Brave New Format

The poor, lonely souls who frequent my blog, hoping against hope for an update or a crumb of satisfaction, or just to relive the glory of years gone by, have doubtlessly been shocked at a dramatic uptick in content. Over the past few days I rolled up my sleeves and copy/pasted about a hundred stories into my blog for safe keeping. Where’d they come from?

Short answer: Patreon. Which leads to an even shorter question: why?

Maybe you’ve never heard of It’s Going Down, but it’s an independent, stridently leftist news source that tracks fascism and colonialism and amplifies notices of protests. They reported on Charlottesville in 2017 and for some reason this got them suspended from Patreon. They listed the name of a Proud Boys leader in an image on Twitter, and Patreon banned them for “doxxing.” This is not doxxing, which is the release of personal information like a phone number and an address, for the purposes of inviting anonymous strangers to harass someone. They only mentioned the name of a man in a photo, like any journalistic outlet would, and the Proud Boys got their mobs to complain to Patreon.

In nearly the same breath as declaring Patreon’s defense of freedom of speech, CEO Jack Conte (better known as half of Pomplamoose) banned It’s Going Down permanently from Patreon for the above citations. Conte banned IGD for a name they posted on Twitter, because he conceded to the will of white supremacists. I wrote to Patreon, intent on learning why they would punish anti-fascists and support the agenda of white supremacists. Of course Conte never wrote back, and tech support only stated:

The Trust & Safety team does not share details related to our investigation or actions that might be taken as a direct result of the investigation.

Personal email, Patreon Trust and Safety, 5/24/2021

Unsatisfactory! Along with the friend who informed me of this passage of events, I decided I didn’t want any portion of my income to go to Nazi sympathizers. Sound drastic? Is this any less drastic than placating white supremacist trolls by suspending an anti-fascist indie news outlet?

I announced to my followers, nearly 20 in number, that I was packing up and shutting down my Patreon account. My plan was to explore WordPress’s options for subscriptions, because I know it has some. After an evening of studying this crap and skipping through instructional videos, I recreated the first episode of “Her Coercive Tone” in my blog and set it up for the $3 monthly support tier I offered on Patreon. After that I cut-n-pasted “Early Morning Exercise,” “Screaming Video,” and “Bottom of the Funnel,” all meticulously categorized/tagged, some with new banner images, others with pictures that bound them as a series, and then I went to some stock photo sites and bought a couple pictures to modify and make more appropriate to the shrunken-man theme of my series. We’ll see how that goes.

There was some initial turbulence as I struggled to get WordPress to connect to Stripe, then discovered that my existing Stripe account was for Medium (and that I’ve been steadily earning a little money through Medium for months), so I created a new Stripe account for WordPress and then it cooperated.

Special thanks to my first two subscribers, who encountered a couple different tech problems, which were resolved in very different ways. As a result, if you’ve subscribed to these four series and you can’t see them, here’s a couple things to try:

  1. Wait a day. One user could see two series but not a third one, so I guess that WordPress’s cache had to refresh, and the next day he was able to see all offerings.
  2. Log out of WordPress (subscription makes you start a WordPress account), clear your browser cache, log back in. The second user figured out this solution on iOS.

I hope that’s the most trouble we see. The system isn’t as streamlined as Patreon’s, of course, but I do feel some satisfaction in bringing all my stories back home to my website. I’ll still write free one-offs and other series I’ve developed here, but there will also be a selection of subscriber-only stories in effect. I hope to earn your support in these, and I hope it’s an uncomplicated process to do so. This is another leg in the adventure of self-publication that, honestly, I’m excited about and harbor some hope for. Of course it’s heartbreaking to tell my Patreon supporters to please cancel their accounts (so they’re not billed for June) and watch my numbers go down… but what can I do? Hold my nose and tolerate Conte’s lack of moral fiber? And yes, I’m sure it’s just a matter of time until I learn something horrible about WordPress, but we’ll burn that bridge when we get to it.

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