12 March 2008

Troll Extrordinaire

I seem to have touched a nerve at Orbit Trap (hereafter referred to as OT). I'm honored to have the writers of OT make up about 25% of my current readership numbers. LOL!

Warning: If anyone reading this is tired of the ongoing discussions at OT and my replying to them here, please skip this post. This post is going to dissect the latest post made at OT, and detail the many exaggerations, distortions, and IMO, outright lies. I am going to give my opinions. I am going to speak bluntly. I will not lie. I have no need to. If I make any mistakes, or you disagree with my opinions, you are encouraged to correct me. I guarantee you will be treated better than OT treats those who comment critical of them.

So, lets dive in. But, be forewarned, this post is long.

"Another paradigm shift: trolls are hecklers. They aren’t satisfied with the nearly infinite opportunities on the Internet to build their own spaces and places and express their views. They’d rather steal our voice and burn down our house."
No one has ever tried to "steal" OT's voice. All people have done is voice opposition to the charges and tactics of what the OT writer's have written. In the words of OT, the comments are critiquing or talking about something. In this case, that something is what OT wrote. That, after all, is what OT says they are doing. I guess that is okay for OT, but not for OT. I call that hypocritical.

Not one of the people who have commented to OT have tried to "burn down [their] house". Everyone who has commented, pro or con, has done so via the mechanisms in place at the time. First with unmoderated comments, and later with moderated, censored comments. This claim is nothing more that petty complaining.

What is wrong with commenting directly to the posts that you take issue with? That's what the comment mechanism is for. If the writer doesn't want comments, turn it off or moderate comments as OT has done. What is the purpose for making controversial posts, and then proceeding to complain about comments? That is simply childish. For goodness sakes, if you are going to be critical in what you write, don't complain when you receive comments from those who take exception to what you wrote. If you are brave enough to be controversial, be brave enough to receive critical comments in return. To not do so and complain about how you are being treated is unprofessional at best, and down right hypocritical at worst.
"Anyone who starts a blog, especially one functioning in part as a whistleblower, is eventually going to have to deal with trolls. You can be amused by them. You can shrug your shoulders and endure them. You can elect not to “feed” them. You can delete them and move on. Here on Orbit Trap, Tim and I have been through the entire evolutionary cycle, and now we’ve entered the last phase."
If a troll is one who disagrees with OT, then I guess we have a new definition. What this really means is that OT is right in what they have to say and you are a troll if you disagree. They are going to ignore disagreeing comments and delete them. They are not going to deal with being challenged. That is their right, but lets call this attitude it for what it is, cowardice.

I'm wondering why OT seems to think it reasonable for them to repeatedly write posts regurgitating the same accusations about the FU calendar and BMFAC and not expect continued comments challenging their claims. Perhaps they should consider not "feeding" by ceasing their charges of ethical breaches or how "unprofessional" these events are. It really is time to get over it.

The repetition at OT reminds me of the Serenity Prayer,
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
No matter how bad OT thinks some things are, they are not are going to change because OT keeps complaining about them. The calendar is one of them. Changes may or may not occur with future BMFAC exhibitions/contests. In any case, OT certainly appears to be short on wisdom.
"Let’s start with the obvious. We are as much members of the “fractal community” as anyone else. We, too, have the right of free speech. This is our blog. We write it. We do not automatically owe anyone who shows up an audience with “Orbit Trap.” We do not have to hold a courtroom in our comments section to validate or justify our right to speak out. We do not have to repeat the rhetorical chain of our arguments -- on demand and ad infinitum -- to people who have never bothered to attentively read what we wrote in the first place."
I actually agree with this. I never have, and have never seen, anyone say the OT writers were not members of the "fractal community". Of course they have the right to post what they choose to post. They don't have to publish comments, nor respond to any. They don't even have to support their claims. In fact, their claims are routinely unsupported. In my case, I have read what they wrote. I actually read it multiple times before I reply. I contend, based on what OT is writing, that they don't read what I write. They don't have to, but if they address me, even indirectly, they have the responsibility to be accurate in what they claim I have said. If they say I, or anyone else, accuses them of violating our free speech rights, they have the obligation to produce the quote to back up their charge.

In reality, what OT is really saying is, if you don't agree with them, you aren't attentively reading what they wrote.
"But, even as I type this post, I know our adversaries are firing up their keyboards to tell you (at great length) how we are cowards who have abridged their free speech. Just remember -- they are hecklers."
Here is where the lies start. No one, let alone I, have ever said or implied that anyone's (or my) freedom of speech has been abridged. Readers of this should note that OT's critics are rarely quoted, except to show that OT is being mistreated, and are often quoted out of context or incorrectly giving a false impression. They won't quote any comments supporting this lie because there aren't any.

Yes, I have said their attitude is cowardly, because I believe it is. That is my opinion, and I give detailed reasons why. Readers should note that I give details to support my position; OT gives few and none to support the "free speech" charges. Have you ever seen them produce a quote where anyone has claimed or implied that OT has abridged anyone's freedom of speech? You won't because they don't exist, yet OT continually makes this charge. Why won't they be honest?

Lets be clear, if a blog has comments enabled, then the implication is that comments are invited or are welcome. That makes the "heckler" claim bogus from the start.

Length is irrelevant. Many of the OT posts are quite lengthy. The quality and accuracy of the content is what is important.
"Hecklers, by their actions, violate the free speech of others. Is that not true? When you are attending an event, whether or not an admission was charged, do you enjoy having the occasion interrupted by a heckler? Are you upset, or even raise your own voice in protest, when the heckler is removed by security? Why not? Could it be because the environment of that particular event wasn’t the heckler’s space or place?"
Now OT is claiming their freedom of speech is being violated? This is another lie. People don't violate anyone's freedom of speech. Only the government can do that. Heckler's don't. Trolls don't. Individuals don't. Blogs don't. If OT doesn't like the kind of feedback their posts are generating, they have the freedom to cut off or censor the feedback. That is their right. It's their blog, they can control how it is run. No one has ever said otherwise, including me. I started writing here because they didn't want to read my comments. That is my right. Now, I'm referred to as a heckler, even when I can't respond directly to them. This is just more childish complaining.

I'm not even sure the OT authors even know the definition of a heckler. As Toby points out in a comment to another post, hecklers shout uninvited comments at an event. As I said above, if comments are enabled, then comments are invited. IOW, OT has invited, even encouraged comments. But, apparently, they are only welcome now if they support OT.

Hecklers at events do have a right to shout their statements. But, the organizers of such events also have the right to remove the hecklers. This much is agreed. But, to further illustrate the absurdity of this analogy, how do any comments drown out what OT is saying in their posts? How do comments interrupt what OT is saying? Is a blog an event? I'm tempted to say this is overly something, but I'll resist.
"Orbit Trap is our space. It’s like our auditorium. We built the space, made a stage, provided a microphone and sound system, and opened the doors for an audience. We assume visitors show up because they want to hear what we have to say. I know I tend to visit blogs I enjoy reading and usually shun those that raise my blood pressure. When a heckler turns up in our space, we might choose to initially engage him or her for the sake of discussion. But if no discourse develops, eventually, for the sake of our audience, we usher the heckler outside."
This is true, except the heckler part. People read OT because they want to read what they have to say, including me. What is different, is that OT doesn't want to hear what others have to say about what OT writes. That is hypocritical. It's their right, but it is hypocritical. I started writing here because I want to exercise my right to disagree with OT. If people read what I write, great.

I've admitted multiple times that OT has some valid issues with the BMFAC. OT won't even admit that their critics raise valid points. That doesn't mean they agree with them, but intellectually honest people can admit when someone else raises a valid point.
"Orbit Trap is also our place. This blog is like our home. We get to specify what kind of behavior we will tolerate in our home. Would you invite a heckler into your home -- to scream in your face, insult you, mock you, or dress you down in a smug and condescending fashion? No. You’d ask the heckler to leave, and if the heckler refused, you’d have her or him removed from your home."
Again, if comments are allowed, comments should be expected. OT has the right to determine what comments are acceptable. Comments can be polite or impolite, they can agree or disagree with OT, they can be complimentary or insulting, they can be sarcastic and condescending. OT can determine what to allow and what not to allow. But, it is important to point out that none, IMO, none of the comments OT has ever published have been any worse than the OT posts. OT posts have been insulting, mocking, smug, misleading, condescending, accusing, sarcastic, satirical, disingenuous, etc. Is it unexpected to receive comments that mirror the posts? Isn't it hypocritical to exhibit all these traits in your posts and then complain when you get feedback that mirrors your posts?

What is the point about the constant complaining about others and how they treat you? This is not addressing points raised by their critics. OT is not supporting their own claims or refuting the comments. OT is doing nothing but complaining about how they are being treated. IOW, OT is just whining like a five year old that can't have another cookie for dessert. Whistleblowers are supposed to be a little more brave than this. This is just another example of hypocrisy on their part. They can criticize and raise charges of ethics, but not be challenged.
"A heckler does have free speech rights -- but the exercise of such does not have to be tolerated in your spaces and places. By removing the heckler, have you denied him or her all free speech rights? No, you merely said my space and place are off limits. The heckler is free to rent a hall, furnish it with a stage, plug a mike into a sound system, and have at it. Say anything. 24 hours a day every day. And maybe an audience will even show up."
Here we are again with the lies about denying free speech rights. I'd like OT to set the record straight and produce any comments from their critics about claims of free speech rights being denied by OT's censoring of comments. I believe they are lying about this to try to bolster their case. I've never stated or implied this in any of my comments. Perhaps someone did in a comment that was never published. OT should either back this up, or retract and apologize for the lie. Intellectually honest people will admit when they are wrong and apologize when appropriate.
"The Internet provides nearly endless opportunities for hecklers to find their own spaces and places -- including some devoted exclusively to fractal art. And, if hecklers want a more personalized home, there’s always Blogger. Hecklers can create their own blogs in less than five minutes. Some of our adversaries have already done so, even as they slap up posts about how we denied them freedom of speech."
Hmmmm. Didn't OT claim once that one individual own nearly 40% of the web space available for fractal art? Kind of contradictory given the "endless opportunities" comment, eh?

Yup, I did exactly this; I started this blog. But, here's the lie again. There is not a single post here about how OT has denied my freedom of speech. I've said many times they have the right to do what they have done. They have the right to be as hypocritical as they choose. This blog exists, in part, to provide a voice to counter the charges, tactics, and lies of OT. If I have claimed OT has violated my freedom speech, they should provide the quote or link to it. But, I know OT doesn't want to give me free publicity, which is why, IMO, they won't link here. They are afraid their legions of "silent" readers will see a reasoned counterpoint to their grand whistleblowing mission.

I have detailed the exact exchange that occurred when OT changed their comment policy. Never once in that exchange did I allege OT did anything they were not entitled to do. I only said it was cowardly and hypocritical, which I believe it is. In fact, OT has even lied about my comments that they never published. Readers can read the detail in my second post on this blog.

Readers can tell me if I'm wrong. Readers can tell me when they disagree with my opinions. Readers can do exactly what I and others have done to OT, comment on their posts. But, here they won't be censored as a matter of practice. Unlike OT, I welcome comments that offer a differing opinion.
"Things might have been different if our hecklers hadn’t been hecklers. For proof, please review the archives. It’s clear that those who challenged us didn’t come to OT to discuss or debate. We know our claims are controversial and aren’t averse to having critics. But our hecklers don't want you to hear what we have to say. Their purpose is to shout us down through intimidation while diverting your attention. They hope, by putting up enough white noise, that you will be unable to see the big picture. They imagine you will be easily manipulated by such tactics. They are imperious but fear exposure. The status quo privileges them, and they want nothing to curtail the creature comfort perks of their self-selected fiefdom. So they storm our castle with bluster because we threaten to tear down the walls of theirs."
Please do read the archives at OT. It is important to see the progression of charges, justifications, and self delusions. OT's challengers have been specific, reasoned, and generally as polite as the OT writers have been. Toby has been quite polite in his comments to OT, yet OT has seen fit to ridicule and mock him. Quite professional, eh?

Readers should note where the diversion really lies. Why all the OT posts on their critics? Could it be if they ridicule their critics sufficiently readers will be diverted from the substance of the critics' arguments? Do the critics complain ad nauseam about how they are treated by OT? Read the record for yourself, but I believe you will find that the answer is a resounding no?

Where has OT been intimidated? Is this idiotic charge because one of the OT authors was removed from a web host by the person the OT authors has deemed unethical and self-serving and all-controlling of the fractal art community? Whether or not the actions were justified in this case, is that intimidation? Regardless, the OT authors keep saying there are intimidation tactics going on. What are they? If they exist, then they can be specified. If they aren't specified, then I claim this is just another lied being perpetuated by OT.

OT routinely makes claims and charges without providing any justification or substantiation. Absurd claims are made and when challenged by comments, OT whines about attacks, whines about trolls or stooges, whines about being treated poorly, etc. Wouldn't a troll be more accurately described as one who makes charges without substantiation? Wouldn't that description be more applicable to OT than to any who has responded to OT?

How am I or Toby or any other critic of OT privileged by the status quo? How do we benefit from this mythical "fiefdom"?

White noise? Read any post at OT regarding the Fractal Universe calendar. Talk about white noise. Good grief, talk about much ado about nothing. How is it possible, given the blog structure, to prevent OT from saying anything?

If I fear exposure, why did I comment? If I fear exposure, why did I create a blog so that I could voice my comments?
"OT has no army, but we do have an audience. The “silent readers” Tim mentions are no myth. I know you’re out there. I can see you on OT’s daily stats. I understand why you don’t comment here. After witnessing our open house reception, who in their right mind would want such bile and grief to pervade their lives? It’s enough that you listen to what we’ve said and make up your own minds. We’ve laid out our case. You’ve heard what our adversaries have said and witnessed their methods. Weigh their tone. Reach your own conclusions."
I have silent readers too, perhaps four. LOL! OT won't link here because their readers will have a direct link to reasoned, truthful, counterpoints to the OT posts. No problem. The record exists and people will eventually find it. I don't understand why more people won't comment, pro or con. None of the people who have commented at OT have ever been attacked by anyone other than the OT authors themselves. I posit that people are afraid to comment critical of OT because they will be censored and attacked and mocked and lied about as Toby and I have.

Do exactly what the OT author requests. Read their posts. Evaluate their tone. Evaluate their methods. Evaluate their evidence. Then, compare to what you read here and decide. Please comment here if you agree, disagree, or want to add something that needs to be added. As long as you are civil, your comments will be considered.

I do wish people would comment more at OT. OT believes silence is agreement. Personally, I don't believe it is. I guess people are just simply afraid of the "monopoly". They must be afraid of the intimidating tactics employed by us "stooges". They must be afraid they will forever be at a disadvantage and at the mercy of the "all controlling clique".
"And if you think we are right, then shift your private paradigm. Once you understand our fractal emperors have no clothes, you can’t screen out their lack of royal robes. There’s no going back to the old feudal system where they hold court and toss bread crumbs out the window of their passing carriage. You don’t need to become a whistleblower yourself. That Pandora’s Box has already been ripped open. You just have to understand what’s really going on. Knowledge is enough to begin a course change. Maybe you’ll talk among your friends. Maybe you’ll set up your own spaces and places. Maybe you’ll start your own Fractalus-like collectives with like-minded peers. Or add guest galleries to your site. Or build your own fractal art contests -- no matter how small scale at first. Or maybe you’ll boycott the existing contests until they are run fairly and professionally."
Actually, myself and others have advocated just that; taking action to create new outlets for your art. It has been mentioned in comments to OT posts, and it has been mentioned in posts here. Until now, OT never has suggested this. OT has only wanted to destroy those events they don't agree with how they are being run. Their attitude has been, if a contest/exhibition/calendar isn't run according to their vision of "professionalism", then it is better that it not exist. It's nice to see them come around to my (and other critic's) point of view, but it's a little hypocritical to promote it now. In fact, OT had previously resisted these suggestions. They replied something along the lines of "why should I start my own". Regardless, I suppose it should be considered a tiny step in the right direction. Time will tell if they actually continue in that positive direction or continue to play the whining game that has continued for some time now.
"Don’t let a small non-juried clique, selecting themselves as “the most important fractal artists in the world,” control an art movement that also belongs just as much to you and me and all of us. Take it back -- using baby steps, if necessary -- but begin to take it back."
Just how does the "clique" control an art movement? Stating the claim doesn't make it fact. Yes, I know the BMFAC and FU calendars. Be serious, do these two events constitute control? Who is being controlled and how are they being controlled. Specifics are needed here, not vague, all encompassing allegations. OT is big on allegations, but short on substantiation. But, you are a "heckler" or a "stooge" or a "troll" if you challenge OT and actually try to get them to provide substantiation for their claims.

Does it really matter if a group is labeled, or labels themselves as "the most important fractal artists in the world"? Perhaps that comes across as arrogant, and perhaps it is. How does that negatively affect anyone? Is your art now ignored because you are not lumped in with that group? Are any venues for displaying your art closed off?

Perhaps I should charge OT with plagiarism because my "What Now?" post advocates exactly this; taking action to create other outlets. I am honored that OT is now on board with this idea. But, I consider it hypocritical to try to claim this as an original idea in these discussions, when they originally rejected such ideas when suggested to them in comments.
"Don’t let the prima donna trolls lying in wait under the bridge prevent you from crossing any longer."
Lies, damn lies, and statistics is what comes to mind here. We "trolls" or "stooges" or "hecklers" have never tried to prevent anyone from doing anything. We are not trying to destroy others. We are not trying to stop publication of calendars, or stop people from holding an exhibition/contest. We are pointing out were OT is wrong, in their attacks on events and others. We are pointing out the utter silliness of their constant whining about how they are treated and showing the hypocrisy when you compare their very own actions to the actions they complain about. We are encouraging others to take positive action to create new outlets for fractal art. We are encouraging others to take positive steps to correct things they think need to be corrected. We are taking OT to task for their unfounded, unwarranted, unethical, and unprofessional tactics in their "whistleblowing".


kymarto said...

I took Terry up on his invitation to read through OT's archives. It is almost unbearably sad.

For the first year, OT was a rich and vital brew of contributors, with a feeling of true community. It is interesting, stimulating, erudite, thought-provoking, iconclastic in the best sense of the term. And it is bedecked in beautiful images of all kinds.

The continental divide happens in the middle of 2007, based on Terry's detailed post of his conversations with Damien about the BMFAC. From one day to the next, spring becomes winter. After that watershed moment, posts from contributors other than the two OT authors disappear. The tone of the posts becomes increasingly acrimonious. Even the images seem more fragmented and violent.

What a terrible, terrible shame. I can only hope that OT finds a way to once again unite rather than divide.


Ken said...

Toby, I think OT was somewhat disappointed that the original collection of contributors didn't contribute more and more often. I was, because I was curious what they would have had to say.

I recall the downslide began with the "The BMFAC is Amateurish", I think it was titled. The author didn't like Mark's image, and proceeded to ridicule it. But, he never has said to this day why the image or the contest was amateurish.

It was soon after that the attacks on the contest, judges, calendar, and calendar editors began. As of yet, they haven't stopped. Since they seem to agree with me now that people should seek to create their own outlets to publicize their art, perhaps they will embark on a more positive tract.

WelshWench said...

"They’d rather steal our voice and burn down our house" That sentence rather sums up the whole tone of recent OT posts: delusional hyperbole. I think even new readers unaware of the background will be able to reach a pretty accurate judgement of OT's credibility from that post alone.

I'm either twice as cynical or half as generous-spirited as you & Toby: I can't envision a turn-around at OT. I think the chip on their shoulders has totally blinded them to any other point of view. It would be great if the turn-around happened but I'm not holding my breath.