The other day I discovered that my site is banned in the UAE on the basis of “pornography.” The national filter criteria are pretty fascinating, and now I am on a mission to get banned for as many categories as I can with a single blog post! So, here we go.
My week off from work felt great. But I’m still having difficulty actually focusing at work. I have a bunch of paths of exploration to examine but none of them feel, y'know, right right now.
Meanwhile, my house continues to be a bit more work than I expected. On the plus side, I’ve successfully murdered my lawn and vastly improved my garden and started up my nice meadow. On the minus side, my heating bill is through the roof (literally) and I’ve been getting bids for finally improving the house insulation. So far I’ve had three bids which went thusly:
Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about some of the differences between self-hosted vs. silo spaces. One thing that really stood out to me is that in self-hosted spaces, the tendency is to allow complete control over which comments are visible, and silos almost never allow that, or if they do it’s at best an in-retrospect thing.
For example, most self-hosted blogging systems give you the ability to moderate all comments (as I do), or give easy access to deleting comments which got posted, or any number of mechanisms for curating the community.
But most silo systems don’t give you that access; you might be able to block recurring trolls, or flag a comment for third-party review (usually to no effect), but all posts are set to allow anyone (with access to the post) the ability to post anything at any time, and by default everything gets floated to everyone else.
This came especially to mind today because of this unfortunate video:
I’ve seen so many creators get burned out on what they like doing, because even if 99% of the comments are positive, that 1% really gets under their skin, and they stop creating.
I’ve seen so many creators get burned out on their communities, because even if 99% of it is positive, that 1% really gets under their skin, and they stop interacting with the community, turning it into a toxic cesspool.
I’ve seen so many creators decide to capitulate to the communities and set up a personal SubReddit that they designate other people to moderate, just to keep it contained somewhere else.
I know so many creators who are on the verge of burnout and getting really tired of the dark side of having an audience.
I’m not sure if giving people the ability to require commentary to be opt-in rather than opt-out would solve these problems, but I do know anecdotally that the random snipe-type responses I get from Twitter or Mastodon are way more annoying to me than the comments I opt not to post when submitted to my site. They’re out there and visible and I have to take extra steps to get rid of them, and it’s taken out of my hands as to whether I even can get rid of them.
I attempted to send this message to the .us registrar’s contact form but they kept on throwing up unreasonable, hidden barriers; it required a full first name that’s at least four letters long (sucks to have a name like “Jay” I guess) and “must only contain alphabets” (i.e. no punctuation or spaces, sucks for anyone with apostrophes) and the text input must be under 500 characters, with no indication of how many characters you’ve written.
So, I’ve submitted a very edited-down version, but am reproducing my letter in full here:
Hi, I have a number of domain names registered under several different TLDs. Most of them allow anonymous proxy registrations, with the sole exception of .us.
The lack of proxy registration causes me to get quite a lot of unsolicited calls, violations to my privacy, and attempted scams from bad actors who are all making use of the WHOIS database.
When will .us allow anonymous/proxy registrations, as is standard for pretty much every other TLD?
The current policy is especially problematic for marginalized people who are subject to protracted abuse, harassment, and threats of violence, and this makes .us unsafe for use for all but the most privileged of people.
I absolutely implore you to revisit this regressive, unfair, and downright dangerous policy that does nothing to actually improve the supposed security of the .us registration database.
On IndieWeb chat, a question recently came up, namely the origin of the term “planet” when it comes to a news-aggregating site. I was a little sad to see that nobody else in the chat remembered!
Back in the day, there was a website, Planet Quake, which was a hand-curated collection of all the news about the game Quake. This led to a bunch of other gaming-related “planet” sites (such as Planet Dreamcast), and then the company behind it, CriticalMass Communications, eventually got into other areas of reporting. Eventually they sold to GameSpy, which in turn eventually got bought out by IGN1.
At some point, a couple of other sites emerged with the name “planet” as what I believe was a tongue-in-cheek reference to the “planet” gaming sites. Planet Debian is the first one I remember seeing but I have no idea if it was the first to exist. Many of these sites were built using auto-aggregation from the then-new RSS protocol. This joke ended up spreading pretty far and wide and at one point there was even a “planet planet” to keep track of all the planets2 (although it seems to have gone down sometime in 2017).
A fun side note, Something Awful was originally a spinoff of Planet Quake; at the time Lowtax claimed it was because of a “falling out” but that may have been an attempt at satire. In retrospect, he might have named it “Planet Awful!”
Some recent conversations around Internet toxicity have been reminding me about some deeply traumatic, formative experiences I had nearly 20 years ago, with being doxed, harassed, stalked, and threatened online.
What makes things even worse was that this was directly facilitated by someone who is now a self-proclaimed expert in Internet toxicity, and who was recently given “special thanks” in a podcast I listen to, on an episode about these problems that he very directly contributed to.
Yes, it sucks that the registry behind the .org gTLD has been sold to a for-profit corporation. But this article, and many others like it, keep on propagating a really messy misconception which I feel has done active harm:
The decision shocked the internet industry, not least because the .org registry has always been operated on a non-profit basis and has actively marketed itself as such. The suffix “org” on an internet address – and there are over 10 million of them – has become synonymous with non-profit organizations.
The Register is at least being careful to be technically correct1 here, in that the registrar is non-profit and has “become synonymous” with non-profit organizations. But the .org gTLD was never intended to be for non-profit organizations. In the original RFC, the intention was that the gTLDs were:
.gov: for government institutions
.edu: for educational institutions
.com: for commercial enterprises
.mil: for military use
.org: for everything else; the “org” was short for “organizational” as in “we don’t know where else to put it for now”
This was also when .net was created (despite not being in the RFC), referring to network services and infrastructure providers.
The recent unfortunate and tragic news about Alec Holowka has hit me very hard. On the one hand, I was a fan of his music and games, and saddened that he could be responsible for such things. But also the reaction at large to every stage of this whole horrible affair has been dredging up some very bad, stressful feelings that have been affecting me for the past eight years, and I feel it’s finally time to talk about it publicly.
I am not going to name names, even though the names are easy enough to figure out. I don’t want this to be about me, either, but I am necessarily talking about a thing that happened to and around me, and affected many people in a profound, terrible way.
In particular, I have at least something of an understanding of what Scott Benson is going through right now.
Imagine if next year you had to pay 10 times as much to renew your domain name as you paid this year. Based on an action proposed by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), price caps could be removed on several top level domains, which could significantly increase the price of domains.
ICANN’s current contract with Public Interest Registry (PIR), the group that runs the .org domain name, lets PIR increase the wholesale price of .org domains by 10% a year.
That’s a lot, but at least it’s capped.
Now ICANN is proposing extending the contract to operate .org but letting PIR set whatever prices it wants. Rather than a 10% increase to renew your domain next year, it could suddenly start charging registrars like Namecheap 100 times as much. Registrars would have no choice but to pass these charges on to customers.
This actually affects .biz and .info as well as .org; you might notice that this website is on a .biz domain, so it affects me. I also have an .org site that would also be impacted. And there are so many other .org sites out there which are run by non-profits or individuals who do things for reasons other than pure profit.
So, hey, Patreon is a pretty popular site for funding the creative people you follow. A lot of people rely on Patreon as their primary source of income. More power to them if they do; it’s where everyone goes to do that sort of thing and it’s really enabled a lot of people to do what they love for a living.
But I just removed all my pledges and also my creator account. It’s not one thing in isolation that led me to do this, but a culmination of a lot of things (some big, some small) that had been frustrating and upsetting to me.
(Want to know where I’m accepting donations these days without reading a long missive? I’m on Ko-Fi for one-time donations and Liberapay for ongoing contributions.)