army of meatpuppets

Is it me, or has the ‘tone’ of the .com forums, along with the level of staff/moderator presence, significantly failed to improve since the holiday purges which were supposed to fix everything? I mean, some of the responses to user discontent with the new dashboard were just snide. And while it’s your right to refuse to rush to the aid of penguins, because the ongoing transformation of this place into MySpace really doesn’t need any extra help, this might be best accomplished by, you know, not responding to them, rather than swearing at them and feeding them wrong answers. It’s not that I abhor cruelty to penguins, more that I’ve seen others banned for less (come to think of it, I’ve seen others banned for nothing) and double standards irk me. Plus, said wrong answers sit in the archives waiting to mislead the innocent. Collateral damage, I suppose.

(To be fair, I do think language is an issue too. Mods working in a second language can come off as extremely abrupt; moshu on .org is the prime example, of course, but I’ve also see isadora come out with some things a native speaker would get ‘inactivated’ for.)

Raincoaster is safe for the time being at least. Is she the first volunteer to be publically backed up by staff when complaints are made, rather than being hung out to dry? Is she also the first volunteer to have a high-enough-traffic blog to scare them off canning her? You don’t want to be messing with people who could potentially raise an army of meatpuppets and get your unique approach to human resources mentioned on Valleywag. That would not be smart.

35 Comments »

  1. I’m actually surprised isadora (and Trent and the others) is still a moderator. Weren’t we told that since none of the forum volunteer or drafted moderators had back end access, it wasn’t worth them being listed as moderators? No offense towards her of course.

    But speaking of Raincoaster, that’s probably why they allowed Boles back into the forums as well. He was marked as Inactive for a few days after he went after thesacredpath that time. He’s probably in the same boat although he hasn’t posted since then which may be a good thing.

  2. AJ said

    Who made deltafoxtrot a mod should be shot! That is appalling treatment even for the penguins

  3. Hilarious Raincoaster’s response to mark’s comment. How is she supposed to grow her blog if all the flame wars are on the wp forums and not on her blog?

    I think the tone has changed because the so-called upgrade isn’t and they can’t keep up with the avalanche of problems it’s caused.

  4. deltafoxtrot is not a mod….

  5. Ray said

    DFT is also an idiot. It takes far more effort to harangue the penguin than it does to either provide the answer or a link to a website with the answer. It takes far less effort than that to just not respond to the post at all. DFT is obviously a member of the CSS elite and will not provide assistance without pay or without suitable offerings (fatted calves, first born son, the usual).

    Although I understand that people use .com because they can’t get their own hosting (no money, no credit card, too young, not enough knowledge) I do wonder how much longer this crap community will continue. Other communities I have joined have a certain “closeness” and understand that they are there to help and the mods slap them down if they don;t. On .com, the mods stand by and just don’t see that these things can only further wreck the community and lead to Habari and other projects gradually leeching off their members.

  6. Matt said

    I really think this is part of the plan to ditch the forum altogether*.

    First ban the people who keep things running, replacing them for the short-term with staff who will do an adequate but relatively poor job of answering questions. Slowly pull back on the hours that the staffers are actually on the forums so questions are left unanswered, encouraging inexperienced bloggers to try to answer the questions, which in turn leads to a generally aggressive tone of chaos.

    Allow nature to take its course, and once you’ve reached Lord of the Flies (Lord of the Penguins?) announce that you “expected better from British boys” and close the forums altogether. The end result is that you don’t suffer a PR blow since most of the damage is done by someone else.

    *My thanks to whoever completed the joke from Airplane.

  7. Richard said

    I’ve wanted to bitch-slap DFT on numerous occasions, but it just ain’t worth the effort and it certainly isn’t the job of a voluteer. I modlooked a couple threads where he was rude and obnoxious, and nothing happened. Imagine my complete (lack of) surprise. Mark did slap “fromtheleft” for taking a swing at Raincoaster though (sorry, don’t have the link).

    The sense of community is certainly on life support at this point.

  8. Richard said

    Actually, I just remembered TGA provided the link to the “fromtheleft” slap.

  9. timethief said

    I think that raincoaster’s reply to Mark is far more interesting than his post was.

    “Thanks Mark. How am I supposed to grow my blog when the flamewars are all in the forum?”
    http://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic.php?id=26380&replies=21#post-190817

    So who or what is preventing her from growing her blog?

  10. timethief said

    RE: Boles
    I had no idea that he was inactivated for any length of time at all. And, if he is able to post again then I expect the same should be done for the rest of us.

  11. Kissing Bandit said

    If my account weren’t inactive, I’d happily bitch-slap DFT and make no complaints about it. The guy comes off as a world class prick and needs to be reminded as much.

    The more I think about it, the more I’m inclined to agree with Matt.

    I really think this is part of the plan to ditch the forum altogether.

    Especially when you consider that the forum is probably going to be the primary source of evidence (and ultimate demise of Automattic) when the COPPA sh*t hits the fan. It’s like a kindergarten playground in there.

    -KB

  12. Root said

    If you do not want to give support to the CSS clueless – then I guess you shouldn’t be doing forum support. The forums were never this bad even when I was there.🙂

  13. I think Matt and KB have it spot on; staff neglect of the forums is a deliberate policy aimed at smoothing the way to their eventual deletion, especially pressing now that there are so many kids running round in there. nosysnoop made a decent suggestion the other day about creating a subforum dedicated to CP, but of course it won’t happen because that would mean publically acknowledging the COPPA breaches.

    It’s a shame because the kids do bring in a lot of traffic and are really starting to splash out on upgrades. They’re as entitled to support as any other user, and a CP-only forum would allow them to get it from each other and sympathetic adults while keeping them out of the way of everyone else. Or the ‘Club Penguin’ tag could serve a similar function, if staff would only stop deleting it every time it appears. They’re here, the site benefits financially from their presence, there’s far too many of them to ignore, and since Automattic encouraged children to sign up by not implementing COPPA they do have some responsibility to enable appropriate support. Swearing and lying != appropriate support, even if staff and isadora apparently have no problem with it. (The thread was closed, but only after I linked to it and they obviously feared a pile-on).

    It makes me sad to see the .com forums go the same way as .org, but then I suppose it was always going to happen eventually. The behaviour of the people at the top sets the tone.

  14. Matt said

    Now that Disney is closing Virtual Magic Kingdom, I’m betting that there’s about to be an influx of Club Penguin kids. It’ll be interesting to see how WordPress handles it if the new kids follow the crowd to wordpress.com.

  15. Matt said

    The link for the VMK deal got filtered out of my comment for some reason. Here it is again.

    http://www.getofftheinternet.org/there-is-no-cancer-in-virtual-magic-kingdom/2008/04/14/

  16. options said

    re: Boles

    yes, I know it’s a kinda moot point, but for the record, I too never saw that his account was inactivated for any length of time. and why would that happened if Mr. Boles is indeed in the ‘same boat’*, as Dr. Mike so precisely noticed?

    and then again, that promptly Mark’s follow up in that thread (leaving that effing stuff intact), which was nothing but a sign of an approval and encouraged to go further. it made me even more speechless than those New Year greetings from Matt, so that I had to fail to Godwin’s Law**.

    I thought I knew Mark a little bit, but sometimes I’m just really amused; however seem to understand — we’re all just human beings.

    also, I hate to break it, but nevertheless I think I should to (perhaps, I’ll make a post): dear fellows, what we’re seeing in the fora today has not started just yesterday… unfortunately, it could be observed during the whole last year, at least.

    Yes. This is what I know. The ward is a factory for the Combine. It’s for fixing up mistakes made in the neighborhoods and in the schools and in the churches, the hospital is.

    — Ken Kesey


    *) actually, I think they don’t need a boat — as folks’ saying goes, “BS can’t be drawn. That’s why it’s floating around.” (sorry😉

    **) although I believe Godwin’s Law can’t be applied here because it’s about an open discussion. while none of those whom Mr. Boles called as “insulted volunteers and their minions” and “the former power clique” could not reply at that thread because were purged.

  17. AJ said

    My fault. I seriously thought I saw mod next to his name. Mea culpa

  18. AJ said

    since Automattic encouraged children to sign up by not implementing COPPA they do have some responsibility to enable appropriate support.

    Isn’t there a way to report .com regarding flouting of COPPA? Maybe the “authorities” will take action and get things changed?

  19. Kissing Bandit said

    Maybe the “authorities” will take action and get things changed?

    Only if enough people face a stink with the FTC or .com gets some massive media cover about how many underage penguins are floating around.

    Or as .com continues to grow and as more underage penguins sign up (much like Xanga), they can’t help not being noticed and it will eventually blow up in their face. It will just take a bit longer than the above.

    -KB

  20. I have a hunch that their violation of UK data protection law (by their refusal to delete accounts) may bite them before COPPA non-compliance does. I don’t know why. It’s just a hunch.

    I don’t think things are going to kick off in regard to COPPA until BuddyPress gets implemented. Once wp.com starts impersonating a social network the shit is really going to hit the fan.

  21. timethief said

    I also think Matt and KB are correct. I do beleieve that staff neglect of the forums is a deliberate policy aimed at smoothing the way to their eventual deletion.

    FWIW I haven’t been seeing CP kids posting to the forum or performing any of their previous antics in the last week or more but, I’m busy and don’t look at the forum frequently.

  22. Root said

    TGA: Would you like to knock up a quick graphic / logo for the *inactivated* ?🙂

  23. timethief said

    @Root,
    lol :D))))

  24. options said

    re: Boles (one more — and hopefully for the last — time)

    this is ironic because, at it has appeared*, Mr. Boles recently switched from .com and WP at all.

    although still being thankful for the “refreshing honesty and immense talent of Automattic Boss“**, it looks as though he finally arrived that a content he was generating on .com has been primarily used just as another space for serving Automattic ads.


    *) via MT.org ‘Community News’ (front page of MT.org website)
    **) the capitalization of ‘Boss’ is that of original

  25. timethief said

    I’m absolutely delighted to hear that Boles and his “blog staff” have relocated. 🙄

  26. I always find it really hard to tell whether boles is being sincere or sarcastic, though the fact he’s abandoned WP entirely suggests the latter.

  27. The link is broken on the front page of MTorg. New link. Looks like the URLs got regenerated. I had to do that a few times myself to get them to match with the older links.

  28. options said

    yup, I had to fish it out of the Google cache first too.

    MT community news aggregator is such a pussy (picture). also, whoever is doing a CSS at 6A should be fired and barred from web-design for good (best they can do is to hire Matt Thomas😉.

    back to the subject: the most funny thing in this story is that B. ended up on the extremely expensive hosting.

    apparently he’d been had: for the one thing MT doesn’t need a $50/mo VDS to run smoothly.

    but also, it’s neither logical nor at least reasonable — his blog hardly was doing a half of that sum for Automatiic while it was hosted on .com, so it could be humming quite happily should he got just a $20 slice.

    the whole strory unexpectedly refuted my thesis based on the known proverb collected by John Heywood which says, “Reckeners without their host must recken twice.”

  29. It appears he’s now on a server. I’d give a link but I’m on my locked down terminal with no copy and paste ability and only a single browser window.

  30. Arvind Satyanarayan said

    Just as a heads up, after referring to that thread in an interview: http://bloggertalks.com/2008/04/movable-type-or-wordpress-arvind-knows-what-he-prefers-and-why/ it appears to have been deleted.

  31. options said

    Arvind, let me sincerely thank you for donating to MTOS your ‘Simply Threaded’ plugin.

    it was a real shame that MT hasn’t threaded and paginated comments for years. hope it’ll make it into the core soon.

  32. Arvind Satyanarayan said

    Hi options, threaded comments has been core with MT4 (at least from the app-side). With MT 4.15 (thanks to Simply Threaded now being a part of MTOS) it is also core for the blog-side (and thus readers can reply to comments). Hope that clarifies things🙂

  33. Dang, I can’t find where to turn that on. Maybe if I update the theme….

  34. The penguin abuse has gone? Good. Indirect moderation by people blogging the stuff they object to is better than no moderation at all (which is more or less what was happening until Matt went on his latest threadclosing spree.)

    And glad to hear that threaded comments are core in MT now. They are the one feature I’d really love to have here, but I suspect there would be so much database restructuring involved that it’s out of the question. I only wish they’d had the foresight to add it when they launched.

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