My last post about the mismanagement I’ve observed and experienced at the Bigfoot Forums (BFF) has been met (based on comments here) with nearly overwhelmingly negative reaction. That’s fine. It’s to be expected. However, what’s not fine is several apparent misperceptions of what I said. I thought the analogy was pretty clearly laid out (ants unwittingly helping out in their own destruction by parasitic invaders), but perhaps not.
First of all, I was not attacking “the BFF.” I have often made the observation that critics of the site tend to think about it as a monolithic thing with a single point of view and intent. It’s not. It’s a community of people, all with different perspectives, and cannot be criticized in its entirety for what some people do or say. Which is why I did not do that. I specifically called out the forum management and those who are ruining the site though trollish behavior. I have found there to be many really good members there who are genuinely interesting to talk to — even (and maybe especially) the open-minded actually skeptical ones. But their contributions are overwhelmed by those who are only there to derail and demean as part of some faux-skeptical agenda.
Second, I think it’s telling that the post in which I lay out a lot of detail about the events leading to this kerfuffle (about 2,700 words worth) has, as of this writing, been totally ignored comment-wise. No requests for further clarification. No observations or suggestions of alternate possibilities. Nothing. Crickets. But, the one where I dare to publically call out how the BFF is run has thirty-five. What are our priorities here? The drama or the substance?
Third, the thrust of those unhappy with my criticisms think this has something to do with me not wanting to post where I’m asked questions or challenged. As I said in my final message there, I have more than 1,500 posts on this incarnation of the BFF and I’d wager that 95% of them are in threads dealing with the North American Wood Ape Conservancy or Area X. I have established a willingness and interest in discussing the group’s experiences in as much detail as possible. It’s something I actually enjoy (which explains one of the reasons I lasted there as long as I did). I even enjoy discussing it with actual skeptics who are open to the concept (if not the reality) of a relic hominid living in North America (ask David Mizejewski).
The reason I left the BFF is that I found too much of my effort was being wasted dealing with the affects of James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) trolls. When I came back from a trip into X with more information and descriptions of behavior those for whom the BFF was originally intended would have thought was very interesting, I found the administration of the site had allowed those same bad actors to spin and froth the thread into a state where I and my group were accused of being fabulists (a thread in the member’s only section is called “Is Area X Jumping the Shark” — I know this by looking at the referrer information in this site’s traffic data). Faced with expending yet more time and effort beating back the same disruptive players for the hundredth time, I chose to finally rid myself of the trouble. Note that after I announced my decision to leave, the admins stepped in and tried to quell the nonsense. At that time (and perhaps still), from what I understand, discussion of the tree breaks in X was banned (expect for the premium members, presumably, as they have no rules). Ironically, then, there’s no way to set the public record straight and the last word, as planned, went to the trolls. Nicely played.
If there’s one thing I should have done in my previous post, it would have been sharing ideas of what I think are plausible solutions to the problem. In my day job, one of my pet peeves is when people bring me problems with no ideas of solutions. My bad. Here are two rules I propose the BFF adopt which I think will help improve the quality of discourse on the site:
Ban Members of the JREF Forums
As a great man once said, “You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.” The most active and vociferous members of that site, not being actual skeptics at all, are fundamentally incompatible with any interaction seeking further understanding of the bigfoot phenomenon. Period. They have the truth. They are not seeking it. Members of the BFF should be made to choose which site to affiliate with. Anyone found to be a active member of the JREF after this choice while still participating on the BFF should be banned.
Only real skeptics allowed
If you do no think bigfoot is real, cannot possibly be real, and believe anyone who thinks it is has a hard time telling fact from fantasy, you have no place among those interested in discussing the topic. Period. If, on the other hand, you can’t accept the set of evidence that’s been collected so far but still allow there’s the possibility that an animal like bigfoot could be real, then fine. Open minds only. Closed minds should be shown the door.
Finally, if there’s one piece of advice I could impart on the admins, mods, and other governing individuals of the BFF, it’s this: There is no fundamental right of participation on an internet forum. The biggest mistake I made when I was acting as the BFF’s benevolent dictator was forgetting that. The BFF is a community first. Disruptive players should be ejected in favor of that community’s health. If there’s one thing I wish I could go back and change from those days, it would be my reluctance to act in deference to a misguided concept of fairness or objectivity. That was a mistake. I hope those who run the BFF now will recognize and address the mistakes being made today.