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Old 10-19-2006, 06:57 PM   #1
Celuien
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A Community Statement

To the Barrow-Wight and other Administrators and Moderators of the Barrow-Downs,

We, the undersigned, wish you to be aware of the high levels of discomfort we are feeling with regards to the banishment of Davem. With the immense role that the Barrow-Downs plays in our personal lives, we feel it our responsibility to make it clear to you that we are not satisfied with the way this issue was handled.

For a long time now, Davem has been one of the most highly thought-of members of our community, and in terms of sheer volume, has probably contributed a textbook's worth of information and thought to this website, enlivening discussion and earning the friendship and respect of many in our community. His recent, and permanent, banishment seems unjustified. The posts given as cause by the Moderators are not, in any of our opinions, cause for banishment, and many of them came several days before the banishment occurred. It is the consensus of the undersigned only plausible explanation yet given (and this not from the Barrow-Downs administration) for the banishment was that it was incurred following his parody of a famous British poem, which was found to be offensive to someone. We can only assume, if this theory is correct, that the humour of the parody was lost on American-based Barrow-Wight who claims responsibility for the decision.

We further feel that, upon reflection, that those responsible for the banishment have decided to try and cover up this issue, making various excuses, none of which presented have seemed plausible to us, as already noted..

With all respect to the Barrow-Wight, whose site this legally is, we are not seeking the reinstatement of Davem, who justifiably, does not strongly desire re-entry into this community. We do, however, wish to make it clear how betrayed we feel at the secretive manner in which the banishment was conducted. If Davem, who was not in our opinion deserving of banishment, was banned suddenly and without notice, we are ourselves afraid that we may unwittingly step out of line and find ourselves suddenly unable to be a part of this great community.

The Barrow-Downs belongs, in a strict sense, to the Barrow-Wight and all the Administration and Moderators he freely chooses to appoint, and we are normally comfortable and secure-feeling in his guidance, which has helped to build such a strong sense of community. We do, however, spend hours upon hours of time on this website. If it is successful in content and traffic, it is because of the devoted users who return here not only day after day, but year after year. If we are not actual owners of the site, we nonetheless have a proprietary interest. In no way can it be said that we want anything less than a vibrant and comfortable community, goals we assume that we share with the Barrow-Wight and the Moderating team.

The recent events have left us, however, with our comfort shaken, and our energy dulled, as we timidly tiptoe around the forums, afraid to say anything which might be taken the wrong way and see us tossed summarily into the Void. With the peace of mind of the community at stake, we therefore submit to you our discomfort at how the situation was handled, and ask that in the future this not be the normal modus operandi.

Sincerely,

Anguirel
Boromir88
Celuien
Diamond18
drigel
Encaitare
Firefoot
Formendacil
Glirdan
Kath
Laitoste
Lalaith
Lalwendë
Lhunardawen
Macalaure
Mithalwen
Nogrod
narfforc
Rune son of Bjarne
Saurreg
Sleepy Ranger
Thinlómien

~*~

I've posted this with some hesitation, but felt that it was necessary. Discomfort over this issue has been festering, and I don't see the dissatisfaction resolving on its own. This statement comes only with the best of intentions and out of love for the truly wonderful site that the Barrow-Downs has been. The Downs has always been more than just a website. It's a special community, and I don't want to see that diminished by continuing lack of clarity and disappointment. This is not offered with any intent to upset or offend, but merely with the earnest desire to clarify any misunderstandings that may have arisen as a result of davem's ban.

The original statement was constructed here.

Thanks for your consideration and understanding in this matter.
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Last edited by Celuien; 10-25-2006 at 02:20 PM. Reason: Adding Macalaure's signature, adding Rune, adding Glirdan
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Old 10-19-2006, 07:29 PM   #2
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I hesitate to respond to this, but I thought it might be useful for you to hear from a member of the moderating team who was not directly involved with the incident with Davem.

There is a long thread in the Moderators' forum discussing Davem and how to deal with the behaviour on his part that we found inappropriate. We have all put a lot of time, thought, and effort into resolving this issue in the best possible way for the Barrow-downs, and I can assure you that recent events have left a bitter taste in our mouths as well.

However, all of the moderators and administrators felt that Davem was behaving inappropriately, and we all supported the Barrow-Wight's decision to ban him. I have been very distressed to find that many people seem to blame Mister Underhill and The Saucepan Man in particular for the action taken. This is extremely unfair. The fact is that the entire team of Mods and Admins is responsible; Mister Underhill and The Saucepan Man were simply the ones who gave the time and had the patience to deal with Davem. The final ban was The Barrow-Wight's decision.

I should also note, though this has been said before, that the Slough parody Davem posted was not the reason he was banned. I know that some of you think that this statement is a lie, but it's not. The Barrow-wight had actually decided to ban Davem before the parody was posted. I know this because the Barrow-wight posted a message on the Moderator's forum saying that he intended to ban Davem at 2:57 A.M. on 9/25; Davem's parody was posted at 9:50 P.M. the same day.

Finally, I should note that Davem was not banned suddenly and without warning. He was asked several times by the moderating team to refrain from violating our posting guidelines, and in particular, to drop his personal attacks against those who hold views different from his own. He disregarded these warnings. There was then a delay of a few days before he was banned by Barrow-Wight, for the simple reason that we Mods and Admins can be Entish (i.e. slow) at times.

Davem was banned because he disregarded repeated requests that he refrain from certain behaviours. Please, take it from me that it had nothing to do with religion nor with his parody. We regret the loss of Davem as a member as much as you do, but we stand by our decision.

- Aiwendil

Last edited by Aiwendil; 10-19-2006 at 07:37 PM. Reason: Typo
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Old 10-19-2006, 07:52 PM   #3
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I would echo what Aiwendil has so wonderfully stated. This wasn't a sudden or haphazard event. It was given much thought and discussion. Everyone involved was rather sorrowful that it came to this but it was sadly necessary.

The issue that has me the most upset is the wanton maligning of both SpM and Mister Underhill. There has never been an explanation required for a banning yet SpM gave one in good faith and it has only been the cause of personal attacks and distress for him.

I do not believe that anybody need to fear a unexpected banning for a minor offense. If there is something that the mod team wants changed it is generally requested to be changed and it is changed. Sufficient warning would be given to anybody to make the appropriate corrective action. Do not feel like you have to walk on egg shells. You can have your opinion and express it just don't personally attack others for having a dissenting opinion.
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Old 10-19-2006, 08:00 PM   #4
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I'd just like to add this comment from Formendacil from the discussion that underwent this statement:
Quote:
The very fact that we feel compelled to make this statement ought to speak for our strong loyalty to the website.
To the point!

Very many of us are worried about the things that have happened... Let us not break this fine community with this kind of polarising and harming actions. The bannig of Davem was an extreme move and this statement is another extreme move to balance it somewhat. (and I do accept my responsibility for being one who has contributed to the statement and has signed it too - ie. I'm not declaring myself neutral here)

Now let us sit down and heal this!

PS.
Reading the post of Aiwendil, I have to comment just a little...

How come Davem was first banned to a short time and after he came back was never notified that his posting was "bad" until he was just outright banned for life? What's the logic here? It's very hard to find a post of davem during the short season he was "back again" that would be the cause of the new (and definitive) banishment!

At least we should all have a right to see it! The reason must be in between the post(s) that Davem made after his short time banishment ended and when his final banishment was executed. In which post did he do it too bad then? I think I can speak of many here, but we can't see the reason lying in there between - and if it's not there, then the banishment was not fair as it was not grounded on actual posts but on something else...
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Old 10-19-2006, 08:07 PM   #5
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Surely, at least to my experience, the mods have been just thoughtful and wise - even on occasions when I have wished to say something, they have toned me down and I have clearly seen their point afterwards.

This surely is no crusade against the mods in general, well at least from my perspective as I can't talk on behalf of the others. But I do believe the undersigned share my worry here (and I can see that the mods need to pull together - it's in a way a good thing to see that, really, think of it!).

This is a questionnaire against a decision that many of us have felt that was bad, wrong and unjustified. I hope this can be handled based on facts and arguments and most importantly, with a generous amount of good will. Otherwise we will just have a disaster here...
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Old 10-19-2006, 08:16 PM   #6
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A word from someone quite outside the argument. . .

I can not help but feel as though some bubble has been popped.

Alright, what I mean to say is this, I hate to see unhappiness and uneasiness amongst people. I understand, however, how important it is for everybody to get their thoughts out about what they are displeased about. Being the sort of character that I am - hating unpeacefulness, angry words, flaring tempers - I'd like to say, before anyone gets heated over this matter (I've a feeling that this could get hot fast), to please remain calm and as quiet as possible while writing.

The Barrow-Wight and the mods who make up this forum have done a magnificent job for the year and a half or so that I've been here. I've been comfortable here and very happy with how they handled certain situations. I have very much faith that what they do is entirely justified, that they have reasons backing their actions, and would not be rash in anything like banning someone for life.

I do hope, however, that, after time, maybe they'll consider their verdict again, and lighten the punishment? (I can't help but call it punishment, I can't think of any other word, and I can't think of any worse thing you could do to keep order here...)

Anyhow, those are some of my thoughts. Please, please, don't get angry or upset, anyone! Feelings, thoughts, people can be hurt and infuriated so easily, and when that happens, people are torn apart.

With the utmost concern,

Folwren
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Old 10-19-2006, 08:29 PM   #7
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I banned davem because he continued to act in a manner contrary to the publicly stated wishes of the moderators. The fact that he continued to do so after returning from temporary banishment was enough motivation for me to ban him permanently. You can consider that fair or not, but when a member causes enough disruption to warrant several pages of moderator discussion, I have every right to ban that member without a formal declaration. If anyone fears the ban was made because someone did not agree with davem’s point of view, you are simply wrong. If you can see that the ban was enacted because of his manner, you are correct. Assigning any other meaning is inaccurate.

Think about it. How long have many of you been here, and how many people have we booted simply because we disagreed with them? The answer is none. The few valued members we have banned over the years were all dismissed because of their refusal to adjust their attitude to a tone (not the content) we repeatedly requested.

With this said, let’s get back to the fun of the Downs in the same spirit as always without the unnecessary suspicions. They weren't required before this began, and they certainly aren’t needed now.

Sincerely,
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Old 10-19-2006, 08:31 PM   #8
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I tend to agree with Folwren in that a bubble has indeed been popped.

What I really would like to say is that I am feeling somewhat disturbed about this whole affair. Surely, arguments over administrative issues have their place, but I'd rather not see the Barrow-Downs turned into a war zone here or see those we've all known, loved, and respected be personally attacked.

I've been a member here for over three years now, and in that time I haven't seen anything like this happen to us. Dividing us against each other just doesn't sit right with me.

I was not involved in this before, and do not intend to favor any particular point of view here. I just don't want to see a breaking of the fellowship over this.

EDIT: cross-posted with B-W
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Old 10-19-2006, 10:37 PM   #9
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I have been here for a long time now though I have not posted as much as my contemporaries of the same period of inception into the forum. It is in my opinion, the is a stricter and more tense mood on the boards now then compared to the days when the new cadre of moderators were not in commission yet. Suffice to say, the mood has made me very uncomfortable.

If I should sum up what I feel about this current state of this site in a sentence, it would be,

An unexpected and dubious connoction of "political correctness" and "moral righteousness" has gotten a grip on the boards, resulting in an authoritarian and increasingly elitist atmosphere that is unnerving to many of the older users

Before this fiasco, the serious book discussion forum was a self-censoring, self moderating place. There was no need for any moderator to step in and ask another user to stop posting or to serve a penalty. The community itself looked out for one another and preserved the integrity and morality of that wonderful place out of their own will and loyalty to the site. Indeed any trash spewing or overtly aggressive user were swiftly nipped in the butt by the other veteran members before they could even start a path of "destruction" The serious book discussion forum was one of the best protected board I have come across through my years of internet participation in discussions. I have never seen a "public"community as united and resolute in defending the state of that board in all my life.

The facts speak for themselves. Close scrutiny of the old threads would show that any undesirable elements were quickly suppressed not just by Esty but also by the veterans users.

And Davem was one such user (more of what I think of his ban later).

Play nice, now that's a good thing to have, no doubt about it. But the degree of civility and politeness in various forums differ due to the very nature of the site, the forum's purposes and the discussion that is going on. Let's all admit it, the serious book discussion forum has always been intimidating, severe and stern for the casual newcomers, because the good users are really excellent debators and their posts are always curt, straight to the point and no-nonsense. Given that at all times difficult and time-consuming topics are on the agenda, the good users have to cut down on the non-essentials and go post their feelings and thoughts with proofs, quotes and whatnots; which is a good thing because long meandering posts (which I feel this is going to be, oh dear what a noob I am) tend to lose their gist and do not contribute much in substance. As such a degree of civility and politeness is curbed but I must emphasize that in all times these good users do not go over the board vulgar. Harsh at times, yes but never ever insulting.

So what is a noob (like yours truly) going to do when you enter a debate with a head full of high ideas only to be deconstructed by the big boys point by point and at times a bit harshly? You either stop posting and disappear which many have, or you could simply acknowledge your own inadequacy, read more, learn and try again. The second was my approach and I do feel that my debating skills have improved because of it. Of course it does come with a little sting to the pride but learn to eat humble pie. Never be overtly defensive, read careful and think before posting and never be afraid to admit to your mistakes and apologise. All these I learned to do and I am most grateful to say that those good users most probably saw the effort on my part and they never ever sought to demean me or ignore my subsequent posts.

The worst thing you could do when deconstructed and having your butt handed to you is to be highly upset, show that you're upset and turn the debate into a personal slugfest which is what I thought the bible thread had become. Instead of letting go and just giving yourself and the other chap abreak, some chose to continue posting until the point where I felt what was posted became increasingly deviating from the gist of the thread and at points irrelevant.

The netiquette of not debating (or posting) for simply the sake of debating/posting was lost and even more despicable was the efforts by some to want to appear as the "victim" even when their own posts were getting more insulting with every count. And what was the good user going to do when such posts are directed at him/her? Patience would of course be lost and sarcasm and curt posts would definitely be made. But pray remember what made the good users resort to such an approach in the first place?

So now to Davem's ban - I will not discount that fact that in the bible disscusion and in a post in another thread as linked by The Saucepan Man, Davem made some sarcastic posts which perhaps was not quite proper (but IMO understandable). But to hold him solely at fault and ask that he leave the thread (that I disagree the most since his posts carried an urgent message) was not right. I guess the last straw was to consider his posts in that thread against him when serving the penalty.

And as for the poem, he was simply in his way, showing what he felt about the so called suburban Shire homestead. We have been told that the final ban was not made solely because of that poem (which incidentally, caused some users to reply to it) but I am sure that post played a part in the decision in maintaining the ban.

So the ban was served and yada yada life goes on- BUT the person who was ultimately banned was never given notice nor allowed the final opportunity to even know (let alone defend) himself from why he was banned. The reasons as given by a moderator are IMO shoddy and do not justify the repeating offender profile given to Davem.

Suffice to say people might question the motives of the ban, but people will question the rational behind the decision-making process. By this manner of banning Davem and the lacking explanation given so far, I feel as though there is a great impenetrable wall that seperates us from the moderators and administrators, a wall that at this moment of time promises to get higher and thicker, creating a class system in this wonderful place where I thought we were all equals.

Noone likes to have a damocles sword tangled over their heads held only by a string which we know not of tensile strength or tolerance.

And this brings me to the point of political correctness and moral righteousness which seems to be a fad of the boards nowadays. Given what I have posted above, do we really need someone to constantly look out and censor every post so that a "12 year old" that stumbles upon a thread will not go about telling all that he learned of what is hell (be it concept or lingo application) and all the other whatnots were from the barrow-downs?

First of all, would a twelve year old be really interested in going into the serious book discussion forum and reading through (with understanding) every thread in the serious book discussions? And secondly, who are we kidding in "protecting" an innocent child from getting the wrong ideas from what has been posted.

Like I've mentioned, the forum in question is self-moderating and censoring. Chances are that that remarkable child who in this age is so "pure and innocent" as not have any knowledge on religious and sexual topics (even though he knows how to surf the far more dangerous internet) is not going to stumble upon something really really bad.

...except maybe the posting habits and style of said disasterous newbies in argument with other users. God help us all then.

And what of respecting other people's beliefs and religions and fantasies etc etc? First of all, self-moderation and censorship will without doubt butcher whatever falsities and misinformations. Secondly, if the thread or posts offend then in all common sense, stop reading! With that I submit that the moderators need not pay too much trouble to those the complain of undesirable elements in the Downs. Chances are those non-users are too dense to understand the posts of the good users that regulate the thread or are too dumb to stop reading.
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Old 10-20-2006, 01:19 AM   #10
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Personal attacks? That is something I never saw from davem's posts. He did post the contents of a couple of PMs, but these were swiftly censored and no harm was done; even in these he was not making 'personal attacks' but asking why certain comments had been made - and before anyone gets numpty about this, please remember that it is an entirely natural reaction to wish to defend oneself. Otherwise, no, I can find nothing which could have been construed as 'personal attack'.

If davem at some points gained the upper hand in debate by finding holes in matters of divinity and theology and it upset some people, I think they may want to stop and consider for a moment the idea of 'strength of faith'; many here have faith (me included) and we have all been challenged. I too have found some deeply unpleasant comments by members old and new on the Downs. Savaging and bullying of newbies. Clever asides in posts and signatures that people think are so 'clever' others will not 'get' them - they do 'get' 'em.

All of this is just because we're all human and we will fall out from time to time. It doesn't mean we hate each other - at least I know that myself and davem wouldn't do that anyway! Erm, don't know about anyone else! But I'd hope a few flamin' (sometimes literally 'flaming') words don't cause you to hate someone.

If davem chose to criticise the 'Bible' thread for being unworthy of the 'Books' forum then he ought to be able to say that. Any member ought to be able to ask the valid question: Is This A Valid Question? As a long standing member who was always concerned to find new points for discussion and not to allow the forum to slowly die into obscurity, he believed he was driving us to be more rigorous, more discerning.

OK, so we all understand that 'content' is a simple thing to define and pick up on when someone puts something inappropriate on the board - e.g. swearing, something a bit too adult etc. A mod tells you off, you might argue about it, but in the end it goes. It's easy to edit, easy to remember what, in future, not to write!

Anyway, that's the taters, now for the meat.

Tone is a whole different kettle of fish. Tone is about nuance, subtlety, humour, irony, all of those complex language issues. What is acceptable in Tone is totally different between English speakers across the world (not to mention Tone can be moderated by Age, Race, Class and Gender, but to discuss this would take up days so I'll concentrate as much as possible). How davem writes may be abrasive to one person, but I have to say it is entirely normal in the UK to use sarcasm, and to be ironic. How are we to understand such cultural differences? How are we to be mindful of them?

Example. Davem made a great point about the understanding of the word 'fundamentally' in the Americas and in Britain. In the Americas it means "exactly", "definitely", "at core" - hence why when Tolkien says "a fundamentally Catholic work" many American readers think "Right! It's at core a Catholic book!". However in the UK we use the language more fluidly, lazily, sloppily even. You can even see that Tolkien himself takes full advantage of this with multiple meanings and origins of words in his books. What does "fundamentally" mean here? It means "kind of", "sort of", "in a way".

There is not just a huge difference in understanding of English use between the UK and the USA but between different regions of the UK itself. Many southerners are deeply offended to be called "love" and "darling" by total strangers when they come to my city, but they are not being patronised, they are being welcomed by being called such things (men call other men "love"). Unfortunately some fail to grasp that language use differs and they get numpty about it. Ho-hum, they usually clear off anyway when they realise houses are equally expensive up here...

I can see right away that it was obviously not content that was causing offence, as there simply was not the evidence for it. So it's Tone. Which is extremely worrying. Especially as I don't speak or use English in the same way as the Mods. Nor does everyone. Lots of people here from other cultures, age groups, backgrounds. How can we be careful of something as subtle as Tone? So davem was, ultimately, banned for being a Yorkshireman, and using English as a Yorkshireman does?

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Old 10-20-2006, 03:57 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Saurreg
No one likes to have a damocles sword tangled over their heads held only by a string which we know not of tensile strength or tolerance.
That sums up my concerns. I read through the posts that were cited as the offensive statements which led to the ban, but the problem is that I'm seeing a disconnect between the description of over-the-line offensive content and what I'm reading. If that disconnect exists, how would anyone know if they'd unintentionally stepped over the line, or even after a warning, know that they were continuing to step over the line if the defined boundaries of offensive aren't registering on (a fairly significant number of) the members here? It does make me uneasy. And I think that's the reason the question keeps coming back.

No one wants to cause a rift in the board, and no one wants to confront the mods/admins of this site, who have done a great job keeping this site going for so long. But I don't want to be in the position of potentially being evaluated as having done something offensive and worthy of banning without knowing that I've done something wrong, and just saying that davem was misbehaving without having the process behind why he was felt to be out-of-line (even with the knowledge that there was extensive discussion) is making me feel like that is the situation, despite assurances that it is not the case.
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Old 10-20-2006, 08:42 AM   #12
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Since I signed, I will say my piece here. It is that time of year for me - so pardon the football references. This is completely all my opinion, so take it for what it's worth.

Monday Morning Quarterback:
I have a good trouble radar - so I knew better than to post in the Lord of the Bible thread. I saw trouble (in general) coming on that thing a mile away. But, I am old enough to know myself well. My brain is wired strangely. I don't swim with the current. I always approach ideas with a perspective that is oddly stilted, with regards to the norm. That rubs people the wrong way, given certain subjects. I get it.

Instead of nuking Davem, that thread should have been closed. The seriousness of closing the thread, with an explanation by whoever was having the aforementioned pages of conversation would have been taken soberly by everyone, contributors or not. In addition, more detailed explanation given to the percieved offender would have helped the draconian cloak and dagger feeling that is currently happening. "...what we have heah, is a faylah... to communicate.."

I cant speak for anyone else, but I for sure would rather have seen that daggon thread go away than Davem.

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I loved this site because, lets face it - the works of JRRT are finite. A dead end. The author died decades ago. The only thing left is interpretation and debate. A debate requires taking a position. It's not a win or loose proposition, but, that position does require an offence and a defence in order to facilitate a debate. I don't condone ridicule of a personal nature, but I don't consider ridicule of a position necessarily out of bounds. It's naive (IMO) for anyone to enter in to a debate (especially if it's a subject that was the core of that thread), take a position (whether that position is in the popular majority or not), and not expect to get some of their little feelers hurt. Ive experienced that here and elsewhere. I know that through an exchange of ideas, and debate, my oddball perspective gets expanded - whether I agree with you or not. If it's facilitated properly, it's a debate, it's not a tea party (or at least that's not why I come here).

Walk it off, and get back in the game, or go home.

Another thing I loved about this site is the sense of community. We all have different careers (or not), and various levels of expertise (or not). We do all have a love of JRRT. I have 2 MBA's myself, but I knew that going here, all I needed was a degree of proficiency in JRRT (like most here - passionately reading - in my case yearly since 1975) to contribute to a conversation on the subject. In my mind we are all brothers and sisters.

Netiquette will dictate that if what I write isn't getting any proper response or reaction, then my contribution wasnt appropriate \ correct \ applicable, etc. But, if I feel that if my tone isnt just so, or my ideas weren't what those who are in control want to see, then I dont feel welcome. At that point, in many regards, it's game-over. The sword of Damocles is irrelevent, IMO. All I am doing is interrupting a closed conversation. Who wants to go out of his\her way to feel that?

/coach out

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Old 10-20-2006, 12:58 PM   #13
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To answer Menel and Folwren, this is not an attempt to rabble rouse or an ultimatum. It is a statement of collective unhappiness neither "enterprised, nor taken in hand, unadvisedly, lightly, or wantonly," and made after we discovered that many shared similar feelings and some had received responses that did not dispell their disquiet from private inquiries.

It was done because the Downs had become such an important part of our lives and it matters to us. We do not own the Downs, and that is fully acknowledged in our statement, nevertheless we have invested many hours of effort: we have no desire to destroy something we have helped to create.

I don't actually think this will get "hot" . Now we have said our piece I am sure we will try to get back to normal... or whatever the new normal is going to be. This statement was formed more in sorrow than in anger for most of us I think. For me certainly, sadness overwhelmed utterly any other emotion. I will not repeat what has been said more eloquently by others but since Drigel has mentioned the giraffe in the room, I will say that I will miss Davem desperately. I know he could be like a terrier with a rat with an argument and sometimes it was better to leave him to it ("You can always tell a Yorkshireman - but you can't tell him much"), but he had, has, a gift for getting to the essence. I know I was grateful for this ability to pick out what I was trying to say from the stream of consciousness ramble of what I actually said. His own thoughts were frequently an inspiration.

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Old 10-21-2006, 01:32 AM   #14
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My opinion won't be the popular one. I am not concerned about how things are. For one thing, I saw the numerous public attempts made by the mods to calm things down; and when things didn't calm down, I just kept away from some threads - and that is very unpleasant, since this is supposed to be a place of communication, among other things; if I can't enjoy that here, the rest pretty much loses significance for me. I am not a fan of the powers that be; on other Tolkien sites, I went throat-to-throat with mods, admins or webmasters, in public at that, and I have earned the title of most rebellious. I don't think my perspective has changed; if I see something wrong, I will put it forward, regardless of the position of the one I challenge or of possible consequences to my membership, should it ever be the case. But in this situation, I believe the site policies have been observed in the interest of its members and that the mods will continue to do that.
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Old 10-21-2006, 09:41 AM   #15
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Personal addendum...

A reader of this thread suggested that I should add a few words to clarify my intentions with regard to what has been said here.

First, I want to make sure it's clear that I absolutely do not distrust or dislike the moderators or administrators of this site. They have done a wonderful job keeping the site running. I am grateful for all of their hard work and dedication and mean no disrespect by bringing up this issue. And so I'll take this moment to thank the Downs team for their time and effort.

I was also asked to clarify the goal of making this statement. Though I can't speak for everyone who signed, my own main issues were the following:

1. The previously mentioned wish to clear misunderstandings and any bad feeling lingering on the site.

2. Trying to gain a better understanding of why davem was banned to accomplish number 1 above. It appears that as much answer as can be given has been provided. I still disagree, but it's not my call to make, and it is not my intention or goal to argue over decisions that are already past.

3. I've always been taught that silence is agreement. If a major event such as davem's ban passed without some mention, it would be silent acceptance. I felt like I couldn't go on in good conscience without voicing an opinion. Watching him leave has made me feel like I'm standing at the Grey Havens, watching a ship fade into the horizon, and knowing all the while that something has been lost, never to be regained. I think that, sadly, we're all poorer for davem's absence.

This is not a call for his reinstatement. My understanding from davem is that even if the ban were lifted, he probably wouldn't want to return. And after all of the discussion that has taken place over this, I doubt anyone who has the ability to make the decision would be willing to reverse it. So asking for that would be futile and probably only cause more grief here. But neither could I pretend that this never happened and go on as before without saying something.

In closing, there's probably nothing else that I have to say. My personal goals have been met as much as they are likely to be. I'd like to thank the BW and all of the rest of the team for their patience in allowing this thread to exist and also specifically thank Aiwendil and Mormegil for their replies.

~*~ Celuien ~*~
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Old 10-24-2006, 07:01 PM   #16
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Thank you Celuien, Formendacil, and all those who worked on this to bring it up, as something needed to be done.

I'm going to be straight-forward here. Davem has been a member I have respected on here since I first entered the downs. His posts always got me thinking and always gave my brain a needed jolt. The time and countless posts through the CBC discussions as well as numerous other threads over my 2+ years. So his ban I think is a great loss to the forum (at least from my perspective).

Obviously what's done is done and it's over with. The decision was made and enacted upon. As a former moderator of a forum I know the mods and the admins make the decisions they feel that would be best for their site, and that is no doubt what has been done here. I understand the Mods and Admins have to keep this a friendly and loving place for everyone. But come on, if someone got upset by what was said in that thread (and the others SpM linked to) than I think that person needs to hammer out there own insecurities.

Whatever somebody posts, writes, creates, and shared to the public, you have to be aware that it is up for public scrutinizing. Not just to get praised about how great an idea is, or how much we all agree, what's the point of that? What's the point of ignorance to the opposing side? Davem (and anyone for that matter) had just the right to argue against and go against the ideas in that thread, just as others had the right to argue and debate against davem.

I'll be frank, if what davem did constitutes a ban, especially someone who has been a great contributor to this site for a long period of time, I'm worried where this site is heading down to. I'm not going to mention any names, but I've seen and been involved with members who have been more patronizing than davem in attacks against other members, and they are still around. Heck, I think I have been been more degrading and out of line at times.

I'm worried where this site is heading down to. The Werewolf games and people's critiquing of players 'game-styles' got way out of hand. An attitude of 'you caused us to lose' was created and that's just not healthy. On top of that, a member like davem just doesn't pop up every day. A member with such a wealth of knowledge and a great person to just share a discussion with.

The decision was made, but from my perspective it is only going to harm the site, as a dedicated and thought-inspiring member of the forum has been lost. Which some may think 'well it's only one member,' but think of how many other members saw this and were effected by it? I'm not going to hide anything this place has change and you won't see me around here much anymore. The attitude has changed, the feeling has changed, I think we have this clique-like softy-softy attitude developing in the downs, and I don't like it.
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Old 10-24-2006, 09:40 PM   #17
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Really?

As I write this, I let you know…I’m a dead man. My hope is that, before I get banned, this information reaches someone else. I don’t expect much, but I have learned to exist on little hope. And so I continue.

You see, I’m a mod. That and $2 gets me a cup of coffee. I do, however, have access to the ‘ivory tower’ of the mods and admins, for that is why I was sent. Four others accompanied me, but fell along the wayside. Breaking through the opaque glass ceiling wasn’t an easy accomplishment. To do so I had to volunteer to write a weekly post for the SbS, and I think that it was sheer luck that I have existed here so long, as the SbS escapes the notice of many. Little did I realize until now much of a blessing that could be, like Merry on the Pelennor Fields, sometimes being overlooked is a good thing.

As a mod, I’ve seen many things, and have always kept my eyes open and my mouth shut. Until now, that is. You would not believe what goes on behind the closed doors.

The Barrow Wight, like Ungoliant, feeds off posters and drains them dry when they are banned. He bans a member or two daily at random - whether they are examples of the perfect poster or spam-bots (though the spam-bots, obviously are less filling). This number doesn’t even include those that are banned for not following his daily edict. Remember last Thursday when the BW commanded that every member MUST post using the word “Sam”? A few who either did not get or heed the message got banned that day. I watched as they were cut down like so much wheat. Some of you, keeping watch like I do at times in the lonely hours of the night, may have noticed that the number of members decreases daily. Why do you think that the ‘spiders’ guest list is so short? It’s because there are none! The BW cleverly lures people in, using the whole Tolkien discussion thing as bait, and after a time, sometimes shorter, sometimes longer, the member feels the Sting. Ban! Some thirsts cannot be slaked. Makes sense, now that I’ve pointed that out, doesn’t it? Why else would the BW use his personal fortune to keep this site going? The mods and admins are his virtual slaves; they either do his bidding or ban! They live in constant fear that they too will end up in the virtual gullet of that which cannot be sated.


Please…


Everything above, with the exception of me being a moderator and writing the SbS, is a complete fabrication. Hopefully that was apparent from the first paragraph, but just in case, I’m stating it here. Am I making fun of this situation, this petition? No, I am not. I’m attempting to make a point about an issue that really bothers me as well. That’s something else about which we need to be clear. Though a bystander in some ways, this issue affects me deeply as well, and so I’m taking the time to address it as it makes sense to me. Note that I apologize in advance for my explanations seen below, as they may appear simplistic, obvious, off-topic or otherwise. It’s my way, and I appreciate the freedom that allows me to express myself thus. Anyway…

Before I continue, I want to lay all of my cards on the table and remove my sleeves as well. I have no horse in this race beyond the truth (as far as it can be known) and the Downs. I don’t know any of the actors personally, and I wish them all well. I repped davem in the LotR? thread, where I stated that (from memory) that I thought that he made good points but asked why he continued to post as (1) he and I know we’ve been through all of it before in the Of another world thread and that (2) he should know, from before, that trying to talk someone out of faith, or of Balrog’s wings would be a fruitless effort.

With that out of the way, onto some explanations from a mod.

What do mods do? They identify and keep out the spammers, those humans and computers that want to sell you iPods and whatnot. They also keep an eye on various threads in their domain, trying to keep the post ‘on-topic' and ‘on-Tolkien’ and making sure that the site maintains its family-friendly reputation. Why do we need mods? Why are there rules in the werewolf games? Why are there rules in the RPGs? Play a game without rules, where anything goes, and see how long it lasts or how fun it remains. They also respond to questions and concerns from members. Now, these are my observations (note that I even question myself), but regarding the mods, I see them as no different than any of the other members, with the possible exception that they might have more writing experience, more wisdom and definitely more patient than average. Other than that, the mods and admins are just like you and me. Oh, there is one exception to that. Not only do they post here at the Downs, they volunteer their time freely to do so. Instead of playing with the kids, sleeping or even posting on their favorite signature, the mods take a minute or hour (or more) and look over the threads to make sure everything is simply ‘okay.’

So why is there a "secret" meeting place for the mods (so secret, in fact, that it seems that everyone knows about it...)? If you really want to know, it so that they don’t go nuts. Most of the posts there are of the types, “Hey, I’ll be out of town for a few days. Could someone keep an eye on my section?” and “Here’s yet another spam-bot.” It’s also a place where new mods, like I once was (and still consider myself to be) learn from the old-timers. I had questions about what to do in the SbS, and others answered those there. One can post about posts there, and this allows for ‘off-topic’ posts to be posted, yet not within a thread to avoid starting a bad trend. For example, I may have a question about a direction one of my threads in the SbS, and instead of showing my ignorance in the thread, or making it seem that anyone could ask stupid (no, really stupid) questions in a thread about the Shire scenes, I posted in the secret forum and got direction there. It’s like the ‘planning’ threads of the RPGs, with the exception that it’s less exciting.

Persons have suggested more about the mod forum. Problem is, like in nature, vacuums are abhorred and so we tend to fill them with less than accurate information. You might not believe it, but the mod forum, until just recently, saw less posting than even the SbS, which might see three posts on a busy week. I’d say, “trust me,” but even to me that’s silly. How about, “trust but verify?”

But I’m rambling. Onto the real issue at hand: davem’s banning.

First, let me say again that I bear no ill will against davem. He is neither devil nor saint; he was a very well-read member of the Downs, with knowledge deep in the works of Tolkien and he articulated that learning well. He may have not suffered fools gladly. I note that even davem had his own sacred cows penned up on the farm. And here’s the bomb: I also state up front and unequivocally that davem chose to be banned. Believing that he played no part in his own demise is silly. davem is no fool to be caught unawares.

Anyway, here’s how I saw things (note: apologies in advance to all concerned actors. This is what I read into what others have posted, and usually I read two lines for each one seen on the page):

The Lord of the Bible?, like the ‘Of another world,’ thread before it, discussed religion, never a good topic for me as (1) it attracts me like little else and (2) I just know that some toes are going to get stepped on, and that it always sad because that’s never my intent. Like I said, in the Of another world thread, it happened. There I felt that I may have ‘gone too far’ with some of my posts, and so spoke with some of the other participants, publicly and privately as I wanted them to understand that I was just trying to convey my point in my posts, not attack them or their beliefs. It’s a tough rope walk, and so sometimes I think that it’s just better to avoid the whole discussion. Esty stopped in once and prodded that we were 'off-topic,' but davem and lmp (who represented the two 'sides') let her know that we were just trying to define our terms. davem had disagreed with the modding yet was very respectful. And that was the end of it. Interestingly, though the posts at times were heated and emotional, no mod had to step in as we all either ‘modded’ ourselves, keeping it civil, or left the thread if it got to be too much. It’s just not worth it.

There’s a time and a place for discussion of the near and dear. There’s also tact. You might want to discuss ‘the after life,’ in terms of Tolkien and the real world, but is the best place a funeral? Duh!

So the LotB? thread began. To me it seemed that, after a while, it was getting heated, and that davem’s point, of course well made, was that there was no Christianity in the books. Fair enough, and I’ve made a similar argument. What, I think, made the thread get out of hand was that others still wanted to see Christianity in the books, which to me is fine. I made reference to looking at clouds, as you see in the outside world those things that are in your brain. You see the patterns that are in your thoughts. The very imaginative see even more (listen to kids when they view clouds!). Regardless, if persons wanted to see Christianity in LotR, whether they could back up the opinion or not, it was no skin off of my nose. As I see it, when has anyone’s opinion on the Downs been the last word, or considered to be ex cathedra? Anyway, davem continued to let everyone know that there was no Christianity in the books. Okay. Still, others wanted to see this or that, and maybe their ‘proof’ was completely subjective, but so what? If someone wanted to argue that the elves listened to the Music of the Ainur on iPods, well, have at it. I may say my piece and leave the thread. davem, for some reason, could not leave be. It seemed (again to me) that as he had spoken on the debate and logged the only possible conclusion, that there was no reason to continue, especially for those that disagreed. He, in my view, became impatient with them and maybe thought less of them. Ridicule and satire, like above, can be useful, but is it always wise to smash every gnat with a nuclear sledgehammer? Repeatedly?

The mods asked davem to let be or at least demonstrate some tact; show a little respect or civility. Or maybe move to more fertile topics, as he’d obviously said his piece. Many, like myself and the now infamous SpM, agreed with davem’s points, but thought that he was being overbearing and stifling to the discussion.

Then it took a turn for the worse. davem, in my mind, decided that he should not be corrected and could not be advised. In the mod forum, where the mods discussed the situation, I asked if anyone knew if davem were okay, as this wasn’t like him. Sure, he might smack down a fool, but this was unbecoming.

And, while I’m on the point: regarding members, should we actually require more from those of higher standing etc?

Anyway, from then on it became davem against reason. The various mods and admins, both publicly and privately, asked him to just leave it be as there was no point in his continual impolite postings. One side asked; the other turned a deaf ear.

What do you do when someone, especially someone dear to you, goes astray? Contrary to some opinion, the mods did not want to ban davem. But what could they do, given that davem began spurning the rules of the forum? So it was with sadness that davem was temporarily banned, having been given more consideration than I ever would be given. Maybe, just maybe that would get through to him that all that all of the mods were asking was for some civility. Could the old davem come back please?

Did I note that the content of his posts, for the most part, wasn’t really in question? You can verify that using the ‘Of another world’ thread, as I wouldn’t believe me either.

When the temporary ban was over, which davem would return? The returned davem jumped right back to the same argument with the mods, which again seems to me that davem could not be questioned regarding his posts, could not be questioned about his tone, his intent, etc. Mull that one over. Are any of us beyond questioning? Isn’t that what you are doing with this petition? You are (obviously) free to do so. The mods, sadly in the case of davem, were not. Was it then, “Game on!” for davem? Did he decide to find out just how much weight he carried at the Downs? Maybe, here, he was a god and could do no wrong. Only one way to find out, I guess/assume.

What to do. More warnings, more debate. Like a good leader, the BW stepped in, having read post after post after post about the issue and finally made a decision. It was inevitable, because this obviously is what davem wanted, but still it had to be made. davem was disregarding/taunting mods, the rules, and setting a poor example, which is a shame as, like stated before, he was previously more of someone who you’d want to emulate. And so…

davem was banned. No one cheered. It was a sad day. I felt that he, for some reason, decided to destroy himself. The Downs has lost an informative member. But it doesn’t end there. Note that some of the mods thought that some explanation should be given, though others guessed (rightly) that nothing good would come of it. SpM, more articulate than I will ever be, volunteered to bell that cat. And has paid in spades since his attempt to help the situation. Others have been demonized as well. Now, personally distressed, not by davem’s ban but the repercussions from his explanations trying to help, SpM too, like many of you, feels that his time at the Downs has begun to fade.

Great. From my point of view, that would be 0-2 for the Downs. And we may not have added up all of the losses yet.

One bright point in this mess: In the mod forum, the issue was discussed at length. Now, the topic was davem and what to do. What to do that would be best for the Downs and for davem as well? I cannot believe the care that was given to the issue, considering that the death sentence, if rendered, simply banned someone from participating in the Downs discussion as a specific member. This was no capital crime, davem wasn’t going to jail, his membership fees weren’t being confiscated - the davem moniker would be removed from an internet site that discussed Tolkien. That’s it. Yet the mods still took the issue very seriously as if they were part of some grand jury deciding the fate of the world. Think about that. The mods could have asked, “BW, could you ban davem so that I can get back to crushing the imaginations of the members in my part of the forum?” But they didn’t, and I respect that and it gives me hope.

...

So where do we go from here? I have some suggestions: Continue to ask questions. Keep your eyes open and look to see what’s really going on instead of relying on partisan posts (like this one). Post. Read. Try to relax and enjoy, as life’s short.

Afraid of getting banned? From what I’ve seen, you’d really really have to work at it to be successful. Not sure if the content of your post is verboten? Ask a mod, or better, see if there’s something similar elsewhere in the forum and try to figure it out from there. Thread getting hot? Take a minute and find out why. Take a breath - remember, we’re typing on an internet site regarding a man’s work. Our eternal destiny and that of the world is not going to be decided here.

Also, regarding letting everyone read every jot and twiddle about this issue. Arrogantly, I say, why is that your business? Forum policies are clearly stated. Is your interest in the decision-making process, are you trying to figure out how not to get banned, or is the need to know driven by more voyeuristic needs? And, less arrogantly, if, for some reason you get on the to-be-banned list (not likely), do you want everyone else reading all of your private messages, both sent and received? And, reasonably, there will be, for some, never enough evidence or proof. There is no smoking gun. It wasn’t one post, one comment, one misstep. It was one member willfully careening down a wrong path.

I’m reminded somehow of the Battle of Azanulbizar; that too, like here, was a Pyrrhic victory if anyone can said to be a winner - our hands truly are too small. davem lost, SpM lost, other members not posting for fear or becoming lost themselves, the Downs creeping towards entropy…others trying to help but realizing that, for some wounds, there is only time and good will. With this post, I’ve burned my dead and am now starting the long sad walk home.

Posted in good will to my brother- and sister- members of the Downs.

Signed,
alatar, a mod.
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Old 10-24-2006, 09:48 PM   #18
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Old 10-24-2006, 09:56 PM   #19
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I have noticed two trends since Davem has been banned.

The first is that the books discussion forum - the grail of the forum, is on a downward spiral. It is in my opinion that many of the new threads though good, lack the quality of the old in which Davem initiated or in which he played an important catalyst in generating the debates. Ironic isn't it? That only when a member is gone do we recognize the impact he had on us all.

The second trend I noted is that posts in this forum seem to be more muted and less spontaneous than before. Users seem to be accutely aware of the animosity in the air and stricter overseeing of the forums and thus fear to tread carelessly lest they share Davem's fate. I mourn for the innocence lost.

The above observations are of course discerned from my point of view. Take it how you may but I stand by them. If you feel insulted by them in anyway, I apologise for they weren't meant to antagonize. I will be following Boromir88's example and limiting my visit to the downs until the time when I stop all together. After all, what's there left now that the good stuff is gone?
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Old 10-24-2006, 10:31 PM   #20
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I haven't posted on this subject much, and don't intend to, but I suppose since I was one to sign the petition I should make at least somewhat of a comment on the ensuing discussion.

Regarding the private Moderator forum. This is pretty normal for any place that has a group of moderators. I'm not now nor have I ever been a moderator on the 'Downs, but I've been a moderator elsewhere and so I have an idea the kinds of things that are discussed in private moderator threads. I've never had a problem with the fact that the moderators have a forum. In fact, with the old board, you could see the forum though you couldn't access it. So everyone knew it was there... I believe it was called "Mod-in-Gorthad" or some such and the description was something along the lines of "the dry, dusty bones of (grave)site administration." It never chafed me to see this.

Regarding my reasons for signing the petition. The Books forum has been in decline ever since I've been a member here, which is now slightly over four years. These days I rarely visit there and post pretty much never. So the whole "Lord of the Bible" thing went on without my noticing or caring. To me, The Lord of the Rings is a really good work of fiction, and I hang around this site not to dissect it but to have fun in places like Mirth and the RPGs.

But then, through sites like MySpace and LiveJournal, I heard a rather lot of Lalwende and Davem's side of the story and was concerned, and felt that anything which encouraged more discussion on the board and not on other sites, was something for the best. So I'm glad for this thread. It's been interesing reading.
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Old 10-25-2006, 01:50 AM   #21
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The fact itself that davem was banned was not the (whole) point in the community statement. As for me, one thing that was important and I wanted to criticise is that the public was given no explanation why davem was banned. In a way I understand the argument that mods do not need waste their time to explain every single thing they do to the normal members, but in my humble opinion such a big thing as permanently banning an active and respected member calls for different treatment. If a person people admire or like is banned without giving reasons, it makes people feel empty and they will start asking questions. Yes, there was an explanation in the Coming of age club -thread *a nod of approval towards SPM*, but I wonder how many of the 'downers ever saw it. In my opinion, the information should be provided so that members have a better access to it. The forum is governed by the BW and the mods&admins and it's they who make the decisions, not the common forum members, and we commoners (of course) are mainly satisfied with them making the decisions (they're the mods and admins after all ) , but would gladly hear the reasons behind their bigger decisions.
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Old 10-25-2006, 02:17 AM   #22
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Well, all I can say is davem's reactions on the Bible thread stemmed from a love of Tolkien and a love of the Downs and the rigorous debate it offered.

Its a fact that in Tolkien academic circles there is huge concern about the 'hi-jacking' of his work by people who wish to assign it a solely Christian agenda, bypassing all other concerns of language, northern myth, and all the other meaty concerns which went into the Tolkien 'pot'. To those who actually knew Tolkien this is wrong and potentially dangerous; they see how the reputation of Lewis has been ruined by such reductive 'criticism' (criticism in inverted commas because its not really criticism in the sense of being truly objective). So davem was talking from the side that is working hard to keep Tolkien from being pigeonholed.

That Bible thread started to go wrong when someone else proposed, in the most patronising way possible (and being patronised is a guarantee that you will start to get annoyed), to create a thread in which only Christian interpretations could be posted about - a form of 'religious apartheid' with no debate allowed on the validity of claims which some of us objected to not only as that would be prejudiced but also facetious (I have to say at this point I know what the reaction would have been if I had tried to create a thread which merely listed all the instances which support Marxism in Tolkien's work, with all challenges strictly verboten).

davem made the mistake of attempting to break the tension with humour (as English people do, its our nature - we cannot cope with either 'fuss' or earnestness), referencing Python, which only resulted in more flame. The reason davem was asked to stop what he was saying was because his 'tone', one he used all the time, was here used when the topic at hand was religion (now I see how right people are when they say religion is often the root of war - no more will I view it as a benign influence). Had it been feminism, environmentalism, buddhism or any other -ism or -ity would anybody have been jumping up and down and telling us to stop being 'offensive'? I suspect not (in fact I know not - new threads on Buddhism and WWII analogies have been thoroughly savaged on here, and there is no more evidence to support LotR as a specifically Christian book than there is to support it as having Buddhist or WWII metaphors).

Oh, and then to underline exactly what davem had been so afraid of happening, a decline into the kind of poor parallel picking we often see from young newbies who have not read the books happened, and we had some very shaky evidence for LotR being 'Christian' posted. Which again he responded to with typical English humour, which I'm afraid is sarcastic. Now we all know how sarcastic davem could be and has been for a long time, and he was most certainly not alone amongst high up Downers either. Alas, he chose the holy cow of religion.

So there you go. He did it because he loves Tolkien and loved the Downs. Unfortunately some people could not see that because maybe they love other things more than Tolkien or the Downs.
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Old 10-25-2006, 08:04 AM   #23
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I, moreso than most perhaps, am hesitant to post here because this is an issue in which I was directly involved and one which has affected me greatly. I am also hesitant to post here because there is a distinct possibility that anything that I say will only make matters worse. There nevertheless remains a chance that it may assist and I am willing to grab that chance while it remains. I also find it very difficult to stand by on the sidelines while accusations, bad feeling and misconceptions continue to fly about (not here, necessarily, but certainly on Formendacil’s LJ site). That said, and despite the temptation to do otherwise, I have tried, as far as is possible, to avoid being inflammatory in this post as heated exchanges will not help anyone, least of all me.

I should also make clear at the outset that I am no longer a moderator, and so this post represents a personal view. I announced my intention to withdraw from modding some time ago and my initial decision had nothing to do with this matter, although it has perhaps hastened my withdrawal. That said, I fully accept my share of the responsibility for the action taken in respect of davem.

Now, to business.

As has been made clear previously, there is no policy and no requirement for an explanation to be given when a member is banned. In this particular case, given that there appeared to be a misunderstanding of the reason for davem’s ban on the “Old-timers” thread, I thought it fair to provide an explanation there. I rather wish that I hadn’t now, given what has been made of it, but please understand that it was given in good faith. It was not intended to cause offence, although it is rather difficult to see how I could have given any explanation without making reference to davem’s conduct. I do regret using somewhat immoderate language in my reference to davem’s post on the Lord of the Rings labelled racist thread, and for that I apologise. I was, however, genuinely angered by the post at the time.

I would note that I did also provide a far lengthier explanation to Lalwendë, covering many of the points addressed below, in response to a PM from her. As a well-respected member of the Downs and as someone who obviously has a close connection with davem, I thought that it was fair to provide that explanation.

Others have provided further clarification in response to this petition. I would endorse what they have said. As alatar’s post, which in my view is spot on in its assessment, makes clear (and this is perhaps where my initial explanatory post was slightly misconceived), there was no single post or comment which led to davem’s ban. It was the culmination of the entire history of the matter, starting with the initial problematic comments on the LotB thread and my and Esty's neutral requests to keep things calm, via numerous warnings, a temporary ban and davem's voluntary departure from the LotB thread, through to his continued references back to the issue on other threads, challenging the basis for our actions and, essentially, the forum policy against aggressive, disrespectful posting. The post on the racism thread was the last of these, although it did assume greater significance because I did (and still do) genuinely think it capable of giving offence, especially in light of the history of the matter and the implication (clear, in my view) that it was directed at some of those who were interested (for entirely legitimate reasons) in discussing Biblical parallels on the LotB thread.

To form a complete view on the issue, you would have to carefully read through the Lord of the Bible? thread in its entirety. You would then have to consider davem’s subsequent comments made on various other threads after he had withdrawn from the LotB thread, but referable to what had occurred there. Even then, you would not have the full picture. You would also have to be privy to the PMs that passed on this matter. It is inappropriate, in my view, for that material to be made generally available, just as it is inappropriate to make the lengthy discussions in the mod forum public.

Even with all of that material, some might (indeed inevitably will) still disagree that it justified a ban, just as, for example, there are different views on whether it was right to ban obloquy. Not everyone will see things the same way (not least, I think, because people have different ideas as to how a site like The Barrow Downs should be run – as to which more later). However, I have gone back over all this material myself over the past few days and satisfied myself in my mind that the ban was justified. It is also worth noting that all of the mods/admins who were privy to this material as it developed and involved in the consideration of the matter felt that the ban was justified. Davem was given numerous warnings, publicly and privately, requesting that he cease posting in a manner which the mods and admins considered to be contrary to forum policy and guidelines, yet he continued to do so. He continued to refer back to the issue which had caused so much trouble on the LotB thread when there was simply nothing to be gained, and much to be lost, in doing so. Having received a temporary ban and so many warnings, it would have been best to simply let the matter drop, particularly on such a sensitive issue.

I always tried to avoid being overly officious or heavy-handed as a moderator. However, the Downs is a community. One with a few perfectly straightforward (and, in my view, perfectly reasonable) rules. In any society, one should not simply ignore the rules which govern it, persist in challenging them and “agree to disagree” with those charged with enforcing them.

As to whether a final warning should have been given, I am absolutely clear in my mind that it would have made no difference to the outcome. As he himself has admitted many times (in the discussion on Formendacil's LJ, for example), davem is incapable of letting things go and resistant to being told what to do. Another post of his on that site makes clear that he regarded the matter as a "battle of wits", rather than a matter of simply accepting polite requests to adhere to forum policies and guidelines. Any further warning would undoubtedly have been met with further resistance and argument. I am inevitably drawn to the sad conclusion that the situation would not have ended any differently, whatever we had done.

In any event, one would expect that someone who has received numerous polite requests, warnings and a temporary ban would refrain from continuing the course of conduct that had led to those things and would be fully aware of the likely consequences of not doing so. It seems to me that this is very much what alatar was intending to get across in his post. All the mods/admins involved wanted was for davem to be civil and respectful. However, he continued to harp back to the issue which had caused so much trouble on the LotB thread, even when he had left that thread, in a manner that was disrespectful and offensive to those who only wanted to discuss their thoughts on possible Biblical parallels in LotR.

It has been suggested that the LotB thread should have been closed. I was always reluctant to see that happen, though, because there were people who wished to discuss the topic raised. It was davem's continuing contributions (continuing long after he had got his point across) that were interfering with this. As I stated many times, I actually agreed with the basic premise of his argument, in the sense that I saw little merit for myself in discussing Biblical parallels. But unlike him, I did not see why people should not be allowed to do so if they wished to. Closing the thread would have shut off that discussion in circumstances where there were people who wanted it to continue. Freedom of speech has been raised numerous times in the discussion of this issue. Closing a thread where people were willing and able to discuss a matter that was on-topic and Tolkien-related due to the actions of one member who was not willing for that discussion to take place would hardly have been consistent with principles of fairness and freedom of speech.

There is a general feeling that the Downs has changed for the worse and/or that the mods/admins acted in bad faith. That is not the case at all. Unfortunately, this seems to have arisen primarily as a result of a few myths that really ought to be dispelled.

Myth 1: The Downs “management” is intolerant of views, beliefs and opinions which dissent from their own.

This has arisen as a result of the perception that davem was banned because he was critical of Christianity and/or of a Christian viewpoint. As has been explained many times, this was not the case. A quick perusal of their posts in many different threads will quickly confirm that there is no “consensus of opinion” among the mods and admins on religious matters (and, indeed, many other matters). There is no bias, when it comes to moderating, in favour any particular opinion, worldview, belief or group of members.

The fact is that the Barrow-Downs as a place is, and always has been, religiously (and politically) neutral. Much effort has gone into maintaining this approach, such as ensuring that threads remain Tolkien-orientated and that signatures do not espouse political or religious views.

A review of the LotB thread will show that I was at pains to be even-handed in my moderation. I did not think that it should be used as an excuse for evangelising. But similarly, I did not think that those who wished to discuss the thread topic should be constantly and impolitely berated for doing so, provided that they remained on-topic and the discussion remained relevant to Tolkien and his works.

Myth 2: Members are increasingly at risk of being banned without justification.

This is not the case. Members have always been banned without warning from time-to-time for gross or persistent breach of forum policies – spamming, trolling, flaming etc. Generally, such incidents pass without comment. No one objects when a spammer is banned (indeed, this is often called for). No one objects when extreme language is used. There are many other examples of inappropriate posting resulting in a ban, which passed without comment (or, in some cases, were welcomed).

As I have explained above, davem was given due warning of what conduct was acceptable and what was not, but ignored it. His case is not without precedent. Respected and insightful members have been banned in the past as a result of persistently abrasive and disruptive posting. Obloquy and Michael Martinez, both well-respected Tolkien “academics” and highly intelligent posters, are cases in point. Obviously, the situations are not identical, but they are similar. The case of Michael Martinez dates back to well before my time, so I cannot really comment on it. But it does show that this is not a new issue and does not represent a change in the approach of the mods/admins.

To address a specific point that has been made here in this regard:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Saurreg
No one likes to have a damocles sword tangled over their heads held only by a string which we know not of tensile strength or tolerance.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Celuien
That sums up my concerns.
Practically the only situation I can think of in which a member might have a "sword of damocles" dangling over their head is when they have received a temporary ban combined with repeated warnings about their conduct. In such (extremely rare) circumstances, one would normally expect that member to take particular care in what they say and how they say it, and certainly not to keep repeating the conduct that had prompted those actions ...

As far as I am aware, these circumstances do not apply to any current member and, from my knowledge of people generally, they are highly unlikely to arise.

Myth 3: The forum policies have changed or are being applied differently.

The Downs has always required members to post civilly, respectfully and politely and not to flame or insult other members. On Fordim Hedgethistle’s blog and Formendacil’s LJ site, davem comments on the passing of obloquy and himself portrays it as a similar situation. His comments point up, I think, a significant difference of opinion on how the Downs, as a discussion forum, should be run (and Saurreg and drigel have also touch on this point):

Quote:
Originally Posted by davem, on Formendacil’s blog
Well, he [obloquy] was abrasive, but he was interesting. As I've said before, its all very well wanting the Downs to be like a 'polite' dinner party, but its not interesting.

The Downs mods seem to have made a lot of people afraid of being banned - for trivial reasons (or for no reasons at all). I'd rather have an interesting argument than a boring & uninformed 'discussion' however politely its conducted.
Quote:
Originally Posted by davem, on Fordim’s blog
Sorry, but I want to be on a board where people with that level of insight are celebrated & valued. And as far as I'm concerned I'd happily accept Oblo calling me an 'ignorant son of a ****' in every post he wrote if I could also read stuff like that.
It seems to me that there are ideas being expressed here as to how the Downs should be run that are significantly at odds with the way that it is, and always has been, run. The Downs, while welcoming interesting, insightful, witty and challenging debate, has always placed a very high value on civility and respect. This has been the case for as long as I have been a member. There has been no change in “policy” here. It is also worth noting that politeness and respect are not incompatible with challenging, vigorous argument, nor with humour. One can be provocative without being disrespectful and discourteous.

As for bad language, this too has been a rule since the Downs’ inception. It can be difficult to apply, due to cultural and linguistic differences. If there has been any inconsistency in its application, it is because of this and because mods/admins cannot monitor every post that goes up on the board. The aim of this rule is to ensure that the Downs remains a family-friendly (and indeed friendly) place and that the language remains consistent with that used by Tolkien. It is a worthy aim.

If some of the ideas proposed here and on Formendacil’s site were implemented, the Downs would become a very different place. Is that what people want? A relaxation of the rules against disrespectful, impolite and aggressive posting? As I have said before, I have been to sites like that and I would be very sorry to see the Downs become like them. It never has been in my time here.

Myth 4: The Downs “management” had ulterior motives in banning davem.

There is no doubt in my mind that this is not the case. I have already commented on the groundless suggestion that the mods/admins do not tolerate dissenting opinion or favour any particular body of opinion or belief.

It has also been suggested that the mods/admins, or some of them, were on some kind of power trip. This is simply not the case either. The mods/admins involved in the davem incident all had better things to do than to have to deal with it, but did so because they felt that it needed to be addressed. No one wanted to see it end in a ban for davem, but it was ultimately agreed that such a ban was justified and was the best way to deal with someone who persistently ignored forum policies and mod/admin requests to adhere to them.

In any event, why on earth would the mods/admins suddenly want to flex their muscles inappropriately and embark on a power trip after all these years? The mods/admins exercise their authority when they genuinely believe it appropriate to do so, not because they derive any pleasure from doing so.

Is it a “cheap shot” to refer again to the fact that the moderators and admins spend a lot of time doing what they do voluntarily? Perhaps. But it is nevertheless true. And this is a very different situation from the general membership who devote a lot of time to posting here and contribute immensely to the Downs, as they do so out of enjoyment rather than out of moderatorly duty.

Myth 5: Davem was banned because of persistent requests from one member or a small group of members.

This was not the case. Davem was banned because the mods/admins considered it appropriate, not because any member called for it. I can assure you that any suggestion or speculation that any one member or group of members demanded that davem be banned is wholly incorrect.

Myth 6: The mods/admins couldn’t be bothered to deal with davem any further and so the easiest course was to ban him.

This has arisen because of statements to the effect that davem had been taking up too much mod/admin time. This is true, as far as it goes. But it would not, in itself, have resulted in a ban, had it not been concluded that davem had been given sufficient warning and that there was little point in continuing discourse with him in circumstances where he clearly had no intention of complying with mod/admin requests.

Myth 7: Discussion is dying following davem’s ban.

As I have noted already, vigorous challenging debate is, and always has been, welcomed at the Downs. There has, in recent times, been a downturn in serious discussion and an upturn in activity in the Mirth threads, with, for example, Werewolf and other games taking up much of many members’ time. This predated davem’s banishment and was commented on way before this situation arose. If people want more, and more challenging, debate, then it is up to them to provoke and provide this. The depth of discussion in Books is not dependent upon any one member, and any suggestion that it is is unfair on the many intelligent, witty and insightful members who have contributed there over the years without feeling any need to resort to disrespectful or abrasive posting.

Myth 9: There are sinister, secretive forums restricted to mods only.

There is a forum restricted to mods only. As alatar has made clear, it is purely administrative in purpose and provides a means where mods and admins can discuss action necessary for the proper running of the Downs without need to PM. There is also an admin-only forum. I have never had access to that forum, but I view it as entirely reasonable, indeed necessary, that it should exist.

There is also another private forum called Da End. The mods and admins are members, but it is not restricted to them. No moderation discussion takes place there. The discussions are non-Tolkien related and revolve around matters of general interest (films, books etc). It could be located anywhere, but resides on the Downs as a matter of convenience. It is no more sinister or secretive than PMs exchanged between members.

Well, I really do hope that, by posting this, I have not made matters worse. My intention is to help repair the damage that has been done as best I can. I sincerely hope that it is taken in the spirit in which it is intended.

Submitted with sadness, but in hope

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Old 10-25-2006, 08:32 AM   #24
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I'm afraid the hole only gets deeper.

None of us wanted this to happen. Least of all davem.

All the evidence given - and I can state that people have read and re-read all of davem's latest posts on the Downs until their eyes were falling out - was little more than circumstantial. It was flimsy. It was based on pure value judgements.

We know where it stems from. From a spat on the Bible thread where both davem and myself were spoken to in a most patronising fashion and where a proposal was put forward that was little short of shocking (a most defiantly un-neutral thread with no place for such as you - you dirty stinking heathens! You foul critics! You brigands what roll in the reek and wish to discuss such almighty matters!). davem tried to defuse this with humour. Alas, not everyone understands Python humour (they may not even get the joke above - ho-hum). And so the bomb dropped.

And what did davem do in the end? He. Left. The. Thread.

And went on to construct a good new one, demonstrating his commitment.

Oh, and he left the first time round. He was only banned after saying he was leaving. Kind of a kick up the jacksie to say "good riddance".

Now we have been given again his 'tone' as justification for his ban. How on earth are people to understand what tone to take?! To do this people are going to not only spend an hour or more on putting together a good post with quotes, but possibly another hour analysing the tone! Not only considering "Will this upset someone in the Bible Belt?" but "Will this upset a Communist" "Will this upset a Moslem?" "Will this upset someone with Eglish as a second language?" Note, not content, that's realtively easy to assess, but tone.

Can the admin team not see that this is simply an untenable position?

OK so The Downs is renowned across the Net as a hyper-strict, hyper-pompous site, but people simply aren't going to get any pleasure in spending even more hours in crafting essays which not only have to be correct in content but also in this elsuive Tone.

davem needed a lesson in Tone if this was the problem. So do a lot of people. The people with a tendency towards being patronising who are still very much thriving here, for instance. His 'Tone' was only 'off' because it was used in: Hey! A Religious Thread! And his tone was used in response to someone with an equally sneering Tone.

The simple matter is this was grossly mis-handled. No amount of evidence can make people see what was wrong in what he did, why it justified what he got.

OK so carry on digging a hole, but its only making the Downs get worse. I don't want to see that happen. And nor would davem, who was one of the Downs most valuable, loyal and hard-working members. Sadly the thanks he got was to see his name slandered and dragged through the mud.
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Old 10-25-2006, 09:47 AM   #25
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Question The most appropriate icon... I thought...

This discussion I had decided to stay out of... but I'd just like a question cleared up...

It was clear to me that Davem meant no offence with his posts. If they were anti-christian I was never insulted and I've head much- much - worse in my time. I accept that that doesn't apply to everyone and it's clear that some people were insulted - I would go into some long rant about 'forgive and forget', 'turn the other cheek' and so forth, but I think it's been said.

My question is this: if he was willing to come back, under what circumstances would the mods consider it? Even if this meant starting some new account or something. Lets just say, theoretically, that davem apologised for insulting some of our members (even if he still stands by some of his points and principals) or his 'tone' or whatever, would the mods consider forgiving him and letting him back into our community? It seems to me that a lot of people have been hurt by this and I don't want to see the Down fall apart or be broken up by it. I'm only looking for a solution to make everyone happy.

It still stands to reason that Mr Dave may not wish to come back, that aside, I'd just like to know there is a possibility that one of our most esteemed Downers, not to mention one of our liaisons with the Tolkien Society, could come back...

- On a side note, davem needs to come back for his role as chief of police in The Downer -
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Old 10-25-2006, 12:11 PM   #26
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The posts here are appreciated. It seems that everyones position, and how they saw things as it went to the breaking down point is clear (although it hasn't changed anyones opinions - nor should, really). Here are some gut feelings with some points that have been brought up.

TECHNICAL:
Quote:
It has been suggested that the LotB thread should have been closed. I was always reluctant to see that happen, though, because there were people who wished to discuss the topic raised.
As long as they all agreed to not only the subject, but the validity? I'm not saying that Davem was in the right, but there have been threads that were closed before. Never seen a call for the Bill of Rights afterwards, though. Besides which, because there are BD rules, there really isnt any real freedom of speech on this site (and rightly so).

Quote:
due to the actions of one member who was not willing for that discussion to take place would hardly have been consistent with principles of fairness and freedom of speech.
There is a time and a place for everything. Forever silencing the best asset the Books have is one option (neither fair nor free speech IMO). However, this would have been the time for admin to say OK everyone SHUT UP, and MOVE ON. This ends the conversation that was going nowhere. It had already diverged into "Yes it is - and here is the evidence" and "No it isnt - you are being silly". Anything after those points is moot.

Quote:
Myth 1: The Downs “management” is intolerant of views, beliefs and opinions which dissent from their own.
I agree. The only run in Ive had with BW was a political post on a political thread that I am sure I would have had the perma ban on other sites. btw - that was a thread that got closed.

Quote:
Myth 3: The forum policies have changed or are being applied differently.
Maybe not, but tone has. Not from Admin, but the users.

Quote:
There has, in recent times, been a downturn in serious discussion and an upturn in activity in the Mirth threads, with, for example, Werewolf and other games taking up much of many members’ time.
Not me. I would say look for other reasons. If you would have asked me, I would have loved to give you an honest reply. Which leads me to:

TONE
I completely agree with Boro's post.
Quote:
Which some may think 'well it's only one member,' but think of how many other members saw this and were effected by it?
Or who here are like me, who only are here because of people like Davem? Im not saying that it's all about a Davem fan club or cult. It wasnt about him at all personally (I dont really know the guy - seems OK to me though). It was about his posts, and what that represented, about him, and (more importantly) this website. In the Books, here was a place for those of us who dont desire to play games, trivia, RPG etc.

Quote:
The attitude has changed, the feeling has changed, I think we have this clique-like softy-softy attitude developing in the downs, and I don't like it.
Ive experienced it as well.

Quote:
davem needed a lesson in Tone if this was the problem. So do a lot of people. The people with a tendency towards being patronising who are still very much thriving here, for instance. His 'Tone' was only 'off' because it was used in: Hey! A Religious Thread! And his tone was used in response to someone with an equally sneering Tone.
The point being that the Tone I was picking was not only in the posts, but in other remarks, and were never really up front and confrontable (very BD "rules" savvy). A backhanded way that IMO told me that I definately was not a regular member, and because I dont write in a flowery or english lit. paper style, that my point isnt valid, even if what I said in 2 sentances counters very neatly what they said in 8 paragraphs. A Tone sirs, that I have put up with for a while, because the utility I recieved from participating far outweighed the nuisance. Every site has it's own culture, and this place isnt any different. I can fit in I think. But when something like this happens, all the little things that one puts up with, suddenly becomes unbearable in the scale.

Quote:
my initial decision had nothing to do with this matter, although it has perhaps hastened my withdrawal.
same here

Hope this explains something to somebody. There is a time to manage, micromanage, and there is a time for Social Engineering. I only post because I care.
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Old 10-25-2006, 01:27 PM   #27
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I did not intend to post again here, but having read all the posts to this point, I can not help but ask this one questions:

What is everyone trying to accomplish here?

Which leads to many other things...

If your purpose is to gain a proper explanation - haven't you gotten your explanation? The mods have done their best to tell you what happened! I don't think they can say anything more than they have. You don't think these reasons are good reasons so...

Do you want the mods to apologize? Say so and have done.

Is it to get them to let davem back? Here's a question - would he even return? I've heard from a few people that he wouldn't. To beg for the lifting of the ban only to be disappointed by the person in question will only cause more damage.

Do you want something else? Tell the mods what it is! You're all saying 'The feeling and tone of the Downs is changing.' But how is it changing? Less freedom? Less good, in-depth discussions? Figure out the answer and then try to come up with a solution. There are some things that can not be left up to the mods to accomplish or to fix. They can't make the discussions in the Book Forum better. That's left up for the posters.

Also, I highly, highly doubt that the mods mis-interpreted davem's style of writing, his humor, sarcasm, and all the rest to the point of banishment. I just can't see the misunderstanding being carried so far. He might well be a Yorkshire man, and Yorkshire man may be satirical and sarcastic, but we've got mods from different places in the world who are used to and accustomed to such behavior, through personal experience and reading. It just doesn’t seem likely.

My ideas of a solution:

Say, outright and clearly, what you want done to satisfy your discomfort. State what needs to be accomplished to make this place happy again. Stop arguing and tearing people down. And…….don’t leave the Downs. Another member leaving this place will cause much, much more damage than davem being banished.

In hope that things will clear up soon,

Folwren
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Old 10-25-2006, 01:49 PM   #28
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Hookbill, that may be what some of us wish to see, but I think there's a bigger problem. The banning of davem is done with, the mods seemed to have discussed this greatly and felt like it was the best decision for the site. But, I see a bigger problem here developing. Now that SpM, alatar, and the mods have stepped out and explained the situation more clearly (that which I am thankful for) I see these problems developing more clearly.

Is it logical for me to say that the reason davem was banned, because the mods felt what he was doing fell under, flaming, trolling, and spamming? Since he had continued to discuss the topic of Christianity outside the LOTR bible thread?

SpM,

Quote:
Myth 1: The Downs “management” is intolerant of views, beliefs and opinions which dissent from their own.
Whoever, started this myth, or whoever thinks it's true I'll be more than happy to tell them differently...just send them to me. You know fully well that I've disagreed with you several times...I wouldn't be surprised if I haven't disagreed with a moderator or admin. This has never been a problem in my view.

Quote:
Myth 2: Members are increasingly at risk of being banned without justification.
I wouldn't call it so much a concern as far as a member getting banned from something they said. I think it's more of a concern of what is it that we can say or can't say? A concern that are we writing something here where a mod is going to come out give us a slap on the wrist, and restrict what we further say in the future.

Personally I didn't feel like what davem said was out of line by your own admission SpM you say nobody lodged a complaint, nobody contacted a mod for his removal or felt he had created some huge hurtful Crusade against religion. So, if nobody felt offended by his remarks why was it such a problem to the mods? It's the mods jobs to make sure to keep this as a friendly and an accepting environment as possible...if nobody had a problem with what he said (and I have yet to see or hear from somebody that did) than why did the mods feel like what he was saying was out of line? What gave them the feeling like what davem was doing was harming the 'good community' of the downs, if nobody felt offended by his remarks?

There have been times that I've found people's remarks offending, and I'm sure people have felt like what I've said before may be rather harsh. I don't think that's an intent on anyone here, and that's certainly not my intent, and I did not catch that intent in davem. If that does happen where some people did feel like they were insulted, than as Saurreg states there always seemed to be a self-modding from the members. They chat a bit, hatch out their problems and move on. If no one felt insulted or hurt by davem's remarks why should he stop from expressing his own opinion?

The point I'm trying to make, anytime you put up a thread or a topic, that topic should not be restricted to simply one view and one opinion allowed on that thread only. What good comes out of that? Ignorance to the other opinion does absolutely no one any good. Why is it that threads must be restricted only to talk about 'references to christianity, references to buddhism, references to whatever it may be,' and anyone that comes in to say 'This is not how I see it, this is not how Tolkien felt' constitutes a banning? That's how I've seen what happened here.

You say that since davem ignored repeated warnings to stop his belaboring against the members who felt like there was christianity in the story, davem had to go. The whole thing is, they weren't attacks, or at least I didn't see them as attacks, and apparently nobody did. I saw it as a challenge, I saw it as somebody who had a different view than me, and therefor I saw it as a test and as a person to argue against. You claim that this is a very accepting site of opinions, in which case I used to agree (to a certain extent I still do). But it seems rather biased to me that somebody had to stop saying what he felt, while others were free to continue to post their opinion on the subject.

Quote:
Myth 3: The forum policies have changed or are being applied differently.
Aye, but the question is did what davem post constitute as 'disrespectful' and 'abrasive' attitude? If I felt like davem didn't respect my religion, I wouldn't respect him the way I do. I wouldn't respect him as a person. He expressed his opinion, arguments did get heated, but I didn't witness him insulting anyone or a particular group of people (rather he went against those that wanted to use LOTR to push their own agenda- and I find it comparable to authors that like to use the Tolkien to rake in their own profit). So, I don't see how his post to people outside the forum have anything to do with it.

Quote:
Myth 4: The Downs “management” had ulterior motives in banning davem.
See what I felt about Myth 1.

Quote:
Myth 5: Davem was banned because of persistent requests from one member or a small group of members.

This was not the case. Davem was banned because the mods/admins considered it appropriate, not because any member called for it. I can assure you that any suggestion or speculation that any one member or group of members demanded that davem be banned is wholly incorrect.
Here's where my biggest concern comes, was it offending, why is it that the mods felt that what he was doing was inappropriate and created an unhealthy atmosphere to the site? Going back, you say that since he ignored repeated warnings to leave the LOTR Bible thread to rest, then he continued to talk about religion and Tolkien outside the thread, that's why he was banned. This begs the question, if no one felt they were being insulted, why was it necessary to tell davem to stop posting his opinion? Why was it necessary to have him repeatedly warned to just let go the LOTR bible debate, while people were still allowed to express their different opinions? Why is it that the discussion of the topics that are sited in SpM's explanation felt they needed to be restricted to a certain opinion?

It appears to me there was some sort of babying the moderators did in this situation. To try to keep one side happy, and freely discussing their own opinion, while he was being told that he had to stop. This is what appears to be what davem didn't like, and I don't advocate it either. From the posts on fordim's and formendacil's blogs, I took that he didn't appreciate he had to stop posting his different opinion, while others were allowed to go on and share their wonderful little conversations of 'Yes, you're right, I agree. You are perfectly correct. That's so true!' (because to start criticizing and critiquing that belief is 'bad.') I don't enjoy those conversations, I'm prone in the movies thread especially, to simply argue against the popular belief of the thread just so we can get a discussion going instead of one big thread of everyone agreeing with eachother. We all like debates, we all like arguments, there have always seemed to have been great tolerance by the mods to allow this, UNTIL the LOTR Bible thread, when one person had to leave the thread at peace and let it go. But the question is why did he have to let his opinion go?

Myth 6, I don't feel is an issue here either so I won't discuss it.

Quote:
Myth 7: Discussion is dying following davem’s ban.
Well I think book discussion has been declining over the years, long before davem's ban. That's apparent...though it really doesn't help things out when you get rid of a member who always had the insightful and provoking post and contributor to the books forum. It may have been in decline, but getting rid of a solid contributor to the forum only furthers the decline.

Myth 9: like 1 and 4 I know there is no truth to it at all, so not an issue.

So, I guess you can say my biggest concern with what was done is:

1) The Books forum and it's intriging great conversations of old, which davem always seemed to be a part of will continue on a spiral downward trend. There will be fewer and fewer threads where we have two opposing sides arguing their opinion, because of a fear that a mod will come over their shoulder and say 'No no no.'

I can see if davem was a nuisance and cancer to the forum I would be more than happy to make this trade off. But was he causing so many problems that he was a cancer? To the mods it appears so, but I think you fellas made too much out of nothing.

2) It seems like you (by you I mean the mods and admins) went off an instinct that felt like davem's attitude towards the religious viewpoints in several threads was unacceptable, and since he went to other threads to continue the debate he was challenging your authority. Since you were going off this instinct, you watched him and looked for any possible post where he was going against your authority and your warnings. Aye, but was davem challenging your authority as mods, or was he challenging the flimsical and biased reasons for why he was being warned? Aye, now there's the question.

Indeed I would trade one davem for 50 'Yes that's so true...you are dead on' people anyday.
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Old 10-25-2006, 02:18 PM   #29
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Well I guess I'll chime in on this.

First off - I don't want to come off as anti-davem. Though I didn't have a lot of contact with him I am not so short-sighted that I can't see he was generally a wonderful member who contributed a wealth of information, etc., etc. as everyone has said. I enjoyed the small debate that we had in the LotB thread, & he did as well. If he wanted to come back & the powers that be allowed it that would be just fine.

But why again is the sky falling?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Saurreg
After all, what's there left now that the good stuff is gone?
What? Because one member is gone? Yes, davem is a loss, & I don't want to trivialize it or sound cold. But suggesting that the content is declining based solely upon that? As has been said, discussion in the Books was "declining" long before Werewolf and other things broke onto the scene and gathered even more attention away, it hasn't been an overnight thing. davem contributed a great deal but are you suggesting that "if only davem were here, everything would be fine again”? If Downers think the discussion is lagging then I can’t for the life of me see why they don't do something about it instead of wishing davem was here to do it...

I understand you can't replace him but for all the talk of the effect davem has had on people you'd think you could've picked up a thing or two from him rather than appear completely lost without his reasoning.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thin
Yes, there was an explanation in the Coming of age club -thread *a nod of approval towards SPM*, but I wonder how many of the 'downers ever saw it. In my opinion, the information should be provided so that members have a better access to it.
If people didn't see it they can do what I did, PM another member & ask for information. What do you want the mods to do - create a thread entitled Why davem Was Banned and leave it there for two months? Three? Four?

If you really want other members to be more aware of it then post a link to Sauice's post in your signature...did you happen to read alatar’s post above yours? I don't understand why you're clamouing for "better access" when there is a very detailed and, in my opinion, well put explanation right there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by alatar
davem was disregarding/taunting mods, the rules, and setting a poor example
That is the way I saw it, though I wasn't personally insulted, & I couldn't believe I saw it coming from davem. In my opinion he was four times the member than the way he was acting. Yes, Lal, I've read all you've said about Tone and I understand where you're coming from. But when you've been informed many times that what you're doing is unacceptable is it that difficult to stop?

He may have meant something completely harmless by it but if the management on the Downs deems that it is out of line then who is to decide? davem? Right or wrong it has to be the moderating team, and if you think they are abusing their powers then I simply don't see it.

Side not: Boro has posted as I've been typing this up and I just want to point out that Sauice said the decision to ban him wasn't based on members complaning. He didn't say no members complained (that I've seen). But there are probably quite a few members out there like me, if I was offended by something I wouldn't go tattle to the moderators first thing...they have to watch out for those members also.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lal
Unfortunately some people could not see that because maybe they love other things more than Tolkien or the Downs.
Or maybe others love their habits of using irony, sarcasm, & occasional downright ridicule too much to give up when asked repeatedly. I don't see how a matter of "Tone" on a touchy subject can't be adjusted if "Tolkien and the Downs" is the chief care and concern.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Also posted by Lal
And what did davem do in the end? He. Left. The. Thread.
Yes, technically. At last, at the constant urging of the moderators, he did the right thing for all concerned and left. But then what did he do? He continued to make reference to it, almost as if to say "oh by the way, remember that subject? I'm still right on it..." which is unnecessary and, quite frankly - though I hate to say it about him - childish. Yes, he was using it as metaphors & examples but there are countless other things that someone as creative as davem could've used.

Lastly, I don't buy this "we are all afraid of one misstep getting us banned!" response. Please. As alatar said:

Quote:
Originally Posted by alatar
Afraid of getting banned? From what I’ve seen, you’d really really have to work at it to be successful. Not sure if the content of your post is verboten? Ask a mod, or better, see if there’s something similar elsewhere in the forum and try to figure it out from there.
Or, no offence to davem, maybe try getting the point about the third time you're warned? It doesn't matter if you think the mods are being unreasonable or not, if you truly want to avoid a ban you will cease whatever it is that you're doing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Saurreg
Users seem to be accutely aware of the animosity in the air and stricter overseeing of the forums and thus fear to tread carelessly lest they share Davem's fate. I mourn for the innocence lost.
I'm treading as carefully (or carelessly, however you like ) as I ever did.

It's being made out like a temporary ban is about to be dropped on anyone all-or-a-sudden; like walking along the street & suddenly stepping into a pothole and breaking your ankle. Downers, that just isn't the case!

If the street is lined with signs stating "Beware pothole ahead!" "Careful, turn back" "Watch your step!" & perhaps even "Warning, pothole right here \/" and you keep going you have no one to blame but yourself.

Again a side note on Boro's post: If the matter is "we're all afraid of saying the wrong thing and being watched extra closely" then I still don't see the uproar. First offences do not bring you immediate probation. If you disagree you can always talk it over with a mod through a PM but in the end if you're going to insist you have the right to overrule a moderator or the Barrow-Wight then the very reason for them to volunteer their time has gone by the wayside.

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Old 10-25-2006, 02:30 PM   #30
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I have been a little hesitant to even consider looking at this thread, but it seems that the bug has finally lured me in.

First things first, I may not know all the details on Davem's band (and personally, I do not have time to pour over every post he's made to see what he's said that could be offensive...), but I will say that I am slightly displeased. Yes, displeased. However, I will say no more on this subject as I regard the mods and admins with great regard and whatever their decision is, no matter how much we are displeased, angered, frustrated or annoyed with them for it, we must respect that fact that THEY have the authority here. Whatever choice they make may (and in their eyes hopefully will) make this site an even better place to be a part of than it originally was.

Secondly, I must concur with Saurreg. I used to get home after school or wake up in the morining to many posts in a variety of threads. These past few days, when I have just quickly jumped on to see what was happening, I've noticed that the talk has been very subdued and less spontaneous than what it used to be. The Books forum has gone down hill from the looks of things. The Mirth section (which was a favorite haunt of most of us) seems to have fallen. The only positive things I can say is that the RPG forums seem to be getting quite a bit of visiting as well as the Quotable Quotes and Quiz Room forums.

Granted, I am happy that the RPG's and the other two are getting more visits as they were falling slightly down hill. But we're here to have fun and get to know new people from around the globe (and I can gladly say that I have become good friends with quite a few members [you know who you are]). We used to have lots of laughs and jokes in the Mirth forum. But now, everything is less spontaneous and it saddens me. I always used to look forward to reading what funny thing was posted about the latest picture in Crazy Captions. The Werewolf games (although they have slightly lost their taste) were always a fun way to get into the RP spirit, even if it was indirectly. Yes, a lot of us (myself included) probably had lapses of stress because we were worrying about being killed off. But that was the fun things about it. The Mirth forum has lost it's spontaneousness. It's true Davem never had a big part in it, but it seems that because of his departure, it has affected all of us who normally posted there.

The Books forum seemed to be one of his favorite haunts and as said previously, it has gone downhill. This also saddens me. We are all Tolkien lovers here. We are here to express our joy in that which the dear Professor brought to us. We are here to honour his memory by discussing the finer parts of his great litterary works. We are here to discuss what we didn't like about the books (done in a proper manner mind you). Granted I've never played a big role in the Books forum (but that's because I feel quite intimidated next to all of you [Davem especially] and because what I wanted to say, had been said before hand).

The Movies forum also was a favorite of many and that seems to have fallen as well. It's true that PJ made the movies without the aid of Tolkien. But I must say that what he had to work with, he did an amazing job. Yes, there are those who would disagree with me. But that is what this site is about. Is to discuss our love of Lord of the Rings, an amazing piece of literary work and film making.

I guess what I am trying to say is that we (as in all of you) are spending time brooding over something that, in the Barrow-Wight's mind, had to be done to make this place better for us all. Thechnically, we have no power to reverse this decision. Yes, I am quite sorrowful at the banishment of Davem. I have even asked Celuien to add my name to her list of members who aren't happy about this decision. My reasoning? Not out of spite of the mods and admins. But for the reason that I am sad to see such a reputed member, a great thinker and an amazing person leave us for (what it seems like) eternity. For the reason that I do not think (in my mind anyway) that they should have banned him. I completely respect the mods decisions, even if I don't agree with it. After all, they are the authority and they are doing what's best for the site.

But I must agree with something that Davem said before hand in his farewell thread. He is the way he is. There is absolutely nothing that we can do about it. I personally don't think he should be banned for acting the way he does. He says he can't change and I agree. I have tried to change myself for so long and it just doesn't work. It may work sometimes, but not in every case. That is why I disagree with the mods.

However, I believe instead of brooding on what has been done, we try and get back to having fun. Yes, we can miss Davem's intelligence and his humour. But do we have to debate about it constantly? I will miss Davem, even though I've talked to him maybe once in my entire year on this web site. I may only be 16, but I am mature for my age (and I would assume that my writing and this post would reflect that...or I would hope anyway).

I know that this may seem to not have had a point (my posts never do seem to have a clear point do they?) but beneath all of this confusion, there is a point. Let us a move on past all this frustration towards the mods. Let us get back to having fun and discussing the things we enjoy discussing. Let's get back to honoring our dear professor. Miss Davem all you want. I am not saying that we shouldn't. Heck, I will miss him greatly! But we cannot brood on this forever. But you cannot do it as openly as you have and with as much animosity towards the mods and admins as most of you have. Even if you haven't outwardly said you're angry, you can tell in a person's posts by their writing.

So, let us move on. Let us get back to things that we enjoy and miss Davem without all this animosity, anger, frustration and annoyance.

That's all I have to say.

Yours always,

~Glirdy~
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Old 10-25-2006, 02:44 PM   #31
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I know that I am relitavely new here, but I have some thoughts on this that I would like to share.
First off I agree whole heartedly with Folwren on everything she has to say. What does everyone hope to accomplish with this? Is this just a way to let everyone express how they feel, or do you want something to come out of this?

Rules are part of everything. I thought it was understood that the Mods are in charge, if they don't have the right to ban someone then who does?

When I first heard that Davem was banned I thought of course he had to have done something really bad to have been banned. So I checked out the thread for myself, and as soon as I saw that it had to do with religion I didn't need to read any more. Religion is a touchy subject.
I understand where the mods where coming from. If I myself were a Mod and saw that the topic of religion was starting to heat up, and one person was lighting it, I would kindly ask that person to watch what they say. If that person continued to not "play by the rules" then it is their right as the Mods to ask him to leave.

Now I also understand how some people who knew Davem would be upset about this, but it was by his own choice right? I really have no feeling that at any time I will be banned without notice...that's just rubbish! I have thorougly enjoyed my time here and I would hate something like this to turn members off from coming here.

I have to say also that the comment about all the serious discussions going down hill since Davem's ban is kinda offending.I never noticed a big change. There is always lulls, remember new people come here all the time and lots of "newbie's" have shared very useful, serious and interesting things on this site. And just because there are not as many serious threads is that so bad? Something will come up, but in the mean time there is nothing wrong with a little fun.

I do not believe there is anything wrong with feeling that this is a community. We need to put this to a rest and get on with it. If you want something in specific to happen or change then just say it.

I myself think the Mods do a great job keeping weird and offensive people off this site and if sometime in the future something like this happens again, I am sure the Mods will deal with it fairly and tactfully. Really would it solve or help anything if the Mods posted their concerns about members as threads? No. Leave it up to them.
I doubt that my post will make a differnce about anything, but I felt the need to express how I felt, however uneloquently it may be.

Signed a new, but not so new member. Valier
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Old 10-25-2006, 03:16 PM   #32
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Firstly, why have people decided to do this statement? Well you'll have to ask them; I cannot speak for individuals' different emotions over this, it was not even my idea. There is a general feeling of great discomfort and not a little sorrow, so perhaps that's the overarching motivator; for myself I am motivated by sorrow that the Downs has turned out to be not the place I thought it to be and the intense upset caused to davem.

Has the Books forum been in decline? Yes it has, and we have lost its champion, the man who would spend hours pouring over books and finding new topics to discuss. Why, after he left the Bible thread he even started yet another fantastic thread, which should show his commitment and lay to rest the myth that he wanted to be banned. Nothing has taken off in the same way since. And yes, people could get together to post things, but do people fele like posting right now? I know for myself I could spend an hour or more on a post, several volumes of HoME at my side, but do I want to dedicate my time to that endeavour now?

And why not? There is the fear of being banned - as I've said tone is a very intangible matter - and having your work wasted. There is also the niggling feeling that here I am, writing away, and what for? Who for? Other Downers? As has been made clear over and over, this site does not belong to common or garden members but to the team who head it up. So I am therefore spending my time giving them free content. Most websites would pay a lot of money for such dedicated input. I have the niggling feeling that thanks are not passing down a two-way street. Of course we are glad the admin team take the time to run the site, but this is also a privilege for them, a conferring of status and power. What do members get in this relationship? That's up to the mods of course, but bear my next point in mind.

At face value this is just another website, a collection of bytes and whatnot. However nowadays forums and bulletin boards are something more than this. They are communities. They are Villages. They have populations. And relationships form. The admins must oversee this, but they must also think about how they do this, and the ethics involved once they embark on the creation of a new Village.

Many tangible communities practice 'shunning', whereby if you do not follow the rules then you are ostracised (e.g. the Amish, religious 'cults') for good. Of course this is one way of exercising control, but it is an extreme way. Whether the members accept 'shunning' very much depends upon their own level of either education about the outside world, brain washing or addiction. In this community few of us are 'brain-washed' so we feel we must express our distaste and distress at what has happened to a member of the community whom we love. And even for some who do not love davem, they have concerns about the ethics of the case, the evidence to them is just not there.

As I say, when you create a community, you also create a complex web of human relationships and one tug on a thread can bring those relationships tumbling down. A forum aint just a website.

About some specifics brought up.

Davem was not banned first time out for behaviour. He was annoyed that due to his response to a spat in a thread he was the one being reprimanded. Parties on both sides were in the wrong, davem was the one who was blamed for off colour humour (however, being deeply patronising is not an inappropriate tone, so it seems), and eventually he decided he'd had enough and was going to leave for a bit. He was beaten, he'd taken all the blame, he was lying on the ground, but then the mod team came along and gave him a boot in the ribs just for good measure - a week's ban. Sorry, but I have to say if there was one way to antagonise someone then this was surely it.

Remember davem was man enough to leave the Bible thread when he was asked. He then went on to create a brilliant thread and it was all forgotten about as far as he was concerned. As for the so-called snide asides he made, he was laughing at himself and his hobbyhorse, as we all do now and then. He'd forgotten about it and was only concerned with getting Books back in business. Whether these statements were of the wrong 'tone' is entirely down to personal interpretation. I have mine - and I was there so I know why he said them. Mods thought otherwise as they were still angry he dared to argue his case.

And onto that subject. Davem is 46 years old. He is not 13. He also thought he was a friend of many of the mods, and as such would be able to discuss matters with the mods. He was wrong alas. Misjudgement. He was deeply upset by this afterwards. Nobody thought about how upset this would make davem. This was deeply unpleasant. However many things posted since (including boasts about the importance in the world of Tolkien scholarship of people who have been banned before) have revealed the levels of machismo and male ego that may be involved here; no man likes being argued with after all. Maybe if you all (davem included) were made to cuddle fluffy bunny wabbits and wear bras and dresses and do nurturing things for a week you would learn some of the subtleties of human relationships and drop the ego?

Come on. This was all just a stupid argument that blew up into a misunderstanding and then became some sort of vendetta resulting in davem waking up to find a horse's head in his bed (no not me, that's a mafia reference...). He's not evil, the mods aren't evil (SpM is very interesting to talk to when he's off topic). What can be done to get rid of the bad smell. I have ideas but they might not be popular as they would challenge male egos.

Get back to normal? Aye mebbe. But I've lost me rose tinted spex. It's like finding out that Father Christmas is really your dad in his underpants, he's got mince pie stains on his vest and he stinks of stale booze.
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Old 10-25-2006, 05:14 PM   #33
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Lalwendë, there were repeated requests, here and elsewhere, for a full explanation of why davem was banned, yet when they are given you say that we (presumably those providing those explanations) are digging ourselves a deeper hole. Either you accept the explanations as being honestly given and that the decision was made in good faith, whether you agree with it or not, or you don’t. If you don’t, then the only real alternative is that the mods/admins involved acted in bad faith and/or with ulterior motives, and that those who have provided the explanations are either actively lying or, at the very least, being economical with the truth. That is not the case but, if you believe it, then there is likely to be nothing that I, or anyone, can say to convince you otherwise.

As to whether davem’s ban was justified, I have, again, provided just about as full an explanation now as I feel that I can give. To reiterate it, in its essence, the fact is that the entire mod/admin team involved thought davem’s posts to be inappropriate and, in many cases, offensive and members were in fact offended by them. That is more than sufficient justification, in my view, for the warnings that were given and the temporary ban. The fact that davem continued to post in the same manner, after those repeated warnings and that temporary ban, in my view fully justified the full ban issued by The Barrow-Wight.

Just to be clear, though, there was no favouring one “side” or silencing another. Davem had ample opportunity to make his views known on that thread and did so at length. His position was, I am sure, fully understood by all contributing to it some time before any serious problem arose. As I have said, I agreed with him in essence. Additionally, in answer to Boromir88, I would reiterate a point made in my earler post:

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Saucepan Man
I always tried to avoid being overly officious or heavy-handed as a moderator. However, the Downs is a community. One with a few perfectly straightforward (and, in my view, perfectly reasonable) rules. In any society, one should not simply ignore the rules which govern it, persist in challenging them and “agree to disagree” with those charged with enforcing them.
If anyone remains concerned over this issue, go back and read the LotB thread in its entirety and then read all of davem’s posts after he withdrew from the discussion. It’s not the whole story, because there were also PMs involved, but it’s pretty compelling in my view. If you read (or have read) all of that and still disagree, then again there is nothing that I, or anyone else, can say to change your mind.

As for this “tone” issue, no one (spammers and trolls apart) need worry about being banned without being warned and told exactly why a particular post, comment, manner etc is inappropriate. This happens very, very rarely. Rarer still is the case where someone ends up being banned because of repeated disruptive, abrasive and offensive behaviour. Including davem, it has happened only twice in the (nearly) four years that I have been here. That, in my view, is because people instinctively know when something that they have drafted or posted has over-stepped the mark. My experience of discussions on this forum, both serious and light-hearted, tells me very clearly that virtually everyone, if not everyone, who posts here regularly knows what is appropriate and what is not.

Warnings are not given and bans are not implemented because of some machismo urge to satisfy male ego. They are given and implemented because the mods/admins (both male and female) consider, after deliberation, that it is appropriate to do so.

What was the purpose of this thread? My understanding from the petition was that it was to seek further clarification for davem’s ban and reassurance that members will not be banned without warning and without being given a very clear indication as to why whatever it was that prompted the warning was considered inappropriate. I feel that I have said all that I can to address those concerns. There is not much more that I can usefully say.

Finally, for the record, I wish to make clear that I am English (very much so), I am a keen libertarian, I have no strong religious beliefs, I have (or at least like to think that I have) a good sense of humour, and I am a long standing Monty Python fan. None of those qualities alter my assessment of this matter.
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Old 10-25-2006, 06:46 PM   #34
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addenda...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spm
What was the purpose of this thread? My understanding from the petition was that it was to seek further clarification for davem’s ban and reassurance that members will not be banned without warning and without being given a very clear indication as to why whatever it was that prompted the warning was considered inappropriate.
You are somewhat right here. I quess many of us felt it really disturbing that just after davem had been banned for a short period of time - and came back - he was banished for ever just like that, *flush*, without any further notice or warning or anything. That I think disturbed many of us - and I think still disturbs.

-----------------

I have never been a friend of any "conspiration-theories" as I see them just voicing peoples hope to have the world look easy & simple and to get a culprit nailed (like the Nazis or modern day fundamentalists) instead of seeing the world as really a complicated place with differing interests and options. But really, Boromir voiced one of my concerns here:
Quote:
Personally I didn't feel like what davem said was out of line by your own admission SpM you say nobody lodged a complaint, nobody contacted a mod for his removal or felt he had created some huge hurtful Crusade against religion. So, if nobody felt offended by his remarks why was it such a problem to the mods? It's the mods jobs to make sure to keep this as a friendly and an accepting environment as possible...if nobody had a problem with what he said (and I have yet to see or hear from somebody that did) than why did the mods feel like what he was saying was out of line? What gave them the feeling like what davem was doing was harming the 'good community' of the downs, if nobody felt offended by his remarks?
I had already let go of this suspicion and thought of myself being too taken with the subject-matter (being a non-believer myself), but as Boro states, the logic doesn't back the point? How come he was banned indeed if not for his views? Is there something that has not been revealed here?

I really would like to continue with a point made by Valier to show a thing:
Quote:
When I first heard that Davem was banned I thought of course he had to have done something really bad to have been banned. So I checked out the thread for myself, and as soon as I saw that it had to do with religion I didn't need to read any more. Religion is a touchy subject.
I understand where the mods where coming from. If I myself were a Mod and saw that the topic of religion was starting to heat up, and one person was lighting it, I would kindly ask that person to watch what they say.
Now this tells a lot. If you have a thread were the christian aspects of the LotR or other works of Tolkien are discussed approvingly, that is just allright ("Aragorn had a long hair - like Jesus had", copyright by davem, I think? ), no one will come saying that's inappropriate. But when those people think that anyone proposing alternative viewpoints is just downright wrong because of him not sharing the christian point of view, what then? I can see davem's bitterness here as justified: really thought of points and countless hours of thought and deliberation vs. "Hey, isn't Gandalf the White like a resurrection of Christ - so Tolkien wrote him as a christ?" (as he wrote Frodo and Aragorn and Eowyn and...)

If it is so, that is scary how nicely you soften it. If one viewpoint is right without any question and challenging it is not... and include the tone issue: you can preach one interpretation as you will but not another... I didn't see this as a fair judgement, even with the explanations. The "other side" of these debates was at many times as bullying and stubborn (although lacking davem's argumentative skills). So shouldn't you have banned all those flamers there?

But what I am even more worried about, is the attitue of Glirdy and the Only Real Estel. I know Glirdy is a young guy and that should be counted in favour of him (no offence Glirdy, really!), of the Real Estel I know nothing, so leave that be.

But really, this is a question of someone! Hey, a fellow Barrow-Downer! Not just one "freak" you stumbled in the MySpace or who sent you an offer for Viagra or something; whatever, he is / was a colleague, a friend, one of your own community!

And it's not someone you browse as an alias on a random-site, but a real human being who has dedicated lot more hours / years to this thing any one of us could even imagine and whom you have somewhat known during a long time! And yes, and most poignantly, someone to whom this site & the discussion probably was more than to any one of those trying to downplay his situation ("well, that's just one downer, everything's all right soon").

So show some grace, some virtue, please! Maybe turning the other cheek here could be considered if you're so sure about the message and so pure as you think (mainly relating to those in whose interests the bannig of davem was) - or can you choose by your own feeling, which parts of the Scripture to follow and which not? "Jesus loved his enemies but we shall have no mercy with davem, no way, he should go!"

Maybe there is no conspiracy - I think there isn't - but if there were people who made complaints about davem and demanded his downfall, I think they really should be brave enough (virtuos, courageous, human...) to come forwards and show why they are good people to the BD's whereas davem is not... and what were their arguments! Hiding in the shadows is not moral nor is it even christian...

---------
I really have appreciated Spm's and Alatar's posting here as they have made me feel that I've on the road to understanding what has happened (and they made a couple of good points I hadn't considered earlier).

But there are question-marks still... If we are honest, everyone should be.

I really think this discussion has all the potentiality to clean the air here and make this site flower again, I really trust that being so.

But we may also break a lot of things.

I hope we do not.

There are too many good things in this site for it. (You see, I'm "backtracking" also as I like this site too much! I don't know whether it tells good of the site or ill of myself... )
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Old 10-25-2006, 06:58 PM   #35
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I'm concerned that this argument is starting to go too far. I've seen forums starting to go quiet lately, forums that had been seeing a lot of activity in the last few weeks. The "Fortunately/Unfortunately" thread, for one, was virtually guaranteed to have several responses per day, yet it hasn't been seeing much activity lately.

Boromir88, if your intention is to leave this forum, I can't stop you, but I'd rather we didn't lose such a respected and highly intelligent person who contributes so much to this forum like yourself (I'm referring to you here, Boro). Plus, I still haven't had the chance to devour you in Werewolf yet .

Believe me, I don't think davem or the mods want the Barrow-Downs to start dying as a result of this argument. We've been an excellent community for over five years now, and it would be a shame to see us all go our separate ways at this point.
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Old 10-25-2006, 07:36 PM   #36
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Despite my rather obvious lateness, I will add my two cents. And I will try to be as concise and unoffending as possible. Please be aware that my intention is not to attack or offend any ‘side’ or those specifically involved. Like Menel, I am concerned as to the path that is being treaded upon.

While it is certainly disappointing to see great contributors banned, I do not think this matter should have become what it has. Davem, despite his contributions to the community at large, was only just another member of the Downs. To give him some vague special status because of his abilities is to equate him with being indispensable. And that is what would be truly horrible, for coming to rely on someone as a great source of information and discussion (no matter how eloquent and brilliant they are at presenting it) can take away from one’s own abilities to do so over time. He outweighs no other member, and his banning should not be given the special attention some seem to attribute to it. The loss of Davem as a contributing member is a blow, but not so great as to keep the Downs from remaining a great discussion forum. And to allow this affair to drain other members of a desire to remain in the community is equally wrong. All in all I feel that if this matter is not laid to rest with civility and with dignity (as well as the posters being treated as such), it will lead to consequences I’d rather not think about (though I have certainly experienced them in my own right as a member of several forums).

I apologize if my view, or the way it was presented, offends anyone as I do not wish it to. And nor will I excuse my nature in doing so if it does. If you do feel slighted, please let me know through the PM system, as I will no longer respond to the matter by way of this thread.
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Old 10-25-2006, 07:52 PM   #37
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Like many, I suppose, I didn't really want to post here, as I don't want this to drag on, but...well, I think it will manage that without me.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Nogrod
Maybe there is no conspiracy - I think there isn't - but if there were people who made complaints about davem and demanded his downfall, I think they really should be brave enough (virtuos, courageous, human...) to come forwards and show why they are good people to the BD's whereas davem is not... and what were their arguments! Hiding in the shadows is not moral nor is it even christian...
Whether or not I am a moral person, and whether or not I am Christian, I found davem to be out of line in a number of his posts, because of his lack of respect for people simply as people, regardless of what they had to say, particularly in his 'Hail and farewell' thread. And the fact that he could not drop the grudge in his posts afterward was also disappointing. (I'm not saying anything about his character or his contribution to the 'Downs or anything...they are not part of the issue: I'm simply saying what I had a problem with.)

But I did not contact anyone about this, mod or otherwise (or speak to anyone about it, actually).

Whether or not he should have been banned, I will not say, as I don't feel it's my place to.

But, what I can say is that bringing everyone into this with accusations is not appropriate. Please do not spread the bitterness.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Nogrod
I really think this discussion has all the potentiality to clean the air here and make this site flower again, I really trust that being so.

But we may also break a lot of things.

I hope we do not.
And I hope that everyone will act on that hope.
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Old 10-25-2006, 08:12 PM   #38
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Pipe I am not going to get into an argument about this.

Nogrod.

I am trying not to trivialize davem being dismissed from the forums. But the fact remains that I think at the very least his behavior was borderline, certainly for someone of his maturity and standing, and if you hover on the line you can expect a judgment call from the mods.

I certainly didn't ask for him to be banned. I certainly am not jumping for joy over it. I understand that davem is not some forum spanner and that he was important to a lot of people here. But I fail to see how this forum is falling apart as some are making it out to be.

Quote:
"Jesus loved his enemies but we shall have no mercy with davem, no way, he should go!"
First off, I don't see how the Bible or me being a Chrisitan or not (I certainly never said I was in my post) has any bearing on this thread. Secondly, I don't think you could find a single verse in these Scriptures you speak of that says there are no consequences for actions that were out of line.
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Old 10-25-2006, 08:14 PM   #39
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Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa . . .

Well, it's all my fault and nobody else's really.


I banned davem because he ate my hamster!
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Old 10-25-2006, 08:16 PM   #40
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