Tuesday, 24 April 2007

All things in moderation (except moderation)

Although this is my first attempt at a blog, I wouldn't wish to pose before you as an internet virgin. Pretending to be something he isn't isn't something that has ever appealed to Bill Blunt. So I can admit, then, that I have had some prior experience of the web. I have visited sites the world over in my ceaseless quest for entertainment.

I have always been indebted to my old pal, Thomas Hamburger Jnr, for introducing me to one particular site which aims itself at family historians. I'm not much one myself for raking over the coals of my family closet. I'd much rather leave the skeletons where they are, even if I did do a couple of commissioned articles for What Family History Website Magazine in it's heyday, and it's sister publication Who's The Daddy? A fee is a fee, after all.

Anyway, I digress. The site I refer to is Rootschat.com which has, in the past few years, attracted some 44,000 members. Now, there are quite a few sites out there for budding genealogists. Enumerator has started an admirable attempt to catalogue these at his new blog GenBires Networking.

But not all family history chatrooms are the same. Like any family, they can be a bit difficult. What has always set Rootschat aside from similar sites of its nature is the sheer, unmitigated helpfulness and friendliness of (almost) every last one of its members. They'll go out on a limb for you, sometimes spending hours looking up resources for people - total strangers, mind you - who have a query.

Just recently, however, I posted a thread on the Totally Off Topic board at Rootschat, wondering whether our PM, Tony Blair, might be shortly to announce his resignation. I didn't seek to make any political point (which is, you will recognise, quite unlike me).

Within a day or two the post was 'pulled' by a so-called Moderator. I received a curt and to the point message from them saying 'No politics on Rootschat, even on the Totally Off Topic Board'.

Hmm - that got my dander up a little, I don't mind telling you. Especially since I recalled the same 'Moderator' had been seen posting their own scurrilous views about their local council on another thread about the Government's proposed Road Pricing Scheme.

This seemed very much to me like a case of someone telling me to "Do as I say, not as I do". So I thought I'd have a little fun by posting a caption to the above picture, which was another thread I'd started earlier. This time, my caption (and one or two others) was pulled without even the grace of a message from whichever 'Moderator' did it.

This may seem like small beer - and of course it is. But the wider point of how some people, when invested with a little authority, seem to let it go to their heads, is one that I would like to make.

Don't get me wrong. Rootschat is still a fine community, despite the actions of one or two supposed 'Moderators'. I'd still recommend it (although perhaps I might be forgiven if my recommendation is less hearty than it previously was).

Anyway, for the record, here's the Caption they didn't like (and I paraphrase, because obviously it isn't there any more):

"No, I'm sorry son. Your mother is just too laid back to be a Rootschat Moderator. We need people who are on the ball, constantly vigilant. If not, before we knew it we'd have people making comments like this."

I do hope this won't put potential visitors off visiting Rootschat - it's not designed to. Instead, I'm merely trying to highlight the petty, thoughtless minds that some people bring to that all-important role of internet moderation.


nursemyra said...

why don't you make a wax moderator doll and stick some pins in it?

or I've got an "instrument" you can borrow.....

Bill Blunt said...

Now, nursemyra - I think you know Old Bill well enough by now to know that I'm not a bearer of grudges or a wielder of instruments of almost medieval torture. Instead, I make my point and be done with it.
Yours concern is, however, touching. I shall continue to Fuel Your Blog with almost maniacal regularity for that alone.

Anonymous said...

johnP says morning ....

they should have considered the Voltaire quotation..

"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it".

Bill Blunt said...

Thank you, johnP - you make a fine and erudite point.

In the words of that wise and sage philosopher, Janis Joplin:

"Don't compromise yourself. You are all you've got".

Like Voltaire, they may disapprove of what I say, but I will defend to the death my right to say it.

Anonymous said...

I have considered long and hard the position you have taken regarding the removal of your post. I'd just like to add . . . . I'll stand behind you with sword raised, sheild polished and pennant flying in the defence of free speach and captions . . . I'm standing behind you 'cos basically I'm a coward and I don't want to get hurt.


Annonymous :)

Bill Blunt said...

The thought of Lord or Lady Anonymous' pennant flying behind me is greatly encouraging. I only ask that you stay ready and prepared, listening carefully for my shout of "Run Away! Run Away", since I would hate to see you trampled in the rush.

Anonymous said...

I'm still fighting for you Bill. Not sure if it helps but the perpetrator ain't been seen for a good while.
Maybe the local council have caught up with him/her - Ooh.


Bill Blunt said...

Thank you McAnnymouse. I am confident that history will (as usual) be the judge.

Anonymous said...

Nothing has changed on RC: but wait -- nope, I lie - its got worse !