Why are places like this RevLeft and RevForum dying?

59 posts / 0 new
Last post
Vlad The Inhaler's picture
Vlad The Inhaler
Offline
Joined: 17-04-15
Dec 11 2017 10:05
Why are places like this RevLeft and RevForum dying?

It seems everywhere a leftie might want to hang out online is dying a death, and its not like we're all busy fermenting revolution, so what the hell has happened?

We live starkly alienated and atomised lives these days, our local communities are dead, the workplace is not the hotbed of political activity and association that it once was, social movements are going through a predictable withdrawal, contraction and consolidation around Social Democracy, and the old "mass" Far Left parties that might once have absorbed us no longer even register on the radar. You'd think in times such as these internet forums might provide the politically advanced members of our class with some small point of contact, some pole of attraction.

These forums might be the only left voices many of us hear given how politically retarded the working class still is despite the crumbling ideological facade of modern Anglo-Saxon, Liberal-Bourgeois Capitalism.

Mike Harman
Offline
Joined: 7-02-06
Dec 11 2017 11:45

Most online political discussion has moved to facebook and twitter - there's hundreds of people with broadly the politics you'd expect to find on here talking about stuff on twitter every day.

Our facebook page sometimes has more comments in a day than the forums do for example. Also what's left of forum discussion has in large part moved to Reddit.

What used to happen on e-mail lists tends to be in private facebook groups or similar now.

There's probably a generational difference in the sense that those of us who first got online in the '90s only had the forum/BBS format to talk about things. People who hit their teens in the early 00s would have known about blogs from day one (livejournal -> wordpress -> tumblr). Anyone under 30 would have had myspace as one of the biggest sites when they were 18.

Either way I don't think it's that there's less discussion, it's that the locations where discussion is happening online have changed dramatically.

Vlad The Inhaler's picture
Vlad The Inhaler
Offline
Joined: 17-04-15
Dec 11 2017 12:37

lol, so I'm, just an old fuddy duddy and out of touch. Figures.

I don't have a clue what Reddit even is. Twitter & Facebook I use in a personal capacity. I don't think they suit political discussion, debate and the such, god knows I've tried. Conversations are fractured, lost in the crowd and just generally soundbitey.

Vlad The Inhaler's picture
Vlad The Inhaler
Offline
Joined: 17-04-15
Dec 11 2017 12:45

What are the chances? I just tried to sign up to Reddit and my username is taken. wtf?! In my naivety I assumed that it was a username sufficiently quirky to make it original, apparently not.

Mike Harman
Offline
Joined: 7-02-06
Dec 11 2017 14:49

Reddit is essentially a mega-forum including multiple sub-forums. I don't use it, but ones I know of:

https://www.reddit.com/r/communism101/
https://www.reddit.com/r/leftcommunism/
https://www.reddit.com/r/Anarchism/
https://www.reddit.com/r/anarchocommunism/
https://www.reddit.com/r/LibertarianSocialism/

I don't think anything stops people making their own sub-reddits, so some of these are busier than others and there's different overlap etc.

I don't think they suit political discussion, debate and the such, god knows I've tried. Conversations are fractured, lost in the crowd and just generally soundbitey.

They're hard for actual discussion, but people use them to share posts, critique articles other people have posted, and threads on twitter can be equivalent to a short blog (which people can then respond to) - and this sort of stuff does help people who are getting politicised figure out their ideas. It's OK to hate it, even lots of people who use it hate it, but it's where a lot of people are.

comrade_emma's picture
comrade_emma
Offline
Joined: 16-09-17
Dec 11 2017 18:34

Since I hang out on political subs way to much on reddit I'll give a run down,

Tankie subreddits, very strict
https://www.reddit.com/r/communism101/
https://www.reddit.com/r/communism

Anarchist subs,
https://www.reddit.com/r/anarchism

Left-communist and/or marxist subreddits,
https://www.reddit.com/r/communists
https://www.reddit.com/r/leftcommunism
https://www.reddit.com/r/ultraleft
https://www.reddit.com/r/shitleftistssay
https://www.reddit.com/r/marxism_101
https://www.reddit.com/r/communization

The most general and active sub(has been growing quite rapidly since June),
https://www.reddit.com/r/socialism

Socialist trans sub,
https://www.reddit.com/r/LateStageGenderBinary

Serge Forward's picture
Serge Forward
Offline
Joined: 14-01-04
Dec 11 2017 16:19

Facebook, Twitter and and other social meeja have to be a major factor. Mind you, it'd help if a few of those still here ditched some of the cultish 'scenethink' and were a bit less arsey sometimes. That's not solely a libcom problem though.

Vlad The Inhaler's picture
Vlad The Inhaler
Offline
Joined: 17-04-15
Dec 11 2017 17:02

It seems memes are the new political pamphlets and flyers. Vlad The Inhaler is not amused.

zugzwang
Offline
Joined: 25-11-16
Dec 11 2017 19:15

Never thought RevLeft was libertarian-socialist-friendly despite advertising itself as being politically inclusive among the left. Could be wrong, but I read through some threads and never bothered registering there.

Vlad The Inhaler's picture
Vlad The Inhaler
Offline
Joined: 17-04-15
Dec 11 2017 19:52

I wasn't on RevLeft during its hayday but in my time there there was certainly a smattering of Anarchists and a decent number of Left-Communists but the majority were undeniably Leninists of one stripe of another. I was a Leninist at the time and so didn't see it as a problem. The problem with Revleft and RevForum (a split from RevLeft) was that squabbles often became so acrimonious that the mods and admins felt compelled to ban all those involved, from there it just snowballed to a situation where pretty much only the mods, admins & donors were still able to post on there.

jondwhite's picture
jondwhite
Offline
Joined: 23-10-12
Dec 11 2017 22:33

Agreed. Revleft has let a few bad apples rot the barrel. Before various purges of users in recent years it was broad and interesting.

el psy congroo
Offline
Joined: 17-11-16
Dec 11 2017 23:53
comrade_emma wrote:
Since I hang out on political subs way to much on reddit I'll give a run down,

Tankie subreddits, very strict
https://www.reddit.com/r/communism101/
https://www.reddit.com/r/communism

Anarchist subs,
https://www.reddit.com/r/anarchism

Left-communist and/or marxist subreddits,
https://www.reddit.com/r/communists
https://www.reddit.com/r/leftcommunism
https://www.reddit.com/r/ultraleft
https://www.reddit.com/r/shitleftistssay
https://www.reddit.com/r/marxism_101
https://www.reddit.com/r/communization

The most general and active sub(has been growing quite rapidly since June),
https://www.reddit.com/r/socialism

Socialist trans sub,
https://www.reddit.com/r/LateStageGenderBinary

I've retired from this site and others for months now. Just want to say everything listed by emma is dominated by leninsts and authoritarians. Bordigists in the case of everything but r/communization, which is dominated by crypto-maoists.

Not sure about r/LSGB

comrade_emma's picture
comrade_emma
Offline
Joined: 16-09-17
Dec 12 2017 00:03

You make it sound like that is a bad thing.

Serge Forward's picture
Serge Forward
Offline
Joined: 14-01-04
Dec 12 2017 01:07

Yeah, the influx of idiot leninists is possibly another reason this place has gone downhill somewhat.

pat black's picture
pat black
Offline
Joined: 12-12-17
Dec 12 2017 06:56

i feel the same. it's a blessing and curse that facebook and twitter became the main places for us to congregate online. they take from forums like these but also broaden the reach of our messages, knowledge, and listeners. i actually know a few people that got radicalized on facebook.

i want forums like these to thrive. i live in china. vpns are blocked and i have no way of accessing banned social media. these days, i am stuck on quora. but one can only give the basic definitions of terms for so long. if communism killed the dinosaurs, then why are antifa thugs taking money from soros and ISIS?
that absurd question isn't far off from what i've seen there.
while annoying, i do give my answers.
-liberals are not leftists
-social darwinism is based on a lie
-that's not human nature.

the rest of the questions on my feed are racist questions about china.

it's exhausting and and interesting. but not too social. just a few comment threads. so, while i sit for mandatory office hours at an early childhood development center in tianjin, china, i figured i could talk here.

jondwhite's picture
jondwhite
Offline
Joined: 23-10-12
Dec 12 2017 07:33
comrade_emma wrote:
You make it sound like that is a bad thing.

It is.

syndicalist
Offline
Joined: 15-04-06
Dec 12 2017 07:40

How to put it? I think there are prolly a few reasons for the lack of discussion here at the mo. If you look at the peak periods of discussions, there were many similar themes: organizational, workplace, the role of different organizational forms, political squabbling. I suspect, for the most part, people tired of the same thing, same debates, same everything. I mean, there's really good stuff inside many of these threads, in spite of some repetition. I would also hazard to say, with a number of splits within the various movements, many have just pulled back from some discussions as well. And simply having discussions with folks they either have disagreements with or don't much care for.

I'm glad that this is still a place to put stuff up, have a periodic good convo, maybe get some info on global happenings, solidarity campaigns and so forth. And even if Libcom is more a "resource" site at this point, the resources available are pretty good.

Just some causal and radom comments

DevastateTheAvenues
Offline
Joined: 17-03-17
Dec 29 2017 14:03

I saw on the Libcom Twitter page that there are plans to remove the forums. If that will be the final decision of the Libcom collective then that's alright, but I think it will be sad to see the forums go.

Though I don't post often, I have always preferred to read and post in the long-form style that forums are more suited to, as well as the ability to more easily respond to multiple people; on Facebook and Twitter, unless someone is actively looking then generally they will only see the replies directed at them specifically. Long, involved discussions with multiple participants seem more difficult. Tumblr and Reddit seem to have these problems as well, though less so.

I am glad that there are no plans to remove comments on articles, but I think it is valuable when you can make a thread with some thoughts or questions that might not warrant an article but can invite discussion. I believe that starting these exploratory threads is also a good and relatively gentle way for someone to get involved with a posting community, even if the questions are ones other posters have seen many times already, without having the new poster go through the nonparticipatory experience of searching through the archives for old conversations. Besides, even old questions can produce fruitful, innovative discussions.

Anyway, these are just my thoughts. I'll admit that I'm also just fond of forums because they are what I grew up with, while I am a latecomer to social media. I hope that, whatever happens, an archive of the forums will remain. While I understand that the forums have been quite tense in the past, there's been a lot of quality discussion, too, and I would hate to see it disappear.

satawal
Offline
Joined: 12-05-10
Dec 29 2017 10:01

RE: 'I saw on the Libcom Twitter page that there are plans to remove the forums.'

I understand why this might be done, but I would put up a plea to at least maintain the 'Announcements' forum in some way. Personally I have found this very useful as a non-partisan place to find out about upcoming events, esp. outside of my direct political concern or geographic area.

Either way, thanks to the LibCom mods - your voluntary labour over the years is appreciated.

zugzwang
Offline
Joined: 25-11-16
Dec 29 2017 11:06

https://twitter.com/libcomorg/status/946421744818114560

I kind of enjoyed the forums as a place to interact with others and develop one's politics through discussions. I wouldn't mind seeing the forums replaced with something similar, but to remove the interactive aspect from the site completely would be a shame imo. I don't really get the benefits of removing the forums and having comments only on articles, which is the current plan if I'm not mistaken.

Mike Harman
Offline
Joined: 7-02-06
Dec 29 2017 12:31

We haven't made a final decision on exactly what to do yet, but we're probably going to do something like the following:

- archive all the old threads
- keep comments on articles
- get rid of the forum layout and ability to post new forum topics, and new discussions can still happen on articles/blogs

We don't have the capacity to moderate the forums properly, and most of the admins and editors no longer post on them regularly (I only started to again recently after a several year hiatus) which makes moderating extremely difficult. It's not really a sustainable thing and the rate of attrition (usually to social media) is not matched by new forum posters. Then that lack of strict moderation means a lot of people have pulled back from the forums as well.

I do think there's a need for longer form discussion (I personally can't stand facebook, twitter is useful for lots of things, but not longer form discussion) but not sure what a good venue for that is really.

DevastateTheAvenues
Offline
Joined: 17-03-17
Dec 29 2017 14:22
satawal wrote:
Either way, thanks to the LibCom mods - your voluntary labour over the years is appreciated.

I echo this 100 percent. A lot of the tension in the past and even recently has been about admin and moderation of the forums, so that the admins and mods have done this for so long is spectacular. I'm very grateful; I don't know where my politics would be today without the forums.

Mike Harman wrote:
We haven't made a final decision on exactly what to do yet, but we're probably going to do something like the following:

- archive all the old threads
- keep comments on articles
- get rid of the forum layout and ability to post new forum topics, and new discussions can still happen on articles/blogs

We don't have the capacity to moderate the forums properly, and most of the admins and editors no longer post on them regularly (I only started to again recently after a several year hiatus) which makes moderating extremely difficult. It's not really a sustainable thing and the rate of attrition (usually to social media) is not matched by new forum posters. Then that lack of strict moderation means a lot of people have pulled back from the forums as well.

I do think there's a need for longer form discussion (I personally can't stand facebook, twitter is useful for lots of things, but not longer form discussion) but not sure what a good venue for that is really.

Thank you for laying out the current plans and the reasoning. If the forums are no longer meant to be, hopefully a satisfactory venue can be found soon. Best of luck to you and the rest of the admins.

Spikymike
Offline
Joined: 6-01-07
Dec 29 2017 15:05

I suppose the Regions and Groups Forums could go but the others seem useful. Presumably comments on all library texts etc will be retained?
I suppose I will have to finally register on Facebook to answer some of the pathetic short comments on posted libcom material that appears there now whilst still avoiding adding my 'likes'.
Is there really much substantive discussion on either Facebook or twitter? Other hosted subforums seem to cater for a fairly narrow political range even if they are still broadly classifiable as 'radical!

jondwhite's picture
jondwhite
Offline
Joined: 23-10-12
Dec 29 2017 15:43
Mike Harman wrote:
We haven't made a final decision on exactly what to do yet, but we're probably going to do something like the following:

- archive all the old threads
- keep comments on articles
- get rid of the forum layout and ability to post new forum topics, and new discussions can still happen on articles/blogs

We don't have the capacity to moderate the forums properly, and most of the admins and editors no longer post on them regularly (I only started to again recently after a several year hiatus) which makes moderating extremely difficult. It's not really a sustainable thing and the rate of attrition (usually to social media) is not matched by new forum posters. Then that lack of strict moderation means a lot of people have pulled back from the forums as well.

I do think there's a need for longer form discussion (I personally can't stand facebook, twitter is useful for lots of things, but not longer form discussion) but not sure what a good venue for that is really.

That sounds ok but if any users wished to start up forums for themselves independently they could do so.

Noa Rodman's picture
Noa Rodman
Offline
Joined: 4-11-09
Dec 29 2017 15:56
Spikymike wrote:
Presumably comments on all library texts etc will be retained?

That's what was said yes, and we would still be able to comment.

Quote:
Is there really much substantive discussion on either Facebook or twitter?

a lot of meme/shit-posting, and even if there is substantive discussion it will be almost impossible to find within a couple of days, and deleted without notice whenever the fb group or twitter user deletes their account on a whim.

There's more activity on twitter, but then if you have time to be active on twitter (which the libcom account seems fairly to have), the main problem doesn't really seem to be lack of time for forum moderation. After all, forum activity is down is the general complaint, so it should be easier to moderate.

Is the cause for the pending decision not rather just that an inactive forum superficially looks bad to the outside.

Quote:
Other hosted subforums seem to cater for a fairly narrow political range even if they are still broadly classifiable as 'radical!

If you refer to the forums of SPGB (most active), ICT, and ICC (or Redmarx), they seem fairly well moderated. It doesn't look a problem for them to admin. If the work-load is really too much for libcom, perhaps someone trusted, from like the SPGB, can be made an admin here to help out.

jef costello's picture
jef costello
Offline
Joined: 9-02-06
Dec 29 2017 16:49

I think it would be a shame to close the forums to new posts. Discussions under articles don't seem to go into the same depth.
In terms of moderation, I can see why the admins can't find the time, and I don't know if current posters would be willing to pick up the slack. I also understand that libcom admins wouldn't want non-admins to do moderation, because ultimately they would be responsible for it and good moderation does take time, even if it is just running something by an admin.

I could do some moderation if needed, I used to for some of the subforums on the old site. There are a few of us in the same boat.

I don't see me signing up for twitter.

Fleur
Offline
Joined: 21-02-12
Dec 29 2017 19:54

The forums have been running on fumes for a while & I doubt if they’ll ever get back to what they were.

Shout out to the admins for putting so much work and time here. Also for putting up with me during my fighty moods wink

If anyone is interested, you can PM me for my social media deets.

jambo1's picture
jambo1
Offline
Joined: 2-06-07
Dec 30 2017 09:18

I haven't been on Revleft for years, it was an interesting place to hang out but a lack of anarchos and associated types sort of drove me out, too many Stalinist types I'm afraid. Haven't been on Libcom forums for ages either to be honest, most of my stuff seems to be on Facebook now.

Serge Forward's picture
Serge Forward
Offline
Joined: 14-01-04
Dec 30 2017 12:59

I don't do social media, and never will, so it'll pretty much be sayonara from me when the forums go. To be fair though, it's not just that this forum is pretty dead these days, it's also that the remnants here seem to be infected with the kind of groupthink based on twitteresque and facebooky political fashions.

Any archiving that is done, I really hope it retains some of the quality stuff from comrades like the late Knightrose and others, rather than some of the recent faddists and leninists you get these days.

jef costello's picture
jef costello
Offline
Joined: 9-02-06
Dec 30 2017 14:57

I think it will be it from me too, but I disagree with the faddism charge, although there do seem to be a fair few leninists, probably waiting for the central committee to approve using Facebook.

Just a few reasons not to use Facebook for everything.
https://libcom.org/news/few-reasons-not-organise-facebook-30122017

There seems to be a belief that facebook is somehow neutral (a massive misconception) and that we can fight back (we can but often lose because facebook has far more in common with the right wing than us and because building a better world is more complex that dog whistle racist memes) and that we can rebuild, every time a facebook page is shut there are a lot of people who won't notice, or won't look for its replacement. We lost loads of corrrespondents when libcom was hacked and it was a massive shame. I didn't think at the time to switch people to email, or at least get an email address and that was an error. Not forgetting that we were on a friendly organising site, not an at best ambivalent one that will happily sell our information to anyone. If they will allow advertisers to specifically target depressed and emotionally vulnerable teenagers (or rather pitch the idea to them) then why not lefties?

Agent not available
Offline
Joined: 17-08-12
Dec 30 2017 15:27

The quality of discussions you can find on Facebook and Reddit are nowhere close to those that can be found in the libcom.org forum. I kind of miss the times when newbies would regularly log in and ask the questions one would ask when first getting into radical politics. Nowadays, it seems like no one is interested.

I have to add, if anarchist subreddits are anything to go by, the state of the worldwide anarchist community is pretty much a mixed bag. Its surprising how many individualists, Proudhonian mutualists, and Communalist/democratic confederalist types you'll find regularly posting there.

Left communist subreddits, on the other hand, are much, much smaller; perhaps theoretically more coherent, but unsurprisingly quite dogmatic. I mean, does anyone really want to be told that the social revolution is an authoritarian act? That's the kind of "important" debates/discussions they have.