Sutton and confidentiality

David Farrar asks a reasonably question about breaches of a confidentiality agreement with the Roger Sutton/CERA misconduct issue.

Doesn’t confidentiality apply both ways?

I, along with many others, have been critical of Roger Sutton for breaching the confidentiality around the complaints against him by a CERA staffer. The press conference was a very bad idea, as it allowed him to spin his side of what happened.

But if one is to criticise Sutton for breaching the agreed upon confidentiality, doesn’t that apply both ways? A number of stories make it very clear that either the complainant is anonymously briefing media, or someone is on their behalf.

Now don’t get me wrong – the complainant is the wronged party. But if one is to criticise Sutton for talking publicly, then doesn’t the same apply to the other party?

iMP details a sequence of events.

1. Several female staff had issues with Sutton.
2. One eventually complained, formally, a fairly senior staffer
3. A several weeks investigation ensued.
4. Sutton chose to resign of his own accord.
5. Both parties agreed on confidentiality.
6. Sutton held a press conference, breaching that agreement and painted his victim a certain way.
7. She has little recourse, so friends have expressed views.
8. Then Sutton was further stood down.
9. Then Sutton was replaced, forthwith.

Law professor Andrew Geddis posted:

But if one is to criticise Sutton for breaching the agreed upon confidentiality, doesn’t that apply both ways?

No. No it doesn’t.

If Roger Sutton breached the confidentiality agreement, then that releases the complainant from her obligations under it. In the same way as if you don’t pay me for the car we’ve agreed I’ll sell to you, I don’t have to hand over the keys to you. That’s how contracts work.

Farrar replied:

AG: Good point but if the complainant believes Sutton’s behaviour has released her from her obligations (and if I was her, I’d check her employer’s views on that) I’d rather she gave interviews directly (not suggesting she be named) rather than this ongoing series of indirect attributions.


She can’t, or else she will be, as you imply, in breach of the agreement. And while on the balance of probabilities she is almost certainly feeding the information either directly or indirectly, neither you, me nor Rennie can prove that for sure. Which is exactly the situation Sutton was faced with.

Piecing together the contradictory self-serving bullshit that has come out of Rennie’s gob, Sutton on the balance of probabilities almost certainly committed acts of serious misconduct, but it was probably too difficult to prove it such that he would lose his job. So instead everyone concerned was offered an adult way out – he resigned.

But that wasn’t good enough for Sutton, his PR flunkie wife, and his flaky sister-in-law. Instead, they had to try and air-brush it and put a favourable spin on a situation where he had one obligation…shut his gob and walk away. And Rennie the incompetent let them do it.

As that act was yet another abuse of his position and power, I say good on whoever is leaking the details. Team Sutton doesn’t like it? Tough! Your guy should never have got himself into a situation when resigning was his only reasonable option, and then breached the agreement that would have let him walk away relatively unharmed – or at least less harmed than what has happened since the manipulation that occurred on Monday.

And sorry, DF, but for all those reasons your expression and wishes of what “I’d rather” the person in question does are about as pious and hand-wringingly ineffectual and worthless as Rennie’s moaning about how legal niceties are no longer being observed as this is now being played out in the public domain.

As you’ve suggested, she is likely NOT released from her legal obligations, and the prospect of a long and expensive battle to prove otherwise means morally she is entitled, even obligated to leak like a sieve…

Kimbo again:

Confidentiality agreement are there precisely to prevent the sort of allegations that were first directed at the complainant in places such as this blog from last Monday on.

They are usually a standard means of damage control, and a reassurance that all parties (including the employer) can emerge from the matter with no chance of come-back. All parties agree to let by-gones be by-gones on the basis of the new circumstances (which included, in this case, Sutton’s resignation).

Which would have been the case if Team Sutton had kept their mouths shut, just as hundreds of others have to do in similar circumstances.

Harsh on Sutton but it looks like fair comment.

PG attacks a Standard response

I raised a minor issue yesterday about an attack on Patrick Gower at The Standard.

Gower was quoted tweeting about Laila Harre quitting the leadership of the Internet Party but this was turned into an attack on Gower by also quoting two diversionary tweets directed at Gower rather than the news he reported. See End of the Internet Party?

I made a minor point about the author of the post not using his own ID but posting under ‘Notices and Features’. Anthony Robins later admitted it was him, but he then turned that into an attack on me.

I put up this post Pete. Does it matter? Your obsession with The Standard is unhealthy, and frankly creepy.

An odd over-reaction to being called on something. But that seems to be the normal approach, here are more reactions from The Standars welcoming committee.


I guess your conservative spite blinded you into not reading the post.

Draco T Bastard:

You trolling already PG?


I see the trole is back then.

‘Troll’ is Standard vernacular for ‘I don’t want you posting comments here’. ‘Trole’ is a spelling variant to try and bypass auto-moderation.


It is all about pete. Isnt it?!?

It was obviously about something else, and some managed to discuss some aspects of what it was about.

Glen Jacobs (not a regular Standardista):

When and why did Pete George get his ban lifted?

Whilst I find his pathetic ways somewhat entertaining, I hope whoever was behind the amnesty does realise he’s just going to fuck the forum again

lprent responded as moderator:

[lprent: He doesn’t have one at present. They are generally time limited. His last one expired quite a while ago.

PG tends to ban himself to the great delight of most readers. I guess it helps with his usual senile victim routine as he routinely lies about why he got banned. But I believe he has recently been getting banned from other sites recently. So he is back to get his jollies here. ]

I’ve challenged him a number of times on his repeated claims that I lie about being banned from The Standard. And I’ve proven him wrong. And when facts are put to him he disappears.


“I don’t believe I lie about bans”

lolz at the senility of that statement.

Shall we start a book on how long it takes for Pete to either get a ban, or self-ban? His comments seem to be mostly about criticising ts, so I’m guessing he either goes quickly, or he’s trying out a new strategy for how long he can do this and stay just under the bannable level of offense.

felix (the king of the Standard jungle):

We all know how it ends.

Can’t someone just ban him in advance and be done with the stupid prick?

I responded to felix and weka:

I’ve no idea what ” just under the bannable level of offense” is weka. But I do know that when the usual suspects start to swarm it raises the prospects.

Thanks. And to you too felix. We know how it’s done, don’t we.


Yes we do. It starts with you raising stupid irrelevant points that no-one gives a fuck about (“omfg someone reposted a tweet”),

then you blow it out out of all proportion (have you written an OUTRAGED STANDARD DISGRACE post on your website about it yet?),

then you use this pretend issue to shoehorn your big issue (“why doesn’t the world take more notice of Pete George?”) into every thread on this site until one after another everyone here gets sick of you and, in one way or another tells you to fuck off,

and then you have a tanty because the web isn’t recognising your god-given right to post whatever you want on every site you stumble across as if you owned it,

and eventually a mod decides they’ve had enough of your passive-aggressive bullshit and bans you for something that, on its own, probably doesn’t rate as much of an offense without the context of the months of trooling that led to it,

and then you fuck off back to your site to write a martyrdom post that no-one except Lynn will ever read and spend the next three weeks reposting it at kiwiblog and whaleoil and having a big cry about the unfairness of it all.

Yes Pete, we know exactly how it works. And we know it’s going to work exactly the same this time too. Seriously, it would save everyone so much trouble if you just fucked off and started working on your martyrdom post now.

That’s a normal sort of manoeuvring from felix. He’s long practiced at trying to engineer bans for anyone he decides should not comment at The Standard. I responded:

You’re as funny as ever felix.

Wouldn’t the logical approach to comments or commenters “that no-one gives a fuck about” be to ignore them? /rhetorical


Yes Pete, the logical approach to things no-one gives a fuck about is to ignore them.

Your approach, however, is to take those things that no-one gives a fuck about, and mix them in a blender with your dog-shit of a personality, and spray the resulting filth all over this site,

and you’ll be doing it all day, every day, until someone bans you,

because that’s how it works.

My reply:

I don’t intend to comment here anywhere near all day every day. I have a lot of other things I usually prefer to do, unlike you it seems, destined it seems to grump it out here trying to chase anyone away you don’t approve of.


“I don’t intend to comment here anywhere near all day every day.”

No-one intends that you do. But that hasn’t stopped you yet.

Why don’t you comment on whaleoil instead? Cameron’s getting desperate for attention, he could do with the page views.


And the thread has deteriorated to be about pg, not the topic of the post.



You mean the title of the thread wasnt

What is pete george thinking about today?

Stephanie Rodgers

have you written an OUTRAGED STANDARD DISGRACE post on your website about it yet?

Spoiler alert: he totally did, complete with pearl-clutching about the ~misuse~ of the “notices and features” handle.


Oh, dear George! Did he now? What a witnit!


Oh gawd. Is he banned from ontheleft?

Stephanie Rodgers

Strangely enough he hasn’t graced many of our threads with his comments after the first few times I told him to stay on topic and cut the passive-aggressive BS.

I haven’t seen anything of interest to comment on there. Funny Stephanie talking about aggressiveness. She aggressively attacks people who stray off what she wants the topic to be confined to.


And the thread has deteriorated to be about pg, not the topic of the post.


And when its not


They don’t take kindly to Josie Pagani being critical of them either.

Such is the Standard of debate. And one of the next steps is for them to claim I am taking over threads and should be banned for it.

I don’t care if I’m banned again. It won’t stop me from criticising them when I see fit, and it won’t stop attacking me.

But this time it switched the bash wagon from one PG to another.

UPDATE: In a comment below lprent said:

I really don’t have time to deal with senile lying old gits with too much time on their hands who quote our policies for Notices and Features and then proceed to misrepresent what it says.

However he has found the time at The Standard, in response to me saying “I don’t believe I lie about bans. You keep claiming this, incorrectly. “

His response reasserts that I lie but again he doesn’t back it up with anything apart from a rant…

[lprent: You routinely do. I always give the reason why I ban someone based on what is in the policy. That could be anything from questioning the site rules, to diverting off a posts topic, to simply appearing to waste moderators time by initiating boring flamewars that are invariably about you and your behaviour.

Rather than deal with that and just modifying your own behavior, you invariably choose to interpret that as some kind of hidden agenda or conspiracy rather than dealing with what is said. What you appear to not accept is that it is your own behaviour on our site that triggers the warnings and bans. Your behaviour in this post is absolutely characteristic. Your interpretation of our clear rules about the use of notices and features was just outright wrong and quite indefensible. But you managed to divert a large portion of the comments on the post completely off topic.

You also appear to be oblivious to your usual behaviour after you get a ban which is the basis of why I say that you routinely lie about it. Felix in a comment in this marathon comment scan (I’m currently on page 12 of 50 comments heading back to about 2pm yesterday) gave a pretty concise description of your usual behaviour.

If you’d just content yourself with actually addressing the topics of the post or the derived debate, and not making whole swathes of commentary being about you, it’d save me a whole lot of time. It’d take a while before the automatic responses by other commenters die down, but just ignore them or confine your responses to your own blog and stick to topics raised, and eventually you’d wind up commenting without the collective “FFS it is PG self-indulgently wanking again” response that you currently get.

Commenters automatically respond to you going off topic because they have seen you use your usual tactics far too many times. Instead of writing when you have something relevant to say, you seem to have an obsession with simply typing crap and asserting it is fact – because you think so. That isn’t debate. Then you complain that people don’t like it, disagree with you, and tell you why. That is the behaviour of someone who has a narcissistic need to be the centre of attention – not someone who is actually interested in discussion and debate.

BTW: If I have to ban you again, I have already decided that the date will be November 21 2017. I really don’t have time for this type of shit again. ]

I assume from this he doesn’t want me to debate, he makes baseless assertions, fails again to back them up, then threatens a ban. That’s very tough Lyn. You must love that power.

Open Forum – Sunday

Sunday 23 November 2014

This is open to anyone with any topic. It’s a mostly political blog but not limited to that, and views from anywhere on the political spectrum are welcome.

Some basic ground rules:

  • If possible support arguments, news, points or opinions with links to sources and facts.
  • Please don’t post anything illegal, potentially defamatory or abusive.
  • Debate hard if you like but respect people’s right to have varying views and to not be personally be attacked.
  • Don’t say to a stranger online anything you wouldn’t say to their face.

Moderation will be minimal if these guidelines are followed. Should they ever be necessary any moderator edits, deletes or bans will be clearly and openly advised.

Laila Harré quitting Internet Party leadership

3 News report on Laila Harré’s comments about quitting the Internet Party – Laila Harre stepping down as Internet Party leader

“All options are then open for whether or not the party continues as an electoral force or moves into some other formation and plays its part in politics in a different way,” she told The Nation.

The party could be wound up, though if it decides to continue any on-going merger with Mana was not guaranteed.

Internet Mana had completely mismanaged the last month of the campaign, which began when Mana candidate Georgina Beyer publicly attacked Dotcom, Ms Harre said.

“[That] fed into what became a narrative of a rift and division and it was one that we couldn’t knock through the rest of the campaign. It became completely distracting from the release of policy.”

There was a good reason why there was a negative narrative.

The media had also focused on Dotcom on a negative way.

There was a good reason why Dotcom was focussed on in a negative way.

Ms Harre didn’t rule out a return to politics in the future.

“I would love to be in parliament. I would love to be articulating the kind of fundamental agenda and values that Internet Mana promoted.”

It’s hard to see any of the current parties wanting her as one of their MPs. Once political principles are compromised it can be very difficult undoing the damage.

She didn’t have any regrets about her involvement with Internet Mana.

“For me being outside parliament as a political party is not a game that I think is worth the candle.

“What I want to do though is continue to promote and connect with the kind of more radical policies that we began to introduce into the election.”

She has started a website with her sister, Rethinking the System, as part of that journey.

Harré’s announcement yesterday that she is stepping down from leadership.

Laila Harré to step down – member survey still open

I wanted you to know before the public that I will be stepping down from the leadership of the Internet Party at the completion of our current review.

As I said after the election, I am committed to guiding the Party through the review so that members have the final say on what the future looks like.

I thought it was important for you to know my own position before decisions are made. I can see from the survey results so far that you have appreciated me and my leadership – and I can tell you that it’s mutual. I am very proud of what our candidates, staff, active members, and on-line forum participants have created and achieved in just a few months. I really hope that you will all take part in the survey and decision-making process as it’s important to reach into the whole membership for your views.

The survey will close at midnight this Sunday 23 November.

Here is the link again:…

Thanks to those who have already responded to the survey on the future of the Internet Party.

If you haven’t please do. Whatever your opinion of the future we want to hear from you.

This survey is not a vote – it is intended to canvas all the options and engage members. One we have identified those options (nothing ruled in or out yet) members will make the decisions on the future.

Thanks for participating.

Laila Harré,
Internet Party Leader.

Huggy stuff

The Roger Sutton debacle this week (very poorly played out) has raised a wider issue. Kiwi culture has become much more huggy in my lifetime.

Is it natural and healthy interaction?

Or do some people go too far with it? Especially in work situations?

For example I’m not that keen on my boss hugging my wife if she comes in to see me. Should professional situations be hands off apart from the traditional hand shaking?

Obviously there’s a lot of diifferences of approach on this. Have we become too huggy?

Whale Oil still in message control mode

NZ Herald reported this morning: Len Brown scandal journalist Stephen Cook on P charges

The journalist who broke the story of the Len Brown and Bevan Chuang sex scandal has appeared in court on methamphetamine charges.

Stephen John Cook, 46, came before Manukau District Court this morning on charges of possessing the class A drug and a glass pipe used to smoke it.

Cook gained publicity last year when he teamed up with WhaleOil blogger Cameron Slater to publish details of the mayor’s high-profile affair.

The alleged offending which brought him before the court today stemmed from an incident in Auckland on Saturday.

Tonight there was a comment on Whale Oil’s Backchat that was presumably related to this. It asked that as Slater was so opposed to drunk driving what he thought of P.

Soon afterwards the comment disappeared.

If the journalist charged was someone like David Fisher it would be likely to feature in at least one prominent scathing post on Whale Oil.

Slater said recently:

I am very happy with where we are placed, and very happy with where we are going.

Big things are going to happen soon, and then you will see why it is that we have headed in this direction.

Going in the direction of suppression of discussion about unfavourable news is not a good lead in to a new media enterprise.


I’ve been sidetracked down memory lane tonight.

Someone emailed me saying “Apologies if this is the most random email you get this week.”

So far it is. He asked me if I had written some specific software in the early eighties. I had. I did some searching.

Seems like it has a (very small) following amongst classic software collectors. A copy was sold on Trademe 2009 as a “Rare game”. It has also been discussed on forums and there was a screen shot on Twitter last year.

This is weirdly cool.

I wrote a book about computing back then too, it was pre-printed and nearly published. I still have a copy of that but not of the software.

I’ll collate some stuff and post on it when i get time. Half a dozen people might be interested – they were fun times but the market was very small.

Not a right wing blog

This isn’t a right wing blog. Nor is it a left wing blog. It’s an open blog where I can post what interests me, promote what is important to me, and encourage wide ranging discussion – which happens to be one of my interests. A lot of our political discussion seems to be silo-ed into left or right but I think it’s important to debate across the political divide.

On some things I lean right – we need free enterprise and free trade. On some things I lean left – we need social welfare. One of the challenges of politics is getting a good balance. If we have more successful business and more and better paying jobs that reduces the need for welfare – but means we can afford to help those who genuinely need state assistance more.

My first interest in blogs was participation for several years at Aardvark - I just checked, Bruce is still sort of keeping things going there having just revived forums.

Then I found Kiwiblog and jumped in there. I was painted as a leftie but found the challenge there a lot of fun. I’ve been quite prolific in comments there but that has reduced substantially over the last year or two.

After a while I looked around and found The Standard. I was recognised as being “from Kiwiblog” so was immediately painted as a rightie. That made it even more challenging there and it has continued like that, they tend shun anyone deemed to be not one of them, regardless of what you say.

I’ve also dabbled on a number of other blogs including Whale Oil, Public Address, The Daily Blog, red Alert, and have been banned from all of them (and a number of times from The Standard). Criticisms have ranged from being to bland and boring (I’m sure I have been at times) and being to provocative and contrary – DPF’s “fomenting happy mischief” is a practice I sometimes enjoy.

I have generally enjoyed debates on the right more, because people on the right seem more inclined to argue the issues one to one on their merits. Sure it can get very robust, but that’s healthy in debate, especially in politics.

The political left seems more abusive, exclusive and pack orientated, where “if you’re not with us you’re against us” seems a common mentality – but the right isn’t immune from that as Whale Oil is currently demonstrating.

The “Dirty Politics” attempt to swing the election has become a one-sided “right bad, left perfect” campaign.

I have experienced bad abuse from the right, and there’s a few dishonest regulars at Kiwiblog who lie and abuse to try and discredit, with little or no attempt to debate.

But abuse and harassment has been worse from the left, for me at least. They may not be as extreme and direct as Cameron Slater but the intent and the practices are just as dirty in their own way – they also try to discredit and drive away alternate opinions.

And until Whale Oil’s clampdown on dissent and alternative views the left was clearly the worst for censorship.

So I’m sort of in the middle politically but swing either way depending on what makes sense to me. I’ve voted both ways over the years – I think governing competence is more important than election campaign inspired policies.

And this isn’t a left wing or a right wing (or a centrist) blog.

It aims to offer something a bit different – open debate across the spectrum, with an emphasis on robust but respectful debate backed by as many facts as possible (one thing that seems to get up the noses of some blogs is arguing against them with facts).

Many in political blogging want to impose their opinions, their ideals, their favoured parties and politicians. And in doing that they often try to exclude alternate views, frequently through name calling, abusing and making false accusations.

Your NZ is for something different – debate from all sides is welcome and encouraged. We can learn a lot by exploring issues with the other side of the argument.

It’s a well used phrase but right or wrong versus right or left.

And accepting that right or wrong is often not simple or binary. Sometimes it’s looking for the least bad alternative, as in dealing with the ongoing problems in the Middle East.

This is not a right wing blog, but people who consider themselves right wing, or left wing, are welcome to contribute.

Bad language on blogs

Much has been made of a clamp down on bad language being behind the clampdown on comments and commenters at Whale Oil. In his announcement of Travis qutiting Whale Oil yesterday Pete Belt later conceded he over emphasised it. He initially said:

There has been a shift in culture, where we’ve changed a bunch of foul mouthed blokey commenters for (what they see) a knitting circle.

It all comes down to the ability for people to swear in the comments, and old commenters that could not change being resentful that they’ve lost “the only place on the Internet” where they felt at home.

Many pointed out that the issues were far wider and deeper than “the ability for people to swear” so later Pete conceded:

Travis has alluded to it – I deliberately oversimplified things. It isn’t just about swearing.

I’m puzzled by the over-emphasis on swearing.It seems to have been a simplistic approach that ignores a much bigger problem – abuse.

Note: I infrequently swear on blogs but was banned from WO for, apparently, using the phrase ‘man crap’. The word crap is used so obviously allowed on NZ Herald and Stuff online.

Attitudes to swearing have changed markedly in my lifetime. When i grew up swearing at school was severely punished and you just didn’t swear in front of adults. Print media, radio, movies and TV were very particular about what language must be excluded. That has relaxed a bit in print media and radio, and substantially in movies and in TV programs where nearly anything goes at times. It reflects real life.

Younger people in particular swear far more openly than they would have last century.

While I don’t swear much I usually don’t have a problem when people swear, I’m now used to it being common, including on blogs.

I don’t recall much if any criticism of Whale Oil for the swearing. There was a far bigger problem with personal attacks, regardless of whether swearing was involved. Non swear words are commonly used to viciously attack people.

One of Cameron Slater’s biggest moments of infamy was not for swearing – he was quoted without censorship for language in the Greymouth Star:

Blogger puts the boot in

Provocative right-wing internet blogger Cameron Slater was today standing by a headline that described Greymouth car crash victim Judd Hall as “feral”.

Mr Hall, a 26-year-old from Runanga, died when a car in which he was a backseat passenger left the road and crashed into a house about 11 o’clock on Friday night.

At 7.21am on Saturday, Mr Slater’s Whale Oil blog site carried a brief story on the crash under the heading, ‘Feral dies in Greymouth, did world a favour’.

When contacted by the Greymouth Star today, Mr Slater accepted that he did not know Mr Hall or his family, but justified the “feral” description by saying: “It is Greymouth, isn’t it? Didn’t Helen Clark say that you are all feral?”

He said anybody travelling at 140kph in a car in a 50kph area was ‘feral’, whether on the West Coast or in south Auckland.

He did not regret the headline and would not be apologising for it.

Mr Hall wasn’t even responsible for the crash. Many may consider calling the driver a fucking idiot far more appropriate than the language Slater used.

Excessive swearing can detract from blogs, as it can detract from conversations, depending on the context and the company you are in.

But I think are worse than swearing on blogs are abuse, personal attacks, harassment and stalking.  And message control censorship.

Whale Oil didn’t have a bad reputation for swearing, it had a bad reputation for attacking people, sometimes viciously. Slater led by example.

The Standard has a bad reputation for one sided abuse and attacks, protected and even promoted by the site moderation, with lprent leading the way.

Kiwiblog doesn’t have a bad reputation for swearing, it has a bad reputation for personal attacks. David Farrar isn’t criticised for his occasional swearing, he’s criticised for allowing too much free speech – and his recent moderation improvements have clamped down on abuse, not swearing.

There’s probably more annoyance expressed and complaints on blogs about bad grammar than swearing. I saw someone complaining yesterday about mixing brought with bought. For some people the misuse of apostrophe’s seems to be a major offence (and I deliberately misused one there).

So what’s more important on blogs, having swearing police or grammar police?

I’d prefer that people were allowed to freely express their opinions and feelings, as long as it’s not done to attack and abuse.

I’d prefer less religious or Bain argument on Kiwiblog than less swearing.

I’d prefer an even playing field on The Standard to less swearing.

I’d prefer less silent censorship on The Daily Blog than less swearing.

I’d prefer more honesty on Whale Oil than using swearing as an excuse to ban people to sanitise and propagandise  the comments.

Each blog to their own. Cameron got around his own swearing ban yesterday by using an acronym – FIFO. That means fit in or fuck off. I don’t think it’s the swear word that is cringe in that, it’s the intent. If you’re careful not to speak contrary to the Whale Oil authors or sponsors and you’re lucky not to strike Pete Belt on a bad day (which seem to be frequent) then you can keep commenting there.

Fuck, I’d rather promote free and robust (with respect) expression than be mob controlled with crap like that.

The most damaging language in society and on blogs is not swear words. Bad language isn’t controlled by using banned word filters.

I’d prefer no censorship and more relaxed language dictates – and as I have my own blog I’m free to have that.

Pete Belt explains again

Pete belt has being doing a lot of explaining at Whale Oil lately, and he should know what Cameron Slater thinks of explaining.

In response to feedback on TRAVIS LEAVES WHALEOIL he has posted a follow up comment.

Travis has alluded to it – I deliberately oversimplified things. It isn’t just about swearing. The reason Travis has chucked in the towel is that a lot of the people he enjoyed conversing with have been blocked. I’ve tightened up the rules over time to include things like “do not debate Cam directly in the comments, use email”.

That still oversimplifies things. From what Travis has said it’s not just about “people he enjoyed conversing”. He said:

It is sad to see so many former loyal readers tossed aside like a bag of shit, readers that the blog built it’s base on. Intelligent people, business owners, all sorts of decent people. I have witnessed on several occasions now in recent weeks where people have been banned or severely warned for dissenting views. To be treating adult humans as though they are children that need behavioural control and told what not to say is patently wrong.

Then Pete switches from Travis’ friends to ‘trolls’.

The reasons for this are very good – most trolls will come in and have a go at Cam personally. It’s a net I use to catch a lot of stuff that has no place here. But it also has had the effect of catching people who are genuine commenters who wanted to have a debate with Cam on the blog. Few realised Cam was hardly ON the blog, but that’s another issue.

The banning binge has been far more indiscriminate than that.

Everything has a reason. But in the end, the bolshy types started falling by the wayside as they kept pushing. In the end, there was only one outcome.

Many have said they didn’t push, they were shoved out without warning and without knowing what they had done wrong.

One area where Travis is particularly unfair is that Whaleoil, and it’s ‘staff” have been through hell and back over the last 6 months. We have been under organised and sustained attacks to try and destroy us – as a blog, and as people.

I don’t think he’s been unfair at all there. This sounds like more ‘poor us’ syndrome. Yes, things have been tough for Whale Oil over the last few months, but that’s not sufficient excuse for the draconian reaction.

In a way, Travis leaving is another Dirty Poltics “win”, in my mind. Another man down. But the barrage of trolls and deliberate attempts to start conflict was so intense and sustained, there is no doubt in my mind some of our own got caught in the cross fire.

This has also been tried in comments on Whale Oil – the ‘if you complain or react you are letting “Dirty Politics” win method of squashing dissent.

And Pete is ignoring the fact that the changes and the banning binges started happening well before “Dirty Politics” was launched.

That’s what the amnesty after the election was about. At the time, we were barely holding on. There were times I was doing nothing but read, delete and block for a whole day. It was insane. This was at the time where we all were under scrutiny, and it was hard to know who was a friend being critical and who was a political operative intent on destroying Whaleoil.

That’s nonsense. A number of longstanding commenters and supporters of Whale Oil were purged. Pete must have known and Cameron will have known that the net was being cast far wider than a few new trolls.

Travis told me the amnesties haven’t worked because nobody that got culled wants to come back.

That’s because in effect to be reinstated you were told to grovel and were also told there was little chance of success – according to what Peter has said:

8. can I ask for a review?  are there amnesties?  is that it, forever?

No.  Sometimes.  Probably.

An admission that indiscriminate banning went too far…

Anyway, he alluded to it, and I think he’s earned this addendum – there have been people that have been blocked that probably shouldn’t have been. But then there are also those that never stopped needling – a bit like Travis, in fact. And in the end, enough was enough.

…Travis says he walked, he wasn’t pushed.

At this stage, the people who are blocked are all speaking from how it has affected them,

This isn’t correct. I’ve seen many people speaking about how they think it has affected Whale Oil too.

with little or no regard for the way it is going against what Cameron Slater wants. I may be the poisoned voice that whispers in Cam’s ear, but nothing gets done unless he’s on board.

Cameron wants many old and loyal supporters and commenters banished from his blog? I’d be interested to hear his take on that.

Sadly, Travis, and others, have needs from Whaleoil that Cam is no longer wanting to cater for. And I am the whipping boy because I’m the one that’s actually making a lot of the day to day judgments.

He no longer wants people with independent thoughts and a willingness to express their opinions and to debate?

Whaleoil is more than a place for some blokes to come shoot the breeze. It’s part of a larger plan. It has to provide reliable income for the Slater family. It needs to pay my outrageous fees.

Real reason #1 – money. The cleansing was to keep the advertising necessary to pay the bills and wages. Fair enough.

In closing, Cam Slater, and/or Whaleoil, were in the news every day for a month, and not in a good way. Nobody else has been put under the amount of pressure that we were under. In the mean time, we tried to run a blog. This is while we were subject to commissions of inquiry, we had major privacy breaches, and we were committing to legal action we couldn’t afford to pay. It was insane.

And many thought the draconian and erratic ‘moderation was and is insane – and it began before the pressure piled on.

Against this backdrop, Travis’ needs, and those of his commenting friends…

As already said it’s far wider than Travis and a few friends.

…that are no longer with us, really didn’t register. Some pretty quick and dirty decisions were made to ensure we survived this period, and this included pushing away any negativity, even if it came from within.

But this all still ignores what Cameron posted today:

I am very happy with where we are placed, and very happy with where we are going.

Big things are going to happen soon, and then you will see why it is that we have headed in this direction.

The media landscape in New Zealand is about to change forever.

It might seem mean…bit FIFO applies.

So participation and support don’t matter now, Whale Oil is moving on to new things and those who helped it’s past success don’t matter now.

That’s Cameron’s call. Perhaps he thinks he can build a new audience. He must be confident because he should know that when you kick a loyal audience it’s difficult to win back trust and credibility.

And despite what he claims:

It won;t become an echo chamber, I refuse to allow this site to become like Twitter has become, or like the 3News site where ranty, abusive and shouty leftists just howl down other peoples ideas.

There are other types of echo chambers than ranty howly ones – and Whale Oil has become one – like a well oiled PR machine, with any sign of dissent papered over or pushed aside.

That doesn’t sound like a change to the media landscape. Whale Oil used to be a change. It seems to be becoming something very similar to what they claim they are going to take over from.

It’s going to be a challenge to succeed despite both Dirty Politics and the discarding of a significant audience.

If this proves too difficult Pete Belt might have quite a bit more explaining to do. And Cameron knows what that means in his language.


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