Before writing this post, I thought a lot about linkage. I didn’t want to increase traffic to propaganda blogs and websites by linking to them–but I did want readers to be able to see the kind of nastiness involved. So most of the links in this post are to cached versions.
I’ve been a member of Absolute Write since the early 2000’s, and was a moderator there for several years.
Last week, I received an email from the owner of a website that, among other things, posts lists of resources for writers.
One of the website’s users had objected to the inclusion of the Absolute Write Water Cooler (which, if you’re not familiar with it, is an online writers’ forum and community), pointing to a slew of blogs and websites with names like Absolute Wrong and Absolute Blight that purport to expose AW as a bully board populated by losers and wannabees whose main recreational activity is persecuting members and dispensing bad advice. The website owner wanted to know if there was any truth to these allegations.
This isn’t the first such question I’ve gotten, and it made me sad. Sad at the volume of anti-AW propaganda (which has been proliferating rapidly over the past year). Sadder still that people might believe it.
The truth: AW is a valuable resource, one of the largest and most active writers’ forums on the Internet. (As of this writing, it boasts nearly 60,000 members, over 8 million posts, and anywhere from 1,000 to 3,000 users active at any given time–scroll down to the bottom of AW to see these statistics.)
At AW, you can discuss every aspect of craft and genre, learn about the ins and outs of publishing and self-publishing, share your work-in-progress, get your query letter critiqued, connect with beta readers and writing buddies, commiserate about rejection and rejoice about success, and participate in discussions about culture, music, art, politics, and just about anything else you want to talk about. AW members include writers at every stage of their careers–from just thinking about publishing to multi-published–along with a wide variety of publishing industry experts and professionals: literary agents, publishers, editors, illustrators, designers, and more.
So why the hate? Well, AW is a private forum, and it is strongly moderated. Flaming, shilling, spamming, sockpuppets, trolls–all the things that turn so many writers’ forums into swamps of ugliness–aren’t tolerated, and moderators don’t hesitate to step in when discussions become heated or veer off-track. Members who engage in disruptive behavior are warned (often bluntly); those who don’t heed the warnings may be banned. This active moderation policy helps AW to remain a good deal more relevant, civil, and supportive than many other writers’ communities–but it also, as you can imagine, creates resentment among those who’ve been kicked out. If you Google [“Absolute Write” + banned] you’ll see many of their stories.
Reason number two: the Bewares, Recommendations, and Background Check forum. Here, writers discuss literary agents, publishers, editors, manuscript display sites, contests, PR services, and more. Most of the hundreds of threads in this forum consist of questions and sharing about guidelines, querying, rejection, staff changes, new imprints, closures, and the like. Who could object to that? Well, no one, really. It’s the Bewares threads, where writers discuss bad business practices and expose scams, that generate the anger. An especially volatile aspect of this forum is the often-harsh analysis of new small presses, especially those started up by amateurs with weird ideas about publishing.
So that’s where the anger comes from. But who is behind the smear campaign?
Some of the propaganda comes from individuals or groups who’ve been outed at BR&BC. Some, such as Absolute Wrong and the Absolute Write section of Blogination, are projects of angry AW ex-members. Still more is disseminated by groups with a general axe to grind, such as The Write Agenda, a blog that attempts to discredit anti-scam activists, and Stop The Goodreads Bullies, a site that bullies those whom it claims bully others.
Right now, though, the most concentrated attack comes from a group of anti-AW blogs: Absolute Blight, Absolute Banning, Forums Review, and Write Absolute Reviews of Bully Boards (the “s” at the end of “Boards” is cosmetic; the only board discussed is AW). If they seem similar–not just in format, but in the circular way they all reference each other–that’s no coincidence: there’s substantial evidence that they’ve been set up by the same individual, a long-time forum troll who has made trouble not just at AW, using dozens of sockpuppet accounts, but at the now-moribund WritersNet (a WN member set up this special forum to memorialize her antics).
These anonymously- or sockpuppet-run blogs (check out the origin story at Write Absolute, which includes lots of fanciful detail but neglects to supply any verifiable specifics) demonstrate not just an unhealthy obsession with the goings-on at AW, but a truly over-the-top level of venom toward AW owners, moderators, members, and supporters. They’re replete with sockpuppet comments (the blogs’ owner likes to talk to herself) and larded with misinformation, including mistaken guesses about the identities of AW moderators (I know this because I know some of the people involved) and libellous unsourced allegations about AW members and defenders (again, I know some of the people involved). More unpleasant pastimes include attempting to doxx AW’s owner, her parents, and AW admins, and to interfere with their livelihoods (Absolute Blight is the worst offender in this regard).
The very nastiness of all this should be enough to discredit it. Unfortunately, when people receive anonymous emails or alerts and don’t look closely at the sources, they may be fooled. I’m guessing this is the reason Piers Anthony, in his otherwise helpful Internet Publishing resource, cites some of the anti-AW propaganda.
AW is not a haven of sweetness and light. Discussions can be harsh; moderators are sometimes heavy-handed; feelings do get hurt. If you have a thin skin and are inclined to take things personally, AW may not be for you (nor may be most other writers’ forums). But if you’re tempted to believe the hate campaign, consider this: if AW were really the cesspit of evil that it’s alleged to be by the anti-AW crowd, wouldn’t members be fleeing in droves? Wouldn’t they stop posting? Wouldn’t AW be on its way to becoming moribund, like the unfortunate WritersNet?
That this is not the case should tell you something, not just about Absolute Write but about its obsessed detractors.
Amusing footnote: The troll messaged me on Facebook this week (using a fake account), so she could do this:
Here’s the whole exchange. Note how the troll is unable to restrain her ire.
EDITED TO ADD: Predictably, the smear blogs have responded. Write Absolute Reviews of Bully Boards calls me the Tariq Aziz of Absolute Write” and Absolute Blight styles me “a totally paranoid wingnut and cyberstalker, hurling unfounded accusations around like Frisbees.” Check out both posts if you care (and don’t forget to scan the rapidly-proliferating comments on Absolute Blight’s post).
EDITED TO ADD: Via Absolute Blight, the troll has admitted the links between four of the smear blogs: Absolute Blight, Absolute Banning, Forums Review, and one I neglected to include: Absolute Write Complaints.
AW is an excellent forum because so many writers are always there. But yes, it is heavily moderated by extreme left wingers, and you better not express any conservative or political views that go against their collective beliefs. They will ban you just for liking Donald Trump, and for a writers forum thats alarming, and very, very bad indeed.
Much of the criticism is valid. While I've found some members there who it was helpful to visit with, my view of the mods is quite different. I've seen a lot of evidence of overbearing, hostile, and hypersensitive behavior. Just this week I saw a short thread where a writer posted about his solution for writer's block, and with a very helpful two or three paragraphs on the subject.
However, it seems that his discussion didn't jive with some board defined definition of the "correct way to discuss writer's block". A mod flamed the member, including a threat, and locked the thread.
I've seen this before many times on the site, and that was the last straw. I'll never load that place up in my browser again. I've since found a friendly and sane writer's community, and I'll stick to it. AW's loss. I was considering spending some money to advertise a service with them, but I won't drop a penny there now.
In fairness, it's not just the mods. The "old timers" there can be just as bad. I'm a published author with almost 3 million words I've been paid for. It's possible I might be able to offer advice to fledgling authors. Yet I've been flamed by "old timers" numerous times for offering advice which came from my own experience in improving my writing, evidently because it didn't mirror their tunnel of existence.
They completely miss the point that there are myriad hurdles for authors to overcome, both in learning the craft and getting some notice for their work. There are dozens of solutions for each of those hurdles, and sometimes when one doesn't work for a certain author, another will. What motivates or assists Bill may be useless to Sally, and vice versa. So when you try to give Sally a Plan B after the advice which helped Bill didn't work for her, you should not be flamed for doing that.
I visited AW regularly for years when I began writing. Its resources were a treasure trove of learning for me and I found most members to be helpful and encouraging. I haven't been there in quite some time because an active career as a professional writer and editor takes up much of my time now and I have only visited occasionally when seeking specific information. But I am deeply grateful to AW for being a frontline resource for me as I moved through the process of going from a hopeful amateur to a professional.
Considering what we see nowadays on the political stage in the U.S. (and even worldwide) this AW kerfuffle seems like a precursor to darker horizons that were ahead online. The ease and availability of both private and social media platforms makes it far too easy for people to launch smear campaigns, hurl insults, and generally tear down the well-earned reputations of good people—all while behind the mask of fake identities, avatars, and other online veiling tactics.
I can only testify to my own experiences at AW, and I am forever grateful for all the help, advice, and encouragement I received there from other members. The idea that people would take it upon themselves to devise ways to malign it instead of just moving on with their writing is unfortunate. Hopefully, prospective and current members of AW will be able to glean great things from it as I, and many others, have over the years.
Thanks for the article discussing the situation. It was also a good reminder for me about how useful AW was when I started out and that it hopefully still is for many others.
I'm fairly new to the AW Water Cooler, and while I've found that it does seem to have a goodly number of newbies and wannabes, they are earnest and searching. They are trying to get better at this thing we do. And for each of those there is a seasoned, experienced writer who has advice and stories and facts to share.
I tend to keep my own counsel about writing, but I do appreciate the community and fellowship that the Water Cooler can provide. (And so far, I haven't gotten crossways with any of the moderators.)
I have been an active member of Absolute Write for many years, and today I was banned for disagreeing with two of the moderators on a subject of publishing. There was no warning, and no discussion.
I’ve always known that there were some moderators on the site who did not condone dissent, and so I tended to avoid them. But in this case, I decided to politely put forward my opinion, only to be banned after more than five years of active use on AW.
AW has its positive sides, but there are a group of moderators, and a group of old users, who are bullies. Plain and simple. Until MacAllister does something about them, AW will run away members at the expensive of the egos of a couple of moderators who are *not* well-meaning to writers.
I, too, have been a member of AW for many years. But things have changed somewhat. The most disturbing change, however, and the reason I no longer venture onto the board, is that they no longer have a secure site. Nothing to do with the information or community, just the techno fail. When I go to log on and my computer tells me that the site was not automatically opened because the site was configured wrong and it is not a secure site? There are enough bad actors on the internet, I don't need to invite them into my computer.
Now, in and of itself, this might seem like a small issue. What amplifies the problem is that I have been getting this message for months now and through two computers. So… if it is simply an accidental programming error, why have they not discovered it and corrected the problem? And THAT is the crux of the problem, the lack of general oversight and maintenance speaks very poorly for their security and, thus, the integrity of the site overall.
Old as this one is, it still deserves attention.
Yes, haters gonna hate, and sometimes that hate bubbles up from jealousy. Most often, though, it comes from a heart badly treated by the object of the emotion.
I wonder if there are any – or even one – "writers' forums" in which the number of ass hats are small enough their millenery can be ignored.
I have been a member of AW for approximately six months, mostly lurking, but posting a few times. In reading some of the older threads I came across one post that made some good points on a given topic, but was harsh and rather abrasive. I was shocked by the moderator's reply to the poster. It was mean-spirited, demeaning, and punitive far beyond what was called for in that setting. The original (and quite valid!) points were never addressed, it was simply an ad hominem attack on someone who expressed a different viewpoint than the majority and, obviously, of that particular moderator. I still think it's a great site for valuable writing advice, but my desire to post there myself has diminished considerably.
I posted there a few years back. There are a lot of good people there, but I can tell you that it's a VERY cliquey place and if your opinions don't fall in line with the owners' opinions, the mods will be more heavy handed with you. I was never banned, but that's where it was heading so I left on my own volition.
So, if there's hate against AW, then I can believe that *some* of it is warranted.
You're framing this into something I'm objecting to. Regardless of my objections, it's objectively an obvious falsehood and defamatory to the reputation of a fine author, and on a popular website forum that claims to treat writers with respect.
And as I've pointed out already, this isn't a moderator issue.
I've already written your friends in charge more than once, and recently, but no one writes back. What a surprise! This situation has been going on for years. I know AW elite must look on this with amusement, especially since it's busting my butt and souring the reputation of a fine literary author at the same time, but it isn't funny, Vic. Nothing about this circumstance is amusing. It's nauseating.
You're not directly responsible for any of this, but you and I both know you have lots of influence over there. You do have the ability to intervene. You simply write Stone and ask her. And we both know it's wrong. And we both know you make a point of warning writers about injurious and false writer websites, but here we are once again, years later, still debating who is responsible for correcting this outrage and whether or not you can make a difference. You can. We both know it.
There is no debate regarding the actions of Teresa Nielsen Hayden in accomplishing this lie–a lie republished every time a new writer stumbles onto the thread and reads it. The bottom line remains. You refuse not only to assist with helping to end this act of absurd defamation, but you refuse to acknowledge the outrage even exists. It's just something I object to.
Give me a break, Vic. I am asking you to intervene. Please!
As mentioned to you in email correspondence going back to 2011, I'm no longer a moderator at Absolute Write, and haven't been since at least 2008. I don't have the ability to make decisions about AW content or to intervene in discussions. I'm still a member, but that's all.
To request changes on the forum–including deleting posts or getting threads taken down–you'll need to contact whoever is currently moderating the forum where the posts or threads you object to appear.
Victoria, hi. I've appealed to you in the past with regards specifically to the very large lie told about my faculty member Robert Bausch on Absolute Write's forum. Perhaps the lie remains because your motto is to respect the writer. That means the powers at Absolute Write respect the writer making the accusation, not the accused, so this negates the apparent hypocrisy? When will this lie be removed? Robert proved himself that TNH was making false and libelous comments, and later on the same thread, yet no one removes the false and libelous comments and to this day they still exist.
You talk about others using misleading information and libelous comments to attack Absolute Write, but that is exactly what your close friends and business associates do to others using Absolute Write forum tech. They have been smearing Algonkian, e.g., in one way or another since 2007? That's a long time to conduct a hate campaign larded with misleading information and libelous comments. And not just a few posts, but at least two long threads of squirming insanity and bitter accusations combined with 20 or so Algonkian supporters and published authors chiming in to set the record straight–all of whom are either ignored or slashed to shreds by AW.
No writer who disagrees with your friends is respected, Victoria.
When will you intercede and have the lie about author Robert Bausch removed from the Absolute Write forum? You are an important player there and the lead AW apologist, as the universe can see. When will you help stop this type of hateful madness on Absolute Write? People are still reading this utter nonsense even now.
If you have a thin skin, you should not be on the 'net at all. :/
As I said a while ago on Twitter, AW has saved me from many a bullet in the foot.
Almost a year later, and the controversy doesn't end. Since I first posted my opinion I've had several people contact me to ask how I qualify my opinion.
I chose to do my research. And the quickest way to be banned by AW? Stand up for yourself, or other members who have fallen under the mods ax.
This is where all who seek real information need to be. Check out the Writer's Cafe. In one week I had all my questions answered and then some.
I made it 36 posts into AW before the ban hammer fell.
They labeled me a troller, which I suspect is a catch-all they attach to members who ask questions or object to heavy-handedness. I can't really say for sure, I wasn't there long enough. I can say I was not trolling.
Oh, I loved the owner's answer, re: What qualifies her to run a site for writers – because she's the owner, was her answer. That's the root of the problems right there – can't you see? "Because she's the owner", means she's "entitled" to run the site, it does not mean she's "qualified."
This lack of nuance seems permeate the site. Moderators close threads, delete posts, to keep a lid on conversations (or to push agendas – I can't really say) and seem to think nothing of it. Business as usual. Casual, oh so very casual, censorship on a Writer's Board!
Well, they labeled me a troll and gave me the boot. I suppose I'm better off in the long run.
I've checked back through my records, and I can't find that I've ever written anything about a company called Xhuler Publishing. Could you please provide a link? Thanks.
I'm also curious, what exactly qualifies you to act as a watch dog against even places like Xhuler Publishing? Oh joy, they also don't even have a reading fee and actually post their royalty rates! Oops.
It's one thing for moderators to act nasty (which is highly unprofessional), but this takes it to a whole new level.
While I understand what you are saying about the campaign against Absolute Write (Water Cooler), I have to tell you that I had a very negative experience with their moderators — one which caused me to request that they remove my account (so that I could leave them permanently).
Overall, I found their moderators to be on a wildly excessive power trip. In my case (without getting into the details), all I actually did was ask them to be a little understanding about a different member's errors in doing a post, and was basically told that I had to "beg their forgiveness" (that's more or less their exact language) or be publicly sanctioned by them in front of all my fellow indie writers on the board. The entire experience reminded me of one of those caricatures of English boarding schools that one sees in the media from time to time.
Obviously, it is a privately-owned board and they have the right to run it as they please, but the way in which they handled (polite and objective) complaints about anything and everything — even when these complaints were delivered in confidence to them (e.g. were not posted publicly), was needlessly harsh and belittling. I would NEVER treat anyone, either in-person or indirectly as occurs on a board, in the manner that they treated me. They either don't understand, or don't care, about the difference between maintaining an orderly and polite discussion forum, and in publicly humiliating people "just because they can".
So whatever the merits of the campaign against Absolute Write, or the motivations of those behind this campaign, I have to (reluctantly) say that those in charge of Absolute Write Water Cooler richly deserve it. In the short time that I had an identity on that board, I would cringe every time that I logged on, in anticipation of the latest gratuitous, public insult that the board moderators had lodged against me, along with the warning "don't you dare talk back, or it will turn out badly for you" (their exact words).
No adult, or writer, deserves to be talked down to, in this way. AW needs to be taken down a notch, and it needs new management for its discussion forums.
I just re-read the post and I can't find that I said anything about AW mods being anonymous. Are you maybe referring to what I said about the trolls making bad guesses about mods' identities, which I guess could be interpreted as implying that mods are anonymous?
In fact, many AW mods use their real names (I did too, when I was a mod). Some use screen names (a common practice online), but their sig lines or profiles include links to their websites, blogs, books, etc., making it easy to discover who they really are.
In the few cases where mods who use screen names don't provide links, etc. to their real-world identities, their identities are open secrets at AW. One such is Old Hack, a frequent subject of revilement on the troll sites. Regular users of the forums where she posts know who she is. The troll, on the other hand, guessed wrong.
Victoria, you ask why the people who don't like the site "hide" behind anonymity. Yet in your OP you say the moderators at AW are anonymous.
I'm one of the people — a private individual — who was subjected to an outrageous level of abuse from a moderator after a single post looking for beta readers. To this day, I don't know why she was so enraged. I don't agree that there is a "smear" campaign against AW. I think the moderator's succeeded in ruining her own reputation.
I was a member for a few years. I found the users to be extremely pleasant and I frequently go back there for the bewares section which is simply unequaled anywhere. I loved the genre folks I met. I loved the critiques.
I'm a self publisher though, so like most self publishers, I have subsequently been banned. The site's bitterness and unprofessional behavior towards indie publishers is notorious. I challenge anyone to look at the hatchet job on Brenna Aubrey, much of it done by mods of the self publishing section and their cronies, and say this is a board that should be recommended.
I'm obviously behind on the local catfights. I've been writing, you see, and sometimes I don't check the gossip for a week or two.
I'm the person behind Absolute Wrong. I'm also a fairly normal person (at least, that's what my therapist tells me) who has been attacked and bullied on AW because I don't think like the central cult.
I'm commenting because I thought you were above this kind of misinformation campaign and favoritism, Victoria. Some of the things Absolute Write has been doing would have gotten any site called out on Writer Beware in the old days. But I guess now that Ann is gone, you have no one to balance out any preferential treatment.
This bothers me, just a bit, because I admit I looked up to Writer Beware. I thought this site was unbiased and based on investigation of facts. I discounted all the complaints that things posted here were untrue and unfair as sour grapes. I see now that I was just like many of the people posting in support of AW. I was blind because I wanted to trust that someone had my back as a writer.
I even defended Writer Beware and you, Victoria, when other people involved in the other AW warning sites contacted me. I told TWA to take a flying leap because they wouldn't shut up about you. I refused to believe.
I only skimmed the comments, because I'm not interested in getting dragged back into the dramafest cesspool around AW. But do let me know if you see anything on my site not supported by facts and evidence, okay? I'd hate to sink to the level of Writer Beware and post unsubstantiated personal attacks.
I used the review board to research various agents and small-publishers before submitting. That's a solid resource, and the people who've self-published have some excellent data on what to expect from that aspect of the industry. Also found an excellent beta via this forum, although I can't say I'm a hugely active member.
That must be the court of your imagination.
Doesn't change the facts that you and your colleagues are bullies and liars on Absolute Write. Glatzer was chosen to write a book on bullying because she should know. She is the consummate internet bully, and her site set the pace for antisocial behavior on the internet.
By the way, all of your accusations were proved to be lies in a court of law!
"You were unable to prove anyone's college degrees were bogus because you are a scam."
Hello, Barbara. Another drive-by? You should really do a better job of concealing your obsessions.
Does the 83rd amendment include free puppy food, too? That would be very cool. Oh and is the million dollars in a lump sum?
Side note, everyone knows potato chips are bad for you.
But…the Sixth Amendment is about the right to a speedy trial…
Are we just making up amendments now? 'Cos if so, I wanna invoke the 83rd Amendment and claim my right to a million dollars and a free puppy.
You are a LIar and a Scam artist. I am invoking the sixth amendment"freedom of speech" as you did in court when you said you were just giving "opinions" to cover up your vicious defamation and attacks. I remember when there was an agent on absolute write that they were bullying and said his genitals should be castrated. And I have the printout! You were very jealous of certain agents and their clients,you and that other scam artist professor Jim Fisher. You were unable to prove anyone's college degrees were bogus because you are a scam.Jenna Glatzer is a scam artist and ALAN YEE is a SCAM ARTIST who doesn't even exist, just another made up person among the many fake persons on that site. I am exercising my free speech and proclaiming to all that your blog and that site are a worthless waste of time, and the people who go on the site are fat, ugly, unkempt potato chip eaters in front of a computer. And that goes for "Uncle Jim," "Dawno" and the many other ugly people on that site who will never get anywhere with their writing. You and absolute write are Absolutely Full of Crap.
Hi Victoria, and I suppose if I call you MelMac, you'll fly East and smack me 🙂 Hey, I once called you Macster and you smacked me 🙂 What the hey! It would get you here for another visit! That's right folks, I've met Mac, and she's not freakin' evil, although she did spend too much time paying attention to another dog b/c the pup I had at the time wasn't interested in chasing sticks in the Sound. I digress.
The venom I'm seeing in this string of posts is incredibly disturbing, to say the least, and by someone I used to respect. Goes to say, you never know who's behind a keyboard. Now that that's been said, Lisa's slapped my hand, more than once, and I'm still not sure why I'm no longer permitted to post on the politics board, where imo, there is a certain amount of bullying that does go on. Haskins is the big brother who looks out for a lot of us, but if he's not around, you're fair game by one individual. If you're a Centrist, as am I, well, you're in deep doo, doo. If you're left leaning, you're good to go.
I did notice that the one individual who I allowed to bait me is on the hater site. Don't really care for that word, it's a them against us mentality which, sadly is somewhat reflective of today's society. We've become so divisive. No, I don't expect us to hang around the campfire and sing kumbaya, but nor do I expect this nastiness, either.
There are many AW'ers that I'm in contact w/ either via FB, email, mostly FB and it's great that we keep in touch. I don't post on AW, I don't have the time, I've been stupidly sick for the last month, for one and been querying like a madwoman prior to that…after much editing, working w/ an editor, etc. and getting a lot of support and the like. I have to say that I cross reference Writer's Beware…thank you Victoria!!! prior to sending to agents, as well as AW and it's a time saver. The disheartening thing is, I get the nicest rejection letters, ever??? "Dear Jean Marie" Seriously 🙂 You will find an agent, etc. They're quite lovely, actually. Onward and upward, forward or whatever.
Personally, my belief is that anger stems from jealousy or something you're not getting. In turn, I think it works its way into hatred, and once that occurs, it's tough to turn back. Not impossible, but difficult. Sort of like hitting your head against a brick wall and expecting that your headache will go away.
I think these sites ought to give it a rest, expend your energy elsewhere…I know!! write!! Or, if that doesn't suit you, volunteer for an animal rescue organization as they can always use the help. Heck, go for a walk. I do that every day.
I wanted to see your follow up comment-if any-to my post. RE: my tone. I didn't join swinging but when folks come after me, I don't retreat-not my nature. Again, 10,000+ posts since 2005? Who has time to write? these guys are kings and queens of their own writing universe and god forbid, you disagree…sorry, still don't get why you defend them. I have a long trail out here Victoria-a long trail-I don't go after people-I don't troll their subscribers, I don't stalk them on social media…members of this group do—I don't get your loyalty….lots of forums out here-just because this was one of the first doesn't mean anything…I just don't get it. Marla
I've been a member at Absolute Write for almost ten years. I've racked up a heck of a post count there for one reason – it's spoiled me for the rest of the internet. Nothing else comes close.
There is not a more useful, current, accurate, and supportive resource for writers anywhere – whatever their experience or intended path to publication.
With 60,000 members worldwide, it is inevitable that somebody is going to hop on somebody else's last nerve at some point, but strong moderation is the medicine, not the illness. And this isn't to say that I've agreed with the handling of every sticky wicket that has come up, but in a decade, my approval (not that they need it) is up somewhere around 99%. It's hard to complain about that.
In the end, any success I ever enjoy from my writing will tie back to my participation at Absolute Write. I know that and celebrate it.
Thank you AW.
AW is a great resource for writers. The troll sites seem to be composed of wannabees out to nurse irrational grudges. They're a waste of time.
I'm astonished that people banned from privately-owned sites like AW have such a sense of entitlement that they dedicate so much time and effort to discrediting that site. It's obsessive behavior and it's stalkerish. The doxxing is entirely off the scale.
If they want to make a point to the mods and members, the best way to do it is by being better. Write well, publish well, succeed. Much more effective than tearing down.
I joined AW in 2005. I wanted to write books. Now I've published 4 of them from respectable presses. I never could have accomplished that without AW.
I am also a Super Moderater now at AW, so of course that colors my opinion and may cause some of you to just write off what I say next. But what has astonished me over my years at AW is that the decision to ban someone is never, ever taken lightly. It is often discussed among the moderators for days and the presumption always is, as one of our moderators is fond of pointing out, "assume good intentions."
I also would like to add that MacAllester Stone (her nym de web, as most of you know) and Lisa Spangenberg are two of the most thoughtful, gracious, and fair-minded people it has been my privilege to know.
I post under my own name, and interested people can look me up.
I didn't find it very helpful for what I needed, but that cannot explain this level of venom. It reads like sour grapes. There's plenty of other sites out there or you can create your own. If your site becomes more useful and informative, then you will have proven a different tone or expertise level is as good or better.
However, vitriol by itself, especially when it gets personal, is unsourced, or stoops to digs at published fiction works when the blog is about industry issues, are all petty and unconvincing. Fiction tastes may vary, but that doesn't mean that hints about becoming published or the state of publishing companies don't cross genres. Finding a publisher, large or small, is much the same for mystery, sf, and horror… So much so that this venue is supported by the three professional associations. This kind of warnings is a public service that those on the up and up should appreciate. Personalities should not be an issue. I don't care about someone's background or taste when they tell me there's a bridge out ahead.
I'm sad (but not surprised) to see so many anonymous comments attacking AW and people on the forums. It just shows that they can't handle being criticized in anyway. Taking criticism is a major part of being a writer.
Just adding my comment of kudos to AW. 😉 I found the site years ago, back when I first decided I definitely wanted to be a writer. I received tons of help, advice, and learned so much on the site. I recommend it to anyone I meet that is looking for information on writing.
I have met some people that bothered me or were looking for a fight, but the internet is full of people like that. I believe that AW is taking great measures to help keep trolls, bullies, and other harmful individuals out. I feel comfortable going to the site for anything I may need and know that if a bully pops up or someone starts throwing a fit, that things will be handled in the best way possible.
In summary: Absolute Write is awesome! I love it. I hope those who don't like it find somewhere else on the internet that they can hang out.
As Lisa has already stated, I'm not her. You should be able to tell that from my replies.
While the internet is forever – although actually it's not under the new European "Right to be Forgotten" laws – most people are able to notice a date on a posting. If I see poor information about somebody which is 3 years old, I seek out more recent experiences to help me make an informed decision.
If you feel AW is breaking the law by allowing libel and defamation, I suggest you use the law to pursue that.
As for the link to the information which is wrong, I hope you'll understand I can't provide that because I would be doxxing the person concerned – plus I have no idea if the information I have seen is still online. I also don't know them personally. All I can suggest is that you check the proof WAR offers about their information very carefully and take nothing they say on trust.
As for stalking: creating a blog to post information with the intent of discrediting individuals and monitoring their social media sites with the intention of mining personal information? Combining that information to personally identify an individual without their consent? Posting photographs of individuals? Posting Google Earth images? All with the intent of doing damage to said individuals?
As for your idea that running AW as a clean ship from now on will solve the problem of these hate sites: they cite things which happened three years ago as "evidence". Have you considered that AW may have changed since then? Again, I ask, where are the posts about people from the last 6 months? Where is the bad advice? And the bullying? Could it be that AW is just a load of people in a room who sometimes disagree with each other on subjects which don't have a right answer? That these sites come from people who have been harbouring grudges for years?
There's a thread in BR&BC right now which got locked (I assume, as I'm a lurker not a poster) after the subject began randomly accusing AWers of writing things on the internet to deliberately upset his disabled wife. Those posts will remain, but the mods have chosen to lock the thread to stop it escalating. This in the last few days: AW mods protecting stupid people from themselves and others. Not the first time I've seen it, won't be the last.
Washington State Law re Stalking:
(1) A person commits the crime of stalking if, without lawful authority and under circumstances not amounting to a felony attempt of another crime:
(a) He or she intentionally and repeatedly harasses or repeatedly follows another person; and
(b) The person being harassed or followed is placed in fear that the stalker intends to injure the person, another person, or property of the person or of another person.
None of the above applies to any website critical of your behavior or policies. Your efforts to demonize have failed.
Why not just let it go and try to be good people, like Jenna? Use her as your role model. Please, for all of us. Or sell AW to someone who can be just, like Jenna once was.
Is this an example of your forensic analysis:
All of these are one person? Is this the troll Victoria was talking about? If so, I'm glad you caught her.
I’m not Dor.
As to what qualifies me to own a Web site for writers?
I don’t own Absolute Write. I’m the Sys Admin. I am however, exceedingly well qualified to be the Sys Admin for a writer’s site.
As to what qualifies me? I have a Ph.D. in English, and over twenty years working in publishing, in both editorial and production. I’ve worked on books that you can buy in your local book stores. You’ll find my name in the front matter, and in the acknowledgements.
And of course there’s my own published writing, both scholarly articles and textbooks, as well as books about Apple technology from Pearson’s Peachpit—you might know Pearson better as the Big 5 publisher who owns Random and Penguin. My books are available in your local bookstore, as well as in multiple languages.
As for my qualifications to run a server and several Web sites, I have over twenty years working in IT, managing users and servers, and producing software and ebooks.
My two skill sets are what led to my work as a forensic data analyst. And it’s how I can recognize your writing every time you post.
Now that I reflect upon it, the websites critical of you two, and the AW in general, are in some sense, hate sites.
I've never in my life seen or heard so much utter loathing for any other two people, or any other website.
In retrospect, no one hated Jenna. She worked hard to out the bad fellows, but no one hated her. She was respected. She was reasonable and a nice person who didn't like to bully.
Whereas you are hated. Hated. Is it because you are hostile bullies with a sense of ridiculous entitlement? Or because you are just doing your jobs and the haters are really just one ex-member who you justifiably gave the boot to?
If you want to stop being hated but still run an effective forum, my very good advice is to clean house of abusive moderators, post new policies on intolerance for abuse, lies, hypocrisy, and cyberbullying; and then go back and delete the several hundred past acts of smearing and bullying on your website going back six months, plus issue apologies to those smeared and bullied, and promise NOT TO DO IT AGAIN.
Wise up, gals! It's not too late.
"They are still making claims about AW members which are demonstrably false through third party information (as in information which has come from a third party; not the subject, not AW)."
Fair enough, that might be true. Provide the link then. Where are the citations to prove your point? Take this opportunity to PROVE what you are saying. I'll even make you a deal. You prove your contention, and I will personally post on those blogs that they should correct this or that.
"In my opinion, WAR and their cohorts are stalkers."
Fair enough, so provide the link to prove this point. What could it be? Exposing your business address isn't stalking. Is that what you're talking about? I can't think of anything else. But they say they need a place to deliver the forthcoming court orders and subpoenas. You shouldn't have taken pictures and put them on Tumblr.
"For them to be merely bullies they would need to target their "information" towards their victims, attacking them directly. Instead, they act in a way which curtail their victims' freedom, leaving them feeling that they constantly have to be careful."
This is vague. Careful of what? Have you actually seen anyone following you from home to the coffee shop or wherever? Could it be that you are a little paranoid?
I know that you are widely hated, but I personally have not heard anyone talk about stalking your place of residence or following you. I don't know who would. That would be rather silly or psychotic.
"In many cases, the conduct might appear innocent ( if it were to be taken in isolation), but it is carried out repeatedly so as to amount to a course of conduct, causing significant alarm, harassment or distress to the victims."
What conduct? Provide a link. I really do not know what you mean. I really truly most certainly don't. It sounds like you might be on the brink of raving.
Oh, heck Mel, and I'll just answer you.
Thank you for making my point. Nothing qualifies you to run a website for writers other than you own it. That settles that. Is that why the mods seem to be at a high school level when it comes to actual guidance? And if you dislike your real name, which is quite lovely, that is your game to play and none of my business. "Mac Stone" does sound more intimidating, and God knows, you make a point of being as intimidating as possible on Absolute Write, and it's because you have to, what with all those sock trolls on the loose.
Now, onto Lisa "Dor" Spangenberg. No need to insult, Lisa. I can understand you quite well, but it appears my words have already turned to vapour in your noggin.
Yes, Lisa, it must be you. Who else? The triumvirate is here: Victoria, Lisa, and Melodi Sherman. And what qualifies you, Lisa, to own and admin a website for writers? You helped write a tech manual? I only happen to know this thanks to the great websites and blogs out there exposing Absolute Write and it's owners for what and who they really are: frauds and smear campaigners.
I agree with those who say that AW once did good but now it harbours a nest of vipers.
"I'd like to see evidence from the last 6 months."
Six hours, six days, six months, six years. This is all just another dodge. I'll now make this easy for you to understand, Lisa. If you smeared a writer or a press six years ago and people see that post when they search on google, then it is fresh the moment they see it. The post on AW could have been made yesterday. It doesn't matter if the post was made six seconds ago or six years. It is republished and viewed anew each time a new pair of eyes see it.
Next, the fact that you allow the smears, libel and gross defamation of writers, presses, and websites to remain on the forum by default makes you responsible. The fact that AW has and is accumulating years and years of smear and bully sediment only further supports the argument that is what critics say it is: a cyberbully forum site populated with bullying mods and owners.
Yes, I am addressing you, which is why I began my post with your name. Your difficulty understanding this may go some way to explaining why you don't follow my words. Take a look at their side bar for the complaints I'm talking about – there's also a blog post.
I'd like to see evidence from the last 6 months. Lexi Revellian's blog post about Robin Sullivan's banning (it's quoted on that side bar I mentioned) is from 2011. Complaints about things which happened 3 years ago do make WAR and their chums look like people conducting a hate campaign.
MacAllister Stone is not the only person WAR and others have "doxxed". As Victoria has pointed out, once it was claimed Mac was another board member. They are still making claims about AW members which are demonstrably false through third party information (as in information which has come from a third party; not the subject, not AW).
In my opinion, WAR and their cohorts are stalkers. For them to be merely bullies they would need to target their "information" towards their victims, attacking them directly. Instead, they act in a way which curtail their victims' freedom, leaving them feeling that they constantly have to be careful. In many cases, the conduct might appear innocent ( if it were to be taken in isolation), but it is carried out repeatedly so as to amount to a course of conduct, causing significant alarm, harassment or distress to the victims. Which I paraphrase from the Crown Prosecution Services's guidance notes on stalking and harassment.
Oh heck, Leslie – I'm happy to answer both of those question.
I've always used a pseudonym online — the same pseudonym (and only 'nym) I've used all over the Internet for nearly a decade because of the potential of Webstalkers harassing me, my family, and my friends and acquaintances. It's a 'nym that means a great deal to me, personally — and pretty much everyone who knows me calls me "Mac" in real life, as well as online.
As for what makes me qualified to run a website for writers and poets? Simple: I own the site. It's not a public utility. It's a private website.
"Let me ask you a question, "Lesley". Perhaps you'll say you can't answer it, but I have a feeling you can. Why does the "staff" of Absolute Blight and Write Absolute Reviews hide behind anonymity? Why don't they own their words by speaking out under their own name? (Or names, if you prefer.) What do they fear would happen if their followers and the people who read this blog knew their true identities?"
Whatever "feeling" you have Victoria, can't substitute for reality. I can't speak for those people. I just support the growing movement to expose Absolute Write cyberbullying.
And since you answer questions with questions, I can also play at that dodge ball game. Since I know you know the answer, why did the real owner of AW hide behind a disguise for so many years? What is she afraid of? And further, how is a horse farm operator qualified in any way to run a website for fiction writers and poets?
Hey Victoria, I'm a member of the AW Water Cooler too, and even though I'm not an overly active member of the forums, it's one of the best places to hang out and learn from other writers and authors.
I joined after seeing some information on some publishers listed in there, and one of the editors at a reputable publisher suggested I join the forums. I followed her advice and never looked back.
AW is truly a writer's best resource, and you meet a lot of great people at the same time.
Let me ask you a question, "Lesley". Perhaps you'll say you can't answer it, but I have a feeling you can. Why does the "staff" of Absolute Blight and Write Absolute Reviews hide behind anonymity? Why don't they own their words by speaking out under their own name? (Or names, if you prefer.) What do they fear would happen if their followers and the people who read this blog knew their true identities?
And I assume this "Dor" person is addressing me so I have a response for her.
"When WAR made a post asking for evidence of bad advice given on AW, the best their commentators could come up with was from a writer who has since gone on to the kind of success which has allowed her to quit her day job."
It's not my job to defend WAR or any other specific website, but I've seen the post and what I saw bears no relation to what you are saying. Why don't you provide a link?
"When they made a post compiling the evidence of why AW is so terrible, all they could come up with were years old statements copied from other sites."
I am twice in the dark. I have seen no single post compiling all the evidence, but maybe I missed it. Why don't you provide a link? I don't see how anyone could compile all the evidence in one post, it would be the size of a novella.
"Should these sites find new and recent examples to support their claims, they'll stop looking as though they are conducting some kind of hate campaign."
This sounds like you and Victoria have coordinated your responses. I don't know what "new and recent" means in this context. If I find a new act of cyberbullying and smear campaigning at Absolute Write does this make me or anyone more correct about the fact of cyberbullying at AW? Are we saying that an observation more than a month old once again reverts to evidence of hate campaigning?
Can you please explain the logic here?
"Should they stop making claims which are demonstrably wrong about people's identities, they'll look more trustworthy."
Trustworthy hate campaigners? Yes, I agree! So why not tell all of us who you are talking about? Tell us the real identity. I can hardly wait to know. Are you saying that Macallister Stone is not really Melodi Sherman? That is megaton.
"Should they stop making and allowing personal comments about people's appearances, they may even find they get listened to."
I agree with this also. I think that is wrong, very wrong.
"I wouldn't call WAR or any of the other sites bullies by my definition. They're stalkers, all the way."
Oboy, that's a big mouthful!!! We haven't even defined what cyberbullying is, but now we're talking stalking? Is someone at AW being stalked by someone at a blog critical of AW? If so, who? And "all the way" to what?
No, come on, what is the big act of stalking that makes this claim credible? If it's such a big deal, why didn't you name the act of stalking or link to it?
"That doesn't necessarily make a poster anonymous."
True, but the subject was posters on Absolute Write whose identity is not discoverable, and who therefore remain anonymous. We know several of them, really popular ones too.
Any idea why the owner of AW remained disguised for so long? Owners of other boards are up front. We know who they are. Would you argue we don't have a right?
"But if you'll have a look at my post above, you'll find a number of links to acts of cyberbullying by W.A.R. and Absolute Blight."
You see, this is interesting, and this is why I asked that you post a link to cyberbullying on Absolute Write so that we could make a comparison. I see your links but I see no helpless person or organization actually on the blog being smeared, attacked, or bullied by anyone. I do see critical comments about Absolute Write and certain AW moderators, yes, and I do see some comments that are less than tasteful and somewhat crass. Is that what you mean by cyberbullying?
We have obviously different definitions of cyberbullying. If I were one of a dozen people ripped off by a crooked carpet retailer named Bob and I wrote a report on Yelp exposing him for being a crook, would that be an act of cyberbullying?
What crosses the line into cyberbullying for you? What is your definition of cyberbullying, Victoria?
"I do not accept anonymous comments or email, because complaints need to be verified or else they're just rumor or hearsay."
A complaint can easily be verified without knowing the source of the complaint. If an anonymous tip leads the police to a bomber or a bank robbery in progress, the police don't trash the tip because the caller was anonymous.
Are you saying you ignore information regardless of how important or relevant simply because you don't know the identity of the source?
"Is anyone involved with the smear blogs doing the same? If not, what real evidence–other than the aforementioned sources–supports their allegations? If they are, they face the problem of demonstrating their credibility."
Then can we also term Absolute Write a smear forum, based on the number of people, writers, organizations, reputations, and presses smeared by it over the years? Blogs or websites who point out the fact of this are not smear blogs except in the estimation of those defending a smear forum known as Absolute Write. And real evidence of what? There are links all over the web to cyberbullying and defammatory practices on Absolute Write. You can see them for yourself, as anyone can. Why don't you provide a link to a half dozen and we will have a basis of discussion?
Why are you unwilling or unable to post link citations to matters you note in your rebuttal narrative?
What does "Meh" mean?
"Legitimate questions, though. Which I notice haven't been answered."
Answer my legitimate questions first, which I notice hasn't been done.
"Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't you say, above, "No one has quantified the precise amount of bullying that hypothetically might take place at AW"? So how do you–and others–know that the number is "large", and where can we find the evidence of this?"
This comment of yours bears no relation to my comment regarding the number of complaints about Absolute Write growing larger. All one has to do is look at Sitejabber I saw recently found and posted on the web, and go from there. Complaints are in the hundreds and have been graphing up since before 2012.
Why are you asking questions that bare no relation to what came before?
By "referencing the same sources," I mean citing the same list of blogs and posts and complaint sites. Like the list at Absolute Write Complaints, most of which also appear at Write Absolute Reviews and Absolute Blight. These blogs need to recycle these references because they have so few others. How often do these blogs offer evidence of new complaints and incidents, outside of anonymous and unverifiable comments?
Your tactic here avoids and denies the substance of the complaints by using the classic strategy of criticize the messenger. I would suppose one cites "the same list" because this is the current list to cite. If there were other lists, those would be cited also, but then, no matter the lists, if the lists were combined, it would be one list, and then we're back to square one. Labeling the list as "the same list" will always work for you and gullible observers because no matter how many new websites are added, a second reference to this list will enable you to pull out the critique of "the same list" again. No matter the number of websites complaining about Absolute Write, you dismiss the substance of years of complaints, as well as the huge numbers of complaints, simply by creating an arbitrary standard of "the same old list" and "recycled references," the implication being that by your standards they're all stale, and being stale, their commentary is irrelevant or unimportant.
And offering new complaints? Anonymous or otherwise? And what is unverifiable? You are good at providing links. Provide us links to your claims and then we have a basis of discussion. Your findings are not traceable. Again, you imply there are not enough new complaints and the messengers are questionable and their message unverifiable.
For me, a single website tellling the truth about cyberbullying on Absolute Write is enough. A never ending refreshing of the same sad story isn't necessary to maintain or justify the original observation because it never changes. The world of AW gnaws at itself like an embittered wounded animal, day after day, unlike other writer forums with responsible owners and fair moderators. You know, the forums that don't have a score or more websites critical of them?
So back to you, how many new complaints are needed daily, weekly, monthly for you to accept the reality of their message about Absolute Write?
I love AW. It's one of the sites I visit several times a day, and it's one of the only forums I still participate in, specifically because of the tight moderating. (There's plenty of places I could go for a godawful free-for-all. I just don't find that fun any more…)
I've lost track of the number of people I've sent there, usually saying "I don't know the answer to your question (or "My answer is probably ten years out of date") but someone here will!"
When I set out to do my first self-published book, their self-pub forums were SUPER helpful.
Now, it's not a good place to go in feeling defensive or expecting automatic head pats (although I've actually found people to be very supportive and sympathetic of genuine woes.) It's best to admit when you've said something stupid, and if you wander around clearly believing you're the smartest person in the room, people will beat it or ban it out of you pretty quick. But go in aware that it's a huge room with an incredible amount of accumulated knowledge, and it can be like the best pro-party EVER.
Part 2 of 2
"Anonymous comments do count. They don't count for you, and that is predictable also, but you should not to dictate whether or not they count for anyone else."
I allow anonymous comments on this blog, because I understand why people don't want to be identified publicly on a blog that deals, in part, with scams. But when I collect information on schemes and scams, I do not accept anonymous comments or email, because complaints need to be verified or else they're just rumor or hearsay. I also collect corroborating documentation.
Is anyone involved with the smear blogs doing the same? If not, what real evidence–other than the aforementioned sources–supports their allegations? If they are, they face the problem of demonstrating their credibility. There are several ways of doing that, but two of the most basic are: go public with their real name or names (it's hard to trust an anonymous blog); and establish a track record of reliability that will make it possible, when they say they have information they can't share, for people to believe them. That, unfortunately, takes time.
"AW is filled with creature and stock book cover disguises of various kinds. Are you saying their opinions or comments don't count either, e.g., Old Hack? If I sign off, Old Hack, or Old Cat, or Hack Cat, or whatever, does that make my comment on anything any more or less valid than if I signed off as Anonymous?"
Using fanciful avatars and/or usernames is common on message boards. That doesn't necessarily make a poster anonymous. My own AW avatar is my latest book cover, but I sign my real name to my posts, and include links in my sig line that lead to my various websites that confirm my identity. Ditto for many other AW users–including Old Hack, whose real identity is quite easy to discover by following links.
"And if you regard findings and observations of bullying by AW mods and owners as noted on W.A.R. or anywhere else to be acts of cyberbullying, well then, you've issued forth your definition of cyberbullying."
Hmmm, maybe so.
"I have not witnessed any act of cyberbullying in these places, but since you might know better, you can link to one for our benefit?"
If you've missed the cyberbullying at these sites, I'm afriad you don't read carefully enough. But if you'll have a look at my post above, you'll find a number of links to acts of cyberbullying by W.A.R. and Absolute Blight.
"Ce sont les tonneaux vides qui font le plus de bruit, Victoria."
You would know better than I, I think.
Part 1 of 2
"Asking people to believe you regardless of anything to the contrary is like asking us to have faith in your personal God."
Goodness, that's a bit hyperbolic, isn't it? Meh. You can trust me to be telling the truth (based on my pretty good and pretty long track record with that sort of thing) or you can decide not to. Your choice.
"It appears you don't have much of a choice but to dodge the questions by responding with other questions."
Legitimate questions, though. Which I notice haven't been answered.
"We can all see, the number of complaints is large, and growing."
Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't you say, above, "No one has quantified the precise amount of bullying that hypothetically might take place at AW"? So how do you–and others–know that the number is "large", and where can we find the evidence of this?
"And as for ref the same sources, the source referenced is Absolute Write, and yes, it's the same source."
By "referencing the same sources," I mean citing the same list of blogs and posts and complaint sites. Like the list at Absolute Write Complaints, most of which also appear at Write Absolute Reviews and Absolute Blight. These blogs need to recycle these references because they have so few others. How often do these blogs offer evidence of new complaints and incidents, outside of anonymous and unverifiable comments?
When WAR made a post asking for evidence of bad advice given on AW, the best their commentators could come up with was from a writer who has since gone on to the kind of success which has allowed her to quit her day job.
When they made a post compiling the evidence of why AW is so terrible, all they could come up with were years old statements copied from other sites.
Should these sites find new and recent examples to support their claims, they'll stop looking as though they are conducting some kind of hate campaign. Should they stop making claims which are demonstrably wrong about people's identities, they'll look more trustworthy. Should they stop making and allowing personal comments about people's appearances, they may even find they get listened to.
I wouldn't call WAR or any of the other sites bullies by my definition. They're stalkers, all the way.
AW is wonderful. With all wonderful criticism have now can be great published company. My blog looking good thank all wonderful post at AW.
I am a 75 year old retired professor who is just as "trustworthy" as anyone else. I do not lie, cheat, or use profane language. And yet, I have been banned forever from Absolute Write. So far as I can tell, the reason for my banishment was that I chose to disagree with some of the regulars on the forum who, by the way, were quite disrespectful and profane in their responses to me. I am doing quite nicely post banishment, secure in my belief that a writing site isn't worth much when debate is closed without giving participants a chance at rebuttal.
Self-martyring, narcissism, and so forth…
I find it troublesome that you're framing anyone who has had legitimate issues with the site as being part of a 'smear campaign.' That language in and of itself outs you, and perhaps the site as being unable to accept criticism and countering viewpoints which is the main issue that many people find with Absolute Write.
Particularly when it comes to the issue of self publishing AW seems rather militant in what they view as the 'right' way to publish and can be almost terrifying to those who dare go against the Canonical Wisdom of Absolute Write. I've seen a lot of terrible things go down on that site and I think it's disingenuous to dismiss these concerns as 'smear campaign' and 'bullying.' You're dismissing legitimate concerns and real issues that you and your site should be focusing on fixing, but it seems that the site is rather stuck in its ways (has been since 2009) and isn't willing to really accept any kind of changes from people a little more up to date with the contemporary publishing milieu.
You are very observant. Thank you. I rather enjoy the Old Hack cat symbol. Meowwwrrrr. Are the claws out?
"No one has to "trust [me] to be infallible." I'm not the Pope. But I am trustworthy. Either you accept that or you don't. And as I've noted, I received information in confidence, and, like all information shared with Writer Beware, I will keep it in confidence. I've also done my own research."
We know you are not the Pope. But doesn't this response encourage more suspicion than it does trust? The issue isn't whether I or anyone else should or should not trust you, the issue is whether or not your allegation has substance to it. You could, for example, be trustworthy by some measure and a total imbecile by another. I might trust you to buy me gum for a quarter and not trust you to drive my new Mercedes to the drugstore. No one should take an allegation like this at face value without evidence. Asking people to believe you regardless of anything to the contrary is like asking us to have faith in your personal God.
"Let me turn the question around …"
This is a predictable response. It appears you don't have much of a choice but to dodge the questions by responding with other questions.
By the way, Victoria, why would you term the number of complaints small unless you had a measure to compare, unless you knew for a fact that the number of complaints about AW could actually be much larger? Doesn't this point to you perhaps knowing about the bullying but refusing to admit it? But it's all relative, isn't it?
Two or three complaints of vicious bullying on the part of Absolute Write mods and owners is too much in my view. And we all know, for every voiced complaint there are ten to twenty people who just keep quiet and go on their way.
We can all see, the number of complaints is large, and growing. And as for ref the same sources, the source referenced is Absolute Write, and yes, it's the same source. All links or examples of cruel bullying and arrogance I've witnessed are connected to AW. And I disagree, Anonymous comments do count. They don't count for you, and that is predictable also, but you should not to dictate whether or not they count for anyone else. Putting on a fraudulent front like AW owner Melodi Sherman did is no different than signing off as Anonymous. The end result is the same: the real identity is hidden.
AW is filled with creature and stock book cover disguises of various kinds. Are you saying their opinions or comments don't count either, e.g., Old Hack? If I sign off, Old Hack, or Old Cat, or Hack Cat, or whatever, does that make my comment on anything any more or less valid than if I signed off as Anonymous?
But what is more important, Victoria, is the substance of the message, the reality it brings to the growing conflict that will continue to grow and grow.
And if you regard findings and observations of bullying by AW mods and owners as noted on W.A.R. or anywhere else to be acts of cyberbullying, well then, you've issued forth your definition of cyberbullying. I have not witnessed any act of cyberbullying in these places, but since you might know better, you can link to one for our benefit? You could link to it, yes, and also to an act of cyberbullying on AW, a classic one, and then we could compare the two. That would be an interesting exercise. Why don't you do that?
Ce sont les tonneaux vides qui font le plus de bruit, Victoria.
"It tells me that some people have WAY too much free time on their hands.
When, you know, they should be writing.
If they were writers.
Which I think they are not if they spend so much time doing this."
Like 99% of the people on AW? It's a site full of hack wannabes and absolute never-wills.
Anyone would be wise to avoid it, and Victoria's connection to the site should be enough that she shouldn't have written this post — it's a huge conflict of interest.
Just stay out of it.
I am a poster at AW and am fairly new, I only found out about it a few months ago.
I can see where some people might have a problem with how the moderation is handled there. Basically, people who've been there a while are given pretty much free reign to be insulting and if you try to object, you're warned by the moderators that you're being "confrontational."
I haven't been banned because I figured out how their game is played and decided that it's their board and if I want to stay, I'll have to keep my mouth shut. But I can see how a LOT of people wouldn't take that position.
I certainly wouldn't handle things the way the AW ownership and staff has if I were asked my opinion. OTOH, I also wouldn't bother to start a website running AW down either. Not worth the effort even if I were really pissed at them.
I'm guessing you're the same "Lesley Cameron" who recently made an appearance at the Write Absolute Reviews blog. BTW, I love your avatar (AW regulars will recognize it as belonging to Old Hack, one of the AW moderators who's a subject of frequent commentary at W.A.R.).
Responding to your questions–and I fully expect my answers to migrate to W.A.R. and/or Absolute Blight:
"You say we should trust that you know the truth about the real person, the single source behind all the blogs critical of AW. Isn't that like saying we must trust you to be infallible? Why not place the evidence, all of it, here on your blog and let the public investigate and decide the truth or falsity of your allegation?"
No one has to "trust [me] to be infallible." I'm not the Pope. But I am trustworthy. Either you accept that or you don't. And as I've noted, I received information in confidence, and, like all information shared with Writer Beware, I will keep it in confidence. I've also done my own research.
"No one has quantified the precise amount of bullying that hypothetically might take place at AW, but for the record and the sake of clarification, are you saying that no bullying has ever taken place at AW? Or are you saying that you have witnessed no single act of bullying by moderators and/or members, and therefore, you have no direct knowledge of such instances?"
Let me turn the question around. W.A.R., Absolute Blight, et al are alleging rampant bullying at AW, with "complaints pouring in." But if that's really the case, why is it that they are only able to point to such a small number of actual complaints? (Anonymous comments don't count.) If you look at these sites, you'll see that while they occasionally come up with something new, they mostly reference the same sources over and over. (Possibly you'll argue that the complainants are afraid of retaliation, and want confidentiality. If so, see my answer to your first question, above.)
"Since semantics might be an issue in all the confusion, how would you personally define an act of cyberbullying? What is your criteria?"
My personal definition of cyberbullying is neither here nor there, since I am not writing about myself (though to me, cyberbullying looks looks a lot like this–see especially the comments). But let me turn that question around too. How would W.A.R. and Absolute Blight define cyberbullying, and what arguments would they advance to show that they are not engaged in it?
Just some questions, Victoria, that I consider fair ones based on your commentary here:
1. You say we should trust that you know the truth about the real person, the single source behind all the blogs critical of AW. Isn't that like saying we must trust you to be infallible? Why not place the evidence, all of it, here on your blog and let the public investigate and decide the truth or falsity of your allegation?
I'm sorry, but the last time I heard "trust me" it was from President Obama and I voted for him. Nothing personal.
2. You used the term "Bully Central"and overlooking the grand amount of criticism of Absolute Write out there, I see no one else using that term. They merely state or infer that bullying exists on AW and they provide examples in terms of excerpts and links.
But in truth we all know that bullying can be difficult to define and therefore quantify. A person can feel bullied, whereas as an outside observer such as yourself might term the person a victim of firm moderation. No one has quantified the precise amount of bullying that hypothetically might take place at AW, but for the record and the sake of clarification, are you saying that no bullying has ever taken place at AW? Or are you saying that you have witnessed no single act of bullying by moderators and/or members, and therefore, you have no direct knowledge of such instances?
3. Since semantics might be an issue in all the confusion, how would you personally define an act of cyberbullying? What is your criteria?
I appreciate your response. Let me think about this a bit before saying more.
Adding linkage to cturkel's response to me: http://cturkel.wordpress.com/2014/08/30/responding-to-writer-beware/
Whether you hate AW or not, you're aiding the smear campaign by linking to the quartet of troll sites (Absolute Blight, etc.) These sites aren't forums for genuine complaints about AW (though they do use some of the genuine complaints to further their agenda); their goal is character assassination, doxxing, and rumormongering. (Remember when they were trying to further the rumor started by another hate site, that AW's owner didn't exist and was an alter-ego of one of AW's admins? Yeah–you don't see that anymore.)
I can't share the evidence that supports the troll's involvement with the four really vitriolic anti-AW sites–Absolute Blight etc.–because like other info shared with Writer Beware, I promised to keep it confidential. But I have seen it, and I hope that my reputation for providing solid information will make it possible for people to trust my word.
Marla–I remember our email exchange. I'm sorry you had a bad experience at AW, but as I told you at the time, I think that the tone of your response, both publicly and privately, had a lot to do with the direction the discussion took.
I support AW because it's a valuable resource for writers (even some of its detractors acknowledge that). As I say in my post, it isn't perfect, but it's not Bully Central, as the smear campaign makes it out to be (individual bad experiences notwithstanding).
As to post counts…many members (including me) have high post counts because we've been posting at AW for a decade or more.
I used to post on the AW forums. I generally found the advice helpful. However I made the mistake of asking a question about something that didn't follow AW's received wisdom. The response my query generated – from other users including mods really put me off the forums. I'm sure I would fill one of those bingo cards some of the mods joke about. I still recommend the forums but now I add the caveats. I no longer post, the whole thing just made me feel unwelcome.
I guess I have a really thin skin. But life is too short, I wouldn't waste my time with a campaign like this. I still think the forum is useful, if some of the users and mods leave something to be desired.
As you know, in 2011 or 2012, i was harassed by this site so much so that I considered filing charges. You were helpful in your reply to me. I also thought of crafting an ebook on ALL the HATE I received from this site-one of its members went after my subscribers trying to spread their venom-one of my 'subscribers' let them into her site-another, thank goodness, flipped the email to me so then I went after this hateful troll using some legalese that stopped her from continued harassment. I contacted the owner of Absolute Write who was a royal you-know-what. Frankly, I think the only person this site is OK to is you, Victoria. I've heard MANY complaints about this bullying site that has so called writers on it who are posting in the 5-digit thousands! Who has time to post 10,000+ comments?? -I'll tell you who has time, TROLLERS & HATERS. I personally don't think association with this site serves anyone. Now watch, they'll come after me again. If they do I have many pages of their VERBATIM comments made to me from that site-I copied & saved. There still may be an ebook from this.
I've always wondered why Writer Beware supports this site.
I have responded to your posting, to clarify some matters.
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Uhm. Wow. I haven't really been too much of an active participant in AW–I'm more of a lurker, it took me almost a year or two to get to 50 posts–but I love the website. It is all about the harsh criticism, but I'm thankful there's a place for that.
I've learned so much from AW, I wasn't expecting there to be so much hate. Granted, it's not really surprising. I can see how feelings would get hurt in those forums.
But still. This is just weird.
Tact filters? No such things on that board. I've found the same crap at Goodreads. I once watched a small group of writers post screen shots of one member who tried to defend himself against same said group, after he was removed from Goodreads, and they thought it was a hoot!
I sure do miss the Writers BBS. It seems that corpse has been left to rot on the Web. Shame really, when so many new writers out there need the loving support of people who actually care, and not the constant flow of condescending BS from know-it-all sphincters I've encountered.
Sorry Victoria, but there is a problem there, and I'm not the only one who thinks so.
Inkspot, Writers BBS, these sites now a part of history, I mourn their deaths. I have yet to find anything that comes close to the amazing way I grew and developed as a budding writer.
We live in a culture now where writers see each other as competition, in a pay-to-play world where authors can lie, cheat, and steal their way to the top. Nothing can explain the constant deluge of 100s of 5-star reviews at Amazon where the samples once read boggle my mind over (their) lack of any skill. I've been blogging about it. Some history for newbies who might come here to explore.
I am not thin skinned and not inclined to take things personally, but I left AW anyway due to counter-productive moderation. The forums, while popular, are about 10 years behind the socialization curve.
I simply went my way, but other people hate communities that will not put up with their drama, hence the smears. These people are worse than trolls are.
I'm not an AW user. Tried it. Found too many people lacked 'tact' filters. Wasn't upset about it, just wasn't my thing.
The sites you've linked too are awful–way over the top. It's too bad they put so much energy into being angry.
What she ^ said. Should be writing.
Edge of Your Seat Stories
It tells me that some people have WAY too much free time on their hands.
When, you know, they should be writing.
If they were writers.
Which I think they are not if they spend so much time doing this.
AW was the first writers' forum I joined and I've learnt SO much – including to avoid one of the publishers I'd been considering. So the escalation of the campaign frightens me. I don't want new writers to be scared away from somewhere that points out those who'd profit from their naivety.
I haven't been on AW for a while due to other things going on, but it is, hands down, the best writing resource I've yet to find. Sure, people will be truthful when you post a writing sample and that can be painful, but sometimes the truth hurts.
I applaud and appreciate the mods there–I don't have to wade through tons of spam and/or trolls to get to the information available. I've been feeling those writerly feelings welling back up and I'll be back there soon.
I've certainly encountered some jerks on the AW boards, but the helpful advice I've received there more than outweighs the negatives