Taking on the cyber-bullies

Can I just take a quick moment to enjoy being ahead of the curve?

(*self-satisfied grin*)

OK, I’m done. Let’s move on…

I’ve identified some behaviour that is well out of control here in the UK and suggested some corrective measures to the people primarily responsible for the recent decay. They’ve responded directly or via proxy by misrepresenting my position and claiming that I’m bringing tablets from on high and/or calling for fascist measures. If you’ve swallowed this propaganda whole, it may surprise you to learn that I’m apprehensive about a formal code, not least because an informal code already exists (it’s called ‘etiquette’).

That said, let’s take a look at this recent development and see what’s on offer…

New York Times – A Call for Manners in the World of Nasty Blogs: The conversational free-for-all on the Internet known as the blogosphere can be a prickly and unpleasant place. Now, a few high-profile figures in high-tech are proposing a blogger code of conduct to clean up the quality of online discourse. Last week, Tim O’Reilly, a conference promoter and book publisher who is credited with coining the term Web 2.0, began working with Jimmy Wales, creator of the communal online encyclopedia Wikipedia, to create a set of guidelines to shape online discussion and debate. Chief among the recommendations is that bloggers consider banning anonymous comments left by visitors to their pages and be able to delete threatening or libelous comments without facing cries of censorship… Mr. O’Reilly said the guidelines were not about censorship. “That is one of the mistakes a lot of people make – believing that uncensored speech is the most free, when in fact, managed civil dialogue is actually the freer speech,” he said. “Free speech is enhanced by civility.”

O’Reilly Radar – Call for a Blogger’s Code of Conduct: I was quoted in a BBC article a few days ago and a San Francisco Chronicle article on Thursday calling for a “Blogger’s Code of Conduct” in response to the firestorm that has arisen as a result of Kathy Sierra’s revelation that she’s been targeted by a series of increasingly violent and disturbing anonymous comments on her blog and on a series of weblogs that appeared to have been created for the purpose of celebrating cyber-bullying… In a discussion the other night at O’Reilly’s ETech conference, we came up with a few ideas about what such a code of conduct might entail. These thoughts are just a work in progress, and hopefully a spur for further discussion.

OK, here’s what Mr O’Reilly has so far:

1. Take responsibility not just for your own words, but for the comments you allow on your blog.

Well said. Iain Dale and Paul Staines… are you paying attention? One of my major concerns has been what you breed under comments. This is worth repeating; If you run a weblog that contains a significant level of political discussion, you really should have some form of comment registration in place or be ready to moderate your arse off. If you don’t do either, you lay fertile ground for anonymous bullies who seek to limit free speech by undermining and intimidating those they don’t agree with (while simultaneously screaming about their right to free speech).

2. Label your tolerance level for abusive comments.

Psst! Iain! It is implied that you should also follow your stated policy, not use it selectively to engage in self-serving censorship.

3. Consider eliminating anonymous comments.

Iain Dale tried this for a few days and didn’t like it. Staines would never go for it. Both regard the number of comments they receive to be a key indicator of their popularity.

4. Ignore the trolls.

Generally a good policy, but sometimes trolls deserve a public slapping. It is certainly not constructive behaviour to actively use (and thereby encourage) trolls to avoid pertinent questions.

5. Take the conversation offline, and talk directly, or find an intermediary who can do so.

Problematic in the extreme. I fail to see how this can be done when the perpetrator usually insists on remaining anonymous… and is generally the type of person who fears an open and honest discussion.

6. If you know someone who is behaving badly, tell them so.

Done. But the relevant comments got deleted (after being classified as ‘abuse’) and resulted in a stream of abuse from anonymous contributors to the blogs in question (see: #1, #2 and #3). The only measure left was to create a focused information channel that made ongoing reports on an ongoing situation; this was quickly misrepresented by anonymous bullies as an example of ‘cyber-bullying’.

In another recent example, I told the superiors of the anonymous bullies what was going on, and they didn’t give a rat’s arse.

7. Don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t say in person.

A good rule, but… do you behave differently when you’re behind the wheel of a car? Most people do… it’s human nature. I think the best we can expect is a reduction in highly damaging behaviour by approaches/improvements somewhere between #1 and #4. (Me personally, I have a rule that’s not far from #7 in this draft… never put anything on your blog that you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of a newspaper.)

In closing (for now), I’m extremely happy that this long-overdue conversation has gone mainstream… but you should watch out for those who seek to poison this conversation as they do many others. Their main weapon will be to portray aspiration as a proposal for regulation.

Posted in The Political Weblog Movement | 1 Comment

Cyber-bullies wanted

Poons shows you how to apply.

Posted in The Political Weblog Movement | Comments Off

Writer wrong on the right and wrongs

Oliver Kamm – A parody of democracy (mirror)

Blogs are providers not of news but of comment?

Sorry, but facts, facts, facts lurk here, despite my also making clear my opinion when I reveal those facts. These facts were not reported in the mainstream press, and *not* because of any difficulty in proving facts. An information gap exists and a responsibly-run weblog can help to fill that gap.

Also, there’s nowt wrong with opinion when it is introduced into conversation/debate. Not all weblogs play the Fox News game of blurring the line between news and editorial content.

Finally, the ‘narrowed view’ Oliver Kamm mentions can result from self-selection, but usually results from self-serving censorship… like that conducted at Iain Dale’s ‘blog’ and that of Paul Staines (where ‘debate’ is forbidden outright). So here I would argue that there *are* parties that are accountable for the decline… especially as Kamm himself uses one of these weblogs as an example of blogging. This is a growing community, often shaped by perception.

Septicisle also has some thoughts on this article.

Posted in Old Media | 2 Comments

Iain Dale: not a real blogger, in no way a blogging expert

Well, that’s it… he’s finally blown it.

Iain Dale has just banned me from leaving comments on his website and shown the blogging community that he just can’t hack it as a blogger.

The central principle behind blogs and their popularity is as follows; they are interactive networking devices (i.e. they enable conversation as opposed to broadcast).

Iain has become rather frustrated with me of late because of my refusal to allow him to avoid honest debate by:

a) avoiding questions by hiding behind his resident team of sock-puppets
b) claiming that I am a sock-puppet
c) delivering evasive and/or insulting answers to my questions
d) declaring my comments to be ‘insulting’
e) calling me a ‘link spammer’ for providing proof to back any given claim I make
f) declaring the content of my comments to be off-topic
g) referring to any pursuit of a reasonable response as ‘thread hijacking’
h) all of the above

Iain has been making up his moderation policy as he goes along, but he never sticks to his clearly stated ‘rules’ after introducing them. In fact, he will allow other contributors to break the rules when it suits him, and he will often break those same rules himself.

One of the most notable examples of all this at work can be seen in this thread, where Iain Dale makes a claim and then refuses to back it up with proof… again and again and again.

In this thread, the recent introductions or proper timestamps for comments is discussed. It is equally illuminating, and it shows him to be a self-confessed blogging amateur.

Today, Iain kicked off a new thread with this:

Iain Dale – Lessons in LibDem Telephone Canvassing: Is it really appopriate [sic] for parliamentary email addresses to be used for overt party political electioneering? I think not.

He then goes on to say he can’t very excited about that… so why blog it? Especially when there are so many parallels between the case he makes here and the case I made about Nick Boles.

Here you can see a perfect of example of Iain making good use of sock-puppets and trolls to avoid answering difficult questions regarding the Nick Boles matter. Not long after, this happened.

He knows he’s been called out as a biased hypocrite by many bloggers recently… why take this hardly-worth-it shot at the Lib Dems when it relates so closely to a matter that he himself was associated with – a matter that he went to great pains to keep from his readers? Was it because he simply can’t resist taking a shot at the Lib-Dems?

I brought that matter up under comments. I was on-topic and polite.

How did Iain respond? With a rude dismissal and yet another baseless claim of sock-puppetry on my part.

I’ll repeat the guts of the exchange here – unrelated content has been removed and my notes are outside of blockquotes and [in brackets]:

Tim said…

Iain, was it really appropriate for Nick Boles to use his Policy Exchange email address for overt party political electioneering?

April 04, 2007 10:01 AM

Iain Dale said…

Since when did the taxpayer pay for Policy Exchange’s email system?

And if you missed it I said “I can’t get very excited” about it.

Do keep up. Do try harder.

April 04, 2007 10:04 AM

Tim said…

Iain, it’s the same issue, regardless of the source of the funds. In both cases there are rules about using certain facilities for party-political campaigning.

Yes, you declared the Nick Boles matter to be a non-story, but here you are today running with this.

Can’t you smell the hypocrisy?

April 04, 2007 10:38 AM

dynamite said…

Also worth noting that the Tories (and Labour) ran their telephone campaigns at the last General Election completely centrally, and using push-polling techniques on TPS registered households, which the Information Commissioner ruled illegal.

April 04, 2007 10:55 AM

Tim said…

“…push-polling techniques on TPS registered households, which the Information Commissioner ruled illegal”

I was a TPS-registered individual who received such a call pushing Anne Milton. I started asking questions about who exactly was calling and the caller became evasive, then downright rude. I complained to Anne Milton about it; she feigned ignorance and promised to investigate the matter when she knew damn well what was going on from the start. It was this incident that prompted me to start the Anne Milton weblog.

There’s a lesson in there for Iain… perhaps he can dig it out.

April 04, 2007 11:10 AM

Iain Dale said…

Are you threatening me?

April 04, 2007 11:26 AM

Tim said…

Are you threatening me?


I guess that depends on how you *perceive* it.

Now would you mind responding properly to the point I raised about parallels between this and the PE matter? Don’t you think it reveals just a smidgen of hypocrisy on your part?

April 04, 2007 11:30 AM

[This is a reference to a recent technique Iain Dale has been using to undermine me; he will claim that overt insults, threats and smears levelled at me by his gang of anonymous cowards are ‘perceived’ insults, threats and smears… i.e. he would have his readers believe that I’m being over-sensitive, and he certainly hasn’t been publishing any content in contravention of his own damn moderation policy.]

Iain Dale said…

By the way, your use of asterisks around words is a dead give away. You really should stop using them when you use your many aliases on other peoples’ sites and this one. You have been rumbled.

Now, for the umpteenth time, go away. You’re not going to be allowed to hijack this thread like you have tried to do with so many others.

April 04, 2007 11:39 AM

[Iain immediately turned on comment moderation after making this totally baseless claim. I posted the following in response. Iain did not publish it.]

Tim said…

There you go again, suggesting that it is me who is guilty of using and abusing sock-puppets, when the main problem I have been discussing is the way that you and ‘Guido’ use and abuse them. I have produced proof to back my claims (you often describe this as ‘link spamming’, BTW) and what have you got? Nothing.

For a few months I posted under ‘Guido 2.0′, using my usual nickname of ‘Manic’ and speaking in third-person much in the same way that ‘Guido Fawkes’ does… my true identity was readily available throughout the exercise via this profile. (source)

I am now posting under my old profile for reasons that have been clearly outlined on the Guido 2.0 weblog (which – from day one – also made very clear my true identity).

Now, getting back to the point (that you took us away from) it is *extremely* dishonest of you to describe this as a hijack. I asked a polite and on-topic question, responded politely to your rude and evasive response, and also responded to a related subject that was brought up by another contributor.

We both know that I am unlikely to go away until you provide me with a reasonable response to my comment. Why?

a) A reasonable response is warranted
b) Even if a reasonable response never arrives, the techniques you use to avoid any given point are of general educational value.

April 04, 2007 11:55 AM

[Instead, Iain chose to announce his ban.]

Iain Dale said…

Oh, did I forgot to mention? You’re banned from this blog now. We’re tired of your moronic meanderings. Nobody’s interested in you. Deal with it.

April 04, 2007 12:02 PM

So not only is he refusing to correspond with me by email, but now I’m banned from leaving comments on his weblog. He’ll ban me from linking to him next.

Iain Dale does not believe in any of the core principles of blogging, and – by his own admission – he even struggles with the technical side.

Yet he ponces about town posing as an expert on blogging!

Myself and a few others have been ‘umming’ and ‘ahhing’ about a new microsite to document Iain Dale’s shenanigans, but it’s going ahead as of now. Unlike the Guido 2.0 microsite, which evolved into a meta-blog, this will be a meta-blog from the off.

This new microsite will focus on the often dumbfounding hypocrisy of this spamming dimwit driven by personal and political ambition, and will regularly address the questions he fails to answer and the claims he fails to back with proof.

No doubt Iain will do his best to portray it as an unprovoked/party-political attack… and I wish him luck with that. In fact, he will enjoy a right-of-reply on that weblog on each and every occasion he has the guts to post under his real name and meet with any given issue head-on.

Posted in The Political Weblog Movement | 6 Comments

I’m feeling much better now

Please click here for news of an important change to the Guido 2.0 microsite.

Posted in The Political Weblog Movement | Comments Off

Come again?

“Well the live interview was definitely a mistake and against my better judgement, as was the in-the-shadows idea of the Newsnight editor….” – ‘Guido Fawkes’

“The only way we were able to persuade Guido Fawkes to make a film for Newsnight was to allow him to appear in disguise… He was very reluctant to appear live but was persuaded to do so only by us offering to again disguise his identity. We used a graphic backing of his website (emailed to us by Guido) in order to liven up the dark Millbank studio. We did not, in anyway, encourage him to disguise his identity. It was the only way we were going to get him to appear live.” – Robbie Gibb (Assistant Editor, Newsnight)

Here’s the latest Britblog round-up and a few extra posts with interesting comment threads that you can amuse yourselves with while we wait for Paul Staines to clarify his statement or call Gibb a lying servant of the leftist establishment:

Noodpie – Interview with Guido Fawkes
Pickled Politics – Guido gets Fawked
Chicken Yoghurt – Remember, remember the 28th of March

Also, if you feel so inclined, you can watch Iain Dale hiding behind his sock-puppets (again) and revealing himself to be a total amateur (again) under comments here:

Iain Dale – Am I a Biased Hypocrite?

Posted in The Political Weblog Movement | 4 Comments

Crocodile tears in Iranian waters

Happily, the only things I feel necessary to add to the current Iranian debate have already been said:

The Independent – Leading article: Time for a new approach in an effort to end this stand-off with Iran: But there is a bigger problem here than clumsy diplomacy. Quite simply, Iran is holding most of the cards. Because of the catastrophe in Iraq, the UK has no real diplomatic leverage in the region. Tony Blair calls the Iranian action illegal in international law and cites the United Nations mandate for the presence of British forces in Iraq. But the US and Britain invaded Iraq ignoring the will of the UN. The former UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, called the action illegal. Mr Blair has little moral authority when he cites international law now. It is notable that the UN statement stopped short of deploring the Iranian action, as requested by Britain. It also makes no mention of Security Council resolution 1723 that authorises the coalition presence in Iraq. The wounds opened by the foolish invasion of Iraq by the US and the UK have not healed.

Terry Jones – Call that humiliation? (via): I share the outrage expressed in the British press over the treatment of our naval personnel accused by Iran of illegally entering their waters. It is a disgrace. We would never dream of treating captives like this – allowing them to smoke cigarettes, for example, even though it has been proven that smoking kills. And as for compelling poor servicewoman Faye Turney to wear a black headscarf, and then allowing the picture to be posted around the world – have the Iranians no concept of civilised behaviour? For God’s sake, what’s wrong with putting a bag over her head?

(Psst! Here’s a link for those who came in late.)

OpEd News – Battle Plans for Iran (via): Step by step, Iran is being set up for war. What difference does the provocation make? The determination to consolidate the oil reserves in the Caspian Basin was made more than a decade ago and is clearly articulated in the policy papers produced by the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) The Bush administration is one small province away from realizing the its dream of controlling the world’s most valued resource. They won’t let that opportunity pass them by.

Posted in It's War! It's Legal! It's Lovely! | 5 Comments

Q: Why did ‘Guido’ fail so spectacularly on Newsnight?

A: Because he didn’t have his usual team of anonymous bullies there to fight his battles for him.

NSFW audio. Share and enjoy with caution.

Posted in The Political Weblog Movement | Comments Off


Now remember, children; Stop Cyberbullying Day is about standing up to bullies and standing up for their victims.

It is not designed as a propaganda device for bullies* who play the victim when someone stands up to them.

(*The same applies to the pathetic yes-men who follow those bullies around like sheep.)

[Rare use of tags follows: takebackthetech stopcyberbullying]

UPDATE: A message to ‘Mike Power’… those who wish to publish comments on my main weblog are required to establish their identity by providing a valid email address when they do so. Those who use methods to bypass this requirement do not get published. Sorry.

PS – Even if you do (eventually) do this, I fail to see why I should afford you the courtesy of a reply, given that you have sought to abuse my hospitality on this website and do not allow comments on your own.

UPDATE – I’m satisfied that Mike Power did not intentionally attempt to bypass this requirement, but rather made the innocent mistake of signing in using an old TypeKey account with outdated details. An apology has been issued here.

Posted in The Political Weblog Movement | Comments Off

Listen to BBC Radio 4… now!

A busy day today… this managed to sneak up on me… sorry for the late notice (but there is a ‘listen again’ feature on the BBC page linked below).

Remember Red Nose Day vs. SOCPA? Well, I can now reveal that – while I didn’t get answerMark Thomas did!

Mark Thomas – Radio 4 – 6.30-7pm

“And on Red Nose Day I had to apply and receive permission from the police to wear a red nose in Parliament Square. The police advised me that if I wore a red nose without permission I could be arrested for an having unauthorised demonstration.” – Mark Thomas

There it is…. clear advice from the police. So now we can ask them why they’re not prosecuting the people behind this.


Posted in The War on Stupid | Comments Off