Update: Dennis is staying.
Today he posted this:
An agreement has been reached between the staff, myself, and several other involved parties, concerning the ongoing harassment that has occurred on Newsvine.
In the interest of peace and honest debate, accusations of anti-semitism and anti-Islamic bigotry will no longer be tolerated on Newsvine. If you see such behavior, whether it be actual bigotry or simply the accusation of it, report it to Calvin and Mike D., and it would be best to do so without comment. The staff has promised to deal with such incidents, so that we may all enjoy productive debate without hatred and hard feelings.
This is the development I was hoping for, and as such, I'm staying. Should you have any questions, feel free to contact me through my column.
Thank you, and thank you to all who took part in these negotiations.
When people leave jobs they do exit interviews so when I heard - via Ian's article - that Dennis McCann and Winsome Cowboy were leaving Newsvine I asked both if they wanted to do exit interviews. Dennis said yes. Winsome said he'll think on it.
I interviewed Dennis previously here so if you wonder why I did not ask some questions it is because I already did so.
Scott: Why are you leaving Newsvine? Did one particular thing tip the scales or was it a combination of things?:
Dennis: I'm tired. I'm tired of spending all of my time fighting against an organized group of bigots and trolls. I'm tired of getting no support from staff, and little from other viners. I'm tired of banging my head against the proverbial wall. Five months ago I was given an RAV for taking on the cause of defending people from defamation. Two weeks ago I was suspended - for defending someone from defamation. Does that make any sense to you?
I've thought about leaving before, but what always kept me here was the support from fellow viners for what I do...but the support I need - people reporting violations, staff responding to my reports or just watching those threads and deleting offending comments, maybe even doing something about the bigots...that's just not there. How hard is it to click the ! button? How hard is it for staff to click delete, or maybe say something to those users?
What has happened instead? People know the trolls are there and avoid those threads, and that allows those guys to get away with murder. While they post offensive stuff and vote each other up, there's just me, and a few other users trying to do something about it. And when I email the staff - maybe a comment will get deleted. Maybe. But nothing will be said, and those guys just roll merrily along, spewing venom that the few of us can't fight by ourselves. I'm tired of it.
I'm sure others will have one reaction of mine, namely wanting to go to whatever discussions sparked this so they can read for themselves. So.. where can we read about what happened? Emily's article?
A couple of months ago a terrorist organization named me at the top of their list of "Jew Haters." That's offensive and untrue, and the staff never even addressed it. Then, a few weeks ago a guy wrote an article about me. A hit piece. Emily took it down. He put it up again, and Calvin commented in the thread, then the community took it down. I still haven't seen it. Then there was the suspension. I did not violate the CoH, but that doesn't seem to matter. Even worse was Calvin's comment in that thread... go find it and you'll see what I mean.
Those things, on top of the garbage I see day in and day out, just really pissed me off. Meanwhile I was following Calvin's order not to complain about the suspension, one of the guys who did violate the CoH, who was under the same order, ran all over Newsvine, on at least 10 different threads, spreading the lie that I was inflammatory. He knew I wouldn't respond because of Calvin's order, and the staff just let him do it. He littered Emily's thread with that garbage too, and I purposely did not respond.. Her response? She deleted nothing, said nothing, and simply closed comments.
Then winsome wrote his article saying if I leave, he'd leave. Funny that...because reading it made me decide to stay. I didn't want to be the reason he left, you know? But then Claus left. And winsome decided to go, and Martin Westenfelder...and that was that. And when it comes down to it, we all left for the same reason.
Are you saying you're leaving permanently or would you come back if staff made certain changes? What kind of changes would have to be in place to make you consider returning?
The staff would have to show a real commitment to the CoH, and not just to the status quo, or the corporate masters, and they would have to specifically address this problem of a group of people using a strategy to silence their critics. Right now these people have carte blanche, while we on the other side - who are trying to fight against the bigotry, are handcuffed by the staff.
I'm going to email Calvin to ask him to comment about you and Winsome leaving I'll ask Calvin to answer one question put forth by you. What would you like that question to be?
Did you ever really care about the community aspect of Newsvine or was that just part of the business model? Foster a community spirit to increase appeal to potential buyers?
What are you going to do with all the time and energy you spent at Newsvine? Are you going to another site and, if so, what?
I'm going to the beach.
Would it be worth my while to read Emily's article discussion? Is that where some of this happened?
You should read that, as well as Djehuty and winsome's articles. And if Martin Westenfelder's article is still up, you should start there. He changed the name to "This thread has lost it's point," but trust me, it hasn't.
Do you have any regrets about things you've done at Newsvine in recent weeks. I'm going to link in my interview to the Vinecast interview because I thought you and Winsome made some excellent questions.
I have no regrets about anything I've ever done on Newsvine. Why would I? Look, I don't mean to blow my own horn here, but let's look at this - I'm the guy who introduced art to Newsvine - a use for the site that was never envisioned. I've held the number one spot in popular comments on the leaderboard from the time there was a leaderboard. I have an RAV for fighting bigotry...you know, back when that was still acceptable. I have the largest friend list on Newsvine...about 1000 people. My comments never get collapsed, and the ones that have been deleted could probably be counted on one hand. So no...I have no regrets.
But I'm going to miss a lot of people.
In your interview on vinecast you alluded to a bit of hypocrisy of sorts, namely you feel you got the RAV for wading through the sewage of islam-israel debates to deal with problems but you got suspended for doing what you consider the same thing. First, did I explain right your argument and is that hypocrisy a factor in your departure?
To really address that I'll have to tell you the specifics of the subthread that resulted in my suspension. Here's what happened.
A new user, whom I had never seen before, began a subthread with an accusation against an established user. Standard JDL-fare. He called him a "Jew Hater," and said that he had a long history of anti-semitic comments on Newsvine. Now, this was a brand new user, so I asked him how he could possibly know that. I pointed out that he had just joined this month and told him to back up his assertion with links.
Then the guy who was accused responded to the accusation, and another user, arguably the leader of all this crap, encouraged the new guy. After a couple of comments the new guy expanded his assertion, saying that there were a lot of anti-semities on Newsvine. I told him I want to see those links too. And that was it. Nothing inflammatory, no insults or CoH violations...just told the guy to back up the accusations, and walked away.
A few hours later there was a comment from Emily. The entire subthread was deleted, and everyone was suspended. I was stunned, so I emailed her and asked what was going on. Why was I suspended? Her answer...and I'm paraphrasing, was 'You further inflamed the situation rather than simply reporting it. Now, the problem with that statement was that I said nothing inflammatory, and I did report that comment. Nevertheless, that was that.
Two days later I saw a comment from Calvin in that column...and my jaw dropped. He said that he had advised Emily to, again paraphrasing, "permanently ban everyone involved" and that he would now 'look for the smallest excuse to do so."
So let's look at that. He gave me a Calvin Award for defending people from libel and defamation, but when an established user was libeled and defamed by a brand-new troll, his position was to advise Emily to permanently ban me for standing up for him, within the spirit and letter of the CoH. No distinction between the aggressor (new troll), victim (established viner), defender (me) and the guy who fanned the flames...who, not coincidentally, is still running around doing so, with impunity.
Is there a last statement you want to make?
Yes. People, Newsvine had something special. Great people, talented writers..you really could 'Get Smarter Here."
So take it back.
Go into the threads about Israel/Palestine. Go into the threads about Muslims. I don't care if you're an expert on the topic or never heard of the Middle East. Read. Learn. Get Smarter.
When you see CoH violations, report them as inflammatory. When you see off-topic comments, report them as no value. Pay attention. Notice who causes the problems, and don't let them get away with it. Defriend them. Let them know that trolls will not be tolerated. When necessary write to Emily. Write to Calvin. Do whatever it takes, within the CoH, to take back Newsvine.
And thanks for a great couple of years.