Hello, I Must Be Going

As expected, The Reframe is leaving Substack behind. Instructions for subscribers both free and paid. (Spoilers: please do nothing.)

Hello, I Must Be Going
It's like looking into a mirror.

Hey everybody! No newsletter last weekend. Instead I began work on moving the newsletter.

It happened like this: The Reframe had been hosted on Revue, which was a newsletter platform Twitter acquired. When Twitter's new owner (whose name I can’t quite remember right now) demolished Revue as part of a larger effort to demolish Twitter by putting his finger on the scales for neo-Nazis and other bigots, I shifted The Reframe over to Substack. Even then, Substack's leadership had begun heavily promoting and mainstreaming a whole raft of bad-faith pro-bigotry writers, which helped those writers grow their audiences and pose as mainstream voices. I probably should have known better then and never gotten on board with Substack in the first place, but I've never been the sharpest bulb on the Christmas tree. Ah, me.

Then, late last year, it came out that Nazis were monetizing and organizing on Substack. Then the Substack founder Hamish McKenzie decided to defend Substack's platforming and monetization of Nazis by trying to position it as a principled stand that would actually help fight Nazi ideology and practice, which is laughable nonsense. If you want more of my thoughts at (significantly) greater length, look at this.

Then it came out that Substack founder McKenzie had astroturfed a "grass roots" creator response to get ahead of an actual grass-roots movement by creators who were asking him to explain himself about the Nazis. And then it came out that Substack leaked information from a publication investigating the Nazi story—Platformer, one of the flagship publications on Substack—to try to reframe the nature of the complaint as being about a few sites rather than Substack’s posture toward those sites, and position the whole thing as much ado about nothing rather than a deep foundational rot. For me, these final two revelations were pretty much the last straws. They meant that Substack is a site that fundamentally cannot be trusted, and one weird quirk about me is I like to trust my business partners.

I don't blame any creator who stays—it's hard enough for creators to find an audience and writers didn't choose to live in a world of rapidly mainstreamed Nazism and other supremacy and all the impossible situations Nazis and other types of supremacist create. In truth, as Nazi ideas (like the vile great replacement myth that is energizing the most recent Republican insurrection over our border) continues to be mainstreamed, I don't think it's going to be possible to avoid.

Nevertheless, these latest revelations have convinced me that Substack has charted a ruinous course—for me, anyway, if not for itself. In short, I think the site is making itself an easier place to monetize and organize if you are a bigot, and a harder place to do so if you're anti-bigotry, and moreover, I think it's doing so on purpose in order to quash anti-bigotry voices while promoting bigoted ones. Staying feels like putting off something inevitable. Let's be clear: there are no ideologically pure options here. The new platform will have its problems, as any platform will, but what the new platform isn't doing is openly operating in bad faith against its own creators in favor of other creators, in order to promote a bigoted and eliminationist worldview that it claims to oppose but which it actively promotes. Again, this isn't a need to establish ideological purity; what Substack’s doing is not just morally wrong, it’s bad business. I don’t trust Substack to not repeat these practices, and create many such situations in the future, so I don’t trust Substack to operate in good faith.

And anyway, Substack goofed. Because here's the thing: The Reframe isn't a “Substack” any more than it was a “Revue.” It's you. You, whether you're a paid up founding member or a casual reader. You and me. Readers and writers. We can take our ball and go elsewhere. This is our newsletter. We built it. Me by writing and you by reading, and if you've read my novel The Revisionaries perhaps you understand that I consider the latter to be just as important a part of the creative process as the former.

Sorry, Hamish & Co. You could have had anti-Nazi creators. You wanted Nazi creators more, so, more and more each day, that's probably what you'll have. Hope it doesn't work out for you. Many hard feelings. So long and (no) thanks for all the fash.

Enough of all that. I've buried the lede (it's my brand). Eventually I do know better, even if it takes me a while. The Reframe has a new home, and you are looking at it. Its host is Ghost, and it's the most, or at least it doesn't take a percentage of subscriptions, so none of your subscription dollars will ever go to it.

Here's what all this means for you, the subscriber:

If you are a free or paid subscriber, do nothing. I'll sort it out so you don't have to.

For now, if you’re subscribed you are still getting the emails on Substack, but subscriptions both free and paid will be moving to Ghost in the relatively near future, as will all the archives. I’m still working out the timeline, as I have no intention of rushing this thing, so please, be patient. It might be some weeks before we're all done.

Once that process is done you'll get emails from Ghost instead of Substack, and your payments won’t go through Substack anymore. Everything ought to be seamless, and maybe even seemless, if that's a word, and maybe even if it isn't.

If you have been waiting for this to sort out in order to upgrade to a paid sponsorship, now would be a good time, but please do so here, on our new site.

And as always, you can pay what you want, if and only if you can afford to. If you've been waiting in order to upgrade to paid sponsorship, now would be a great time for that. Read here about how to do that or just click here to get going. Will it send Substack a message? Who knows? I feel like they already sent anti-Nazis everywhere a message about what they'd like to see happen, and it's “you are unwelcome here.” However, it will send me a message. The message will say “you don't need Substack in order to succeed.”

I offer the same deal as before: weekly essays, written with my own unique blend of incisive wit, cultural analysis, knowing self-deprecation to slyly undercut my shameless self-praise, bloviating long-windedness, and typos that I fix after the fact. Also, occasional posts about the TV show LOST just to lighten the mood from the ever-present doom. Also-er, footnotes, probably.¹

If you still want to read my essays on the Substack app or website, you'll be able to.

Substack is extremely good at growing websites and readerships. It's one of the reasons that their decision on who they want to help grow is so alarming.

But I think they can help me grow readership on a competing platform.

So, for a trial run anyway, even after I move subscribers, I'll be cross-posting sans email on Substack (probably some days after I post on Ghost from coast to coast), while I work at shifting readership and turning off revenue and changing all links and buttons in my archives to point over to our nice new site. I don't want to share a revenue stream with Substack anymore, but I don't mind using their platform to broadcast about the sorts of people they are and the sort of people they enable and the sorts of problems doing so creates for everyone, and I'll keep doing that, for as long as Substack is useful at funneling readership away from Substack and toward our newsletter.

Oh and if you're over on Patreon, hold tight.

I'll have answers for you soon (early February, probably).

Good? Good. On we go. Look for a full newsletter next week. From which site will you receive it? Depends on how quickly all the migration work can get done.

But either way I know whose newsletter it will be.


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A.R. Moxon is the author of The Revisionaries, which is available in most of the usual places, and some of the unusual places, and the upcoming essay collection Very Fine People. He is also co-writer of Sugar Maple, a musical fiction podcast from Osiris Media which goes in your ears. He feels he never told you the story of the ghost, who he once knew and talked to, of whom he'd never boast.

¹ Like this one, which I'm writing in order to show off my HTML skills and to tell you that this is the year I intend to fix the typo situation.