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Why we temporarily banned Anyfucker and what next

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MNHQ have commented on this thread.

JustineMumsnet (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.)

everlong Thu 24-Oct-13 21:40:34

Thanks for your explanation Justine.
Clears quite a lot up.

Pan Thu 24-Oct-13 21:40:37

yeah TiggyD - you were my first mental ref. for that too. So back steadily into your
btw I've recruited you as seamstress on the thread in Flouncers. You've got thousands of uniforms to prepare. Off you pop.

timidviper Thu 24-Oct-13 21:41:27

Thank you Justine. I think your explanation is measured and reasonable which is more than can be said for some of the posts yesterday. I've been on Mumsnet for years and yesterday was the first time ever I felt ashamed by the playground behaviour on it.

One of the things I have always loved about MN is the frank exchange of different views and the range of experiences and opinions shared. I have heard and learned about things I would never come across in my everyday life and have, on occasion, changed my viewpoint totally because of it. I find it very sad that grown women felt it appropriate to behave like that to try and force their opinion to prevail over all others, often without even a full knowledge of the facts.

reelingintheyears Thu 24-Oct-13 21:41:38

I hope you asked AF first before posting about previous warnings etc.

I thought all that stuff was private.

ScreamingNaanAndGoryOn Thu 24-Oct-13 21:42:10

AF didn't want or orchestrate the shit storm about this. There's been no end of PAs against her all day with some massive axes being ground by at least two posters who have a historical problem with her. And now this?

Ow. Just ow.

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 24-Oct-13 21:42:26


If I was AF, after reading that I probably wouldn't want to come back.

I understand where you're coming from in wanting to defend HQ, but that's an official drubbing of a single poster.

I've not seen you do that before. I'm pretty sad that you have.

I see where you're coming from SN and if I'm honest it's not something we like doing at all but as said, it's been pretty exceptional circs here over the last 24 hours and some Mumsnetters have been very doubtful of our actions/motives etc so I think transparency is the only way to go in this case. I repeat that AF is a much valued poster by MNHQ and clearly by legions of other Mumsnetters, so very much hope she'll be back and posting soon and we can all move on!

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 24-Oct-13 21:43:37


Seems a fair response to me. I too am aghast at the amount of reports concerning AF.

Is it possible that there will be more night cover? Is that on your agenda?

Yes it is, trish. Not quite sure exactly where we're at but Rowan will be...

Venushasrisen Thu 24-Oct-13 21:44:01

What's PAs?

Somehow this reminds me of playgroup committee meetings <<shudder>>

reelingintheyears Thu 24-Oct-13 21:44:23

That doesn't look like you value her at all, and have frankly set her up to be goaded to death even if she did want to return.

BellaVita Thu 24-Oct-13 21:45:12

Personal attacks

BunnyLebowski Thu 24-Oct-13 21:45:19

Thanks Justine.

The facts and statistics speak for themselves really don't they.

And the "orthodoxy"on Relationships has been an issue for a very long time. Aggression, manipulation and downright bullying. Not great for a place that people turn to in their lowest moments.

FlaseFuckerSpider Thu 24-Oct-13 21:45:31

personal attacks

bsc Thu 24-Oct-13 21:45:38

Personal Attacks venus

5madthings Thu 24-Oct-13 21:45:43

Does AF know you have given this information out?

I thought these things were normally kept private and tbh I am very uncomfortable with this info, it's actually the kind of info that some posters would make a mental note of/c&p to use in a not nice way.

It doesn't seem necessary to go into that detail.

I think lots of posters know AF can 'bite' and I have seen her posts deleted etc, I think the concussion was that posters thought she had been banned, rather than suspension of posting.

Anyway its done now.

Thants Thu 24-Oct-13 21:45:44

Why do you outright ban other people with no warnings yet this person is given many warnings and only a temporary suspension for breaking the guidelines?

Annonynon Thu 24-Oct-13 21:45:55

in the most non-arsekissy way possible...

I think you're doing a fab job mnhq, I don't envy you the decisions you have to make but to me you always seem fair,balanced and reasonable

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 24-Oct-13 21:45:55


I hope you asked AF first before posting about previous warnings etc.

I thought all that stuff was private.

I think it's relevant though reeling and, as said, I don't see that we had a choice in the face of being called upon pretty vociferously to state our reasoning. If we don't explain our actions we get criticised and shouted at?

ubik Thu 24-Oct-13 21:46:00

I agree with that an 'orthodoxy' can build up in certain sections, making it difficult for other people to post a conflicting view.

Annonynon Thu 24-Oct-13 21:46:29

in the most non-arsekissy way possible...

I think you're doing a fab job mnhq, I don't envy you the decisions you have to make but to me you always seem fair,balanced and reasonable

ExitPursuedByABogieMan Thu 24-Oct-13 21:46:51

It is all just words on a screen.

Thisfuckerisaeuphemism Thu 24-Oct-13 21:46:57

Meh, I've seen Anyfucker attacked loads of times. What is the phrase 'Man-hater' if not a PA?

As for an orthodoxy on the relationship boards, I don't believe it's the case. I think there is a general ethos of 'you don't have to put up with twattish behaviour' which is at odds with the orthodoxy on relationships in wider society in general. It is only those who believe women should tolerate anything "for the sake of family" who seem to take offence at AF.

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 24-Oct-13 21:47:32


in the most non-arsekissy way possible...

I think you're doing a fab job mnhq, I don't envy you the decisions you have to make but to me you always seem fair,balanced and reasonable

You can say that as many times as you like Annon smile

reelingintheyears Thu 24-Oct-13 21:47:45

Yes, explain your actions but at least have the courtesy to ask someone first before printing out their history.
Just basic manners.

5madthings Thu 24-Oct-13 21:47:49

And whilst I was typing that others have said the same..

AF is a good egg, abrasive, to the point, takes no crap and yes oversteps the mark at times, I don't think this needed to be aired so publically tho.

Minnieisthedevilmouse Thu 24-Oct-13 21:47:54

I think I'm not comfortable about various aspects.

I don't know how many reports get a deleted post
I don't know how many reports/deletions get a suspension
I don't know how many suspensions get a banning
I think I should know and somewhere I should be able to see that info.

I was surprised AF was the subject of a storm. I don't follow her I simply recognised the name and was curious what happened. I am rather non plussed by all the threads. She's a person. Not god. This mass hysteria is icky. I'm icked right out by the fawning and cliquey nature.

This stinks of schoolyard stuff and it's icky. It's not what I come for, wish to see. I just want to know that if I behaved similarly as a small time poster you would treat me the same. I'm now left wondering if there's tiers. I don't like that.

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