#‎AGDoCGotY
American Girl, keep giving us Dolls of Color for Girls of the Year.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Why I'm An Outsider: Part Six: The Great Mass Banning of Aught-Six


The holidays were coming, and so was the bullshit.
Depression sucks. Depression sucks a lot. You don't get anything done like you'd want, things get pilled up in piles, and all your executive function gets shot to shit. I fight major depression--and I don't mean "oh, today I feel bad" bullshit, I mean "brain no worky so I sit there and don't do anything and can't get anything done really pbbbt" depression which is a chronic illness. I've wanted to do tons of reviews--including Grace stuff, I got all I wanted from Vanilla Bean's collection I'm pretty sure--the introduction of Maryellen to the gang, and a huge helpful post about adding to the AG collection without breaking the bank that is still sitting in queue to work on and has been since frigging September.1 And then my brain is like "no, you're going to do fuck all for weeks and weeks" and the photocorner stays a mess and leaves no room for shots. I'm not going to lie about why there's been a dearth of posts. I try and my brain chokes up. I'm going to try to do better, but every day is a struggle, and some days turn into weeks of terrible.

With that said, I hope you understand.

Before we get into the point of the post, news catch up. Yes, I've seen Lea Clark. From what I can see in her looks she's Marisol with the Hazel Eyes that AG bought way too many of, and she's at most biracial because AG can't give us a full PoC. My protest and post stands. American Girl needs to give us dolls of color for the Girl of the Year, and not just mixed ones with whiteness imbued to smooth over white racism that makes it so that characters of color have to be mixed with white to be acceptably ethnic. We'll see what her stories offer. But one character is not enough, especially when surrounded by frequent whiteness. I'm tired and you should be too. Blech.

To the story.

When we last left you at the story of AG Fandom Fucking It Up in 2006, AG Fans had just moved from Hostboard to phpBoards and taken the opportunity to do a widespread ban on Paganism and Pagan displays, as instigated by Yours Truly, the Pagan. They had also closed the board to the point that new users had to agree to the rules before they could read them. It was a nasty knot of BS, and while I had a lurker account to see the mess and get news, I was not a participant and was more a participant of AG > 18 and AGPT.  This was December 6th, 2006. I'd started working on a photostory called Naomi's Giftmas Surprise at the start of the month, which would slowly introduce the sixth member of the AGGiB,2 and taught myself to restring to restring both Addy and Beth Cady (and found it a lot easier than I had thought it was).  We kept snarking at AG > 18, and newsing at AGPT.

December 13th, 2006, is when shit really got fucked.

Prologue: Not Such a Sweet Baby Face
Part One: Finding AG Fans, or How Periods are Bad For Children
Part Two: There's Fundies in My Fandom
Part Three: The Wicked Witch of Customizing and the Birth of AG > 18
Part Four: Halloween is for Jesus, or How Otters Offended a Nation
Part Five: The AG Fans Revamp: No Pagans Allowed 

Otters and I were unofficially banned. But we wouldn't be the only ones, and it wouldn't stay unofficial.
It all started small enough, relatively. Bean posted on AG > 18 around the evening or so of the 13th of December:

I've apparently been banned from AGFans. I have no idea how or why ... it won't even let me get to a login screen, it just says, "Sorry, you have been banned from this forum."

She initially wondered if there was a proboards error, because unlike me and my inherant AG sin, Bean hadn't done anything offensive to the moderation or the members. If anything, she was hella good at toeing the line over there. So part of her was worried that maybe AG Fans had decided to widespread bad anyone tied to AG > 18. People in AG > 18 started checking their accounts, and several people found the same thing. PNG had the "you have been banned" message. wickedgood was banned. Goo--a well known guy collector3--was banned. aelindil--who had stood up for me against the new rule and only posted about that--was banned. Colette--who had been there for years, and played by their little oppressive games and not talked about who she was--was banned. Keri was banned. Fin was banned. Person after person after person was finding they couldn't get in to AG Fans--this included my lurker account. And the only thing they had in common was that they were members of AG > 18.

Highly suspicious, that. We suspected a possible IP ban, since some people asked friends or family who had never been there before to try, and they couldn't get in from unrelated computers. We also had two people with static IPs try, and one could get in while another couldn't. But we wanted to know. So I suggested that Bean post innocently on AGPT to ask what was going on, just to get an answer. Wickedgood did instead, and we waited for data. And found out that at least one person could still log in that hadn't been banned. We had several suspicions on how this had come through, including that a mole in our midst had gone and reported members of AG 18 to the AG Fans moderator staff, and that had led to the subsequent widespread banning.

Time to say a lot.
I was encouraged by our members--after suggesting--that I post a post addressing this shit, open to AG Fans if they came near AG > 18, and I did as such here: Hello, AG Fans Board Lurkers! I went off like hell on AG Fans. I won't quote the whole thing, since that's an open post on AG > 18 (and I said a lot of shit). But some of the highlights I'll post.
Here's a little note, in case some of you haven't caught on how the Internet works. (And I don't think you have. What kind of mod doesn't know the acronym "TOS"?)
Banning people for activities they do and places they visit outside of your board is not how modship works. What people do away from your corner of the Internet is not grounds to ban them unless they are actively causing problems.
That part was because several people there hadn't caused a single problem according to their rules they had put forth.  Yes, they snarked and sniped at AG > 18 about The Board That Shall Not Be Named, as we called it there at AG > 18. But--and here's the important part--they never did it on AG Fans. That happens all over the world, not just the net. People can and do talk about others behind their back, in locked forums and elsewhere, when they say and do dumb shit and get snarked on. Fandom Wank ran on that.4 I'm sure someone somewhere is talking about my black ass right now. But if they don't break the rules (and aren't you know, a creep or doing really illegal, bigoted shit) , then they're not going to get autobanned.
So I'm flat out calling you out. You're a bunch of hypocrites. You can't stand the idea that people are doing things you don't like outside of your control and so you kick us out of the clubhouse. We can't play with you unless we do what you say and never say anything about the mean things you've done and do. That's high school shit, and grown women should be past that. I'm an adult. I can handle when people aren't like me and when people talk in other places other than my comm on the Internet. I'm pretty sure [PNG]5  can too. And so can our members. We let them freely talk, we let them hold their own. We treat them like grownups, and so they act like them instead of like 3 year old Bitties. A lot of people have seen the hypocrisy that the mods have over there, and they will talk about it, be it here or elsewhere. Even if you ban every dissenting voice ever, stifle anyone who doesn't say what you want them to, smother every ounce of "hey that's not right", we'll still be here, and we'll still point out the hypocrisy in whatever corner we're at.
The bolded especially was something that I wanted to point out and so did. That was the major thing that AG Fans hated--the idea that they couldn't stop other people from calling them on their shit elsewhere online. It was why they banned links to Livejournal, dissuaded references to Google, and regulated what off sites could be linked to on the board. They wanted to stop people from pointing out their shitty actions, and they thought banning would stop us from talking.

Hat tip: No. No it didn't. 

Another board that had been started during an AGPT break off, AG Clubhouse, also got involved in the shit, prebanning several people from their boards. I also learned that someone who I had been doll pen-pals with had, when she had left AGPT and started Clubhouse, had been one of our lurkers and possibly one of the many people behind the BS. (The reason I have little to say about them or AG Clubhouse is that they later died as they lived: terribly.) The next day, AG > 18 went on modded application; we had been open, but learning that there had been sockpuppeting  and moleing in the community led to the applications.

The Great Banning of Aught-Six went on for a bit and some: members of AG Fans that might be part of AG > 18 (or who had otherwise caused them any issue) were being banned left and right, some not even part of AG > 18. And thus, the information made Fandom Wank: Because dolls are what brings in the wank. My angry mod post was linked to as well.  The whole BS was one big messy knot, and I could go into it forever and ever, digging up data. But I'd rather cover the parts that directly came to me. Because the e-mail, she is long.

A few days later, I got hold of one of the moderator's e-mail addresses. Which mod I forget--I just posted it as "mod." (ETA: I later researched and saw that it was Jeanette.) But once I had it, I dashed off a pretty quick e-mail, and was to the point. "Tell me why a bunch of people were banned."6 I got a reply on the 20th, about a week later. And started to tilt my head sideways further and further as I read, because the last time I'd seen so much shit in a communication with me it had involved a college roommate's boyfriend, who had said he had the "right" to be in my dorm anytime he wanted because he was dating my roomie.

The email from the mod in its entirety is as follows. Emphasis is mine.
 Dear Nethilia,

I am sorry it took me this long to answer your email. I was neither ignoring nor avoiding you; I just have not been on my computer at all from Friday night till just a few minutes ago.

Let me try to explain....

Over four years ago, the Society of American Girl Collectors forum was established as a place where collectors of American Girl dolls of all ages could come together to discuss their dolls and their lives. The founder of the Society wanted to provide a place of peace where there would be no conflict, no contention, no discord of any kind; with no surface ripples and no undercurrents. Did she intend it to mirror the "real world?" Not at all. Was she being idealistic? Absolutely. But it was what she intended it to be, and she set up rules for the forum to ensure that it would remain such. From time to time, people came in causing disturbances; and if they would not agree to abide by the rules and maintain peace, they were asked to leave or their memberships were removed.

About two years ago our founder stepped down to begin her family, changed the name of the forum to American Girl Fans Message Board, and handed the leadership over to women whom she trusted would continue providing the same safe and peaceful haven that she had intended. It seems an easy thing to ask members to leave keep controversy to themselves when they enter our forum, but still there are those who try to cause upset to our peaceful way of life.

Within a week after we moved to our new location, some of our members brought disturbing news to the attention of the moderating team. It seems that they also had memberships in another community where the members were beginning to make threats against our forum. They let us use their IDs to enter that community, where we found page after page of conversations where people were planning ways to bait us as AGFMB members and moderators, and forming plots to destroy the peace and harmony that has been a part of our board for as long as it has been in existence - even to break our board as it now exists. One of those people was you, Neth.
Now, we really don't care what other people say about us when they are not on our board. I know we have been called names and talked about in rather harsh terms. You and anyone else are free to choose what you want to say about us, and there is nothing we can or will do about that. We do, however, have a responsibility to our own forum; and that responsibility is to protect it in any way we can.

In order to protect the AGFMB as it is - as the vast majority of our many, many members desire and expect it to remain - we took the actions that we felt were needed. Are we being blind to life as it really is? Probably so. Are we being overly cautious? Most likely. Do we feel like we still need to keep our little board (which is really not so little anymore) protected from conflict, contention, and discord; with no surface ripples and no undercurrents of any kind - the way our founder originally intended? Absolutely.

I am truly sorry if you or any of your community members were hurt by our actions. It was not our intent to cause pain of any kind. I hope what I have said has helped you to see our intent more clearly.

Sincerely,

Jeanette
So basically, we had been moled, ratted out with a bunch of lies, and we had been banned because were were going to "break the board" by--I dunno, talking about them? Not playing their games? Not farting sunshine out our asses? And accused of trolling, of all things. I wasn't even a member anymore, how was I going to troll that shit? Yes, I had a lurking account. That never posted and was not tied to my main online name there. Many people there were not causing any trouble and were more part of AG > 18 to have a place to talk where they didn't have to put up with BS. And AG > 18 specifically didn't poke the mess unless things were so out of the way that someone felt they had to point it out, which we agreed was them acting on their own.

If questioning bigotry is causing undercurrents? Then ripple that shit for days til the waves make tsunamis.

Come the fuck on. Don't rewig my #23 and claim she's Lindsey. They must have thought I was a fucking idiot.

That look when people think you're a dumbass.
 So I replied back. And my reply is in total, with parts that I still and will always believe bolded.
Oh, please. That's absolutely unfounded. As far as I know, none of the members of my forums brought any threats to anyone. If you're talking about my board on livejournal, AG over 18, we kept our snark and opinions there. We almost never used a single name unless it was an internet name (which we are allowed to use). While we brought our dissent there--especially when it came to unfair rules and unfair biases we saw in membership and the handling of problems--we never sought to attack a single person. We questioned your rules not to "bait" mods but to question rules that many people saw as unfair, oppressive, and unfairly applied to all members of the community.

That's the way the world works. People are not going to sit around and be told how to feel. The idea of a world without dissent or argument is a pipe dream. Squashing dissent out of some idea that people must be imposed into agreeing with each other does not end the dissent, it only lets it fester and eventually, it will go off site and be handled in other ways.

And I did NOT try and break down your board. I behaved. I questioned your policies because that is what I do when I see unfairness. Given that a new rule imposed on the board pretty much targeted me for my religious faith because it's not mainstream or Christian, I had every right to be upset and distressed.

Don't try and tell me things that I know for a fact are not true. Members like Bean, Goo, and others never attacked. Keri never attacked. I saw how Bean posted and she was a MODEL poster. And Emsmombuysdolls dolls joined and then was banned an hour later from AG Fans. What could she have done in a whole HOUR?

People would say their piece at my forums and keep it there. I'm a grown woman. The idea that you think I'm just going to swallow this tripe about a good warm world and an attack coming out of the blue is a slap in my face. And I think that's even more insulting than the banning itself.

You go ahead and believe the words of other people and think we're out to just cause you grief. You can think we're somehow out to attack you. But don't you DARE try to tell me that somehow, another community talking is so threatening that you have to institute a mass banning against people preemptively. We are not internet terrorists. And don't tell me that you're sorry. I don't buy that. If you were really sorry about what you're doing, you would honestly look at why that happened, why you banned first and didn't ask any questions, and why you felt a widespread ban that caught a bunch of innocents in the crossfire was a good idea. It's the equivalent of shoot first, ask questions later. Many people banned did nothing, and to claim that you sympathize is utter bullshit.

I see your policies. You kick out anyone who dissents, shame others into not talking about themselves if they're not the kind of people you want to hear about (under a guise of keeping everything "peaceable"), and hurt other people in this process. That's not the way any forum or anywhere should be made to work. I see unfairness--unfairness towards other members based on lies and slander.

I'm kind of glad you banned me. I wouldn't want to continue to be a member of a forum that acts on the reports of a few to attack the many and treats so many so awfully.

I would advise you not to reply to me. Clearly you think I'm a moron and I don't talk to people who think I'm stupid. I may be young compared to other people who collect, but my momma didn't raise no fool. Don't talk to me like I am one.

--Tasha Metcalf 7
Proud Founder of AG over 18.
The mod--Jeanette--never replied back. Probably because I said as much as not wanting to hear from them ever again. I posted the e-mail I'd gotten and my reply both on my journal and on AG > 18 (where it was a locked post; the text is the same as it is on my journal). This went to Fandom Wank as Son (or Daughter) of the American Girl Wank. posted by Goo.
 
For years, AG > 18 called December 13th the anniversary of the Great Banning, and we continued to snipe, snark, and point out AG fandom failures. Banning hadn't stopped our talking. It had just made it that much more obvious why we were doing it, and why we would keep doing it.

Can't stop, won't stop, don't know how to stop.
And I didn't mind outing AG Fans for their part in this shit, or anyone that I found was part of it. They lurked AG > 18. They slandered our members. And when called on it, they tried to pull some "but you were coming for us" shit. AG Fans was, in my eyes looking back on it, outed for their crap. I'd only been involved with them for less than a year, and that was all it had taken for the filth to rise to the top. 

And so ended any and all participation on AG Fans that I had ever had or would ever have again. I haven't seen or peeked at AG Fans since the Great Banning, and it's been nine years. Yes, that is in part because I'm not going to create an account to look at a board that pretty much wiped out chunks of membership and then tried to make out like they were the ones injured. But a huge part is that they started to die later on, in the wake of loss of members. It kept going for some time, mind, even with the rules you couldn't see but had to agree to with terrible rules and terrible people. But they fucked up eventually, and they fucked up good, and it was the gangrene that led to their final rot.

How so? I was later informed years after the fact that the big death of AG Fans Message Board came later. A single person--Mrs. C--came back after a long hiatus and broke the rule about participation needing to happen for some time before selling things. The mods--younger, newer ones--informed her politely that the rules couldn't bend around her but that after the time had passed with participation, she could start selling. Mrs. C--a spoiled woman--went crying to the owner of the board. The owner gave in to her and her cries that the mods were being hateful. So, in order to placate one bratty grown woman, the owner of AG Fans subsequently had the entire new mod staff demodded and let Mrs. C do as she wanted. And the mods left, and took a good part of the population with them in the process as they started a new board. This is second hand, so I didn't see it and wasn't there for it. I can't comment on it. But if that is what happened, it proves that the owner was less about being open to others and more about keeping a handful of screamers happy, and that will kill a community fast as shit.

American Girl Fans Message Board, as of this posting, is now a shell of a board. AG Fans became a dead space, a ghost town that once was not only the largest AG collectors board on the internet, but the only game in town for AG collectors. If you google it, all you come across is the the closed PHP board intro requiring either log in or registration. If there are still posts there, they are a closed group.  And to be honest, let them be as dead as they are. I'm not sad to see them dead. Evolve or die.

I continued to be a part of AG Playthings, and AG > 18, and I had access to the information and community I craved, because they were working for me.

Were, being the key word in AGPT's case. Because AGPT eventually started to slide down the pipes.

Part Seven: The Rise of AG Playthings

--Neth

1 So when you see the pics from that post, take into account I took them in fall and it's not actually that nice in the PNW when the post goes.
2 Spoiler: it was Felicity. The whole photoseries can be seen here: Naomi's Giftmas Surprise. This was my old apartment. I will be putting pics from the first few albums here in this post, as it fits.
3 Of all the people in AG fandom I've fallen out of contact with and not been able to find, I miss Goo the most and wonder how he's doing.
4 Fandom Wank--all of Journalfen, really--is gone. I don't know what happened, the servers crashed. So any link refs I make will be through the Wayback Machine, since I was able to pull that up.
5 Yes, this pretty much says who PNG is, when you go look at the posts. And I'm sure many of you know anyways. But I will still call her PNG for my own reasons that are coming up.
6 Not my exact words, but close enough.
7 Wasn't married yet.

6 comments:

  1. As unpleasant as the actual events that went down were, your write-up of them was (once again) a great read. But what actually prompted me to comment was some rather sad news. On checking out that AG > 18 link, I noticed Lizzard among the commentators. The same Lizzard that another long-time member on DoD just let us know this morning passed away a few days ago. I did not know her well, but remember her fondly, and thought since she was a member of AG > 18, too, some of the readers here might feel the same.

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    Replies
    1. Aw. I'm really sorry to hear that. =(

      Delete
  2. I'm sorry your depression has been so awful. I have depression too, and it SUCKS. I'm kind of glad I'm new to the AG fandom, and thus avoided all the horrible board drama. But AG Collectors is a good board (which I know you are part of.) Everyone is so kind and I got some great advice on piercing doll ears. Feel better, and a merry Giftmas to you!

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  3. I wish more people would understand that mental illness is a real chronic illness. My anxiety has been out of control for a few weeks now so, while that's not the same as depression, I can relate to how disruptive it all is. I hope you have a nice rest of the holiday season though!

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  4. *hugs* I've been dealing with moderators removing my comments rather than coming to me and talking to me instead like grown ups should

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  5. Good Gods, reading through this horsesh*t, you deserve a medal, not to mention the fact you overcame this to create a beautiful, accepting, and engaging AG board of your own.

    Standing O not only for doing such an involved post when you're still not feeling well (to put it mildly; I also suffer from chronic depression and I know how immensely it hurts) but for doing a post like this, raking over old wounds.

    I was excited to hear your take on the New Doll of 2016 (ha, it's the same as mine!) and any post from you is cause for excitement and joy.

    I hope your burden lessens very soon and you're able to have a happy and healthy Solstice. Your fans are grateful to you for giving us all you have.

    Bright Blessings to you in the New Year!

    ReplyDelete

Trolling, pointless bigotry, and hating for the sake of hating will be removed, as will any post screaming "first" because no one cares. Cursing is fine, as I curse myself. I still expect you to act like you have home training. This is not a Free Speech Zone. I reserve the right to delete comments or tell you to piss off. You post, you stand by your words, and all the consequences of those words, even if that consequence is getting your ass handed back to you. Don't come in my space, spit on my floor, and expect me to call it a swimming pool. I can and will cuss your entire ass out. If I told you not to comment, and you comment, your comments will be deleted.

If you are under 13 your comments will be removed; you're too young to be on the internet unsupervised and you know it.