Why we temporarily banned Anyfucker and what next

(1006 Posts)

MNHQ have commented on this thread. Read here.

JustineMumsnet Belgium (MNHQ) Thu 24-Oct-13 21:18:19

Hi all,
So as many have pointed out there are an awful lot of threads about AF from last night and today, many of them repeating the same stuff, some of them including misapprehensions.

So we thought it best to state our position on the matter fully here and to lock the other threads so anyone with stuff to say can say it here and it's all easier to follow. (Apols for any difficulties you've had in following all this because of multiple threads - we don't normally allow them but in this case, as there was a fair bit of MNHQ conspiracy theory floating around, we thought it best not to start deleting things today).

So first why did we ban, or more accurately suspend, AF for a week?
As already stated AF did break our Talk Guidelines a lot wrt troll-hunting, PAs and generally aggressive behaviour.

We have looked back and found we've sent her nine mails of the 'please stick to Guidelines or we'll have to take further action' variety and we've banned her once before. There have been c. 600 reports of her posts - and there are 1100 cases in our system concerning her one way or another (not including any name changes). We've deleted
posts under the name 'AnyFucker' 185 times (some of those reports will be duplicate reports of the same post, so it's not that we've deleted 185 out of 600 posts reported).

It is not the case that most of these posts were in response to trolls, plenty were against folks most would agree were regular posters. Others were against folks she thought might be trolls but we could see were not. Some were against folks who were subsequently banned.

We haven't actually been able to forensically analyse each of the 600 cases - it really would mean going back through each thread - but we will over the next little while if folks think it necessary.

Some people have been calling for an auto-ban mechanism for posters who are multiply reported - if we had one of these AF would have been likely banned a few more times than she actually has.

We wrote to AF a couple of weeks ago after deleting some of her posts warning that if she crossed the line again we'd have to suspend her and that's what we did yesterday. She wrote back to say she knew it was coming.

We don't take these decisions lightly wrt Mumsnetters who've been contributing for so long and whom we know so well. We agree AF's a fantastic poster who goes out her way to help others but we're not talking isolated incidents here and it's very often not directed at actual trolls. Often we're talking about aggression/personal attacks/accusations of trolling against other Mumsnetters who AF disagrees with.

Plenty of people today have cited examples of this type of behaviour. Some have also spoken of an orthodoxy on the relationships board which is difficult to diverge from and which puts them off posting there. And of course, plenty of others have cited examples of AF's kindness and support on those same boards.

But what would you really have us do? Ignore the PAs against Mumsnetters? Ignore those posters who report such PAs to us? We are not talking exclusively PAs on trolls here. If you've been following today's threads you have to accept that. Believe me, we have not been trigger happy here. The last thing we want is for AF, or posters like AF who offer so much to Mumsnetters, to leave MN. But we have a few rules for very good reasons we think. Without them, Mumsnet would be incredibly insular and one dimensional and very unwelcoming to newcomers. We have to accept that if folks can't live with those rules then, ultimately, that's their decision.

I think it's worth saying what we do believe in, here at MNHQ, because although the site has grown, these values (if that's not too aggrandising) really haven't changed since it started.

We believe that the pooling of knowledge and advice makes parents' lives easier.
We believe in tolerance of differing opinions and in letting the conversation flow wherever possible.
We believe in listening and engaging and being transparent as much as we can.

We do have things we don't tolerate (which have been honed and refined over the years by collective user experience) because we think they are less likely to promote the things MN values. Namely personal attacks, deliberately inflammatory posts, posts that break law/hate speech.
We will also delete things that are downright mean and obscene (though clearly this is a matter of judgement).

We have never billed MN as a safe haven. It is open and searchable and public so can never be as safe as a closed, heavily moderated or pre-moderated environment would be.

It is a largely female space and we think that is incredibly valuable in a male dominated internet/ world. But it is not an exclusively female - it's by parents for parents and it always has been. Men are welcome to post and to express their opinions and we've had many valuable male Mumsnetters over the years.

Quite apart from anything it would both be impractical and possibly illegal to have it otherwise.

Obviously there are things we at MNHQ can do better. We are never going to be entirely consistent in our moderation as we are human and it often come down to fine judgement calls. And we apologise in advance for inconsistencies but can only say we really do try our best.

In the case of this ban/suspension, as many have pointed out, we could have communicated what had happened and why more quickly and more clearly.

Some people have suggested a clear, more widely known "sin bin" procedure and we'll certainly look at that.

We will look at resources and response times generally to reported posts and are working on empowering all HQ mods to post on the boards and to be transparent as possible. (NB this would be easier if HQ mods felt they could post in an atmosphere of tolerance and understanding grin.)

We do put a lot of energy into investigating and banning trolls. We don't make a fanfare every time we ban someone for obvious reasons - trolls are here for the attention. But I concede that maybe that adds to the atmosphere that we are tolerating/ignoring/doing nothing about trolls. So we will think about that.

We don't have any auto suspend in place but we might look at that based on a large amount of reports of a particular poster.

And as suggested by someone (apols have forgotten who) we'll hold an MNHQ mods webchat with me, Rowan and Rebecca on Friday 8th at lunchtime and will open a thread in advance, so anyone who can't make the chat can post their question.

Please, of course, post your thoughts and further suggestions here before then, or whenever suits.

Sorry for the very long post - thanks to those who've read to the end.

(We'll be locking all the other threads in the next little bit.)

BeyondPissedOffAtTheWorld Fri 25-Oct-13 09:03:08

I wonder if it would be easier for hq (and stop them having to delete so many scottishmummy threads!) if when a particular poster was noticed to be missing and someone asked, there was a purely factual list in sitestuff (locked perhaps, so only hq can comment and it doesnt get derailed) stating:

anyfucker - temporary ban for PAs
Xposter - not banned
Yposter - permanent ban for sock puppeting
Zposter - permanent ban for trolling

SoupDragon Fri 25-Oct-13 09:03:32

I've had enough of this. It is all fucking ridiculous.

All this deliberately manufactured hysteria over one single ordinary poster having a poxy one week suspension.

I'm off to lurk on Arts and crafts for a week.

Yes, Mumsnet, harken this. you should have a stats page with bar charts n shit, and then we can wear our ASBOs with pride

BeyondPissedOffAtTheWorld Fri 25-Oct-13 09:05:22

Note, not automatically including all bans, only those that are asked about

FrightRider Fri 25-Oct-13 09:05:46

I was on the thread at the time too, and i disagree with ScaryMuff. AF was questioning CFD about her posting style in a passive aggressive fashion, not to help her. Thats why MNHQ thought it broke the TGs.

Anyfuckergate Fri 25-Oct-13 09:06:44

Ahhhh posted too soon!

Most people joining are regular folk that need help on some issue, but there has defiantly seemed that some are just out to wind up others. Sometimes I feel that a hid poster button would be helpful. Extra help in the evenings and at night seems like a sensible option as is clearly defined (transparent) process for those that are problematic.

Any private information however should always be concentual ie the person should have been informed. The whole how many posts and times that person has been reported should not have been made public, mnhq could have simply stated right at the beginning that a) was a temporary ban, b) that they had been in quite a lot of communication with Anyfucker. Even stating that 9 emails had been sent. Really though I do think that this op should have been made available to her first, before being public.

PortoFiendo Fri 25-Oct-13 09:06:49

Right. I think this whole thing is my fault. I did not know that AF had a suspension vs a total ban. And i could not possibly have foresee that it would all go bat shit crazy. I have apologised to AF for causing all this hassle.

But I think that this thread is a disgrace! The sheer bloody cheek of sharing all that information when in the case of trolls etc it is all TSSNCOP. So AF has 0.002% of her posts deleted? I am sure that is totally wiped out by the sheer amount of posters she has helped over the years.

Anyway, I am going to dereg now as the place is full of goady fuckers and short story writers and no amount of reportting is going to change that. The day they start to be given more consideration than long standing helpful posters, is the day I have had enough.

Thanks for all the fun over the last 5 years.

noddyholder Fri 25-Oct-13 09:07:12

AF has been warned and deleted loads! And had one ban. I have also had a ban for about a week but very few deletions and warnings I think everyone is waaay over reacting to this.

LEMisafucker Fri 25-Oct-13 09:07:51

Id like to pick up on mathanxiety's post if I may. You are absolutely right in what you say abuse is abuse and the advise given in relationships is spot on LTB absolutely. However I think that the relationship board has become a support area for those experiencing this. That is a very good thing as folk with similar experience can advise or support.

What concerns me is there doesnt seem to be a middle ground people are afraid to post less serious issues for fear of the LTB brigade. I actually notice that AF doesn't post on these threads but many others do and it is not helpful. I understand why but it makes me wonder if there should be some sort of sub division because there is a need for more everyday , dare I say,trivial relationship issues.

Just a thought

LEMisafucker Fri 25-Oct-13 09:10:00

Porto don't let them win!

ZombieZing Fri 25-Oct-13 09:10:44

mathanxiety

here are ten brownie points for PCness!grin

VestaCurry Fri 25-Oct-13 09:10:47

blush sorry all

<scurries off to Credit Crunch threads>

FrightRider Fri 25-Oct-13 09:11:05

ITA LEM

It might reduce the amount of people who post in chat with the disclaimed "i dont feel like braving relationships with this because its trivial" kind of openings!

TiggyD Fri 25-Oct-13 09:11:46

PortoFiendo You deregistering would be for the best. If somebody isn't happy with a site they should leave. I'm always perplexed by people who carry on doing things they don't like or being on a site they don't like. Bye.

flowery Fri 25-Oct-13 09:11:56

"The day they start to be given more consideration than long standing helpful posters.."

Good grief. Surely we can give MNHQ a little more credit than that, can't we?

RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 25-Oct-13 09:12:05

mathanxiety

I disagree that there is any orthodoxy on Relationships and I am dismayed that this opinion seems to be floated here.

People rarely post on Relationships to say their marriages are lovely and their husbands / wives are wonderful.

Most threads concern horrible spouses and spousal abuse of one kind or another. Therefore most of the advice is along the lines of 'make plans to leave' or 'go to Women's Aid and have them help you make plans to leave' or 'no it is not normal for a man to refuse to give you enough money to buy food for the family or to ask for an accounting of every penny you spend', etc.

Occasionally someone will post something along the lines of 'this is partly your fault'. This is not what Women's Aid would say to someone who needed help in a situation of domestic abuse, and therefore nobody should expect to have such a view go unchallenged.

I do not understand why there is a perception that the truth of any matter always lies somewhere in the middle and therefore nobody who comes across as strident could possibly be right. This is simply not the case a lot of the time. 'LTB' is something of a cliche, but so many times a woman's life is immeasurably improved, and the lives of her children too, when she gets the courage to pack and go. There is no reason why anyone should put up with abuse in their own home or anywhere else.

Abuse can be identified just from reading what an OP posts about his or her relationship (do I get points for PCness?). It is not necessary to hear the other half of the story.

Abuse can never be tolerated and there are no excuses whatsoever for it. It is extremely important to get that message across even in the teeth of a huge cultural disinclination to see it in stark terms.

Morning all

We don't disagree with any of this, but we can only reiterate that we get regular reports and messages (I got a few last night while posting on this thread) from people who say they feel unable to post there. When we can see that the people saying this are genuine MNers (have been around a while, post regularly in other boards, don't have any reputation for making trouble) then we need to take their views into consideration.

We've no objection at all to people who say 'LTB', but we do have a problem if people saying 'I'm not sure you should LTB' are being shouted down. We aim to allow MNers to have constructive conversations, and if something's getting in the way of that then from our POV it's a problem - in the same way that people thinking it's OK to use AIBU as a fight club is problematic.

None of this is to say that people in Relationships don't get great support and advice from other MNers.

OhAntiChristFENTON Fri 25-Oct-13 09:12:23

Please don't Porto

come on, let's put the kettle on, - it will all look better after a lovely brew

PoppyAmex Portugal Fri 25-Oct-13 09:15:02

"If you're the OP and you dont come back with having done what the posters have told you to do you also get ripped to pieces, accused of trolling, hounded and abused if you come back and post about it again "i told you what to do last time" or "we've been telling you what to do for months" or "is this still going on?"

This is absolutely the case in the Relationship board; I'm often appalled at the dismissive and sometimes downright aggressive way vulnerable women are treated after they refuse to take their children to a shelter and "LTB" that same day.

bodycolder Fri 25-Oct-13 09:15:07

pmsl @ long standing helpful posters this is in the eye of the beholder. There are some people who have been on here years and I would take everything they say with a pinch of salt because it means nothing to me and my life and yet someone new can turn up out of the blue and in a sentence help you make sense of something. This is why I like MN over other boards. It is like saying the 3 party system is good because its been around forever doesn't mean its talking to everyone anymore

OhAntiChristFENTON Fri 25-Oct-13 09:15:20

You're always so warm and fluffy Tiggsy - I do love that about you.

tharsheblows Fri 25-Oct-13 09:16:39

Soupy - remember when Arts and Crafts was a scary place? And someone made a new site to chat and swap bits and bobs, was that it?

Reprint Fri 25-Oct-13 09:17:45

Well done for holding the hand up PF
Yes, I do think the reaction would have been a lot different if posters had thought AF was in detention and not expelled.
It happened. Shit does.

That said, it has brought a lot of feelings to light which people had previously kept quiet about, and as ever there are 'sides' on MN where never the twain should meet.

Things will settle, the place will calm down. Living in flouncers corner for a while might be a good thing to do while you feel like this - but de-reg'ing would be sad.
It rather lets the influx of 'difficult' posters win, don't you think?
They will get bored. They always do.
And today's news is just tomorrows chip wrapping.

For what it worth ... I actually think MNHQ should think about deleting all threads related to this subject, in the best interest of it becoming yesterdays news as quickly as possible. It seems to me to be an action that would be in everyone's best interests and could certainly be justified on the grounds that every single one could be construed as personally directed at AF. Every single one of the threads breaks the moral guideline of directly posting about someone.

Anyfuckergate Fri 25-Oct-13 09:17:49

Oops posted too soon!

Most new people are just regular people that come here for support, however due to the last couple of weeks media attention I am sure that some just come here to make trouble. Extra help in the evenings and at night is a sencible option.

However I still stand by the view that no personal information should be posted unless that person has been consulted and concented. Mnhq could have said right at the beginning that she had been banned temporarily and the whole stats info was not relevant, a simple we have been in communication with her (9 emails in total for that issue) but we still feel that this is the right course of action for now. Leaving the door open to any further action once the team have had a chance to discuss the issue.

CarpeVinum Fri 25-Oct-13 09:18:35

I think that AF has NOT been treated consistently with the treatment of other posters.

It is almost impossible to deal with the exceptional with a standard issue response.

so yes, there is an anomolous response, but that is a direct consequence of an anomlous reaction to a week's suspension.

Mainly becuase there were crossed wires in the original communication where AIUI AF used "banned" to mean temp. ban, but the recipient(s) of her message interpreted "banned" as forever. Both perfectly reasonable uses of the word..... just a communication hiccup with unforseen consequences.

Expecting consitency in the treatment of posters is a long shot. Most analysis of "forum life cycles" demonstrate that a hirarchy forms, with elders, middles, noobs and lurkers. This is not static, with each kerfuffle there is a blood letting of elders who leave and the vaccum is filled by fresh blood nd so the cycle contnues. In terms of poster managment and sactions, not unsurprisingly an elder who makes a notable contribution to PVs and conversion of lurkers to active posters tends to get more leeway. Just like in the real world where big genorators in every sphere get more slack when things go bent.

Somebody asked about studies of forum tendencies above. I've never seen any academic study, but there are loads of detailed analysis online on webmaster forums/resources. Nothing seen here is new or different, not the suspition of management's motives, blood letting of elders, massive kerfuffles over posters being sanctioned, rows over hireachrcy, feeling like "this place has changed", new arrivals smarting at feeling termnally invisible. After work I'll see if I can dig up a link. When you have emotional connections to a forum community the cycles re genuinly painful. Well it was for me when my original forum went thrugh the ups and downs. But when you are emotionally distant... it is qute startling just how tightly wildly diverse forums all over the place follow the same patterns and cycles with the same thought processes and there is little new under the sun... forumwise.

everlong Fri 25-Oct-13 09:21:47

Agree with your last paragraph poppy.
This whole carry on has been interesting in a way. People voicing their real opinions on things.

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