Sad news

Contributor Andrew has been removed from The Asexual Agenda, due to interpersonal difficulties occurring behind the scenes.

Since Andrew was one of our more contrarian writers, I’m opening myself up to accusations of censorship (feel free to express these accusations in the comments).  In fact, I like it when our bloggers disagree with each other.   I would not ban bloggers, guest bloggers, or commenters for expressing views similar to Andrew’s.

Unfortunately, there were some disagreements behind the scenes which were not very respectful, and were counter to the smooth running of the blog.  That is all.

About Siggy

Siggy is a physics grad student in the U.S. He is gay gray-A, and makes amateur attempts at asexual activism. His interests include godlessness, scientific skepticism, and math. While not working or blogging, he plays video and board games with his boyfriend, and folds colored squares.
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36 Responses to Sad news

  1. ace-muslim says:

    I can’t comment on this specifically without knowing any details, but I think a rule based on treating others with respect is the right one to enforce on the blog.

  2. ithaca says:

    Question: if there was a spat or something, was the other person banned as well? Was the other person’s behaviour better than Andrew’s? I won’t scream censorship, but I’d like to see equal treatment of members.

  3. Lara Landis says:

    If Andrew is who I think he is, you have made a mistake. He is one of the few asexual bloggers with a good grasp of the scientific research about asexuality. As the owner of the blog (aka this press), you have freedom of the press and are free to publish and do things as you wish, but it is a mistake to remove someone just because you do not like their views. One of the biggest problems with Tumblr and AVEN is cookie-cutter thinking. You may also, if you check the stats, notice that controversial posts increase traffic.

    • ithaca says:

      I agree on the making a mistake part. Andrew is one of the most dedicated people into research and the scientific/academic side of asexuality.
      I think this is more, though, removing him because of a private fight with another user and not for his controversial posts, though I don’t exclude the fight might have been sparked by the posts themselves.
      I’m still waiting on a reply on why, if there was a private fight, only one of them was removed. Is it a case of “I won’t remove the other one because they’re very vocal and they would kick my ass on tumblr, while Andrew is more quiet and won’t make a big fuss”?

      • I really think that you’re assuming that it had anything to do with his views, when Siggy bluntly said that it was because of behind-the-scenes behavior rather than controversial posts. Also, not all conflicts have both people at fault, and this is especially the case if there has been abusive or gaslighting behavior behind the scenes (I won’t make any assumptions about that). Neither you nor Lara are giving Siggy the benefit of the doubt for making an obviously difficult decision.

    • Siggy says:

      @Lara
      I like Andrew’s views though. That wasn’t really the issue.

      @ithaca,
      (meta)pianycist is right that other bloggers can approve comments. I had been busy.

      The “spat” was asymmetrical, and I didn’t feel the other blogger was being disrespectful. I don’t think I should discuss details, out of respect for Andrew and others.

  4. nextstepcake says:

    Out of curiosity: I know that Andrew’s first post was intended as part of a series. I suppose it would depend on whether he is still willing, but if he is, will the rest of the series still be continued, perhaps as guest posts? If the reason for dismissal was interpersonal conflict and not for having controversial views, I don’t see how it would be a problem, and I think that a lot of the issues that were to be discussed in the series are important ones.

  5. ithaca says:

    @ (meta) pianycist
    I’m really not assuming it was for the controversial post. I know it was for a fight behind the scenes between Andrew and another user. I’m just baffled at having no reply from Siggy, when my first question needed Siggy’s approval to be posted to begin with.

    • Siggy isn’t the only one on this blog who can approve comments, as far as I’m aware. I think any blogger who can post here can approve or disapprove comments.

    • Sciatrix says:

      Actually, all co-bloggers have equal ability to approve comments, and different people usually approve new comments as they see them. I personally approved your initial queries, for example.

      However, since Siggy is in charge on this project, I’m uncomfortable with making public pronouncements on what happened without his input, and I know at least some of my co-bloggers feel similarly. Hence the disconnect between the approval of your question and an actual answer for it.

      • ithaca says:

        I apologize for my mistake. I do have a wordpress blog but I rarely use it and have no co-bloggers, so I erroneously assumed the owner of the blog was only Siggy and it worked like my own wordpress, needing his approval.

  6. ithaca says:

    I don’t think it’s fair to define a spat “asymmetrical” and claim to hide details out of respect but then remove Andrew from the possibility to post comments as well. He has no chance to defend himself, I don’t see this as being really respectful.
    Yes, as it is clear, I’m in contact with Andrew and I know he has been also removed from posting comments. I admire you as a member of AVEN, Siggy, I think you are one of the members I like the most, always calm, informed and helpful of new and older members. I really couldn’t expect this from you.

    • nextstepcake says:

      I just heard about the ban from commenting as well – which was indicated to be for several months at a minimum – and if the reason he was removed from the site was really just for interpersonal interactions behind the scenes and not for his opinions or posts I can’t really see the reason for this.

      Removing someone from posting because there was disharmony with other posters I can understand, even if I think there may have been other ways around it (i.e, how much background interaction is really required to post an entry? It should be possible to set up in such a way that parties that have been having problems don’t have to interact with each other).

      But banning them from ever commenting on the blog, anywhere, about anything at all, not for just a day or two while things cool down, but for months? That’s not cool. And for a blog whose stated purpose is to promote more advanced discussions, this is setting a very chilling precedent, and I’d encourage those involved to reconsider this decision.

      • Sciatrix says:

        I don’t really have much to say here on what actually happened right now, except that we now have one person saying that Andrew shouldn’t be removed for interpersonal reasons among the bloggers (but dissenting opinions are okay?) and one person saying that Andrew shouldn’t be removed for his opinions (but interpersonal conflict reasons are okay?).

        So the conclusion I am drawing here is that there is no acceptable reason to remove someone from the roster here, which… fair enough.

      • nextstepcake says:

        Where did someone say that it’s ok to remove because of opinions but not interpersonal reasons? Am I misreading something/missing something?

        As for my thoughts, in case they weren’t quite clear:
        -I don’t think dissenting opinion is a good reason to remove someone from the blog
        -Personally, I don’t really like the idea of removing people because they don’t get along with other posters either (esp. since that can sometimes be an inevitable result of differences of opinion.) I’d personally like to see other measures attempted first before an outright ban occurs. However, even if it isn’t my personal style, I think it’s less problematic than banning for opinions.

        In general, though, even though I’m not particularly happy about the roster removal, the ban on guest posts/commenting is what gets to me more. If you don’t get along with someone and would prefer they not be an official part of the blog, ok. But not allowing them to engage in any discourse whatsoever is troubling. Especially when they happen to be one of the less “mainstream” voices. It’s just a really worrying start.

      • Siggy says:

        “But banning them from ever commenting on the blog, anywhere, about anything at all, not for just a day or two while things cool down, but for months?”

        It’s only been a day or two, and waiting for things to cool down is exactly what I was doing. The comment ban will not last for months, your information is garbled. I know that Andrew wants to tell his side of the story, just as he is telling you in private communication, but if he actually did so here I’d need to respond with a lot of details, and it wouldn’t actually be in Andrew’s interest.

      • Siggy says:

        Also note that Andrew has his own blog, and isn’t really blocked from public expression. If he wants to talk about the details of the drama, he is welcome to do so on his own blog. I would link to it too.

      • nextstepcake says:

        no, you’re right, I misread something and it was the posting ban that was possibly a few months, and that the comment ban was (at least initially) stated to be a period of weeks (length unknown).

        (if that was not the case, I suggest clearing things up, as there may be misunderstandings.)

        But if the point is a “cooling off period” on comments, I have this question:
        -has such a ban been applied to all parties? I know many other posters have chosen on their own not to discuss the issue, but is there anything keeping them from presenting their opinions on this when he cannot?
        -why is the ban on all comments, and not just a ban on discussing issues of removal? WordPress does allow comment moderation. So why not allow comments on other subjects?

      • miller says:

        The ban does not apply to all parties because the situation was asymmetrical.

        That’s a good idea. I think I’ll tell Andrew we will allow comments which do not discuss the removal.
        (ETA: for some reason I posted with the wrong profile, but this is Siggy)

  7. ithaca says:

    Removing someone the right to comment (which doesn’t exactly have the same meaning of posting their side of the story) because details wouldn’t be in their own interest? Count me in the confused crowd here, Siggy. How does that make sense? Even if it was so, if I chose to have something posted which is not in my interest, why would you ban me from deciding so? It seems quite weird.
    Also, the fact that the other part of the “spat” hasn’t commented (maybe yet) is not the same as being banned from doing so. That part has the right to say their side if they wanted to, shit posted on them or not.

  8. ithaca says:

    @ your last adding about Andrew having his own blog.

    Well, we all have the whole of the Internet to express ourselves, so your argument is not really valid. Being able to express yourself elsewhere but not right where you’re being accused and banned doesn’t seem like the same thing, especially if both who banned you and the other part of the “spat” that cause your ban are directly posting right where you’re not allowed.
    It’s your blog, your business, but I do think you’re losing credibility saying things like that.

  9. nextstepcake says:

    Another thought: is there any sort of established ToS or community agreement regarding what kind of behavior will be considered acceptable among contributors, and what will not be? Or any sort of policy regarding what kind of behavior is worthy of resulting in removal, suspension, or other behavior?

    It’s a new endeavor so there may not be one yet, but considering that there will inevitably conflict if you have a truly diverse group of opinions, something like that might be worth considering; it will also give people a better idea of what their behaviour should be, so that they can self-moderate instead of just finding themselves suddenly banned. Standards of appropriate behaviour will never be exactly the same among a group of people, so it should never be assumed that everyone already know what is/sin’t going to be acceptable.

    It would also probably be good to establish some sort of method for dealing with conflicts somewhere between doing nothing and outright banning, such as maybe a temporary suspension, or a stern warning and a short cool-off period or something. Because sometimes people may not know what others’ boundaries are, or may not realize if something they are doing is considered unnaceptable, and I think it’s worth giving people a chance to correct their errors.

  10. ithaca says:

    So Andrew has apparently been removed from the blog for the following reasons:
    a) He doesn’t much like SJism,
    b) He sometimes finds it difficult to constructively engage with some SJers (but not others) and that in such cases, he thinks it’s best to ignore them to avoid flamewars, and
    c) He thought a fair amount of the content on the blog was inappropriate for a Asexuality 201 blog

    • Is there a reason that you’ve posted this here? (When, if Andrew wanted people to know he would have posted it on his own blog?) Also, I fail to understand how having been a trans* person talking about an experience of anti-nonbinary-trans prejudice on AVEN (and being thus too uncomfortable/threatened to go back to AVEN, even to link the thread) makes a person an SJer.

      • Siggy says:

        Ithaca is (nearly) quoting something Andrew said to me, which I confirmed as a sufficiently accurate description that he could quote it in his private correspondence. I technically didn’t forbid him from letting someone else to quote it here, so there you go. Andrew perceived that most of our bloggers were SJers, found it difficult to constructively engage with some of them, and felt a fair amount of material they produced didn’t belong on this blog. I confirm this as accurate.

      • ithaca says:

        I posted these here because it seems removing Andrew is not only a problem of a spat happened “behind the scenes” as it was said. I think being honest on the views of a blog is important. If not liking SJers and/or finding some content inappropriate (which sounds like disagreeing) is enough to be removed, I think it’s important that people know.
        This said, I don’t think I have anything more to add here, but I’m open to communication (it’s easy to fidn me on AVEN) if I misunderstood anything.
        I will not be following this blog, while I would have, if Andrew’s series had been allowed to continue. Not that my presence matters.

      • Siggy says:

        I originally described it as a disrespectful disagreement behind the scenes, and I stand by that description. Being unable to constructively engage with co-bloggers is a kind of disrespect.

        I never brought up the spat or claimed that was the primary reason, that was just your presumption.

  11. Lara Landis says:

    This is Siggy’s blog and his property. He can run it any way he wishes. He can even bury my comments. I prefer to let most comments posted to Asexual News stand. (Spam, pornography, and the undefined excessive swearing are the only exceptions.) There is a bug that sometimes causes comments to be moderated. I or the editors publish these comments when we find them.

    As a Libertarian (my views in the matter are similar to Geddy Lee’s as far as I know), I found I don’t agree with many of the viewpoints expressed by the social justice community, but the underlying idea, that everyone should be treated equally is sound. The disagreements result in how to go about it. I would not have removed Andrew from my site for an argument, but this is not my site.

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