Slater freed from Whale Oil

It was announced on Whale Oil yesterday that Cameron Slater is leaving Whale Oil (for a month or two or something) and Pete Belt is completely taking over (Belt has been holding together and propping WO up for a year or two anyway).

But there were confusing messages, apparently prompted by news leaking out that it was happening quietly.

Bryce Edwards@bryce_edwards

Cameron Slater is reported by @RMAHarman to be stepping aside from the Whaleoil site (for a new news site), and some MPs have been informed.

A few hours later a post appeared on Whale Oil – From the Driver’s Seat: Cam Slater is no longer with Whaleoil by Pete, Editor.

I used to write columns “from the passenger seat”, providing insight into Whaleoil as a close observer.  From today that changes for a while. No doubt this will come as a shock to many, but Cam’s no longer here after the weekend.

That’s a bit confusing. “No longer with Whaleoil” versus “no longer here after the weekend”.

UPDATE: There is a post under ‘Cameron Slater’ up at 7.30 am this morning so it seems to be the latter.

But it isn’t a shock to me. Slater has been a shadow of his former self as blogger. He has been isolated and has sounded jaded. Blogging is relentless, especially at the level WO has been operating and especially if ongoing income is essential.

The good news is that it is only for a little while. I’m not allowed to share with you what he’s up to, but the choice had to be made: Was he going to do two things poorly, or one thing well?

So Cam will be back in a month, perhaps two – depending.

Uncertainty about whether this is a temporary or a permanent change.

Some would probably claim Slater has been doing more than two things poorly.

Slater in comments: “I will just be taking a bit of a sabbatical after 11 years with no break.”

Fair enough, if that is the case. But there are indications that may not be entirely correct. What is he going to do well?

NBR have some suggestions in Slater to take sabbatical from blog site – ‘like Andrew Sullivan’.

According to Mr Slater, his decision to take a break has been prompted by two things: “a couple of other projects that need some attention” and his “need [for] a rest after an intense couple of years.”

In response to “I hope this means we’re gonna be a step close to being freed or soon to be reading Dirty Politics – The Other Side” in WO comments Slater replied “I will neither confirm nor deny both of those”.

Of the latter, he says, “Having blogged constantly for 11 years this will actually be my first real break.

Fair enough on that. Blogging at his level and fighting related legal actions and initiating legal actions are all time consuming and would wear anyone out.

As for what those projects entail, he declines to comment.

It is believed, however, that one of them is the long-in-gestation news site Freed, plans for which NBR first reported in July 2014.

So Freed, announced by Slater two years ago with a claimed start up date of ‘before the election’, may be about to get off the ground.

At the time Mr Slater confirmed his intention to start a news site to “complement and run alongside Whale Oil,” one that would not be “right or left, but … a properly resourced new media venture with all the news, all the time,” but wouldn’t comment on whether Instra managing founder and Kim Dotcom-supporter-turned-detractor Tony Lentino was bankrolling the idea.

That was confirmed, however, in April this year in a piece published on Whale Oil by Regan Cunliffe, the founder of former television fan site Throng who is understood to be Mr Slater’s business partner in the venture.

Curiously this NBR article was quoted in a later post on Whale Oil – NBR’s take on Whaleoil’s change in direction , without comment from ‘Whaleoil Staff’.

Was there an agreement not to reveal what project Slater was going to working on while on sabbatical?

Belt had previously posted “I’m not allowed to share with you what he’s up to”, but he’s just reporting what someone else said, right?

So Slater is no longer at Whale Oil, either now or after the weekend.

He is on a sabbatical and taking a well earned rest – “my first real break” – while working on a project or two.

And he may be back at Whale Oil in a month. Or two. Depending.

In the meantime, what now for Whale Oil? It looks like this is a sudden change as Belt is suggesting things he might do, so doesn’t yet have plans in place. See next post.

Is Whale Oil boring?

Most people find politics boring so yes, most people are likely to find Whale Oil boring (and Your NZ too).

But Cameron raises the question in a post that appears to be a mix of self sympathy and self promotion, not uncommon there these days.

Whaleoil is too boring, and its readers are getting shafted

That’s the gist of an email I received today.  The email essentially proposes that all the good stuff is now going into INCITE: Politics, and what’s left here is just the dregs.

More accurately perhaps – a lot of past readers (and commenters) were shafted and the dregs are left – and a few of them do their best to praise their web master.

But Slater has sounded jaded lately and that feeling continues in his post.

As for Whaleoil being boring.  After the mad heights of the last election with Kim Dotcom and then the Dirty Politics fallout, I hope you don’t mind if I say “thank goodness it is!”.   What’s the old saying?  May you live in interesting times.  I can assure you that something a little more sane and sensible is good for my health and general happiness.

However, I still live in interesting times.  The problem is that as I battle people through the courts, as I lay complaints with police, as I am a litigant and defendant in several court actions with Mr A, Colin Craig, Mr B and Mr C, I need to place my own needs ahead of those of my readers by not trying to waffle on in public about it.

That level of legal activity would wear anyone down. One could posit that he is reaping some of what he has sown. But he does waffle on a bit about it all.

And it is boring in the sense that this is a political blog and we’re going through an extremely bland period of politics.

It may be a relatively bland period for Slater as he seems to have been cast out into the political wilderness. Most of his exciting sources have deserted him. He is struggling in a period of significantly reduced importance, for him.

But politics continues beyond Whale Oil and I still see plenty of fascinating stuff around.

Slater asks:

Is the content in INCITE: Politics what you would normally find on Whaleoil?

A few people dutifully promote Incite for him, one of whom gets promoted as a ‘featured comment’.

From what I’ver seen of Incite (the first couple of editions) it’s different to Whale Oil, aimed at a different market – paying political customers. There was some interesting stuff but nothing compelling.

Greg M points out:

*Every issue has polls and analysis by Curia, this doesn’t come cheap, and as we all know Curia tends to be the most reliable and accurate of all political polls.
*Guest articles by respected commenters from all sides of the fence, Willie Jackson and Chris trotter, Carrick Graham and David Garrett have all contributed..
*Simon Lusk and Cam also do a detailed and in depth analysis of the latest events.

David Farrar’s polling and analyse is interesting enough.

But Jackson, Trotter, Graham and Garrett are hardly sought after heavy hitters in today’s world of politics.

And talking of heavy hitters Lusk and Slater, the editors of Incite, must have very limited credibility these days and are seen more as toxic. There’s unlikely to be many politicians who would want to be seen as associated with the Dirty Politics duo.

I suspect that the timing of this post, just after an edition of Incite was published, is trying to talk up some subscriptions, but the tears dripping into spilt milk are apparent.

So is Whale Oil boring?

It’s obviously popular with quite a few people, there are still active comments threads.

But it has become more boring from my perspective at least.

Slater has lost most of his sources so he doesn’t have anywhere near the number of scoops he used to post.

Since WO went to half hourly posts there’s a lot of padding and repetition.

And it’s become very predictable, Herald bashing, Little bashing, Green bashing, Goff bashing, McCone bashing, and until recently an incessant amount of Muslim bashing.

Many of the posts are predictable from the headings. Too much same old.

It’s hard to know how much moderating goes on because most of it is done silently but it’s still happening. But a lot of the damage was done when they purged a lot of commenters, the core of those left are friendly,  fake, or scared to step out of line because banning was done often for very little. Ironically they say they edit out comments that are too boring, and have become boring.

WO is a shadow of it’s heyday, and Slater sounds worn down too. Not surprising given the Dirty Politics exposure, his pariah status and  and all the court actions he has become embroiled in (and in some cases has chosen to get involved in and prolong).

Despite the lack of sources and scoops now Whale Oil does contributed something to the political blogosphere.

But as well as that it has become weighed down by financial necessity.  The number of posts – half hourly – and the number of click bait fillers are presumably seen as necessary to keep the ticks that pay the bills and the wages.

Less repetition and fewer fillers would make Whale Oil more interesting for a wider readership.

There is too much dross to wade through to be bothered. And there is limited appeal in the ‘poor me’ posts.

Whale Oil is obviously still ok for some but the gloss as worn off and Slater sounds worn out.

It’s actually bloody hard work keeping readers interested day after day, month after month, year after year.

And motivation must be especially hard for Slater after having fallen out of the political circles and excitement his was once in the centre of.

While I think Pete Belt is responsible for some of the fall in interest especially in the comments threads due to his fairly extreme ‘moderation’ methods he does seem to have pretty much held together what could have been a train wreck.

For a while it was the Flying Whale, but it has become more like a rickety old Thomas with not much energy left in the tank.

Still Whale Oil survives which is a major achievement in itself. It just isn’t what it briefly was in it’s heyday

I find it boring and mostly lacking in political relevance now. I only noticed this post because someone pointed it out to me. And even they said “I don’t bother looking into Whaleoil much at all these days”.

Perhaps Whale Oil will find a new lease of life some time but for now it is just another political blog that most people will find boring – if they ever find it. That’s a reality of politics and a reality of blogging.

Peeking behind Belt’s curtain

Pete Belt has put up a couple of curious posts at Whale Oil that may give some unintended insight into how things work there.

Wednesday: A peek behind the curtain – Part One

In this post Belt explains “the ‘editing’ process, where we try to make comments a good read” – I think he meant ‘comments threads’. ‘Editing’ means deleting comments. He lists a number of mundane examples.

Let’s explain the first five comments:

  1. Adds nothing new and unnecessarily sycophantic supportive.
  2. If Cam posted something and you can’t get to it, there is no point talking about it.  People will try themselves.
  3. Possible source of blog friction. One liner and doesn’t add much.
  4. Use of abbreviated profanity that is always a no-no.
  5. One liner and not adding anything useful.

It may pay to note that comments from people that are hard core Whaleoil supporters are being deleted too. This is simply part of the ‘editing’ process, where we try to make comments a good read.  So “solid supporters” aren’t immune either.  In fact, I have personally removed comments from Cam, Spanish Bride and (upon further reflection)  myself!

Next lot of 5:

  1. Mild profanity, but profanity all the same.
  2. Attempt at toilet humour on a serious article. Responses need to have the same gravitas as the article. What is allowed on trivial posts may not survive on the serious stuff.
  3. Do not communicate with Cam via the comments. Comments are to talk about the article. Use email if you need to address Cam or blog staff (unless it is in reply to comment left by that person, of course).
  4. Attempt at humour, one liner and adds nothing to the debate.
  5. Off topic and adds nothing to the article or the debate.

And that’s the sum total of moderation for yesterday up to 6pm.

Note that this is after about two years of Belt moderating. A large number of people have been totally ‘edited’ – banned, so most of those commenters who remain have learnt what to be careful about saying to avoid being ‘edited’.

In short this explains how comments threads at Whale Oil are ‘edited’ pretty much at the whim of Belt. He manages the message by deleting comments and periodically making threats about content and banning.

Thursday: A peek behind the curtain: Part Two

Following up on his reminder of his message management Belt now makes some remarkable claims. A number of his assertions about me are false, but more interesting is what he claims to have been doing.

Over the last few months I’ve been leaving mysterious comments that pretended to give accidental insight into how things work in the background.

Slowly but surely, we started dropping little fake “hints”.

So he claims they were making things up. This won’t surprise many people who have seen what Whale Oil has done over the years.

Remarkably, about 80% were picked up and fed into Mr Blog Man’s model.

“Fed into” is an interesting phrase. I’ve been well aware that people closely associated with Whale Oil have dropped comments in here ‘anonymously’.

Best of all, it seemed to prove him right. He wrote dozens and dozens of articles taking a slight nudge and using it as “proof” or creating a whole new “truth”.

“Dozens and dozens of articles” may be an attempt at self flattery but it’s quite an exaggeration. Accuracy isn’t their forte.

This went on for months. This is how long the game has been played.

So they made false comments for months? I thought they had been doing that for years.

Some days I wondered how it may have affected you. Wisely, you all stayed well away from it (and probably hoped it was  just a spat and we’d get over it).

So Belt is claiming they were deliberately misleading their flock, for months.

Cam and I would never be so crass or stupid to have this sort of thing out in public…

I wonder if that’s one of those “mysterious comments that pretended to give accidental insight into how things work”. How would one know what to believe at Whale Oil?

It’s created a lovely mess of incongruent beliefs that include: 1. I’m not real,  2. Cam is financially dependent on me

I know Belt and his aliases are real. And going by the amount of work Belt has done managing WO comments to protect ad clicks, fundraising and pleading for donations “financially dependent” does seem to have a smattering of reality.

Which is why I want to put an end to it. Mostly, because I’ve started getting concerned emails from people thinking that I am leaving at the end of this month.

He has “put an end to it” because WO followers were getting concerned about their self inflicted damage?

It’s another fantasy we’ve been feeding into: that Cam can’t afford to pay me, or that he can’t afford to buy me out.

Does that mean  Belt has been soliciting donations under false pretences? Is ‘Cam is hard up and needs money and so do I’ a deceitful fantasy?

It’s common that when people make up stories they get themselves tangled up in contradictions.

The tragics at Mr Blog Man’s place have mixed feelings about me leaving Whaleoil.  The consensus is that even with me gone, it will never recover.

Who is tragic? It seems that Belt spends a lot more time following Your NZ. But his claim about consensus is false, there is no consensus here on anything, there are diverse opinions.

It has been fun, but I wish you had been in on the joke from the start.  You could have enjoyed it with us.  What concerned me, however, was that you would have become increasingly uneasy at the strains on display.  And that’s not fair to you – not since you’re such a valued and respected part of our community here.

If it’s not fair to them now why was this fantasy (supposed false claims) fair at any time?

The point being that any and all strains you’ve seen “bleeding through” have all been play acting.

The most amusing part will be that the Blog Man and his merry men and women will not take this as the truth.  They will say it is “explaining is losing”, and they will consider that I’m covering something else up.  Such is the fun of it all.

So what can anyone take as the truth at Whale OIl? Belt has put himself and WO in an absurd situation, he claims they make things up, and then suggests some people may “not take this as the truth”.

At the end of these games, these blog games, are real lives.  We may have little respect for Blog operator A or B, but I’m mindful that they are still people with families.  They have futures to build or rebuild.  And in the end, politics is a game.  And like any game, you can quit playing it.

That’s an odd comment.Belt may genuinely consideration for people’s lives and families, but I have ample evidence that some people with associations with Whale Oil are the dirtiest operators I’ve seen online in New Zealand, with no care about the damage they try and inflict on people. It’s a dirty, despicable game they play.

And one thing they do a lot is make things up. They make serious, false accusations. They make a mess of legal actions based on false premises and planted evidence.

Belt may just confine himself to trying to protect his assets, including making things up to fool his WO audience. Perhaps he should have a harder look at what’s behind his curtain.

If nothing else Belt’s curtain seems to be one of deceit. Is he deceiving himself?

Really Pete?

I came across one of the more bizarre posts I’ve seen, and there’s a lot of candidates for that. Pete Belt posted A peek behind the curtain: Part Two at Whale Oil today (I don’t mind actually naming people and sites I post about).

It’s a fairly warped curtain. The main take out is that it’s impossible to know what to take seriously there.

A number of Belt’s claims are straight out wrong.

And the yarn he spins about spinning a yarn seems to be trying too hard and lacks credibility somewhat.

Is that really what Whale Oil has come to? A fictional farce?

It all sounds similar to his ‘it was all a cunning plan’ response when his review of Slater’s book was outed.

If Belt isn’t careful he might start to believe his own bull.

I guess it means that Belt is committed to keeping things going there. Perhaps re-committed. Other than that who would know what to believe there any more?

Insights into Whale Oil #3

Whale Oil has posted on the December Open Parachute rankings that show them well on top as usual.

POLITICAL BLOGS DOMINATE TOP 10 by Pete Belt has some interesting comment on site statistics, including accusations that other media blogs are cheating on traffic statistics.

There have also been claims that Whale Oil cheat on their statistics. I don’t think this is necessarily true, Whale Oil is just highly tuned to maximising page views.

Their number of posts per day is a significant factor – no other blog comes close to their 30+ posts per day, drip fed every half hour. So it’s not surprising they get significantly more hits.

A few comments by Belt provide further insights into Whale Oil.

People see this blog as Cam’s, when in truth there are about 20 regulars that keep the place ticking along just so that Cam can saunter in and throw a few articles in…

 Like any headline act, Cam is supported by stage managers, sound and lighting people, roadies and many more.

Whale Oil is in a different league to probably any other New Zealand blog, in the number involved in keeping it running, and the revenue required to keep it afloat. As his next point illustrates:

Dec, Jan and Feb are tougher months for us as off-blog income slows down, nobody pays our invoices, and new work is hard to drum up when everyone is out there having some deserved downtime.  But we still need your spare change.  I so like being a hypocrite (not!), but in the same breath as mocking Nigel Haworth for asking people to check the back of their couches for spare change, I am now going to do the same.

I’d noticed the Labour fund raising mocking hypocrisy. At least Belt is candid enough to acknowledge it. Keeping the click cents ticking over is a Whale Oil essential that other blogs don’t have to worry about.

What about 2017?   Will Freed (ever) happen?  Where will INCITE: Politics go?   Those aren’t my concern.  Both are initiatives that may involve Cam, but have nothing to do with this blog.   I can report that the Freed people are having a meeting this month with another successful high flyer to see if we can find the ever elusive 2nd investor, and INCITE will hit its second edition in February.

What about 2016?

Freed and INCITE Politics may be separate enterprises but must impact on Whale Oil. Slater only has so much time to spread around, and only so many unique stories.

Whaleoil itself will continue to do what it does.  But after a year of consolidation, Cam will be back and more available.

Slater is expanding into to other avenues but will also be more available to Whale Oil? Time will tell whether he can manage that.

An exchange in comments adds more insights into that aspect of Whale Oil.

Steve (North Shore):

On the first day of 2016 you have one red note sent by credit card.
This place rocks, I will like it more than last year and hope I don’t get a holiday.

That highlights a past problem that Whale Oil has had, enforced ‘holidays’ for people who donated to the site. Steve seems to be hoping his payment will ensure he can continue to comment.

Pete Belt:

I think you’ve stopped baiting me, so you’ll be fine. 🙂

Steve (North Shore):

Baiting was never the intention Pete, I just own my own shit, and sometimes just have an outburst. Happy New 2016.

Pete Belt:

I apologise. At the time, I genuinely thought you were trying to push my buttons on purpose.

I think there were significant problems with over-sensitivity to Belt’s buttons – the buttons perceived to being pushed and the ban buttons.

People see what we do as some barrier, but if you had any idea what pressures we were under before, during and after the election and DP debacle, we were indeed erring on the side of assuming people were after us. Some of them were, but no doubt others got lost in the noise the same way.

I suspect quite a few ‘others’ got lost in the paranoia and noise.

Things have been very very quiet and manageable. I think I actually blocked one person yesterday for the first time in 3 weeks. And I may delete about 5 comments a day.

Five comments a day during a quiet time is interesting. Those comments just disappear, so it’s impossible to know why they were deemed unsuitable.

That’s not because I’ve gone all soft – it’s because our adversaries have gotten distracted with other projects.

Like Christmas. And holidays. But that hints that Belt still suffers from a touch of paranoia. Just disagreeing, criticising or posting alternative opinions doesn’t make someone an ‘adversary’ or enemy of the blog. It’s kinda normal in forums where discussion and debate are allowed.

Whale Oil’s main adversary seems to be financial pressures – the continual need to clock up clicks. To keep their income ticking over they seem to have a need to carefully control content, but overdone that has a negative effect on both commenting activity and page views.

Belt’s openness over the last few days has provided some interesting insights into how Whale Oil operates. I wonder if he is open to allowing more open debate even if it sometimes disagrees with him or Slater.

Most people who comment on blogs aren’t out to shoot them down. They just want a free shot at having a their say.

Beggars can still be choosers, but more reasonable choices may be less self-defeating.

Insights into Whale Oil #2

There’s been a lot of comment on moderating policies at Whale Oil over the last eighteen months. A couple of comments from a couple of days ago adds some insight into this.


It’s kind of ironic when you read some of the threads about Whale Oil around the place. The commentors love to denounce WO and the moderation but it becomes patently obvious that they still read WO based on their familiarity with the content – hypocrisy much?

I don’t see anything hypocritical in being critical and continuing to observe.

There’s some that were benched yonks ago that still harbour a deep resentment for ‘the way they were treated’. I actually think it is really unhealthy and they seriously need to let it go and/or get a life.

On the other hand, there’s a number that have ‘come back’, some under new pseudonyms, most by just explaining and asking for reinstatement. They abide by the moderation rules and they have no problems. It’s actually not that hard to drop the swearing and low cal. chat – think about it.

And many choose not to comment under threat of being banned for “low cal. chat” – some see that as managing the message and don’t want to be manipulated into a sanitised soufflé of sanctimony.

Pete Belt responded:

The thing that winds them up the most is that I don’t allow this blog to be used as a platform to hurt us. And they call that censorship and freedom of speech being munted.

When ‘hurt us’ includes fair criticism then it is munting.

To me, I don’t see why I should come to work and share the same space with people that wish harm on me or others here. It’s actually the act of allowing it that’s just batpoop insane. They have an infinite number of platforms to go do that. They just can’t do that here.

So they severely restrict criticism on Whale Oil, but go as far as complaining about ‘hate blogs’ when that criticism is expressed on other platforms.

If you want to tell Cam he’s wrong, email him. If you want to tell me I’m wrong, email me. But you don’t get to have our audience to perform in front of. It’s our blog, not those who complain the loudest that they aren’t able to say what they want to say.

That’s just nuts. Sure it’s their blog and can run it how they like, but it’s a ridiculously out of balance forum of Slater and Belt can criticise whoever and however they like but limit any counter views to emails.

I’m COMPLETELY at peace with what we do here. I’ve seen people adjust to it. I see people existing here and elsewhere are the same time (and getting harassed for it!!!), and if you want to see how fair we actually are, the likes of LPrent and Greg Presland are able to comment here. Simply because when they comment here, they stick to the rules.

Rules including not saying Slater or Belt are wrong? And odd standard of ‘fairness’.

We do not delete or block anyone that is sensible.

‘Sensible’ as in toeing the line and being non-critical.

But the likes of magoo and his friends are actually not really our friends. They just want to place to perform their little shows. Our audience is vast, and they hate the fact I don’t let hem whittle away at this blog and its audience… here. They can do it anywhere else, but they are talking to a few dozen people, instead of thousands. And THAT is what angers them most.

That’s quite funny in a sad sort of way.

Who gets angry? Who tries to compromise other sites? Who tries to shut down other blogs even though they are only “talking to a few dozen people”?

All I do is comment on a blog that claims to be the biggest and best in New Zealand but can’t stand any criticism in it’s own comments threads nor on other forums.

Insights into Whale Oil #1

In a number of posts and comments over the last few days Pete Belt has volunteered some very interesting insights into Whale Oil.


After 2014 when we were at the center of everything, 2015 has felt a lot quieter.  But is Whaleoil dying?

So we lost about 6,000,000 page views since 2014 during a year when we were no longer the story and when everything was pretty boring politically.  There was no high profile scandal, there was no Labour leadership battle, and the whole year was basically just one flag debate with the occasional smattering of crimes in various contexts.

Page views are just one way of measuring site activity and popularity.

As you can see, the blog peaked during the election – and as a political blog, that’s pretty much to be expected.

If a political site kept chugging away making no changes then perhaps. But Whale Oil was on a major growth path and predicted continued growth, so a decline must be of some concern.

One of the reasons Whaleoil has lost “audience”, and the reason it is so quiet, is that most of the lefty commenters and trolls who were present to witness Whaleoil’s demise due to Dirty Politics had to go home empty-handed.

Pageview audience is quite different to commenter activity, although banning large numbers of commenters (not just lefties) must impact on how many can be bothered reading pages.

So is Whaleoil dying or is it a reflection of a pretty mediocre year in politics where nothing much happened in politics and to Whaleoil / Cameron Slater?   My analysis shows it is the latter.

Except that other media have claimed that 2015 was unexpectedly busy and controversial. Politics continued without Whale Oil being a centre of attention.

We will arrest the slow slide towards lefty-projected oblivion this year with the help of the Local Body elections and the (thus far) bizarre race for the Auckland Mayoralty.

Acknowledging a slide but hoping to gain from Local Body elections this year. Whale Oil will find it difficult to repeat an attempt to dump a mayor just after they are elected again.

After a quiet year when we have licked our wounds, consolidated and totally reworked how we do things (think Dirty Politics v2), Cam Slater will take a more active role in reporting, shaping and leading the media and political industry towards the sorts of things that people love to come here and read about.

Dirty Politics v2?  Isn’t dirty politics a bit of a dead duck now? Certainly the media that Whale Oil relied on to give mainstream exposure to it’s dirty deeds is far less likely to play ball again to anywhere near the same extent.

Can Slater get his drive back and “take a more active role”? He seems to have been going through the motions over the past few months. He still has distractions – trying to get Freed off the ground, running Incite Politics and dealing with a number of ongoing legal issues with three defamation cases on the go.

Belt and co may have succeeded in minimising the decline in numbers,  despite Slater losing his mojo and getting distracted by various chickens coming home to roost.

Comments in the thread point out some realities.


The drop off of 6,000,000 is a result of Whaleoil’s new moderating practices, not the politics. Ask all the people who used to visit & comment but don’t bother anymore.

Nige (Mod):

What you are talking about is comments not page views.

If there were no commenting section the numbers wouldn’t drop by very I can assure you.

Nige understands the difference between attracting page views and comment activity.

Arlo suggests that Slater’s shock-jock approach might be getting ‘same old’ and stale:

For me it’s not the comments it’s the endless repetition of phrases like ‘chinky sounding names’ and ‘road maggots’. Apparently this is supposed to be humorous but it just makes me cringe. I used to be a daily reader and put up with it, now I give it a brief scan every now and then. I can’t be the only one.

Surely this approach drives away more readers than it attracts. When there isn’t much going on in the news cycle driving away base readership by mocking them seems an odd tactic designed to ensure that circulation will never grow beyond those willing to overlook this puerile approach.

At it’s best WO is brilliant but It’s time to grow up in order to attract a wider audience.

Belt responded:

I can make that go away. I really can. But I’ve had to decide how much of Cam I can kill off and have Whaleoil still be his blog? I’ve already put a stop to most of the drama here, I really can’t make myself put a stop to making fun of cat lovers, gingers, lefties, unionists, cyclist and so on.

I also suspect that if I take all of Cam’s personality out of Whaleoil, I’ll have an equal number of complaints from people who feel that even though they may not call people chinks or porridge wogs, to sanitise the blog further is just going too far.

Whatever point we decide on, there will be people that want more or less of it and who can put up an argument that doing more or less of it will be good for the blog. And they’re right. It would be good for them. But there is also a point where it has to please Cam. I’m already severely restricting his natural style. To go further would, in my opinion, kill the very resource that makes this blog tick: unless Cam gets enough daily enjoyment out of winding people up, he’d chuck it in altogether.

Someone (and I guess that’s me), has to make sure we don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

But there’s also an issue if the baby is covered with too much talcum powder.

Some open and interesting insights from Belt here. He has probably saved Whale Oil from crashing and burning but has a difficult balancing act to maintain trying to manage a very temperamental baby whale.

Whale Oil looks to be far from dying. But it has some major challenges if it’s to arrest it’s decline.

Conflict at Whale Oil

An exchange between Cameron Slater and Belt reveals conflict at Whale Oil.

Links and quotes from Google cache show an exchange on Whale Oil’s Back Chat on 19 November.

Cam Slater: Do want to be fired?

Pete: You can try. But it isn’t spelled fired. Its spelled buy-out.

Cam Slater: Oh you are going to buy me out? Sure, you’ve got all my money anyway. You’ve already wrecked the blog, pushed away all the commenters and reduced the traffic to a shadow of what it was. The experiment is coming to an end.

Pete: Cam, I know its been a rough day. But can we take this off-line please?

Slater: You already did that this morning, remember?

These comments have since been deleted. It followed comments by ‘Nellie’ and ‘Disinfectant’.


Whale Oil connections

A week ago a post appeared on Lauda Finem that revealed substantial personal and family information about a regular commenter here, ‘Mike C’.

This may have seemed “out of the blue” to some people but it obviously would have taken someone some time to trawl the Internet to source the material. It’s really quite creepy. The same sort of thing has happened to me.

It’s possible this despicable personal attack is the result of a long standing grudge. On a post here  to the Lauda Finem post Mike C commented:

However … [Deleted as per court order] stepped over the line by putting photos and information about my extended family members in the Lauda Finem post.

And for that … I will never forgive [Deleted as per court order] and the Brothers and Belt and Juana.

End of Story

It may or may not have been [Deleted as per court order] who actually did the post but he’s a part of this group – and he was the first to draw attention to the post by putting a link to it in a retaliatory comment. It seemed at the time that he threw a hissy at Mike C, hit the post button at Lauda Finem and then linked to it, but it may have been a ‘Team LF’ effort.

Last year Mike C was a regular commenter on Whale Oil, but apparently fell foul of Cameron Slater, Pete Belt and Juana Atkins (Slater’s wife). I don’t know details and most of this has probably been deleted off Whale Oil. Like many people Mike C was banned from Whale Oil, and then started commenting here at Your NZ.

Mike C has been a critic of Whale Oil and those involved there, and also of the Nottingham cabal. Both groups are closely related and have  records of choosing targets based on very little (sometimes they attack totally innocent people as @Laudafinem did in the weekend).

Some of contents of the Lauda Finem post certainly look to have been at least tipped off by a person or persons with far more than a blog observer’s knowledge.

Mike C also commented:

I never had any bone to pick with the Brothers Grimm and [Deleted as per court order] at Lauda Finem until they began attacking this Blog several months ago.

My mention of Juana Slater is valid … because she wrote my full birth name in here a couple of months ago.

Slaters Wife is part of this entire equation … I can assure you 🙂

It is correct that Juana (Atkins, who comments and authors as Spanish Bride) had already outed Mike C. It happened here:

Mike C

October 2, 2015  / 6:55 pm
Belt should be worried about what people can dig up and publish about him 🙂


 /  October 3, 2015  / 1:18 pm
[Edited – I initially held this comment aside until I had time to deal with it properly,Spanish Bride, what you did is dirty, as anyone who is familiar with how blogs operate would well know. You may do things dirty at Whale Oil, that’s your choice, but it’s not acceptable here.

What Cameron, and others, and now obviously you, seem to do is dish the dirt out in big dollops but if anyone challenges you on it you react badly and instead of addressing criticisms you resort to attacking those who criticise. If you can’t take criticism I suggest you give up blogging.PG]

It was a provocative comment from Mike C but it didn’t deserve that sort of response from Atkins.

I deleted the details but have a copy of what Atkins posted as evidence. That looks to have been done with calculated retaliatory and malicious intent.

It wouldn’t be hard to see Belt as being complicit in that hit.

And from October 3 to last week would give someone or some people enough time to trawl the ‘Net and dredge up extensive personal details of someone in preparation for a Lauda Finem hit job.

[Deleted as per court order]  is known to work closely with Slater on some things. Last week’s Court of Appeal judgment shows an obvious relationship between Slater and [Deleted as per court order]in the claimed defamation by Matthew Blomfield, and  I’ve seen some vile stuff in other court documents involving the two of them.

This adds weight to the view of quite a few people that Lauda Finem has been used by Slater and co as a means of dishing dirt that is too nasty (if that’s possible), too legally risky or too financially risky to post at Whale Oil.

They seem to be a very spiteful and vengeful bunch.

WO #3: irony and hypocrisy on ‘free speech’

This is the first in a series of posts addressing claims at Whale Oil   that Google are ISIS friendly, that makes varying claims about why Google Ads ceased on Whale Oil for part of yesterday and then resumed again, that tries to raise donations to fund the ongoing operation of the blog, and that makes highly ironic claims about freedom of speech and censorship.


On October 29, Whaleoil published The only solution is to kill them before they kill us, an article covering how ISIS and other Islamic adherents bent on throwing gays off building and subjugating women are to be met by preemptive force to protect our way of life and freedoms, such as they are.

This set off a small but vocal part of Social Media.  No surprise:  exactly the same people who are always busy trying to damage Whaleoil in some way.   This time a petition was created to request the Human Rights Commission take Whaleoil to court for “hate speech“.   And as you’d expect, this was promoted by other blogs and even some main stream media journalists.  (Oh the irony).

This third post is about oh the irony of “Oh the irony”.

In this post a number of claims and comments about free speech, which are highly ironic and hypocritical given the the history of banning and censoring on Whale Oil and their involvement in trying to smear and shut up critics.

From the original post:

But our critics didn’t leave it there.  They have also been busy placing pressure on our advertisers.  

They can not just disagree with our position, we must be silenced.   The irony of fighting for freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of association, and so on, by denying someone you disagree with those rights is remarkable.

Fighting for freedom of speech? Yeah, wrong.


At these times, the community that is Whaleoil stands up against the bullying from those who want Whaleoil broken and to disappear.

It’s common for bullies to claim they are the victims of bullying when confronted.

More from comments, first their “featured comment”:

I don’t always agree with Cam’s views but freedom of speech is vital.

Obviously Don’s favourable comment was allowed by Whale Oil’s heavy handed censorship.


These plonkers are nothing but bullies, I don’t like bullies. I’ll put a bit in the kitty.

Someone frequenting Whale Oil who doesn’t like bullies – only the bullies they disagree with.

In reply to a comment by Pete Belt:

Which is of course censorship…by Google…who it appears are ISIS sympathisers.

Did Slater type that with a straight face? Perhaps he believes that attacks on free speech only matter when it’s his speech that’s being attacked.

He’s got the right to say whatever he likes, and to hold any opinion he likes.

All I want is for us to be left alone to do the same.

Except Belt doesn’t leave opinions he doesn’t want on Whale Oil.

We stand, we have a voice, and freedom to have that voice. Let’s keep it that way. Donation done.

‘We’ is those who have not been banned by Belt. There have been many claims that people who have donated to Whale Oil in the past have been censored and banned.

It wasn’t confined to that post, the very next post yesterday, by Spanish Bride, was Silencing Free Speech isn’t the same as changing people’s minds. This has ironic gems like:

They don’t realise that creating a hostile environment for debate enables them to intimidate and silence but it does not mean that they have changed anyone’s mind.

Many readers of Your NZ will see the high levels of irony and hypocrisy in this.

For anyone who hasn’t seen Whale Oil in action someone sent me some screen shots from Whale Oil yesterday that you won’t find there now.









It’s common for awkward questions and unwelcome opinions to disappear from Whale Oil, and for unwelcome contributors to be blocked and banned.

Now of course Slater and Belt can censor and ban as much as they like on their own blog.

But when they claim to be champions of free speech and criticise the censorship of others when they censor and ban as much as they do they deserve strong criticism of their double standards and their hypocrisy.

Belt said in his post’s update yesterday:

The Google Bot is even more merciless than I am as a moderator.

I hear many complaints about Belt’s ‘moderation’ – more like censorship, message control and propaganda enforcement – and few about the Google bot.

Free speech is as much a feature of Whale Oil as clean politics and honest disclosure – it’s a sad joke.

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