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Why I do (and don’t) write on Substack
Learning yet again why we do not cover thy neighbour’s goods.
Apparently, Substack recently (as in about a week ago) launched their latest gambol to steal the thunder of their rivals, called Substack Notes. I clicked over to the main page for it, and realised almost instantly that it was dead on arrival for me. Just look at this:
It’s not hard to see why this is a non-starter if you write on this platform. I don’t want to see content from others! And yes, I did check exhaustively to see if there was a setting to disable all of this shit. There isn’t, not even to disable their so-called ‘suggestions’ of the profiles of people I do not follow. What a joke.
Seeing this pitiful deluge of middling misery prompted me to finally look into their previous gambol for platform clout, the so-called Substack Chat, and I was even more dismayed:
My first reaction to this was one of disgust: this looks like OnlyFans for self-absorbed writers. Just… no.
There are two main points I want to cover regarding what is wrong with both of these things: the ‘algorithm’, and coveting thy neighbour’s goods.
First and foremost is the content algorithm. This is something very simple that needs to be drilled into everyone’s heads: every content algorithm is created to be abused against the will of the users of the platform.
Let me say it again: every content algorithm is created to be abused against the will of the users of the platform.
There are no exceptions to this: if the algorithm is for an open platform, it can be disabled or ignored; if it is publicised, it will be defeated, because the illusion of organic content is shattered.
The only reason content algorithms exist is to be (eventually) leveraged as the primary tools of censorship against the will of the users.
Think about what a content algorithm does: it removes control from users to see content they subscribe to in the order that it was made, with whatever hasty excuses made to explain it away as being about ‘marketing’ or ‘engagement’ or ‘fighting hate’ or whatever newspeak makes you shut up, and every time without fail it ends up used to disenfranchise people espousing views the platform owners don’t agree with.
Substack hasn’t done this yet, but given the history, why should we believe that this is not for a lack of opportunity? A lot of the people backing them are of the same shady stripe as Signal and the rest of tech. Why else would they create something like this and force it onto everyone?
Coveting thy neighbour’s goods
The other big thing going on here is a business blunder, and it’s probably downstream of petty egotism at the helm of Substack. Neither of these product launches created anything new that Substack’s users didn’t already have; instead, they attempted to clone wholesale the product of something foreign, such as Twitter and Discord, believing that their ‘edge’ is in the high quality and finesse of the writers they have on their platform.
Ironically, in this snobbish push to lord their keep over the world, they trip over the very writers they claim to herald, creating the mess I detailed above. If your deal is creating content, why in the fuck would you want to have a cheap Twitter clone solely for you and your subscribers? Or a chintzy Discord clone with them for that matter?
This leads me into my main point about Substack and who they are catering to: not writers per sé, but occultists. There are hundreds of these hucksters in Austin alone, and since we have firmly established already what is wrong with Austin and how it is inexplicably linked to Twitter, you know how the rest of this goes.
The conclusion from that is simple: Substack executives are getting too far up their own asses about their business, and are nakedly trying to gamble into new frontiers, risking their core value prop to the world in the process. Of course, after seeing what they’ve all either done or become complicit with in crypto, and once we see the floor fall out of the ‘AI’ hype train in a year or so, this is basically to be expected.
Nonetheless, it still isn’t remotely okay, throwing the bulk of your writers under the bus for what tickles the bellies of your pals that you all love to go out drinking with on Wednesday nights and pretending you’re gonna take over the world. Grow up and do your jobs, or this platform will not be much of a thing in a few years time. You still have a chance to stop this.