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#OccupyFlashback: The Moderator War
Getting more frenzied. Oh what a perfect day.
THE DUCKPOND (Radsoft) — The recent outbreak of investigators in the world famous Assange thread at the Flashback forum has caused internecine skirmishes amongst the forum moderators. Some of the more brazen have begun removing each other's posts.
Flashback is an online forum of unparalleled format, with over half a million members in a country of a mere 8 million native speakers, regularly with over 40,000 members online at any one time, and with over 35,000 posts and over 3,000,000 views in the Assange thread alone.
The Assange thread began a mere 25 minutes after Swedish tabloid Expressen started blasting out the news on Twitter of the arrest in absentia of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at 05:00 local time Saturday 21 August 2010. It soon became the premiere source for information for journalists worldwide.
The number of 'scoops' the thread is credited with can't really be counted. Almost every major news flash in the case either originated at Flashback or was covered there within minutes of it appearing elsewhere. The leak of the police documents for the preliminary investigation into the case happened at Flashback. Journalists the world over have been able to source the forum for information.
The twists and turns in the Assange case are myriad and show no signs of being finite in number. Every possible player has been brought in, details tossed about, theories and new investigative directions staked out. Sofia Wilén was first identified at Flashback through a sophisticated system of collating public records for residence addresses, census details, and the like. The very nature of the case shows there are no limits, nor can there be any limits imposed in the discussion.
Forum member Stuxnet started the new thread yesterday at one minute past ten o'clock.
This is about the thread: https://www.flashback.org/t1275257
This thread at Flashback is one of the most read and closely watched within and without the country. Several members do excellent investigative work and contribute with vital source material. The thread has been victimised by 3-4 major 'cleaning' operations since its inception in August 2010 where crucial information and links with important details have been removed, and the management of Flashback have never adequately explained what's going on.
Most recently a link was posted to an Australian television interview with Assange which SVT Agenda had edited and completely skewed, but this link was removed, and when a forum member found a new member of the claimants' circles of friends who has a direct connection to the White House, that post too was removed.
The past two days' work has principally been removed, whilst other items of lesser interest are allowed to remain. This concerns the 'off topic' rule, but the details dug up are part of the mess we today also refer to as the 'police preliminary investigation'. The contents of the thread have now become so corrupt that one has to ask what's going on.
But almost immediately they ran into trouble: Stuxnet posted an additional question, got a response from one of the many moderators - and then BAM! Another moderator swooped down and removed both their posts - both that posted by Stuxnet and the reply posted by the forum moderator.
Things were getting more frenzied than ever. The following is the post in question - the post so bad it had to be removed.
The thread started started about 20 minutes after the bomb went off. [05:25 21 August 2010 - the Expressen article came online 05:00. Ed]. Claimant 2 (SW) was identified in the beginning of September, and that started a 'cat and mouse' game with old caches, because either SW (or connected to her) deleted things as soon as we posted we'd found them, and in September we got our first info on her 'groupie thing' with Lou Reed. It was taken up a few more times, until in February 2011 someone started doing the real digging, yet everything that was published was removed as soon as it was posted, perhaps because the thread moderator deemed the investigator acting patronisingly towards the subject.
Evidently I've stepped on a tender toe as well when I tried submitting a suggestion, as 'Moderator X' removed not only my suggestion but also the reply to my suggestion by 'Moderator Y'. This is something that's almost unheard of.
It's understandable that moderators have different thresholds for what becomes OT. I wonder if the moderators can decide themselves what threads to moderate, or if the admin appoints 'Moderator X' to watch certain threads for a certain time and then move onto other departments.
I want to give kudos to the moderator who broke out the '#prataomdet' incident and created a dedicated thread, and even partook actively in the thread together with the other investigators. This helped the thread achieve a very high quality. And perhaps that's the solution for the Assange thread as well - those who are allowed to moderate have to themselves have an interest in and actively participate in the topic. Because it feels like some moderators don't have an interest in a discussion, and given different ways to determine what's OT, it ends up being too subjective and too personal, and this makes a thread fluctuate dramatically in quality, cause it to stumble, and cause important details to disappear.
The High Court verdict will be announced Wednesday 2 November and the Assange thread will be racing on all cylinders again, so it'd be nice if we can solve these issues and come to an agreement how we're going to work in this thread in the future. I've received a number of PMs from forum members who've had their posts deleted, and so I'm wondering if we can start a type of 'Assange thread trash' for projects that have been deleted. We could possibly see the results of these projects in existing threads and then have a link map in the starter thread, because the case of Julian Assange is unique, has so many branches, and has become difficult to overview with all the various players with their vested interests. Hopefully we'd be able to migrate some threads so people could more easily find things.
Moderator 'ÅnkelGunnar' ('Uncle Gunnar') interpolated the following which seemingly caused Stuxnet to react.
This thread is about a specific thread and not what users think would be nice functions or methods concerning how removed posts should be treated.
Off topic - removed
But the posts removed included a post from one of ÅnkelGunnar's fellow moderators.
And now for Callas, as much of this discussion will be about her work. People at Rixstep spent weeks trying in vain to hunt down her sources and links once they'd been removed.
This actually feels a bit uncomfortable. I accidentally saw this thread right before bedtime yesterday and I feel I must speak out, even though I actually don't have the energy for discussions like this. I'm not completely restored to health, and in the bad periods it's even more depressing with deletions of things I've worked so hard to put together.
This is a delicate tightrope dance: we're not allowed to voice our complaints about things in general and we can't discuss specific cases. Nor are we allowed to offer constructive suggestions or have opinions of our own about how removed posts should be treated.
But because the treatment and removal of my contributions has already been discussed by others, both ordinary users and moderators, it'd be strange if I wasn't allowed to comment the incidents myself?
I was the one who found out that SW spent a summer with Lou Reed. I think I was the first one to post that, even if links to her portfolio with pictures of Reed had been posted earlier. I think this was extremely relevant information for the thread and for several reasons, perhaps above all because it contrasts with the image some people were attempting to establish about SW as a poor naive young girl who ended up in the clutches of the wrong people on her first visit to the Big City. Something like that. She was called 'T-20' for the longest time in this thread and even the mainstream media claimed she was only 20 years old, when in fact she was 27.
I dug into the matter with photos, festivals, and dates to see if it was true she's been 'on tour' with Lou Reed rather than just accidentally bumping into him and asking for his autograph. It took a long time to compare tour dates with those of other performers and so forth in order to establish that she really had hung out with Lou Reed for days (nights?) on end.
My posts about this matter disappeared quickly. And for that reason, there never was a discussion of the discoveries, and no one was motivated to investigate further.
Who knows what we would have found! Perhaps SW has lots of hotel nights with lots of celebrities immortalised in her photo albums? Perhaps she tried to blackmail them? Or perhaps we would have found out something else about her? But we'll never know now because it was preemptively ruled this was OT. How it could be when it's about investigating how a (false) claimant behaves with other world celebrities?
Anyway: I resigned myself that all my work was gone. But now it's come up for discussion again in this thread. And it feels almost like pouring salt into my wounds when the moderators write as KiaW has done:
[Posted by moderator KiaW] It's true that a number of off topic posts (gossip about Lou Reed's 2006 tour) have been removed last February, but that removal took place a full day after the post first appeared.
Some people don't get the point. So here goes: that wasn't gossip about Lou Reed - it was factual evidence about the celebrity groupie Sofia Wilén.
The moderators never told me they'd removed some or all of my work concerning SW and LR, not in a PM to me or in public in the thread. Other users as I discovered it when searching. I can find a few references now when I use the search function, but how am I to remember if that was all I wrote? Or perhaps if some posts disappeared 'only temporarily' and suddenly like magic reappeared again?
Because they've now put it to a vote in Outlaw [moderator closed forum - Ed] and decided that some or many removed posts can to a certain degree be regarded as an itty-bitty bit 'topic' - and then they've been so kind to reinstate the posts again.
[Posted by moderator blomvattnare] Some of the posts that led to this thread have now been restored. This thread has various opinions on what is to be considered 'topic', which shows that the thresholds can sometimes be difficult.
And I was the one who'd removed the posts. So if you're going to roast anyone over coals, it should be me. We've discussed the matter briefly in Outlaw and we've concluded that one can to a certain degree regard the posts as 'topic'.
The big problem in the Assange thread aren't the stupid posts so often found in other threads. The problem is there's a huge ambition to discuss (nothing wrong with that) and it's easy to wander off when one gets snowed in on something.
Abracadabra! No one had the time to notice the posts had disappeared, but the effect was the discussion came to a halt - right?
And which are 'the posts that led to this thread'? Can a lowly user even ask such a question? Can this possibly concern posts that were removed in all haste back in February?
There's hardly a risk people will get snowed in on something when it's removed before anyone's had a chance to read it.
Callas the day after she published her work: 'where are my posts?' Click the image to see Sofia Wilén in concert with Lou Reed (0:24).
Who Moderates Who?
The frenzy of Flashback moderators now removing each other's posts is bad enough - but consider the case of Callas who spent precious days hunting down a lead, only to have it removed, with no forewarning given and no explanation ever offered. Forum members are usually sent private notifications if something is going to be altered or removed. Callas received no such notification. The removal of her work under such circumstances falls therefore under all suspicion.
Add to that the fact that one of the Flashback moderators is a politician from Hallsberg, is strongly affiliated (as her husband) with the faction in the social democrat party to which Anna Ardin belongs, and is notorious as a rabid feminist and an Assange hater, and you have a recipe for destruction and an explanation for most of the forum's hanky-panky.
And it is precisely this moderator who has, after first claiming no involvement in the current debacle, attempted time and again to stifle the discussion in the new thread begun by stuxnet. Wild statements such as 'I think we can agree this thread retains its current location' - this after fourteen months at its current location - bespeaks a pathologically weak relationship with fairness and reality.
The Pelican Brief costarring Robert Culp and James B Sikking. The president of the United States learns that one of his major contributors might be involved in an evil plot to stack the Supreme Court of the United States. The FBI have this contributor in their sights. But the president (Culp) hears of this and summons the director of the FBI (Sikking). Sikking is told in no uncertain terms he must not let his people pursue the inquiry any further.
How would it be if all investigations were conducted like that? That's what the moderators at Flashback want.
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