In the past I’ve sung the praises of America’s Debate in this space. Today the news is not so good. While the front page explains “free speech for everyone” apparently it’s not quite really everyone they’re talking about. Here’s a brief version of the events that lead me to this conclusion.

  1. A few days ago I got caught maintaining a “troll of the week” list in my personal profile information. Even though there’s nothing in the rules about policing profile content, there’s nothing to preclude it either. I got caught breaking the rules, fair enough, I don’t deny it. I even congratulated the administrator (“Jaime”) who caught me on her vigilance, and thought that would be the end of it.
  2. Today, the other administrator (“Mike”) started a thread about updating the rules. This is a reasonable and even laudable thing to do. The rules are widely known and admitted to be inadequate. The administrators could just write new ones without consulting anybody, but they decided to solicit suggestions. Pretty cool so far.
  3. I responded on the thread, suggesting some new rules to address common abuses. I also suggested defining more clearly the scope of the rules – i.e. whether they apply to profiles, private messages, comments on personal websites linked from one’s profile (like this), etc. – and defining a mechanism for appeal or redress if anyone felt a moderator had acted unfairly. Without getting into details, I mentioned a couple of examples – including the incident above – where I felt the lack of such things had indicated a potential for trouble. That’s what I’m trained to do; instead of just identifying a problem or proposing a fix, I wrap both together along with proof that the problem is truly worth worrying about.
  4. Mike responded, getting extremely defensive about some of the examples (not likely to help) and lying through his teeth about what happened in the previous incident (guaranteed not to help).
  5. I responded, calling him on the lie and backing up my claim with the copy of my own message sent to Jaime at the time. I also addressed some of the other misrepresentations, and threw in a couple of other suggestions for good measure. Just to be on the safe side, I sent copies to a couple of other members to make sure there was a record.
  6. Mike went ballistic. He not only closed but actually deleted the thread – an action without precedent as far as I know. He sent me a private message all but saying outright that I would be subjected to extra-special scrutiny from now on, citing a rule (which does not exist) about posting information about administrative action. This is all pretty ironic, since the issue we started with was the arbitrary and often discriminatory way in which rules were being enforced.

Obviously, I have my own strong opinions on this matter. It’s awfully convenient for Mike that the evidence of his own lie and ensuing hissy-fit has been deleted from public view but I’m quite sure that if I had behaved as he did – not even counting the actions specific to his role as administrator – I’d be banned from the site forthwith. Fortunately, I still have ways of getting the truth out, although by posting it here on my own private website I risk being banned back at AD. Too $#@! bad; if the proprietors are that disinterested in free speech or building a community, treating it as their own personal blog site where the only real rule is “what the admins like”, then it’s not worth staying and other members will realize that soon enough.

I can already tell that some of the resident trolls from AD are likely to follow me here, telling me that I’m the one who’s wrong. They can go jump too, for all I care. Unlike Mike and Jaime, though, and the nature of this as a private personal site (unlike AD which claims to be a community) notwithstanding, I promise not to censor their comments. That alone should be sufficient for anyone to see who the real jackass is in this picture.