I have been “permanently banned” on lenr-forum.com, a major LENR discussion site. I have already been commenting here on some issues raised there, this is now a necessity, if I’m to comment at all. Criticism and commentary is welcome here or there. I am continuing to watch lenr-forum.com at this time.
So this first post on lenr-forum.com will cover the ban. What preceded it?
Coldfusioncommunity.net was created as a domain some years ago, and I intended to use it to support the formation of community consensus, but never set up the site. A few weeks ago, I was banned for a short time on lenr-forum, so see All it takes to start a meeting is a resentment and a coffee pot.
The occasion for that ban was this discussion:
“Abd, why do I get the feeling this story involved lots of LSD?”
Oh, that’s easy. Because you are an idiot, who believes that his imaginations have some substance.
It involved no drugs, absolutely nothing illegal. This was something over forty years ago, so okay, there were some “hippies” there, but I saw no drug use and it would have been highly disapproved. For me, the most significant thing was building that camp on a shoestring, designing structures that worked, providing what over 200 people needed for a week — and then cleaning it up and recycling much of it.
What’s relevant here is improvisation, finding simple ways to fulfill necessary functions.
The zeus45 comment was trolling, an insult, particularly when seen in the light of many other posts from this user. There is basically one active lenr-forum moderator, Alan Smith, who has very strong opinions about what is proper on lenr-forum and what is not, and his opinions differ, I suspect, from the majority of users. Alan did not ban me, in that case, I was banned by Barty, an administrator, probably based on the appearance of that comment, taken out of context. However, many comments, much worse than that, have routinely been allowed. This is selective administration. Barty apologized, but behind Barty’s action was probably some level of private complaint.
In fact, zeus45 replied to my comment with:
OK, just a few quaaludes then.
As far as we know, there was no response from moderators to that comment, nor to many other comments like this or worse, allowed to stand. In fact, my comment was also not redacted, which is the normal response to inappropriate comment on lenr-forum, it is merely that it’s done rarely, erratically, following no clear standards. On a normal forum, a user would be banned only if the user disregards clear warnings. There was no clear warning. The Terms of Service were not followed. Barty did apologize, but one thing can be noticed:
Barty banned me for a few days. But when that ban expired, it was visible, then, that I had also been permanently banned (and practically immediately; in fact, it may have preceded Barty’s ban). The only “conversation” directed to me — which I could not read until I was unbanned — was the one from Barty. I conclude that — probably — some other administrator banned me permanently. Barty undid that. Does lenr-forum provide activity logs? I don’t know.
In the present case, I was banned for two days by Alan Smith, I will explain below the apparent occasion. But when that ban expired, a different ban message appeared, showing “banned permanently.” Who did that? I don’t know, I only know from my contacts that Alan issued the first ban.
As I can’t read it, I do not know what message Alan provided, but I can see on the “error screen” that there is a single unread conversation, and that has not changed since the beginning of the ban, when the ban message was about two days. There is no additional conversation, yet, as far as I can tell, so the “permanent ban” is unexplained, totally.
I have not posted on lenr-forum since being banned, even though I easily could, because lenr-forum cannot prevent the creation of new accounts, not without causing extensive collateral damage. This was the sequence:
As is common on lenr-forum, there was topic drift, people comment with what comes to mind to them in response to what has been written before. There is substantial discontent with this, and it is known what could be done about it, but it would take moderator work, i.e., comments can be moved from one thread to another, apparently. If this is done while placing cross-references, this would be fully satisfactory. I had previously volunteered to do the work. That offer was met with silence, even though presented through an administrator. There are “problems” in lenr-forum administration, and it is secret, nobody will talk about it publicly, though the basis for it is fairly obvious.
Through a post by Shane, I became aware that Alan Smith had deleted about 15 comments in a thread. I wrote about it here, and stated that, unless the situation were resolved, I’d be “boycotting” lenr-forum. This was really self-protective. I avoid writing in fora where comments are disappearing with no notice and no opportunity to recover them. (E-catworld.com deletes some comments, but they are apparently still readable to the user in their Disqus profile.)
I had previously requested that text be provided for a comment by Dewey Weaver that Alan Smith had deleted. The response was not satisfactory, but that was only one post. This was much more extensive, and this can be predicted: if administrative abuse is not restrained, it will get worse.
Now, I’m not terribly surprised that I’d be banned for what I wrote there. I’ve seen this over and over, administrators shift, over time, to serving their own interests from serving those of the community. What I wrote could be considered a threat to the site, which, after all, sells advertising. Traffic makes money for the owner, perhaps. However …. here is how Dewey Weaver termed the behavior:
the forum management needs to straighten up if it expects to have a chance to be relevant in the coming next phase of LENR. Amateur hour needs to end.
By banning me, whoever did it wrote the conflict in stone, instead of working to resolve it. I have seen this kind of scenario play out many times. Knee-jerk self-protection backfires, creates hardened opposition. In a sane administrative context, a rogue administrator would be restrained, and if the administrator persisted, the tools would be removed. Generally, sites will develop a recusal policy, where administrators will not properly use privileged tools, not only when they are actually biased, but whenever possible bias might appear to a reasonable observer. It is clear, however, that no restraints are being applied, so the “problem” is not just one administrator. I do have indications that not all administrators are being consulted before major actions are taken. The structure is naive and obviously not trustworthy. Therefore I am now more strongly suggesting a boycott of the site pending a clear response; however, each person will make that choice for themselves. It is not a “demand.” I cover my own interests by posting commentary here instead of there, and users there may decide to link to this blog, and that linking is being done.
I will add only that community toleration of abuse is what allows it to fester and continue and worsen. Personally, though, I have not been harmed by being banned, for, as I wrote, I wasn’t going to post anyway. I did request, of two administrators, that I be unbanned on a promise not to violate the original two-day ban. This kind of voluntary cooperation was tested, by me, extensively, on Wikimedia Foundation wikis. It works, it creates stronger connections, by demonstrating trust, and if the trust is violated, it is trivial to handle. One lenr-forum admin refused because he didn’t want to get into controversy by opposing the original ban, but he seems not to have noticed that what I asked for would not violate any possible legitimate purpose of the original ban, only a possible punitive intent. The other replied that he passed on the request to the Star Chamber.
Okay, he didn’t call it that. “The mods.” Here is the team. It is my stand that when we are part of a team, when we accept that position, we become responsible for team actions, unless we clearly oppose them. We are serving the team. In this context, silence is consent.
The ban, as enforced crudely through primitive software, does create a legal problem: I now have no edit access to my original content, and that this situation would be deliberately created, when it is not necessary for any reasonable protection of the Forum from “off topic” posting or whatever the excuse was, demonstrates fully that lenr-forum is dangerous for a writer.