First, thanks for following me to Substack.
I know some of you are skeptical. I was too at first, but Substack has gone above and beyond in allaying my concerns. They've let me test out a "no popup telling you to subscribe" feature. They've changed the comment section to be more like WordPress. We've agreed I'm here for a year, but if it goes badly I can leave in 2022 with no hard feelings.
And I know some of you are concerned about the risk of corporate deplatforming. My weak answer is that so far Substack has been great at resisting calls for this, I think it's worth rewarding them with my business, and I'm proud to contribute to companies that share my values. My strong answer is that if I start feeling too constrained, I'll leave. The past six months weren't fun, but at least I credibly signaled willingness to destroy everything and start over when needed. I'm saving the Substack mailing list regularly to my hard drive, and if I go somewhere else I'll let you all know.
And I know Substack is supposed to be an email newsletter thing, but consider reading it online instead so you can participate in the comments. If you miss the old layout, the anonymous author of Applied Divinity Studies has made a Chrome extension thing you can use to convert the Substack layout to the older one.
The boring reason I'm at Substack is money. I'm not supposed to talk about numbers, but you can read about the deal they offered Matt Yglesias here and draw your own conclusions. I'm trying to build a new kind of medical practice that provides affordable care to uninsured people. The risk of failure is high - I expect the medical care part to go fine, but I'm less sure I'll be able to make money off it. I need a stable income stream while I experiment with this, and this is it. I realize how weird it is to accept a steady day job as a writer to support your pie-in-the-sky plans to practice medicine, yet here we are.
From your perspective, the money works like this: if you like this blog, consider subscribing. $10/month or $100/year, which I hear is standard Substack rate. I already got a lot of subscriptions yesterday and I'm at zero risk of starving, but this will help me devote more time to blogging and get me over the hump in starting my new practice.
All "important" content will be freely available regardless of subscription status, but subscribers will get a little extra. In particular, there will be one subscribers-only Open Thread a week (on Wednesdays), along with the normal free Open Thread on Sundays, and occasional subscriber-only AMA (ask me anything) threads. I also plan to occasionally post shorter or lighter content for subscribers only, maybe once or twice a month. This would be along the lines of SSC posts like If Only Turing Was Alive To See This or Bulls**t Jobs (Part 1 of ∞). I might also paywall a few very impulsive Culture War posts, just to prevent them from going viral. I predict this will be less than 10% of content, and less than 1% of content weighted by some measure of importance.
Please don't buy a paid subscription if it would be financially stressful for you, or funge against your ability to support better causes. If you're deeply pained by the idea of not reading occasional shorter unimportant content, but also too poor to afford the full subscription, you can use this coupon. Please be honest.
I've complained before that subscriber models annoy nonsubscribers and clog up search engines by presenting stubs for posts most people can't read. After talking to Substack about this concern, they've agreed not to display any hint of subscription-only posts to nonsubscribers. I might occasionally remind you that they exist, but you won't get teased by the titles or see stubs that cut off halfway. If you do see these, something has gone wrong and you should let me know.
Speaking of money, I think I've paid back everyone who took out advertising on SSC that didn't happen because the blog closed down.
If you took out advertising that got disrupted and I didn't pay you back, or I paid you the wrong amount, please contact me at scott[at]slatestarcodex[dot]com. If I have some other SSC-related obligation to you that I forgot about, remind me of that too.
Still against it, sorry.
I've revealed my real name to prevent people from threatening me with it, but I'm still going by Scott Alexander.
I'm not interested in further pursuing a vendetta against the New York Times and I'm not going to respond to interview requests about it. I'd prefer my story not get used to support any political points more complicated than "newspapers should not reveal anonymous bloggers' real names", especially not Grand Narratives About Media.
My new psychiatry practice is (I think) potentially genuinely interesting, but I'd prefer people not get too excited about it until I've been doing it a year or two and can confirm that the business model actually works. My patients are random innocent people who happened to get matched with me at my past clinic and don't need to be ambushed for a news story about changing trends in mental health blah blah blah.
If it's a boring enough news day that you want to cover me, consider instead covering the many other fascinating and under-covered people and institutions in and around the rationalist community, some of whom are probably women or minorities or whatever. The Qualia Research Institute is doing absolutely picture-perfect mad science. Metaculus is fast becoming what PredictIt should have been; I intend to shill it pretty hard but I can't do it all by myself. Catherine Olsson, Ibasho, and MicroCOVID already have one WIRED article about how great they are, but they deserve at least a dozen.
Book Review Contest
I'll have more information on how I'm going to do this in a week or two. I still have all the entries you sent in, and I'm still accepting new entries at least for now.
...will start next week. I have some from last year I still want to get up, so expect a few of them to be a bit outdated.