Techdirt Needs Your Help To Fight Encryption Fearmongering

from the please-support-us dept

TL;DR: Support our coverage of the encryption battle!

In the summer of 2014, we ran a crowdfunding campaign to help support Techdirt, in order to do more in-depth reporting on the big net neutrality fight happening in Washington, DC (and, more broadly, around the globe). That campaign was successful beyond our wildest expectations, and allowed us to do much more thorough reporting (including bringing on Karl Bode to help cover these issues) on such an important issue. We ended up writing well over 300 articles since that campaign ended, and that initiative is still ongoing.

Now, we're launching another crowdfunding campaign for an issue that's even more important: the fight over encryption. And so I wanted to ask you to support us again in this new campaign. We literally cannot do this without you:

Techdirt needs your help to fight encryption fearmongering.

As you almost certainly know, this battle has ramped up in the last few years -- first in response to the Snowden revelations, followed by a rush by many, including Apple, to better encrypt their services and devices. However, law enforcement and the intelligence communities are less than pleased about all of this, and have been pushing for backdoors and other legislative solutions. This is not new. They pushed for such things in the 1990s, in the original "Crypto Wars," and lost. But now they see a new opening to try again. In the last couple weeks, this issue has blown up even more, as the DOJ sought, and received, a court order directing Apple to effectively write special software to allow the FBI to hack into an iPhone to get around existing encryption and security features.

And, it's not just about this current Apple fight. Or just the US. Congress is looking at this issue, and other governments are eagerly considering how they can use the US's efforts to serve their own wishes. And that's not to mention various other technologies and companies that have been impacted by this debate already.

This is a big deal. It will impact how technology works and how you maintain your security and privacy going forward. It will impact what you get to do on your own devices, and what the government can force companies to do. And not just in the US. The rest of the world is watching closely how this battle plays out, to figure out what they might be able to get away with as well.

And, frankly, most of the reporting is abysmal or, at the very least, confused. When the story of the Apple court order broke, most initial reports falsely stated that the court ordered Apple to "break the encryption" on its phones. We were the first site (and for a while, the only site) to post the actual court order and to discuss what it actually said.

And this is a case where the specifics and the details matter... a lot. We want to be able to do a lot more reporting like this, really digging into the issues and explaining them in a way that everyone can understand and focus on the facts, rather than the fearmongering.

But to do that, we need your support. Believe it or not, writing about the arcane details at the intersection of technology and policy does not attract big time advertisers. In fact, we've lost many advertisers due to our willingness to call out bad behavior by large companies.

So, please support our campaign:

Techdirt needs your help to fight encryption fearmongering.

As with the last campaign, the focus is in funding our ongoing reporting on this issue, but we also are hoping to do some creative experiments as well, to further expand the reach of that reporting. So, if we can reach our initial target of $20,000, we'll use some of that money to buy a large number of targeted ads in publications that are read by policymakers in DC (and their constituents), that link back to our reporting. For each $10,000 beyond that that we reach, we'll add another experiment in ways to have our reporting actually reach more people -- including policymakers, the public, and the press.

If you supported us last time around (or in other ways, such as via our Techdirt Insider Shop), I can't thank you enough for your support, and I hope that you found our reporting on net neutrality useful and valuable. If you haven't supported us in the past, please consider doing so now. We strive to not only do great reporting on these issues -- which means actually going beyond just the "he said, she said" versions to calling out blatant lies and hypocrisy when we see it -- but to also build a community here. That means we work extra hard to welcome in people to comment and discuss issues, and we try to avoid the practices adopted by many other sites to push people away. We don't do "paywalls." We don't demand that you turn off ad blockers. Hell, we let you turn ads off on the site. And we also do things like better protect you by still being one of only a few news sites that is fully HTTPS encrypted.

But all of that costs us. Calling out companies means that lots of companies don't want to advertise with us. The ability to turn off ads and only accept HTTPS ads means that our ad revenue is significantly limited. But we still think it's worth it, because focusing on building a better, more engaged community here, where you're welcome to participate, is really important to us. But it also means that, every so often, we may reach out for some help. And now is one of those times. So please consider supporting us.

Techdirt needs your help to fight encryption fearmongering.

Oh, and if you need one last reason to support us... yesterday I emailed backers of the original campaign to give them a heads up about this, and look how someone reacted:

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  • icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 26 Feb 2016 @ 10:45am

    OK, that pic alone (in context) is worth a donation. Making a note to myself to chip in something when I get home...

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Feb 2016 @ 11:18am

    Nothing says you run a successful web business like the fact that you have to (yet again!) beg for money. LMFAO, Mike. And you say Disney doesn't innovate? At least they made over $50 in revenue last year. What'd you make?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 26 Feb 2016 @ 11:24am

      Re:

      I find it kinda telling that a guy who goes around *claiming* to work in support of "content creators" doesn't recognize that crowdfunding is a hugely important business model for those content creators -- but instead has to insult it as "begging."

      Thanks for proving what we know: you don't support new business models or internet intermediaries who help content creators, like us, make money. You just blather on in support of old legacy players who don't want to innovate.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Feb 2016 @ 2:43pm

        Re: Re:

        I find it kinda telling that a guy who goes around *claiming* to work in support of "content creators" doesn't recognize that crowdfunding is a hugely important business model for those content creators -- but instead has to insult it as "begging."

        Thanks for proving what we know: you don't support new business models or internet intermediaries who help content creators, like us, make money. You just blather on in support of old legacy players who don't want to innovate.


        Careful, Mike. If you're trying to convince people that you're the voice of reason who's going to cut through the "fearmongering," you might not want to make it so obvious that you so easily jump to ridiculous conclusions. But you run a very successful blog that loses money, so you probably already know this.

        I'm all for content creators using whatever business model they want to make money. You're the one that HATES the business that Disney proves time and time again works quite well: IP.

        Let's see...

        Disney: Invests over $200 million to create a very valuable asset, The Force Awakens, which has brought in over $2 billion at the box office and probably will make five times as much in merchandise. These investments and returns are thanks to IP.

        Masnick: Begs for money so he can publish more blog posts that he has to give away for free since they're not valuable enough to actually sell. Begs for money so he can take out some ads to drive more traffic to his blog that can't pay its own bills even with its own ads. These investments and returns are thanks to begging.

        It's hilarious that you trash Disney when they're so good at innovating that just one asset returns billions. And what's your innovation? Begging and ads? You can call it one of the "new business models," but there's nothing new about it. And simply doing it on a computer doesn't make it new.

        So, yeah, Mike. I love anything that works. And if begging works for you, then good for you. I donated money the last time you begged. I might even do it again here. The reason is simple: I recognize that your labor actually creates things of value. I don't pretend like the value is added only by the world at large. I understand that content creators work hard to earn a buck, and I support lots of people who beg.

        To claim that I don't support content creators is just stupid. I SUPPORT YOU, Mike. I even grabbed a few things from the store, but I have to admit that I gave them away as gag gifts. Probably not what you were looking for, but I doubt that you care. My "legacy" friends and I think they're absolutely hilarious.

        Anyway, if you really want to go up against the "fearmongering," the first step would be for you to not fear-monger. Sadly, I don't think you know any other way of operating. You publish some of the most ridiculous crap I've ever read, and then run away rather than defend your nonsense. You also write some interesting things, and I find things valuable to read at times.

        See, unlike you, I don't speak in black and white, extremist bullshit. You should try it sometime. You might even find more advertisers that don't find you so repugnant.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Mike Masnick (profile), 26 Feb 2016 @ 3:21pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          I don't hate Disney's business model. I hate that Disney has abused its position to harm others, and the public domain in particular. I don't think Star Wars is "innovation." I think they made a great movie and they deserve to make money from it, but the idea that it's because of "IP" shows what kind of narrow world you live in. They made that money because they made a great movie that people were quite happy to pay and to see and to support in lots of other ways. No one paid to see Star Wars "because copyright." They paid because it was offered in a convenient and reasonable manner.

          That has nothing to do with IP.

          But, of course, Disney also has a long history of closing the door behind it on IP. So much of its works were built off of others or the public domain. I just read my kids Pinnochio. It's in the public domain. Have you read it? It's a bit different than the Disney version (Pinnochio kills the cricket in the first act).

          It was written in 1883. In 1940, 57 years later, Disney was able to turn it into a movie, because it was in the public domain. We're now 75 years since that movie was made. Can you tell me when the movie will be in the public domain? Thanks.

          Without Disney's lobbying it would already be in the public domain. When it was made, the maximum length of copyright was 56 years. It should have been in the public domain in 1996. But of course, with Disney's help, we got the 1976 Copyright Act, which extended copyrights. And then the 1998 Copyright Term Extension Act, which extended them some more. Will we ever get it into the public domain? I wonder.

          And, honestly, if you're going to argue that no one should listen to what I have to say because I don't make as much money as Star Wars, well, that's an interesting metric to work off of. Last I checked, you didn't make that much money either. But who cares?

          See, unlike you, I don't speak in black and white, extremist bullshit.

          Nor do I. But you keep insisting I do, because you've got this strawman Mike built up in your head, and no matter how many times I prove you wrong, your cognitive dissonance takes over and insists that it must be because *I'm* lying, simply because the real me doesn't act the way you think the fake me in your head should act.

          Don't give me your money. I don't want it.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 29 Feb 2016 @ 9:13am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I don't hate Disney's business model. I hate that Disney has abused its position to harm others, and the public domain in particular. I don't think Star Wars is "innovation." I think they made a great movie and they deserve to make money from it, but the idea that it's because of "IP" shows what kind of narrow world you live in. They made that money because they made a great movie that people were quite happy to pay and to see and to support in lots of other ways. No one paid to see Star Wars "because copyright." They paid because it was offered in a convenient and reasonable manner.

            That has nothing to do with IP.


            Is your grasp of IP really this terrible? Wow. Just wow.

            It's not that "No one paid to see Star Wars 'because copyright.'" It's that Disney made Star Wars because copyright and the people that did pay to see it paid Disney and not a bunch of free riders because copyright.

            It is because of the exclusive rights granted by copyright that Disney invested $200 million into making the film. The exclusivity is distributing the film is how it has not only recouped this investment but also made a handsome profit. And it is IP protection from copyright, trademark, trade dress, etc. that allows Disney to make many billions on merchandise.

            It's simply AMAZING that you don't understand even the basics of how IP works. Are you really this fucking clueless about IP? Wow, Mike. Just wow.

            Nor do I. But you keep insisting I do, because you've got this strawman Mike built up in your head, and no matter how many times I prove you wrong, your cognitive dissonance takes over and insists that it must be because *I'm* lying, simply because the real me doesn't act the way you think the fake me in your head should act.

            I'm happy to attack the real Mike on the merits, but he just runs away. Every. Single. Time. Bawk! It's not a straw man to say you run away rather than defend your bullshit on the merits. It's just the sad, sad truth about you.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Mike Masnick (profile), 29 Feb 2016 @ 10:14am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Considering that you just (deliberately?) misrepresented basically everything I've said, perhaps that should be a clue for why the best strategy is to ignore you.

              I have, and regularly still do, debate lots of people more accomplished and knowledgeable then you. But your answer, which pretends I said stuff I never said, and totally misrepresents reality is the reason that I wrote this in the first place: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120818/01171420087/funniestmost-insightful-comments-week-techdirt .shtml#c1210

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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                identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 29 Feb 2016 @ 10:52am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Don't just claim I misrepresented you and then run away. For once, back up your claim. Explain how I misrepresented you. Be specific.

                I said:
                Disney: Invests over $200 million to create a very valuable asset, The Force Awakens, which has brought in over $2 billion at the box office and probably will make five times as much in merchandise. These investments and returns are thanks to IP.
                You said:
                I think they made a great movie and they deserve to make money from it, but the idea that it's because of "IP" shows what kind of narrow world you live in. They made that money because they made a great movie that people were quite happy to pay and to see and to support in lots of other ways. No one paid to see Star Wars "because copyright." They paid because it was offered in a convenient and reasonable manner.

                That has nothing to do with IP.
                I said:
                It's not that "No one paid to see Star Wars 'because copyright.'" It's that Disney made Star Wars because copyright and the people that did pay to see it paid Disney and not a bunch of free riders because copyright.

                It is because of the exclusive rights granted by copyright that Disney invested $200 million into making the film. The exclusivity is distributing the film is how it has not only recouped this investment but also made a handsome profit. And it is IP protection from copyright, trademark, trade dress, etc. that allows Disney to make many billions on merchandise.
                Where is the misrepresentation? You claimed that Disney making many billions of dollars off of Star Wars "has nothing to do with IP." I responded that it has very much to do with IP because Disney would not have invested $200 million to make the film without IP and because it would have to compete with free riders without IP.

                IP is fundamentally important to Disney's business model. It's why, as you love to note, Disney cares deeply about IP.

                Where is the misrepresentation, Mike. Be specific. Explain EXACTLY what my misrepresentation is. If you debate people way smarter than me, it should be so simple for you to explain yourself here. I can't wait for your explanation.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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                  identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 29 Feb 2016 @ 4:22pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  I love too how you can't even admit that copyright does anything good for Disney's business model. You whine and whine and whine for years on end about how Disney does what it can to strengthen IP rights, but then you're so incredibly dishonest that you can't even admit that the company you accuse of being irrationally in love with IP actually gains a thing from IP. And you do this by pretending like IP is only about the money people spend--not about how IP helped bring about the thing they're spending money on or the fact that the vast majority of that money only goes to the IP owner and not free riders. Your dishonesty is epic, Mike! Truly, truly epic. I actually feel sorry for you. And you're supposed to be the voice of reason in the encryption debates? Hilarious. You are hands-down the most dishonest person I can think of. No exaggeration. Bawk!!!!!

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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                Anonymous Coward, 29 Feb 2016 @ 4:08pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Bawk! LMAO.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • icon
                  Mike Masnick (profile), 29 Feb 2016 @ 4:36pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  WTF. Spent the afternoon in a room with an undersecretary of cybersecurity for Homeland Security, and a former NSA General Counsel discussing cybersecurity issues, and apparently I should have blown it off because some asshole on the internet wants my attention.

                  I'll get to you if I ever have time. Trust me: you're low on the priority list and acting like a dickish troll doesn't move you to the front of the line. Everyone else here can read what I said and how you misrepresented it.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 29 Feb 2016 @ 6:55pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    LOL! I can trade nonsense about the high-level meetings I've been in the past week too (USCO, IPEC, USPTO), but I won't. What a fucking sad state of affairs that you continue to claim I misrepresented you, but you're too chicken shit to even begin to explain exactly how. Bawk!!!! Every. Single. Time.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 27 Feb 2016 @ 11:10am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Don't forget to yell at a cloud or something.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          klaus (profile), 27 Feb 2016 @ 12:11pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          "You publish some of the most ridiculous crap I've ever read..."

          You're entitled to your opinion, even if it's wrong.

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      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 28 Feb 2016 @ 12:58am

        Re: Re:

        I find it kinda telling that a guy who goes around *claiming* to work in support of "content creators" doesn't recognize that crowdfunding is a hugely important business model for those content creators -- but instead has to insult it as "begging."

        But of course, remember:

        Asking the public for funding in exchange for product and/or service: Begging.

        Asking large company for funding in exchange for product and/or service, the rights of which will then belong to said company: Doing business.

        Anyone who doesn't want to be accused of 'begging' had best get their money from a large company in exchange for most, if not all of the rights over what is created, that's just how it works.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      TheResidentSkeptic (profile), 26 Feb 2016 @ 12:02pm

      Re:

      He just made another $250 from *this* supporter. See, he makes things I like, makes it easy to support him, and we gladly do so.

      Make things we don't like; make them hard (or impossible) for us to buy, and we don't.

      I don't see it as begging - I see it as a "work for hire".. we are hiring him to do this work for us. Now that is a business model you must be behind... right?

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Feb 2016 @ 2:26pm

      Re:

      How taxing would it be for the movie industry to stop begging for tax credit from various levels of government, oh That's right films never ever make a profit!

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    • identicon
      Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 26 Feb 2016 @ 6:03pm

      Re: At least they made over $50 in revenue last year. What'd you make?

      Much more than $50.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Mar 2016 @ 5:29pm

      Re:

      "CEO Bob Iger apparently emailed Disney employees asking them to contribute to DisneyPAC, specifically to help Disney pay for lobbyists to push the TPP across the finish line."
      https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20160225/17535133715/annotating-letter-disneys-ceo-sent-to-d isney-employees-asking-them-to-fund-disneys-sketchy-lobbying-activities.shtml

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Feb 2016 @ 11:19am

    If you want to support encryption support free and open source software that cannot be controlled by any government.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Feb 2016 @ 4:09pm

      Re:

      If the legislators decide to make strong encryption illegal that open source software is useless. Well useless to law abiding citizens, quite useful to criminals.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    NSA PR (profile), 26 Feb 2016 @ 11:37am

    God damn it Mike.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Chris ODonnell (profile), 26 Feb 2016 @ 11:57am

    I'm in.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Feb 2016 @ 12:12pm

    Yes...and no

    I'm happy to fund reporting, but I don't want to fund advertising -- of any kind. Advertising is one of the very worst things to ever happen to the Internet and I really don't want to do anything that supports it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Feb 2016 @ 1:27pm

      Re: Yes...and no

      I don't want to fund advertising
      In order to reach policymakers in DC, would you suggest campaign contributions instead?

      The advantage of going the campaign-contributions route is that the access it buys you often provides a quieter, and more private venue to express your viewpoint. The disadvantage is that it opens you up to perceptions of backroom deals in smoke-free rooms.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 27 Feb 2016 @ 9:02am

        Re: Re: Yes...and no

        … in smoke-free rooms.
        Autodesk part of software group backing Apple”, by Marco della Cava, USA TODAY, Feb 27, 2016
        … [Autodesk CEO Carl] Bass also cautioned that the case was neither cut and dry nor one that should be prosecuted in the court of public opinion, where passions run high on both sides of the Apple vs. FBI debate. A number of polls indicate that people seem evenly divided on the issue.

        "It's better to settle this behind closed doors," Bass said, adding that although he supports data privacy broadly "it would seem unusual that the only thing not liable to search and seizure is our smartphones."

        At the moment, "the rhetoric has exceeded the reality," he said. "The best outcome is the FBI gets to the information it needs" in this instance without it turning into a free pass for unfettered data access. …

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Feb 2016 @ 6:39am

        Re: Re: Yes...and no

        I really like this idea - crowdfunding to buy a techdirt politician... the possibilities!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Feb 2016 @ 4:08pm

    I think if Masnik had 200 million, he would create something with a hell of a lot more "value" then starwars....what exactly has starwars done for the world?

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  • icon
    AJ (profile), 26 Feb 2016 @ 4:21pm

    Well Techdirt, you win... I finally signed in lol. We haven't always seen eye to eye on everything, but in this we agree 100%. You have my support, fight the good fight.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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    icon
    Whatever (profile), 26 Feb 2016 @ 7:08pm

    "Techdirt needs your help to fight encryption fearmongering."

    When I read this, I thought you were going to go back and delete some of your more over the top posts this week. Instead it means you are hoping to get paid to go full retard on the subject.

    You should never go full retard.

    Good luck with it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Leigh Beadon (profile), 27 Feb 2016 @ 8:54am

      Re:

      You should never go full retard.

      You're just on a roll with totally not understanding the expressions you're using today, huh?

      Do you understand what the "full retard" joke was saying, like, at all? It was a commentary on what the public will accept/not accept due to their own discomfort and denial, not on what is "correct". The entire point was that all popular depictions of mentally challenged characters are largely cop-outs, tempering their disorders with fantastical superpowers to make audiences feel a bit better about themselves and spare them having to grapple with the reality of those conditions. It was a commentary on the fact that depicting the actual truth about a difficult subject is not a good way to get ahead or find success, because people don't want to be confronted with difficult truths, and established industries especially don't want to deal with them when money is on the line. They are only interested in sanitized depictions.

      So once again, really, you nailed it! The entire point of this campaign is to fund our reporting on the sort of unpleasant, unsanitized truths that we would be "wiser" to shut up about if our sole interest was industry acclaim and traditional success. We don't intend to tone down the reality of the situation in order to make people feel comfortable or avoid posing challenging questions about privacy, encryption, government surveillance and law enforcement.

      So yes: Techdirt is going to go "full retard" on encryption!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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        Whatever (profile), 27 Feb 2016 @ 6:37pm

        Re: Re:

        Leigh (or should I call you "talentless git"), you miss the point entirely. Right or wrong, posting up a half a dozen stories that are sort of "oh yeah, and this!" basically destroys all the credibility, to the point where people tune out. Information overload isn't positive at all.

        For what it's worth, I used the term in reference to the movie Tropic Thunder. You would know it because the torrents have allowed culture to be spread even to Mississauga.

        "The entire point of this campaign is to fund our reporting on the sort of unpleasant, unsanitized truths that we would be "wiser" to shut up about if our sole interest was industry acclaim and traditional success."

        Yes, and my point is that you would have done it anyway. The money is pretty much cheap cash grab on a hot button issue, not unlike what politicians do when pushing for campaign donations. It's not like Techdirt would suddenly ignore the issue if the money didn't come in.

        But hey, carry on. Hopefully this works out better than music for ya.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Leigh Beadon (profile), 27 Feb 2016 @ 7:58pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          you miss the point entirely

          Actually it would appear YOU did...

          For what it's worth, I used the term in reference to the movie Tropic Thunder

          Yes, I know. That's the joke you completely failed to understand, and which I had to explain to you, and which apparently you still don't understand.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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            Whatever (profile), 28 Feb 2016 @ 8:59am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Leigh, honestly, stop. You missed my point entirely, and trying to paint it as anything else is just sad.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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    Anonymous Coward, 26 Feb 2016 @ 7:25pm

    According to Alexa.com techdirt's traffic has been dropping like a stone. Surely your appeal for money so you can buy ads is completely unrelated?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), 26 Feb 2016 @ 10:18pm

    Kinda fun...

    ... to see how quickly the trolls come out to attack. Reinforces that we're clearly doing something right to piss off people so much that they very thought of the public supporting Techdirt scares them shitless.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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      icon
      Whatever (profile), 26 Feb 2016 @ 11:13pm

      Re: Kinda fun...

      You flatter yourself. I for one am not "scared shitless" by you begging for money. Rather, I am amused. It would seem you are heading down the same sort of self aggrandizing road that many go when they believe in their own message a little too much.

      When I think of the public supporting you, I think "fools and their money are soon parted". Part of the true magic of selling snake oil is that the people believe that it helps them, otherwise you can't sell it. You can certainly sell it!

      Good luck with it. 10 years from now, we will likely all look back and facepalm ourselves for ever thinking it would mean much.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        AJ, 27 Feb 2016 @ 3:53am

        Re: Re: Kinda fun...

        Techdirt is giving their community a way to participate in something that they collectively believe in. Just because you disagree, doesn't mean you need to resort to personal attacks and trolling.

        You really are a sad sort of person! I used to enjoy reading your take on stories, you weren't main stream and you were definitely not popular, but you brought a different perspective that could really add to the debate. Now your just resorting to personal attacks against the owner of the web site and the community. It's really pathetic.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
          icon
          Whatever (profile), 27 Feb 2016 @ 5:18am

          Re: Re: Re: Kinda fun...

          Aj, with due respect, I am only pointing out the obvious: Techdirt wants it's visitors to foot the bill for advertising to boost the site, and to pay for the stories that they are going to write anyway. The last time they did this there was not notable increase in number, depth, or scope of the stories on the site. However, they did take in an extra wad of cash.

          I do think that a successful business shouldn't be crowdfunding to keep doing what it is doing. Moreover, I think that it takes the website here and starts to lean it more and more towards being a PAC rather than an informative resource. Generally that means that there is even less tolerance for opposing views, and more to do with narrative and staying on message. Do you think that is a benefit?

          I also do think very honestly that Mike is an incredible salesman. I was very impressed back in the day with his 60 slides a minute presentation style, not because the content is good as much as how the method of presentation works on an audience. See, when you provide that much visual stimulous while giving them your opinion, they are less likely to actually think about what you are saying and much more likely just to swallow it whole. They are too busy to think for themselves. It makes the ultimate receptive audience, and a lot of them will leave agreeing with you because they haven't thought things through themselves.

          Mike is a consummate salesman, no doubt. I think the product is virtual snake oil, but for some it's nectar of the gods. Your mileage may vary. Not availble in Alaska. Please read directions carefully. All the other standard disclaimers.

          I have no doubt that Techdirt will raise the money. I am just not sure that the money makes a real difference except to the bottom line and the take home pay for the owners.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 27 Feb 2016 @ 7:38am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Kinda fun...

            Ahh... some insight into Whatever's psychology. In order to continue believing he's the smartest person in the room even when nobody respects his opinions even slightly, he's had to construct an elaborate explanation about Mike's "sales" chops. Otherwise he'd have to confront the fact that most smart people think he's an idiot.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Leigh Beadon (profile), 27 Feb 2016 @ 7:52am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Kinda fun...

            It's absolutely awesome that you are harping on the "snake oil" angle. Do you know why? No, you probably don't. Let's learn together!

            "Snake oil" was something brought to America by Chinese rail workers. It was actually an effective treatment for inflammation - its composition then was extremely similar to modern anti-inflammatory rubs and ointments.

            But then... "patent medicines" rose in popularity. These were the nonsense tonics that we actually think of when we say "snake oil": Dr. Suchandsuch's Magical Whatever Tonic. Either totally inactive, or just a mix of alcohol and hard opiates. Very dangerous, very rarely real medicine.

            These medicines were in competition with "snake oil". Then one patent medicine maker started aping it, selling his own "rattlesnake oil", which was actually totally ineffective as an anti-inflammatory compared to Chinese snake oil. Federal investigators found that it didn't contain a drop of actual snake oil, and this is when the term became associated with "fraud". Popular depictions of the "snake oil salesman" arose in film, but these depictions were in fact based almost entirely on western patent medicine sellers.

            So, what is "snake oil"? A genuine, effective medicine given a bad name by the smear campaigns and dishonest business practices of patent holders, legacy industries and Hollywood. Techdirt indeed!

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 27 Feb 2016 @ 2:59pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Kinda fun...

              And that's the Etymological Fallacy in action.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                Leigh Beadon (profile), 27 Feb 2016 @ 8:10pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Kinda fun...

                The etymological fallacy is insisting a term should mean what it originally meant. I'm not - I'm fine with the new use of snake oil. Unfortunately, if you use that new meaning, then what Whatever said is moronic and incorrect from every angle and in every way. However if you examine it through a more critical light of where that term comes from and what history it belies, then what he said is pretty much on the money and a lovely defence of Techdirt - and it actually makes sense and is accurate to boot! Really I'm throwing him a bone, making him look much more perceptive than he actually is.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 28 Feb 2016 @ 7:26pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Kinda fun...

                Your real name wouldn't be Humpty Dumpty perchance would it?

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
              icon
              Whatever (profile), 27 Feb 2016 @ 6:28pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Kinda fun...

              Haha, nice story Mike, but Since (a) you ain't Chinese, and (b) you didn't understand my frame of reference, then you fail.

              I was referring to snake oil salesmen... you know, the guys selling crap and claiming it's the best.

              It's a nice story, and way to "sell" as always. Of course, avoiding addressing issues with a redirection is classic!

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                Leigh Beadon (profile), 27 Feb 2016 @ 8:01pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Kinda fun...

                Haha, nice story Mike, but Since (a) you ain't Chinese, and (b) you didn't understand my frame of reference, then you fail.

                Not Mike. Not a story where the nationality matters (just a bit of historical context for you). And not failing to understand your frame of reference - explaining to you how you failed to understand your own frame of reference.

                I was referring to snake oil salesmen... you know, the guys selling crap and claiming it's the best.

                Yup. It's a nonsense term based on historical distortion. And the irony is that, to someone who bothers to understand what snake oil actually was, your weak attempt at wit makes the opposite point from what you hoped. Now you know! Always nice to educate someone, even someone who fervently resists being educated.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
                  icon
                  Whatever (profile), 28 Feb 2016 @ 9:03am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Kinda fun...

                  Geez Leigh, 2 for 2 on the idiot list today!

                  "Not a story where the nationality matters"

                  Sure does. Chinese people would have sold the real stuff. Non-chinese people sold "snake oil", which is a term used to describe something that isn't at all effective and doesn't do what it claims.

                  I know you are trying hard, but wow, you come off like a clown here.

                  "Yup. It's a nonsense term based on historical distortion. And the irony is that, to someone who bothers to understand what snake oil actually was, your weak attempt at wit makes the opposite point from what you hoped. Now you know! Always nice to educate someone, even someone who fervently resists being educated."

                  The problem is that it's entirely freaking irrelevant! It's a total distraction for the point I tried to make. Instead, you went off on the history of snake oil. Who gives a crap? Seriously, all you have managed to do is prove what I always say about these sorts of things: if you aren't getting a straight answer, it's because they don't have one. Wasting time on a misidrection about the history of a given term is just proving there is no real answers. How about answering the real questions instead of trying to prove you are intelligent (that will take some time!).

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 2 Mar 2016 @ 7:28am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Kinda fun...

                    > posts nothing but insults and misdirection
                    > gets called out on it
                    > screams irrelevance

                    Whatever you say, asshole.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Feb 2016 @ 12:13pm

      Re: Kinda fun...

      Fine Mike, then tell us what is this sites traffic in January 2016 compared to January 2015?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Stosh, 27 Feb 2016 @ 10:40am

    Who needs encryption, the IRS, DHS and FBI used it extensively with 17 character passwords and they got hacked.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Feb 2016 @ 11:17am

    According to Alexa, Techdirt's rankings have dropped dramatically. Call me a cynic but your bid to raise money for advertising isn't completely unrelated to this, is it?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      klaus (profile), 27 Feb 2016 @ 11:43am

      Re:

      The first time you mentioned Alexa I put it down to blissful ignorance. The second time, well, it just saddened me. Please don't go for the trifecta...

      You do know, don't you, just how worthless Alexa is, right? It's wide open to abuse and it's technical model has so many failings I wouldn't know where to begin.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 27 Feb 2016 @ 12:10pm

        Re: Re:

        Ok, so tell us what Techdirt's traffic is this month compared to the same month a year ago. If there hasn't declined I'll withdraw my suspicion that this fundraising campaign has more to do with marketing Techdirt in the face of sliding visitor numbers.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          klaus (profile), 27 Feb 2016 @ 12:27pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          I don't know what Techdirt's traffic is and I don't particularly care. What I DO know is that Alexa is not the place to go to for reliable information.

          Site rankings and SEO are horrible distortions. Your suspicions may be valid, but again, I simply don't care. Techdirt is a business. Mike Masnick is in business. So we should be surprised if he acts businesslike?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
            icon
            Whatever (profile), 27 Feb 2016 @ 6:31pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            ... and the business is to beg for money? Is Techdirt that hard up that they can't scrape together $10,000 to cover what they consider important, and to hope that their coverage increases their readership enough to pay for it? Basic business says that if you do something which doesn't pay for itself, it's probably bad business.

            What Mike wants is for you guys to pay ahead for something he was going to do anyway. It's classic stuff, the sort of thing that makes Techdirt "great". Ranks right up their with wife of a millionaire begging for money and not paying musicians to play live.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 29 Feb 2016 @ 6:01am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              You mean like Disney begging money from its employees to pay for laws, then blame consumers for making backups of their legal DVDs for drops in revenue?

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Mike Masnick (profile), 27 Feb 2016 @ 10:29pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Ok, so tell us what Techdirt's traffic is this month compared to the same month a year ago. If there hasn't declined I'll withdraw my suspicion that this fundraising campaign has more to do with marketing Techdirt in the face of sliding visitor numbers.

          Our traffic on the site has remained pretty much the same.

          1. You're looking at Alexa which is notoriously inaccurate.
          2. You're looking at "rank" not traffic anyway.
          3. Our traffic is basically the same as it was a year ago. For February to date this year, we're at 1.55 million. A year ago, February was 1.6 million. Month to month fluctuations mean some months are up and some are not (usually based on how many stories go big, and how big). At the same time, the number of people seeing our stories via other platforms (Facebook, mainly) has gone up quite a bit. So, overall traffic is in a good spot. This move is not, even remotely, a reaction to "sliding visitor numbers" because there is no slide (nor, honestly, do we even look at those numbers closely -- I just looked them up in response to your question).

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
            icon
            Whatever (profile), 28 Feb 2016 @ 9:05am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I have to ask the obvious question: With 1.6 million visitors a month, can't you scrape up the spare cash to do this yourself? It seems silly that a successful business such as yours has to resort to begging to pay for the basics like writing and promotion.

            $10,000 seems like small potatoes. What gives?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              AJ, 28 Feb 2016 @ 11:13am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              It's not just about the money. He's giving the community a chance to participate in the process. This is a way for us to contribute to something we believe in. I don't understand why you don't get that.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 28 Feb 2016 @ 11:51am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Are you objecting to how the money is being raised, or are you objecting to people opposing the governments view?

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
                icon
                Whatever (profile), 29 Feb 2016 @ 9:47am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                I don't object to people opposing the govenrment, I encourage it. I also encourage them to respect the law - not mutually exclusive concepts.

                I do object to a for profit company using fear mongering to try to pad their profit line. Techdirt would write wall to wall about the Apple / FBI story anyway. The extra 10k seems to amount to more pocket money for the bosses, rather than anything else. I don't picture them hiring someone new specifically on contract to write this stuff, you have to be well trained to write in the style of Techdirt.

                Like I said, it's on par with a famous musician, married to a multimillionaire, begging for cash for records and tours, then inviting people to be guest musicians but not paying them for it. I guess it's how the rich get richer, right?

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 29 Feb 2016 @ 4:53pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  So what you're saying is, you encourage people to oppose the government, but at the same time you want them to follow the rules laid down by the government specifically tailored to make opposition overly cumbersome, difficult or outright illegal.

                  ...Do you still not see how flat-out stupid this can get?

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 27 Feb 2016 @ 12:11pm

        Re: Re:

        Ok, so tell us what Techdirt's traffic is this month compared to the same month a year ago. If there hasn't been a decline I'll withdraw my suspicion that this fundraising campaign has more to do with marketing Techdirt in the face of sliding visitor numbers.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    hopponit (profile), 28 Feb 2016 @ 3:01pm

    crowdfunding

    I see something that can be changed to bring in more donations. Start the "one time" donations at $10.00. For some of us on very limited budgets the $25.00 starting point is just out of reach for now. Yes, $25 is a good number, but sometimes smaller donations can add up faster. It may well draw in far more support over time. I already support a couple other causes and projects so I can't always chip in.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 28 Feb 2016 @ 4:30pm

      Re: crowdfunding

      I see something that can be changed to bring in more donations. Start the "one time" donations at $10.00. For some of us on very limited budgets the $25.00 starting point is just out of reach for now. Yes, $25 is a good number, but sometimes smaller donations can add up faster. It may well draw in far more support over time. I already support a couple other causes and projects so I can't always chip in.

      You can donate as much as you want -- including $10. Many people have. Just click the "Back this Work" button and then select "no thanks, I just want to make a pledge" instead of one of the existing tiers. And then you can put in whatever amount you want (in fact, it defaults to $10).

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Feb 2016 @ 5:45pm

    average_joe and Whatever just hate it when due process is enforced.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    jay davee, 9 Mar 2016 @ 8:31pm

    fearmongering

    It's not enough that Bush and cronies penetrated so many crimes against humanity and our own country, good ole US of A. They fabricated and manufactured bogus intelligent to create patriot act and take our rights out of FEAR. They even went as far as wanting to fiddle with the Constitution and try to implement marshal law. The people were to shocked to react, until they caught winds of all their fraudulent claims, then they widened up. By then it was too late. Now they are continuing,and it won't end there. When tyranny becomes law, it's our duty to resist.People have to wisen up and stand fast in the face of adversity! Enough is enough. Hitler did the same thing to its population,and look what happened? Let's stand together and NOT let that happen here, in the United States of America.God bless and god speed to all of us and our wonderful country.The forefathers came here to escape war ravaged Europe to live in peace and freedom. We need to keep that alive!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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