Monday, June 18, 2018

And so it continues....

The ongoing saga of community forums, and refusing to let them breathe.

When the old forum started to die off, one of the biggest complaints was that people were having their posts edited, moved, and condensed into other older, sometimes unrelated threads. Today a perfectly good thread, asking for advice has been merged into a cutesie little thread.

Sure no forum wants 20 threads about the same sort of thing, but sometimes it's needed. Sometimes people who participated in the older thread, and are done with it, see it pop up again, and just ignore it. Leaving poor Dave's new post out in the wilderness where no one cares about it. Had the new thread he started been left, and left with the title he posted it with, someone might have bothered to read it.
In turn, they may have replied, and a whole new conversation would be started. But alas, for some (who insist on maintaining control, and not being able to leave things alone for five minutes) this is all too much, and it needs sorting out. Topic title changes, moved into a sub-forum you may or may not subscribe to, and merged into oblivion. Poor Dave, he only wanted some advice on a nice Chinese to use!

Of course, if it is ANOTHER BLOODY COFFEE SHOP, it immediately deserves two things. It's own thread, and a test of the all important "flat white"!

Things which are not relevant to the area are not permitted, after all, who wants to just chat with locals. General Chatter was always one of the busiest forums on the forums I ran, but this is apparently not welcome in local forums these days, unless of course it one of the items on the agenda to ram down peoples throats.

Politics have no place on a community forum in my opinion. Of course they will pop up from time to time in conversation, and it can delicately be put that its not the place to delve into it.
However some feel it is appropriate the tout local politics all over a local forum, maybe even dominate the forum with political views. Of course, we are all entitled to an opinion, and once stated, that is all that is needed. Full on debate however..... overkill!

Forum killer in fact. Drawing out the anger and intent in some, provocation to use stronger and stronger language. Where does it all end? Well I will tell you where..... With the final say of the person who can, and usually will close the thread after having their say.
Or in some cases, posts will be edited or removed if they cause too much upset, or are damaging to reputations (for some at least)

Watching on from afar, recent posts about a local political meetings which were disrupted, it is easy to see the same pattern once again. People speaking out against the thread author (and forum owner) , and one by one being shot down by the posting of Wiki pages, links to news stories (which support the post) and comments berating and belittling those daring to have an opposing opinion.
Point this out, and it is either denied, or you are attacking the owner.

Most threads ending with the post being moved to another section of the forum where many fear to tread, not wishing to get tangled up in political venom, but preferring to keep topics light and local.

So, I want to put this nicely, and as unbiased as possible.

I know you want the forums to succeed, I believe you when you say you love the area you live in, and want to see what is best for it. (even if your actions contradict your words at times)
So, a message from an ever growing group of people (not a movement against you!)

Please stop being overwhelming and overpowering on the forum. To succeed it needs space, room to breathe, and people to be allowed to express themselves freely. In the actual definition of the word, not the one you consider to be the right version.
Everything is NOT political, remove politics from the forum.
All the hidden "opt in" forums make the landing page of the forum look dead, as well as pretty dull.

Here is a challenge. Step back, give it a month, trust the other moderators, let it do its thing.

Do you not see that time and time again, people post saying they feel something is overpowering the forum, and instead of listening, you shout. Shouting people down, telling them you know better. But all the while it is those people who make the forum what it is. Show some respect.

Only today two users have been blasted for simply saying they disagree with the way certain posts come across.

I know you think this is personal, I know you think I want the forum to die, but you could not be further from the truth if you tried. I simply don't like you or the way you treat the users. As well as users on other platforms too.

So that's that, I can't be more honest really.

The local forums have done some great things, great minds have been thrust together, and peoples problems solved. But right now, it is neither friendly nor welcoming, especially to the casual observer.

Your move.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Speak your mind.

It is something we love to do, and take for granted that we are allowed to "see it, and say it", and to a large degree, we manage to do it successfully every day. Simple opinions on lunch, to passionate opinions on other much bigger matters.

One thing I have learned is, the ability to do this will depend entirely on the platform you choose to use. While there are many to choose from, Twitter and Facebook have always been my favourites. Open to the world, very limited censorship, and it is a way of just putting a thought out there. Much as I do on this blog too, although the blog has a much smaller audience most of the time.

The further away from public forums (in general) I get, the more I realise, that while interaction on them is higher, it is often overly personal, rather then focusing on the matter at hand. User accounts and profiles give people some sort of belief that they know you or understand you. Some will even go as far as to profile you and decide what the hidden message within the post was. Impossible to believe that something can be as simple as WYSIWYG.

Having run forums for almost two decades now, this is really nothing new to me.

Freedom of speech is a great thing, but also something which is hard to keep a grasp on, after all, as soon as you lay hands on it, the freedom part is somehow lost. Be it a simple change of wording, right through to complete censorship, any interaction or intervention is damaging to the flow.
A social platform is there, like soap boxes are in Hyde Park Corner. Jump up, have your say, duck from the rotten tomatoes being thrown at you from the disapproving, and move on. Agree or disagree, my opinion is my own.
Of course there is room for response, and once I step down from the box, I will happily stand and entertain any rebuttal offered from any opposing people.

What is not on, is sadly something we see far too much of, from a place where examples of how to conduct yourself should be coming from. MP's and Parliament. Shouting, jeering, talking over someone until they can't be heard anymore, then snorting and laughing at their success in shouting you down. In short, shouting people down, talking over them, or removing their ability to have their say, purely because you disagree with opinion is NOT freedom of speech.

With Twitter, I can say things which completely go against the grain of the conversation. Not to be disruptive, but because it is what I feel on any matter at hand. I will of course receive replies from people. But the key here is, they will be uncensored replies, much as my comment was. Name calling, go for it, I don't know you. As long as you are are expressing yourself in an honest fashion, say what you feel you need to. We are all different, and some people will be more aggressive and use more profanity than others, but as long as the message within is clear. All good.

Of course, there is one big thing in this freedom of speech thing...  Commitment. Being committed and standing by your comments is the key. If you feel you might regret saying it, or are worried that someone else will judge you in an unwanted way, based on what you say, don't say it in the first place. You can't take back the spoken or printed word, so why should digital media be any different?
If you have the balls to say something, leave it there. Be proud of your conviction, stand up for what you believe in, and stay standing.

All too often now, things are said in the public domain, threats, anger, statements of questionable fact. If you were wrong, just say "hey, I was wrong". Don't go hiding things and pretending they never happened. That just screams opportunistic bully. You can't go having a spat with someone because what they say doesn't fit with your belief system, or because the right things were not said, then when all is said and done, delete everything you said. That just screams pathetic.

If you search me on the internet, you will see over the years I have said many things, some of which I was completely wrong on, and I have gone on to say just that. However, the original content remains. Complete with any comments made on it by people (so long as they have not deleted them themselves). I just don't see the point in going to all the trouble of screaming and shouting, looking for attention and demanding an audience, only to then hide it all away again. That just tells me that you are a little embarrassed about what you have said to someone, and you are worried that people will realise what kind of person you are. God forbid they know the truth. But hey, maybe they might like and respect you more for being so passionate about something.

Being passionate about something is being willing to debate, discuss, and share a platform, not dominate, control and censor the other person, or remove content you feel is not in keeping with peoples perceptions of you.

This is all to common all across social media these days. "Tweet Not Available" appearing on content, where the person is being called out on their comments, but has chosen to hide what they said, rather than be called into question about it.
This sort of use of social media, and other media platforms is "drive-by" . Not gonna stop, not going to risk getting into a discussion, just simply going to drive by and spray my words from the window, then run!

Friday, June 8, 2018

Single use plastics

There is a lot of focus on these in the media at the moment, and rightfully so. Single use plastics are a blight upon our land and oceans. Landfill sites are full of them, and more and more is finding its way into our oceans, and damaging marine life. I for one really want to see this improved upon, and fast.

The focus is on bottled water, fizzy drinks, and the stuff you pick up out of convenience. However there is something big being overlooked. Now I am sure it is being looked at on some sort of scale, but very little information on it is ever reported on.

I am talking about the products we buy in supermarkets every week, things which are over diluted with water and other pointless thinning agents, to make it appear we are getting more for our money.

The example that really made an impact on me is fruit squash, or dilute drinks. For years we had supermarket shelves filled with all the favourites, including iconic products like Robinsons Barley. You can spot the bottle a mile off.

Having worked in retail for years, I totally understand brand imaging, and identity. For sure a key part of capturing a customer base. So any change to that could be damaging. However, so can filling the world up with millions of tons of plastics.

When you take the time to look at the different drinks available in shops, and read the labels, it starts to become more apparent that some of these products are 60% or more, just water... The same stuff you will be adding to the product when it comes to using it. Be it a drink, a washing product, or anything else out there which eventually ends up having water added, having excessive amounts of water in the product at point of sale is wasteful. And I am not just talking about the plastic here.
If Robinsons sell one million bottles of squash, with 60% extra water in there, that is 600,000kgs or 600 tons of unnecessary water being shipped around, from producer, to distributor to retailer. That's not only a lot of extra plastic needed to contain it, but also a huge amount of extra emissions for the transport.

This is not a dig at Robinsons, they are just a good example to use as they sell a variety of dilutable products from their Real Fruit range, which is diluted at a ratio of 1 part squash to 4 parts water 1:4 or 62mls of squash to make a 250ml drink, through to their Squash'd range which requires 1 part squash to 75 parts water, or 3.3mls of squash to make a 250ml drink. That is quite the difference.

Now the argument might be had that Squash'd is a different type of product and does not make the same kind of drink. Fine, let's use another example. Tesco concentrate. With a 1.5 litre bottle making a whopping 60 litres of drink (at recommended ratios), that is quite different still to the one litre bottle of Real Fruit which make a paltry four litres of drink. When you put these into a visual context, the difference is HUGE!
Forget cost, lets pretend there is no real financial difference to the products when it comes to getting the same results. Instead let's focus on the product needed to make 60 litres of squash. The same 60 litres which can be made from one Tesco concentrate, would require a huge FIFTEEN bottles of Real Fruit.
So putting that into context, that is 14 extra empty  plastic bottles being disposed of! That is shocking to say the least. When you then take into account that the Tesco concentrate is one past squash to nine parts water, that is 25ml of squash concentrate to make a 250ml.
*note, numbers are based on data on the products

So three products, all which make a 250ml fruity drink when diluted. At one end of the scale, 62mls being required, then in the middle, a slightly more reasonable 25ml, and at the insane end of the scale, 3.3mls to make 250ml. That is 20 times less than the most watered down product of the three.

When you get your head around those numbers, it is truly mindblowing that manufacturers keep churning out these products in their current form factors. Especially when one manufacturer makes the two products at either end of the scale.

The same issue is store wide like I say, with any product which also offers a concentrated version being the biggest offenders. However there are plenty more single option products which contain too much water, and could easily be reduced down further. The implications are wide spread, from the plastics used to contain, transport, and sell the product in, to the excesses of water used in them, taking water from the mains supply. A mains supply that we are currently seeing in the media that is under threat from not being able to keep up with demand. And of course, the transportation costs of all this excess. Both financially and environmentally.

In short, what I am saying here is manufacturers are knowingly being wasteful and excessive. Selling huge volumes of product, when it could be reduced down considerably. Obviously the cost would take some getting used to £ per litre looking excessive until it all makes sense. But I promise I will continue to buy fruit squash drinks, and will buy more from those who manufacture and package is more responsibly.
When the world wants to, it can act really fast on these matters, with products like Sugar Puffs immediately going out of production after people finally realised how much sugar was actually in them. So I would love to see the same.

It is time for manufacturers to stop producing watered down products for the sake of shifting larger volumes. Surely it would make financial sense too? 4x the product in the same size bottle, 4x times the price (fairs fair) 3 less bottles used.

I have no idea who I would approach with this matter, but really hope someone of influence is either reading this, or having the same thoughts themselves. Things do need to change, but the blame does not lay entirely with the consumer.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Cycling in London

As I have said before, there is this huge incentive to get people on their bikes, and out of their cars. Having made the transition myself over a year ago, I have to say I am SO much happier for doing so. That said, I would be even happier if my employers offered a Ride to Work scheme. Large as they are, unfortunately they don't participate. Oh well, it's not like I NEED a new bike is it? Or do I? (N+1)

Sadly, as positive as I feel about it, there are many negatives involved in cycling to work in London too. Arrogant drivers, arsehole cyclists (quite a few), and pedestrians... Bloody pedestrians! Only this morning I had an attentive young lady walk slowly out in front of the bike, turn to face me, and happily continue walking into my path, as I swerved to avoid hitting her.

Then I get to work, and see that the City of London have published guidelines, with this fantastic statement within.
Our message is simple – in the City, please ride at a speed where you can easily stop if a person walking happens to step out,” says a statement from the Corporation.

I am left wondering if there is an opposite statement suggesting pedestrians walk at a sensible pace, and make checks before walking into the road.... Nope, didn't think so.

Article is here.

Now before you sneer and say "bloody cyclists", I get it. There are some proper arseholes out there on pushbikes. Red light jumping, queue shoving, impatient arseholes. I ride with them every day. ON their 5 mile commute, acting like they are on a stage from the TDF, or in a sprint race. I happily amble along, and watch the muppets bumping into each other, race each other from light to light, or just simply act like they are the only ones on the road. It is those people who ruin it for everyone else.

Every road using group has them, the self important twats, who feel their journey is far more important than everyone elses, cars pushing in after driving along the outside of a queue, pedestrians shoving to the front of a crossing, if indeed they bother to use one at all, the list goes on.

As I have said before, somehow, we all need to try and get along the best we can, on a small , cramped, shared space, also known as the public highway. And to be honest, given the volumes of all groups using the roads, things go pretty bloody well.

However, from time to time people in positions of authority get involved, and it all gets a bit messy. Sometimes through ignorance, and other times they are simply being stupid about things, trying to say the right thing at the right time.

Cycle lanes, planned by anyone from a genius, to someone who thinks they know how cyclists behave, but has never ridden a bike in their life. Some are brilliant, make sense, flow with the road, and allow cyclists to take a variety of routes while remaining in the relative safety of the bike lane. Others are based on a single popular route, and should you find yourself trying to use it, but not wanting to go where it suddenly leads to, you are stuffed. If you don't know a cycle lane, don't use it, that's my rule of thumb.

When it comes to the above article, it is a case of setting guidelines to appease the masses, rather than trying to get the message through to them. Pedestrians have been walking into roads without checking since the time of horse and cart. Old black and white film actually shows a disturbing level of chaos on the roads from many decades ago. Sometimes when I see such things, I get the impression things have actually improved!!

Cars should slow down, IN CASE a pedestrian walks in front of one.... Bikes should now ride at a slower pace than cars are permitted to do so, IN CASE a pedestrian walks out in front of one. Yet with all this in place, there is still no law to cover what the USA consider jaywalking. Why not !!
In general, if a person is struck by a vehicle of any sort on the road, the immediate blame will fall on the operator of the vehicle. Dash cams, and handlebar cams now show a very different story, yet the onus still falls on them to be the ones taking more care.  I don't get it!

CycleGaz is one of the people I follow on Twitter and YouTube, and in almost every video he posts, where there is a conflict with road users, it is more often than not, the other persons fault. Or should I say, the other party could have acted more responsibly and considerately.  Carelessness or arrogance, either way it could end in injury.

I too now like to video my journeys, and I have to say, the most common occurrence is pedestrians walking out. If anything, I give some motorists a little leeway , given the number of angles risk approaches them from on certain roads. Some more obvious than others.
Pedestrians on the other hand, in all cases I have caught on camera, the cause is simple. They just can't be bothered to wait, so out they go. After all, it's only a bloke on a bike. Well, its 240lbs of bloke on a bike travelling at 15-20mph... It's gonna hurt (both of us) if we collide.

So to see an authority make such stupid statements, is really annoying. Target the easiest bunch, rather than the actual issue. Seems to be the done thing these days. Then when someone else throws themselves in front of a bike, they can say, "we warned them!!".

Again, I want to be clear, any cyclist riding in a dangerous or inconsiderate manner, jumping red lights, carving in an out of others etc, gets no respect or defence from me. Let the courts deal with them in a matter they see fit. There is no reason for being a dick on the roads, none at all.

I enjoy cycling, and hope to continue to be able to do so, in all weathers, at all times of year, for a long time to come. And as the years go by, I really hope that I see an improvement on the conditions out there, as well as seeing a change in each groups behaviour, taking responsibility for their actions. Unlikely I know, but I can dream right!

Cyclists, make yourself seen, and ride in an appropriate manner for the conditions of the road you are using.
Motorists, mirrors please guys and girls, and an occasional look to the side.
Pedestrians, look where you are going, and drop the "it's just a bike" attitude. They hurt, honest!

I will say, I really hope the future of road planning, and cycle lanes, involves a group of people who cycle on those exact roads daily. Some of the solutions out there so far are hilarious, and must have cost a fortune. For example, I love seeing a road with a cycle lane, then narrowing points for pedestrians or traffic calming, causing pinch points for cyclists / motorists. Space them out, then squeeze them together, smart!

Monday, June 4, 2018

Self reflection.

Taking stock of the past few days, it is important to me to make sure I am fully aware of what has happened across the board, and the impact my actions may have had on others. And maybe others should too?

I don't like to be told what to do, never have, never will. Nor do I like being spoken down to. If anyone puts me in such a position, they will generally receive a response of sorts, and in some cases it can be knee jerk, and possibly a little excessive. Emotions are a powerful driver.

Sadly, when things like this happen, people who have no role in the situation sometimes get caught up in the moment, and for this I am sorry. For example, my other half choosing to leave the local forum, due to her being dragged into things. On this occasion, not by myself, but instead the admin of the forum. Contacting her, suggesting her account was being used to access information on threads, which they were then called out on.

Unfortunately, the tone of the emails took its toll on Ann, making her angry and upset at how she was being treated, and she made the decision to leave the forum. Requesting her account be deleted.
Strangely, I do not yet know the reason why, but her posts were also deleted from the forum. Not that this is a bad thing, but it is different to how my request was handled. Strange, but hey.... I'm sure there is a little game involved in there somewhere.

Now I know this sounds a little bit like a willy wave, but it is not. It is simply a fact, but one others may dispute.
The number of people who have contacted me (double figures) and either said they have received similar treatment, and felt too bullied to do anything about it. Or have simply stated they see the same issues I do, with the way people get treated for not conforming to the requirements of forum membership, is quite shocking.

I knew there were one or two who questioned the hierarchy, but the response to the blog has been quite the eye opener. And quite a relief too.

As some know, I can be a little bit nutty at times, and get too caught up in things. Blurred lines, over reacting, and suffering mentally for it.  So when I become embroiled in a cock fight on the internet, I can really make myself suffer. The bad outweighing the good on most occasions. A fact some have taken advantage of in the past.
It is a tough battle with my inner self, do I get treated like dirt, or do I stand up for myself (and others) and suffer the consequences of what it does to my state of mind. Usually the latter wins.

Over the weekend I received many threats of legal action, reports to the authorities, and other such things, as a way of making me panic and edit or remove the blog entry I posted. Initially I had to take a long hard look at things, and wonder if I was indeed in hot water. However as I did more digging, fact checking and research, I realised it was not all as it seemed.

The comments I made in the post were, to the best of my knowledge, factual. Having been involved in all matters I had raised, my recollection was supported by written and published forum posts, on various local forums. In fact, on doing a little research, I was quite astounded at some of the things I was reading. From suggesting people were not ready to have children as they received a form of financial support, from the eradication of local foxes. Detailed personal opinions on local people of influence, something I found quite amusing, given that I was in the middle of receiving threats to make me stop doing exactly that....Hmmm.

Another thing that tickled me was a post on a local forum where someone had divulged information about a private meeting which was due to take place. Using quotes from a private conversation to bolster the facts that this meeting would indeed take place.
Unfortunately, the other party had had no desire for this meeting to have been made public, and the repercussions of this revelation were quite damaging. Although part of me things this may have been the plan all along, in order to destabilise things, in order to make a move.

A move which would subsequently fail.

 There are questions to be asked about the actual intentions of some, with their actions not matching up with their comments of intent. Looking at things in a broader scope, alarm bells start to ring. In one arena the same topic is discussed in a very different manner. From harmless interest, to a desire of dominance, the messages are very mixed.
That in itself is very telling on some levels. Any person who has the need to have different personas in order to remain in certain circles gets my hackles up immediately.  That said, I too confess to having different personas, however most are aware of both. Polite and articulate on one hand, brash and a total prick on the other. Both sides of me are on display to all people I know, depending on the situation. I would say brash prick has been hanging around lately, but polite guy has kept him in check for the main part.

For me it works well, being able to make my point without being too polite or intimidated to leave anything out. Sadly for others, especially a couple of people I have spoken to, this has not been the case. Personally I find it outrageous that any person who desires to hold a position of any kind of trust in a local environment, should conduct themselves in a threatening and intimidating way. Especially on the basis that they simply do not like what another person thinks or has said. People like that really get on my nerves, and I will not stand by idle and watch someone be treated like that!

Sadly, some are blinkered to this behaviour, and refuse to accept that any wrong doing is taking place. Deciding to fully back the initial aggressor, rather than fact checking the situation, or taking a little time to actually ponder over the fact. Or of course, they just agree, even when presented with all the facts. Each to their own.
However, when the majority agree with the unwarranted behaviour are in a shared position of power, and able to almost decide the fate of someone, without any right to reply or appeal, then it becomes a much bigger problem. For some at least. If you play nicely, and say the right things of course, you would be none the wiser.

This was pretty much the reason I eventually decided to leave the forum. That is not to say that all were of the same mindset. This is NOT the case, and I want to be completely clear on this. However, with just enough support and goading, as well as assistance in mud slinging, anything is achievable, especially if you hold all the aces. Open and blatant "threats" about how people will get their comeuppance in time are tolerated because..... well because they can! When those who govern need governing, things go bad.

When other people of influence tell you they too feel something is wrong, you are clearly not barking up the wrong tree. I have received messages on a couple of platforms from such people, expressing their sadness at how things have evolved, and suggesting that things need to change. It is good to be in agreement, even if it is from within the silence.

Some walk the line to be respectful, included and remain involved. Then there are people like me, who walk along the line, scuffing it with our soles, blurring it, so others are not restricted by it.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Last word game.

Following my decision to leave recently, I have been having a back and forth with the owner of the forum.
The decision to leave was made after I realised it was impossible to have a meaningful existence on there, while it is being run the way it is.

On requesting the removal of my account, I was made aware by email, of a rather condescending comment being made about my leaving. Same sort of rubbish that has been posted in the past. A little willy wave, followed by some high fives no doubt.

Unhappy with this, I took to email and my blog to express my annoyance that even in my absence, I was still  somehow up for discussion. Naturally this caused some upset, as documented in previous posts. During the emailed being exchanged, and the first blog post going up, the admin of the forum took it upon themselves to block the IP address which I use. Which is fair enough.

However, someone started emailing my other half shortly before the block was put in place, dragging her into the argument, suggesting her account was being used to view discussions. Now you can look at this in one of two ways.
Firstly, that all information within the forum is subject to a non disclosure agreement, and that discussing it within a family home is not legally permitted. I am sure some would like to believe this was the case.
Or secondly, someone was unhappy with being asked why they were still making stupid comments, and not wanting prying eyes to see what was being said.
Bad news, others can still see it, others are disgusted with the way things are being dealt with.
I of course have been told I am being stupid too, but I knew that already.

Following my decision to remove mentions of an actual name from the blog, which is now back on the table for reconsideration, I received a polite email thanking me for doing so, and stating my IP would be unblocked. Nice, polite, mature. Thank you.

Sadly, trying to have the last laugh, my other half then received an email saying she could now access the forum again following me "toning down" my blog.

First up, she is nothing to do with this, so stop trying to use her as a pawn in this. Sending stupid messages to her, which he knows will filter back to me, and who knows, maybe even knew it would result in this blog entry.
Secondly, the game is over, you are no longer in control of what is posted, and you have successfully caused another forum member to leave, due to your arrogance, and insistence on having the last little muttered word at the end of it all.
I am sure that if this was on the forum, being pulled up on such smarmy comments would result in something along the lines of "sorry if you took offence, you misunderstand". The same line used to try and pacify or belittle anyone who dares to question the intent and context of your comments.

Once again, emails have been exchanged, and as expected, it was a simple courteous message, I clearly read more into it than was there.

So, well done team, keep up the great work, you are managing to do what you accuse other of trying to do, all by yourselves.

Maybe it would be worth doing a member wide, anonymous questionnaire, a satisfaction survey, and see just how many people are a little disgruntled or disillusioned at the way some things are dealt with on the forum. I think you might be surprised, especially if people are honest with you. Or who knows, maybe you won't be, maybe you know damn well what impact your behaviour is having, but prefer to deflect the blame onto others.

Dear Mr Mod......

Some time ago now, I wrote an entry called "Dear Steve Shaw". It was a very blunt and open entry regarding the behaviour of the owner and admin of
At the time of writing the piece, I had had a number of fallings out with Mr Shaw, and I was part of a new beginning for a local forum for the area. was born, and the pissing contest begun. Most stones being thrown from .com at .life, and a few low blows along the way, with Wikipedia being edited, porn links being posted, and reports being made to the local authority for posting a few flyers up.

When I wrote the piece, Mr Mod was delighted, and felt the tone was fair and just, and raised topics which seemed to have gone under the radar for the majority. All is fair in love and war so they say.

However, as time has gone by, myself and Mr Mod have grown apart. Differences in opinions on religious and political matters to name just a couple of the subjects which have caused much debate. Sadly due to me confessing to mental health issues, and choosing to step back from the forum a number of times, first from Moderator, then as a user, I have for some reason been deemed unstable, and this has been to topic of many a personal snipe and attack on the forum ever since.

When I first stepped back, I was unhappy with comments being made about lower income families, and the proposed social cleansing of the area, with Mr Mod expressing that people who could not afford to pay their rent themselves should move to an area they can afford, and make space for those more affluent.  For someone who has come from a low income family, and lived in the area all my life, that is a bitter pill to swallow.

When I finally decided to leave the forum once and for all, and felt my name had been dragged through the mud enough, I asked for my posts to be deleted. I was told this was technically possible, but was a lot of work, and did I really want to damage some well established threads by rendering them unreadable.

So my presence was now undesirable, but the conversations I had started when I was in favour, well they could stay. Trying not to rock the cart too much, I agreed to leave my posts be.

I have attempted to engage in various conversations on the forum since this time, but for some reason, Mr Mod sees any comments opposing his opinions as "personal attacks". In fact on a number of occasions, both via PM and more recently on a lesser read forum section, Mr Mod has taken it upon himself to claim to be the victim of personal attacks himself, all the while throwing stone after stone of accusation at my name.  Usually in these cases, the right to reply has been removed by closing the discussion, only allowing people of certain forum privileges to be able to comment. Needless to say, these spats have gone on and on.

On the matter of personal attacks, the same topic arises time and time again, which is a conversation which was had on Facebook and Facebook Messenger regarding some activities by a group of Muslims during Eid. The story made the news, as heavy rain had washed the blood of morning sacrifices into the streets, and a photo showed the streets "running red with blood".

While happily discussing this with a friend on FB, Mr Mod added his opinions, and begun expressing his disgust at the event. Fair enough, it is not to everyones taste.  However as the comments became stronger, I received a message from Mr Mod on FB Messenger , expressing his surprise and shock that I, as an owner of a few dogs, would make excuses for such a barbaric act, and telling me how medieval the behaviour of the Muslims featured in the story was.
As the conversation went on, in my opinion, it became apparent that Mr Mod has some deep seated issues with Islam, so I ended the conversation, and later blocked him from my FB.

Later posts on the forum from Mr Mod have time and time again brought into question his stance on Islam and Muslims. With links being posted to extremism stories, followed by a "disclaimer" saying that not all Muslims are bad, and most are fine. Might as well add "I have a friend who is a Muslim" just for good measure.

So back to personal attacks, it is this exchange which is used as the example each time. Vaguely touching upon the actual story, but instead focusing on "sharing private messages without permission, and misquoting what was actually said". Strangely, although I am asked to provide the whole story or say nothing, as soon as I mention anti Islam comments, suddenly I am making another personal attack. Ignoring the fact that I have just been asked to quote.... Strange.

Now, a while back I rejoined the forum, new name, trying to keep things lower key, but still have an opinion. All was well until clever Mr Mod recognised the IP and suddenly everything I said was being negative, or having a personal dig (again!).
Since this time, things have gotten bad, I mean real bad. With myself and a number of other forum members being "identified" as trouble makers, and it would seem, been subject of a number of private discussions.

While it is fair to say that I will "poke the bear" from time to time, (stealing the expression from someone else I saw use it today), it is always with a little wink, and in no means is it personal. However, this is not how it is perceived. Instead warnings are sent, strongly worded PM's sent, and more often than not, a discussion begins, in which I am usually not allowed to participate, even though it is on a public forum. Topics will skew violently from the actual matter at hand, to the behaviour of certain forum members, expressing how the comments were made as personal attacks, and that enough warnings have been given.

The strange part about this is, a personal attack will be made, openly and violently, stating that Mr Mod believes the comments made originally were a personal attack on himself. Can you keep up with this? I am not sure even I am keeping up with myself here. It's all a bit too strange to explain, let alone comprehend from the outside.

The big issue here is quite simple. If a topic has a comment made on it, with which Mr Mod agrees, all is well. However, if he has shown an interest in it, and you DISagree, then you are stirring trouble, being personal and trying to derail the topic, and disrupt a meaningful discussion with your negativity. Apparently quoting someone, and "calling them out" on their comments, something Mr Mod does on a VERY regular basis, usually with very condescending overtones, you are a bully, and are trying to silence people. Oh the irony!

The biggest issue for me is this. I love the area I live in, and have lived here all my memorable life. Unlike some who are new to the area, welcome gentrification, and don't like people who do not share the same ideals. So to have someone like this start a forum, which has grown be become friendly, successful and a great tool for the area. Only for them to then start to preach their beliefs on it, and try and suggest those who disagree are bullies, is a real shame.

What has become apparent over recent weeks, is that there is a small group of users on the forum who too get the same treatment, snide little comments,strongly worded PM's and it would appear that there are suspicions of some sort of "plan" to cause the downfall of the forum. All very MI6 I must say. The levels of self importance really are at a whole new level. To think that grown adults would take the time to organise some sort of coup, to overthrow Mr Mod, and destroy a community forum we all helped build.

When having a rant about these plans, Mr Mod will regularly say how he will not stand by and watch others destroy what he and "the team" have created. Forgetting of course that I was once one of the "team" and contributed a lot of time and thought into the whole thing myself. Including starting some of the popular threads on the forum, which to this day are still active. However I don't think he has actually forgotten, more conveniently excludes these pieces of information when trying to belittle me and others. After all, these are the same threads which he desperately wants to keep on the forum, along with my other posts. As proven by the guilt trip comments when I first asked to be deleted from the forum.

What has become even more apparent is that I have no place on a shared platform with Mr Mod. Especially one owned, and governed  by someone who I would describe as an egotistical megalomaniac. Only my opinion of course. Unable to differentiate between being a user and the owner of the forum, posts cross from being a user to a mod, to admin, to the OWNER of the forum on a regular basis.  While berating others for "liking" posts which contain comments which are deemed personal attacks (not permitted by community guidelines), Mr Mod continues to cheer for any corner which sticks up for him, and openly "likes" the posts which are made in retaliation in his name.

With this in mind, and given the constant mental strain placed upon me by the ongoing bullshit that spews from Team Mod, I have decided it is time for me to leave the forum once and for all. A request will soon be made to , asking that all my user data, including my public posts be removed with immediate effect. Not sure how GDPR backs me on this one, but I think regardless of law and legislation, it would be the decent and correct thing to do. Although I am sure this will meet some resistance along the way, and my name will be dragged through the mud.

I thought it would be nice, before of course I am banned for life from ever viewing the forum again, to share a few of the charming messages I have been sent. Rules and regulations I have been told I must abide by if I wish to be part of the community, and the consequences of not doing so. No paranoia or ego at work in this one.

The mod team is here to ensure that everyone gets an equal say on local issues.
We will moderate comments that do not follow the forum guidelines 1, and whilst we allow pseudonyms on moderators will pay particular attention to posts from all unverified accounts due to the risks associated with sock puppetry.
Here are some points to bear in mind:
  • If you’d like to get verified (for the second time), you will need to adopt your old account, @Snazy or rename your new account to @MichaelSnasdell. Our verification system is designed to avoid sock puppets.
  • The forum has a right to know that two accounts belong to the same person when that person expresses opinions about local planning matters or businesses. Consider your future posts with this in mind.
  • If you publicise private messages from other forum members to make points against them you will be instantly and permanently banned.
  • If you choose to leave the forum for a fourth time, you will not announce it in the forum but instead you will privately message the moderators, and your account will be anonymised and deactivated.
Please respect the guidelines and the positive and cooperative community that you helped build.
Thanks, Team

My reply was

Well I have to say, with the hope of making a clean start and leave the whole past behind, the message seems very negative with the comments about leaving the forum for the forth time etc.
Totally up to you, although I would prefer if you were just as transparent as you wish me to be, and say if you would rather I not participate, rather than some the personal snipes above.
With regards to making my new account into my own name, this is not something which has been demanded of others by the looks of things, even with unverified accounts.
I am however of course more than happy to say openly who I am.
Like I say, your forum, your decision. If the above is not acceptable, then I guess it is decided.

Obviously, I was wrong, I did't understand the reasons for these extra rules, so it was explained to me in detail.

Hello Michael,
You may have misunderstood the first message. We will treat your @TheNewGuy account in the same fair way that we would any other known second account.
We value transparency on this forum. Next time you want to make a clean start we’d recommend you do so transparently rather than adopting an artificial persona.
Using a single account under a pseudonym is acceptable, though, as many others do.
However, bear in mind that we scrutinise all anonymous unverified accounts that choose to dominate topics on sensitive issues (e.g. planning), especially when those anon accounts repeatedly and forcefully state their opinion and cast negative aspersions on other members with different opinions:
  • “All just seems a bit snobby the way people are going on.”
  • “Not sure why people are getting so uptight about it. Why doesn’t one of you open a more appropriate shop if you know better?”
  • “Maybe the area isn’t as good or attractive as some would like to believe.”
  • “such a negative audience. Forums aren’t for everyone.”
  • “a small group of people on a forum saying negative things”
  • “stamping all over a new business venture because they use mopeds, and you don’t like their pizza.” [no other commenter said they didn’t like Domino’s pizza]
  • “I get it, people don’t want a Dominos on their pretty main road row of shops.”
I hope you understand why this pattern of posting might be seen as problematic by any reasonable mod team.
The mod team is happy for you to return to the forum and contribute positively and respectfully.
We will reactivate your @Snazy account if you wish to use a verified account here. If you wish to remain anonymous and unverified, that is fine too. We will moderate your posts in the same even-handed way that we moderate other accounts.
If you wish to leave the forum again, we ask that you PM us and we will anonymise your posts.
Please respect the guidelines and the positive tone of the forum, where you are most welcome. Team

A lot of the comments and "concerns" were based on a forum thread about a plan for a Domino's Pizza in Honor Oak, how very dare they, Honor Oak is a quaint village with no place for such common businesses, let alone a chain. With exception of course to Sainsburys, who are welcome. And heavens forbid a Waitrose were to open, well that would be the icing on the cake, a true sign of gentrification if there ever was one. But alas.....

The original thread re Domino's was here. Lots of negative NIMBY comments made, so I added some more positive comments, suggesting it was not all bad, and why should a business be chased away because it doesn't fit someones agenda.

Of course, once I had re-joined the forum, and openly commented supporting the plan, it was time for the shit to REALLY hit the fan. This is where it all became rather apparent that the rules of the forum, for some at least are , do as I say, not as I do.
A new section called Moderator Actions was opened, and a thread started, apparently about the Domino's thread, however it quickly became apparent that Mr Mod had other plans. A character assassination of his very own. Swiftly turning the topic away from Domino's , a series of accusations begun, and the onslaught begun. Post after post, calling me out on my comments, refusing to believe that they were just my own feelings, and instead somehow turning them into the "personal attack" he likes to refer to all the time. Have a look for yourself.

I have a saved copy of the page, just in case it disappears, or posts are edited over and over as they usually are, removing offensive or threatening content. Just like the FB post.

I could go on like this for hours, of course this is only my side of the story, and I am sure Mr Mod has a fantastic tale to tell, quotes to share, and interpretations of comments made which will make your toes curl.

I will close on saying, is a great concept, an invaluable tool to the community, and a fantastic way to socialise and get to know more about the area and its people. Sadly, as a growing number of people are starting to feel, the head honcho has issues. While the public persona is likeable and friendly, behind the scenes he is a paranoid, and rude individual, almost the textbook definition of a sociopath. While seemingly adored by some, the same cannot be said for others. Although present Mr Mod with this information, and you will be told that they are jealous, and are trying to damage his good standing in the community. Trying to undo all the good he has done, blah blah blah.

Every time someone speaks out against one of his beliefs, they suffer the wrath of his other personality. Most opting to just sit back, shut up, and do as they are told, in order to have some sort of input into the forum. With a growing list of displeased users, I can only hope that something changes soon, and the forum is allowed to breathe, and behave normally, without the constant nursing it currently has.

Since writing and publishing this blog entry I have received notification from Mr Mod stating the following.

"it’s potted with lies. Lies intended to defame my character. I take defamation very seriously. Take down the post within an hour or I’ll raise this with the authorities."

I of course take such comments seriously, and am happy to address any specific comments made by myself which are deemed and proven as defamatory.

Following a discussion with someone I respect very much, I have edited the post to remove the names. Please don't let this be confused with complying with any threats I have received.

Dear SE23.... I'm sorry.

Due to recent events, I decided to request my account be removed from the local forum. As usual, the guilt train has left the station and the admin team have made comments discussing how disruptive the request has been to forum, and unfair on its users. Quite how it affects the users of the forum, I don't know. However, I would just like to say sorry.
I openly and genuinely apologise for any hardship or inconvenience I have caused you.

My issue is not with the majority of the users, nor the forum itself, but a few members who have chosen to take it upon themselves to make unfounded accusations on the forum, suggest I am part of some sort of group who is hell bent on destroying the forum and some of its members reputations.
I am of the opinion that said members are more than capable to damaging their own reputations, and a simple Google search of names, will furnish any curious person with a good list of places to find comments which echo my own from my last entry.

Forums, Twitter etc are all places where people have openly expressed concerns regarding the online behaviour of some people, and from what I can see, this stretches back a number of years, long before I started to have issues with them myself.

One of the first big issues which really made waves was the decision to film and publicly post a video of a neighbour. The issue was with the neighbour feeding the local foxes, something which they have been doing for a number of years now. Unfortunately this was not to the liking of said person, so a little private crusade was started, and a public rant started detailing the persons address and activities, without any consideration for their privacy. Calling them out in public, quite possibly completely without their knowledge either, as they are both elderly and not exactly tech savvy.

Using the current forum of the area at the time to post this information  , it was received quite well at first, before others started to question the intent and actions of the OP. This thread went on to form the main structure of a large number of peoples opinions moving forward.

The original thread can be found here.

As you can see, there are a wide varieties of replies, but some certainly didn't take too kindly to it.
This was the first of many threads on various forums where people formed opinions.

As I have said, the list is quite a long one.

Anyway, I digress, the point of this post was to apologise, so I will get back to that.
I have enjoyed being there from the start, introducing some great content to the forum, and being a part of a local community. Together we have moved mountains and done great things. When I say we, I mean YOU, I have played very little part in most of the great things, but proudly watched on as the community has come together as one.

I sincerely hope that the forum goes on to do more and more, and have a positive impact on the area, I have confidence, that left to flourish, and without interference, it will.

So once more, please don't take things personally from me, but also don't be afraid to speak your mind. I have been contacted by a number of people who, while not agreeing with the actions of some forum members, are not willing to face the regularly threatened consequences of speaking out against them.

While I am here I would also like to get this out there too. I am not the nicest of people. Sure I can be likeable, get on with others and play well. But I can also be a prize arsehole, as many a friend will testify. This is not my first rodeo, this is not the first time I have ruffled feathers, and faced threats of being "outted" or "exposed". Although I am sure that the internet is full of enough comments about me containing numerous profanities already. Most of which are completely founded and deserved.

As  write this, I have received the latest email from one of the moderators, requesting I remove personal information from my last entry as it is deemed defamation of character, and legal channels will be pursued.

I have also been advised that the mention of persons names within this blog fall under the recent GDPR legislation, and should be removed with immediate effect, or again face the consequences. I beg to differ, and feel that freedom of expression and opinion covers me on this.

While all this has been going on, another forum member has been suspended for a month, following numerous warnings. Similar emails are being received by them also, suggesting that he is somehow making personal threats towards the mod team, and that such threats will be reported and followed up on. Seems to be a pattern here.

Take someones name in vain, first, it is a personal threat, then it is defamation of character, then a warning shot is fired, then you suffer the consequences.

The only suffering going on is on the forum itself. The users not a part of this have had to endure thread after thread turning into a pissing contest. I openly admit that I am like a dog with a bone, and if I feel passionately about something, or feel someone is being unfairly targeted, I will speak my mind. Sadly this looks pretty bad to those who are not involved in the situation, and instead of a friendly forum where people can express themselves, it becomes a closed and cliquey , not to mention confusing as hell.

Of course, there is a difference between the forum and my blog. In my blog I can say what I see without someone editing my post, hiding it, or making a pointless argument in which they try and belittle or defame me. With this in mind, I have given one of the moderators my consent to make "factual" posts of his own, at his request, in which I am more than happy for him to express himself openly, and have his say on this subject.

So as it stands, I am currently under my final warnings to remove personal data, and mentions of persons mentioned in my last blog entry. Under the GDPR and threats of litigation for defamation of character. While at the same time I have given my own consent for posts of similar content and facts to be made in response to mine. Strange right!

Anyway, to confirm, I am indeed a spiteful arsehole, who has no patience for self righteous and obnoxious people who feel they have the right to bully people, based on their own self proclaimed holier than thou status. (holier than thou is a little ironic I know ;) )

Oh, almost forgot, my IP has been blocked too. Following PM's to my better half suggesting her account or security had been compromised as I seemed to have access to posts and information only accessible to verified members of the site. Ironically, everything I have said and shared has been supplied to me by numerous other members of the forum. So she his now "technically" banned from using the forum (of course due to my own selfish actions).

If anyone from this house tries to access the site, we get redirected to this charming and quaint little purpose made page.

How sweet. I am sure this took time and effort to make, and was all due to my selfish actions that someone had to spend their own time dealing with, instead of spending time doing leisure things. Or maybe this is one of the things that might be chargeable @ £25 per hour, just like any future requests deemed excessive following on from my GDPR request.

A GDPR removal request which I am informed has been completed out of "good will" . Guess not under any legal obligation then?