Zombie Racism »« Saturday Storytime: One of Twins

Questions on a Block Bot (Updated)

While I’ve not been feeling well, I’ve had a set of questions sitting in my inbox. Being ill creates its own time dilation, so this all seems very long ago, but as I recall, the original idea was to find someone who approves of The Block Bot to answer some questions about it for an article. I figure that if I answer them here, I’ll actually get this done.

Q: What is the brief history of this Block Bot?

As this is the Atheism+ Block Bot, it needs to be understood in the context of the history of Atheism+. For a few years now, several people have made efforts to make organized atheism more accommodating of diversity, with particular success in the area of feminism. Pushback has come in the same form that it’s taken in other traditionally male-dominated online spaces: harassment and accusations that such efforts amount to an authoritarian takeover of these spaces.

In response, Jennifer McCreight said, and I paraphrase, “Okay. Fine. You keep your spaces. We’ll have ours, where we can combine atheism, humanism, and skepticism.” That was apparently not to be allowed either. Places identified as Atheism+ have never gone without challenges from people who think that all atheist spaces must also be their spaces. In less than a month, McCreight was harassed into a relapse of clinical depression and off the internet. Much of that harassment happened through Twitter, then moved on to other Atheism+-identified or -friendly people.

Q: What was the goal of the Block Bot?

I’ll quote from the first question on the Block Bot FAQ:

This was originally created by @ool0n to copy @aratina’s #BlockSaturday idea and automate it. Basically Aratina has been identifying general bigots,  assholes and fools and tweeting their ids with the #BlockSaturday tag so they can be blocked by his followers and anyone following the hash tag #BlockSaturday. So basically this bot will now automate the blocking for anyone that signs up, so you don’t need to check the #BlockSaturday hashtag or worry about what trolls are trolling the twittersphere -> they will be removed from your timeline seamlessly. Hopefully this will make being a feminist-atheist-skeptic on Twitter a more pleasant experience and remove some of the harassment that is usually directed your way.

In short, it was set up so that each person on Twitter likely to be targeted didn’t have to individually see a large volume of annoyance before blocking the accounts responsible.

Q: How are people added to the bot?

There is a detailed description in the FAQ, but to summarize, there are a small number of people who monitor certain topics or hashtags, or who interact frequently with people likely to be harassed on Twitter. When they spot problem interactions, they can tweet to the bot to add users.

Q: Level 3 seems to have a # of fairly well known atheist bloggers on this list who do not have a known history of trolling or cyberstalking. My research into this bot reveals a randomness regarding how people are added to this bot especially at level 3. Your thoughts on the different levels and why people are added to the lists?

Level 1 of the bot is for impostor accounts, accounts that send images meant to shock, accounts that behave threateningly, and several accounts run by one particularly obsessive individual whose behavior has been mentioned in multiple news articles. Level 2 is for people who have worked to harm people they consider to be part of Atheism+ (whether they are or not) by spreading lies about those people or attempting to interfere with those people’s employment. Level 3 is largely for the tedious. There is probably the most diversity in this group. It encompasses people who continue to spout the same old arguments that have been refuted repeatedly elsewhere, people who can’t be bothered to find out what Atheism+ is or isn’t but who want to talk about it anyway, people who won’t drop an argument for days or weeks or even years at this point. In essence, they’re the people who will take up significant time or attention you could instead use on something productive. People can, of course, follow only Level 1 or down to only Level 2 if they wish.

Recently, someone pulled together a list of well-known people on Level 3. In response, I wrote a few posts looking into their behavior in more detail. As a result, two of those people were moved to Level 2 instead. The third had already been independently moved to Level 2 by the Block Bot administrators for the behavior I was cataloging. The good news is that, as more people identify as atheist and write about being atheists, we now have more choices about who to read and pay attention to than we used to.

Q: Why did you choose not to use this bot?

As a blogger, I write about bad arguments. I document them and refute them. I have for years, since before this harassment started. They were just different arguments then. So I want to see how these things travel, how they change, how they don’t.

So far, this is the worst I’ve received from this crowd. I wouldn’t have if I’d been following a Block Bot at the time, but I don’t think it existed then. She’s now on Level 2.

Update: One more follow-up question.

Q: Any comments on the addition of David Silverman/American Atheists to the Block Bot, Level 3 last week? He’s since been removed.

I haven’t seen a lot that’s happened on Twitter in the last week, but it’s my understanding from a distance that Silverman used Twitter to try to tell atheists they need even those allies who are abusive to them. I know he’s capable of much more nuance on the topic, so I blame the medium. I would hope that he’ll stick to better formats for that kind of statement in the future. However, if he doesn’t, I wouldn’t expect that people receiving that abuse would want to follow him there any more than they want to follow Dawkins these days.

Comments

  1. says

    A clarification on David Silverman from a bystander (me, not a Block Bot admin, just a user): he was added to level three after he started ‘splaining, which greatly offended @SpokesGay, among others. The gist was that he told them that allies were allies and it was their job to educate the bigots, rather than (presumably) the bigots’ job not to be bigoted. The immediate response was “people like that are NOT my ally!” One of the bot admins then added him to level 3, but apparently others vetoed that and he was taken back off.

    At least, that was my impression of it. I happen to like David Silverman, so I don’t want to misrepresent him. His position on this really did surprise and dismay me, but I was also surprised to see him added to the bot. It was encouraging to me that they took him back off, as I probably would have personally over-ridden the block had it gone into effect and stayed.

  2. Al Dente says

    A fair amount of the pushback against the bot is whining that “I’m a Level 3 but I’m really a good guy who doesn’t deserve to have my freeze peach banned.” There quite likely are a few people who are on the Level 3 list because of an injudicious comment, but the vast majority of people on the list are people who I, at least, don’t want to listen to.

  3. says

    Some things here have become “hot topics” over the last few days.

    As this is the Atheism+ Block Bot, it needs to be understood in the context of the history of Atheism+.

    Recently, Matt Dillahunty came unglued over this and berated us for calling it the “Atheism+” Block Bot. At first, none of us understood where he was coming from, but it turned out to be a minor nitpick (that had apparently boiled over time) over who gets to decide who makes up Atheism+ itself. Is the forum Atheism+? Is what Carrier wrote Atheism+? Is what Jen wrote Atheism+? Clearly, the forum has little to do with Jen’s input (now) or Carrier’s input (ever, I believe?), other than shared ideals and inspiration, and the bot has virtually nothing to do with them (other than that people who attack them on Twitter tend to get blocked by it when it is functioning). We are still discussing a possible name change for the bot to “Atheismplus.com Block Bot” or “The Block Bot by Atheismplus.com” or something to appease Matt and a few others we confide in who agreed with him about it.

    I’ll respond to more of your points as I read through the post. :)

  4. Randomfactor says

    As a rule of thumb, I suspect that anyone who strongly objects to being added to Level 3 probably does belong there. It’s not like they have no other outlets and MUST be heard by those running the ‘bot.

    I vaguely know one person at that level who was justifying it the other night.

  5. hjhornbeck says

    I find the “why am I at level 3?” question to be telling. Let’s say the admins just start adding people in without regard. Does this harm the reputation of the people falsely added, or the reputation of the block list? I’d argue the latter, which means the entire system is self-regulating. The better the list of the block-bot is maintained, the greater the utility it has and the more reputation it carries. Conversely, if so many people are being falsely added, then it becomes useless and its reputation sours.

    So by complaining of being on the list, they’re saying the Block Bot has a strong reputation and is of great utility. If they truly thought many people were falsely added, they should have rolled their eyes or turned it into a joke and moved on.

  6. says

    Actually, turns out I don’t have anything to add to the rest of it. I’ll comment on Dave Silverman being added to the block list, though.

    it’s my understanding from a distance that Silverman used Twitter to try to tell atheists they need even those allies who are abusive to them.

    Apparently so, or at least that is how it must have appeared to several people, at least two of whom are people the bot will listen to if they ask it to add someone to the block list. I wasn’t there when the whole thing went down and only learned about him being added when I began noticing a stir amongst the #SlymeTwits.

    So, as to whether it is OK or not for someone like Dave Silverman to be added to the block list, I would look back on my philosophy for even starting up the #BlockSaturday thing. As the elevator-gate brouhaha moved off of the blogs of what became FTB, it kind of got pushed onto Twitter where a band of slimepitters and associates began incessantly harassing anyone against them on the issue.

    When they began the tactic of impersonating certain people by substituting lowercase “L” for uppercase “i” and vice versa so that their fake Twitter account looked exactly like that of the person they were harassing, even down to the same avatar image, I decided that blocking them alone wasn’t going to get us anywhere. What we needed to do to stop them, I thought, was to get everyone who cares to block and report them (impersonations are against Twitter’s policies and are considered spam). So I began tweeting out calls for people to report the impostors as spam.

    Then, I figured we could all stand to take that idea further and block out the rest of the slimepitters and slimepit-types by tweeting about that as well. It was a fun way to counter them and get them out of our Twitter timelines, and it seemed only natural to use #BS as a tag for those tweets (as opposed to #FF for #FollowFriday), thus #BlockSaturday. Oolon believed he could take this idea even further by building a bot that would automate the blocking for you so you wouldn’t have to actually see the #BlockSaturday tweets (a problem if you weren’t on Twitter when I made them) or do the blocking yourself, and he was very successful in that endeavor.

    The philosophy behind all of this Block Bot and BlockSaturday stuff, then, is very simple. It is to share the accounts you are blocking with others who might be interested in blocking them as well. And up until three days ago, none of the team of blockers for the Block Bot had ever felt like blocking Dave Silverman before for anything he had tweeted, at least not enough to share it with others.

    In the end, a majority of the people managing the block list decided his addition to it wasn’t warranted. (Personally, I didn’t think what he said was bigoted or antagonistic; condescending, perhaps, and certainly politically correct in a way that ignores that anyone has done anything wrong.) So his account was removed from Level 3 of the block list that the Block Bot maintains.

    There was also confusion over what it means to be put on the block list. Currently, since the blocking part of the Block Bot that administers blocks to user accounts is suspended pending a review by Twitter, no one automatically blocked Dave Silverman in the short time that he was on the block list. The blocker who added him to the list did not know that Dave Silverman’s organization had previously supported an extension of the block list, either (the Hashspamkiller), which is slightly embarrassing to everyone involved, I think. Also, the reasons the blocker added him were for, from their point of view, condescendingly talking down to non-straight people and for ignoring the vicious and incessant harassment in a call for us all to come together. He was not added for harassing people or for being intentionally abusive, despite how quickly the #SlymeTwits tried to make it sound. If I had seen the decision to add him coming, I would have probably advised against it.

    Level 3 is, as you show, diverse. This incident has made us think that perhaps it is too diverse and that a single bot may not be enough for the diverse communities we now cater to with the block list (there usually is much overlap, but the user-base is growing beyond just atheism now). Silverman has suggested that we drop Level 3 or relabel it to something inoffensive. So, the addition and removal of Dave Silverman has given those of us working on planning and development of the bot pause and made us think about the direction we want the project to go in.

  7. says

    @Randomfactor #5

    As a rule of thumb, I suspect that anyone who strongly objects to being added to Level 3 probably does belong there.

    That is how I feel as well. There were moments when I felt like it was a mistake to remove Dave Silverman because he was saying stuff that sounded like something an Atheism+ hater would say, such as that the people running the bot are all anonymous, which is just plain and simple factually false. Both Oolon and Hyperdeath128k on Twitter are and have always been non-anonymous. And I gave him my name just for the hell of it. And I cannot stand his buddy-buddy thing with a certain organizational leader who is a slimepitter-type and has viciously trolled others on Twitter and Facebook. But I do understand how it probably hurt him to be added to a project his organization previously supported and that he had tacitly supported several times in statements against the slimepit, and he did become more thoughtful once I started talking to him on Twitter and answering some of his questions.

    So, while that rule you bring up may often prove true, I think Dave Silverman is an exception. Really, my ideal would be to keep the block list populated with people who are bigots, trolls, harassers, and bullies as well as those who have bigoted ideas and refuse to listen or who persistently act on those bigoted ideas in a way that makes them toxic. Dave Silverman is not like that from what I can tell, even though I have been taken aback by some of the things he has said in the past. Of course, I cannot speak for the other people managing the block list.

  8. A Wild Anonymouse Appears says

    We are still discussing a possible name change for the bot to “Atheismplus.com Block Bot” or “The Block Bot by Atheismplus.com” or something to appease Matt and a few others we confide in who agreed with him about it.

    Why would you even consider doing anything to appease Matt Fucking Dillahunty, who thought that because he is a Big Name in internet atheism that it was a-ok to troll the A+ forums? He literally said that he knew he was breaking the clearly laid out rules but did it anyway. And then added his much justified ban (which was handed down days later than it would have been if he hadn’t thrown around his authority as a Big Name) to the litany of things that are wrong with A+.

    In fact, why the hell is he not on your block list? After all the shit he did during and after his trolling stint on the forums (posting multiple videos in which he ranted viciously against Atheism+) he should at least qualify for level 3.

    I feel like this is starting to be a broken record with me (and goodness knows I chose this nym because I wanted to be a one shot anonymous commenter, not a pseudonymous one), but I am really, REALLY tired of how people who should know better keep giving Big Names more than their fair share of the benefit of the doubt.

    Actually, while we’re at it, I invite everyone to reevaluate whether Richard Carrier’s version of A+ is really in keeping with the spirit of the movement (ie. to be against bigotry), since he is apparently not above mansplaining and rape apologism. My understanding was that A+ was “Atheism +social justice” and not “Atheism +rape apologism and victim blaming”.

  9. says

    @A Wild Anonymouse Appears

    Richard Carrier is… wrong, at minimum. I’m pretty horrified that he wrote what he did, and even the most generous interpretation of what he wrote is still in the “rape apology” category. And the fact that I’m even slightly hesitating to condemn him for it means that I’m at least somewhat part of the problem too. Because any sex that isn’t solo masturbation is a two-way street, and someone can be raped even if the other person can convince themselves that it was kind of cool, like the situation Carrier described. His scenario seems more like what a rapist would like to believe his victim is thinking than anything a seriously drunk person would be thinking.

  10. says

    Aratina #3:

    …or Carrier’s input (ever, I believe?)…

    Ever. Which is why I’ve been highly leery and uncomfortable every time I’ve seen him write about A+, because it’s like…dude, we have an actual community, forums, shit like that, you’re not even registered, and yet you’re tossing out these big pronouncements from on high about what A+ is about. Which, of course, generally leads to…

    Anonymouse #9:

    Actually, while we’re at it, I invite everyone to reevaluate whether Richard Carrier’s version of A+ is really in keeping with the spirit of the movement (ie. to be against bigotry), since he is apparently not above mansplaining and rape apologism. My understanding was that A+ was “Atheism +social justice” and not “Atheism +rape apologism and victim blaming”.

    …catastrophic failure.

  11. says

    @A Wild Anonymouse Appears #9

    Why would you even consider doing anything to appease Matt Fucking Dillahunty,

    Me, personally? For one, I think he is a good person who has done a lot for the public face of atheism. But as I kind of mentioned, it isn’t just Matt Dillahunty who asked us to reconsider the name. Other people did as well who you might not have any problem with.

    who thought that because he is a Big Name in internet atheism that it was a-ok to troll the A+ forums? He literally said that he knew he was breaking the clearly laid out rules but did it anyway.

    I wasn’t really involved in the forum before the bot became part of it, but I did read about that and watch the relevant YouTube videos about it, and I tend to agree that it wasn’t fair of him to do that. He probably should have considered what would happen if the experiment went awry, just like we should have probably considered what would happen if someone who had previously supported bot-related efforts was added to the block list and felt publicly humiliated because of it.

    And then added his much justified ban (which was handed down days later than it would have been if he hadn’t thrown around his authority as a Big Name) to the litany of things that are wrong with A+.

    I really don’t have anything to do with the moderation of the forum, sorry. I tend to prefer the old-style Pharyngula moderation system the best, with a single banner and everyone else just battling it out or killfiling each other.

    In fact, why the hell is he not on your block list? After all the shit he did during and after his trolling stint on the forums (posting multiple videos in which he ranted viciously against Atheism+) he should at least qualify for level 3.

    Even Level 3 isn’t meant to be (in my opinion) a place for just anyone. And I watched his videos and he didn’t rant against Atheism+ but against the forum moderators. Even the complaint he lodged with us on Twitter recently wasn’t to badmouth Atheism+ or troll but to express frustration with the forum acting like it is the heart of Atheism+ (I’m not saying it isn’t, but I can see his point). So, no. I very much disagree with your assessment of how he has behaved.

    I am really, REALLY tired of how people who should know better keep giving Big Names more than their fair share of the benefit of the doubt.

    I understand that. Look at it like this: The Big Names are already going to be followed, ignored, or blocked by just about everyone involved in atheism on Twitter. There is really no reason to share them as people to block since those that want them blocked probably already have them blocked. The list (IMO) is for the little names that go out of their way to antagonize others on Twitter to varying degrees or have a significant potential to do so.

    he is apparently not above mansplaining and rape apologism.

    That’s actually very similar to the reasons stated for adding Dave Silverman even though the topic wasn’t about physical violence per se. Also, Richard Carrier doesn’t use Twitter AFAIK, but I do put people on the block list for being nasty toward him as slimepitters tend to do.

    My understanding was that A+ was “Atheism +social justice” and not “Atheism +rape apologism and victim blaming”.

    Funny. If that had been a tweet, I would probably have put you on the block list. There is no reason to overgeneralize like that in such a nasty way when your problem is with the people running the block bot and no one else involved in Atheism+.

  12. says

    @Setár, genderqueer Elf-Sheriff of Atheism+

    Ever. Which is why I’ve been highly leery and uncomfortable every time I’ve seen him write about A+, because it’s like…dude, we have an actual community, forums, shit like that, you’re not even registered, and yet you’re tossing out these big pronouncements from on high about what A+ is about.

    Thanks for the confirmation about him not being involved with the forum at all. The slimepitters are wrong to paint him as some kind of Atheism+ leader since there is no particular organization to Atheism+ right now other than the forum, which most of the Big Names eschew.

  13. A Wild Anonymouse Appears says

    @Aratina Cage Um… well, okay then. I think it’s pretty uncool that you give MFD a pass for his shit but would block a person calling out Richard Carrier for spouting off anti-A+ shit while identifying in the movement… but I don’t use twitter so I suppose it doesn’t really matter.

    The A+ forums had given me hope for a while, but I think it’s time for me to just give up on the movement entirely. Even A+ seems to be filling up with assholes who don’t give a shit about the marginalization of people like me.

  14. says

    @Aratina Cage

    Funny. If that had been a tweet, I would probably have put you on the block list. There is no reason to overgeneralize like that in such a nasty way when your problem is with the people running the block bot and no one else involved in Atheism+.

    I think you’re misreading the message. The point is that A+ should be about combating rape apology and victim blaming whereas Carrier’s argument just dressed them up in pretty clothing. I’ll defend Carrier from the antags’ bullshit, but he was unambiguously wrong there.

  15. Great American Satan says

    Anonymouse-What manner of person are you? I think A+’s talky types aren’t always on point with doing right by everybody, but I still feel that they’d like to be. Not an intent=magic statement, just a request for illumination. How are they screwin’ up, so I can not do that?

    Others-I was curious about the Dillahunty thing, but not enough to research it. Thx for the summary. Also, damnz. That Carrier poop is still pretty fresh, innit? I hadn’t seen it. His wordiness usually keeps me at bay. Also, Bayes Theorem keeps me at bay.

    If I was a youtubing “The (X) Atheist” asshat, I’d be “The Unreasonable Atheist,” because I don’t think Reason is necessary to reach the lack-o’-faith position. I’d rather devote my brainz to fun. Perfect Logic is too much heavy lifting for this cat.

    -

  16. A Wild Anonymouse Appears says

    @Great American Satan

    I’m someone who used to be very active in several social justice areas but has been burnt out by all the fail I’ve seen over the years. I have avoided movement atheism (until the advent of A+) mostly because how it typically ignored any kind of intersectionality. A+ values generally align with my values, but I find that the way that most people practice those values falls very, very short of where they need to be if they want to offer a meaningful alternative to all of the bigotry found in movement atheism.

    I can’t give the Big Names in atheism (or even atheism+) the benefit of the doubt because anyone who truly wants to do right by everyone (or even just some people) then they wouldn’t keep extending forgiveness or understanding to people who hadn’t earned it. They wouldn’t keep saying things like “well MFD is a good guy” because good people don’t deliberately hurt others; MFD hurt a lot of people with his actions on the A+ forums (seriously, I suggest you search the name Curious on the A+ forums; that will show you first hand his behaviour there) and said quite clearly to everyone who told him that he had hurt them that he gave no shits. They wouldn’t allow people who victim blame and act as rape apologists to remain on their blog network (Richard Carrier is unlikely to be booted from FTB, and none of the blogs here that I lurk even mentioned his rape apologia). They wouldn’t continue to support CFI and Ron Lindsay and accept–however tentatively–their fauxpologies as the genuine article.

    In short: I think that even the “good” Big Names are too quick to forgive for too little evidence. By trying to be fair/good to everyone they fail to have the backs of people like me. People who have been hurt by MFD’s actions; who are hurt by victim blaming and rape apologia; who are sick of being shown over and over again that forgiving Big Names/Big Organizations (no matter how badly they screw up and no matter how passive aggressive their non-pology is) is more important than standing in solidarity with those that the Big Names have pushed down.

    This is turning into a massive teal dear so I’m going to end it. I guess the best way to sum up what i see as the continued failure of even the A+ Big Names is that they are too compassionate to people who don’t deserve it, and in the process they show little to no compassion for the marginalized people who are being stepped on by their chosen stance(s).

  17. AProperFeminist says

    One of the drawbacks with the Block Bot is that it ignores abusive behavior from certain people, including people who send threats of violence via email.

    That is why I keep a close eye on the #WomenAbusers list, and block any abusers who end up on it. There are levels are abusers, so, for example, those who provide a space where women in the Atheist/Secular movements can be abused, dogpiled, bullied, etc. go straight onto Level 1. The advantage over the Block Bot is that is allows Twitter users complete control over who they block, and it is NOT left up to a bunch of trolls and vindictive shits over who gets blocked! Brilliant!

    The latest list can be found at: https://storify.com/RichSandersen/womenabusers-anti-ftb-block-list

  18. David Jones says

    Silverman was added in the same offhand way almost everyone on L2 & L3 was added, and because he simply annoyed someone once, and to teach him a lesson. He was removed because of the PR disaster.

    Simple.

  19. says

    @SubMor #15

    I think you’re misreading the message. The point is that A+ should be about combating rape apology and victim blaming whereas Carrier’s argument just dressed them up in pretty clothing. I’ll defend Carrier from the antags’ bullshit, but he was unambiguously wrong there.

    I understand the message here, of course, but it still isn’t right for Anonymouse to turn something one person said back onto the whole group. I bet I could find a tweet from an aggressive anti-Atheism+ account on Twitter right now that is almost exactly the same as Anonymouse’s sentiments there, especially since the latest kerfuffle with the new slime club.

  20. says

    And you, David! It’s so cute how you wander around telling everybody you know the deep, dark reasons why people do things, even after they’ve just told you the reasons. There must be deep, dark secrets, right?

    Do people really wonder why folks like you end up blocked on Twitter?

  21. says

    @Anonymouse #17

    anyone who truly wants to do right by everyone (or even just some people) then they wouldn’t keep extending forgiveness or understanding to people who hadn’t earned it. They wouldn’t keep saying things like “well MFD is a good guy” because good people don’t deliberately hurt others;

    Look, Anonymouse, I’m not all that involved with Atheism+ except for the block bot part of it. And good people do deliberately hurt others. The question is not if they do but how they do it and how they act afterwards when empathy kicks in or after being confronted about it. There is major difference between Matt Dillahunty trying to foolishly prove a point and some slimepitter butting in anonymously to your blog to call you the c-word.

    Besides that, Matt Dillahunty did not know that we now have a new rule that blockers cannot add someone to the block list just because they ask to be on it no matter how foul their request, and he did make such a request in his initial tweet, otherwise I might have just been an ass back to him and added him. Ask Oolon. I’m the reason there is such a rule because I used to gladly add people who nastily requested it, which worked up a whole new set of haters one time.

    @Anonymouse #14

    @Aratina Cage Um… well, okay then. I think it’s pretty uncool that you give MFD a pass for his shit but would block a person calling out Richard Carrier for spouting off anti-A+ shit while identifying in the movement… but I don’t use twitter so I suppose it doesn’t really matter.

    Sorry. What Matt Dillahunty did on the forums happened well before the block bot was managed through the forum, thus it’s totally irrelevant. And I checked the account I follow on Twitter for Richard Carrier and it looks like a spam account, so there isn’t any Richard Carrier on Twitter to even consider putting on the block list AFAICT.

  22. says

    About what David Jones #19 wrote:

    Silverman was added in the same offhand way almost everyone on L2 & L3 was added, and because he simply annoyed someone once, and to teach him a lesson. He was removed because of the PR disaster.

    I do get a kick out of how the bot has become something of a punishment tool to people like David Jones. If that is one of its side effects, great!

  23. says

    Setár @11 –

    Which is why I’ve been highly leery and uncomfortable every time I’ve seen him write about A+, because it’s like…dude, we have an actual community, forums, shit like that, you’re not even registered, and yet you’re tossing out these big pronouncements from on high about what A+ is about.

    This is part of why I keep (patiently, or not) explaining that I’m not part of A+. Who is this “we”? Who decides what the “actual community” is and who belongs to it and who doesn’t? And what does a forum have to do with anything? And what business does anyone have deciding that person X is not part of A+ because X is “not even registered”? Registered how, where? On the forum, presumably. Well that’s a ridiculous criterion. Lots of people can’t stand forums (aka fora), and I’m one of them. If A+ is supposed to be a political movement, it can’t make being “registered” on some damn forum a criterion.

    Sorry, but Atheism+ is much more of an idea and a description than it is a movement, or even “an actual community.” And nobody gets to declare ownership of it and treat being “registered” as a mandatory criterion for entry.

    Ugh. That kind of thing is one reason so many people have a knee-jerk hatred of the whole idea. It’s only one reason, and most of the reasons are bad, but that one isn’t.

  24. says

    @18:

    HAHAHA! Oh, holy butt. I have yet to see someone who talks about “proper feminism” who wasn’t totally clueless. The link to anything related to Richard Sandersen ties a neat bow around that observation.

  25. David Jones says

    Stephanie, I haven’t suggested anyone’s motives are deep or dark or mysterious. Silverman was added directly after he criticised certain drama bloggers – you’ll know who he was talking about. That’s not deep; it’s not even shallow.

  26. A Wild Anonymouse Appears says

    @Great American Satan
    Speaking of examples of what not to do… If you want to know what kind of bullshit burnt me the fuck out? Read carefully over everything Aratina Cage has said to/about me in this thread. Because it’s not the trolls who have worn me down over the years, but people like him: the “good” ones who are eager to defend the goodness of Big Names who have done horrible things because those Big Names matter and people like me don’t. Dude was more than happy to label me a troll because I don’t tolerate shit from Big Names and I don’t accept that people who say egregious things that are against the stated spirit of a movement get a free pass to be treated as part of that movement.

    When people in the movement continue to label people who have deliberately and unapologetically caused harm to others “good people” they send the message: this movement is for the “good” Big Names, not for you.

    @20 Aratina Cage

    I understand the message here, of course, but it still isn’t right for Anonymouse to turn something one person said back onto the whole group.

    Actually, the latter part of the statement is a pretty good indication that you didn’t understand what I said. In your haste to paint me as a troll, you continue to ignore both me and other people telling you that I am not, in fact, making a statement about A+ but rather about Richard Carrier and his choice to represent himself as someone who is part of A+ (and, some may argue, an authority in the movement).

    But, okay. I get it. I ain’t shit. The A+ movement apparently needs (wants?) “good guys” like MFD and Richard Carrier (and even “good” organizations like CFI) more than it needs cowardly, angry little anonymice like me.

    Seriously, I’ve participated more than I should have in this thread. I don’t know why I can’t just learn to stay the fuck out of public discussions on stuff. It only makes me feel terrible and in the end nothing changes.

  27. says

    Sure you have, David. You’ve said the reasons that people stated weren’t the real reasons. So either the real reasons were deep–not apparent to the people who gave different reasons–or dark–people didn’t want to say the real reasons. You certainly do seem to see drama everywhere though.

    Also, from the tiny bit I’ve heard, Dave Silverman said something about atheist bloggers who could pay major bills with a single post. That just tells me he didn’t bother to do any fact-checking before posting. Those bloggers don’t exist.

  28. says

    @Aratina Cage #20

    I understand the message here, of course, but it still isn’t right for Anonymouse to turn something one person said back onto the whole group.

    No, you really don’t, and that’s not what A Wild Anonymouse Appears said.

    Rape culture runs counter to A+ values, but Carrier’s argument reinforces it. Thus, when AWAA says of “Richard Carrier’s version of A+” (note that distinction):

    My understanding was that A+ was “Atheism +social justice” and not “Atheism +rape apologism and victim blaming”.

    the message is “Carrier is failing at A+ values,” not “A+ values include those two things.”

    @Ophelia Benson #25
    Who decides who is and isn’t a part of a community? That community does, collectively. I’m personally aware of four different A+ communities, each of which answers that question for itself. Yes, none of those communities can dictate who does or does not identify with the A+ label or values, but that’s not Setár’s point. Privilege-induced ignorance is a really common problem, especially likely for one who doesn’t take proactive steps to understand marginalized people’s experiences with oppression. One key point of A+ communities is to seek insight and feedback from people who lack our privileges to verify that the ideas we’re advancing really do adhere to those values. For someone who possesses a wealth of privilege, not participating in communities with others who lack those advantages is kind of…foolish? In terms of credibility alone, someone who claims to want to help the poor (for example) yet spends no time interacting with poor people would be in a rather dubious position.

    @David Jones #19&27
    I see bizarro world has seeped into the conversation again. Who needs truth when you’re criticizing A+, though, amirite?

  29. says

    SubMor #30, I really do understand, but I still think it is a nasty way of making the point, and one that we would see on Twitter leveled against Atheism+. Richard Carrier isn’t all there is to Atheism+, but you wouldn’t know that from many of the anti-Atheism+ tweets. Anonymouse’s little quip, if said so curtly on Twitter, would feed into that propaganda and would be the kind of thing I am looking for when I consider adding someone to the block list.

  30. says

    @David Jones, I assume you are this person with that name aka MetaBurbia on Twitter… Ironically yet again you show there are some circumstances where making mistakes is not ok. When you are in full possession of the facts but decide to twist them to fit your agenda. The tweet that added him was this one from @HereticalHomo ->
    https://twitter.com/The_Block_Bot/status/380175353769369600

    Who then went to onto explain why he was added and removed. I subsequently linked to the terrible facebook post of Dave Silvermans talking about bloggers who create drama to pay significant bills as a reason why he should be back in there. Although I didn’t add him … Still wondering why the hell the wrote such a ridiculous facebook post however. He doesn’t seem too good at understanding privilege or being able to deduce the stupidity in Slymepit talking points.

  31. says

    @Aratina Cage

    I still think it is a nasty way of making the point

    Heh. I can think of a few reasons why seeing people hold up an argument that reinforces rape culture as if it were some profound move forward might make someone feel *ahem* unhappy. Being nasty does not invalidate one’s criticism, however.

    I know very well what kinds of the shit A+ gets from the anti brigade; I have been dealing with them for quite some time now. The difference is that those people don’t know what they’re talking about, and like David here, their arguments tend not to be rooted in reality. Anonymouse is not criticizing A+ over straw; Anonymouse is criticizing 1) a specific failure by Richard Carrier–a failure whose criticisms he missed the point of entirely, followed up with doubling down, and still doesn’t seem to have recognized the nature of–and 2) a trend of disproportionate forgiveness of mistakes by “Big Names.” Nastyness may be unpleasant, but so too is the cause of that nastyness here, so let’s not confuse these two points for an irrational a priori hatred of A+.

    Also, given what Anonymouse has said so far, it seems clear that xe is fully aware that Richard Carrier is not the only A+ voice.

    Anonymouse’s little quip, if said so curtly on Twitter, would feed into that propaganda and would be the kind of thing I am looking for when I consider adding someone to the block list.

    Yes, it is remarkable how divorcing a sentence from its original context can change its meaning so dramatically. If you were to see only the bit about “[Anonymouse's] understanding was …” you might have no idea that that criticism was referring to something Richard Carrier said. That’s why it’s important not to overlook context.

    Spare me your passive-aggressive bullshit.

    It’s vaguely surprising that you weren’t met with more explicit aggression. Were I in Anonymouse’s position, I might well have taken a far more insulting approach, since I too would probably interpret oh yeah well I’d probably add you to the block list if you’d said that totally valid thing on twitter as you ain’t shit, especially given your explanation for Matt Dillahunty’s absence from that list (which I neither support nor oppose, by the way). Additionally, note how the conversation has moved away from AWAA’s original criticism of “people who should know better keep giving Big Names more than their fair share of the benefit of the doubt” onto the subject of AWAA’s tone. This consequence, let’s point out, is the exact reason why tone policing is such a problem. What this implicitly (if not explicitly) communicates is I’m not going to listen to you until you speak in a way that I’m comfortable with. This is privilege talking, and the result is that the tone policed person’s argument is silenced.

    I ask the following question not to invite an immediate, unilateral answer from you, but rather in the hope that it will spark a discussion among the blockers/subscribers: is it the block bot’s policy to function as tone police for criticisms that (basically) come from the left? If A+ people may be promoting arguments that reinforce marginalization, I would say that is something we absolutely need to be aware of and seriously consider. I don’t see how responding to such criticisms by blocking the messenger would facilitate that, but I concede that the bot’s aims and the blockers’ priorities may not align precisely with my own.

    @A Wild Anonymouse Appears
    Since I didn’t say it earlier, thank you for speaking your mind, and I share your skepticism over the “good person” label. All too often, it appears simply as ego-fluffing. If the label is to have any meaning at all, its appropriateness can only be meaningfully judged through a person’s actions with respect to their mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes, of course, but in my eyes, how someone responds to those mistakes is a far more telling indicator of “goodness” than the initial misstep. Good deeds in unrelated areas have no bearing on whether or not someone’s present actions are inappropriate, and neither does that person’s (either present or former) status as a “good person.”

  32. says

    SubMor @30 – I don’t understand any of that. What are all these communities? What do you mean? What defines a community for this purpose? Suppose someone privileged did want to join such a community to learn from people not privileged, where would one begin? Is there a map? Are there directions?

  33. says

    @Ophelia Benson
    I mean community here as a group of people who come together to share in mutual interests or for mutual support. The four I’m aware of are all online communities (perhaps I should have specified that?), so joining them requires signing up and participating constructively. Being accepted in such a context means being able to participate without breaking the rules or otherwise invoking the ire of the group. I suppose you might consider those rules a set of directions for how to begin. A more detailed map would be advice along the lines of “spend time actively listening to marginalized people, and don’t try to tell them what their own experiences with oppression are or should be.”

  34. says

    @Submor, @Anonymouse .. i think @Aratina is missing some context, generally criticising Carrier is a dogwhistle for anti-A+ people. I assume Aratina thought Anonymouses criticism was unfounded as you point out … Posts that spurred this are ->
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/carrier/archives/4419
    and
    http://www.anamardoll.com/2013/08/feminism-mansplaining-for-my-lady-brain.html

    Personally I read Carriers post and thought it was quite good, however if I’d read Scenario B from someone I didn’t trust it would be a massive dogwhistle for rape apology so lot of bias there in me. Trying to find “grey areas” in rape… Then I read Ana Mardoll’s post and was mostly in agreement there as well. Reading back at Richards comments it’s not at all clear that anyone gets her objections over to him in the comments. I linked him to the post with no comment to see what he’d say and he also agrees with her but thinks its a differentiation between there being a threat.
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/carrier/archives/4419/comment-page-1#comment-54078

    /derail over… Basically yes, anyone having criticisms of A+ people or the community like Anonymouse should be encouraged as we have such a lack of good criticism. Last thing we should do is put them on the block bot — I guess the problem is the difficultly in seeing valid criticism. Even harder if it comes from someone with a track record of anti-A+ or anti-feminist sentiment, which Anonymouse does not have but was IMO misinterpreted to be anti-A+.

  35. says

    @SubMor
    The thing is, I didn’t bring up Matt Dillahunty so that he could get a good drudging from Anonymouse for something completely unrelated to the topic at hand, which is old Blocky. It seemed fitting that Anonymouse would end that ranty, derailing comment with a tweet-size bite that is quite antagonistic toward Atheism+ as a whole. I meant it to be an ironic observation about what kind of bad behaviors catch my eye on Twitter. I wasn’t saying that I am going to head to Twitter to submit Anonymouse to the bot right now (which would be ridiculous). And it isn’t a comment on Richard Carrier’s debacle. Of course, it is prudent to look over a few more tweets than just one when deciding who to add to the block list, and I usually do. Maybe someone should invite Anonymouse to be part of the blocking group on Twitter as well? With the new reporting structure, we will need more blockers anyway.

    So I don’t get the aggression from Anonymouse. I also sure do not like Anonymouse telling me how I feel about Anonymouse. Did I say anywhere that I thought Anonymouse was shit? No, I didn’t. I was quite fair throughout, IMO.

    I ask the following question not to invite an immediate, unilateral answer from you, but rather in the hope that it will spark a discussion among the blockers/subscribers: is it the block bot’s policy to function as tone police for criticisms that (basically) come from the left?

    I’m not quite sure what you mean here by “the left”? At any rate, I first envisioned the block bot as a fun way to help keep a person’s Twitter experience free of slimepit rhetoric and talking points. If only it worked with searches, it would have been nearly perfect for that purpose.

    Additionally, note how the conversation has moved away from AWAA’s original criticism of “people who should know better keep giving Big Names more than their fair share of the benefit of the doubt” onto the subject of AWAA’s tone.

    If we stick to the block bot as the subject, then who could say we gave more than a fair share of the benefit of doubt to Silverman or Dillahunty? Silverman was put on the list briefly with no questions asked, and Dillahunty was about to be (except for the rule against those who ask for it) until he stopped being antagonistic and got a bit more thoughtful.

    This consequence, let’s point out, is the exact reason why tone policing is such a problem. What this implicitly (if not explicitly) communicates is I’m not going to listen to you until you speak in a way that I’m comfortable with. This is privilege talking, and the result is that the tone policed person’s argument is silenced.

    I think you might be mistaking tone for antagonism. For instance, is #FTBullies simply tone, or what? Is yelling the c-word at people just a matter of tone? I really disagree. Those kinds of things are antagonistic toward a group of people, as is blaming the whole group for the failure of one, IMO. As for my personal reaction to being forced into feelings I don’t have, me being upset about that isn’t because of the tone either; it’s because I wasn’t experiencing those feelings and the implication that I was was false (though it did spark anger in me when I read it).

    If A+ people may be promoting arguments that reinforce marginalization, I would say that is something we absolutely need to be aware of and seriously consider. I don’t see how responding to such criticisms by blocking the messenger would facilitate that, but I concede that the bot’s aims and the blockers’ priorities may not align precisely with my own.

    Of course. However, the reach of the bot only extends to Twitter (although we are not limited to Twitter to gather information), and I don’t think I have read of anyone on the Atheism+ side on Twitter reinforcing marginalization yet. Do you have information about that happening?

  36. says

    It seemed fitting that Anonymouse would end that ranty, derailing comment with a tweet-size bite that is quite antagonistic toward Atheism+ as a whole.

    That’s not what that is. Context matters.

    So I don’t get the aggression from Anonymouse.

    That much is obvious. You should endeavor to do so.

    I also sure do not like Anonymouse telling me how I feel about Anonymouse.

    Mm. If it makes you feel better, reinterpret it as “the subtext of what you are saying to me is highly suggestive of a dismissive attitude.” Does that help you understand Anonymouse’s message?

    I was quite fair throughout, IMO.

    I do not share your opinion. Given how banhappy I tend to be with anti-A+ asshats, perhaps that should tell you something.

    I’m not quite sure what you mean here by “the left”?

    A political metaphor that was apparently less clear than I had hoped. When someone objects to an argument grounding their objection in pro-SJ reasoning, that is an entirely different sort of approach than the thoughtless “feminazis are feminist nazis–hahahaha get it!? I’m hilarious” babble. The former was meant to stand in as “the left” and the latter “the right.”

    If we stick to the block bot as the subject, then who could say we gave more than a fair share of the benefit of doubt to Silverman or Dillahunty?

    As far as I can tell, this is not a question with an objective answer. Extending the benefit of the doubt, however, is an act that is far, far easier for the privileged than the marginalized, and I am not in the business of telling marginalized people that they have failed to meet my standard of “a fair share of the benefit of the doubt.”

    I think you might be mistaking tone for antagonism. For instance, is #FTBullies simply tone, or what? Is yelling the c-word at people just a matter of tone?

    No on all counts. http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Tone_argument

    I don’t think I have read of anyone on the Atheism+ side on Twitter reinforcing marginalization yet. Do you have information about that happening?

    As a matter of fact, yes. Carrier arguing that rape victims aren’t allowed to call their rapes rape does just that. Your telling someone with a valid concern about that that their criticism might be blockworthy certainly doesn’t help.

  37. rnilsson says

    19
    David Jones

    September 22, 2013 at 10:03 am (UTC -5) Link to this comment

    Silverman was added in the same offhand way almost everyone on L2 & L3 was added, and because he simply annoyed someone once, and to teach him a lesson. He was removed because of the PR disaster.

    Simple.

    29
    Stephanie Zvan

    September 22, 2013 at 8:37 pm (UTC -5)

    Sure you have, David. You’ve said the reasons that people stated weren’t the real reasons. So either the real reasons were deep–not apparent to the people who gave different reasons–or dark–people didn’t want to say the real reasons. You certainly do seem to see drama everywhere though.

    Seems like David Jones’ blocker is in dark deep sea trouble ;-)
    (As in, Davy Jones’ locker = seaman’s grave)
    See, man, that’s very very grave.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>