How to give advice on the internet without being an utter menace

If you don’t think you need to read this post because you’re always giving Good, Helpful Advice as a Good, Helpful Citizen, this one is for you. I’m sure you probably mean well, but it is with a heavy heart that I must inform you that you’ve likely annoyed the hell out of someone at some point or another. Probably more than once. Maybe it’s a regular pattern of behaviour. This post is for you.

And if you’ve ever been in that situation where all you wanted was to make a funny post on the internet about your cat drinking water from the toilet, to be deluged with links to cat fountains and lists of various germs that may or may not live in a toilet, this post is for you, too. Just leave the link there.

Here is a guide to reply menace behaviour, and how to just not be that menace.

Why is unsolicited advice so annoying?

At best, it is draining and exhausting. Most people just want to post in peace. Unless you’re on Quora or the specific questions-focused forums, the general function of social media and the internet is not asking for advice about every little thing. Maybe it’s just venting. Maybe it’s saying something funny.

Remember Clippy from Microsoft Office? You’re just trying to write a letter, and this insufferable little paperclip is popping up constantly with his vapid googly eyes and awful eyebrows and that fucking condescending smirk and his horrid little bendy body and oh god the colour of that speech bubble, like slightly worrying vaginal discharge, and the “it looks like” why is it so passive aggressive why- Sorry, I lost myself there. In short, Clippy was an irritation, and you’re giving someone’s notifications tab the vibes of using Word in 1997, which nobody wants to go back to.

At worst, it makes someone feel stupid. This is particularly pronounced if you’ve decided to shower advice on neurodivergent people. It can dredge up memories of unhelpful teachers trying to “correct” you because they think you’re fucking thick. Thank you for telling me to use a ruler before underlining a title, Mrs Dobson, I never would have thought of that myself, for I am but a big ol’ dunce.

An advice reply can feel that way. It feels like you think I’m so dim-witted that it never would have occurred to me that you can buy harissa in a supermarket when I mentioned making a small batch of emergency harissa.

There is a gendered element to this, too. Mansplaining is something which most women on the internet have experienced fairly frequently. It is exhausting. It is patronising. It is the background hum of patriarchy.

You might not personally be mansplaining. Maybe you’re not even a man. But those who have been on the receiving end of mansplaining are sensitive to it. Your attempt to help can come across as mansplaining, and throw you straight into the draining and exhausting pile.

If you are offering advice to a woman, be aware of this context. Be extra rigorous in checking that your advice will be in any way helpful or welcome.

Anyway, that over, and a few weirdly specific grudges aired, let’s get on with a little checklist of Clippy behaviours, and how not to do them.

Is someone asking for advice?

Study this carefully:


This is a question mark. When it appears in a sentence, it means a person is asking a question. If it is not there, it means they are not asking a question. A question is an invitation for a response, and perhaps a request for advice. If someone’s asking a direct question, they are soliciting advice. In this situation, advice is probably welcome – although please work through the other points in this post to make sure you’re giving helpful advice.

When someone is not asking a question, they probably do not want advice. This means, you have not been invited to give it. Your advice is not welcome. No matter how much you think there’s a solution to their predicament or they could do things a little differently, you’ve not been invited to share your advice. So don’t.

Is your solution helpful now?

Sometimes it’s clear someone has a question. The question mark is in the post. Is your advice helpful to the current and specific situation that they are asking about? If it isn’t, then don’t bother. Here’s a few examples of relevant and irrelevant advice.

“I keep getting [specific error message] in Windows! Why is this happening?

You might think to yourself that this person should be using Ubuntu, because you think Ubuntu is much better. However, that advice isn’t going to solve the immediate problem of the error message in Windows. Unless, of course, what you’re advising them to do is wipe their PC, download Ubuntu, create a bootable flash drive, boot it, install and configure all the settings, and obviously read all the documentation – all to resolve the specific error message they were asking about.

Argh! My gas supplier is ripping me off with estimated usage!

Gas heating is bad for the environment and expensive. There’s good solutions to ending our dependence on gas, such as loft insulation and heat pumps. That’s not what this person is asking. Getting insulation and a heat pump installed isn’t going to solve the immediate problem of the gas supplier assuming this person is heating their house to tropical levels and spending all day gently sous vide-ing themselves in a hot bath. Unless, of course, what you’re advising them to do is find £15,000 and a builder, check everything is legally compliant, fill out any relevant paperwork and undertake home renovation work – all because their gas company is ripping them off.

With this example, note that there is no question mark. So any intervention sincerely advocating for heat pumps is doubly unwelcome.

What you’re doing when wading in with advice such as this is expressing an opinion instead of giving helpful advice. You’re welcome to your opinions, but when someone is asking for specific advice, it is not the place to share your opinions. So just don’t.

Did you just google that?

Sometimes you don’t know the answer to a call for advice, but you know how to google it. So you do, and respond with “hey, I don’t know if you know this, but here’s an answer I found!” You send this person the very helpful advice that you found by searching for it.

Here’s the thing: you are not the first person to have thought to type this question into a search engine. The first person to do that would be the person asking random strangers on the internet for advice. If the answer to the question can be found within the first few pages of a search with your preferred engine, then it’s probably not the answer someone needs, because they’ll have checked for that too.

You don’t have anything useful to add, and that’s okay. Go about your day.

Is there a minor grammatical error that you want to correct?

Just don’t do that, Mrs Dobson. If you understood the meaning of a post which used “their” instead of “there”, then the meaning is clear and there’s no need to correct it. All you’re doing is making someone feel stupid and small for no reason whatsoever.

Has someone already answered the question?

A cool feature of the internet is you can see what other people have said about the post. A less cool feature of the internet is that outside of office suites, no website has the functionality of making a comment as “resolved”. This means you’re going to need to do thirty seconds of detective work to check if the question has already been answered. Scroll down from the post, and look for someone else saying what you were going to say. You might even find a comment from the original poster saying “I figured it out!” If it’s been said or solved, you don’t need to say anything!

Handling ambiguity

Sometimes things are not as clear-cut as I’ve made out. For example, I used question marks in the section headers, and I’m not asking for advice. Or sometimes, it can be unclear if there’s a request for help or just a vent. Here is something you should say to someone in these situations, before going ahead and offering advice:

“Would you like advice?”

If they answer “yes”, then go at. If they don’t reply, or say “no”, then this is a situation where your intervention is not welcome.

If you have something really relevant to contribute based on personal experience, in these situations – and these situations only – your reply may be welcome. Begin by saying that you have had the same experience. Then, acknowledge how that makes someone feel, because chances are someone is venting out of frustration, or simply sharing a funny anecdote. Finally, add something which you found personally helpful and implemented in your own life. For example:

“The exact same thing happened to me. My boyfriend was constantly correcting me on minor things, and it was the most annoying thing in the world. I dumped him and never looked back.”

In this example we see first an acknowledgment of personal experience. Then, an expression of sympathy and the feelings involved. Finally, some useful advice that you applied successfully.

One final treat, for those of us receiving unsolicited advice

Obviously, please feel free to share this in case of unsolicited replies. But sometimes, you’re probably not in the mood for dealing with this. Here is an image of Clippy with a speech bubble coming out of his mouth to make it look like he’s giving the advice if you reply to the reply with it.

A picture of Clippy, the ghastly MS Office paperclip, with a speech bubble coming out of his mouth

I don’t know the provenance of the meme. I first encountered it in a tumblr post which has been sitting around in my screenshots folder for years and I can’t even find the original link because searching tumblr is a pain in the arse.

Thank you for reading thousands of words of unsolicited advice. Please implement it in your life.


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Using Twitter’s new view counters to see if Twitter Blue increases reach (it doesn’t)

A brief tl;dr before we dive into this project that I set for myself before immediately descending into madness:

I used Twitter’s new system of displaying views on every tweet to compare a sample of Twitter Blue users to a sample of users who didn’t pay real money for a little badge. Those who aren’t paying for Twitter Blue get more views on their tweets, probably because they make good tweets rather than doing crypto scams.

In this post, I am going to be as detailed as possible in my methodology so you can replicate my work to address the potential flaws and biases, if you wish. You can also download my data set here if you’d like to reanalyse, or run more analyses on the data because there’s probably some more interesting things in there about the difference between normal Twitter users and the Blue weirdos, which I couldn’t be bothered to look at.


Since buying Twitter, Elon Musk has coped hard with his divorce by making changes. This has included flooding the platform with Nazis, but more pertinent to this research project, introducing Twitter Blue, the special system for special big boys where you get a little blue tick, and you’re promised your posts will be boosted. He has also added a wee hit counter to every single tweet, which renders muscle memory of how to like or retweet entirely useless, and gives the entire app the look-and-feel of a Geocities website.

The view counter has been criticised as being fake, but for the purpose of this project that I set myself to, I am going to sincerely pretend it gives a true and accurate read of the number of people who have seen a tweet. It probably is somewhat inflated but I suspect it gives a reasonable ballpark.

Given the divorced saddo’s insistence that his magic medicine Twitter Blue will help increase views, I set out to use his view counter to address the research question:

Do Twitter Blue users receive more views on their tweets?


Sampling Twitter accounts

By far the most challenging element of this task I had set myself was finding Twitter Blue users as the test group. The big problem here is I usually immediately block conspiracy theorists, Tesla fanboys, or crypto scams. However, my block list is long and lengthy, and would involve also wading through a bunch of transphobes and misogynists, so I had to use different methods.

I considered tweeting something mildly critical of Elon Musk to summon them to my mentions, but decided against this approach as it would skew the Twitter Blue sample into those who were feeling particularly lonely and in need of attention that afternoon. Plus, my account would probably get banned before I had gathered sufficient data. In the end, I looked at the replies under an Elon Musk tweet, and selected the first 20 Twitter Blue accounts that I saw replying. They may appear in a different order to you, because Twitter is an algorithmic hellscape.

I’d initially intended to use a sample size of 50 Twitter Blue users to give myself a nice big sample size, but I entirely lost the will to live at 20 because their accounts are so terrible to have to look at, so this analysis is based on 20 Twitter Blue users. I cannot emphasise enough how thoroughly depressing it was to look at even 20 accounts. I’ve never seen so many crypto advocates, cranks and NFT profile pictures at once.

The control group consists of 20 users with no blue ticks. These were identified by opening up my timeline and selecting the first 20 accounts whose tweets I saw. This included accounts retweeted into my timeline. I have my timeline set to chronological, if that helps you to replicate my methods.

“Legacy” blue ticks – the ones who earned their ticks by being notable – were excluded entirely from this analysis because I’m not sure if that does anything to visibility with the algorithm tweaks that Space Karen has been making.

Sampling tweets

To get a fair measure of views without skewing based on one tweet that did numbers, I used the 10 most recent timeline tweets that each of the 40 accounts included in the analysis had made. Replies were excluded from the analysis, as were retweets.

If an account did not have 10 tweets with the view counter visible, i.e. they had not tweeted sufficiently since the view counter had come into effect, they were excluded from the analysis. Four accounts were excluded from the Blue sample, and three from the control sample under these criteria. To keep the total number of included accounts in the analysis at 20, if an account was excluded, another account was selected using the criteria above.

View count metric

The view count as presented on each of the 10 tweets for each account was used, under the assumption that it was probably at least somewhat vaguely related to the number of times it had been seen.

A mean of all views of all of the 10 tweets per account was calculated.



Accounts were not an exact like-for-like comparison. The Twitter Blue accounts had more followers on average than the control sample; and the control sample had, on average, an older account.

Twitter BlueControl
Mean followers14099.2
SD = 19526.2
SD = 5632.4
Mean account age
SD = 55.6
SD = 55.4
Table 1: Account demographics

Tweet views

The mean views of tweets from Twitter Blue accounts was 841.4 (SD = 774.4). The mean views of tweets from the control accounts was 1875.4 (SD = 1780).

Now, that’s obviously a pretty big difference. Despite having less than half the amount of followers the control group had more than twice as many views per tweet. I decided to go just a little bit harder, though. An independent samples t-test was used to assess whether this difference was significant. It was: t(38) = 2.38, p = .02

There was a statistically significant difference in number of views on tweets: users who had not decided to pay for Twitter Blue received significantly more views.


Twitter Blue accounts just aren’t receiving the views that organic accounts are, despite the algorithmic boosting that they are receiving. This is probably because they’re just making bad posts that nobody actually wants to see. They’re not even getting ratio’ed for their bad takes, because their bad takes are so terminally pedestrian. It is possible that the difference is so marked between the Twitter Blue accounts and the control group because I have exceptional taste in curating my timeline, but I really cannot emphasise enough how bad the Blue tweets were. It was an utter morass of crypto scams peppered with weird anti-vax conspiracy therories. Nobody wants to see that, not even other Twitter Blue subscribers.

Future directions

I have supplied by data set here. There’s a few interesting bits and bobs in there that I noticed while inputting it but didn’t bother analysing because it’s a small data set and also my girlfriend wanted to go to the pub, which was a better life choice than the one I’d made. If you have time on your hands, perhaps you’d like to have a go at addressing one of these questions:

  1. Are there indicators of organic reach within the control sample? The numbers in general among the control group felt a little more indicative of consistent reach peppered occasionally with a tweet that did numbers. Maybe have a go at smoothing and seeing if that’s the case.
  2. I didn’t adjust for age of the account or follower count. Does this make a difference? Try playing around with that.
  3. If you really, really have a load of extra time and a high tolerance for seeing the most tedious posts on the internet, why not have a go at running this analysis with a larger sample size and sampling which is not curtailed by losing the will to live completely?

Thank you for reading this labour of spite. I cannot believe I did this to myself.


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Predictions on the soon-to-be-called death of social media marketing

Twitter is going one of two ways. Either Elon Musk is going to burn the entire thing down swiftly in a fit of pique, or it will go the way of Tumblr: become a wholly unprofitable, entirely unmarketable, good, honest shitposting platform. At the same time, whatever direction Meta is going in… doesn’t have legs.

Going down with it will be entire industries of marketing grifts. Those listening tools. Those automated tone detectors. The lucrative doohickeys for identifying microinfluencers. The five-year engagement strategies and the ebooks and the webinars, all of them entirely irrelevant. Elon Musk isn’t the only one who is going to lose a lot of money.

I posted this on Twitter, but since there’s a decent chance I won’t be able to repost my tweet when the time comes to declare I’m right, I’m going to say my prediction here:

We are about a year out from the marketing industry declaring the death of social media marketing.

It’s an industry entirely formed on lines going up on made-up metrics and those lines are going to go down. They could introspect and identify that perhaps their entire shtick was built on some things they made up and told each other and amplified. But no, it’s the children who are wrong.

Where the grift shifts, I don’t know. It’s true that their entire pseudoscientific theory base and measures and methods will collapse. So to them, social media marketing is dead. And they’ll have to create something else in its place.

But it isn’t, not really. It becomes a space where the individuals with their etsy shops can thrive, free from the colossal forces of the algorithm-gaming industries. And I think that’s the best outcome all round.

Also, we can all enjoy some good, honest shitposting.


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Things I learned from having a mild case of covid

Last week, Lady Rona called my name. The lateral flow test lit up like a fucking Christmas tree in seconds. The confirmatory PCR came through positive the next morning.

I’m a high risk person. I’ve spent the last two years being fairly terrified of catching the virus because I’m aware it could be very bad for me. Even though I’m fully vaccinated and boostered, and got in early on that because of my high risk, I’ve still been, basically, fucking terrified of catching it. One of the first things I thought when the test came up positive was that I should start planning my funeral and pack a bag to take to the hospital.

I suppose this post is especially for people like me, who feel like I felt. It’s also for everyone. These are the things I learned from my brush with Miss Rona.

Sometimes mild really does mean mild

“Mild” as defined by governments is taken to mean cases which don’t need urgent medical attention. This can be a level of ill which is Pretty Fucking Sick, and much worse than a horrible flu. But for me, it really was mild. It was so mild I’m not sure I’d have noticed it had I not taken that test when I did.

I had two symptoms, if you can really call it symptoms. One was doing gigantic sneezes. Not even sneezing more frequently, possibly slightly above the average amount of sneezing I do at this time of year. They were huge sneezes though. Body-wracking intense. The world flying out of my nose intense. Whenever I sneezed into my elbow, it would be absolutely coated with sneeze like a nasal bukkake. That was pretty unpleasant. Also, for the first day or so, I constantly felt like I might sneeze at minimal provocation (I didn’t, usually).

The other one was a runny nose. A really, really runny nose that came in fits and starts, and when it was running I’d have to check the tissue to make sure it wasn’t a nosebleed. My snot was very watery, and any tissue it touched would immediately disintegrate. Most of the time my nose wasn’t running, and it wasn’t blocked up at all. It would just occasionally run like all fuck.

And that was it. It was annoying. It was also less bad than any cold I’ve ever had, and most of my seasonal allergies are nastier too. And the symptoms were gone after about three days.

Mitigations work

I credit my actually really really fucking mild case of coronavirus to public health measures. I received my booster in early November, which trained my body to throw any little spiky round boys out of my nose so quickly it was a bit too speedy for my liking. The public health measures in place also meant that even though I was sufficiently exposed to be infected, I didn’t receive a particularly high viral load. Research suggests the amount you’re exposed makes a difference to how sick you get, and I caught it at a time where masking indoors is mandatory. I’ve also been wearing an FFP2 mask out and about, offering me a greater degree of protection, and prefer to socialise outdoors. All of this helped me to have a coronavirus experience which was mostly lounging around receiving gifts, being waited on, and eating grapes like an indolent classical princeling.

I don’t know where the fuck I caught it

I initially suspected I’d picked up my rona from a trip to Borough Market, where it was pretty crowded, followed by a couple of pints in a beer garden which was also crowded and fairly covered. But nobody I was with that day picked it up. In fact, nobody I’d seen at all in the week or so preceding my positive test had got it – I advised literally everyone to check!

So I’ve narrowed it down to a couple of possibilities, having ruled out the more obvious suspects. I might have caught it off a coke can, but this seems unlikely as it would have entailed someone with absolutely filthy hands they’d just sneezed in giving that can a good rub down. I might have picked it up the one time I took public transport on my own, sitting in an empty train carriage for a 15 minute journey while wearing an FFP2 mask, but that seems unlikely too, on account of all of the mitigations. So my best working assumption is I caught it outside, specifically from an awful child on a scooter who coughed directly in my face.

Unfortunately, my partner and I had been operating on the assumption that we’d been exposed together, probably at that Borough Market trip, so we didn’t take any steps to avoid me giving it to her once my case was confirmed. She tested positive on Monday. She’s doing fine, she’s even less sniffly than I was. Still, oops.

The lateral flow tests actually work

I’ll admit it. I’ve been incredibly sceptical of the value of lateral flow tests. I was never sure if they were especially accurate, or if I was doing it right… until I tested positive.

The test I took last week turned red literally immediately. The test line appeared even before the control one. It was bright fucking red. It was so quick I assumed it had gone horribly wrong, so I took another. It did the exact same thing. I cannot emphasise enough how quick the reaction was. It was cartoonish.

Two days later, I took another test and I really fucking half arsed it, out of sheer curiosity to see if it would pick up anything. I poked the swab a little bit up my nose, gave a cursory little rub to each nostril and then swirled it in the liquid for a couple of seconds. It still showed a positive result as soon as the drops went in.

By day 5, when I could take my first test to get out of isolation, it was taking longer than mere heartbeats to show a positive result – I think it was about five minutes, and the line was fainter. Day 6, it was negative and today it was too, so I’m free as a bird and feeling a lot better about the sensitivity of lateral flows when you’re riddled with rona.

I didn’t kill my girlfriend’s dad

My other worst case scenario with covid was infecting someone else. And all right, I did, but my partner healthy and it’s sitting fine on her. The bigger worry was, the day before I tested positive, we’d gone for a drink with her dad. And he had taken a sip from my glass to try my beer. And I’d sneezed intensely a couple of times that day, so was probably already infected.

Was I about to have committed the crime of girlfriend’s-dad-icide?

Once again, it was fine. I am apparently not very good at infecting others with the coronavirus. He’s not even sniffing a little bit.

Nevertheless, I don’t think I could live with myself if I did manage to make someone seriously ill. Even though I’m officially allowed to leave the house, I’m being more meticulous than I had been about taking steps not to infect others. I am in a relationship with hand sanitiser. The big guns masks, even for just stepping into the Nisa to buy some crisps. My future plans are all very well ventilated and ideally outdoors, because I do not want to have that panic again.

Self isolating in a small flat sucks

Unfortunately, I live in London. This means I live somewhere incredibly poky (or, as an estate agent would put it, cosy). It was just about all right when I tested positive but my partner was negative and able to go out, do the shopping, take herself for a solo pint and all around give ourselves space.

It was not so good when she tested positive and we were on top of each other. We’ve been treating ourselves to taking long baths for some alone time. I couldn’t be more excited about the prospect of getting to take myself to a beer garden to sit on my own with a pint and book now I’m out of covid jail.

The regulations are shit. We all deserve better.

The equation has shifted and for all of us, even the most at risk, the risk of a really boring week is much higher than the risk of getting seriously ill. That’s thanks to mitigations and public health measures.

But the thing is, living with the virus doesn’t have to mean an endless parade of catching it and streaming snot everywhere. We just don’t have to do that. Something different is possible.

The risks of covid, in conjunction with other winter diseases, are still unacceptable, even if the vast majority of us – even the at-risk – will be just fine. And measures like masking and adequate ventilation don’t just reduce transmission of coronavirus. They also drastically reduce the other pesky bugs like flu. Wouldn’t it be great if flu season was much smaller?

And these last couple of years of the pandemic have demostrated just how we can do that. What we need is a cultural shift towards valuing disabled lives. A culture of consideration, being polite enough to wear a bit of paper over your face when you’re in crowded places or staying at home when you’ve got a cold. A culture where lives are valued over presenteeism

And more than ever we need to fucking dismantle capitalism. Lots of benefits to that. In terms of immediate public health measures, there’s moves the state could easily make as transitional demands: better building standards for ventilation, retrofitting schools, supporting people to be vaccinated, liveable sick pay and sanctions for employers who are not prioritising their workers’ safety.

They won’t do that. Which is why we have to demand it, and keep demanding it. It’s achievable with collective action.

Unfortunately for those in power, Lady Rona didn’t carry me away. And I’m damn well going to yell about how shit they are.


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The lesson in the Robert Webb interview: Inside the mind of The British Strain Of Transphobe

I listened to the clip everyone is talking about: Jesse Thorn’s interview with Robert Webb, challenging him very mildly on transphobia. It’s a fascinatingly instructive as to how the mind of The British Strain Of Transphobe works. When presented with an incredibly mild refutation of his stance, there was one thing he was incapable of saying: “I was wrong and not in possession of all the facts.”

This is the crux of The British Strain Of Transphobe mindset. It’s a core part of their identity that they’re smarter than everyone else. The vast majority of them start life on the private/grammar school-Oxbridge pipeline, where in place of education they’re just told this. The possibility of being incorrect is something The British Strain Of Transphobe is incapable of processing, because they’ve spent their lives believing they’re cleverer than everyone else, and this belief is integral to their belief of who and what they are. The British Strain Of Transphobe lives within an echo chamber of similar people. This is why, for example, transphobia spread like wildfire among the sceptic community, where many organisers are posh white folk, and it hinges on the belief of being smarter than everyone else.

And so, how does the British Strain Of Transphobe react to someone raising the mere possibility that they might be incorrect about something? Badly, because they take it as a fundamental attack on their identity as a person who is smarter than everyone else.

In the Webb interview, you can hear his rising sense of defensiveness, of something dancing around anger. This is because he is a man who cannot process the concept that he might not know everything, because if he’s not smarter than everyone else, what even is he? The British Strain Of Transphobe, cosseted in their echo chambers, can, most of the time, ignore or dismiss the thing which frightens them most – not, in fact, being smarter than everyone else. They shut out the messengers who might point out they could be wrong about something. On social media, they can put it down to trolls. In their vanishingly tiny circles, they shut themselves away from anyone who might point out there’s something they don’t know.

But the Webb interview was different. In this instance, Webb couldn’t dismiss the source of the message. He’d just spent half an hour talking with a well-educated arts and culture host – someone he respected. And then – wham! – this person Webb considered an equal smacked him with the thing he feared most.

Essentially, what you are witnessing in the Webb interview is the man having an existential crisis.

The actual subject matter of what Webb was wrong about was irrelevant to him. The thing which rattled him was a concept he and other British Strain Of Transphobes structure their lives around avoiding entertaining: that he was wrong about something.

Now, it’s unfortunate that despite having an understanding of the problem, I have no suggestions as to how to solve it. It’s just too powerful a part of their identity to challenge, someone living their whole life thinking they’re very smart and cannot be wrong. And when they are wrong, a polite (or impolite) refutation, “you’re wrong, here’s the facts”, just isn’t going to cut the mustard, because it’s not about the facts at all, it’s about their sense of self as a person who is smarter than everyone else.

At the end of the day, I don’t know what to do with this information. Maybe someone smarter than me can figure it out.


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This picture shows how the virus is spreading

Cabinet meeting on 12/01/2021, via Downing Street flickr

They want you to believe it’s your neighbours. The client journalists howl about the covidiots, illustrated with carefully cropped images of people on a beach. They tell you it’s people drinking coffee on a park bench who are spreading it. It’s the young people, they say, the kids and their parties.

A shame none of it is true.

The majority of transmission of the virus is taking place in workplaces and schools. The photo at the top of this blog illustrates what is happening. Look at those craven bastards, blood all over their hands. This is not just a photograph of those who are responsible for over a thousand deaths a day. It’s a photograph of how the virus really spreads.

They sit indoors, in an airless room. You can tell they haven’t so much as cracked a window because they’re not wearing a coat in this bitter January cold. Not one of them is wearing a mask. And, to add insult to injury, this photograph shows that none of them need to be there at all. This is a mass mixing of households – six in the photograph alone – which did not need to happen. They could have done this on Zoom. They are doing this on Zoom!

This is where the virus is spreading. This is how the virus is spreading. On every high street you can peek into the (closed, they’re always closed) windows of an estate agent and see them following the government’s lead, tapping away at office work which could be done at home. You’ll hear the murmurs from the meeting rooms in every office block. People are going to non-essential work, and they shouldn’t have to. People are made to spend their days in non-ventilated rooms, mixing households when they don’t have to.

There is no evidence that poor public adherence to the rules is responsible for continuing spread. And that’s because it isn’t true.

Once again: transmission is happening in schools and workplaces.

Remember this image. This is what is really happening. This is how the virus is taken into people’s homes, because of vanity and resistance to letting people do their work from home. Because those in charge are too vain to wear their masks and don’t want to do it while at their thoroughly unnecessary meeting.

The worst thing is, it was those in charge that published this photograph. Those in charge who thought it made them look good. And those in charge who will, probably, like everything else, get away with it. So remember this image. Don’t let them get away with it. For every person who buys into their narrative of “covidiots”, show them this picture of the real covidiots. Unionise, and ensure that your workplace does not look like this superspreader event waiting to happen. And most of all, rage. Let it burn inside of you until it’s fit to burst.

Turn your anger the right way, at those responsible. And don’t let them get away with blaming us.


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Doomful and gloomful predictions for 2020

Welp, this decade has been a continuous stream of shit, hasn’t it? It reminds me a lot of the time I got food poisoning off an out-of-date salad, except at least that cleared up fairly quickly.

In great news, I think it’s going to get worse. Incrementally, but undeniably worse. Here’s some things that I think will probably happen.

Literally everything will just get a bit worse.

Sorry, I wanted to say more, but basically that’s it. You know how Boris Johnson is Prime Minister? That, and he’ll do a lot of bad things. You know that US election? Yeah, Trump will probably win it again. You know how centrists are repeatedly sabotaging any effective resistance, either through incompetence or design? Yep, you guessed it, more of the same.

This will be the recurring theme of 2020. The same, but more.

Kind of like that dodgy salad, except the pooping goes on into infinity.

I mean this in the nicest posssible way, but we’re fucking doomed. Just literally doomed to death, Doomy McDoomface.

…but there is something we can do

It’s small. I started this decade thinking collectively we could change the course of history, and we probably can’t. But we can help each other to survive what is to come. We might fantasise about going back in time and killing Hitler as a baby, but that won’t work. We’ve had chances to prevent the same problems playing out once again, and we’ve failed again and again.

But you know what we can do? Keep each other alive. Reaching out to others, giving material or practical support if we can. Showing up for others. And defying where we can. Make the monsters feel monstrous, because they’re fucking monsters.

We’re fucked, but like that scene in Toy Story 3, let’s hold hands as we plunge into the furnace.

Um, happy new year, I guess.


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BBC Woman’s Hour: shitty journalism and transphobic bias – a backed up thread

A backed up Twitter thread, because I regularly delete my tweets (here’s why, and why you should, too).

What a fuckin surprise. Shame on @BBCWomansHour; this shows their bias as clear as day.

Crowsa Luxemburg@quendergeer

Weirdly, @BBCWomansHour has decided to go with this story, which misgenders a woman and calls her “entitled” and a “liar” and implies she’s selfish for transitioning 

BBC Woman’s Hour


“He handed me a letter…It said ‘I’m a woman’.” ‘Michelle’s’ ex-husband transitioned after 16 years of marriage. She spoke to @bbcwomanshour about how it made her feel. Her words are read by an actor as ‘Michelle’ (not her real name) requested anonymity. 

Now, I don’t doubt that we’ll be getting ~Sensibles~ defending the choice BBC Women’s Hour made here because “a story where nothing bad happens isn’t interesting”. This is bullshit, and it reflects a very bigoted and biased agenda at BBCWH. Let’s talk about why.
They chose a story which ties into negative stereotypes about trans women, and used “Michelle” as a proxy to spread these myths, they used “Michelle” as a mouthpiece to repeatedly misgender a trans woman. Misgendering is a transphobic act.
I’m going to charitably go along with Women’s Hour and pretend “Michelle” is actually a real person, rather than someone they made up internally or some bigot op submitting a fake story.
Now, there’s lots of reasons they’d choose “Michelle’s” story over any other story submitted, and all of them reflect badly on @BBCWomansHour. It’s pretty much a pina colada of individual transphobia, institutional transphobia and shitty journalism.
Let’s go back to this story that @BBCWomansHour refused to tell, which its defenders may say “wasn’t that interesting”. Even the most mediocre student journalist could wring an interesting story out of this by asking the right follow-up questions.

Libby 🧜🏳️‍🌈@LibbyLights

So @BBCWomansHour are doing a series on the impact transition has on partners and are asking for submissions. This is mine:

e.g. what did you have to do to communicate better? How did you learn to deal with conflict? Tell me more about that experience of falling in love all over again.

These are just some of the options, had they bothered to do any journalism.

There’s a lot of other interesting stories out there that @BBCWomansHour could have explored regarding partners and transition. e.g. they could have spoken to someone who went through the complicated legal situation of ending a marriage to get legal gender recognition.
But no. @BBCWomansHour made the conscious decision to run a really bigoted story playing into negative stereotypes, because they couldn’t be bothered to run an interesting story. It was a choice they made, and it tells us a lot about the quality of the programme (i.e. it’s bad)
The stories you choose to tell show a lot about you. And what @BBCWomansHourchose to tell shows us they’re biased, transphobic and terrible journalists.
“that bitch ruined my life” is the most boring, tired story ever told. It’s told about women of all stripes and experience, and this is the story @BBCWomansHour chose to tell. It’s not a novel story, it’s just lazy and misogynistic, every damn time.
Yup. The media in general has a strong preference for a lurid, negative story over one with a happy ending, which is often bumped to “and finally”, or magazine shows. Like @BBCWomansHour – the happy story is really more in line with their brand.

Louise Ferreira@frrlou

I would think that the happy story is the more interesting one, because it shows that such a huge change doesn’t have to mean the end of a relationship. It’s a different narrative to the dominant one. Seriously, that’s just basic storytelling.

Ultimately @BBCWomansHour‘s story on trans parners is like if they’d run a feature on working under woman CEOs and decided to pick the story from an employee who said “my boss is an ugly, ball-breaking bitch”


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Thread: gloomy predictions about the charity sector following bigot interference

A backed up Twitter thread, because I regularly delete my tweets (here’s why, and why you should, too).

Look, this is a massive concern for *everyone* here, that trolls can organise against grant-making bodies to cut of funding for charities. It sets a chilling precedent for the entirety of the charitable sector. …

In the interest of “fairness”, grant-making bodies are now more likely to bow to orchestrated campaigns. For example, MRAs pissing and whining about breast cancer funding can now point to funders and say “see? You review funding decisions here.”

This is legitimately an enormous concern for the entire charity sector, who rely on grants from bodies like the BLF, that if some bigots online take umbrage to their charitable aims (which, let’s be honest, most charities piss someone off) they could be defunded.

It’s not like bodies like the BLF hand out money like sweeties, either. The amount of work and evidencing of their programme work to get a grant charities must go through is enormous, and the amount of due diligence the grant-maker does in turn is significant.

So these grants are already a result of hard work on both sides, where only the best-evidenced projects from charities that have been well and truly vetted to death are funded. So it’s a DANGEROUS precedent that grant-makers can turn round and go “nah” in response to trolls.

It’s Mermaids today. Who will it be tomorrow? I suspect that same hateful mob already have other LGBT charities in their sights. But other mobs, too, will have other targets. Women’s charities, anti-racism charities, disability and health charities are all hugely at risk.

In a world where poverty and need is too often seen as some sort of moral failing, this campaign against funding a children’s charity is deeply frightening for any charitable organisation who piss off an internet forum of bigots.

But of course the trolls behind this appalling campaign don’t care, or worse still, gleefully want to watch the world burn for all charitable work.

Update 19/2/19: Thankfully, funding continues.



Usually this is where I ask for money. Today, I’m not. I’m asking you to make a donation to Mermaids UK, the first victims of this new bigoted approach to choking funding. 

A quick reminder to fill out the GRA consultation

Hi everyone. I’m sure a lot of you have done this already, but if you haven’t, this is a huge opportunity for fighting back against an aggressive wave of bigotry in this country. The government has launched a consultation into reforming the Gender Recognition Act to cut red tape for trans people.

It’s minor tweaks to existing legislation which would make life a lot easier and not affect a single cis life.

Unfortunately, it’s provoked a tidal wave of horrific bigotry. Chances are, the government will chuck their green ink into the bin, but on the off-chance they don’t, it’s really important that pro-LGBT voices are heard. Can you fill out the consultation? Stonewall have helpfully provided some guidance for what you can say

As with any e-campaign, I strongly recommend you fill out the consultation via the government website, and change the wording slightly if you’re copy-pasting Stonewall’s answers: they filter and dismiss identical answers.

It should take you about 10 minutes, and doing this is a very real opportunity to create positive change for trans people – as well as sticking two fingers up at the bigots!