Moderation Issues (4)

Please use this thread for alerting admins to moderation issues and for discussion or complaints arising from particular decisions. This thread has been reissued as a post rather than a page as the “ignore commenter” button does not apply to threads started as pages.

714 thoughts on “Moderation Issues (4)

  1. DNA_Jock:

    Someone please redact keiths`s comment; it’s rule-breaking.

    Christ, Jock. No, it isn’t.

    We’ve spoken about rushing to judgment. Do you recall those conversations?

    Calm down and take a look at this screenshot:

  2. DNA_Jock:
    Oh God, keiths, can you not help yourself?
    Someone please redact keiths`s comment; it’s rule-breaking.

    Maybe then he can spend the time to read the reasoning behind the no-doxxing rule.

    The greatest destruction one can do is to convince himself that he is never wrong…
    The second one is to keep trying to convince others of the same… that is if there are any others left…

  3. Firstly: If someone has made it clear who they are in RL, e.g. by linking to their publications, that is fine, and it is still fine for others to acknowledge the identity if their publications are being discussed. However, it is not OK to use that person’s RL name in personal attacks, which are against the game-rules anyway (“assume the other person is posting in good faith”; “address the argument, not the person”) but are not in themselves things I would ever ban anyone for. Such posts just get moved to guano, just as pieces get moved off a chess board. But if in breaking those rules, you invoke someone’s personal ID, that is not on, the reason being that I don’t want such personal attacks here to come up in a google search of that person’s RL name, as such things happen, as I know to my cost.

    Now, granted, neither of us is attacking Patrick, but we are discussing his internet persona in a potentially negative light, so the idea here is that such discussions do not show up in a google search of Patrick’s IRL name, notwithstanding the fact that he himself has made the Patrick = Patrick [surname redacted] connection elsewhere on this site. That’s what the rules are, you twit.
    FFS, keiths, are you so desperate to award yourself a “win” at any cost? Between this and your “is the sting really that bad” flounce, you are truly pathetic.

  4. Jock,

    Learn to cut your losses.

    FFS, keiths, are you so desperate to award yourself a “win” at any cost?

    Oh, the irony.

  5. Since we’re on a new comment page, let me repeat this request:

    Someone with moderation privileges has restored ALurker’s ability to post, after Alan suspended it earlier. Would that person care to explain to the readers exactly what is going on here, and why?

  6. I’ll also repeat this one, addressed to Alan:

    Lizzie created the Moderation Issues thread precisely so that moderators would be accountable to the commenters for their actions. I am a commenter, and I am asking you to account for your severe moderation action.

    Please respond to my questions immediately, and please restore ALurker’s and Patrick’s accounts immediately if you cannot or will not justify your actions.

    The latter has apparently been done, at least in ALurker’s case. However, the questions remain unanswered.

  7. ALurker: Actually, Alan is wrong in a lot of ways. He refuses to enforce the rules as written (see fifthmonarchyman’s comments).

    He is following the precedent set by the owner of the blog to allow Fifth that leeway.

    He makes up new rules (making the “Do Atheists Exist?” thread an extension of Noyau).

    Keiths has contended that Alan has the authority to do that for that whole blog,, you seem pretty simpatico with keiths, why is this an issue is there a rule to prohibit it?

    He breaks the rules himself (attempted outing)

    Is it a violation to reveal someone has another screen name? With Frankie that rule was unenforced .

    . I imagine Barry Arrington is taking notes.

    Since there are no rules except Barry’s ,it is impossible for him to break them, what is there to learn? That is no questions of moderation there are not objective rules of what constitutes civil behavior, there is no need the guano, comments just disappear as do posters.

    You undermine your position completely by drawing an equivalence.

  8. newton:

    Keiths has contended that Alan has the authority to do that for that whole blog,,

    Huh? Where did you get that idea?

    ETA: That’s actually been one of my biggest complaints about Alan — his continual invention of new rules.

  9. newton,

    How would you characterize Alan’s behavior during this whole incident? Worthy of a moderator? Honest? Capable?

    Give us a feel for your assessment.

  10. I can see that people are impatient for matters to resolve themselves. At the moment, I’m waiting for responses.

    I’ve not yet received any response from the blog owner, Dr. Elizabeth Liddle. Input from Lizzie would be ideal. I continue to hope that will happen.

    I’ve emailed Patrick. We have had a recent exchange of emails, so I’m sure there’s an open channel of communication.

    I’ll repeat my email address alanfox@free.fr for the benefit of Alurker. To answer Keiths’ question, the admin actions are all mine. And an inaction in not “logging out of all current sessions” That’s now rectified. Again, I’ve not yet heard from Alurker regarding the clarification I’m seeking.

    As Alurker has made very clear his strong objection to being “outed” I can only say again that while I’m waiting for input as above, I’m not prepared to enter into public discussion on the specifics.

    That said, I think I can share my thinking on a couple of general points

    The most important one is the lack of a general rule on sockpuppetry. I’ll offer a definition as regards to membership here and what I think it is and what it is not. What is perfectly acceptable is for anyone to register pseudonymously and Lizzie has made it very clear that personal details of members are private and no personal information about members, that they have not themselves published (here, not elsewhere), must be divulged by third parties without their express permission.

    It’s also acceptable for a member to re-register. This was necessary, for example, for some, after the big server crash. It might also be a matter of forgetting details of an old account. No harm in that.

    What I don’t think is acceptable is for any member to have more than one active account in parallel. Let me give a clear example. Person M registers under pseudonym A and also under pseudonym B and operates both accounts as if they were two people, especially where Person M might have a strong view on issue X and then presents that view as held by A and B to give the impression of additional support to issue X. Would anyone disagree that this would be unacceptable?

    Should such a situation arise, I would suggest that Person M should be required to choose one or other member registration but not continue with both. Of course, it would be up to Lizzie to decide whether such a rule needs to be spelled out.

  11. Alan:

    To answer Keiths’ question, the admin actions are all mine. And an inaction in not “logging out of all current sessions” That’s now rectified.

    Ha! You forgot to log ALurker out. A nice demonstration of incompetence to go with your demonstrations of dishonesty and immaturity.

  12. Alan:

    As Alurker has made very clear his strong objection to being “outed” I can only say again that while I’m waiting for input as above, I’m not prepared to enter into public discussion on the specifics.

    Bullshit. This has nothing to do with protecting ALurker’s identity. You were trying to out him or her as Patrick, remember?

    If you were honest, you could easily answer my questions without revealing details that might identify ALurker. Easily.

    This is about covering your ass, not protecting ALurker. You’ve been stonewalling throughout this whole sorry episode because you know you can’t justify what you’ve done. Better to remain silent than to incriminate yourself. Offering false excuses (like “I’m protecting ALurker’s identity”) just makes things worse.

    So although you know, as does everyone else, that Lizzie wanted moderators to be accountable and open, even providing this thread for that very purpose, you toss that aside and act on your own behalf. Fuck Lizzie and TSZ; fuck the moderator responsibilities you assumed when accepting the job; Alan wants what Alan wants, and if that means clamming up and pleading the fifth, that’s what Alan will do.

    You’re a disgrace, Alan, unsuited for any position of trust at TSZ.

  13. keiths:
    Alan:

    Ha!You forgot to log ALurker out.A nice demonstration of incompetence to go with your demonstrations of dishonesty and immaturity.

    Guilty to not logging Alurker out.

  14. Alan,

    That said, I think I can share my thinking on a couple of general points

    The most important one is the lack of a general rule on sockpuppetry.

    Oh, really? You noticed that? Then what on earth were you thinking when you abused your moderator powers by snooping around ALurker’s and Patrick’s IP addresses, trying to figure out if there was any overlap? Based on nothing more than your impression that their comments were “eerily similar” and that they might be the same person? Which would have been perfectly within the rules anyway, as you’ve just reminded us.

    What possible justification could you offer? “I suspected that something perfectly legal was going on, with no danger to TSZ, so I abused my moderator privileges in order to investigate”?

    That is why you’re staying silent. There is no excuse for your behavior, and you know it.

  15. keiths: So although you know, as does everyone else, that Lizzie wanted moderators to be accountable and open, even providing this thread for that very purpose, you toss that aside and act on your own behalf. Fuck Lizzie and TSZ; fuck the moderator responsibilities you assumed when accepting the job; Alan wants what Alan wants, and if that means clamming up and pleading the fifth, that’s what Alan will do.

    Is the query whether Alurker and Patrick are one person now settled? If so, I would be no longer constrained to comment and I’d be happy to reinstate one or other account.

    In the meantime, do you disagree about whether one person using more than one account to comment here while giving the impression of being more than one person is acceptable? You seemed to agree earlier with me on the issue of sockpuppetry.

    I’m waiting for Lizzie to respond to me on this and I hope she will settle all doubt as to her position. Do you not think it reasonable to give her time to respond? Should we issue Lizzie a deadline?

  16. keiths: I suspected that something perfectly legal was going on, with no danger to TSZ, so I abused my moderator privileges in order to investigate”?

    Ah. Perfectly legal? Legality does not come into this, nor have I even hinted at it. My issue is whether sockpuppetry is acceptable behaviour at TSZ. I don’t think it is. You now seem to be disagreeing and suggesting anything legal goes.

    (Another example of your projection in working off an assumption about what I neither thought, said or implied is noted.)

  17. Alan,

    Is the query whether Alurker and Patrick are one person now settled?

    What difference does it make? Either way there was no rule violation, as you just (perhaps inadvertently) acknowledged. There is no rule prohibiting multiple nyms.

    There was no basis for your snooping and no basis for the account suspensions. You were completely off base, Alan. It was your mistake alone, and it is your responsibility to correct it immediately.

    As for this:

    I’m waiting for Lizzie to respond to me on this so and I hope she will settle all doubt as to her position.

    Christ, Alan. You didn’t wait for Lizzie’s response before suspending the accounts, did you? Why the hell would you need to wait before fixing your mistake?

    I’m getting whiplash watching you seesaw between unilaterally taking extreme and unprecedented actions (snooping through the IPs, suspending the accounts) and saying “Oh, I’m helpless to do anything without Lizzie’s approval.”

    If you didn’t wait for her approval before your fuckup, you certainly shouldn’t wait for her approval before fixing it.

    You had no justification for suspending the accounts, so it is your responsibility to restore them immediately. You broke it; you fix it.

    What are you waiting for?

  18. Alan,

    In the meantime, do you disagree about whether one person using more than one account to comment here while giving the impression of being more than one person is acceptable? You seemed to agree earlier with me on the issue of sockpuppetry.

    I stated my position already, but what you and I believe about the ethics of multiple nyms is irrelevant at the moment. The issue here is that you suspended two accounts without justification.

    You are censoring ALurker. Because of your unwarranted actions, he or she is unable to post. That is a serious breach and runs counter to Lizzie’s desire for an open site free of censorship.

    Why are you stalling? Fix your mistake.

  19. Alan,

    The accounts should never have been suspended in the first place. No rule was violated and TSZ was in no danger. If they should never have been suspended in the first place, then what possible reason is there for keeping them suspended until Lizzie replies? It makes no sense and serves no purpose.

    By leaving the accounts suspended you are compounding your screwup. You are extending the censorship of two accounts that should never have been censored in the first place.

    Do you really need Lizzie to tell you that when you screw up — especially when it’s a major screwup like censoring someone unfairly — that you should fix the problem ASAP to minimize the damage? Particularly when doing so merely means restoring things to the way they were before the screwup?

  20. Keiths has a point.

    A simpler solution is to make a clear distinction regarding the rule on”outing” and whether speculation regarding sockpuppetry is “outing”. I don’t agree with Alurker that querying whether he is the same person posting as Patrick constitutes “outing”. This involves divulging no additional personal information whatsoever. Therefore, on reflection I’ll unsuspend Alurkers account and we can discuss the ethics of sockpuppetry.

    My personal view is serial sockpuppetry has its uses such as in venues as Uncommon Descent. What I think is reprehensible is parallel sockpuppetry, where one person operates via more than one account, to give a false impression.

  21. Alan,

    Therefore, on reflection I’ll unsuspend Alurkers account…

    For fuck’s sake, Alan. Unsuspend Patrick’s account too. Neither one of them should have been suspended.

    Your actions were reprehensible and completely unwarranted.

    Undo your unwarranted actions.

    …and we can discuss the ethics of sockpuppetry.

    We’re in the midst of a huge kerfuffle right now due to the moderation fuckups of you and Neil. Why do you suddenly want to talk about “the ethics of sockpuppetry”? (That’s a rhetorical question.)

  22. I’m enjoying the parallels between J-Mac and Patrick. Similar guys, but at least J-Mac–after leaving with much ado–had the courage come back as himself without hiding behind a fake name.

    Hmmm. I wonder which one of these vitally valuable contributors has more guns.

  23. I’m enjoying the parallels between J-Mac and Patrick. Similar guys, but at least J-Mac–after leaving with much ado–had the courage come back as himself without hiding behind a fake name.

    Um, walto — you’re jumping the gun.

  24. walto:
    I’m enjoying the parallels between J-Mac and Patrick. Similar guys, but at least J-Mac–after leaving with much ado–had the courage come back as himself without hiding behind a fake name.

    Hmmm. I wonder which one of these vitally valuable contributors has more guns.

    You’ll change your tune about the price of liberty when you are being chased by non philosophical zombies.

  25. keiths: Huh? Where did you get that idea?

    Sorry if I was mistaken , what is your view of proper moderation and the means to accomplish that goal?

  26. ALurker:

    He [Alan] makes up new rules (making the “Do Atheists Exist?” thread an extension of Noyau).

    newton:

    Keiths has contended that Alan has the authority to do that for that whole blog,,

    Keiths:

    Huh? Where did you get that idea?

    ETA: That’s actually been one of my biggest complaints about Alan — his continual invention of new rules.

    newton:

    Sorry if I was mistaken , what is your view of proper moderation and the means to accomplish that goal?

    We’re talking about Alan’s bad habit of inventing new rules. My position is that he should knock it off, remind himself that as a moderator he is subject to Lizzie’s rules, and operate within them. He is not a dictator.

    ETA: And he makes it even worse by inventing new rules that are for his personal benefit, not TSZ’s.

  27. keiths:
    ALurker:

    newton:

    Keiths:

    newton:

    We’re talking about Alan’s bad habit of inventing new rules.My position is that he should knock it off, remind himself that as a moderator he is subject to Lizzie’s rules, and operate within them.He is not a dictator.

    ETA: And he makes it even worse by inventing new rules that are for his personal benefit, not TSZ’s.

    Thanks but my question is , what is your view of proper moderation and how does one accomplish that goal within the existing parameters that exist?

    Is your only complaint is moderators should strictly follow the rules until they are changed and the fact that Lizzie herself did not strictly abide by the rules is irrelevant? I thought there was an issue about sending too many posts to guano.

  28. keiths: Um, walto — you’re jumping the gun.

    Maybe. I mean Trump says he didn’t really say ‘shithole’. Let’s see whether we ever get a similar denial from Palurker.

  29. So let me put it this way instead:

    If this is true it demonstrates a pathetic similarity to J-Mac–except it’s even more pathetic. Also, it’s about what one would expect of a Trump defender.

    But if it’s false, it’s false, and those pathetic qualities shouldn’t be foisted on ALurker just because they’re true of Patrick and the two have the same server and happen to take similar positions on certain moderation issues.

  30. Not the same server, walto. The same IP address.

    ALurker says:

    Let’s see, what is my IP address? 40.133.236.194 In Seattle, WA. In the hotel I am at for a conference. That I’ve never stayed at before.

    I confirmed that the IP address is assigned to a company that owns hotels in Seattle.

  31. newton,

    I’ve stated my position repeatedly, so I’m surprised you still don’t get it.

    The blog owner sets the rules and the direction. A moderator, by accepting the position, is committing to abide by the owner’s rules and honor the owner’s direction.

    Lizzie set out the rules and made them public. She also made it clear that she did not want the moderation to be heavy-handed and that it was not obligatory for the moderators to guano rule-violating comments.

    When Alan runs around inventing new rules — especially when they’re designed for his personal benefit, not TSZ’s — he is showing profound disrespect for Lizzie and for TSZ.

    He will then turn around and piously proclaim that he supports Lizzie’s aims and is carrying out her “prime directive”.

    Disrespect, dishonesty, and a refusal to do his job. That’s Alan.

  32. newton,

    I notice that you haven’t responded to this:

    newton,

    How would you characterize Alan’s behavior during this whole incident? Worthy of a moderator? Honest? Capable?

    Give us a feel for your assessment.

  33. keiths:
    newton,

    I notice that you haven’t responded to this:

    I was waiting for you give me your ideal so I can judge better.That is why I asked. What”s the deal? Just a brief overview.

    eta ;sorry did not scroll enough

  34. newton,

    a) I already answered, as you belatedly discovered; and

    b) I’m not asking you about my ideal; I’m asking you for your assessment of Alan’s behavior.

    I repeat, with emphasis:

    newton,

    How would you characterize Alan’s behavior during this whole incident? Worthy of a moderator? Honest? Capable?

    Give us a feel for your assessment.

  35. keiths: b) I’m not asking you about my ideal

    Hahaha. Got that Newton??

    Keiths is not asking you to ask him that question. Try to stay focused on keiths point, not yours. Because keiths is losing his mind, and he would like to drag you down with him.

    keiths has a whole list of questions he is not asking people to ask him, just ask him. Well, no actually that is on his list of questions he is not asking you to ask, sorry.

    Whip cream is though, ask him about that.

  36. It’s hard to overstate how sleazy, incompetent, and disrespectful Alan has been in his handling of this situation.

    Consider:

    1. Lizzie wants commenters to be able to criticize moderation decisions, and she created the Moderation Issues thread for that purpose. Alan brushed her wishes aside and silenced someone who was criticizing him. (This isn’t the first time he’s interfered with the posting of comments in the Moderation Issues thread, either.)

    2. Lizzie wants TSZ to be a venue for free and open discussion. Alan went in the opposite direction and censored two accounts with no justification. (This isn’t the first time he’s pushed a censorship scheme, as those who witnessed the J-Mac fiasco know.)

    3. Alan abused his moderator privileges by searching through the IP addresses of commenters, trying to match their IP addresses with ALurker’s addresses. But why? What was the reason for this invasion of privacy? Was TSZ in danger? Was there reason to believe that some heinous violation was underway? No. Alan’s only reason was that he was pissed at someone who had criticized him, and was abusing his powers to try to dig up dirt on that person. Behold your moderator, folks.

    4. Alan got the idea that ALurker might be Patrick. Never mind that there is no rule against more than one nym. Alan barged ahead anyway and searched the login records as if he were investigating a rule violation.

    5. Alan’s illicit search turned up a match: One of ALurker’s IP addresses matched one of Patrick’s. 44 of ALurker’s comments came from that IP address, as did 86 of Patrick’s.

    6. A responsible moderator wouldn’t even have done the search in the first place; it was illicit and unjustified, and there was no danger to TSZ and no suspected rule violation. But even setting that aside, a good and competent moderator would have done his or her due diligence before making any accusations, including looking up the IP address in question. What could be more frikkin’ obvious?

    7. So what did Alan do? He incredibly and irresponsibly forged ahead and leveled this accusation:

    But Patrick has a current account and left voluntarily. He was pretending to be someone else agreeing with his own views.

    And this:

    And Patrick
    It must be obvious to you that I am hugely disappointed by this episode. Perhaps there is something you can say in mitigation. Perhaps there is an explanation that you can offer. Please let us hear from you.

    And this:

    So I point out that Alurker is using Patrick’s IP to comment here, while Patrick still has a functional account of his own.

    8. Three brazen accusations based on flimsy evidence, illicitly obtained. And note how he spins it: “ALurker is using Patrick’s IP to comment here”, as if he were talking about Patrick’s main IP address. Does he mention the fact that only 86 of Patrick’s comments, out of thousands, came from that address? Does he mention that only 130 comments in total came from that address? Does he mention that he hasn’t even looked up that IP address? No, of course not. That would be honest, and it would diminish his case, so he withheld that information. It only came out later.

    To be continued…

  37. Continuing from my previous comment:

    9. ALurker appeared and wrote this:

    Let’s see, what is my IP address? 40.133.236.194 In Seattle, WA. In the hotel I am at for a conference. That I’ve never stayed at before.

    Or you could be talking about the Tor exit node IP address. I use Tor because I don’t trust the administrators of most sites I visit.

    Apparently, I should be more careful of this one as well. Alan has no compunction about using his access to search through login records to match people up. Badly.

    10. Despite ALurker’s direct denial of the accusation, including the very important information that he or she was staying in a hotel, Alan suspended both ALurker’s and Patrick’s accounts — an unprecedented abuse of moderator privileges:

    I find Alurker’s response to my query unsatisfactory. So I’ve suspended both Alurker’s and Patrick’s accounts and will be asking our blog owner Dr. Liddle, for her input.

    So even though it wouldn’t have been a rule violation even if his accusation were true, Alan censored the two accounts, all based on a dipshit assumption: that it was impossible that ALurker and Patrick had stayed at the same hotel in Seattle.

    All this to silence someone who had been legitimately criticizing him in a thread designated for that very purpose.

    The mind boggles.

    11. I looked up the IP address myself and confirmed that it belongs to a company that owns hotels in Seattle. I commented:

    I confirmed that the IP address is indeed in Seattle and that it belongs to Moody National, a company that manages hotels there…

    So ALurker’s story checks out, and it is quite possible that both ALurker and Patrick ended up with matching IP addresses during separate hotel stays.

    12. I challenged Alan’s actions and asked him a number of relevant questions. I also asked him to either justify or reverse his suspension of the two accounts. He refused to answer my questions, justify his actions, or reverse them. In other words, he refused to do his job.

    13. He lied about the reasons. His first lie was that he needed to wait for Lizzie’s input before unsuspending the accounts. That was obviously false, since he hadn’t waited for her input before imposing the suspensions. His second lie was to claim that he couldn’t answer my questions, because to do so would have exposed details about ALurker’s identity. That was rather hilarious, since Alan had just accused ALurker of being Patrick. It was also false, because Alan could have easily answered my questions without jeopardizing ALurker’s privacy.

    Still more to come…

  38. Continuing from my previous comment:

    14. ALurker commented:

    You’ve had your time to ignore the rules, add new rules, and break the rules, all without any input from Lizzie. It’s pretty obvious that you don’t really think you need her approval for anything.

    Alan is notorious for contradicting himself about this, saying whatever’s convenient at a given moment.

    When he wants to take unilateral action, he’ll say things like this:

    Lizzie is an absolute monarch, and she has delegated that absolute power, in her absence, to Neil and myself.

    When he’s resisting taking action, he’ll say things like this:

    But Neil and I are the stewards of Gondor. Whilst we could, in principle, make policy changes we cannot (should we even wish to, a separate point) make such changes without agreement from Lizzie…

    But we are stuck with what we have and neither I (nor Neil I assume) are authorised or prepared to make major changes until the King should come again.

    There’s no rhyme or reason, no consistency, no concern about lying to the readers. Just a dishonest ass making contradictory excuses for whatever he personally wants to do, or not do, at any given moment.

    15. I continued to challenge Alan’s baseless actions. Finally, after the suspensions had been in place for more than 28 hours, he wrote:

    Keiths has a point…

    Therefore, on reflection I’ll unsuspend Alurkers account and we can discuss the ethics of sockpuppetry.

    28 hours of censorship with no justification, and then what does he do? Unsuspends ALurker’s account but leaves Patrick’s suspended.

    I responded:

    For fuck’s sake, Alan. Unsuspend Patrick’s account too. Neither one of them should have been suspended.

    Your actions were reprehensible and completely unwarranted.

    That was some 16 hours ago. No response from Alan.

    This fiasco has been nothing but a series of atrocious decisions by Alan. At each step, he has chosen to do exactly hat a conscientious, honest, competent moderator would not do.

    He is an ass, completely unfit for the job. TSZ deserves far better.

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