(This was written on August 4th, if it
matters. Part of the problem with sporadic internet is that
sometimes it takes a while to post things. Go figure.)
I've come up in conversation at Drink
the Shaker Kool Aid. Thus far it's been mostly nice things. One
person doesn't like me very much, the other four comments are
Thanks, I appreciate that.
My impression of the community at DSKA
is that it's very mixed and my guess is that part of it comes from
the varying missions of the site. Consider what it says on the first
page linked to on the sidebar and what it says on what is currently
the front page of the posts.
The fact is, her
time needs to be finished. [..]
So I post on
tumblr about it, hoping people will take notice and go “well JFC
that’s some bullshit.”
That's a serious mission, if I had
quoted more you'd see that it's a serious mission based on the
claimed observation that Melissa McEwan is abusive. It's some heavy
If you read why it exists as described
on the main page right now, it's:
I mean this site
existed first off for me to laugh at her and point out how awful
she/her group of acolytes were behaving. Now it exists for that and
the community that’s growing around it.
Laughing at someone is a much lighter
mission. Don't get me wrong, it can be used with serious stuff, but
laughing by its very nature is not serious.
(Now if your aim isn't so much to stop
someone as to piss them off, laughter is way better than serious
criticism. There's a reason Ovid was exiled for making fun of
Augustus while Vergil's Aeneid, which made some scathing critiques of
Rome and its Augustus stand in, was state sponsored propaganda.)
Pointing out the awfulness would be the
same mission as in the sidebar.
Being there for the community is
different from both.
Even if those were the only three
things going on --they're not-- they would draw various different
types of people. Some would be there for all three, some for just
two, some for just one.
Add to that the variation that you get
within groups that come to a place for the exact same reasons and you
get a pretty varied populous.
I don't have much to say about the
community beyond that but, again, thanks for the kind words.
Something over there has me very
reflective. That something is the whole transcript thing.
It's kind of a long story, it goes like
On Wednesday, June 26th,
2013 (at 9:36 AM) Ana Mardoll mentioned that she intended spend the
next month covering various things surrounding the Wendy Davis
filibuster that took place the day before, that this would include a
transcript, and asked if anyone would be interested.
By July 11th the scope of
the transcript project was nailed down. It would cover the citizen
testimony of Monday the 24th, the House debate of Tuesday
the 25th, and Wendy Davis' filibuster in the State Senate
on the same night as the House debate.
Or, to put that in simpler terms, Ana
Mardoll started a transcription project and Wendy Davis' filibuster
made up slightly less than 20% of what was transcribed.
If Google is right, DSKA started
talking about the transcript in the latter half of December. At that
time, more than five months after the scope of the project had been
nailed down, it was apparently erroneously believed that the
filibuster was 100% of the project instead of less than 20%. This
gave rise to the completely legitimate criticism that a text of the
filibuster was already out there. It's the other eighty-plus percent
that's hard to get your hands on.
I sure as hell haven't found the rest
elsewhere. Believe me, I've looked. I would have loved to be able
to tell Ana, “Hey, there's no need for you to do this project; I
found it all written out already. Here you go. Now you can put your
energy toward stuff that's more upbeat and fun.”
So I looked. I looked to see if the
debate and citizen testimony Ana was transcribing was available. I
also asked around. I got no results.
As it turns out, someone at DSKA was
thinking along the same lines. Less than a month after the initial
erroneous talk about the transcript someone asked, “Doesn't the Ana
Mardoll filibuster transcript include the citizen testimony also? Has
that been published anywhere?”
I'm resisting the urge to make a,
“We're very much alike,” joke because I've got a different point
here. That was published, with the response, “I’m not sure and
that could actually make it useful,” six and a half months ago.
Two months later, to the day, the DSKA
has two posts responding to Ana finishing the project and the posts
went back to assuming that the filibuster was the whole thing and
thus already available on Amazon and such. Here's one of them:
Ana Mardoll is done the transcript and intending to put it on Amazon
and Barnes and Nobel. I'm pretty sure the actual transcript is on
Amazon, so hopefully there is a cease and desist in her future?
God I fucking hope
That's not terribly important, I merely
include it because with all of the discussion (about 100 posts, 31%
of them on DSKA) about the project it's kind of important that the
project, you know, ended. It was completed. It is finished.
What's important is yesterday:
Wendy Davis transcript thing? The non-Ana one is just Wendy's words.
The Ana one includes all of the citizen testimony (there was a lot).
That's why Ana asked for volunteers and put it up separately. To
preserve the citizen testimony and women's stories and whatever.[...]
That makes more
One of the comments was:
mentioned last month, and it does make Ana's project look much more
But for others at DSKA it was new
Comments included, “I had no idea of
that -- thanks to whoever shared this,” “That actually makes the
whole project make sense,” “That makes sense and yes, good for
her for doing it,” “I did not realize that either,” and, “I
confess I was not aware [...]”
And the that's what has me
DSKA has been talking about the
transcript project for five and a half months. During those months
it was always the case that the transcript project included citizens'
testimonies (and the House debate) the posts Ana made about it (about
two to every one that DSKA made about it) were full of stuff about
citizens testimony because that was a bigger part of the project than
the filibuster (with the House debate making up the remaining chunk
which was also, if I recall correctly, a bigger part of the project
than the filibuster) many of the posts had color coded charts showing
where the project stood with respect to completing the transcription
of the citizen testimony. It's news to the majority of the
commenters who decided to comment that it included citizen testimony.
There's been a lot of discussion by
people who didn't have the facts right. By people who didn't know
they didn't have the facts.
If I'd known they were unaware of the
citizens testimony being included I could have told them. Months
ago. I could have told them when they made their first post on the
topic, but I wasn't paying attention to them at that point.
Why it has me reflective is because
there are doubtless things that I'm the exact same way on.
The one area where I do have direct
knowledge is the moderation at Ana Mardoll's Ramblings. Not
Shakesville, I have absolutely no idea what goes on there. But at
Ana's I am a moderator. I use this power to fix formatting errors
and clean up after people who make mistakes when replying.
Both deserve a little explanation, but
not too much.
Sometimes when there's a formatting
error in a comment you can see exactly what the problem is. Code
that isn't disqus compatible was used, someone forgot the slash in
</i> so instead of ending italics they made them double open,
someone tried to close a <b> tag with an </a> by mistake.
Whatever. A disqus moderator can jump in and fix those things.
The second is that disqus doesn't allow
for automatically flat comments. It used to, but now they're always
nested if people use “reply” instead of posting their
contribution as a new comment. Ana makes allowances for small
replies (less than a dozen words or so) but for large replies they're
supposed to be posted as new comments to keep the commenting mostly
flat. This involves occasionally asking someone to repost a reply as
a new comment. Once someone did I'd delete the nested reply and also
the request for reposting.
That's not a lot of moderating work,
but just being a moderator means that I get emails that are sent to
the moderators as a whole and I can see the moderating that's done.
Some of the emails to all moderators
boil down to, “Heads up, we'll probably have a spike in traffic and
thus possibly trolling because we just got mentioned [somewhere].”
As one might expect, some (but by no
means all) of those emails are ones where the [somewhere] is DSKA.
And yes, being mentioned at DSKA does lead to a noticeable spike in
trolls at Ana Mardoll's Ramblings.
Of course mentioning DSKA at
Shakesville and Ana Mardoll's Ramblings caused things to happen at
DSKA. I can't see behind the scenes there but I know that there was
me you big strong MAN. That's what you are right? A MAN.
omg what even is
(There are like a
million of these in the Asks rn. Did Reddit or something find this?!)
I'm guessing having to sift through
“like a million” of those to find actual content is not what the
DSKA admin wanted.
That there would be spamming of the
site with “asks” implying the admin is male wasn't really
something you could predict since there are so many ways a surge in
negative activity could have manifested. That there would be a surge
in negative activity was completely predictable.
Tell people, “There's this site
that's causing me trouble,” and some of them will take it upon
themselves to cause trouble for the site.
And that's where things stand.
Mentioning Ana Mardoll at DSKA causes trolling at Ana Mardoll's
Ramblings. Mentioning DSKA at Ana Mardoll's Ramblings causes
trolling (or at least spamming) at DSKA. This may not be what the
site owners intend, but it is the way things are working.
Given the amount of traffic I get
(basically nil and most of that from spambots) I doubt I have a
non-negligible effect upon anyone's traffic. Trolls or otherwise.
(I do promise to try to get back to the stuff I normally do for my
very small but very much appreciated readership.)
And this leads to a question of what
the difference is. For me, the difference seems pretty clear.
Unless something unexpected happens,
this is going to be my last post about DSKA. That's no big deal
because of the minimal traffic to this site.
Ana Mardoll's Ramblings has no
intention to have more posts about DSKA. I can't say that there
won't ever be another post because I'm not in control of Ramblings,
but I can say that there are zero plans to do more posting about
After a long period of not talking
about them a post was made addressing what was going on. Then, in
response to the admin saying Ana hadn't contacted zir directly, a
post was made directed at the admin. And that's the end of it.
If DSKA has to deal with being spammed
with comments saying, “You're totally a man, aren't you?” again
it's not going to be because Ana Mardoll's Ramblings pointed in that
direction. (At least that's the plan.)
Unless something unexpected happens
DSKA will not stop having posts about Ana Mardoll's Ramblings.
Unless something unexpected happens DSKA will not stop posting almost
exclusively about Shakesville and Ramblings. Continued posting
about Shakesville and Ramblings is the plan at DSKA.
The spikes in trolls that accompany
each mention there will go on. This says nothing about the intent of
the admin or the community. With the exception of people using the
exact same third party account on both sites (which does happen) to
have any hope of finding out whether the trolls are regular
commenters or lurkers at DSKA one would need to be an admin at both
sites and start comparing IP addresses. That's not going to happen
any time soon.
All that we really can say is that the
trolls are reading DSKA. And we can only say that because
mentions at DSKA are followed by trolls at Ana Mardoll's Ramblings in
noticeably greater numbers than usual.
If every post at DSKA that mentioned
Ramblings were about some big thing Ana did that hurt people and
there were no other way to bring that to anyone’s attention (there
are other ways) then maybe it would be worth the associated troll
surge. I don't think it would be, but arguments could be made.
That's not what is happening. DSKA is
what brought us, “Since Liz isn’t giving me a whole lot to work
with this week I thought I’d have a peeksy over at Ana’s place,”
because apparently when the person who you want people to stop
listening to stops talking, the appropriate response is to find
someone else to call obnoxious. (The “obnoxious” bit is the
second paragraph; I only quoted the start of the first sentence.)
That's not exactly big,
The DSKA admin apparently (I'm assuming
the admin was honest here) wasn't planning on talking about Ana and
wouldn't have under normal conditions but Melissa had been quiet that
week. It's not, “Sorry about the trolls but I think it's really
important that this be said.”
It's completely ignoring the (again
assuming honesty) unintended, but predictable, consequences so that
the admin can have a public laugh.
That's where I see the difference.
Mention at Ramblings got DSKA spammed. We keep mentions of DSKA at
Ramblings to a minimum. Mention at DSKA gets Ramblings trolled.
DSKA keeps on talking about Ramblings all the time.
There has been talk at DSKA about
shifting gears. The admin has said multiple times that DSKA is being
continued more for the community than anything having to do with
Shakesville (and by extension Ramblings since Ana is only on the
radar there because she's a mod and contributor to Shakesville.)
There have been comments about starting
to address the social justice issues that they feel Shakesville
addresses badly rather than simply responding to the goings on at
Shakesville (and by extension Ramblings.)
I say this with complete sincerity: I
would like nothing more for DSKA. I'm no fan of the name, but that's
really a minor issue all things considered. One thing the internet
is not lacking is feminist spaces. Or social justice spaces.
In the “Stop Listening to Melissa
McEwan” post at the top of the sidebar it says, “I believe in the
better things she tries to write about. Honestly, I really do,” and
given that the admin has now repeatedly said that ze doesn't care
about Melissa McEwan anymore I think it would be great if the admin
shifted to addressing those “better things”.
The DSKA admin described the current
situation as DSKA as having a symbiotic relationship with Shakesville
in that less content at Shakesville means less content at DSKA. I
don't really agree about it being symbiosis, and given that the admin
will look elsewhere for content (as above with going to Ramblings) I
don't think it's as simple as Shakesville having less content means
DSKA automatically has less content, but there is an undeniable
What I want is for that connection to
be severed. Yes, shutting down DSKA would be one way for that to
happen, but another would be for it to turn the changed motivation
(more concerned with the community than Melissa) to a changed focus
(more concerned with generating good content than saying other
people's content is bad.)
There have been requests over there for
suggestions of feminist or social justice sites that are more fitting
with what the commenters want. There have been people suggesting
that they themselves start addressing those topics.
I'd love for that to happen.
Selfishly I'd love it because it would
mean that the troll spikes associated with the site would stop. I
don't pretend to understand the mindset behind them and the strange
mix of unnecessary effort and laziness they embody. “I'll totally
put a lot of effort into trolling that site, but only if another site
I read reminds me they exist, otherwise I can't be bothered,” just
doesn't track for me. But even though I don't understand the
mindset, I know that the effects are real.
When DSKA talks about Ramblings, trolls
beyond the ordinary internet background radiation of trolling come
out, when it doesn't they don't. So if it stops that solves one of
the troll problems we have.
If there were a magic way to keep
everything that starts on DSKA on DSKA and not have it bleed off into
trolling then I wouldn't care whether DSKA were talking about
Ramblings or not. Ana and the Ramblites are fully capable of not
reading DSKA, it's just that mentions there lead to actions in places
that can't be ignored. (Like Ramblings itself.)
Since that magic way doesn't exist, I
want DSKA to stop pointing to Ramblings. I don't think they will,
but I want it.
I would love for it to happen because
DSKA started being the site that Shakesville and Ramblings aren't for
By all means, show us the fuck up by
being a social justice site that is six thousand times better than
Ramblings and show the thriving community that your different
Make Ramblings and Shakesville look
like drek by being a shining example of how much better a site can be
and have the only connection be that people who aren't safe at
Shakesville and Ramblings go to DSKA.
I don't think this is a zero sum game,
you see. I think that DSKA becoming a better site wouldn't lead to
Ramblings (or Shakesville) declining. Something better just means
something better, and that's more good things.
Also, I've seen the names of some old
friends over there. I want the hangouts of my old friends to be as
good as possible regardless.
Then there's the matter of where people
can fit in.
As noted, there have been multiple
posts over there about where to find better spaces on the internet
than Shakesville that cover the same topics and even a few suggesting
that DSKA become one of those better spaces on the internet that
covers the same topics.
DSKA becoming a better space that
covers the same topics, instead of a space that points to Shakesville
and Ramblings and says they're doing it wrong, would give those
people the space they want, maybe even need.
The fact is that we can't serve
everyone. We fucking can't. We cannot and will never be a safe
space for everyone.
The same measures that make some people
safe make others unsafe.
I don't like that, but it happens to be
Today I read about an episode at
Slacktivist that I'd missed. A while back a troll intentionally
triggered someone and did so effectively enough to send that person
to the hospital. The troll seems to have been banned soon after.
But Fred never said he banned the person.
Never acknowledging the banning made
some people feel really fucking unsafe.
But at the same time there are other
people who feel unsafe when bannings are announced. It puts
them constantly on edge and has them feeling like they're walking on
eggshells every second. And that's the mild version. If you've been
in certain types of abusive environments announced punishments, of
which banning is one, can set off your personal triggers.
No good person wants to trigger anyone,
certainly not an abuse victim.
One choice: to announce bans or not,
and you're already making some people unsafe as the cost of making
other people safe. The mild cases are just “less comfortable”
and “more comfortable” but the cases that matter most are “really
fucking unsafe” vs. “wouldn't be safe otherwise.”
So my point here is that you can't be
safe for all. Even if we do Ramblings perfectly, and we won't
because we're fallible, some people are not going to be safe there.
I want those people to have a place to be safe. I want that place to
be as good as it possibly can be.
I want these things because making a
place that isn't safe for them was never part of the plan, it was
never desirable, it was a consequence of the fact that there is no
universal solution. Or us fucking up. Or both.
And I don't want people to be robbed of
a good place to be as a result of universal truth (nowhere is safe
for everyone) or us fucking up.
So, since DSKA already has a lot of
people who were dissatisfied with Shakeville and Ramblings, it would
be great in my eyes if it became that space.
And this entire thing about the
shifting of gears and the hypothetical future DSKA that stands on its
own instead of being tethered in a “symbiotic” relationship to
another site is basically brought on by a single comment that I
couldn't find when I had an internet connection (right now I don't,
I'll focus on getting it back when I'm done writing) in spite of the
fact that I was using google to fact check my memory of what had been
said so much it thought I was a bot.
I'm pretty sure that someone (I think
the DSKA admin) said that the only outcome people on the
Shaker/Ramblite side of this would be satisfied with is the shutting
down of DSKA. That's not true for me.
Like I said, if there were a way to
make what happened there stay there then I wouldn't care about it at
all. There isn't. Intentional or not, pointing at Ramblings over
there does cause trolls to come to Ramblings. So I want them to stop
That doesn't mean I want them off the
internet. I'd love it if DSKA stopped talking about what was being
said on Ramblings and started talking about things the community
thought were important in general.
“Let’s be clear here. THERE ARE SO
MANY THINGS WRONG WITH TWILIGHT, don’t go looking for more,” says
a post addressed at Ana from the admin of DSKA. So many things that
are so wrong that the clarification needs to be in ALL CAPS. Perhaps
that could be talked about; it doesn't require even mentioning Ana.
The people want a site that talks about
[social justice issue] but is better for them than Shakesville? I
don't see why they couldn't talk about [social justice issue] there
without even mentioning Shakesville.
Do I think that's likely? No. Not
really. Even if what the admin cares about now is primarily the
community and not the sites being pointed at, I don't think DSKA is
going to change from a place that points to Shakesville and
Shakesville mods into a place that does social justice commentary
Would be nice though.