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Well, I think I still stand by my premise that downmarket does change art. It's true, brownies didn't denigrate Adams, but that's because Adams (and the rest of group f/64) managed to stay ahead of the advancing technical curve. Everyone knows his name today since his images are so accessible to most people, but most modernist photographers were making much more creative and interesting work, in my opinion.

Karl Blossfeldt, Adiantum Pedatum, ca. 1920s; Photogravure. 10 x 8 in.

El Lissitzky, Runner in the City, ca. 1926; Gelatin Silver Print. 5 1/4 x 5 in.

Edward Weston, Shell, 1927; Gelatin Silver Print. 9 3/8 x 7 3/8 in.

Man Ray, Anatomies, 1929; Gelatin Silver Print. 8 7/8 x 6 3/4 in.

Iwata Nakayama, Eve, 1940; Gelatin Silver Print. 18 1/8 x 13 3/8 in.

Barbara Morgan, Pure Energy and Neurotic Man, 1940; Gelatin Silver Print Mounted on Board, 13 1/2 x 10 1/2 in.

Without getting into each of these artist's work individually, I think it's fair to say they were reacting to the growing commonplace of image making through abstraction, just like painting did. They had the freedom to experiment with new ideas in an age long before photoshop and the digital darkroom made unconventional photographs commonplace.

I think a contemporary version of Adams would struggle to survive in today's image culture that's saturated with "Earth Porn". If you look at someone like Peter Lik, which is probably the closest contemporary analogue of Adams I can think of, he's managed to make a name for himself through marketing mostly. He's got a book publishing company, and a TV series that ran for a season on The Weather Channel, buzzfeed articles about him, etc., but his actual pictures, while certainly technically adept in every sense, look like only marginally better versions of the everyday clichéd smut people submit all the time to the SFW Porn subs, with the biggest difference being that he shoots with film and makes big C-prints instead of shooting digital and uploading to imgur or flickr or whatever the cool kids/"pros" use these days.

Peter Lik or SFW Earth Porn?

Peter Lik or SFW Earth Porn?

Peter Lik or SFW Earth Porn?

Were those shot with a ten thousand dollar prime lens or a kit lens? Who knows, it's anyone's guess. Lik's wasn't though, and it'd be apparent by the time we enlarge them to 30x40. If I wanted to spend a few minutes in Photoshop, I'm sure I could make imitation Ansel Adams pictures from a few cherry picked earth porn submissions that would fool most people. We're so saturated with pretty pictures, 99% are blind to the minor technical details that separate a "good" photograph from a "great" print, meanwhile the cool and interesting ("artistic") photographs are the ones which manage to stake out unique creative territory or have interesting conceptual ideas behind them.

Hiroshi Sugimoto, White Rhinoceros, 1980; Gelatin Silver Print, 13 7/16 x 23 1/16 in.

Jeff Wall, A Sudden Gust of Wind (After Hokusai), 1993; Transparency in Lightbox, 90 x 148.5 in.

Andreas Gursky, 99 Cent II Diptychon, 2001; C-Print mounted to Acrylic Glass, 207 c 307 c. each

Roland Fischer, Birmingham (Day), 2007; C-Print face-mounted to Plexiglas, 71 x 49 in.

You mention Mapplethorpe, but come on, you know he rode the same 80s outrage train that brought Serrano into the limelight, and a big part of his notoriety in particular came from a premature death at the height of his popularity. I'd be willing to bet everything that if all he ever made were those (yes, technically amazing) black and white shots of lilies (Imogen Cunningham was doing that just as well fifty years prior), nobody would have paid him a second glance. His polaroids sit in a museum alongside the large format canvas prints just the same. Sure, now that the whole transgressive art movement is passé, everyone loves to buy his flower pictures as an awesome coffee table book to show off how artsy they are, but those images are certainly not what made him who he was in the art scene. Now I don't want to come off as lecturing you (I remember last time!) about art because I know you're as artistically literate as I am, but you must admit artists have always had to respond to (and push forward) the culture that they make work within.

I think we're lamenting the same things here, a low bar to entry (particularly in a place like youtube) means flooding the culture with low quality work which is a shame. Idiots like this Wong fellow can't tell the difference, and neither can most people, but simultaneously, people's consumption of media is changing; it's not just young kids that are watching youtube, I can count on one hand how many TV series I watch and one more hand for how many new movies I watch. I look at Lynch's take on watching movies on your phone and I agree with his point, but at the same time more and more content will be tailored for this new kind of casual consumption, and the forward thinking content makers will be making work in that direction. The true cinematic masters will still have their place in both the past and present, but like the portrait painters of yore, I wonder if their most popular heyday has passed. It's not the 1940s and we don't all trundle down to the local nickelodeon to watch a movie every weekend. Maybe Lynch should make some VR cinema?

Now if I were to address the the economics behind modern Hollywood TV and film, I must admit, I'd be over my head and I know you have a much better grasp of that. You mention Rome, and I watched it when it came out; I thought it was good, I was sad when they cancelled it, although it never really captivated me the way GoT did. I think with the birth of Jesus, they could have done a lot with the series, but like you say, it ran into a financial wall. It's hard to capture lighting in a bottle like that when there are so many great shows out there, not to mention all the new types of (lower-quality) entertainment. Anyone in their basement with a great idea can go out and make compelling content, content that even looks halfway decent (to most people) as Wong's video demonstrates. That means to the average consumer of media, the person paying a buck per second of film is competing on the same level as a person with a flipcam, and if the viewers can't tell the difference, on a commercial level, one is going to suffer disproportionately compared with the other.

Like you point out, costs for "professional quality" content haven't gone down all that much, and I guess it's because the best quality content is pouring money into diminishing returns to eek out that little bit of extra wow factor, and big casts, shooting on location, hyper-realistic vfx, despite all the tech, is still time consuming and expensive. In spite of that, just because the market for that specific kind of content is tightening, I don't think it will ever go away. People are enchanted by new things, fresh stories, new ways of seeing, new ways of communicating, such is life. No matter how popular low-brow youtube becomes, I think detailed and immersive audio visual experiences will always be compelling to people.

crafty  ·  3026 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Has there been a recent influx of new users?  ·  

Here's my approach, maybe it can help you.

First, mentally separate out the expletives, rude puerile insults, or ad hominem attacks. If that's the majority of the response someone is giving you, perhaps you don't even need to respond at all. People get flustered all the time, it's important not to let that get under your skin. Perhaps you can even take pleasure in the fact that they're more frustrated than you, and the only way they can win is by making you as angry as they are.

Second, read their response as charitably as you can. Give them the benefit of the doubt where ever possible and point out areas of common ground; acknowledge what you can agree on first before examining points that you disagree on. Obviously this is easier if you have some prior knowledge or experience with the person, and generally speaking, this is just easier for some people more than others, but I think it's something you can practice if you make a conscious attempt to do so.

You might say, "well, this person is a racist, sexist, bigoted asshole! Why would I give him or her the benefit of the doubt? How could I possibly find any common ground with a person like that!?" However, in my experience, very rarely will you encounter a genuine person with whom you can find zero agreement with. There are (capital 'T') Trolls that will disagree with everything and say anything to get a rise, but those become apparent since most people, when encountering this approach, will mirror it back and start looking for common ground in your points. Beyond that, admit when you're using hyperbole, if the person you're talking to makes a good point, let them know, be cautious about how you rephrase the other's arguments, and be open and ready to admit if you're wrong or make a mistake. The people worth engaging with will return the favor, and those that aren't, won't.

Third, on the points you disagree with, make your case as forcefully and respectfully as you can. If the other person is making points you can't easily respond to, then just chill. You don't have to admit they're right or agree with the other person; maybe you can type out a response and leave it a draft or just think about it for a while. The important thing here is not to let heat of the moment emotions cloud your judgement.

Lastly, use the personal moderation tools however you see fit. If you want to block literally everyone on the site, save for five or six people, that is your right, and don't let anyone criticize you for it. If you just don't like a person for whatever reason, don't feel bad about blocking them. Let them complain if they want to, but ultimately, on your posts and comments, you choose what they say and who you want responding to them. My personal view is that to use the block functionality just so you can get the "last word in" on some debate is a little immature and I think slightly less of someone when I see them do that, but again, it's up to you. I can understand getting frustrated or angry and not wanting to talk to someone, in which case, just don't reply to them and block them only if they won't leave you alone.

Edit: Thanks for the badge, I'm glad you found it useful! This is the culture of friendly and open discussion I think most hubskiroos want to foster.

Yeah, and ten years ago, this was my cell phone in high school:

At the risk of sounding flippant, so what? Sure technology changes fast, but this warrant-less domestic mass surveillance has been going on at least since 9/11 and didn't end in 2003 like you imply. The legal basis of the surveillance programs has a long spaghetti history of being justified in one way, then another and another, all while being twisted, obscured, confused and compartmentalized. I'm sure the NSA and their executive branch partners have been working very hard to conceal and destroy evidence, or otherwise obstruct courts from threatening their programs, but I fail to see how that means we should just stop paying attention or give up. Their army of lawyers may be masters at playing this game, but the only way defenders of civil liberties can hope to fight back is to continue poking at the little holes in their armor (like this case) and pulling on the little threads revealed by whistle-blowers. If you have a better suggestion, I'm all ears.

You say you've read some books about the NSA, and perhaps you can give me some valuable recommendations. I've read the Jewel v. NSA summary of evidence submitted by the plaintiffs to the court in 2012 and I thought it was an excellent compilation of what has been going on behind the scenes. I would urge anyone interested in this topic to take an hour and read it in its entirety (It's only fifty-some pages, although it is dense with references and footnotes). I have summarized their summary, in an effort to distill what I find is the most compelling evidence for legal action against the NSA and their cohorts.

The summary begins with an outline of the programs in question, then details various threads of evidence as it has been slowly leaked to the public:

    Shortly after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, President George W. Bush authorized the National Security Agency to conduct a variety of surveillance activities, including the warrantless surveillance of telephone and Internet communications of persons within the United States. The OIG PSP Report termed these surveillance activities the “President’s Surveillance Program” (hereafter, “the Program”). The Program is broader than the narrow subset of surveillance activities that, in 2005, the Bush Administration decided to label the “Terrorist Surveillance Program” (hereafter “TSP”).

    A secret presidential order (the “Program Order”), signed on October 4, 2001, expanded the authority of the NSA “to conduct electronic surveillance within the United States without an order from the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC)].” The Program began on October 6, 2001, prior to any comprehensive legal review by the Department of Justice. The Program Order permitted the NSA to carry out a variety of new intelligence activities within the United States.

    The entire Program remained secret until newspaper reports – a series of December 2005 New York Times articles, a December 2005 Los Angeles Times article, and a May 2006 USA Today article – revealed two discrete aspects of the Program: the warrantless surveillance of Internet and telephone communications and the government’s acquisition of domestic call-detail records from major telecommunications carriers. While the precise scope of the surveillance activities and the legal arguments used to support the Program have fluctuated over time, to date, the Program remains in operation, largely unchanged from its original form. [Emphasis mine]

To categorically assume that all evidence has been destroyed, belies the reality of the situation as I see it, where some of the evidence of illegal behavior has been publicly exposed, or kept classified.

    The government conducts communications surveillance under the Program in several stages, starting with acquisition of the communications passing through major telecommunications switches. Government officials confirmed to the New York Times that the NSA obtained “backdoor access to streams of domestic and international communications” via arrangements with “some of the nation’s largest telecommunications companies.” Those agreements provided the NSA “access to major telecommunications switches on American soil.”

    Plaintiffs’ eyewitness evidence confirms that Program surveillance begins with wholesale acquisition of communications – both international and domestic – from domestic telecommunications switches. In January 2006, a former AT&T employee named Mark Klein provided detailed eyewitness testimony and documentary evidence showing how the government, in partnership with AT&T, acquires access to the streams of international and domestic communications. (As part of the Program, “[telecommunications] companies have granted the NSA access to their all-important switches, the hubs through which colossal volumes of voice calls and data transmissions move every second…. [T]he NSA appears to be vacuuming up all data, generally without a particular phone line, name, or e-mail address as a target.”)

    Klein’s job at AT&T was “to oversee the WorldNet Internet room” at AT&T’s Folsom Street facility in San Francisco. Communications carried by AT&T’s WorldNet Internet service pass through that room to be directed to or from customers of AT&T and other service providers. The WorldNet Internet Room is designed to process vast amounts of electronic communications traffic “peered” by AT&T between its Common Backbone (“CBB”) Internet network and other carriers’ networks. The Folsom Street Facility also handles millions of telephone communications.

    The Klein evidence describes how the government initially intercepts Internet communications, which are carried as light signals on fiber-optic cables. To divert the stream of communications to the government, AT&T connected the fiber-optic cables entering its WorldNet Internet room to a “splitter cabinet.”

    The “splitter cabinet” splits the light signals from the WorldNet Internet service in two, making two identical copies of the data carried on the light signal. The splitter cabinet directs one copy of the light signal through fiber optic cables into a secret room built on AT&T premises, but controlled by the NSA, while allowing the other copy to travel its normal course to its intended destination. The split cables carry both domestic and international communications of AT&T customers, as well as communications from users of other non-AT&T networks that pass through the Folsom Street Facility. The use of the splitter cabinet to create an identical copy results in the wholesale acquisition by the government of AT&T customers’ Internet communications. . . . In particular, [a plaintiff expert witness] Marcus explains that the location of the fiber split in AT&T’s network was not designed to capture only international traffic, but to intercept purely domestic communications as well.

Evidence indicates (and supported by expert witness testimony) that similar "splitter cabinets" were employed at other switching locations, including Seattle, San Jose, Los Angeles and San Diego, giving the government unrestricted access to both domestic and international communications. The testimony concerning these points of access are corroborated by oblique statements of involved officials, such as Gen. Michael Hayden. Also contained in the motion is evidence concerning what the Government did with those communications after it had collected them:

    Once the communications are acquired, the Program involves “comb[ing] through large volumes of phone and internet traffic” in a “large data-mining operation.” As former Homeland Security Secretary Michael B. Chertoff confirmed in a January 2006 interview, the Program involves “‘data-mining’ – collecting vast amounts of international communications data, running it through computers to spot key words and honing in on potential terrorists.”

There is a description of the “‘mechanical surveillance’ that is taking place before U.S. citizens and residents are ‘subject to human surveillance.’” Collected communications were directed to a secure room operated by the NSA:

    The AT&T documents presented by Mr. Klein show that a Narus STA 6400 was installed in NSA’s secure room inside of AT&T’s Folsom Street facility. As plaintiffs’ expert J. Scott Marcus explains, the Narus machine is a “semantic traffic analyzer” – a device “designed to capture data directly from a network, apply a structured series of tests against the data, and respond appropriately.” The Narus machine has the capability “to process huge volumes of data, including user content, in real time.” Thus, the configuration deployed in the secure room is “well suited to the capture and analysis of large volumes of data for surveillance purposes.”

Those familiar with domestic surveillance might be aware of the term "minimization" which refers to the “procedures for reviewing, handling, and, as appropriate, destroying, information about U.S. persons, depending on whether or not the information constitutes foreign intelligence information.” The document also covers evidence relating the NSA's minimization policies. According to testimony to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, statements made by McConnell, the DNI, indicate that "immediately after acquisition 'there is no human that is aware of it. So you wouldn't know that [communications without foreign intelligence value were there] until you went into the database.'"

    McConnell further admitted that the communications are acquired and placed in a database before minimization. In response to a question on the number of Americans whose communications had been intercepted, he testified [in a house committee]:

    MR. MCCONNELL: I am not even sure we keep information in that form. It would probably take us some time to get the answer. The reason is, you’re collecting information. It is in a file. It will roll off in a period of time. You may not even know it is in the database. That is one of the reason we are so careful about who has access to that database. . . .

    REP. BERMAN: . . . How do you minimize without knowing?

    MR. MCCONNELL: If you look at it, then you know.

    REP. BERMAN: So all you do is minimize the ones you happen to look at.

    MR. MCCONNELL: Right. If there is something in there that — it doesn’t come up for some reason, you just wouldn’t know. …

Here in another similar exhange from a Senate committe:

    FEINSTEIN: . . . Do the minimization procedures prevent NSA from retaining communications that do not contain foreign intelligence information?

    MCCONNELL: If recognized, the minimization would require them to expunge it from the database. . . .

    FEINSTEIN: So what is the minimization process? And how does it function? And what happens with that collection?

    MCCONNELL: The – first of all, you may not even realize it’s in the database, because you do lots of collection, you have to have a reason to look.

    The inference from former DNI McConnell’s statement is that communications between U.S. persons and records of such communications are in the database – and remain in the database – available for human intelligence analysts to review. Because there are “billions of things going on” in the database, McConnell explained, information without foreign intelligence value will remain stored for some period of time if it “hasn’t been examined." Indeed, former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales suggested in sworn testimony before Congress that, once collected, the information is kept indefinitely, even if the subject of the surveillance is an ordinary American: “In terms of what is actually done with that information, . . . information is collected, information is retained and information is disseminated . . . .”

The summary of the NSA's minimization procedures seem fairly damning to me as a layman:

    Under the Program, on the occasions where the government follows procedures established to protect Americans’ privacy (obtaining a warrant or conducting minimization by purging the record from the database), it does so only after both acquisition and analyst review. If a government analyst reviewed the communications and determined that “it was a U.S. person inside the United States . . . that would stimulate the system to get a warrant. And that is how the process would work,” [said McConnell]. In sum, the evidence shows that the NSA seeks a warrant only after the communication is (1) initially acquired and analyzed by computers according to algorithms designed by humans; (2) placed in a government database; and (3) reviewed by an analyst.

There are also descriptions by two whistle blowers, David Faulk and Adrienne Kinne, where minimization techniques were simply not used, even in cases where it was apparent they should be, when the NSA was collecting communications by aid organizations, or sharing salacious communications among analysts.

Beyond the evidence of IP communication surveillance, there are also details about the phone metadata surveillance, and the difficult legal justification for it. A phone company, Qwest, made some interesting statements about it:

    Qwest has unequivocally confirmed requests by the government for “private telephone records of Qwest customers,” which Qwest refused after learning that it would not be provided with any lawful authority permitting such access." According to Joseph Nacchio, the former “Chairman and CEO of Qwest [who] was serving pursuant to the President’s appointment as the Chairman of the National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee,” Qwest’s refusal to comply was based on a “disinclination on the part of the authorities to use any legal process” in support of the request.

Furthermore, there is evidence that the NSA uses the phone metadata collection "to analyze the communications patterns of Americans in order to locate and target suspects for further surveillance and investigation." It's worth noting that the military uses similar metadata analysis of foreign calls to target drone strikes.

    The database of call-detail records provides NSA with a window into the “existence, timing, and frequency of communications between persons” within the United States. Indeed, for the NSA, “a person’s associations and the persistence of that association with other persons” is often “of greater relevance to a determination” that a person should be a target of investigative interest than “the actual words used in a series of communications.”

Additionally, there is some interesting analysis of the Program's evolution, because, like you say, this has been going on for quite a while:

    The Program reflects a goal of the NSA presented to the incoming Bush administration in December 2000. According to the NSA, “[t]he volumes and routing of data make finding and processing nuggets of intelligence information more difficult. To perform both its offensive and defensive mission, NSA must ‘live on the network.’” . . .

    But FISA stood as an obstacle to accomplishing this goal. In 2000, the NSA acknowledged that the “applicable legal standards for the collection, retention, or dissemination of information concerning U.S. persons reflect a careful balancing between the needs of the government for such intelligence and the protection of the rights of U.S. persons,” and FISA “codified this balancing.” However, shortly after the attacks of September 11, “FISA ceased to be an operative concern” for the NSA. Consequently, President Bush authorized the NSA to “conduct electronic surveillance within the United States without an order from the FISC[.]”

DNI McConnell even gave testimony in 2007, saying “[T]he original program that the President was operating” was unlawful in “the framework of FISA,” while reserving judgment on the Article II argument, and Gen. Hayden said it “is a more . . .‘aggressive’ program than would be traditionally available under FISA.”

    Even in the absence of judicial authorization, neither the President nor Attorney General approved the specific interceptions; rather, the decision to listen or read particular communications was made by intelligence analysts. . . The only review process is authorization by an NSA “shift supervisor” before directly reviewing a particular individuals’ communication

Between 2001 and 2004 the Program Orders were simply certified as to their "form and legality" by the Attorney General which gave the program a sense of legitimacy and encouraged private partners to cooperate. There are some curious details about AG Ashcroft's awareness of the full extent of the Program, culminating in a confrontation in Ashcroft's hospital room in March of 2004, which precipitated a shift in how the administration justified the Program. It's difficult to read these accounts and not get the sense that something fundamentally wrong was occurring.

I'm curious what your response is to all of this, Kleinbl00; Obviously the Protect America Act of 2007 and the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 brought some of the surveillance back under the FISC, but officials in the intelligence community still seem to maintain that the AUMF and Article II of the constitution allows the President to authorize mass domestic surveillance without warrants or judicial oversight. I don't think you could argue with a straight face that Obama has suddenly reversed course here. Considering the degree to which the legislative and executive branches are in the pocket of the intelligence community, not to mention both major political parties, the judiciary looks like the best opening to attack (legally speaking, of course) the surveillance apparatus.

For all the flak Snowden receives for "not being successful enough" in his leaks against the NSA, they have given some ammunition to plaintiffs and has undermined the state secrets privilege which they've relied on in the past. There will be no grand reveal of all the skeletons in the closet here, all we can see are just a handful of puzzle pieces. Just because the NSA is busy hiding and throwing away some pieces to the puzzle, doesn't mean we shouldn't try to put together the pieces we already have. Sorry for writing a book here, but I just wasn't really impressed with your response, to be honest.

crafty  ·  3412 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Religion's use.  ·  

I'm not qualified to make a detailed analysis of religion's role in history all in an effort to distill religion to "net positive" or "net negative," and I think _refugee_ makes a good point.

My own personal views of religion could perhaps be summed up in Vonnegut's invention of Bokononism:

    Bokononism is based on the concept of foma, which are defined as harmless untruths. A foundation of Bokononism is that the religion, including its texts, is formed entirely of lies; however, one who believes and adheres to these lies will have peace of mind, and perhaps live a good life. The primary tenet of Bokononism is to "Live by the foma that make you brave and kind and healthy and happy."

One of my favorite parts of Bokononism is the description of the creation of man:

    In the beginning, God created earth, and he looked upon it in His cosmic loneliness.

    And God said, "Let Us make living creatures out of mud, so the mud can see what We have done." And God created every living creature that now moveth, and one was man. Mud as man alone could speak. God leaned close as mud as man sat up, looked around, and spoke. Man blinked. "What is the purpose of all this?" he asked politely.

    "Everything must have a purpose?" asked God.

    "Certainly," said man.

    "Then I leave it to you to think of one for all this," said God. And He went away.

I think that to the degree that religion gives people purpose and meaning, and advocates for people to live in ways that make them brave, kind, healthy and happy, religion is beneficial. Which parts of organized religions really fulfill those aims is quite debatable and subjective.

crafty  ·  3427 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: "You are muted here. Have you tried apologizing?"  ·  

Having seen the post by b_b, I suppose this is a moot mute discussion, but I did want to offer you my response to a few of your points, which I hope is okay. I don't wish to be disrespectful to you or anyone else in this community.

    "I question how it could be abused after watching Reddit's decline and manipulation."

    Go ahead and question. What solid, evidence-based arguments do you care to make? Because then we're having a discussion, not slinging mud.

It was a poor choice on my part to bring that up without qualifying where I was coming from. I've been increasingly frustrated seeing comments and submissions (particularly related to news and politics) deleted, pigeonholed or marginalized by vague rules or nontransparent moderators. It feels like many Reddit participants are not interested in discussion, but rather, manipulating, distracting, or otherwise preventing discussion. I suppose the quality of the discussion is as much a result of the individual participants as it is the framework of the site that it takes place in. A news story posted to Reddit is filtered through different subreddits to reflect different community's interests and proffer their group's opinions. Obviously Hubski simply hasn't grown large or diverse enough to mirror the same effects with users as subreddits.

I'm growing to like the idea of following individuals whose contributions I value; there is some inherent transparency that comes from developing a personal rapport with other users. I suppose the more time I spend here, the better feeling I will get for individual Hubskian's world views and can feel more confident in offering my opinions while not unduly offending or stepping on a person's toes.

I wouldn't really consider myself as either one of your polar factions (literally Hitler or cocktail party), although I get the sardonicism in your use of the "literally Hitler" meme to represent the outsiders. I do understand your point that a "mute as global comment ignore" or whatever that side was pushing for (I think I unfortunately made a comment in tepid support of it), neuters mute too much. I like the idea that the creator of the post is the moderator of that post, and anyone can post whatever they want.

Perhaps the biggest point of disagreement that I would have with you is that an apology is always necessary, or would work in every circumstance. For example, I think it was minimum_wage (please forgive me if I'm wrong!) who mentioned that even if someone apologized to him/her, it wouldn't make a difference, which is fine. If some libertarian (or any other ideological label) is distracting, attacking or trolling my posts without adding any value, I would be within my right, and perhaps expected, to mute him, regardless of an apology.

I suppose my considerations of the mute feature are borne from imagining how it would look in 2016 when Hubski has grown (10x, 100x, maybe even 1000x?) and popular users are submitting pro-Hillary for president content with rampant astroturfing while muting users who are offering critical discussion. How will regular users be able to navigate that type of thing? I suppose the Hubski model makes astroturfing more difficult, and the lack of global moderation would allow the real discussion to spill elsewhere. In the end, I guess it's pie in the sky to wonder about these things; it's better to go along for the ride rather than to knock over the apple cart out of some perceived threat.

    "I've seen accusations of abuse, with varying degrees of merit, in my opinion."

    List them and explain why you think they merit. It then becomes a debate rather than slander.

Honestly, I'm not friends with any of the people involved, nor was I part of the discussion, so I wouldn't really hold my opinion in high regard. I came to this, and other threads, to discuss the mute feature specifically, not some past disagreement between people I don't know. I regret even mentioning that I have an opinion on that.

At any rate, I appreciate the time you spent discussing this with me. As someone who is relatively new to Hubski, it feels daunting to become a member of the community; there is no tutorial for getting to know people.