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Congrats Garry! You're definitely an inspiration!

Wondering if any geopolitical experts on HN can take a stab at explaining this move? From my rudimentary understanding, China was (has been) allied with Russia behind the scenes in this move against Ukraine.

Is this a hedge to maintain a good reputation and a good working relationship with the world by using this action as a: "Hey, look we helped Ukraine in its time of need"?

> China has refused to describe Russia's activities in Ukraine as invasion.

Russia surprised China with its invasion timing & planning, in particular the mismanagement that turned this from a regional thing into a major international incident, which is now causing a lot of embarrassment due to their mutual cooperation. They don't want to discard friendship with Russia over this, but at the same time it looks bad all around, right at the time when China is pushing hard to become the new moral, economic, and cultural center of the world.

China isn't going to assist Ukraine directly, of course, nor is it going to push hard to back Russia. But backchannel humanitarian aid always looks good, and can't be criticised. Plus it helps to drive the point home that Putin has embarrassed them and they don't like that.

>Russia surprised China with its invasion timing & planning, in particular the mismanagement that turned this from a regional thing into a major international incident

It seems like China was caught off guard by the scale, like many other people. Possibly even most of the Russian government.

The assumption by almost everyone was that Russia would recognize the separatist regions that were already essentially owned by Russia. But instead they dropped paratroopers and sent tanks straight to the capital of a European country with 45 million people.

> But instead they dropped paratroopers and sent tanks straight to the capital of a European country with 45 million people.

One has to wonder how much of that difference in "geopolitical expectation" vs "strategic reality" comes down to military decisions around geography?

Geopolitically it would make sense for Russia to only go into the separatist regions and reinforce them, after all that's been their publicly stated goal since the beginning, such a "short-range invasion" into territories who are already mostly pro-Russian would have been a rather quick and done deal.

But from a military strategic perspective these areas might not be very good defensive positions long term, especially when the prospect is anything that involves masses of NATO forces. While just bit further West the Dnieper presents a very convenient geographical barrier, with Kyiv sitting right in the middle of it.

Ye well the war-war feel of the invasion really suprised me. After watching tank after tank roll over the border on some webcam I was not very cocky a couple of borders away.

But still I didn't grasp the scale of it until paratroopers helidropped at some airport. The risk in such a manouver is insane and was really a scarier insight that this is a real war than rows of tanks.

I really thought the "peacekeeping force" Russia sent in to separatist territories was it and what the US had been warning against.

Looks like there is Chinese media embedded with Russian troops:



"Chinese media is reporting within Russia's captured territories and embedded with Russian troops" https://www.reddit.com/r/ukraine/comments/t9h3rp/chinese_med...

And it’s not even expensive, just $800k and they get a headline on Reuters.

Largely agree with your post except:

My understanding is Xi knew of the invasion well-ahead, and actually told Putin to delay it, to not interfere with the Beijing Olympics. This might partly explain the logistical problems the Russians are having: when they first started massing combat power, they didn't plan to have 150,000+ guys sitting around in the winter for quite this long.

Yes he did know, sorry if I wasn't clear enough. The issue is that it was bungled horribly and turned into an international incident when it shouldn't have.

TBH I'm still surprised Russia didn't employ salami tactics, taking the breakaway regions while holding troops on the Ukrainian border as a deterrence to interfere, and to warn them away from NATO.

But then again, word on the street is that Putin really did believe that Ukrainians consider themselves Russian at heart and would welcome him.

... Or maybe he just got impatient?

How could it not have been turned into a major international incident?

It feels weird even calling this 'an incident'. It's not like they invaded by mistake

I mean "regional" as in like Crimea, where the West talks up a bunch and imposes some sanctions that Russia shrugs off, but otherwise nothing comes of it.

The point is that in Putin's eyes, Ukraine should have put up a token defence at best before succumbing to the will of the people to rejoin Russia. It was most definitely NOT supposed to turn into this shitshow that forces countries and multinationals alike to choose sides.

And now America is going to milk it (much to Poland's consternation) by allowing this assault to continue, knowing full well that Putin is trapped and can't retreat lest he lose his head over it. So Russia will bleed herself dry over the next 1-2 months in an impossible war as he grasps at straw after straw until someone puts him out of his misery. Russia will be neutralized for decades to come (possibly forever), the cold warriors will rejoice, and Eastern Europe will join a West-centric alliance that can help defend against China's aimed rise to supremacy.

At least that's the plan. But China is no slouch when it comes to geopolitics and intrigue. Belt and road took a hit, but it's far from out.

I heard this theory as well that the U.S. and uk see this as a win. So far probably true, but this can very easy and up in nuclear war if Putin is pushed too far. Putin is obviously the only aggressor here, but I think he was baited and cannot understand how he fell for it. He must have been delusional enough to think the Russian troops would be welcomed with open arms.

He's been acting strangely for a few months now, and is not the same cool, strategic Putin of old. So yeah, any attempt to gauge his state of mind is going to be that much less accurate.

That's why the West has refused to impose no-fly zones, and why America refused to allow Poland to play pass-the-mig-29 via Rammstein. There must be no perceived direct American military involvement. This has to look like Russia digging her own grave if there's ever to be a hope of him being quietly retired.

Russia tried salami tactics in Georgia in 2008 after NATO looked to expand there. In 2021 NATO decided Georgia was still on the table (along with Ukraine), demonstrating that small actions aren't enough to stop expansion.

Also, simply pausing the official NATO process with Ukraine was insufficient, because the US was already giving a billion dollars of arms plus training to Ukraine independent of it's NATO status.

Not an expert. But this is tiny amount of money. So probably a formality. I know individuals who raised more for Ukraine from their friends.

Also Red Cross seems to be dead. Many people on the ground said that in the past 8 years in Ukraine it did nothing.

Will need more research but it seems to be highly ineffective organization that spends a lot of money and doesn’t produce much.

So sending this amount of money is basically nothing and looks like PR move.

It is not money, it is products needed for refuges.

Yeah, China is like, "Don't look at us as if we're on the bullying side, oh hey, I just happen to have a cookie, look."

It is more like big guys like US and Russia are swearing at each other, they push Ukraine around, now he is bleeding, China wants nothing to do with it, so provided some medicine. Now everyone suddenly find China to blame. Very nice. China didn't invade Iraq, and China didn't invade Ukraine, now China is the bad guy.

In which case it might be worth orders of magnitude more - basic stuff in China is way cheaper than in the West, and here they can also bypass all the usual middleman.

Exactly. I don't understand west's point. They are not going to fight, and they will just supply weapon to make the war bloodier. And now they are pushing Poland to have direct conflict with Russia.

They supply weapons so that Ukraine can defend. And one of the things we now know is that Russian army is a laughing stock. They can be dangerous to civilians though, thus the need for SAMs.

Given that India, China and a bunch of other countries do not condemn the invasion nor participate in the sanctions against Russia, most of the world, in terms of population, is actually not on the "western side" of this conflict.

China in general is concerned with trade.

> most of the world, in terms of population, is actually not on the "western side" of this conflict

How do we know which side those people are on?

Either way, fortunately the world doesn't function by 51% majority vote.

US wouldn’t join Chinese sanctions either.

My guess is the Red Cross decided on the donation, and the CCP jumped on it, to take the credit, and deflect from their own lack of action - the announcement does appear to be from the foreign ministry.

Supporting evidence is that the amount is paltry, even insulting, as a govt donation, so either they were rushed into 'sponsoring' the existing announcement, or they are sending a message of barely even token aid.

I assume that Chinese oligarchs had taken good lessons about the fate of Russian oligarchs properties in the western countries (and specially about their money movements being watched more closely).

I often recommend reading SCMP to see China's real stance. Western media tends to demonize China unfairly.

This one is quite telling: https://www.scmp.com/economy/china-economy/article/3168656/u...

Everyone knows China as a Russian trade partner but they're also a major Ukrainian trade partner as well.

If you want a more neutral source there's Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China%E2%80%93Ukraine_relation...

not a geopolitical expert, but apparently China is trying to show a neutral stance. Or at least attempt to not antagonise either party https://chinadigitaltimes.net/2022/03/minitrue-turn-down-tem...

Maybe they realized that it surprised people that they did support Russia the directly. Many had no illusions about that, but would have expected their statements towards the invasion to be more diplomatic.

This is Chinese Red cross and not China but this is very similar to what one more friend of Russia, India is doing. They have also sent in humanitarian aid.

Humanitarian aid helps you support people and not help in the defense of Ukraine, so Russia won't mind.

Also, compared to China's GDP, this is nothing when you compare it to other countries.

China and Chinese Red Cross are different things.

Yeah I'd like to think that too, but the article mentions in its first paragraph that this aid was announced by the 'Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian.'

So in this case it doesn't seem like they're different.

China appears to be finally adjusting their course: “China steps away from Russia, finally calling the invasion of Ukraine a ‘war’”.


China is essentially pacifist. And it’s not just their politics; it’s how Chinese - the actual people - feel. Invading anyone just isn’t their thing.

So, they are quite unhappy with Russia’s invasion, but they can’t join US sanctions, because US. Instead they’ll probably sanction Russia silently, and then buy out Russian industry for peanuts.

This is news for anyone living in Taiwan.

Only if you believe in propaganda instead of looking at the facts. Can you tell me what offensive actions against Taiwan China has actually made?

> Only if you believe in propaganda instead of looking at the facts. Can you tell me what offensive actions against Taiwan China has actually made?

You're clearly ignoring facts. They have increasingly frequently breached Taiwan's airspace with attack aircraft, which is a crystal clear threat that nobody can confuse (which is the point). And when they're not airspace breaches, they're as close as they can get to it in order to torment/bully Taiwan.

January 22: "Taiwan reports new large-scale incursion by Chinese warplanes. The 39 planes warned away from the island’s air defense zone were the most on a single day since October."


China has also directly threatened to force Taiwan into reunification as needed. The threat of force is an offensive action. If I threaten to invade my neighbor's house to take their property, that's an offensive action, it's not mere speech. If I threaten to kill my neighbor (which is what a forced reunification entails to one degree or another), that is an offensive action, it is not mere speech.

"China’s Xi threatens Taiwan with force but also seeks peaceful 'reunification'"


I consider the threat of violence to be violence, so I'm with you, China commits aggressive offenses against Taiwan by threatening anexation. But, a significant nit I have to pick is that China doesn't violate Taiwanese airspace. Doing that could be an act of war and may get a plane shot down. They enter Taiwan's ADIZ, which span Taiwanese airspace, over international waters and even covers about 2/3 of China's Fujian province. ADIZ isn't airspace. It's just the zone that Taiwan monitors.

“Chinese people don’t attack other Chinese people. We are willing to use the greatest sincerity and expend the greatest hard work to strive for the prospect of peaceful reunification”

Warmongering indeed. /s

Followed by “We do not promise to renounce the use of force and reserve the option to use all necessary measures”

“… against external military intervention”. That’s a pretty crucial detail you’ve left out.

The West must really have a stranglehold on the message, because I've searched and searched for that complete quote, and the only result that comes up is this very comment that you've made.[1]

> "Chinese people don’t attack other Chinese people. We are willing to use the greatest sincerity and expend the greatest hard work to strive for the prospect of peaceful reunification."

According to their words, China strives for peaceful unification, but there's little chance that can be achieved. Taiwanese people overwhelmingly reject unification, only 7.4% of the population prefer unification now or anytime in the future. The predominant preferences are 'status quo' and 'status quo but move toward independence'.[2] A vanishingly tiny minority (2.8%) identify themselves as Chinese, and they really are: Boomer Chinese refugees that fled to Taiwan after they lost the civil war. In decades past they were more influential as they essentially were a single-party occupational government thrust onto a people that didn't speak Chinese and hadn't been under "Chinese" (neither ROC nor PRC) governance since the Qing Dynasty. But as they die off, the vast, and growing, majority (62.3%) identify as Taiwanese, not Chinese, not both, just Taiwanese.[3]

> "But if separatist forces for 'Taiwan independence' provoke us, force our hand or even cross the red line, we will be compelled to take resolute measures."

That huge majority would most likely vote for independence in a referendum, except for the threat of invasion. The Chinese propaganda quoted above would have you believe that "separatist forces" are some radical minority, or outside agitators, but in fact they are they overwhelming majority of Taiwanese. They begrudgingly choose to maintain the status quo and continue to work slowly towards independence by forming stronger ties with other countries, asserting national identity, and decoupling their economy from China, rather than immediately declaring independence, because that would cross the "red line" and trigger "resolute measures." Do you sincerely believe that the Chinese "resolute measures" are not war? This isn't just quoting Western propaganda. I live here and talk to people every day. Practically no one likes China or wants to unify with then. The 'status quo' people I meet typically have two reasons: they enjoy the freedom of living in a liberal democracy and fear they will lose it if they insist, so it's better to quietly enjoy it, OR, they have economic interests in maintaining the status quo. That is, they are in business that benefits from cheap Chinese labor, or they sell into the massive Chinese market. I've never met anyone that didn't think the "resolute measures" were anything short of launching missiles.

> China is essentially pacifist. And it’s not just their politics; it’s how Chinese - the actual people - feel. Invading anyone just isn’t their thing.

This is nothing more than orientalism. Chinese are people, like other people, not a mythical enlightened race entirely different from everyone else on the planet. They commit war and conquer territory just like anyone else. You can call anything "internal" by fluffing up a story about inalienable, historical rights to it. In fact, their claims to Taiwan are not very compelling. The only time Taiwan and China were unified was for ~4 years after Japanese surrender during the civil war, or under the Qing. The Chinese themselves considered the Qing to be a foreign occupation of Tatars, so you could say that Taiwan and China were co-occupied. Before the Qing administered the coastal areas, a Ming renegade established a kingdom that ruled present-day Tainan for 20 years. He had fled the Mainland after the fall of the Ming to the Qing, and hope to restore the Ming (a weird echo of history with today's PRC corresponding to Qing and ROC to Ming). Before any Chinese claimed anything on the island, the Dutch and the Spanish ruled Formosa. Before them, aboriginals had been here for god knows how long, and still are.

The fact is, Taiwan is an important strategic possession for China to project its power, it's an important buffer for Japan (with who the Chinese have shared a millennium of conflict, regardless of ideology or government), and they'll make up whatever historical justification they can to support their claim. It's no better than Russian claims of protecting ethnic Russians in every country in Eastern Europe, or German claims to Sudetenland.

[1]: https://www.google.com/search?q=%22We+do+not+promise+to+reno...

[2]: https://esc.nccu.edu.tw/PageDoc/Detail?fid=7801&id=6963

[3]: https://esc.nccu.edu.tw/PageDoc/Detail?fid=7800&id=6961

Are we limited to actions they have successfully carried out, or just those they threaten to? Are you implying that it’s Western/Taiwanese propaganda that China is willing to forcibly unify Taiwan and that in fact China would never consider it?

Precisely - China has been repeatedly saying they wouldn’t invade Taiwan. What you are describing is our western rhetoric built around it, which essentially assumes everything they say is a lie.

We are perversely enthusiastic towards wars. Chinese - the people, not just their government - hate war. Even if sometimes it’s not a good thing, like when declining to join economic war against Russia.

> China has been repeatedly saying they wouldn’t invade Taiwan.

This is the argument you're still positing after the last month? Is the irony lost on you? I guess if it's not crystal clear: https://www.npr.org/2022/01/10/1071766987/u-s-russia-dicuss-...

> China has been repeatedly saying they wouldn’t invade Taiwan

China also promised that Hong Kong would operate as it had until 2047 so clearly the Taiwanese have reason to question the sincerity of these claims.

PRC had the legal right to enforce NSL in HK if city failed to do so herself, especially if lack of NSL threatened PRC security. Similarly PRC has legal right (anti secession law) to restart civil war with TW if she moves towards secession, which would threaten PRC security. Clearly PRC have reason to question current TW developments with Tsai not reaffirming 92 consensus.

One country can’t just unilaterally give itself a legal right to invade another. That’s just their policy.

TW isn't recognized as a sovereign country by anyone who can realistically intervene, so yes PRC can unilaterally and legally under UN framework decide to reunify with TW by restarting Chinese civil war that has never concluded via armstice/treaty - it won't be an invasion or annexation legally.

Xi has said over and over that if his ends can’t be achieved peacefully he will use force to unify Taiwan with China. He’s said that Taiwan independence is a red line for invasion. I’m having a hard time believing that you’re arguing in good faith while denying these facts, which can be found in Western, Taiwanese and Chinese media.

No - he said he would use force against a military intervention by another state. Followed by repeating that this won’t be used against Taiwan citizens.

So, who left that detail out - you, or the medium you trusted?

Well, I hope you're right, and as soon as the Taiwanese figure out that they've been brainwashed by US propaganda, they'll surely hold an independence referendum on the next election and China will congratulate them on their new statehood.

Is it propaganda that China blocks international recognition of Taiwan? That's not the same as troops on the ground but it's a pretty basic rejection of their sovereignty and it shows up all over the place accompanied by threats.

According to various polls about half of Taiwanese support maintaining current status quo; those who prefer independence are still a (growing) minority.

This alone, when compared with your assumptions, shows the rift between reality and western media rhetorics.

If you're familiar with the polls, you should also know that this issue is more complicated than how you're portraying it. The status quo isn't miserable so it's unsurprising that many people want to avoid forcing changes which have potentially disastrous downsides. That makes it important to specify exactly which polls you're referring to and what the options are.

Here's a good chart to consider for the history percentages of people who identify as Taiwanese rather than Chinese or both. Clearly that has been moving solidly in the direction of an independent identity:


(Source: https://esc.nccu.edu.tw/PageDoc/Detail?fid=7800&id=6961)

Now, here's the chart from polls looking at what people want:


(Source: https://esc.nccu.edu.tw/PageDoc/Detail?fid=7801&id=6963)

That shows a more complicated position: support for either immediate unification or independence has been a minority position for a long time but “maintain status quo, move towards independence” has grown from ~8% to 25% with a notable spike starting in 2019 and a decline in both “maintain status quo, decide at later date” and “maintain status quo, move toward unification”.

Err.. daily trespassing airspace to measure their response time.

To be fair, they don't violate Taiwanese airspace. They enter Taiwan's Air Defense Identification Zone, and Taiwan scrambles jets in preperation to intercept if they violate airspace. But they have periodically threatened to do a flyover to assert their claims.

You already forgot what happened in Hong Kong?

You apparently forgot what happened in Nanking in 1842 [0], you know, how Hong Kong ended up as "British" in the first place?

That didn't happen trough "democracy and freedom", that happened trough literal British colonial conquest and subjugation.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Nanking#Cession_of_H...

Why would an offense from 150 years ago justify the enslavement and torture (revocation of all human rights by a dictatorship) of a free people today? It obviously doesn't.

The only reason HK wasn't Chinese for 150 years, was that the British very much did use offensive military action to take it from China.

That would be the actual example of using offensive military action to take over other countries territories, but it was Colonial Britain doing it, taking away territories from China.

To get that territory back China did not invade HK with an military offensive, so you using HK as an example for such a thing happening is just weird and completely opposite to what actually happened with HK.

Adding some pointless fluff about "enslavement, torture, human rights" and all the usual memes does not detract from that point, it's just moving the goalpost, it's trying to evoke emotions over a situation that international law wise is quite unspectacular.

It's also historically revisionist, as it implies British HK didn't start out as a colony very much based on enslavement and exploitation, not out of some grander ambition to "bring human rights and democracy!" to the people of HK.

The communists kept HK around to facilitate some trade with the west as it closed off from the world (otherwise they could have easily “liberated” it in the late 60s). With the opening of China by the 80s, a UK ruled HK didn’t make sense to the PRC anymore.

HK never had a legitimate claim to independence being a colony. Taiwan is a completely different case since it is ruled by locals (Chinese) rather than some colonial overlords.

Very well put. History is always used as justification, because then its no longer a proaction, but a reaction - Its victimhood.

Revocation of all human rights? You aren’t mistaking China and North Korea, are you?

Also, we don’t need to look 150 years back. It’s enough to look at current statistics from American penitentiary system to notice continued race-based mass oppression, and to some extent (fortunately slowly winding down) literal slavery in private prisons.

Just because a place doesn't resemble Canada or Ukraine or people who look and act like your version of civilized society doesn't give the US a right to wage war resulting in large numbers of civilians being displaced or killed.

What's happening in Ukraine is reprehensible - but the result of US policy blunders in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, numerous South American countries and the like has been more damaging for the world we live in IMO.

While this isn't an apples to apples comparison, maybe you've got to convince us that the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, etc. are better off after US involvement. From my perspective, the answer is an obvious 'no'. Even under Saddam Hussein (who was a dictator and evil person - I'm in agreement there) the people of Iraq, who lived under some repression in their daily lives, were better off than before the US invasion.

Afghanistan (by supporting Bin Laden and his organization) attacked the US first. Kick sleeping dogs, get bit.

In Iraq, about a third of the population (the Kurds) are unequivocally better off. About a third (he Shias) are arguable. The Sunnis, no, but they were the ones beating up the others. The final history hasn't been written yet (and it could get worse, no question). Still, the story is incompetence rather than malevolence. Marching in and killing Hussein is easily defensible on moral grounds. The chaos after is not.

Blunders in Latin America have to be taken on a case-by-case basis. Mostly they involved supporting one side or another in an existing civil war. The worst excesses predate WW2.

Nobody claims that the US has an angelic past, but comparison to Putin's Russia is not apt.

I wrote a long response to this but I don't think it's worth debating these points further as we probably see and experience the world differently.

If others are looking to keep up with news in a low key way (including the OP), I'd highly recommend this approach that's been working well for me.

  1. Create an instagram account to follow just one account. 
  2. Follow an account called @mosheh. It's run by a former CBS News Producer [1]
  3. 1x or 2x per day, go through his stories.
No affiliation but I'd highly recommend this approach for those that are already on instagram or want to use the platform to keep up with the news. He aggregates news stories from most major news sources and in a couple of minutes you can be informed of what's happening around the world.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mosheh_Oinounou

I've used Bitwarden for over 4 years now after first hearing about it on HN. I really can't complain. I have Bitwarden on my phone, on my browser (chrome + firefox) and it works flawlessly for me. I even have the Mac app but I almost never have to use it.

I'd highly recommend it in case anyone here's looking to switch to Bitwarden.

I've used LastPass previously, but that was so long ago that it'd hardly be a fair comparison to Bitwarden now - but I remember not being satisfied with LastPass enough to export my data and switch.

Clubhouse is not a public company, at least not the one the OP commenter is talking about.

I stand corrected, it seems people are even investing in the "wrong" company thinking it's Clubhouse.

I mean such behaviour is not uncommon on chess.com either. I've reported multiple people for game abandonment / abusive language / acting like jerks / taking super long to make moves in a game that's obviously been lost / etc.

My inbox is on chess is full of such generic boilerplate messages from chess.com; I doubt they really kick anyone off their platform though (unless the player does something extreme):

We've taken action on one of the Stalling / Quitting Games reports that you submitted. (To respect the privacy of our members, we don't specify usernames. Our response may have included warning the member, restricting their activity, or even closing the account.)

You can review our Community Policies here https://www.chess.com/legal/community.

Thank you for helping Chess.com stay fun and friendly!

Thank you very much, Chess.com Support support@chess.com

> taking super long to make moves in a game that's obviously been lost

I'm a novice still (~1500), but at this level you can easily come back from a lost game. Opponents sometimes think that I'm stalling, but in reality I'm trying to make the best out of a lost position. My opinion is that if you go into a game with a certain time limit, the players have full right to use that time how they please. If you are in a hurry, play a different time limit.

I don't play that much chess, but:

If a player has 60 minutes for all their moves, then spend less then a minute for each move, until they are so far behind that in your mind, the game is over, now, they are spending 20 minutes on one move. And I have to still sit in front of the computer, because if I leave, they might make a move just before their timer runs out, hoping that I have already left the room, and now I will lose because it's my timer that runs out.

Play a different time format then. I don’t understand players, several in this thread alone, who complain when their opponent uses some/all of the time that was allotted under the rules of the game that are agreed upon at the start. (I am similarly against the awarding of extra time.)

There's a wide gray area but surely there's some point where you think a person is just being rude.

Eg if someone mouse slips and blinders their queen on their 5th move in a 90 minute game. You have no concern with having to sit there for 1.5 hours where your opponent makes no further moves?

Isn't the idea to set the maximum time permitted per-move to match whatever your personal patience level is?

When I used to play, I also found that people otherwise at a similar level to me were really bad at endgames. Perhaps they resigned too often, and therefore got little endgame experience? Anyway, that meant that it was worth pushing to the end if I wanted to win, because sometimes it worked.

Presumably they can see how many times a player has been reported to abandon a game ahead of time. If it is the first report, I can understand they do nothing. If it is report number 10 ...

Maybe there's nothing wrong with this submission and maybe I'm a skeptic but definitely seems like a gamed submission. Submission by a new account, another new account posts that this is the best piece they've read about this game, front page in less than 30min...

Also the title seems eerily similar to a good primer on the company that I had read earlier this year by twitter.com/packym that was titled, "Infinite Revenue, Infinite Possibilities." That was a super bullish piece though so perhaps the growth is tapering off as the title of this piece seems to suggest.

Anyways - I'd highly recommend that piece [0] for a primer on the company and catalysts for its growth (if anyone reading this isn't familiar with this company and wants a deeper dive + more context around blockchains+games).

[0] https://www.notboring.co/p/infinity-revenue-infinity-possibi...

It’s a great piece and this is a professional games industry consultancy —- one of the best.

The other comments objecting to $2k for “public data” are off base —- this is for studio execs who need context and dont have random blockchain devs sitting around to do “free” on chain analysis

Edit: Packy’s piece is great too but this one has newer data to comment on. Packy’s also selling stuff (his placed written ads and his substack), so there’s no real difference in “purity” there

I think the biggest reason why the price is so high (beyond the brand, and the fact that the government policy results in everyone getting whatever loan amount they want) is because they're contractually required to share a huge chunk of that money with 2U (the same company that bought EDx's assets).

The article mentions that the old contract stated that about 60% of revenue gets shared with 2U but then there was a revision to the contract so it's not clear what the current figure is but even if they lowered it to 40-55%, that's still a huge chunk of change for basically running ads to target students into the funnel. It's actually sickening that the contract extends to 2030.

So USC is only getting $115,000 * .4 = $46,000 which while still high is substantially lower and sounds like a reasonable amount to offer the degree at. I'm not sure why they haven't built out an internal function since and tried to get out of the contract.

For the peak year of graduation mentioned (2017, 1500 students), 2U's take at the 60% figure is ginormous. $115k * 1500 students * 0.6. = $103.5 million.

Anyway there's so much wrong with what's happening here.

EDIT: I just re-read the article, it seems like the 1500 figure is a combination of in-person and online graduates for the year 2017. Still the premise holds true: a 60% take rate is excessive.

The vast majority of elite institutions are completely unwilling to take the risks to capture 100% of the online revenue pie:

a) They are unwilling to spend lots of money on upfront content development costs without knowing future revenue.

b) They are unwilling to hire a bunch of temporary workers to help spin up new content and then re-allocate them.

c) They are unwilling to adopt (aggressive) modern marketing techniques.

d) They are unwilling to cold call.

e) They are unwilling to maintain call centers.

f) They are unwilling to spend millions on FB and Goog ads even if it has positive ROI.

All of these are true except for d and e. I get multiple calls per week some weeks asking for donations from various deparments, having never donated to my college and demonstrated no willingness to do so. If they can panhandle from alumni, why not call prospective students? Too low of an ROI or are they just playing hard to get?

I believe the difference is that institutions are using scholarship students to warm call alumni for donations vs. online program managers using large, paid call centers. I think it's just a different magnitude of marketing.

Non-profits in general are using more and more professional calling services. Maybe they keep the easy (warm) calls in-house and then outsource all the more difficult calls to an outside service.

> “The only way a Substack grows is through tweets. I am like 85% serious when I say this.”

This rings true for me as a consumer of tech and tech-adjacent news. Most writers that I've started to follow via their newsletters, I've come across on twitter via their tweets that have gone viral or have been liked/retweeted by people in my network.

Another journalist that I subscribe to via their Substack in Eric Newcomer who also recently published a "Looking Back ..." post [0]. Interesting just to diff it from this post. From my understanding, Eric started writing his newsletter last year without importing a pre-existing list (at least that's the impression I got). His numbers (11,867 free subscribers and 1374 paid subscribers) definitely seems to suggest that Substack's guidance that about 10% of subscribers convert to paid is in the ballpark.

[0] https://www.newcomer.co/p/looking-back-on-newcomers-first-ye... 11867 1374

in the insterest of "diffing" substack retrospectives, here's Charlie Warzel's announcement today that he's leaving substack for the Atlantic: https://warzel.substack.com/p/galaxy-brain-is-moving

the interesting thing to me is the discussion around "feeding the discourse", and how the best thing you can do to increase your subscriber count is to jump into fights on twitter. it seems like the idea that you grow your substack through tweets is a nice way of saying you grow your substack through arguments.

It doesn’t have to be arguments, lots of people take part in the discourse of the day without arguing. Usually with lengthy threads or other things like the ubiquitous content marketing strategy of asking open ended questions “what kind of vegetable would you be?” and so on. Once you see the pattern it makes a lot of the viral stuff on Twitter a bit eye rolling.

The unsolved problem across all genres of content is still discovery though which is why the single most important activity after you have good content is marketing it. That can be both very time consuming and expensive relative to income to shift the needle on and leads to chasing algorithms around and the strong power law distribution in the results because of all of this gets much easier the bigger your audience is thanks to network effects. The growth of the creator side of the gig economy is largely about that on a personal level.

This isn’t necessarily bad. Substack has found a great distribution channel that is working for them. The next step is probably expanding to more channels to minimize the Single Point of Failure issue.

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