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My message to the ROOL forums

(as posted into the forum)


Hello all,

As I happen to like this community and its varied members, I felt that it would be unreasonable to simply vanish into the wilderness without at least putting forward a few points.

The first is to direct you to this:

Somebody mentioned there was something about assembly programming on my site. Somebody else followed up with the main point being "don't", and a certain person popped up to say "Why are you anti RISC OS and anti ARM?". It doesn't make sense, it's intentional trolling. Others pointed out the benefits of using a higher level language. I don't need to rehash this as it's pretty obvious to most of us. What followed was a big whole drama. Again.

Sadly, as Bryan mentions, while there is no specific post to point to in order to judge a person, there is a long trend of rubbing people up the wrong way, plenty of sweeping statements that are nonsense, and - yes - the occasional bit of passive-aggressive nastiness. This has been going on for a long, long time.

When it came (in another topic) about the idea that no geeks/hoobyists used Windows before 2000, and that people would have wiped that and installed DOS, I'm afraid I lost my patience and said something unpleasant. I won't appologise to him for it, but I feel as if I have let you down. I did follow the insult with a reason of why I felt that way. But, yes, in retrospect I probably should have been less annoyed.
I apologise to all of you, the regular and decent denizens of the ROOL forums.

Now, do not think that my withdrawal from here is me sulking about being told off. I was an ass, I got called on it. Fair dues, I was an ass. I accept that. And, for what it is worth, I apologise again. To you.

My reason for dropping out is that the immediate aftermath seemed to more support the problem than to think of any way of dealing with it. As one person put it, losing the plot.

And, to be honest, reading the recent posts, it seems to me that nothing has changed. It's all good to look at the technical side of the forum, and maybe clear up a few bits of weirdness like what's the difference between "General" and "Community Support", and even the comical idea of writing a charter. A charter, for goodness sake. That's the sort of thing HR thinks up when they want to be seen to be doing something, without actually having to do anything.

So since I am the socially inept person with little tact and even less subtlety, please allow me to point out the giant pink disco dancing elephant flashing everybody as it pirouettes ungracefully to Boogie Wonderland...

There needs to be some form of moderation.

Not an if, but, or maybe. But an absolute.

While we, generally, are capable of being civil and polite to each other, there's only so much mindless twaddle that everybody should have put up with. Post after post after post of "updates" on non-existant software, post after post about how things would be better if more of the OS was written in assembler, post after post of... seeming with each one to want to wilfully rile people up.

Now, some have pointed out "ignore the troll". If you were to read backwards through the posts (and don't bother, life is too short, but if you did...) you would see for a while that none of his messages were replied to. But, like an English river, the effluent kept on flowing. We've been nice, we've been helpful, we've tried ignoring, we even suggested moving it to a blog, but the person in question basically massively abused everybody's hospitality.

Note: If you are not an active forum participant and/or if your view of what's posted here is a carefully curated RSS feed that omits things, then please accept that you aren't exactly the best qualified to have an opinion as to what's been going on.

Now, don't think I'm laying into this one person. Before him was gh0st, g0st, however it was spelled. Then that dude that pitched a fit because we weren't going to relicence the entire codebase to GPL instantly. And another or two that I barely remember. The thing is, eventually another troll or weirdo will turn up. This sort of thing needs to be nipped in the bud before it becomes a problem.

So there needs to be some degree of moderation here. Now, I don't mean a thread nazi that jumps on everybody that doesn't stick exactly to the topic in the heading (a little meandering is natural, even rivers do it). But there needs to be somebody (or somebodies if it's felt that dropping this on one person is unfair) that has not only the power to say "guys, put the kettle on and calm down" or "dude, this is not your blog", but the power to enforce this. To lock threads from further posts. To delete undesirable messages. To delete entire threads if need be. We already do this for spam, why not other forms of distruption? And, of course, the ability to suspend logins for a period of time as punishment and, yes, maybe even suggest that somebody might be better finding a more appropriate forum elsewhere.

I believe the lack of moderation is what got us to this state. Regardless of whether or not everybody is stressed out since the world ended in March 2020, this went unchecked and, well, look where we are now.

So if I may, please allow me to present an alternative set of suggestions. Don't bother renaming fora, that's not the problem here.

  • Soft-touch moderation to keep things in line should they stray.
  • The ability to split threads and relocate posts. Often people say "take it to Aldershot" and some do, others don't. So the ability to pick up a post and toss it into Aldershot might make that point clear.
    (and if that's too technically difficult, tell the chosen moderator(s) that they are fully entitled to delete posts that fail to take it to Aldershot - people will learn quickly ;-) ).
  • Only permit the original author to continue a topic posted in Announcements (in case of updates). For all other messages, either redirect them to a different forum or simply disallow general replies to announcements. You'll notice there's a lot of rubbish in announcements that shouldn't be there.
  • The ability to block a user's login attempts for a specified period of time (but tell them why, don't just fail it or they'll wonder if the password has been changed). Think of it as sitting on the naughty step.

I regret that I was the catalyst for the explosion (but, then, socially-inept tactless me, it probably shouldn't be a surprise).
This, for me, should be a happy time. I've just written and released an actual proper game, and my first bit of real "commercial" software. I should be happy. Not feeling depressed, disillusioned, and disappointed.

I do not regret that it happened. I perceive the entire sequence of events as "an inevitability". This was going to happen, eventually, one way or another.

What I do regret, and very much regret, is that the fallout has taken some decent and useful contributors away from here. Whether or not you count me amongst them is up to you, I don't have that kind of ego.
But when a person who has contributed nothing (and no, I do not believe that the USB stuff ever existed) causes people who have contributed a fair amount to up and leave, it's time to step back and reevaluate things carefully. There is an underlying problem that a bit of renaming isn't going to fix.

This is not how it should be. But something needs fixed.


As for me, I will reply if anybody has any issues or questions regarding anything of mine. I will also post an announcement here should there be anything to announce. I read using Recent Posts, so +1 to not messing with it.

Otherwise, count me amongst those who have dropped out. I may return, next year, maybe, if it looks like things are better. And by better I mean some sort of moderation to ensure that we don't end up in this situation again in the future.
This isn't a decision that I want or like, but I don't want to end up again in a situation where my first thought is to write "You complete tw*t" to anybody. I'm not proud of it. I'm not happy about it. But it is what it is. Let's hope we can *all* learn from this that something went quite wrong along the way.

So, until then, I guess Merry Christmas and I'll see you in the new year.

#include "cry.emoji"



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Rick, 4th November 2021, 20:28
Dave, on the forum, makes a good point about what exactly should be moderated (looking back with hindsight is a great thing!). In this specific case, the bit about being anti RISC OS. Not the first one, but the second time when he ignored people telling him that it wasn't and repeated it. And, of course, the endless status updates of vapourware that others were saying belonged on a blog. It's a tricky one, but... looks like this debacle has indeed woken up the management guys and might prompt some form of change to improve things 
One that I like the idea of is a "Don't show posts from this user" button (though I'm not sure how that'd work if you pop by using Recent Posts without logging in each time?). I still think there needs to be somebody to moderate (behaviour, if not individual posts) but the ability to silence annoyances would work too. 
So, fingers crossed that ultimately this gets some changes enacted for a better forum for everybody. 🤞
Steve Drain, 4th November 2021, 20:52
You take to much on youself, Rick. We all break at some point. 
I have written quite a number of posts with expletives, the only difference being a long-practiced restraint and the Cancel button. 
Experience of newsgroups, in all their glory, taught me to adopt a certain style, as much in self-defence as anything. 
I had met the troll on the Pi forums before he appeared at ROOL, and I regret remaining silent when he fooled ROOL over the USB code. I really wanted to give a warning, but that would have been 'rude', wouldn' it? 
Mick, 5th November 2021, 04:47
You do yourself an injustice saying you lack social skills. Maybe you do, but I never noticed. I found both you and your wonderful Mom highly sociable. You don't like crowds but hey, who gives a fruak man ( ref to a BBC game where a cavemans winkey scored ). As far as Risc goes, you know what you're talking about. Your anti assembley reasoning read spot on to me. How the hell could that be taken as anti Risc? JGH would pull you up ( nicely ) if you were spouting nonsense in any case though I wouldn't have a clue myself. I'm afraid trolls are a fact of life and I'm all for censoring posts made by individuals who are frequently aggressive and regularly post no2s. I'd also ban anyone who uses 'txt spk' for life! Don't change mate. Keep doing what you're doing. It isn't you in the wrong. If it were me, I'd probably have used the C word, and the troll would have scored treble points ;)
Gavin Wraith, 5th November 2021, 10:25
I don't think I have used any rude words on the ROOL forum but I have frequently wandered wildly offtopic, for which I apologize. I have always valued and enjoyed Rick's contributions. The ROOL forum would be much diminished by his absence. I support his plea for civilized moderation, in both senses.
Clive, 5th November 2021, 11:44
What Gavin just said, exactly. 
Bernard, 5th November 2021, 20:09
Gavin, you are so right.
PatrickM(2888), 21st February 2022, 17:37
I'm a bit late to this. I mostly don't check the RISC OS community much these days. 
I'm a bit sad to see all this. I feel a bit sorry for DavidS because I recognise he didn't have the intention to troll, but rather he was very profoundly autistic.  
On some level he may have been simply unable to behave appropriately and think reasonably, and unable to see his very strange opinions as anything other than The Absolute Truth. 
I recognised the symptoms (perhaps partly through personal experience and empathy) and also through things he wrote on the forum sometimes about his personal life history. 
Checking the forums again it looks like he's been banned and all his past posts removed. I'd say banning him was fair and correct, deleting 100% of all his past posts though seems a bit harsh. But understandable. 
I just feel really sad looking at what's happened. It just seems like a tragedy all around.
Rick, 21st February 2022, 18:29
Nobody has come forward and made any mention of deleting his posts, though I believe it was briefly discussed. 
Certainly if a moderator did it, without fiddling directly with the database, it would have to be done one by one by one (the forum software is kind of simple). 
David himself threatened to delete his account. Perhaps the forum software removes posts in this instance? I don't know, never tried. But if so, then that could be an explanation? 
I've started to wander back to the end up in the middle of a debate about whether or not TWO new stacks are being created (it sure looks like it) and whether or not that's kind of crazy (it sure looks like it). 
I'm not certain whether I feel 💩 or just 🤷. But definitely 😪.

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