Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.
The names change, the characters stay the same
Published on March 8, 2006 By Draginol In Blogging

Every community, especially one as close-knit as JU's is going to have melodrama. 

Sometimes, it's like watching a car wreck. You don't want to look but it's hard not to. Drama, intrigue, gossip, they're hard to resist.

I tend to be a pretty plain person.  I think that's why I've stayed interested in on-line communities for so long or at least survived them this long.  Being straight forward and consistent is, in my opinion, the key to thriving long-term in an on-line community.  The flame that burns twice as bright lasts half as long as they say.

What I'm going to discuss next is going to relate to a recent melodrama. But the words will remain applicable into the future because what has gone on recently will happen again and again and again. The actors will change but the characters remain the same.

1) What is and isn't out of bounds on JoeUser?

Your blog is your blog. You are free to write about anything you'd like as long as it does not contain the name of a person in the title and isn't essentially a personal attack on another member of the site.

However, IF you choose "Display this article in the forums as well" then it enters the purvue of moderation. This option is on by default. If you want to vent about something, that's fine. But as soon as it goes onto the global forum network, which is syndicated all over, then we care what is on that blog. It's the classic "your rights end where someone else's begins".

2) JoeUser is not a for profit site. It's open to the public to use but the admins aren't your servants.

This is something we're particularly sensitive about.  In a recent post I wrote to the effect that I didn't care if there were bloggers here.  And I don't.  But that's not the same as saying that we don't want bloggers either.  We're neutral.  We have the site, it's free to use. We hope you enjoy the site.  All we ask is that you treat the admins with a basic level of respect and most of all, do not treat us as servants. 

Think of JoeUser as a big party.  It's an expensive party but that's not the issue until someone starts acting like their presence on the site is somehow helping "pay" for the party. 

But like real world parties, guests can be asked to leave.  If someone is being disruptive to other users they'll be warned. If they don't heed that, they'll be asked to leave.  If they're really aggravating the admins, they'll be warned. If they persist, they'll be shown the door. And yes, if someone is on another site saying nasty vile things about the admins or site while at the same time making use of the blogs, we reserve the right to show them the door after giving them time to copy their stuff to use somewhere else. 

The specifics of the LW incident

LW was a prominent member of the site. One of my favorite bloggers. Her husband, Simon, had been on the site a long time as well. He was, to say the least, not one of our favorite bloggers.

Simon wrote a blog, the topic is irrelevant at this point because it's not related to what happened next.  I went on and made a fairly rude comment that was in the spirit of article (the article basically argued how stupid Americans were). 

One of the things that I try not to do is throw in people's faces failings/weaknesses/sensitive issues in an off-topic way.  LW, for instance, once was a member of the KKK. It annoyed me to no end to see people trot this out every time they were in a debate with her regardless of what it was. It was, in my opinion, a very low blow to do that. If they're discussing race relations, okay maybe. But throwing it into a discussion on religion or taxes is simply uncalled for.  So while I may be rude to people on occasion, I don't trot out what I know about people in order to discredit the person.  My rudeness is usually in attacking the message, not the messenger. I sometimes fail that distinction, I make a lot of posts, so it's all in the percentages.

Anyway, Simon responded in a way that really aggravated me by attempting to dismiss what I had to say by instructing me to go back to using JoeUser to peddle our products.  So I made clear: I am not above removing a blogger for pissing me off. 

Simon's next response essentially escalated the issue by telling me how i should run a business and other such things. Like what?

"And yes, despite this display of childishness I am still considering blogging here should the site ever start charging. Though your service of JU had better improve a thousand-fold if you want to keep your current clientele here." and "Get the knot out of your panties, quit squalling like a scalded brat, and address the argument. Or stay away, if it freaks you out. Either way, next time you want to stamp your feet and threaten, try remembering that you don't attract customers by trying to bully them."

Anyone reading this who thinks that we should put up with that should cut their losses now and leave. There are no circumstances where I would ever tolerate a user talking to me in this way on JoeUser. So if you're feeling like "big brother" is squashing your "free speech" rights by not allowing you to insult the admins in the most arrogant, nasty ways possible, then this place isn't the place for you.  I'm very comfortable with the line being drawn here. 

Some people would feel what he wrote was perfectly okay and that's their right to think so but it won't fly on JoeUser.  I won't put up with it so I'm entirely fine with people who think that kind of behavior as being acceptable leaving.  Incidentally, the entirety of what he was responding to was "I'm not above making blogs or users disappear from public view simply because they got on my nerves.  You can be "confident" about that."  That was what I said that resulted in what he wrote.

I could have responded very harshly since I know Simon and LW's personal circumstances.  It was very tempting to do so.  But I didn't.  Instead, I removed him from the site.

LW, as his wife, decided to leave with him.  While that was sad, I could understand it.  My wife would do the same for me.  Over the weekend I moved him from Exiled to PermBanned. This had the side-effect of doing the same to LW (which wasn't the intention) since PermBans take IP addresses used into account. They have the same IPs, so bam. A weird scenario where a user of normal access is also banned (hey a JU first).

This is where the facts end and from here we get into speculation.

However, given how long JU has been around and how consistent I think things have been run over the years, there was nothing in their previous experience that would have led them to think I was bluffing.  That I would back down.  So in essence, Simon chose to get himself kicked off, probably knowing that his wife, who spent years building something here, would follow suit. 

I'm not even sure they realize (or admit anyway) that Simon's behavior was totally out of line and unacceptable even though people in the past have been exiled for doing much the same thing. 

People rarely get exiled. But at the same time, we won't take abuse from users. A user will get a warning if they're trotting over the line. But after that, they're gone.  We also exiled Furry Canary as well for much the same thing. 

Cleaning house

With the upheaval, we looked at this as an opportunity to clean house a bit.  Cliques form and they drive people away.  I'm not happy to see LW go. I enjoyed her writing even if she was a toxic user. She drove other people away through bullying and domination. Or she played people to get them so riled up that they would get themselves exiled by going way over the line. I remember one person emailing me with a certain level of half-admiration/half-loathing in the way LW could drive others of the edge.  Anyone remember Dabe?

What has saddened me about the LW situatoin is how quickly friendship turns into demands for submission.  We don't make demands on users other than to not abuse us. We want people to have a good time. If staying makes them happy, then good.  If leaving makes them happy, then good.  I was saddened to see that LW took her voluntary exile as an opportunity to try to play the role of some sort of rebel leader against "the man" and labeling me as the  "king of petulance". For what? Because I got rid of her husband for repeatedly insulting me, name calling me, etc. on my own site that I share with him free of charge? Shame on me I guess.

I've also taken this opportunity to show another blogger the door after they were going around on other sites saying that JoeUser is akin to "Hitler's Germany" (which would make me Hiitler in this analogy). We have given them 10 days to copy their contents so that they can move them but simply put, the "Reich" doesn't way to pay to host their blog.  If someone thinks JU is so bad that it can be compared to Nazi Germany, then why would they want to have a blog here?

What makes JoeUser different from a blogspot or whatever is that it's a blog community. Our blogs are interconnected. It's a site designed in a way such that lots of people will read what you write.  We want people to have a good time here.  But WE also want to have a good time here too. It's no fun when you come onto the site and there's a handful of people sucking out the fun for us as well as plenty of other people.

As interesting as melodrama is, it's taxing. It sucks up energy.  I respect LW's decision to leave. I understand it. I will miss her writings. I liked her articles a lot. But I'm not going to miss the melodrama or the polarizing nature of her presence.  I'm almost not going to miss the clique-building.  And I'm not going to miss people who think it's okay to come over to someone's site and crap on the people who running it.

The site isn't about us. It's about the people who make blogs. Who share their writings. Who share their thoughts. It's what makes JoeUser special.  When people start excessively focusing on individual members of the site, we're all poorer for it. 

This situation will rise again. There will be more Wisefawns, Little Whips, Sir Peter Maxwells and other colorful characters who shine twice as bright in their time but eventually self-destruct. It will keep happening over and over again.  It'll pass.  Some people will leave in protest and new people will join. 

Comments (Page 1)
on Mar 08, 2006
As a lurker it never ceases to amaze me how quick people are to take on the role of customer. If you ain't giving dem money, you aint a customer. If you do give them money you are only a customer for the thing you bought.
on Mar 08, 2006

I think one of the things that have extended the melodrama is LW's anger that people don't see things the way she sees them.  In her view, her husband has been unfairly villified and cast out without cause.

I don't think she realizes that her husband villified himself.

If someone says to the owner of the site:

"Arrogance is just confidence without the smile. Why don't you go run off and get back to using JU to peddle your stuff" and I respond with  "I'm not above making blogs or users disappear from public view simply because they got on my nerves.  You can be "confident" about that." 

Does it really shock anyone or even seem particularly unfair that he'd get banned for following up with:

"And yes, despite this display of childishness I am still considering blogging here should the site ever start charging. Though your service of JU had better improve a thousand-fold if you want to keep your current clientele here." and "Get the knot out of your panties, quit squalling like a scalded brat, and address the argument. Or stay away, if it freaks you out. Either way, next time you want to stamp your feet and threaten, try remembering that you don't attract customers by trying to bully them."

I mean come on. How many people would put up with that? If someone said that to you at your house, you going to just smile and nod? Or are you going to show the door? 

What we have is an incredible lack of empathy. As others have pointed out, if Simon weren't LW's husband, I suspect she'd be first in line cheering his exiling. She's be the first to say "Duh, don't shit on the admins, idiot."  But since it's her husband, she's not going to take that position. And that's understandable.  But she has to realize that others aren't going to necessarily see it that way.  It's not about "sucking up", it's about decency.

on Mar 08, 2006

I saw your description of "toxic User" before.  And I know I will get flamed for this, but I now understand the conotation and agree with it.  When I had my disagreement with her, she could not accept my appology.  Which is fine.  But instead of leaving it at that, she stalked me around JU, and even on my blog until I black listed her, sniping at me, even though I would not respond in kind.

In fact not responding in kind I think drove her a bit bonkers.  She was not use to not having a user respond to her bait.  And so she redoubled her efforts.  And even tho she was blasklisted from my site, she continued to read me, as she proved later.

Her relationship with Simon is indeed one that most of us do not understand or comprehend.  But the analyst in me gets my grey cells turning and makes me think that while she was the submissive in the relationship, she had to thrust her dominant part out in JU.  It was not enough for you to agree with her, you had to submit to her.  And I think her leaving note validated that to many, including some who would not have beleived it of her.

Others tho, I thought/think/will think that she is a victim of Simon.  And therefore pitiable.  I think she is a full partner with simon, altho I will never understand her relationship.  But she is no victim.  As a willing partner in her BDSM relationship, she knows exactly what she was doing.

Now Shadesofgrey, you can flame me.  I talked about the dead.

on Mar 08, 2006
And I think her leaving note validated that to many, including some who would not have beleived it of her.

You know, I've been trying to stay out of this since it happened, but I can't - and won't - hold my tongue any more.

You're right. It DID validate that to me. I didn't want to think that she'd crap on me like that (although to hear her, you'd think that it was ME who did the crapping) but I think I knew in the back of my mind that she would - she'd done it before.

You're right about her being the first to rejoice in someone else's exiling, but now that it's her husband that's been banned we're all cruel capitalist arseholes for saying that his forced departure was justified.

Is she going to be exiled and PermBanned too, given what she's said about JU and the people who blog here/own the site?
on Mar 08, 2006

What I like about JU that I have never really experienced before on the net is people from all walks coming together and a core group staying together for an extended period of time.

It appeals to me because my RL changes so much with the constant moves and what not.

It comforts me to come here and write, and makes me happy someone is reading what I write, even if they hate it.  Heck even if I hate it. heh.

JU is perfect for this season in my life.  I don't even remember how I found it but am very glad I did.

I miss people when they leave, but over all my enjoyment with the site remains.  And I look forward to meeting new bloggers.

As for you not "caring" if I am here or not.  I'm actually ok with that.  Because I am here for me.  To write, to learn, to chat, to laugh, and yes to fight once in awhile. 

So far, so good!

on Mar 08, 2006
I've also taken this opportunity to give Marcie Helen her walking papers. I don't plan to ban her but after discussing the situation with Karmagirl (the one who runs this place day to day) we decided that we saw no reason to allow her to keep having a blog here while she's running around elsewhere comparing us to Nazi Germany. If JU is Nazi Germany, surely this isn't a place one would want to keep their blog at? So she'll be given time to copy her stuff and then go to blogspot or some other land of milk and honey and freedom or whatever and then after that, I'll have the IT people remove hers and Simon's blogs.

I hope when I get home I have an email in my inbox telling me this.

I don't agree with you on the whole Sabrina/Simon issue. I just don't. It *is* your site though, and if you choose to handle me in the same manner you handle them, for my activities on ANOTHER site, that is your choice. This is like the ultimate show of power, and I guess I never really expected it from you, even though we've butted heads.

~shrugs~ I doubt many people will defend me, and that's okay, too. Do you realize though, that you have been the catalyst to lots of the melodrama around here, Brad? Writing article after article after article on the topic. I've apologized to you and your wife for the unkind words on JoeUser, because they weren't kind of me, and I *am* sorry for dragging things out because it's not my battle. That article wasn't just a show. It was honest.

I just want it known that since you're so diplomatic about everything, you've NEVER warned me about stepping on your toes. This public display is the first time I've been notified that I need to delete my things and leave.

I'm also wondering if I need to submit to you a list of all the other websites I participate on...because maybe I've compared you to Nazi Germany there, too...? I didn't know I had to be careful what I said elsewhere. Should I censor my emails to relatives? Cancel my website on Do you approve of that? What about Or...what about to check on family and friends struggling with cancer? Or trying to book photographers? Is that okay?

on Mar 08, 2006
You're a patient man and reasonable IMO. You go to great lengths to communicate how you feel about, as you say, the melodrama on JU; that's a rare quality and helps you to become a better business person.... You've done enough explaining.

on Mar 08, 2006
There are people that thrive on that kind of conflict. Over and over I pointed that out to LW and she denied it, or told me to shut up and let her 'kick puppies'. I don't think it is unfair or oppressive to ask people not to constantly stir up trouble.

Didn't she start off by having a big war with Dharma? Then she got into a ruckus with PB, then befriended them and started gossiping about manopeace being gay or something and started some big war about that. There's not really much open to interpretation when you can go back and watch her get bored and start her chaos at annoyingly regular intervals.

I don't have a problem with her, or what she does, but this never seemed to be her kind of place. Somtimes I think they come here because they assume their crap will be tolerated, but they won't have to deal with caustic people like themselves. Nasty fish in a nice pond. If we let them come in and do this, the pond won't stay nice. It'll just be another flamer site.

I said the same thing to Marcie. Marcie was always taking things wrong and ending up in fights, and always seemed miserable that her blog didn't go over well. Sometimes when you find yourself always at war in an environment, you have to ask yourself if perhaps it isn't the place for you.

To me, Brad has the choice of letting the site tolerate misery out of some imaginary ideal, or preventing people from making it into a soap opera and letting us get on with our blogging and discussions. I think he did the right thing in both situations.
on Mar 08, 2006
It really as simple as " do not piss on the owner" and "brads house, brads rules" I hope to never be banned as I really am quick to see I am about to step into a minefield, so I take another path.

As for whip, when I like someone I accept them for the crap as well as the good, I still appreciate whip and will remember her long past the 9 months predicted.

Some people just have to poke the grizzly bear to see if it will eat them, I do not!
on Mar 08, 2006

I'm also wondering if I need to submit to you a list of all the other websites I participate on...because maybe I've compared you to Nazi Germany there, too...?

Marcie, yes, there was email sent to you about this, and it was from me, not Brad.  Even though you and Ziggy act like wew work independantly of each other, we don't.  The sites admins work as a team.

If you can compare this site to Nazi Germany at any time, then it is obvious that you don't belong here.

I have to ask, though, how the heck can you compare posting on LW's new blog to all the other places that you might visit?  I mean, how could you think that *I* wouldn't be reading her new blog? 

I have pride in Stardock.  It has been my home for almost 11 years.  If the company, one of the sites, or any employee is being bad mouthed, I take it personally.  You obviously find much wrong with this site and the owner, therefore it's not a place for you to be, nor anyone who feels the same as you do.

on Mar 08, 2006
Now Shadesofgrey, you can flame me. I talked about the dead

Honestly, Dr. Guy. Stop.

I didn't flame you. I made one comment--you directed an entire article at me.

Can't you let it die? I said my peace, you said yours. Time to agree to disagree, no?
on Mar 08, 2006
on Mar 08, 2006
I respect your decision. But I think it was exceedingly tactless to announce it to the whole community just because you could, and just so you could have your ego stroked.

And this is what I said over on Sabrina's site, just so that you know the truth.

I'm also done talking about the subject on JoeUser. My opinion "means little" there anyway because I have so little experience with online communities, and Mr. Wardell has been online longer than I've been alive.

I apologized to Gid for overtaking his forum. I apologized to Brad and his wife for my inappropriate words. But I'm not going to apologize for voicing my meaningless opinion about his crappy ass, emotional decision (which I find interesting because he calls me out on my emotional opinions all the time...hmmmm. But his are okay...I don't get it.)

I'm not going to leave JU, but I think my participation needs to decrease. I've got another place to write, somewhere that's not governed by emotions and blind dedication to a dictator. I think we have a little taste of what it might have felt like to live in Hitler's Germany.

~shrugs~ I'll use my ten days. Honestly, I don't need JoeUser to make my life complete. It's just something to do. I can stick my nose in a book, go for a walk, do tons of other things with my time that I've wasted here. I've got the emails of the people I'd like to stay in contact with, and the rest of you, well, I wish you all the best.

So...Karma...Baker...Brad....congratulations! You win!
on Mar 08, 2006

Can't you let it die? I said my peace, you said yours. Time to agree to disagree, no?

That was the epitath.

on Mar 08, 2006
"So...Karma...Baker...Brad....congratulations! You win!"

Nope, we don't. I don't think anyone wins in this situation, except maybe you. You might well go off and find a site more to your liking, and that will react the way you want them to react. We have to suffer this idiocy and know that you are going to go off and whine to the world about how awful we are around here.

I don't know if you'll be happy anywhere with your attitude, but I hope you find someplace that is a better fit.