You can't un-know something

I don’t assume that everyone is as hopelessly online as I am, but perhaps you’ve heard: Substack has a Nazi problem.

I’ve been following this story as it develops through Jonathan Katz’s newsletter, The Racket. Ken White (née Popehat) has some good commentary on this topic as well. (I should note that both of these writers are making plans to leave the platform.)

Substack’s leadership has (finally) made a statement via a “note” posted by Substack cofounder Hamish McKenzie. The statement is mealy mouthed apologia for making money from Nazis and the Nazi-adjacent:

“I just want to make it clear that we don’t like Nazis either—we wish no-one held those views. But some people do hold those and other extreme views. Given that, we don’t think that censorship (including through demonetizing publications) makes the problem go away—in fact, it makes it worse.”

This is, frankly, horseshit.

So now I know something. Until this statement was released, I could sit around and wonder what Substack was going to do. But now I know they’re not going to do anything. (They like Nazis, or at least Nazi money.)

And now that I know something I can choose to ignore it, or I can make a choice.

Substack is a nice service and a well-made platform. It has been great for my tiny little blog with my tiny number of subscribers (hello! I love you!).

There is good writing to be found here, and many independent journalists are making a living and building a business on this platform. I can forgive those folks for being scared to make a change. Their income is on the line.

But me? This is just for funsies. I’m also a developer. I recognize, that while Substack is nice, it’s not unique. I can use another service, or I can roll my own.

During this quiet break between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, I’ve decided to use my developer powers and some of my precious time off to export all of my content from Substack and created a permanent archive of my own. You can find it here:

I’ve also spun up a Buttondown account. Buttondown is a lo-fi DIY service similar to Substack, but smaller, and with an eye towards independence and privacy. I considered rolling my own system with MailJet, but that will have to wait for another day.

As of now, all the pieces are in place to say goodbye to substack.

What does this mean for you?

If you are a subscriber here (thank you) you should start to see notes coming from my new Buttondown account in the new year.

I’ve also set things up so you can read full articles on my website.

Otherwise, the only thing you should notice is that my newsletters will look a little different.

I plan to leave the archives up at Substack through the first quarter of the new year, just in case there are some readers there who aren’t subscribed.

After that time, I’ll delete my Substack entirely.

Alternatives to Substack

If you’re running a Substack and want to get out of the Nazi bar, here are some alternative services which look pretty decent. (I’ve not vetted these thoroughly, so consider this an introduction and an invitation to look deeper.)

In closing:

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