This is Part 3 of a monograph about a blog named Little Green Footballs and its founder Charles Foster Johnson. Click the links below for related posts. They will be updated as the series continues.
Part 1 – Overview
Part 2 – The Ascendance of Charles Johnson and LGF
Part 3 – The Bannings
Part 4 – The Flounces
Part 5 – The Turnaround
Part 6 – Current Events & The Future Of LGF
Bonus track: Revisiting Rathergate
PART 3 – THE BANNINGS
Every blogger, regardless of the size or popularity of his/her blog, eventually will have to deal with a troll. It’s no fun when someone shows up with the intent to irritate everyone.
[First banning, post-911, courtesy of The Boiler Room Crew]
No one would claim that Charles Johnson never banned anyone from trolling on LGF. Indeed one unpopular commenter was banned in April of 2005 for his/her continual “baiting” of other posters, often creating an incredibly hostile atmosphere. In addition, there were some posters who for one reason or another went overboard (especially when discussing Islam and the Middle East) and were told that they might be happier elsewhere. Fair enough.
I know it goes without saying around here, but in case we get some visitors who are unfamiliar, we should note that, for quite some time, Charles Johnson has had a growing reputation of cold indifference and (oftentimes) bizarre reactions towards the commenters who frequent his Little Green Footballs website. In fact, a couple of years ago, even the NYT took notice, as author Jonathan Dee states (emphasis mine):
THE QUESTIONING OF Johnson’s tactics started to come not just from without L.G.F. but also from within. Readers both casual and loyal spoke up in the comment threads to ask, sometimes diplomatically and sometimes not, whether all this casual flinging of epithets like “fascist” wasn’t maybe an overreaction. Johnson’s response, in thousands of cases, was to block their accounts and ban some of them from viewing the blog. “Get off my Web site” was a common farewell. (Johnson insists that this is not true — that no one has ever been banned from L.G.F. merely for disagreeing with him — but the anecdotal evidence to the contrary is voluminous, and the fact that the offending comments were instantly and permanently deleted makes it impossible to check others’ records against his.)
The total number and identities of banned members aren’t statistics that are compiled for viewing on Charles’ site, but in recent years the subject has generated a substantial amount of curiosity. There were certainly enough lizards outcast to sustain several spin-off websites, but it was pretty difficult to get a hard estimate on just how many. Back in 2009, ex-LGFer Kirly used her blog to start a list of exiled members called “The Book of the Banned“. The list grew as netizens stopped by to report the tales of their banishment, and their handles were added accordingly. Over time, she compiled well over a thousand usernames, but eventually, Kirly grew tired of continuously updating the page, and at about the same time that our DoD website got up and running, the updates had ceased.
The end of Kirly’s updates didn’t mark the end of the bannings (of course), so a year ago, we decided to take the torch and compile a list of our own. We were impressed with Kirly’s work, but we figured that there could be a more efficient and independently verifiable method of compiling a list. Engineer No. 2 took it upon himself to use the information we’d gathered about the LGF archives and known usernames, grabbed a sockpuppet account, and started checking account statuses. In the end, he compiled a list of 4,252 names that he confirmed as blocked, and put them into a spreadsheet along with their stats gleaned from their profile pages (we’ve kept it under the “Get off my Website” page in the banner; last updated 3/15/11). It’s been a year, and since we’ve been receiving hints that it was deserving an update, and since we still have that open question to Johnson sitting out there unanswered, we thought it might be a good time to dive back in and see what we can find…
In order to do this, one basically needs a healthy LGF account (to view statuses on user profile pages), and a comprehensive list of known usernames. The former has been relatively easy to get these days, and the latter can be gleaned from user comments (and mentions) in the archives. The info for each account is there for the grabbing. The real trick is figuring out a way to gather it efficiently and put it all together while remaining under Johnson’s radar.
Now, when we previously sifted through it, the archives gave Engineer no. 2 a little over 20K individual usernames to check. This time around, we turned to Engineer no. 5. He was able to find a few more, and then sent our sockpuppet account (henceforth affectionately referred to as “Patches”) into the Lizard Kingdom to confirm the status on a total of 22,422 known LGF usernames (we should remind everyone that the total registered accounts on the site was ~35,600 as of a month or so ago, which means there are ~13,000 unknown usernames out there. These accounts either haven’t ever commented, or we’ve missed their mention by another lizard).
I banned Reggie/Lawrence/Zaphod after several attempts to reason with him. Despite my 3 year hostility with him, I really sincerely tried as a human to help him. He is under the delusion that Chuck is on a plot with him, when clearly Charles said he has nothing to do with him. Reggie believes that Bill O’Reilly is after him and that there’s a massive conspiracy behind these blogs. Instead of talking civil, he smeared me as an anti-Semite and launched personal attacks on many on this blog. Clearly he needs professional help and this is not a psychiatric ward. This a blog exposing the hypocrisy and mocking Charles “Icarus” Johnson.
I thank everyone for their patience, but I really wanted to help another human being who lives in a fantasy world. I did this post because I feel the readers of Daedalus needed to be told the reason for Reggie’s banning.
Note: I moved Chen’s post to 7:00 PM EST. Our both went up at the same time and I felt his was a better thread. I gave him the Prime Time spot.
In January 2010 I was contacted by Patterico. He thought that I might have some info on an astroturfer named “Ellie Light” who was posting letters to the editors in newspapers across the country in support of Obama. I gave him what little information I had. (“Ellie Light” was subsequently busted.)
Although I’d heard of Patterico, I’d never followed his blog– but that’s not his fault. What amused me is that everyone has a link and a story to tell about Charles Johnson. Patterico was no exception.
Just like Fjordman, Patterico was once a contributor in good standing with a lot of lizard links to his credit, until King Liz decided to kick another friend in the balls, just for telling Charles that he was wrong.
Since I learned that I was banned at Little Green Footballs for disagreeing with Charles Johnson, I have received all sorts of messages from people saying, in essence: “I’m surprised it took you this long.”
Evidently a lot of people out there have similar stories.
I’d like you to tell them here.
If you were banned from Little Green Footballs simply for disagreeing with Charles Johnson, tell us about it in a comment. The more detail the better; if you have a link to the comment that got you banned, or you saved the language, please include that information.
I will say this: I enjoyed Charles’s site (though not as a regular reader) for years, and I do think it’s a shame to see him come to this. I was really reluctant to believe that he was simply dropping the ban hammer on people for simple disagreement. But there’s nothing that brings it home like having it happen to you.
The comments on Patterico’s post from almost a year ago are exactly what one would expect: pure unadulterated smackdown. Peruse it and you’ll see some familiar nics in the mix.
To be honest, I pity Charles Johnson, but no one’s in charge of his planet-sized ego except for him. Sorry Charlie.
BTW– Has anyone seen these LGF posts recently? Just asking…