Some Context for Recent Announcements

Hi All,

Am responding to multiple queries that have been directed via Private Message regarding the Quillette Circle. Rather than write to each inquirer individually, I will instead post a more general message here.

Quillette is a tiny company with a tiny team of staff. When I say tiny, I mean tiny. We have one CEO (me), two full-time editors in Toronto and London, one managing editor in California, and one other associate editor in London.

Our team manages hundreds of article submissions per week. We accept perhaps 10-20% of the submissions we receive and some submissions require multiple edits over periods of days to weeks. Our work is highly focused on the articles we publish, and historically we have had little time to devote to audience engagement (although I am hoping to change that going forward).

Quillette is not a venture-backed company like Vox media, or a beneficiary of large philanthropic endowment such as Unherd. Unfortunately we do not have a team of support staff to assist in the day-to-day upkeep of our applications. However I am endeavouring to change this, and become more involved myself, as I see value in it and enjoy conversing with you!

We are funded by readers such as yourself (thank you) with modest supplementary income from advertising. The bulk of this income goes directly to our writers, whom we pay competitive writers’ fees.

I understand that some of you are disgruntled due to my recent announcement that the QC may close. I made this announcement after reading several private messages that raised serious concern about the tenor of discussions in this forum. Here is just one message I received out of several:

Hi there, I’m requesting that my account be removed as I no longer wish to partake in the Quillette Circle. I spent a considerable amount of time reviewing and reading as much as I could about your magazine and in the online discussion groups.

I have to admit how very disappointed and disturbed I am after experiencing QC. I thought that this was going to be an intellectual forum of eclectic scholars and respectable people who wish to share a diversity of ideas. Unfortunately, what I saw was a cesspool of hate and anger, dominated and controlled mainly by a few unhappy Americans/ North Americans.

I spent one whole month reviewing as much as I could and a reading time of app. 1 day reading as much as I could. I would see a common trend of newcombers (or a rare member) with a different, positive idea creep in and attempt to post …. Only to see their posts plummeted by a nasty thuggish mentality where the posters’ ideas are then vehemently attacked, or the poster is attacked in an indirect way by a group of vicious uni-voiced group.

I think the tipping point was when I read the topic, “where are all the trolls?” in your ‘ideas’ section; whereby, your ‘moderator’ (Tjmag) is bragging about who he had suspended or had removed in an immature and spiteful manner, badmouthing people he helped ban. I realised that this is not at all an intellectual forum. In fact, I can no longer support this magazine anymore knowing that this is what it is manifesting.
Again, if you can remove my account and any trace of me, this would be greatly appreciated. I don’t want to be affiliated at all with this Quillette.

As you can see from the message, this person has had an unpleasant experience in this forum. I do not wish the Quillette brand to be associated with such experiences.

Many people have expressed that they value the forum, and wish it to remain. And from my perspective, I do hope the forum can continue as well. But you must understand that if people are having unpleasant experiences in here, I must limit the damage done not only to the Quillette brand, but the individuals who are here because they found the forum through Quillette. I have a duty of care for what goes on here.

Going forward I will endeavour to participate in the forum on a daily basis. I am sure that 98% of you are marvellous, and only 2% are problematic, for want of a better term.

My colleague, Colin Wright is also going to participate on a regular basis, and will be posting some forum guidelines in due course.

Going forward I hope we can all work together to make the forum a friendly, intelligent and tolerant meeting place for the diverse views of independently minded people.

Many thanks,
Claire

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I appreciate how this appeared to you. I also appreciate that the trolls referenced in the thread referenced in your quote were sock puppet accounts of the person who declared his intention to get the forum cancelled.

Absent detail, it is hard to comment on the other allegations.

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Thanks, Claire.

I understand where you’re coming from. QC does have some rough elbows at times. Some of this is necessary from my view in a heterodox world within QC’s garden. We have diverse viewpoints from Left, Right and Center. As Dr Peterson once said (emphasis mine):


I understand that “living with the tension” that occurs between folks with differing ideologies isn’t necessarily something that an esoteric academic monk would enjoy who would probably prefer getting along to any type of tension. But if QC will be a place for the discussion and exploration of hard topics, we will have some bruised egos, some name-calling, some agreeing-to-disagree. It’s part of the tension that exists between two worlds (e.g. progressive and conservative perspectives likely built into us by evolution) that, in this day and age, never mingle anymore outside of very special places like QC.

There was a time when this heterodox mingling - this liberal education - was a mission of universities for their students. Today, where else is there outside of QC that provides such a platform for dialogue and tension to find the right place to draw the line between differing ideologies and beliefs?

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That sounds like it could be Barber.

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I don’t recall Barber’s exact words but it was something to that effect, and IIRC, didn’t he specifically say that Claire wouldn’t be able to stop it?

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Congrats @ColinWright! Woot! Woot!

For those who are maybe newer, check out his author page. Good stuff on real biology from a real biologist, cancel culture (unfortunately for Colin) and other.

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@clair:

I recommend reading the trolls thread if you have not.

Edit: I also completely disagree with the characterization of @Tj2mag. Someone is trying to take you in

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I appreciate you being clear about your small team of staff and what you continue to want to do, and there’s reason for optimism. So I’ll go forward!
I would be bummed out if I got a letter like that.
I don’t know who wrote that letter and if there was secondary reasons to write you directly, beyond disappointment.
But I do know that based on my experience with the site, I wouldn’t ever be close to writing anything like that, kinda like it here!
Edit: to add I completely disagree with the characterisation of TJmag in the letter.

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Oh, yes. Barber. The ‘member’ who kept coming back with new accounts every day and trolling people.

@Claire - Barber (a highly-partisan radical leftist) suggested he was secretly reporting people at QC to the FBI because he found their ideologies deplorable. For example, someone posted a highly-eloquent post and then said “lock and load” as a metaphor at the end. Barber purposely said it wasn’t a metaphor and was a promise to commit violence (completely taking the line out of the context of the post). Then he said he would shut down the site’s forum, in a way that was similar to happened with The Federalist. A pure threat.

Seems inappropriate and I, for one, was glad Barber finally left us (for good), thanks to a moderator who was on the ball. No one should be threatened at QC by another poster saying they’re secretly reporting individuals to the FBI. That’s highly inappropriate.

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Threatened to demonetize the site via Google, tried posting hilariously racist or offensive posts fishing for agreement, had a good 30+ alts he cycled through. Tried claiming a number of metaphors endorsed violence and made him afraid, used a VPN service.

But always admitted who he was shortly. Total Shkrelnick.

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Yes. Oh, the memories. :slight_smile:

@Claire, this is another reason it will be good to have your participation when you are able. The context is out there and ‘regulars’ can provide visibility to you or the moderators if it’s uncertain.

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Yes, he explained it was because he was getting the FBI involved for Quillette posters who were “illegally inciting violence” or some such.

One claimed “illegal incitement to violence” was the fact that one QC poster’s profile sub-name was something like “lock-n-load”.

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That was Tidy, and that was trolling. Of Barber. Who insisted the Americanism “lock and load” represented a clear incitement to violence in a context that was nonsense- and then tried to flag everything he claimed was violent, including posts discussing the phrase and citing dictionaries!

Oh, and he posts under his real name, made an alt, then admits the alt is him- and when someone calls him “Peter,” tries screaming about doxxing! Like, literally one day later

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Thank you for the bit of transparency @claire it is most appreciated.

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I’m sorry that we had to ‘part’ with those folks so soon :slight_smile:

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If they got off the QC for a bit perhaps they could 'bang out a few chores.

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Several pointed out to him that when he made his original “barber” account he had also listed his first name “peter”.

After that he gave up on his complaints for a while about people calling him either “peter” or “barber” or both, then IIRC raised the supposed doxxing complaint again (briefly, as the same facts shut it down) a while later.

Sounds more like redhorse, another highly partisan leftist

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I see wut u did there

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Understandable. Unfortunately this is the internet and people have been known to occasionally be less than completely truthful on the internet. QC is by far the most civil forum I’ve ever encountered. That’s an especially monumental achievement considering that nearly every topic here is highly controversial. If the article series from a couple years ago are any indication, even knitting forums have turned into broken glass bar brawls.

Wielding claims of offense to silence ideological opponents is perhaps the most basic tactic of those who seek to suppress debate. If the new standard is that any complaint of an “unpleasant experience” necessitates some sort of investigation and disciplinary action, you might as well save yourself considerable hassle and shut QC down now, because it will surely be weaponized by those who want to control the dialog.

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