Thursday, 23 October 2008

the Fasces of is perhaps the largest and busiest discussion forum for photography in the English speaking world. People from all over the world come to there to read and discuss all manner of photographs and, increasingly, to use it as a platform to showcase their pictures as much as to learn and help others to learn.

But in an effort to keep things "PC" they are treading down the path of heavily moderating discussion and even wiping out any registered users who they simply don't like. This seems to be becoming remarkably like the "modus operandi" of another group, Fascists.

Things are changing over there, as the site which began as the personal creation of Phillip Greenspun became in late 2007 the corporate property of Namemedia. Now, there's nothing wrong with corporate sponsorship, but there is something wrong when this turns to corporate facism.

Facism as a system, has as a goal to create a society which conforms to its regulations and gives power to administrators (government agents, police, gestapo ...) to anonymously and with impunity remove or delete any item or any person who is interpreted as offending the rules. This constrains what are often basicaly decent people to inflexibly follow rules and systems to in essence execute in-compassionate acts and leads to the removal of whoever is needed in order to maintain the "face" which is required by the rules. The ideas sound good, but look what happened to the "that policial party" in Germany. What started out as a high ideal of a healthy human race (a goal of Eugenics) turned into something else. But I'm sure none of it was based on attempting to victimise any specific person.

In the last few years I've participated in I noticed occasional grumblings from people who were 'thrown off' the site. I had assumed like any good net-izen that it was for being belligerent or offensive.

However I've found that this is not always the case, as I was thrown off for what began as an honest mistake little more than a small bit of prose that was not critical of anyone and did not degrade or insult anyone. In fact what I did say that was significant was that our work (as subscribers and contributors) to are their source of richness, which in turn they harvest and we gain not even the rights to enquire about their actions.

So based on that my account was locked evidence of the discussion on the issues were deleted (along with sentiments of approval of the topic) and in communications with the site administrator he shows the compassion of someone who is overworked and under interested in sorting out issues. He even goes so far as to call me a troll. I would be happy to make available to anyone the full communications with the administrator to enable them to decide for themselves.

So with really no recourse to any arbitration the "administration" cancel my subscritption (yep, I had just paid it) and block me accessing my account. Importantly they do get to keep all my contributions as "history" as well as all of my images to increase the "richness" of the site. So as I mentioned in my post (which caused my deletion) I've already produced enough harvest so just weed out that plant before it causes any more problems.

All of this starts to sound like the sort of thing that Augusto Pinochet would approve of.

BTW, if you weren't aware of it, the Fasces is the accepted symbol of Facism. Once the symbol of the Roman Empire (not know for being the most delicate of negociators) it became in the 20th Century the symbol of Facism under Benito Mussolini.

Just like the changes from the initial "manifesto" to that of the regime of Mussolini is undergoing changes from what it once was to an as yet uncertain future. So when people are disappearing from in the middle of the night for daring to ask "where did my post go" you have to ask what kind of place is it (despite the beautiful exterior and the kind participation by members).

I would really like to know just how many get tossed off because of misinterpretations, misunderstandings or being annoyed by some arbitrary decision at the whim of the Administrator over there in the newly emerging "Fasces" administration. In my case I was not even aware of moderator deletion of my posts because the moderator notification was absorbed by my hotmail spam filters because they were not posting from So when I got some smart alec replies from a moderator when I questioned what was happening it naturally annoyed me.

By "running out of town" valuable contributors for trite and insignificant reasons it will drasticaly reduce the potential for meaningful answers (for example, check my profile to see how many contributions I made and the extent to which I often went to assist fellow photographers to learn) . This is not just my fear, as others have been suggesting similar things about the insensitivity of moderation and that it is the contributors who make the site valuable. Of course you can't say much or you'll just get deleted too.

Personally I fear that what was once a good place will descend into a humdrum of nothing more than people asking questions and attracting hits from google and as a showcase for photographs where people can try to flog their wares as a photographer (rather like Flickr).

Still, perhaps as long as it makes money (its becomming an ads fest now days for non-paying-subscribers) for Namemedia then perhaps nothing else matters (to them).

So if you've been kicked off for what seem to be unreasonable grounds don't feel alone. Heck post something here and help let people know what sort of place it has become.


Noons said...

I never joined,now I understand why.
Only learned about them after they had been purchased.
And some of the discussions there are just too OT for my taste anyway.
Now I see I probably did well in not bothering!

Anonymous said...

The censorship that they show in moderating forums in unacceptable. They are removing a lot of members for minor issues and without warnings. Josh Root the director there has become a complete dictator and acts without any regard for for common courtesy. He has stated that his goal is to get rid of the troublemakers
Josh Root , Mar 29, 2002; 04:58 a.m.
As I have mentioned to a couple of different folks in the past. I'd be glad to help out. I've been around here a while and think I'd be a decent resource. Sadly, like so many others, high end programming isn't really in my bag of skills. I would be really good at moderating, weeding out troublemakers, or creating editorial content (or overseeing that creation).