Points of clarification re: zombie ants

My last post about the mismanagement I’ve observed and experienced at the Bigfoot Forums (BFF) has been met (based on comments here) with nearly overwhelmingly negative reaction. That’s fine. It’s to be expected. However, what’s not fine is several apparent misperceptions of what I said. I thought the analogy was pretty clearly laid out (ants unwittingly helping out in their own destruction by parasitic invaders), but perhaps not.

First of all, I was not attacking “the BFF.” I have often made the observation that critics of the site tend to think about it as a monolithic thing with a single point of view and intent. It’s not. It’s a community of people, all with different perspectives, and cannot be criticized in its entirety for what some people do or say. Which is why I did not do that. I specifically called out the forum management and those who are ruining the site though trollish behavior. I have found there to be many really good members there who are genuinely interesting to talk to — even (and maybe especially) the open-minded actually skeptical ones. But their contributions are overwhelmed by those who are only there to derail and demean as part of some faux-skeptical agenda.

Second, I think it’s telling that the post in which I lay out a lot of detail about the events leading to this kerfuffle (about 2,700 words worth) has, as of this writing, been totally ignored comment-wise. No requests for further clarification. No observations or suggestions of alternate possibilities. Nothing. Crickets. But, the one where I dare to publically call out how the BFF is run has thirty-five. What are our priorities here? The drama or the substance?

Third, the thrust of those unhappy with my criticisms think this has something to do with me not wanting to post where I’m asked questions or challenged. As I said in my final message there, I have more than 1,500 posts on this incarnation of the BFF and I’d wager that 95% of them are in threads dealing with the North American Wood Ape Conservancy or Area X. I have established a willingness and interest in discussing the group’s experiences in as much detail as possible. It’s something I actually enjoy (which explains one of the reasons I lasted there as long as I did). I even enjoy discussing it with actual skeptics who are open to the concept (if not the reality) of a relic hominid living in North America (ask David Mizejewski).

The reason I left the BFF is that I found too much of my effort was being wasted dealing with the affects of James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) trolls. When I came back from a trip into X with more information and descriptions of behavior those for whom the BFF was originally intended would have thought was very interesting, I found the administration of the site had allowed those same bad actors to spin and froth the thread into a state where I and my group were accused of being fabulists (a thread in the member’s only section is called “Is Area X Jumping the Shark” — I know this by looking at the referrer information in this site’s traffic data). Faced with expending yet more time and effort beating back the same disruptive players for the hundredth time, I chose to finally rid myself of the trouble. Note that after I announced my decision to leave, the admins stepped in and tried to quell the nonsense. At that time (and perhaps still), from what I understand, discussion of the tree breaks in X was banned (expect for the premium members, presumably, as they have no rules). Ironically, then, there’s no way to set the public record straight and the last word, as planned, went to the trolls. Nicely played.

If there’s one thing I should have done in my previous post, it would have been sharing ideas of what I think are plausible solutions to the problem. In my day job, one of my pet peeves is when people bring me problems with no ideas of solutions. My bad. Here are two rules I propose the BFF adopt which I think will help improve the quality of discourse on the site:

Ban Members of the JREF Forums
As a great man once said, “You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.” The most active and vociferous members of that site, not being actual skeptics at all, are fundamentally incompatible with any interaction seeking further understanding of the bigfoot phenomenon. Period. They have the truth. They are not seeking it. Members of the BFF should be made to choose which site to affiliate with. Anyone found to be a active member of the JREF after this choice while still participating on the BFF should be banned.

Only real skeptics allowed
If you do no think bigfoot is real, cannot possibly be real, and believe anyone who thinks it is has a hard time telling fact from fantasy, you have no place among those interested in discussing the topic. Period. If, on the other hand, you can’t accept the set of evidence that’s been collected so far but still allow there’s the possibility that an animal like bigfoot could be real, then fine. Open minds only. Closed minds should be shown the door.

Finally, if there’s one piece of advice I could impart on the admins, mods, and other governing individuals of the BFF, it’s this: There is no fundamental right of participation on an internet forum. The biggest mistake I made when I was acting as the BFF’s benevolent dictator was forgetting that. The BFF is a community first. Disruptive players should be ejected in favor of that community’s health. If there’s one thing I wish I could go back and change from those days, it would be my reluctance to act in deference to a misguided concept of fairness or objectivity. That was a mistake. I hope those who run the BFF now will recognize and address the mistakes being made today.

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Posted in Miscellaneous sasquatchery
21 comments on “Points of clarification re: zombie ants
  1. Norseman says:

    Brian,

    I wanted to address a couple of points.

    1) The jumping the shark thread has nothing to do with the JREF denialists. But it has everything to do with proponents believing a certain poster who claims to know insider info about area x and NAWAC history such as the echo incident. The thread was started well before the tree break fiasco.

    2) I agree with everything you say about denialists only participating in a discussion to end it. And I’ve voiced my opinion to everyone there until they are sick of hearing me. The BFF is there to promote the discussion of Bigfoot. And there is a fine line between being skeptical of a claim versus having a prior agenda to undermine the discussion. And I feel this is certainly something the BFF needs to work on.

    3) I certainly do not feel the BFF is a dead site walking. While certainly there are problems with any forum, it does a lot of good as well. I met you and many friends on there, and I came from a forum that shall remain nameless, that censored any pro kill thought that I expressed. The BFF has given me and you and many others a platform in which to express our beliefs about this subject.

    4) NAWAC claims about area x are just that claims, because you and I both know what it will take to end this mystery forever. But I think many people forget this and hang on every word that is said. If the report is incredulous to them? They lose faith and that can be a traumatic experience. Where as with us it’s simply an observation that hopefully leads us to the prize.

    With Project Grendel we have decided that feeding boots on the ground intel to the public is simply not worth it. We are not asking anyone to take our claims as proof or even evidence. But without developing some strategy based on observation is like stumbling around blind in the dark. But if your only experience with the Bigfoot phenomenon is banging on a keyboard? A person will likely fail to see that logic.

    I feel you were a valued poster over there and I am sorry to see you go. Some of us have taken your criticism to heart and have voiced our opinion, and hopefully we can work it out as a community.

    You know where to find me…..

    Good hunting!

  2. COL (R) Alan C. Hoffheintz says:

    I didn’t ignore you and I support you100%.

    Alan

    Sent from my iPhone

  3. donn says:

    Right on. My thoughts exactly.

  4. donn says:

    What the heck. Let’s say more. Because like Brian, I actually do enjoy talking about this and can actually do that better here than on the BFF.

    I do think that in this field it’s not about the substance but the drama. At the bleeding edge of all science no one has the foggiest idea what’s going on but those doing the research and those following their activity, who actually need to have really thought about the relevant topics in order to properly do so. On the BFF there may be outdoorsmen and scientists. Unfortunately too many of them have engaged the topic way too little and thought about the real world and how it works – never mind their own experiences and how those are relevant – not nearly enough. They let their incredulity short circuit their thinking.

    The BFF could be and should be on the bleeding edge. Instead, like most cryptozoological sites, they can’t take themselves seriously enough to suss good from bad thinking. This is unfortunate. They think that skeptical viewpoints are required for legitimacy. However right that may be, one has to know what skepticism is. And most people confuse the scoftical caricature with the true skepticism that motivates the best science.

    I’m thinking about going back to the BFF and starting a personal-message ignore-the-scoftics campaign in the interest of free thought. Serious science sites don’t tolerate stupidity. And this is serious science.

    Wonder what the mods would think about that.

    • salubrious says:

      Hi Donn, I can tell you because I am a mod on the BFF. The term ‘skoftic’ (as accurate as it might be) has a negative connotation and can be considered a personal attack. The rules are very clear on the BFF in this regard: attack the argument, not the person making it.

      Personally I have no idea why skoftics spend so much time and energy where ever they do it but they do. It makes no sense to me at all but that apparently is an aspect of human behavior. So one just has to accept that they are there and move on.

      From my perspective I think Brian got a little too thin-skinned when he left the BFF. Had he actually shared with the forum the information that he did elsewhere on this site, it would have answered a lot of criticism with one line, containing a link to this site.

      Further, Brian (and I am a fan of his show BTW; the NAWAC thread at the BFF was one of my favorites) seemed to flaunt the rules of the site quite frequently, openly begging for the moderators to step in and do something (it might have been one of my favorite threads but that is quite a bit different from me watching the thread and the site 24-7…) and never seemed to get that offending posts could be reported to the moderation staff. This despite claims to have had a hand in founding the site, so he must have been aware of the site rules. Really quite puzzling, and unfortunate IMO. We probably could have saved him a lot of headache in that regard; there were a few posters there that I would have loved to stop but I can’t do that if I am not aware of something that they posted. In that regard the moderation, like all other things in life, is not perfect.

      • Brian Brown says:

        “The term ‘skoftic’ (as accurate as it might be) has a negative connotation and can be considered a personal attack.”

        You have to stop and think hard when calling someone something they are can be considered a personal attack. Regardless, this gets to the question I posed. What is the purpose of the BFF? To give scoftics a platform from which to rail agains those who dare give bigfoot the time of day or for those who want to explore the topic more deeply a chance to have the conversation without constant disruption?

        “From my perspective I think Brian got a little too thin-skinned when he left the BFF.”

        Has anyone from the BFF management comprehended anything I’ve written here or there? I didn’t stop participating on the BFF because of “thin skin” or “tough questions” or nose disjointedness or anything like that. It’s because the site it a pointless waste of time (as is, apparently, discussing it). Why should I have to dig out from underneath a giant pile of crap *all the time* created by the same people along the same lines in violation of guidelines the admins themselves set forth for that thread but then chose to ignore? What is the use? I didn’t leave because I wanted to. I left because the environment is not conducive to discussion of the very thing the site is there to discuss. If the JREFers and scoftics were gone, things would have turned out differently.

        “Brian seemed to flaunt the rules of the site quite frequently, openly begging for the moderators to step in and do something and never seemed to get that offending posts could be reported to the moderation staff.”

        That’s just flat-out incorrect. I reported posts on that thread many times, usually to no effect.

        “This despite claims to have had a hand in founding the site, so he must have been aware of the site rules.”

        I had absolutely nothing to do with the creation of the site’s current rules and you must know that. Had I had my preference, the BFF would have died a dignified death several years ago.

  5. Bede Alcuin says:

    The appropriate analogy is this: It’s as if Brian was giving a live Q&A session; Brian is sitting on a stage before a room chockfull of people. He is discussing his observations and the observations of the NAWAC. He fields question after question after question. Before long, the questions are drowned out by a loud viciferous rude group of hecklers who manage to shout down Brian and everybody else. Brian appeals repeatedly to security to have the hecklers removed to no avail. Eventually Brian leaves the stage, unable and unwilling to deal with unregulated hecklers.

    I don’t blame him.

  6. salubrious says:

    Hello Brian,

    It seems that both you and I have some misconceptions:

    you said:
    “Has anyone from the BFF management comprehended anything I’ve written here or there? I didn’t stop participating on the BFF because of “thin skin” or “tough questions” or nose disjointedness or anything like that. It’s because the site it a pointless waste of time (as is, apparently, discussing it). Why should I have to dig out from underneath a giant pile of crap *all the time* created by the same people along the same lines in violation of guidelines the admins themselves set forth for that thread but then chose to ignore? What is the use? I didn’t leave because I wanted to. I left because the environment is not conducive to discussion of the very thing the site is there to discuss. If the JREFers and scoftics were gone, things would have turned out differently.”

    I am not aware of any of the admins ignoring site rules. Quite the opposite! They had to train me in and would not have gotten very far if they showed an inconsistency like that. I am quite certain on the other hand that you saw things that none of the moderators or admins were aware of- no forum site is small enough where the moderation staff can read every word: hence the report feature.

    The environment is actually fine for such discussion, the issue here is that people are people no matter where you go. To assist with this the BFF site is equipped with an ‘ignore’ function which makes it so you can’t see a post by a poster that is shown to be annoying to you. That way you can operate on the site without getting your blood pressure up. I am active on a number of sites- on most of them the biggest problem is that they get overrun by trolls, as the moderation seems to be invisible.

    earlier I said:

    “Brian seemed to flaunt the rules of the site quite frequently, openly begging for the moderators to step in and do something and never seemed to get that offending posts could be reported to the moderation staff.”

    to which you responded:

    “That’s just flat-out incorrect. I reported posts on that thread many times, usually to no effect.”

    This came as a surprise to me so I did some investigation.

    I checked the moderator threads which we use to document each and every report that comes to the moderators, going back to sometime in early 2013. There are two such threads, the first is locked and is 97 pages long. The second is about 1/3rd that length. I did a search on both threads looking for reports that you had submitted, by simply searching on your moniker. Exactly one report came up. I am open to the idea that there is a reason that is preventing me from finding more reports (not the least of them website search functions tend to be pretty terrible, so I did a Google search as well with 1 result that was not a report), so from what I was able to find out, if you think you made the reports as you say above, it was not because you submitted it though the report feature of the website. If you had there would be a record of it.

    I did find a post you made “Moderators? Hello? Is this thing on?” which seemed typical of your method of reporting. I really do thing that you would have found the experience on the BFF a lot less frustrating if you really had used the report function.

    Finally, you said:

    “I had absolutely nothing to do with the creation of the site’s current rules and you must know that.”

    Actually there is no way I could possibly have known that you had nothing to do with the creation of the site rules. So this is news to me. However, I am not sure why you brought this up, as everyone who is a member at the BFF is asked to read and agree to the site rules. Now I am active on a number of forum sites as I mentioned before, and FWIW the BFF has rules similar to most sites, but (IMO) a little more clearly laid out than most. But this is probably a red herring.

    Now I think you already know this but in case you don’t, I am not only a proponent, but a ‘knower’ owing to an experience I had in Colorado about 24 years ago. I got within 8 feet of not one but two BF, in good lighting. So I know they are real. I have found though that my knowledge of such is a tricky thing- too often my brain wants to attribute every noise in the forest to BF now that I know that a creature that is not supposed to exist is alive and well in places where I least expected it. So I have to actively practice a form of skepticism that has a lot in common with walking the proverbial razor’s edge. This is why I have enjoyed many of your shows over the years as well as the NAWAC thread until very recently. I think we share a similar viewpoint in this respect.

    Overall, I see your leaving the BFF as unfortunate, not only because of those that I would have loved to moderate if I had known it there was a problem (I did stop Drew a number of times) but also because it was irritation you could have avoided; despite your remonstrations I can’t find any more than the one report on your part. Given the nature of the internet, I also don’t agree with your idea that the BFF is beyond its service life. I think you will encounter scoftics everywhere you go- on this site, on Facebook, wherever. They seem to be a part of life.

    At any rate, I wish you well and that you find success with this BF thing. I also hope that you will take my words as neutral in character and thus will consider once again being active on the BFF. You have a lot of fans there.

    All the Best,

    Salubrious

    • Donn says:

      I don’t know why he should go back to the BFF. I’m wondering whether I should.

      Yuchi’s trolling there on the NAWAC thread right now. What dmaker and jerrymanderer do is considered trolling most places, Drew and Squatchy McSquatch as well. It’s plain and obvious trolling.

      The moderators are not moderating the board. I think Brian’s stated his case very well. Trolls shouldn’t chase intelligent commentary off an internet board due to a misguided concept that every viewpoint is legitimate, even those who can’t change their minds and won’t change the subject.

  7. stan norton says:

    The once very informative thread entitled ‘ NAWAC field methods’ has been allowed to descend into a self-congratulatory mess which, for the last several pages, has comprised nothing but innuendo about where X is, how big it is and whether firearm protocol is being followed. We now have one of the chief protagonists owning up to encountering sasquatch through feelings and the behaviour of birds and invertebrates. What is anyone possibly learning from this tosh? What a shame that moderating cannot keep a thread in line to benefit the majority who simply want a forum to sensibly discuss ideas. A waste of a fine resource.

    • Donn says:

      That wastage of signal to the elevation of noise is precisely the problem, and just what moderators should be looking out for and nipping in the bud.

    • Donn says:

      And this just in, See’s latest (and appears last) from the NAWAC thread:

      OK – Everything’s been said, so this thread is done. It is now closed.

      Wow. Just wow. Imagine any other area of science in which the richest research vein going just goes away from the biggest current forum on the topic. Just like that.

      Just.Wow. Nope, I don’t think the BFF is gonna have me, much less Brian, to kick around much anymore.

      And the scoftics continue to troll. Surprise!

      • Brian Brown says:

        And yet, by all appearances, the people who run the site can’t see how far it’s descended into insanity.

        R.I.P. BFF

      • Donn says:

        I’m “talking to” a guy on another thread who has frequent hallucinations, doesn’t think there’s anything in particular wrong with that, and that they’re so prevalent, in fact, that the sightings can be chalked up to them. And his proof is the big handful of wet crap he just slung at the wall.

        Inmates: your asylum! And here are the keys.

      • Brian Brown says:

        It’s really sad. Too bad we had to get to this place. Also too bad I doubt anyone over there in a position of authority can see how to fix it.

  8. stan norton says:

    It’s a crying shame that the ‘insects tell me when sasquatch is near’ argument is over. That was so informative on many levels. RIP indeed…

  9. jodie says:

    I think it’s a failure on both ends, inappropriate use of the moderator function, lack of insight into bias for both sides, and the quality of the moderation and administrative staff . Positions on the management team are voluntary, it’s a thankless job, and most people with common sense wouldn’t assume the responsibility for those very reasons. Rather than leave, why don’t you propose a better system of moderation, or put some thought into a solution for the problem, as you’ve said you prefer real life?

    • Brian Brown says:

      It’s not in my job description (anymore) to figure out “systems of moderation.” I think my posts here have laid out some specific suggestions they can either take to heart or not and my reasons for leaving have been plainly laid out.

      • donn says:

        Yeah. No kidding.

        Not my beeswax to run an internet board. On most such boards moderators are well informed about the topic. I am afraid that this is not the case on the BFF. On a board devoted to solar science, anyone who kept insisting that the Sun was a heat lamp would simply be shut down. That doesn’t happen on the BFF because the moderators don’t have any better understanding than most of the posters of the state of the evidence, or even the difference between compelling evidence and proof. So much effort is wasted hauling individual posters off to the woodshed by the bucket load, to say nothing of punishing useful and useless posters alike, instead of simply posting for everyone to see, on every thread where it comes up, that we aren’t here to discuss whether its real or not except on threads devoted specifically to that topic. It shouldn’t keep cropping up as often as it does, and is the moderators’ fault and theirs alone.

  10. jodie says:

    I do agree with you on that one Donn, having been voted off the island for calling Masterbarber “warped”….lolol

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