The blogger(s?) at You’re Not Helping have tried, really tried, to help. But in such a ham-handed, erratic, uneven, capricious, ad hominem (in that, if you’re PZ Myers you must be wrong) way, that they have polarized where they could have rallied, obfuscated where they could have clarified, and alienated where they could have allied. A classic case of alienation is that of commenter Oedipus Maximus. It would appear that Oedipus showed up on the YNH blog interested in what they were saying, engaged in the conversation, then somehow got the author(s) of YNH pissed off. He seems to have hit them on a day they were out of smokes or had not yet had their coffee or something, because they went so far as to ban him. Or, maybe, they just didn’t think he was important and treated him like crap.

In any event, YNH apparent mistreatment of Oedipus Maximus actually inspired OM to write up his/her experience, and it is here: The curious case of the You’re Not Helping blog. In fact, this is the first post on OM’s new blog. I hope you read it.

Welcome to the blogosphere, OM, I’m sure your presence will make it a better place. If, that is, you are not driven into the swamp by those who can’t handle not being entirely in control of the discourse!

Comments

  1. #1 NewEnglandBob
    June 20, 2010

    OM’s new blog looks promising, unlike the hell-hole of YNH.

  2. #2 =^skeptic cat^=
    June 20, 2010

    Oedipus appears to be a little bit of alright … I’ll give him a plug, for what it’s worth.

  3. #3 Cath the Canberra Cook
    June 20, 2010

    I was so disappointed to find out that YNH is not actually intended as a parody. I’ve been Poed.

  4. #4 Szwagier
    June 21, 2010

    Are we sure that YNH has not been set up by young earthers on the “Divide & Conquer” principle? ;-)

  5. #5 Oedipus Maximus
    June 21, 2010

    Thank you all for your kind words of encouragement.

  6. #6 Dave W.
    June 22, 2010

    Interestingly, someone at YNH has edited my comments without my consent in order to portray me as psychotic or at least self-contradictory, and it’s given Polly-O! reason to call me a “garden-variety troll, willing to shift opinions to fit the argument of the moment.”

    If I’d known that sort of deceit was even a possibility, I never would have commented at YNH at all.

  7. #7 Greg Laden
    June 22, 2010

    Polly-O is a sock puppet. And no, don’t ask me for proof. Just read Polly-O’s comments. It would be dishonest to guess otherwise. Real commenters, especially on a new blog where every one hates then, rarely are there just at the right time to say just the right thing.

  8. #8 Dave W.
    June 22, 2010

    Well, Polly-O!’s identity is the least of my concerns, since someone (and obviously I don’t know who) modified at least three of my comments without my consent to mean things contradictory to each other and contradictory to what I meant in the first place.

    Thinking I was dealing with people who were misguided but honest, I didn’t save any of my original comments (not that that would matter in this case, where comments aren’t deleted but edited).

    This level of outright deceit goes far beyond sock puppetry.

    To anyone on YNH’s “side” of things, my complaints will, of course, just look like paranoia and/or conspiratorial thinking. But all I can do, given their editing power, is to assert my innocence.

    However, given what I know for a fact about what they’ve done to my comments, I certainly wouldn’t put it past the YNH folks to fabricate just about everything regarding Oedipus Maximus (including the fabrication of comments attributed to him or his alleged alters), which is why I posted comments about what YNH has done to me over at his blog, too.

  9. #9 Dave W.
    June 22, 2010

    And in just the past few minutes, I’ve found real evidence that at least one of my comments at YNH has been modified by someone who wasn’t me. Of course, because it’s stylistic, if I reveal the evidence, the particular comment will simply be edited to erase the evidence. So I’m still trapped in that I can’t prove that I didn’t write what YNH now claims I wrote without allowing YNH to “vanish” my evidence.

  10. #10 Stephanie Z
    June 22, 2010

    Dave, this is one of those things screen capture is for.

  11. #11 Raven
    June 22, 2010

    YNH appears to be a case of the troll running the blog.

  12. #12 Dave W.
    June 22, 2010

    Stephanie, since screen captures can easily be faked, especially with a spartan layout like YNH’s, they don’t hold much water with me, and they certainly wouldn’t with whoever edited my posts. At least, I’m assuming they’re not completely stupid.

    I’m working from other angles right now, though.

  13. #14 Paul W.
    June 28, 2010

    Is it criminal to forge embarrassing comments and label them as being by someone else?

    Wouldn’t that count as libel, by clearly and intentionally misrepresenting someone as saying something that you know they did not in fact say, with malicious intent?

    It seems to me that it ought to count as libel. Anybody know the legal details? (Does it matter that the person being libeled is pseudonymous—do you have to give somebody’s real name to libel them? I would hope not. I don’t think you have to give a real name to slander somebody, e.g., by pointing to them and saying “there goes the child molester!”)

    I’m a big fan of pseudonymity and respecting people’s right to be pseudonymous—I’ve criticized Greg for threatening to out certain people when I didn’t think it would be justified—but this seems like a clear case where it would be justified. Anybody who goes to the trouble to shove statements into somebody else’s mouth and clearly does so to damage their reputation by misrepresenting them is doing something morally beyond the pale, and does deserve to be outed.

  14. #15 Stephanie Z
    June 28, 2010

    Paul, there’s a pretty high bar for defamation claims in the U.S., which serves a purpose in protecting free speech. One of the legal hurdles is showing that the person who was defamed was damaged by it, which is harder with a pseudonym–not necessarily impossible, but harder.

    On the other hand, there’s nothing stopping posts like these, which make people aware of how (un)reliable the person making the defamatory claims is. Contrary to the claims of the person on Greg’s most recent YNH thread who called this bullying, this sort of examination of bad behavior can have a protective effect for the people targeted for defamation.

  15. #16 ERV
    June 28, 2010

    Anybody who goes to the trouble to shove statements into somebody else’s mouth and clearly does so to damage their reputation by misrepresenting them is doing something morally beyond the pale, and does deserve to be outed.
    [pure political snark]

    Lying seems to be the modus operandi of a certain group of anti-atheist bloggers/writers, and theyve never gotten in ‘trouble’ for it, including SciBloggers Isisisis and Mooneytits and Cockenbaum.

    They help create a culture where lying, misrepresentation, and sock-puppetry are acceptable, thus this kid thought it was okay if he did it too.

    He also took their trademarked ‘victim + notpology + run away’ stance after getting caught.

    Im amused that some people are like ‘AWWW! How could you OUT YNH!”, when the blood of Will from Alabama is on the hands of his creators, not Greg/PZ/Ophelia/et al. It was the anti-atheist culture that created the internet abomination known as ‘Youre not helping’.

    Look at them all rush to take responsibility for their actions.

    [/pure political snark]

  16. #17 Paul W.
    June 28, 2010

    ERV,

    I’m certainly waayyy too familiar with the general misrepresentation strategy of the accommodationists—including some “people” over at the Intersuction who I suspect are the same lying sockpuppeting shithead’s sock puppets. (E.g., “Milton C”, and I suspect at least a couple of others.)

    What’s unusual about this case is the audit trail. It’s dead obvious that you’re intentionally trying to misrepresent somebody when you manufacture or alter their comments on a blog, and then criticize them for the things they demonstrably never really said. That’s pretty clearly not just a misunderstanding, poor memory, or carelessness. It’s patently malicious forgery.

    I’d like to see this shithead completely outed, and even if a suit would not ultimately succeed because of a too-high bar for “damages,” a suit might be useful in obtaining evidence by subpoena, and generally exert a beneficial chilling effect on this sort of patently dishonest assholery.

    I’d be surprised if several “people” at the Intersection didn’t suddenly disappear if this jerkwad got outed and was afraid of getting caught again.

    I’d also be entirely unsurprised if Mooney and Kirshenbaum were entirely aware of rampant sockpuppetry by their few supporters on their blog, and quite happy to have it.

  17. #18 Paul
    June 28, 2010

    Contrary to the claims of the person on Greg’s most recent YNH thread who called this bullying, this sort of examination of bad behavior can have a protective effect for the people targeted for defamation.

    I would like to take this chance to point out that Greg Laden participated in editing people’s posts in an unflattering manner during a previous scuffle with the Pharyngula commentariat. You (and he) seemed dismissive of the people who were calling it out as rather bad behavior. It wasn’t this scale, admittedly, but the same behavior was there. I suppose at least no sockpuppets were harmed.

  18. #19 Stephanie Z
    June 28, 2010

    Paul, I was dismissive how?

  19. #20 Greg Laden
    June 29, 2010

    I would like to take this chance to point out that Greg Laden participated in editing people’s posts in an unflattering manner during a previous scuffle with the Pharyngula commentariat.

    No I did not. I added my own commentary to existing comments (I think one or two of them, probably two), and that it was added cometary was supposed to be obvious. You and a few others created the folklore that I was “changing people’s comments” as though I was subtling editing, and as though I was doing it habitually, because you could not resist hyping that up.

    In fact, your pit-bull dogedness in pursuing this issue was exemplary of why I wrote the post that originally started that fight.

    And, at the time, it was a matter for me of deleting the comment, letting it go as is, or adding my sarcasm. I chose to add the sarcasm. That was a mistake for a number of reasons, but honestly, Paul, one of those reasons turned out to be that a handful of commenters simply don’t know how to behave. In other words, I made a mistake, but that mistake was in part me overestimating the ability of other people in the conversation to act like adults.

    Paul, you and others may or may not recall how absurd things got on that post. That is not going to happen now. At this moment I’m firmly asserting that there will be no such bickering at this time on this post. I’m asking this of you as well, Stephanie. This back and forth ends here.

    Comments on this post are not in limited moderation. If you write a comment and it gets held up, please refrain from going OT paranoid. Just be patient, I’ll most likely release it.

    Thank you very much.

  20. #21 Paul W.
    June 29, 2010

    Just to preempt possible confusions: there are two Pauls here in this thread… I’m “Paul W.”, but not “Paul”.

    I’m also not Dave W. above. (We’ve been mistaken for each other before, too. I wish I’d thought of a clever unique ‘nym when I started doing this. *sigh*)

  21. #22 Greg Laden
    June 29, 2010

    Why would Dave W and Paul W be confused? Are you twin brothers perhaps?

  22. #23 Dave W.
    June 29, 2010

    Greg Laden wrote:

    Why would Dave W and Paul W be confused?

    Ask Ophelia Benson.

    By the way, Paul W., Ophelia’s got some props for you that she mistakenly gave me:

    http://www.butterfliesandwheels.org/2010/how-to-do-dialogue/#comment-53347

    I had a clever user name, once. But it was from my teenaged, being-a-BBS-asswipe years. Much better left behind.

  23. #24 Paul W.
    July 2, 2010

    Greg,

    Why would Dave W and Paul W be confused?

    I figure it’s likely that “Dave” and “Paul” are both unmemorable one-syllable consonant-vowel-consonant names for somebody on the internet—likely just another guy, likely white, etc. Signing with the last initial W, on the other hand, is considerably less common and more memorable.

    Or we could be confused because our parents never told us our whole last name, or which one was the evil twin. I’ve always wondered why mom not only wouldn’t tell us who our father was, but felt the need to maintain her pseudonymity with her own sons.

    (Dave W, thanks for passing along the props. It’s always
    good to know when somebody notices, especially somebody I respect.)

  24. #25 Dave W.
    July 2, 2010

    Mom didn’t tell you about her days with the subversive commune and their plans to crash government computers via an ever-expanding population of citizens with single-letter last names? The dot afterwards is just to throw people off the scent.

    (Seriously, from Internet searches, I actually know of someone named Paul who shares my full last name. It’d be pretty funny if you were he, but I’m also fairly certain that you’re not.)

  25. #26 Dave W.
    July 2, 2010

    Mom didn’t tell you about her days with the subversive commune and their plans to crash government computers via an ever-expanding population of citizens with single-letter last names? The dot afterwards is just to throw people off the scent.

    (Seriously, from Internet searches, I actually know of someone named Paul who shares my full last name. It’d be pretty funny if you were he, but I’m also fairly certain that you’re not.)

  26. #27 Ophelia Benson
    July 7, 2010

    Sorry about the confusion! Paul, Dave – what’s the diff?