04 February 2008

I've Been Banned (i.e. Censored)

Since my comments are no longer allowed to Orbit Trap posts, but I seem to continue to be a topic of interest, I'll use this blog to make any comments. The purpose of this post it to detail exactly what transpired with my comments to recent posts that led to the change in comment policy (i.e. censorship).

First, let me say that the administrators of the Orbit Trap blog can run it in anyway they see fit. They created it, they run it. They want to pride themselves as being honest, critical, controversial, etc. They want to make, and have made many posts that are controversial, and/or are critical of various subjects. This sounds good on the surface, but when you do so, you have to expect to receive comments that are equally as critical. When you are critical of others, and then complain when others are critical of you, it is not surprising that charges of hypocrisy will arise. It is hypocritical, IMO, to make posts that are critical of people or events and even accuse people of being unethical or unprofessional and then complain about how you are treated by those who object or challenge your statements and charges. While they are free to censor comments if they choose, lets not mince words and call it something other than it is, censorship.

So, lets look at what the comment policy said prior to being changed,

"This is not a public forum. This is a blog, a privately run publishing house. Imagine you're sitting in a nice leather chair in the reception area of our downtown office. Anything that makes our receptionist pick up the phone and call security will be deleted. This includes: spam; solicitation; threats; off-topic rambling; personal attacks; and anything else that leaves a bad smell for our readers or incurs extra charges from our cleaning staff. Critiques and opposing views are welcome. You will be treated with the same level of professionalism as you show us. If you just want to deliver a personal insult, use the email link."
It won't be addressed here, but a valid case can be made that many of the recent posts by the administrators fail to pass the professionalism test and in fact, themselves contain personal attacks. Apparently, any one who comments is expected to be professional regardless of how unprofessional the original post might be. Looks like a double standard to me.

I made the following comment to the post "Beware of the Anti-Fractal".

"The judges have shown us that Fractal Art is Dead and Boring and it needs to be cooked a little."

Well, perhaps they are striving for more than "click, click, click, apply filter, done" for their artistic work flow.

"Unless of course you've got the guts to be a Pirate and use Photoshop."

Who gives a rip whether or not any one uses Photoshop on their images. The primary reason many like to do as much of their work as possible in UF is so they can reproduce their images at any size at any time.

"I'll stop now. I'm meandering."

No, at best you are being silly. At worst you are being absurd (or worse).

Now, what is the reference in my first comment "click, click ..." you might ask. It is simply a reference to a prior post "Click-ism: a Manifesto", where the author suggests that you simply use your mouse and click, click, click away. Then, apply some Photoshop filters.

The second comment addresses the silly implication that it is somehow a bad thing to use Photoshop, or any other graphics program, to manipulate your image and instead you must only use the tools provided by your image generation program of choice. There is simply nothing wrong with using Photoshop on your images. There is also simply nothing wrong with generating your image entire in your program of choice. The artist should just use whatever method gives them the result they want. All programs are just tools. Use whatever combination of tools gets you to your end result.

Did these comments violate the stated policy? Apparently, but I don't know how.

The comment was posted, then I noticed it had disappeared. So, I posted it again. And, again it disappeared. So, I posted it a third time and captured the posting so I could verify that I had indeed posted it correctly. Again, it was deleted. There was never any note or explanation made by the administrators in the comments as to their action or why.

I then posted the following comment.

"Critiques and opposing views are welcome."

I guess this is just lip service, eh Tim?

Where is that courage the un-deleted commenter mentions?

Once more, it was deleted. So, I then posted the following comment.

What's up with the deleting of comments without any explanation?

Yes, it was again deleted. Then, in the post "Odds and Ends", the author commented on the accuracy of the previous post. It was at this point that I noticed that the comment policy had been changed. The events led me to believe that this was done to ensure that I could no longer post comments that would be published. So, knowing that my comment would be read, but not published, I made the following comment,
If Tim's post is so on target, why did he delete my comments without notification or explanation?

I see now that you have changed the comment policy. Is it that you no longer want to deal publicly with challenges to your posts?

Is it that you want to make controversial posts, and challenge those who you disagree with, without being challenged in return?

Or, are you just trying to silence a couple of the most ardent critics of your posts?
I then notice that there were more comments made to the "Anti-fractal" post. Seeing that I was referenced in comments made by Tim, I sent in the following comment.

While I know you won't publish this because you are a coward, I'm going to comment anyway.

First, I am not Ken Keller.

Secondly, I have been no more insulting that you or Terry. You and Terry are just cowardly hypocrites. It's okay for you to make personal attacks and accuse people of ethical problems, but now find the need to censor comments. I do not use profanity. I do speak bluntly, but so do you and Terry. It's really distasteful to see "so-called professional" people whine incessantly about how they are treated when post after post is simply an attack on others.

You own the blog, you can set your own rules. But, I'll state it again, your actions show you to be nothing more than petty, cowardly, hypocrites.

If you want to raise the IQ of OT, then write posts that are more than petty, whining attacks.

BTW, feel free to make more veiled comments referring to this comment in futures posts in the hopes that I'll read them and feel the "sting" of your words.

"Senseless rantings". ROTFLMAO. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.
Yes, I spoke bluntly in this reply. Yes, I even engaged in name calling. I also made an honest assessment of what I had seen transpire. Perhaps I'll address some of the "treatment"of the targets of the Orbit Trap administrators' posts in later posts .

After a couple more comments and false statements and being mentioned again by the administrator, I sent in the following comment.

Again I'll reply knowing you'll not publish the comment.

Didn't you and Terry rail against Keith and others for creating a blog/forum where only the same kind of voices would be heard? That's basically what you are now creating.

You don't like me because I pick yours and Terry's arguments apart. It's difficult to stand up against that. I fully understand that. But, Toby is right, you must if you think you are going to have any credibility.

"Much of it isn't worth reading, particulary the "blog in a blog" filibustering of Ken, someone who isn't even a member of the fractal art community in any way, neither an artist or and even a casual admirer of fractal art."

You have no clue about what you speak of. I have been following fractals for over 20 years. I have been using UF (and other programs, but mostly UF) for over 10 years. I have formulas published in the UF formula database. I have had images in the Fractal Universe calendar, and said as much in a reply to Terry.

I do not have a web site, and I do not publish images on Renderosity or DeviantArt. I have published images on mailing lists in the past.

Care to correct your false statements?
Yes, I'll admit to being a little ticked off. But, that often happens when I see blatantly false statements being made. Were they intentional? Probably not. They are more likely being made in ignorance. Still, they are false and uncorrected by the administrator.

Now, in the latest comment, the other administrator states,
"That being said, we’ve only restricted two commenters to date. One was someone we recognized using a sock puppet (whom we’ll post if his known alias is used). The other is reader Ken who thinks he is a critic but is actually a troll. We’ve now begun receiving borderline harassment emails from him. If Ken would like a clarification for why his posting privileges have been curtailed, he can identify himself by sending us an email. We’ll be glad to tell him the reasons."
First of all, the comment about "borderline harassment emails" is a lie, IMO. The record is above. They were all comments posted using the comment form. A troll, well, that is a matter of opinion. My comments, that haven't been deleted, can be seen in previous posts. I take the administrators to task for their attacks, many of them baseless and unethical, on others in the fractal community. I speak honestly and bluntly at times. Just like the administrators pride themselves in doing in their posts.

And finally, there is this reference in the post "Epilogue",
"Toby sent us his final remarks which he said we could post if we wanted to. Unlike Ken, Toby doesn't accuse us of violating his human rights when it comes to posting his comments."
Hmmmm, I'm wondering where I ever accused any one of violating my human rights. I open up this post stating the Orbit Trap authors may do as they please. I state that again in one of the replies above. It's one thing to ban someone, which is their right if they so choose for whatever reason(s) they choose. It's another to continue to make false statements in blog posts after that person is banned. Why am I so relevant now that I'm banned? Is it because Toby struck a nerve by independently concluding I was right? Is it because Toby defended me? Is it because they know that Toby and I and other critics are right in our assessment of their behavior?

I'll give them credit for posting Toby's exchange. But if anyone reads the Epilogue post, they will now see Toby being the target for snide remarks. I'd like anyone to explain to me how the Epilogue post is professional in any way. You see, it's not the comments that are causing the "intelligence" of Orbit Trap to deteriorate, it's the posts by its authors.

And finally, I'll comment on the new text they have for their comment policy,
"Orbit Trap is a private publishing venture that exists primarily to raise awareness of issues that relate to Fractal Art. It is beyond the scope of this blog to also serve as a public forum for the debate of these issues. We moderate comments on Orbit Trap to ensure that each contributes something meaningful to its corresponding blog posting. In addition to irrelevance, the following attributes will likely keep your comments from being published: incivility, excessive profanity, hate speech, and spam. If you prefer not to have your comments moderated by us, then please take them to one of the many public forums specializing in Fractal Art where your remarks can be openly discussed and debated in more detail. If you’d like to hear from us directly, please email your overall comments about this blog to the contributors."
I will say it again so there is no misunderstanding, the administrators may set whatever policy they want for their blog. However, let's examine for a moment what this is really saying in the context of events over the last several days. I read this as saying,
  • Orbit Trap will publish posts to raise awareness of issues, meaning almost exclusively of late attacking the BMFAC and Fractal Universe Calendar
  • Orbit Trap will continue to make false, mis-representative, and snide comments about previous commenters
  • Orbit Trap will not deal with comments or criticisms of said posts, meaning they don't want to be challenged and have to defend their posts
  • Orbit Trap will moderate comments to be able to censor comments that are critical so they don't have to deal with them
This is fine, and they have the right to do what they please. But, if one is truly honest, one will see how cowardly this policy has become. Also, if one is honest, one will see how hypocritical this policy has become in light of the posts and comments over the last several months.

1 Comment:

WelshWench said...


I'm pleased you've laid this out here because I have no faith that the original posts and comments will continue to be available, or at least available in unaltered form.

Inviting debate and then stifling dissenting opinions doesn't say a lot for the ethics of the blog's authors. Dontcha just love the irony in that? ;)