Should I stay or should I go?
One day it's fine, and next it's black
This is a long post, and (aside from that dark rye above) not at all bread-related, so you are forgiven if you choose to pass it by, but I did feel I needed to send it out to you all. I got this note from a reader the other day after they unsubscribed to Wordloaf (and from Substack altogether), in the wake of Substack management’s “response” to the Substackers Against Nazis campaign that I signed on to on 12/14:
I love your Substack but I'm fed up with Substack management and hate-mongers making money using the platform. I'm unsubscribing from everything here.
I was supposed to be spending my holiday break, well, holidaying, resting up before I do a major push on my book this winter, but instead I find myself having to address all this instead (thanks, Substack!), lest others decide to make a similar (and understandable) move.
First of all, let me start by saying I completely respect your decision to leave Substack if you feel the need to. But one thing I am here to say today is: If you can hang on at least awhile, please do. I still have not figured out what I am going to do myself, but I want to assure you I am giving it a lot of thought and am mulling options.
I’m seriously considering packing up and moving my newsletter to another platform, but there are major hurdles to doing so (more on this below). And I’m not convinced yet that that is the most effective strategy here (also more below). But either way, if you delete your account now, I won’t be able to let you know where I end up, if I migrate Wordloaf. If you must go, go, but if you want me to let you know if/when I land elsewhere, please email me saying so. I’ll keep a list of names and email addresses to add to the new Wordloaf should the time come.
Substackers Against Nazis, two weeks in
Before I go into my own thinking a little, here are some updates since the SAN letter went out on 12/14:
At last count, 247 writers have signed onto the campaign, which is more than double the number when it launched. If you are a fellow Substack writer, it is never too late to add your name to the list. Restacking and linking posts about it is helpful, but if you want to have the most impact, the best thing you can do is repost the letter to your own Substack and add your name to it. I can connect you with the right person if you choose to, just let me know.
The Substack founders took a entire week to come up with a response, and this was the best they could muster:
To paraphrase: Nazis are welcome on Substack, because free speech, and yes, we will continue to take money from them as long as they are making it.
In case you were wondering if I am being uncharitable to Haimish, here are the sorts of news stories that dropped in the wake of his note. Read these if you have the time (click the images for links), but the headlines alone should suffice as evidence that they might have wanted to consider another response:
Meanwhile, numerous Substack writers had thoughts of their own:
Several very prominent Substack users have already moved their newsletters elsewhere, and others have made it clear they are doing to do so soon.
Others have said specifically that they are staying to fight the good fight, that leaving only means the ceding ground to the other side. Here is, who writes Culture Study:
An independent writer like myself — and like the other writers you read and admire here on Substack — finds themselves with very few options. They can flee this platform, as we have fled Twitter, as we have fled mainstream news organizations that have opted for “both side-ism” on any number of issues including but by no means limited to fascism, as we have fled Facebook. The Nazis will follow. It has become more and more clear to me: This is no way to fight.
Reading the reactions from other writers, I’m reminded that we have power in solidarity. People who’ve been here longer and have larger readership bases and more secure income — like me — have a responsibility to think about our power as whole.
AndBotton, who helms some 37 newsletters, including the excellent :
This place has been a lifeline, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to cede my ground and everything I’ve worked so hard to build here to a handful of bigots. (Well, at least not for now. Here’s hoping that eventually someone with a functioning conscience figures out how to replicate that winning formula elsewhere.)
It’s been disappointing to realize how little the founders care about so many of us, whom they’re essentially in business with, and profiting from. It’s been infuriating, insulting, sickening, and frankly heartbreaking, too. (Thus all the muttering and sighing.)
But, yeah, for now, I’m sticking, not kicking. I’m also adding my name and my voice to the growing chorus supporting the “Substackers Against Nazis” letter spearheaded byMarisa Kabasand signed and shared by more than 230 others who publish newsletters on this platform.
And, who pens (and inks) the great Sneaky Art Post:
It has been an exhausting week. And some of you may have read about Substack in the news. Some of you may decide to not associate with Substack any longer, regardless of the writer or the publication. I can not tell you what to do. Your journey is yours, as mine is mine.
I am figuring out the best path for myself. Jumping ship immediately would hurt my work and this equation with you. I am figuring out how to not run from the Nazis and stand for my principles.
My call to you is the same as it has always been - If you identify with my journey, and are heading the same way, let us walk together.
What of Wordloaf?
As I said, I don’t know yet what I will do. I obviously do not like all this Nazi garbage, but I am in no position to do anything about it right now other than continuing to press for change in whatever way I can. Moving a newsletter to another platform is doable and taking Wordloaf elsewhere would not be the end of the world, but there are numerous reasons I cannot or would rather not, if possible:
For one thing, it is time consuming to do. Even just figuring out which platform to use will take a lot of research and options-weighing. Not to mention the actual work of moving it over and making sure all of the content and subscribers get ported correctly. And guess what? I am currently writing a book and have zero time for anything else right now.
Two: There is currently NO way to migrate a comment section from one newsletter platform to another. Which means that nearly four years worth of priceless bread information in my comment threads (both from me and, more importantly, all of you) will be lost in time, like tears in rain. (I cannot even easily archive the comments for myself, which I’d like to do at the very least.)
Finally, aside from the whole Nazis thing, I actually like Substack. Many of my friends and colleagues also write here, and I’d prefer to stay connected to them. (And even if I did move on, I’d still have to address the question of the many Substack newsletters I subscribe to. I want to support my friends work, and hate the idea that Substack’s ‘we are cool with Nazis here’ stance means I cannot.)
All of these are mostly me problems and not worse than the fact of Nazis here on Substack, but they are real hurdles to me making any changes right now. All of which to say: I am unsure whether staying and fighting in solidarity with others who want Substack to do better is likely to make a difference, but since I cannot leave anytime soon, I will do everything I can to see that it does.
Now let’s all get back to holidaying. I’ll see you all again when I emerge from my book-writing cocoon in mid-January.