About

Talking is a news aggregation and discussion site reflecting a broadly conservative and libertarian point of view. Unlike Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, we encourage discussions that differ from progressive perspectives, including on religious freedom, patriotism, and our right to self-defense.

To contact us, or to pitch a story to us, email admin@talki.ng. This is an email address read by an actual human.


Who We Are

Don Kilmer
Raconteur and Morale Officer


Born: Northeast
Raised: Deep South
Served: USNR
Location: Moved to California in 1982, moved out in 2019
Undergraduate: Political Science
Graduate: Juris Doctorate
Self-taught: Political Philosophy
Motto: The First Amendment codifies our commitment to reason. The Second Amendment codifies our commitment to defend reason. This is the essence of Liberty.

Declan McCullagh
Combat Software Engineer


Born: Northeast
Worked: CBS, CNET, Wired, Time Inc.
Location: Moved to California in 2005, no exit plan yet
Motto: Talking is better than fighting. Seriously, it's a lot better.
Axiom: Do not be conquered by evil but conquer evil with good.

TODO: Inline help tip.


Transparency

Unfortunately many large Internet companies, which once claimed to support free expression, no longer do. Over the last few years, conservatives and libertarians have learned this firsthand: shadowbanning, deplatforming, deverifying, deranking, demonetization. Much of this happens in secret, without public disclosure or explanation.

We're different:

  • Algorithm transparency: The algorithm used to rank our stories is public. Here's the link. Among the signals used by the algorithm are the number of upvotes, the number of comments, and how recently the story was submitted.
  • Algorithm fairness: User voting and story ranking on this site uses a universal algorithm and does not penalize or prioritize specific users, topics, or domains. Tags have "hotness" modifiers, so, all else being equal, stories tagged satire won't rank as highly as non-satire. The list of hotness modifiers is public (JSON). Changes to the modifiers are public.
  • Comment voting: On other discussion sites, a user might have his or her comment downvoted by other users without explanation, meaning they'd have to ask why they were downvoted. On this site, users must choose a reason before downvoting comments; those votes are tallied and shown to the original commenter. Users may downvote comments after their account has a score of 50.
  • Story flagging: Stories are handled the same way. For submitted stories, downvoting is done through flagging, which also requires a valid reason. Those flag summaries are shown to all users. Users may downvote stories after their account has a score of 50.
  • Moderator identities: Some large Internet companies pay undisclosed amounts to undisclosed contractors to take undisclosed actions against what you post. Here, all moderator actions on this site are visible to everyone, and the identities of moderators are public. While the individual actions of a moderator may cause debate, there should be no question about if an action happened or who's responsible for it.
  • Banning: If users are disruptive enough to warrant banning, they will be banned absolutely, given notice of their banning, and their disabled user profile will indicate which moderator banned them and why. There will be no shadow banning or other secret moderation actions. (If you dislike these policies, there's always 4chan.)

Tips

There are lots of ways to read and use Talking. Here are a few:

  • Web bookmarking: You can add Talking to your mobile device's home screen. Here's how to do it on Android devices. You can also add bookmarks on iOS devices using Safari: Here's how on an iPad and an iPhone.
  • RSS feeds: If you'd like an RSS feed of all the stories posted to Talking, here it is. We also have topic-focused RSS feeds. Just go to our list of topic tags, select the one you want, and append ".rss" to the URL. So, for instance, if you'd like our privacyhere. You can also select multiple topic tags that will appear in a single RSS feed with commas. If you'd like an RSS feed that combines all stories tagged with either privacy or litigation, here it is.
  • JSON endpoints: If you're looking for our JSON endpoints, here are a few: hottest, newest, all tags, individual tags (for instance, privacy). Individual discussions also are available: For instance, the endpoint for this conversation is here.
  • Embedding headlines: If you'd like to embed Talking headlines into your own website, it's easy. Pick whichever RSS feed you'd like to embed (this is the one with all stories), and then go to one of many Javascript embed generators. Here's one that generates a nice looking box you can embed.
  • Hiding unwanted topics: You can hide topics you find uninteresting. If, for instance, you're not interested in stories tagged california, it's easy to hide them. To do that, go to our filters page. That will show you all the topic tags and how many stories are associated with each tag.

User Accounts

You can read Talking without a user account, or without being logged in, but you'll miss out on most of its features. For now, at least, ask us for an invitation. Requiring that small amount of human intervention also helps limit spam, trolls, Russian bots, and automated posts promising us "one weird trick."

  • New users must be approved by emailing the site administrator (see above for instructions) or invited by a current user, though there is no formal vetting process. The goal of invitations is to allow Talking to scale up slowly, technically and culturally, during its launch period. It is not to make the site an elite social club.
  • There is no real name requirement when registering as a user. You can use a pseudonym.

  • The full user tree is made public and each user's profile shows who invited them. This provides some degree of accountability and helps identify manual or automated voting rings.
  • When accounts are banned for spam, sockpuppeting, or other abuse, moderators will look up the invitation tree to consider disabling their inviter's ability to send invitations or, rarely, also banning.

Tagging

When you submit a story as a registered, logged-in user, you'll need to choose one or more tags from a list of predefined tags.

That allows some handy features to exist:

  • Unlike sites like Reddit, where discussions are often confined to individual subreddit silos, the entire Talking community is able to participate. This keeps discussions more central, and avoids having a dozen different topic areas with a dozen different discussions about the same item.

  • You can view only the topics you're interested in. For instance, you can bookmark only the gunrights or christianity tags. You can also bookmark multiple tags at once using commas.

  • RSS feeds are easy to find by appending .rss to the topic. For instance, go to the privacy tag. Just add .rss to the end of the URL and you'll have an RSS feed you can bookmark for that tag. This works for multi-tag topics as well.

Technical Features

  • Mailing list mode can be enabled per-user to receive all new stories (including their plain-text content as fetched and extracted by Diffbot) and user comments as e-mails, mirroring discussion threads offline. This makes it easy and efficient to read new stories as well as keep track of new comments on old threads or stories, just like technical mailing lists or Usenet of yore. Each user is assigned a private mailing list address at this domain which allows them to reply to stories or comments directly in their e-mail client. These e-mails are then converted and submitted to the website as comments, just as if the comment was posted through a web browser. [TODO: EMAIL NOT IMPLEMENTED]

  • Private messaging enables users to communicate privately without having to publicly disclose an e-mail address, and users can receive e-mail and Pushover notifications of new private messages. [TODO: EMAIL NOT IMPLEMENTED]

  • Responsive design enhances functionality on smaller screens such as phones and tablets without having to use a separate URL, 3rd party (often read-only) websites, or proprietary mobile applications.

  • Integrated search engine covers all submitted stories and comments, including full-text caches of all submitted story contents. Searching for a keyword will often bring up relevant stories that don't even mention that keyword in the URL or title.

  • Story merging combats the problem of multiple stories at different URLs being submitted in a short timeframe about the same news subject. Rather than have multiple stories on the front page with fragmented discussions, all similar stories can be merged into one. An example of a story having been merged into a previous one, combining all comments on one page.

  • Fuzzy-matching of submitted story URLs to avoid duplicate submissions of similar URLs that differ only in http vs. https, trailing slashes, useless analytics parameters, etc. When using the story submission bookmarklet, story URLs are automatically converted to use the page's canonical URL (if available) to present the best URL to represent the story, as defined by the story's author or publisher.

  • User-suggested titles and tags can be automatically applied to a story when a quorum of users agrees on a new title (such as removing a site's name, or appending the story's year of publication) or set of tags, without any moderator action required. (Log)

  • Hats are a more formal process allowing users to post comments while "wearing such and such hat" to give their words more authority (such as an employee speaking for the company, a staffer speaking for a politician, a lawyer involved in a case speaking about what's happening, and so on).

  • Per-tag, multi-tag and site-wide RSS feeds are available to the public and logged-in users have private RSS feeds that filter out each user's filtered tags.

  • Official Twitter mirror posts all stories that have reached the front page to the / account on Twitter for easy following, retweeting/sharing, or archiving. [TODO: TWITTER NOT IMPLEMENTED]

Miscellaneous

  • Thanks to the Lobsters computing-focused community, especially founder Joshua Stein and administrator Peter Bhat Harkins ("pushcx") for creating the Lobsters codebase that Talking is based on. They are not responsible for anything posted here.

  • Domains used for tracking are banned and tracking parameters are removed from links. Certain other large Internet companies keep track of every link to a news article that you click. We do not.

  • If you prefer to read Talking on a dark background instead of a light one, you might want to install the Dark Reader extension.

  • Talking is hosted in Dallas in the great state of Texas.