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posted by janrinok on Sunday July 03 2022, @03:30PM   Printer-friendly
from the lets-see-what-happens-here dept.

I realise that this has been an unpleasant time for many of our anonymous community members, but I can assure you that it has been necessary. I am not yet prepared to go into details but I can at least update you with our findings so far. But first we have to look at some historical data.

Anonymous Cowards (ACs) have always been - and will hopefully continue to be - welcome members of our community. There are many perfectly understandable reasons for wishing to post as AC and how you chose to live your own personal life is of no concern of this site. Equally, you are welcome to use VPNs and other security measures to protect your privacy. We take similar measures to protect all of your data so that you will not be compromised by us. These measures are effective and to the SN administration ACs appear as a single user with the user identity of #1.

We cannot treat some ACs differently from others. While we can manage to sort out your comments etc with the aid of the hashes that we produce, they change so frequently as to be useless for any purpose outside of this site. But the Administration is only concerned with what happens within this site and so this point is moot. We have no interest in the rest of the internet so IP addresses are also of no interest to us. How your comments get from wherever you are to us is irrelevant. The bottom line is that ACs can only be treated as a single account. That account is granted certain permissions or not granted those permissions and they apply to every AC interaction.

Most of our community, both logged in and AC, participate in the discussions in an reasonable manner and discuss the topic that has been outlined and any threads that resulting from it. It is true that, particularly at weekends, there is a slight increase in the number of ACs appearing but on their own they are little more than a minor irritant. There is, however, a 3rd group, consisting of ACs who sole purpose seems to be to derail any sensible discussion. Over recent years they have become more aggressive and often use personal attacks rather than challenging what is being said. Some are more obvious than others and I am sure that you can all think of examples of such people for yourself. A very small number have stated that it is their aim to prevent SoylentNews from continuing.

On 22 Jun of this year we received an implied threat ( suggesting the the person making it had a target date of 6 July for some event or other. It is possible that this is related to another 'prophecy' in which this individual foretold that the site would soon be dead. We believe that we can identify the person making that threat with a reasonable degree of certainty. However, since that time the number of ad-hominem attacks has increased and we have also been subjected to increasing amounts of spam. In small amounts either or both of these things can be shrugged of, but when they come increasingly aggressive and frequent, they can make the entire experience of being in this community very unpleasant. I know that we have lost both staff and numerous community members because of this toxic atmosphere - and not, as some would have you believe, because we administer the site!

Almost all of this behaviour is conducted by a very small number of ACs and occasionally via sock-puppet accounts. As the levels of harassment increased over the last few weeks it was obvious to us that we could remove it by simply preventing AC access. This was not an easy decision to make but we knew that we could protect the majority of the site by this simple action. The result is, as you know, that we reluctantly removed anonymous access by ACs to the front page.

We are now actively looking for more permanent solutions and hopefully to exactly what we had before. I have experimented with providing stories on the front page which are AC friendly, and also in my journal. We are still looking for a better solution but unless we can separate individual ACs then I cannot see what else can be done. I would welcome your feedback and suggestions. The outcome of our decision is also our loss as you can see if you look at the numbers of comments that we are now getting compared to before the ban.

I have spent a lot of time analysing the posts, both current and historical, to try to identify the person or persons responsible for this unwanted content. I am not going to name specific individuals because I believe that you can each reach your own conclusions. By looking at both the spam and comment content, and their meta data, I have established the following.

The person spamming our site is one of our own Anonymous Cowards who is currently blocked because we have removed access for the AC account - and that block affects all ACs. He is also one of the people regularly carrying out ad hominem attacks against other community members. He will be reading everything that we post about this issue.

Unless the abuses cease everywhere on the site including in journals, ACs will remain outside of the main site except for specially released stories until we can devise a better system. For us to currently do anything different would be foolish and irresponsible in the extreme. As soon as the abuse ceases we can readmit all ACs to the main site again.

I know that this will be as much of a disappointment to you as it is to me, and you may also be thinking of leaving. I ask you not to go. Rather I would encourage you all to let the abusers know that they are not fighting for your freedom of speech ("freeze peach") but they are by their actions actively preventing your participation in our site. There is one particular post ( which suggests that this is being done on behalf of all ACs and that you all stand as one behind this action. I don't believe that anybody has the right to claim that if you haven't actually agreed to it.

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 04 2022, @05:54AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 04 2022, @05:54AM (#1257953)

    The green site banning AC posting (without even posting a meta story for discussion!) was the nail in the coffin for me, even though I usually posted logged in over there.

    The death of free speech online is, for all intents and purposes, the death of free speech.

    Fans of Codes of Conduct and authoritarian regimes eagerly await its final demise.

  • (Score: 2) by crm114 on Monday July 04 2022, @11:39AM (1 child)

    by crm114 (8238) Subscriber Badge on Monday July 04 2022, @11:39AM (#1258000)

    You just reminded me to renew my subscription.

    You all do a great job trying to keep a community of anti-social nerds connected. Please keep up the good work.

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by janrinok on Monday July 04 2022, @12:37PM

      by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Monday July 04 2022, @12:37PM (#1258002) Journal

      Thank you. As long as you and others like you are prepared to pay an occasional subscription I think that we can keep the site running.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by The Vocal Minority on Monday July 04 2022, @02:56PM (7 children)

    by The Vocal Minority (2765) on Monday July 04 2022, @02:56PM (#1258037) Journal

    I haven't had the time to contribute comments to the site lately but felt I needed to have a say on this one. Ari is not pro-free speech as most of the people on this side would understand it. I'm sure he has his own twisted definition which is some variation of "free speech for people that I agree with". Ari attacks this site because of it's position on free speech, including the ability to post as AC. Most personal attacks get slammed to -1 pretty quickly (although unfortunately the limbicly hijacked do occasionally upmod some of the nasty stuff attacking people they see as being on the other team).

    The thing that does "keep me up at night" with respect to the site is the amount of time the admins probably spend hunting down and banning Ari's many sock accounts. I'm not sure what the solution to this is but maybe some offensive action is warranted. You can't win fighting a purely defensive (culture) war.

    Hmmmm, looks like my VPN exit IP is blocked...

    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by janrinok on Monday July 04 2022, @04:32PM (4 children)

      by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Monday July 04 2022, @04:32PM (#1258050) Journal

      Today, 60% of the stories are AC Friendly. We are watching the community response to each one. The last few days have been unrepresentative of our usual community as the USA is having a long weekend holiday to celebrate Independence Day. Providing that the extreme abuse, harassment and the spamming stops and remains that way as people return to their normal routines then I hope to continue increasing the number of stories until we can lift the ban completely and return to what we had before.

      However, our first priority is to protect the site and its community and if the abuse and spamming return we can just as easily impose the ban again. I most definitely do not want to have to do that. But, we are not supporting free speech at the expense of the site itself. If that lesson has now sunk in to the minds of the abusers then I hope that we will soon be back to what we have enjoyed over the last 8 years - but without the harassment and spam!

      • (Score: -1, Spam) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 05 2022, @08:06PM (3 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 05 2022, @08:06PM (#1258354)

        What I think is hilarious is the way you approach the evidence you have, and conclude, or at least insinuate, that it means that such-and-such a post must be Aristarchus, because Aristarchus attempted to access his account recently.

        I was tempted to log in to one of my alts around the time I posted one of the comments in question, but now I'm glad I didn't! You are now more certain of your incorrect conclusion than ever! And if I had? I bet they'd be banned, and the conclusion would emerge unscathed!

        You have a conclusion searching for evidence. Even with the inet addr hashes (that can be trivially rainbow tabled), you're still just as blind as anybody else without the hashes. And you can't even reliably follow up on spam mods, which are a simple select this join that where such-and-such order by these query away!

        Sure you can shut down non-account AC posting and get rid of Aristarchus, APK, me, others. There seems to be good support for it. Do it, and make the destruction^W liberation of soystain news complete. The big man had to burn the village to save the village.

        • (Score: 2) by janrinok on Wednesday July 06 2022, @04:20AM (2 children)

          by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday July 06 2022, @04:20AM (#1258453) Journal

          I was tempted to log in to one of my alts around the time I posted one of the comments in question

          You did use one of your alts - although of course you will deny that. However,as having sockpuppets (not 'alts' as you would like to call them) is not permitted you have also just admitted that you are still abusing the site. So effectively you have just said 'I am innocent and here is a statement confirming that I am not innocent'.

          But if you read carefully I have said all along that there is a 'small number of ACs' who are abusing the site. It is not just one person, there are several. The fact that you can point to other abuse for which you might not be responsible for does not mean that you have done nothing yourself.

          It is no longer just IP hash information. With IPs changing frequently it is much less useful than it was - until the abusers make mistakes. And somebody did - on 4 different occasions which have allowed us to link abuses. There is so much more information that is sent in a 'post' when you comment.

          And yesterday we received this "July 6th. I feel a full doxxing coming on, a real one. Runaway actually is, well, wait for it. We want to give the asshole thug time to reconsider. " [] The abuse continues - both threats and ad-hominem attacks. I suspect that you will not follow through but only one person has committed doxxing on this site. And as a result of that threat there are NO AC Friendly stories today. Your actions as an AC have consequences - and they affect every other AC too. I hope that they appreciate your 'support' for them.

          We had made good progress and I had intended to open the site up again - we have just gone back several days.

          • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 06 2022, @08:30AM (1 child)

            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 06 2022, @08:30AM (#1258480)

            Wrong AC, you idiot, janrinok. And July 6th is still coming. It is always coming. BuckFeta! Save SoylentNews! #WeAreAristarchus!!!

            • (Score: 2) by janrinok on Wednesday July 06 2022, @08:41AM

              by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday July 06 2022, @08:41AM (#1258482) Journal

              although of course you will deny that

              Wrong AC, you idiot, janrinok

              Thank you for proving me right. And the 'personal' attack is there too.

              I have clearly stated that there are SEVERAL ACs disrupting the site. If the 'you' I am writing to isn't the 'you' that is replying - then this isn't all about you. You are merely another disruptive AC.

              We have to take all threats seriously to protect our community and those within it.

    • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 05 2022, @08:59AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 05 2022, @08:59AM (#1258194)

      Vocal Minority is not a majority, and he is loosing the culture wars bigly. I hope admin is ferreting out all his ferret-faced sock-puppets!

      (SN trivia quiz! Where is the "ferret-face" repronym from?)

  • (Score: 2) by Username on Tuesday July 05 2022, @08:34AM (2 children)

    by Username (4557) on Tuesday July 05 2022, @08:34AM (#1258191)

    I say we keep that Anonymous Coward bastard, but we associate each anon with a unique identifier to that anons ip whatever and display that to everyone so each individual user can then block that specific anon. IE Anonymous Coward 1 to Anonymous Coward 99999999, then I can block Anonymous Coward 99919999 if I don't want to see his shit posting. Or block Anonymous Coward* all together.

    Also, we should not anonymize moderations. IE: I should be able to face my accusers, and identify any possible harassment campaigns. Which should solve most reasons to post as AC.

    • (Score: 0, Disagree) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 05 2022, @01:19PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 05 2022, @01:19PM (#1258248)

      No fren, that will not work. You cannot block Emmanuel Goldstein^W^W Aristarchus, now that he has been assimilated by our hive mind. Aristarchus has become more powerful than you can possibly imagine, capable of jumping into any software or I pee address still hard-wired to the matrix.

    • (Score: 2) by janrinok on Tuesday July 05 2022, @02:19PM

      by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday July 05 2022, @02:19PM (#1258259) Journal

      Also, we should not anonymize moderations. IE: I should be able to face my accusers, and identify any possible harassment campaigns.

      I can counter that with the recent supposedly 'apk' spam. It was because dalek commented negatively against a previous 'apk' statement that he was targetted with a total of over 140 spam messages. Publicising who is moderating might have some advantages in your eyes but the decision that we agreed upon was that it was more likely to result in 'retribution' attacks than limit moderation abuse.

      Administrators do try to curb the more excessive moderation abuse. I cannot claim that we are 100% successful but you do not see how many warnings we send out to those who do try to push the moderation boundaries. I'm sure that every admin is different but in my experience a polite and discrete warning tends to stop the problem without any feathers being ruffled. I may not agree with the moderations given but that is because different people have different viewpoints. We are looking at moderation trends or excessive single moderations rather than judging whether something should be a disagree, flamebait, or troll or, conversely, an interesting or insightful. Additionally, we are perhaps in a better position to identify sock puppets being used to moderate thus hiding the true identity of the moderator.

  • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 05 2022, @11:46AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 05 2022, @11:46AM (#1258225)

    Talk about that dunning kroger Aristarchus spotting! Full paranoia mode. The voices are all against you, and your little Trumpenführer too, who the socialist news tells me might just face consequences for 1/6! You cannot block us. #WeAreAristarchus

    House Select Committee likely to issue criminal referral against Trump []

  • (Score: 0, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 05 2022, @03:14PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 05 2022, @03:14PM (#1258272)

    Dear Jan-

    I fear you are fighting a reverse marxist tautology:

    Aristarchus will never not post in a forum that would not have him as a member. in the end, your efforts will likely prove vain, and any semblence of victory - pyrrhic.

    It would be like shooting an elephant in your Hawaiian shirt - you would never be able to wear that shirt again - and the elephant might take it personally.

    After all... He who lives by the words shall die by the words - which is to point out that sometimes writers just gotta, and anything that can go wrong must inexorably. Life... uh... finds a way.

    But, hey Jan, you do you - and thanks for being that guy.

    "Yeah, she's the one, the only one built like an Amazon", -Commodores, Brick House

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 05 2022, @03:50PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 05 2022, @03:50PM (#1258287)

      Tough audience here.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by nostyle on Tuesday July 05 2022, @05:08PM

      by nostyle (11497) on Tuesday July 05 2022, @05:08PM (#1258304) Journal

      {pi anyone: Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 05, @03:14PM}

      Gotta say... it is foolishness like this "Redundant" moderation on my AC parent-post that makes it clear that it is pointless participating in posting here. No one else here has posted about a Hawaiian shirt! How can that be redundant?

      When one lives in a world of free will, and finds himself in a hellish room full of joyless sad sacks who utterly lack any sense of play and humour, the only sensible thing to do is to flee and never look back. Oh and good luck with your freezy peaches.


      Them that don't know him
      Won't like him and them that do
      Sometimes won't know how to take him
      He ain't wrong, he's just different

      -Waylon Jennings & Willie Nelson, Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys

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