Thread closed

So, the Monadhliath thread on OM has now been closed by the moderator. Firstly, I want to thank readers for their support. I think Jon has done the right thing in closing down what was becoming a slanging match. As we have seen in previous threads, these things have a habit of spiralling out of control. It’s not easy moderating. How much freedom of speech to you allow? Equally, as a participant, do you just shrug off defamation or do you call the perpetrator to account? To do nothing seems like surrender. I think the right thing to do is to ask the perpetrator to desist. To be fair to ALS, at no time did I feel that he was abusing me. All I wanted him to do was to stop making unwarranted assertions about me that had nothing to do with the topic in hand. It’s a real shame as I have had some cordial email exchanges with ALS (Jerry) through this blog in the past.

Unfortunately, communication through forums and email can get very heated. As Dave (Backpackbrewer) points out, face to face, these rows are often defused quickly. In cyberspace, they take on a life of their own. As Alan said, it is a shame that the Monadhliath thread will now pass out of view and that people may miss a chance to join the protest. The petition now has around 840 signatures, but really needs ten times that to be effective. Spread the word as best you can.

There is a dilemma here. Do I leave the OM forum in disgust or continue to contribute? A number of others have been subject to much worse abuse than me and, understandably, have left. Others see what goes on and decide not to participate. I’ve kept a relatively low profile since the last wind turbine thread. The disappointing aspect of this recent one is that it started off in a totally uncontentious manner (deliberately) and was then hijacked. If outdoor folk can’t discuss important issues like this amicably, why should politicians listen to us?

I want to commend Chris Townsend for his contributions. I kind of dragged him in by quoting him. Chris is someone I’ve never met, but feel I know through his books, articles and blog. He is never less than passionate about the things he cares about, but expresses himself in courteous and considered manner. He was never less than polite and informative in his comments. Thanks for your help, Chris (stop blushing!).

This country of ours (all of it) has a unique landscape. Although it is one of the most densely populated countries in the world, it has a surprising amount of beautiful wild land. While none of it is pristine in the sense of being untouched by man’s influence, much of our uplands and moorlands retain a feeling of remoteness and an aspect of grandeur that man has been unable to mar. The siting of huge wind farms with not just their oversized turbines, but all the attendant roads and pylons will irrevocably change the aspect of the land and its ecosystems, many of which are fragile in themselves. Let’s not stop campaigning against these monstrosities, but let’s keep our dignity. I would also urge you to sign one of the petitions against the new planning guidelines, which threaten our landscape.

Lastly, I want to share a YouTube video that I found, that I thought was (loosely) appropriate for the ALSs and Parkys of this world:

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23 thoughts on “Thread closed”

  1. Hi Robin

    A number of bloggers left OM back in 2007, disgusted at the way the forum was let to run completely unmoderated after suffering from enervating rows and abuse. Few have been back.

    I have been subjected to dogs abuse over there in the past and Jon Doran, the chap who runs Outdoor Magic, did absolutely sod all. He closed the thread down after it had all quietened down anyway. That’s not moderation; that’s a complete lack of control.

    I think we should push for the removal of participants in the OM forum who continually abuse commenters and destroy any from of meaningful conversation. They should get two warnings and then be kicked out – permanently. “ParkyAgain” would have been kicked out years ago under this
    system.

    Jon Doran should clean up his act. If he doesn’t perhaps we should encourage him to by getting on there and screwing it up royally until he realises that he should take responsibility and moderate it properly.

    Just a thought. It could have legs.

    Let’s get a comment from Jon Doran?

    .

  2. Hey now,
    If you would like to see how a forum/commmunity blog could be moderated, look here: http://metatalk.metafilter.com/ (well, the whole site, but you’ll get the behind-the-scenes here). Check out the FAQ as well. This is as good as you get for online respectability.

    We need to encourage this *everywhere* or create it ourselves!

    Just sayin’ Not trollin’ Just a fan and member of MeFi for good reason.

  3. Ah yes, Parky Again, I remember his useful responses on threads I’ve posted. I generally steer clear of online forums – I find you can have much more constructive debates [if you’re so inclined] on blogs.

    Also agree with the point that, face to face, situations like that don’t arise [generally].

    I’ve only read a little of the thread on OM, but ALS seemed to be well out of order. You’re absolutely entitled to drum up support for causes north of the border, and I thank you for it [Alan too!]. We’re a small community, we need to stick together on important issues like the destruction of wild land, regardless of location.

  4. Hi Robin,

    I wouldn’t get too down about this scenario.

    Comments on forums and blogs are as good as the abilities of their author and their reader. By this I mean without the benefit of being able to see a face actually uttering the expression the reader’s brain makes a less precise judgement call on both the tone and sometimes the motive of the post. It only takes a slightly ambiguous sentence by the author and/or a totally wrong interpretation of tone by the reader and all hell breaks loose.

    I’ve had it myself where I’ve put a comment on a blog in jest (knowing how the owner of the blog would take it) to find that another reader had taken it in totally the wrong spirit because they weren’t used to my style of writing. No harm done – but I could have made the mistake of taking that reply the wrong way…then the tension would have moved up to Defcon1.

    I suppose this sort of thing is more liable to happen when “issues” are being discussed but it’s sad to see it happen…probably by a series of unfortunate misinterpretations.

    My friend MrP has a wonderful signature on his ScottishHills.com persona. It doesn’t necessarily fit your particular situation but it’s something I always think about when posting or reading.

    ” Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity!”

    An obviously over-the-top phrase, but I like the moral behind it.

    Cheers,

    Ken

    1. Good one!

      I’m more saddened than angry. I was more upset at the unpleasantness directed at Alan in a previous wind farm thread.

      Thanks

    2. Top post Ken.

      Unfortunately people write stuff online that they would never dream of saying face to face – face-to-face most people start by wanting to be reasonable and friendly, whereas some come online with a start point of thinking the world is out to get them and they need to fight their corner. It’s also a big problem with comments on blogs, forums, social networks etc. that not only can you not see the other people to understand their tone and intent, but also comments are written to be read by a particular audience and other people can then take them in a different way.

      Everyone who does like a sensible debate can help keep threads and blog comments from sliding into name-calling.

  5. Don’t fret about it, Robin. There’s not an issue out there that everyone’s going to agree about and the thornier the issue the higher the likelihood of things going the way of the pear.

    I’m not convinced that the quality of discussion on blogs is always going to be that great either. Friendlier perhaps, but possibly a tad one-sided, especially given that most readers are likely to be like-minded and comments on a lot of blogs need to be approved by the owner before going live.

    Draconian moderation is something I’m dead set against. There’s the eventual risk of ‘moderating’ anyone who’s opinion differs from the majority’s and then where do you end up…..?

    1. Sean: The problem on this particular thread were the gratuitous snide comments that were made. There is no problem discussing issues but when it breaks down like that the moderator should step in. Firmly, in my opinion to get the conversation back on to the issues.

      OM has for quite some time now, been a complete free-for-all where loud mouth snide comments are allowed to prevail.

      1. I realise that, Alan; I was a contributor šŸ˜‰

        The moderation on OM has always been a joke. It’s interesting that the thread only got locked in the end due to sweariness, not snidiness.
        You can say what you want on there and be as snide, condescending and generally unpleasant as you like, just as long as you don’t swear. Swearing is bad for the advertising revenue.

  6. I complained to OM yesterday about the contents of your thread and reminded Mr Doran that I had concerns about other threads. he replied to the effect he cannot moderate all threads! However he was going to look at your thread and clearly he has closed it down presumably i wasn’t the only one to complain.

    On the whole I like OM but I can vote with my mouse!

  7. Robin, I kept out of this yesterday as I did not have the time to go and have a look at OM myself and therefore felt it was unfair to comment. I will say a few things now and perhaps they might lend some general support. Firstly, I got into blogging as a consequence of your blog. I liked your honest, unreserved and objective approach and my first ever online post was here at blogpackinglight. Secondly, I doubt there are many more bloggers, or active users of forums, who are as objective and open to discussion as you are. Thirdly, not that many are as educated and intelligent. The point of all this is to demonstrate my unstinting support for your blog and your input into outdoor issues. We may not always agree – this is part of the fun of it all and, of course, sometimes we do agree – but clean debate makes us civilised. I left Live for the Outdoors and OM precisely because of the malicious, unwarranted rudeness displayed in both forums. I have not been back for years. In fact, I have posted on a few forums in my life and I have never had a long-term positive experience. Sad really, as they could be so valuable. Keep doing what you’re doing Robin – the right people appreciate it.

  8. Live For the Outdoors and OM have the some good folks. But sadly any good they can have is ruined by idiots and no moderation. Some forums moderate so OM has no excuse. Bin it, boycott it and fingers crossed the hits go down and their income. Then maybe then they will get a grip. other forums are out there Robin. Twitter as well. Get a twat on twitter and bin them. You dont have to then have their drivel come your way.

  9. I see ‘Parky’ & ‘ALS’ are now littering the TGO Challenge Message Board on the “Allt Duine” thread, posing as “A Chicken Supreme” and “Parker Wonsmore” with their invective. Incredible, really…

    Doe anyone know where these guys live? (Apart from under a rock) I would like to meet them, in person. Perhaps they have been on an OM meet and we can find out who they are?

    Email me please? Thank you (Confidentiality guaranteed)

  10. Martin/Fraser. I agree the few spoil it for the many. In retrospect, it would have been better if I had posted anonomously. Even so the thread would have got fractious as it wasn’t the exchange between myself and ALS that led to its closure. I’ll have a think about Twitter.

    Alan. Very strange. I don’t know what they hope to prove other than demonstrate their own stupidity and churlishness.

  11. Alan, re the two stooges’ intervention on the TGO board: it’s pathetic, of course, but then there was little doubt about their intellectual abilities (or rather: lack thereof).

    There is however a larger point at issue here, one raised by the flippant comment about Windy Standards.

    There have always been tensions between different users of the hills. It wasn’t long ago when walkers weren’t welcome on the hills, when the landowners considered them their private domain, fit only for sheep and shooting.

    With the changes to the access laws in Scotland, lots of other users are now staking a claim in the outdoors. This also happens with regard to watersports, where jet-skiers are generally loathed by fishermen and swimmers.

    Add to that the fact that in Scotland there has never been much love for the services industry and so the idea that tourism should be the biggest industry is resented.

    So one problem that we hill-walkers have (or rather: wild campers, quite a different thing) is that there are now lots of people who ‘use’ the outdoors who do not share our sense of respect for the land.

    What they want is access for all sorts of reasons, quad bikes, trail bikes, paragliding, and even forest rally! I’ve just seen in the local paper the announcement of a forest rally event this weekend and it is no surprise that part of the event takes place in the Griffin forest, which is currently being taken apart to build an 80+ wind farm (near Aberfeldy/Dunkeld). They’ll sure love the new tracks there!

    So there is a different constituency, with lots of young people in it, and they have a completely different conception of the outdoors. They treat it as a commodity. They want to use it. To them, the outdoors are an extended gym, a big sports centre. They don’t give a toss about remoteness, retaining and enhancing whatever wildness is left.

    And from that perspective wind farms are great because they open up ‘access’, with all those miles of nice dirt roads.

    When I see pictures like the one Alan posted in his latest post (which I think is Whitelee?), I just cannot understand how the likes of ALS can say that’s all right. Every hill wind farm has ripped apart land that had remained untouched more or less since the beginning of time. And it will never return to that state. Never. Despite the convenient lies of the WWF and the like. It brings tears to my eyes to think about that.

    The crass insensitivity of these folks is just unbelievable. Their hypocrisy in masking it up with supposedly green concerns is revolting.

    But unfortunately there are lots of people who are active in the outdoors scene who are sharing their position.

    I’m not sure how one can deal with that. The government wants to ‘re-educate’ us, to brain-wash us in thinking like Chris Huhne that wind farms enhance “any” landscape (indeed, Mr Huhne, you’re right. Torridon could do with a bit of improvement, come to think of it, why didn’t we think about it before). I’m not clear how one can possibly sway the minds of the likes of ALS and other of his ilk that are active on internet fora and other places. Often enough when you press them about it, it turns out they are involved in the renewables industry in some way or other. No surprise there.

    Vested interests aside, if they can’t genuinely see the devastation brought about by wind farms, they clearly have a seriously cognitive deficit.

    The problem of course is that this divides the opposition to wind farms, whereas on the other side they are rock solid.

    I share Alan’s pessimism that Scotland is stuffed. I may end up emigrating one day when I can’t take it any more. Meanwhile I’ll continue to shout to the rooftops that this madness must stop.

    Apologies for the long rant.

  12. Motor rally usage of forests is not new. I was involved in motorsport in the 60’s/70s and we paid dearly to use the forests – the charge was so much per car per mile at that time though I think the charging structure may have changed since then. My point is that the cars were rarely an intrusion as they were hidden by the trees whereas wind turbine farms are an eyesore. There might have been a slight case for them if they were efficient but that isn’t, and never will be, the case.

  13. Thanks everyone for your comments and support.

    I think I’m going to draw this episode to a close.

    I think the best route for everyone is to keep supporting petitions, organisations or whatever against wind farms.

    Although it’s difficult in the face of provocation, I think it’s best if we keep a sense of dignity and be careful in our responses, concentrating on the issues rather than the personalities (however exasperating!).

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