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What is a troll? Some Zero State history

psychology

(Professor J. Moriarty) #1

Zero State (info@zerostate.net)
to DoctrineZero, me

On 6 February 2013 08:02, Amon Kalkin doctrinezero@gmail.com wrote:
As I said at the beginning, this entire “boundaries testing” is now at an end. Continuing it in any way will signal that you cannot or will not hear me, and no amount of warnings would help the matter. I would ask everyone to please let this topic die immediately, but Peter, if you post on it again you will be banned from all ZS lists & resources for one month.

The above warning was given to Peter H Meadows in the “boundaries test” he started last week. It was the last in a series of polite warnings, insisting that Peter’s comments were generally considered to be obstructing constructive activity on this list, and that in particular his conversational focus upon deliberately disrupting ZS (via trolling, sock puppets, “infiltration”, votes of no confidence etc) is entirely unwelcome here.

On-list, Peter amended his behaviour just enough to avoid the ban. In private, however, he has unfortunately chosen to send me a 3,400 word essay continuing the theme, including statements such as the following:

"Amon Kalkin:

I believe that I’ve explained the importance of my project to ZS. Banning me for this post would be in direct conflict with the spirit and principles of ZS. If you carry out your threat to ban me, or prevent the progress of my project in any other way; I will be forced to conclude that you are no long acting in the best interests of ZS. My next step would be to call for a vote of no confidence.

‘But, but, There isn’t a ‘mechanism’ for that!’.

Oh really? Watch and learn."

Aside from the generally disturbing nature of the message, it is littered with veiled threats, not to mention explicit challenges such as the one above. Such behaviour is simply unacceptable within ZS, no matter what Peter may choose to believe. Peter seems to feel that active disruption of ZS can and should be considered a valid project to be tolerated or even encouraged within ZS. This is not true, and Peter’s recent behaviour cannot be allowed to continue, as setting that precedent could easily be the undoing of ZS.

It is clearly a deliberate move on Peter’s part to heed admin warnings on-list (just enough not to get banned, at least), and make this a private matter. I cannot block him personally and continue to monitor his on-list behaviour at the same time. For all of these reasons, Peter H Meadows is now banned from using all ZS resources for one month, as per our rules. If he posts on this list or any other ZS resources before March 10th 2013 he will be banned permanently. If he stays away for a month and then continues with this theme and disruptive behaviour upon his return, he will be banned permanently. If other accounts are determined to be sock puppets created by Peter (a veiled threat he has made both on-list and off-), they will be instantly and permanently banned, along with his currently identified account.

https://sites.google.com/site/zerostatewiki/-zs-list-rules


Niles Calder 09/02/2013

Amon, you have my full confidence.

Niles

Zero State mailing list:
http://groups.google.com/group/DoctrineZero


Mark Nuzzolilo II 09/02/2013

Zero State mailing list:
http://groups.google.com/group/DoctrineZero


I almost fell out of my chair laughing. No confidence vote? Did
Peter declare himself trustee of the board of directors?

Mark Nuzzolilo II 09/02/2013

Jesus it’s 3 AM and I can’t stop laughing.


Zero State info@zerostate.net 09/02/2013

On 9 February 2013 09:25, Zero State info@zerostate.net wrote:

https://sites.google.com/site/zerostatewiki/-zs-list-rules

Two points have been added to the ZS rules page. Both are far from new, but neither was spelled out explicitly in the rules. That seemed a good idea, since sooner or later someone will want to defend their behaviour in terms of the “legalities” ZS operates by:

"5. False identities (AKA “sock puppets”) used for malicious purposes, to circumvent warnings & bans, or generally as a strategy to support problematic behaviour, are strongly prohibited within ZS. Any user identity determined to be a sock puppet can and should be immediately and permanently banned from maintaining a presence on any ZS resources. There does not need to be any reason or infringement other than being identified with reasonable confidence to be a sock puppet, and no warning is required or encouraged when enforcing the sock puppet ban. There is, however, one extremely strong caveat and exception to this ban, which is that the ZS Principles insist upon tolerance and support of all identity modes that citizens may choose to adopt. This means that a person openly and honestly employing multiple personae may do so if they feel it is integral to their personal sense of identity and are not using that as an excuse to deceive and manipulate others. If the commonality behind multiple personae is concealed for the purpose of acting to circumvent ZS Principle and rules, then all such personae are to be considered sock puppets and banned. The severity of this ban is prompted by the fact that sock puppets can be a powerful tool for the disruption of only communities, and so represent a clear threat to ZS.

  1. The ZS Principles emphasise liberty, including freedom of speech, except where other Principles are contravened, or exercising ones own freedoms would limit the Principled freedoms of others, whether accidentally or deliberately. Furthermore, the Principles make provision for defensive action to be taken by ZS itself (since allowing anyone or anything to destroy or disable ZS would immediately undermine all of the Principles), as long as such action is only taken when necessary and that necessity justified after the fact. When dealing with potential threats to ZS, sometimes administrators will find themselves adjudicating in “grey areas” where someone argues that they are acting in accord with our rules or Principles while effectively working to undermine ZS as a whole. Where this appears to be the case, administrators are justified in taking action in accord with the rules outlined above, but in the course of taking appropriate action they must satisfy the Principles by making it clear that their actions were entirely necessary and justified, and explaining how that is the case. Once that explanation has been offered, other administrators may choose to rule on the matter as per the rules defined above, so any justification in terms of necessary action against threats can be overturned if it is considered unwarranted by other administrators."


Amon Kalkin
http://zerostate.net


Zero State info@zerostate.net 09/02/2013

On 9 February 2013 12:37, Zero State info@zerostate.net wrote:
The severity of this ban is prompted by the fact that sock puppets can be a powerful tool for the disruption of only communities,

That should be ‘online communities’, and has been fixed.


Michael Hrenka 09/02/2013

On Saturday, 9 February 2013 10:25:18 UTC+1, Zero State wrote:
On 6 February 2013 08:02, Amon Kalkin doctri...@gmail.com wrote:
As I said at the beginning, this entire “boundaries testing” is now at an end. Continuing it in any way will signal that you cannot or will not hear me, and no amount of warnings would help the matter. I would ask everyone to please let this topic die immediately, but Peter, if you post on it again you will be banned from all ZS lists & resources for one month.

The above warning was given to Peter H Meadows in the “boundaries test” he started last week. It was the last in a series of polite warnings, insisting that Peter’s comments were generally considered to be obstructing constructive activity on this list, and that in particular his conversational focus upon deliberately disrupting ZS (via trolling, sock puppets, “infiltration”, votes of no confidence etc) is entirely unwelcome here.

On-list, Peter amended his behaviour just enough to avoid the ban. In private, however, he has unfortunately chosen to send me a 3,400 word essay continuing the theme, including statements such as the following:

"Amon Kalkin:

I believe that I’ve explained the importance of my project to ZS. Banning me for this post would be in direct conflict with the spirit and principles of ZS. If you carry out your threat to ban me, or prevent the progress of my project in any other way; I will be forced to conclude that you are no long acting in the best interests of ZS. My next step would be to call for a vote of no confidence.

‘But, but, There isn’t a ‘mechanism’ for that!’.

Oh really? Watch and learn."

Aside from the generally disturbing nature of the message, it is littered with veiled threats, not to mention explicit challenges such as the one above. Such behaviour is simply unacceptable within ZS, no matter what Peter may choose to believe. Peter seems to feel that active disruption of ZS can and should be considered a valid project to be tolerated or even encouraged within ZS. This is not true, and Peter’s recent behaviour cannot be allowed to continue, as setting that precedent could easily be the undoing of ZS.

It is clearly a deliberate move on Peter’s part to heed admin warnings on-list (just enough not to get banned, at least), and make this a private matter. I cannot block him personally and continue to monitor his on-list behaviour at the same time. For all of these reasons, Peter H Meadows is now banned from using all ZS resources for one month, as per our rules. If he posts on this list or any other ZS resources before March 10th 2013 he will be banned permanently. If he stays away for a month and then continues with this theme and disruptive behaviour upon his return, he will be banned permanently. If other accounts are determined to be sock puppets created by Peter (a veiled threat he has made both on-list and off-), they will be instantly and permanently banned, along with his currently identified account.

https://sites.google.com/site/zerostatewiki/-zs-list-rules


Amon Kalkin
http://zerostate.net

Ok, things seem to have turned nasty. First of all, this is going to be a length reply in which I am going to comment on this situation and how we can survive the ensuing chaos. I am going to post a copy Peter’s offending email into this reply. There are a couple of reasons for that:

  1. Because Peter made his threats not on this list, but in his mail, it is necessary to display that mail publicly to provide proof to this list that he actually made his threats.
  2. His mail is interesting and the its contents may be used to make Zero State more resilient to threats from the outside and the inside.

A remark beforehand is in order: His mail is probably a mass mail to many list users, but since he used “BCC:” I don’t know how far the spread of his mail actually is.

Here’ the mail

"
Peter H. Meadows peter.h.meadows@gmail.com
11:14 PM (13 hours ago)

to Zero, bcc: me

I was going to post this on the list (encrypted with rot13), but others convinced me not to. I might make some of it public in the future. Feel free to forward it to anyone.

WARNING: If you think I don’t have anything useful to say - stop reading now.

— 1. Sock-puppets. Banning trolls:

If you’re dealing with a master troll online, attempting to ban her won’t work. (Trolls usually work alone, but they have been known to work in teams). She will use sock-puppets. By the time you’re considering banning the main account, there will already be a network of semi-trusted sock-puppets. If the troll is clever she will have prepared the sock-puppets long in advance of the main strike. If you’re dealing with super-trolls, the preparation could have been going on for years.

I’ve seen this happen.

The communities usually assume that it will be easy to spot the disguised troll. It isn’t.
A good troll will have mixed in reasonable ideas with the disruptive ones. She will have blurred the line between the reasonable ideas and the disruptive ones. Genuine members of the group will inevitably express ideas that seem close to the disruptive trollish ideas.
People will laugh and say ‘oh but you’re trolling us now!’. This could leave people afraid to express what they really think. Some people will start to wonder if the troll was really a troll after all. (A troll will always deny being a troll, insist that they’re expressing genuine beliefs, And claim that they’re being unfairly persecuted).

The sock-puppets will:

  • Sympathize with the troll, and encouraging genuine members to do the same.
  • Try to play-off and cause rifts between genuine members.
  • Try to make the leadership look like dictators, and push democracy.
  • Undermine the leadership in any way possible. (If you’re dealing with ‘unethical trolls’; Worst case could even involve intimidation, violence, cyber attacks, real-world threats / harassment … etc).

“I think I must play the devil’s advocate here and ask you to be more specific”

(also note: ‘devils advocate’ similarities to ‘trolling’. Any philosopher will tell you that devils advocate is useful / acceptable, right?)

“If this man produces useful ZS social networking programs, were he to drive an 18 wheeler through every boundary I am responsible for the only reason I’d stop him is to make sure he’d leave with one complementary full tank refill.
We aren’t all going to be friends.
We don’t all have to be.”

“Right. And when these tools are used against the Principles, then most Zero State members should realize that the time for a justified coup, respectively a switch to another platform is indeed necessary.”

New members will be under constant suspicion. The second they say anything remotely similar to the troll, they will come under attack.

Best case scenario for the troll is that one or more new members are falsely accused of being sock-puppets. The real sock-puppets will do the minimum possible pushing / prodding / stirring. If the community is weak and unprepared for this kind of attack, the troll will just sit back and watch as the community starts to rip itself apart.

This could be the end of it. Game over - troll has won - enjoys its ego boost and moves on.

Or the troll could go for a coup.
The plan now would be to replace the undermined leadership with the troll itself. If the coup is successful, the troll could either A) lead the community in bad directions intended to waste the maximum member time. B) Announce to the community what just happened. Gloat about how smart troll is, how stupid you are, etc.

Usually the coup attempt will lead to civil ‘war’. Probably the core of the community will try to make a fresh start (if they have the energy). If the troll has infiltrated the core, the cycle will start over again. If the troll has not infiltrated the core, it will probably attempt to join the new group. The only way for the group to avoid this is to be very small and closed to the public. Even then, they could still be vulnerable.

— 2. Eugen the list gardener/sniper/machine gunner.

The equivalent of http://www.sciencemag.org/content/322/5908/1681.abstract
with some added extras.
If you don’t come down on offenders, in realtime, and like a ton
of bricks you’ll get bedlam. This makes online community
gardening a difficult job – especially, if multiple time
zones are involved.

I don’t think this applies to virtual communities and trolling. In-Real-Life you can’t get your software to make litter appear invisible to you.

If acting like a troll gets you ignored by all the members high up in the pecking order, people will quickly see that it’s a bad idea. They will see members who are polite and helpful moving up the pecking order, and start to imitate them. An ignored troll will most likely give up and move somewhere else, or push for attention by being abusive. If they’re abusive, then you have a good reason to ban them.

This system is even stronger if the software allows the pecking order to mark posts they think are poor quality. (the software I’m planning will do this). Note that this is very different to removing the posts.

Try transforming that into Shire again. Yer a wizard, Harry.

Something like that. Rhinoceruses don’t wear shirts.

‘patented Leitl method of ban early and often.’

I’m guessing you use this for science type lists - so it probably went fine, and didn’t cost you anything.

When you’re dealing with philosophy/politics lists, the nature of trolling becomes a lot more complicated. And you risk losing useful people if you ban anyone that looks like a ‘trouble maker’.

You’ve made me acknowledge the devil in me
I hope to God I’m talkin’ metaphorically
Hope that I’m talkin’ allegorically
Know that I’m talkin’ about the way I feel
And I’ve never known a troll like you before

— 3. Well-intentioned?:

I am well-intentioned. I’m telling you/showing you this so you can avoid it.

“we should use that to our advantage to create a clear and strong mechanism to deflect trolling in the future more effectively.”

I believe that my posts are constructive and important.

So do others:

“Trolling can sometimes be constructive”

“but from his actions brings construction.”

If I have misunderstood Peter, then perhaps he would like to explain that he did not intend to be disruptive.
If that is not the case and you don’t want to be banned,
I would strongly recommend that you explain what your intent is.

Is it clear now?

— 3. full disclosure / psychology:

I am a sociopath, psychopath, pathological liar, sophist, troll, anarchist, plagiarist, schizophrenic, MPD, NPD, BPD, bat-shit-insane … But I am NOT a troll!

You sound like you don’t really comprehend empathy. You give no particular indication of whether it’s by circumstance or by choice.

In framing reality in such a way as to avoid self-condemnation, you have to damage and alienate a lot of people.

You desire integration; psychologically healthy people have trust boundaries specifically to maintain their own identities and motivations, avoiding interpersonal takeover.

No, people can be forced to change at great psychological cost.

Yes; your willingness to lose yourself in them is just as threatening as your willingness to let them lose themselves in you.

— 4. Pecking Order.

Anyone noticed how Peter shuts up after prods?
Notice how everyone is feeding the troll?
If he’s well intentioned he’s bringing lessons the hard way. Unasked for.

Good spot. I’m sorry, but there is no easy way.
If there were - I’d be using it.

Part of the dynamic that is going on is that certain behaviours are,
if not necessarily rude, at least act as signals of high status.

Signs, not signals.
My status could not be higher.
I am a dog.

But very good spot. I’m impressed. Here’s what Joe Rayhawk had to say on the matter:

<phm_> What are your ‘first impressions’ of me?
Dogged Socratic-Methoding everything suggests abnormal cognition, either by means of radical self-modification, neurological damage, or poor social conditioning; irrepressible implication/expectation management suggests youth or psychological Mindfulness-avoidance; stubbornly continuing to directly interact with Kanzure despite it going incredibly poorly demonstrates a lack of patience in comprehending systems of motivation, possibly due to a …
… compulsive need to integrate and internalize; several lines of questioning regarding factionalism have also suggested an incomprehension of systems of motivation.

On the plus side, there’s a truth-seeking tendency, and an at-least-ostensible desire for humility.
http://piny.be/jrayhawk/notes/intellectual_maladaptation/ might be of interest to you
Don’t really know if it directly applies to you, but it’s what my mind jumps to when people get weird around external motivations.

Unethical: Would depend on the system of ethics. Kanzure dumped a lot of unproductive-to-him time into you; you have significant negative social capital with him. Apparently it worked out for you in a solipsistic sort of ethics, at least.

it’s possible kanzure noticed the truth-seeking and ostensible humility and instinctively had enough respect for you to continue talking; it’s actually somewhat unfathomable to me that he did.
“I am not willing to spend time helping you comprehend me, but I will continue talking to you anyway” just seems bizarrely counterproductive.
he has a lot of social/intellectual-obligation-setting passive/aggressive gamesmanship he does.
A troll moves conversations in directions ostensibly undesirable to other participants. It seems like a fair term, here.
<phm_> I guess you ban people if they seem to move too many conversations in undesirable directions.
Yeah, I’m quite surprised that didn’t happen. I personally didn’t do it because watching kanzure bash his head against a wall for several hours is actually kinda funny.
So maybe not all participants.

Long replies generally seem like lots of effort is
invested, whereas short ones conceal the amount of effort invested.
If you put yourself in a position where people can apparently trade a
small amount of their time/attention for a large amount of your own,
that’s a form of deference.

God spot. I’m impressed. There are two reasons that I appear insanely smart;

  1. Because I am.
  2. Because I put a lot of effort in. You can be certain that I’ve read each one of your lines at least 4 or 5 times. Picking apart the ideas, word by word. Forwards, backwards, between the lines. Search for hidden meaning. Run emotional emulations. Apply dialectical knife. Cross check with everything you’ve said in the past. etc.

Just because there is less output (terse), don’t think that less effort went into it. (In fact, the opposite)

“I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.” -Blaise Pascal

Status allocation is a major concern for any group.
If we want to be a healthy meritocracy, there should be group norms where obnoxiousness/shortness is punished mostly for people who (the group thinks) have less merit and tolerated in people who have more.
Appeals to “fairness” should not be considered automatically valid, but then again where there is roughly equal evidence of merit, roughly equal status should follow.

And now you’re getting to the root of my project. Excellent!
I look forward to working with you on this.

— 5. Formal complaint.

I don’t have time or tolerance for your shenanigans;
welcome to my kill file.

This sounds like he’s threatening to kill me! Of course; he meant he would ‘block’ me. But the threat was implicit and I’m certain it was not completely unintentional. (Conscious or sub-conscious? I don’t care. You should try to keep violent thoughts out of your head.)

— 5. wishy-washy Construction.

Most of the criticism towards me seems to centre on one point:

The principle at stake here is Construction,
which could of course be construed in many different ways.
The key thing is that Peter seems to be trying to create as much “drag” as possible,
tying us up just to show he can - he even said as much, more or less.
That is not only not in the spirit of Construction, but actively against it.

What is this ‘spirit of Construction’? Is it clearly defined? Is it subjective? Is there anything you can’t ban by saying ‘it goes against our spirit of Construction’?

"When any ZS discussant makes critical comments while leaving their own proposals or views unstated, others – even non-members – will be supported in their right to call for immediate and explicit statement of such proposals or views. "

I have certainly not left my proposals and views unstated.

I believe that my posts are constructive and important.
So do others:

“Trolling can sometimes be constructive”

“but from his actions brings construction.”

“Some others here see your activity as funny, even helpful,”

Let’s allow this thread to die, otherwise it is unfair on Peter, who
has been asked not to post on this topic any more, upon pain of
banning.

If Eugen is replying, then he must think that it’s a constructive discussion. Or are you going to insult Eugen by telling him he doesn’t know what is constructive and what isn’t?

Got dissidents? Tell everyone ‘they go against our spirit of Construction’. Don’t like someone? …‘they go against our spirit of Construction’.

I’m sure the historians among us will provide you with a list of examples where dictators / governments have used wishy-washy concepts to justify everything they do.

Be very careful.

— 7. line replies.

Peter - yes, you are reading too much into it.
All things being equal I try to keep things light-hearted
unless that would be inappropriate in the context, and to me
the idea of a “deputy” implied the presence of a “sheriff”.
I am aware that I have a poor sense of humour.

If I were in your place:
A) I’d always want to be taken seriously.
B) I would not want to be misunderstood.

So, I’d think about my words very carefully.

http://web.maths.unsw.edu.au/~jim/wrongthoughts.html

  • LessWrong.

Okay, I have to admit, I’m curious… :wink: Do tell?

Curiosity has never killed a dog.

I’ve never said this to anyone I was so close to giving a warning to,
but thankyou Peter.

You’re welcome.

upon pain of banning.

“this is going to hurt me more than it will hurt you…”

Peter, as much as it is useful, please keep your outbursts to a minimum.

Outbursts? Fuck you! I’ll show you what fucking outbursts look like! 0-:<

I must admit that this business is offensive to me

In what way is it offensive?

I find it interesting that you are suddenly an authority on what ZS is or isn’t

Am I? Well - I wouldn’t go that far - but thank you. I do learn quickly. I use Accela.

despite only having just joined

Did you spot my post from 2011? ZS has been on my radar since your inception. I think David Pearce told me about you. I was busy with other things while waiting for the critical mass to form.

and referring to ZS concerns as “yours” rather than “ours”

I’m trying to get rid of ‘we’ and ‘our’. I’ll explain why later.

I, on the other hand, am told I don’t know what it is, despite being its founder.

Don’t talk pompous!

You founded something with a life of it’s own.
It’s like making an AGI, and then saying ‘but I didn’t program it to kill everyone!’.

that won’t divorce it from the original idea and impetus.
I am only ZS to the extent that I stop it betraying its own essential values.

Do you think ZS can’t change it’s own essential values?

then it is no longer part of ZS.

In your mind, maybe. But ZS does not exist in your mind.

I would like to believe you, but you seem intent on making that as hard as possible to do.

That may be so. I have a reason for not wanting to make things too easy for you.

I don’t care what you need - I only care what ZS needs.

I should have said ‘ZS needs…’. I, we, Gaia.

passion necessarily breeds emotion

Wrong. One of the most important lessons I learned was to detach passion from emotion.

“Re-election” is only relevant in the context of representative democracy.
ZS always has been and always will be a mix of meritocracy and (ideally direct) democracy, as a matter of definition.

Meritocracy can involve votes and elections. So can Anarchy.
“Re-election” is relevant.

You made a point to the effect that a would-be saboteur or ‘coup’ initiator
would do the things you are doing, and would do more if you could see
a mechanism to initiate a vote of no confidence in me.

If I wanted to do that, what would I gain by telling you what I was doing? I can’t see any reason for double-or-more-bluffs. It might score more points, but I don’t care about that. This is not some ego-trip-power-struggle-game. The people that play these games will know/see this.

If you had left your point there I would have appreciated, but now I have come to view your intentions or at least actions as destructive, no matter what you say.

No matter what I say? You can’t be convinced otherwise? Your mind has been fixed, and will not change?

— 8. The coup d’etat threat.

"Some others here see your activity as funny, even helpful, but I do not. I have only tolerated this as long as I have because I prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt, and a chance to alter their behaviour. But as I have stated, I cannot allow this indulgence to threaten ZS, and make no mistake, arresting our ability to be productive is a threat to ZS. Already this list has been consumed by unproductive ‘debate’ for days, and that has put off other list users, aside from a few (frankly heroic) attempts from some list members to ignore you and get things done.

Last but not least, the essay above isn’t for your benefit. My intention is to explain my reasoning and set a clear precedent, so the next time something like this comes up it can be dealt with quickly without a lot of hand-wringing.

As I said at the beginning, this entire “boundaries testing” is now at an end. Continuing it in any way will signal that you cannot or will not hear me, and no amount of warnings would help the matter. I would ask everyone to please let this topic die immediately, but Peter, if you post on it again you will be banned from all ZS lists & resources for one month."

Amon Kalkin:

I believe that I’ve explained the importance of my project to ZS. Banning me for this post would be in direct conflict with the spirit and principles of ZS. If you carry out your threat to ban me, or prevent the progress of my project in any other way; I will be forced to conclude that you are no long acting in the best interests of ZS. My next step would be to call for a vote of no confidence.

‘But, but, There isn’t a ‘mechanism’ for that!’.

Oh really? Watch and learn.
(Maybe you will learn the weaknesses of your huge bureaucracy machine!)

“The same goes for any attempt that uses a regime’s own legal systems against it. It’s a kind of Judo move, using the opponent’s own weight and momentum against them.”

“Anyone acting within those principles can legitimately call themselves Zero State. If such a group decided to set up their own “leadership” - good luck to them.”

“He doesn’t understand from where the shot has come.
He has never confronted a living Sophist. Only dead ones.”

At heart I’m an anarchist. But I understand why ZS can’t be anarchy (yet). I suspect that most people here are also anarchists at heart.
In fact, I don’t want to work with anyone that isn’t.

There are a lot of wolves here, and your only protection is the handful of lambs and puppy-dogs that flock around you.

“When a shepherd goes to kill a wolf, and takes his dog to see the sport, he should take care to avoid mistakes. The dog has certain relationships to the wolf the shepherd may have forgotten.”

Love,
Phaedrus
"

Next, I am going to comment on this mail. He does seem to be intent on appearing helpful. His intentions however are far from clear. If he wants to protect us from infiltration, why doesn’t he start with outlining a clear strategy how to do so? Instead, he modelled some behaviours of potential attackers, which makes his methods seem very impolite. Perhaps he thinks that this is the only effective way to demonstrate his point, but that position would be a prejudice that he would probably justify with past experiences, though not experiences within Zero State, I suppose. See also his statement:

Anyone noticed how Peter shuts up after prods?
Notice how everyone is feeding the troll?
If he’s well intentioned he’s bringing lessons the hard way. Unasked for.

Good spot. I’m sorry, but there is no easy way.
If there were - I’d be using it.

Anyway, his methods are disproportionate, which finally gets clear when considering his threats. If he wants to help Zero State then he did it in a really clumsy way that certainly doesn’t deserve praise. Unfortunately he didn’t even try to motivate why he insists so strongly on helping Zero State.

This is a point to consider in general: Why do Zero State members support Zero State? I think this question is important enough to warrant a deeper study of the matter, because it’s critical to be aware of the motivations of the potential supporters of Zero State. But I don’t want to drift too far from the topic, so I will pursue that question in a separate thread. What remains is that Peter didn’t make clear on which side he stands and why. He could be as well a deluded supporter of Zero State as well as an agent of a force that is antagonistic to Zero State.

He furthermore claimed not to be neurotypical, which may explain some of his behaviour, but is that supposed to count as an excuse? Without knowing his true motivations he can’t be trusted, especially given his aggressive methods. I cannot condemn others for what they are, but I can blame them for what they actually do. However, blaming others is rarely helpful. Solving problems is helpful.

Peter claims that he has a project that is supposed to help making Zero State more resilient to infiltration, but so far he hasn’t really explained his project to us in detail. Therefore, it cannot be said that he had a real Zero State project, but only an idea of a Zero State project, at most. He has to blame himself for not being clear enough. If he had started a real thread defence project, optimally with a clear strategy, he may have been seen as genuinely helpful to Zero State, but that’s not what actually happened.

Now, let me comment on Amon’s reaction to this mail: I think it’s problematic. There are some factors which are critical:

  1. Peter made his threats in a pseudo-private mail, rather than on the mailing list. This begs the question whether our future private communication will become the target of scrutiny in Zero State. I think when private communication contains threats, it is not acceptable even is Zero State. Apart from that, Peters mail way not really private, because it was a mail to many different recipients and he has written explicitly that it’s ok to forward his mail to anyone!
  2. Peter’s mail has not been included fully in the ban. This may be interpreted (by outside observers at least) as manipulative and taking comments out of context. I had to include Peter’s mail to provide full context to the public.
  3. There are these warnings at the end of the mail which make me feel uneasy and which were the final reason for Peter’s ban. Of course, the ban is a provocation that Peter has anticipated and even provoked himself. It is to be expected that Peter has a clear plan how to proceed now, and in the next month and I fear things will turn out rather nasty. It might have saved Zero State some trouble if Amon had not banned Peter immediately, but Amon’s reaction is justified as he simply enforces the rule that threats are not an acceptable way of communication within Zero State.

So, what do we have to expect? In the next month we will probably see some paranoia regarding the question whether Zero State members are sock puppets of Peter or not. Some may be allies of him who are not under his direct control, but who do what he says. This will be a hard test for Zero State. How can we pass it? I don’t know. I may ask Peter privately what he is suggesting. Maybe his answers will be helpful. Unfortunately this problem comes at a time in which Zero State is still rather vulnerable. We still make a lot of mistakes, but I think we need to be tolerant to them. I considered vetoing Amon’s ban, but I will not do that. He is just making abundantly clear that threats of any kind will not be accepted within Zero State.

Zero State is in danger now. Besides Peter and his potential sock puppets and collaborators, especially the group of administrators, of which I am a member of, is the largest threat to our cohesion as Zero State. We need a very good strategy against threats from the outside as well as the inside and we need it now!

I have already seem a massive troll attack on an online community, and I know that it can be very very nasty. In the course of the attack to a community is was an admin of, the group was infiltrated by a charismatic master troll who finally secured admin rights for himself and his “troupe” (which even included his own daughter by the way). In the course of the infiltration I was banned and villainised by the infiltrators who claimed to be innocent victims of admin measures against them. Because of my central standing in the community I survived it virtually unharmed and finally we could banish the infiltrators from our forum without having sustained too much harm. A community that is held together by personal connections is resilient against such attacks, but those who don’t have these connections will suffer from the mayhem a coordinated troll attack will bring on.

In any case, the stronger our Principles are, and the more we stick to them, the stronger are our general defences against attacks from the outside and the inside alike. That is why the Principles are integral to our security. In my example, the master troll was charismatic, but displayed a strong sense of cynicism, nihilism and egomania, without being really constructive. He was eerily similar to Vlad a.k.a. heideg by the way!

Zero State can potentially be torn apart and I see some vulnerability fault lines along which Zero State could split up. Unfortunately, it is hard to dismantle even a single fault line. But we have to target them as soon as possible to make Zero State really resilient. At the moment I am inclined not to outline the vulnerabilities of Zero State publicly, in order not to give them undue attention at this time of emergency. I will address them one by one as I see fit.

You may be inclined to think that I exaggerate the danger in which Zero State is currently placed in. I hope you are right. Unfortunately, I have some experience with these kinds of matters and the signs are bad, but not terribly bad.

One last comment. At the moment Amon is not replaceable, because there is simply no person in Zero State energetic and enthusiastic enough to replace him with. Even if he turns out not to be a perfect leader (which wouldn’t be a realistic expectation of anyone anyway), he is the best we can have. Any opponent who thinks otherwise has already lost.

Thank you for your attention.


Dirk Bruere 09/02/2013

If we are shitting ourselves over some troll it does not bode well for when really nasty people come for us.
Having said that, we will do what needs to be done when we need to do it.


Niles Calder 09/02/2013

to DoctrineZero
Agreed Dirk.

Michael I think you’re being overly paranoid.

‘Peter’ wants us to be jumping at shadows. There will be no schism, no coup. It’s business as usual.

Let’s move on.

+++ Universal Roaming Enabled +++


Zero State info@zerostate.net via googlegroups.com Unsubscribe
09/02/2013

Thank you for your comments Michael, they are extremely helpful. I agree that we are in a vulnerable position right now, but believe that this can be used as an opportunity to develop appropriate defences against concerted attempts to disrupt, usurp, or even destroy our community as it grows. The trick, of course, is to do this without abandoning our Principles.

I have only copied your comments regarding me directly, below, as I feel the need to address them. As much as I appreciate that people should carefully consider these matters, I will however be staying at some distance to allow people to converse freely.

As a general comment, let me first say that I did not forward Peter’s mail because I did not realise it had been sent to others, and so even though Peter had said it was okay to forward, I thought it a good idea to just quote a single illustrative point rather than forward someone else’s entire private mail to a mailing list.

Also generally speaking, let me say that whatever Peter’s true intent might be (which we can’t know, and we can’t trust his own statements on the matter given his behaviour and stated opinions on how to disrupt a community), I have come to feel that his most recent statements represent a form of bullying - he has said “do what I say, or else, even though my behaviour is unacceptable according to the clearly signalled standards”. If Peter is non-neurotypical (and I believe him), then that is an explanation, not an excuse.

On 9 February 2013 13:47, Michael Hrenka
Now, let me comment on Amon’s reaction to this mail: I think it’s problematic. There are some factors which are critical:

  1. Peter made his threats in a pseudo-private mail, rather than on the mailing list. This begs the question whether our future private communication will become the target of scrutiny in Zero State. I think when private communication contains threats, it is not acceptable even is Zero State. Apart from that, Peters mail way not really private, because it was a mail to many different recipients and he has written explicitly that it’s ok to forward his mail to anyone!
  2. Peter’s mail has not been included fully in the ban. This may be interpreted (by outside observers at least) as manipulative and taking comments out of context. I had to include Peter’s mail to provide full context to the public.

Now, these comments seem to be at odds with each other - how can I respond to what is essentially a threatening mail, prove to people that the mail exists, AND not refer to the mail in any way?

My response was still the best one I can envisage - to not pass on the mail, but still note its existence publicly because it impacts upon my ability to properly administer this list. The only alternatives were to forward the mail as you have, or to be bullied into silence and accommodation by Peter. Neither course seems defensible to me.

Of course, however, I acknowledge that it is hard to find the ethically optimal path given the constraints. I, however, did not create those constraints - Peter did.

  1. There are these warnings at the end of the mail which make me feel uneasy and which were the final reason for Peter’s ban. Of course, the ban is
    a provocation that Peter has anticipated and even provoked himself. It is to be expected that Peter has a clear plan how to proceed now, and in the
    next month and I fear things will turn out rather nasty. It might have saved Zero State some trouble if Amon had not banned Peter immediately, but
    Amon’s reaction is justified as he simply enforces the rule that threats are not an acceptable way of communication within Zero State.

The final sentence encapsulates my feelings exactly. The rules are clear. Peter seems to be acting deliberately disruptively. He has been given every opportunity in the world to prove he is not, explain his motivation, or even just to simply drop the topic. If I had been draconian I would have simply banned him outright a week ago, but instead I made a careful point of making polite statements, then issuing a clear warning, and then only imposing a one month (rather than permanent ban).

If this kind of ban is a “provocation”, then so is the law. Should laws be abolished because they “provoke” criminals? Peter has acted as a bully, and is chief weapon is our sense of ethics - our desire to examine our own motivations. If he had half the compunctions we are demonstrating in that area now, he would have heeded the warnings as a simple matter of respect to the community.

One last comment. At the moment Amon is not replaceable, because there is simply no person in Zero State energetic and enthusiastic enough to replace him with. Even if he turns out not to be a perfect leader (which wouldn’t be a realistic expectation of anyone anyway), he is the best we can have. Any opponent who thinks otherwise has already lost.

Thank you for this, Michael. I am able to commit myself fully to ZS despite all sorts of life factors that would make it easier to walk away, simply because it reflects the vision and values I intended when setting it up. Peter is quite right, if I felt that the original vision and values had been compromised, then I would simply continue the work without the help of those opposed to them. I will not rest or give up as long as ZS remains true to the original vision, but this means that I have no tolerance whatsoever for anyone who thinks they can disrupt the community and be called a friend, or bully us and be thanked for their contribution.

I will, in short, call it as I see it. This leads me to my final point, which is to justify the conclusions lad out in the warning to Peter. I said three things:

  1. Flouting the temporary ban will result in a permanent ban.
  2. Taking the temporary ban and then resuming attacks on ZS as usual will not be tolerated, either
  3. Using sock puppets will get the puppets and Peter himself banned permanently, where they are identified.

I stand by all of these comments. We of course are on the defensive, in that we don’t want to ban real users as 'sock puppets, but where Peter could be shown to have indulged in any of the behaviour above then his clear intent would be to cause disruption, and thumb his nose at our rules. How could we allow that to be tolerated, especially when others here have dealt with these conditions with equanimity. Alan, for example, showed great virtue in my estimation, by accepting the conditions of his ban and then returning as a constructive member of the community. Are we supposed to laud Peter if he cannot show the same degree of respect for ZS? Bowing to such pressure would be disrespectful to people like Alan, and the death knell of ZS - it would leave us without a leg to stand on when the next assault upon our values, intentions, rules and work came - which it inevitably would, if not from Peter but then some other troll sensing an opportunity.

  • A


Amon Kalkin
http://zerostate.net


Zero State info@zerostate.net via googlegroups.com Unsubscribe
09/02/2013

On 9 February 2013 14:26, Niles Calder
Agreed Dirk.

Michael I think you’re being overly paranoid.

‘Peter’ wants us to be jumping at shadows. There will be no schism, no coup. It’s business as usual.

Let’s move on.

That would be my favoured approach, too - but first I must be assured that our rules and their implementation is not seen as flawed. If an administrator cannot enforce rules without reasonable expectation that the community supports those rules, then we have no defence whatsoever against those who would disrupt ZS.

This, however, cannot be any kind of vote of “no confidence” in anything or anyone. That’s exactly what Peter wants, and there is no constructive reason to want that. We just need to ensure that our rules do a good job of defending ZS while remaining in the spirit of our Principles.


Dirk Bruere 09/02/2013

On 9 February 2013 14:38, Zero State info@zerostate.net wrote:

On 9 February 2013 14:26, Niles Calder wrote:

Agreed Dirk.

Michael I think you’re being overly paranoid.

‘Peter’ wants us to be jumping at shadows. There will be no schism, no
coup. It’s business as usual.

Let’s move on.

That would be my favoured approach, too - but first I must be assured that
our rules and their implementation is not seen as flawed. If an
administrator cannot enforce rules without reasonable expectation that the
community supports those rules, then we have no defence whatsoever against
those who would disrupt ZS.

This, however, cannot be any kind of vote of “no confidence” in anything
or anyone. That’s exactly what Peter wants, and there is no constructive
reason to want that. We just need to ensure that our rules do a good job of
defending ZS while remaining in the spirit of our Principles.

OTOH anyone in ZS can call for a vote of no confidence in anyone else.
However, it’s totally meaningless because any action that could be
taken can be taken without such a vote in the first place.

So, if someone wants to call such a vote they need to organize it and
run it. Then persuade people to actually vote and for the “target” to
take notice of the result. Which the latter can, of course, ignore
completely.

The bottom line is simple - if you can seize power do so, don’t whine about it.


Zero State info@zerostate.net via googlegroups.com Unsubscribe
09/02/2013

On 9 February 2013 14:45, Dirk Bruere wrote:
OTOH anyone in ZS can call for a vote of no confidence in anyone else.
However, it’s totally meaningless because any action that could be
taken can be taken without such a vote in the first place.

So, if someone wants to call such a vote they need to organize it and
run it. Then persuade people to actually vote and for the “target” to
take notice of the result. Which the latter can, of course, ignore
completely.

The bottom line is simple - if you can seize power do so, don’t whine about it.

Yes, I agree completely.

I will have more to say on this later, I expect.


Luke Parrish
09/02/2013

On Sat, Feb 9, 2013 at 6:31 AM, Zero State info@zerostate.net wrote:

As a general comment, let me first say that I did not forward Peter’s mail because I did not realise it had been sent to others, and so even though Peter had said it was okay to forward, I thought it a good idea to just quote a single illustrative point rather than forward someone else’s entire private mail to a mailing list.

Argh, I had the thought yesterday that you wouldn’t be automatically aware of the BCC and nearly sent you an email to let you know about it, but got distracted and did nothing (figured someone else probably had). Wish I had done so, as that might have defused things. Most likely he forwarded it to everyone who participated in the thread, or at least everyone he replied to directly in the message.

One thing I’ve been wondering is if he has plans to make a wiki project page mapping out the problem and possible solution-space around it. An automated troll-and-conflict-defusing system would be kind of awesome.


Ali-Reza Anghaie 09/02/2013

On Sat, Feb 9, 2013 at 9:45 AM, Dirk Bruere wrote:
OTOH anyone in ZS can call for a vote of no confidence in anyone else.
However, it’s totally meaningless because any action that could be
taken can be taken without such a vote in the first place.

So, if someone wants to call such a vote they need to organize it and
run it. Then persuade people to actually vote and for the “target” to
take notice of the result. Which the latter can, of course, ignore
completely.

The bottom line is simple - if you can seize power do so, don’t whine about it.

Reading background - which is a bit bizarre to say the least - I have to wonder why not just go off and do his own thing? It seems antithetical to try to maintain a State-like sense of citizenship, duty, and rights in a platform that promotes anything but. And while the structures might be disagreeable - it’s all non-aggression and voluntarism in flow.

Also - assuming it’s all at face value, then Luke’s point on an “automated troll-and-conflict-defusing system” based on a reddit style platform would be a great piece of kit in the future. Curious, -Ali


Lodewijk andré de la porte via googlegroups.com Unsubscribe
09/02/2013

I thought the e-mail was quite pleasant to be honest. He simply
explained what he’s been doing. He was fairly threatening, because he
wanted to show how dangerous trolls can be, and he still had his way
of being to short about things.

I did wonder why he’d BCC me, and whom else he’d BCC’d. Apparently
everyone here. Too bad, I felt special for a moment.

I think banning him doesn’t really affect anything much. This is a
public mailing list, if he has malintent he’ll be back. If he has good
intentions he won’t be.

I do think both Amon and Michael are taking this “the wrong way”. Too
seriously especially. He’s playing around, trying to look cool, trying
to offend some people a certain amount, etc. This e-mail I took as an
end of things. Kind of an “Okay guys, it’s over, I’ve shown what I
felt I had to.”. I didn’t notice he was threatening to attempt an
overthrowment, and given the BCC to all it’d be pointless.

I’d also like to reassure everyone of his or her position in ZS. If
this mailinglist turns to craps and Amon gets demonized I’ll start a
ZS forum of my own. And I bet some others will. It’s a brandname
without owner. Confusing? Yes, kind of. But all forms of anarchy/chaos
are. Only when we pierce through the haze we will find structures.
Right now the only significant structures are Amon-operated mailing
lists and sites. If you disagree talk to Amon. If Amon doesn’t listen,
split off from this structure and start your own (Fork!).

ZS has Zero State. So “learn to stop worrying and love ZS”


Dirk Bruere 09/02/2013

Realistically speaking, the core of ZS is people who actually do things.
The rest don’t count in power plays because… they are not doing anything.
Anyone with enough drive, talent and ambition to “take over” ZS is
easily good enough to make a big name for themselves anywhere. It
takes more than talk.


Zero State info@zerostate.net via googlegroups.com Unsubscribe
09/02/2013

On 9 February 2013 15:32, Dirk Bruere wrote:
Realistically speaking, the core of ZS is people who actually do things.
The rest don’t count in power plays because… they are not doing anything.
Anyone with enough drive, talent and ambition to “take over” ZS is
easily good enough to make a big name for themselves anywhere. It
takes more than talk.

Yes… I was just thinking that I should clarify my support for your statement (I paraphrase) ‘anyone can take power, just do it rather than whining about it’, because it could easily be misinterpreted.

Unsurprisingly (since you were the 2nd person told about ZS as an actual organization rather than an idea), you and I are in complete agreement that what matters is people doing things. We’ve even enshrined that idea (“Just Do It!”) in the Principles. In fact, ZS as a whole is the best example because it was created from nothing in a sheer act of chutzpah. Everything within ZS that exists is testament to people pushing initiatives because they can.

To go on about votes of no confidence betrays that idea, and even implies central authority. We don’t have central authority. I have significant influence because of the role I’ve played and continue to play - if people respect me they give that respect, I don’t take it. The only way to vote “no confidence” within ZS is to put in the work to build new, alternative structures within ZS, or to leave outright. If you say these new structures are part of ZS and the things you’re doing are compatible with the Principles then they are part of ZS, no-one can say otherwise. Stay committed to your vision and make them impressive enough and everyone will eventually equate your name with ZS, I expect.

So this is what I mean when I agree that people who want ‘power’ within ZS should just take it - or more to the point theyr should prove their worth and build it. What they shouldn’t do is whine about votes of no confidence. Anyone who wants to register a vote of no confidence can do it with their feet, and they needn’t even walk so far as to actually leave ZS. They just need to find a clear patch of ground, and start building…

(Now someone should say that these comments prove I’m a Randian, if they really want to see my head explode :wink:


Michael Hrenka via googlegroups.com Unsubscribe
09/02/2013

On Saturday, 9 February 2013 15:26:47 UTC+1, PlanetNiles wrote:
Agreed Dirk.

Michael I think you’re being overly paranoid.

‘Peter’ wants us to be jumping at shadows. There will be no schism, no coup. It’s business as usual.

I would share the same opinion if Amon had not banned Peter. But since Amon has done what he did, I am preparing for the potential fallout. If you want to do business as usual that’s your decision and I won’t stop you from acting in “business as usual mode”. But my decision is to go into emergency mode, just to be on the safe side.

Let’s move on.

Let’s move a level up.

Zero State info@zerostate.net via googlegroups.com Unsubscribe
09/02/2013

On 9 February 2013 15:25, Lodewijk andré de la porte wrote:
I do think both Amon and Michael are taking this “the wrong way”. Too
seriously especially.

Maybe. Given the warnings etc, I still feel that the ban was more than warranted, however.

If
this mailinglist turns to craps and Amon gets demonized I’ll start a
ZS forum of my own.

This, I thoroughly admire! Forthright action and initiative!


Amon Kalkin
http://zerostate.net


The Amon Predicament
How _not_ to be transhuman -- Transhumanist slack
(Michael Hrenka) #2

Interesting piece of history, but it needs to be put into a temporarily clear order. It’s not clear who says what. Nested quotes might be necessary for that (using multiple ">"s in front of quoted paragraphs, like “> > > test this out”). There are some repetitions that are especially confusing.


Trolls / Trolling / Similar behaviour / patterns - Main points designed for self-study: Solving, Negotiating & Avoiding Self-traps