This morning I read the transcript of a recent session by Michael Goldstein and the resulting harassment of Mike Dudas after he elevated it. Here’s the link: http://diyhpl.us/wiki/transcripts/bit-block-boom/2019/how-to-meme-bitcoin-to-the-moon/
"You’re not really talking to the people who you are replying to on twitter; it is for the other people. Really the purpose of engaging in a hostile fashion is to broadcast to other people who might be looking in.” - bitstein
This is a playbook for what I consider to be violence against ideas and modern censorship in public forums.
Ugh. This topic is so gross. But it needs to be brought out into the open air.
There are at least four attack vectors for bad actors wishing to destroy community:
- Direct Assault.
- Squeezing Out.
- Counterfeit Communities.
- Attacking from Within.
Direct Assault: This is what’s outlined in the post above. We’ve seen the attacks and trolling on Twitter and elsewhere by various parties. They are right out of the playbook linked to above and include bullying, ad hominem attacks, character attacks, undermining credibility, and perhaps others. It is manipulation masquerading as truth seeking.
Squeezing Out: This might happen by means of backroom deals between power brokers. For example, law enforcement might coerce a bank to withdraw services to an exchange if the exchange supports privacy preserving tech. Or a bank might coerce an intermediary to withdraw support for anticompetitive reasons.
Counterfeit Communities: The tactic is to setup communities that appear to be genuine but are in fact created to fool newcomers. For example, the moderators of the Zcashco telegram group kicked me out after I revealed that I work for ECC (then known as Zcash Co). As far as I can tell, the moderators have no affiliation with Zcash. I’m told the creator of the group is affiliated with Monero. I have reached out to him but have not received a response.
Attack from Within: This is perhaps the most difficult and most dangerous. Tribes will band together to fight off external threats. But if you get inside the circle, you can stir dissension. Disagreement and healthy dialog, is of course, sacrosanct. Which is why this is so difficult.
Some of the tools used by those to attack from within:
Attempt to control the narrative. If there is a narrative that you want to destroy, shift the focus of the conversation by isolating a related or subtopic, and then elevate it. Sometimes creating controversy around that subtopic is enough. The point is to shift the conversation.
Suck the oxygen out of the room. Respond to everything. Respond in volume. Argue everything. Make it uncomfortable for people to engage because of the volume and tedium of responding.
Develop multiple personas and use them to feed off one another to create illusions of engagement.
Poison the truth. Take elements of truth and blend them with misinformation and rumor. Use nuance to your advantage and then elevate the misinformation and rumor so that it becomes the topic.
Punch and retreat. Take an aggressive position to land a punch, and then back off and play nice for a bit. The punches will land. And you can claim nice.
Trade secrets. Whisper rumors in ears and back hallways. Sow seeds of distrust. Be the trader of secrets. You can undermine the trust of others.
Keep true allegiances hidden. Don’t try to navigate multiple tribes at once with the same persona.
Use the goodness of people against them. For example, take take a positive attribute like anti-censorship and then cry censorship to keep misinformation alive. Take someone’s openness and trust, and then use that to obtain information that can be misconstrued and twisted.
I think the Zcash community is amazing. The people I’ve met have good hearts and the best of intentions. Ultimately, I hope Zcash will succeed or fail based on the merits of the project. But the best way to combat attacks from within is a combination of vigilance and a community that constantly rewards reinforcing its shared values.
The article posted at the top was enlightening and troubling. Unfortunately the road to meaningful change and economic freedom for everyone will be challenged at every stage. There is much at stake.