A few times I have been asked about setting up a faster, more immediate communications channel for my readers. For instance, with Discord, you can set up your own channel, which they refer to as a “server”, whereas Telegram makes it possible to set up private chat groups, not unlike private groups in Facebook, but using that platform for discussing non-mainstream ideas would be ludicrous.
There are a few reasons why I do not support this idea, and they broadly fall into two camps: technological issues as well as sociological ones. First, whenever you set up a channel or a chat group on a third-party service, you do not own it. It can be shut down at a moment’s notice and for any made-up reason or no reason at all. What is worse, those platforms may block your account and IP, which means that if you, for instance, use Discord to chat about your favorite video games but also exchange news about people getting Bell’s palsy instead of a heart attack, obviously without any connection at all to the vaxx, such as Australian MP Victor Dominello recently, your account would be at risk. I certainly would not want to be responsible for any of the gamers of you being unable to comment on the hyper-masculine features of the Amazon in the Diablo II remake or the impossibility of creating a feminine-looking female in Baldur’s Gate III just because you notice things, share them in a private Discord channel, and get ban-hammered because the ADL pushed Discord to enact draconian censorship on their platform. I know, I know, this is really far-fetched and has never happened before.
Another reason is that I do not enjoy the fast-paced nature of chat services. Messages tend to be very brief, and it quickly gets very difficult to follow a conversation. At an extreme, look at the chat window of not even a particularly busy Twitch stream. As soon as you have three or four people typing something, chaos ensues. In contrast, I prefer longer and more thought-out responses. It is very unfortunate that Google and other Big Tech companies buried forums as those would be very well-suited to this purpose. Avatars also made people easily identifiable. In contrast, the entirely coincidental de-emphasis of user names on sites like Reddit destroys the sense of a community completely. Instead, you are simply shouting into the crowd.
Lastly, there is the issue of public access. This blog is publicly available. You can easily navigate the archive or search through discussions. Also, the Open Thread is, in my view, a pretty good substitute for the old forum. With a Discord server or a Telegram channel, I would not only divert attention from this blog, I would also shut out all the lurkers who are happy to read my blog but do not actively comment.
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