Sunday, June 10, 2012

Why is Bill Armintrout so ridiculous?

I am a member of TMP.  A non-paying member, though I have been a supporter (i.e., payer) in the past. I like The Miniatures Page.  It's an opportunity to connect with other miniature wargamers outside the Northwest, and share what's going on in our neck of the woods and share ideas or get reactions to what I'm doing.  I'm not a regular poster.  I don't visit every day.  I don't always have something to say.  I have about 2,600 posts in the ten years I've been a member.

Bill Armintrout is the owner and operator of the site, which combines a number of functions, mostly a collection of message boards grouped by subject, but also a site that collects a fair amount of advertising revenue.  Bill shepherded TMP through technology growing pains and established boundaries for posters.  He's occasionally had to be the bouncer, giving rule-breakers the heave ho.  For less egregious offenders, there is the dawghouse, in which an account is temporarily suspended.  For those serial/serious crime lords there is the ban. More or less permanent, or at least until they create a new account.  Bill also provided tools for posters to deal with those they could not agree with-a stifle button to prevent seeing posts from those inspiring instant nausea, and a complaint button for those posts that seem over the line or beyond the rules.

Unfortunately, the last year, there's been a nasty spate of incidents that I believed died out last summer that leave me increasingly uncomfortable on TMP.  As all forums do, there are folks on TMP who post more frequently, and John Carroll (screen name John the OFM) is one of those.  I usually find him to be fun and a fount of knowledge, but others find him less so.  As the most prolific poster on the site, a number of polls were run targeting him for ridicule.  I expressed my unhappiness about this last summer and sent a personal message to Bill expressing my discontent.  Bill's response was that he felt this was a freedom of expression matter, that those who offered these polls (a poll is posted when Bill approves) should have the right to ridicule John on TMP.  I explained that in this day and age this constitutes harassment and bullying and should not be tolerated.  Bill thought I was ridiculously thin-skinned and probably didn't belong on such a forum.

This week, some nine months after the storm blew over, with valued members of the community leaving for greener pastures, John being temporarily banned and a morass of bad feelings, a new poll appeared this week on TMP.  "Should John the OFM be banned from TMP?"  The poster suggesting the poll was roundly criticized.  It turns out the poster offered the poll in August 2011.  Bill approved the poll and posted it this week, June 8th.  Really?  After all the angst from last summer?

And for what reason?   Bill believes the community should have the right to vote on banning members.  Doesn't say that such a right exists or should be encouraged in the FAQ's.  Yet there is a rule against personal attacks or calling someone a troll.  I find it interesting that Bill defends this as some vague form of democracy, and should be protected as a freedom of expression, when the reason for attacking the OFM had something to do with John generously using his own freedom to post on TMP, which some others did not like.  So it is okay to protect the views of posters (though as a personal attack they violate the rules,) as  freedom of speech, while they seek to deny that same freedom to other? 

Look, there are rules or there aren't rules.  We're all safe or not safe.  On the one hand, Bill establishes rules that encourage respect and civility.  He's used his official role of  TMPgod to enforce those rules to temporarily and permanently suspend the privileges of those who break them.  But in this case he not only allows the rule breaking to go on, he give it his official imprimatur. I think it's incredibly unfair and arbitrary.  While I enjoy TMP and its denizens and its features, I think I'm done.


knobgobbler said...

The Editor's 'moderation' of the site seems to be increasingly erratic.
I still go there for the people and their knowledge, but that's despite the moderation and kludgy functionality.
I'm almost getting the scent that Bill is tiring of it all and wishing it would go away.
There are so many issues that still are not fixed, so many ways the forum could brought up to date... but he resists.
He should hand it off to some other group that would like to manage such a thing.

Cherno said...

I'd say it's just a matter of:

1. Communicating any issues at hand to the administration (i.e. Bill)
2. Keep visiting TMP if things change for the better, or leavy for friendlier forums if they don't.


TMP Editor said...

I've carefully explained the reasons behind my moderation of TMP; I'm sorry you find me so "ridiculous."

John the OFM is a prolific poster on TMP, and people like to talk about him (and post polls about him). Some people like him; for some people, he gets on their nerves.

I allow people to post as they will, unless such posts (or polls) break the "personal attack" rules on TMP. You feel I have allowed some comments which were over the line; I've told you that in my opinion, they were not "attacks" and that you were a bit thin-skinned. You seem to feel that adults on the internet need to be protected from "bullying"; that's just to "politically correct" for me, sorry.

You criticize the poll for having been posted so long after the request. Perhaps you don't realize that this is the standard waiting period, given the huge number of poll requests that come into TMP.

I really don't understand the logic of your "freedom of speech" argument. If you believe in freedom of speech, then you should believe that the requested poll should be run, right? Or are you arguing for censorship?

If your own logic is this confused, then perhaps you are also mistaken about whether rules are being broken on TMP.

Brigadier Dundas said...

It could just be about the "hit count" too. Ad revenues are based on the number of visits to the site, correct me if I'm wrong. Some thing I'd suggested i jest regarding 2mm minis for FOW to get rid of the crammed-together look of the game was run as a poll. The question generated more noise than it was meant too.
Thus my opinion on hit counts.

Kevin said...

Bill, sorry, I teach journalism for a living. You no longer have a rhyme or reason for your actions. The polls naming John Carroll specifically are an attack by any measure. You have rules protecting posters from personal attacks, but you're enabling them by approving said polls. You're a hypocrite. You make the rules on your site; I call them as I see them on my blog.

TMP Editor said...

Brigadier Dundas writes: "Ad revenues are based on the number of visits to the site, correct me if I'm wrong."

You're wrong. That's not how TMP advertising works.

Kevin writes: "Bill, sorry, I teach journalism for a living."

Arguing by authority, rather than arguing your case?

Kevin said...

Stopped reading there didja?

You make the rules, you can't be bothered to enforce them except when you feel like it. You post the freakin' polls. You may as well be writing them yourself. Tell me you really don't understand my ire and those of others. What's your problem? Simple concept and no more than two syllables per word.

We're done here.

Ted Henkle said...

I'm surpirsed and sorry to hear about so much infighting erupting on TMP. I don't get a chance to log on as often as I want to. When I do log on, I focus on other members' AARs and the Market Place. I usually don't have time for anything else, which is why this is a big suprise to me. Best wishes to all parties involved.

TMP Editor said...

"You post the freakin' polls. You may as well be writing them yourself."

Do you feel the same way when a newspaper publishes Letters to the Editor?

Muskie said...

This is all too common on online gaming forums. I don't know why some people find it so hard to be decent human beings while online. I also don't know why people refuse to see that saying hurtful things about another person, hurts...

Kevin said...

Keep changing the subject Bill. That way you don't have to accept responsibility for what you claim to have a clear hand in.

But to answer your simple-minded question-yes. Newspapers don't print letters that are libelous, obscene, invade people's privacy, violate copyright or present a clear and present danger (shouting fire in a crowded theater) because they ARE responsible. That doesn't even begin to cover the ethical issues that prevent papers from printing letters.

And I would argue you are guilty of the latter. You should have known the response to publishing this poll. There was nothing new or interesting about it. You knew what the reaction was to similar polls last year. But you published anyway--that's you not Bede or somebody else, you decide whether those polls appear.

You are living in an ethical swamp. You have rules. They're quite clear. You enforce the rules. When it suits you. You suspend and revoke memberships. You've banned folks for attacking you personally. Yet, you published this poll, nine months after the controversy was over to reignite this issue. Be a big boy and admit your error. Of course, on TMP it's your site, you only need to act omnipotent. Here you're just a weenie with no ethical compass.

Or you can just burn up your rules in the FAQ's and let TMP be the jungle you say you favor. No indulgences for "political correctness." Every person for themselves. Should be fun.

Wg Cdr Luddite said...

Agree completely with the original post.

Bill banned me about 3 years ago and apart from a brief drive-by to wind him up I haven't been back.

I am in the UK and many of my friends are TMP members, although it is interesting to note how many of them have 'inactive' icons on there accounts. Most of the interesting members (AE Curtiss, Connard Sage et al) are long gone.

TMP is fast becoming an irrelevance to the wargaming hobby. It still has uses for advertisers who wish to sell to the (insular) US market, but as a discussion vehicle for the worldwide hobby it's day is done.

telemachus said...

Well said Kevin. It is a shame that in a minority hobby that the TMP editor, controlling what should be the goto site for those of us who play with toy soldiers, should be so petty and dictatorial.

I left TMP years ago but having just looked at their own statistics it is pretty obvious that the editor has realized that the site is plateauing so (as Brigadier Dundas notes) what better way to generate activity than by creating controversy.

John Kantor said...

I was banned and I came back under another name. That's the way it goes.