Has anyone heard of Hit Points? It’s a one person blog / newsletter that’s run by the former editor of Edge magazine who now acts as a game consultant and freelance writer.
Hit Points used to be hosted on Substack, but due to a few issues which its author, Nathan Brown, has had with the platform (which he talks about here), he’s decided to leave the platform and set up shop using the Ghost platform.
Looking around the internet for why Nathan Brown has decided to move, I came across the following comment on Rllmukforum (a videogames forum) – which pretty much articulates how I feel.
Obviously you can do what you want with your newsletter, but this Substack news strikes me as the most nothing of nothingburgers. The Atlantic found out of thousands of accounts, a total of six, none of which were paid by or making any money for Substack, and had less than a hundred readers put together, all of which they promptly kicked off. This is so small I don’t even think most people on Substack have heard of it!
And a few accounts doing performative quitting, drove you to kill off, what – your main income source? In a cost of living crisis!? I sure hope you don’t end up sat around typing into the void on one of these open source services like all the people who emigrated to Mastodon a year ago and are really still bitter about it.
Although I do receive Hit Points updates, this is mostly on an infrequent basis as I’m not a paying subscriber. But even with this in mind, I’ve never considered the possibility of Hit Points being Nathan Brown’s “main income source”. And this is mostly due to my own personal (and “professional”) experiences as a “blogger” – whereby I have been blogging for about a decade, and have never really tried to monetise my work.
Although I am of the opinion that Hit Points should offer up a better standard of “journalism” – especially when considering its attached lineage and pedigree, I still think that there are a number of articles on Nathan Brown’s blog that are worthy of attention. But even with this in mind, I still think that his reasoning for wanting to leave Substack is a fairly empty gesture that reeks of moralistic posturing.
At the same time, it’s not just Nathan Brown, but also writers such as Molly White (of Web3 is Going Great) who have “migrated Citation Needed from Substack to self-hosted Ghost“, and who did so for the following reasons:
Some have asked me how I feel about Substack’s recent decision to ban five (5) no-name Nazi newsletters and then say “see? we’re doing what you asked! And you screeching leftists are making a big fuss over nothing!” I gave a quote to the Washington Post which I will just repeat here: “It’s honestly insulting, both to writers and readers on the platform, that they think they can shut up those of us who have serious concerns with such a meager gesture.” It’s completely inadequate, particularly coupled with their promises that they won’t be changing their policy, and that they won’t be taking any sort of proactive approach to content moderation going forward.
The problem is that although writers / bloggers such as Nathan Brown and Molly White have decided to leave Substack on the basis that they don’t want to be associated with a platform that knowingly hosts people that might “hold questionable views”, their actions can be considered as being somewhat hypocritical, especially when one realises that both Nathan Brown and Molly White are active (and regularly post) on Twitter – a platform that has openly hosted “nazis” for some time.
Now, I would understand if these people who “hold questionable views” (ie “nazis”) are openly flouting Substack’s Terms Of Service and Content Guidelines, and are openly engaging in what could be deemed as being “hate speech”. But from what I understand, a LOT of the people who “hold questionable views” haven’t done anything as such to warrant a moralistic finger being pointed at them, and haven’t used Substack “to publish content or fund initiatives that incite violence based on protected classes. Offending behavior includes credible threats of physical harm to people based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, disability or medical condition“.
Sure, these people who “hold questionable views” might not be entirely wholesome in the opinion of the “morally superior people” (such as Nathan Brown and Molly White). But what gives the “morally superior people” the right to judge – especially when the people who “hold questionable views” haven’t broken any terms of service, haven’t engaged in any hate speech, and haven’t done anything to warrant having a moralistic finger pointed at them? At the same time, isn’t it the case that if the “morally superior people” advocate for people who “hold questionable views” to be removed from Substack, that they’re essentially then stating that not only are they closed minded themselves (and are therefore intolerant of those who hold opposing beliefs), but that they’re also comfortable with the notion of promoting cancel culture, and are therefore fascists themselves?
At the same time, and even though there might be people who “hold questionable views” on Substack, are the “morally superior people” trying to tell me that there aren’t any people who “hold questionable views” on established social networks that are arguably a “safe space for racists” – such as Reddit, Facebook, Youtube, TikTok, and Instagram? What about in their own country – which stands to make money from those who “hold questionable views” via government imposed taxes?
Obviously, there will be many departing Substack writers who will fall into this category, but just in the case of Molly White alone, she has active accounts on Youtube, TikTok, Twitter, and also happens to be a resident of America (the 10th worst country for racial equality). Is she going to remove herself from the aforementioned social networks, and will she also leave America?
To conclude: Where should the “morally superior people” draw the line? And at what point should the people on the sidelines (ie people like me) start thinking that the “morally superior people” are just being a tad pathetic?