spectabillis wrote:Playa Name: That asshole moderator from the eplaya
Other people?: I invite everyone from the eplaya, but since 90% are sock accounts thats only about four of five.
Sigh. Spec, when you have a moment like this, usually I'll try to talk a little sense into you by PM, when I want to get involved at all. This time, I'm thinking that maybe I'd better handle this in public for everybody's sake, maybe even yours included. Let me explain to you how dynamic IPs work, because you seem a little unclear on the concept, and your lack of clarity is helping to produce more than a little unnecessary and unproductive strife on ePlaya.
Some internet service providers offer static IP addresses, meaning that the same block of numbers always represents the same person. In a perfect world, all ISPs would do this, making forum administration a lot easier because one would almost always know who was who, but we don't live in a perfect world. Most internet service providers make use of something called "dynamic IP", under which the user is assigned an IP when he logs in, which he holds onto only during the length of his current session. If he logs out or loses his feed and has to log back in, the system assigns him a new IP address.
This has lead to some ill-informed commentary on some sites about how this user or that was "hiding behind his dynamic IP address", as if the possession of such a thing were some kind of high powered hacker magic, but the reality is that the user doesn't get to choose his own temporary IP address. The system chooses it for him out of a pool of currently available IP addresses assigned to the provider, using an algorithm the user has no control over. The virtue of this, aside from providing those who like to talk before they think with an opportunity to put their foolishness on display, seems to be that it allows the ISP to have more subscribers than it has assigned IP addresses. I have noticed that the cheaper local ISPs seem to invariably use dynamic IP.
Let me repeat that: the user has no control over the IP he is assigned. It is assigned to him out of a pool (or block) of IP addresses common to either the entire subscriber base of an ISP or some large subset of that base
. Let's say that the block of IPs you're looking at has four wildcards at the end of it like so: 12.345.****
That provides us with 10,000 possible IPs, and as a dial-up subscriber is most unlikely to be logged in even 10% of the time, or anywhere close to it, one can easily be looking at a subscriber base of 100,000, if one is looking at a four wildcard block, making that the ISP in question "small" only when compared to an AOL. (With more wildcards or less, just raise 10 to the number of wildcards, and multiply by the inverse of a conservative upper estimate of the portion of the day during which a typical user will be online). Saying that "these two users come from the same IP block, therefore they must be socks of each other", then, is a little like saying "they're both from Sacramento, therefore they must be the same person". "Absurd" is the kindest word that can possibly be used for such an argument.
It becomes especially troublesome in a burner-related context. Burners, like any other community-oriented group, spend a lot of time together and people who do that engage in a lot of word-of-mouth. For example, when one of us decides to go see a movie, in many cases instead of going to a movie reviewer whose taste we may find mysterious, we'll turn to a friend or acquaintance whose taste seems similar to our own and ask him if he's seen anything good lately. Same deal when looking for a cheap local ISP, many of which can be unpleasant to deal with. More quickly than one can say "six degrees of separation", the good word about one particular ISP can travel from user to friend of user to friend of friend of user, to friend of friend of friend of user, and one can end up with a network of local burners landing in the same IP block, because they're using the same ISP.
Then along comes a moderator, somebody who really should know better, and two or more people who might not even know each other will end up getting accused of being each other's sock puppets, because the moderator looks at their IP addresses and jumps to a conclusion not supported by the facts at hand. Only a static IP can be used to establish identity. The most that can be done with dynamic IPs, in this regard, is that one can disprove an allegation that two people are one and the same, by noting that the locations implied by their respective IP blocks are absurdly far apart. Somebody located in Reno, Nevada is obviously not going to be the same person as somebody located in Geneva, Illinois, to take the recent case of a user you severely pissed off, just a week or two ago.
At best, this is going to be a surreal experience for those you've wrongly accused based on flimsy evidence, but your choice of when to do this makes the damage even worse. I've noticed this about your moderation style and we've talked about this by PM: you're in the habit of backing whoever it is, that you've been seeing the craziest behavior out of at the moment, and letting reality be whatever that person wants it to be. On this occasion, you abused a member who was in a conflict with another member who seemed borderline psychotic, seemingly in order to make nice with the borderline psychotic.
Our psychotic friend, having been caught in a lie and having his lie documented, decided to engage in a little payback by attacking his critic's reputation with a wrongful accusation of sockpuppethood. This is trolling of the worst kind, and rather disgracefully, you were supportive of it. When the wrongly accused user asked you to merely be honest enough to vouch for what he was saying about his IP address, your response was to play lawyer and look for one excuse after another to not do so. "You asked me in a post instead of by PM" was a classic - make up an arbitrary rule that makes no sense, after the fact, and then ask why somebody didn't follow a rule that he would have had no reason to imagine would even be there.
You knowingly forced a wrongly put-upon user to go to extraordinary lengths to clear his name of the ill-effects of a wrongful accusation, and then, the moment you saw him doing just that, you discarded your earlier feigned neutrality and made sure to keep the crazy guy happy by cooking up a sock puppet accusation of your own, directed against his target of choice. I'm wondering how I should take that, but if truth be told, even if we assume that you really didn't know how dynamic IPs worked, there is no positive light in which to cast your actions.
Yes, these accusations matter. Our psychotic friend, when he began the latest round of accusations, knew exactly what he was doing. He accused his Midwestern critic of being the sock of a Reno-located user who had picked more than his share of fights on ePlaya. It's a quick and dirty way of rounding up a lynch mob - tell the people one wants to recruit that one's target is their old enemy, in disguise. One should hope that one could count on a moderator to be opposed to such an effort, when it was so clearly in the process of being carried out. Yet there you were, out for all to see, fighting the good fight in support, not of the user who was being abused, but of the psychotic whack job that was abusing him, going so far as to copy his spin on the actions of the person who documented the fact that he wasn't telling the truth: "he's being negative".
Yes, God forbid that anybody on this board should care about the truth, or suggest that any standard of behavior higher than "follow the path of least resistance" should be expected out of others.
The target disproved the first sock puppet allegation, you made nice with the crazy man by cooking up your own, and history repeated itself, with two of us having now been handed to this lunatic, somebody that we can now look forward to being defamed and cyberstalked by ourselves, raising the question of how one could view this in a positive light. If, as I assume, I didn't tell you anything about dynamic IPs that you didn't already know, then I would have to view this as being an act of personal betrayal. Having gained some measure of personal visibility on this board by speaking up with some small measure of skill in support of Burning Man and in support of one of the moderators on this board (namely, you), I find that the reward for my efforts is to have a psychologically unbalanced member of the community sent in my direction, because you felt the need to have somebody reasonably visible to use as a stepping stone, and believed that you could count on having enough readers who understand how IPs worked poorly enough, for them to not see through your line of BS.
We've spoken via PM about your habit of screwing people over for the purposes of appeasement, I've explained to you why that is a really bad idea all around, you've conceded the point, and yet here we are all over again.
Thanks a bunch, Spec. I was seriously considering starting a project for BM2006, but now I either have to scrap it and probably my plans to attend Burning Man for the forseeable future as well, or really engage in some mild sock puppetry of my own, and go through the lengthy process of establishing a new online identity, so that I won't have to worry about you-know-who dropping by and saying "hello", possibly with the help of a little ammunition. To have somebody point me out to a known paranoiac and earn brownie points for himself by fingering me as being part of the paranoiac's vaguely defined Evil Conspiracy (tm) is, at the very least, to put me on track for getting to the start of a very bad day and maybe a lot worse. This, I would have to do, hoping during the entire time that I wouldn't be outed by a moderator, putting my efforts to get away from this psychopath to waste.
Which, Spec, is why there is no good way of looking at your actions. Even if you had proceeded from real ignorance, believing that an ISP would allocate one whole block of IP addresses to a single user instead of having the block shared by many, we would be left with the question of why you would have disclosed that information, something that you have referred to as being a violation of the privacy of the user, in a way that not only greatly exceeds the bounds of the "reasonable request" that was made of you, but barely even seems to relate to the request at all. I and these alleged sock puppets barely even interact on this board, so while one can see a vindictive motivation for your posting, where is the legitimate one?
What we would be left with, were we to accept your defense of your own actions, is that you responded to a user's decision to call you and another user on what is generally agreed to be bad behavior (fraud, libel, and defamation of character) by volunteering to help him cyberstalk the user who talked back to him, insuring that his target couldn't just get up and walk away. That would suck, even if we bought the idea that your ignorance was real and not affected. This, I doubt.
Let's consider the earlier case in which Ed and Rex of Stopburningman.org were accused of being sock puppets of each other on the basis that both used the word "Erm". While I certainly was not a member of their fan club, as anybody reasonably familiar with this BBS knows, I had to be a little suspicious about that argument, and so I checked it, doing a string search under " Erm", making sure to include an initial space in the string to exclude posts that just had "erm" appearing as a string within a word (eg. extERMinate, fERMent, ..) I then posted links to a series of posts by a wide variety of users who plainly weren't Ed or Rex, debunking that unwarranted accusation. Whether we like them or not, they should at least be treated fairly.
Remember what you did, Spec? You quoted me out of context, creating the illusion that I had come in to post an attack, when in fact I had come to rebut one on behalf of people who were wrongly accused of sock puppetry
. I don't know why you so love those accusations, whether this is a fixation of yours or you're just one of those people who enjoys sliding in the knife, but either way, you've repeatedly shown a willingness to fight dirty in order to keep such accusations alive. This is conduct that moderators should be in the business of putting to an end, not that they should be publicly engaged in, themselves. Please cut it out.
Like I said, I don't completely know how I'm going to respond to this new reality. I suppose that I could have taken a page out of your book and given praise and support to Mr.Looneytunes in order to make him like me, but I think you'll find that being a paranoiac's friend isn't a lot safer than being his enemy. Maybe I could try to reestablish myself and lose the guy, but that's a lot of work and again, like I said, I don't know when one of the mods will decide to out me, if I go that route. Most likely, I'm just going to wash my hands of ePlaya and of Burning Man, because if I can't contribute to the burn, why would I even want to go? Most definitely, if either comes under attack again, I will not take the time to speak up in their support, if this is how I get repayed. I don't need to doubt where I stand with Ed and Rex and their friends, and probably will for years to come, and I can't even begin to guess where I stand with the people on ePlaya, judging from what I've just seen.
To make enemies one can count on in exchange for friends one can't is a fool's bargain, and I will not gladly be anybody's fool. You've lost me, Spec, and you've held onto somebody who's looking for black helicopters hovering outside of the New Mexico School of Mining. That's your choice, but the next time Burning Man comes under attack by somebody reasonably articulate, I think that you might find that it was a foolish one. In the future, you would do well to focus a little less on what is politically expedient and a little more on what is right. Any other approach will leave you with an unpleasant discovery - appeasement is fleeting but righteous anger endures. For this reason, a community built upon any basis other than justice will, in the end, turn upon itself in a memorably ugly way, discovering that the peace it was willing to win for itself at any price, was never anything more than an illusion.