TOTW: Maintaining and Developing Online Spaces

Maintaining and Developing Online Spaces

As you may have noticed, the Anarchist News site, as well as some related anarchist sites, were down for a while and are now back online. Some haters probably rejoiced at that, while others, such as myself, were saddened to see that news about Anarchist News. During that time I took took the opportunity to look around at some of the other anarchist spaces online and I was surprised to see how active and lively some anarchist forums are, particularly in such mainstream disreputable places such as Facebook and Reddit. I also noticed that many of the people active in these spaces say that they are new to the ideas of anarchism and are interested in learning more.

In the context of explicitly anarchist events and spaces that exist in the in-person physical world getting cancelled or shutting down, a trend that is only exacerbated by the current stay-at-home orders worldwide, I have the sense that we are witnessing the birth of a new generation of anarchists, one that exists primarily, if not entirely, online. We all have to start somewhere, and increasingly people seem to be starting with Google searches. We may not like this reality, but it's what we've got.

This then gets me wondering about anarchist spaces online, and especially how vulnerable they can be if sites like Anarchist News and others can suddenly disappear for extended periods of time. I wonder how we can all better support anarchist online infrastructure to not only be more robust and weather the various technological storms that come its way, but to also provide spaces that are more welcoming, informative and self-explanatory to the influxes of new people who are discovering anarchism for the first time because they are bored, stuck at home and have a growing sense that the global social-economic-political system that we all live under is fundamentally fucked up?

Let's keep this thing going! And much thanks to those who brought Anarchist News (and other sites) back to life!

[Thanks to anonymous for this guest TOTW submission!]

There are 43 Comments

Recently I’ve started a couple projects that could be considered online anarchist spaces, one of which is a small mastodon server for a few folks. The community is wonderful but I worry that if a big influx of users came on the issue would then be in finding anything unique in the mass of faceless online names. So scale is definitely an issue here.

My other project is which has been a different but equally interesting thing. The format allows for loose associations to form on their own and I do the minimum to provide a default hangout. I encourage folks to check it out and get engaged because it’s still quite young so there’s surely more lessons to be learned.

Lastly, to respond to how to support anarchist communities, I love archival! During this downtime I uploaded the anewspod to It’s simple and if you share it people always appreciate.

Nice idea re Anarchist Cinema. I'd suggest it would work better if the live chat was integrated with the video viewer in the same webpage, and the viewer was running a constant stream of different (maybe looped) stuff for people to watch/discuss. Have a look at for the kind of things I mean.

i want to see anarchist projects flourish which are not just based on stale binary conflicts, like very long rants about supposed "eco-fascists". If eco-fascists are people who believe that people are ruining anything outside of civilization then count me in! I'm an eco-fascist too!

that that's what people mean when they say eco-fascists

What I’ve learned from the comrade leftists is it’s anyone who likes clean air and water.

Yes, cos leftists like living in factory suburbs with industrial smog and crowded workers bars drinking beer and not clean river water.

Tbh yes! How much of the left is still mired in some industrial proletariat bullshit. Even the would be ecosocialist want a sterile world of solar urban cities without thinking of the cost to maintain their lifestyle.

Most leftists also live in cities by choice so that they can organize with the proles or whatever.

the way that different people think of ideologies, for me "left-wing" and "liberal" are almost the same, whereas the latter is a little more bougie and milquetoast. "Left-wing" is more like "Marxist", where words like "prole" start to have more significance. Anarchists still haven't made much of an escape from any of this...they're doomed...

"so that they can organize with the proles or whatever."

Yes, but that's a silly cover for gay mating gimmicks. Also heteros like cities for the same reason (mating), yet aren't pretending to some workerist baloney from 100 years back as justification.

also .. there's actually work in the cities? not to poop on your marxist grinder theories about why people relocate but decades of neoliberalism have completely destroyed most options for people in more rural settings. I lived it.

Yes, and binary conflict is built into computerisation and especially social media. Computers think in 0's and 1's. Social media sorts and polarises. A lot of activity there is signalling - giving a strong 0 or 1 on a particular issue, and clustering based on these signals.

The prejudice against deep ecology and eco-anarchism, let alone misanthropy, is one of these silly polarised effects. Often it's being pushed by people who are polarised the other way (accelerationist, posthumanist) and who are just as vulnerable to people fash-jacketing them, as we saw with the Nina Power affair and the (fatal) harassment of Mark Fisher for example. There's hardly any eco-fascists about, though there's some Third Positionist fascists using ecology as a recruitment tactic, and there's fascists who are in favour of decentralised living and survivalism. People have picked up the signifier and turned it into a slur, and then used it to draw strong dividing lines and avoid thinking about their own beliefs (conviction trumps thought). I've seen the same thing over and over on social media, with different polarising binaries, trans vs TERF, anti-vax vs anti-anti-vax, gun control, sex work, Trump v Hillary, pro/anti Assange... each time it unfolds the same way, "agree with me or you're a murderer/fascist/something else reprehensible", retaliation in kind, then everyone blocks or bans each other or tries to get the other side banned. It's straight cybernetics, we're being "programmed" to communicate this way. To never try to convince or reason with people but instead to react morally, signal one's side, condemn the other absolutely and resort to vicarious force by means of the state/platform. TBH I'm not sure how to resist it because 1) if one takes an intermediate position or takes sides but won't ban, people react the same as if you're on the enemy side and 2) being constantly denounced and browbeat in this way makes people *want* to retaliate in kind, not to mention 3) we *are* dealing with real impending fascist-like dangers a lot of the time.

I'm in involved with the Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (which I'm sure lots of people have thoughts about, as an institution and a project).

Currently trying to set up more infrastructure using Riot/Matrix, both for getting shit done on the collective and coordinating with different sets of volunteers (so far, mostly translators, for which a collaborative chatroom setting has been sort of useful). We're also opting for sort of an "online event" on May 17, which might prove interesting? This will involve a large public chatroom accessible via an IRC client, Telegram, or any Matrix client, where people can "interact" and have questions answered, and there will hopefully be some discussions and presentations on teleconferencing software as well.

It's a bit ambitious and it's unclear if we'll be able to pull it off!

I think there are definitely some meta questions, like, are we giving in to the existent and/or digital hellworld and/or mediocrity, but I dunno. I'm having fun learning things, and like, the physical bookfair isn't going to happen otherwise, lol

Maybe join us in the public chatroom (hosted on Especially if you are a tech-knowledgeable person

interesting experiment, wish you the best of luck!
i think it’s more hellish if those opportunities for encounter don’t happen at all. interesting if you can bunker-proof anarcho-mingling.

p.s. a byproduct of this new format/medium is that no one will be excluded for white dreads.

the anarchy planet IRC isn't really a good place to have serious's another good way for anarchists to be juvenile trolls but not everyone is in the mood for some back-handed wit which has become the norm on here...

@101 is still a good place to parse out ideas and talk about personal experiences, but don't step out of line: you will get pwned by the administrator.

1. how do we join this chatroom
2. sounds like a shit plan
3. sounds like you don't know you're doing

good luck

so toxic and yet so eager to join the chatroom and ruin the vibe...tsk tsk tsk

I'd just like to mention in regards to the above that, afaik from their organizers less offficial statements through chats, a part of their collective really didn't want to RISK illegality by doing anything f2f outside. And many alternative options for doing so were proposed to them.

This... as atm plenty of people are playing and doing other meetups in parks, in the streets. Also not speaking about all the convenience stores still operating normally.

So #2 ain't that out of place, even if harsh. Tho not nearly as harsh as a collective of "anarchists" agreeing to throw local "anarchism" under the bus with this, turning it into an authoritarian joke.... making the cops either applaud or laugh at them for so religiously observing the government-issued recommendations to self-isolate.

But I can see at least a benefiting in doing an online anarchist bookfair, in that it MIGHT allow (as long as the organizers aren't foolhardy dumb fucks, or collaborators) for anarchists to experiment with safer and libre online technologies that would be useful for further organizing and coordinating.

Tho in a world where 5G phone tower arsonists are thus far successfully organizing through Facebook (?) I'm starting to wonder what that means. Tho likely they'll just get caught soon.

what it means is that if you want spontaneous attacks, you should be using silly conspiracy gibberish to appeal to screeching dumbasses, not trying to convince smart but anxious people to do reckless things

have been nothing but failing.

They appear to be too obsessed with their own social status, privilege, capital.. getting their trophy chicks and nice careers, no? Why else you got world-class retards and creeps like Bolsonaro and Trump taking the stage? Because the "smart people"have failed mankind. And also the rest of the living.

Here's one thing you can't deny with the dumb and the crazy... Unlike the smart-asses, they much better connect with the human's much-repressed animality, its primal urges for fucking and killing and ; its impulses, its violent drives for "MORE LIFE, FUCKER". The "intelligent"have failed to help against it.

I noticed that the smart in the current pandemic situation are so easily scared, or disturbed. All these schemes they set up, all these nice plans... they're so easily shaken by the tremors of the old Earth. It takes so little to smash it apart.

turns out that fanning the flames of stochastic attacks is very poorly suited to groups of people that actually think critically? should have been slanging that snake oil all along!

j/k, I'm more of a barricades type of person, so I don't need to hoodwink facebook zombies in to toppling cellphone towers. shout out to all the lizard ppl in the house!

Let's look at it this way... if you're against civilization, how can you also be for science and reason, up against the sheer retarded bigotry of flat-earthers and bleach-vaxxers? I mean they are redefining the ideological foundations of a civilizational collapse!

Personally I at least am admitting for being against any civilization or any science and reason... just not the one pushed forward by the same old capitalist fools who only wanna get their nice upscale mansions and yachts. Controlled fire, all the way!

It's starting to look pretty much like a DOA plan, indeed.

The collective running the Mtl bookfair were airtight on their rationale for this. Fully closed source decision-making process, with only shady bits of infos being sent out. Of course, "security culture" and all that, tho this makes you look like the same old Central Committee. And also, anarchism ain't your communal intellectual property, right?

First, they do this widespread announcement through anarchist outlets they're going to make an ABF this year, then... well, not quite... like the A-Fed stupids have been calling for, they'll be doing full 100% online, in support of social isolation, then sending couriers to deliver publications to people's places... ahem!

So... as the hordes of people will be enjoying a beautiful day outside at the opening of the Summer, hanging out, playing, having picnics and all that; the anarchist milieu would be confined in their houses watching vid podcasts of the local anarchist upper caste telling them about anarchy and rebellion and shit, because the government said so. And then go full cocooning by receiving their zines from volunteer couriers. All this, just to keep the anarchist publication sub-economy still cashing in.


Can't wait for the upcoming announcement that, it got canceled due to lack of support, or maybe some guy who took an instrumental position just ended up being a deadbeat, once again. Like we weren't already expecting to be trolled. Sorry to spoil your fun, but...

Just to be "that troll", although I have a lot of respect ad affection for this particular little cesspool of an online project, most "anarchist activity" online isn't very interesting to me as a grumpy old fart of an @.

I get it, you can learn about stuff and discuss without putting pants on, that's great for you and necessary for development but if new folks have any attention span at all, once we address whatever ideas piqued their interest, the next thing is to take your ideas back in to the real world and bang them against reality so you might learn how to do something besides jerk yourself off for being clever. Plenty of that already.

sad, wet, fart of a joke of a way to pass the time with a joke of a fart!

Do we have any anarchist sites on Tor or similar networks (i2p, ZeroNet)? Could we make backups of Anarchist News and Anarchist Library on these networks? I think this is one of the things we need. The drug marketplaces have proven surprisingly resilient on Tor.

I think we've known about surface web vulnerabilities since 8chan got taken down. CrimethInc got a bit worried back then. They were talking about moving offline, going back to traditional printing. Of course this was before the lockdown... things just get worse and worse.

In Web 1.0 anarchism did very well. Indymedia and Infoshop were doing public posts and discussions before it was fashionable (have a look at Gorrion's "Robots of Repression" for an analysis). A lot of the early hacker culture, peer-to-peer, anti-copyright, FLOSS, was at least lightly anarchistic. Of course the primmies were already worried about... exactly what's actually happened since. The internet was initially a machine for "disintermediation" - removing the mediators, the people who come between peers. The rise of monopoly platforms has reintroduced mediation. Platforms capture market/user share which then gives them an overwhelming advantage, making it very hard for alternatives to gain traction. The difficulty we now face is that most users are self-restricting to these mediated platforms.

The new people coming in, are already web 3.0 natives who use social media before they become interested in anarchism. What will generally happen - and I suspect the platforms are designed for this - is that they will be funnelled into less radical (often idpol or alt-left) groups which are more successful on these platforms, they will become caught-up in the endless self-reproducing pile-ons and flame wars of the social-mediaverse as their main form of activism, or they will be detected and repressed early on, before they have a support network or firm convictions, and their anarchist leanings will be nipped in the bud. So to reach these people, we'd need to create lines of flight or detournement channels which funnel them out of these pre-laid channels of recuperation.

The main problem with using Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and the like is that they're centralised and censorious. Running anarchist content there is like trying to run dissident material on a Chinese platform (except without the gulags... usually). A lot gets past because they can't check every post, but they're running algorithms, human checking, and snitch systems to control what appears. A lot gets through the cracks because it's small and invisible. The bigger and more successful you are, the more censorable you become. The companies are despotic, they can make whatever rules they like, they aren't bound by the First Amendment and they actively ban much more than is banned by law anywhere. And the rules are so broad, if they don't like you they can ban you for anything or nothing. A lot of these sites started off as free-for-alls and then became more and more censorious, often in response to media scandals or idpol campaigns which hurt their business reputation. Now for example, Twitter is aggressively censoring content critical of lockdowns. They also use automated systems which will censor links to particular sites or URL's, or prevent certain content from being reposted if it's once banned. And they have stealth systems which flag accounts for further surveillance, or implement invisible sanctions like "shadow bans" or making posts less visible to followers. And if the movement starts to gain ground, this will trigger a media panic followed by expanded repression which, given the nature of these platforms, will be highly disruptive. Just imagine one Czolgosz-type attack or one big media campaign to blame anarchists for a major riot where something bad happened... or look at what happened in Russia after that kid bombed the KGB. Of course, most groups avoid repression most of the time... because they and their movement aren't having much success...

So if we do what for example Insurrection News did - run a site plus our own Facebook and Twitter channels as a permanent place to find each other - we won't achieve very much before being banned. And if we're too successful, we're putting ourselves and our social media hangers-on at a lot of risk.

From what I've seen about the way other so-called "extremists" use social media, the most effective strategy is to keep your real activity and your stable sites off social media, but use these big platforms for "recruitment". They run front groups on social media which are more moderate and stay within the censorship, or they run large numbers of disposable accounts, expecting a percentage to get banned but others to get through (playing the probabilities). When they pick up followers, group members, etc, they encourage them off the platform and onto less censored sites like instant messenger groups and chatrooms, and then onto hidden sites on Tor or other services. This is staged to avoid censorship - initially someone will be invited onto another mainstream service that won't look suspicious. Obviously this model would have to be modified to anarchist philosophy. Most of these other groups are authoritarians who are trying to indoctrinate and isolate people. We're doing the opposite, trying to help people free themselves from control. But the basic model is sound. Have a small team running disposable accounts and groups which attract anarchists, then encourage them to join a Telegram group and on there encourage them to use Anarchist News or a Tor site etc. That way we filter them off the surveilled channels and stay one step ahead of surveillance/censorship.

Russia helped the far-right and alt-left groups, I doubt they helped the Islamist groups, which have also operated the same way.

And some of us can tell the difference between studying what a movement/repression situation tells us about the opportunity structure, and supporting the movement. It's pretty obvious that the system could do to anarchists what they did to 8chan and this is a huge danger (if anything I'd expect them to be *harder* on a successful anarchist group than on the far right)... It's utterly irrelevant whether or not you're fine with them doing it to 8chan. Ditto drug marketplaces, Isis, pedo sites etc. It's the same kind of issue as, if I was trying to start a guerrilla uprising, I'd look at the Zapatistas and the Panthers, but I'd also look at how the system responded to Isis, the Naxalites, the Taleban, Joseph Kony, I'd look at how the US-backed Contras did it, and so on... From the state's point of view, anarchists belong to the same class of "extremists" as Nazis, Islamists, Stalinists, black nationalists, fundies, militias, etc, and they all belong in the same basket as each other - this means they'll respond the same way to all of them, and the same countermeasures will work for all of them. It's not fucking rocket science.

I appreciate your contribution to this discussion and it saved a lot of would be commenters a lot of typing since it covers basically all the bases.

I'd add to all that, that there's the issue of how to be a real person on the internet.
If first contacts and acquaintances with people will happen so heavily online with all these fronts and personas, people like to adopt quirky costumes and flippant personalities, use bombastic speech, and other things not conducive to trust. Discussion gets drowned, derailed, interrupted so easily by malicious actors, who can also seed and amplify drama for fun and/or ulterior motives. For instance I noticed two quick shitposts appeared after you posted your quality contribution. In the end, it doesn't matter for those who can wade through crap can find the good bits, but many may find it off-putting or impenetrable.

To be real on the internet would mean to expose you to all the things you mentioned, and including dox or ridicule.
Only way to be visible and congruent would be to be very well behaved.
I think a possible way for people to be real with each other without being public is to get out of the meme stream format of communication. To make a real effort to interact with each other online as one would with people one would meet in the street. This might seem comically formal in comparison to a lot of what seems to be the default in some platforms. Then the idea would be if people really got to know each other better as people, and not a meme posters, if the relations build to enough trust where there are many 1 on 1 ways each may contact each other directly, then the focus is more on the people you do get to know, and not the platform or medium which may crash.
In such a way that if necessary they may have devised ways to communicate through snail-mail or land lines if need be, which are not "safe" as is not the internet, but more and more people are overly reliant on the internet for everything, not just anarchists.

Great comments, thank you both. The challenge of being real is huge, but maybe there is an assumption there about what the internet can be for? To me, the only interesting anarchist conversations on the internet happen through callouts, communiques, and letters -- this is much as they always have, just on the internet instead of being printing and reprinted in a constellation of journals. On A-News, the real conversation is between different areas doing similar actions and sharing their reflections, not in the comments.

The platform matters less than having an actual practice in the real world, and questions about how to then use the internet to engage flow from the risk assessment you make. I would suggest all active anarchists using corporate social media are making a bad assessment and end up letting the facebook dictate which tactics are acceptable, but there is a real exchange of tactics and ideas that takes place there, though a lot of it is still mediated by news sites -- IGD in the best case, mainstream in the worst -- or influential individual users.

Struggle changes everything. This is a cliche, but it's also true here. One of the triumphs of democracy has been to separate ideas from action, robbing discourse of power. This is precisely where one of the most fundamental anarchist challenges to democracy occurs, the insistence that ideas and actions are the same, that there is no anarchism without immediate attack, self-organizing, and prefiguration.

It could be I'm out of touch, but I don't see any value in 'recruiting' online and even less in wars of opinion. Pay more attention to sites like A-news, IGD, Mtl and North Shore counter info, attaque.noblogs, contra-info, roundrobin, the surviving indymedia sites like indy nantes, mpalothia...

The political tendencies which "recruit" online, don't necessarily stop online.

Sometimes they're doing it to create a false reality and a closed information circuit when they then use to control people (like a cult). This is very much what social media is made for, and these "extremist" actors are just doing what the system is trying to do on an industrial scale. This is obviously un-anarchist and anarchists shouldn't be trying to do this. But there's also ways that online activity can translate into "real-world" action.

One is that someone gets "radicalised" online and then goes on to take action individually or in a small local group. I'm not just thinking of "lone wolf" attacks here - there's also a lot of lower-level stuff that works this way. So for example, if you're in China and you want to join an underground house church, there might be someone in the same town running one already, and you only find out online. If someone's a prepper, maybe they're the only prepper in their town, but they can find out how to do it online.

A second effect is that people form a desire to move to areas which the political tendency already controls (e.g. Islamists to go to Syria). I could imagine this happening with anarchist communes or autonomous zones, or if we ever have liberated territories. And presumably people who go to Chiapas or Rojava, this is partly arranged through online connections.

A third is that the social media base can later be mobilised for decentralised protest actions. We see this very much with the Arab Spring and Falun Gong, and the Anonymous Million Mask Marches, as well as with the far-right stuff lately. Another example is the way people use social media to quickly organise flash mobs or raves.

Then we have the online social movements themselves, which take action online - Anonymous being the best example.

I think the other big thing is, a political alignment is also a set of affects, it's hard to keep being an anarchist when all the people you know are conformists. I've seen people slip back into mainstream lifestyles and beliefs, just because they don't have an anarchist context any more. The affects are fuelled by cultural phenomena - historically this would be DIY music, subcultures, riots, festivals, raves, punk gigs, zines and so on. Some of this could be duplicated online - in multiplayer gaming for instance.

Yeah I agree, it's very hard to know if someone's genuine and it's very hard not to get caught up in superficiality. I think people *do* create relationships online which are more "real" than this, but it's usually in one-to-one settings. Though, you still don't know if this person you're talking to is actually a troll or a bot or a cop.

I don't have much to say about the specifically anarchist websites that I wouldn't say about the anarchist press but holy hell does social media (Facebook at least) do a number on people's critical thinking.
Rather than actually encourage conversation in a setting that seems perfect for it, it becomes a quest for mass acceptance and there's no better way to fuck that up than say anything that won't immediately be met with approval from your team. It's always interesting to watch the awkward cautiousness that comes up when a new topic without crystallized talking points, tenative stabs at what opinions to have that won't be held against you once the consensus is sculpted. I can certainly say that every online anarchist I've spoken to directly about Coronaworld for instance has had far more interesting thoughts about it than they've dared to express publicly. Fuck "communities" founded on self censorship, I hate it.

the one thing i'd add is the use of local counter-info sites. moving away from and/or funneling people into igd and anews can give some context but leaves something to be desired. igd has no space for discussion about an article and doesn't post communiques/reports for hotter or less social actions at least part of the time. anews on the other hand lets whatever get posted but serious discussion of activity gets trolled and feels like swimming through molasses, when serious discussion does take place it's usually more theoretical or philosophical. local sites can be a place to have locally relevant discussions and when they're hosted on anarchist web services dont have the same pitfalls as big social media. that said without a lot of intentional shifts and pushes it's likely that the momentum social media has picked up will keep going.

does anyone have much experience on or the anarchism reddits? it seems like they're active but i'm not sure how much actual discussion happens on them. it seems like there's a lot of posting links to articles and much less dialogue.

- Local sites where commenting is allowed can get problematic security-wise for those posting, as a more localized pool of users is easier to investigate and keep track of by a local police than an international users pool by... the FBI?

I lived through the epoch when you had an Indymedia site in most major Western cities and well, putting aside the major issues that caused their demise and just looking at the first layer of benefits, they somewhat helped at supporting local projects and actions. The biggest shortcoming to overcome imo is how to use them for aboveground shit without watering down a movement in a way that gives space and leverage to the same old crowd of recuperative bougie Leftoids like those often found at the bookfairs, then end up, once again, with a black bloc as the pathetic black ops of a liberal socialist intelligentsia.

(I'm looking in the direction of some users here)

So the idea's pretty good as far as whoever runs these sites are being conscious of the many pitfalls. North Shore Counter Info especially have been doing well, but I think that's also due to an irl milieu of people who aren't bullshit, or at least not associating with people who're complete bullshit.

- The anarchist reddits are a joke. They been overrun by /r/socialism idiots. Reddit's also run by hostile interests, even if not as bad as the Zuckerborg or your other edgy-ass billionaires like Dorsey.

- Raddle is kinda okay nowadays, yet there ain't much discussion going on, up/downvotes may not contribute to a healthy discursive environment, and it also got into transgender fanaticism for a while.

I hear you about the security concerns discussion-wise. the issues i've seen with above ground stuff is that most above ground projects seems to have and rely on other means to communicate, often these are social media but not always. i'm concerned that above ground efforts see counter-info sites as "the insurrecto website" and not a place where they should communicate. not sure how to rethink the sites or relations in ways that could change that.

not surprised about reddit and raddle, not happy to hear it, but not surprised...

aboveground shit without watering down <--- I've found the bug in your code

IRC proxies are a thing... they just gotta be used wisely, while avoiding deception aimed at people you seek to build ties with.

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