Zgaidin’s Techdirt Profile


About Zgaidin

Zgaidin’s Comments comment rss

  • Mar 14th, 2019 @ 5:14am

    Re: Then there's the other problem with FB...

    But that's not a Facebook problem. That's an internet problem. One of the great utilities of the internet is how easy it makes it to find other people with similar interests or views, whether that's political views or your shared interest in a specific cult-classic movie, or whatever. All Facebook did was extend that to your offline life. They found a way to compile data and suggest that you might know and want to reconnect/keep in touch with certain people, and with often scary accuracy.

    If FB dies or is killed, that won't kill MAGA idiocy, or the preponderance of idiots in general. They've always been here, and the internet makes it easy for them to find one another and organize. The genie is out of that bottle. FB may monetize their idiocy, but if it was gone tomorrow, they'd just move to Reddit or YouTube or whatever moves in to replace the vacuum left behind by FB.

  • Feb 27th, 2019 @ 9:28am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Building a Community

    That resonates with me. As I said, I don't know my neighbors, and have no particular interest in knowing them. I like the fact that I'm not pressured into participating in my local community, so I don't think it's rose colored glasses so much as noting a difference between my parents and their peers and myself and my peers.

    In the context of the podcast, though, if there's no participation in the local community in general, then getting them to engage about news of the local community the way we do here is a non-starter. To use the example from the podcast of the polluting factory, if I work an hour away (as you suggest) why should I care more that 500 people near me will lose their jobs if the factory closes than I would care about 500 people hundreds of miles away? Their proximity may have knock-on effects (increased crime, decreased revenue for local services, etc.) but I can always just move and maybe reduce my commute if it becomes an issue. While the 500 people who work at the factory may have a personal incentive to pay attention to that news, by your own admission, probably plenty of them don't live in that same community.

    Is it possible we've outgrown the need for local/community news and what we should focus on instead is issue news so that everyone can seek out news that matches their interests?

  • Feb 26th, 2019 @ 4:02pm

    Re: Re: Building a Community

    I agree with those points, to be sure, but there seems to be more to it than that. I get why people don't engage in local politics, but people don't seem to engage locally at all beyond very superficial things. Sure, you shop at your local grocery store, you go to your local restaurants, etc. But, when I grew up we at least knew in passing everyone living on our street. Now, I don't know any of my neighbors at all. People were actively engaged in local organizations (churches, boy scouts & girl scouts, rotary club, etc.) People are still involved with those organizations, but it's no longer as prevalent as it was. Your neighbors, both individuals and businesses are strangers. That's what I'm not sure about. I'm not sure what the catalysts for that cultural shift were, but without it, I don't see much hope for locally focused news outlets.

  • Feb 26th, 2019 @ 3:29pm

    Building a Community

    When you were talking about building a successful and healthy community, while I assume in many ways what you were talking about was what you've accomplished here at TD, the thing that it sounded most like were good Twitch channels. Not necessarily the big-money channels, though some of them would certainly qualify, but the good ones. The ones were you go not only to watch the content and listen to the streamer's commentary, but to actively engage with the regulars.

    Sadly, I think your guest had you on one point. At least for now, the pendulum may swing, the concept of geographical communities have lost a lot of relevance. I'm not entirely sure why that seems to be the case, but local politics haven't taken a back seat to national politics so much as they've been stuffed in the trunk and forgotten. People don't engage their physical neighbors. One reason for this, I think, is that the internet is amazing at helping people find online communities of people that share their niche interests, and it's on demand. You can engage when you want, how you want, with people that share your interest/concerns, and ignore everything else. The community principle at work in TD, or any given subreddit, or a Twitch channel works because it's oriented around a common interest. For geographically local news providers to create a community, they'd have to first re-engender an interest in that local community.

  • Feb 8th, 2019 @ 10:58am


    To my understanding, they'll still receive the game on Steam as expected when they placed the pre-order. They're just the only people on Steam who will have the game.

  • Feb 8th, 2019 @ 5:12am

    (untitled comment)

    I've long been a vocal opponent of console exclusives, but it's hitting me especially hard the last few years since my household made the considered decision not to buy a PS4 (this is the first gen of consoles where we made such a decision). So, no RDR2, no KH3, no Last of Us 2, etc. I think console exclusives whether they're exclusive to only PS4 or XB1 or exclusive only to consoles, no PCs allowed, are bad for the gaming industry for a host of reasons - it either fragments the player base or forces everyone to purchase multiple expensive pieces of hardware that will be obsolete in 4-5 years, it cuts down on total sales for any given game, and most importantly, since consoles are usually behind the curve on hardware, it hinders the art as a whole because wisely most large publishers don't release games on PC that won't run on consoles (again, lost sales). On the plus side, that means I haven't had to update my gaming PC in over 6 years, because consoles still haven't caught up.

    My last complaint is that it no longer makes sense. Building a lasting gaming PC used to be expensive. The value in getting a console was that you didn't have to shell out nearly the same money to be able to play those games as you would have for a comparable PC and most households didn't have any need for the added functionality of a full PC. After about 1995, that slowly but surely stopped being the case. Most homes (at least homes with disposable income for video games) have a PC to browse the web, stream video, etc. The cost of upgrading their existing PC or building a new, sturdy gaming PC is $600-$1K, which is, strangely enough, about the same as the cost of buying an XB1 & PS4 depending on where in their life-cycle you got them (and yes, many homes have both platforms - because of game exclusivity). The original reason for these consoles to even exist has been nullified.

    This isn't quite as bad, but it still tastes similarly to me. While I don't think UPlay runs very well, I don't resent it the way most people do because the only thing on UPlay (at least for me) are Ubisoft games. If a developer/publisher/studio wants to use their own launcher for things, fine, but in an age where digital download is the primary way to purchase and acquire new games (even on consoles), the idea that we need to falsely silo these games is absurd. Sure, if Epic or whoever, wants to take a run at Steam and see if they can't build a better platform, I'm all for it, but do it in a way that doesn't punish your audience. Compete on price, compete on features, or functionality of your platform, but don't compete on game availability. That's a bullshit tactic that PC gamers already hate. A business tactic that harms, hinders, or pisses off your primary audience isn't a good tactic.

  • Dec 27th, 2018 @ 5:29am

    The Reverse Rollercoaster

    The profitability lifespan of any e-sport, is a bit like a roller-coaster if gravity were reversed. Instead of a long, slow uphill climb to gain momentum at the start, it's a long, slow down-hill climb where you, as the developer, are just throwing money at your e-sport for prize-pools, event planning and hosting, etc in the hopes of gaining enough momentum to hit the rapid up-hill rise that will boost you to profitability. After that you'll have ups and downs like any business, but you must generate enough momentum in that first stretch to rise to popularity. Dota 2 is a prime example (and similar enough game) who made it and has been making very good money off their e-sport ever since. See the free documentary Free to Play to see how they did it, if interested.

    Unfortunately, it would seem Blizzard was not successful in promoting HOTS to competitive levels. I suspect there are a host of reasons behind their failure from established competition in the MOBA niche (Dota 2 and League of Legends) to game structure issues. Regardless of the precise reasons, HOTS never became wildly popular, and the true profit motive of any e-sport is to make the game very popular with amateur players who spend money in game on cosmetics etc. At some point, you realize you didn't gain enough momentum and continuing to host tournaments with all their related costs is just throwing good money after bad. Blizzard has apparently reached that point with HOTS. In short, any budding e-sport is always a speculative market both for the publisher and the players, broadcasters, sponsors, etc. You spend a lot of time, effort, and money on something in the hopes it takes off, but if it doesn't you may lose your shirt.

    I think the cautionary tale here, is to avoid an e-sport that's tied to other IPs. If Riot decided to stop supporting League of Legends, and someone else wanted to take a shot, they could just buy it. Nothing in the game is tied to any other IP. Every character, map, mount, and ability in HOTS, however, is tied to another Blizzard IP such that it seems unlikely they would sell, and even if they were the licensing would be a nightmare.

  • Dec 27th, 2018 @ 5:02am

    Re: Re: Culprit?

    This may be true, but many e-sports rely on after-the-fact YT viewers to keep interest and revenue streams (both viewers and advertisers/sponsors) alive. Most of these tournaments are multi-day, laddered events which may take place during the work/school day or the middle of the night for some portion of viewers, depending on where the tournament is being held, since most major tournaments are LANs. Most fans don't have 6-8 hours a day over several days to watch the whole thing live. So, if all your YT content can be taken down by a single notice from a publisher who is no longer interested, that's a serious concern.

  • Dec 21st, 2018 @ 3:42pm

    Re: The problem with nudity taboos...

    Precisely this. The sexualization of specific body parts is directly correlated to which body parts a society deems unfit to be seen socially. If, as in much of the world, female chests, all buttocks and all genitals must be covered in public, those are the body parts that become the object of fantasy, lust, and sexualization precisely because they are taboo.

  • Dec 4th, 2018 @ 5:51pm


    Not a Tumblr user, but from what I've seen elsewhere, it has to do with the fact that Apple pulled their app from the store - though there's some debate over whether that was due to lawful NSFW content or illegal content that they failed to moderate even when reported by users is unclear. This is them taking a sledgehammer to a problem that's probably best solved with a small screwdriver.

  • Nov 29th, 2018 @ 8:12am

    Re: Devil's advocate position

    The point is that ESPN continued, for far to long, to be the most outspoken critics of cord-cutting. In the face of strong evidence that the cord-cutting trend was not going away and was, in fact, picking up speed, they made very expensive licensing deals with sports organizations and other business decisions that companies facing lean times would probably avoid (e.g. redoing all their sets) because they stalwartly refused to see the writing on the wall. They've now tried a semi-streaming service, but it's not what their viewers actually want (content) and it still relies on having an old-fashioned cable subscription (delivery method), so it's unlikely to do much except cost them start-up and maintenance. So, they'll continue to lose subscriptions (along with the rest of the cable industry) and that trend will likely only increase in speed over time.

    Which leads to a second point that seems to have gotten somewhat scrambled in the article which you and several people have mentioned. As you said, 56% of people are ready to cord-cut ESPN tomorrow, but haven't. The bulk of those are, probably, not sports watchers. They're forced to pay $8/month for ESPN as part of that fat channel bundles cable subscribers can't escape. They put up with it to get content they do want. That's different from viewers (people who actually tune into ESPN in any given time period), which apparently is also dropping. There's a relevant confluence of the two groups, though. As more and more content becomes available via streaming, more and more people can get what they want more cheaply by ditching cable, which hurts ESPN by $8/month/household but it also hurts ESPN another, less direct way. Sports is, more or less, the biggest hold-out from streaming. Sure, there's been some in-roads but not like what we've seen with traditional TV shows and movies. Due to the complicated licensing and demand for live broadcasts of sports, they don't really fit into the on-demand model provided by a service like Netflix, but Netflix and Amazon don't want to piss off that same 56% of subscribers who don't watch sports by jacking up rates to include sports, and they don't have the support systems in place to do it anyway (casters, camera crews, etc.) What we'll probably end up with, eventually, is something that looks like the so-called skinny-bundles where you pay a yearly or monthly fee for access to the sport(s) of your choice, produced by someone and distributed by Netflix or Amazon. Something like that. In the past, ESPN had a good bargaining leverage when negotiating license agreements with various sports entities (NFL, NBA, etc.) because they had a large subscriber base and a large viewer base. The NBA could get a lot of games to fans through ESPN. Eventually, they'll work out a more modern solution - it will probably look a lot like the way you can add HBO to your Hulu account for an additional fee. In the interim, though, with declining subscriber and viewer bases, ESPN is watching it's bargaining power dwindle (and costs rise) each time it renegotiates a license for content, and that's not just the live broadcasts, that's the licensing to use clips and highlights for commentary shows, etc. If they can't find a way to right the ship, which will involve adapting to the current market (the very thing they've been refusing to do), eventually they'll go out of business.

  • Nov 18th, 2018 @ 6:07am

    Re: "a decently strong degree"

    If so, the advantage is more people will vote.

    Is that really an advantage? Statistically, most people base their votes on rather trivial criteria such as party affiliation rather than the candidate's actual voting/policy record, candidate's physical appearance, and how the candidate's speeches made them feel. Political parties, lobbying groups, and other decision makers are aware of those determinate factors and it alters our political landscape in subtle ways - largely by ensuring that certain potential candidates never even come to our attention. A larger pool of active voters without any improvements would exacerbate this problem.

    What we really want are better voters. Voters who thoroughly review the candidates in front of them and make informed, considered decisions about their votes based on things like voting/policy record, who contributed to their campaign fund, prior work experience, etc. Even if they vote for candidates we would not, so long as they voted on those sorts of criteria, would be better because the political machine would eventually adapt and offer us better candidates overall. Just throwing more voters at the elections is like throwing an ever increasing amount of money at the drug war and then wondering why drugs are still rampant in the streets.

  • Sep 28th, 2018 @ 5:38am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    A good point, and not one I'd thought of. However, do you agree that such a choice would limit the functionality of the service? Certainly, you could tell your family, friends you are in contact with now, coworkers, etc. so they could find your profile, but anyone you didn't tell, more distant relatives perhaps or friends you don't have contact information for, would not find you.

    Again, I'm not saying the current policy is the best policy, but simply that the opposite of no such policy would undermine the service FB is trying to provide.

  • Sep 27th, 2018 @ 11:02pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    You are correct. I glanced at the URL, missed the last part, and erroneously assumed it was a Wikipedia entry on the specifics of the policy. My bad. As an aside, I was disturbed by the section on transgender people. Those pseudonyms are, at least to the general public, effectively their names in many cases. This is mirrored in the mention of publicly performing drag-queens and their stage names. Why is it okay for a corporation (a legally fictional person to use their company name for a profile, but not a public performer? Does that apply to authors with pen-names?

    As for your comments about the dangers to LGBT, atheists, activists, etc. I'm certainly not going to argue your point, since it's a point I made myself (or was trying to, which I think you recognized based on your follow-up quote). I don't see anything narrow-minded about it, as those were some of the exact groups I was thinking of when I mentioned people who actually post controversial things, and I'm quite aware that they do need that protection when addressing the public. We agree. I do not, however, agree with your last statement, at least not wholly. It's not the existence of less intrusive alternatives that gives it some measure of pardon in my mind, but rather that I can see a necessity argument.

    I have not used FB in at least 8 years, and I was a very late adopter in the first place. I tried it for 6-12 months, decided it wasn't for me, and left it. I was, however, quite impressed with it's ability to accurately find people to suggest as friends who I had known irl, often many years before that and then fallen out of contact. That's a major portion of the service's appeal and design, and that feature would take a huge hit without some (not necessarily the current) real name policy. Even if the system correctly found you suggestions, how would you know? That's a fantastic example of a bona fida business necessity for any law class.

    Could the policy be improved? Obviously! I was already familiar with some of the examples of accounts erroneously disabled because someone's naming convention didn't jive with American/Western European standards. I think they've been mentioned in an article here, actually. Perhaps FB could institute a new type of account, call it a public persona account, for authors, artists, activists, companies, and government groups (local PD, town councils, etc.) with different questions during profile creation and basing suggested "friends" based solely on shared interest rather than more personal data. I don't, however, think that it makes some sort of real name policy unnecessary, and so long as they do choose to have such a policy, going in eyes-open as to potential harm either for using your true name or violating the policy should be SOP.

  • Sep 27th, 2018 @ 4:30pm


    I'm a little skeptical, but willing to be convinced. In my mind, the likely scenarios (barring police surveillance) are a) getting caught posting something you probably should have known not to say with your real name attached (e.g. posting negative shit about your boss and getting fired) or b) being one of the people who really does need anonymity because you post about controversial things. If it's the first case, the same rules have applied all your life. Don't say shit in public that, if it gets back around to the wrong people, will get you in trouble. If it's the second, why were you on FB in the first place? Why not Twitter or Instagram or any other social media platform that doesn't have this rule?

    Again though, I'd be happy to be proven incorrect if you can provide a citation or two. :)

  • Sep 27th, 2018 @ 4:13pm

    Re: Re: Comparrisons??

    There's also been academic work that linked it to the Roe v. Wade decision, though I think it's largely been debunked.

  • Sep 20th, 2018 @ 9:33am

    Re: Re: Re: school Bully with Badge & Gun

    Permanent expulsion (or rather transfer to a different school for violent kids) was the punishment for those kids, unless they went to juvie (which was frequent). But someone still has to wade in between two enraged teenagers with weapons and break it up first. If no one breaks it up, you end up with dead students. If unarmed, untrained teachers try to break it up, they'll get hurt or killed.

  • Sep 20th, 2018 @ 7:18am

    Re: school Bully with Badge & Gun

    As a high school freshman in the early 90s, I moved to a different part of the city where I grew up, and therefore schools. The new school had five full-time Resource Officers as well as 10 private security guards because there were regular incidents that school administrators could not be reasonably expected to handle. I'm not aware of any incident involving a gun, but knives, razor blades palmed between the fingers, and the like were not deployed by students against students at least a few times each year. These kids got into the sort of fights that leave at least one participant with life-long injuries and scars - and the girls were worse offenders than boys. I knew several girls that left school with heads and/or faces covered in very thin scar tissue from being repeatedly slapped with a razor blade. This is not the sort of situation in which someone with a MA in Education is very useful. So, you are both right and wrong. The cops and guards were prison guards, but they were also necessary.

    However, since the school was already in that situation when I arrived I have never known whether the prison-like environment came first or second. Was this labeling theory at its worst or a reasonable response to a developing escalation of violence?

  • Sep 19th, 2018 @ 1:01am

    Re: John Becker doesn't care about anyone.

    The guy certainly sounds like a pompous ass and so steeped in white privilege that he'll never shake any of it loose, and it's entirely possible that he's all that you say. However, it seems more likely that rather than a stately aristocrat, he's a sheltered upper middle class guy from white Middle America and his view of the world is just completely stifled by his environment. That doesn't excuse what he said, I'm just contesting your view of his motives and thought process, somewhat.

    I've known state legislators before, several of them before they joined politics. While they receive a salary from the state, most of them have jobs or businesses they return to throughout the year whenever the legislature isn't in session. Becker's state salary is 60.5k a year. The man's a tax accountant. Regardless of your skin tone, if you bumbled into his office in early April with a shoe box full of receipts and a confused look on your face, I suspect he'd get you seated, ask if you wanted coffee, and get down to the business of honestly helping you with your tax return.

    Here's a Linklink to the page for Becker's district. He represents a whopping 102k people, of which only 4.27% are black and .99% hispanic (as opposed to 12.7% and 17.8%, respectively, of the total U.S. population). In 2016, he was elected with only 44k votes, which amazingly was 76% of the votes cast!! The total campaign contributions for all 3 candidates that ran in 2016 in his district totaled up to less than his state salary for the year.

    My point isn't that he's a great guy. I doubt seriously I'd invite him over for dinner or out to play pub trivia. My point is that he's not some Washington fat-cat. His vaunted office is located in Columbus, OH - a city where the dominating landmark is the public university. He's truly representative of his electorate, in that he's just like most of them: white, middle class, conservative, Christian, straight, and sheltered. They don't have to know him because they recognize him every time they look in the mirror.

    He doesn't showcase the jaded, elitist cesspool that we see in D.C. He's a prime example of the pitfall at the other end of the spectrum of representative democracy - he's a slightly better copy of his neighbors, which unfortunately may qualify him to help shape state level policy but doesn't qualify him in the slightest to have an opinion on national issues like police violence, racial profiling, etc.

  • Sep 17th, 2018 @ 11:29am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I've seen this idea batted about, and it does have some merit, but I don't think it's a panacea. An insurance policy is effectively a hedge against a bet you make against yourself over which you have little to no control. You bet your house won't burn down because you don't smoke in bed or leave candles burning, but just in case it does, you hedge with homeowner's insurance. Beyond combating nuisance lawsuits where the LEO in question didn't actually do anything, LEOs have complete control over whether they get sued for rights violations - don't violate the rights of citizens.

    When you start down the rabbit hole of underwriting insurance policies for things that will happen (like getting the flu) costs go through the roof. We've seen it with our medical insurance. Worse, with police, it's more akin to car insurance. Most people don't drive so recklessly that they're likely to get in a serious or fatal car wreck, but they habitually speed, tail-gate, etc. All things that unnecessarily increase risk of a minor collision and they get away with it all the time. They drive that way every day, but only get in an accident every few years. The flu doesn't hold a family meeting and debate whether to infect your or not, but people with legitimate civil complaints forgo lawsuits all the time because it costs too much or they're uncertain if the evidence they have is enough to prevail. Insurance might curb the most blatant and grievous offenses by LEOs, while making them feel licensed to commit smaller violations all the time. Of course, it might not curb the worst abuses but instead further incentivize them to badger, intimidate, or get rid of people who otherwise might sue. Can't risk a rise in those premiums...

More comments from Zgaidin >>