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[liberationtech] Avaaz, is this for real?

Marcin de Kaminski marcin at
Sat May 5 02:51:38 PDT 2012

I also agree that speculation is a bad thing. It can also hurt Avaaz
even more (even if this is really accelerated by them not answering
important questions).

BUT, the claimed attack on Avaaz and the discussions in the aftermath
can still be useful as a case for discussion.

For instance, I think some points/questions need to be repeated:

- There are claims of such an attack, but no tech specs or actual
information is being made available for a community that actually could
stand ready to help (ie: how can the community support each other if
information is not released?).
- Even though there are claims of "massive" "sophisticated" "assaults",
the website has been online (to inform about the attack!) (ie: how do we
even know there was an attack?).
- Donations are requested (ie: again?!?!?).
- Donations are requested at basis of number of donators, not a total
sum that is needed (ie: how much money is actually needed?).
- Donations are requested with no actual cause presented (ie: _why_ do
they need this specific new rally?).
- The language needed is bombastic, even though no actual explanation is
given (ie: how are more/less serious scenarios described?).

Personally, I always get really concerned when people or organizations
claiming to strive for world change are trying to raise money from
supporters in order to make campaigns that are close to impossible to
evaluate. Frankly, if I would donate money for such a diffuse cause, I
would feel ripped of.

I think Avaaz owns all of their donors some explanations; for instance
why they really are trying to raise money and what kind of results they
can actually measure from their campaigns in support of "oceans, forests
and Syria".

> the burden of proof is on Avaaz at this point.

Ack. But since speculations are already all over the community they are
supposed to be a part of (I guess?), any stress and/or pressure that
would make Avaaz actually present some answers might be good. This does
not fell OK at all.


 Greg Norcie skrev 2012-05-05 07.44:
> I agree wirth Erik. We should not speculate, and base any evaluations 
> on hard facts.
> Which means we should take everything with a grain of salt until data 
> such as originating IPs, the number of participants in the alleged 
> DDoS, amount of bandwidth consumed, etc has been provided.This means 
> not making negative comments, but also not making positive ones - the 
> burden of proof is on Avaaz at this point.
> --
> Greg Norcie (greg at
> GPG key: 0x1B873635
> On Fri May  4 22:33:24 2012, Erik Sundelof wrote:
>> I do not know any background of this nor am I in any way linked to the
>> issue/concern at hand, but some general projection rules here are
>> needed. Especially since I have started to see random numbers thrown
>> around which is contraproductive in any way, shape or form.
>> Throwing out $500k as a result of 35k donations is just
>> unfounded. Just for clarity here do check my background as far as
>> donation flows and crowdsourcing.
>> I really personally want the discussion about the issue/concern at
>> hand to stay away from splitting hairs and throwing random numbers
>> around. It is not constructive and also will defocus the discussion
>> from what it should be all about.
>> Apologies if I come across as too direct but let us together keep the
>> discussion on-point and fair, as well as staying clear from thowing
>> arbitrary and unfounded statements around.
>> Erik
>> Sent from my iPad
>> On May 4, 2012, at 5:39 PM, Shaun Wilde <s.wilde.libtech at
>> <mailto:s.wilde.libtech at>> wrote:
>>> Was clarifying Okhin's musing about what their goal of 35k$ was for.
>>> Their goal is 35,000 /donations/.  Likely to the tune of... who
>>> knows. $500,000? If we're wondering what they'd do with 35k$, an even
>>> more interesting brainstorm is what they'll do with 500k$. Hard to
>>> know without knowing anything about the attack--except that it was
>>> massive.
>>> /-sw
>>> /
>>> On Sat, May 5, 2012 at 12:24 AM, Jillian C. York
>>> <jilliancyork at <mailto:jilliancyork at>> wrote:
>>>     Unless those 33,000 individual donations were less than $1 each,
>>>     I don't really see what you're getting at.
>>>     On Sat, May 5, 2012 at 2:15 AM, Shaun Wilde
>>>     <s.wilde.libtech at <mailto:s.wilde.libtech at>> wrote:
>>>         Clarification. That's 33,000 /individual donations. /Not
>>>         $33k. That should get them started.
>>>         -sw
>>>         On Fri, May 4, 2012 at 6:52 PM, Dave
>>>         Karpf <davekarpf at <mailto:davekarpf at>> wrote:
>>>         Agreed that that's what makes it importantly different. This
>>>         wasn't the Comm department responding to reporters, it was an
>>>         active fundraising ask.
>>>         I'm withholding judgment for the moment, but sincerely hope
>>>         the Avaaz folks will be more open with the tech experts on
>>>         this list. At the moment, this looks a LOT like a crass
>>>         fundraising ploy. If so, I personally would lose a lot of
>>>         respect for the org.
>>>         DK
>>>         Sent from my iPad
>>>         On May 4, 2012, at 6:36 PM, Okhin <okhin at
>>>         <mailto:okhin at>> wrote:
>>>         > On Fri, 4 May 2012 15:48:35 -0400
>>>         > Sahar Massachi <Sahar at
>>>         <mailto:Sahar at>> wrote:
>>>         >
>>>         >> I'm a bit concerned about all the muttering about Avaaz's
>>>         sensationalism.
>>>         >>
>>>         >> Please correct me if I'm misunderstanding something, but
>>>         the following
>>>         >> scenario seems pretty plausible to me:
>>>         >>
>>>         >> The Avaaz site comes under some sort of attack. The tech
>>>         team at Avaaz
>>>         >> gives a quick "idiots guide" to what's going on to their
>>>         communications
>>>         >> team, and then goes back to trying to deal with the
>>>         problem. The
>>>         >> communications team has a partially confused understanding
>>>         of exactly
>>>         >> what's going on, but tries to deal with the situation as
>>>         best they can.
>>>         >> When technically minded journalists want to talk to Avaaz, the
>>>         >> communications staff doesn't want to bother their
>>>         still-hard-at-work tech
>>>         >> team, so they give unsatisfying, vague, and unhelpful
>>>         replies to these
>>>         >> journalists".
>>>         >>
>>>         >> Am I missing something?
>>>         >>
>>>         >
>>>         > Yeah, they started a funding campaign to fight the attack
>>>         and, while
>>>         > the attack has stopped (according to their claim), it's
>>>         still open and
>>>         > their goal is 35k$ (and they're at 33k$)for what?
>>>         >
>>>         >
>>>         > Next time I've got a spam bot raiding my corporate network,
>>>         I'll ask this amount of money to my boss. Just to see he's face.
>>>         >
>>>         > Okhin
>>>         >

Marcin de Kaminski: Internet researcher, adviser, analyst

Phone: 0768-045151 (Int: 0046768045151)

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