Some housecleaning was needed


I’m not sure there’s much more than can be said about the response Kate got to her post this past Thursday. First, I have to commend her on saying what many of us were thinking. The situation between SFWA and Vox is yet another indication of just how low SFWA has sunk. If anyone still thinks Vox wasn’t tossed out of SFWA because of what the powers that be (and I don’t mean the officers. I mean the vocal group that has the officers wrapped around its finger because said officers are afraid of not being politically correct and liked by the “in” crowd) saw as his inappropriate views, you’re wrong. Go back and look at the attacks on Vox leading up to his removal from SFWA. When you do, you will probably agree that SFWA went looking for some reason, any reason they could find to toss him out and then hopefully convince the courts that they were in the right. So, they got him for misusing the organization’s twitter feed, among other things. Oooooh, that is worthy of expulsion.

All you have to do is go to the comments to Kate’s post to see the trolls who have never commented here before but who, when it was pointed out that Vox wasn’t the 100% Caucasian they all thought he was to see the hate that group has. There were more attacks and we finally had to do something we’ve done only once before on this blog: we had to swing the ban hammer. The person involved was warned twice. Once by Kate and again by me but she continued with the offending behavior.

So, the ban hammer came down and now let’s talk about why.

None of us here will ever shy away from a good discussion. For those of you how have read MGC, or any of our personal blogs, for very long, you know we even enjoy a contentious discussion — as long as it is a discussion and not just someone screaming that we’re evil or stupid or insane. But the key word is “discussion”. It doesn’t matter if you disagree with anyone who posts or comments here, as long as you think about what they wrote and then respond with a well-reasoned comment. If you can be funny at the same time, bonus points. But just spouting hate or anger without discussing the issues won’t cut it.

MGC has been around for some years now. I’ve been a part of it for three years or so. I’ve been one of those who have put up controversial posts before — heck, it’s a badge of honor among us if we can get certain folks to come here and try to defend their positions. But, even then, those involved will discuss the issue and try to show where we got something wrong. They don’t attack and they don’t keep coming back in the thread to show how wrong we are and how much smarter and politically correct they are when compared to the rest of us mere mortals.

But when it comes to trolls, I have a very low threshold. So do most of the rest of my fellow bloggers. Kate, Sarah and I had discussed what should be done if that certain person kept at her antics last night. The only reason we didn’t pull Dave and Chris into the discussion was the time difference. So, we tried answering her and warning her and she ignored us. In fact, when Kate asked if she thought her one line answers were proper, the person responded with a resounding “yes”. She was sooooo proud of herself.

When the ban warnings came, she ignored and her IP has no been added to the blacklist. It was only the second one ever. It wasn’t something we did lightly. So, if you see your comments not coming through, drop one of us an email or PM to make sure you aren’t being trapped by the IP ban.

So, rules of MGC: there are basically very few and they all distill down to a single rule taken from Jim Baen — don’t be a butt-head. If a post isn’t about politics, don’t bring it in unless the comment you’re responding to has. This is, primarily a blog about the publishing industry. If someone warns that you are being a butt-head, consider why they are saying it. If one of the MGCers tells you that you’re being a butt-head, stop whatever you’re doing immediately. You have been warned at that point.

Finally, when one of the MGCers opens it up to a rousing game of whack-a-troll, have it. We need to be entertained too πŸ˜‰


  1. There are too many nice people in the world to tolerate the trolls.
    Most of us are victims of our own urge to be a nice guy/gal. We’re reluctant to swing the axe.
    Don’t be. You’re not condemning them to death, just making it clear that you aren’t interested in more of their vitriol. They can, probably will, post it elsewhere.
    Swing the axe whenever you think it necessary.
    Just…not on me, OK? πŸ™‚

    1. That’s pretty much my view. I might try to subtly try to swing things back to a discussion. Then I’ll warn and then I’ll swing. Of course, there are times when a good game of whack-a-troll is needed for my mental health ;-p

      But what happened in the comments yesterday went beyond all that and so I freely and gladly swung the hammer.

  2. But, but, freedom of screech! You hurt my feelings! Your logical, reasoned argument made my pet bunny cry! How dare you invoke the truth?!?

    Now that that’s out of my system . . . If more people in this vale of tears followed Jim Baen’s advice, we wouldn’t have half the messes we do. Good on you for the selective banning. Especially if the individual has been warned and persists in his/her/its foolishness.

    1. I know. It really is evil of us to expect them to think, much less rationally and with at least a touch of sanity involved. πŸ˜‰

      And you’re right. If more people did follow Jim Baen’s advice, we’d be much better off. But that would be expecting them to think before engaging their mouths and, well, I have a feeling the “thinking” is part of the problem.

  3. Thanks. It’s not “fun” to be greeted by an ignorant troll the first thing in the morning (as what happened to me on Sarah’s place).

  4. I almost replied to her when I noticed she had replied to me, but fortunately, I kept reading first and realized she wasn’t worth the effort.

    1. Yeah, although I was tempted to announce on FB a game of whack-a-troll but decided she’d probably just enjoy it. So why feed the troll that way.

  5. I would have ignored her but, mostly because I saw her helpless floundering as pathetically funny. Not the painful scorching zingers she apparently thought they were

    1. My problem was I kept seeing this sort of thing all over FB and other blogs — and can we talk about the troll over on Sarah’s blog right now? I sicced Kate on him and am now popping the pop corn and icing down the drinks to watch the ensuing shredding — and decided we didn’t have to put up with it here. That’s when I talked to Kate and Sarah and the decision was made to warn her and then ban her if she kept at it. I don’t mind obnoxious as long as there is some well-reasoned discussion included.

      1. That one. FROyster pointed out somewhere in that Gordian Knot of a thread that I’d responded with the basic pattern for trollish behavior earlier in the day. Later on, someone (I forget who) suggested we whip up a game of Troll Bingo for such occasions. Foxfier responded (with citations!) to his abuse of illogic. And still that inkstain of a meatsack took it upon himself to mentally defacate all over Sarah’s blog. The ad hominems were egregious. There was no argument. No discussion. Weakens my faith in humanity, it does.

        1. Nah, not my faith in humanity — just my belief that there are fools out there and they really don’t understand when they are out-classed, out-reasoned and out-argued.

          1. I figure that’s most of them, a conclusion I came to after a few early philosophy classes. It’s the dogged persistence in behavior that would get one thoroughly pummeled were it committed in person. Truly, were it not for my appreciation of the smidgeon I use, I’d like to see a little less anonymity on the interwebs, and a little more genuine consequence. Stupidity should hurt. Trouble is, it’s usually more like a frag grenade than a sniper rifle.

  6. Every time I see a headline alluding to trollish behavior or the ban-hammer, I go to myself, “Oh, gods, Alger. What did you do NOW?”

    I know, I know. It’s not all about me and I need to get over myself. But that’s how my paranoia rolls.


  7. Test… Test… Test… I just got a “This comment could not be posted” message. Am I blocked?

  8. No, I’m not blocked. Huh. Let me retry my original comment, if I can recreate its brilliance from memory…

    I’m gonna be the contrarian here. I didn’t think her one-line responses were worth attention, much less the effort it takes to ban. They were just infantile. I read over them, decided she was a hopeless case, and ignored her; but because they were just one-line brain farts, they didn’t do much to derail the discussion.

    (There. Even more brilliant the second time! The first version didn’t include “one-line brain farts”!)

  9. I gained a good deal of admiration for Kate Paulk yesterday in reading what she wrote and, especially, her responses. I had shied away from her work because, well, I’m sorry, I had figured that vampire stuff these days was exceedingly likely to be a waste of time.

    Yes, yes, I was an idiot. Bought Impaler last night, figuring that someone with her world view and writing skill couldn’t write that awful a novel. I sold her short. I was very impressed. There are a few things I don’t much like about the book, but a very great many things I do.

    One thing I would say to you Mad Geniuses: get a little bit of Vox Day or (gasp) John Scalzi in you. (ugh, no not that way!) Promote yourselves a wee bit more. Make it easier with a click or so for a new reader to find the books that post author has written. Sarah Hoyt also does a pretty good job of this on her site, though Vox and Scalzi are much more shameless self-promoters. (I take that back: Vox has some shame).

    Finally, I also felt you brought in the banhammer (something I really dislike talk of because it is reminiscent of Scalzi-style operating) a little too aggressively on the person in question, but I’ve only been a light reader of this place in the past (first time poster I think) so what I think about the matter is of pretty modest relevance.

    There is merit in allowing someone enough rope to hang herself, and she was doing a pretty nice job of it.


    1. Holmwood and Martin,

      We did bring in the ban hammer quicker than we would in most circumstances because this person is not a regular reader or commenter on the blog. It was clear they were trying to prove how much better than the rest of us she was and even after being warned several times, she didn’t catch a clue. Heck, if she’d even been entertaining about it, we’d have left her on longer so she could hang herself. But there comes a point when it simply becomes nuisance.

      1. As Amanda said, the ban hammer doesn’t happen often here, but when it gets threatened or actually happens it’s someone who isn’t a regular who is trying to put the rest of us down without offering anything of value in return.

        And I enjoy playing whackatroll. The drive-by crappy one-liners weren’t worth anyone’s effort, particularly not once she pulled the “I’m more ethnic than you” card.

        1. Paraphrasing: “He doesn’t look that Asian.” Seriously? And we’re the ones who get accused of judging based on melanin content.

          1. Exactly. Mixed with “I’m justified because I’m more Asian than he is”. What I think of that is not fit for public consumption – and I have a very low bar for that.

          2. Oh, she wasn’t judging by melanin content, that’s racist, she was just judging by the shape of his eyes, that is perfectly acceptable.

    2. Thank you for the praise, Holmwood. I appreciate it. I’m probably the world’s worst self-promoter, although some of my fellow Mad Geniuses would claim that they take that title.

      One of these days I’ll do what I should and get my flipping web site up to date and keep updating it. When I manage to acquire some of that mythical quantity they call “free time”

      1. To quote Tamora Pierce’s Alanna: Song of the Lioness Book 1: “Free time is what the gods give you after you die, if you’ve been good.”

        1. *chuckle* Similar to what my grandma said. β€œThere is no such thing as free time, everything has a cost.” And she didn’t even read Heinlein.

          I’ve got a longer fuse when it comes to the nonsense we saw the other day. That’s not especially a good thing in general, which is why I am thankful there are folks around to chase out the underbridge dwellers. It can get annoying when they climb up from their smelly pits to accost passerby and demand a toll of attention to their latest short-sighted complaint.

          If they’d examine the facts closely and extrapolate that into the long view, simple logic (and mathematics, and economics, and… but that’s a different troll-slayer) would demand a change. Drive by dumbassery and argumentum ad absurdum isn’t going to engage anyone with half a brain. Not looking at the evidence the other side is using just proves one’s own unpreparedness. All it does is show one’s own foolishness, and give the popcorn industry a boost.

          Anyway, I’m glad to see this place continue to be interesting and engaging. *grin* And hats off to those that keep it that way.

  10. A technical question about the “ban hammer”: Given that most people have dynamic IP addresses that change over time, does the ban time-out after a couple of weeks, or do you just remove it if it becomes clear that someone else has the banned IP address now? As a follow on, do you find that the trolls come back after a couple of weeks when their IP address has changed?

    1. Scott, we watch the folder where posts by banned IPs are routed. If it looks like new posters are now using them, we clear the IP for posting again. The fact that this has only happened twice now, well, it hasn’t been an issue.

  11. I’ve been a little busy and didn’t get to read Kate’s post until today, so I was a little late to all the excitement. But there was some good discussion on there, including some folks who disagreed, the bouncy troll was part of that discussion however. She would have had to actually had point (or even a vague thought about one) to have been so. Yeah the ban hammer got lowered relatively fast, but then if someone has absolutely nothing to add to the discussion, sometimes it doesn’t take long for them to prove that without a reasonable doubt.

    1. Honestly, we probably wouldn’t have lowered it that fast if she hadn’t responded to the warnings the way she did. When you get warned by two of the blog “owners” and continue to do what you’ve been warned about, well, zee hammer shall fall.

      1. If I wasn’t clear what I meant was I didn’t have a problem with it this case, lowering it that fast in many cases I wouldn’t have been happy with. But some people are very adept at proving themselves to be a waste of oxygen with absolutely nothing to add, in very few words. This person was one of them.

        By the way I like the way that when someone is banned you leave their posts up so it is obvious to everyone who reads what they said and why they were banned. If someone posted something truly inappropriate I could see removing that particular post, but I don’t agree with sites that remove all the posts by someone they banned.

  12. Personally, I loved the back and forth yesterday. Cleared up some misconceptions I had after an admittedly “casual” read of Vox’ works.

    The reason I despise Scalzi’s banhammer is because it’s not really directed at trolls (i.e. ad hominem attacks), just those people who don’t share his opinions. It’s more of a vanity project for him.

    You’re not doing that, for which I applaud you.

    1. Thanks. We love a good debate. Heck, we even love a heated argument as long as it contains facts and proofs of what you are saying. None of us want to use the ban hammer just because someone doesn’t agree with us and I’ve never really understood those bloggers who do ban folks for that reason.

  13. Regarding “whack a troll” let’s just say that I was extremely pleased with the epithet that Ms. Hoyt bestowed upon my in private email over recent events on her own blog.

    Thank you for the accolades, Ms. Sarah. πŸ˜‰

  14. I’d be interested to see if the smurf (I despise the stereotypical misuse of the proud and noble “troll” in this case) ever returns. Lift the ban in a week, and find out if the lesson took. My suspicion is that whatever puppetmistress may have been pulling her strings will have moved on to other blogs of interest once the topic is not relevant to old white male dinosaur Scalzi’s band of merry funhaters.

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