9/23/07

Debrief

It’s been an awful week for our site.

In the past week alone, RateItAll has lost four excellent reviewers: IJR, StarkTruth, Ridgewalker, and Wiseguy. Each has chosen to leave the site, and exercised their rights as RateItAll members to permanently delete their accounts.

As I’ve seen a lot of rumors floating around as to the circumstances regarding their departures, I thought it was important that I clear the air and present the facts as I understand them.

As a rule, I try not to discuss site disciplinary matters publicly – these have historically been left between the admin and the member. But as these are extraordinary circumstances, I’m going to be as transparent as possible in order to present the most accurate picture of what transpired.

Those involved are welcome to comment on this blog if they feel that I got anything wrong.


IJR


As we all know, IJR was a longtime reviewer who was very popular. He was prolific, he was funny, and he was pretty unique. At the time of his departure, he was third ranked in the list of Most Helpful Reviewers.

About four weeks ago, I noticed a series of very odd sounding reviews from him. They were not written in his style, and had an oddly formal tone to them. I ran one of the reviews through Google, and found it be copied directly from another site. There was no citation given to the author of the review.

I messaged IJR, pointed him to the site rule about plagiarism, and asked him not do it again.

The following day it happened again, so I warned him again.

The following day it happened again, so I warned him again, and said that if this continued to happen, I’d have no choice but to suspend his account for two weeks.

Note: it’s almost unheard of for me to give three separate warnings, in rapid succession, for the same, fairly serious, violation. IJR was given this courtesy only because of his standing with the site.

A day or two later, it predictably happened again, so I suspended his account.

When the two week suspension was up, I reactivated his account. Within 24 hours or so, IJR had sent messages to a few folks (myself included), complaining of an old boys’ network, and deleted his account.

I feel that my hands were tied in this particular situation. The violations were so blatant and so defiant, that my choices were either to say, “screw it, the rules don’t apply to IJR.” Or to take action. I guess I could have asked him if there was something else that was bothering him.

Looking back, I wish I had.

My personal opinion is that IJR was intent, bordering on obsessed, with becoming the reviewer with the most helpful votes. When he started to feel like it wasn’t going to happen, he prepared himself to self destruct by flaunting the rules. I wouldn’t be surprised if he felt that the odds were unfairly stacked against him, hence the “old boys network” (which I take to mean cronyism) accusations.


StarkTruth and Ridgewalker

As most of you probably know, StarkTruth and Ridgewalker are a couple. Whip smart, Stark is an excellent writer who made a pretty significant impact on the site with both her reviews and her lists. From an admin perspective, I considered Stark to be very much a “tough cookie.” While she didn’t start fights, she had a history of coming in pretty hard when she felt that she was slighted. I had a bit of an admin run in with her shortly after she joined, when she began messaging a number of regular reviewers with the false information that I was planning on selling the site. A heads up was given to me by several regulars. I’m not sure why she thought this (I’ve never actively tried to sell the site), or why she felt the need to try and start a panic.

Despite her impressive contributions, I never got the feeling she particularly liked (or trusted) the site (or me).

And then there’s Ridge. In the history of RateItAll, I can’t remember anybody who has been more universally liked and admired than Ridgewalker. Besides writing the best reviews and making the best lists (and helping others with their lists), he was also the first to welcome new users and the first to try and talk overheated reviewers down. He was a giant on RateItAll, and somebody who I personally admire a great deal. When he fell ill, I sent him a care package – in the site’s nearly 8 years online, this is the only time I’ve done this.

About two months ago, Ridgewalker brought it to my attention that a certain RateItAll reviewer was accumulating helpfuls at an unnatural rate – something like 2,000 in a 24 hour period. I investigated the matter and found this to indeed be the case.

What was strange is that the helpfuls were coming from a user that was not logged in, who was at the same IP address of reviewer in question. In other words, somebody seemed to be logging out, and giving helpfuls to themself.

As far as I knew, this was an impossible scenario. You can’t give helpful votes if you’re not logged in, and you certainly can’t give helpful votes to yourself while logged in.

This was happening at around the same time that RateItAll was going to a multi server configuration. A known bug at this time is that folks were getting logged out in mid browse, as they bounced back and forth between servers. In other words, some members found themselves in a weird limbo status where they were logged in at one moment, and logged out the next. Then logged in again.

In this weird limbo status, it was apparently possible to give your own reviews helpful votes.

This is important, because it gets to intent. This was not a situation in which the member had gone out of their way to set up a duplicate account with the sole purpose of giving themselves helpful votes. My understanding is that this was a situation when a member was browsing the site, and suddenly realized that they had the ability to give themselves helpful votes.

So, I suspended the user’s account for 3-4 days while I sorted out the technical glitch that enabled this, and deleted the bogus helpful votes.

Amazingly, we discovered that at that moment, it was not possible to subtract helpful votes in our system, as explained here. I felt that it was important enough to get this particular user’s bogus helpfuls off the books, that I commissioned the development work to fix this. When this was fixed, not only did the offending user lose their bogus helpful votes, but everybody’s tallies were recalibrated to reflect subtracted helpful votes (primarily from folks who had left the site).

I also formally warned the user, and expressed my disappointment at the bad judgment.

So why didn’t I ban this person? For a couple of reasons. First, the person is a regular, and regulars nearly always get the benefit of the doubt. Secondly, there have been at least 7 other cases of members in the top 100 who have been discovered showing bad judgment in regards to manipulating the system (specifically, setting up dupe accounts) in order to pad their own tallies. All of these reviewers were warned, and given a second chance. None of them have broken the rules again in regards to dupe accounts.

Finally, given that the vote getting was enabled by a technical glitch, and not premeditated, I don’t see how it would have been appropriate to jump the warning and suspension stages of discipline, and go right to ban. Just as there’s a difference between “stealing” a bag of money that falls out of the back of a truck and robbing a bank, there’s a difference between creating a false ID to give yourself helpfuls, and suddenly realizing that you have the power to give yourself helpfuls.

There was bad judgment displayed here, but it simply was not a ban worthy violation. If anything, it was less severe than stuff that I had let go with a warning previously. Banning this user would have been utterly inconsistent with how I’ve managed similar situations in the past.

So here’s where things get murky.

At exactly the same time as this helpful vote situation, Ridge told me that he and the member described above, had been emailing with each other. Allegedly, there was some inappropriate stuff emailed (not messaged through RIA) to Ridge. This allegedly inappropriate stuff came to Stark’s attention, who understandably, was not happy about the situation.

Stark posted an angry personal attack against the reviewer who had been emailing with Ridge on RateItAll (though without actually naming the person), and the reviewer responded with a threatening message. Unfortunately, both of these posts were not immediately noticed, and stayed on the site for longer than I would have liked.

Eventually, the two posts were deleted, and both reviewers were warned. No disciplinary action was taken against Stark (as it was an extenuating circumstance) or the other reviewer (as it was a response to an attack.)

And of course, it is not within RateItAll’s domain to discipline RIA members for what (allegedly) happens on their own time, via their own personal email servers. From the perspective of site discipline, any email or real world correspondence that happens between RIA members is simply not relevant.

I did make at least one critical mistake in my handling of this situation – I discussed some of the details of the bogus vote getting with Ridge. Over the years, I discussed A LOT of site issues with Ridge. Both strategic, and tactical. In a lot of ways, Ridge was one of my most trusted advisors on things related to RIA. He was probably the most respected member of the RIA community, he had the site’s best interest in mind, and he is an incredibly smart, mature, and insightful guy. Of course I’d want to tap his wisdom.

So why was it a mistake to discuss the bogus helpfuls with Ridge? Because of the timing, and his relationship with Stark.

I can imagine Stark’s outrage when she found out that not only was a RateItAll member emailing inappropriate stuff to her man, but that same member was accumulating bogus helpful votes.

Flash forward to last Friday. Stark again posted a personal attack on the reviewer (without specifically naming the person). I removed it. Stark immediately posted it again. I removed it and suspended her account to try and talk things with Stark via Ridge.

There was no way that I was going to allow a public, nasty, personal shootout on the site.

In messaging with Ridge, it became pretty clear that Stark (and probably Ridge) expected the reviewer to be banned, and saw my decision not to ban the user as a slap in the face. I responded that it was not within my domain to ban somebody for something that happened away from RateItAll. Ridge responded that he understood that, but what about the bogus helpfuls? I responded that the user had already gone through a suspension, and based on how I’ve moderated the site in the past, I could not justify going right to a ban for that particular violation.

So we were stuck. Stark was furious that an RIA member could get away with inflating their helpfuls and crossing the line with her boyfriend, and she wasn’t even given the opportunity to respond on the site. Ridge, already concerned about what he perceived as a growing problem with RIA’s culture (more on this to follow), was also in the awkward situation in which his continued participation on RIA might be seen as disrespectful to Stark (my speculation).

What a mess, what a mess, what a mess.

Soon after, I received a note from Ridge requesting that I reactivate Stark’s account so that she could self delete. I complied. Stark deleted her account. Soon after, Ridge deleted his account. This was a devastating surprise, though looking back, he probably felt himself with no other options.

At a micro level, I feel that my only mistake was discussing the details of the bogus votes with Ridge – you don’t tell something to one half of a couple, and expect it not to get to the other half. That’s not fair. This information, which was incomplete and should have been confidential, only inflamed the situation even more.

I stand by my decision not to ban the other reviewer, and not to let my respect and admiration for Ridge make me moderate the site in an unfair manner.

But at a macro level, I failed miserably. The site lost its best reviewer and list maker and friend in Ridge. Worse, I don’t really think he wanted to leave (I could be wrong about that).

My gut tells me that Stark was going to take off regardless, but perhaps more skilled diplomacy by me could have salvaged her RIA career as well.

Wiseguy

This brings us to Saturday.

Wiseguy was a respected and passionate member of RateItAll. His main interest was politics, which meant that he got into it from time to time with folks (including me), but I think that there was a lot of respect for him on both sides of the political aisle. He’s a guy that I know cared deeply about the site, and when he said something regarding site management issues, I listened.

Saturday morning, Wiseguy posted the following video to YouTube expressing concern about the recent loss of talent from RateItAll. He also suggested that “if it had been him, he’d be gone” (I’m assuming that he meant the bogus helpfuls) and that I needed to get a handle on some of the shenanigans that certain reviewers were getting away with. Finally, he suggested that I work harder to keep the talent from leaving.



His departure came as a shock to me. I had sensed some growing frustration from him over recent months – specifically, that he felt that liberals were treated better on RIA than conservatives. But still, I didn’t expect him to leave, and am pretty bummed out about it.

Two things in particular make me sad about Guy’s departure; 1) that it wasn’t his fight; and 2) he was given bad / incomplete information. The rumor that was floating around was that a reviewer had hacked into RateItAll and given themselves thousands of helpful votes, and was allowed to stay. This is very different scenario than what really happened – a technical glitch on RateItAll allowed a reviewer to give themself helpful votes.

So no Guy. You would not have been banned if it were you. Nobody would have, except perhaps somebody on final warning status. And you’re more than welcome to come back – we’d be thrilled to have you.


Moving Forward

So where are we at? Well, we’re bending, but hopefully not breaking. I’m heartened by some of the level headed things that folks are saying here. There’s a lot of talent, and humor, and class left on RateItAll, and although we’ve taken a terrible hit this week and lost some great, great people, I’m hopeful that we can get things moving in the right direction again.

One of the things that I’d like to address in the next few days is this issue of “culture.” I’m prioritizing community things over all else for now – step one is going to be getting rid of that damn not helpful button. No need for the negativity. I also have some other ideas for some tools with which we can recognize our friends, but without over dependence on the helpful button. Finally, given that helpful votes have become the de facto currency of the site, I believe that we are in need of better regulation around abusing the helpful button, so that we can make excessive cronyism unprofitable so to speak. Stay tuned.

71 comments:

  1. Some further clarification is needed here. First, I want to make it clear, as I did to you, that I did not stop writing on RIA, or leave the site because of off-site activities or, as a smaller issue, because of the allowed abuses on the site...but because of you. That's not the only false assumption you have made here.

    You came crying to me one day about being at a loss about how to fix the “culture” on the site. (Ridge, it’s all about culture.”). So, I gave it some thought and knew that it would include some tough love and gave you my best advice. This was one of the times that I felt we were seeing the same thing.

    How many times have I logged on to RIA over the last 8 months or so, saw what was going on, rolled my eyes and logged off? Got me to thinking about how many times others had done the same...how many times other great writers (some who still have accounts) have done the same...how many Oscars, abicharas, Starks, EOs, Edt4s, irish’s, Randymans, callits, m. a. durans, Drummonds, wiseguys, louies, Lances, Dr Entropys, Szinhonshus, PlanetaryGears, minkeydudes, jamestkirks, caphillseas, Loerkes, earthbounds, kamyliennes, JEDs, Donovans, frogios, alpeppers, earthbounds, Genghis, jaywiltons and others...have done the same. At one time, all of these people were writing on a daily basis. I love to write and so do a lot of others, but when writers log on to RIA and see the kind of drivel, bantering and adolescence that goes on, they don’t see a place to write.

    Proof positive is that out of the Top 100 reviewers, 8 are regulars and 6 of those are part of the same sewing circle. There has been a loss of good writers and few of them have been replaced and many good reviewers with diminished activity. The place has acquired a MySpace atmosphere. A particular “reviewer” has brought that kind of culture to RIA and I feel, has dragged RIA down. I logged onto MySpace once or twice, looked around and left. Perhaps you never made it clear to me what kind of culture you wanted to create, or recreate. Perhaps you were deceptive about that. Perhaps culture isn’t really important to you and that you don’t mind Grizz/dawg food/airline reviews...as long as there are enough of them. Because, you see, unlike most other contributors, I worked closely with you on many issues and also saw this as a business. Like I had told you many times, it’s all about the long-term potential...the key to any business. In the end, I feel that, like any business, the boss/owner/operator/manger/head coach has to take the responsibility for the condition of his business, based on good, or bad decisions. I think you have made good decisions and bad decisions, but have not learned from the bad ones.

    Hell, I remember when it took a good 30-40 reviews or comments to make the Hottest Lists. My last list made it to the front page with 4 comments. It made it to the top of the list with 10. Less than half of the Top 100 are active at any level. You are not attracting keepers. The advice that I gave to you would have required some ballsy moves, but I felt that the site needed to go into triage, rather than spend so much time on the technology.

    In the very end, you told me that you would much rather see me leave than enforce your so-called rules. Between what I feel has been a pretty long history of deception to the reviewers, your shucking-and-jiving on the rules and your empowering and emboldening the wrong people...you have chosen your culture...and the site is on a shaky glide angle because of it. It’s just not a place I have wanted to visit for a while. At one time, it was the greatest forum for human expression in history. You had the magic. Hope you get it back.

    A couple of other quick clarifications. First, the word “hack” did not originate with me. Second, you have a tough time separating issues, which is something that I don’t. Ridge is Ridge. Stark is Stark. By your own admission you shouldn’t have brought off-site activities into the mix. It had nothing to do with your business. Hell, a multiple baby killer could make a good reviewer as long as they don’t challenge anyone’s character or integrity on the site, resulting in censorship. That is not something that only you can decide.

    Next, yes, I did betray your trust. You asked me to participate in a cover-up, which resulted in the “we ALL lost helpfuls” travesty. I’m convinced that it was a smokescreen to divert eyes away from that one particular person who gleefully took advantage of vulnerabilities in your system, rather than report the problem to you. I know...I know...you felt that no one deserved to keep helpfuls that were earned by past contributors. At first, when I saw what you did, I thought it was clever. But, 5 minutes later, it hit me...all bets were off...and I decided to leave.

    Lastly, I don’t really know what it is that you want to happen here. My guts tell me that it doesn’t matter very much as long as the meter keeps spinning, based on “visits”. Culture? You may not be happy with it, but you created it. As I see it, every one of my RIA keystrokes is a nickel in your pocket and I could no longer see the purpose...I didn't know what I was contributing for. Helpfuls? They’re worth less than Monopoly money. Have made some damn good friends here and I’m grateful for that. Writing? I’ll always find joy in writing...

    Life’s too short to be angry, but a little disappointment is okay.

    Good luck, Mr. Coburn. You know I mean that.

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  2. I gotta wonder if any of this is directed at me. I'm the irresponsible, brash guy with videos and pictures all over his page who in the old days warned that such tools would make us too much like myspace. Is it me, man? Am I killing the culture? I'm not listed with great writers and I'm largely considered the king of the one-liner, so maybe its me, huh. I know I'm in the "sewing circle" too. Its an intriguing concept to say the least and I did get an earful from none other than PBEAVR about what goes on behind my back, including things even said about me personally, but that was a while ago and I can hardly attribute his rantings to reviewers that were not even here when he left. Where do I go from here? Does numbah bow out so you can save RIA from the monster I have become? Fat chance. That's not me and everyone knows it. I guess the thing for me to do in keep an open mind and know that everything is not what it appears.

    To think some people think numbah has no brain...

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  3. Sleep like a baby, Michael...this has nothing to do with you...

    ridge

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  4. Doesn't it? It may not be anything on your level, and I appreciate that being said, but I know that there is a layer to numbah with many reviewers that they don't discuss with me. I know that the regular crowd has gotten stingy with the helpfuls because they think things are somehow out of control and only dishonesty about what is helpful can fix it in this odd estimation, but I know what the people say when 'ole numbah ain't lookin' and I know sometimes it sounds like RACIST ROY. (remeber him?)

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  6. No...Racist Roy was before my time. Why do you feel that you need to make yourself an issue here? If you ever wanted to know if I had a problem with you, all you had to do was ask...

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  7. I never figured you did, but all those things are the tidbits I pick in the guarded whispers of my currently nameless detractors as they filter to me, so it makes me wonder. Maybe I'm just paranoid from the #1 target hanging around my neck, but I have come to understand one thing in the last couple years and its people. They can flip on you in an instant and it never matters who the person is.

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  8. Communicating on the internet can be a tricky business, but it doesn't disclude a person from acknowledging someone who throws the highest forms of compliments at you...it's still the real world...

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  9. Dude, I kinda feel like Luke talking with Obi-Wan's ghost now...

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  10. Well, you just let me know when Michael wants to talk to Alan...

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  11. Lawrence, you're right about me having a growing sense of frustration in recent months, it had nothing to do with the way I was treated at the site. Many people come to RIA to write... I came to the site primarily to read, and lately, there's been very little to read. Most of my favorites are gone; E.O, SZin, Lance, Ridge, Stark and others.
    Some of the others were ran off the site by a certain reviewer. They were people that I liked to read. This person had a hand in at least five reviewers leaving, including the last two, that was really the last straw for me, so I took my frustration out on what I believed to be "the source" Then, "This reviewer" has the nerve to complain about people running others off the site.
    Maybe "hack" was the wrong word to use in my last exchange: http://www.rateitall.com/r-2433498.aspx#ReviewsStart. I was a little geared up at the time. I did reveal information without hearing the other side, my bad.
    You have a tough job Lawrence, the site allows people to create weblist that only promotes "chat" this can be fun at times, it can also be a problem as well. Oh well, you can't satisfy everyone.

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  12. To be honest Mike, I believe some comments were made with you in mind, your question (s) should be answered. "Lets continue the honesty folks". Many people (including me) felt that you turned the site into your personal chat room... though you may have accomplished this unwittingly ;) and that got in the way of "serious writing, ratings and opinions". Maybe RIA should have a chat wing. I'll admit, I felt some of your weblist were just...Un-inspiring, aimed at people in your..."sewing circle" but who am I to say, I was afraid to even try to make a weblist. Honest people should tell you that they (including me) felt the helpful thing was a bit much, at least you were up front about it all. It was a goal of yours and by god you did it, even if you did recruit others to help.You had a thousand or so from me.
    Looking back, maybe I should have taken your light hearted attitude towards the site, your a better man for doing it, and I admire it. I came down on people you liked, but it had to be done. I never intended to harm you in any way, and I hope you don't hold it against me.

    Your friend, Guy

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  13. Good morning, Guy...Your above references to comments referring to Michael can only be to my comments, since I'm the only other person who has posted here. But I can tell you with no uncertainty that when I wrote, he never crossed my mind.

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  14. Again...my bad. Micheal is so woven into the site I find it hard not to include him as a player in the conversation.

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  15. No problemo...ever. You wanna know the irony here, Guy? I always told Stark that the day Guy leaves the site, is the day I leave the site...Men don't get more trustworthy than you...

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  16. It’s not often that one gets to write their own eulogy, but here goes…

    I like to think in terms of analogies and the best one I can formulate for RIA is a pub where we get together after work and share friendly banter over a beer. Sometimes the conversations over politics or religion got rather lively, other times it was just a laid back place to hang with friends and enjoy a good laugh or two, with an ear open to new ideas.

    To address points made by Lawrence… At the time I first started posting, dot.coms were being given a coat of paint and sold, hence my concern over this one. It was a legitimate concern. Once Lawrence clarified that he had no intention of selling that was the end of it. I’m not sure why he brings it up now, except as a prop for setting the stage. For him to say that I disliked him and/or the site may be him projecting his own feelings about me. I don’t care for some of the topics that he’s passionate about, but I admire his ability to create and follow his dreams. It’s a great idea and few things in this world qualify as great these days.

    I will admit that I was disturbed by his revelation of dual personalities and wondered about his ethics. Later I figured… what the hell… given the same circumstances I’d want to have my cake and eat it too. I lowered my expectations and began posting again.

    Ridge and I were dealing with two separate issues. Yes… I sat here for the better part of a day and watched the ticker tape click away on thousands of illegitimate helpfuls and agreed with Ridge that it should be brought to admins attention. It may not have been premeditated, but it was certainly willful exploitation. What you discussed with Ridge was between the two of you. At no time… I repeat… at no time did I mention it to anyone. You had no clue what was going on with me, or my issues. You assumed that the comment I posted asking other reviewers how they think I should handle betrayal by a trusted member was as a breach of confidentiality. You censored my comments more than once and THAT was what ticked me off.

    Was I pissed at a fellow reviewer for sending Ridge nude pictures of herself? You bet! Does she not realize that what she did was completely inappropriate? The man is just recovering from a heart attack. What was this… a get well card?

    At first I thought I’d let it go, it was after all between the two of them and he is quite capable of handling himself. But a pattern began to emerge… she’s an obvious player and makes no bones about lying and cheating to get what she wants. What was it she wanted? Attention and an ego boost via helpfuls, whether they were genuine or not? Yes, I was pissed for personal reasons, but I also thought I owed it to my mates to alert them. Granted, I could have chosen my words more carefully and avoided pushing the envelope on site rules. But, you will notice that there was only one person here who was glad to see us go.

    Back to the pub… the party started getting a little loud and it was hard to talk over the din. After a while, I gave up trying. It’s no fun being sober and watching a few drunks make fools of themselves, but that’s what it felt like when I logged on during the last few months. I left because censorship left a foul taste in my mouth. I did not suggest to Ridge that he leave. He did not suggest that I leave. We just happened to look at each other at the same time and say, “It’s time to go.”
    StarkTruth.

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  17. Thanks everybody for adding depth to this conversation and providing such honest feedback.

    Couple of quick things as I digest:

    Alan, it wasn't a smoke screen, it wasn't a cover up, and it wasn't game of any kind the way the helpful votes adjustment was all tied together.

    Our db was calculating things incorrectly.

    There was no way to fix one person's helpful vote tally to reflect the subtraction of bogus votes without fixing everybody.

    As a tech guy, you should know this. One off fixes on a big site are death - stuff needs to be applied site wide.

    It sounds almost as if you expected me to make a public announcement that "so and so was caught cheating and their bogus votes were removed." When have I ever handled disciplinary stuff that way?

    Alan, if you were sick of the site, that's fine. I totally understand. It happens.

    But there's no need to make up this stuff about "asking you to participate in a cover up."

    Ask any DB guy in the world how exactly I would work implementing one algorithm for one user, and a different one for everybody else. They'll probably ask you 1) why would you ever want to do that?; and 2) That won't scale very well.

    Do you really think I'm that scared of pissing people off with discipline stuff? Remember, I suspended IJR - the number 3 reviewer on the site - two weeks ago. No fear, and no regrets. I had to do it based on the site rules.

    Just like I couldn't ban the user that you wanted out based on how I've moderated the site rules previously.

    Alan, if you were looking at the same precedents and data that I was, you would have made the same decision that I did.

    That's why I say we were stuck.

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  18. Stark, thanks for clarifying. Sorry I hinted that it was you who was spreading stuff that I told Ridge in confidence, when it was in fact Ridge (and again, the blame is mine, not Ridge's). I can see why you were pissed about not being allowed to talk about a betrayal of trust - especially if you didn't name names.

    All I can say in my defense was that I feared the outcome of allowing a public airing out of personal, off site activities.

    Well, here we are and three respected reviewers have packed up and left over this.

    Perhaps I could have handled this better.

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  19. Alan, I take full responsibility for this business and this site. The fact that we're even having this conversation perhaps will convince you that this is the case.

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  20. Guy, thanks for clarifying. My wife was really pissed that I had "let you" leave BTW. She loved your videos. Nothing like getting it at work, and then getting it at home too :)

    I'm hopeful that as politics season gets into full gear, you'll consider rejoining.

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  21. Mike, I don't think that this particular conflict is about you. I think number one is always going to have to deal with folks getting pissed off. Irishgit has had to deal with it, as has GTH.

    I have heard whispers along the lines of what Guy brought up, but I don't think that's the root cause of what's going on here.

    I want people to make RIA their own, and you've done that.

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  22. "At first, when I saw what you did, I thought it was clever. But, 5 minutes later, it hit me...all bets were off...and I decided to leave."

    Wow, I'm digesting the implications of this. What a massive, and tragic miscommunication.

    It never even crossed my mind that by fixing a bug in the database that I would be causing a member to lose trust in the site.

    I only checked the user's vote tallies just to make extra special sure that the user wouldn't get to keep those bogus votes, because I knew what a big deal it was. When I found the bug, I focused on fixing it. Fixing the bug meant adjusting everybody's totals.

    Damn it Ridge, you should of asked me.

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  24. Alright, I feel like I gotta say one thing about helpfuls. My crowd wanted me #1 and they made it happen. Maybe they shouldn't have been so aggressive about it, but here we are. Some think this is a thing removed from me but I know its not since numbah fans and git fans had about a 20,000 helpful war that git and I thought was a bit silly and it probably made the site look dumb too. Now, I also feel like I must say that I don't hold anything against anybody so long as they are as candid as myself in this situation, and I do believe that those who have commented here surely qualify as such. Now I also don't think I'm the root cause of anything, but when you have a network like numbah you can "Kevin Bacon" yourself into anything on this site.

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  25. Yeah, so that's the sort of stuff that I need to figure out how to stop - candidly speaking. One of the things I'm considering is a "loss of vote giving" tool that would take away voting privileges for folks who cross a certain threshold for numbers of votes to one person within a time period. I hate to add more regulation, but I think this is the sort of cronyism stuff that can really add stress for the folks who are trying to grow their helpfuls organically.

    BTW, I don't really blame the receiver in these sorts of situations. What are you going to do if somebody spends gives you a bunch of helpful votes?

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  27. Michael, I used to laugh myself silly over your comments. Damn, I miss those. No one left because of you. You're one of the foundation stones that made this a great site. One regret I have about deleting my account is that a great many people like you took a major hit on their helpfuls. Does that surprise you? This isn't about you. It's about integrity, and the apparent lack of it that became so prevalant. I left because of censorship, plain and simple. That's the Starks Truth.

    Had to fix a typo. :) I'm so distressed that I can't even spell my own name now.

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  28. Yeah, but I know that I know the players here even though nobody is saying their names and I guess the thing that really bugs the crap out of me is that it all involves people I consider friends on both sides of what is going on.

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  29. Lawrence, I don't know where you got the idea that I was a "tech guy". Hell, I had to ask oscar how to post a picture with a comment. So, you refocus your lens' and I'll refocus mine. From a non-technical perspective, the events leading up to the "we ALL lost helpfuls" were all too perfect. The main reason that relationships (of any kind) don't work, is that expectations are not established. You assumed that I understood what you were doing and expected me to act accordingly. I assumed that, with a lack of a any explanation whatsoever and weeks having gone by before any action was taken, that what I saw was true. I'll give you this one, if you will allow me to forgive myself for getting so upset over all of this. Charges are dropped. If, in fact, your explanation holds water, then I apologize for those particular charges.

    I also owe an apology to m. a. duran and wiseguy. After I left the site, I explained to them why I left. These were my two closest friends on RIA, but they can verify that they were in the dark until after I left and as I told you, I hadn't uttered a word to anyone. I truly hope that this clears this particular issue and removes any shadow of doubt cast upon you.

    The words cronyism and culture have come up in nearly the same breath and it conjures an image of the owner (you) in the front office calling manager (you)in the dugout, telling himself to race to the mound to play with his teammates, then to switch into an umpire's uniform and make it to his position behind the plate before his pitch arrives AND make accurate calls, then race up to the broadcaster's box to announce the call. You're also in some cave, operating the scoreboard and, somehow, make it to your seat behind first base to root for the other players. I used to be like that, until I realized that I wasn't Superman and that I couldn't have it all seven ways and still keep the peace. The problem with the scenario is that the only person who is really an issue in a business like this is the owner. Everyone else is expendable.

    I mean this as the highest of compliments. The most impactful person on RIA has been irishgit. If you created a new stat, one that combines helpfuls and unhelpfuls, he would out-distance anyone else. Along with his extraordinary width, breadth, depth and writing skills, he has generated more interest, amongst a wider range of reviewers than anyone else. He left the site for a while...around 6 months or so and not because of this, but in spite of this, the site went through a huge growth spurt. So, you see, no one is an issue. My point is this: Don't let this thing kill you. It's not worth it. You're still young enough to feel some invincibility. And it does cause problems, because the favoritism that you show to your favorites, empowers them to create the culture that you came to me for help with in the first place.

    As for me, I took the 'gits words as a sign..."I just wish that he'd write more"...I'm researching the foundation for a novel, as well as enrolling back in school to strengthen some skills, primarily music theory, language and history. So, I'm off in a new direction. Man, I love to write...

    ps: To JED...thank you, I think you'll know what I mean...

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  30. Not so much concerned with finding fault or reproach as I am about the irreparable loss of talent and opportunity for learning, both for present users as for future ones.

    Of late, some of us did come into becoming less motivated and in diminished activity, as Ridge observes. There also is more infrequent input, except perhaps where rating the comments of others is involved, which can be entertaining but less than fulfilling.

    Ridge is also correct in the need to determine the sense of 'culture' that RIA will pursue so that those among us who choose to remain will know what to expect.

    But, just as important is the situation where with departure of valuable contributors comes the removal of countless invaluable contributions regarding matters we all appreciated and welcomed: not only are their insights lost but, to a considerable degree, so is the coherence that those opinions brought to the site.

    It is also unfair that RIA history will no longer acknowledge these former members, as if having undergone some form of purge, relegated as it were, to a forgotten past.

    Ridge need not apologize for not having given advance notice of his concerns. It is a tribute to his discretion that he said nothing about the matter until I initiated contact very late on September 22nd., asking his to consider explaining facts about the meaning of those cryptic postings from the 19th and subsequent days.

    Feel encouraged in that he and lawrence have met halfway in their most recent filings here. A situation that all of us regret has come to a reasonable, if irreversible, conclusion.

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  31. Thanks Ridge. Feedback noted. Keep us posted on that book, and hopefully you were able to save some of your stuff before you deleted.

    There were some nuggets in there.

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  32. Are you kidding me? I saved everything...and gifted copies to a few.

    But, for $19.05....

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  33. Check out Blurb.com. They specialize in converting blog posts into books, for like $15 or so. You can add pictures and the like. I've seen the finished product, and it looks pretty slick.

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  34. While we are pimping products, does anyone wanna buy a numbahsaber?

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  35. Many long time reviewers have had serious illness and family deaths. A few lost spouses and went through hell on earth without one word of support. Other long time reviewers lost beloved pets. They never received a special gift from the almighty Lawrence! They never rated one word of concern on the site. This shit is nothing new. Only the few who fall into the accepted and chosen category rate with the powers that be. Castlebee faced another bout with cancer, that thankfully turned out for the best. You never saw LC go on site and say on word on her behalf. Irish had some very trying times and like castle, he was one of the original reveiwers. How many words of encouragement did he receive? NONE! I found it so insulting for many reviewers here the way LC gushed over ridge. Apparently, few matter to him. This is LCs playground and you must play by his rules! He paraded for years as an ordinary reviewer and no one knew he was the owner. Piss of magellan and soon 'Lawrence' was on your case. How many other faithful committed reviewers ever received a 'care package' from admin? Don't get me wrong, I think the world of Ridge and Stark. I am glad they finally got a taste of the real LC. They both deserve better and I wish them both the best. Everyone who has been faithful to RIA deserves better. When admin makes such a difference in the treatment of reviewers, something is very wrong! This is an opinion site, but make sure your opinion is acceptable to admin. If not, you won't get very far. Ridge and Stark, run, be free and happy! You both are so far above this!

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  36. The nameless one there seems familiar. Others have put a name to their concerns, so would it be horribly offensive for me to ask who you are? I mean, I'm no fool and certainly I have my ideas (which I'll keep to myself) but I'd really like to see you step up and claim that bit of hostility.

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  37. Ridge/Stark, please start your own opinion site! To have people who allow all various views with acceptence and maturity would be heaven on earth. If any two people could do that, it woud be the two of you. So many of us are waiting for just such a site where all are treated as equals. You both see now how it is for the rest here to be treated as underlings, no matter how long or committed some have been. It takes all sorts and all kinds of opinions to make a fair and open site. Ridge/Stark, I cannot imagine either one of you taking sides or attacking an opposing view. I do know that neither of you would pretend to be a normal rater without divulging the fact you were the owners! A site owned and operated by you two could not fail to be a winner! This is what we all need! Think about it. PLEASE!!!!

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  38. numbah, I do not have an account but I am the one in question. Whether you approve or not, I have a right to express my views. This is a perfect example of why this site has gone to hell! Only the very chosen few seem to have the right to express an opinion, even though this is an OPINION SITE! Nothing seems to have changed...GoneAway
    becky.88@cox.net

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  39. Am I one of these chosen few? I don't think I am since I've been told to back off on a number of occasions. If anything I'm more watched than ever and its almost like I have a target on my back that I honestly wouldn't mind shedding. Now I also won't stand in the way of people expressing themselves and if anything I wish they would do more of it on the site and quit being such suck-ups. This makes it hard for me to tell who's for real and I LIKE REAL. Thanks for being real with me.

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  40. I am long past being part of this site as an active member. I do , however remember how it was to be in the minority when it came to the views of ADMIN! I went through hell myself with a wrongful diagnosis of cervical cancer. Lawrence said he could not put that on the site because it was 'too personal'! I had been here over 2 years and was in the number 3 position. He and I had always been at oppostie ends of political and religious views, so my situation meant nothing. Not one word from him was ever posted. The death of my sister and my illness were considered "theatrical cries for attention" from Mr. L and someone I thought was my one true friend. One thing I have learned is, no matter who we are, or what we believe, we are all worth the same! The people in Palestine love their families as we love ours. Their children being blown to bits should break the hearts of all who have a heart! I no longer believe as I once did. I do however think I have the right to express my thoughts and beliefs whether anyone likes it or not! If that is NOT the case, then discontinue the allowance of us who don't have an account to post. I have given my past username and email address. My opinion is just as relevant as yours or you can kiss my backside!

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  41. Who is real??? I have not been part of this site for over a year, almost two. I don't care who is real! I was in the number 3 slot when I left and the world went on as it always does.

    I was diagnosed with the wrong diagnosis, thank goodness! I still went through hell before my doctors knew this. LC didn't give a shit. I asked him to please post something for me at that time. He said he didn't post personal issues! I was at the opposite end of his religious and political pole. Only those who walk his walk and talk his talk matter. I told many of my trusted friends I had no idea how I got to the top. I also wrote to 'Lawrence' when I seemed to jump overnight in helpfuls. I never wanted anything that was not mine! What I got seemed to be legitimate according to him. I have since changed my political and religious views..COMPLETELY. That does not matter to me one iota. There is still not one person who will tell me what to think, say or believe. LC, you need to grow the hell up. How old are you?! This site is going down and you are the reason why. You always hated people like me, but you advertised this as an opinion site. Can you imagine how we all felt when you finally confessed to being 'Lawrence"? We felt like we had been deceived. You and I always had a conflict due to religion and politics, yet I never failed to go against my side when I felt error. I have never been a mindless sheep! I surely made my share of mistakes, but you seem to be stupid when it comes to seeing talent in the written form. You need to pay for a line-up of RIA raters who fit your needs! That will, however be a loss, the real world sees what is legit and what is not. If you continue through life following only those who agree with you, you will learn nothing! Every member of any site is just as important as the next. Soon you will be able to count your members on your fingers! What goes around, comes around! Becky

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  42. See, I'm not sure how to respond to any of that. My gut is telling me that the reason for keeping personal stuff off of the site as much as possible is to afford members their privacy, but what do I know really? That being said, when a reviewer chooses to compromise their privacy I think they should be allowed to do that. Becky, you should know that many of your helpful jumps were me, by the way. I have a tendancy of reading a crapload of stuff in chunks from people who catch my attention and somtimes reviewers start thinking that people are up to something when its just me on a binge again. As to the condition of the site, it will live as long as the people there will it to live, and I think I can make it pull through, but maybe that's just my unbelievably huge concept of my own willpower talking...

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  43. I have no doubt that you gave me helpful jumps. I was never stingy with my helpfuls either. I wish no one harm here. I never desire to be part of a site again, but I do care about what is truth and what is a lie. I learned a lot by being here, both secular and religious. There is NO difference. Those who 'believe' cut your throat slowly with a sharp knife and those who really really say they believe will cut your throat quickly, with a rusty dull knife! I was in the number 3 position when I left. My only wish is I had never found this site at all. There is nothing worse than a born again christian with a knife to your throat! Of course, site admins who hate your views are a real trip! Surely, there is a site somewhere where we can be free to say what we feel! I can dream anyway...

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  44. Becky...of course, I have a different perspective on this and as a friend, posting on a blog, with free will and the desire to be honest, I must say that you are being hypocritical about this, aren’t you? You did the exact same thing that you criticize “lawgellan” for doing. You came back on the site, anonymously, under another name and messaged to me...”pssst…ridge..it’s GoneAway….” Signed, SayWhen.

    So, bets are off on that point.

    On one hand, the support that I received, after I hit the ground, from RIA, especially from Wiseguy and lawrence was stellar, but to question lawrence’s motivation for sending me a gift is short-sighted. Maybe he felt the need to inflate himself in front of everyone? Maybe he had realized that, in spite of the techno-barrier, that there are real people plugged into his site and livelihood? Maybe he had learned and the roulette ball just happened to fall on me? Methinks it’s all three. Me-hopes it’s a lot of the last two. But, considering the circumstances...my extraordinary relationship with lawrence and the attacks leveled at him...it would not be out of line to consider some of the first. Either way, it wasn’t germane to the recent dialogues and repeating it was unnecessary. Everyone is going through life’s learning curve. Sometimes life just doesn’t seem fair, does it? Making this the point of your spear kinda discredits the rest of your argument.

    I recall an experience I once went through. Four of us were on a 16-foot catamaran in the Gulf of Mexico...about three miles out...when we saw a storm blowing in from the southwest. Experience told me that once you see the storm, you can’t outrun it. Well, lo and behold, we were in it. 70-mile-per-hour winds...16-foot waves...jellyfish. It was blowing and, between the waves, the boat was being sucked under the surface every ten seconds. My girlfriend and me...my friend and his girlfriend. I don’t panic for some reason...that’s my nature. My girlfriend looks to me for answers. My friend is at the rudder, insisting that if we used the wind and headed to the northwest, we could pickup enough steam to turn into and past the wind, which is, of course, an impossibility. When you turn into the wind you get, what is called “stuck in irons” and locked in that position, facing the wind. My friend is a stubborn sort and after several failed attempts, we were out another mile or two. Remember that during all of this, there were 16-foot waves to our left and right. It was dark and the winds were strong. We were wet and cold. They lost us on binoculars from shore, and called the Coast Guard. There was another ship within our site, but neither they, nor the Coast Guard would try to get close enough to help. In the end, I grabbed my friend and yanked him from the rudder. He was afraid, for good reasons, that if we turned AWAY from the wind…that we would flip, but that was our only hope. Our only other alternative was to keep heading out to sea without a beacon. So, I had everyone move as far to the port side as possible and prepare to adjust as the boat tipped over. I wrenched the rudder and the boat flipped like a Dixie cup and we climbed up to the (now) top of the platform (which now was the sail), but it gave us just enough leverage and time for the wind to catch the sail before it fell into the old wave.

    The wind took control of the sail...I straightened the rudder and YEEEEEEEHAAAAAAA! We had 70 mile per hour winds at our back and we were headed straight for shore. Controlled insanity.

    Ooops, I failed to mention my friend’s girlfriend. She was a nice gal, like you. Smart as a whip, like you. Had just finished medical school. The whole weekend in Captiva was really nice and indulgent. She was game for the sailing and on the way out the conversation was uninterrupted. But, when the storm came on, she panicked. She was out of her element. She started singing “By the light of the Silvery moooooonnnnn”. She became disoriented and angry and couldn’t accept the situation. She was great in the calm. But, she was bad in the storm and melted down.

    Now, let’s fast forward to RIA, when you were there as SayWhen and you found yourself in the DynaSword storm. You were treated meanly. No question about it and, once again, I grabbed the rudder. Against site rules, I carpet-bombed him for the way he was treating you and was willing to pay the price for some peace and quiet. Everything worked out as I had anticipated and things calmed down and the site began to flourish, once again. Except for one thing: You couldn’t handle the storm and left. You even have a hard time handling the memory of the storm. I can’t say it was all futile, but you did leave. Storms end. But there will always be storms. You missed the YEEEEEHAAAAA!

    Becky...breeeeeeeathe...count to ten...count to ten again...keep breathing...learn to ride it out, or don’t go sailing.

    As far as Stark and I starting our own web site...to what end? So that you will feel that there is a safe place to go? Now, THAT would be futile, as there would be storms there, because there would be people there. Dog food. Chewing tobacco. Insurance. Software. Sales. Religion. Education. Science. It’s all about people. There’s no escaping that. Even if you live alone in a cave, there will always be at least one person to deal with...and storms there, too.

    Have you considered starting a new site? Do you have the slightest modicum of understanding of the complexity of do that?

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  45. I'm not going to comment on the content, but damn, that's some nice writing Ridge.

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  46. Pardon my confusion but, I hadn't heard anything about this until a couple of days ago so I’m coming in kind of late.

    Once again Ridgewalker; I hope that I did nothing to offend you in any way – at least not unforgivably so. As I explained in that PM a few weeks ago; there were times in the past, for one reason or another, when I let my emotions get away with me and I didn't always think before I rated something. Usually when I would do something I considered too rash, I would try to go back and fix it with a cooler head. I didn't always get there though. Until the ability to check out who rated you and how they did it came about, I never thought any rash ratings would actually make any difference to anyone or (in your case in particular) ultimately end up looking like something it was not meant to be. I’m well aware that I can sometimes be a real bag but, if you were a casualty of that, you were an innocent bystander. You are a very good writer and seem like a very nice person. I appreciated your skill as well as the contributions you made to my own web lists.

    I didn't know that you and Stark were a couple - she's not only another good writer but an excellent artist from what I noticed of her wonderful avatars. I would enjoy seeing more of her work.

    To all the others; sorry to see all of you leave. I've been here a long time and know I can be a bit spiky at times, but I have enjoyed the experience of getting to know the regulars if only vicariously through your reviews.

    And GoneAway…I couldn’t believe it when I saw your name on this blog…and you didn’t even say hello! Shame on you! Hope you and yours have been well.

    CastleBee

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  47. Don't be silly, CB...That thing we talked about was small potatoes. I was surprised, as I told you, and your explanation was good enough for me...take care of yourself...

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  48. Disentangling oneself seems to take a great deal more energy than simply walking away. There are a few things that you, Lawrence, said about me that just don’t sit right. You made a great many assumptions and jumped to the wrong conclusions on several occasions. So let’s clarify and put them to final rest.

    1) I neither said nor did anything to “start a panic” over you selling the site. False assumption #1. Since this issue had nothing whatever to do with recent events, I find it curious that you would even mention it. I can only conclude that first impressions were lasting impressions. Have you really harbored ill will over that all this time?

    2) You ‘assumed’ that by confiding in Ridge, that I was privy to said information. Point in fact, I was aware of the bogus helpfuls before he contacted you. There were many things that you discussed with him that I was not privy to. Yet you state that it was a ‘mistake’ to discuss things with him because of our relationship. “you don’t tell something to one half of a couple, and expect it not to get to the other half.” Are we to assume from this generalization that anything discussed with you in confidence is shared with your wife, who is an RIA member, and therefore at risk of her divulging the information to others on the site?

    3) You ‘assumed’ that my initial comment was a breach of said confidence. I neither mentioned the name of the other reviewer, nor the details of the incident, yet you immediately jumped to the wrong conclusion and reacted by pulling my comment without first discussing it with me. "What we have here is a failure to communicate."

    4) You ‘assumed’ that further comments would lead to a “public, nasty, personal shootout” so you censored them and suspended my account. Had you left well enough alone, that would have been the end of it. As it turns out, I’ve since expressed what I wanted to say in the first place, the world hasn't stopped functioning, so what was gained?

    5) You ‘assumed’ that my intent was to leave the site. I have no idea why you would assume that. Perhaps it was just wishful thinking on your part.

    6) You ‘assumed’ that I had somehow influenced Ridge to leave, or as you put it, his “continued participation on RIA might be seen as disrespectful to Stark (my speculation)”. An incorrect speculation.

    You seem to project a great many of your own assumptions about women and relationships. Why you would make so many false conclusions, I have no idea, but you might want to take a look at it. The thing is… I dealt with the issues. You made it personal.

    It’s not personal… it’s business.

    On a side note… GH made a rather lame attempt at tossing an insult to the recently departed with his primadonna and diva comment. Although I never aspired to such a lofty position, I take it as a great compliment that he thought so highly of me. He might want to know that both terms refer to the female gender. I'm sure that he didn't mean to leave the guys out.

    Gone-Away, I’m sorry that you had difficulties. Life is too short to dwell. I certainly don’t intend to. Thank you for your kind words, but I’ll pass on another site. I think I’ve had enough of other peoples’ opinions to last me for a lifetime. The only ones that matter to me are my own… and Ridge’s of course. (he made me say that).

    Castlebee… You are a delightful woman, always enjoyable to read. Thank you for the kind words. I had to chuckle… you didn’t know Ridge and I were a team? LOL Girl… where have you been?

    I don’t expect a response Lawrence, I just wanted to clear the air before I fill my sails with sunshine and head off into the great unknown.

    Take care everyone… and write as if your mother is reading every word, because she is!

    Catch you on the flip side of this reality… StarkTruth

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  49. Lawrence is the founder of this site and he can run it as he pleases. I read through the blogs about the recent upheaval, and even though I shouldn't have this reaction, based on life experiences, I am surprised at all the bruised egos.

    This business of picking up and leaving is the height of egotism. I know about human nature, and I get angry about it, but the iron verdict of history shows that people haven't changed and don't change very much. You rub them the wrong way and and they get incensed and react. Most often, to steal the old saw, they act quickly in anger and regret at leisure.

    I wish that there would be a way for those who dropped their accounts to be restored after they got over their snits; however, I suppose that would not be in the cards.

    Come on, people, this is supposed to be fun and a leisure activity. I realize that pride takes over and causes us to strike out. I know I don't take attacks from morons lightly on this site or any other place, for that matter. That being said, we must realize where we are.

    I have had my differences with Lawrence, but, either I follow his rules, or I go elsewhere. It's that simple.

    I was glad to see GoneAway is still on the margin of the site, and I am sorry that she left in the first place. She changed her political and religious views. Wow! I would be interested to see her new posts!

    Yes, Stark, I knew that primadonna and diva are both feminine gender references. I did that deliberately since I could not think of a masculine item that would fit the bill. If you think it was an insult, well I accept that. Truth is always a defense.

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  50. Hi, this is the former reviewer formerly know as IJR!! Just a few quick words to explain my side of the story. I, as IJR, did enjoy getting helpful reviews, but I was not obsessed with it. In fact, in my last weeks and months on the site, if I was "obsessed" with anything, it was posting posting as many reviews as quickly as I could. I loved the new "rate-o-matic" feature. I think it is a great addition to the site. It is one of the few regrets I have leaving the site, that I left just when this great new tool was added. It would have helped my quest. My one concern about helpful ratings is how one particular reviewer (and I am sure most of you know who I mean!) could get 8 or 9 "helpfulls" for a one line review stating basically NOTHING, while others, like myself, get only one or two "helpfuls" for reviews that actually have some substance and thought behind it. I had realized long ago that under these circumstances I could not compete in the Most Helpful reviewer "sweepstakes". And I admit, I even had a second bogus account where I posted a few reviews, but used it basically to give IJR helpfuls. At first, I treid to keep it "on the sly" by only logging on from public access computers, but eventually, I started using my computer at home and work more and more, as it did not seem to make a difference. Even with this, I was out of the running, as it where" in the ost helpful sweepstakes. At the same time, I created a third account on the same work computer, but this time I choose to be a beligerent Christian, putting down anything and everything. I am glad to report this account didn't last long.

    Now, about my so-called plagerism. I admit in the past I was rightfully accused of this, and I accepted (if not acknowledged!) the due and proper chastising from the admins. Not THREE times, as claimed, but twice. In the mean time, I had other posts removed because I had not actually tried the product. I had made some derogatory comments about chewing tobacco (and the chewers) like other reviewers had done, apparently without comment from the admins.

    On the night my account was "suspended" (not a day or two later, but a few WEEKS!(not that that makes a big difference)) I was reviewing John Wayne movies. Now, having grown up with a mother who loved John Wayne, it is save to say I had seen a lot of his movies, so I felt safe reviewing them. I do admit that I was checking on another web site to refresh my memory on plotlines and stars and charactor names (and spelling)in the movies, but EACH REVIEW was in my OWN WORDS. The one time I did "cut and paste" was on a review of a mediorce movie (I believe it was RIO GRANDE) to make a point about how Hollywood can make the simpleist movie and plot seem like the greatest movie ever made. And I made sure it was clear I was quoting from another website. Of course, on the other reviews on this particular night, the wording was simulair to want was found on that other site. There are only a few ways to discribe the plot of a movie, and it is going to sound simulair to another summerization. What pissed me off the most that night is that the admins chose to suspend me without warning. I was about to post, and found I had been logged off. I tried to log back on, but to no avail. I would have at least expected a message saying something like, "hey, you are doing it again and you are about to be suspended" to which I could and would have replied with THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER. Although, I am now sure, it wqouldn't have made any difference. I decided then that if and when I was re-instated, I would rather leave the sight than feel like I was "under the microscope" or on probation or smething like that, while it seems that others faunt the rules without saction of any kind. I am not trying to justify or excuse my earlier "cutting and pasting" which I acknowledge and justly take the punishment and warning, but on the night I was suspended, I WAS WRONGLY ACCUSED AND CONVICTED without a chance to defend myself. That, more than anything else, influenced my descision (and it was my descision alone(I don't feel as if I was forced out by the admins or anyone else)) to leave.

    As to the messages I sent out, I simply sent good-bye messages to a few people I consider friends. And I sent a message to NUMBAH informing him that I admit defeat and he won (in our playful (struggle"). I bare no ill will towards anyone at RIA, and I wish everyone the best.

    PEACE.

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  51. IJR, thanks for the clarification and taking the time to present your point of view. Of course, I wish you had done it before you left.

    You're welcome back any time - with Rate-O-Matic, I bet you could make the ground up in a hurry.

    ReplyDelete
  52. IJR IS NOW QUOTING FROM A PREVIOUS POST AND IS NOT PLAGERISING ANYTHING:

    "thanks for the clarification and taking the time to present your point of view. Of course, I wish you had done it before you left."

    Reguarding the night in question: I WASN'T GIVEN THE CHANCE. POOF, I WAS GONE!

    Again, quoting from a previous post, as I don't want to get banned from posting a response on your blog:

    "You're welcome back any time "

    My Spidey sense detects sarcasm here. I think I have most defintly burned that bridge when I crossed over it.

    One more thing before I leave this blog and RIA forever (and forever is a very long time!) I was just looking over the MOST HELPFUL REVIEWER stats on RIA and I haven't detected a major shake-up as promised, and there is still evidence pointing in the direction of cheating. Like I pointed out to one of my friends, certain helpful ratings have mysteriously and apparently almost doubled over the past few months. Something fishy is going on. And so it goes.

    ReplyDelete
  53. I left out a word in my last and final post: (and again I quote from a previous post, not plagarising anything!)


    Like I pointed out to one of my friends, certain helpful ratings have mysteriously and apparently LEGALLY (!) almost doubled over the past few months.

    ReplyDelete
  54. Genghis...Genghis...Genghis...once again you provide proof positive that age does not provide wisdom. Some, but not all. There are billions of possibilities as to why I left and I guess you sped-read over my remarks.

    Ego? We all have 'em, but I wasn't protecting mine. Besides...why would my absence raise a hair in yours? The only difference that my absence makes is less helpfuls in your account. As King of the Cut-and-Paste Reposters, few were ever more driven by helpfuls. Wanna talk to me about egos? Yes, you shared with the world about how you enjoyed all of the private comments and remarks that I sent TO you. What you failed to mention was that 99% of your responses were simply a dull, "Thanks, GTH." Ego? It has been brought to my attention that you reposted your blog comments on RIA. Why? Might it be that you can't get any...ummm...helpfuls here?

    Did you ever walk out of an establishment, telling the proprietor that you will be taking your business elsewhere...that you don't want to support his business anymore? Was it about "rules"? When you have 'em, you use 'em. One night, I broke the rules severely. I crushed someone. I used the harshest and most profane language that I could conjure. I lambasted the guy. I got a message from lawrence about it, too. But, he gave me the "wink-wink-nod-nod" that he was going to leave it up over night anyways. What I did was wrong, for the right reasons, while others have been censored for far less. Fairness? Does it only matter when you feel that you are being treated unfairly and to hell with everyone else?

    Yes, it's supposed to be fun and leisurely, but an incursion was made into our private life...one that affected our relationship. And rules were broken. Lawrence made it quite clear that if it was between him addressing the abuses, or my leaving, he would rather that I left. Which I did.

    ...A devastating blow to the site? Riiiiiiight.
    More like a speed bump in in RIA's revenue.

    I consider your entire comment here to be a cheap and cowardly shot, seeing as how in my entire time on RIA, you never challenged me, confronted me, or reciprocated in even the most polite of of conversations. If you miss my contributions so much, I'm easy to find and would be happy to send you my "Things You Can Do with One Finger" list. My marbles are safe and sound...

    To establish some balance here, I must say that while you have not been the most impactful reviewer, you have been the most prolific and I have enjoyed and learned a great deal from your contributions, which have sparked an interest, particularly, in history. If your work is good enough, there is no need to keep reposting it, unless, of course, you have that insatiable hunger for helpfuls.

    Man, it's hard enough to communicate in person, let alone on the internet. This has been a bumper crop for assumption farmers. You assume that we want to come back...

    ps: To IJR. Stark and I were always big fans and send our love. In regards to the "helpful shake-up", even if the technical explanation were eliminated, it was...ahemmmm..less than thorough...wink-wink-nod-nod...

    ReplyDelete
  55. IJR, no sarcasm at all. You, and everyone else on this thread, are welcome back any time.

    ReplyDelete
  56. Wow...I guess I don't put my heart into RIA like some others do. Wishing peace and love to everybody!

    ReplyDelete
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  69. LMAO

    I am glad to see more shit hit the fan. Irishgit has taken leave as well.

    Numbah is an idiot and ruins credibility for the site. I am glad to see all those others leave. I don't care about the circumstances.

    I do think it is interesting that the Admin's was once again accused of not being fair. But the sheep that remain meekly kneel and ignore the obvious.

    Exactly how many well spoken and longtime reviewers have to leave, with most saying the same thing, before it sinks in?

    A few notes of clarification on comments I have seen here or there...

    The admin did not make the choice on my leaving. I was in fact encouraged to stay. I also never wanted the site run my way. I simply wanted the ability to voice my opinion about the flaws. When it became evident that an effort was being made to curb my opinion on certain issues I decided to leave.

    I don't give one crap about other peoples "comments" with regard to their "owning" it. I taught the admin a very important lesson... I had the ability to remove all comments on my lists and then the lists themselves. I did not like being screwed with. And the admin can deny he was screwing with me all he wants. I wanted no reference to me to remain on the site. No comments, no lists. Nothing.

    Would that be honored by the users or the admin? Hell no. I fully expected idiots like Numbah to make bold statements to the effect that I asked them to leave too. Or to make references to me as a child who cried and ran away.

    LOL

    I stated that EVERYONE should leave. The site was crap. It was crap because it didn't care about quality. And Numbah was the #1 tool in the cabinet that exemplified that. I didn't expect Numbah to leave and I stated to many including Irishgit, Castlebee, Becky, IJR and many others that it would be a travesty when that moron became the #1 most helpful reviewer because he had a few buddies helping out.

    Numbah plays the fool and rants about his marine corp stuff. Freely accepting his moniker as a know nothing smartass. I know a few marines and those I know are ashamed that he doesn't even attempt to represent such a fine group properly. No, instead he prances around an opinion site for the mock glory of getting the most helpfuls and being found the most amusing.

    And the admin doesn't blame the recipient of those helpfuls? Huh? It had been blatant and obvious that he was getting helpfuls for utter crap. He knew his buddies were giving him helpfuls and he loved it.

    Now go post something rude about me Numbah. I am sure it will get lots of helpfuls. Considering the admin lets comments by you such as "duh" stand with 10 helpfuls is a true testimony to the fact he and the site lack any integrity whatsoever and that you couldn't think your way out of a yes or no question.

    People should check sites such as myspace and even blogspot. ALL user created items belong to the user. Should that user leave EVERYTHING goes with them if that is their choice. That includes any comments made by others.

    So why does RIA differ in that respect? Surely Myspace, and blogs care just about about the "sanctity" of their sites. About the continuity. So arguments to that affect (which are about the only ones made) are bullshit.

    The real reason is that it is a clique and the admin wants to make a name for himself. Wants the hits and wants to brag.

    In the same way he posted on the blog that RIA trounced Facebook. If you read the article RIA is described thusly:

    "Many of the other poorly-performing social media sites aren't exactly household names, like Searchles (SPI 5,856) and RateItAll (SPI 3,370)."

    LMAO.

    Come on admin. Can't you at least try not to exaggerate SOME of the time. To me your assessment that RIA trounced Facebook, given what the article actually said, was a complete fabrication.

    But then again honesty isn't a commodity that sells or generates activity for a website. So I guess the fabrication is a necessity. You can always count on the sheep being too naive to know better.

    I said when I left that I would come back if things changed. If idiots like Numbah were eliminated or at least put in their place as a novelty reviewer and not allowed to receive helpfuls for crap.

    I also advocated the ELIMINATION of helpfuls period. To this day tht has not been done. Odd that every time the helpful controversy rears its head the same thing is said... I am consdering changes or eliminating it. Same old song and dance.

    And it hasn't been done and won't be done because that will cost the site a lot of users. Most of the crap reviewers would be gone immediately. But so would all that website generatin business. And RIA is a business.

    The users are nothing more than a tool. Stop being tools.

    If the admin had any integrity and actually cared about quality and fairness he would have made REAL changes.

    Is this a case of the site not running the way I think it should? No. It is a question of common sense.

    The site touts itself as a review and opinion site. Yet it makes no effort whatsoever to provide quality commentary that might actual be useful to browsers.

    And I quote from Ridgewalker:

    "but when writers log on to RIA and see the kind of drivel, bantering and adolescence that goes on, they don’t see a place to write."

    Obviously nothing has changed. When I was on RIA it was a challenge ignoring the regular morons who posted hate, stupidity, sarcasm or other such irrelevant material EXCLUSIVELY. And to this day no effort is made to control it.

    The exact opposite is true. The site advertises itself as a place to say anything about anything.

    My assertion when I left that eventually all good writers and regulars would leave in frustration is coming to pass. And I am glad of it. It's what th admin deserves. Oh sure, he'll probably go to his SF 2.0 events and speak on opinion and community sites as an "expert". He will probably still earn a living from his useless tools making jokes on even the most serious subjects.

    But there will be no one left who actually puts in an effort to apply their brain and provide useful critiques to anything meaningful.

    And maybe the site will eventually be sued. A Court order seeking email addresses based on commentary for a TV evangelist is only the beginning I would think.

    But then again, when you allow any nimrod to post what do you expect?

    I suggest revisiting some business ethics classes.

    Congratulations to all who were banned, left, or grew tired of the site. Your opinions are priceless and thank god you are no longer participating in a site that tries to sell them.

    ReplyDelete
  70. I'll add the comment from the Ridgewalker/Wiseguy thread here to be sure it is current and also wanted to add a little note for Donovan in the hopes he reads this blog...

    Donovan, I didn't dislike you because of your Christian beliefs. I don't like you because you have no ethics and are a hypocrite. You cheated on the site and you gained unfair positive helpfuls and support from "buddies" just like Numbah.

    You had, and probably still have, all your buddies from the Kentucky EMA clicking helpful and coming to your defense.

    Such behaviour should not be allowed by the site admin since it provides clear disadvantages to many users and most definitely provides you with advantages. You are the precise reason why RIA was exposed as a Don't Give A Crap site so long as the hits keep coming and there is money to be made.

    Your beliefs are to the extreme in the same way ANY fundamentalist religious zealot is. You espouse hatred, damnation, and intolerance in worse ways than many over the edge fanatical muslim groups do.

    You hide behind your religion to deflect criticisms that you can do wrong or be wrong. Coming across as the right hand of god fulfilled.

    It is all a load of crap. You are narrow minded, mean spirited and wholly without moral. You are bad for your community and the world in general. Given power to determine the course of society you and your fellow members of that fringe group would bring it to ruin within weeks.

    In all my time on RIA I never encountered anyone as disingenuous or idiotic. RalphtheWonderLlama made more sense in a single tirade than you have in 10,000 posts.

    I was a more eloquent reviewer. I was more broad in scope. I was more detailed and certainly more tolerant. I was even friendlier.

    Whereas you tore down most things by spending most time on religious issues (which I am sure continues to this day) I worked to improve the site. Not just with comments and later my lists (which were non-judgmental unlike your utter crap) but also on RIA main.

    Long before most made an effort to assist with site improvements I was right there chugging away. I'd still be there today but greed won out and nimrods such as yourself were allowed to spoil the site with nonsense and banal comments.

    Am I arrogant? Not at all. I know what I accomplished as do many others. My focus was always quality and fairness. Two items that aren't even in your vocabulary and a review of your comments would easily prove that.

    So enjoy the buddies at EMA and offer them that occasional reach around for the support. But it won't alter what an intolerant, idiotic, and immoral hypocrite you are.

    Given what I know about myself and the site admin, if forced to choose I doubt it would be you or your comments that would be desired for the site. Admitting as much would require too much courage for the admin but I am content to know your comments also turn his stomach.

    Your private messages whining and moaning, only to publicly state I harrassed you was so pathetic. That was ultimately documented to the point you had to stop. Finally. You simply lacked the skin necessary and your intolerance refused to allow me the space to criticize your stupid comments. You had to carry on about it until warned to stop.

    Personally, I think hell holds a special place for beings such as yourself.

    And make no mistake. I AM Christian. My core beliefs are Catholic. You of course tried to tear down Catholicism too but that was par for the course.

    So if you comment about me at all leave religion out of it. Your religious views are meaningless to me except to showcase how narrowminded you are.

    Now my comments on the end of the year migration...

    Although I doubt the blog owner/site admin will leave any of this up for long...

    ********************************
    LMAO

    I am glad to see more shit hit the fan. Irishgit has taken leave as well.

    Numbah is an idiot and ruins credibility for the site. I am glad to see all those others leave. I don't care about the circumstances.

    I do think it is interesting that the Admin's was once again accused of not being fair. But the sheep that remain meekly kneel and ignore the obvious.

    Exactly how many well spoken and longtime reviewers have to leave, with most saying the same thing, before it sinks in?

    A few notes of clarification on comments I have seen here or there...

    The admin did not make the choice on my leaving. I was in fact encouraged to stay. I also never wanted the site run my way. I simply wanted the ability to voice my opinion about the flaws. When it became evident that an effort was being made to curb my opinion on certain issues I decided to leave.

    I don't give one crap about other peoples "comments" with regard to their "owning" it. I taught the admin a very important lesson... I had the ability to remove all comments on my lists and then the lists themselves. I did not like being screwed with. And the admin can deny he was screwing with me all he wants. I wanted no reference to me to remain on the site. No comments, no lists. Nothing.

    Would that be honored by the users or the admin? Hell no. I fully expected idiots like Numbah to make bold statements to the effect that I asked them to leave too. Or to make references to me as a child who cried and ran away.

    LOL

    I stated that EVERYONE should leave. The site was crap. It was crap because it didn't care about quality. And Numbah was the #1 tool in the cabinet that exemplified that. I didn't expect Numbah to leave and I stated to many including Irishgit, Castlebee, Becky, IJR and many others that it would be a travesty when that moron became the #1 most helpful reviewer because he had a few buddies helping out.

    Numbah plays the fool and rants about his marine corp stuff. Freely accepting his moniker as a know nothing smartass. I know a few marines and those I know are ashamed that he doesn't even attempt to represent such a fine group properly. No, instead he prances around an opinion site for the mock glory of getting the most helpfuls and being found the most amusing.

    And the admin doesn't blame the recipient of those helpfuls? Huh? It had been blatant and obvious that he was getting helpfuls for utter crap. He knew his buddies were giving him helpfuls and he loved it.

    Now go post something rude about me Numbah. I am sure it will get lots of helpfuls. Considering the admin lets comments by you such as "duh" stand with 10 helpfuls is a true testimony to the fact he and the site lack any integrity whatsoever and that you couldn't think your way out of a yes or no question.

    People should check sites such as myspace and even blogspot. ALL user created items belong to the user. Should that user leave EVERYTHING goes with them if that is their choice. That includes any comments made by others.

    So why does RIA differ in that respect? Surely Myspace, and blogs care just about about the "sanctity" of their sites. About the continuity. So arguments to that affect (which are about the only ones made) are bullshit.

    The real reason is that it is a clique and the admin wants to make a name for himself. Wants the hits and wants to brag.

    In the same way he posted on the blog that RIA trounced Facebook. If you read the article RIA is described thusly:

    "Many of the other poorly-performing social media sites aren't exactly household names, like Searchles (SPI 5,856) and RateItAll (SPI 3,370)."

    LMAO.

    Come on admin. Can't you at least try not to exaggerate SOME of the time. To me your assessment that RIA trounced Facebook, given what the article actually said, was a complete fabrication.

    But then again honesty isn't a commodity that sells or generates activity for a website. So I guess the fabrication is a necessity. You can always count on the sheep being too naive to know better.

    I said when I left that I would come back if things changed. If idiots like Numbah were eliminated or at least put in their place as a novelty reviewer and not allowed to receive helpfuls for crap.

    I also advocated the ELIMINATION of helpfuls period. To this day tht has not been done. Odd that every time the helpful controversy rears its head the same thing is said... I am consdering changes or eliminating it. Same old song and dance.

    And it hasn't been done and won't be done because that will cost the site a lot of users. Most of the crap reviewers would be gone immediately. But so would all that website generatin business. And RIA is a business.

    The users are nothing more than a tool. Stop being tools.

    If the admin had any integrity and actually cared about quality and fairness he would have made REAL changes.

    Is this a case of the site not running the way I think it should? No. It is a question of common sense.

    The site touts itself as a review and opinion site. Yet it makes no effort whatsoever to provide quality commentary that might actual be useful to browsers.

    And I quote from Ridgewalker:

    "but when writers log on to RIA and see the kind of drivel, bantering and adolescence that goes on, they don’t see a place to write."

    Obviously nothing has changed. When I was on RIA it was a challenge ignoring the regular morons who posted hate, stupidity, sarcasm or other such irrelevant material EXCLUSIVELY. And to this day no effort is made to control it.

    The exact opposite is true. The site advertises itself as a place to say anything about anything.

    My assertion when I left that eventually all good writers and regulars would leave in frustration is coming to pass. And I am glad of it. It's what th admin deserves. Oh sure, he'll probably go to his SF 2.0 events and speak on opinion and community sites as an "expert". He will probably still earn a living from his useless tools making jokes on even the most serious subjects.

    But there will be no one left who actually puts in an effort to apply their brain and provide useful critiques to anything meaningful.

    And maybe the site will eventually be sued. A Court order seeking email addresses based on commentary for a TV evangelist is only the beginning I would think.

    But then again, when you allow any nimrod to post what do you expect?

    I suggest revisiting some business ethics classes.

    Congratulations to all who were banned, left, or grew tired of the site. Your opinions are priceless and thank god you are no longer participating in a site that tries to sell them.
    *******************************

    ReplyDelete

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