Vitalik, I tend to find your writing very insightful, and I hope you'll forgive me for saying that this seems poorly thought out. I encourage you to rethink the opinion suggested in this article. I get the feeling that, unlike in many of your other posts, this one was about finding justification for your personal opinion (with all due respect).
The primary flaw in your reasoning, along with, I suspect, most readers here, is in conceiving of "freedom of speech" as a separate right apart from the standard property rights we already have, stemming from self-ownership. It is not because of a 1st amendment or other legal, social, or political right that one has the right to speak freely, but rather because one's vocal cords (or fingers for typing) are a part of his body, which he has full ownership over.
For example, Nazis have the political free speech right to say Nazi things in public, but I have the right to forbid Nazi propaganda on my own property. This right of mine is total. Perhaps I am a Nazi and I am having a Nazi gathering at my home, but I'm struck with a moment of clarity, realize that Nazism is wrong, and immediately kick everyone out or institute a new rule of not talking about Nazi things in my home. Perhaps I am Jewish and find Nazis horrible and they make me feel unsafe. Perhaps I have a tick of some kind that makes me hate Nazis on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but accept them at other times. It would be completely within my right to forbid Nazi propaganda on my property on T/Th, but allow it the rest of the week.
A common, and in my own view frustrating, argument that I often hear is that “freedom of speech” is exclusively a legal restriction on what governments can act against, and has nothing to say regarding the actions of private entities such as corporations, privately-owned platforms, internet forums and conferences.
It is clear that one has a legal right to speak freely in "public" spaces without government interference. This is the legal right. Cool, we agree, not much to discuss there. But what about speech that takes place on private property?
It’s definitely clear that a public space is not just “a space owned and/or run by a government”; the concept of privately owned public spaces is a well-established one.
Here is where you go wrong. You are specifically trying to disentangle the concepts of legal rights to free speech and more general free speech principles, and yet your "clear" example is a purely legal concept! POPS are properties that are ostensibly privately owned, but regulations require that they are open to the public and obey certain restrictions. The existence of POPS in no way supports your argument, because we are back in the realm of legal rights.
it’s a common moral intuition, for example, that it’s less bad for a private individual to commit violations such as discriminating against races and genders than it is for, say, a shopping mall to do the same.
This is a non-sequitur. Only individuals act, so presumably you are referring to the owner(s) of the shopping mall, and these are private individuals. Okay, okay, I'll stop being pedantic. The moral intuition here of which you speak is, I suspect, a matter of the effects of the violation in question. The reason the shopping mall discrimination is worse is because the mall is "bigger" or more "significant" than an individual. If I'm a huge racist, it isn't much skin off someone's back if they aren't allowed in my home, but it is more disruptive to them if they can't shop at the mall everyone goes to. If a local book store discriminated against people, this would be "less bad" than if Amazon did, but only because it has a larger impact. Would you agree that this is the primary intuition to which you refer?
In the case or the /r/bitcoin subreddit, one can make the case, regardless of who technically owns the top moderator position in the subreddit, that the subreddit very much is a public space.
r/bitcoin, and Reddit more generally, are not POPS. It is in fact quite clear that the opposite of what you suggest is true; Reddit is privately owned, and individual subreddits have the blessing of Reddit to moderate however they see fit (within Reddit rules, which they have the right to enforce, as their private property). Your arguments follow:
It occupies “prime real estate”, specifically the word “bitcoin”, which makes people consider it to be the default place to discuss Bitcoin.
Is it really prime real estate? It is a single forum on a single social media site. Furthermore, there are many variants on the term "bitcoin", such as "btc". Furthermore, it is curious to me why this should matter in the first place. If I create a small startup company and we are working out of my garage, do I not have the right to require that an employee of mine works remotely? What if they are a Nazi, but they just happen to be the best person for the task and I don't want them in my home?
And r/bitcoin was only "the" default place to discuss bitcoin because people ended up discussing bitcoin there. It wasn't a natural place to congregate, until it was.
The value of the space was created not just by Theymos, but by thousands of people who arrived on the subreddit to discuss Bitcoin with an implicit expectation that it is, and will continue, to be a public space for discussing Bitcoin.
But theymos clearly did not consider these hypothetical hard forked coins to be "Bitcoin". And it is entirely clear that it is his prerogative to feel that way, as the moderator. Reasonable people can disagree on his point, of course.
No one has rights to specific value. Sure, many other people besides theymos made r/bitcoin what it was, but that does not entitle them to anything, just as I am not entitled to a cut of Facebook's profits on account of my having contributed value there back in the day. If my neighborhood is deteriorating, I do not have an inherent right to sell my home at a particular value, I merely have the right to that home.
Theymos’s shift in policy was a surprise to many people, and it was not foreseeable ahead of time that it would take place.
This seems like a strange statement to make, because the policy was a response to the release of a client that implemented different consensus rules, something that hadn't really happened before. If I remember correctly, there was always a policy against altcoin discussion, so it is only a "shift" in policy if you assume the perspective that hard-forking changes aren't essentially launching a new coin. As stated above, reasonable people can disagree on this point, and it was theymos's prerogative to enforce his views in a private forum.
> But back in reality, Theymos tried to “annex a public space and demand that people within the space confirm to his private norms”
But this is an assertion, not an argument. It is only "reality" in your mind, where POPS aren't merely legal concepts but have some independent ethical significance on their own. It may very well be true that this is the case, but you need to try a lot harder to argue that point. I for one am unwilling to accept it at face value. Furthermore, his "private norms" reflect a considerable fraction of the community.
> a conference is fundamentally different from an internet forum.
Is it though?
> An internet forum can actually try to be a fully neutral medium for discussion where anything goes; a conference, on the other hand, is by its very nature a highly curated list of presentations, allocating a limited number of speaking slots and actively channeling a large amount of attention to those lucky enough to get a chance to speak.
Sure, it can try to be a neutral medium for discussion. I can also have my home be a neutral medium for discussion on how to advance Nazi political goals (or not), but most people recognize that if I don't want Nazis speaking on my property, this is my prerogative. A conference can be equally neutral - do you believe that all cryptocurrency scaling conferences ought to ensure that equal time is given to both on-chain and off-chain techniques? It seems that here, you are suggesting some kind of Fairness Doctrine for online forums. Furthermore, online forums CAN be highly curated - as you mention earlier, a hypothetical r/bitcoinsmallblockers would be perfectly reasonable.
> A conference is an editorial act by the organizers, saying “here are some ideas and views that we think people really should be exposed to and hear”.
This is precisely the behavior that you are decrying shouldn't happen in online forums, even though it is clear that moderating a forum is an "editorial act by the organizers".
> Additionally, the “censorship” doesn’t seriously block anyone’s ability to learn Craig Wright’s side of the story
This argument holds equally well for r/bitcoin. There are many ways people can learn about big block opinions. For example, [bitcoin.com](https://bitcoin.com) has been owned by a prominent big blocker for quite some time, and has been promoting big blocks. [bitcoin.com](https://bitcoin.com) is a far more "logical" gathering place than reddit if one is hoping to learn about Bitcoin. Do you believe that [bitcoin.com](https://bitcoin.com) is censoring small block positions? If so, is this justified?
> **If someone is already operating a platform that makes editorial decisions, asking them to make such decisions with the same magnitude but with more pro-social criteria seems like a very reasonable thing to do**.
Pro-social is quite subjective, especially for an academic area that was well under a decade old by the time these policies were in effect. Personally, I think it could be more "pro-social" if we all just shut up and built cool things. Also, as someone who believes that ultimately, a big block situation would lead to an outcome even worse than our current fiat monetary system (blockchain data can become even more monopolized than fiat, which can at least plausibly be counterfeited by many people and not just the Federal Reserve), I could argue that allowing big block discussion anywhere is completely anti-social. I do not make this argument because people have a right to discuss bad ideas on their own property.
> But the delistings *do* send a strong message of social condemnation of BSV, which is useful and needed. So there’s a case to support all delistings so far
Even if you disagree with theymos's policies, it is really hard for me to see where an objective distinction arises here; I'm quite confident that theymos believed that removing posts discussing a controversial hard fork was a warranted "social condemnation".
Anyways, I agree with your conclusions regarding BSV so I won't discuss that further.
Ultimately, it seems that you began with the conclusion that r/bitcoin moderation is bad but that other forms of moderation are good, and then used POPS as a crutch to draw an improper distinction where none existed. Thank you for your time :)
Tight moderation in a non-public forum is not the problem. The problem is deception not moderation.
For free speech to work, people need two things:
They need freedom to have wider discussions elsewhere, if a forum's moderation is too narrow for them.
They need to be informed about what kinds of moderation take place in each forum.
The problem with toxic forums is that they are not transparent about their moderation and fail at (2). This results in manipulation, deception and people's voices being silenced without anyone knowing.
To avoid toxic forums, two things are needed to inform participants:
The forum should publish its chosen limitations on speech. I.e. anything from "no swearing", "no memes", "on topic", to "no questioning of our central tenants", and even "all posts the moderator disagrees with are removed".
Then forums should have open mod logs.
Then anyone can see for themselves how a forum is moderated and how up front its moderators are.
Anyone can manage a forum as tightly as they want and informed people can choose to participate, go elsewhere, or create alternate forums.
I got into Eth early because of his writing. Initially was influenced by people calling it a scam because the Ethereum foundation were keeping the BTC and ETH for themselves for development which wasn't the done thing back then, but quickly realised he is the smartest person in this space even at such a young age. Understands the complex stuff so well he can explain simply so best place for new people to start reading.
It always shows clarity of mind when someone starts out by defining terms that are usually muddied up, making people talk past each other. 90% of arguments is often people not understanding each other and not knowing that they don't.
In this case, the difference between free speech as a legal principle, and free speech as an ideal. Of course Theymos is 'allowed' to moderate r/bitcoin like a Soviet apparatchik, that's totally besides the point - the point is that he is making a mistake, for the reasons perfectly laid out here.
The distinction between what can reasonable be considered a public space versus a private one is also a very useful distinction.
I read an interview, long ago, where Vitalik initially thought to originally implement Ethereum as a set of bitcoin opcodes with a BIP but then quickly decided that that would never happen so created his own network realizing that expanding bitcoin that much was hopeless.
Interesting essay. In general, I am inclined to give private groups and non-governmental organizations a large pass on how they treat free speech. That said, I am less concerned about how a given subreddit chooses to censor and far more concerned about how a platform such as reddit (or facebook, twitter) chooses to censor. The platforms have far more monopolistic attributes than a single subredditor.
"An internet forum can actually try to be a fully neutral medium for discussion where anything goes; a conference, on the other hand, is by its very nature a highly curated list of presentations, allocating a limited number of speaking slots and actively channeling a large amount of attention to those lucky enough to get a chance to speak."
Maybe it is my age, but while an Internet forum can try to be a fully neutral medium, who is to say that it should? There is nothing wrong with having a place where individuals can communicate while excluding others or other ideas. This unless we want to include the world on our conversations with our closest confidantes.
If you think that a certain Reddit subgroup is public domain, please share your criteria on what makes it public so that we can all learn.
The question of freedom is taking place at a higher, and more basic, level.
Of course it's never absolutely clear to what extend some online forum is a public space, however I think there are objective criteria and Vitalik summarized some in the article (in context of /r/bitcoin):
>A few arguments particularly stand out:
> It occupies “prime real estate”, specifically the word “bitcoin”, which makes people consider it to be the default place to discuss Bitcoin.
> The value of the space was created not just by Theymos, but by thousands of people who arrived on the subreddit to discuss Bitcoin with an implicit expectation that it is, and will continue, to be a public space for discussing Bitcoin.
> Theymos’s shift in policy was a surprise to many people, and it was not foreseeable ahead of time that it would take place.
> it's never absolutely clear
Well, I think the case of private vs public is pretty clear. Reddit and all of its assets are owned by one or more individuals. It is not a government, paid for by tax dollars, organization.
If we use the "prime real estate" argument, then consider everything built by private hands for profit subject to the whims of the public "for the greater good."
Lower_ByteRedditor for less than 30 days1 month ago
More people need to understand that "free speech" is not at all a guaranteed right to be a huge dick with zero consequences to your life or business.
Constitutional "free speech" like the 1st amendment (US) is just a decree that your government will not directly interfere. It doesn't say a damn thing about private enterprise having to put up with your bullshit.
If BSV for example didn't want a huge backlash that is killing it, maybe Calvin and CSW should have taken a different path than hurling litigation and threats at people with the power to erase BSVs market. BSVs network itself isn't removed from the internet, this is not censorship. People always say "let the market decide", well, this is what it looks like folks.
> Constitutional "free speech" like the 1st amendment (US) is just a decree that your government will not directly interfere. It doesn't say a damn thing about private enterprise having to put up with your bullshit.
Did you read the article at all?
Lower_ByteRedditor for less than 30 days1 month ago
Yes, do you care to explain your apparent objection to my statement?
Well, literally half of vitaliks article is about why "free speech" is more then a law in some countries, starting in the second paragraph:
> A common, and in my own view frustrating, argument that I often hear is that “freedom of speech” is exclusively a legal restriction on what governments can act against, and has nothing to say regarding the actions of private entities such as corporations, privately-owned platforms, internet forums and conferences.
The way I read your comment, you just reiterate this exact argument, without addressing any of Vitaliks objections raised in the article.
I don't want to copy an paste it all, so to summarize, I would agree with Vitalik, that from an ethical point of view, the right to free should, to a certain extend, also apply to private enterprises.
Lower_ByteRedditor for less than 30 days1 month ago
Yeah, I was just agreeing with his general sentiment that many have some pretty out-there ideas on what free speech actually means.
I do agree that overall censorship of criticism and other forms of social manipulation are extremely distasteful and ethically bankrupt for any organization to take part in, like /bitcoin as mentioned.
VB is just stating what seems obvious to me otherwise. No person or company should engage in these practices ideally, but they do, and they will, because some people are just amoral and shitty who don't care who they hurt. No amount of righteous action is suddenly going to make a sociopath see the light to their evil deeds.
The only two methods to fight back are generally:
1) Prove real financial hardship caused by slander, libel, and other abuses in a court of law. Many countries have such legal mechanisms.
Considering the anonymous and decentralized nature of this space, and and varying legal degrees between countries, this is extremely difficult to do, and limited to those with enough financial might to afford the legal costs.
2) Individuals and businesses simply quit doing business with the offenders and call them out on their abhorrent behavior, which is what is now happening to BSV. There is no law that any person or business is forced to do business with anyone else or host their content.
/btc was created directly because of /bitcoin mods adopting 1984 as their official mod policies to fight against this and call it out.
Alex Jones was dumped because no one wants their brand associated with people who attack victims of domestic terrorism.
All that said, the line between true censorship and business decisions in the Internet age are grey and dubious at best, I'd agree.
I think its a mistake to conflate business decisions like delisting of BSV with free speech; the fact that critics are using this as an attack vector does not legitimise it. exchanges are IMO perfectly entitled to list/delist whatever they like so long as its to increase their profits w/o being subject to free speech critique. (exceptions would be legal or businesses in social media which are speech/views business e.g. social media).
As to the wider point about the free speech at some point the community has to put a value on contributions made and values change, so how do you solve a problem like the value of values?
I would agree, but is scarce legitimacy up for debate, opinion and perception? or is it empirical.. can we derive some sort of formula or determining which coins should be abandoned for the sake of denying scarce legitimacy vs. the ones people will be trying to use this argument against in order to deny access to legitimate coins simply to bolster the value in their own preferred coin
If leaving it up to consensus may be the only way, do we trust the general public to be stalwart enough to vote responsibly? I know I do not
Long story short, Binance doesn't check the coins and lists about anyone. Delisting **only BSV** doesn't go well with their business model. Coinbase not listing BSV on the other hand is exactly what you'd expect.
The point is CZ acting like he cares about CSW being a fraud is ironic because Binance has listing countless scammy shitcoins (including BSV). But now all of a sudden they want to "do the right thing" even tho CSW has been spewing his "I am Satoshi" garbage for years. It's all just laughable to me but the average moron just eats it up.
Apparently Binance is not picky about tech but they don't want to encourage projects whose leaders are being major assholes to the wider crypto community.
That is completely consistent.
Culture matters as much as code.
He claims it's not censorship because everyone is still able to freely view the opinions of someone who's been deplatformed on their own website.
This is bullshit because a privately held conference is largely a venue for presenters to promote their ideas to an audience and gain awareness. By disallowing this you've removed the ability for the audience to have access and awareness of the opinions of the removed, which is censorship.
It is not "access and awareness of opinions" but blatantly and objectively false claims and faulty reasoning. If every conference had to give everyone a chance to speak, no matter how wrong or crazy what they wanted to say, then every conference would be a complete waste of time. For e.g should flat-earthers get a chance to speak at physics and astronomy conferences?
If Craig's presentations were full of false claims and faulty reasoning, they'd be torn apart the moment they go pubic. But they haven't which means there's value in what he's saying which is why if he's willing to spend the money to present at a conference he has the right to. No one is being forced to sit through his presentation and the ultimate decision comes down to the conference organisers to determine who speaks.
>If Craig's presentations were full of false claims and faulty reasoning, they'd be torn apart the moment they go pubic. But they haven't
They were, instantly. And many of them even probably false with math.
> If Craig's presentations were full of false claims and faulty reasoning, they'd be torn apart the moment they go pubic.
but they have been..
> But they haven't
Woah, hold up. The internet for the past 5 years has been absolutely filled with refutations for his various claims. Since the moment Gavin made that ill-considered blog post, people have been pointing out the *MASSIVE* inaccuracies in everything Craig has said.
At this point, I think Dave Kleiman would probabally have the most right to call himself "Satoshi". Craig and Dave definitely worked together in the early days, and Craig was paying Dave's medical bills so that he could work on Bitcoin. Dave is gone now, and I think it's absolutely disgraceful that Craig has been desperately trying to re-write history to amplify his own role, and diminish Dave's. Craig has regularly published emails signed with PGP blocks that don't verify, and archive.org has archived every time he has edited his old blog posts to make himself seem more involved than he was. This isn't even a "he said she said" kind of thing, we have mountains of solid cryptographic evidence of his regular lies.