Monday, January 29, 2024

egghead reports research, weirdos pissed off

So if you haven't heard, last week a researcher named Dr. Clio Weisman published an article on Medium called "The Worst People You Have Never Met, or, What I Learned During A Four Year Academic Study of Online Harassment In The Dungeons & Dragons Community." It was up for about 14 hours before the author pulled it for reasons to which I am not privy. But it was preserved here, so you can read it for yourself. Becami Cusack archived the referenced audio clips here. I look forward to reading a formal, peer-reviewed version of her findings when they are published.

Apparently a few people think the article is some sort of hoax and Clio Weisman isn't real. These people must not have access to Google, as it is pretty easy to verify that she exists. And her other academic work isn't that hard to find confirm either, though you'll need access to specialized data bases to actually read the various pieces. Brian Yaksha, Olivia Hill, and Patrick Stuart have all confirmed talking to Dr. Weisman, though they aren't exactly fans of the article. Curiously, none of those three tweets complaining about Weisman and her piece bother to deny any of the allegations in it.

Dr. Weisman interviewed me for a couple of hours, several years ago. In addition to the Zak situation, we discussed her other research into bias. This was a topic of interest to me professionally, so she later sent me a draft version of an article she was working on. I assume I don't appear in her Medium article because my interview was boring compared to incestuous hate-mob she shines a light on. I don't spend a lot of time thinking about all the fuckos mentioned in the article, but since last week I've been going back and forth between sincerely hoping they get the help they need and sincerely hoping they rot in hell.

The other thing that some people are claiming is that Dr. Weisman has some undisclosed reason to slant her article. If she has any skin in the game, I have yet to see any evidence for it. As far as I can tell, she came to the project from outside the game scene and did her best to figure out what the hell was going on. Truth isn't always easy to determine in complex situations. That's why we have institutions like academia and the courts, to help us suss the truth out. These institutions are imperfect, but without evidence to the contrary, the people poo-pooing her work sound exactly like MAGA election deniers to me.

Some folks are probably going to give me the business in the comments. That's fine. Just expect to be asked some simple questions like, "Did you read the article?" and "Did you listen to the audio?"

121 comments:

  1. Link doesn't work for me.

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    1. Alternate link: https://web.archive.org/web/20240125075353/https://medium.com/@DrWeisman/the-worst-people-you-have-never-met-or-what-i-learned-during-a-four-year-academic-study-of-online-7da8b9065643

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    2. Ah, that one works. Thanks, Trent. I was curious to see what the kerfuffle was about.

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  2. I was also interviewed. It was made very clear to me that the interview was going to be recorded, before we started, to cut that one off early.

    re Simon: Indeed; they admitted there wrongdoing but, in at least some cases, still didn't admit that it was wrong.

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  3. Anonymous8:48 PM

    What a waste of time. This “study” has absolutely nothing to do with elf games.

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    1. The article quotes many people who actively made the elf games community, in their own word, toxic.

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  4. First of all - thanks for linking to this article. I've managed to read it on the day thanks to your previous post about it. I still have that tab open where it says it was posted 14 hours ago - so I got to it just before it was pulled (I found out it was pulled after trying to open it later on my phone).

    It's a really good article, and I think an important one. Even though it was really disheartening to learn what people with who I interacted with are like behind the scenes, I'm still glad I read it and I hope more people will do too - even if it's just the archived version.

    I don't think it will lead to big changes in our niche - there will always be people looking for a power trip and willing to bring someone else down. But I hope it encourage people to look into things on their own, and not just take a word of someone who has a bit more power in the group. I know it did that for me, because I'm also at fault with believing stuff about Zak just because I've seen it posted around (fortunately I left social media, and generally hanging out online soon after, so I missed all the other dogpiles I would have probably believed too).

    I just hope that the article will surface again in one form or another and that the author did not end up at the receiving end of some misguided nerd rage.

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    1. Anonymous12:06 PM

      HERE IS A LINK TO THE AUDIO RECORDINGS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8GJAJNbF2Tg&list=PPSV

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  5. As someone who isn't involved in that particular part of the OSR/RPG community but runs across mentions of Zak S. regularly...holy spitballs. I read the article. I'll be back tomorrow to listen to the clips.

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    1. Anonymous12:07 PM

      HERE IS A LINK TO THE AUDIO RECORDINGS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8GJAJNbF2Tg&list=PPSV

      Delete
  6. Interesting read, albeit lengthy. I'd read most of the facts involved before, although the list of (supposedly) "big name" people in the dogpile is larger than I'd really registered. Never saw them compiled like that before. There were a few I'd missed completely, the most personally impactful of which is Cam Banks. Hadn't realized he was involved at all, much less that they'd been forced to settle a suit with Smith. In addition to the Cortex-derived Marvels RPG Cam is one of the primary designers behind Greater Than Games' Sentinel Comics RPG, which I've been a big booster for over its history. Recent events with my play groups had me reconsidering that stance, and finding this out is another nail in that coffin.

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    1. Anonymous12:06 PM

      HERE IS A LINK TO THE AUDIO RECORDINGS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8GJAJNbF2Tg&list=PPSV

      Delete
  7. I find it maddening that the reaction to the study is blatant dismissal. It's delusional behavior by those responsible, which I guess is proof in itself of what Dr. Weisman has been investigating.

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  8. It's an interesting read, though perhaps a bit one-sided in places.

    I reckon a lot of people were condemning him simply because they believed the accusations when they came out and that someone doing something like that should be de-platformed. I don't believe they (though surely some) took this position because it was the most comfortable, but simply because it was the most believable at the time, as the accusations were detailed and corroborated.
    "I think I shall wait for one of the parties to sue one another and have this hashed out in court" is a luxurious non-position in a metoo era where many perpetrators never get to court.

    I found it believable at the time, though my participation was limited to a single blog post on the extent of boycott-due-to-association. Which I suppose I ought to write a retrospective on.

    There are probably plenty out there who still firmly believe it, Chris McDowall gets cited as one, and that is their reason for persistence (though changing a "no lying" policy is an incredible act in any circumstance).

    If I had known at the time that she is Borderline, I probably would have taken it all with a great deal more of salt. I am a psychotherapist myself and find Borderline personality disorder to very satisfyingly explain Mandy's behaviour (unlike McDowall, I suppose).

    But, though I knew of the court cases to some extent, it did not engage me enough to go through the details of it. I am afraid the narrative of "resourceful white male uses the heavy hand of litigation to demolish his victims and detractors" is an easy-to-believe one these days.

    But overall, it is a chilling case study of what an absolute bizarre community that is. I speak of it in the third person as I considered myself very much on the outside looking in on it all back then, and I don't even know what the OSR community is now, other than an diffusely organic evolving thing that successfully continues to elude the taxonomies it used to fit in.

    All the same, I am still chewing on my own positions society-wise on all this. Even if Zak had done what he was accused of, is there no scope for rehabilitation at some point? Does the court of public opinion only ever hand out lifelong sentences? There is dissonance for me between a societal struggle that seems necessary to have in some form and the dictum I firmly believe, to be kind, regardless of all the good reasons one may find not to be.

    And reading this article makes me wonder how much of my casual poor impression of zach for years prior was casually influenced by straight up lies. It is a humbling read.
    Cognitively, it's a long stretch for the mind to go from
    "Zak seemed to be a charismatic a-hole who turned out to be a hard abuser"
    to
    "Zak was lied about online by a LOT of people for years and years and then his wife lied about him abusing her and all the liars piled on to create critical mass and get all public opinion with them".

    Without the meticulous and critical evaluation Dr Weisman goes through, it just seems implausible, to any mind I'd wager, for so many people to hold the first position only for the second position to turn out true. And this cognitive difficulty is probably a big reason why not many will change their minds on all this.

    Won't be pleasant to write, but I think I ought to blog about this myself as well.

    It's a pity Dr Weisman took it down. It would be interesting to know her reasons though they are easy to guess at.

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    1. I was also extremely peripheral to this. What disturbed me a lot was how easily it could have been to be sucked into it. I'm definitely seeing posters on FB pushing back on it, and honestly I don't have the time or interest to dig into the claims they're waving around (a court case that proved he abused her?). I did notice that at least one poster straight up said that he never liked Z and the SA allegations didn't matter, or that Z's unlikableness was "just as bad" as the SA.

      I happened to tell my GF about this yesterday and she reacted...strongly. She comes from a very abusive relationship, and what REALLY resonated with her was "no proof". She said she didn't have proof either, and people called her a liar - it clearly struck a very deep and personal nerve. (We talked it out and everything is good.)

      I don't know. It's a very uncomfortable thing. More information from Dr. Weisman would be fantastic. It seems like a logical thing for her to put out some kind of statement, addendum, or clarification in time.

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    2. @Nathan Irving -- All the internet harassers are claiming I did bad things _online via typing_ . That means that the "no proof" thing is 100% completely relevant there in a way that has nothing to do with accusations of real-world wrongdoing where there wouldn't necessarily e any record. Surely this is obvious and you see the difference, right?

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    3. Huh. Unexpected response.
      To be clear, my gf was responding (resonating, perhaps) to the allegations of sexual abuse, not allegations of online harassment. And we did talk about how there was counterevidence (in your favor) against the online allegations, and verifiable proof of lying in other occasions, which weakens the credibility of the unverifiable real-world behavior allegations.
      So yes, I see that.

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    4. That's what, as I recall, Dr Weisman wrote - using false allegations of sexual abuse is horrifying exactly because sexual abuse is a serious issue, and such allegations hurt every woman who suffers from abuse.

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    5. @Simon yes, exactly.

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    6. Respect. Not easy to make a target of yourself by supporting someone who is the crosshairs.

      Regarding what, if I understand correctly, is a part of your point (Please correct me if I'm wrong): Regardless of what was most believable at face value; the evidence, or lack thereof, has always been available, both for the online accusations and offline (with the exception of these particularly damning admissions, which are new). Example: A huge swathe of women who lived with, slept with, worked with both Zak and Mandy have signed affidavits in Zak's defence; but of course the raging masses discredited and buried them in the public discourse as soon as they emerged. And so people stopped looking, just because (presumably) a few more upvotes on one post of another were enough to convince them; and/or they had predetermined expectations due to casually believing the online accusations about his character and behaviour.

      The problem is: People believed _anything_ this serious without checking anything. If there is a question about what is to believed; and the answer involves the utter condemnation of someone for being evil; then people should either look for evidence/information before making a judgement; or don't make a judgement.

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    7. http://mythlands-erce.blogspot.com/2024/01/the-difficult-to-believe-case-of-zak.html

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  9. "...the people poo-pooing her work sound exactly like MAGA election deniers to me."

    Lol, make that "Biden supporters" and you'll have the perfect blog post. Perhaps, also a mention of the author's misandry.

    I read and listened to it all. I'm mostly disappointed that anyone gave those people (aside from Patrick Stuart) one iota of notice. They're attention whore bottom feeders, and you can practically smell the mental illness through the screen.

    This news-cycle has another week or two, then it's onto something else. #TwatGate

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    1. The only thing they all have in common is they are guilty of one thing: Claiming someone did a thing that they did not do--and claiming it without evidence. When asked to back up claims: they flee. You've done exactly the same thing so there's no reason to crow about it.

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    2. Anonymous10:33 PM

      Venger Satanis is also demonstrably a plagiarist.

      https://danharms.wordpress.com/darrick-dishaws-cult-of-cthulhu-bible-and-wikipedia-the-similarities/

      https://beyondfomalhaut.blogspot.com/2022/09/review-chaalt.html?showComment=1663522564886#c1124164395743564324

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    3. You're right, I never should have directly quoted H.P. Lovecraft's stories (with attribution and references). Just making shit up would have been preferable. Lol.

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    4. Anonymous9:32 AM

      Oh, did H.P. Lovecraft write Anomalous Subsurface Environment? Because you lifted plenty of stuff from there. Did Lovecraft write Dwimmermount? Where you "borrowed" the idea for "Zoth" from?

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    5. Anonymous9:33 AM

      Also, you should try "making shit up" sometime, instead of copy-pasting.

      Delete
  10. Can you shed any light on the similarities or differences between the preview you saw and the article that went (briefly) live?

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    1. Anonymous3:25 PM

      I'm sorry. I was unclear. She showed me a preview of a different thing. When we spoke she wasn't anywhere in the vicinity of having enough data to make conclusions re: all this dogcrap.

      Delete
  11. It strikes me that Steve Jackson put his finger on it when, in Illuminati, he made the opposite alignment to "Fanatic" to be "Fanatic".

    Broadly, though, the article just seems a survey of the worst people online. The connection with D&D is really just her choice of filter.

    The fundamental issue is how people behave online. That distancing is very uninhibiting and discussions of online behaviour would do better if people compared it to drunken behaviour because I think the mechanism is largely the same. And things said can not be unsaid so grudges spill out into the "real" world. Especially since many of the people talked about here actually never interact in the real world. Unlike the apologetic drunk, they never have to sober up and face what they did; their personalities are locked in.

    And it is addictive - which leads to a downward spiral for those who are susceptible or don't pull away when they first see the abyss they are approaching.

    But I agree with the anonymous poster who said 'This “study” has absolutely nothing to do with elf games'. D&D was picked explicitly because the author thought it would be small enough to study.

    But when she says that creative people should all be expected to get along (which she repeats) she's simply being naive to the point of foolishness. The art world has been the scene of raging rivalries and baseless accusations for CENTURIES. How could she not know that?

    And when she says there are no places where these people can talk to eachother with rules to make them act like adults she is firstly just wrong - there are boards where mods do step in and block vitriolic attacks - and displaying an unrealistic view of adults. Last time I looked very few wars have been started by children.

    When people are held to impossible standards and can be punished for not meeting those standards, witch-hunting and burnings are the inevitable result. Again, this is not new nor peculiar to "elf games".

    So I don't doubt the content or that any of this is real. I don't think it's representative of the "community" generally, nor is it surprising or unusual given the context of people interacting about things they are interested in online.

    Zak has, it seems to me, been able to back away from that abyss of unaccountable narcissism which the online world offers. I don't particularly like him (although I like a lot of his work), and he doesn't like me. But, you know, that's not a crime to anyone except my mum.

    Online, differences can easily become "all-in" poker games where the chips are free and the right way to call someone's bluff is to not play the game.

    I'm rambling now so I'll stop.

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    1. She does seem much more surprised about how awful people can be online than I'd have expected from someone who'd been studying incel behavior for years. Whether that makes her naive, surprisingly optimistic about human behavior, or both is hard to say.

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    2. Every single person who was interviews and mentioned is related to role-playing games. How exactly do you agree with the claim that "it has nothing to do with elf-games"?

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    3. I mean the core problems are not inherent or special to D&D. These dynamics play out in every online hobby somewhere. I don't think we need self-flagellate about what makes D&D people so awful.

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    4. " with rules to make them act like adults she is firstly just wrong - there are boards where mods do step in and block vitriolic attacks "" That isn't a rule that makes people act like adults. That just allows people to be polite while lying. A place with rules to make people act like adults would require that everything on there has to be as true as possible and if someone asks a question it has to be answered (barring some safety issue.) The idea that all people have to be is "polite" to solve conflict is silly. They also have to be accountable for their statements.

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    5. I wasn't especially thinking of "polite" - more "being civilised".

      Being banned for misbehaving/lying/attacking is at least in some small way being held to account.

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    6. There is literally no major forum in the RPG space where people are banned for lying or presenting misinformation--and none where there are rules requiring people answer questions during disputes to see which side is telling the truth . So she's right.

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    7. Hooey. Unless you're trying to contend that they aren't a "major forum" RPG.net bans people regularly for promulgating disinformation. Mind you, they're extremely selective about what kinds of lies they find objectionable and will absolutely punish people for having the wrong politics so they're no paragons of virtue at all, but they do ban people and (much more problematically) they also ban all mention of a few people (and their actions, and their products).

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    8. @Dick Magee You are not telling the truth. Not only is RPGnet is the forum where the moderator, Ettin, smeared me regularly until I successfully sued him: https://officialzsannouncements.blogspot.com/2020/04/i-got-public-apology-and-cash.html but there is absolutely no "you have to answer questions" rule there and never has been.

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    9. Dick,
      Just today RPG.net mods banned Anders for making a post about doctor Weisman's article. They're actively protecting the right of trolls to spread disinformation.

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    10. If you want to move the goal posts to "major" then you are probably right. One reason I don't frequent the major RPG is exactly what we're talking about. However, I was not the one to add the qualifier "major".

      Any given group of people will produce its own sub-culture over time if they are constantly interacting and the ones that interact more often will have a bigger influence on the form of that culture. They tend, unfortunately, to be the more obsessive members. There is a critical mass at some point where the size of a forum becomes too great for non-obsessed people to moderate it and it becomes impossible to impose external standards of truth, honesty, or decency rather than the inward values of coherence, agreement, and conformity to whatever ideals the "leaders" (really, just the most active) members want. If you're lucky that might be harmless but it seems mostly to lead to cliques and bullying. It's not unique to D&D; it's not even unique to the online world, it just seems to works faster there.

      Smaller communities seem more stable and robust in the face of this dynamic. Mods can handle the quantity of posts and even read threads for context. "Major" sites do not pay enough, if at all - Twitter didn't even when it tried to care; FB doesn't; Yahoo couldn't; the larger Reddits clearly can't. What chance RPG.net?

      I know you're looking for a ruby in a mountain of rocks
      But there ain't no Coup de Ville
      Hiding at the bottom of a Cracker Jack box

      Your problem, Zak, has spiralled waaay outside of being solved by any advice to avoid those "major" sites but that is always my advice to anyone that asks. Look for smaller sites where the vibe and the culture fit you unless you are specifically looking to fight against something. Mass-appeal online means Mob-appeal. You are, it seems to me, an abrasive but honourable man (sounds like a paladin!?) but many a such has starved to death because the mob didn't want to look at itself. So I don't know what you can do now.

      But I would repeat - this sort of thing goes on online all the time. In a Trumpian world the subjective reigns and facts and truth are noisome road bumps in the way of the free market in ideologies. We're all living in fear, one way or another, that our views will be branded anathema tomorrow and that news of that branding will reach our employers or the media stripped of context or argument even if they care about such. In the pursuit of individual freedom we have built a court of public opinion which has no appeal and does not need evidence to convict - feelings are the gold standard. Der Orwellian Golem.

      So, yeah. Don't go into cesspits unless you want to deal with shit.

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    11. @Nagora It's not rational to think misinformation spread on a forum affects only the people who go onto that specific forum or that victims just hanging out on smaller forums will solve their problems.

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    12. Nagora,
      Sure, the world is full of shit. And there are two ways to deal with it - try to make it better and risk drowning, or let the villains prevail and risk drowning.
      Not much of a choice, but them's the card that were dealt. At the very least, RPG.net could replace the mods with a known history of harassing people with someone who're not known harassers.

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    13. @Nagora the problem affects not just Zak - and for anyone not outright banned but just having to shy away from the bigger platforms because of it - I would say you are already affected. It only spirals outside of being solved if nobody does anything.

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  12. Anonymous12:06 PM

    HERE IS A LINK TO THE AUDIO RECORDINGS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8GJAJNbF2Tg&list=PPSV

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  13. Anonymous12:09 PM

    HERE IS A LINK TO THE AUDIO RECORDINGS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8GJAJNbF2Tg&list=PPSV

    ReplyDelete
  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  15. Anonymous10:36 PM

    Odd that in a piece so focused on a lack of evidence and court cases, there's no mention of the Vivka Grey case, where the judge found that 6 of her 8 statements about Zak's abuse were proven true, or of the sanctions in the GenCon case for Zak's discovery failures... which is lawyerese for "didn't provide evidence."

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    1. You mean the Vivka Grey case that she lost, and had to pay the court expenses - because the court decided that it's impossible to prove that she didn't "feel" something, but her claims about things actually happening, like her being "forced to move to LA", were proved to be wrong.

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    2. Anonymous12:11 AM

      Can either of you provide proof of your claims?

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    3. https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/img/b/R29vZ2xl/AVvXsEgBdr0KWYFqilyDgsaMW9LD6W5uv3i-YVbR2tVfZrKg837iYjbiFdlpv_x81XPJdiEm4MAdrq7aVfRu3rkAPBK5O9FVGPQGBWEXK0DpFLGZQkEHs9JZZ5d4mBCdCAYRY6cLzXWdbG63sagmZBtOG60C4hg3MQVRmG1NuVFyITeT6ojmQodppExkJeGlug/s1450/judgment_zak_viv.png

      Judgement is for plaintiff Zak Smith and against defendant Vivka Grey.

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    4. Zak prevailed AND Vivka lost the countersuit.
      Anon is lying - and lacking a persistent identity, so there is zero expectation of honesty or consistency.
      Just utter drivel

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    5. @anonymouse The judge for the gencon case was overruled and replaced. Trial judgements aren't a game where you score 6 out of 8 of anything either - Zak won. These are such specific and tired lies it looks like you're trying to spread misinformation.

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    6. @Simon, Gem & Becami
      With all due respect, the anonymous poster above didn't say that Zak lost the Vivka Grey case.
      He only said that "the judge found that 6 of her 8 statements about Zak's abuse were proven true". And this is factually correct.

      Zak did expect Vivka to be at his beck and call for sex, at any time with any service.
      Zak did demand that Vivka engaged in particular sex acts with him, whether she enjoyed it or not.
      Zak did threaten to kick Vivka out of the house if she refused to perform for him.
      Zak did engage in painful sex acts with Vivka without any care for her comfort.
      Zak did coerce Vivka to have sex with other people of his choosing while never allowing her to pursue anything with people she liked.
      Zak did pressure Vivka into obtaining breast implants.

      This is all there, in the Final Statement of Decision on Smith v. Grey 20STCV09708, 07/05/2022.
      https://www.dropbox.com/s/927gje2mqxoi7hu/1936638092%281-43%29.pdf?dl=0

      In light of this, your calling the factually correct comment above "utter drivel" looks suspicious.

      As, btw, does the claim in the article that "[t]he story Mandy tells does not simply lack the ring of truth, it lacks any substantive evidence or reason to assume its validity. There just is nothing I could find, anywhere, that supports it. And I tried. I tried like hell to find something, anything, that would lead me to believe her" (not to mention that in adifferent place in the article the author admits that she has never even talked to Mandy -- or, she tried like hell, didn't she?). For Mandy testified before the Court on several allegations in the Smith vs. Grey case, and the Decision refers to this testimony as credible.

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    7. Anonymous7:16 AM

      It was an American case, so the proper way to think of it is 2 of her 8 statements were provably false. The remainder were able to be classified as opinions or state of mind statements and so the factual standards of defamation couldn’t be applied.

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    8. What you are saying is just wrong. Bother to read the damn Decision.

      One of the statements was proven false.
      One of the statements was classified as an opinion statement to which the factual standards of defamation couldn’t be applied.
      And the other 6 were proven true.

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    9. No you're completely missing the point - remain in the pit and re-read this until it makes sense:

      Trial

      judgements

      are

      not

      a

      video game

      where

      you

      score

      6

      out

      of

      8

      of

      anything

      Delete
    10. Anonymous8:44 AM

      Hey bros, I read that judgement. The stuff that makes Zack look bad are the statements that were proven true. One false statement, made without malice, and 6 statements that illustrate a domineering and emotionally abusive partner. When I think about how I feel about Zak as a human and a professional, those true statements are the ones that have a lot more impact on my opinions than the false one. And no, court cases aren’t a game where you keep score, but they’re also not a binary outcome. Zak alleged 8 false statements made maliciously that impacted his financial and professional outcomes. He was unable to demonstrate any of that outside of one statement being provably false. The weight of the decision is, on the whole, that Viv looks like a victim and Zak looks like an abuser and vindictive.

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    11. Good thing what things "look like" to an anonymous troll who admits to "feeling" prejudiced agains the victim by a smear campaign _they themselves participated in_ doesn't decide what's true and false.

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    12. Anonymous8:52 AM

      6 true things that paint the picture of an emotionally abusive individual and 1 false thing that fails to paint him as a physically abusive individual… like, I dunno about you, but I consider emotional abuse just as bad as physical abuse.

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    13. @anon Since those 6 things weren't true either that doesn't matter, though. Again, this result came long -after- https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/img/b/R29vZ2xl/AVvXsEgYuy35SO9gn0aZEt2oPhniu3iRTs34p983IjvYvjCDrjlDby-rgygf2vvEDFrjQpaPXGKV0uI9EJ7bnmhemWi1bwJ1CTmGS4JZ6zPW7v5qcwQUP37EFOotc1koHHjZoNI5Iu8i4NYUqkFLuTnd0XX9LNI8W32sbjek2p6SbCQIIRLeszu358CwMGbt7Q/s978/cam_banks_apology_screenshot.png

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  16. I think one should carefully consider two possibilities.

    1). A researcher -- and not just any researcher, but a postdoc, i.e. someone at the worst end of the churning grind of modern academia -- takes interest in a subject somewhat outside her usual research topics, and then...
    - gathers data for several years (no so many funded research projects actually last that long);
    - produces zero academic publications on the subject;
    - still takes time and pain to write a VERY long non-scholarly article -- apparently a bunch of interviews on online conflicts within pen&paper RPG clique has impressed her SO MUCH more than all those years of work in juvenile prisons;
    - despite being generally inactive in social networks (and, as far as I can see, totally absent through the last couple of years) posts this article via Medium account specifically created for the purpose;
    - doesn't advertise this post anywhere else (e.g., on her twitter);
    - deletes the article several hours later, with no comments whatsoever.

    And the article itself:
    - is poorly-structured;
    - is poorly argumented;
    - is at times pretty clumsy stylistically;
    - is very partial and emotional;
    - uses a lot of manipulative rhetorics;
    - focuses on persons rather than phenomena/issues;
    - makes zero attempt at analysis;
    - makes no attempt to contextualize the subject within broader issues;
    - doesn't cite any scholarly work.
    In short, it is written much like a NYT op-ed slander piece (or one of Zak Smith's longer posts) and diametrically opposite to how researchers are taught to write from their pre-graduate years.

    2). Zak Smith, a very self-centered person with a history of using sock-puppet accounts in his online battles, writes another eulogy of himself in his usual style and posts it under the name of a female scholar who is known to have conducted some interviews within the RPG community and can be expected to be too busy to take notice (maybe indeed battling cancer, who knows).

    Which one requires a greater leap of faith?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The fact that Dr Weisman actually conducted her research and interviewed people had been proven by Olivia Hill, Brian Yaksha, and Patrick Stuart, who are mentioned by name and whose audio recordings were part of the article.
      https://twitter.com/machineiv/status/1752010444712128749
      https://twitter.com/pjamesstuart/status/1751884833867890952
      https://twitter.com/goatmansgoblet/status/1752026973784707294
      Her article was characterized as well-written by a person with actual degree in social sciences.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-39svo5NH0
      There has never been any proof of Zak "using sock-puppet accounts", even in cases when people were sued for making such claims about him - they had to publicly admit that they had no proof.
      https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/img/b/R29vZ2xl/AVvXsEg9hOlk-q-2kZ5g-2KKLl8vGAbhVOFr8lpfEiDMhBz987HSeAQJ4KK-k1FJ4PRP2WwmvAhhs0Rme_rqlY_B6iEsDfSUQ1lVAxAn_NSY09EK5Lr8QN8hF4cV2gStbSDUpQNPrcmBh8z1WG9B1_Pl3D_rvfd3URYTrC3TIhbzoJaqVCeJG7YMq34i0Ogmmg/s978/cam_banks_apology_screenshot.png

      There's no leap of faith required to know that you're lying.

      Delete
    2. @Simon:
      >The fact that Dr Weisman actually conducted her research and interviewed people had been proven
      Well, what has been proven is that these people had been communicating via email and phone with a woman who claimed to be Dr Weisman and to need these interviews for research purposes.

      Given that some of the screenshots posted by Olivia Hill show the same e-mail that appears in Dr Weisman's scholarly publications, it at least appears quite likely that Dr Weisman was indeed behind the interviews. In itself this still doesn't prove that the article was indeed penned by her or that the audio recordings have not been tampered with.

      Anyway, interviewing people for research purposes and then having these recordings appear on the web with real names and all and with no written consent from those interviewed is more than enough to ruin her career.

      >Her article was characterized as well-written by a person with actual degree in social sciences.
      Could you provide a specific timestamp, please?

      >There's no leap of faith required to know that you're lying.
      Which specific statement of mine is a lie?

      Delete
    3. Anonymous2:19 PM

      Option 2 requires the greater leap of faith.

      Delete
    4. None of the people who were interviewed claimed that the recordings were "tampered with". None of the people who were interviewed claimed that "it wasn't Clio Weisman" - Olivia Hill claimed the opposite, that they conversed and she considered Dr Weisman a friend.
      And your claims make even less sense because you're making them under a post that includes all the links to Yaksha, Hill and Stuart admitting that they were approached by Dr Weisman.

      Delete
    5. Dmitry:
      Zak does not use sock puppets.
      Yaksha, Olivia, and Patrick have all corroborated that the interviews did happen, along with jeff and others.
      You assuming stuff and just making connections without evidence is hazardous and foolish.

      Delete
    6. Anonymous7:11 PM

      I don't understand the obsession Zak and the Zak puppets have with "lying". It's not lying to say you believe what seems like a credible accusation. Can anyone who wasn't there know for sure? Of course not. What everyone can know is that Zak's online persona has been abrasive, argumentative, and has felt like harassment to many people. This online persona made the allegations by his former partner extremely believable. I have never seen Zak ever own up to his own behavior. It's always deflections, accusations and argument.

      Delete
    7. @anon Because if all your ideas rest on "seems like" and "felt like" then the correct action to take against someone is: nothing. Focus on all the many injustices in the world you're sure happened--there are a lot.

      Delete
    8. @Dmitry You're spinning out this batshit conspiracy theory based on ancient lies - which the article overwhelmingly shows were all lies - by having the people who spread them admit on tape they were lies. Also why would it even matter who wrote the article if you actually listened to the recordings?

      Delete
    9. @Dmitry also - who is your shakespeare conspiracy even addressed to it is posted as a comment to a blog written by someone who says they have spoken with the person who wrote it

      Delete
    10. Anonymous9:47 PM

      @Zak Haha! Classic deflection. Still not taking responsibility for your own actions.

      Delete
    11. @anon Haha! What own actions? Saying "Don't lie all the time?" to a bunch of jerks? I 100% take responsibility for it.

      Delete
    12. @Simon:
      >And your claims make even less sense because you're making them under a post that includes all the links to Yaksha, Hill and Stuart admitting that they were approached by Dr Weisman.
      Not Yaskha -- the link you posted leads to a deleted account. Still, I am eager to give you the benefit of doubt and assume that the account was deleted after you linked to it.

      Posts by Hill and Stuart do not contradict anything I have written. They didn't meet the interviewer face-to-face and couldn't vouchsafe their identity. In fact, Hill has expressed doubts that the article had been penned by Dr. Weisman:
      https://twitter.com/machineiv/status/1752898930138832972

      Also, Olivia Hill's thread is inconsistent with statements made at the very beginning of the article. The text goes:
      "During the pandemic I became interested in harassment in other online spaces and found a world just about the right size to study on a small scale: pen-and-paper roleplaying games. You know, like Dungeons and Dragons."

      Yet Hill claims that her communication with Weisman concerning "online abuse in regards to Zak Smith" (specifically in regards to Zak Smith) dates back to Spring 2019, e.g. before the pandemic.

      Also please note that with the evidence provided by Hill I had to adjust my version of events. Instead of "it is all a hoax orchestrated by Zak and Dr Weisman has nothing to do with it" (which is the most sensible thing to think for anyone familiar with how social sciences and academia in general work) I now tend to stick to "it is all a hoax orchestrated by Zak that actively involved Dr Weisman who violated all ethical norms of her profession in the process". Which is MUCH worse and cost Clio Weisman her job.

      Delete
    13. Anonymous8:09 AM

      I have no reason to believe that Dmitry Gerasimov is not one of the people named in the article trying to spread additional conspiracy theories as a form of chaff.

      Delete
    14. You also have no actual counter-arguments against anything I've written, that's why you try to make up ad hominem allegations hiding under an anonymous account.

      Delete
    15. Anonymous8:55 AM

      Your name is equally anonymous, and any evidence you put forth to the contrary regarding your identity can be reasonably discounted as falsified unless we have personally met face-to-face. If Weisman is a hoax without actual physical confirmation, so too is Gerasimov.

      It does not surprise me that a social sciences writer, writing a piece that is not meant to be published in a social sciences journal, does not follow the standards of writing and citation for an academic journal, and that it's strange to you that that isn't the case suggests only a bare familiarity with the concept of writing for different audiences.

      Delete
    16. @Dmitry @Anonymous

      This ^^^^

      By your own convoluted logic Dmitry you

      CAN

      NOT

      be who you say you are. Nobody here is trying to accuse you of a felony because of it - because it would be a ridiculous conspiracy theory to do so. And what you've written is literally counter-argued in the blog post you're commenting on, by the article you are unconvincingly manufacturing conspiratorial mist from.

      Delete
  17. Anonymous12:45 PM

    Zaks big court wins couldn’t generate enough money to pay some rent and dental work? A couple grand and apologies to avoid protracted and expensive suits here and there just can’t help the bottom line I guess.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The timing is the issue. I'm better now than I was whenit was started.

      Delete
    2. That's what they call whataboutism.
      Olivia Hill, Shoe Skogen, Fiona Geist and others admit that they harassed Zak, knowing that he was innocent.
      But what about Zak being unable to pay for dental work?!

      Delete
    3. Anonymous8:36 PM

      Just because the court says someone has to pay a judgement doesn't always mean the payment is made promptly.

      Delete
  18. Anonymous12:48 PM

    see. https://coinsandscrolls.blogspot.com/2022/03/on-zak-sabbath-smith-lawsuits.html. for a deep deep dive on the big court wins

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey I I found an anonymous 4chan person with a blog who admits they aren't a lawyer, doesn't answer questions and disagrees with actual lawyers in the comments--their interpretation is surely v important imho

      Delete
    2. Abhorrent post full of cherry picking and gigantic lies.
      Skerples is a troll and harasser.

      Delete
    3. Anonymous6:38 PM

      Yeah that blog post pretty much sums things up.

      Delete
    4. if you're an anonymous troll

      Delete
    5. All I see is a disturbingly obsessive account of someone successfully defending themselves against things you didn't even need a trial to find out were untrue. A deep dive into a cesspit.

      Delete
    6. @Becami Cusack
      Could you please provide three examples of statements from Skerples' post that you consider "gigantic lies"?

      Also, I wonder, how did you first learn about Dr. Weisman's article? How did you come to the blessed idea to preserve the audios for posterity?

      Delete
    7. Nobody has to provide you with anything - you are a creepy conspiracy theorist - see below:

      "anonymous - Your name is equally anonymous, and any evidence you put forth to the contrary regarding your identity can be reasonably discounted as falsified unless we have personally met face-to-face. If Weisman is a hoax without actual physical confirmation, so too is Gerasimov.

      It does not surprise me that a social sciences writer, writing a piece that is not meant to be published in a social sciences journal, does not follow the standards of writing and citation for an academic journal, and that it's strange to you that that isn't the case suggests only a bare familiarity with the concept of writing for different audiences."

      ^^^This

      By your own convoluted logic Dmitry you

      CAN

      NOT

      be who you say you are. Nobody here is trying to accuse you of a felony because of it - because it would be a ridiculous conspiracy theory to do so. And what you've written is literally counter-argued in the blog post you're commenting on, by the article you are unconvincingly manufacturing conspiratorial mist from.

      Delete
  19. Anonymous11:26 PM

    I forgot it's completely impossible to make shit up on the phone, you can only do that in text
    Jesus christ you're either the most gullible idiot on the planet or you're being paid

    ReplyDelete
  20. Anonymous8:25 AM

    Becami and Simon- Whoever told you that Zak doesn't use sock puppets is lying to you. You probably know that, though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @anon So you're whole schtick is to go "nuh uh" . https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/img/b/R29vZ2xl/AVvXsEgYuy35SO9gn0aZEt2oPhniu3iRTs34p983IjvYvjCDrjlDby-rgygf2vvEDFrjQpaPXGKV0uI9EJ7bnmhemWi1bwJ1CTmGS4JZ6zPW7v5qcwQUP37EFOotc1koHHjZoNI5Iu8i4NYUqkFLuTnd0XX9LNI8W32sbjek2p6SbCQIIRLeszu358CwMGbt7Q/s978/cam_banks_apology_screenshot.png

      Delete
  21. Boonie Dog3:06 PM

    Thanks for the information and your insights Jeff. There are dozens of takeaways from this depressing article, but a big one for me is:
    ALL "CALLS TO CANCEL" AN INDIVIDUAL ARE NOW IMMEDIATELY SUSPECT BY DEFAULT

    ReplyDelete
  22. Anonymous6:20 PM

    haha this fucking “Dick” Mcgee Guy loves to go to peoples blogs and try to come off like an intellectual but all he ends up getting into it with somebody over stupid shit. He should stick to kissing James ass over at Grognardia.

    ReplyDelete
  23. @Dmitry I tried replying directly to the comment, but seem to be having difficulty, I beg your pardon. Anyway:
    1) This is an article published on Medium, not an academic journal, so attacking its credibility on that basis is a poor deflection since you don't have a valid argument against its content

    2) Can you provide any thing to substantiate your claim that Zak is self centered? This seems contrary to behavior I've seen from him. He seems to generally be reactive to others, either to point out their work or in response to their harassment. This is substantially different than saying he is abrasive or whatever.
    Likewise you make the claim he uses sockpuppets. Can you provide evidence of this?This claim is made often, but I have yet to see it substantiated. I have been accused of being a sockpuppet, but I am not.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Anonymous3:15 AM

    I don't know much but I do know one thing, Zak litigating against people is the most punk thing I've ever seen, and not at all something a poser would do.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @anon It is by far the most merciful solution to the problem.

      Delete
    2. When it doesn't seem to rehabilitate your image, or affect them in any meaningful way (they crowdfund their settlements and costs, successfully) I question whether it's worthwhile.

      Delete
    3. FloatyBoats10:02 AM

      Hey, you know what's absolutely the most punk thing ever?
      Gatekeeping what is and isn't 'punk' on the internet, when you don't even have enough spine to use a name.

      Delete
    4. @GRIM They haven't attacked any other game designer since, so it was entirely worth it. And I am not done by a long shot.

      Delete
    5. Anonymous11:56 AM

      @Zak You should have saved the money you gave you to your lawyers and payed a PR company, to actually rehabilitate your image - no amount of lawsuit won is going to change anyone's opinion of you, as have been proven so far.

      @FloatyBoats If we're to buy into the notion there has been a targeted and continued harassment campaign against the innocent St.Zachary... Only a fool would remain anything but anaonymous, no?

      Delete
    6. @Anonymous You are correct about one thing, that no amount of proof otherwise after the fact will ever undo the damage lies and harassment cause. Which is why it so important that people who do this be forced to account for their actions

      Delete
    7. Anonymous1:29 PM

      @Vas you rolled a natural 20 on your mental gymnastics. Cam 'Mega Muppet' Banks posted a public apology and he's doing just fine, if anything I wouldn't be surprised in woke circles it's a badge of honour. Meanwhile Z-Dog "won" a defamation suite against Vivka and we all now know he coerced her into painful sex acts she didn't enjoy, which in my neck of the woods SOUNDS pretty rapey. Had he just payed a PR consultant and stfu, he might be allowed back on Reddit.

      Delete
    8. No - "we" don't "all know" anything - Zak never "coerced" anyone. It's possible and by-no-means world ending to participate in a lifestyle you later on decide wasn't for you - but it is o u t r a g e o u s to hold that the choice to participate was ever forcibly denied you when that was not the case - that is defamation and that is what the trial judgement says. More importantly - anyone who had

      actually

      years ago

      read all the statements by all the people who were right there every single day to witness the supposed "coercions" - and didn't
      - people who weren't able to testify at the trial - anyone who had taken that small diligence can tell 6 out of 8 bullshit is troll chaff bullshit.

      @anonymous
      @Dmitry

      Delete
    9. Anonymous2:47 PM

      @Gem sounds like you're huffing some street grade wishful thinking, revisionist copium. It's demonstrably true Zak hasn't got his career back, despite absolutely crushing it in the courts.

      "S demanded that Grey engage in particular sex acts with him, commanding “’now you will do it with me’ Even if I didn’t enjoy it the first time” (sic)"
      The Court found Grey “has provided ample support for the factual basis for this statement” (19.23) which is summarized (19.25-20.13).

      So, y'honour, I repeat. We. All. Know.

      Nobody has been able to provide evidence that going the PR management route wouldn't have yielded better results. Buy we can prove the legal route hasn't worked, as Wonderboy is still very much a persona non grata.

      Capitulate to my throbbing logic.

      Delete
    10. @anon

      What?

      I have no literally no idea what you are talking about. Who are you even talking to?

      Delete
    11. Anonymous3:19 PM

      @gem You can't bullshit a bullshitter I guess?

      Delete
    12. @anon even if the dubious case you are attempting to make is true, Zak was being harassed and lied about by people (including Cam Banks) for YEARS before that. People were saying (and still say) he threatened their children, yet not one person in all this time has substantiated it. That is egregious and people who make false claims like that need to be held accountable. I saw a video of one dude saying Zak had used some kind of black-ops espionage mind control technique on him, and Zak is the one whose credibility is in question?1

      Delete
    13. Anonymous4:22 PM

      @vas it's not dubious though is it? It's actually quite binary. Either Zak has his career back and this all over, or, the fight continues. From the horses mouth Zak is "not done by a long shot". So, that can mean only one thing. Also, I'm not questioning his credibility, it's actually quite rude for you to lie about me like that. I'm saying had he actually acted with his head instead of his ego, he would be well clear of this whole debacle - A point I have repeated several times in the comments above. I have no recourse but to demand a public apology and a written affidavit you don't hate your wife's boyfriend.

      Delete
    14. @anon "I'm saying had he actually acted with his head instead of his ego" No. No-one has ever done what I am attempting to do. If I fail, it will be because it is hard, not because of some silly plan you had that I didn't enact.

      Delete
    15. Anonymous1:05 AM

      @Zak it's not 'IF you fail' its 'you ARE failing'. Demonstrably, impiricaly, factually. How long you been at it? 4 years now? You've won lawsuits. You've gotten apologies. Yet you're still not allowed out of your cave. FAILED. Just a few more years eh? Lol! Your tried and true tactic of doggedly browbeating people in the comments only works there, in the comments. Out in the real word people have already made up their minds, And they decided you're a cunt long ago, and no amount of lawsuits filed will have any affect on the court of public opinion. You have an image problem, not a truth problem. People don't care about the truth, they care about how they feel. And since 2019, you've made them feel 'icky'. FACTS. Oh, and let's get real, people and company's absolutely HAVE tried to litigate their way out of bad press, what you're doing is nothing new or special. It's been done hundreds of times. It just never works.

      Delete
    16. @anon 5 years. And you may be right that there is no hope, but since the only alternative is suicide, I have to exhaust the options. What anons are wrong about is that there was some other way that would've worked or that pointing out the problems in your comments is "browbeating".

      Delete
    17. Anonymous10:36 AM

      @zak You're absolutely incorrect, there are other alternatives (and frankly your threat of suicide here feels flippant and manipulative, especially to someone who knows people who have unlifed themselves due to clinical depression) you have complete control over a number of factors going forward, but in order to do so you have to drop the pathological need to be right, all of the time, every time and exhibit public contrition and then a lengthy period of growth and introspection. Had you hired a PR management firm from the off, they are after all, subject matter experts, you might not even have needed to do even that. You're attitude and approach towards engaging with others online IS browbeating and conflict driven, well documented and observed, but, it's not surprising you either don't see it are willfully ignoring that fact, it's is the very foundation of your current predicament, ostracized and unliked. An ouroboros of social disquiet. You're a very smart man in so many way, but also the most oblivious to their own shortcomings it's almost farcical.

      Delete
    18. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    19. @anon @anon You're not describing an actual course of action just gesturing vaguely at "not this because (handwave)". No PR firm has ever successfully decancelled anyone in a situation like mine since 2016. You're just scolding me for my actions with no alternative plan. You can't "browbeat" someone who can leave at any time so that's not a rational claim.

      Delete
    20. Anonymous12:30 PM

      That's just not correct. I have given you at outline of a plan, or at the very least an alternative place to start the formulaltion of one. Contrition and self reflection. My day job is a senior position in a marketing department of a FTSE 500+ company you have heard of, working with an audience that are as engaged as, if not moreso than the indie RPG scene. I say this because whilst I can't formulate a precise PR strategy for you, (that's not what I do, and if I did, you'd have to pay me) But I can can tell you, with some certainty that there are specialists that can and I understand the value of subject specialists, especially if I don't have that specific knowledge. What I've suggested isn't handwaving at all. In the same sense when a crime is commited and someone advises you call the police, you don't say that's a non-plan, because despite not knowing all the intricacies of the legal system you understand there is a body of people you can engage on your behalf who have that knowledge.

      And to address the brow beating, stop pretending you're in control, you don't get to determine the parameters of other people's feelings and reactions based on how you decide the world works. People feel brow beaten when having interacted with you, and that is that. You can thrash and shout, but it changes nothing.

      If you feel scolded, recognise I've done nothing but highlight observed behaviours and spotlighted claimed positions of others around you. I am as they say, just telling you how it is.

      Delete
    21. @anon "Contrition" requires I did something wrong but I didn't so that's silly. You're just one more troll trying to say "Just let us lie without fact-checking us".

      Delete
    22. Anonymous4:35 PM

      @zak That's what you tell yourself when presented with a reality you are unable to accept. Everything I've said is factual. I'll check back in on you in 6 months or so. I doubt anything will have changed. Maybe more apologies, maybe more won lawsuits. Still, nobody will like you. It's not about winning. It's not about being right. It's about repairing a tarnished image, and, you lack the basic skills to see it. Enjoy the lonely desert. The road to Damascus is there, waiting for you to walk it.

      Delete
    23. @anon Since there's lots of anons talking here, you saying "Everything I've said is factual" is pretty vague however, provably false--for example, the assertion nobody likes me is already inaccurate (several somebodies have made profound personal sacrifices for me in the last 5 years) so you're clearly not a trustworthy source of information in any way.

      Delete
  25. The most intelligent comment so far was made by James Raggi: https://youtu.be/tlkFS-fpgIs?si=w7_qGfxyukIckONj

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @ghoul I don't know how this could be seen as "intelligent" -- James uses the video to take action against various parties (spreading claims about people, confirming the article's authenticity, making--legitimate--accusations against Olivia Hill etc) while counseling inaction. All the reasonable people taking no action while the worse people take action is how things like this happen in the first place.

      Delete