Out of the blue (or maybe out of the red) The Standard is offering a ban amnesty.
Ah yes, we’ve banned a few folks in the many years we’ve been in the blogosphere. Some with damn good reason and some in the heat of the moment. But now we’re all older and wiser it’s time to open the comments to all of you ratbags and see if we can’t work it out somehow.
With that in mind we’re cleaning the slate and welcoming back any and all that feel the urge to put their two cents here.
But just to be clear, the moderation rules still rule so please, take a deep breath and have a think before you commit your splendid thoughts to the comments box and hit “submit”…
[UPDATE: lprent added this:
lprent: And for those newly unbanned, please read the policy. Especially the bit about wasting the time of moderators.]
The post is obviously not lprent’s writing style.
“We’ve banned a few folks” is a bit of an understatement. Recent bans have been to an extent business as usual, but some particularly have surprised me, not just for the petty reasons given for banning but some intelligent and usually reasonable lefties have been caught up in the purges – see The Standard – yawning is banned.
I’m sure there is some good intent behind this move, I think some of The Standard collective are probably a genuinely initiating something they hope will be positive for The Standard beyond it possibly being in part a reaction to the loss of quantity and quality of discussion to competition – see 100 000 pageviews.
But there are some signs that make it seem a bit like Stalin welcoming people home from the gulag, escorted by his secret police.
The Amnesty! post was preceeded by a signal something may be in the wind, last night lprent commented:
We run periodic general amnesties on the banned to find out if the idiots have figured out how to behave here. That would be his next chance.
That seemed an odd comment, I have never seen another “periodic amnesty” in several years of following what goes on at The Standard. Not so odd was “to find out if the idiots have figured out how to behave here” – that’s a typical lprent putdown with a message that his famous attempts at behaviour modification still apply.
And after the Amnesty! post lprent commented again:
Unusually this time around wasn’t me initiating it. It had been discussed by a number of mods over the past weeks. I didn’t disagree now that I have time to engage as a cleanup moderator again. In the past, I’ve usually the one who has just quietly done it when:-
I have had time to do some concentrated moderation
After we’ve accumulated a year or so of permanent bans.
Then we let people back on and see if they have improved their behaviour. If they repeat the things that got them banned last time then they wind up with a short sharp bounce.
It isn’t the concern trolls we tend not to give permanent bans for. It is usually the people who attack authors personally, the ones who tell us how to run this site, and the ones who go for a consistent pattern of firestarting and high level diversion in posts outside of OpenMike.
This is a non-subtle hint that although the banned are allowed to return as far as lprent is concerned nothing has changed. There are some significant problems with this.
- lprent apparently still intends to continue his huffing and haranguing, with a finger hovering over the ban button.
- The rulings against those who “attack authors personally” have been used to protect authors from criticism and responses to the authors attacking people personally.
- “The ones who tell us how to run this site” - a political blog can’t take a bit of criticism and advice? I can understand MPs at Red Alert desperately wanting to protect their mana and message no matter how manic, but if political bloggers can’t take a bit of advice and stick they need to grow up and grow a pair.
- This does nothing to address the pack attack behaviour of the resident protected species, allowed and encouraged by moderators directly and by example.
According to lprent’s conditions writing this post pretty much means I would not be welcome back at The Standard.
And I’m not interested in commenting again at The Standard – at least not until they do far more than allow the banned to return.
There is no indication in the Amnesty! post or in lprent’s comments that anything fundamental has changed. When commenting at The Standard I made frequent attempts to contribute positively to discussion but was repeatedly harrassed – and then blamed for disrupting the threads. I was warned and banned for disrupting the threads. And most of the disrupting was deliberate attempts to drive me away and to get me banned.
That’s what some of the residents continually do there, I have seen it repeated over and over since my departure. I have seen it again in the last few days, new commenters attacked and abused.
I was subjected to much abuse, sometimes to extreme levels, and some of that has continued since my exit. As have others. And that is allowed as part of the culture of The Standard.
Sure I challenged and criticised and provoked comment. What the fuck is a political forum supposed to be for?
I’d like to note that I rarely abused or personally attacked despite much provocation, some of that fairly extreme. I think the failure of the resident bullies to claim another scalp is what infuriated them so much, and made their attacks and disruptions so repetitive – and often childish, like their eye rolling campaign. <eyes roll>
I was sometimes too persistent and too frequent – often that was simply to not give in to the attacks. I only hung in for so long at The Standard to stand up to the numpties, I knew I would be banned and persisted until lprent blinked.
And there is no indication any of this is being addressed. They have simply offered a ban amnesty accompanied by the same old warnings, and the same moderator supported attacks – there are already signs of that before anyone returns.
I won’t return to commenting at The Standard (at this stage) for several related reasons.
- As detailed above nothing seems to have changed.
- Because nothing has changed my return is likely to attract the same old disruption, that’s not good for the blog and I can’t be bothered with it.
- I won’t participate in a forum that is such an uneven playing field, where some are can get away with any level of attack and abuse they like while others are under continual threat of “moderation”.
If The Standard wants to rebuild as a serious political forum I think they have to get serious about addressing their resident troll culture and they have to allow robust but fair debate – for all.
Obviously this criticism and advice rules out my return.
And frankly, I don’t think the lprent culture and I are compatible, I don’t see lprent changing and I won’t bow to his conditions.
UPDATE: lprent has modified his original comment as quoted above:
It isn’t the concern trolls that are a problem because we tend not to give them permanent bans. It is usually the people who attack authors personally, the ones who tell us how to run this site, and the ones who go for a consistent pattern of firestarting and high level diversion in posts outside of OpenMike. The people who fall into the areas covered by our long-standing policies and indulge in behaviour that is deemed to be disruptive or anti-social on this site. Mostly we don’t care about peoples opinions – we care about how they act.
Unusually this time around wasn’t me initiating it (which I like). It had been discussed by a number of mods since last year. I have been holding it up because of my lack of moderating time. I didn’t disagree now that I have time to engage as a cleanup moderator again.
In the past, I’ve usually the one who has just quietly done it when I have had time to do some concentrated moderation and after we’ve accumulated a year or so of permanent bans. In this case we have almost three years of accumulated bans to clear out because that is how long my work project ran for (and I had a heart attack in the middle that didn’t help much either).
Then we let people back on and see if they have improved their behaviour. If they repeat the behaviour(s) that got them banned last time then they wind up with a short sharp and preferably quite humiliating bounce. Of course there will be a few fools who take it as a badge of honour to be banned from TS – the ones who congregate at whaleoil or the sewer to display their badge of stupid behaviour and lie about why they banned. But many will have learnt to not repeat dumb behaviours. The key to doing it is when there is time to have a moderator solidly available to deal with the usual idiots who fail to learn from their past foolishness.
Obviously nothing has changed at The Standard as lprent obviously hasn’t changed. Including making accusations (again) that are downright nasty.
the ones who congregate at whaleoil or the sewer to display their badge of stupid behaviour and lie about why they banned
I’m not sure if that is directed at me or not, but if so I call bullshit on it. Of course I have joked about being banned, but I have deliberately documented how my last (permanent) ban happened on this blog so it was on record, and it is also on record at The Standard.
This further indicates that a fair and honest forum is not what lprent wants. The Standard may be a collective but it only takes one control freak power crazy strutting rooster to fowl the nest.
That’s a shame, the Labour left badly needs to rebuild and a part of that is having an open and robust forum. The Daily Blog is new and different, it provides something extra but a Standard type blog, if done well, would be invaluable.
Bit lprent has just shat in the Amnesty! nest, poking his authoritave finger at the collective attempt to regain some credibility.
The Standard amnesty is like Shearer’s amnesty for Cunliffe, you can crawl back onto the back bench if you behave but the resident attack trolls will keep trying to force you into retirement.
Sad to see such an opportunity wasted by one person’s ego.
UPDATE: lprent added this to the Amnesty! post:
lprent: And for those newly unbanned, please read the policy. Especially the bit about wasting the time of moderators.
Translated into lspeak that means if lprent wastes his time writing a long lecture about not complying with his behaviour modification he will ban you.
He has also commented:
However, you have to assume that periodically people have been known to grow up on the net…
I assume not in this instant. lprent has made it clear that he sees The Standard as his toy and if any of the collective boys and girls try to play the game how they want he will throw a tanty.
lnapoleon rules at The Standard Farm, the collective has a snowball’s chance in hell.