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Chicago ChainLink Forum Is Broken!

Chicago ChainLink Forum Is Broken!

This is the beginning of a “beautiful relationship“:

Open Letter to the CLink “Mods”
Posted by Craig S. on June 24, 2013 at 1:05pm

Friday, 21 June, a request for stories, anecdotes, opinions – content, was made in the Ragbrai group. In this request a rather polarizing athlete was mentioned. I offered up a story containing an opinion about the aforementioned individual and I labeled that person a cocksucker.

I was immediately told by the person requesting this content to make a “productive” contribution using “appropriate language” and remove my comment.

I have no idea who this “Melissa” person is, nor why she was asking for such content nor why she would have the authority to demand I remove my comment. I replied that I would not as I didn’t see how anything in my story could be considered offensive, unless one happens to be among the legions of misguided Lance Armstrong fans. Also, I fail to see how labeling Lance Armstrong a cocksucker is any more egregious than the hatred flung in these forums on a daily basis towards drivers, pedestrians or even other riders.

My anecdote, the demand of retraction, which contained no example of how I acted irresponsibly, was removed as well as my reply. I made screen caps of these posts and will post them below.

A request for submissions was made, one was given and it was dismissed/erased. Perhaps this Melissa person should have stipulated that all submissions must be made in the spirit of the prevailing groupthink of the Chainlink, of kumbaya and community and such, that anything considered remotely offensive to those ideals will be stricken from the record.

My big question is just who is this Melissa, what authority does she have to ask for submissions and what would they be used for and on what authority does she have to strike posts from groups or forums?

The most interesting part of Melissa’s reply to me is this: “Rants, bashings, and offensive language devalue Chainlink operations, alienate people from participating, and create tremendous barriers to our cultivating the widespread support – financial and otherwise – necessary to exist.”

Perhaps Melissa should stroll around the Chainlink forum as damn near every thread devolves into in internet gang fight complete with rants/bashing/offensive language thrown at people who’s contributions do not jive with the prevailing groupthink of the Chainlink. The gulag for any dissenters. The Chainlink may have over 9,000 but it’s the same very few number of people participating on the forums at any given time of day, regulating the ideas being spread. If you ask me, this violates Melissa’s informal Terms of Service.

If one tells me that I violated the “Terms of Service,” please, try to find them and read them. You may find that if the ToS where globally enforced, content would dry up on the Chainlink and then all those advertisers might go away.

The Terms of Service appear to be written by Leah on 27 September 2008 and updated by Leah on 3 March, 2010. After my content was deleted, the Chainlink Mods Activity Group popped up signifying recent activity in that Group. This closed group identifies 7 members, but doesn’t identify who they are. Since they appear to exist for the sole purpose of regulating and deleting MY content and no one else’s, it seems reasonable to let me know who the moderators are.

Comment by Craig S. 3 minutes ago
Correct me if I’m wrong Melissa but weren’t you soliciting opinions? I gave one and I fail to see where my opinion “devalued” the ChainLink as a whole or was offensive to another user, unless of course they’re an ardent Lance fan. Sorry if that is you. I will not remove my comment.

Comment by Melissa 25 minutes ago
Craig, that you for being part of the ChainLink community. Please remove your most recent comment. Please act responsibly on this website by making a productive contribution to the dialogue, using appropriate language.

Rants, bashings, and offensive language devalue ChainLink operations, alienate people from participating, and create tremendous barriers to our cultivating the widespread support – financial and otherwise – necessary to exist.

Comment by Craig S. 1 hour ago
Lance didn’t ride that much and don’t get me started on how awful it was to have That Guy on the ride (I’ve never been a Lance fan, but whatever). There was an older Livestrong rider sagging the last half of one particular day on our bus. I was sagging cause I’d tired of the headwinds and we wanted to get our cocktails on.

Not wanting to engage with these Livestrong Koolaid drinkers, I ignored her as much as I could, only offering up a cocktail. The she proceeded to tell me how great Lance is, Lance that, Lance up my hoo-ha and isn’t it the most awesome thing to have him here and and and…

Okay lady, you’ll get my Lance broadside about what a cocksucker he is now and has always been and how pro bike racing is dirty, always has been and always will be.

I was quite amused by this woman’s moxy and disillusionment. Had she just kept quiet and not prompted me for opinions, she could have had a real nice bus ride into town. Her hackles were quite pronounced by the time she disembarked and I can only imagine the howls of outrage shared in the Livestrong camp and directed at some heathen, some unbeliever on an orange and purple bus.

Comment by Melissa 1 hour ago
Hey RAGBRAI riders, past and present!

I rode Iowa in ’08. Back when Lance, still loved, would make a routine stealth appearance on the route. For many reasons, it was a great adventure.

I have a request. Please PM me (or email melissa@thechainlink.org) if you…

…like to read.
…like to write.
…like Chainlink accolades.
…have opinions.
…are interested in RAGBRAI.

Surprises are in store =) Thanks!

Reply by notoriousDUG 2 hours ago

Lame.

If forums are going to be moderated they need to be moderated in an open and even handed manner with clear and simple rules.

The rules for this forum are an overcomplicated joke that leave way to much room for interpretation. You want to have a forum with rules and moderation they need to be trimmed down to simple rules that are crystal clear as to what they say. Any rule that is over a couple of sentences or requires explanation is not going to be an effective rule.

The moderation on this forum is a bigger joke. People who contribute useful info are scolded or edited for not being nice or using strong language but others who contribute nonsense and bad information are allowed to run wild. You want to moderate you need to do it evenly across the board; I mean if Craig got deleted for the use of the word ‘cocksucker’ how am I even still a member here? This is not the first time that the moderation here has felt driven more by the moderators opinions about the person over what it is that actually got posted.

Here’s the bigger thing I have to say about it; the world is not always a nice place and even the nicest people are not always nice. Try to moderate this forum until everyone is nice and it is free of conflict you are going ot have a very boring forum with very little traffic.

Reply by Craig S. 2 hours ago

Was I scolded because of the word “cocksucker” or was it “hoo-haa”, or what? No rationale, other than I’m injuring the potential for commercial commerce, what ever that may be.

Reply by Melissa 2 hours ago

Hey gang: I’m a cyclist, volunteer, and one of a dozen site moderators for Chainlink. Let’s take this off line, while I get the Director on the phone. Cheers 🙂

Reply by Craig S. 2 hours ago

No, you’ve already taken something that you didn’t like off line. Let’s get this out in the open. Take it down again and i’ll post the web archives I’ve saved.

Reply by Kevin C 2 hours ago

Why does this need to go offline? These seem like legitimate questions and concerns.

Reply by Will G – 10mi 1 hour ago

And we’re back.

Reply by Mike Zumwalt 9 minutes ago

Swearing is common among the forum but derogatory, direct name calling along with slight homophobic undertones probably should be removed. Stick to non descript terms in the future. Such as d-bag, fucktard,self gratifier… and what Doug said. I had a scantily clad pic of a female taken down on a thread featuring swearing but it was also reference to a post on another forum I post on. Keep calm and carry on.

TakeAways

The real problem here is that as with children raised without much adult supervision deciding in their teens that profane language is no longer acceptable is a bit too little far too late. Parenting is a very difficult task even when you start when the child is very young. But to wait until he is old enough to smack you down, then you have a heck of a problem on your hands. With participants like Gabe (and he is not alone) there has been a Lord of the Flies atmosphere here for quite some time. Its no longer cute or endearing even for those who are used to the “bad boy” sensibilities that attract women of a certain age to them.

And do not worry about Craig S. He is white and will never be kicked off this forum. As notoriousDUG muses he himself should have been kicked off for far worse language a very long time ago, but it is his “skin color” that makes him safe. So shed no tears over Craig S. What should be lamented is the slow and steady downward spiral that the ChainLink is likely to endure. Now that it has national attention, thanks to our friends at AtlanticCities its cesspool-like atmosphere is certain to garner attention. And that makes it easy for friends like Dorothy Rabinowitz to speak with some authority about the nature of the Urban Cycling Community.

Why Use Critical Mass To Break Your Own Rules?

Why Use Critical Mass To Break Your Own Rules?

If you do any gardening you know that in order for rotting food to turn into something that you can spread on your garden floor as nutrients you have to allow oxygen to reach the decaying materials and the noxious gases to vent. It is a difficult process but necessary. So as we watch the ChainLink Forum try and reach maturity in the same fashion that the Urban Cycling Community has been aimlessly trying to figure out why it still conducts Critical Mass Rides they deserve a measure of sympathy mixed with equal portions of “I told you so“.

The ChainLink Forum as currently constituted is a bell that cannot be unrung, a violent sight that cannot be unseen. It is a place where viciousness is the norm and responsible behavior is deemed anathema. It frankly deserved the Cabrini-Green Treatment and fast.

What You Will Need To Contend With Going Forward

Paula Deen 2012

Paula Deen 2012

Your very first mistake was taking money for some proposed “improvements” before ever having shaped a plan that everyone could read and understand. I know where the bulk of your funds came from in this past financial support campaign and I hope you are not relying on it being there in perpetuity. Contributions from a crowd like this is seen by most as a license to continue to do what they do best. They feel some sense of justification now that they have “anted up“. But we both know that with some supposed 8,500 members and less than 400 contributors that things are sorely out of whack. You simply cannot make this thing fly without doing some major renovation.

The first place to begin is with annual memberships that cost money. Not contributions that allow the “loafers” to tag along, but rather dues paying members. That way you get to face-off with the malefactors and at the end of the fiscal year boot them off the system without a single worry. The other thing to do is to turn on your “foul language filter“. WordPress has them and I would assume so does NING. Use it.

Make it so difficult for abusive language to be rampant on the site that the potty-mouths will flee. I know that in such a case the majority of your daily contributors will have left in disgust but that is the price you pay for entering adulthood as a forum community. If you don’t do these things then your organized affiliates will be forced to flee. Active Transportation Alliance cannot afford to be seen with you if nationwide there are people looking in on your conversations.

That reminds me, there has to be some sort of method for making conversations private. Again, I know that WordPress uses them and so NING must as well. If you want to have a slimy disgusting thread continue then make it private. Then all the haters can come out and wage war on one another but without benefit of such a large audience. These ghouls like to shock their viewers. So if you make a thread private it kinda makes it difficult for most of them to get their rocks off. But hey, that is something they will have to deal with.

The ChainLink “Blinked”

The “owner” of the forum just wrote:

Reply by Julie Hochstadter 1 hour ago
Posted here as well –
Hey Chainlinks,

To answer some of your questions,

Our policy has always been to err on the side of extremely light moderating and not to delete content or close threads as we are an independent social network based on community building, communication and sharing information among cycling enthusiasts in and around Chicago.

In the last 5 years we’ve probably closed half a dozen threads, primarily over spam or nudity and only after exhaustive deliberation as a group, including myself and Lee Diamond, who has been our main moderator for the last 4 years.

The rest of those in the mod group consist of volunteers with admin capabilities, including volunteer IT people, interns and others who help with building and maintaining our online community.

What happened here was a mistake and it won’t happen again.

People with moderator capabilities include myself, Lee Diamond, Melissa, Garth (Globalguy), Frederick (Chi Lowe), Xiao (intern) and Ryan (Wigwam, intern), Joe Sak and Cezar and a few others with limited capabilities including Jeremy (JM) and Anne Barnes.

I want to reiterate again what happened was a mistake, we always discuss things thoroughly before taking any mod action, and it won’t happen again.

For the sake of transparency it should be noted that Gabe is a loyal friend and tireless worker with Lee Diamond. Oh well, the gang is covering one anthers pink tushes each and every day.