The future of The Spacebar

Substack sucks.

The future of The Spacebar

The Spacebar is just five months old, and I’ve been absolutely blown away at its success. I have no intention of stopping work on it, but I do have some changes in mind for the future.

If you didn’t know, The Spacebar is hosted on Substack, a popular newsletter platform. It’s used by a lot of great creative writers and journalists, and many other Substack publications have set up paid subscriptions with exclusive content for paying members. Substack takes a 10% cut from those subscriptions.

Why does any of that matter? Well, Substack has become one of the premier destinations for far-right influencers to set up publications, because the platform has almost no moderation policies. Jonathan M. Katz wrote a great article about it in The Atlantic last month, outlining how much hate speech is allowed on Substack: “Some Substack newsletters by Nazis and white nationalists have thousands or tens of thousands of subscribers.”

Substack executives have tried to push off questions about moderating the platform in the past, but earlier this month, more than 200 prominent Substack authors signed an open letter asking Substack to explain why the company is “platforming and monetizing Nazis." Again, that 10% cut means Substack is directly profiting from hate speech, in addition to hosting the content that is helping radicalize people in the United States and other countries. In response, Substack co-founder Hamish McKenzie reaffirmed that the company would continue allowing hate speech, under the obviously wrong viewpoint that deplatforming those people just make them more dangerous.

I stopped using Twitter last year, partially because the site becoming a haven for hate speech. Now I’m in the same boat with Substack, which is pretty frustrating!

The future for The Spacebar

My eventual goal is to move The Spacebar to a different hosting platform, possibly WordPress or Ghost. However, nearly every other option comes with recurring costs, especially with platforms that support sending emails. Substack doesn’t charge me anything right now, but most other options are realistically $120-200 per year with everything included. It will take some time to test alternative options and ensure nothing gets broken in the transition.

I will not be enabling paid subscriptions or other features that give Substack a cut of anyone’s money. Right now, the only recurring cost for The Spacebar (besides my time) is the cost of the custom domain at Hover, which is just $33 per year.

If you would like to help support my work, and the eventual costs of moving The Spacebar, consider joining my Patreon. It was originally for my software projects, but I’m currently re-working it to cover everything I work on. You can also do one-time or recurring donations through PayPal or use Cash App. The support links will remain available in the sidebar on the home page.

Finally, I have also created a chat room for The Spacebar in my Discord server. The server is a work in progress (and also used to be primarily for my software work), but I’d love to have you there.

If you don’t want to get emails from Substack anymore or use the Substack app, The Spacebar is still available through RSS, Google News, and Mastodon.

Update: The Spacebar is now hosted on Ghost :)