Labour List – a warning to all potential contributors

Posted by Tim Ireland at 16 January 2009

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

This entry was posted on
Friday, January 16th, 2009
at
3:06 pm and is filed
under The Political Weblog Movement.

During a previous conversation, LabourList.org founder and controller Derek Draper suggested that I share with the class our entire email conversation.

I’m happy to reveal all of that previous conversation at any stage, but for now I’m treating this as an open invitation and bringing you the entirety of our latest email conversation… after this quick statement from the latest self-proclaimed master(s) of bloggery:

“We encourage anyone who has had a comment denied to repost their thoughts on their own blog, and leave a trackback instead. Although we might think a comment is inappropriate for our conversation that does not preclude you making your point elsewhere. The Labour List editors intend to make a feature of our readers’ comments, and we reserve the right to repost interesting or pertinent comments in the main blog, for further discussion. You are welcome to write a complaint to the editor if you feel you have been treated unfairly.” – Labour List website statement on comment moderation

Now, on with the recent email exchange that tells a rather different story…

It begins with my directing Derek Draper to a website that has published my comment and question about his use of other people’s creative material without credit and the apparent pretence of spontaneous submission, because he deleted the version that I submitted to his website. Fool that I was, I thought he would at least calculate that maybe this was the wrong message to send during the opening stages of his appeal for genuinely talented people to genuinely send their stuff in, so he could feature exploit it on his website… but he’s not even smart enough to offset his corruption with a little bullshit and charm:

From: Tim Ireland
To: Derek Draper

11:05 AM

Nothing to say for yourself, then (see comments)?
http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/pda/2009/jan/14/labour-peter-mandelson

No comment on your use of other people’s creative material without credit?

Are you really pretending to receive submissions from the general public that are in fact the work of yourself or close associates?

Tim

From: Derek Draper
To: Tim Ireland

11:07 AM

which bit of “i am not accountable to you” don’t you understand

i’m trying to build a popular website here, not get stuck in a geeks ghetto

oooooh! i wonder how long it’ll take you to post that on your blog

[Derek Draper]
www.labourlist.org
www.flowvideo.co.uk
www.diy-therapy.com
020 7486 2400
MIND Journalist of the Year

From: Tim Ireland
To: Derek Draper

11:13 AM

“which bit of “i am not accountable to you” don’t you understand”

You really don’t understand how weblogs/communities work, do you?

“i’m trying to build a popular website here”

You really don’t understand how networking works, do you?

So you refuse to answer any questions about your use of creative material without credit? I want to be absolutely clear on that, just in case you suddenly decide to backpedal later.

Tim

From: Derek Draper
To: Tim Ireland

11:37 AM

which bit of “i am not accountable to you” don’t you understand

[Derek Draper]
www.labourlist.org
www.flowvideo.co.uk
www.diy-therapy.com
020 7486 2400
MIND Journalist of the Year

From: Tim Ireland
To: Derek Draper

11:46 AM

which bit of “i am not accountable to you” don’t you understand

The part where your website invites comment, thereby suggesting accountability.

Also the part where you campaign for debate and engagement, thereby suggesting that you are willing to have what you say or publish challenged and that you are willing to respond to those challenges with a valid response (not “nerney nery ner ner, I’m not playing”)

So you refuse to answer any questions about your use of creative material without credit? Again, I want to be absolutely clear on this point.

Tim

From: Tim Ireland
To: Derek Draper

12:14 PM

I’ve answered your question. Please answer mine.

Tim

From: Derek Draper
To: Tim Ireland
CC: Greg Jackson, Sue Macmillan, Tom Miller, Alex Smith

12:33 PM

see below, in caps

The part where your website invites comment, thereby suggesting accountability.

Also the part where you campaign for debate and engagement, thereby suggesting that you are willing to have what you say or publish challenged and that you are willing to respond to those challenges with a valid response (not “nerney nery ner ner, I’m not playing”)

ARE YOU SO NAIVE THAT YOU THINK I/WE WILL BE ABLE TO ANSWER HUNDREDS OF COMMENTS? YOU MAY GET 0, 11, 8 and 2 (YOUR LAST FOUR POSTS) WE GET HUNDREDS EVERY DAY. WE ARE BUILDING IS A CONVERSATION AMONG A COMMUNITY NOT A BI-LATERAL SERIES OF DISCUSSIONS WITH SELF-IMPORTANT BLOGGERS

ONCE AGAIN, MASS MEDIA VS GEEK GHETTO

I HAVE TO SAY I AM GETTING BORED OF THIS

So you refuse to answer any questions about your use of creative material without credit? Again, I want to be absolutely clear on this point.

WHY DO I CARE IF YOU’RE CLEAR OR NOT? WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?

[Derek Draper]
www.labourlist.org
www.flowvideo.co.uk
www.diy-therapy.com
020 7486 2400
MIND Journalist of the Year

From: Tim Ireland
To: Derek Draper

3:05 PM

1. Please stop shouting.

2. I’m not sure why you’ve CCed Greg Jackson, Sue Macmillan, Tom Miller and Alex Smith on our conversation. Perhaps you meant to BCC them instead. Still, given your earlier invitation, I’ve taken it one step further and invited everyone in the whole, wide world. Hope you don’t mind:
http://www.bloggerheads.com/archives/2009/01/labour_list.asp

3. If you do not have the capacity to deal with comments, then don’t invite them with too few moderators in place (see also: Daily Mail) and/or the site in its current state (you ask for an email address and a password, but don’t even attempt to verify authenticity – ditto for postcodes, not that asking for this level of detail is in any way called for in your situation).

4. I personally don’t have the time to deal with too many comments. I also like to know who* is attempting to publish what on my website. So I introduced TypeKey registration; it requires a pretty high standard of identification, and in conjunction with MT a clear indication when someone is trying to bypass that requirement. This greatly reduces the number of comments I would normally expect, but to do otherwise would be selfish and irresponsible in my view, especially as I have been so critical of other ‘leading’ bloggers who run their comments like an open sewer, and mainly delete comments that are damaging/awkward for them personally.

(*In my experience I have noticed many political ‘players’ who fool around with multiple/false identities. This is not tolerated or enabled on my site in any way. Also, if the law somehow becomes involved, I know the buck stops with me, but I have a fair shot at identifying the source of any troublesome content that I haven’t written myself.)

5. Don’t wave your traffic in my face. It’s unseemly.

6. It’s also a bit of a cheat if you’re relying on the number of comments/contributors to prove your popularity/importance, when (a) many of those comments are critical of you and your efforts after an artificial MSM PR push, and (b) your site allows people to easily pretend to be more than one person.

7. Let’s keep in mind that I’m not asking for special treatment. I would expect anyone arriving on your website to expect a fair go. One good thing about you clearly not having the first clue about who I am is that it allows me to be sure that you would treat any question you didn’t care for as an irrelevance. If my comments were marked as ‘trash’ or deleted in line with a fair and clearly stated comment moderation policy, or if a reasonable explanation were given at the time (or even following an email query), then I’d be left with little else to say. But what you have done is invite comment, but refuse accountability. That’s going to lead to some pretty short and essentially one-sided conversations when the sign above your shop door suggests otherwise. Bit of a fraud if you ask me. On that note, you also claim to be campaigning for engagement and debate, but you refuse to engage, never mind debate. I may wish to tell a few people about that, for the same reason I would tell them about any other fraud, cheat, swindler or rip-off artist that had just rolled into town with a truckload of bad fish and clever spiel.

8. You have not answered my question about your use of creative material without credit, and instead have asked me why you should care what I think. Well, even if you’re being terribly selfish about the situation, you should at least care because you are calling for submissions from writers and artists while showing that you have scant regard for their legal and moral rights. Dedicated, talented artists tend to notice when this happens and they take this kind of thing very seriously (not least because their stuff gets nicked more often than the work of careless, talentless people). They would sit up and take notice if a stranger pointed out what you’ve been up to and your attitude to date… and I’m no stranger to most of the independent producers in this country likely to create just the kind of anti-Tory propaganda you are obviously keen on (but unable to produce for this project, despite your claim here to have; “a roster of the very best freelance film and video creating talent in the UK”).

9. And finally, we arrive and just who the hell I think I am. Just for the fun of it, I will treat this as a serious question instead of a sign that you regard yourself to be far more important than me or anyone else in this community; my name is Tim Ireland, and I regard myself to be a blogger with standards designed to serve and protect the wider community, not just my own self-interest. And just in case I fail on that front, my site allows anyone willing to identify themselves to challenge me and/or call me to account. In other words, I’m the guy who actually does what you only claim to do, I’ve been at it for 7+ years, and I’m smart enough to know that I’m still learning.

10. I also regard myself to be a bit of a tattletale.

Tim

Hey, everyone! Derek Draper is a fraud and a cheat who has no idea about, and no respect for, the online community that he wishes to infiltrate. He should be treated as you would treat any carpetbagger or outsider with less-than-honourable tactics and intent.

And if you, like me, write, photoshop, animate, make videos or produce anything else to do with political campaigning or communication, I urge you not to submit your material to the LabourList.org website, as Derek Draper has made it clear that he is willing to use that material without credit, and likely to become quite shouty and hostile if confronted about it.

And now, to close, here is an extract from the guide to blogging offered at LabourList.org. Perhaps Derek would care to read it sometime:

In short, a blog is an open diary, recorded as a web page. Typically a blog allows readers
to leave comments on items the blogger writes about. There is some consensus to the
effect that this is an essential dividing line between a blog and a general website…

Netiquette

As well as bearing in mind the tips above about content, it is also important that a few
conventions are obeyed. Just like anywhere else, the internet has unspoken rules and
conventions (‘netiquette’) which are almost always followed. Good table manners make
for satisfying meals. There are some widely recognised rules for bloggers:

1. Act in a courteous and civil fashion, especially in debate.

2. Avoid SHOUTING: keep capitals to a minimum. The same goes for bold type.

3. As above, make sure you attribute work and inspirations. It’s also a very good idea
to check that any materials you replicate are not copyright protected.

4. Keep to comments policies where they exist.

5. If you change a blog post, anyone interested will be able to tell by using Google’s
‘cache’ feature, or even more comprehensively, the Wayback Machine. If you
make an important change, it is important to be open, or you decision may be
represented as dishonesty.

6. Try to answer comments!

7. Stay away from nasty personal attacks. If you don’t like something, politely
disagree, or move on and find something you do.

8. If you have accidentally repeated comments, or made an obvious typographical
error, apologise.

(Hm. Perhaps now would be a good time for me to apologise for misspelling “nerny nerny ner ner” earlier. Sorry about that.)

UPDATE (3:45) – Derek Draper’s reply appears below. It seems he got as far as #1 and gave up. Well, it’s further than he got with the Labour List guide to blogging.

From: Derek Draper
To: Tim Ireland
CC: [none]

3:37 PM

good grief, i wasn’t shouting it was in CAPs to differentiate it from your text

i don’t care what you put on your blog, haven’t you realised that?

i can’t even be bothered reading this email it is too long

[Derek Draper]
www.labourlist.org
www.flowvideo.co.uk
www.diy-therapy.com
020 7486 2400
MIND Journalist of the Year








17 Comments

  1. The Editor says

    A grassroots alternative to LabourList has launched today. LABOURIST.org has the same content (which Derek kindly agrees to share) but without the heavy handed comment moderation. We welcome open and lively debate from everyone, not just the Labour-minded.

  2. Sim-O says

    I love the line "Who do you think you are?"

  3. Shaun says

    "i can't even be bothered reading this email it is too long"Too long? Have our ignorant, phillistine masters reached the contemptuous conclusion that long words and sentences are beneath them? Or that people who can read, write and compose a wall of coherent text are in some way 'bourgeoise' and thus worthy of ignoring? What manner of topsy-turvy socialist nonsense are we in the grips of?Vote Draper! He's authentic! You can tell because the government doesn't overtly disapprove! Hurrah!

  4. AdamB says

    What a plonker.

  5. Paul Linford says

    "Just for the fun of it, I will treat this as a serious question instead of a sign that you regard yourself to be far more important than me or anyone else in this community"Get real Tim, of course Derek is more important than you are. There are 17 people who count in this government and to say he is intimate with every single one of them is an understatement.

  6. GusA says

    Tim you missed Lord Mandy of Poisontongues wonderfully insightful comment that: "In new media command and control doesn't work: we need to embrace and engage."

  7. Manic says

    GusA: I did catch that, thanks – but my earlier comment relevant to it was 'trashed' by Draper. You missed the kick-off:http://www.bloggerheads.com/archives/2009/01/dere…-Dear 'The Editor',Your project intrigues me, but I'm not subscribing to your newsletter just yet:http://www.labourist.org/?p=28&cpage=1#comment-48And if you've previously commented on this site under another name/profile, I might have a word or two to say about that.

  8. CPLOL says

    Do tell us more – in fact all you know – about 'The Editor' Tim. It seems the only honourable, open and honest thing you can do in this context.The authenticity of comments and commenters and indeed post authors has of course been a great problem at LabourHome. And there has been a great rash of bulk often OT trollage at Labour List so better identification of commenters would be a good idea as perhaps some kind of word limit and strict adherence to on topic conventions.Most of the comments I've seen have not been about the content or accountability. Just sneering and talking across.But it is only Beta, and one week in, and a self-confessed and rather hyper nay manic novice at the controls. As the bloggers' blogger and with a high level of expertise and principle you might be a bit more gentle and helpful. IMO.

  9. Manic says

    Nothing revealed beyond 'The Editor' seemingly being from way out of town or wanting to cover their tracks, CP.And you're asking me to hit one person with a stick and pat the other on the bum! Go easy.I'm unlikely to trust Draper to any extent, and I'd place little faith in anything with him at the helm.

  10. GusA says

    Ah. I see. Labourist IS funny, but another right wing blog is maybe not what this country is crying out for, or even what Canada is crying out for. Dont get me wrong – I hate New Labour as much as the next man, more probably, but, well, you know.

  11. Manic says

    I'm not being racist, but I just don't trust those Canadians.(mutters)(prepares internment camps)

  12. mikkimoose says

    Speaking of labourist, intrigued at their refusal to identify themselves I checked the whois record, which shows the fake details of 'Dolly Draper, 10 Downing Street'.I pointed out, (as a reply to your comment there), that this is contrary to ICANN's policy, and is grounds for deletion of their domain, and that they should not enter false info in their whois. Anyway, I'm slightly surprised to find that they use comment moderation on all comments, and my comment does not show up immediately, but moreover the moderation is far more heavy-handed (contrary to the claims of 'The Editor') than I've ever experienced anywhre else, as I find that as thanks for this single comment, I am (or my DHCP IP anyway) blocked from their site:"Your IP address has been automatically flagged for potential abuse of comment policy. This could be due to posting multiple comments under different aliases or making offensive, threatening or spamming comments.If you think your IP address has been flagged in error, please email labourist@gmail.com and we will review your case. Please note, IP flagging is extremely unusual and only occurs when our trust is abused."I'm not quite sure why they've done this, as I was merely telling them to correct their oversight, but as they are obviously unwilling to take feedback into consideration, and not only delete comments they don't like, but ban the commenters from even reading the site, I've reported them to ICANN for the fake whois information. My complaint is in progress.Hopefully, for their sake, they will listen to ICANN, even if they didn't want to listen to me.

  13. Manic says

    I so want to trust these mysterious masked men who have so kindly offered to police someone's comments for us.(I'm sure Canadians are 'nice' people and all… I just don't want them over here. Perhaps I should write a letter to the Daily Mail about that.)

  14. The Editor says

    @mikkimooseI think you're being a little unfair. Comment moderation is off at Labourist – but if comments have multiple links in them (in your case, there were 2), the comment software thinks we are being spammed and blocks your IP.From 4500 visits over this weekend, we have 3 IPs in the blocked list. So to suggest that we are being heavy handed with comment moderation is a little harsh. If you would have emailed us we would have gladly unblocked your IP – like it says in the message you pasted above.I also note you post here as 'mikkimoose' but on Labourist as 'Mike Hunt'. Doesn't this make you a sock puppet?. I think Tim has a pretty strong position on that. You obviously want to preserve your anonymity as do we. Why is it wrong for us but right for you?Thanks for reporting the site to ICANN, btw. If we are taken down because of it, I hope you will feel pretty pleased with yourself. Did you pull the legs off spiders when you were a kid? We will need a new URI and new DNS whois record. Maybe we will register as 'Mike Hunt' next time in your honour :PI don't mean to be unkind or use Tim's gaff to have silly arguments – but come on – we are just ordinary techie types who happen to believe open debate is better than one sided propaganda, so we built Labourist between doing other work. Surprisingly, lots of people seem to like it but that doesn't mean we want to be known as 'libertarian activists' or whatever label would be attached to us as individuals. Is that so hard to comprehend?Anyway, sorry that we can't please everyone but very happy to be providing a service that so far has been widely well received.

  15. Manic says

    – "Comment moderation is off at Labourist "Perhaps it is at present, but it wasn't recently; I had a comment (with *no* links) held over and marked as "awaiting moderation'.- "I also note you post here as 'mikkimoose' but on Labourist as 'Mike Hunt'"If you were someone I trusted or even if you were merely consistent in previous claims, I might respond to that claim immediately, but you're not, and you haven't been, so until mikkimoose has a word to say about it, you'll have to wait. Sorry. Even if it is true, I would think the circumstances warrant a passing mention in any discussion of the rights and wrongs of it.- "Why is it wrong for us but right for you?"a) There is at the very least a key difference between the use of a pseudonym as a comment contributor, and volunteering to police comments on a grand scale.b) So you do have another known/established identity online? This appears to be what you're suggesting in your 'shoot the messenger' accusation here. A more specific question (please don't use it to dodge the first); have you previously commented on this site under another name/profile?- "Thanks for reporting the site to ICANN, btw."Hey, he came to see you first, and you sent some clear signals that you've acted in bad faith before confirming it here. If anything, he may have helped you out by forcing the changes you discuss in a further effort to thumb your nose at ICANN's policy*. You do realise that with a smidgen of cooperation from No 10 Downing Street, 'Dolly' could have taken control of the domain you registered under his name at that address, yes? Or, like the massive commitment you've taken on with offering to police the comments at labourist, did you not really think it through?(*Speaking as an outsider, this seems like an odd thing for a libertarian to do. Don't ICANN have a right to conduct business according to that policy? Of have you consistently flouted the rules of their gaff by using false details for all of your websites according to some political principle that you've yet to outline/explain?)- "Did you pull the legs off spiders when you were a kid?"How is this in any way relevant?- "We will need a new URI and new DNS whois record"The selective depth of your technical knowledge intrigues me.- "that doesn't mean we want to be known as 'libertarian activists'"And yet that's what you are… if you are, as you claim, libertarian. Activism is the deliberate use of action to bring about social/political change, and that's exactly what you're engaged in here… unless you honestly regard your commitment to spend time policing comments on labourist as futile or meaningless, in which case one might wonder why you've bothered at all.If you don't want to be known as an activist, do what most shy people do and stay at home, yelling at the television (or throwing beavers at it, or whatever it is that you do in Canadaland).

  16. Manic says

    "Comment moderation is off at Labourist"Yep, as I suspected; moderation is still on:http://www.bloggerheads.com/images/labourist.gif

  17. mikkimoose says

    > I think you're being a little unfair. Comment moderation is off at Labourist – but if comments have multiple links in them (in your case, there were 2), the comment software thinks we are being spammed and blocks your IP.Tim has shown proof of the contrary.> From 4500 visits over this weekend, we have 3 IPs in the blocked list. So to suggest that we are being heavy handed with comment moderation is a little harsh. If you would have emailed us we would have gladly unblocked your IP – like it says in the message you pasted above.Really? You blocked it because you didn't like me pointing out some important facts about domain registrations of which you clearly are not aware, but which you should be in starting a new business on teh interweb. It was not an accident, you did it deliberately, so I'm unclear why you are now feigning graciousness and saying I should have emailed you. It says in your message, 'If you think your IP address has been flagged in error', and we all know that it was deliberate, and not an error.> I also note you post here as 'mikkimoose' but on Labourist as 'Mike Hunt'. Doesn't this make you a sock puppet?. I think Tim has a pretty strong position on that. You obviously want to preserve your anonymity as do we. Why is it wrong for us but right for you?Actually Tim has my real email address, and to him I am not anonymous. Why? Because he has chosen to setup his website to exclude anonymous users.Your website OTOH, is a veritable den of false ids, to wit, on that very thread:"Peter Mandelson says:January 17, 2009 at 8:45 pmDerek!In my office NOW, you unwashed halfwit!What the hell is this!? When you promised me complete and utter control over the Internet, I believed you. You UTTER cock monkey.How did you let this happen? What do you mean you have NO IDEA?!? You DO realise I could be made to look a complete HOON don't you?Jesus, I pop off to Marrakesh for ten minutes for a little R&R and the next thing, every bastard in the blogosphere is ripping the shit out of me."You clearly seek to profit (via increased page impressions for your advertising) from trolling, the misuse of other people's identities, etc., yet you are speciously suggesting that I have somehow sinned by not using the same meaningless alias on your den for anonymous trolls run by an anonymous troll, that I do on here. And as you've only decided to respond when it turned out I had a voice outside your trollpit, it speaks volumes about YOU that you were happy to ban 'mike hunt', but when it turns out you've caught a live one, you suddenly find the ability to respond.When you register a domain you have to play by ICANN's rules. It's not optional, in the way that you have the choice to allow homophobic posts about Peter Mandelson or not, or I have the choice over whether I wish to be known as 'mikkimoose' or not, it's a simple YOU MUST COMPLY.>Thanks for reporting the site to ICANN, btw. If we are taken down because of it, I hope you will feel pretty pleased with yourself.Well yes I will. Very. Because you thought that quietly banning me while still claiming to be the home of free speech was clever. It wasn't. And> Did you pull the legs off spiders when you were a kid? We will need a new URI and new DNS whois record. Maybe we will register as 'Mike Hunt' next time in your honour :P'Y'know, if I am working an area of technology/something else that I don't know much about, I do try to listen to those that do. Perhaps if you followed suit your level of knowledge would increase, and you'd make fewer mistakes in the future. I think this would be a better approach than shooting the messenger.> I don't mean to be unkind or use Tim's gaff to have silly arguments – but come on – we are just ordinary techie types who happen to believe open debate is better than one sided propaganda, so we built Labourist between doing other work. Surprisingly, lots of people seem to like it but that doesn't mean we want to be known as 'libertarian activists' or whatever label would be attached to us as individuals. Is that so hard to comprehend?Open debate? It's anything but. You appear, pound to a penny, to be Tories running a site in order to undermine the Labour Party's official one. It's not surprising that people are wondering who is doing this and what they want to get out of it.

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