We have some trolls and bullies on ChainLink : Really, You Think So?

Background Reading

Posted by Nikul Shah on August 27, 2014 at 1:20pm

As some of you may know, we have some trolls and bullies on CL. Beyond caving to their demands, derailing threads, or ignoring them, are their any other options in dealing with them?


So, following the rather lengthy and inane discussion about nothing shown here:

The thread under Background Reading appeared. It’s a kind of pathetic repeat of so many of the threads on this forum, but a few interesting things were unearthed as this new thread unfolded:

Reply by Michael A 1 hour ago
Click on settings, scroll to the bottom and then click on Leave The Chainlink

Reply by Michelle Milham 1 hour ago
Or we could try not using slurs and they’d be members of the community glad to talk in a kind and happy manner.

Reply by Nikul Shah 1 hour ago
Haha, I meant other than leaving CL. Can we report to moderators?

Reply by Michelle Milham 1 hour ago
You’re going to report me to the moderators… for not allowing someone to use a slur against people with down syndrome. Sad.

Reply by Michelle Milham 1 hour ago
Especially when I’m the one who’s been doxed and sexually harassed for my opinion.

Reply by Michael A 1 hour ago
Intellectual disabilities are not limited to down syndrome just as the term asshole is not limited to one person internet crusaders

Reply by Michelle Milham 1 hour ago
No they’re not, but they’re often the ones being called that word.

Reply by Nikul Shah 1 hour ago
Not everything is so black and white. I don’t agree with you being doxed. But, I also don’t agree with you continuing to scream at the top of your lungs (so to speak) to get one person to retract a statement made in the heat of the moment all the while holding the rest of us hostage until he does. Your behavior is that of a bully. If you don’t like it here, then leave the community. No one is forcing you to be here.

Reply by David Barish 1 hour ago
The name of this thread is somewhat charged as I do not know if we would agree on who the bullies and trolls are. Still, some threads seem to get derailed by the passion of the players. I say this without blaming anybody but in asking EVERYBODY to look inward when these things happen. When pages and pages of off topic discussion take place and where the temperature rises with each post we have to ask ourselves what is happening. Part of the problem is this is a public forum but likely few of us are in a public place when we post. We are in our homes, our offices, our cubby holes or wherever.

Because this is a public place its not likely to meet all of our standards for intellegence, decency or language. Common sense should tell us to avoid labeling, name calling, etc. That being said, it is public and we expect salty thoughts and salty manners of expression to be used. A public forum is not a great place for the uber sensitive. That being said, there is no reason to attack somebody for having that sensitivity. A little empathy goes a long way. Make your point and move on. There is really no reason for the rest of the players to read pages and pages of a dialogue in a place created for a larger conversation.

Most of the kids who play in this sandbox have some idea of the way the other kids who hang around here play, speak, think and pedal their bikes. We have to take people for what they are. Some kids are loud and like to impress the teacher. We are not going to change them. Other kids are abrasive and challenge everybody else. Know who that kid is and act accordingly. Other kids think they know more than the teacher and grab the stage to show how smart they are. They are still kids who play in our sandbox and who ride a bike. Roll your eyes perhaps but accept who they are.

As to “what to do?” Accept the reality that all types are here and do your own part to minimize conflict or at least save it for when its really, really, really important. When I see a thread that I care about overtly moving this direction I might post something specifically on topic in the hope that others will follow.

Reply by Michelle Milham 1 hour ago
It’s not holding anyone hostage at all. Stop defending vilda and her use of a slur. And the last dude, whoever it was, got the same reaction. People defending him. If people had said “hey not cool”, and Vilda not doubled down, I would have moved on. It almost moved on with the “stick” conversation, but VILDA was the one who wouldn’t let it drop, and for some reason everyone is defending her “right” to this disgusting behavior.

Reply by Simon Phearson 1 hour ago
Michelle – now that we can have this discussion without derailing a valued thread:
I appreciate what you’re trying to accomplish. I really do. I’m also sympathetic with your slash-and-burn method, because I understand a lot of the thinking behind it – of not having to constantly explain one’s self, to justify one’s outrage, to not allow oneself to be segregated off into some place where one’s points can be easily ignored.

But, I guess, what I’ve learned about the CL, in my own time here, is that the people here are really diverse intellectually, educationally, and culturally. The language of social justice that you’re using is not automatically going to be resonant with everyone here. I think that one has to learn and assimilate a certain receptiveness to the radically different viewpoints of others, before that kind of language has an impact. I (think I) hear what you’re saying, when you talk about the marginalized communities dealing with the cultural baggage of “slurs” – scare quotes or no.

But to a lot of people, you’re just the “PC Police,” and that’s all you’re going to be. Those are some of the people who make up the CL, who give us tips on routes and bikes, who commiserate over road conditions, who brag over mileage and winter commuting. They are, in other words, our friends, and I don’t think it’s beneficial to try to split us up into people who think and act like you do and people who deserve to be ostracized. It’s not your place to draw that delineation.

That’s what’s “destructive” about what you’re doing in the other thread. You’re taking a thread about road angst and making it about whether “retard” is a “slur,” and whether you should be entitled to call it out as such, and whether you should be entitled to do it when and how you please. You will create this gaping hole in the thread history, there, which is going to permanently alter that thread. And, by extension, the community.

I’ve myself been surprised by the kinds of disagreements I’ve engendered by speaking my mind, just because I (for some reason) expect other cyclists to see the world the way that I do, to be sympathetic with the sorts of injustices I see. But they just aren’t. All that really brings us together is our cycling, and oftentimes not even that does.

In short, this is not a “safe space.” It’s just not, and we can’t really make it a “safe space” when there are a lot of people here who aren’t even inclined to view that as a serious concept in the first place. I don’t know how to convince them that making this a “safe space” is in everyone’s interest. But that’s what we basically have to do, if that’s the goal that we (I think) share.

A lot of sexist stuff is said here – not even as bad as sex harassment, simply bald chauvinism – and it drives me up the wall. But I don’t see how shouting at every sexist is going to make a single one of them change their views on what they say. They have to learn how to care, first. Personally, I think the best way to teach them to care is to care about them.

Reply by Nikul Shah 1 hour ago
Thank you for this wise series of thoughts.

Reply by Michelle Milham 1 hour ago
I don’t think that I said anything at all impolite until people doubled down using that word. I don’t really care if you’re our “friend”- you should be anyone’s friend who comes here, and using that kind of language makes you NO ONE’S friend. It needs to stop. I will GLADLY act as a moderator and use some kind of strike system with more official warnings and rules and less argumentation when that kind of language is used, but it needs to stop. We need to say “That’s not allowed here, that’s not what chainlink stands for, you can change your outlook to be more inclusive or you could leave”
As it is, I feel like I’m the only one fighting a good fight. Everyone else seems to be giving lip service but really just being ok with the continuance. It’s exhausting. I mean hell, a dude once posted a whole rant on here about how women cyclists should dress better iho, and I was still the first one to say something. I had been here like 3 days. It’s a real problem here.

Please, where you see chauvanism, say it’s not cool. See a slur? Say it’s not cool. Racism? Sexism? Religious intolerance? It’s just not cool. Do we want to be a place where it’s cool to do that sort of stuff because “idk maybe they don’t know better….?”

Reply by Nikul Shah 1 hour ago
You are making a lot of value judgments on what is right/the good fight. While I generally agree that the term is a loaded negative word, it is not for you or I to impose our beliefs and values on others like that. Doing as much tends to force your opponent to dig in. No one likes being told what to do and being judged. If you want to fight the good fight, then inform that person that such words are offensive to a lot of people. But, insisting they follow your value judgment will never work. Its important to keep this space open to communications of all people. If you feel that the powers that be need to do a better job of moderating then tell them that. Do not take it upon yourself to be a de facto moderator and turn everyone against you and your cause (no matter how righteous or not it is).

Reply by Michelle 1 hour ago
“Please disabuse yourself of the notion that it is my purpose on Earth to tuck ignorance into bed each night.” – Jesse Williams

I’m not really here to coddle people who don’t want to be told that their ignorance is bad.

It is bad. It’s unwelcoming and mean. And something needs to be done. Not just “oh ignore that ignorant person, they don’t know better so be gentle. And by be gentle I mean do nothing and let them keep doing it. “

Reply by Nikul Shah 1 hour ago
Sometimes – like in online spaces – it is best to ignore people who go on hateful rants. Disagreeing with them achieves nothing. Many of us “fight the good fight” in our own ways and have been doing so longer than you.
I would consider your conduct in the last thread impolite. You accuse everyone of supporting the use of the term. Sometimes it is best to pick your fights. Given that Vilda was quoting something he said in an oh shit moment, it isn’t an ideal example to contradict his use of the term.

Reply by Michelle 1 hour ago
I disagree. It’s not EVER best to let people believe that they’re not wrong.

If vilda thinks vilda is right that fine. Maybe my reaction planted a seed of doubt. I hope so. But I won’t coddle vilda. Vilda could have said that word in that moment on the street and I’d never know about it. But vilda seems quite proud of calling that person that. And that’s bad and shouldn’t be allowed here.

Reply by Nick G 1 hour ago

Having lost friendships based solely on calling people out for being douchebags, I will firmly stand with you on this position. I think we could all benefit from maybe a little more subtlety in our delivery, but you’re right on with your stance. I made a personal vow to call out bullies/racists/sexists/etc. because I feel that none of those actions belong in a civilized society, and that these types of microaggressions can really pile up on people and cause severe problems. I’m not perfect – I still slip up and let out a “great driving, retard” once in awhile, but I’m at least more conscious with my thoughts. I do feel bad after it slips out too.

I think the main point is: We all need to be more conscious of how our speech and actions may affect others. The world isn’t perfect, and neither are we, but the least we can do is try to be better and less negative.

Reply by Michelle 1 hour ago
And regardless of what vilda thinks, we need to make Chainlink better.

Reply by Michelle 1 hour ago
The problem is that right now reactions have to be huge because otherwise they go unnoticed and stand alone amongst a crowd of enablers. Let’s make it so many quieter reactions get the job done.

Reply by Nikul Shah 1 hour ago
Vilda likely dug in because you criticized her for something she said in an oh shit moment. It happens. The person may or may not know the offensive nature of said words. But, you moralizing at someone else is equally as offensive. And more so, you deeming yourself the arbiter of what will be allowed to be said or not said in this forum is blatant censorship and obnoxious to all on that thread. It is fine to point it out/call them out, but then move on.
And if you are serious about making CL better, then take your issues up with those in charge.

Reply by Michelle Milham 1 hour ago
Not tolerating hate speech isn’t “moralizing.” It’s not tolerating hate speech. I don’t tolerate it here, I don’t tolerate it in my life (haven’t spoken to my brother for 6 months over the same issue,) I don’t tolerate it in other forums. I will not have it around me. It hurts people. Real life people. It’s hurt me in the past when it’s been focused on gender (notice that the picture that was chosen in that thread was chosen because it’s my most dressed-up hair-done profile picture from over a year ago – they were trying to say that because I looked like I might be going to a party in that picture, I can’t possibly be intelligent. Cos all pretty young girls aren’t you know.)

And why should I move on when they say “Whatever, I say what I want.” and then repeat it? Many of my responses were simply repeating that it wasn’t ok. Many of them. Actually, looking over it, that was pretty much all I said to Vilda.

Reply by Nikul Shah 59 minutes ago
Very few things are so black and white. And no, the reactions don’t need to be obnoxiously huge. Most people, Chainlinkers included, see the individuals for what they are when they say hateful things. Often times those hateful things are said to get attention. Hence, ignoring them may be the best approach sometimes.

Reply by Vilda 54 minutes ago
Vilda will say Retard. Vilda won’t stop saying Retard. Replying OVER and OVER telling me not to isn’t ever going to change it. Especially since you were a faceless non-person. I don’t know you. You don’t know me. We have no reason to listen to each other. And even if i did know you, i wouldn’t change my mind cause i don’t care what you think. And pages and pages of nonsense won’t bother me. Keep up the strong trolling kid.

Reply by Michelle Milham 44 minutes ago
Ignoring it won’t make it stop. We need to be clear that it needs to STOP. And yes, it clearly does need to be huge on my part. Since everyone was quick to defend Vilda.

Reply by Michelle Milham 42 minutes ago
Then leave Vilda, or I’ll say it again. I will not let you get away with it.

Saying “retard” is a hateful slur. I will not let you say it in my presence without commenting on it. I will derail this whole website until you stop. So stop.

You have EVERY REASON to listen to me: I’m telling you you’e being hateful to your fellow chainlinkers and cyclists. That’s not cool.

Reply by Nikul Shah 40 minutes ago
People are entitled to say and believe what they want. The only people who have any real power to control that on CL are the moderators. And it is moralizing to judge others for handling the situation in another manner. You are judging me (and others) for not reacting as you did. You fail to recognize that by not going out on an all out frontal offensive against Vilda about the use of that word in said moment may have been better. When Vilda said I say what I want, it is clear that she wasn’t going to listen. So be it. You attacking her only confirmed she was right not to listen (in her mind) because you come off as the thought police. You continuing to clog the thread only turned everyone else against you and precluded them from becoming your allies. Your conduct is self-defeating. You speak of not excluding/judging/demeaning others, but your conduct does exactly that. You are judging/demeaning/excluding those that disagree with you. If you want people to be tolerant of others, then you have to be tolerant of them no matter how noxious their thoughts, beliefs, and ideas may be.

Reply by Michelle Milham 39 minutes ago
IT doesn’t exclude anyone besides hateful people and their enablers, who deserve it.
I will not be tolerant of intolerance. Sorry. That’s the ONE THING I won’t do. Tell me you think the sky is purple. Cool. Tell me that you called someone the r word? I’m not having it.

Reply by Vilda 32 minutes ago
Well then We’re gonna chat all the time on here – cause i’m gonna say retard so much you’re gonna go blind with rage. And at this point it will be enjoyable. 🙂

Reply by Michelle Milham 30 minutes ago
You are a hateful person Vilda.
Do not use that word.

Reply by Nikul Shah 29 minutes ago
That is incredibly subjective. For example, I consider your intolerant attitude to be hateful. Should you be excluded??

Reply by Michelle Milham 27 minutes ago
You finding my intolerance of bigots to be a bad thing is fine with me. I’d prefer it if no one who fought for the rights of hateful bigots liked me.

Reply by Nikul Shah 27 minutes ago
Vilda: Please stop trolling Michelle. She clearly has strong feelings about the use of the word. There is no need to continue this.

Reply by Nikul Shah 22 minutes ago
I find intolerance of other human beings a bad thing no matter what your reason is. You have no idea what brought that person to those words, thoughts, or beliefs. Try practicing a little bit of compassion for your fellow person. You shouldn’t accept someone targeting you as such and should advocate for a better world, but that doesn’t include a full out offensive against another’s errant use of a word and dismissing those that try to tell you there is a better way.

Reply by Vilda 22 minutes ago

Reply by Cameron 7.5 mi 18 minutes ago
You do realize that Vilda loves to argue and at this point you’re just egging him on, right? He’s loving every minute of this and isn’t going anywhere while this keeps up.

Reply by Jaik S. 9 minutes ago
You kids all need to play in your own sandboxes. Sigh.

Reply by Cameron 7.5 mi 8 minutes ago
Can someone give me a Cliff Notes version of what we’re talking about here?

Reply by Vilda 8 minutes ago
See, Cam knows me in reality. 🙂

Reply by Vilda 4 minutes ago
Sure cam, that Michelle chick has vowed to derail any thread on the planet where someone uses the word retard (hate speech)… Sooooo I’m never gonna stop using that word 😉 She has also vowed to argue with anyone that would “defend” the use of hate speech. So anyone that told her it was annoying that she kept ranting she would argue with. – That about sums it up.. Don’t worry she’ll post something in a second. 🙂

Reply by Michelle Milham 4 minutes ago
I am not intolerant of anything except for OTHER PEOPLE’S INTOLERANCES. Vilda can think that word. Say it in private life. Whatever. But I will not allow Vilda to use it in my presence. Which is all I was doing. I didn’t even say anything to Vilda besides that Vilda is hateful. That’s hardly an “all out offensive.” Defending a bigot instead of defending someone asking them to stop is pretty ridiculous of you. I will not allow hate speech in any conversation I am a part of. IF that makes me a hateful person because I hate people who use hate speech… then cool. Have fun partying with the KKK and the Westboros, since you don’t have an opinion about their intolerance, and if you do you don’t express it because you accept their intolerance because they’re human too.

Reply by Vilda 3 minutes ago
There she is…Like clock work… there will be more…


Before you can understand just how strange this new thread is you need to hark back to ones in which Vilda (she then called herself, Gabe) and NotoriousDUG got caught up in some pretty interesting discussions:

And then there are some other discussions that shed some light on the nonsense currently going on:

The first problem of course is this:

Because this is a public place its not likely to meet all of our standards for intellegence, decency or language. Common sense should tell us to avoid labeling, name calling, etc. That being said, it is public and we expect salty thoughts and salty manners of expression to be used. A public forum is not a great place for the uber sensitive.

When the grey beards don't 'get it' all hope is lost!

When the grey beards don’t ‘get it’ all hope is lost!

Actually I would expect the obverse of a ‘public space‘. When anyone whether it be in government, business, law, religion wants to ‘let their hair down‘ they are allowed to do so ‘in camera‘. So take for instance a governmental body wants to enact a new law regarding something having to do with cycling. There would be extensive discussion behind closed doors. Afterwards all parties come out and ‘present a united face‘ before the cameras and reporters.

At some point there will also be a public forum in which the citizens can come forth and express themselves. But at these sorts of hearing you get a microphone for a specific amount of time and decorum is enforced by a sergeant-at-arms. You would not expect people to stand up and start speaking without being recognized by the person chairing the meeting.

The ChainLink Needs To Be A Closed Forum

Since membership is ‘open‘ there really is no need to have a completely ‘open forum‘. Right now this feels like a frat house where folks are sitting around in the underwear drinking beer, farting, picking their noses and generally showing no respect for each other or any visitors. Nobody has bothered to pick up their dirty clothes or make their beds. Even when using the bathroom ‘no one bothers to close the door‘ while they are on the toilet.

This is more a free-for-all than:

The ChainLink is the one-stop Chicagoland resource for connecting cyclists to share info on bikes, routes, ride, and events.

There is precious little ‘sharing of info‘ and a whole lotta snarling, dissing, doxing going on. And if that is something you really have to learn to live with then, there are other places where the air is at least fresher.

There Is A Very Evident Double Standard Present

When Vilda was a ‘he’ she presented a very urgent heartfelt plea for the ChainLink Community to attack two guys on a local radio sports station for entertaining their audience with a similar kind of banter to that being used in the past few threads. Everyone took these on-air personalities as being ‘serious‘ about their banter.

But frankly when a station is broadcasting during the day and is public and not something like Serius XM Radio you expect a level of decorum a bit higher. But instead they carried on i much the same manner as is used here on the ChainLink. There have even been occasions when folks on this forum ‘joked‘ about Tasering pedestrians and others who had the temerity to use the ‘bike lane‘.

And during those threads all of the same sorts of ugliness went on. Why it is just fine for Vilda to do her thing on the ChainLink Forum but not for radio personalities to air their dirty laundry I don’t know. But there it is. That old Double Standard.

The ChainLink Is Never Going To Change

Cleaning up the ChainLink requires ‘adult supervision‘. There isn’t any. They like it that way and it will persist in its current form until someone comes along with a site that offer ‘real sharing of info‘ complete with a library of useful videos, professional writers who conduct equipment tests, have tutorials regarding bike maintenance and forum leaders who have something meaningful to say. Right now the frat guys are in charge and they are more than used to the foul odor of stale pizza, farts, stomach bile and feces.

So you either hold your nose and grab a beer and act as much a fool as the rest or you find someplace else to squander your bosses time and money.

If the ChainLink were a yoga class this would be their favorite position.

Head Up Ass The 'ChainLink Prayer Position'

Head Up Ass
The ‘ChainLink Prayer Position’