Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I've got a stalker!

Well, I suppose that may be something to be proud of.
The Macclesfield Express, a tatty rag, but all we have in our town, has a facility to add comments online about articles.
Now, this can lead to some interesting discussions and can also be quite informative.
Unfortunately it is also being used by two small groups to continue a war that started quite some time ago.
On one side we have the group I have called the Gordonites, after one of the log in names that they use.
This is a small group of people who used to frequent the late, and unlamented, Barlow's Beef forum.
There were 3 or 4 of them and they adopted a variety of names and personas there in order to control discussion and shut down anyone who had views different from theirs.
In short, they created a series of sock puppets.
They can be recognised by their extreme fear of alternative views, hatred of anyone asking questions (they prefer the "because I say so" approach) and by the words and terms they use.
The other group is the one I have dubbed the MaccForumClones.
These people were also on the BBeef forum in conflict with the Gordonites. They eventually set up a forum which, despite being called "Macclesfield Forum" is anything but a forum for the town. I visited in March and found that it has more rules than the measuring section in WH Smith and was very unwelcoming!

The Gordonites appear on the Express site in a variety of guises. Their sock puppet personas include:
  • Ger one emo
  • Maxonian
  • Gordon (of course)
  • Leigh Turner
  • Diddyman
  • Maxonian
  • Morganboy
  • Biker
and others that I'll add as I remember them.
These personas only appear in the Vic Barlow column comments section and their approach is to attack anyone who disagrees with Vic; they rarely, if ever, contribute to the discussions but go for the contributor.

Maccforum clones are a bit different.
The user name "Macclesfield forum" is operated by at least two people, hence the term "clones".
They also have a couple of puppets:
  • Tank
  • Prospero
Who appear from time to time.

Now a new persona has joined us: J Kershaw who purports to be from Congleton Road.
This persona has jumped into one thread and has tried very hard to suggest who I am and what I do. He / she hasn't got it right,but that doesn't seem to stop them.
He / she has contrived misunderstanding and used the thread to make personal attacks on me and to try to destroy my privacy online. This is rather odd behaviour as, to the best of my knowledge, I have never even met this person. Still, they seem to have some personal agenda or, possibly , vendetta! They don't actually seem terribly interested in the discussions though, just me. Should I be flattered?

The question is: Gordonite of MFC?
Macc forum does have one person who acts in the same way as the Gordonites with unreasoning hatred and a fear of discussion. This person has a history of making threats online and of being abusive.
This J Kershaw (who, incidentally, cannot be found on Congleton Road) seems very anti anyone asking questions and desperate to make personal points which are actually not relevant to the discussion. Why could that be?
I suspect that he / she is either a particular Gordonite who was know for his approach: stalking others from BBeef, finding out personal details, insulting their family members etc or is the dud actor from MForum who used to make the threats of violence, personal attacks online and had a morbid fear of being asked a question. Either way, a rather disturbing thought.

Anyway, all I know is that he / she, along with the usual suspects, really does not want open discussion there and, perhaps, I am simply in the middle of the war between the Gordonites and the Clones. Collateral damage of you like.
It's a pity though because it is pretty much the only online place for discussions that is open to all Macc people.

What is needed is for the Express webmaster to control things a bit more. Stopping multiple personas, monitoring IP addresses and stamping down on the personal attackers would benefit us all.

What I need to do is resist the temptation to respond to this persona. I must keep repeating the mantra "do not feed the trolls"!
Difficult though, as this Kershaw persona just seems creepy, sinister and rather nasty.

Update. There's a new one:
  • DavidJ
He uses exactly the same approach, and even words, as the others. It's so transparent, you'd think they'd be embarrassed by it. But they're not.
They do seem unduly fixated on whether someone asks questions. Bizarre!

Update 28 Feb

One I forgot: Macc Man. The silly thing is that he uses just the same phrases as his other puppet friends.

Why on earth do they bother?

Friday, February 6, 2009

Jeni Barnett, LBC, stupidity and threats

Dr. Ben Goldacre ( blogged about a programme on LBC fronted by someone called Jeni Barnett, some x list celebrity apparently.
This woman is brave: she wasn't about to let ignorance stop her from making the most asanine pronouncements about vaccines, health, parental choice, the medical profession, science and evidence and related matters. It seems that valour and critical thinking are not always to be found in the same person.
Ben commented on this person's woeful ignorance and the stupid comments that she made and also posted a 44 minute clip, as an audio file, from her programme on his blog. The point was that, to fully understand this person's broadcast ignorance and stupidity, the audio clip had to be heard. People could then consider all that she had to say.
Now, you would have thought that LBC would be happy for this excerpt from their programme to reach a wider audience and would have realised that there is a real issue of public interest here.

Were they happy for free speech to prevail?

Were they happy to allow critical comment about their show?


What they did was set their lawyers onto Ben to muzzle him.

This is what Ben had to say:

"Two days ago I posted about a broadcast in which their presenter Jeni Barnett exemplified some of the most irresponsible, ill-informed, and ignorant anti-vaccination campaigning that I have ever heard on the public airwaves.

To illustrate my grave concerns, I posted the relevant segment about MMR from her show, 44 minutes, which a reader kindly excerpted for me from the rest of the three hour programme. It is my view that Jeni Barnett torpedoes her reputation in that audio excerpt so effectively that little explanation is needed.

LBC’s lawyers say that the clip I posted is a clear infringement of their copyright, that I must take it down immediately, that I must inform them when I have done so, and that they “reserve their rights”."

However the LBC gang may have bitten off more that then can chew. The Blogosphere is now full of this and the clip in question can be heard here.

So, poor old LBC. Talk about shooting themselves in the foot!


The transcript can be seen here

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Macclesfield Express and their fear of real, local comment

The Macclesfield express is the only paid for newspaper in Macclesfield and is, therefore, central to local opinion forming and comment.
Unfortunately this paper is really very poor and getting worse.

This is their headline planned for 5 February 2009:

"Why paedophile killer Lea Mason runied my life - special forces soldier


That's pretty much every button on the DailyMail-o-tron pressed!

So, annoyed by this rag's descent even further into the murkier parts of the gutter, I penned this and submitted it on their comments section on their website:

The Express is really working hard on its pursuit of the worst kind of trash journalism with a trailed headline like this, isn't it?

But I do wonder what it is like to have one's life "runied" Is it what happens when a Manchester United footballer moves into the house next door?

Seriously though, why does the Macclesfield Express insist on trying to copy the worst of the national tabloids instead of trying to emulate the best of the local weeklies? Wallowing in human misery is not good journalism or providing an effective community news service.

How many press awards has it won in, say, the last five years, compared to the best, for example?

We are badly served by a paper that views its cheap and sensationalist reporting as good journalism and that only tries to titillate and outrage. It is a real pity that it chooses gutter journalism rather than act as the local forum and mouthpiece for ALL local people, and not the few who subscribe to its narrow political views and lamentably poor journalistic standards.

So far I have submitted it 4 times yet the Express has not let it through and it has not appeared on the site.

This rather proves my point, I think.