The Cyberhood Watch:
(A.K.A.: Net Nannies; Grammar & Spelling Police; Custodians)
If Spamjackers take one end of the Malicious Spectrum, The C-Watch comprises the other. They appear as self-appointed moderators of forums where moderators are lacking. However, they have the dubious flexibility to become one of the other four Faces on a whim and retain their original designation when the dust has settled.
Again, I mention that many individuals I met on the forums I used as Case Studies were quite lovely. If I made a particular mistake, they were not altogether rude about it as if rubbing my nose in the mess I made like a bad dog. Their tone was that of respectful, professional courtesy. I find anyone willing to show the simplest of human respect for one another as exceptions.
The C-Watch has several key identifiers to allow one to pick them out from a crowd:
- The screennames will be the same in a large quantity of topic threads in a particular forum unless periodically changed for the sake of their own paranoia or ego.
- They will immediately admonish any who do not keep within their desired/preferred/demanded viewpoint(s) on how a poster acts within the forum they too inhabit (TOS-Flogging, et. Al.).
- They take a staunch opposition to any possible variant they consider against their acts of moderation or bending of the forum rules.
- They will quickly use terms like defamation against any who they believe are labeling them with even the cutest of nicknames.
- They will come to the aid of other members in their clique as often as they appear conversing across the forum threads.
In my experience, the worst of them populate the Amazon.com boards. However, customer forums with a similar level of lax moderation by their owners suffer similar fates.
What is commonly seen there:
A newly circulating Self Published Author (SPA) looks to whatever modes of advertisement they can get on the cheap. They’ve learned of several sites, and begin registering and listing their information in each after being made aware (usually) of the strict Terms Of Service. A compliant SPA keeps their ads to the “proper forums”.
The non-compliant SPA proceeds to bomb the hell out of any of the forums they can get into because of the free publicity made readily available, and damn the TOS. Other SPA’s have done the same so what’s the harm?
Well-moderated forums take notice of the SPA’s violations and send missives letting them know about it right before they ban the SPA from the forums altogether.
Not-so-well-moderated forums take notice and the Cyberhood Watch bomb the TOS-violating SPA right back. You might think only one would post their distaste; several post the same admonishments, and usually one right after the last. Despite the fact that the forum owners equipped the forum with useful functions like 'Report Abuse', 'Down/Upvote', and 'Hide Screenname' links. This would be the easiest way to handle the matter, but C-Watchers don't like to do things in easy ways. The more difficult ways fulfill their cravings for attention.
Repeat the last paragraph several times.
Continuing with Amazon.com’s C-Watch as an example, the demands made towards a SPA resemble that of a religious commune, and sound something like this:
“You will do as we say and act like us or you’ll be shunned. Kiss up to us like any good Sycophant and we’ll let you hang with the cool kids until you do something stupid. Don’t argue with us when we raise our voice against Spamjackers or Soapboxers, even if it’s completely pointless for us to do so. We understand there will be more spammers showing up, but if we remain the defenders of the forum, we [foolishly] believe we will have it our way.
“If you even mention you have a book, are looking to get reviews/opinions/likes for a book, or act in even the least possible way we can say you’re promoting a book; we will TOS-flog you until you leave.
“We know the moderation of these forums is lax and we’re more than willing to slake our thirst for attention by taking the place of sensible moderation. Talk about any book here other than your own or your ‘friend’s’. Any book we recommend should be considered a top priority read; even if it’s crap.”
I watched a few SPA’s get hammered with hatred at the briefest mention of their work. I agreed with those who kept trying to get the C-Watch to understand this kind of thing will continue to happen. It wouldn't matter how much they protested, SPA’s on a strict budget (read: ‘whatever they can get for free’) will use every avenue they can to advertise. Let forum Moderators do the moderating, it’s their sandbox anyhow.
I chose to include myself in the discussions and see what I could find out from the actions of the C-Watch. Adopting the role of Soapboxer I challenged several of their members over several forum threads about how they believed they were the right white knights for the job.
It’s surprising how quickly one C-Watch member suddenly has three of their C-Watch friends turn up and start hurling insults, downvoting any of my posts – agreed with or not – and being as negative as possible without getting reported.
Then their Instigator friends turn up and start playing their little games (as mentioned in Part 2) to try and make my situation worse.
I did read a couple of kinder and more respectful individuals question the C-Watch as to why they would gang up like this. Responses were rude, including false labeling and sarcastic postings of, “You poor, self-absorbed and put-upon author! Why don’t you just go away?”
Others who’ve felt the sting of reproach lent their voices to support my Soapboxing. The argument grew longer and spanned over several pages.
The most well used ploy C-Watchers adopt when they cannot have it their way and the argument is at a stalemate: Misdirection!
All it took was one poster to add something about a favorite recipe; the argument instantly derailed and went off-topic. When reminded of the original post of the thread or the point of argument brought up, they were ignored for the most part. One might’ve considered the issue fizzled and everyone could go sulk in their own corners.
Not more than a day later, another forum thread was posted luring SPA’s that “the thread was for them”. The first point realized was that one of the same screennames of the C-Watch started the thread. Secondly, they were attempting to begin the argument again by being the first to speak on the matter as if theirs was the only word worth following.
This is also after the fact that several other threads arguing the same point were already posted and filled with pages of argumentative posts, exactly like the one I referred to as a Case Study. When that one filled with the same arguments, the same redundant debates, and the same vein of misdirection, another of the C-Watch chose to create another thread. Even if differently worded, the original post still preached the same demands for SPA’s to stick to their own forum if they wanted anyone to know about their work.
I left shortly after reading this kind of redundancy and was about to continue writing Part 4 when life intervened. Double-checking to make certain the evidence of my Case Study was still present before I wrote; I found more evidence of self-serving arrogance:
- One Sycophant had created a thread that suggested a casting list representing the C-Watch members in a mock movie premise.
- Another Sycophant started filling a thread with post after post in the style of telling children a fable of the actions these C-Watch members committed. When he ran out of steam another took up the fable, while the C-Watch members posted messages of their glee.
- One of the more well-know C-Watchers posted a thread titled [paraphrasing] "Come here to insult potential readers and lose sales, proving that we were right all along."
How can the C-Watch that TOS-flogged SPA’s for repeat spamming were in the right as they redundantly posted their Anti-SPA message over several threads?
How can purposely shifting a thread off-topic of the original post to avoid an argument they can’t win be the right thing to do? Especially when it violates the same TOS rules, they flaunt without censure.
How can a C-Watch member not be looking for argument from SPA’s when they create new threads fated to become the same argument they left in another forum?
How can any C-Watch member waste time telling an SPA what rules to follow or how to act on a forum when the rules were ignored from the start? Rules weren’t followed after the SPA signed up to make posts in any forum. They’re probably not going to follow them until the SPA’s are banned completely. Especially when the C-Watch members don’t follow the rules either!
How can anyone be territorial about forums that require everyone to make the same efforts or pay the same costs to be able to post in it? We all have to give over our emails and passwords or buy a product in order for the forums to be open to us.
How hard is it to use a mouse to scroll past countless pages of deleted messages to find those few that haven’t? (This is one of the main complaints of the C-Watch in Amazon’s forums. What’s wrong; can’t they be bothered or are they afraid they might sprain their mouse-clicking finger?)
As an afterthought, why would you bother reading the thread after seeing the first page is nothing but deleted posts? Another afterthought: are your lives so mundane and fruitless; TOS-flogging is the ultimate online thrill?
I have my own opinion how to consider members of the Cyberhood Watch of any forum:
They are self-serving, arrogant hypocrites who are better suited finding a chatroom they can territorialize [sic] than hassling people for fun and ego-fluffing.
Have a better one; I’ve got to go empty out the chunder-bucket.