[tor-project] Pro tip: Comment on media articles (at the bottom of the article)

Kate Krauss kate at torproject.org
Mon Apr 11 16:53:21 UTC 2016


One small but useful thing that people can do to help Tor's image is to
make a comment at the bottom of articles about Tor (especially negative
ones). I'm not trying to add more work to people's TODO lists, but if
you do wonder if it's helpful to comment, the answer is Yes, it's helpful.

This is advice you could share with friends who want to help Tor--anyone
can use it. I wouldn't necessarily post it to a list besides this one,
because it's advice about strategy.

As an example, I'm not loving this Christian Science Monitor Article
which was then re-posted on Drudge.com. We don't want to generate lots
of interest or controversy on Drudge.com, or Matt Drudge will start
posting more negative articles about us--which he has mostly stayed away
from over the years (interesting). But a couple positive comments would
be useful.

As a general rule, it's better to post the comment right after the 
article ends, or close to that, so you know more people see it (my bad
this time).

Our strategy here is to educate people, rally our supporters, and
convert people who are neutral or unknowledgeable about Tor into

Anyway, as an example for a general or conservative audience, here's
what I posted at the end of the article on drudge.com--it focuses on
researching health information and keeping the Man out of your business:

"Tor is used by people who don't want either the government or companies
like Google to know that they are trying to research sensitive health
information--like about breast  cancer--or about politics--or anything
that they think is no one's business but theirs.  It's super safe and
private to use--that's the point. It's developed by a nonprofit
organization and you can download it for free on torproject.org."

Lots of people understand wanting to research breast cancer or birth
control or drug treatment centers without having Google or your
government spying on you. So those are good starting points. Health
information, especially, resonates with older people and/or conservative

Here are some basic talking points about Tor for comments after
articles: Use a few; you don't have to use all of them.

1. We help human rights activists in countries like China hop over the
Great Fire Wall (LOTS of people care about this from across the
political spectrum in many countries)
2. We help people research health information privately (ditto)
3. We support the right to read and write freely
4. We support the right to privacy
5. We are safe to use--safer than what they are using now; very safe. 
6. I often contrast our browser with onion services for people who have
never used Tor by saying:

With a web browser you are like a fish swimming in the ocean visiting
different places. If you use the Tor browser, you are an anonymous fish.
A web site or service you visit is like a coral reef. When the coral
reef is also anonymous, that's an onion service. After people understand
the difference between the fish and the coral reef, you can get into
finer distinctions (Facebook, NAT punching, etc.). But fish vs. coral
reef is a good start.

7. Tor is like hanging curtains on your window.

Never get in to a flame war--one comment per person is fine. Your
temperature should be cool, friendly, and educational--not angry. If you
can't keep the temperature cool, it's good to skip doing this particular
thing. (I'll be thinking of things you can do when you are mad.)

Commenting is also a good thing to do on reddit, slash/dot, etc.  You
can use more sophisticated talking points for these audiences.

It seems like a small thing but it really does help; it adds up--we want
to rally and educate potential supporters, like the people on reddit,
and we want to nicely educate people who read magazines like PC Magazine
or CIO Magazine who might not know much about Tor.

The key is to be the nice, reasonable person--I try to channel Roger :)



A list of places that could often use Tor-friendly comments:


What else should be on this list?


Kate Krauss
Director of Communications 
and Public Policy
kate at torproject.org
1-718-864-6647 (works for Signal also)
PGP: CC0D 9B42 DE89 D4D0 619B A606 DDEB 3937 7D18 973B

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