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A Public Statement From Stephen Speicher

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Email I received from DVDBoxing (at AOL) also known as Thesweetscience

And then there was Citizen Publius. Citizen Publius was banned for not apologizing for PMs that were received by BurgessLau and Stephen_Speicher but which he swore he did NOT send.

He tried to warn you all. No one would listen then. Perhaps you'll listen now.

You wouldn't happen to be Citizen Publius would you? :confused:

Keith

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You wouldn't happen to be Citizen Publius would you?  :confused:

Keith

Yes, as a matter of fact, I am. Also, Bobby Dobbs, AKA Thesweetscience, AKA Imakefights, AKA Allaction80, AKA DVDBoxing, et al. has emailed me again since making that post and has assured me that Quasar will be short lived. At the same time, I got an email from this forum asking me to confirm a change of my password.

I suspect that Mr. Dobbs is hacking away with software that I have seen him use before and is trying to get the password for Quasar. So, this is the LAST post that Quasar will make. Any posts after this one are not by me. I have blocked Bobby Dobbs IMs and email again. He will just get a new account and keep at it.

I tried to warn this forum how evil this man is but the administrators did not believe me and now the chickens are coming home to roost.

---Dan

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Omigod!

Someone PLEASE revoke NIJamesHughes moderator privileges before he does any more damage!

I think this whole situation should not only revoke NIJamesHughes moderator privileges but this person shouldn't be allowed back on the forum for this act. I only hope Greedy will act swiftly and justly. As for being a moderator I do think it should be required that moderators know the basics of the Objectivism philosophy being that this forum and website is Objectivismonline.net.

Ash :confused:

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A suggestion:

I think it would be a good idea to be much more careful in the future when choosing moderators. I realize this is not an easy task, but the results of a bad choice can be disastrous—as this incident has shown.

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David Veksler,

I sympathize with you and I extend my proverbial hand to assist you in any way I can.

Yes, as a matter of fact, I am. Also, Bobby Dobbs, AKA Thesweetscience, AKA Imakefights, AKA Allaction80, AKA DVDBoxing, et al.

This post apparently signifies that at least one person is intentionally, and with malice, trying to destroy the integrity of your property. You have been violated and this angers me. Though I know you only by pictures and words the value of your work to me has been truly immense, thank you.

Stephen Speicher has also been violated and it is imperative that his concerns be addressed in an effort to secure his continued participation on this forum. In my study of Objectivism his contribution to my knowledge is surpassed only by Ayn Rand and Leonard Peikoff.

I have gone back and read everything NIJamesHughes has written, no small task as most of his posts are fraught with spelling and grammatical errors. The most illuminating are here:

“Romantic Competition, a rough draft” -- thread

http://forum.ObjectivismOnline.com/index.p...wtopic=2619&hl=

and his personal blog here called:

“The Life Proper to a Rational Being”

http://www.livejournal.com/users/james_shrugged/

This blog is a truly disgusting regurgitation of run-on inanities punctuated by Ayn Rand quotes which apparently serve no purpose in his personal life. It is completely devoid of any intellectual content whatsoever. I am no psychologist but this seems to be the work of a disturbed personality. This, combined with his rudeness and irrationality on this thread alone seem grounds enough for complete banishment of him, and all his other aliases.

In a further attempt to improve this forum and secure Stephen’s return may I be so bold as to make a few suggestions:

1) Do not allow editing of posts at all, by posters or moderators, I see no need.

2) Empower and encourage all of us to politely point out rule infractions and change the responsibilities of moderators from that of a minder to that of a judge -- without a complainant there can be no complaint. Most of us can take care of ourselves in a dispute.

If these changes were made I would volunteer to be a moderator.

In addition, so as to promote better posts, start a forum or polling forum in which individual posts are nominated and voted for as: “best post” or “most illuminating post” or “most concise rational post” or “post that illustrates the point most clearly and concisely” or etc...

I hope I have been of some help.

With sincere concern, appreciation and affection,

Marc Kroeger

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Actually no one told me to do anything, in fact the only PM i have gotten about this whole thing is from "Source" asking about the content of the last post i deleted.

You misunderstand me. I was speculating that N1JamesHughes could be a former disgruntled member given the nature of his post. I was not implying that you had anything to do with it.

EDIT: What is going on? Now there is another fake NIJamesHughes???(look for the Newbie marker) And Quasar aka Citizen Pubilus??? How did he re-register? Is he saying that Thesweetscience sent the PMs that got him banned, and is now posting under his name. Seems unlikely... Isn't thesweetscience still a member? Something is definetly strange here. :confused:

Edited by non-contradictor

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In a further attempt to improve this forum and secure Stephen’s return may I be so bold as to make a few suggestions:

1) Do not allow editing of posts at all, by posters or moderators, I see no need.

What would you recommend as an alternative?

Take one situation as an example: A writer spends hours composing a post. It is well argued, concise, and a major contribution to the thread -- but the author, as all of us do on occasion, mistypes and fails to catch an omission. For example, he leaves out the word "not" in one sentence thus radically changing the meaning.

How would you rectify the problem?

Would you have him issue another post, one merely noting the missing "not," perhaps 8 or 10 notches down the thread? That not only clutters up the thread with "edits," but leaves readers bewildered until they happen to read the edit post later. Threads could easily double or triple in length, bloated by edits. Then moderators would be faced with a nightmare job of trying to decide which edits were warranted and which weren't. Being a moderator is challenging enough as it is.

What other solution would you suggest?

I can make a suggestion. Use it as a target for darts.

The one that I believe would work best -- if the software allows it -- is to permit a moderator or regular member (the latter for a delimited time) to change a post, under certain minimum requirements, but only if the moderator or regular member automatically leaves a "fingerprint" stating:

- that the post was edited,

- by whom it was edited,

- for whom it was edited,

- how it was edited.

No moderator would be able to edit any post without the permission of the orignal poster. Without that permission, the moderator would simply delete any problematic post. (Deleted posts are automatically saved, for possible review and reinstatment later.)

Further, if the software allowed it, ideally an editor could not complete the edit without filling in all the information. Of course, the ignorance, dishonesty, or mental illness of the editor could continue to cause damage. Such people should be weeded out in the "hiring" process for moderators and in the normal process of moderators reviewing posts from regular members.

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This post adds nothing, but I, like others, must publicly address how much I valued Mr. Speicher's posts. I don't post a lot, and this is either because of not enough time or someone has already made my point and my post would be repetitive (as this case may be). But I try to read posts as much as I can, and Mr. Speicher's are incredible. I believe he provided some of the clearest explanations when it came to Objectivsm 101. On top of that his knowledge of physics and the necessity of a proper philosophy for the advancement of science was remarkable.

I also admire Mr. Veskler's intelligence and respect him as the founder and owner of this one of a kind venue. I trust he will handle the situation properly.

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2) Empower and encourage all of us to politely point out rule infractions and change the responsibilities of moderators from that of a minder to that of a judge -- without a complainant there can be no complaint. Most of us can take care of ourselves in a dispute.

You can already do this. There is a button at the bottom of each post which says, "Report." By pressing this button, you can report a post you feel has violated the forum rules and your report is sent to the moderators.

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BurgessLau:

We all must learn that care should be taken when making public statements. It is very serious business to publish words, in your name, that the world may see. I know Ayn Rand took it seriously as does Stephen Speicher as do I. Personally, if my post is going to be longer than two or three sentences I compose off-line so that a spell checker may be employed. I also proofread, edit, and rewrite where necessary. Currently the edit function is being abused and used as a crutch (as evidence note how many posts in this thread alone have been edited -- that we know of). The time, effort and care one takes when publishing words that will bear their name tells me much about them -- it may even help me decide whether they are worth talking to.

The exact situation you describe has occurred on this forum, a "not" was left out of a post. With the help of context and by asking questions the rational people here straightened it out. I’m sure the original poster was embarrassed and probably learned a valuable lesson. If this only happens occasionally, then it shouldn’t generate much more work for the moderators. In fact if the threads were allowed to flow conversationally (as many are) it shouldn’t generate any more work for the moderators.

Additionally, if an edit is made to a post 8 or 10 back will those 8 or 10 posters go back and read it? I bet not. Editing causes more problems than it solves and it leaves open the possibility of not only abuse but dishonesty, witness this thread.

In my view the moderators should be less grammar, spelling and content police -- allowing other posters to rectify simple misunderstandings and violations. Rather, moderators should be judges that settle disputes and egregious errors. As an example I think you used far too heavy a hand in this thread:

War in Iraq, Applied philosophy example

You changed completely the thrust of the original post, which may have been warranted in the case of Thesweetscience. But your threat of deleting the posts of others in this thread left a bad taste in my mouth.

No moderator would be able to edit any post without the permission of the original poster. Without that permission, the moderator would simply delete any problematic post. (Deleted posts are automatically saved, for possible review and reinstatment later.)

???????????

This is the cause of the problem we are currently addressing.

I can make a suggestion. Use it as a target for darts.

Let me be the first to admit that I have used sarcasm here on occasion when appropriate and perhaps I should be warned about such behavior. However, now a moderator is using it in a thread dedicated to rectifying a serious breach of the forum rules? This seems completely out of bounds and perhaps you should warn yourself.

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You can already do this. There is a button at the bottom of each post which says, "Report." By pressing this button, you can report a post you feel has violated the forum rules and your report is sent to the moderators.

If you read my post carefully what I am advocating is keeping the moderators out of all but the most egregious violations, thus cutting down on their workload.

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???????????

This is the cause of the problem we are currently addressing.

Actually, deleting the post is not what we are currently addressing. As I explained above, there is a distinction between editing the post (which destroys the original content) and deleting the post (which keeps a record of the original content but is no longer in view of the public.) The problem we are currently addressing deals with editing the post out of existence.

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User N|JamesHughes (whoever it is) has been indefinitely placed under Moderator Review, which means he will not be allowed to make any posts without permission.

As for NIJamesHughes, GreedyCapitalist has taken charge over that situation, so that's being taken care of as well.

Fraud is taken very seriously on this forum, and we will address all instances of it with severe authority. IP numbers of everyone involved will be examined, and culprits punished.

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This may be putting the cart before the horse way too late, but let me offer the following to those who think it applies to them. This is not intended to be condescending, nor a generalized attack on anyone. It is a suggestion from someone who has spent years taking part in crisis intervention.

Step back, and take a deep breath. Calmer heads prevail.

This event has had a significant emotional and intellectual impact on a lot of people, and appears to be of such magnitude that it can have a lasting negative impact on the forum.

Some folks have called for immediate action and I for one would also like the matter resolved as expeditiously as possible. In fact, GC has implemented some initial steps which should hopefully prevent any further problems. But of more importance is that the matter be handled justly, not simply swiftly. This can take a little more time.

GC is aware of the problem. He has also given the go for the other admins to intervene as necessary until he returns from vacation to decide on a final resolution to this issue. I have no doubt that GC works hard occupationally, as he does on this board as well. I would hope no one expects him to just drop his vacation to tend to this matter to any more of an extent than he has already chosen. I think we all know the importance of vacations, and taking a break from the stresses of our daily lives. It's unfortunate that this "firestorm" has erupted during his break, but the fire is contained at the moment, and now there is time to consider the broader aspects of this incident and how it should affect moderation policies and strategies. Constructive suggestions are certainly welcome.

I hope folks take these suggestions in the spirit with which they are given. I place a great value on this forum and on the contributions of many of its users. That is why I became a moderator when asked, despite some initial reservations.

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Thank you RationalCop,

Please note that BurgessLau prefaced the remarks that I was responding to with -- “ if the software allows it” here:

[...] The one that I believe would work best -- if the software allows it -- [...]

so naturally I assumed he was speaking of a theoretically new implementation of the software, not the current version.

With your explanation, I now understand completely how the software functions.

However, I hope you can understand the source of my confusion since under the current software an edited post could be completely destroyed, whereas a deleted post will be saved. Seems a little counterintuitive.

Marc

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Good post, Vern.

When I first came to this forum, I found it a bit surprising that posts can be edited and even more surprising that they can be edited without any visible sign. At that time, the forum was a very small place, though, like a tiny village where everyone knew everyone, and all the moderators were known to be trustworthy. It has since grown into a bustling town with the potential to become a major city, and now we are realizing in a rather painful way that we cannot trust all our neighbors anymore the way we used to.

But the good news is that we are now aware of the problem, which is the first step towards fixing it. It is also reassuring to know that GC has a log of everything that has ever happened on the forum; he can tell whether or not any other of Stephen's posts have been edited and restore the original content if they have.

I believe that the security holes we have discovered will be filled soon, and I hope that Stephen will eventually re-join the forum.

[Edited to correct grammar]

Edited by Capitalism Forever

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With your explanation, I now understand completely how the software functions.

However, I hope you can understand the source of my confusion since under the current software an edited post could be completely destroyed, whereas a deleted post will be saved. Seems a little counterintuitive.

Marc

Yes, I do understand how this is confusing. My slight frustration at this point stems from the fact that this latest explanation is my third such attempt (in this thread) to distinguish between those two functions. I had hoped by now it would be clear.

Here are the other two posts to which I refer;

http://forum.ObjectivismOnline.com/index.p...indpost&p=69938

http://forum.ObjectivismOnline.com/index.p...indpost&p=69954

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However, I hope you can understand the source of my confusion since under the current software an edited post could be completely destroyed, whereas a deleted post will be saved. Seems a little counterintuitive.

As David has pointed out, nothing is ever destroyed irretrievably:

I have access to EVERYTHING that the moderators (and regular members) do here.

I make regular backups of the forum database, so I know the content of a post even if it was edited, deleted, or otherwise mutilated.

The difference is only that deleted posts can be seen by (some of) the moderators, while the originals of edited posts are only accessible to David.

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I suspect that Mr. Dobbs is hacking away with software that I have seen him use before and is trying to get the password for Quasar. So, this is the LAST post that Quasar will make. Any posts after this one are not by me. I have blocked Bobby Dobbs IMs and email again. He will just get a new account and keep at it.

I hope that the admins are taking Quasar's claim seriously. A short while ago I noticed a post written under my screen name--a post I did not write. I immediately notified the moderators, and the post was deleted. I changed my password right after that incident and haven't encountered any problems since. However, in light of Quasar's claim, and Stephen's departure, it does appear that someone with a motive and ability is currently attempting to disrupt this site.

I think the best thing we can do is to remain here, don't leave in haste, help the moderators fix this problem, and wait for the admins to reach a conclusion.

I would also urge the admins to not accept any new moderators for the time being. The problem, as I see it, is not a lack of moderators. It is actually the reverse. Also, people who are eager to become moderators at this point in time should be carefully scrutinized as to motive and history.

I'm sure that David has adequate backups of this site. So the content loss is not a big problem. The problem is in keeping good participants here. I seriously doubt that those who work against this site are overly concerned about deleting content. They want to create hostility toward the site managers. Don't let them do it.

I know that Stephen has already left. And I hate to see him go like this. I hope he will return, once this matter is settled by the admins.

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I would like to make one statement about this incident.

As I told SS in a PM, one of the major reasons I joined this forum was because of his posts, specifically in regards to physics. Some posts I agreed with and some I disagreed. All I respected.

I did think the quality of his posts were what an Objectivist should strive for and personally asked for advice in improving the quality of my own posts. Which he gratefully obliged.

We should hope this situation is justly solved and the SS will resume posting.

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I would also urge the admins to not accept any new moderators for the time being. The problem, as I see it, is not a lack of moderators. It is actually the reverse. Also, people who are eager to become moderators at this point in time should be carefully scrutinized as to motive and history.

Hmm... in light of this situation I emailed Burgess to find out just what it would take to become a moderator. I'm not sure that cutting off the acquisition of new moderator's is the way to go. Burgess mentioned earlier the "tragedy of the commons" where everyone would like to use the commons, but no one wishes to maintain it. Well, now that I see there is a need for good quality moderators in order for this forum to remain successful I am more than happy to step up and offer some of my time for it. I am sure there are others on this board who would echo similar sentiments.

This is an extensive forum and unlike many online forums it deals with a body of philsophy as a pretext for all posting and requires a specific kind of knowledge in moderating it. Even those of you who are well versed in Objectivism (I am not, I'm rather new to philosophy as a whole in fact) probably encounter arguments, issues, and questions that require research and special attention to address. That's great for a forum, but can be hell for moderators just in terms of reading and comprehending a broad range of material. So what I would suggest is that there be main moderators for a forum, such as Burgess taking on the "Basic Questions" forum and then when someone has a concern about a post and hits the report button then that report can go directly to the moderator of whatever forum it's in and be dealt with by that person. [Edit: In addition, perhaps those main moderators could, at his discretion, take on a few people to help with the moderation of their board if it was too extensive for just one person to read.]

I don't think it is impossible, even online, to learn a great deal about a person's character and motivations - even an internet identity. References such as posts on forums, blogs, and other public record of one's character can be made available. Of course there is question as to the fabrication of these things - but I would imagine that blogs and consistent posting are difficult to fabricate (if not impossible given the software of forums and blogs for that matter).

Edited by Elle

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I second Elle's point. No one knows what GC was thinking about when he promoted NIJH to a moderator, but it may well have been concern about the fact that he was forced to accept a moderator, any moderator.

Selective attention seductively makes us focus on one instance of a moderatorship gone wrong, and makes us forget all the previous days when chaos has been averted through timely moderating intervention. If there were no moderators on this forum, users when left to their own devices would devolve into anarchy and abuse and trolls would reign; in short, this forum would never become good enough to deserve Stephen's participation in the first place.

GC knows this, and since I don't think he's ever had a rogue moderator (and I've never seen one in all my years of online forums), forum chaos was undoubtedly more on the forefront in his mind. To a person who has had extensive experience with forums, a "moderator, any moderator" policy is nothing new, and quite often a very mundane modus operandi.

The best thing everyone can do right now is follow RationalCop's policy, take a breather, rest assured that the situation is fully under control as everyone guilty has been 'apprehended'.

---

Moderators are not the problem here, but the solution, the only longterm solution. As RationalCop will tell you, the problem with corrupt cops is not solved by fewer applications to the police force, but more. And at this particular point in time, even before this catastrophe, moderators have been needed for quite some time, and if you could read the Moderators Forum, you would know how much.

So what we need is not fewer applications, but more applications, in order that the administrator does not have to be so hardpressed by his alternatives (since he does have to choose someone in order to keep order, and without sufficient applications he will be that much more restricted in his choices). If you feel you have the maturity and integrity for this august position, please PM GreedyCapitalist with your application and help defend the best Objectivist forum on the internet.

Edited by Free Capitalist

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I'm not sure that cutting off the acquisition of new moderator's is the way to go.  Burgess mentioned earlier the "tragedy of the commons" where everyone would like to use the commons, but no one wishes to maintain it.  Well, now that I see there is a need for good quality moderators in order for this forum to remain successful I am more than happy to step up and offer some of my time for it.  I am sure there are others on this board who would echo similar sentiments.

This is GC's private property devoted to building an Objectivist online community. It has a different nature than a commons.

I basically agree with your point, though, and I did not mean to suggest totally cutting off the acquisition of new moderators. I do, however, want to caution against hasty acquisitions, especially given the possibility of a disruptive hacker still lurking among us.

This board, any board, can always use good moderators. But moderators need to be watched, too. And a board can have too many moderators to watch properly. I think the idea that this place "needs" more moderators is premature, because the active participants do a fine enough job policing their own playground, and I think there are plenty of moderators to deal with the amount of complaints that this place generates.

I believe the most important quality we need in moderators is reason. We need the best and brightest--a few will do--to be our judges and to right wrongs, once we make a complaint against someone. I don't think it should be a high priority to get more and more moderators. More moderators does not equal a better board. More rational moderators equals a better board. And since I think this is the best Objectivist board on the Internet, that should tell you what I think of our current moderating team.

The present problem did not arise from a lack of moderators, as far as I can tell. This place is not crawling with trolls or littered with inappropriate posts. It seems that this all started when a moderator edited Stephen's posts without notifying him. If that is truly the case, then I think this problem can be resolved without new moderators.

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and I think there are plenty of moderators to deal with the amount of complaints that this place generates.

For clarities sake, and so that people understand the logistics, although there is a list of 7 moderators, I have only seen 4 of them "active" of late (both numbers exclude Mr. Hughes). I welcome correction by any moderator who has a different count. This load may be more work for these moderators than you realize. And also keep in mind, our actions are not simply limited to reacting to complaints, but also involve more proactive measures at times.

This should not be construed as any type of statement or judgement about anyone on the moderator list. I know that we all volunteer our time according to our own values and priorities and I would not have that any other way. I appreciate the assistance given by all of the other moderators

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