Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

The end is Nigh?

by Frank Schnittger Fri May 5th, 2023 at 09:59:17 PM EST

I would like to open up a discussion on the future of the European Tribune. As will be obvious to regulars here, the level of participation and contribution has been in decline now for many years, since the hey day of blogging on the internet.

It's partly in line with global trends, where short form text and video based social media have been taking over from longer forms of blogging. Perhaps there is also an element of the European ideal losing its appeal, or worse, being taken for granted by younger writers.

But it's also undeniable that our user base has been ageing, dying off, and not being replaced by a younger cohort. I am now the last remaining active front-pager, and even I have started to write more for an Irish readership on Irish forums and newspapers. Even Brexit and the Ukraine war couldn't save us indefinitely.

So perhaps it is time to call it a day on a fascinating chapter in our lives that sadly is no more. Perhaps it is time to close ET down, much as it pains me to admit defeat in my efforts to keep it going. But I wouldn't want to take such a momentous step with consulting with the many who have contributed here over the years.

What does everyone remaining here think?

If the end is coming it would be worthwhile to somehow permanently preserve all the posts & comments this site has generated during all those years.

We're all growing older - perhaps more tired as well. But I still like to be prompted to think about something I hadn't thought about and to give my more or less uneducated take on it and then, later on, to look back to determine how much I missed the mark.

That becomes more difficult for me when I run out of powder and of things to care about while the site runs out of fresh users. How much traffic/users/activity does the site have nowadays?

Schengen is toast!

by epochepoque on Fri May 5th, 2023 at 11:40:44 PM EST
I'll put it into read only mode and preserve it for the foreseeable future.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sat May 6th, 2023 at 11:56:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Appreciate the efforts and contribution of so many through the years. Especially the back office keeping the site up and running with timely updates and maintenance.

Thx Colman

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Sat May 6th, 2023 at 12:44:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
After reading your statement, rereading it several times one important argument stood out ...

    "Even Brexit and the Ukraine war couldn't save us indefinitely."

The main events of tearing the community, society of the European Union apart, definitely.

This has been a slow but steady proces since 1999. The global events of 9/11, the financial crisis, new world order of neocons to remake the Middle East to suit Israel. The Iraq War caused a split between Old and New Europe, was eased by giving NATO a greater role for the national interest and "security" of the EU?

Steadily Brussels gave benefits to former Soviet bloc states for joining the economic bloc. The defense pact of NATO expanded in step, often a bit ahead of wisdom.

In short this decline in ET readership as in tread with the clear decline of the European Union ... the war in Ukraine sealed its fate. The EU has close cultural ties with the New World. The huge influx of refugees from war torn states in the Middle East (and poverty stricken Africa) has exacerbate the political split in the EU between East and West. The EU failed to work for its own national interest and offered much for multinational corporations in trade talks and treaties. Impunity for failings ...

With the digital revolution came an expansion of means of communication, except the willingness to listen petered out as the search engine provided all answers to our questions of doubt. Why debate issues anymore.

Fortunately in time of real crisis as the pandemic, in the local community there was a helping hand, especially from the younger generation. A form of solidarity we are all in it. However the gap in generations also plays a role for blogging.

ET offered a trusted community where one could debate issues, not so on social media in forums. At least in the Dutch scene writing short comments one gets butchered just because "they can". Lack of responsibility and caring for one another. A bit of hooliganism and meanness inside all of us. ☮️ 🙏🏽

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Sat May 6th, 2023 at 06:17:40 AM EST
I won't protest if Eurotrib goes into permanent read-only.

I find less energy to write these days. I have been thinking about a series in the structure of the US empire and how this reflects in its decline (the structure gives the failure mode), but I haven't had energy to get going on it.

Perhaps, if the decision comes down on closing we could have a thread on where (if anywhere) future writings can be found.

by fjallstrom on Mon May 8th, 2023 at 12:58:21 PM EST
Yeah, that's where I'm at. I'm sad to see the site close, but I don't think I can really contribute anything to keeping it open. I certainly don't have the energy for getting into long and involved arguments about the war, for example.
And it has been a long time coming. The user base has been aging out and I'd say with the austerity policies in the 2010s we lost support of European integration as a unifying principle. And since then every sufficiently emotionally charged topic split a number of users off.

Perhaps, if the decision comes down on closing we could have a thread on where (if anywhere) future writings can be found.

I agree with this.

by generic on Tue May 9th, 2023 at 11:15:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've been here before. A site I co-founded  (I wrote the code) to replace a forum shut down by Microsoft (we launched exactly one year before 9/11), with thousands of users and thousands of posts per day for several years. Overall quality not as high as ET in its heyday, but a lot of wonderful things, and high quality human interactions.
The decline commenced with the second Gulf war, a clear left/right split, and the right founded their own site and left a couple of years later. The site was still viable until its 10th birthday, but after, it limped on as a club for old members for a few years (good for poetry and literature), then died.
Last year one of the participants asked me if I could put it back up, so that she could recover her writings from fifteen years ago, for her Ph.D in education. We managed to do that.

For me, social media killed the whole notion of a specialised forum site. Personally I have never been able to separate the personal from the political, and in fact I still feel that it is fundamentally unsound to do so. I was a latecomer to ET, but I enjoyed the crossover in that respect. I tried sporadically to follow the migration of the personal side to Facebook, but that platform has always filled me with horror and dread, and I have long since abandoned it definitively. Which leaves me as something of an orphan, currently.

But I'll get over it, I suppose.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue May 9th, 2023 at 09:11:56 AM EST
I am very much in favour; from time to time, I delve into old diaries with wonder and delight. Most recently, after Carrie's thread, I've been revisiting Helen's abundant output, full of wit and wisdom on so many topics, and cherishing her memory.

I would suggest leaving one permanent "open thread", if that's feasible (how hard can it be? har Colman) so that people can drop in and give news, ask for contacts, or whatever.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue May 9th, 2023 at 09:19:49 AM EST
From a technical admin point of view, what is the difference between read-only with an open thread and the current "limp mode" where people can still publish occasional diaries and comments with not much of a front-pager or moderator input? I've checked out of the open threads for a long time now. Would they be missed if not renewed every month?

I think there is still value in the occasional diary, even if discussion is limited. But I can't say I miss the open threads. But does that mean all remaining sense of online community is lost? Or is it past saving?

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed May 10th, 2023 at 08:27:11 PM EST
Once AI has become a Force, what is the purpose of writing overall and especially on blogs seeking to find facts behind news and political decisions. Today algorithms are used on local and state level of government. Soon phone calls will be answered by robots and one needs to pay a fee to get a humanoid on the line.


Democracy as we know it too will have passed, fallen on the wayside. History doesn't repeat itself but moves from one revolution to the next. My fear has been portrayed in Hollywood ghastly films, the world separated in haves and have nots, not just within a community, but for whole nations and perhaps a permanent global divide.

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Thu May 11th, 2023 at 08:31:14 AM EST
by Oui (Oui) on Thu May 11th, 2023 at 01:26:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Democracy isn't ready for its AI test

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Thu May 11th, 2023 at 07:06:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem here is not whether people believe AI fakes on the internet. The problem is people who believe stuff they see on the internet from a source they don't know and shouldn't trust.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Fri May 12th, 2023 at 10:02:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
archived EU Code of Conduct

< wipes tears >

by Cat on Thu May 11th, 2023 at 08:16:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As Colman is the guy who has the hassle of providing tech support, I will leave the ultimate decision to him. The consensus here seems to be that closure at some stage may be inevitable, but that it would be nice to maintain some way of keeping in touch, perhaps by being able to post links to blogs published elsewhere. I don't know if that saves him much in the way of tech support work.

For as long as it remains possible, I will keep on publishing the odd diary as time and energy permits, but most of the discussion on my posts is now on Slugger O'Toole. As much of my enjoyment of blogging is in the discussion afterwards, my writing will tend to be geared to an Irish readership.

It would be wrong not to acknowledge Jerome a Paris' enormous contribution to getting European focused blogging started, and particularly his ongoing contribution to sustainable energy blogging. Other giants of the genre include Afew, DoDo, Fran, Migeru, Melanchthon and of course the sadly deceased Helen and ARGeezer. I'm sure we could all name others who had a major influence on our thinking, and perhaps on our lives.

My thanks to all who made this great experience possible. And my enduring sadness that it may soon be no more.


Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri May 12th, 2023 at 08:35:19 PM EST
So long as someone's keeping half an eye that the place isn't whinge swamped with spam I don't need to change it read only.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sat May 13th, 2023 at 11:22:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That would be great Colman ... due to the occasional posts the "trusted" user is not around anymore ... @BooMan we used the ratings to hide any spam ... can you manage an alternate solution to keep the open thread clean?

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Sat May 13th, 2023 at 11:49:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's been a long while since I last commented, let alone made a post, and though perhaps inevitable, I'd be sad to see Eurotrib go (though I acknowledge my own contribution to keeping the community going has been non-existent for years). I'd like to thank everyone who has participated over the years and made Eurotrib such a great experience.

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Sun May 14th, 2023 at 08:32:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But it's also undeniable that our user base has been ageing, dying off, and not being replaced by a younger cohort.

Like many other specialist websites, this site was hallowed out by the social media era. The "next generation" never knew about this site in the first place.

Remains to be seen if some form of these sites will come back in another form; the impetus is there with facebook being abandoned by most and twitter devolving since that guy bought it.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Wed May 17th, 2023 at 02:28:06 PM EST
The profit-driven internet will eat itself, repeatedly.
But we should not expect a return to the "old days" : remember, a certain level of computer literacy was required then, and the amount of content available on the internet was many orders of magnitude smaller : someone could google some obscure subject, and come across Eurotrib.

The libertarian approach won't cut it; what is required is publicly-funded non-commercial social media.

My preference is for the European Union to provide it. (Content moderation policy should be fun.)
Well, who would YOU trust to provide a neutral platform?

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Wed May 17th, 2023 at 03:24:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't see any public body wanting the hassle of content moderation, much less trying to develop content moderation policies short of outright libel, defamation and fake news.

However if sites could be be self-moderating with comments and even diaries disappearing if down voted sufficiently a different view might be taken.

Back in the halcyon days of ET meetups I suggested looking for EU funding for a multi-lingual multi-thematic blogging platform aimed at helping to create an EU polity/demos and policy debate space. It could have had separate "rooms" for different languages and policy areas. Even areas for vlogging, videos, poetry, cinema, music and the visual arts.

I think the EU Commission would have bought the idea so long as they could disclaim all responsibility for content. It would have had to be run by an independent multi-national board. The problem was at our end  - we didn't have sufficient people with the business/marketing/editorial experience and time/energy to make it work. Too much undergraduate fissiparous argumentation, and not enough can do/make it work maturity.

But that possibility is now well past its sell by date, although the need is perhaps still there. Has any other site adequately filled that space? Could link ups with universities have rejuvenated our user base? We shall never know now.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed May 17th, 2023 at 07:42:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This just happened to catch my eye while I was saving the images I once put on this website from the greedy paws of Photobucket...

The last diary I put up here will be 10 years old in a few months. There's a certain irony in it that it covered citizen participation (or lack thereof) at the EU level. A few weeks after writing that diary my wife discovered she was pregnant of our first child, the rest is history. It took me nearly 8 years to realise that time for blogging (or writing in general) was gone and not coming back any time soon.

Although I don't think the original European ideals have lessened for the younger generation (if anything, the war in Ukraine has brought these back to the fore) the online media usage has incontrovertibly shifted to different, faster platforms, and even while typing this comment I see how the ET platform is no longer a competitive match compared to Substack or Discord platforms.

Of course I'd much rather see the site return to its former glory, but imo an influx of more active bloggers and a technical upgrade would be a prerequisite. If all things must end - to cherish this place and keep treasuring the good times (and remember a few of the bad times), I can also support putting the website moving into read mode and keep it as a bastion of knowledge.

by Bjinse on Tue May 23rd, 2023 at 02:43:47 PM EST

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