Nuclear Monster Shirts + Hoodies

When I was thinking about moving this site from Time Doctor Dot org to Nuclear Monster, I wanted to make some better decisions about how to keep the new site operating.

To that end, I’m going to try out selling t-shirts and hoodies with the site’s logo on them. It would be tremendously helpful if you bought one. If this works out, there could be better designs created by actual artists later on.

The Nuclear Monster vs The Time Doctor

Under attack pleas stand by by heder

Just a brief note to say that TimeDoctor.org is now NuclearMonster.com. You might see some stuff broken as the site moves over, if you have any questions please feel free to send me a message on twitter or via email. There are new Twitter, Twitch, and Facebook pages for following the site if you’re interested in those. They’re plural (nuclearmonsters) instead of singular because the /nuclearmonster URLs were taken on all of those sites.

If you’re using the site via an RSS feed reader (or another app that isn’t going to timedoctor.org directly), you may need to manually update the URL in your feed reader to https://nuclearmonster.com/feed/

My feed reader did not change the URL automatically, and will only work as long as the redirect works.

I’ve been writing TimeDoctor.org for over 15 years, my hope is that moving to Nuclear Monster will provide a freshness that couldn’t be found on the old site.

Who knows, maybe if you search the web for Nuclear Monster you’ll actually get this site.

 

Twitter Remains Broken

Aleen Mean on the changes coming to Twitter:

Today Twitter, the microblogging service dedicated to making sure that people can easily be harassed without repercussion, announced some changes they’re planning on rolling out over the next few months. True to their mission, these new features are sure to promote not only harassment, but spamming from both malicious accounts and #brands trying to #engage their audience.

[…]

Time and time again, we’ve been told that the company is working on making things better for targets of harassment. What we see, however, are half-baked enhancements designed to make the service more appealing to advertisers and attempts at enticing new users. Many people have suggested changes they could implement to curb abuse. For example, Randi Lee Harper’s list of suggestions from earlier this year is still on-point.

I know that Twitter is a huge company and that the people who are spending their time and energy on these new features aren’t necessarily the ones who would work on anti-abuse tools, but it’s clear that the company’s leadership is unwilling to actually act.

iOS 9 Out; Go Block Ads

iOS 9 is out today for your iPhones and iPads. It is fine, I’ve been running the public betas for a long time now, you could read Federico Viticci’s 23 page review for a second opinion. My favorite feature is that you can now block advertisements and tracking sites (they know what you do and decide to advertise socks to you if you visit a shopping site that sells socks, or just sell your browsing data) using any of a huge list of content blocker apps. I will be using Marco Arment’s Peace, which seems to have the best options and defaults. Unfortunately this will only work in Safari and the mini-browser you see within apps. It won’t work inside Facebook or other apps that have advertising within them, for example.

Death to Bullshit

Brad Frost’s list of bullshit:

Popups, jargon, junk mail, anti-patterns, sensationalism, begging for likes, tracking scripts, marketing spam, dark patterns, unskippable ads, clickbait, linkbait, listicles, seizure-inducing banners, captchas, QR codes, barely-visible unsubscribe buttons, 24-hour news networks, carousels, auto-playing audio, bloatware, sudden redirects to the App Store, telemarketing, ticked-by-default subscribe buttons, “your call is important to us”, pageview-gaming galleries, native advertising, the list of bullshit goes on and on and on.

I’d like to nominate the hidden/tiny source link at the end of a news item. Sites that do this and hijack the entirety of the interesting content in an article that they’re linking to are pretty much the worst kind of sites.

YouTube’s Upcoming Paywall

Micah Singleton writing about the changes:

The way you experience YouTube may be dramatically different before the end of the year. According to multiple sources, the world’s largest video-sharing site is preparing to launch its two separate subscription services before the end of 2015 – Music Key, which has been in beta since last November, and another unnamed service targeting YouTube’s premium content creators, which will come with a paywall. Taken together, YouTube will be a mix of free, ad-supported content and premium videos that sit behind a paywall.

How much do I have to pay YouTube to prevent copyright trollbots from destroying the service?

Reddit Has Learned Nothing. Nothing Has Changed.

There is this draft of an essay I’ve been trying to write for a few weeks about how people don’t understand what free speech is. It isn’t something afforded to users of private websites. Private websites have choices in what they host beyond the legalities of their locality.

When a user is banned from a private site for any reason their free speech rights haven’t been trampled because it isn’t their government doing the banning. When content is deleted from a website because a government tells them to, then their free speech rights have been violated. That’s the extent of it.

Whenever any person, business, or project runs a website where users can submit comments or pictures or any kind of content there is a responsibility to moderate that content and remove anything that is at a minimum illegal. Most sites go the extra step of trying to encourage healthy discussion by attempting to remove trolls and other forms of harassment and objectionable content.

In order to do that, sites have policies or rules that members must adhere to. It makes it much easier if instead of a community manager saying “this isn’t allowed” and banning a user, the site has a set of rules to point to and enforce. Good community managers want these policies and rules to be a tool of last resort. Usually the first level of escalation should be a private conversation with someone if their content isn’t completely out of line or spam.

Here we are today in August of 2015 and Reddit has been operating with minimal policies in place for a little over a decade.

This is a site where users choose what communities to join and read by subscribing to each subreddit community that they want to read and participate in. Subscribing and unsubscribing also changes what appears when that user visits the Reddit.com front page. Normally those communities are about interesting or fun topics like interviews with celebrities or useful subjects like cats and video games. Sometimes reddit even hosts surprisingly reasonable debates on subjects that people think are impossible to discuss like gun control, abortion, or even who the best Star Trek captain is. Reddit is what you make of it as a user.

Reddit isn’t just some site hosted by someone who loves these things, it is a business in San Francisco with over 70 employees.

Unfortunately Reddit is also what the people running the site make it, and for years Reddit has hosted hatespeech alongside the cute cat pictures and other interesting content. The most recent and popular subreddit community for racists was called Coontown. It was exactly what you would expect, diatribes about how terrible anyone is who isn’t white alongside terrible images and links to other racist materials. There was no reasonable discussion, just the same stupid old racism enabled by today’s most popular community site, Reddit.

When I found out about this I couldn’t believe it. How could anyone at Reddit know about this and continue to host the racists at their cost and without feeling maybe a little strange about doing so? It’s their choice. I couldn’t personally continue working somewhere that did that, and I had removed the link to the ioquake3 reddit community from ioquake3.org.

Today Reddit finally banned that Coontown subreddit along with a few others and updated their policies.

I was so relieved! I could delete the draft article about how shitty reddit is, and everything would be great from here on out. I thought that I could go back to reading reddit and linking to them from my other sites. Until I read more on the thread on Reddit about why they deleted it:

Reddit screenshot

Just in case that text in the image isn’t readable for you, here is the reasoning behind the decision for Reddit to ban Coontown:

We didn’t ban them for being racist. We banned them because we have to spend a disproportionate amount of time dealing with them. If we want to improve Reddit, we need more people, but CT’s existence and popularity has also made recruiting here more difficult.

That is the comment from one of the original Reddit founders, the returning CEO, Steve Huffman.

This is why nothing has been done for over a decade about the racists on Reddit. This is why the other objectionable sites on reddit are being placed behind a bogus click-through quarantine before you can read them. The spreadsheet finally ticked over and the cost to deal with these particular racists became greater than the continued benefit of hosting the racists. Not because the people running Reddit had any problem with racists, not because they support any kind of bogus form of free speech, they had a problem with the continued cost of doing business with the racists and shut off the thing that was losing them money.

If the racists that come to Reddit for their community operations can find a way of doing so without costing Reddit more than Reddit earns from hosting the racists, they’ll be welcomed. Unbelievable.

YouTube Gaming

Alan Joyce:

This summer, we’ll launch YouTube Gaming, a brand new app and website to keep you connected to the games, players, and culture that matter to you, with videos, live streams, and the biggest community of gamers on the web–all in one place.

YouTube Gaming is built to be all about your favorite games and gamers, with more videos than anywhere else. From “Asteroids” to “Zelda,” more than 25,000 games will each have their own page, a single place for all the best videos and live streams about that title. You’ll also find channels from a wide array of game publishers and YouTube creators.

Keeping up with these games and channels is now super easy, too. Add a game to your collection for quick access whenever you want to check up on the latest videos. Subscribe to a channel, and you’ll get a notification as soon as they start a live stream. Uncover new favorites with recommendations based on the games and channels you love. And when you want something specific, you can search with confidence, knowing that typing “call” will show you “Call of Duty” and not “Call Me Maybe.”

 Live streams bring the gaming community closer together, so we’ve put them front-and-center on the YouTube Gaming homepage. And in the coming weeks, we’ll launch an improved live experience that makes it simpler to broadcast your gameplay to YouTube. On top of existing features like high frame rate streaming at 60fps, DVR, and automatically converting your stream into a YouTube video, we’re redesigning our system so that you no longer need to schedule a live event ahead of time. We’re also creating single link you can share for all your streams.

A sub-site specific to games with custom search isn’t going to solve everything wrong with using YouTube for game streaming and pre-recorded videos but the other changes are very important. Scheduling a live event ahead of time makes sense for developers and publishers live streaming but doesn’t always work for people like me who would rather build up an audience of subscribers who get notified when I go live.

The most important change YouTube could make is to recognize that I’m in a game and more intelligently handle copyright notices. Video games are full of copyrighted music, and without legal advisement it is difficult to navigate YouTube’s current copyright notice system. To be fair, YouTube is more intelligently handling that problem than Twitch’s policy of just muting the audio for the portion of the video where the copyrighted music is present. I’m still terrified that my YouTube account will get shut down if I dispute the copyright notices with a claim of fair use, which is the only way to get some videos to be viewable again in the United States.

Crowdfunding Goals

Katie Chironis on what the massively successful crowdfunding campaign for Koji Igarashi’s Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night means for smaller developers also using crowdfunding:

Bloodstained isn’t a story of the little guy triumphing over big publishers, it’s the story of a campaign that had millions of dollars of funding before the Kickstarter began and the help of multiple companies handling the logistics of the campaign. They asked for $500,000 to prove a point, not fund a game. The issue is that campaigns like that cause members of the community to believe that $500,000 is all you need to create large-scale experiences.

When you ask for half a million when you really need $5 million it becomes impossible for games with realistic budgets to survive. It’s not that people don’t understand what a game costs, it’s more that Kickstarter is actively distorting people’s understanding of a sane budget. The ecosystem is being poisoned for projects that need to raise their actual, workable budget for a game.

There are two kinds of project operators on Kickstarter and other similar crowdfunding services.

The first, and what I believe to be the majority of projects, is everyone who actually is in their theoretical or actual basement toiling away. It’s here that you find the projects to mock that will never successfully achieve their funding goal alongside game developers who actually need the funding in order to start and complete their project.

The problem group is the minority. They’re so successful at crowdfunding they blow past their initial goals and quadruple them in hours. They have already started the work and have invested significant resources into producing a compelling pitch video with supporting concept art to demonstrate their potential for success. They can summon significant external financial backing at the conclusion of a crowdfunding campaign which existed only as a representative measure of the potential market to sell the finished product into. If it fails to generate enough funding or fails during production, who cares? They’ll walk away relatively unscathed and might even finish the project with the external investment they already had lined up or move on to another.

Both kinds of crowdfunding projects have succeeded and failed beyond everyone’s wildest expectations and this has lead some people to declare crowdfunding as a whole either an enormous success or terrible failure. All of the declarations ignore the continued successes and failures of both kinds of project that occur after the declaration has been made. Even this article isn’t immune to sudden declaration syndrome. The opener is:

We all know the Kickstarter bubble is bursting.

The difference between Katie Chironis’ declaration and the others is that she is right. The majority of projects can’t compare with crowdfunding goals as low as Bloodstained‘s $500,000.

Why would anyone running a project who is otherwise wealthy or has external financial backing do the right thing and set their goals appropriately when the wrong thing is working out so well for them?

There are enough fans of Castlevania out there that the Kickstarter project for Bloodstained is at about $2.5 million. Of which Kickstarter is already set to make $125,000 at their 5% fee. The payment processor will get about the same cut of that $2.5 million if the funding level doesn’t change by the time the campaign ends.

Why would Kickstarter’s crowdfunding change when they made $1,016,900 for hosting another project webpage, the Pebble Time, with an unrealistic goal, external funding, and an already complete project ready to go to market?

If Kickstarter’s bubble doesn’t burst for truly independent project operators, it will be because Kickstarter changes to properly support them by focusing on those who aren’t succeeding at finding funding and shipping complete projects instead of passing the blame entirely onto project operators.

If that happens, Kickstarter might actually earn some of their cut.