Posted originally on The conservative Tree house on December 2, 2020 by Sundance
As we work through bugs associated with CTH 2.0 launch, consider this a thread to provide information, report user issues, ideas and concerns. Please read the information provided below as it might answer many questions in advance.
Today, December 2nd, was our official eviction date as established by WordPress/Automattic two weeks ago. Considering the scale of moving 11 years worth of data (56,000 articles, massive media file, 7.2 million comment library), the tech team did a great job.
That said, we anticipated some issues, are encountering others, and we are carefully working through a checklist.
First, we wanted to migrate the data and site in the least disruptive way to the CTH community that provided continuity and familiarity.
Despite the tech issues with the disconnect from WP/Automattic servers to our own proprietary server system, that overarching goal was achieved. Now we are getting into the weeds.
First, some background so everyone can understand the big picture issues. Obviously WordPress/Automattic wanted us gone; however, in hindsight the unspoken purpose and motive behind our eviction is now making a lot more sense.
Based on insider information, there were two distinct issues that merged; sunlight upon them is against the interests of massive multi-billion dollar organizations, but at CTH the truth has no agenda, so here’s the inside explanation as it appears.
♦ Ideology – As they said in their notification to deplatform, the “content” of CTH was against the terms of WordPress/Automattic. This is not really a surprise as Big Tech looks for any obtuse or obscure reason to silence voices that are not in political alignment with their goals. The decision by WP/Automattic is not surprising even if they would never publicly admit it. Quite simply, this battle has been going on for years and now it is at an inflection point. Alternates to the grip of Big Tech are starting to emerge, slowly.
♦ Business – In addition to the ideological nature of the motive, there is another element which has gained significant clarity in the past few weeks. Our CTH community did something WP/Automattic never expected… we were too successful.
The scale of the CTH reader and commenting community literally was/is a rebel alliance reeking havoc inside a host network that didn’t like our voice. Simultaneously, we were chewing up massive amounts of their server space and capacity. This is very interesting.
According to insiders who have reached out and shared their opinion, what CTH evolved into is far more than a simple blogging community. Essentially the metaphor provided is this: “you took a blog platform and built a mini FaceBook social media enterprise within it.” The CTH community, our extended global family of ragtag misfits, was/is using CTH as a network of like-minded friends to share and discuss information.
You might say well, isn’t that what a blogging community is all about… and the answer eleven years ago was a simple: yes. However, our assembly became much, much, much larger than a simple community.
The scale of having up to 25,000 simultaneous users is way beyond a simple blogging platform. CTH became a social media enterprise. Discussions, information sharing, networking and contact with each-other is what social media was all about.
The FaceBook social media model is essentially operating in our site. That’s an awesome outcome, but one WP/Automattic did not expect. In essence CTH hijacked the platform to create a social network.
All of that engagement costs the host (WP/Automattic) server space and massive amounts of bandwidth. Despite my paying for their hosting services (business plan), we were essentially living cheap, almost rent free, inside their platform. Once we realized this was also an element of concern, some prior work by WP/Automattic to control CTH made sense.
There is an interesting conversation happening in the coffee shops of Big Tech about this issue… WordPress/Automattic can never admit the unique financial problem that CTH created for them.
The business model for WP/Automattic is to sell the potential outcome of exactly what we achieved. WP/Automattic pitches their business plan by saying you can build a blogging community and share your voice.
Well, we took them up on that offer ten years ago and we built the biggest community within their system; a massive community. We did exactly what the marketing people at WP/Automattic say is possible… except we did it bigger than they ever imagined. Our success at achieving the scale of community created a problem they can never admit.
If WordPress/Automattic were to be honest now about the financial impact of users -like CTH- achieving success, they would be undercutting the entire marketing/advertising plan of their hosting platform.
The honest sales approach from WP/Automattic would be to say: we can provide you a platform, up until you achieve significant success; and then, it is in our financial interests, for you to leave. Obviously WP/Automattic would never sell their product if they were honest… so they look for reasons, any reasons, to control or eliminate the community. THAT appears to have been a big part of what drove their decision.
It was not a surprise that WP/Automattic kicked-us out immediately after they went into the market to get more money to expand operations. CTH was costing them money, perhaps a lot of money. As a consequence not only were they hosting a voice against their ideological interests, that voice was so big it was costing them money. Combine both factors and you get the insufferable excuse “your content” is against our interests.
Believe me, this financial ‘cost to host‘ issue is a big topic in the background of conversations in the tech industry. The hypocrisy of selling a product they do not really want to see succeed is a very interesting conversation. Sunlight upon this motive in the world of tech is kinda funny. The Automattic members can never allow this to be widely known; but the people within the machinery know exactly what the issues are.
♦ So, what does that mean to CTH 2.0? Well, we have a big server network hosting us right now – and it ain’t cheap (by a long shot). To give you an idea of how unique this situation is, they cannot even calculate the cost until they see the results over the next month or so.
This is uncharted territory. Our commenting community, specifically the number of simultaneous users, is essentially like a mini Facebook inside their server network. No-one has any idea how to manage this outside of pre-existing social media platforms that generate millions/billions in upfront revenue and construct proprietary and dedicated server farms.
It’s a good problem.. so everyone says.
It’s a good problem from the perspective of those who would love to monetize our network/community. However, that is not the purpose of our assembly.
To the extent our community will need money to securely exist and thrive safely, publicly and with privacy protections on an independent platform, that is ok. However, the true value in our community is our fellowship and the search for the truth.
♦ To the DETAILS:
The comment restoration function was a significant hurdle for a variety of reasons previously explained. One of the issues moving forward is the type of software that drives the comment function. We are trying to use the most private system possible that also provides security. The WordPress/Automattic system used a combination of proprietary creation and a system called JetPack.
Jetpack has some functional issues and is inherently connected to the comment function. When JetPack was uninstalled, it impacted the comment platform; that is why “likes” and the familiar embed Wavy avatars were lost. We are looking for alternate options that we can add to the site to restore those features and also add an edit button (if possible) to the comments. In the interim if you register a gravatar with your email address your custom avatar will follow you.
There is a comment system that most platforms are using called Disqus. If you let Disqus run ads in the comment space they provide the comment software free. However, Disqus does track users and I am not too happy with the privacy aspect. That would be a last resort, and only if they will set-up a custom privacy component.
If you are having issues with the comment feature or site access, feel free to provide feedback below and we will attempt to compile and/or assist as we move forward.
Love to all,