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Banned/Suspended

March 16, 2009

I don’t know how many of you actually read my plurk updates- but those of you that do must have noticed my most recent. I have been banned.

I know that many of you who read my blog are from the wonderful world of IF support.  I also know that some have bookmarked my blog because of my connection to fiber crafts.  I was banned sometime between Friday night and Saturday morning. At first, I thought maybe there was a server issue but quickly realized that it wasn’t. I should maybe give some background for those who may be in the dark.

The Hubbs and I decided last year(whoa-correction December 2007) that we would stop trying to have a baby.  Mainly because tried every natural concoction, we tried OPK’s, Ferning, Charting.  We tried “relaxing”. We tried just winging it. Nothing came of anything and our insurance did not cover any aid in conception- just diagnosis (which bugs the snot out of me because what good is figuring out the problem when they aren’t going to provide any help in solving the problem).

I felt at the time that I needed to take a step back from the (In)Fertility world.  I needed it so that I could regain some sense of peace.  To figure out how we would proceed in living a child-less life. At this point I decided that I would focus on my yarn craft: crochet.  It was interesting because most of my crochet projects were for my friends who were pregnant.  Irony, right? Crochet wasn’t new to me- I learned when I was five (which of course makes it a bit over 20 years that I’ve held a hook).

Infertility kind of forces a lifestyle change simply for self-preservation.  I used to be very active on a military wives site, but it seemed as though every post had become about kids, pregnancy, etc.  Outside of that there was a general level of- immaturity- on the site because it seemed as though women who should know better were treating newbie wives with a kind of contempt.  On the hobbies board is where I found a referral to a “GREAT” site.  That site was Ravelry.com

It is a social networking site for the fiber arts.  It has a “notebook” feature where you can track not only your progress on projects, but you could also track the number of needles/hooks you own, queue up interesting patterns, keep track of your yarn stash etc.  I joined and really I wasn’t that involved.  For some reason the groups that I joined I just didn’t completely click with.  I joined some Fibro related boards but I really didn’t want to focus so much on my issues.  I joined an infertility group but I found that jumping in with women that I had no history with (especially with an issue so inherently personal as infertility)was really difficult.

As I am sure everyone is aware that last year was an interesting election year. I supported John McCain (and later Sarah Palin) and as soon as a McCain group started I joined right up.  I try not to talk TOO much (read: hardly at all) about politics on this blog because I truly do not want to alienate any of you ladies because of something like politics. We have so much that we do bond over that I would hate to lose any of you as readers.  In this post and explanation my political leanings play a major role though.

I am a Conservative. I am not an “in your face” conservative though (at least I don’t think so).  I live my values though and I vote according to those values. I must say though that I do like to get feedback from all sides of an issue as long as it is done respectfully- without calling me names.  I mean, really. Most of those kinds of comments come from people who just happen upon a post, or a blog and don’t know anything about me.  I am getting off track though so let me refocus.

McCain Ravelry was my haven on the site.  There I could totally vent, share, laugh with women (and some men) who held the same values as myself.  It was so much easier to research issues when there are 600 other members who are looking at their own sources and linking to them. I should mention that the McCain Ravelry was NOT solely for strictly conservative people.  We had women who were moderate/conservative democrats, independents who held some conservative values. As the election cycle continued we had wonderful women join who were Hillary supporters.  I loved it!  We had great conversations and debates as well.

We all know though that politics can be controversal and it can get heated quickly.  The joy of our board was that we had a zero tolerance policy.  We clearly stated that our board was strictly for supporters of McCain.  Ravelry had/has many many MANY areas where political debate was the focus (groups like “big issues debate’).  There were plenty of groups dedicated to B.Obama for his supporters to voice whatever it is they wanted to. This was our space. Any posts that attacked members for stated beliefs were deleted.  Any “educate” posts were deleted.  Any rude posts from non-members were deleted (I should add that we had some very respectful guests in our group that we all came to enjoy their points of view because they were well thought out, research and respectfully written).

It should be noted at this point that the administrators of Ravelry have made the conscious decision to provide minimal moderator tools: they cannot ban members, require membership for posting, etc. What can moderators do?  Well, they can first create the group and write rules for the group (within the guidelines of the TOS of course) but cannot enforce those rules.

Anyway, we all know the results of the election.  At that point the name of our group had to change.  Since we all pretty much decided that our place of safety on the site was our little board.  We all loved the company of the people in our group and we didn’t want to disband.  We changed the name to “The Bunker”.  Why?  Ravelry (if you look at it from a political point of view) is very much left of center.  Voicing a conservative opinion on the main boards is almost like sticking a target on yourself  and inviting people to take a shot a you.  As you can probably imagine- self preservation would deem that I stay in my bunker and let those people talk among themselves.  I didn’t go to their groups, I didn’t reply to them when they posted in our group trying to stir the pot.  You would think that they would have left us alone since their candidate won.  The particular group of women I am talking about are what I would classify as “bad winners” (the word “troll” would also be an appropriate adjective).

Things got so bad that this January our group was closed- with 24 hour notice.  Admin only notified ONE of our mods and when she posted to let us know what was going on there was of course an outcry.  We asked why.  We of course wanted a reason. Our Mod made the statement that she didn’t feel comfortable posting the message from the site admin- until of course the site Admin told her that it would be fine. The admin made sure to state that it wasn’t because of the content of the group but that the moderators were inept.  That we were creating a “culture of anger”.  Only behind the scenes he told our admin not only that he KNEW he was throwing them under the bus even though they have worked with him to clear up any issues that were flagged, but that he appreciated that he could work with our moderators without being attacked.  These trolls (for a lack of a better term) went straight to the admin with their complaints (mind you about a group they didn’t belong to or agree with) rather than take up their issue with the groups moderators. Site admin stated that our group caused too many problems and took up too much of Ravelry’s resources (insert rolling eyes).  We were not the problem- the people who couldn’t mind their own business were but since they are the vocal majority it was us that were disbanded. I remember last year, shortly before the elections, I made a post regarding the immigration issue.  I live in the Boarder-land so I know about illegal immigrants.  I made my opinion known honestly and would you believe that one of these “guests” had the nerve to send me a private message calling me a racist– when I am of Hispanic heritage.

I know this is long at this point, but bear with me.  I am trying to provide as much background as possible.

With the disbanding of our group we were told that we were allowed to create more groups just that our moderators weren’t allowed to moderate any policial based groups (then it somehow changed to moderation of any group at all).  One of our ladies decided to buy a forum with funds from her own wallet.  The site admin was notified that we had an off site group and he encouraged the creation of it.  He stated that he was glad that we had a place where we could voice our opinion.

To simmer down we stayed in our off site group for a couple of days. Then we decided that we deserved to be on the site just as much as any other person who requested access to the place.  Sure they had disbanded our original home so then we got involved with other groups that we as individuals had an interest in, but we also created some new groups that weren’t politically based.  Just general chatter. We made one in support of one of our members and that was infiltrated by trolls and as we deleted their posts they created their own group as a counter to our own. We created one as a read along for Atlas Shrugged and the same thing happened. (Cyber-stalkers much?).  One of our friends started a group for *his* friends and the trolls ran to the site admin saying that we were being “exclusive”.  Tell me why someone would want to join a group of people who are all friends of the same person- without being a friend of the person?

We as a collective have been called bigots, racists (even by the admin who stated that since a scarf reference about B.O. was made by a person from Mississippi it was a racist remark), intolerant, homophobic, etc etc etc.  Any word you can think of (and you can even dig down into a dirty ditch and you’d probably pick up a name our group has been called) as derogatory.

That brings us to yesterday.  I woke up, got my coffee, and sat down to catch up on posts.  What did I get?

Error 403: Forbidden.

I was confused to say the very least.  I thought that it may have been a server issue (it happens). Maybe it was a connection issue with my browser.  I signed on to our off board site and found out that those who didn’t get the same message I did got the message that their accounts have been suspended until further notice.

I didn’t get that message so looks like I’ve been banned.

I wasn’t sent a note or a warning asking for a modification of behavior (though there is NO reason in my posting history that would call for even a suspension).

Some of the few who weren’t banned checked to see what was on the profiles of those of us who had the 403 message.  “User No Longer Active” as if we neglected posting on the site for a period of time.  Patterns that were bought from Ravelry vendors I no longer have access to- even though I have paid for them.  My intellectual property as far as modifications and such I no longer have access to: HOWEVER, apparently there is no way to delete my accounts.  The site claims to have over 300K members.  Think about it though.  There are people who have more than one account.  There are those who have been banned or have been so disgusted by the content of the boards they have asked to be deleted and not return.  At any given time of day there isn’t more than 2500 people online. Some of these “trolls” have gone looking online for any references to this mass banning and have carried their vitriol to the comment sections of the ladies who have written. These women think they know what they are talking about when in fact they have no part of the converstion.

I must admit that at first I wasn’t going to post about this, but somehow it didn’t’ seem right to be intimidated by women behind a screen posting as “anonymous”- especially since the only thing I have done wrong is to be apart of an off site group that the site admin had been informed was created and APPROVED.  Most of you , my readers, “know” me.  I’ve posted on boards with you about all kinds of issues.  I am the same person there as I am here as I am on our infertility support boards.

None of the banned (which of our core group  around 110 or so- there are women who haven’t checked in yet because they have things they need to do over the weekends) were given a reason, much less evidence.  However, the admin thought it would be a good idea to post on the main boards that because we had an off site group that linked in to Ravelry that we were somehow causing a disruption.  I thought that income generating site liked as many incoming links as they could get. Let’s think about this logically now. Of the 600+ members of the disbanded Bunker the core of the group are the ones in the off-site group.  At anypne time of the day there are at the most 20 members online.  Tell me how that would create a disruption?  I am pretty sure that there are pattern designers who link into Ravelry on a regular basis and provide far more activity in a day than our group would in a month.  Anyway supposedly our group was the reason why we were banned (that he has told the community not us mind you).

Included in this mass ban are women who are not a member of our group but maybe a member signed into their account using their computer.  Teens who of course use their parents computer to sign in to the site. Advertisers, Group Moderators, Swap participants have been banned because (we think) they got caught in the IP drag-net (we figure this is one level of the ban since we have members who’ve gotten their IP’s changed and could then bypass the 403).

Tomorrow I’ll edit this to include links to the blog posts (and subsequent comments) made by other victims (yes I use the word- I feel it is appropriate) of this mass ban.

Right now though- its 2:30 in the morning and I have to drive my husband to work in the morning.

If you made it all the way through- then Thank You.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. March 16, 2009 7:12 am

    So much more eloquent than I said.

  2. March 16, 2009 8:51 am

    OK, I am not familiar with that site, but man it sounds like a big mess. 110 people banned? That’s crazy.

    Yup, it is crazy. It is cool though. Obviously, I am not gonna try and stay where I am not wanted and the experience was definitely a learning one.

  3. MizDi permalink
    March 16, 2009 5:29 pm

    Nice, well-thought out post, hon. “You done good!”

    110 banned – that we *know* of so far … with innocents who got dragged into the mess and with people who haven’t checked in yet, it’s likely 300+.

    Personally, I’ll not wade into that cesspool again. I’ll hang with the other ladies in the off-site board and find many other sources for crochet patterns.

    I’m glad you’re on the off-site board … I’d miss you!

  4. Heather permalink
    March 19, 2009 10:22 am

    I was a McCain/Bunker member, as well as most, if not all other Conservative Groups on Ravelry. I didn’t know about the offsite group, but probably would have joined. It sickens me that this has happened and it is so obvious as to the real reasons, yet the left majority on Rav keeps insisting that you’re all vile, reprehensible people out to destroy Ravelry. Those of us still there are discussing it in many forums and of course the trolls are invading in droves telling us we hate Casey and Ravelry, just because we’re discussing the situation and want clearer explanations. It’s a shame, I really like(d) Ravelry but I’m not sure how much longer I’ll stay on it. On the plus side, I’ve never been much of a blog reader, but now I’ve found a whole bunch by former Bunker Babes that I’ll keep up with. Best to you and know that you’re all missed. 😦

    I am sorry that you have to deal with the trolls- really. I know just how pushy they can be when they defend an issue they have no idea about (well maybe they think they do). You are right- none of us have done what we are being accused of and none of us has any way to defend ourselves. The truth is out there and I think people with a rational mind will see that. Thank you for your comment and I hope you stop by more often 😀

  5. blogless permalink
    August 3, 2011 10:10 pm

    ravelry is a craft site not a political site!!!! ypou state you had zero tolerance above…well craftees have a great deal of tolerance and it was probably your one eye sightedness that had your group banned and so it should be…..ravelry is for CRAFT not POLICTICS take it elsewhere!!

    [Thank you for your impassioned reply. I don’t know if you are aware through reading the particular blog/posts associated with this one, but I will say that our little group had posted the guidelines for posting in the group. A different opinion was not unwelcome so long as it was provided with respect and knowledge rather than snark and bringing in drama. It was the rules. The rules were right there in the group introduction. We played by Ravelry’s rules but because OTHER people wouldn’t leave our members alone it was our members who were thought to be able to solve the problem–in their minds–by just kickin us all off…even after we had moved our group offsite in an effort to stop the snark and harassment coming from the other site. So there you go, we did take our politics elsewhere and are doing just fine without Ravelry. As long as people are still reading or seeking to know this post and those related to it will stay up, because some want to know that they aren’t alone with what happens there. So thanks for injecting some life into it!]

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