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    Announcing a new MUC: XMPP and Free Speech - Libertarian

    Monday, 8 March, 2021 - 05:58 · 1 minute

Censorship and Free Speech - Libertarian is for the discussion of censorship and free speech, from a curated, free market/libertarian perspective. By joining, you agree to the following rules:

  • Both technical and cultural/political discussion is welcome. However, all participants must be supportive of free market / libertarian values (broadly speaking). Discussion of topics that are controversial within the libertarian movement (abortion, immigration, corporate censorship, etc) are welcome, but please take special care to frame your arguments carefully and neutrally without personal attacks.

  • All participants must be polite and kind at all times, even when others are being rude or trying to bait them.

  • All arguments must well reasoned, and backed by evidence.

  • No brigading, shouting down others, personal attacks, insults, insinuations, threats of violence (individual or otherwise).

  • If the discussion seems to be a boring, unproductive, or generating a lot of heat, the mod(s) may ask that it be stopped.

  • Both technical and cultural/political discussion is welcome.

This is a public list that might be publicly archived, so please be cautious about saying anything that might get you in trouble with your local government or employer. In addition, I'm still working out what the rules should be, so I might change / add to them.

If you want a more free-wheeling, lightly moderated discussion for people of all persuasions, check out XMPP and Free Speech:

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    XMPP postage stamps: a decentralized, censorship resistant solution to the problems of group moderation

    Monday, 8 March, 2021 - 00:51 edit · 3 minutes

Problems of current group moderation

Moderators of groups have limited time and energy. Sometimes bad actors can behave badly for quite some time before the moderators can attend to them.

Moderation is a thankless task. Moderators typically receive little reward for moderation, and sometimes much abuse.
Moderators have their own biases. As a result, sometimes those they like are moderated lightly, and sometimes those they dislike are moderated heavily.

Users typically have different preferences. Some want to see everything, others want a highly curated list.

Not all bad behavior is the same. For example, making a sarcastic remark doesn't deserve the same response as making a death threat. Yet current tools don't allow for such distinctions.

Not everyone agrees on what is bad behavior. For example, some people enjoy "black" humor on difficult topics like suicide, rape, death. Other people find such humor offensive or distasteful.

The cost to bad actors for bad behavior is typically low, generally only the cost of their time. In large groups, bad actors can impose large cumulative costs on the group, if only in the time it takes for others to block them.

Bad actors often have much more free time on their hands than most people. And it only takes a few bad actors to shout down anyone that disagrees with them (aka the "heckler's veto"). As a result, good actors tend to leave groups, leaving an increasing concentration of hecklers.

Some people aren't "bad" in any ethical sense, just stupid. They make illogical arguments, can't do basic math, have low standards of evidence, etc. They don't violate the rules, so moderators are typically reluctant to ban them. But they subtract value from the group by adding to the noise of conversations.

Bad actors sometimes coordinate to "brigade" a group, and overwhelm it with hostile posts and spam.


Instead of a yes/no block, allow users to set a price in order to receive messages from a given user. For example, if a user makes an insulting remark, the recipient could set a price of say $0.25 to receive further messages from that user.

Even taking the time to set a price is a high cost in large groups, so allow users to subscribe to other people's price lists. In exchange, the curators could receive a fee from those who subscribe to their price lists.

Allow users to set different prices for different tags. For example, someone could set a price for posts tagged "NSFW".


Those who behave badly will face increasingly high costs to communicate with the members of the group. At the limit, they will end up only talking to themselves. However, no one who wants to hear what they have to say will be prevented from doing so.

Anyone can be a curator/moderator. Disagree with a curator's decisions? Switch to a different curator. Or do your own curation/moderation.

Curators will be incentivized to curate well in order to win more subscribers.


Such a system would add to the complexity of participating in the group. Users would have to buy funds, learn to use the wallet, etc. There are large incentives to game any system that involves financial reward. For example, curators might create a bunch of shill "heckler" accounts to incentivize other users to buy their curation services. This could be mitigated somewhat by requiring new members to pay a modest fee to join the group. Or by requiring new users to perform costly work (such as solve a complicated puzzle).

Wealthy people would be able to behave more badly than poor people. While theoretically true, wealthy people have similar advantages under the current system. And even wealthy people respond to financial incentives.

Thoughts? Criticisms? Anyone know of a group discussion system that works as I've described?

"M17 is a new digital radio protocol in development as an alternative to those currently available, with freedom in mind. Freedom in the code, protocol, voice codecs, and hardware. The goal is to provide a better option for digital radios in the future.

The M17 Working Group is a team of several people from around the world. Headed up by Wojciech (SP5WWP) in Poland, there are several other Amateur Radio operators involved - putting their skills to work with the desire for a more free and open digital radio protocol that can be used world wide!

You don’t have to be a licensed Amateur Radio operator to join the M17 Project. If you have skills in circuit design, microcontroller programming, CAD/CAM, circuit board prototyping, UI/X design, network and systems administration, end-user experience testing and QC, or you just want to build something - join us by using the button below!"

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    Brave is launching its own search engine with the help of ex-Cliqz devs and tech

    Wednesday, 3 March, 2021 - 18:57

"Tailcat is a fully independent search engine with its own search index built from scratch,” Eich told TechCrunch. “Tailcat as Brave Search will offer the same privacy guarantees that Brave has in its browser.

“Brave will provide the first private browser+search alternative to the Big Tech platforms, and will make it seamless for users to browse and search with guaranteed privacy. Also, owing to its transparent nature, Brave Search will address algorithmic biases and prevent outright censorship.”

Brave getting into the search business is a reflection of its confidence that privacy is becoming mainstream, per Eich. He points to “unprecedented” growth in usage of its browser over the past year — up from 11M monthly active users to 26M+ — which he says has mirrored the surge in usage earlier this year seen by the (not-for-profit) e2e encrypted messaging app Signal (after Facebook-owned WhatsApp announced a change to its privacy policies to allow for increased data-sharing with Facebook through WhatsApp business accounts)."

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A lot of my friends have accounts on MeWe because they got tired of the authoritarian paternalism and censorship on Twitter and Facebook.

However, I'm not going to participate much on MeWe because MeWe has many of the same policies that Facebook has, and has already started to censor in a similar fashion. (Even though they may only be doing it so that they stay in the good graces of Google, Apple, and Amazon, so they don't get canceled the same way Parler has been canceled.)

Like Facebook, MeWe's Terms of Service allow them to arbitrarily delete ban anyone, for any reason, at any time.

"At MeWe our focus is creating a positive and helpful experience for our users. We want MeWe to be convenient, safe, and fun for you and your communities. This means there are a few rules. You may NOT:"
"Stalk, harass, bully, intimidate, or harm another user.
Post unlawful, harmful, obscene, or pornographic content.
Impersonate someone.
Post content that is hateful, threatening, harmful, incites violence; or contains graphic or gratuitous violence.
Use MeWe to do anything unlawful, misleading, malicious, or discriminatory."
At its discretion, MeWe may permanently cancel accounts of users who violate the Terms of Service. "

Harm is so broad it can encompass almost any behavior. Some people think they're harmed if you don't use the right pronouns.

Same goes for "misleading", "discriminatory", and "hateful".

And what's wrong with hating some things? Don't commies, Nazis, and the guinea worm deserve hate?

This is not merely theoretical. MeWe tweeted several times that they are deleting groups that, for example, question the 2020 election results. (See screenshots in comments below.)

Of course, MeWe got plenty of backlash for admitting to censoring conservative groups. So they deleted the tweets, and CEO Jason Hardy claimed that they were "an incorrect message":

This might not be so bad if MeWe weren't also trying to lockin its users the same way that Facebook does. Here are ten criteria to look for if you want to prevent being locked into an online social network:

MeWe meets three of ten of those criteria:

  1. MeWe does allow you to download your posts/images.
  2. I haven't tried to delete my account yet, but I've not heard that MeWe makes it hard.
  3. As far as I know, MeWe hasn't gone after anyone for patent and copyright law violations.

However, on rest of the criteria, MeWe doesn't score well.

MeWe doesn't even allow you to publicly share your posts unless you have a paid account. And even then, you're only allowed to share a snippet, not the whole post--there's no RSS feed.

MeWe also does not offer a public api. So people on other social networks can't easily communicate with people on MeWe. No app developers other than MeWe can develop for MeWe.

And MeWe is closed source. So if you don't like how MeWe is running things, or the direction development is taking, tough: it's MeWe's way or the highway. And I don't want to travel down that highway again.

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You can create some remarkable art in text mode:

"ANSi art is a computer art form that was widely used at one time on BBSes. It is similar to ASCII art, but constructed from a larger set of 256 letters, numbers, and symbols — all codes found in IBM code page 437, often referred to as extended ASCII and used in MS-DOS and Unix environments."

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    Checklist for preventing lockin to social networks

    Saturday, 27 February, 2021 - 00:53 edit · 2 minutes

Here are some of the features to look for if you want to prevent being censored or locked into an online social network:

  1. Does the service offer RSS/Atom feeds? RSS/Atom fees allow you to share posts with friends who are not on the same service.

  2. Does the service offer an easy way to backup/export all of your files/photos in a standard, open file format (JSON, CSV, HTML, SQLIte)? This allows you to archive your data, in case the service goes down. In general, does your service follow industry standards where possible? By adhering to standards for data storage, communication protocols, email, web, etc, it makes it easier for you to port your data to alternative services.

  3. Does your service offer an official API so that bridges can be built between your service and other social networks? An official API allows people who are not on the same network to interact with you, without joining the same network.

  4. Are your private posts/messages encrypted, so only the people you share them with can read them? The service can't censor what they don't see.

  5. Does the service make it easy to cancel service? If it's a paid service, do they make it easy to stop payments? If they make service cancellation difficult (such as by forcing you to call customer support, or making the account deletion link hard to find), the service is trying to lock you in.

  6. Does your social network use patents, copyright and other legal cudgels to prevent competitors from offering similar services? If the company doesn't use legal bludgeons to stifle competitors, then you'll have more options if you decide you want to switch.

  7. Is the code open source? If the code is open source, then if the people running the social network turn evil, go bankrupt, or abandon the service, you can easily go somewhere else.

  8. Is the service Peer to Peer (P2P)? If you can run the app on your own computer, then it would be very difficult for anyone to censor you.

  9. If the service isn't P2P, does the service make it easy to self host? To federate with other instances?

  10. Does the service allow anonymous accounts? Allow you to access the site over the Tor network? Anonymous accounts and Tor support allow people who are in countries with oppressive governments to use the service with less fear that they will suffer government persecution if they post about topics the government wants to censor. It also allows helps people to avoid being mobbed/doxxed if they want to say something unpopular.

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    Sponsored Immigration: giving citizens a financial incentive to support immigration reform

    Thursday, 25 February, 2021 - 21:00 edit · 6 minutes


Increasing immigration rates would benefit both US citizens and immigrants alike. However, many native citizens believe immigrants impose more costs than benefits, by increasing crime, consuming welfare services, and changing the culture. So they naturally oppose increasing immigration rates. Sponsored immigration incents citizens to support increased immigration by a) giving them a personal choice in who they allow to immigrate b)a direct financial stake in the immigrant's long-term success.

Why increase immigration?

Humanitarian Reasons

In June 1939, the German ocean liner St. Louis and its 937 passengers, almost all Jewish, were turned away from the port of Miami, forcing the ship to return to Europe. More than a quarter subsequently died in the Holocaust. (1)

Such deaths due to immigration restrictions continue into the present. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) "With 3,771 deaths, 2015 was the deadliest year on record for migrants and refugees crossing the Mediterranean trying to reach Europe, reports IOM in a year-end summary. By comparison 3,279 deaths were recorded in the Mediterranean in 2014. " (2)

Economic Reasons

Although lost lives are the most poignant, immigration restrictions also cost money to immigrants and natives alike. University of Wisconsin's John Keenan estimated that completely opening global borders would increase the average developing country worker's salary from $8,903 to $19,272 — more than double.(3) Harvard economist Lant Pritchett estimates that open borders would increase world GDP by $65 trillion. (4)

Why Do People Oppose Immigration?

Given all the humanitarian and economic reasons for supporting increased immigration, why are so many people hostile to increasing immigration?

Many people believe that immigrants:

  • Outcompete natives for jobs.
  • Consume more in social services (welfare, public schools) than they contribute in taxes.
  • Commit more crime than natives.
  • Vote themselves more welfare.
  • Bring conservative religious values to the US (hostility to women, gays, atheists).
  • Harm the environment (by creating increased demand for water, land, and other resources).
  • Launch terrorist attacks.

In brief, the citizens of host countries think that immigrants impose more costs on natives than are offset by compensating benefits. Therefore, they're naturally reluctant to increase the number of immigrants.

Although most economists strongly disagree this that assessment, and believe that increased immigration results in many more benefits than costs, they haven't made much headway in persuading the public to believe them. This is because many of the benefits are indirect, and not readily visible to average voter. They take the form of increased innovation (many immigrants go on to develop new scientific, engineering, and medical advances), increased entrepreneurship (many of the top fastest growing companies were founded by immigrants), and better, less expensive access to skilled workers (many of the best and brightest from other countries come to the US and become doctors, lawyers, engineers, and other highly skilled professionals).

To counter this bias against immigrants, this proposal attempts to incentivize US voters to support much higher rates of immigration, by creating an immigration program that provides clear, direct benefits to every adult citizen in the U.S.

How sponsored immigration works

  • Give every existing citizen over the age of 18 the right to sponsor one immigrant of their choosing.
  • The immigrant must purchase a $1 million lifetime insurance policy, which pays out to the extant that the immigrant commits any crime or makes use of any welfare services.
  • The immigrant must pay an entry fee of 10% of the median household income in the U.S. For example, if the median household income is $50 K, then the immigrant must pay an entry fee of $5 K. Half this amount ($2.5 K) goes to the sponsoring citizen, and half ($2.5 K) goes into a pool to provide integration services to arriving immigrants.
  • The immigrant and their children must pay 10% of their income each year as an immigration tax. Half of the tax revenue goes to the sponsoring citizen (or their estate), and half goes into the integration pool.
    • The sponsoring citizen can sell and/or delegate their sponsorship rights to someone else.
  • Immigrants can become citizens themselves when they meet all of the following criteria: a) their income exceeds at the median household income for at least three consecutive years b) they pass a test of English proficiency c) they pass a test of US cultural literacy
  • Someone can sponsor another immigrant once their previously sponsored immigrant has become a citizen.

How natives and immigrants alike will benefit from sponsored immigration

  • Every citizen would receive a lump sum payment of $2.5 K plus the rights to a lifetime stream of 5% of the immigrant's annual income (and their children). A very direct and visible benefit of supporting immigration reform.
  • Since existing citizens receive a portion of the immigrant's lifetime revenue stream, they have a strong incentive to select immigrants who will be the most productive and peaceful. Imagine how much money could be earned by a sponsor if one of their sponsored immigrants proves to be the next Steve Jobs.
  • The immigration tax and insurance policy would help alleviate the burden that new immigrants might place on existing social services.
  • Since each citizen can only sponsor another immigrant once the first immigrant has become a citizen, sponsors have strong incentive to help their sponsored immigrant to integrate and become a citizen.
  • The rate of immigration can only grow to the extant that previous immigrants achieve at least the median income in the US, have integrated into US culture (as measured by their English skills, and cultural literacy knowledge, and become citizens themselves.
  • Citizens have control over who gets invited to the US, not some distant and uncaring bureaucracy. However, if some citizens don't want to be bothered to do the selection themselves, they can also sell their sponsorship rights to someone else. Or, if they so choose, not invite anyone at all.
  • Citizens have strong incentives to increase the immigrant's productivity (since the more the immigrant makes, the greater the existing citizen's revenue stream).
  • Immigrants have a strong incentive to become citizens themselves, since they would then be able sponsor immigrants of their own.
  • Immigrants would benefit by being able to escape from terrible policies in their home country.
  • Immigrants would be able to make more money, which they could send back to their home country.
  • Immigrants would not be able to vote themselves additional welfare benefits, or change the policies of the US until they were proven to be as productive as the existing median citizen.
  • High risk immigrants would pay a higher insurance premium.
  • Immigrants would not be discriminated against based on their education level, country of origin, religion, age, occupation, or language. Only their ability to pay the entry fee, insurance costs, and their ability to persuade someone to sponsor them.

As the proposal above has never been tried before that I'm aware of, there will not doubt be bugs and unintended consequences. Please feel free to offer questions, comments, suggestions. However, I think this incentive program, or something like it, provides a pathway to a much richer, more free, and safer world.

Downtown Dubai, the most cosmopolitan city in the world.

  1. The U.S. Government Turned Away Thousands of Jewish Refugees, Fearing That They Were Nazi Spies By Daniel A. Gross
  2. IOM Counts 3,771 Migrant Fatalities in Mediterranean in 2015 by Daniel Esdras, et al.
  3. Want a global economic boom? Open the borders by Dylan Matthews
  4. The Cliff at the Border by Lant Pritchett