Saturday, March 19, 2011

From Fab.

Hi all.

Leslie K got some rather ridiculous email last night from 2-3 active people on the site and she regretfully tells me she's going to be unable to keep moderating the page.

The kind of personal and hateful language in these emails was such that my very first thought was to just shut the page down and let cretins like these in question go find some other place to exercise (and maybe exorcise) whatever darkness allows them think that the pseudonymity of this site allows them to write such terrible shit.

Leslie's note says, in part: "I love College Misery, and had such a good time. But, seriously, I do it just for fun, and being targeted like this - even if it's by such a TINY percentage - makes it not worth my energy and worry. I hate to do this, because I've had such nice communication with so many Miserians over the past four months. Please tell all of them how much I've enjoyed being a part of things, and let everyone know that I'll likely remain a reader. Sorry, Fabby...seriously."

I don't know many people who are more funny, wonderful, and as tough as Leslie K. She's a real world pal of mine, and I love her and her family very much. I hate that a job I asked her to do resulted in some douchebags taking out their anger on her personally.

The page will continue as is for the time being, and I hope that we can enjoy the site without it turning into a shooting gallery. For the offending parties from last night, shame on you.



  1. Fab,

    I'm so sorry.

    With Leslie's permission, you might want to publish some of those emails. It is possible that public shaming might affect them.

    Please tell Leslie K. how much we appreciate her work. I am sorry she had to go through this.

    The fact that there were 2-3 attackers is particularly disturbing; one cretinous scumbag could be isolated, but 2-3 at once means the trolls are organizing, for the pleasure of being poisonous, I suppose.

    I'm sorry to see that the trolls have won. But I don't particularly want to hang with poisonous people, and I don't want to seem to condone their behaviour by continuing to post here. So, take care, everyone, and if we meet at a conference someday, remember the secret sign. (Two fingers up: "bartender! and one for my friend!")

  2. Post the names of the trolls. Then ban them.

  3. I sort of understand assholes on blogs, but on academic blogs? Is that how little civility we get with all of our education?

    Disgusting. I find myself avoiding the comments more and more. I might comment on the post, but I always get dismayed when I get into the rest to see the fighting and bickering. It's not all the time, of course, and there are VERY few offenders, but those jagoffs who do abuse others, well they're just fucking contemptible.

  4. Naming and shaming by publishing their emails would be the right thing to do, in my view.

    As always, I ask myself who are these self-important people who think it is ok to do this kind of shit. Get over yourselves, please.

  5. Leslie would be a fool to put up with that behavior. She is not the first to be treated that way. It is a sad day for College Misery to have lost such a wonderful and practical moderator. I hope the jokers who sent those e-mails are punished.

  6. Well, that fucking sucks. I really do think that CM was an improvement on RYS because of the ability to comment on posts - especially in the cases where people post a question of the "tell me your experiences with X" kind.

    But apparently, if comments are allowed, then trolls and assholes will be trolls and assholes. It's a dreadful shame cool people like Merely and Leslie are chased away.

    So, what's the solution? Do we move to LJ, where we can make a members' only community, and ban people who behave like jerks?

  7. honest_prof, the make up of each of our personalities is very different. Some people can shield and compartmentalize very well, some can't at all, and most of us are in between. I completely understand Leslie's feeling. One comment toward me was so nasty and vile I quit, but Fab post-poned deleting me, and I came back. And that was just one nasty person in one nasty discussion. I think the volume Leslie gets would erode a lot of us. How much exposure to negativity a person chooses to endure is up to them. If that wouldn't affect you, good, I'm impressed, but don't be so dismissive of her feelings.

  8. Oh, dear. I'm very sorry to see you go, Leslie, but thank you for putting up with the nonsense for as long as you did, and I'm glad you'll be hanging around. And thanks for stepping in again, Fab. I really hope there's some way to keep things going without undue stress on the moderator.

    I hesitate to say this, since it probably feeds into whatever the nasty minority get out of their activities, but I'm also pretty angry that a very few people can make life so difficult for the moderator. I understand reactions from people who are horrified or disillusioned to see college professors (or at least people claiming to be college professors) talk the way we sometimes do, and those from college professors who aren't sure that we should be airing what might be seen as dirty laundry at this particular historical moment. I disagree with all of the above reactions, but I understand them.

    But it doesn't seem to be that kind of honest dissent that's causing the problem; instead, there seems to be an impulse to tear something down just for the sake of tearing it down that I really don't understand. I'm not sure whether public shaming, or banning, would do any good, or whether it would just escalate the conflict, but I'd have no objection to either if there were any chance such an action would be productive.

  9. @honest_prof: I second Wombat's comments, which appeared while I was typing. I've also found (mostly in real-world activities), that I can end up caring a lot about something that I originally took on simply because it needed to be done, and I was willing to be helpful, precisely because I'd now put a lot of time and effort into making it work. I think it's the same phenomenon we experience with our students (and which Beaker's(?) admonition not to care more about their educations than they do warns us about): we end up caring, whether we should or not, because we've tried so hard.

  10. I'm so pissed off about it still because Leslie's a friend. But it's up to her what she wants to reveal. I know a little bit because I helped her track down some of the emails and matched them with IP addresses on our stat software. (One person sent two emails, one from a slightly different IP address, but at the same node of the same institution. He signed 2 different names, and the emails were sent 4 minutes apart. That's why we can't say 100% sure if we're talking about 2 or 3 people. The other person has already directed misogynistic comments to her on the fucking site, so imagine his bravery when he sent to her in the darkness of a private email.)

    Overall, the kind of thing that ended up being an ongoing hassle focused on her role as moderator, what she was "supposed" to be doing, how she favored certain people, how she censored others.

    There were always bitchy emails that said, "Can't you ban so and so," and then so and so would write an hour later about banning someone else who had commented in such a way as to worry them.

    When Leslie did try to sort things out, she took heat. When she let it go, she took heat. Imagine any complaint about her on the comment thread, and then mutliply the ferocity by a factor of something.

    And I want to say that she's not a shrinking violet. It wasn't as if she couldn't just ignore them, she just thought, "Why should I have to put up with it all."

    She runs a politics blog elsewhere (non-academic), and she has a great husband and daughter. I think she just didn't want to have to read the mail every day especially when it had turned ugly.

  11. h_p, you're kind of on the hot seat now, so I didn't mean it to sound like you're out of line. I just think you can't put yourself in her shoes and that's all I meant.

  12. Oh no! That sucks so bad...You're both right -- Leslie shouldn't have had to deal with that, ever, and I don't blame her one bit for giving up the position.

  13. Unfortunately, receiving those kind of emails is pretty much a universal experience for blog moderators/writers who openly identify themselves as female. That's why so many female bloggers use names and avatars which are male-appearing or gender-ambiguous. It's appalling, and it's driven a few of my favourite bloggers out of the blogosphere.

  14. Somebody said on this page a couple of days ago, on the multiple login post, that he'd just use a proxy server next time he wanted to bypass the rules.

    Who wrote that? I can't find the comment now, but someone has deleted some of the more offensive ones already.

  15. I have no intention of bypassing the rules, but these things aren't that hard to get around. I know only dinosaurs use dial-up, but if you use dial-up your IP changes everytime you connect. I don't even know what "proxy server" means, so I'm borderline computer illiterate and I know about the dial-up thing. Not to mention, some co-miserants are at huge institutions, and could hop from computer lab to computer lab using a slightly different IP each time.

  16. Ugh. Unfortunately, the phenomenon SocioConvert describes sounds all too familiar, even though I've never moderated or written a blog. There's something about a woman in charge that sets some people off -- a small percentage of people, but they suck up a disproportionate amount of energy.

    @Wombat: that's about what I was imagining, given what Fab describes, too. I admit that many people would find the ways I spend my Friday nights pathetic, but that's *really* pathetic (at least I manage to enjoy myself without annoying others, at least not intentionally).

  17. @honest prof

    I agree with you. They're tracking our IP addresses to make sure we don't violate the rules.

    Let's show them. Let's quit the blog.

    You first.

  18. I've resigned my spot as correspondent, but wanted to comment here.

    I also assumed that what Leslie was encountering was vilely and probably crudely misogynistic, and I entirely agree with her position that there is no reason she should expose herself to vicious personal hostility; particularly when she had taken this job on only as a favour to us all, and was getting nothing out of it herself.

    Women do frequently get run out of public places by woman-hating thugs who think they have no place in public. All women with any voice in public have run into this in many different forms. We wind up picking our battles, and saving our energy for the important fights. This blog is not important, and I don't blame Leslie for saying the hell with it.

  19. I sent Leslie K an email last night at 9:51pm. As follows:

    Subject: please excommunicate honest_prof

    I am 1.618033 sheets to the wind, but I would be glad to have honest_prof eliminated from CM... post-haste! That's my vote, anyway. I wonder if the great and powerful Leslie K has such powers. Regardless, keep up the good work! You are loved.

    Southern Bubba, PhD

    Until then, I had emailed her only about technical stuff, and she had been very helpful.

    Leslie K is a good person and was a conscientious moderator. I thank her.

    Fab, good luck finding a replacement.

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  21. The true trollish agenda is always, and invariably, to make the discussion All About Them.

  22. I'm undoubtedly seeing this too simply, but post all of the available data on the trolls.

  23. This sucks, and I'm sorry that Leslie K. was verbally abused. I agree with Archie; publish the names! We have gone through too many moderators for a site which is not even a full year old.

  24. I have not be here very long, but I come here everyday to read the posts and comments. I hate that these trolls chase away good people.

  25. I think part of the problem is that the qualities you NEED in a moderator - a bit of compassion and tolerance, and a person with a squishy enough centre to see which comments are likely to upset people - are also qualities which make that person a bit vulnerable to the abuse they are likely to get.

    I offered to deal with the email for Leslie early on, before it got mean, and she said she was coping. I am still happy to do the email, if someone else wants to be site mod.

    To quote someone I am very fond of: "your tears of rage are like fine wine to me". This, however, makes me a bad person to moderate comments because I never get upset by trolls, so I wouldn't press the delete button.

  26. Actually having one person handle the blog and the other the email might work out.

  27. I'm so sorry to hear this, and I'm one hundred percent in agreement with the gender analysis. I deleted myself because of it. Leslie, thank you for all your time, energy, and good sense. It is our loss.

  28. We're all a bunch of mean, cowardly fucks. I've been in academia for twenty-five years, and pound for pound, we are the sorriest assholes around.

  29. No, not all of us, Stella. I know some really fine human beings in academe. There are some really fine human beings on this board. The problem is that it only takes one rotten apple to spoil a barrelful. It happens in departments all the time.

  30. Just stop reading the private mail. End of story.

    Most requests for a correspondent slot will be obvious, so whomever reads the mail in the future should just delete everything else. After all, shouldn't it all be ON the blog, in public, any way?

    I never understood the sniveling little brats who sent hate-mail and demands for censorship. Stop enabling their backbiting.

  31. I'm sorry to see Leslie go, but I understand why she did it. I've been in a similar position, but I put up with it far longer. It took me four years and a health crisis to decide that the anger and negativity wasn't worth it, particularly when it came from just a few persistent individuals who made it be known that they thought trolling was a major league sport and one of the most fun things one could do on the Internet.

    I do hope the site will continue. I think it's a valuable resource for academics. Yes, we vent, but we also offer support, share our successes, and ask questions that inevitably pop up at different stages of our careers. It would be a shame to let just a few people spoil that.

  32. Wait--what? People personally attacked Leslie K.??? Whatever for? I'm so sorry, Leslie K. Thank you for doing such a thankless job and taking the heat for protecting us!

    And to the immature cowardly trolls, shame, shame on you!!!

  33. I just wanted to add my thanks to Leslie K for all her hard work, and to Fab for keeping CM going. Maybe a move to a less open-access format is the way to go, but the thought of having to do this makes me both sad and angry.

  34. @Leslie: I'm sorry you were personally attacked. That's unfuckingacceptable. Please order my commemorative "Team Leslie" T-shirt in black, size L. (And thank you for your service.)

    @Merely and Frog: I understand your reasons, and I am truly sorry to see you both go. Your voices (and Black Dog's) made me want to be a part of CM, for the simple fact that you consistently, intelligently, and insightfully spoke back to the same issues which are now driving you away - a rarity in most forums on teh internetz.

    Perhaps moving to a multiple moderator format would be a workable solution... (says Drunk, not wanting to give the trolls the satisfaction of bringing down the blog, yet not wanting to give them a singular target for their self-pleasuring.)

  35. Leslie, I'm sorry.

    Cassandra, yeah you right. The moments which most severely threaten my sanity are when someone utterly blind to their own privilege uses that privilege to shit on other people.

    @drunk...Uh, not that you asked this and because I REALLY AM a self-centered shit...I gave up my posting privileges because I was going through a bad time, and the bad time continues. (That thing that someone said about not wanting a mentally ill person to work in your lab? Yeah. I can't work in that dude's lab.) I was worried that I would eventually say or do something that would out myself...and that it would probably be in the process of suggesting that one of my colleagues do something particularly graphic and unfortunate.

    I think of myself has having developed a thicker skin than when I started grad school, in no small part thanks to rejection letters from journals, bad course reviews, petty advisors, my own editorship (which makes people say wretched things about you), my work in the development world, etc.

    But, I'm not willing to take on the job of moderator for precisely the reason that Leslie might be leaving us.

  36. @BlackDog - that's awful! But as a fellow mental-health-imperfect academic, sadly, it's not beyond the bounds of imagination... hope everything works out well for you

  37. Shit. I don't check the blog for five days and this is what happens. Shit, and shit again.

    I'm so tired of people (present non-troll company excluded).

    Fab, please thank Leslie for me, too. Thankless job and she seems like a classy dame.

  38. I second Greta entirely. And Strelnikov and many others. I'm sick to my gut about this.

    Leslie, thank you, thank you, thank you. How DARE anyone treat you that way! And good for you for not taking any more.

    Fab, welcome back and thank you again. Please out the emailers.

    @Merely Academic, Frog and Toad, and Blackdog: wow, you're leaving, too?

    Hugs all around, people.


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