Why We Ask for Your Email

Some insight into our principles and how they affect business operations

Why We Ask for Your Email

OPI follows principles around open science and privacy that influence our research and business operations. Using an email newsletter system is instrumental in fulfilling these principles.
NB - We use Ghost because Substack is for Nazis and edgelords.

Open Science

To support our open science principles, we make all our data and reports publicly available. However, this openness means that it's scrapable by AI systems. I'm not sure about you, but we don't do this work so multibillion-dollar companies can use it for profit. Putting our writing and data behind this email login (for free!) protects the information from AI scraping (for now). Yes, it's somewhat paradoxical that we use a login (wall) to facilitate openness but that's the internet in 2024.

To uphold our end of the openness bargain, we won't email you everything we post, just what we think you might care about. We don't sell your email or other data.


In terms of privacy, email helps us get some very high-level perspective into our subscribers and not rely on other privacy-breaking tracking tools. We want our work to be read and shared, but not at the expense of your autonomy. Web traffic is nice, but people who care enough about our work to share and support it mean more than how many clicks we have.

If you're interested in reading our work, you can opt-in to share your email and name. This allows us to see subscriber counts (growing!). Again, we don't sell this information or any other information to run our site.

Our main website doesn't engage in any tracking (check) that would knowingly violate your privacy. On this News subdomain, our payments are processed by Stripe, meaning Stripe collects data to support payment processing. Stripe fraud prevention tools mean there is tracking (4.18.24) on the News subdomain. I'm working to adjust how the Stipe tool works with Ghost (our news platform) so that we can better protect your privacy.

OPI, The Business

We don't run ads. We don't have sponsors. We don't sell your emails or data. To make it work, we operate a lean business with very low overhead costs. We're always happy to share the tools we use to make this happen (maybe a future post).

Our only funding is our subscribers and consulting income (including speaker fees and contract work related to research grants). We don't accept money from pharma. We're not paid by "brick-and-mortar" treatment (whatever that means). We don't endorse products. We support approaches: Treatment – medication for opioid use disorder, behavioral therapy; Harm Reduction – naloxone, overdose reversal approaches, etc. You'll notice we follow the academic tradition of using generics when describing medications to avoid endorsing a specific brand name product. We don't accept paid advertising, why would we do free advertising?

OPI is established as an LLC because non-profits have limits on lobbying (e.g., influencing legislation, action by Congress, or other governing bodies). We're a policy group so yes, we frequently work with policymakers and government officials. It's our role to inform them about a variety of issues related to our work. Our LLC status helps us conduct this work without concern that we'll lose our non-profit tax status. We're also a small shop and setting up/running a non-profit board brings operational costs that aren't worth the benefits. Think of us more like a B Corp that hasn't paid the $2,000 annual fee. In the event someone wants to donate significant sums but doesn't because we're not a non-profit, we'll figure it out and I'll learn how to "educate" but not "lobby." We'll also disclose this.

OPI did start a non-profit project with 100 Days in Appalachia, a non-profit news collaborative. Reporting on Addiction provides technical assistance to journalists, journalism educators, and experts to create a more accurate and empathic understanding of addiction. We're proud of this work and how much it has accomplished since it was founded in 2021. That project is donor-funded (individuals) and I don't/haven't drawn a salary from that work (4.18.24). I'll disclose that when I do.

We apply for research and foundation grants 🤞 but a lot of our work is outside the scope of many grants. Being an LLC allows us to apply for federal grants.; however, we don't think NIDA will fund research that criticizes their funding of digital health apps so we don't bother submitting that work. No other funder has taken a chance on that work either. Yet, we regularly brief the federal government about it and it garners top-tier media coverage, so we're doing something right...

That's why we set up OPI. We wanted a place to do the work that needed to be done without academic (i.e., grant and academic publishing) pressure. And we're doing it in big ways.

Why This Matters

We don't have to do any of these things. However, we think this level of transparency is important.

It's important to explain how OPI operates because we've experienced ad hominem attacks about our "funding" that are always speculative, inaccurate, defamatory, and an attempt to distract from our findings. You also deserve to know if someone in the public sphere is funded to say the things they say.

If you're not sure why we do what we do or think there's some ulterior "agenda" driving this work – reach out and we'll clear up the misunderstanding.

OPI might fail, but we won't compromise our commitment to open science and privacy in the process.

More about why we took this approach to collecting emails from the great folks at 404 Media:

We Need Your Email Address
AI stealing our work. The collapse of social networks. The need to pay journalists to produce impactful journalism. Here is why we are asking for your email address to read 404 Media.