TWH – The Pagan social networking site, Pagan Space, has relaunched. Recently, The Wild Hunt spoke with Chandler of Pagan Space about its new incarnation. Chandler and his business partner Matt are the driving force behind Pagan Space.
The disappearance of WitchVox has left an opening in Pagan cyberspace. Chandler believes that Pagan Space will become “the NexGen version of the social network for Pagans.” He said that a Pagan Space would also soon have a mobile app.
Pagan Space promises that it will not sell its member’s data
Pagan Space differs from other social networking sites. Chandler said, “We do not plan on selling data. We never will sell anyone’s data.” He continued, “Pagan Space is yours, not ours.”
To generate income, most social networking sites rely on advertising and selling data to advertisers. Pagan Space has rejected that business model. In contrast, it encourages commerce on its site. Chandler described it as providing a match between Pagan vendors and their target audience.
Vendors have to sign up for Pagan Proud to sell a product or service, but members can buy those products and services without having to sign up for Pagan Proud. Pagan Space will take a small cut from each transaction.
To illustrate this process, Chandler gave a fictional example. “Meagan” sells incense online. Chandler said that she could use Pagan Space to sell her product. With the decline in the number of Pagan and Occult stores, some Pagans may find it difficult to buy incense. Pagan Space would provide Meagan with a way to contact her target audience.
Some online Pagan groups explicitly prohibit that type of commercialization and self-promotion. Pagan Space encourages it. Nothing, however, is free. Chandler said, “Any [online] company needs money to keep their website online. You have employees you have to pay.” Either a company earns money, or its employees become volunteers.
In some commercial exchanges, no money is exchanged. Google and Facebook give the illusion of being free. In actuality, their users pay Google and Facebook with access to the user’s personal data. Viewers pay for non-cable TV when they “agree” to be an audience for its ads. The current crisis in print journalism provides another example. Print journalism still has a high social value. It doesn’t have the advertisers that it had pre-Internet. The social value of print journalism has no relationship with its economic base in commercial advertising.
Monitoring, harassment, and hate speech
At present, Pagan Space functions more as an honor system, than as a monitored system. Chandler described it in the following way, “You need moderators in a community. We’re kind of working on a trust system right now. We’re seeing how long we could possibly go without needing to moderate anything.”
Chandler said that they will start to monitor the site, as soon as they have a spike in member objections or complaints. In practice, this means that members will, for the time being, have to act as retroactive monitors.
Chandler said that Pagan Space doesn’t “tolerate any hate speech whatsoever.” He also said that Pagan Space would reject any form of harassment. Members can notify administrators if they see any evidence of hate speech or harassment.
He said that “If someone experiences anything along the lines of harassment whatsoever, I hope they would report it.” The administrator would then talk with the alleged offending member and make Pagan Space’s policy clear. He said, “If they’re still doing that [harassing] after that [talk], we will make it clear that’s not allowed here. They will just be immediately banned for life.”
Recently, parts of the Pagan world and the political world have blended together. Some other Pagans have disagreed with this blending of politics and Paganism. Chandler said that he and Matt disagree on this. Chandler was “in the nitty-gritty of the [Pagan] Facebook groups.” He did not like what those posts turned into. In contrast, Matt felt more comfortable with that blending.
Their solution was to create a distinct channel for political speech, The Forum Section. This channel would allow those seeking political speech to find it. It would also allow those who sought to avoid it, to do so.
The larger Pagan groups have their own social networks. Facebook has Pagan groups. Twitter has Pagan hashtags. Pagan Space has entered a competitive environment, but it does have a unique business model. Time will tell whether or not Pagan Space does indeed become “the NexGen version of the social network for Pagans.”