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facebook: are there any alternatives?

 
pollinator
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I didn't know in which forum to put this:
Many of us depend a bit on facebook for regional exchange, families and small businesses very much for advertising.
Most of us don't like it, but are there any alternatives? Is something going off at the moment which could replace the much hated facebook?
 
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No, not yet.

Any replacement will need to replicate most of the functionality, but without the drawbacks. And while many are working on it, it will be a while before anyone even comes close.

I say this as someone who was excited about Diaspora, but saw that become a total failure. I haven't logged in for at least a year, and not regularly for several.

A good replacement must be censorship proof (not just resistant) while giving the users control over what they post. There shouldn't be "algorithms" controlling what you see. It definitely needs to be decentralized, not residing on any particular server. It most likely can't be web-based, especially since domain names are controlled by evil forces.

That said, I haven't checked out a few of the newer ones like memo.cash yet. But I'm not hopeful (yet).
 
pollinator
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Check out Minds.com.  It's a decentralized, open-source, encrypted social network with absolute freedom and no censorship.  I just started using it, and really like the interface so far.
 
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Angelika Maier wrote:I didn't know in which forum to put this:
Many of us depend a bit on facebook for regional exchange, families and small businesses very much for advertising.
Most of us don't like it, but are there any alternatives? Is something going off at the moment which could replace the much hated facebook?



Do you have privacy concerns? Or is it more of an interface thing and limitations Facebook puts on you? If it is privacy, you can have a page for your business and just keep it professional, your private account can go without posting anything forever.
 
steward
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Permies has regional forums.  And we have advertising (thread boost).
 
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MeWe has an admirable business model but nowhere near the participation of FB.  Yet.  For instance I follow a Jack Spirko TSP "for if times get hard or even if they don't" group on both.  And there is alot more participation on the FB version.  That group is for kicking ideas around not regional commerce but mewe has those too.  I just use my nearest cities craiglist search farm and garden for my local yocal commerce.  So for me:

https://medford.craigslist.org/search/gra

I'm not in medford but its closer than the other choices so thats where I look.

 
gardener
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I have had luck with https://nextdoor.com for local stuff. People in my area are fairly active and it has been a good way for me to find free stuff from people in my area.
 
Daron Williams
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For my own business I'm going to try using Steemit which is a blockchain based social media site with it's own cryptocurrency called steem. Nice thing is there is no energy intensive currency mining with it. It is all based around people creating content and the community liking individual posts which then gives each creator a portion of the cryptocurrency created. You can cash out for US dollars.

It is small at the moment but seems to be getting traction. It is decentralized and does not seem to have the negative issues commonly associated with cryptocurrency. The site would work well for blogs, vlogs, and anyone creating digital content on a regular basis.
 
Angelika Maier
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For me, it is a question that it is about time that facebook is replaced with something, which is not big brother centred but community centred. I do a bit of ads in facebook, but really I don't want to throw money in their throat. But the answers here really show one thing: there are a LOT of similar pages out there but since none was mentioned twice they are not very powerful. We have NABO here which is for neioghbours but it is a bit lame. There are definitively things about facebook I don't like (apart from the big brother), which is functionality.
 
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I can tell you that some "censorship" on a social media platform is necessary, especially when there are children using it.  The small platforms with a tightly nit community might be able to get by without it but on the larger platforms there are a lot of people who try to do bad things.  Terrorist propaganda, videos of beheading, child pornography, illegal drug sales, etc. people post it in droves (not to mention the scammers.

Unfortunately, the restrictions on what can be posted are the trade-off for access to a platform with broad dissemination of content.  I really like the way Permies deals with the more controversial content and the level of transparency is something the wider industry could learn from.

My day job involves fighting bad people on the internet, last week it was modern day slave sales in the middle east.
 
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For several years I've toyed with the idea of using the Drupal 8 website engine to create a social media website to counter FB atrocities.  Factors for why I chose against it include:

  • - social media is all about the money - who would be motivated to provide an expensive service to an unlimited number of individuals for free?
  • - necessity for censoring, as Alex Arn mentioned
  • - bandwidth intensive features like video and images can become expensive on a large scale (20,000 active users not an issue, however 200,000 active users would be an issue for me)
  • - to keep a site free, ads and marketing are necessary and I don't want that particular full time job nor have to hire others to do it (Paul Wheaton does a fantastic job of balancing marketing while providing an important and well focused online media service.)
  • - after trying a paid membership for a social media venue, it turned out the owner thought members were stupid for paying $5 to keep the site ad-free AND he put a simple upgrade for bandwidth on the backburner, while he and his wife boasted about their new home, etc. (they lost the new home after membership dropped drastically due to inability to access the site due to poor bandwidth)
  • - browsers and other interfaces between a multitude of online applications are snoopy, some more or less than others
  • - I would rather play with dirt with other people who want to play with dirt

  • The best counter to FB, in my opinion, would be if at least one individual in a family or group of friends, took it upon themselves to create their own online social media venue so it could be kept between them, if made private and closed from employers and other snoops.  There is no way to avoid being snooped on by google, yahoo, youtube, and similar.  However, there could be a semblance of privacy within a closed group, the cost would be minimal, and a healthier social circle could evolve such as on permies.

    A potential alternative could be an all volunteer social media service provider.  But, that is unlikely because maintaining a social media interface for millions of active users would require coordinating hundreds(?) of volunteers just to thumb a nose at FB.  On the other hand, open source software development has worked well enough such that it provides competition for Microsoft and Apple.  (Which is why I use Linux Mint instead of Microsoft or Apple.)  

    Maybe social media users have not yet been sufficiently motivated to establish an 'open source' social media interface that is free to everyone and serviced by all volunteers?  I will file that under thoughts for a rainy day :.)
     
    pollinator
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    To answer the question directly, I do not think there is anything now, but I think there is something going to replace it soon.

    Few people like Facebook, yet everyone uses it, which just means the atmosphere is ripe for something different.

    Usually when things get bad, it takes a bit, but then they get better and I see that on a few fronts. Right now Facebook is on the hot seat testifying in Congress, that is an indicator that society is fed up with something, but unsure how to change it. In a way it is desperation, but the world does not revolve in a vacuum; if there is a need, at some point soon, it will be filled by someone who is enterprising.

    I even see this with Amazon. It has just reached the tipping point, and while retail might take a hit for a long time, trust me...the government is not going to sit around and let a single company monopolize the country and their buying habits. There is a saying, "you cannot fight city hall", and it is true, because when they feel some company is getting greedy, they figure out what makes that enterprise work really well, and then change the rules on them.

    We are at the peak for Facebook and Amazon, what replaces them and when, I do not know, but it is inevitable that they will topple soon.
     
    pollinator
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    Travis Johnson wrote:To answer the question directly, I do not think there is anything now, but I think there is something going to replace it soon.

    Few people like Facebook, yet everyone uses it, which just means the atmosphere is ripe for something different.

    Usually when things get bad, it takes a bit, but then they get better and I see that on a few fronts. Right now Facebook is on the hot seat testifying in Congress, that is an indicator that society is fed up with something, but unsure how to change it. In a way it is desperation, but the world does not revolve in a vacuum; if there is a need, at some point soon, it will be filled by someone who is enterprising.

    I even see this with Amazon. It has just reached the tipping point, and while retail might take a hit for a long time, trust me...the government is not going to sit around and let a single company monopolize the country and their buying habits. There is a saying, "you cannot fight city hall", and it is true, because when they feel some company is getting greedy, they figure out what makes that enterprise work really well, and then change the rules on them.

    We are at the peak for Facebook and Amazon, what replaces them and when, I do not know, but it is inevitable that they will topple soon.



    People have been saying that for decades about Microsoft.  It's very hard to topple a company with the type of following any of the giants have.  Linux operating systems are arguably better, free, don't get viruses, as user friendly as Windows, and are used on 2% of PCs.
     
    pollinator
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    I like Paul's response.

    Not that I am asking that anything be changed, but as a thought exercise, what facebook features don't exist on Permies.com? Perhaps generating a list of features would be good. Not that anyone will take such a list seriously, but maybe it could get us thinking about different ways to use social media. Maybe if we changed a bit...?

    -CK
     
    pollinator
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    I'm on MeWe, and I have a wordpress blog. I don't do facebook.
     
    paul wheaton
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    I like the idea that permies can be the social media site for the topics and styles that fit within our publication standards.

     
    Chris Kott
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    I absolutely agree, Paul. I wasn't actually thinking that anything was lacking from the site. But my thoughts aren't all thoughts, and I figured that someone more in-tune with social media might actually have had a thought about improving the site in that respect, or about a perceived lack for which someone else might have already figured a work-around.

    Are there any site features you would like to see that aren't currently there, Paul?

    -CK
     
    Travis Johnson
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    paul wheaton wrote:I like the idea that permies can be the social media site for the topics and styles that fit within our publication standards.



    I should have noted your post earlier, because you are right, very, very, very much right; Permies can be the next Facebook because for me Permies IS the facebook replacement.
     
    Travis Johnson
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    Trace Oswald wrote:People have been saying that for decades about Microsoft.  It's very hard to topple a company with the type of following any of the giants have.  Linux operating systems are arguably better, free, don't get viruses, as user friendly as Windows, and are used on 2% of PCs.



    That is true, and Microsoft was also pinched by the government for Monopoly Laws too.

    Now that they give millions upon millions to both political sides, they are left alone!
     
    paul wheaton
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    There are several dozen features.  And we are slowly sneaking up on them.

    If devaka sees this thread he has a list of ideas for a new look and feel that merges the mobile view with the desktop view.

    I desperately feel the need to get our email stuff (like the dailyish) working correctly.

    I have some philosophies about how patreon and kickstarter are doing it all wrong - and devaka is jumping up and down saying "I'll do it!"

    Adding bitcoin to the digital market.

    Adding a bunch more features to thread boost.

    About two dozen more PIE features.

    Optimize almost-a-post

    Ability for experienced users to create new forums (public and private)

    More features for thread polishing.

    Improve thumbnail quality.

    Richer user pages.

    embed uploaded images.

    In page pdf viewer



    But there are probably a hundred things that people can do now that don't need any changes to the existing software.

     
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    I like and use 'diaspora*' daily. I've heard MeWe recommended, though I don't use it yet.

    Brian
    -
     
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    craigslist is a reasonable alternative, the biggest "alternative" is just to not use it. It requires you to give up that segment demand.
     
    Trace Oswald
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    An instant messaging service would be very helpful here for some situations.  The flip side of the coin is that it can lead to the type of back-biting behavior you see on some sites.
     
    Catherine Windrose
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    paul wheaton wrote:There are several dozen features.  And we are slowly sneaking up on them.

    If devaka sees this thread he has a list of ideas for a new look and feel that merges the mobile view with the desktop view.

    I desperately feel the need to get our email stuff (like the dailyish) working correctly.

    I have some philosophies about how patreon and kickstarter are doing it all wrong - and devaka is jumping up and down saying "I'll do it!"

    Adding bitcoin to the digital market.

    Adding a bunch more features to thread boost.

    About two dozen more PIE features.

    Optimize almost-a-post

    Ability for experienced users to create new forums (public and private)

    More features for thread polishing.

    Improve thumbnail quality.

    Richer user pages.

    embed uploaded images.

    In page pdf viewer



    But there are probably a hundred things that people can do now that don't need any changes to the existing software.



    Much of what your list describes is built into the Drupal 8 core.  The core build installs in less than a minute on a dedicated server.  

  • - version 8 is mobile responsive by default, as version 9 will continue in 2020.  I understand so far the difference between 8 and 9 is mostly experimental modules in 8 will be removed per:  https://www.drupal.org/docs/9/how-drupal-9-is-made-and-what-is-included/which-modules-will-be-removed-from-drupal-9
  • - takes a few hours to review and set basic permissions that can be as customized as desired to accommodate varied levels of editing, approval, and moderation
  • - Forum, Books, Archives, Multimedia were added to the core build and Articles has a customizable approval process
  • - there is a learning curve for customizing Views, though only as steep as much as Views might be altered, does require thorough forethought before site goes live
  • - setting up the taxonomy would be probably the most time consuming task, and ongoing
  • - thumbnail images are easily customizable
  • - article and media creation and editing are internally easily customizable and simple for end users on the front end (if you know how to message on a phone, you can easily compose, edit, or moderate)
  • - forum moderation is easy
  • - end user and administrative functions are reasonably intuitive
  • - if you know someone with solid css skills, cool bells and whistles can be stored separate from the core, so if something goes wonky it's easy to fix without a fuss
  • - members can be given a user account page by default which they may or may not (according to permissions) customize to a very small degree, or a member can create a page for personal use (personal updates could be posted to serve as a decentralized social media page
  • - or more closely resembling FB, the social media module can be installed, somewhat described here:  https://www.drupal.org/project/social_media_content
  • - a site template can be made for when a duplicate site is needed to serve a different function so the front ends on each remain consistent as possible
  • - Node.js worked smoothly a few years ago when I last experimented with it and allows a public group and private group and private member-to-member messaging with customizable permissions (maybe a developer's group, writer's/editor's group, moderator's group, an interface where the 'superadmin' can view and switch between all message windows, etc.?)
  • - React.js addresses former issues with SEO, more about that here with other tidbits:  https://www.mediacurrent.com/blog/state-drupal-2019
  • - about classy vs stable base themes:  https://www.drupal.org/docs/8/theming-drupal-8/using-classy-as-a-base-theme
  • - I never experienced a problem with a major upgrade, although I also didn't play with third party dependencies, PHP, or the CSS
  • - webmail via Horde is fairly reliable
  • - though I've not tried it, supposedly old forum posts and articles can be imported into files via the public html and I would guess those would not be editable nor be included with internal  usage reports going forward from that point (possibly a major item requiring a workaround or links to important pages?)


  • I have no idea what else might be important to permies internally, so not at all sure about other considerations, and because I haven't hosted a social or public site in many years.  Like since mid 90s when things were so simple I wrote it all in html and CSS and java were new kids on the block :=)  In another life I was barely half-a-geek(?).  

    Never a programmer or developer.  Even so, I learned Drupal 7 without help several years ago when many modules had to be individually installed.  Drupal 8 is miles more improved and quite stable.  (Though fewer small businesses are using Drupal, large businesses and government agencies are increasingly using version 8.)  A real geek would probably whiz through much of what took a few months for me to wrap my brain around.  I look forward to Drupal 9 in 2020.

    If this piques interest now or later, I have an unused site on a reseller account with a dedicated server at A2Hosting.  Currently working on a long term project offline that won't go live for another year or two and not in a rush.  Someone could play with Drupal 8 or 9 there, where it wouldn't touch permies.  I would only need to authorize them as a user on my account.

    All that said, I expect you have plenty of ideas that have zero to do with learning another CMS *lol*  Just sharing a what if :.)
     
    gardener & author
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    I see a lot of people getting fed up with Facebook, but they keep using it out of habit, and because when there are alternatives, not many people end up using them and what is the point of going to check social media if there are no updates to read or friends to interact with?

    I think anything new has to get to a critical mass, where enough people go there first to share stuff or read stuff, and I'm not sure what would be needed for anything to get to that point. When Facebook took off and MySpace declined, Facebook was quite different to MySpace - it was much easier to read everyone's updates on one feed and to share stuff, and MySpace had become slow and frustrating to use.

    Facebook has become frustrating for small businesses and other pages trying to get read, for people who hate ads, for people who don't like censorship, but it is easy to use, and a habit for many people, and that is probably why MeWe and other alternatives haven't taken off.

    Most of the posts I see on Facebook are memes, complaining, and ads. I'd much rather read about postive things, and not have ads for toxic stuff clogging up my newsfeed, so I spend time on Permies instead.
     
    master steward & author
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    I would like to see more ideas for PIE Only features.

    PIE system becomes better.
    People want PIE so they pay money to Paul
    People enjoy PIE privileges so they tell others or start gifting PIE.  More PIE is bought

    The more people buy PIE, the more money there is to go towards developing new features for everyone.
     
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    i'm boycotting facebook.
     
    gardener
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    Kate Downham wrote:I'd much rather read about postive things, and not have ads for toxic stuff clogging up my newsfeed, so I spend time on Permies instead.


    That is my experience as well. There was always the old "but I need FB for work and networking" but in the end I ran the numbers and it turns out I got approximately 2% of my income from people who came through FB. I also lost many, many hours to people who just wanted to eat up my time with free consulting and "let me pick your brain".
    So I left FB, around January of last year I guess. Work is better than ever, and my efficiency is way up.

    I used to run a local meetup group and a cooking group, and I miss them, but I also don't have to deal with people coming and leaving 1-star reviews on my business pages when I kick them out of the groups for trying to sell their garbage or harrassing other people. I also don't miss the threats from these lowlifes (which were the tipping point, during the last election, when some delightful person told me just what should be done to my daughter who was apparently too liberal in her thinking for them).
    It took me a good few months to figure out where I would get my news from (I subscribe to two newspapers, worth every penny). My entertainment is mostly here, and a few cooking blogs I get email newsletters from.

    I also have to say, the pleasant atmosphere here is the real winner. There have been times when I've spent a long time reformulating a response here to avoid offending anyone (since we have a diversity of opinions and lifestyles here, i want to be respectful). On FB, i didnt see that too often....
     
    Chris Kott
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    I think that having certain features, such as news feeds and such, appear on Permies.com would appeal to many people. I mean, it's really just an organisational change, really. Members post about all sorts of news stories all the time.

    I wish it were possible, if it was within the comfort level of Paul the membership, to have, perhaps, news feeds linked to appropriate forums, such that appropriate (read: screened by the mods, all what, 40 of you guys?) content gets posted, perhaps to a ticker, or perhaps as ads (and if we could both select good, permaculturally relevant articles and get kickbacks from the publishers, that would be awesome, or you know, just mutual traffic benefits).

    It would essentially be a case of active forum members proposing ads to the forum mod, who would greenlight or veto content, perhaps in quorum with other mods.

    This came to mind after a thread on the site regarding where one can get one's news without being bombarded by jarring news stories deliberately framed for shock value and emotional reactions rather than good, detailed information that can help people stay informed and make good decisions.

    Does this sound like a direction in which anyone thinks we should head?

    -CK
     
    pioneer
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    Some people have mentioned some decentralized services like diaspora*  and Minds. I've looked at diaspora* in the past as well as another decentralized service called Mastodon. I think decentralization is a critical component for next-generation services (currency & communication). To that end I would also suggest having a look at what Tim Berners-Lee is currently up to with development company Inrupt Inc. & the framework for decentralized web applications they call SOLID. Right now they are targeting "the highly technical".

    - https://solid.mit.edu/
    - https://solid.inrupt.com/


    Re: Drupal 8 features, I would also note that Drupal has some excellent caching mechanisms which work well when paired with reverse-proxy caching and/or CDNs (essential for scalability).
     
    pollinator
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    I run several groups on a platform called MeWe.    No adds,  protects your privacy.

    After you join MeWe ( edited added later )   then join these boards.


    https://mewe.com/join/rocket_stoves__rocket_mass_heaters_international


    https://mewe.com/join/solar_cooking


    https://mewe.com/join/growingeatingandsharingmoringatrees


    I love it much less hassle than facebook and is growing all the time.
     
    Kate Downham
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    Chris Kott wrote:I think that having certain features, such as news feeds and such, appear on Permies.com would appeal to many people. I mean, it's really just an organisational change, really. Members post about all sorts of news stories all the time.

    I wish it were possible, if it was within the comfort level of Paul the membership, to have, perhaps, news feeds linked to appropriate forums, such that appropriate (read: screened by the mods, all what, 40 of you guys?) content gets posted, perhaps to a ticker, or perhaps as ads (and if we could both select good, permaculturally relevant articles and get kickbacks from the publishers, that would be awesome, or you know, just mutual traffic benefits).

    It would essentially be a case of active forum members proposing ads to the forum mod, who would greenlight or veto content, perhaps in quorum with other mods.

    This came to mind after a thread on the site regarding where one can get one's news without being bombarded by jarring news stories deliberately framed for shock value and emotional reactions rather than good, detailed information that can help people stay informed and make good decisions.

    Does this sound like a direction in which anyone thinks we should head?

    -CK



    I disagree with this idea. If there is any really exciting permaculture news, such as new public food forests, permaculture being implemented on a large scale and so on, then there is nothing stopping people creating threads about it.
     
    Chris Kott
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    Truly? You see no appeal to curated news feeds that hold as close as possible to the site's own publication standards? It could be as simple as having an extra tag to denote news threads.

    The fact that a thing is already possible by roundabout means isn't a reason not to make such things easier to collate.

    -CK
     
    Kate Downham
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    Staff are busy enough as it is.

    The curating of a news feed is a tricky subject. There's lots of different opinions and ideas, and what one person might think is a suitable news piece might alienate many other people.

    I think if there was a piece of news that was worth sharing on here, it would deserve its own thread. No changes or additional staff time are needed for that.
     
    r ranson
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    curated newsfeed... like the emails we send out?
     
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    I gave up Facebook 6 years ago when they started letting algorithms listen to what you are saying.    Honestly my life is better without it, my energy does not go through the roller coaster of feeling people have that I rarely see or speak too.  I think for a system based in Ethics like permaculture, even if your business benefits from the advertising, that is because of the very reason you hate facebook and started this thread in the first place.    So much of our world would be better if we gave up our addiction we know are bad for us, TV, Junk food, drama, consumption... when you finally give them up and break the cycle you realize wait my life is actually BETTER!!!  Action is the anecdote to apathy...
     
    paul wheaton
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    Mart Hale wrote:https://mewe.com/join/rocket_stoves__rocket_mass_heaters_international



    Click.  "You are forbidden to see that information until you give us your information."

    I cannot help but think "we are freee and open and awesome, until we change our minds"

     
    Mart Hale
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    paul wheaton wrote:

    Mart Hale wrote:https://mewe.com/join/rocket_stoves__rocket_mass_heaters_international



    Click.  "You are forbidden to see that information until you give us your information."

    I cannot help but think "we are freee and open and awesome, until we change our minds"




    Yep, I can understand that,  carrier pigeons of old times did have some advantages :-)
     
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