Return to Voxopedia

Following tangents I ended up at Jeff Duntemann’s blog and onto a post about ‘Infogalactic’, Vox Day’s vanity version of Wikipedia. Duntemann’s post was about a wider idea about interconnected mutually searchable wiki’s which was interesting[1] but a side issue caught my attention:

“Infogalactic has a lot of its own articles. However, when a user searches for something that is not already in the Infogalactic database, Infogalactic passes the search along to Wikipedia, and then displays the returned results.”

https://www.contrapositivediary.com/?p=4400

I thought this must be a new development, which would be interesting in itself. Either that or I had misunderstood some of the claims Day had made about Voxopedia’s software.

However, no, Voxopedia does not do this. Take this relatively new page on Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3rd_Lithuanian_National_Cavalry_Brigade. If you search for the topic on Voxopedia it currently just returns the standard page not found response.

That raises the question though about what it was Day was boasting about previously in terms of Voxopedia staying up to date with Wikipedia. Rather than Duntemann’s neat sounding idea, Day had been claiming that his encylcopedia would have “dynamic forking” via software that he had christened “fork bot”:

“Rifleman and the Techstars are very pleased to report that the much-awaited dynamic forking tool is not only complete, not only tested, but is now operational. You can see the results here.
What this means is that Infogalactic will always be entirely up-to-date with Wikipedia across all five million+ pages, including the newest ones, except for those where the Infogalactic editors have improved upon specific pages.”

https://web.archive.org/web/20200914191921/http://voxday.blogspot.com/2017/05/infogalactic-forkbot-is-go.html May 04, 2017

Day’s post contained a link to the import log and while I don’t know what it showed back in 2017 but what it shows now is editors import several Wikipedia pages into Voxopedia in a few chunks at a time. Maybe they made that manual process easier but three years on, Voxopedia still lags behind Wikipedia in terms of articles and the numbers they are importing are less than the numbers Wikipedia create. It’s a forking joke.

Back in January 2017, Day had described that they had reached the stage of “manual dynamic forking” (the jokes write themselves) which I discussed back then here https://camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com/2018/03/15/revisiting-voxopedia/ As far as I can see the whole operation has made zero technical progress since then. Notably, the article I used as an example (Australian politician Barnaby Joyce) is still unchanged since 2016 and has him still serving as the Deputy Leader of the National Party and a minister in the long-gone Malcolm Turnbull government.

The other big claim made by Day regarding Voxopedia’s capabilities was that it was going to replace the underlying MediaWiki software. Day had made a big deal about how they had used MediaWiki initially when cloning Wikipedia in the first place but that the underlying software that Wikipedia uses is bad and out of date and that his guys could do better. Remember that these weren’t just boasts but claims which he was using to raise money from supporters with.

This new wiki software christened the DONTPANIC engine was going to be so good that Day would be able to monetise it as a service for others:

“I should also mention that due to corporate demand, we are going to be putting together an Infogalactic Consult branch to help organizations make the change from the wikimedia engine to DONTPANIC for their internal wikis, or even just to make their existing wikis more functional and efficient. If you have a need for this, feel free to get in touch.”

https://web.archive.org/web/20200914194300/http://voxday.blogspot.com/2017/05/mailvox-knowledge-core-vs-convergipedia.html May 08, 2017

A check of the source code of newly created articles at Voxopedia shows that it still uses MediaWiki 1.27.1. The current version that Wikipedia uses is 1.34.2. Not only does Voxopedia still use the software that Day was claiming was inadequate but it uses an out of date version of that software.

The vaunted development roadmap for Voxopedia was last updated on May 6 2017 and that point in early May appears to be around the time the whole project ground to a halt in terms of its technology. https://infogalactic.com/info/Infogalactic:Roadmap At that point the progress looked like this:

  • Phase Two
  • IN PROGRESS
    • • DONTPANIC engine
    • • Sub-sites wikimedia – COMPLETE
    • • Sub-sites DONTPANIC
    • • Ad server DONTPANIC
    • • Dynamic page updates – COMPLETE
    • • Improved Database categories
    • • Relativity, Reliability, and Notability 1.0 algorithms
  • Phase Three
    • • Tri-level page content: Fact, Context, Opinion
    • • Verified autobiography sub-pages
    • • Preference filtering
    • • Initial gamification and status bling operational
    • • Safe Mode
    • • Gab integration
    • • User Interface 2.0 Beta
    • • Gamification and status bling complete

Needless to say none of this was implemented but more relevantly a purported encyclopedia doesn’t even keep an entry about itself up to date. Again, Day raised money for this project on the basis of claims about what Voxopedia would be able to do.

Meanwhile, one of my favourite pages is still there https://infogalactic.com/info/Bibhorr_formula


[1] Google’s info boxes do something similar e.g. if you search for an author thy might give you a little bio from Wikipedia or Goodreads or Google Books.

Who “won” the Puppy attention wars?

A good point people raised about yesterdays post on Wikipedia page view metrics is that it captures a current state but in many cases we are more interested in a historical value. This is particularly true when we are looking at the impact of awards or events.

Luckily I don’t need to advance my web scrapping tools further to answer this as Wikipedia actually has a tool for looking at and graphing this kind of data. Like most people I’ve used Wikipedia for many years now but I only learned about this yesterday while looking for extra data (or maybe I learned earlier and forgot — seems likely). The site is https://pageviews.toolforge.org and each of the page information pages has a link to it at the bottom under ‘external tools’.

It’s not really suitable for a data set of hundreds of pages but it is quite nice for comparing a small number of pages.

Just to see how it works and to play with settings until I got a visually interesting graph, I decided to see if I could see the impact of the Hugo Awards on four relevant pages. Now the data it will graph only goes back to 2015, so this takes the impact of SP3 as a starting point. I’ve chosen to look at John Scalzi, N.K. Jemisin, Chuck Tingle, Vox Day and Larry Correia.

https://pageviews.toolforge.org/?project=en.wikipedia.org&platform=all-access&agent=all-agents&redirects=0&start=2015-07&end=2020-08&pages=Vox_Day|John_Scalzi|Larry_Correia|Chuck_Tingle|N._K._Jemisin

I added a background colour and labels. The data shows monthly totals and because of the size of some spikes, it is plotted on a logarithmic scale. Be mindful that the points are vertically further apart in terms of actual magnitude than is shown visually.

I think the impact of N.K. Jemisin’s second and third Best Novel wins is undeniable. There is a smaller spike for the first win but each subsequent win leads to more interest. I don’t know why Chuck Tingle had a big spike in interest in January 2017.

I’ve added a little red arrow around July 2019. That was when there was a big flurry among some Baen authors that Wikipedia was deleting their articles https://camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com/2019/07/29/just-a-tiny-bit-more-on-wikipedia/

Anyway, to answer my own question: talent beat tantrums in the battle for attention

Authors: which ones get looked up?

A perennial question around award nominees is just how significant are the authors being honoured. It’s a tricky question, particularly as there is no good data about book sales. Amazon ranks are mysterious and Goodreads data may be a reflection of particular community.

I’m currently taking a few baby steps into web scraping data and I was playing with Wikipedia. Every Wikipedia article has a corresponding information page with some basic metadata about the article. For example here is the info page for the article on the writer Zen Cho https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Zen_Cho&action=info On that page is a field called “Page views in the past 30 days” that gives the figure stated. As a first attempt at automating some data collection, it’s a relatively easy piece of data to get.

So, I put together a list of authors from my Hugo Award and Dragon Award lists, going back a few years (I think to 2013). Not all of them have Wikipedia pages, partly because they are early in their careers but also because Wikipedia does a poor job of representing authors who aren’t traditionally published. Putting the ‘not Wiki notable’ authors aside, that left me with 163 names. With a flash of an algorithm I had a spreadsheet of authors ranked by the current popularity of their Wikipedia page.

Obviously this is very changeable data. A new story, a tragedy, a scandal or a recent success might change the number of page views significantly from month to month. However, I think it’s fairly useful data nonetheless.

So what does the top 10 look like?

1Stephen King216,776
2Margaret Atwood75,427
3Brandon Sanderson72,265
4Terry Pratchett55,591
5Rick Riordan43,484
6N. K. Jemisin34,756
7Cixin Liu32,372
8Sarah J. Maas21,852
9Ian McEwan20,468
10Neal Stephenson20,058

The rest of the top 30 look like this:

11Robert Jordan19,169
12Ted Chiang17,635
13Owen King16,041
14Jim Butcher15,493
15James S. A. Corey15,109
16Stephen Chbosky14,490
17Leigh Bardugo13,787
18China Miéville13,580
19Andy Weir13,057
20Harry Turtledove11,452
21Cory Doctorow11,362
22Jeff VanderMeer11,243
23John Scalzi10,796
24Chuck Tingle10,763
25Ben Aaronovitch10,493
26Brent Weeks10,271
27Ken Liu9,003
28Tamsyn Muir9,002
29Alastair Reynolds8,951
30Kim Stanley Robinson8,879

There’s a big Zipf-like distribution going on with those numbers that decline quickly by rank. John Scalzi has Chuck Tingle levels of fame on this metric.

OK, so I know people want to know where some of our favourite antagonists are, so here are some of the notable names from the Debarkle years.

40Vox Day5,271
45Larry Correia4,455
60John Ringo2,878
81John C. Wright1,251
111Brad R. Torgersen560
123Sarah A. Hoyt407
140L. Jagi Lamplighter229
152Dave Freer102
153Lou Antonelli101
156Brian Niemeier81

Day probably gets a lot more views due to people looking him up because of his obnoxious politics. Larry Correia is in a respectable spot in the 40’s. He is just below Martha Wells who has 4,576 page views — which is essentially the same number given how these figures might change from day to day. John Ringo is just above Chuck Wendig and Rebecca Roanhorse (2,806 and 2,786). John C Wright is sandwiched between Tade Thompson and Sarah Gailey.

You can see the full list here https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/14uQsQNxKyPQtxybu4OxsFrdRRl_v-tdW0fN0oblgFw4/edit?usp=sharing

Let me know if you find any errors.

Ringo and Comicsgate (aka the crappiest gate)

Comicsgate, the culture war rebellion that was so self-defeating that it managed to turn its own harassment campaign against itself still drifts on. The anti-free speech group that engaged in online harassment campaigns against multiple creators (e.g. Magdalene Visaggio, Sue DeConnick, Alyssa Wong, Noelle Stevenson and Ta-Nehisi Coates to name just a few) likes to style itself in the standard alt-right opposite-day rhetoric as being pro-free speech and opposed to “cancel culture” “mobs”. The movement engaged in verbal abuse, rape threats, death threats and doxxing as well as calls for boycotts and campaigns to get creators fired for their views. Connected with the harassment campaigns were various crowd-funding attempts by comicsgate creators such as Ethan Van Scriver to take advantage of the outrage marketing to help fund their own projects. [for examples see the references]

When Vox Day decided to attach himself to the movement [see my coverage in the references] the amount of abuse increased but much of the toxicity turn in on itself with pro-Day and pro-Ethan Van Scriver factions attacking each other. Caught in the crossfire (or fuelling the crossfire depending on who you ask) was our old pal Jon Del Arroz, who after spending a few years on his own harassment/culture-war grift, is currently complaining, as a consequence of his comicsgate experience, about right-wing culture war grifters [references].

Well that’s two paragraphs just to cover the background. What has all that got to do with John Ringo?

Currently there is a crowdunding campaign on Indiegogo to turn John Ringo’s zombie apocalypse Black Tide Rising series into a series of graphic novels [references]. The creators involved are Chuck Dixon, Derlis Santacruz, Brett R Smith, and Dave Dorman.

Veteran writer Chuck Dixon became embroiled in the alt-right comics culture war after being recruited into Vox Day’s Arkhaven Comics ‘Alt Hero’ line of comics. Day, in case anybody here has forgotten, is infamous for his support of terrorist Anders Brevik and called the mass murder of over 70 people (the youngest of whom was 14) “a highly effective blow against the political machine”. Day’s randomly vandalised version of Wikipedia also spreads conspiracy theories that casts people convicted of child abuse as victims of state conspiracies [references]. I mention all that not to say that somehow Dixon is guilty by association but to point out which things bother these ‘alternative voices’ in comics and which things very notably do not seem to bother them at all.

Of the others, Brett R Smith openly aligned himself with the comicsgate campaign eg:

However, Smith’s most notable connection was with the comic Jawbreakers, which he worked on with notable comicsgate figure Richard C. Meyer. Smith also attempted to produce a comic in support of violent far-right protestor Kyle “Based Stickman” Chapman. Chapman, a man with convictions for robbery, theft, and illegal weapon sales, became something of a hero among the alt-right when he was filmed beating protestors with a stick. Chapman later attempted to set up his own quasi-Proud Boys street-fighting spin off called ‘Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights’. Smith said of Chapman: “I concur but we have an army of our own. @BasedStickMan_ @ProudBoysUSA @Oathkeepers all kept the peace. They stood firm & we won the day.” [references]

I suspect that just listing all this stuff in one place and pointing to the connections will engender counter-criticism that doing so is ‘cancel culture’ or stirring up an SJW-mob. It isn’t. If people want to buy a John Ringo story in comic book form then that’s their business but we shouldn’t be shy about discussing the overt and publicly stated views of the creators. If people state they are engaged in a culture war then it is really odd, indeed psychologically unhealthy, to pretend that they aren’t.

Meanwhile, Baen Books is promoting the crowdfunding campaign on Twitter and in their forum.


References

Debarkle Conversations

One more of these network explorations. I tried a bit of data mining on the Puppy Kerfuffle Timeline. The idea was to pick out from entries people talking about other people or being talked about together. So John Scalzi talking about Vox Day or vice versa. A few stray non-people (or groups of people) got in the mix as well. Also Santa Claus?

The graph is undirected i.e. it doesn’t distinguish between talking and being talked about. Also, this is very much NOT about allegiances or other connections — a line joining a group is more likely to be a critic than an ally.

More on Patreon v Unpleasantness

I’ve been following the travails of Vox “I have never been a neo-Nazi” Day & Owen “flat Earth” Benjamin against funding website Patreon. This is post four, so if you missed the earlier episodes they are here (and, as some drive-by supporters of Vox say, “ageing badly”):

When last we checked in, a Californian court had refused to make an injunction stopping Owen Benjamin’s supporters brining multiple arbitration claims against Patreon for closing Benjamin’s Patreon last year. Now, according to Vox Day, the first arbitration claim (from Benjamin directly) has been decided by the arbitrator JAMS.

“Somewhat to our surprise, the arbitrator in Owen’s case ruled that Patreon does have the contractual right it claims to kick anyone off its platform at any time without any reason, regardless of whether the user being kicked off has violated any rules or community guidelines or not. That right to terminate any user at any time at will was the reason he gave for granting Patreon’s request for summary disposition.”

http://voxday.blogspot.com/2020/08/arbitrator-rules-against-big-bear.html [archive link]

As far as I am aware, arbitration rulings aren’t public and I don’t believe Patreon have (or are likely to) make a comment on it. So we only have Day’s less-than-reliable account of things but given the negative result I think it is safe to assume this is accurate.

Day is claiming this is just a “tactical loss” because one arbitration ruling doesn’t determine the result of the next one and there are 72 further arbitrations to go. However, given that the root issue is whether Patreon could terminate Benjamin’s Patreon account this ruling suggests that the others will go in a similar way. Arguably, the ‘re-platforming’ strategy has already failed. The original idea (as substantiated by the court documents) was that the threat of multiple brigaded arbitration claims would be such a financial disincentive to Patreon, that they would settle with Benjamin and either re-instate him or compensate him. Matters have already moved beyond that and other tech companies with arbitration clauses are now aware of this potential strategy (a strategy used for the forces of good in this example https://www.theverge.com/2020/2/12/21135474/doordash-workers-forced-arbitration-william-alsup ). That doesn’t mean Patreon may still suffer further set backs, we’ll have to wait and see.

Day remains bullish, claiming in the comments that:

“Only one claim out of five have anything to do with Owen. One out of seven for the 72 Bears. The dispute hasn’t really been about Owen’s deplatforming since they changed the terms.”

His point here being that the “bears” (the name for Owen Benjamin’s fans) arbitration claims are more to do with the changes in terms of service that Patreon introduce to side-step the zerg-rush tactic.

I’ll keep watching. Suffice to say that the triumphalism of Day’s supporters at the last update has aged badly 🙂.

Law & Virulent Nationalism: The Saga Continues

Some of Vox Day’s supporters (OK two of them) have appointed the blog as the newspaper of record on science-fiction’s most No Awarded author/editor/publisher. In particular I’ve been asked to ‘retract’ this post: https://camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com/2020/06/16/vox-days-replatforming-backfires/ but neither of them appear to have read this subsequent post: https://camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com/2020/07/14/meanwhile-in-law-virulent-nationalism/

The excitement in Day’s camp is that the tentative ruling made by the judge earlier in July (see my second post) has now been confirmed. The order denying the preliminary injunction against Owen Benjamin’s supporters attempting multiple arbitration cases against Patreon has been confirmed[1]. This isn’t much of a change since my July 14 post aside from it being less tentative and the judge has given their reasoning

The judge gives three reasons for denying the preliminary injunction:

  1. “Patreon fails to show that it will suffer any irreparable injury or interim harm if an injunction does not issue”
  2. “Patreon fails to show a reasonable likelihood of prevailing on its claims.” [the claims here being the court case rather than the arbitration]
  3. “California courts rarely grant the extraordinary relief Patreon seeks here: an injunction interfering with an ongoing contractual proceeding.”

The three reasons given have their own reasoning but they each rest on the same principle: Patreon hasn’t let the arbitration body JAMS make their own decisions on some of these questions yet.

As I said back on July 14:

“Suffice to say, that’s at least a minor win for the bad-guy’s team (not that Patreon are exactly good but they aren’t actively wishing we were all dead). Leading their case is Marc Randazza a controversial lawyer who is associated with far-right disinformation outlet InfoWars. Whatever Randazza’s ideological stance might be, he is not without some legal talent.”

https://camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com/2020/07/14/meanwhile-in-law-virulent-nationalism/

I’ll keep watching!


[1] https://webapps.sftc.org/ci/CaseInfo.dll?CaseNum=CGC20584586

Meanwhile in law & virulent nationalism…

The first proper hearing in the dispute between crowd funding business Patreon and fans of the flat-Earth ally of Vox Day aka Own Benjamin took place today1 in California.

This is the “lawfare”/”replatforming” campaign I discussed in this post https://camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com/2020/06/16/vox-days-replatforming-backfires/ The concept is that members of the extreme right aim to use arbitration clauses in terms-of-service to make life difficult for any tech platform that cuts of access to right wing figures. In this case, former comedian Owen Benjamin was kicked off Patreon for violating Patreon’s community guidelines including “offensive public statements in which he blamed black people for AIDS, mocked Hollywood rape survivors, and targeted Jewish people for scorn on the basis of religion”2

Approximately 100 of Owen Benjamin’s supporters attempted to file for individual arbitration after he was kicked off Patreon. To forestall having to sit through multiple identical arbitration proceedings, Patreon changed their terms and have sought an injunction. Today’s hearing was an attempt to get a preliminary injunction on the arbitration proceedings.

The court made an tentative ruling today1 against the preliminary injunction in a Zoom video conference.

“Patreon seeks a preliminary injunction to enjoin defendants “from continuing to pursue improper claims against Patreon in JAMS arbitration,” pending this Court’s consideration and final adjudication of Patreon’s complaint for declaratory judgment. Defendants are individual claimants in 72 pending JAMS arbitration proceedings against Patreon. Patreon claims that those claims are barred by its Terms of Use. Patreon’s request for a preliminary injunction is denied, for several reasons.”

Judge Ethan P Schulman Order To Show Cause Re Preliminary Injunction [Opposition – 6/29; Reply – 7/06) TENTATIVE RULING3

Suffice to say, that’s at least a minor win for the bad-guy’s team (not that Patreon are exactly good but they aren’t actively wishing we were all dead). Leading their case is Marc Randazza4 a controversial lawyer who is associated with far-right disinformation outlet InfoWars. Whatever Randazza’s ideological stance might be, he is not without some legal talent5.

I’ll keep keeping an eye on this. Vox Day appears happy, which is always a worry.


1[Timezone wise the date is yesterday for me (July 13) but it was just a few hours ago on July 14 here]

2[According to Patreon’s court documents: Exhibit A in DECLARATION…IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFF PATREON, INC.’S EX PARTE APPLICATION FOR ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE RE PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION CGC20584586 ]

3[ Court documents can be found by looking for “PATREON, INC. VS. PAUL MICHAEL AYURE ET AL” (Case Number: CGC20584586) at the Superior Court of California’s page https://www.sfsuperiorcourt.org/ The tentative ruling is under the ‘Calendar’ section]

4[ See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marc_Randazza ]

5[For an interesting genre-connection with Randazza, he was involved in the copyright case where Paramount pictures attempted to squash the fan-made Star Trek film Axanar. Randazza made an interesting (and actually entertaining) claim that nobody could claim to own Klingon as a language https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/79378/9-best-parts-legal-brief-behalf-klingon-speakers However, cutesy use of Klingon doesn’t change some of his more sinister uses of the First Amendment eg https://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/neo-nazi-andrew-anglin-first-amendment-judge-whitefish_n_5becc692e4b0dbb7ea66fa14?ri18n=true ]

Sci-fi, Libertarians, Heinlein and other stuff

I got bored with my previous habit of checking on the clumsy articles at Quillette — the online magazine for people who want to be reassured that reactionary ideas are really quite nice if you stand on your head and squint at them for long enough. However, a recent article crossed into multiple aspects of my interests that I really thought I should write about it. Entitled “The Libertarian History of Science Fiction” (https://quillette.com/2020/06/12/the-libertarian-history-of-science-fiction/) it is not a particularly great examination of the topic but not so blisteringly awful as to be funny. In responding to it I appear to have gone off in many directions and have used many words and long run on sentences. So more after the fold…

There really are free lunches

Vox Day’s ‘Replatforming’ Backfires

Vox Day has managed to have a large number of his supporters legally doxxed in court documents with the help of his even less competent side-kick former comedian Owen Benjamin. A case filed in the Superior Court of California by crowdfunding tech company Patreon, cites seventy-two people whom they are suing due to a ‘lawfare’ campaign instigated by Day and Benjamin. I’m not linking directly to the court documents but the case “PATREON, INC. VS. PAUL MICHAEL AYURE ET AL” (Case Number: CGC20584586) can be found online via the Superior Court of California’s page https://www.sfsuperiorcourt.org/

The case connects with Day’s struggles with crowdfunding (see past coverage from me here and here) but specifically connects to Owen Benjamin (see past coverage from me here and here) who was kicked off Patreon last year according to the court documents:

Patreon Terminates the Individual Account of Owen Benjamin Smith

18. On October 9, 2019, Patreon terminated the creator account of an individual named Owen Benjamin Smith, a self-described comedian who had repeatedly engaged in hate speech, in violation of Patreon ‘s Community Guidelines. For example, over the course of approximately 18 months, Smith made offensive public statements in which he blamed black people for AIDS, mocked Hollywood rape survivors, and targeted Jewish people for scorn on the 25 basis of religion. 19. Soon after the account termination, Smith, though his attorney … filed a JAMS demand for arbitration against Patreon, asserting claims for breach of contract and tortious interference with alleged contractual relations between Smith and his former patrons on the Patreon platform. Patreon denies, and is presently litigating, these claims in arbitration….20. Smith has an online fanbase, and he responded to his termination by appealing to that fanbase to file abusive claims against Patreon for the purpose of driving up Patreon’s litigation costs and extracting a settlement unrelated to the merits of his claims.

Court documents Exhibit A in DECLARATION…IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFF PATREON, INC.’S EX PARTE APPLICATION FOR ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE RE PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION

The idea as outlined by Day elsewhere is that tech companies like Patreon often have an arbitration clause for disputes. Day’s scheme involves individual subscribers/members/sponsors/patrons/etc also demanding arbitration when a notable member of the far right is kicked off a platform. The tech company then faces not just one manageable arbitration process but potentially hundreds e.g. the Castalia House Patreon account has 1,634 patrons – a number that hasn’t changed by much (if at all) since the initial push last year and which averages as $4 per patron.

Unfortunately, according to the court documents Patreon filled in that potential hole in the terms and conditions:

6. The Current Terms of Use provide that individual users “may not bring a claim against [Patreon] for suspending or terminating another person’s account.” Exhibit A at 11-12. 8 Users expressly agree they “will not bring such a claim[,]” and they are “responsible for the damages caused, including attorneys fees and costs,” if they do bring such a claim.

ibid

The court documents claim that the seventy-two Owen Benjamin supporters had agreed to Patreon being able to amend the Terms of Use when they signed up and by not deleting their account and by signing in this year under the revised Terms had effectively agreed to them.

According to Patreon’s court documents, Benjamin’s lawyer used the possibility of Benjamin’s followers making arbitration claims as a lever in the negotiations:

“On November 15, 2019, Mann made a settlement demand: he would proceed with the threatened 83 additional Patron Claims unless Patreon agreed to pay Smith $2.2 million and reinstate Smith’s Patreon account. Mann made clear that the payment to Smith would resolve the claims asserted by the individual patrons, stating “[o]ur intention is to address all claims -Smith’s and the individual patrons’ – in any discussions with you based upon the required relief described above.” Patreon rejected that demand”

ibid

Instead, it seems the individuals may end up liable for Patreon’s court costs. According to Day this is Patreon “playing dirty” (warning: link to his blog http://voxday.blogspot.com/2020/06/patreon-plays-dirty.html )

“Since a lawsuit is a matter of public record whereas an arbitration is not, the Owen-haters on Reddit have just published all the names of the Bears being sued by Patreon. Needless to say, the Legion is on it and we will be legally retaliating very strongly in order to see that Patreon and their lawyers are severely punished for this despicable and unexpected tactic. But the doxxing has already taken place, so if any of you experiences any blowback from this, please be sure to document everything and let us know right away so that the Legion can include everything in their future filings concerning this element of the matter.”

Vox Populi “Patreon plays dirty”

Day is also reassuring the Owen Benjamin fans (aka “Bears”):

“If you’re one of the Bears concerned, please don’t worry about anything. It’s going to be fine. The Legion – and more – are on it, and everyone will have your back, just as you have had Owen’s. This is an absolutely desperate move by Patreon to try to further delay your arbitrations against them because they are losing very badly. And if you’re wondering how this joke of a lawsuit can be a matter of public record when you haven’t even been served, exactly. As you can see here, Patreon’s lawyers are not following any of the rules of either the legal or the arbitration processes, which is one of the reasons they are losing so consistently and comprehensively.”

Vox Populi “Patreon plays dirty”

Day predicts that Patreon’s actions will lead to its destruction (where have we heard that before?)

“So, it is increasingly looking like there either won’t be a Patreon by the end of the year or Owen and the Bears will own it. It’s rather like finding yourself fighting a duel with someone who genuinely believes his most effective attack is to disembowel himself.”

Vox Populi “Patreon plays dirty”

In an earlier post this month, Day made a similar prediction:

“Of course, literally all of the relevant law and case law, both state and Federal, points to this being either a) Patreon attempting to commit suicide by law, or b) Patreon’s lawyers desperately trying to convince Patreon to keep writing them the checks that it shouldn’t have written in the first place. This legal “strategy”, to the extent that one can call it that, is so obviously futile that if you’re financially dependent upon Patreon in any way, I would not count on it being around in 12 months.”

http://voxday.blogspot.com/2020/06/patreon-ups-ante.html

Quite what will all happen at the end of this, I don’t know. Day has a long history of starting or threatening to start legal disputes. However, I can’t say I have yet to see an actual clear resolution to any of them (the closest in the time I’ve been running this blog has been the Indiegogo dispute whose resolution is unknown). It is worth noting that just because Day has a very flexible concept of what counts as a victory and Owen Benjamin thinks the world is flat and that bleach is medicine, that doesn’t mean they will definitely lose.

The topic is being discussed on various subreddits hostile to Day and Benjamin as well as in Day’s and Benjamin’s own videos.

[ETA the court website also has dates for when the next steps will happen:

2020-11-04 10:30 AMCASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE
2020-07-13 9:30 AMOrder To Show Cause Re Preliminary Injunction [Opposition – 6/29; Reply – 7/06)
2020-06-30 9:30 AMNotice Of Motion And Application For Order To Show Cause Re Preliminary Injunction

Looks like this will drag on for months.]