Character assassination

Perhaps I was born at the wrong time. I’ve always tried to be courteous and in a discussion concentrate on the issues rather than personalities. I started a thread on OM about the Monadhliath wind farm issue (see previous post). I felt it was appropriate to alert OM members to Chris’s article and the petition. Half way through the thread, suddenly I get a load of grief directed at me from “ALoveSupreme” over how I haven’t contributed to the Scottish economy, how I buy too much gear and don’t recycle it. Apparently that disqualifies me from expressing an opinion (probably on anything!). There are times when I really think: why do I bother? I know forums become fractious and have trolls and that they shouldn’t be taken seriously, but ALS had seemed previously to be quite a nice guy. I do find it sad when serious discussions tip into character assassinations. It can happen to blogs as well. I’m grateful that it hardly ever happens here.


46 thoughts on “Character assassination”

  1. ALS certainly got carried away and threw his teddy out of his pram! I feel that ALS is Scottish and thinks he’s William Wallace!

    Your comments on saving the landscape are valid! One could say that you are an ecco warrior by not driving or flying all the way up to Scotland thus saving on carbon emissions by keeping his activities closer to home!

    Rab, I believe is a Scottish brand so you’re partly contributing to an economy. Having said this many Scottish based companies like the rest of the UK get their products made in the far east!

    If we all new the truth behind our clothing, foods, etc we could rip each other apart for our footprints!

    1. Thanks, Phil. I’m sure all of us could improve our carbon footprint. I don’t mind arguing the issues. Personalising issues is a tactic of politicians to deflect from the weakness of their arguments. ALS has shot himself in the foot.

  2. A good excuse to stay away from forums completely Id say. Have just read the thread and think his personal attacks are appalling.
    I’m not worried so much about the views of the turbines from Cairngorm as to the views from nearby smaller hills eg, Geal-charn Mor.

  3. I got embroiled in a forum slanging match a couple of years ago where it got personal for no reason so I stay away now. Some people just don’t get the concept that from informed debate and consideration of all points of views comes insight and understanding. The whole renewable energy versus environmental impact debate is a complex one

  4. Wow, reading his comments it appears that the guy is a complete tosser. I try and stay away from OM, there are a few unpleasant characters lurking arounf on there. His comments were right out of order, all you were doing was drawing peoples attention to a worthy petition.

  5. And now… “Parky” is back. Good grief. is there no moderation on that board at all? What does Why does Jon Doran let it continue?

    Probably money. More rows means people come back to see the latest rant. More advertising revenue.

    My suggestion is that everyone should just not bother with OM until they sort out the ignoramuses that inhabit it. Hit it where it hurts. Money.

    I can feel a post coming on….

    1. I’m wondering whether it’s really worthwhile On the other hand it feels like surrender not to post on things like this. I’m afraid I find it difficult to follow Parky’s line of thought.

      1. It’s good that Jon Doran has done something but this also has the effect of the thread dying. This means that the link to the petition falls from view very quickly. This is not good.

        Rather than just shutting down threads (which is rather like shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted) why does Jon Doran not “have a word” publicly with the usual offenders – a “three strikes and you are never coming back you miserable little worm” so that everyone can see that this sort of behaviour is not tolerated and will lead to their removal from the forum?

      2. It’s also a shame that OM never ran Allt Duine and the Save the Monadhliath Mountains campaign as a news story. As well as many blogs and organisations like the JMT and MCofS it was covered by TGO, and grough so it was hardly of little interest.

  6. Hi Robin

    I’ve just logged onto OM for the first time, and last time.

    What a bunch of idiots, it’s not worth the effort of trying to have a sensible discussion with people like that!

    Thank god that most people who love the hills and wild places are far more rational, and can see other people’s point of view even if they don’t always agree.

  7. If you’ve not got the balls to continue the argument on the thread you started, then you should have the decency not to continue it behind my back.

    Yet more double standards.


    1. Yet more gratuitous insults. How is a post on a public blog “carrying on behind your back”? I have resisted returning tit for tat. Your continued sniping says more about your character than it does mine. Grow up and present arguments not insults.

  8. ps. endorsing backpackingbongos comment that I am a ‘tosser’ is a real quality argument. “I’ve always tried to be courteous” you say in your post!

    More double standards!


    1. I think that I will stick by my unqualified assessment Jerry. I wrote those words not because you happened to disagree with Robin on OM but because you decided to make the debate personal by adding insults to him that had nothing to do with the issue of windfarms. I don’t feel that is a sensible or adult way to conduct a debate.

  9. I would be fascinated to hear what Jon Doran has to say about the people he allows on his site. After all, he controls who is allowed on. “Parky” regularly abuses informed commenters on the forum with poorly thought out rants going off in random directions with very little semblance of thought evident.

    ALS (posting as ‘Jerry’ here today) clearly hasn’t bothered to research into the economics and engineering problems associated with wind generated electrical supply and so his comments are virtually value-less. I suppose what they do show is the huge uphill struggle that is ahead of us to educate.

    I did call ALS a tosser on the thread – a fairly mild rebuke in the circumstances. Parky, however is not worth responding to as he displayed , on far too many occasions that he hasn’t the wit to understand let alone join in a discussion on this topic. We should pity him, really.
    If the level of abuse displayed today from ALS and Parky is what Jon Doran thinks is acceptable it’s a pretty poor show.

    Well done for posting there Robin. It will have garnered a few signatures on the petition..

    So Mr Doran – what are your thoughts? How do we get hold of the gent?

    1. It’s like being back in the schoolyard. The really upsetting thing is the unprovoked attack by someone I had marked down as a sensible chap. We’ve even exchanged emails before. I’ve tried to de-escalate it but equally I couldn’t let him get away with some of the things he’s said. TBH if it were me, I’d be embarrassed by some of the things he’s said, but there we are. We move on.

    2. Priceless response Alan. I think you’re right, we should pity this poor chap. I mean, imagine his frustration at not having the ability to construct a well thought out and reasoned argument. It’s hardly surprising that with his limited social skills his frustration has boiled over into anger. Yes, I feel sorry for him.

      If you are reading this ALS it would only be fair to point to a man of your limited intellect that I’m being ironic

  10. Unfortunately, this just confirms the demise of forums like OM since many decent contributers migrated to the blogosphere years ago.

    I read a thread there the other day about a french chap who had invented a backpack wheelie system and was looking for some infomed comment. I was embarassed by the behaviour of fellow “OM’ers”. High time the moderator did some moderating!

    1. I deliberately tried to keep it non-contentious but all it takes is one person to shoot from the hip. I don’t like getting involved but saying nothing when you are attacked seems like surrendering. As I said before, ALS should be embarrassed by his comments. They were uncalled for. Hopefully when he’s had time to reflect, he might apologise. I wish people would be a bit more constructive but forums have increasingly been captured by people who thrive on insults and confrontation.

  11. The combination of ALS’s insulting venom and Jon Doran’s lack of balls when it came to moderation are the reasons that I left OM way back in 2007.

    It’s obvious that nothing has changed.

    I do like OM, and I do still miss the banter with old friends, but I won’t go back there until there’s a firmer hand at the tiller and until the wheat’s been sorted from the chaff.

    1. I didn’t realise you had been a victim as well. It all seems so childish. It’s a shame as OM still has a lot to offer. Hey ho!

  12. Ignore them and your kind and dignified response does you credit. Chris Townsend needs credit for sticking in there on that row. Forums with no moderation and people who lack the courage to reveal their names are a waste of time. Cowards insult while hiding their identity.

    1. Chris has done a great job in his responses. Hats off to him for keeping his cool. Fortunately he has the facts at his finger tips. It remains to be seen whether facts have any impact though.

  13. As one of the horrible folk from OM, can i simply say that forums can be tough places.

    Well done for posting the thread, Robin. As they say, ‘there is no such thing as bad publicity’. Maybe the furore will have meant that one more person looks into the matter with an open mind. One success is worth more than a hundred silly comments.


  14. It seems like ALS is a regular there, otherwise I’d say it sounds like a case of astroturfing or corporate trolling. Happens a lot, with the goal of derailing intelligent discourse.

    Still a troll though however you look at it. Don’t feed ’em, stick to your topic.

  15. Robin, probably not much I can add to what has been said. I’m quite amazed all you really did was to inform folks that there was a petition out there ! I don’t really go on forums, whether they are outdoors or to with work. They can get very heated. Of course ALS has the right to voice his opinions and so have you. Healthy debate is always important particularly in contentious issues such as these. BTW, I signed the petition and I am not some Englishman who knows nothing of Scotland. I have been going to the country for pleasure (and for work) since a small boy, having just come back after a two weeks holiday in the highlands. I am not totally opposed to wind turbines in the right place, i.e. off shore/brownfield sites.

    I don’t think it is realistic to assume that any country could derive all the power from renewables. It is very likely that only relatively small proportions can be used simply because the wind does not always blow or the sun always shine. Renewables have their place in the energy mix including energy conservation and domestic micro generation. It is a large price to pay in environmental terms, with perhaps unclear economic benefits in the long term.

  16. Hi Robin,

    I go on OM regularily and do find it very tough to defend it when threads descend into farce. I try to respect all people’s opinions but there can be times when the mark is overstepped…..

    I guess one of the issues with the written word (viz a viz forums etc) is that it is remote, “safe” and compartmentalised. I am sure that many an argument would be avoided or reduced in intensity if in a face to face conversation, preferably down the pub over a decent ale.


  17. Well, as you will has seen the thread has now been locked.

    Hat off to Robin, Alan and Chris for their efforts.

    One more thing about ALS. People have mentioned his right to have his opinions.

    Thing is, in that thread he had the gall of calling the 31 wind turbines at Allt Duine “a small sustainable energy project”.

    That’s not an opinion. That’s wilful propaganda on behalf of Salmond & Co.

    Similarly, in squaring walkers’ contribution against that form renewable energy he also took Salmond’s fanciful figures for granted: “130,000 jobs and the equivalent of all our electricity from renewables within less than a decade”. All the studies that have been carried out in relation to ‘green’ jobs have concluded that the figures banded about are false and that they overlook the number of jobs destroyed by green taxes (the most pessimistic is that for every ‘green’ job, three proper jobs are destroyed).

    That’s the sad thing about discussing wind farms with walkers on internet fora. The propagandists are clearly party activists (or highly deluded individuals) with a clear agenda.

    On another forum I argued bitterly about turbines in Scotland. One lady came up with the extraordinary statement that the Ochils wind farms are all right because you only see them when you get to the summits! Anyone who knows anything about Strathearn knows that in reality those wind farms are highly visible for miles from all tops in the area.

    The other day I read another thread on that forum where the same lady made the comment in passing that she was ‘visually impaired’, not blind, she added, but near enough.

    Great. And yet she was passing comment on the visual impact of wind farms!

    Incidentally, I get the impression ALS is English and moved to Scotland fairly recently…

  18. Well, as many others have already said, a reminder of why I hardly bother with forums these days. Atrocious behaviour.

  19. With my ‘agony uncle’ hat on 🙂 I think the best way to deal with a personal attack or post that descends into insults on a forum is to report it to the moderator, who can then hopefully warn the person who posted the personal attack and prevent an escalation on the thread. To defend Jon a little, It does become very tricky for a moderator to sort out a thread once it degenerates from the first personal attack.

    1. Thanks Paul. Moderating is very difficult. I wasn’t looking for Jon to step in with ALS. The thread was closed because it started to spiral afterwards. You can’t see some of the stuff as it has been deleted. In the balance between free speech and censorship, I would always err towards free speech. However there are certain serial offenders who should be warned. It’s not an easy area.

      1. I didn’t realise parts of the thread had been deleted and so I shouldn’t really comment on it. I agree people should be warned – and ultimately kicked out – from forums if they keep posting personal attacks (and perhaps blog comments too, though blog readers on a single blog are more likely to agree with each other I think).

        The trouble with wind-farms is that they have become such a divisive and emotive issue and most folk seem to have decided that they are either on the completely pro- or anti- side, and then buy into and push every argument made by anyone on the same side of the debate, even ones that are unverifiable or seem false. Both sides do have some very strong arguments. On issues like energy efficiency or the practicality of generating the planned amount of power from wind it has become all but impossible to find any impartial information.

        I’m against the Allt Duine scheme but would especially commend those running the website and campaign on their sticking to clear, verifiable reasons to oppose that windfarm.

      2. I agree. Keeping to the issues whatever the provocation is the best strategy. Chris did a good job.

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