What Makes You Tell Others About Techdirt?

from the a-conversation... dept

Over at the Verge, Nilay Patel (who just recently returned to take over the place), had a great idea: asking the readers there what makes them share something on the internet, noting that he thinks that site can do better than just trying to game Reddit and Facebook for votes and likes. While I’m sure there’s some overlap in readership, and we could just read what those guys say (and we will), Techdirt is obviously a different kind of site, with different types of stories, so I’m not entirely sure what is said there will apply to us. Furthermore, I wanted to slightly adjust the question for folks here. I’m curious what makes you tell others about Techdirt itself, or any of it’s stories. I’m less interested in what makes you share “something” on the internet, because the answer to that question may sometimes be “more clickbaity stories,” and we’ve never been about that (nor will we be). The focus here is on what we do that really gets you, our community, so interested in Techdirt (or in a particular story) that you share it with others — either in person or online.

And while I’m at it, I might as well ask what makes you comment on a story? We’ve pointed out for years that, even though people always assume this, the number of comments does not correlate well with the amount of traffic a story gets (often because long comment threads are just a couple people arguing back and forth). Also, I know that there are many lurkers who never comment, and that’s great too. But since we’re having a conversation, it seemed worth discussing.

We have our data on which stories do well, but even then it’s something of a mystery. There are stories I swear will go absolutely viral, which it seems like everyone winds up skipping over. There are stories that I think are probably “space fillers” for slow times, which then go insane and hit the top of Reddit. I’ve written over 45,000 posts (and others have written many more on Techdirt) and my ability to predict which stories you guys will really like versus which ones will elicit a giant “meh” is still fairly weak — though it is something I think about. Nilay’s post made me realize that, duh, I should just ask you guys — though it’s entirely possible you don’t quite “know” either. Still, it seems like it should be an interesting discussion… Just as Nilay says, there are no “wrong answers” here. It would just be helpful to us.

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Comments on “What Makes You Tell Others About Techdirt?”

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rw (profile) says:

Personally, I like the presentation. The stories fill in the gaps left by traditional media and aren’t generally slanted politically; much different than Fox News’s “We (distort) report, you decide.” It’s nice to be able to read news about the idiocy of our worlds’ governments and corporations without feeling there is any agenda other than openness and transparency. Of course, the humor is always appreciated, probably not by the various and assorted trolls, but definitely by everyone else. I rarely comment, but when I do it is usually on something stupid some lawyer or “public (master) servant” has done. So, I read Techdirt for: current events/affairs information, economic information, copyright and patent(humor)news, and a viewpoint not slanted to support incumbents.

BentFranklin (profile) says:

TechDirt is a journalistic successor to I. F. Stone. There are differences of course. TechDirt isn’t as liberal/lefty as Stone. But exposing corruption in business and government is hugely important, such as when people write themselves logical and moral blank checks and then use them to cause tremendous damage in self-serving ways, or when the sheer gravity of accumulated wealth warps the rules to increase said wealth with no further merit. Keep exposing examples of high/low court hypocrisy. Keep exposing examples of shady business practices by supposedly respectable brands. Keep exposing examples of regulatory overreach in the name of security. Keep printing articles that people in power don’t want me to read.

Thanks, TechDirt!

vegetaman (profile) says:

I am not a person who tells people to use a specific site or anything like that. What I am prone to do is pass along links of relevant stories of interest. For me, that is usually things related to musicians and copyright expansion and software patents (as it covers my interests and hobbies of software development, making music, and reading).

As for commenting… It depends. If the story has a low post count, or is a very relevant topic to me, I will always go in and read the comments. 80% the time I post a comment, it is because I want to comment on the story. The other 20% of the time, it is because I want to comment on something somebody else has said. I usually will make it a point to post if my viewpoint is somehow contrarian to the direction that the comments are going (no need for another “me too” post, ya know?).

Oh, and if I think I have something funny or insightful to say (ie. a relevant joke pops into my head), and the topic has a low post count, I’ll almost always post as well.

jupiterkansas (profile) says:

When I first realized that the internet was actually the world’s biggest library, and that in the future anything and everything ever created would be available to everyone in the world, stopped only by this little thing called copyright, it was Techdirt that thoroughly explained the problems of our changing media world and especially the problems in copyright.

Copyright was something that I – and probably most people – never gave much thought about before the internet came along, even though I am a creator and applied copyright to my work. Thanks to Techdirt, I’ve become a copyright reformer, but I don’t really share Techdirt that much except on Reddit, unless something happens that so perfectly exemplefies the corruption or stupidity or damage that our laws enable.

Of course, there are a lot of other websites that cover these same issues, and the reason I favor Techdirt is because of the discussion after the article. The comments are usually informative, often controversial, sometimes frustrating, and it’s fun to jump in and make a point (or a lame joke) and participate in this discussion.

Because as you know, issues like copyright and government surveillance and the like are all things that the people in charge don’t want the public talking about. I hope Techdirt is a thorn in their side.

Inwoods (profile) says:

I rarely comment because either:

1) Someone has already said what I want to say

2) The thread is far too long for me to determine if 1) is true.

At least in Reddit I can contribute by upvoting. Also, Techdirt articles while often enraging seldom produce much chance to share personal insight (they’re pretty specific and overlap each other a lot.) There just isn’t much to add other than “RAWR! I’M ANGRY NOW TOO!”

I might also add that creating an account initially was very difficult and I quit a few times, but I don’t remember why.

Violynne (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Then count one against it, because it’s a ridiculous system. Worse, people seem to focus on the counts and begin to complain when they’re being downvoted (especially when the post itself wasn’t flaming or trolling).

Just take a look at Ars to see how this system was implemented in the worst possible way.

The current system on Techdirt is just fine, except for the ridiculousness of hiding a post when too many people ABUSE the system.

It’s this kind of crap I can’t stand, especially when the whole censorship issue gets debated.

Yes, I know there’s a significant difference between taking down content vs hiding it, but to me, it’s the same thing.

I can’t stand it when a person’s opinion is hidden in any capacity. If you don’t like what someone has to say, ignore the post.

montuos says:

I’m a lurker who doesn’t usually comment or even read comments on any news sites due to too many early years’ experience that comment sections are wretched hives of scum and idiocy. I don’t have time or patience for flame wars.

Congressional staffer Jen Hoelzer’s letter nicely pinpoints why I read and share Techdirt in general: “Techdirt’s posts were consistently straightforward, easy to understand and timely. …reading Techdirt every day was like taking a college course on the issues with every new post helping me understand a new aspect of what I’d learned previously.”

Techdirt gives data and explains nuances that are often omitted from more sensational and slanted reporting; the reporting here is usually even-handed and well-informed, and exactly what sane and rational people need to see to understand the issues better. Better still, the plain and simple language makes it so much more accessible to the average person!

More specifically, the posts I am most likely to share are those covering issues important to me that I haven’t already seen much about in my social circles (there’s a random factor for you!), and those that rebut conclusions that I have been seeing.

Anonymous Coward says:

It filled a a void in news and my interests I didn’t knew I had till the day I visited this site. Patents, copyright, trademarks, NSA… in the context of technology and wider, there aren’t any sources of news like Techdirt that I know of except Ars Technica.

The reporting itself is very good and objective, usually from the view of the public which isn’t there a large media. I think the first 2 comments touch my experience well.

Lastly I love the layout. Simple and effective without intrusive sexy adds.

scothony (profile) says:

Growing up and living just a mile or so from NSA Headquarters in Anne Arundel County, MD, I can’t throw a stone without hitting someone who has worked there or is currently working there – including a few family members. I’m too much of a non-conformist to ever consider that type of career path! In any event, I started coming to Techdirt when I started smelling some of the stink that Mr. Snowden and associates are now in the process of revealing. I always had my suspicions and thanks to Techdirt I started to feel much less like a tin-foil-hat type.

After just a couple of visits to Techdirt I was hooked. This was mostly for the reasons already listed – an anti-Fox News attitude was and is refreshing and sometimes leaves me shaking my fist in the air and shouting “SEE, I told them so….”

I come here and share the articles with those that show any interest in real reporting and a desire for real transparency. Oh yea, I also come for my Prenda fixes.

Adam Bell (profile) says:

I subscribe to Techdirt’s RSS feed and so often read a particular story and end up reading the whole next/previous string for the article. Headlines are a strong inducement for reading on, but I never read attached documents and only rarely follow links — I regard them as footnotes.

As a retired engineering professor, I favor the “techie” stuff and as a citizen with normal proclivities for privacy even though I’ve really nothing to hide (I’ve never been one to bare my soul and I am law-abiding), I follow the whole Snowden story and its spin-offs.

I rarely read the comments on an article beyond the point of the first that is snarky or a straw man argument, but I always read your analysis of the best of the week’s insightful and funny comments.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Techdirt discusses issues I talk about frequently anyway, and often I find myself starting a discussion based on something I’ve read here. When that happens, I mention it: “I was reading about X on Techdirt yesterday, and…”

As a prolific commenter, I’m not sure there’s insight to be drawn from what makes me comment and what doesn’t since I clearly like to talk and opine. That said, there are a number of things that influence the likelihood.

If I have a passionate response to the article or a comment, if I feel that I have something useful to say or a unique perspective, if I’m killing time or feeling frivolous, then I’m more likely to comment.

If I’m not interested in topic or if nobody’s said anything I feel the need to respond to, if a comment thread has grown tiresome, if I have nothing useful to say, or if anything I could say just fuels one of the pointless old standard “controversial” debates (guns, gods, etc.) where nothing new or enlightening ever gets said anyway, then I’m less likely to comment.

Also, there’s a bit of randomness — I don’t always have time to comment, I spend more time checking in here during weekdays than weekends, etc.

Mike Shore (profile) says:

I see a lot of dangerous stuff happening — erosion of rights, militarization of police forces, silencing of critical speech, loss of privacy, secret laws, secret interpretations of existing laws, secret courts, corporate interests overriding national laws, legacy industries trying and failing to be relevant, lawyers taking over everything. All thanks to Techdirt. Knowledge is power and people need to know what is happening so they can put a stop to it. The Internet is a great level playing field, and we need to keep it that way to encourage the exchange of knowledge and ideas.

Anonymous Coward says:

Post about what interests you. Instead of worrying so much about how many people will be interested in your next post focus on what interests you. I think you will often find that many others have similar interests. Furthermore you will attract an audience that’s interesting to you. If you are going to post based on what you think someone else is interested in then what’s the point. Let them post or start their own blog, they will be much better at discussing what interests them and knowing a lot more about those topics than you. The purpose of posting about your interests is so that you can keep a record of those subjects and to allow others to contribute to your knowledge on what interests you and to scrutinize you and improve your understanding and for you to get people more aware of what they may find interesting and to contribute to their knowledge and opinions as well.

Anonymous Coward says:

Prior to 2010, I rarely came to Techdirt. If I was searching Google for a particular topic and a Techdirt article appeared in the results, I would read it and that was it. I generally found the articles compelling, mostly because they weren’t written like anything you’d find in mainstream media, if mainstream media was even writing about it to begin with.

The more I came here, the more I liked it and after 2010, it became a regular stop on my tour of other sites I visit. Nowadays, it is the first site I visit and I check here and via RSS on my phone frequently throughout the day.

The mainstream media has entirely too much control of information. And now that many of them are corporate owned, frequently by broadband companies that control the internet pipes into our lives, they are simply unwilling to push back against government, law enforcement and corporate malfeasance. Their behavior is simply too harmful to ignore and yet, the media who is supposed to be a check on that power, are exceedingly dropping the ball and letting them run rough shod over people.

Social media and independent sites such as Techdirt and Reddit are increasingly becoming a check against an establishment media that has collectively decided to become a press release tool for corrupt governments and corporations.

I say, keep doing what you’re doing Mike. Or, just do lots more of it, even if that means doing additional types of crowd-funding campaigns to make it happen. I don’t know what your traffic numbers to the site are like, but if what Jennifer said in her article is true, you’re efforts here are working, even if we can’t always see it.

Charles (profile) says:

Techdirt posts articles on subjects that are important to me, and I find information here that is hard to find elsewhere. As I have mentioned before, I followed Groklaw for years. PJ was big on privacy- that is why the site is now stagnant. I started reading Techdirt way before Groklaw shut down; Techdirt is my number one site now.

I lurk far more often than I comment. I comment if I think I have something I feel I must say. I read most of the comments, as I enjoy the comments as much as the articles.

For some sad reason, I find a lot of people are unaware of the issues followed here at Techdirt. Keep up the good fight.

Joseph Ratliff (profile) says:

I come to Techdirt because of the “way” you approach stories. You don’t cover topics in a “tabloid fashion” (a good thing), but you aren’t afraid to write the story “as it is.”

You don’t sugar coat your titles, your viewpoint is unique and well thought out … and you don’t compromise in your writing.

I comment when I have something I feel can contribute (generally) to the conversation at hand. But there are so many smart people on Techdirt, it raises the bar for that opportunity.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

I was going to say something snarky like ‘I set Techdirt as my homepage so long ago that I forget how to change my homepage’, but only the latter part is snarky.

I found Techdirt through (of all places) Slashdot. Someone there posted something from here, which I followed, which got a bookmark. Further references meant more reading, and then I found the reading essential, and came so often that it was just easier to make it the homepage.

I find when talking to friends and acquaintances that they are often unfamiliar with something current and important. I tell them about things and they say your crazy, that cannot be. Of course, the way to make them current is to refer them here, and to the links from here.

Techdirt has also lead me to a lot of the rest of my current daily feeds. Too long a list to go into here, and the type of content is broad. I do at times find it interesting that I have already read about some things before they are mentioned here, because of some of those broad links. Even so, I continue to learn about new things here.

I would like to add to the above discussion about scoring. It would be interesting to see the actual insightful and funny vote totals, after the fact of course, like maybe Monday morning?

Grey (profile) says:

Why do I show people Techdirt?

I’m a tactless bastard who enjoys seeing people squirm when confronted with the process of making Sausages during mealtime.

To that end, Techdirt is the electronic equivalent of showing somebody the contents of the E-sausage, what gets it to their plate for consumption, and many other things that some sausage-makers would prefer us to remain unaware of.

OldGeezer (profile) says:

I first found Techdirt during the SOPA debacle. So many other issues you covered awakened my interest. I don’t have hours a day to read lengthy articles from dozens of publications and your site concentrates on the most important points and makes sense of the legalize that is incomprehensible to me. Many great laughs from following ongoing stories like the downfall of Prenda and idiots who will just never learn about the Streisand effect. Most important is your coverage of the Snowden leaks and other brave whistleblowers. I’m remembering when I was just a kid listening to live coverage of the Watergate hearings on AFN radio during my Army tour in Germany. It was shocking to learn just how corrupt our government can be at the highest levels. A free press is our only hope of holding our officials accountable.

Johan (profile) says:

I’ve been reading techdirt since iGoogle (remember that?) suggested it as a feed and have read most posts since. Commenting is something I rarely do since there is not much for me to add that usually hasn’t already been said by someone else, even reading comment threads takes more time than I have most days.

As for sharing, I’ve told a number of people to read Techdirt to get a better understanding on Corporate Sovereignty and why it has no place in trade deals. Always explained in a way more eloquent manner than I could ever hope to do.

CanadianByChoice (profile) says:

I read and share TechDirt because….
Similar to Jen Hoelzer (from previous story), I find TechDirt to be highly educational. You cover the stories that main-stream media won’t, and you do so in what I see as being a fair and balanced way, including links to back up what you’re saying and even giving opponents (not really the right word, but I can’t think of a better one) an importunity to disagree. You don’t censor comments for disagreeing with you. Even though I don’t live in the USA, your posts are highly relevant to me. You’ve even managed to change my opinion of a few things (such as copyright) .. and, believe me, that’s not an easy thing to do. You’ve done it, not by telling me I was wrong, by by simply presenting facts … and explaining them in terms that even I can understand.
I comment on TechDirt rarely; most often, what I would say has already been said by others.

Mr. Oizo says:

My 2 cents

If I share a story it is mostly about egregious ‘dirt’. Thinks that any sane person would think is indeed outrageous, yet through legal capture, judge incompetence or a system that is totally stacked against the defendant, the wrong decision is made.

The one thing that I really dislike about Techdirt is its total blind spot to Google; and I’m not the only one noticing that. Anyway, I don’t assume you agree with that. Luckily you don’t have too.

Rikuo (profile) says:

The question in the title has a MASSIVE assumption – that I tell other people about Techdirt…why do you assume that?

Just kidding, of course I do. Just yesterday I shared the “US DOJ wants MS Ireland server data” story on Facebook and a couple of other sites I’m on. I didn’t get any responses, but I can always hope someone at least read it, and just didn’t think of responding to me…

Anonymous Coward says:

Why I share (in order of importance):

1) Techdirt reports with little-to-no partisan/corporate bias.
2) Techdirt’s content subject matter. To avoid tl;dr here, I’ll just say that especially post 9/11, the US democracy is facing a growing, immanent threat originating from within its own institutions. Although the articles on Techdirt can sometimes seem to be on vastly different subjects, there is a common thread/threat that runs through them all.
3) Techdirt’s distillation of the relevant content. Many of topics covered here are complex, convoluted, and have very active suppression/misinformation campaigns being run by those that seek to keep the public in the dark. Techdirt does a very good job in weeding out the most relevant bits, clearly describing their significance (and relation to other relevant bits), and presenting them in easily digestible bites.
4) Techdirt went full https. Although the PKI is not without significant issues, there’s an argument to made that it’s better than not. I truly appreciate Techdirt’s effort.

How I share:

I primarily share Techdirt stories via word of mouth (sometimes via links in email). I view the vast majority of sharing via social media as the domain of big data commerce, the surveillance state, and the sheeple they exploit – No thanks, I opt out to best of my ability. If I support a group’s work, I show it by giving them money directly.

Why I comment:

Sometimes I lurk, sometimes I comment. Best guess – I comment when I’m in the mood to comment (and apparently, if Mike asks me to).

I recommend Techdirt often. Keep up the fantastic work!!!

Sketch Draft says:

In my case… I want to write. I like writing, and a lot of my stuff is fan derivative or referential. My writing is a product of the influences of the media I’ve enjoyed over the years, and I understand that. So.. the whole copyright debate is kind of my ‘hot button topic’, or whatever the term would be. The greater majority of the content I enjoy, music especially, is fan derivative. Video game music remixes, or inspired by movies and TV. Copyright law, as it stands, is something I feel is very relevant to me.

Heck, I’ve seen fan projects for games, movies, music, TV, game mods and more get shut down by an industry that isn’t stepping up to serve the market they are ‘protecting’. I can’t count the number of game mods or fan made games shut down with no promise of the market filling anytime soon. So I find a lot of that content rather relevant to me, and to a lot of people whom I know also enjoy this fan content.

So thats my answer ^-^

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

That’s how I got to Techdirt too. I wish they’d do more coverage of fan abuse and censorship. The horror stories, the horror stories… And like you say, the shutdowns are a complete waste because the company has no plans to step up and monetize the niche the fan creator was satisfying. I write fanfic about a cartoon that was popular in 1984. No new episodes will ever be produced by the parent company. Heck, the voice actor who played the main character I write about has been dead for years. But thanks to copyright, it’ll be…let’s see, 1984 + 95 years of corporate copyright protection is 2079…another 65 years before the cartoon goes out of copyright and I can legally create and sell art about it. Sickening.

Sketch Draft says:

Re: Re: Re:

Exactly my point. By the time works are allowed to be derived from, they are so far out of cultural relevance and consumer memory that nobody will know anything ABOUT them. Particularily during hard financial times, the open market needs to be promoted. I attend two conventions a year, where people make their living drawing art, making plushies, selling foreign wares. Whether its your thing or not, its driving economics, all powered by people who ‘like’ something.

Heck.. one of my treasured possessions is a ‘Player Pin’ from The World Ends With You I found at an anime convention.

Steven Burrows (profile) says:

I believe your stories are witty, insightful and take (often times) “blah” technical issues and bring life to them pointing out hypocrisy and misdeeds in critical but humorous way. Many of your stories are a call to action, however, since timing is important in all things, I believe that sometimes your stories are so far ahead of the curve that they may not always get the readership they deserve. I like Techdirt and look forward to reading it each day. Thank you and your contributors for all your hard work.

Rich Kulawiec (profile) says:

TD gets my frequent attention (and a lot of bookmarks) because it quite often distills stories told elsewhere in a unique fashion — with annotated anti-bullshit citations. A sizable chunk of the media have become stenographers, dutifully taking dictation from propagandists and PR flacks, but TD makes a very credible attempt to buck this trend.

I strongly suggest NOT adding voting: write about whatever interests you, whenever it interests you. If that means 10 stories in a day about 10 topics or 1 topic: so be it.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Came for the copyright trolls, stayed for high blood pressure inducing stupidity of the powers that be.

Quite a bit of my evangelism is based on supporting comments I make out in the world. As you know I’m a site whore, I’ll post where ever it grabs me, and I have no shame in mentioning other sites where other readers can learn more if there is more detail or a different spin on something.

You never smack me down for doing that sort of thing, I still might be the first one to do a favorites of the week and went offsite for one of my picks.

I know that the staff does not believe the hype, they go digging. I remember when a few of us were collectively pitching copyright troll misbehavior… it didn’t get much traction because well who is gonna take me seriously? But when what was being said started syncing with verifiable things…

I like that I can take a left turn on a topic and open peoples minds up to more things. I MIGHT see things a little differently.

blue skies says:

I don’t remember how I found techdirt, but most probably it’s via either google or some site like arstechnica, which I started to follow because I’m a programmer. Well, and a nerd.
Techdirt immediately caught my attention, because of the writing style and the types of stories you report on. You report on things I never ever will read in our local Dutch newspaper.

What I find interesting about techdirt is the insight it gives into some of the inner workings of usanian democracy (yes people I refuse to call it American because there’s more to the American continent than the USA alone). Or lack of democracy, maybe, depending on how you look at it. It’s immensely fascinating to read about “leftwing” and discovering that over here they would be rightwing. That difference in culture hooks me.

Yet, I rarely comment, mostly because others already said what I wanted to say. I do enjoy reading the comments however, seeing people discussing with eathother. I enjoy constructive discussion over silly flame wars.

Summarized, techdirt is fascinating for its storychoices. It gives an insight into what more and more seems to be an empire in decay, a country that wants to set the rules for the world to follow but itself wants to be above those rules. Yet, in that country people themselves are just like me. Maybe I secretly am an anthropologist 🙂

Lurker Keith says:

I started reading Techdirt during the SOPA blackout. It quite adequately explained what was going on. It is entirely possible I wound up on an article here before the Blackout (if that happened, it was from Google); such pre-discovery tends to happen to me. I hadn’t intended to stick around (there are few sites I regularly visit), but then one day I noticed a SENATOR read Techdirt… that day he may have actually posted something, but don’t recall.

As my chosen handle indicates, I had expected just to lurk. Most of the time, if I bother w/ the comments at all (if they’re somewhere over 30 by time I find the article, I usually don’t bother; over 20 depends on how I feel), what I have to say tends to be said by others (as is the case here). When I do post, it’s usually in an effort to contribute to the conversation & because I find I have something to say that hadn’t appeared to have been said. Very rarely, something insightful, funny or witty pops into my head to urge me to post when I don’t have something necessarily on topic to contribute.

I will say the only reason I do post when I do is because I don’t have to log in. I try to minimize how much of my online activity can be traced back to my real life identity, & having to include an E-mail address makes that easier to do (so, I’m glad more sites are being encrypted). & this was before we knew the NSA was actually doing what everyone feared they could. My reasoning was more a matter of online security than paranoia (though, some may consider those the same thing). When I do post, I try to keep tabs on that post for a few days, to see if anyone replied. When I do that, I may check for new posts, so I’m glad your site does keep notes on that & doesn’t use Cookies to handle it (I dump those anytime I close the browser –rarely does my browser stay open for extended periods– sometimes before).

I also don’t read every article (even some I would be interested in). Some topics I couldn’t care less about, while others the posts are just too long. Though, your & Popehat’s Prenda coverage (& The Oatmeal debacle) has been entertaining, so I do make a point of reading about them, if nothing else. Speaking of Ken, I think I followed a link from here to Popehat & started reading some of what Ken posts, too (again, it’s possible I ran across Popehat from Google once before I found them from here, but can’t be sure).

& as others have said, your linking to sources & generally backing up your take makes you appear less bias & better informed than other media outlets. As does the line-by-line/ paragraph-by-paragraph breakdowns.

As to why I share, I can’t quantify that. I tend to avoid most social media like the plague, which has made keeping up w/ friends difficult (though, since they switch platforms more than I feel they ought, keeping up w/ them would be more of a pain, & would expand my online footprint, since they’d have to be able to identify that it’s me). If an article is interesting to me or I feel it’s important (or at least relevant to those I know), I may share that w/ people I think would listen. That’s usually spoken, but sometimes I’ll send ONE friend a link. I do tell people who will listen about the latest Snowden leak, which I tend to learn more about here than on TV.

Also, I may have learned about AdBlockers here… I did learn about Ghostery in the comments the other day (had always wanted to block the tracking stuff, but never took the initiative to search for an easy means to do so).

Jennifer (profile) says:

I stumbled upon this site a couple years ago when I was looking for signs of hope that fanfiction might be legalized within my lifetime. At first, I was just reading articles that gave me new reasons to reaffirm my dislike for copyright. Copyright helps creativity? What a cruel joke. Many, many great fan projects have been shut down by copyright holders who wield a law-granted ability to censor and destroy art. Not to mention that I’m not allowed to sell any of my fan creations or even solicit donations for my work. I’m a self employed writer with two published books, and I know darn well that I could make money off my fanfic too if it weren’t for the laws pushed through by Big Copyright. Copyright helps authors make money? Hahaha! Not fan authors!

At first, I was just reading Techdirt articles about copyright, my area of interest. It gave me visceral satisfaction to see my opinions of copyright’s shortcomings confirmed by a knowledgeable third party. I was also interested in learning about the new business models people are exploring to replace copyright, especially in the area of writing. On that note, Techdirt has encouraged me to use open licenses and try business models other than “pay to read.” Last month I switched one of my books to a “pay what you want” donation model and sales underwent a modest increase of ~10 – 15%, not to mention that a TON more people downloaded my book than usual.

At first, I ignored the rest of your articles about patents and police corruption and Tor, etc. But then I gradually began to get curious about the other stuff that pops up on your homepage and started perusing topics I wasn’t originally interested in. Talk about an eye opener… Now I not only explain why copyright is bad, but why patents are unnecessary and we should be worried about the NSA. I also learned how to use Tor to post fanfic which satirically criticizes the franchise owner’s inability to adapt to the changing world of copyright and 3D printing. And thanks to you, I also know that now I’m on the NSA’s special watch list for Tor users. I think some of my friends are beginning to believe I’m a bit paranoid. But what do they know? :p

I tend to share what I read on Techdirt with my writer e-mail buddies, my fellow fans, my family, and my writing group. For example, I recently sent over your article on the Sherlock Holmes public domain debacle to a friend who is writing a novel about Holmes. I am able to tell people at my writing group why copyright is failing and what they can do to harness fanpower by use of open licenses. I tell them that if they’re not taking advantage of their fanbase’s creativity, then they’re throwing away money.

I’d love to see Techdirt do more coverage of abuses in the area of fanfic, fan art, etc. You guys already name and shame companies who sue their Yelp critics. You should also name and shame copyright holders who crush fan creativity. Take for instance the delightful flash cartoon crossover between Thomas the Tank Engine and Transformers. It got 24,000,000 hits on YouTube, and the children I showed it to loved it. Then it was shut down by the people who “own” Thomas the Tank Engine. Someone needs to point a finger at this and say, “This is wrong. And it’s also stupid. And bad business.”

About the only site that covers corporate abuse of fans consistently is The Mary Sue site, and they don’t have a copyright/new business model emphasis that you guys do. I’ve generally found that fans are aware of copyright and concerned about its impact on their work, but no one–NO ONE–has seriously tried to show them how to act on their concerns. Not to mention that the larger writing community needs to be educated on why letting fans make money from your work is a good thing. I wish you guys would run articles on stuff like how much money Stephanie Meyers lost by forcing E.L. James to barcode strip Fifty Shades of Grey. Imagine if Fifty Shades of Grey had kept Bella as the main character, and all that money had stayed inside the Twilight franchise? Instead Meyers lost it all, thanks to too much copyright control.

Maybe you could hire a writer to work on fan issues? Even just one weekly column would do wonders for the lack of attention and education in this area.

My wishlist:

1. Highlight abuses of creative fans by copyright holders in the same way you highlight abuses in the areas of trademark, censorship, and online criticism.

2. Run articles describing how authors and artists can find new ways to make money by letting fans add onto their work. There is no way a marketing team, no matter how skilled, can satisfy the individual desires of 20 million fans spread across the world. But the fan community sure can exploit all those niches! Also describe ways in which authors and artists have LOST money through barcode stripping, which effectively sends highly profitable fan creations out of franchise (City of Bones, Fifty Shades of Grey).

3. Highlight how companies abuse their fans by allowing fan creativity, but only if the fan sells their SOUL to the company and gives up all rights to their fan work in perpetuity. (Amazon’s Kindle Worlds, for example.) Highlight how GOOD companies and individuals allow their fans freedom to create and publish work where, when, and how they choose.

Keep up the great work, guys! This is one special site. 🙂

Jennifer says:

Re: Re: Re:

Thanks! I’d love to do some articles on this subject–even if it was just a short series of articles, like:

1. Go over examples showing why for-profit fan creativity will not harm business, but will actually help it in a surprisingly large number of ways (you’d think this would be obvious, but even some fans believe it)

2. Why fanfic publishing platforms are the Amazon of the future, thanks to bitcoin, and how this development will spawn a new generation of copyright-free publishing experiments. Also: why Amazon’s Kindle Worlds misses the point of fanfiction completely in its rush to monetize. Why their platform is broadly considered a failure by fans, and why it didn’t work out.

3. How James Madison, President of the United States, wrote a fanfic to make a political point. Derivative works draw on an audience’s shared cultural background to make powerful points that would be hard to otherwise convey. This make them a form of free expression that should be legalized.

4. Did you know that copyright makes it legal for artists to pick and choose which fans they censor? The author who wrote the classic “The Education of Little Tree” felt keen indignation about the treatment of native americans, but was a complete bigot when it came to African Americans. Should people like him have the legal right to (say) take down fanfics that involve AAs, while letting fanfics about NAs stay up? We need to drive home what exactly censorship is capable of. How about those 20 Chinese fanfic writers who were arrested for writing slash and adult content? What about all the Chinese fan sites that shut down in a panic?

5. Creators worry that if they let fans go free, their fans will write stories and make art that becomes more popular than their own. This illustrates the anti-competitive nature of copyright (how dare you create a better product than mine!), but it also demonstrates that copyright holders are so worried about losing money that they ignore ways fans can make them money and expand their fan base to new audiences! (Fifty Shades of Grey, City of Bones, etc.)

johnjac (profile) says:

I read 98% of the stories. I miss a few percentage points due to 1) every once in a while not having enough time or 2) Prada Law stories. I’m 100% sure the Prada Law stuff is super interesting but because of #1, I missed out on parts and had a hard time catching up on the confusing story.

I share stories when they explain viewpoints well. Vox has popularized “explainer journalism” but TechDirt has been doing it for years. I share something when I can say “Here is an example of why I think there are problems with copyright, or overvaluing ideas, or why all content is advertising, and on and on.

A Dan (profile) says:

More mainstream articles

There are a few criteria that really determine whether I send someone a link to a story.

1. Does it have a simple, obvious explanation which differs from other sites? Things like “No, [country] didn’t really just [kill/embrace] net neutrality” or “No, [country] didn’t just abolish software patents” are useful to send to people, because they tend to put the whole situation in perspective with background and an update for where we currently are.

2. Does it need community knowledge? If a story has a lot of snide references to past stories, I will often avoid sending it to people. I recognize your meaning, but they will not. Talking about how something has been thoroughly “debunked” in the past is not always convincing. I don’t want them to be put off and think the site is just a self-reinforcing single-narrative perspective. Anything that says “nobody said” typically falls into that same bucket. You may not have said it, but that doesn’t mean nobody did.

3. Does it have useful links to past stories? The lists of when things happened in the past, often included as several links-as-words in a sentence, are actually really useful for developing background.

So it looks like the things that I am most likely to send people are stories that help build background on an issue without needing community involvement of any kind. I like the site, but I want anything I send to people to be as objective, informative, and professional as possible.

Justin Bruns says:

I link to TechDirt articles that explain things like why Snowden is a hero, why net neutrality is important or why piracy isn’t stealing, because TechDirt articles usually explain the situation with plenty of links and sources. I check TechDirt daily because here I find the most complete and sourced updates on those stories. Those issues are literally defining the internet as we move forward, and TechDirt is covering all three with aplomb.

I will say that while the Prenda thing was mildly amusing, I don’t understand why that one company gets so many posts… foolish company is foolish, we get it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Thank goodness for the nanny state, here to save us from doing…well…stuff we want to do. I love the entire concept behind this now-publicized letter to the DOJ, which essentially says: “The common people are lowly animals and if you let them gamble with their money, instead of doing the sensible thing and gamble invest it in Wall Street, the moral fabric we have woven for these plebes will unravel like it was a Weezer song.”

Here’s my counter-argument: go to hell, Congress.

That is why I read Techdirt. Insightful information that I generally can’t get anywhere else, presented in glorious non-partisan wit.

John Clarkson says:

What makes me comment is thinking that I have something to say that nobody else can or will say, and believing that someone else will be interested in reading it, and not having to put too much effort in before posting (so no reading of pages-long terms of service first etc.).

What makes me share a story is when reading the story makes me think of a specific person who I believe will find the story of genuine interest. So for example I recently shared the story about the guy fired for blogging about homophones, because I have a gay friend who is interested in linguistics.

What draws me to Techdirt personally is a combination of the Schadenfreude of the Prenda saga and similar stories where bullies are hoist by their own petards, and keeping tabs on which tech companies are behaving unethically (so I can try to avoid giving them money).

Ninja (profile) says:

I direct people to Techdirt simply because the articles are usually easy to read without letting out the important details and it does one hell of a job to prove my point that Intellectual Property as a whole is a colossal failure. As a bonus you get a variety of tech related posts and freedom of speech/Govt abuse that I’m really, really interested. TD is one of the sites I read on an almost daily basis (excluding weekends when I read almost nothing).

As for why I comment I don’t particularly know. I’ve been active in very few communities in the past out of pure laziness and now due to time constraints (if I get active in another place my participation here is certainly going to drop). That said, what drives me to participate here is probably the same reason I donated: you do a very nice job here and the community is generally awesome.

As for the wow/meh posts I’d say it’s the same for comments. Sometimes you write something and think “damn, this is important!” but later you realize it’s more important to you than to people in general or funnier to you than to other people in general.

Killer_Tofu (profile) says:

Ah my Techdirt

I have been reading TechDirt articles for the last nine to ten years total now (its been a long time but I can’t remember exactly when I first found it). At first I was younger and much angrier at things that happened before I realized more how things seem to flow on the national level. So, after the first couple years I changed my handle to KillerTofu. I have been around using this handle for just over 7 years now and my posts have usually been a lot less angry than how I posted before.

I come to TechDirt because I feel it is an easy to reach source that encourages readers and discussions around topics and has a good collection of topics covered that I am passionate about and feel need more attention drawn to them. I tend to link to these articles when I am discussing a topic with somebody and the article was my source and it can add detail beyond what we discussed. You guys do have a very well thought out argument and while I can make most of the same points, I tend to feel I don’t quite do it as well as you guys do. As such I will sometimes link people to articles written here anyways. Even if I haven’t raised a discussion, if the post covers anything that I know a friend is passionate about, I will link them to it as additional news for them to cover. I know two of my friends who regularly scan the headlines here now because of that even though they don’t read much.

Over the last two to three years I have posted a lot less in the comments than I used to as well. This is partially due to time restraints. I also enter a lot of articles with intent to post something, but will see that somebody said my exact thought or noticed what I noticed, and then I won’t post. It was already posted and I don’t want to just add a “me too!”.

I used to read every single article as well during some slow times at work but over the last four years I started following more online and now I tend to skip some articles if I feel that from the title I already know what it will say. After following for so long, I have a general feel for how responses to certain items will be and not every topic covered greatly interests me (although all topics interest me at least some). The topics that greatly interest me I still read every article sooner or later for.

There was an era where I tried to shoot down the deniers and anti mikes, by replying with logic and analogies and comparisons and reason. That didn’t end well for me. I won’t say that they won, since there are still others here holding that torch. I did put in my time doing that though and due to having less time these days, I don’t partake of that anymore really. Much thanks goes out to my fellow TDers who now make sure that baseless arguments and strawmen are not left standing.

Overall I still love TD, still love my T-shirt I got from here back when (and still wear it). Keep up the good articles guys!

Killer_Tofu (profile) says:

Re: Ah my Techdirt

Funny short story to add (didn’t want previous post to get too long .. even though its pretty long). I wore my TechDirt T-Shirt to a class I took at Oakland University (in Michigan) for the first day of an Intellectual Property class that I took (an elective in my general area). The professor got quite a kick out of the shirt, and apparently he follows TD too. He was teaching people about a view very similar to TD since most students that went through the school didn’t know how much there was to copyright. A lot of people view it as horrible now, but somehow necessary. He helped expose them to more of the remix culture, a lot of fair use (which some people only have a minor grasp on), and also to more of the abuses that go on regularly (aside from the obvious ones like Youtube takedowns).

It was a really fun class and the professor was great. A lot of people left that class with a much broader view.

matt says:

they need to know

If one more of my friends sends me an article from the msn or yahoo main page about some celebrity or hyperbole nonsense that is “going to ruin the (insert noun here)” i will eat them. I send them articles because they get the easy to bite portions on other crappy sites, but those sites also come with an overwhelming amount of crap. When they share or show interest in a topic (upcoming technology, net neutrality, etc) and can only provide me maybe a sentence more than the dramatic headline I make a note to share stories from this site to help them dive into that topic at their own pace.

I like to think of Techdirt as college level education that I can send to my friends that are content with their High School level education. The articles are easy enough to follow, entertaining enough to keep me coming back, and educational and thoughtful enough to expand my mind and want to learn more.

Matthew (profile) says:


I usually only comment when i have something snarky or funny to say – the usual crowd does a pretty good job of trouncing trolls without my help.

I share techdirt stories when i see people interested in copyright, patent, etc. issues but without a lot of concrete knowledge, especially if they seem to be buying the spin without really understanding the issue.

timlash (profile) says:

As for me

I’m barely above lurker status. I read several times a week (via RSS), but not daily. Some weekends I might try and catch up. I’ve commented a few dozen times, but rarely anymore…no spare time. I think Techdirt hits a sweet spot at the intersection of technology, copyright and civil liberties. I do tell others about Techdirt and count myself a huge fan of Mike Masnick. He and I seem to share a like passion across many topics.

Honestly, if Mike did not post on this site, I would not read. Unfortunately, I may have carped a time or two in the comments when Mike’s schedule keeps him from frequently contributing. Sorry about that Mike. While I sometimes enjoy the other contributors work, they don’t speak to me in the same clear, concise and ardent manner as Mike. So there’s a bit of an echo chamber component to my visits, but reading keeps me up to speed on issues I find important. Often, if I first hear of a news item from another source, I eagerly think “Can’t wait to read what Mike has to say about this”.

Mike’s reporting has motivated me to participate far more actively in the political process. I’ve stumped against SOPA, written my national reps often and even called their Washington offices a few times to speak up on issues presented here. I’ve learned about Aaron Swartz, Reddit, ICE copyright enforcement, Sen. Ron Wyden, James Clapper, FBI terrorist breeder programs and all the crazy state surveillance. In fact, when I lay it out this way, I feel embarrassed that I’ve yet to act on the many times I’ve thought about subscribing. I think I’ll fix that right now.

Thanks for all you’ve done, and keep up the good work!

Anonymous Coward says:

I came to techdirt during the arstechnica advertising debate (no, I’m not going to unblock doubleclick’s javascript. I’m willing to unblock arstechnica’s javascript and add an adblock plus exception, but I draw the line at doubleclick’s javascript).

I comment because it’s low-effort; I don’t even have an account here. I comment when I feel I have something interesting to say.

KoD (profile) says:

Why I Share

I have been a bit of a TD evangelist at times, depending on my audience. I think the driving force behind my sharing of the site with friends and coworkers is the general content and journalistic integrity of TD. You guys have opened my eyes to some seemingly obvious concepts (hindsight!). The tone of your writing fits well and your emphasis on economic principles is something I will always try to propagate. I turn people on to TD when I see a chance that you will be able to educate and shift perspectives the same way your writing has done for me.

Dave says:

Why I Share and do not comment

Techdirt is a site with intelligent thought. (This is a very good thing), but it doesn’t always lead well to viral sharing (sadly) because most people who are not up to date on these issues need to be explained what exactly is going on.

The best articles to share are very succinct, and show a great example which may not be very obvious without reading it. A great example was written by a former congressional staffer a week or so ago, where she was showing other staffers about the article about why 50 cent’s blog was being called a “rogue” site. This is a great example. This is not something that the mainstream internet reader would know, this is easy to understand, and doesn’t need much background knowledge.

Techdirt stories are all fantastic. I’ve been reading for over a decade, have NEVER commented before, and only emailed Mike directly 2 times. (With his busy schedule, happily for me, he even responded to one! 🙂 ).

I rarely comment, or even really read the comments. Comments can definitely add to a conversation, but I (sadly) don’t have time to read every article, and then ALSO read every comment. So I only read every article.

I share the one’s that aren’t too complicated, to people who normally don’t read these types of articles. I can share more with people I have already had discussions with about these types of issues.

These issues are perfect, but sometime a little more nuanced than new readers can appreciate.

Keep up the great work!



Jason says:

I’ve been a regular reader of Techdirt for a little over a year now, although I can’t remember how I first came across it.

For the most part I’ve appreciated both the topical range and level of reporting within those topics. There are the occasional exceptions, but I generally find the treatment of Techdirt’s core focus areas to be very well done. I also very much appreciate the source links, which I follow fairly often. In many cases of legislation, for example, I’ve found the actual text of bills and related material far quicker by waiting for the Techdirt writeup than by trying to wade through the searches on the House/Senate sites themselves!

I almost always skim the comments, at the very least, and some stories I’ll follow until the threads fully dry up. I rarely post, usually finding that most of my thoughts are already expressed by others. Normally I’ll only post if there’s something useful I can add or if I come at it from a different direction.

As far as sharing, I’ll occasionally pass along a specific article, but not much else. Most of the people I’d pass links to are only really interested in that particular topic, not the broader range that Techdirt covers.

Anonymous Coward says:

I never talk about TechDirt because all of my friends’ eyes glaze over when I start talking technical stuff. I seem to be the only one interested in exploring these issues.

I never comment because I, in general, hate comments. They’re usually people just shouting at each other instead of open, thoughtful discussion. I never discuss anything serious in text. There are exceptions, but the signal to noise ratio is just too terrible for my time priorities.

mattshow (profile) says:

I’ll share a TechDirt story on Twitter or Facebook if I think it’s interesting subject matter and if TechDirt is offering some unique perspective or insight into the story. If I think it’s subject matter that is only going to be interesting to a few specific people, I’ll share the link with those people directly rather than pushing it out to the world. (ie. a a story on Facebook privacy will probably be interesting to all my Facebook friends, so I’ll post it there. Malibu Media stories are probably only going to be interesting to a few of my IP nerd friends, so those I would share with them directly). Content is king: a clickbaity headline will not make me share a link to a story that doesn’t have good content.

If the subject matter is interesting but I don’t feel like TD added much to the story, I’ll just share the link to the original story rather than the TD story (though I might mention the story came to me “via Techdirt”).

I will typically only comment on a story if I feel like I have something unique to add to the conversation. Usually I don’t – the topic might be interesting it me, but if all I have to say is “Yeah, fuck Republicans!” then I won’t waste my time or anyone else’s. However, sometimes stories come up where I feel like I have particular insight or expertise, and then I’ll comment heavily. (Since I’m a Canadian IP lawyer, typically this is IP stories, especially if they have a Canadian angle).

cm6029 (profile) says:

I would hate to think of myself as a low-information voter. The main stream media seems to pander to low-information voters by telling every story in highly biased snippets and soundbytes. For this reason, I actively look for alternative sources for information on many topics, and prefer sites such as Techdirt for a more complete explanation. When I find this explanation critically important or noteworthy, I share it with friends who I know have similar political and social views to my own.

Not all of my friends are immune to what the lame stream media puts out. For example, when the news about Edward Snowden broke, one of my very Republican friends asked me if I heard about the traitor that stole a bunch of documents from the government. I told him about the idea that this person should be considered a whistle blower and gave him my reasoning for that opinion, having just read an article in Techdirt that supported that theory. I pointed my friend to that article, and now he shares that viewpoint.

I’m not saying i agree with everything I read hear, but if I have a different viewpoint, I find that I can discuss it in a civil manner with my fellow readers, and come away satisfied, even if I didn’t manage to change anyone’s mind.

collin (profile) says:

I read and share Techdirt because of a number of reasons. I like the ongoing “threads” of information about copyrights and legal matters. For example, the Prenda stuff over the years has been great. I guess that would be one of the things I like – that a story is rarely a one-time event on here if it is an ongoing story. Other sites tend to do a one-off and then it is done.

I have shared verbally and sent links to friends when discussions have come up that I just know Techdirt would have covered. Like Net Neutrality and like the Happy Birthday song. Sometimes I know it is Techdirt reporting on other folks’ reporting about something but I like that as well – and I consider Techdirt to be one of the few daily “one stop shop” places I go for information.

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