The end of Room Eight

My name is Matt Johnson, and I’m the editor (to the extent such a thing exists) of Room Eight. This title is essentially ceremonial; I don’t really do anything except keep the server running and occasionally answer questions about the site for the writers. I agreed to take over the site from the founders, Ben Smith and Gur Tsabar, in 2013. Room Eight has a colorful history, reaching back to 2007 when the landscape of online publishing was dramatically different than it is today. The site has passed through many hands, and I’m afraid mine will have to be the last.

On December 31, Room Eight will most likely shut down, unless someone else is able to take it over. The site will disappear, not simply stop publishing.

The reason for this is that Room Eight is a serious legal liability. It has recently been the recipient of very real legal threats relating to the material published here. Such threats implicate me, my employer, and my family. Room Eight has never made any revenue and has no other resources with which we could respond to legal action against us. The fact is, Room Eight is not journalism; it’s an unmoderated forum. While the “about” page makes it clear that opinions published here do not represent those of Alley Media Ventures LLC, that doesn’t stop someone from suing us anyway and requiring us to respond legally.

Furthermore, the virtue of offering this type of forum is not what it was in 2007. Room Eight is a small site with an obviously identifiable owner (me). Sites like this used to be one way to establish respectability on the Internet as an independent writer. This is no longer even close to true, as platforms like, Medium, and Blogger let people with interesting or controversial ideas put them out to the world, for free, and provide better community support and discoverability than a single, self-hosted WordPress site ever could. Most importantly, these platforms are owned by huge companies with a legal department that can effectively refute the claim that an author’s content is not the platform’s responsibility. Although I obviously feel the same is true of Room Eight, I cannot realistically defend it from such claims.

I’m not issuing any sort of moral judgment or argument about this situation, I’m just telling anyone who still enjoys Room Eight what’s happening and why. To the writers past and present, I know many of you cherished this forum, but reality is what it is and this is what needs to happen. I will not destroy your content and if you want access to it privately so you may post it elsewhere, I will assist you in doing that; please contact me.

To anyone out there who feels they have the financial, technical and temporal resources to become the next caretaker of Room Eight, you’re welcome to contact me at to discuss. However, I’m not really holding out serious hope of finding a new home for the site, and if it doesn’t happen by December 31, then we will have to go dark.

Thank for for your support and understanding, and for being readers of Room Eight.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Thanks for re-booting the site when you did.

    I can’t help but wonder who the legal threats came from, given so little is posted here anymore by anyone but me. And I don’t usually write about individual people.

    I might be interested in uploading at least some of the stuff I wrote before I started Saying the Unsaid in New York, to a new page on that site, if doing so from the old site would be easier than just going back over my MS Word documents. Otherwise, I guess that’s what I’ll do. Glad I have it.

    For those of you who have read my stuff here, everything I have written since the start of 2013 is located here.

  • Anonymous

    Gatekeeping. Pretty soon all the news will be published by bots, and we won’t express ourselves anymore except through politically correct emojis. Medium, blogger, daily kos, hubpages all of those tend to have IT scrubbers who can filter “undesirable articles” from search engines. Those are filled with redundant-hack pieces of mediocre quality. A legitimate independent site, such as this one, stood out because it was frequently backed by solid data, data that most people don’t know about. That probably makes the mainstream news service jealous or something, and any excuse including false-flag events are being used to increase attacks against alternative news. This was by and large a solid website, even the more speculative pieces strike me as worthy of Atlantic or Harpers. So I am sorry to see this go down, or if it is taken over by someone else, the format become more crass. LL, I have your wordpress site bookmarked, thank goodness. PS. talking about watered down or nonexistent stats, notice how the 2016 election results on Pew or Rasmussen seem to omit most of the third parties. Can’t find any data on how the Socialist Equality Party did anywhere, or who all did NOT vote.