Dealing With Abusive Forum Moderators...

RETURN TO NEWSLETTER

When I began doing research on a possible move to Costa Rica, I relied very heavily on the internet, especially on certain types of social gathering technologies referred to as Forums.

Forums are virtual gathering places where people, with common interests, congregate (electronically) to ask questions and share information.  They occasionally become platforms for individuals to (occasionally) profess or rant about things which may be of particular interest to themselves or to the group.

Like everywhere in society, there must be law.  For without law, there will be anarchy.  And with anarchy, nothing gets accomplished.  Societies existing within internet forums are no exception.  They too require law and people to enforce them. The enforcers of web forum laws are known as MODERATORS.  Moderators are entrusted with maintaining civility and making sure contributors act like responsible and well mannered individuals.  Threats or abusive comments are never tolerated and those individuals who continually act outside those boundaries are generally censured.

You may be asking yourself WHY am I writing about this?  Well keep on reading.

Power Is A Drug

I've see what power can do to individuals.  Give a person a little power and soon they'll want more.  The more they get, the more they want, the more they need to sustain themselves.  If left unchecked, they become manic, bloated icons of prosecutorial might.  We see that on a grand scale with the way our television news is presented to us.  Both the political left and political right steer their viewers in their direction so as to promote their political agenda.  Such is the case with web forum moderators (albeit on a smaller scale).  If the moderator does not like or agree with a particular comment or if it differs from their myopic agenda, they can and will summarily delete posts and even ban individuals from accessing their site.  Such has been the case with me.

Over the last two plus years, I have participated on three fairly popular web forums, WeLoveCosta.com, Costa Rica Living (Yahoo group) and the ARCR Forum.  It should be noted that it is not my intention to disparage any good that may be derived by these forums.  I only want people to understand that what they are reading may be slanted towards a unique agenda.

The Sites

Some websites you visit may be nothing more than marketing tools for a commercial enterprise.  I believe such is the case with the "We Love Costa Rica" forum.  While occasionally some helpful tips emerge, they are continually surrounded by ads to buy something to put money into the owner's pocket.

I have no problem with that.  Let him make money.  Just don't make it appear like a real informational source.  There is never a negative word or alternative view said about this country.  Why?  Because the owner of the site sells and promotes real estate, land development, books, videos and anything else that exploits this wonderful country.  There is nothing wrong with that.  My only objection is that it comes across like education and all it is is a bloody infomercial pretending to be news and information. 

Taken at face value, this forum/website makes Costa Rica look like heaven on earth, a veritable paradise where nothing can or will go wrong, kinda like the land of Oz.  Only here, the man behind the curtain is the webmaster.  Every time I have attempted to post something which runs contrary to the "rose colored" bullshit on the forum, my posts are removed.  No comment.  No warning.  Eventually banishment.  So be it.  It's a private site and the owner has that right. 

Even though I have rejoined that site under a different user name, I no longer go there... but I think you should.  Read it's information intently and decide for yourself.  Are you getting the straight scoop or just a bunch of marketing hot air blown up your shorts.  YOU DECIDE!


The Costa Rica Living Yahoo Group claims to be un-moderated but just the opposite is true.  In fact, just beneath the claim of being un-moderated, they list the names of all their moderators.  How funny is that.

I have been censured many times because (on occasion) I may answer a users question by pointing them to one of my videos.  The moderator considers that to be advertising and advertising is not allowed!

His claim is that I am promoting a business when (in fact) I have no business to promote.  I sell nothing, I only give away opinion and information.  Now every time I try and respond to a user's question about something related to Costa Rica, my answers must first be reviewed by the moderator.  CLICK ON GRAPHIC ABOVE

If the moderator is quick, the answer generally will be posted within 24 hours.  Sometimes it could be well more than a day before my response can be read by others.  Sometimes it may never get posted.  Why?  Beat's the shit out of me! 

The bad thing is, by the time anyone has the chance to read my post, they have already seen the replies of others, thus rendering my answers generally irrelevant. 

WTF... why do I even bother?  Hey... maybe that's the Moderator's strategy... piss me off to the point where I just simply fade away!


--- UPDATE ---

On October 19, I attempted to post a link to an informative article I wrote concerning Tips on What To and What NOT to Bring to Costa Rica.  Paul Mitchell, the moderator on the Costa Rica Living Forum disallowed the submission of my link.  The following is a direct transcript of our electronic communication.  See first hand what I am talking about in THIS rant.

--------------------------------------------------------

ANDY BROWNE:  (Original Post on CRL) - People keep asking all the time, what should I bring or what shouldn't I bring to Costa Rica when I move here.  Using my own experiences and the experiences of many other folks who have gone before me, I wrote an article that I feel covers much of the issues new expats might run across.  Check it out and email me your thoughts.  The article can be found at: http://www.boomersoffshore.com/Newsletters/2010/12/ThingsToBring.htm

Thanks,

--------------------------------------------------------

PAUL MITCHELL - MODERATOR:

Dear Andy,

I recall Janet answering your inquiry as to what is and what is not acceptable to post on CRL.  She was very clear in reply.

You may answer another member's question and tagline your blog info, the latter which you have been doing, but this post, as you have it worded is clearly not a reply to a specific question a member has asked and is primarily a promotion of your blog and website which you have already done earlier.

Here's as a courtesy refresher is the text of the Group's Guideline covering this:

==

"Blogs and other lists:  We accept a one time announcement concerning the creation of another list or blog.  Signature tags and links are then allowed with your on-topic posts. We ask that you not direct members to your list for answers to questions posted on CRL. "

==

Andy, if you want to post about what to bring to Costa Rica on CRL we really welcome you to do so, but please post it on CRL and not as a link to your webpage.

Please bear in mind that the last sentence of the Guidelne quoted above explains this clearly and simply.  I am providing it to you as a helpful reference.

---------------------------------------------------------

ANDY BROWNE -

You decided to not post my article on what to bring and what not to bring.  You fool... if I did what you said and published the entire piece in your technologically inept forum, it would consume way too much bandwidth.  This is a great example on how you think with your ass and not with your head.

I see posts everyday about people selling their books or leading people to online answers to their questions.  YOU and people like you are what's wrong with today's forums.  Lots of people are simply getting fed up with the dictatorial crap you and others like you pull.  Your massive power has gone to your head (or your ass) and frankly my time is too valuable to let you manipulate it. 

As people learn of how you unequally apply your rules, they too are dropping off the forums.  It's unfortunate that you persist in acting this way for I am dropping off CRL.  Itís a waste of time, especially when overseen by pinheads such as yourself.  If you want to ban me and my IP address, go right ahead.  Lytle did and little good did it do.

So with that said, if you want to hear from me, you'll have to read my website at www.BoomersOffshore.com.  Adios

---------------------------------------------------------

PAUL MITCHELL - MODERATOR: Mr Browne, You are forthwith banned form CRL.  None of the CRL moderators are required to accept abuse such from any members as that in your email to me below.

I am sorry you do not understand -or choose to not understand- the CRL Guidelines although we have on more than one occasion taken the time to explain them to you.

Good Luck in any future endeavors.

---------------------------------------------------------

ANDY BROWNE: I elected not to respond because it would have gotten me nowhere.  But now you can see first hand what these people are really like. I will admit, I was abusive (somewhat) to Paul Mitchell but (IMO) I showed great restraint.  If you agree or disagree with this entire, I'd like to hear about it.  If you agree or disagree with the moderator, Paul Mitchell, let us both know.  As far as I know, it is still a free world to voice your opinion.

 

PAUL MITCHELL EMAIL      ANDY BROWNE EMAIL

 

Perhaps the best Costa Rican forum on the web today, both from a  technical and  informational standpoint, is the forum sponsored by the Association of Residents of Costa Rica (ARCR). 

For several years I have been a staunch supporter of both the ARCR organization and it's forum.  But recently their moderation has become ugly, heavy handed, and subjectively disproportionate. 

The Rules are Different for Moderators and Users

There is a famous line in George Orwell's "Animal Farm" that has always stuck with me.  In my opinion, it really sums up the attitude of this Forum's management style and philosophy.
 

"All animals are equal, but some animals are

more equal than others."

 

For instance, If someone asks a question and one of my videos provides a direct answer to that question, I am prohibited from putting the link to that video in my response.  They feel that by doing so, I am steering people away from their website.  However, the webmaster of that forum is allowed to advertise (with every one of his messages) no less than six of his private businesses, all of which steer people away from the Forum.   That is what I mean when I say "subjectively disproportionate."  In my (no so humble of) opinion, what applies to one should apply to all!

As of today, I have been banned from even reading anything on that site.  In fact, my wife Fran, who is also a legal member of that forum and who has only posted two or three times is also banned.

Taking this Draconian process one step further, any guests in my house, using their own PCs, are not allowed to access the site.  This is because the owner of the ARCR forum decided to block my IP address (a code which uniquely identifies my internet location) from accessing the Forum.

Correct me if I'm wrong but last time I checked, I am not living in Communist China or North Korea!

Repeatedly, I have asked this moderator, who by the way is the SAME INDIVIDUAL who also moderates the Costa Rica Living Yahoo Group (see above), for reasons why I have been shut down.  I am given no explanation other than it is at the sole discretion of the moderator that I be removed from this site.


It's really a shame that just a few individuals can wield such a broad stroke of negativism.  I really like helping people and I try to do it with the best tools I have at my disposal... writing and video production. 

I really do not know the reasons why I have been subjected to this persecution,  but I do know that I am not the only one who has lost something.  Those who have perhaps lost more are the poor folks who have questions that go unanswered and, just maybe the forum owners, who may well have cut off their collective noses to spite their faces.

If you want to write to these forums and complain and voice your concern, I urge you to exercise your First Amendment rights. 

Don't bother writing to We Love Costa Rica because I don't even want to be associated wit that site.  However if you want to bitch to the others, here's where to write:

 

What's the worst that can happen?  Like me, you might be ...

 

Banished For Life!

JUST LIKE ME!


RETURN TO NEWSLETTER

 

Thanks for watching our videos.  Please stay in touch.

CONTACT US - EMAIL

Call us on SKYPE at abrowne1950