Worlds & Time

Friday, October 19, 2007

Uhg, IIDB Drama Llama

So, what went on today during my last eventful day as Admin at IIDB?

Today, one of our long time users and a Board Member was removed from her post and banned, and I was relieved of my duties as Administrator. I believe that both of these actions were problematic considering the IIDB charter. Below you will find my version of what happened from my perspective.

To begin, Janice (EverLastingGodStopper), who has a heart in the right place, told me that she was going to be voted off the Internet Infidels Board of Directors (sometimes referred to hereafter as "the Board").

This wasn't completely unexpected, because she'd been having problems, primarily with Michael (The Other Michael) and Scott (Maverick, also the II President). She'd already told me about how they didn't like it when she decided to go ask former IIDB users for their opinions on Board of Director matters.

I partially understand that. After all, most of these former users are banned at IIDB. However, this also includes a lot of long term users who put a lot of work into IIDB and were banned because they eventually racked up slews of warnings or user notes, and might have some good suggestions. Some of these people now run their own message boards, and might have insights from that as well.

Janice though, has more than twice the posts that I do and has been a user since 2002, and has invested a lot of time and energy into both Internet Infidels and IIDB. She's previously told me how upset she would be if she was kicked off the board because she cares so much about her secular activism.

Maybe twenty minutes, she was removed from the Board, and it was clear because they removed her "Board of Director" Access and custom user title. She posted twice that she had been removed from the Board, once in the fund raising thread that she'd been tending and once in the lounge.

These weren't big huge "I'M LEAVING AND U SUCK" posts that some times happen when a long time user leaves a message board. The first just noted that she was no longer a Board Member, so someone else would have to take care of tending the fund raising drive. The second one just noted that a line had dropped from her secular community "signature" because she'd been dropped from the Board. She didn't even start a new thread.

This is where bad things started to happen. Janice was very much well like, and even though I haven't always gotten along with her, there are a lot of users that care about her. One of the moderators got, well, very upset about her departure. It was pretty obvious that she'd been talking to Janice through IIDB's Private Message system because she seemed to have a pretty good idea of what Janice was saying.

Now, Mike and Scott are respectively the IIDB liaison to the Board of Directors and the President of the Board. Even in the ACR, neither Mike nor Scott originally commented on why she had been removed from her post. When it became clear that this was going to become a big deal, Scott eventually offered a vague post about previous mistakes Janice had made. Considering the furor that the recent banning on one of our long time contributors, Red Dave, made, it was obvious that without a more substantiative response, the issue was going to become problematic.

Michael's response to this upset Mod was very cold and dismissive, and it was immediately obvious to me that he was quite angry. So I quoted both the upset Mod and Michael and told them to calm down and be civil to each other. This all took place in the Moderator Conference Room (MCR), which is outside of the view of most of the users.

Now, Scott removed the first post Janice made after she was removed from the board right away. While the Board owns us, it has always been my understanding that the Administrators run the day to day operations of IIDB, and while they have Admin powers, they don't typically interfere with moderation. I didn't reverse his deletion, but I did point out that there are Admins on, and that we have a chain of command for a reason. At some point, I even pointed out that if he wanted us to take action, he could tell me what he wanted, and I would do it for him.

Then I got a PM from Michael absolutely fuming about me asking him to calm down in the MCR, entitled "Back Off." He told me that my action was out of line (although all I'd done was ask that everyone calm down) and at the end he said "Please indicate that you understand this." I interpreted this as a threat to my position. I wrote a response, again asking him to calm down, and pointing out that his response to the upset moderator was not going to improve the situation.

Soon after this, Michael removed Janice's second post out of sight. Around this time, I also noticed that Janice has been banned completely from the site.

In the ACR, I pointed out that, as per my understanding of what it means to be an Administrator, I should have been asked to vote on the banning of one of our users. I quoted a section of the IIDB charter that pointed out that all users are entitled to fair treatment, and that I don't believe that this has been the case in Janice's banning. Given her emotional state, she did not overreact, and there was no reason that I believe that she should have been banned. At no point today did she break any site rules, which is our condition for membership.

Michael then sent me a PM response to his "Back off" private message about how he was in charge of the Board, and that what he says goes. I tried to respond to this PM, but found that I had been removed from my position as an Admin. This means that due to my smaller PM box, I am no longer able to send further PMs.

This is, and has never been my understanding of the function of the "Board liaison" or IIDB Administrators. In the ACR's thread, "Administrator duties" thread, it specifically says that actions taken by the Administrators are done by consensus. Never before had I seen mention that the Board liaison had complete and utter control over the board, and control and administration over the other Administrators.

It has always been my understanding that Administrators should work together as a group, and calmly reach decisions together, to prevent single Administrators from doing exactly what Michael has; taken absolute control of the entire board in the heat of emotion. We have always struggled to remain impartial and fair. I believe that Janice's ban and my removal as Administrator are in direct violation of these principals.

I am a long time user of IIDB. Prior to being made Administrator, I was a Moderator-at-Large for several months, and prior to that, I was a moderator of various forums for more than two years. As an Administrator I have taken the initiative to clean up the Administrator Conference Room (ACR), reorganize and solicit real world contact information for our Moderators, keep both the MCR and ACR up to date. Additionally, I think that you will find that I am well respected among the IIDB moderation staff.

I am greatly upset by today's actions. It is my hope that I will be able to rejoin the IIDB Administration staff, but if Michael's assertions that he has absolute control over IIDB are correct, I am afraid that IIDB is not the organization that I thought it was.

Otherwise, it would have been my honor to continue to serve the II Board of Directors as an Administrator of IIDB.

My best wishes to all.

Spherical Time
former Administrator and Moderator of IIDB

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  • You always did good work.

    s/ Little Stevie a/k/a rigorist

    By Blogger Little, at 7:49 PM  

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