December 4, 2019 4:45 AM   Subscribe

An interesting idea. A bit skeptical of Jimbo's optimism with regard to tyranny of the majority in the community moderation not becoming an issue because people can totally tell good-faith engagement from trolling. Even if that's true, what if they aren't moderating in good faith? His answers to all the questions on that front seems to be "well a good userbase acting on good faith won't have those problems, just look at Wikipedia" which is both not really comparable, and doesn't come without a lot of similar issues.
posted by Dysk at 5:16 AM on December 4, 2019 [12 favorites]

I signed up for this, it's rough around the edges (very rough) but I ponied up some money in the hopes that it will pose at least a little challenge to Facebook and user-as-product social media. I'm not entirely heartened by my friends' responses so far - basically "meh, why would I pay for this?" And those are tech-savvy, open source, claim to be privacy conscious people.

I keep hoping for a social network I can persuade my friends and family to join, I miss (some of) the interactions I had on Facebook, but I don't see people joining something as primitive as WT.Social in large numbers.
posted by jzb at 5:18 AM on December 4, 2019 [4 favorites]

Neither the AMA or using the actual site has left me with much confidence in the project. From the AMA:
I’m a design professional and I can’t help but notice your very barebones design of your site. Was that intentional? Or is the aesthetic feel of your site not on your radar?

I think it looks a lot like Facebook, twitter, etc. So - I'm not really sure what you mean.

If you mean things like fonts and the shape of the corners of boxes, I'm terrible at that stuff.
I get that the project has just launched but this is a very established industry and working out the fundamentals post-launch - and I don't mean the design issues - makes it seem like Wales and the team haven't really put a lot of thought into why the project will succeed where almost every other model and venture in the news industry keeps falling.

Ultimately, I don't know why I would want my news to be social. I sure as hell don't want a social network dedicated to news. That's one of the main reasons why, for example, Twitter sucks.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 5:33 AM on December 4, 2019 [11 favorites]

The mistake is that social networking is centralized not federated like email. If we had social media addresses like email addresses and a standard way of "subscribing" to people built on top of RSS, Facebook wouldn't have nearly as much power as it does.

I'm skeptical because this WT.Social doesn't fix that underlying issue. All you're doing is hoping this guy will be able to be the benevolent dictator we all wish for.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 5:36 AM on December 4, 2019 [26 favorites]

Push media is always going to be someone else (or someone else's algorithm) deciding what you see. I feel like the best social use of the internet is a kind of shared blog that you and your friends can post to and comment on. Of course that model comes with its own problems, it doesn't scale well, and how do you pay for it? I think what MeFi has proven is that social stuff on the internet is every bit as hard as social stuff in real life; there are no short cuts.
posted by rikschell at 5:36 AM on December 4, 2019 [6 favorites]

I was genuinely surprised there wasn't more about paid moderation or just mods at all. Like, I get it - being all 'democracy of the people' is sexier and fits how the internet likes to see itself (plus less $$$), but come on Jim it's not hard to see the problems and it's not like the internet needs another 'wild west' (i.e. abused by nazis)(i.e. Voat).

But still, I'd like this to work. And maybe the pre-existing wiki community...? I just don't see yet what protects it or distinguishes it.
posted by litleozy at 5:40 AM on December 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

Also all I want for Christmas is forums back (and I know that's long gone :/ )
posted by litleozy at 5:41 AM on December 4, 2019 [16 favorites]

The mistake is that social networking is centralized not federated like email.

Given the dominance of a handful of major providers, email is effectively centralized now.

For what it's worth, I don't think federation per se is a panacea; for example, there's no shortage of Mastodon instances out there full of shit so reprehensible that even Twitter's completely boneless safety team can't bring themselves to look the other way. Federation shifts the burden of safety from the stack or provider to the individual user in a way that lets the stack's creator or provider wash their hands of the problem, but that's not the same as actually taking responsibility for user safety.
posted by mhoye at 5:46 AM on December 4, 2019 [12 favorites]

Two or more people can have an honest discussion / argument (either on MeFi or elsewhere) about an article they have seen on MeFi, in the knowledge that they have both seen the same article.

On social media (and specifically Facebook) that simply isn't true. Imagine a book club where everybody is given a different book to read, and invited to come back the next week and discuss it. That's the social media news model. The accuracy or honesty of the algorithm or the data isn't the point. Everybody is seeing a different page, and therefore they can't realistically discuss or argue it with anyone else.
posted by Cardinal Fang at 5:53 AM on December 4, 2019 [13 favorites]

I don't know why you would even announce a pilot of a social media site without phone apps these days. This is almost like announcing a zine distributed by post or a pencil sharpening service.
posted by srboisvert at 6:00 AM on December 4, 2019 [7 favorites]

Bad news about the pencil sharpening service sector.
posted by rikschell at 6:06 AM on December 4, 2019 [4 favorites]

So it's a badly designed website with a creator who both thinks knowing how to do basic layout is unimportant and that bringing on a collaborator to maybe do the things he doesn't know is not necessary, which proposes a solution to major systemic problems that amounts to "something something crowdsourcing".

I think the question, "why would I pay for this?", is pretty apt. If this wasn't being proposed by someone as highly visible as Wales, this would have launched and sunk within a week and about 0.01% of people on the internet would have even noticed.
posted by tocts at 6:09 AM on December 4, 2019 [14 favorites]

If we had social media addresses like email addresses and a standard way of "subscribing" to people

This is essentially how Mastodon works; it's still pretty much the wild west right now, but it does make filtering out jerks a bit easier, especially if you're running your own Mastodon node, because the jerks likely are not on Mastodon node you're connected to. But there's no standard IETF 'social media' communication mode that I know of.
posted by AzraelBrown at 6:13 AM on December 4, 2019 [3 favorites]

I'm interested, but not enough to pony up cash in December when I already have many things to spend on.
posted by evilDoug at 6:17 AM on December 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

Of people I would trust to run a social media service, Jimbo Wales ranks near the bottom. His stewardship of Wikipedia has been rife with the same issues that we struggle with on the other social media services, for the same reason - he comes from the same Silicon Valley mindset as the others.
posted by NoxAeternum at 6:38 AM on December 4, 2019 [13 favorites]

If we had social media addresses like email addresses and a standard way of "subscribing" to people built on top of RSS, Facebook wouldn't have nearly as much power as it does.

As mentioned above, this seems a bit like Mastodon.

That said: I was confused in the late-90s/early-00s because my less-technical friends had worked out email; why couldn't they work out how to put something in that daft 10Mb webspace they had? As not-Americans we'd all missed the proto-facebooks (friendster? IDK). The Facebook (not-so)USP was that people who could barely type (including some of my best friends, who live on the other side of the planet to me) could create a graphic-y page.
posted by pompomtom at 6:39 AM on December 4, 2019

Also, more simply: It's 2019. Email has sucked for about a decade.
posted by pompomtom at 6:40 AM on December 4, 2019

This is a great idea. That said, I don't believe I'll be signing up and paying money to be on a social network none of my friends and relatives will ever be on.
posted by tommasz at 6:53 AM on December 4, 2019 [3 favorites]

The problem is always adoption. For example, diaspora*, which is a great idea but even if you serve it up on a platter for everybody, good luck getting even a few of your FB friends and family to switch. I'm not convinced it wouldn't be better to regulate social media like a utility and force out all the fake news and other garbage. What a contested hot mess that would be, though. Not to mention, FB is far too rich/powerful to allow it to happen.

As others have said, it's a hard problem to solve and that difficulty doesn't come from the technology, it comes from the people.
posted by Godspeed.You!Black.Emperor.Penguin at 6:59 AM on December 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

Jimmy Wales knows how to do global scale hosting on a shoestring, supported by the NPR fundraising model - Persistent, and reminding you of the benefits of the service. I sure as hell donated.

He also has a very imperfect, but continually improving, model for community moderation. Lightyears better than Facebook, YouTube or Twitter. Still awful, but much better than the other options which don't scale.

The "challenge" is to convince the great user-content-producing platforms - Apple, Samsung, Microsoft - to integrate their content producing and storage platforms with a truly vendor-neutral and moderated social platform. Social Media as a service, a nice add-on to iCloud or OneDrive. Wales needs to go all Tom Sawyer and have Apple and Samsung foot the bill like they were white washing a fence. Unobtrusive ads, maybe a "sponsored link" in plaintext announcing "This video/photo album is sponsored by..." right beneath the media window. Yes, you'll need to shell out money to upgrade your iCloud, but you were paying out the nose already for "free" services like Facebook or Twitter.

Facebook and The Zuck are intent on completing the Business Plot, unaware that undercut hairdo's are sooo 2017, and WE CAN SEE YOU. Private dinner with Trump? I wonder what would have been discussed?
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:08 AM on December 4, 2019 [10 favorites]

Am I missing the part where he explains what this is and how it is different from other social media platforms (beyond the business model) ? I've read the two links 2 or 3 times each, but I don't have time to sign up right now.
posted by He Is Only The Imposter at 7:10 AM on December 4, 2019

I poked around and eyeballed it for a bit but then the ghost of Google+ appeared in my bedchamber, moaning, pointing and clanking chains so I politely declined the invitation...
posted by jim in austin at 7:23 AM on December 4, 2019 [19 favorites]

I signed up, but then realized that I don't really want social media - or rather, that I only engage on social media under pseudonyms, which I realize isn't the done-thing. Under my real name, I only have a LinkedIn profile and a twitter account - neither of which I ever use. My active twitter usage happens in pseudonymous account.

Like my metafilter account, these pseudonyms are pretty paper-thing, but I still want that paper. I don't want someone to be able to google me and see my posts without having to dig. I know someone who has burned by someone seeing a post he thought of as "private" but which wasn't.

Metafilter is my primary social media, along with my anonymous/pseudonymous and primarily passive use of Twitter - which I treat less as a place to connect socially than as a combination "headline-scanner"/"interesting science post" service. Which is also kind of how I use metafilter ...
posted by jb at 8:17 AM on December 4, 2019 [5 favorites]

I think that social network experiments of just about any stripe that aren't ad-supported are worth trying, for what it's worth. The cyclic relationships between what you see and how you think, feel and react virtually guarantees that for any advertising-supported company, the victory condition is an audience that's impulsive, angry, frightened and tired. The problem is the business model, and just about anything else is a possible path to a better future.

Once your design and implementation decisions are tied to business outcomes in that context there's no possible outcomes that aren't optimizing for the creation of an audience too anxious or angry to do anything but keep clicking on reasons to be anxious or angry.
posted by mhoye at 8:26 AM on December 4, 2019 [6 favorites]

He also has a very imperfect, but continually improving, model for community moderation. Lightyears better than Facebook, YouTube or Twitter. Still awful, but much better than the other options which don't scale.

You're kidding, right? The utter failure of Wikipedia's "moderation" has been well documented, which is why I don't trust Wales to do better here.
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:55 AM on December 4, 2019 [10 favorites]

I've read the two links 2 or 3 times each, but I don't have time to sign up right now.

Uhhh... What? If you've got time to read an article and also post a comment here that's more characters than your sign-up form will ever be... I'm just not sure what you mean by not having time to sign up. No shade for not doing it, I haven't either.
posted by GoblinHoney at 9:01 AM on December 4, 2019

You're kidding, right?

Have you seen what Google/YouTube, FaceBook and Twitter have going on? It's not well-documented failure, it's well-documented atrocity.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:20 AM on December 4, 2019

"No time to sign up" usually means "not willing to get a swarm of reminder emails containing possibly conflicting information about what this account is for, accompanied by begging for money and a potential long string of unrelated contacts from whoever they shared my email address with."

"We will never sell your data" is not the same as "signing up here means you will only receive emails from one specific email account unless you specifically opt in to otherwise."

I'm on the fence about it. On the one hand, I don't mind trying new social platforms, even ones I'm pretty sure are going to flop. I'm trying to figure out what The Perfect Platform should have, and part of that is noting what does & doesn't work. On the other hand... I use pseuds everywhere but LinkedIn, and I'm not happy with the base assumption "all names are divided into two parts, personal and family name."
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 10:21 AM on December 4, 2019 [2 favorites]

It's not well-documented failure, it's well-documented atrocity.

And Wikipedia isn't any better. Again, the leadership at all of these organizations comes from the same tainted pool, so why should I expect that this time will be better?
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:23 AM on December 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

I signed up but this has the "Wave" problem.

What... is it? What is it for?

It isn't a traditional social media/blogging site.

Far as I can tell it's the glorified comments section of a news paper, and frankly the issue is there's too much of that already. We don't need "more, but better"... I mean we need better, so yay? But - maybe try architecting a system that doesn't focus on this whole resharable dopamine hit culture.

Thank GOD it's not a stream, but it's ... also the whole pinboard concept is weird as hell...
posted by symbioid at 10:54 AM on December 4, 2019 [2 favorites]

Looking over that AMA... wow, he really believes most of the internet is populated by "people of good intentions," doesn't he?

Signed up. First and last name are both required. If your password isn't strong enough, THEN you'll get the warning: "must contain at least 6 characters or more and has at least one lowercase and one uppercase alphabetical character or has at least one lowercase and one numeric character or has at least one uppercase and one numeric character." You can't see the requirements until you've tried putting something in that doesn't work.

I have no idea how that password is stored, so I picked something disposable. They don't immediately send an email that says "You have an account now!" nor "You're registered and on the waiting list!"

It threw me to a page to select "subwikis" (wtf?) and this looks a whole lot like some weird RSS feed setup. I already have an RSS reader. Searching for "Pagan" turns up a few things, plus several labeled "Propaganda." (more wtf.) Articles include a link to Wikipedia's "Media bias against Bernie Sanders." I don't know what they're using for keyword connections, but I don't like it.

Clicking on one of the "subwiki" links tells me that I'm "number 84200 on the waiting list." But for $13/month or $100/year, I can get access now. No idea what I'd be getting access to, so... no.

Nothing about any of this tells me why it's better for me than Dreamwidth.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 11:31 AM on December 4, 2019 [12 favorites]

Wikipedia has cancer.

A rather interesting read, especially in the context of Whales’ half-ass of WT.Social.
posted by chuntered inelegantly from a sedentary position at 12:49 PM on December 4, 2019 [4 favorites]

Can anyone tell me why we'd trust social to the folks who have not adequately addressed its own gender bias problems?
posted by kokaku at 2:00 PM on December 4, 2019 [8 favorites]

I only engage on social media under pseudonyms

I think the main reason many people are signing up to this is just to reserve their name in case it takes off one day, that said it looks like you can just make up any Given name/Surname and that will be the username you get assigned.
After the account is created you can edit your Given name/Surname, but the username is permanent. It appears as the url https://wt.social/u/givenname-surname
posted by Lanark at 2:14 PM on December 4, 2019

Also all I want for Christmas is forums back (and I know that's long gone :/ )
posted by litleozy at 8:41 AM on December 4 [12 favorites −] Favorite added! [!]

The closest thing we have to the old forums is discord servers, but it's still not quite the same. I'm not sure whether its the user end or the platform end that's lacking.
posted by FirstMateKate at 2:17 PM on December 4, 2019

Discord servers are not "like forums": no easy way to view past conversations, no clear start and stop to a discussion thread, short back-and-forth comments are encouraged, which leads to a very different flavor of communication. Reddit, OTOH, is basically forums.

We still have forums. Nothing stops us from reviving the old kind. A few are still active. We moved away from them for Reasons, and they won't come back unless we change/fix the reasons they fell out of fashion. (#1 reason, I believe, is that image hosting was hard. The top platforms today have free, easy image sharing, and it's very hard to convince people to give that up.)

Huh. I just realized I haven't heard Wales talk about how to mitigate pornbots. If it's paid users only, that'd avoid them. But if there are easy-to-get free accounts, there will be bots.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 2:42 PM on December 4, 2019 [3 favorites]

All the forums (mostly gone), Facebook, Twitter (Abominations that I wish I didn’t have to belong to), WordPress (woefully neglected), Google+, Ello (dead), Mastodon (which I actually use)... I’m just tired of signing up for things, really.
posted by Devils Rancher at 3:08 PM on December 4, 2019

Friendster, Orkut, Bebo, DelphiForums, Livejournal and its clones, Writscrib (dead), Pillowfort (still trying to get started)...

I suspect Jimmy has not spent the last 20 years joining online platforms, making friends and building communities, and watching those platforms first remove people's favorite features, then charge more money, then vanish into the ether. He's seen it happen, but not from the inside, so he doesn't realize how much cognitive and emotional investment he's asking for when he says, "sign up to my new shiny thing and it'll be great!"

Those of us who've left platforms because of Nazis etc. want to know: how's the enforcement going to work? Whose ideological standards are you going to use to decide who's outside the bounds of acceptable behavior? Others want to know: What are you going to do about spammers/bots? Or, are you going to have childsafe areas? And hey, what about GDPR compliance?

None of us are going to accept, "Look, it's all a bit rough right now; just sign up and help make it awesome!" Because we've found that, without extensive moderator interference, "everyone pitches in and builds a community" means you get overrun with Nazis and pornbots. And hey, I already have Tumblr for that.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 3:22 PM on December 4, 2019 [7 favorites]

I examine basically every new social media site through the lens of A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy, and most of them come up short.

I'm appalled, however, that A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy appears to have disappeared off the internet.
posted by Merus at 3:29 PM on December 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

Couple of random points:

The closest thing we have to the old forums is discord servers, but it's still not quite the same.

Discourse is what you're looking for, Discord is trying really hard to be Facebook For Gamers.

I have no idea how that password is stored, so I picked something disposable.

This advice is recklessly irresponsible, please get a password manager and never re-use passwords regardless of "how they're stored", whatever that means.

"all names are divided into two parts, personal and family name."

This is a bafflingly misguided position for a social network, or anyone intending to run a program with global reach in modernity, to take: see "Falsehoods Programmers Believe About Names" (that's not the original, but each one comes with examples).

I don't know why you would even announce a pilot of a social media site without phone apps these days.

I'm fond of mobile web pages, personally. Just by virtue of having the browser between the program and the hardware, you can avoid a lot of private data leaking out unexpectedly, particularly on Android. Most mobile apps now amount to "try our app! It's exactly the same as our website, but it's not always nagging you to try our app".
posted by mhoye at 3:35 PM on December 4, 2019 [7 favorites]

Re passwords: apparently it has an undocumented allergy to (some?) special characters, so I had to turn off special characters in my password generator to get it to work. Common enough, but having such an obvious bug on the first page is not real confidence-inducing. (I'm going to cheerfully assume that this is a glitch in the client-side JS and does not mean that passwords are being stored in cleartext.)

On first blush, it seems like this is trying to take wikis back to something more like their primordial social form, which seems like a cool idea. To me, as someone who never quite understood what the point of social media was supposed to be besides sharing and commenting on links, the concept seems like it could be pretty great. I do share most of the above reservations, however. We shall see...
posted by Not A Thing at 4:16 PM on December 4, 2019

Is this going to be as misogynist as wikipedia? pass.
posted by chiquitita at 4:40 PM on December 4, 2019

Also all I want for Christmas is forums back (and I know that's long gone :/ )

I ditched FB twice, but there still are fora which can be your social network. MeFi, of course, but others based on my interests like TDPRI for music, guitars, and amps, some select moderated subreddits, my blog deep in the backwaters of the web where search engine bots outnumber real readers 8 to 1, and a self-hosted, invite-only, family blog. It’s all very 1990 but that’s when the internet was fun.
posted by sudogeek at 4:48 PM on December 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

I feel like at its best this would be like a collaboratively-edited version of Metafilter FPPs, but at the moment it's mostly just people posting single links (or no links) and other people commenting on them, which sort of defeats the purpose of having a wiki. (Insert joke here about how Wikipedia specializes in defeating the purpose of wikis.)

Also there's a bunch of cryptofascist spam floating around that nobody quite seems to know how to handle. There don't seem to be any actual moderation tools other than the edit button, which I guess can work but is not really ideal for the traditional post-and-response social media interaction that people are currently doing.
posted by Not A Thing at 6:10 PM on December 4, 2019

What are their options for blocking and locking content? This just sounds like yet another Ello.

Also decentralization does not mean safer. I was harassed to hell my first hour on Mastodon for daring to mention racism - the leader of a different instance went as far as to sign up for my highest Patreon tier just to blackmail me into doing something for him. (I don't have a lot of Patreon subscribers as it is so that was an extra sting) It doesn't help that the main guy behind it seems to think that "getting Black Lives Matter on board" means "sending Deray a DM".

All these new-fangled social media options seem to think that the main problem is ad monetization (Ello didn't even stop you from making brand accounts for free - the founder set up an account for his bike business). There was no accounting for bigotry and harassment - often because of this misguided idea that "people can moderate themselves" and "hierarchies are bad".
posted by divabat at 8:48 PM on December 4, 2019 [2 favorites]

Contra some others above, I find the aesthetic aspects of the design quite pleasant -- minimalist but not in that awful hide-the-buttons way that the lets-break-stuff crowd is into nowadays. But if you actually try using that nice simple UI, you quickly discover it's horribly borked. Editing the title of a post makes the entire text of your post disappear unrecoverably (AAAAAAA!), blockquotes don't render, nested lists don't render, there's no way to turn off the WYSIWIG atrocity, etc. Also if someone is subscribed to the subwiki they will see (and comment on) only a stripped-down preview of your post (shorn of all links) with no way for them to realize they're only seeing a preview.

I mean, I'd give this at least one star for trying, but definitely do not recommend the experience at this point. And yeah, the lack of any apparent community moderation tools makes Reddit look good -- although ATM it looks like somebody is maybe running around doing some ad-hoc modding on the back end.

My days of thinking of Wales as someone who stumbled onto a decent idea one time and has been fruitlessly trying to recreate that experience ever since are .... definitely coming to a middle.
posted by Not A Thing at 9:19 PM on December 4, 2019 [4 favorites]

Here is their call for community admins. I guess those must be the people who are "pinning" legit posts in some subwikis, presumably to reduce the ROI for spammers.
Everyone is welcome, but I'd like to make a special call for women, LGBTQIA, and non-white folks. You are under-represented in online moderation, and as such online moderation does not protect you as it should. Let's change that, together.
Not entirely sure if that can overcome Wales' choice to invite the dregs of Reddit into the community on day 1, but I guess time will tell.
posted by Not A Thing at 9:41 PM on December 4, 2019

Jimmy Wales is a garbage human.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:44 AM on December 5, 2019 [4 favorites]

I continue to be amazed at how fucking good the Something Awful forum has become. Aggressive moderation, community funding, community-based advertising. When people hear the name they think of what it was in the early 2000s, which was basically before the horrible assholes got banned and went on to found 4chan et al.

These days SA is a really really good place where you get quickly banned/probated for being a Nazi, a TERF, a misogynist, or a creep. Threads are linear so people have to learn to read the room. Even the Rap Sheet system, where you see every poster’s history of probations/bans, is useful because there’s an ignore function if a certain poster gets on your nerves.

Back in the golden age of forums I was also on a really great digital art community that had a similar vibe. Forums are the answer, I believe it.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 4:09 AM on December 5, 2019 [3 favorites]

Portability and Interoperability
A far more impactful outcome would be if Facebook’s friend data were interoperable. Suppose you created a new app that could, once you authorized yourself, incorporate access to Facebook’s graph in a way that let you connect with friends that also use the app, kind of like the Twitter Facebook app of old.

In this model, the 3rd party developer doesn’t actually get data from Facebook. Facebook, rather, exposes its data in a way that the user can leverage the company’s social graph to bootstrap their experience. This both significantly increases the potential for competition while also leaving the user in charge, not only of their own data but also the data about who their friends are.

The problem with this approach is obvious: Facebook would have to implement it, and it has zero reasons to do so, both because of competitive reasons, and also because regulatory zeal for privacy gives the company cover to not give out any friend data at all. The reason to write this Article, though, is to show why data portability like the sort Facebook announced is such a red herring: it has the trappings of increasing competition, the better to avoid antitrust regulation, but it doesn’t really do anything of the sort, particularly relative to far more impactful interoperability.
We all need to be able to programmatically interact with these services
posted by kliuless at 6:32 AM on December 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

I'd like to see a RSS-style chronological feed standard, so I can have all my timelines in the same reader. Of course, it will never happen when silos with deliberately unreliable Skinner-box algorithmic timelines are a profit centre.
posted by acb at 6:52 AM on December 5, 2019

For what it's worth, it looks like somebody has already registered wtf.social, though currently it just goes to a domain-parking page.
posted by acb at 6:54 AM on December 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

Portability does nothing about network effects making it more valuable for me to stay where I am than move though, and if you don't address those portability doesn't matter.
posted by PMdixon at 7:02 AM on December 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

Portability does nothing about network effects making it more valuable for me to stay where I am than move though, and if you don't address those portability doesn't matter.

It comes back to the use of forking as conflict resolution in open source - there's this mentality that the "answer" to conflict is to allow people to leave, not grasping that this doesn't actually solve the problem.
posted by NoxAeternum at 7:14 AM on December 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

who needs voice when you have exit tho

don't ask "exit to where"
posted by PMdixon at 7:49 AM on December 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

Two points on "you can always make your own":

First: what this really amounts to is, "I don't actually think your concerns are valid, please go away".

Second: If you build a toxic waste dump and it's poisoning the water supply, "you can always make your own" is meaningless. Yeah I could, and maybe I'd do a great job of containing the toxic waste it holds, but meanwhile you're still poisoning the fucking world over there.

Jimbo appears to have created a site that's designed (or aggressively not designed to prevent) to become a haven for cranks, reactionaries, freeze peach idiots, etc, that isn't going to be solved by someone forking it or making a competing site, because in the end this thing will still exist, still fester, and still create problems for the world.
posted by tocts at 8:50 AM on December 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

After reading all this, I'm not persuaded to sign up for WT.Social.

Does anybody like MeWe? The founder is a libertarian who thinks Twitter was wrong to ban James Woods, and I haven't been able to find anything about anti-harassment tools. But it seems to have momentum right now.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 8:58 AM on December 5, 2019

I would be deeply skeptical of any platform founded by someone who was angry that Twitter banned a conservative, given how much shit conservatives get away with every day there that should be bannable. This is doubly so when the ban in question came because he wouldn't remove a tweet with a hashtag encouraging people (which I interpreted as "those who are going after Trump") be hanged, which is a thing a lot of conservatives like to say and then pretend it's just hyperbole despite the long history of people being hanged by conservatives.
posted by tocts at 9:04 AM on December 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

Rolling Stone did an article on the nature of the FB user migration to MeWe. I tried the site out; the article is pretty accurate in how the largest groups are those that lean to the right, or are into conspiracy territory. The founder has said “There’s nowhere in our terms that says you may not post fake news,” so I don't hold out much hope for the place fixing the worst parts of FB and Twitter.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 12:21 PM on December 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

My other concern with MeWe is that I can't see how they plan to afford to stay in business at all.
posted by drezdn at 2:43 PM on December 5, 2019

I think anything that will be able to have any kind of longevity will have to have the content control tools that every other shithead-hosting site has declined to create. Tools that decades of internet communities have already invented for us. The problem with Twitter, and Facebook, and Amazon is that they painted themselves into a corner by hoisting their flag on "open to everybody," now having to finesse tools and filters and restrictions into their users' lives in a way that won't make them bolt.

This is the reason why I think Nextdoor, of all sites, is best positioned to eat Facebook's lunch: confirmed identities. NB: I don't use it so I don't know if you can use nicknames on ND, but even if so, people can't just create 100 accounts willy-nilly for their shitposting needs. Accounts are tied to addresses. Nextdoor could easily ("easily") build upon this a community framework that includes similar kinds of restrictions. Heck, a ballot system to banish people, which is just as YAY DEMOCRACY as the lip-service Zuckerberg pays to almost anybody being able to say what they want at all times. I really feel Facebook is overextended and run by children, but very good at masking their vulnerabilities. Yea though they are still there.

So, crazy restriction tools that people and groups can use for themselves however much they want, but available they will be. Don't want to be tracked? Check this box and we'll only serve you ads from our own servers for Oreos, Progressive Insurance, and Survivor: Dark Days Edition. You might not get to click for a discount on Guano Farm Tycoon, but you'll have the option. Ad-free? $200/yr. So on and so forth.

People talk(ed) a lot of shit about AOL & CompuServe and walled gardens, but I think that's a pretty ideological argument and that there are things that can be learned from them and incorporated into the open internet. Not to mention Facebook is a walled garden just as much as AOL ever was.
posted by rhizome at 3:32 PM on December 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

Well, I reached the front of the queue, and I'm in. And it's an absolute mess.

It's basically just Wikipedia with bits of Reddit bolted on. There's no UI to speak of. And there is absolutely no decent squelch mechanism. If you want to hide a post, it seems you have to go in and edit it (i.e. hide it for everyone). And I gather the mechanism for blocking other users is to 'accept their friend request, then ignore them'. This may of course just be a troll, though the responses to most of the questions that I have seen posted so far are of the nature of 'Oh - that's easy', without offering any solution or explanation.

If you want to report a post, you go into a designated subwiki and post about it. This, like everything else, is done in the public channel, tagged with your name and date, so you're fair game for the trolls and griefers. It's like Wales has taken the classic dystopian millennial communication model and cranked it up a notch. When Stephanie Korey is finally looking for her next job, she might be interested.

Spam, noise and ads are pouring in. So far I've had the chance to buy inter alia a beige handbag, a crucifix, and year planners in multiple languages.

And of course the alt-right are gaming it already, and finding it perversely easy, rubbing their hands with glee at the edit wars and the comment wars that are breaking out. People are cross-posting climate change denial stuff, articles from Breitbart, and there's a subwiki for 'the discussion of topics relating to the work of Dr. Jordan B. Peterson'.

Run away. Run away quickly in the opposite direction.
posted by Cardinal Fang at 12:37 AM on December 7, 2019 [7 favorites]

Tim Berners-Lee unveils global plan to save the web - "Inventor of web calls on governments and firms to safeguard it from abuse and ensure it benefits humanity."

Tim Berners-Lee launches Google and Facebook-backed plan to fix the web - "The Contract for the Web includes nine principles for a better internet."

He invented the web. Now he's warning of a looming 'digital dystopia' - "Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the world wide web, has warned of a 'digital dystopia' if the world fails to tackle threats such as disinformation and invasion of privacy."

I Invented the World Wide Web. Here's How We Can Fix It. - "I wanted the web to serve humanity. It's not too late to live up to that promise."
The web needs radical intervention from all those who have power over its future: governments that can legislate and regulate; companies that design products; civil society groups and activists who hold the powerful to account; and every single web user who interacts with others online.

We have to overcome the stalemate that has characterized previous attempts to solve the problems facing the web. Governments must stop blaming platforms for inaction, and companies must become more constructive in shaping future regulation — not just opposing it.

I’m introducing a new approach to overcome that stalemate — the Contract for the Web.

The Contract for the Web is a global plan of action created over the past year by activists, academics, companies, governments and citizens from across the world to make sure our online world is safe, empowering and genuinely for everyone.

The contract outlines steps to prevent the deliberate misuse of the web and our information. For example, it calls on governments to publish public data registries, so that they are no longer able to conceal from their own citizens how their data is being used. If governments are sharing our data with private companies — or buying data broker lists from them — we have a right to know and take action.

The contract sets out ways to improve system design to eradicate incentives that reward clickbait or the spread of disinformation. Targeted political advertising is giving political parties the ability to subvert the debate. We need platforms to open their black boxes and clearly explain how they’re minimizing or eliminating risks their products pose to society. In my view, governments should impose an immediate ban on targeted political advertising to restore trust in our public discourse.

Crucially, the contract also contains concrete actions to tackle the negative — even if unintended — consequences of platform design. For example, why on an exercise app should women have to worry that their precise jogging routes are shared by default with other users? Perhaps because they were designed by people not thinking about the safety needs of women. We need a tremendously more diverse work force in our technology industries to make sure their products serve all groups. And companies should release reports that meaningfully demonstrate their progress toward those diversity goals.

To make the online world a place worth being in, we must all use the Contract for the Web to fight now for the web we want.

Governments must support their citizens online and ensure that their rights are protected through effective regulation and enforcement. Companies must look beyond next-quarter results and understand that long-term success means building products that are good for society and that people can trust them.

There’s already a powerful coalition backing the contract. The governments of nations such as France, Germany and Ghana have signed on to its principles. The tech giants Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Reddit sit alongside other specialists such as the search engine DuckDuckGo in committing to action. Many civil society organizations, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Reporters Without Borders and AccessNow, have joined the growing movement, as well as individuals such as Representative Ro Khanna of California.

In endorsing the contract, governments and companies commit to taking concrete action across several issues. Some changes may take a long time: We are not expecting overnight transformation. But we will track their efforts, and if they fail to make progress, they will lose their status as a backer of the contract.

The contract is already being used to inform policy decisions, as a best-practice guide for government and company officials, and as a tool to help civil society advocate change, measure progress and hold governments and companies accountable.

But that alone is not enough. Our World Wide Web Foundation, together with its global partners, will work to mobilize people around the world. As elections approach, raise these issues with your political representatives and candidates. The best way to change the priorities and actions of those in power is to speak up.
A Framework for Regulating Competition on the Internet - "Understanding the differences between platforms and Aggregators is critical when it comes to considering regulation."
posted by kliuless at 11:49 PM on December 17, 2019

Sir Tim is like Lessig but less harmless.
posted by PMdixon at 4:28 AM on December 18, 2019 [2 favorites]

Yeah, he's pretty much a walking example of engineer's disease. For example, one of his principles is that Silicon Valley should have increased diversity in hiring - which is a noble goal that does nothing to address the actual root of the problem with diversity in Silicon Valley - the Valley does not actually value diverse viewpoints.
posted by NoxAeternum at 6:45 AM on December 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

Made an FPP on the Contract, because I think the wrongheadedness in it deserves to be discussed.
posted by NoxAeternum at 6:27 PM on December 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

The only value I can see in WT.Social is name-squatting - setting up subwikis for your interests of choice, posting an article or two, and just holding them to keep hostiles from taking over the easy and obvious subwiki name.

I can't figure out how it's supposed to be remotely social; it's like reddit with fewer community features. I don't know what the name "subwiki" is supposed to mean. As far as I can sort out, there's no "wiki" anything going on; there's posted articles (which look a hell of a lot like blog posts), some of which can be edited.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 1:16 AM on December 21, 2019

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