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The Problem of Posting Original Tightly-Documented Longreads or Original Pieces of Breaking News -- or Even Saving Research -- on Minds

GailMellorAug 12, 2019, 4:05:40 PM

An independent reporter with a Pulitzer nomination, I have been pushing for three years to publish longread investigative work on breaking news directly from here. I was being patient on that, but it's getting much, much harder not easier to operate on Minds. As you'll see below, a reporter can even on Facebook's primitive Notes -- forget WordPress or Medium -- publish a tightly-documented work five to six times faster than on Minds. 

That is because of indentifiable Minds bugs and policy decisions. I've been discussing this piecemeal with @Bill, @John,  @Mark and @Nick but the problems are inter-related. A comprehensive approach might be clearer. 

Take as an example the hassles I just hit. During an 11-year mainstream news blackout on the Jeffrey Epstein/Ghislaine Maxwell story, like some other independents I stayed with it, almost inadvertently becoming expert. When he was rearrested, misinformation was flowing fast, so I posted I Did Not Have Sex With Those Children!tightly-documented, five-part series, explaining the complex Epstein/Maxwell case -- describing the ways in which it is miscommunicated, looking into evidence backing the accusations against  Dershowitz, Clinton and Trump, and explaining who Maxwell is and how she's been kept under wraps this long.

Or that is I tried to post it. 

As I hit one unnecessary mountain after another, i wanted to say so. But what, I wondered, would be a fair comparison to Minds? Not certainly dedicated blogging platforms like Medium or WordPress. However  Facebook like Minds is a general social media platform and certainly not known for longreads.

Therefore I reactivated Facebook, using its primitive but sufficient 
Notes writing platform, and wrote the series simultaneously there and here -- clocking the differences. Short version: On Facebook, it took eight days to publish the first four of the five longreads, illustrated and tightly documented.  Even with that to work from, on Minds, it took five weeksI could edit the Facebook posts to my heart's content, updating, adding links and illustrations. When I tried to on Minds, the posts froze -- I could not republish the copyedited version, fully linked. To edit, I had to publish to new URLs, and relink and reillustrate. I started in July. By the time I'd gotten the fifth installment up it was early October --  three full months -- and I didn't dare copyedit it. 

Not expecting the magnitude of that result, I was not keeping track of every aspect but can tell you pretty specifically what's going wrong. This is not a slap at Minds; I'm a strong supporterThese things need fixing.


I. I could not get to my research, stored on Minds as unlisted, pre-hash blogposts.

1. Blogpost galleries used to be presented as scrollable horizontal lines of icons, easy to spot something in. When Minds shifted in Canary experimental mode to huge thumbnails in single file, it was molasses slow. I alerted Minds. Yet when I went to get my Epstein/Maxwell research, my unlisted posts were buried -- even in standard Minds -- in huge thumbnails, scrolled single-file. (Update @Mark is going to give us a tiled option. Thank you, Mark.)

2) Scrolling therefore laboriously, I encountered my research as fogged pieces which had to be opened to identify them. One of the first research files that I did try to unfog was unopenable. [update: @BenHayward fixed the fog.]

3) Files blinked on and off. At first this was true only in Canary, and I alerted Minds. Then it was just true in standard Minds: my unlisted posts were often not visible. (They're on a server somewhere; the problem is retrieval -- indexing; but I didn't need them "someday". I was writing on a huge news story without access to my 11 years of research, had to re-look up every cite as I wrote....)

II. Minds' blogging software does not save automatically. You will say quite logically that the answer is to save manually, and often. Do that on Minds however and the user will lose the whole piece, even the saved parts.

Minds blogs do not automatically save. If the connection flickers or a tired finger stumbles, the user will lose all text and those careful links and illustrations put in since the last manual save. 

Trifling, with a short essay. 
A well-documented investigative longread however can take 10-20 hours to craft and is studded with illustrations and links. So the instinct and advice is to save quite often. If however while writing a Minds blogpost, you hit Save or Publish too often [and no one knows just how many times is "too often"] the document freezes. Refresh has no effect.You cannot Save or Publish; it's frozen. At enormous cost in time, you have to do it all.over. again. on a new page, a new URL, so if any likes or comments have accumulated, they're gone. 

Just trying to add graphics and links, I had to do my fifth installment fourteen times from scratch. This requires a bug fix.

III. Accepting Jury Duty knocks you out of whatever you're doing without saving, losing all work. Feature request: Put a "come back in ten minutes" option on Jury Duty. [Instead, Minds fixed it so Jury Duty does not cause you to lose your place in whatever  you're doing. Bravo. Thank you, Mnds.]

IV. Shades of 1980s Apple and Microsoft, I could work cross-platform only in one direction. I can copy and paste a Minds piece complete with links and illustrations onto say Google Docs but Minds blogware will not accept the links and illustrations on pieces copied and pasted into it from somewhere else, say from Google Docs. I had to generate every link and graphic here on Minds, from scratch. Security? If so, arguably overreach. Please reconsider. 

V. On Minds, if a paragraph or section is shifted to another part of the same document, it loses all its links, illustrations and formatting. Yet another reason that complex linking and illustrating has to be done over and over and over and over and over and over again. Please fix.

VI. Minds blogpost graphics are set so big that they can be used in a longread only as section headers. Points that I could graphically demonstrate, people whom I could identify, with Facebook's far smaller blog graphics, I had to describe in text when writing on Minds, so the text on Minds ran longer, required more writing. Reset graphic size?

VII. To retain access to cellphones, Minds was pressured by Google (Android) and Apple (iPhone) to censor everything here. Minds instead created a web Minds version which people on cells can use, uncensored. For regular cell use, Minds "fogs" posts, marking them as NSFW with an "E" for explicit in order to sustain access to cell phones. The Minds fog machine runs amok. 

1) Without any notification to me, my Epstein/Maxwell research files, which were unlisted blogposts containing no nudes let alone porn photos, had been fogged, so I could not see which they each were without opening up each of them. Then I had to remember which fogged rectangle was which.

2) Minds also fogged part of the Epstein series when I tried to put it up, so no one could see what it was. (@John tells me that this cannot have happened because it is neither Minds policy nor written into the code. I do not pretend to get it technically, can only report what I saw). Even my boosts were initially rejected. 

VIII. Boosting is a b****

Anyway by August, I all the first four installments, adequately if not fully linked and illustrated up on Minds. It had taken over a month but Yea!  I'd done it!  A Minds boost gives increased exposure, which results in many more reads if you've got something good to offer. So on 8/06/2019, I paid Minds for boosts on all four parts of the Epstein series and on the whole. As of, 8/13/2019, still nothing. No one could tell me when it will boost That boosting problem alone is enough to stop print reporters from issuing original breaking news stories from here[Update: That problem was sitewide. Minds refunded the tokens. I still have no way to boost fast enough to break news from here]

In short

Seeing it as not fair to compare Minds blogging platform to a dedicated blogging site like Wordpress, I compared Minds blogging to Facebook. Facebook had my published and unlisted posts accessible going back seven years, morally evaluated ("fogged") none of my unlisted pieces, allowed unlimited saves and edits on the fast breaking story without disabling the installment, allowed cross-platform links to embed, saved my work automatically, didn't of course jettison my work if I accepted Jury Duty, etc., so I was able to publish my first four installments in one week. 

On Minds at six weeks, I was not yet fully up with that "Breaking News" series that I demonstrably had ready to go five weeks before. The story still has a million active angles, but Jeffrey Epstein has long since died, so I had to change the tenses in all four longreads, justifiably terrified that I'd permanently disable the installment by doing so. The answer is not that all-purpose "bells and whistles blog sprint" that everyone keeps promising. I'd adore it, but meanwhile fundamental aspects of simply writing on the platform need fixing. Please make some strategic bug fixes and reconsider some policies? 

Thank you for listening. :)