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Baen Bar closed down.

For anyone who might want to have a side conversation...you're welcome here!
Baen Bar closed down.
Post by phillies   » Tue Feb 16, 2021 4:55 pm

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Politics, it appears.
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Re: Baen Bar closed down.
Post by Louis R   » Tue Feb 16, 2021 6:53 pm

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Not precisely, although Politics seems to have had something to do with it. The forum, that is.

Going from memory, since I'm not one of the 'flies who uses either email or NNTP access, there was a warning posted in, IIRC, Administrivia a day or two ago that somebody or other was making allegations on another site that the Bar was hosting incitements to violence. From comments made in response and in Toni's Table, I gathered that things had indeed been getting rather out of hand in Politics - a forum I don't frequent, as politics are against my religion - lately. At least, I can't recall another occasion in the last 20 years when a general reminder of the No Hitting rule was posted by the proprietor.

Given the ermm... immoderate way that people I know do frequent that forum habitually refer to those they disagree with in other fora on the Bar, I'd not be terribly surprised that a review of various posts had turned up language sufficiently concerning that Toni felt this was a necessary action. However, I haven't reviewed those allegations [in fact, I can't even remember where they were posted now] or the discussions that may have given rise to them. That means that I have no idea if there's a real issue or simply a defensive response - but I am pretty sure that it wasn't a knee-jerk response.

phillies wrote:Politics, it appears.
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Re: Baen Bar closed down.
Post by Joat42   » Tue Feb 16, 2021 8:42 pm

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Louis R wrote:That means that I have no idea if there's a real issue or simply a defensive response - but I am pretty sure that it wasn't a knee-jerk response.

My guess it's a defensive action but also the result of real issues, because what I read in the politics forum the last time I visited was that some posters thought that violence was the solution to deal with the democrats, liberals, the "stolen election" and anyone not agreeing with said posters viewpoint. See my earlier post about it.

I used to lurk on Baen's Bar, but I stopped going there because of the toxicity. I'm just surprised it took Toni so long to do something about it, and I guess shuttering the bar was the most cost-effective solution instead of wading into the filth in an effort to clean it up.

---
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Re: Baen Bar closed down.
Post by The E   » Wed Feb 17, 2021 4:04 am

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phillies wrote:Politics, it appears.


It's a bit more complicated than that.

On Monday, SF Writer Jason Sandford published a report on his patreon. In it, he talks about Baen's Bar in the aftermath of the November election and the January 6th insurrection, and what he describes should come as no surprise to anyone who's clued in: The Bar has always been leaning hard-conservative; that there are people there who are all up on the "stolen election" and "we need a new civil war" train is hardly a secret, neither is the fact that some of these people are either Baen authors or people who are moderators on the Bar.

This, of course, raises some questions for Toni Weisskopf: Namely, does Baen as a corporate entity support this?
From outward appearances, this seems to be the case: After all, if Baen or Weisskopf didn't want these discussions on their forums, it would have been not just possible but easy to announce these topics as being part of the tar pit.

That the charming people of the Bar have taken this criticism well goes without saying. Reactions range from "there's no problem here" to "actually, let's make death threats to Jason Sanford"; this, as we all know, is the absolutely rational reaction to being told that your room is dirty and you should maybe think about cleaning it up a bit before someone has to take official notice.

---

There is an anecdote going around about nazi punk bars. In it, the person telling the story is having a beer at a punk bar. Another guest sits down, tries to order, but is immediately ejected from the establishment by the bartender, who notes that that other guest was wearing nazi punk paraphernalia; even though he wasn't acting offensively at that moment, the bartender still ejected him because letting that person stay would encourage him to bring in other nazi punks and soon enough, his bar would be a nazi bar.

What truth there is to that anecdote, I cannot say. But it does hold a lesson for community management; after all, the standard you walk past is the standard you accept. Communities, especially when they engage in extremist talk, are coming under increased scrutiny as our understanding of the way social media (which, yes, sites like the Bar or this forum do fall under!) shapes people increases.
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Re: Baen Bar closed down.
Post by clancy688   » Wed Feb 17, 2021 4:46 am

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David Weber has also commented on this.

https://www.facebook.com/10000070935040 ... 222209983/

To say that I'm disappointed by his response is an understatement. While his argument for free speech is essentially true (I, too, absolutely hate Cancel culture and think that some leftist excesses are a big threat to freedom of opinion), but he completely ignores the case for hate speech on the bar which has been made.

Liberty after all stops where someone elses nose begins, and inciting and welcoming violence is *not* covered by free speech. And Baen has a moral (and probably legal) obligation to keep something like this from happening. Which they apparently failed, hence the shutdown.

A redditor yesterday wrote the following and I found myself in complete agreement:

I am rather happy that David Weber didn't show up. I'd like to at least preserve the illusion that he doesn't support the current nonsense.


And thus this illusion has been squashed.
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Re: Baen Bar closed down.
Post by The E   » Wed Feb 17, 2021 5:39 am

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RFC makes a passionate, if misguided, plea that the Bar is innocent. He dismisses Sanford's statement outright, almost as if he hasn't read them. Note the following passage in Sanford's report:
There are tons of discussions on the forum about the pending second American Civil War (frequently shortened to ACW2). For example, user Winterset wrote a thread titled “It may start sooner than I thought” on January 9, 2021, only a few days after the Capitol siege. This user wrote: “With the idiocy of Pelosi and company on this truly obscene impeachment fiasco, and what the social media types are doing now, ACW2 is marginally closer. At this rate by summer the gunpowder will be burning everywhere.”

Winterset also wrote a thread titled “Musings on the future” on November 8, 2020, saying:

“Trump losing is a good thing. IF he had won things would be better for a while but the Dims would keep up the garbage. Now they will do the stupid power mad grab that will set off what NEEDS to happen. Which is ACW2. Those that claim its already happening as usual cannot understand reality. A real civil war is killing in job lots and all that goes with it.”
No one in this thread disputed what Winterset said, with some of the people responding by pointing out possible targets for the ACW2. A moderator with the username Theoryman wrote, “As I’ve already pointed out, rendering ANY large city is uninhabitable is quite easy... And the Left lives in cities. The question is just how many of its inhabitants will survive...” Theoryman later in the thread suggested shooting transformers in cities with high-power rifles to make the cities “uninhabitable until restored,” adding in another post that “The point is to kill enough of them that they can not arise for another 50 years... or more.”

User Br’er Tiger also wrote in that thread, saying “The problem isn’t that you killed too many, but that you killed too few.”

Other users in the thread pointed out that it may be harder to destroy American cities than people think, saying that, for example, the water aqueduct for New York City is buried too deep to easily target.

Note these users weren’t saying the entire discussion was wrong – they were quibbling over what to target. And also remember the user named Theoryman quoted above is a moderator for Baen’s Bar. Yet instead of moderating this thread, Theoryman said to kill enough people so they don’t rise again.


Sanford's thesis was that people on the Bar are using that forum to air their theories about civil wars and how to best enact politically motivated violence against their perceived enemies and that the staff of the Bar and Baen are tacitly condoning that conduct, either by standing by while it happens or by actively participating in it, a thesis that statements like the above (which Sanford notes are not restricted to one particular thread) fully support.

RFC says "Baen Books is not allowing the Bar to advocate for violence.", and that statement is absolutely, provably, wrong.

Free Speech is great. We're all better off for having it. However, absolute free speech in a limited forum like Baen's Bar or even this forum here is an invitation for extremists to come on in and make their nest; If noone is ever rebuked for expressing an opinion, if the community is assumed to be welcoming to all, then soon it will be made unwelcome by an informal association of folks. We can see this right here, in this forum and its politics board; Through sheer perseverance, commenters who follow the hard conservative/Trumpian line have been driven away by people like me, and this is something that can only happen in an environment where a group of people is allowed to reign free in the absence of effective moderation.

As Sanford's article proves, the same is true for Baen's Bar: Their hands-off moderation stance has let people in who then indulged in their fantasies of violent revolution, going even so far as to involve some of Baen's published writers musing about forming militias that Trump could use to exert pressure by threatening violence (I'll let you americans judge how compatible that is with the traditions of your country).
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Re: Baen Bar closed down.
Post by Daryl   » Wed Feb 17, 2021 5:56 am

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Some time after Eric Flint's web page stopped posting snippets I went (as recommended) to Baen's Bar to read them there. I inadvertently went into the politics area and quickly left. My reaction was similar to as if I had strayed into a pedophilia site, I felt unclean after reading the delusional and exceedingly nasty stuff there. My thought was that if the authorities weren't watching what was going on there, they should have been, and I didn't want to be associated with it. Pity, as I had been enjoying the snippets before then.
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Re: Baen Bar closed down.
Post by The E   » Wed Feb 17, 2021 6:45 am

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One thing that enrages me about RFC's statement there is that he, a historian himself, says that the people on the Bar (some of whom are also historians) are aware of history and can be trusted not to repeat it...

... and he's completely glossing over shining examples of humanity like Tom Kratman, who actually advocated for Trump to get his own personal militia so that he could use the threat of violence to get his way against the democratically expressed wishes of the populace. His own, personal Schutzabteilung, if you will.

Secondly, in a further lesson of how to fail at community moderation, Toni Weiskopf issued a statement that, in part, reads
We do not endorse the publication of unlawful speech. We have received no complaints about the content of the Bar from its users.
(emphasis mine)
This is a classic example of survivorship bias. The only people left on the Bar are those who either stay far away from the nazi bits, or those who are actively engaged with the nazi bits. Neither group would complain about the nazi bits (the first one because they've likely figured out that complaining to members of the second group is pointless, the second one because they don't see a problem), so framing this as an outside attack against something that's basically fine instead of recognizing that the community has become toxic shows that neither Weiskopf nor the people advising her have a real handle on what they're doing with the community at the bar.
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Re: Baen Bar closed down.
Post by Joat42   » Wed Feb 17, 2021 7:08 am

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The E wrote:Secondly, in a further lesson of how to fail at community moderation, Toni Weiskopf issued a statement that, in part, reads
We do not endorse the publication of unlawful speech. We have received no complaints about the content of the Bar from its users.
(emphasis mine)
This is a classic example of survivorship bias. The only people left on the Bar are those who either stay far away from the nazi bits, or those who are actively engaged with the nazi bits.

I've seen Bean's Bar mentioned here and there on the internet where political discourse are largely civil that it's a place you don't go to unless you want to wade into alt-right rhetoric that'll make you feel filthy.

The thing about moderation is that it's sometimes difficult, but as evidenced by Parler and now the bar, largely leaving the moderation efforts to some anointed users tend to be a slippery slope that lets the Overton window slide to one of the extremes.

---
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Anyone who have simple solutions for complex problems is a fool.
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Re: Baen Bar closed down.
Post by clancy688   » Wed Feb 17, 2021 7:22 am

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The E wrote:RFC makes a passionate, if misguided, plea that the Bar is innocent. He dismisses Sanford's statement outright, almost as if he hasn't read them.


That is what disappoints me most. His argument essentially is "There can't be incitement of violence going on in the bar, therefore there isn't, all proof to the contrary be damned".

Which is, quite ironic actually, a frequent way for characters in his books FUBARing things before the progressive heroes get to ride in to salvage the situation.
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