happens to something like 0.5% (or was it 0.05%? fairly small anyway as it only affects around 2%-8% of rape accusations) of males and has on average very little consequences, to something that happens to 15%-25% (statistic vary, but it’s a fucking lot) of females, causes horrible psychological damage, and is so permeating that it affects the lives of all females, without it ever happening to them, simply due to the fear that it might.

They replied to that comment with parts I quoted when I responded.

sad but true that an accusation is basically the same as a conviction in the eyes of everyone around you when it comes to rape

That’s just not true. I guess it depends on who you hang out with but this attitude is definitelly not generic.

I’d say that the SOCIAL consequences of a false accusation are at least as bad if not worse as those of being raped, and the potential exists for someone’s life to be destroyed just as fully if not moreso (thanks to the lack of support/resources) as someone who was raped.

Again, that’s just not true and I haven’t seen any study showing that this is anywhere near common.

OTOH, there’s never a loss for cases of rape accusations (true of false) where the accused didn’t have any problems from it.

Yes, the potential is there, but having a potential for a false rape (or murder, or theft) accusation to turn out horrid is not a guarantee. But every rape turns out on a scale of horrid.

Everything I know about feminism I learned on reddit

MRAs are hilarious. We just write down things that they say.

a user in /r/ShitRedditSays (/r/SRS for short) has created a sort of Hall of Fame of quotes from men’s rights “activists” on reddit who presume to define feminism and feminists. In their own words:

How do magnets work? What makes the sky blue? What are the Olay seven signs of ageing? These are just a few of the questions science has yet to answer. But by far the biggest mystery of all is feminism. What is it? Who subscribes to it? And what does it portend? Until comparatively recently science had no answers to these difficult questions. But now, thanks to the combined collective wisdom of reddit, its Byzantine intricacies have been unravelled. In this thread, I will present the sum of reddit’s expansive knowledge on feminism. And as you might expect, most of the quotes below are indeed from the people who talk about feminism more than any other group on earth: mens rights advocates!

The results are hilarious, and not at all surprising for anyone who has spent a minuscule amount of time arguing from a feminist perspective on reddit. And don’t think that the quotes themselves are hard to find or anything. According to the OP, it took a couple of hours to create this huge-ass compilation of redditry, just by doing a fairly simple search for the “feminism” keyword. This is because it’s MRA that like to talk about the term itself, while actual feminists discuss the actual sociopolitical issues.

Some choice quotes to give you an idea:

  • Misandrist feminists want gender based apartheid, and the male population culled to lest than 10%
  • They sure do love their homosexuals, those feminists…
  • Feminism will not fight for men because its very purpose is to fight AGAINST men. How much more evidence do the men here need that feminism hates you?
  • Feminism IS the system
  • Feminism has ALWAYS been about promoting the needs of women above those of men.
  • feminism taken to it’s logical conclusion: Oppression everywhere you look. Paranoia and suspicion about every word you hear. The patriarchy is out to get you. Women are oppressed by evil men with impunity. Big Father is watching you. Big Father will rape you. Your only function as a woman in this “patriarchy” is to be raped and killed. Women have been so brainwashed by the patriarchy that they can never be free. The only solution – the final solution – is to remove the male from the planet and cut out the cancer before it kills you. Do you want to be free? You’re not free. You’ll never be free. The only path to freedom is to destroy the male that keeps you down. 77 cents on the dollar. 1 in 4. Rape, rape and more rape. Everything, everywhere is rape. Rape is around every corner. Sexism spews from the mouths of everyone around you. Look what men have done to you. Look how they hold you back. There’s not enough female electrical engineers because the patriarchy holds them back. You could rule the world. You DESERVE to rule the world. If women ruled the world there would be no war, there would be no sickness, there would be no pollution, there would be no discrimination, the would be no hate. If women ruled the world all the problems would be solved – forever! Doesn’t the world deserve better than what MEN can give it? Don’t you see how men everywhere are nothing more than a disgusting cancer rotting our world from the inside out? Don’t you see it makes sense that men and masculinity should be destroyed? Don’t you??!!

And that’s just the tip of the penis iceberg. Take a gander yourself and laugh your heart out.

/inb4 MRAs tell me how they find nothing funny or questionable about these quotes.

 

Criticizing authors based on the characters

I just read this post and while it makes some compelling points I’m not sure I agree with the author completely. Is it accurate to do a reverse psychology on an storyteller based on the flaws of the protagonists they’re making?

While I can understand the various story fails that Buffy and Firefly has, I can also understand that a story cannot have perfect characters. If Whendon was just designing flawless women all the time, it would just not make very compelling stories and people would rightly call him out for it. And if you’re going to have a flawed but empowered female character, she’s allowed to be flawed in her empowerment.

In the Firefly case for example, the author criticizes Inara for failing at her own empowerment at times, but doesn’t this make for a compelling story? Sure, Mal “saves” her (and it’s arguable that Inara didn’t need his help), but in the end she has to save him in turn from his own stupidity.

So yeah, Mal is very flawed, and Inara as well (albeit less so imho), but I’m not sure I’d characterize Whendon from the personality of such characters and particularly Inara’s story, especially when there’s others like Zoe who are nothing like Inara and don’t need any such help (and in fact end up saving Mal and her own husband more than once).

I’m also concerned about the “key points” for “Nice Guys” that the author is making. I used to be a Nice Guy and I never thought, for example, that “Men Are Evil, Male Sexuality is Evil“. Not even close. In face, I do not believe I held any of those Key Points as true in my Nice Guy phase. Rather, I was just very shy, inexperienced and awkward with females and my shyness was preventing me from making clear that I wanted a sexual relation, thus ending up bypassing it.

Perhaps I wasn’t the kind of Nice Guy the author is talking about as my phase only lasted until my early twenties, but given how little the Nice Guy Key Points describe my former self, I’m not keen on accepting them at face value.

Introducing the Confederation of Anarchist Reddits

/r/Anarchism attempts to confederate all the Anarchist communities of reddit. Lets see how this experiment works.

Exciting A Black flag and the 8 tendencies of anarchism in the form of bi-coloured stars, surrounding the all-black "Anarchism without Adjectives" star. Below it "reddit" is written.news everyone!

We implemented a new initiative yesterday at /r/Anarchism, meant to promote solidarity between the various disconnected anarchism subreddits: The Confederation of Anarchist Reddits.

The idea is very simple: Using Reddit’s built-in functionality to combine multiple subreddits on the same page, we create an aggregated page including all the known Anarchist subreddits. This means that someone can simply visit that page and get an overview of news from all subreddits, even if not subscribed to each individual one. Then we put a nice link on the header of each reddit (although that’s optional) which is meant to grab people’s attention and get them to visit the aggregated page.

In the end, we’ve settled to the following look:

And clicking on the link, takes you to this page.

As you can see if you visit it, you see the latest posts coming up in all the subreddits as well as a list of the subreddits in the confederation on the sidebar. Now people can simply open new browser tabs for each article of interest and vote on everything discussed in all the anarchist reddits.

Now you might ask, what’s the point? Doesn’t every individual user have the capacity to fine tune their subscriptions to any subreddits they want? Well, yes they do, but the confederation is there to serve a slightly different purpose. The benefits I see coming from it are the following

  • It allows new people to discover the anarchist community of reddit at one-stop and also provides them with a launching pad into reddit they can bookmark and visit. It also saves someone from subscribing to a dozen low-traffic reddits they’re only marginally interested in, and cluttering up their subscription list.
  • Because of the above benefit, people who wouldn’t otherwise subscribe to a dozen different anarchist subreddits, can now still be exposed to them via the aggregated page and ideas/news which they might otherwise miss, might grab their attention. Hopefully, this will lead to a sort of “cross-pollination” of ideas between the various subreddits.
  • Because of the common link and the implicit sending of traffic towards the smaller subreddits, I hope that solidarity will be improved in between the various fragmented communities. In the end, we’re all part of the same movement and significantly outnumbered so it pays to remind and reinforce our common ideological bonds.
  • It allows each subreddit to tailor its moderation policies to suits its own style. You see we have various perspectives on how a reddit needs to deal with anything from Trolls to Fascist Agitators to MRAs. In fact, the difference of opinion on the moderation policies were the primary reason for /r/Anarchism’s Great ShitStorm of 2010. So /r/anarchism has now settled in a somewhat active moderation against oppressive speech. However, many other people don’t feel the same way and a few have gone ahead an opened reddits which follow their own perspective. From janitorial moderation of /r/anarchist, to no moderation of /r/blackflag.
    Unfortunately, because /r/anarchism is the largest and most visible subreddit of them all ((To the point that we’re the 9th link in google for the search term “anarchism”)) many people argue for their own preferred style of (non-)moderation in /r/anarchism still and refuse to simply move to another anarchist reddit because /r/anarchism is the most big and active one. And that makes sense, as it’s almost as a voluntary ostracism to remove yourself like so.
    The confederation aims to bring the best of both worlds. Now each subreddit can choose the moderation style they prefer best and at the same time get the benefit of the larger community which uses the confederation aggregation as their starting point in reddit’s anarchist community. This means that even if what someone thinks is a perfectly legitimate post about “National Anarchism” was removed from /r/anarchism outright, they can still visit /r/blackflag and post it there. They will probably still get downvoted into oblivion now that the larger anarchist community can see such the post of course, but at least they will have less a reason to troll and complain that those nasty “authoritarians” of /r/anarchism censor them.
  • In the same vein, people who are not interested in reddits which do not moderate, retain the capacity to personally customize the aggregation so as to remove loosely moderated reddits altogether. So if /r/anarchist starts getting flooded by Men’s Rights, eventually many anarchists will simply remove the reddit from view and in a way, “organically” ostracize it from their collective attention.
  • It will allow smaller subreddits to gain some instant traction since their new posts will appear automatically at the view people who are using the confederation. So if Bob creates a niche subreddit about guerrilla gardening for example,  they can still take advantage of the larger anarchist community, even if their post introducing people to it is downvoted into oblivion. Even if they don’t advertise at all and merely start posting interesting articles.
  • It naturally presents a core point in action, to outsiders to anarchism: that is the principle of federation between anarchist communities, thus showing how we value both communities of a common mind, and expression of individuality between communities.

These are just the initial benefits I can see coming from it. I’m excited to see how it will morph and develop in the future. I’ve already informed the community and most other subreddits I initially added and reaction has been overwhelmingly positive, even from critics of /r/anarchism’s moderation.

What do you think of it?

MRA lulz of the day

In this discussion, I am talking to a completely culturally illiterate MRA who insists, INSISTS, that asking a lone woman you do not know to come to your room for coffee, at 4 in the morning is definitelly not an euphemism for casual sex.  Oh no. That’s just a particular feminist interpretation to make guys look creepy.

It doesn’t matter how clearly and patiently basic social nuances are explained to them, they don’t get it. So in the end, I suggested to actually go out and ask 10 different females what they would think about such a coffee request. The answer I received was just too good not to share it with the rest of you.

Some would certainly think it was strange and indeed it is, but it’s unlikely they would assume it was propositioning them for sex. Indeed I would think it was strange if a woman would do the same to me, but I would not assume it was propositioning me for sex.

Queue jawdrop.

The fact that they just assume what females would reply (which naturally is what they expect) is just…golden. By itself, this reply showcases just how male privilege works. Not only is the actual female perspective dismissed, but it’s just assumed based on the male perspective.

I may be ageist by thinking this, but does anyone else think it’s even slightly possible that this poster is not a socially awkward teenager? I just can’t accept that a full grown adult with actual social experience with females can be that deliberately obtuse. MRAs might overwhelmingly be scum, but at least they do understand social nuances.

In fact, if a woman accepted such a proposition in good faith and got raped in that stranger’s room, MRAs would be the first to call it a false rape accusation because of course she must have known it was about sex in the first place.