Saturday, March 17, 2007

R's Story

(Unedited except for substituting an initial for the author's name--sorry, R, but I simply don't have the time to do a proper edit.)

I have been a member of Crossdaily/Crosswalk chat for over a year now.
Ever since the inital buyout of crossdaily by salem web networks, as
I'm sure those of you who are familiar with this site know, there has
been an administrator there by the name of Fred "Fritz" Alberti. I am
sure that I'm not the first to register a complaint about this
administrator, nor that I will be the last.

Here, in a nutshell is my experience with him:

Earlier this past summer, I was initially banned from this site for
behavior which was in violation of the terms of service. Eventually I
apologized for this and was allowed back into the chat. I played by
the rules from this moment on, careful to make sure that I was chatting
within the TOS of that site.

On saturday the 17th of February, I recieved this email:

Dear r,

You have been engaged in activity in our Community in a manner or with
content determined to possibly be in violation of the site's Terms of
Service.

Unfortunately, as a result of this activity, we must restrict your
involvement in discussions related to the following topics under our
right reserved under #19 of the Terms of Service.
http://l.salemweb.net/CommunityTermsOfService

RESTRICTIONS:
No PMing other users
No using chat as dating service
Theology/Doctrinal discussions *New restriction*

Please understand that this decision is final and will not be subject to
further discussion.

Sincerely,

Fritz
Manager of Communities
Salem Web Network

Now, on a Christian chat site, it seems strange to ban any user from
theological/doctrinal discussions. Its my understanding that I was
restricted from this because, as a non-christian, he felt that I was
somehow threatening the beliefs of other members of this chat. In my
discussions on this site, I simply discussed my beliefs and contrasted
them to the beliefs of Christianity. It was not my goal to change the
beliefs of anyone, but instead to foster a healthy discussion of
beliefs, politics, and any other topics which may come up.

On Wednesday, the 21st of February, there was a general spirituality
discussion going on, and I was participating. Fritz interpreted this
as discussion theology or doctrine. I found this 'restriction' to be a
bit much, and told other members of the chat that this restriction was
put on me. At this time I was banned from participating in this chat.
I then recieved this email:

Dear r,

You have recently been engaged in activity in our Community in a manner
or with content determined by our site administrators to be in
violation of our Terms of Service. As a participating member of our
Community, you agreed to abide by these terms. As a result of this
violation your account has been disabled, pursuant to #19 of the Terms
of Service. (http://l.salemweb.net/CommunityTermsOfService)

We must unfortunately insist that you not make any attempt to
participate further in any of our Communities, even under a different
name.

This decision is final and is not subject to discussion.

Sincerely,

Fritz
Manager of Communities
Salem Web Network


My response to this initial email:

From: R
Date: Wed, Feb 21, 2007 4:19 pm
To: Fred Alberti <fritz@salemwebnetwork.com>
Cc: community@salemwebnetwork.com
Bcc: rick@salemwebnetwork.com

Subject:
RE: r Community Restriction
From:
R
To/CC:
Fred Alberti <fritz@salemwebnetwork.com>, community@salemwebnetwork.com

So Fritz, exactly how is pleading my case to other members of the
community a violation of the TOS worthy of banning me? I feel like I'm
being treated unfairly, and I'm trying to support my cause by letting
people know my situation. If you have a personal problem with me, I
wish you would take it up with me instead of going about it this way.
Instead of giving a nonanswer to this, I wish that at least my case
could be given a fair chance at being heard by both admins and members
of the community. It makes it difficult to be treated fairly when I
can't even discuss my circumstances with members of chat, who I feel
have a right to know what is going on. I have asked you on a number of
occasions to discuss this issue with me, but you have always refused or
referred me to emailing you, as to 'keep a record' of our discussions.

I would simply like an open dialog where we can discuss why you have a
problem with me, and how we can resolve it in a way that benefits you,
me, and the community in general. I don't think that banning me
because I told people about my restriction is exactly a way to foster a
healthy and mature resolution to this problem, and I'm still having
trouble understanding why this restriction was put on me in the first
place, as it has NEVER been a problem with any other moderators or
members of this community.

As a non-christian I can understand that my viewpoints sometimes
conflict with the viewpoints of other community members, but it has
never been, nor will it ever be my intention to try to change people's
beliefs. I simply enjoy discussing the differences and raising
questions that I myself am curious about with regards to Christianity,
as my knowledge of the faith was rather limited when I was a christian.
Yes, at times this can cause a spirited debate, which many at
crossdaily chat have come to enjoy, and I, as a community member, also
enjoy. I respect the beliefs of others, even when I'm handed down
condemnation and damnation for my differing in belief. I've never seen
any problem with having a spirited discussion about various issues nor
do I see anywhere in the TOS how this type of discussion is not
allowed.

I believe I at least deserve a fair shot at either recieving an
explanation about why I was first restricted from discussing any topic
relating to (as you can see in the emails below) Theology or Doctrine,
and then, without any notification, I was essentially restricted from
discussing anything relating to faith, belief, philosophy or anything
along those lines. I feel that this is an unfair restriction, and if
one would simply go over the chat logs, you would find that it is not
my intention to cause anyone any harm, spiritually or otherwise.

This issue aside, I am currently banned (as of about 3:55 this
afternoon) from chat altogether. The only reason I can see for this
would be that I was discussing the restrictions that have been placed
on my chatting with other people, and encouraging people, if they feel
that it is also unfair, to email the admins of this site and work
something out, so as to foster a positive environment in chat, where
people like me, and those I'm frequently chatting with/debating with,
can feel free to discuss the topics of our choice (within, of course,
the bounds of the TOS). I feel that this was done unfairly, and
without a just reason. Again, referring to the chat logs, which I am
sure exist, you can see that I said no bad things about the
administration of this website, I simply explained my situation to
other people in chat, and asked for their support. If this is grounds
for being banned, I would like to see exactly where in the TOS this
falls, and why it is justified.

So to sum up, I've been first restricted from talking about anything
spiritual (which certainly seems strange for a Christian website), and
then banned because I was explaining my situation to others, and
encouraging them to write to the administration if they disagreed with
this situation. I feel that this has been done unfairly, and that I
have been singled out for this for no good reason.

Any and all response to this is greatly appreciated. I enjoy chatting
on your site, and I feel that I've done nothing wrong, and when I was
told that I had, I was given no reason other than rule #19 of the TOS.
I would like to continue to chat here, and I would like to at least be
allowed to plead my case and/or be given a reasonable explanation for
why this has all occurred.

Thank you and God bless,

R

His response in my asking for an explanation to this was:

Dear r,

After the recent incidence(s) requiring a ban from our Community, it's
apparent that our website is not the ideal platform for your style of
participation. Fortunately, the World Wide Web offers you a number of
alternative communities that I'm sure you would find more agreeable.

Unfortunately, as caretakers of our owned and operated communities, we
must at this point insist that you make no further attempts to
participate in any of our chats or forums, even under a different name.

This decision is final and not subject to negotiation or any further
discussion, so please refrain from further contact in an attempt to
debate and/or to gain re-entry.

We appreciate your cooperation in respecting our decision in this
matter.

Respectfully,

Fritz
Manager of Communities
Salem Web Network

To which I responded with this:

From: R
Date: Thu, Feb 22, 2007 9:51 am
To: Fred Alberti <fritz@salemwebnetwork.com>
Cc: rick@salemwebnetwork.com

Subject:
RE: [ r Review Request ] RE: r Community Status
From:
R.
To/CC:
Fred Alberti <fritz@salemwebnetwork.com>, rick@salemwebnetwork.com

I undertand that you don't like me Fritz, but I don't understand how
I've negatively affected the community here enough to warrant first
being restricted to only the most generic forms of chatting, and now I
have been banned altogether. Aside from your not liking me for
whatever reason, I have in no way violated the spirit of the TOS of
this site. Again, I am submitting all of this correspondence to Rick
Killingsworth for his review, because I feel like I'm up against a wall
unfairly here, and I would like someone else to take a look at this
situation.

I was never given any kind of explanation as to why the restriction on
speaking about theology and christian doctrine was put on me, besides
the fact that you said you'd been lenient up until this point (I
believe this was last week). I respected your restriction and stopped
talking about this. Yesterday, you told me that this restriction
covers speaking about belief, spirituality, and anything else relating
to any sort of philosophical or spiritual matter. In disagreeing with
you on this, I asked for the opinion of members of the community, and
did not mention your name, and did not say that I was being treated
unfairly, nor did I speak badly of any moderators or of you
specifically.

If anyone would speak to some members of the community on their
opinion of me, I think you would find that they find me to be a
valuable member of the community, and while many people do disagree
with me, they respect what I have to say. I'm not sure why you have
singled me out for this, and I feel that you're being very heavy-handed
for no real reason.

I respect you Fritz, and I know that you're a reasonable person, which
is why I'm trying to work this through and come to some kind of common
ground. I'm a reasonable person also, but when I feel that I've been
wronged, I won't rest until I right the situation, so please work with
me here and lets find some common ground. I am a firm believer in
resolving conflicts, and not leaving bad blood. I don't want there to
be bad blood in this situation, and I would like to resolve it. The
sooner we can do this, the better, because this current situation is
only going to foster bitterness. Remember Ephesians 4:26-27 "In your
anger do not sin"[d]: Do not let the sun go down while you are still
angry,and do not give the devil a foothold".

I want to do work this out as members of the same community, not as
adversaries.

R


After which I recieved this final email:

Dear r,

I'm not angry.

It is clear that this community is not the ideal platform for your style
of participation.

Fortunately, the World Wide Web offers you a number of alternative
communities that I'm sure you would find welcoming of you.

This decision really is final and I think it would be best we separated
in peace.

Please do not email us further.

Respectfully,

Fritz

This dispute was all over rule #19 in the Terms of Service of this
website. These terms of service may be found here:
http://forums.crossdaily.com/Terms_of_Service/m_2164/tm.htm

To make things a little easier, this is rule #19 of the terms of
service:

19. Salem Web Network reserves the right to:
- move any discussion in community areas to a different folder or room
for any reason at our sole discretion
- edit any discussion, post, or chat room title for any reason at our
sole discretion
- respond to the violation of any of the above Terms of Service with any
of the responses available to Community administrators and moderators
without warning including involuntary movement to another area,
"booting" (involuntary expulsion from chat and forums), and various
forms of prevention of access to all community services including
"Private Messages" for any duration of time including permanently at
its sole discretion.
- to report any violations of the Terms of Service to law enforcement
and/or the Internet Community Alliance.
- to bar, restrict, block any user including Internet Community Alliance
offenders for any reason as well as remove any content or chat rooms at
our sole discretion.

The final clause in here was the only stated reason for my banning from
this community. I have heard from many other former members of
crossdaily chat that this was the same 'catch all' rule that Fritz has
used in order to get them out of his chat. Other members of this chat
are afraid to speak up about it, because they also run the risk of
being banned. I CC'ed all of my correspondence to Fritz to Salem Web
Networks executives and executives at Salem Communications, but have
heard no reply at all.

This behavior seems to be very unchristlike, and I'm at a loss to
explain why this happened to me, since Fritz continues to give me no
answer, and ignores my requests for an explanation, or requests to
settle this dispute (which I don't understand at all) like adults.

This is my crossdaily story, and I'm glad to have found this website,
where I can voice my frustrations.

R.

10 comments:

Robbyrob said...

Repeated attempts to reach out to Fred "Fritz" Alberti have fallen on deaf ears. I would simply like to resolve this matter, as it is a personal matter between him and me, but he refuses to do that, as (in my beliefs) this would constitute a threat to his authority on this site.

salsadip said...

I wonder what you would see as a resolution? From what i can read he has said what the problem was and also, if you talk to other people in the chat room and complain about someone then the other members of chat only have one side of the story right? How fair do you think that is to them huh?
I can see why he had a problem with you doing that.
That's not fair on the other members and should just be spoken to him about. Can you imagine what chaos there would be if he decided to defend and explain himself to the other members against your accusations!?

If i had to deal with someone who was making excuses for their behaviour i wouldn't engage with them either.

Badge of Honor Postmaster said...

I think the main issue is the capricious and heavy use of "TOS 19" to be able to ban/restrict anyone Fritz wishes, without having to explain himself about it at all. People are naturally going to try to find out what was so wrong about their behavior, especially when plenty (and I DO mean plenty) of others get a free pass to say all kinds of outrageous and unchristlike things with nary a warning.

You will understand better, I think, if and when it happens to you. You'll see the arrogance and double-standard first-hand. And you will at least be tempted to ask others what you did that was so wrong. Fritz will NOT tell you.

salsadip said...

You're so wrong. I have been banned recently AND had sanctions on me not to say certain things. At the end of the day, discretion is something everyone in authority/leadership has to exercise when running anything and people need to respect that. Life doesn't always seem fair regarding what one person can do and another can't but then again, that's life!

At least i take responsibility for when i say/do stupid stuff and don't make excuses, which is probably why i might get a reply from Fritz to the email i just sent him about lifting the ban for me.

The TOS are the TOS, they are clear and everyone reads them. It's not a matter if another person has committed an even greater breach and seemingly got away with it and that i didn't, i got caught. That wouldn't work with God now would it!? Come on now, and i don't even profess to be a christian and i can see that.

It's about what YOU did and what I did, and whether that was in breech of the terms.

Badge of Honor Postmaster said...

?That wouldn't work with God now would it!?"

Sounds as if you buy into the whole sick notion that authority figures should be able to do anything they wish and we should just put up and shut up about it.

Likening Fritz to God is kind of funny. He seems to do it on a frequent basis. In "his" own little community, he IS god.

The problem is, he claims to be a Christian. That might not be a big thing to you, if you're not a Christian. However, trust me...Christians are NOT supposed to misuse whatever power this world may give them. It IS a big thing, and it's the reason for this blog.

You're welcome to think I'm wrong in my perceptions, but it would seem I've been observing Crosswalk for much longer than you have. I also have no illusions about Fritz.

salsadip said...

"That might not be a big thing to you, if you're not a Christian."

It's a huge biggie because that's what i like about Crosswalk is that i can learn about Christianity. It's also what i like about here too because i get to see what love, forgiveness and fruits really mean in a Christians life. What Christians do when they're offended; how honest they are; whether they just want to feel justified; what really happens when the shit hits the fan.

I can accept that people have been unfairly treated or maybe a ban might seem over the top but what i find hard is the lack of honesty i read in some of these stories. It's like as if some people are seriously suggesting they did nothing at all wrong or that they only want to justify what they did wrong.

I do appreciate that you have been observing the forum for longer than i have been experiencing it. I don't think you're wrong on all counts, only that you have no idea with these stories whether the storyteller is giving you only half the truth, given that you have not heard any other side of the story they tell.

The other thing that occurs to me is, Fritz has overseers of his work, they must look into all complaints that reach them as they cannot afford to loose too many people, their business would go under if that were the case.

If they had too many complaints therefore, they would dismiss him surely!?

Maybe they haven't because the complaints are in a minority and that mostly their site is a success and majority of people happy.

Badge of Honor Postmaster said...

Salsadip, you're treading awfully close to violating one of the comment rules here:

"Comments which will be rejected include those which:

. . . .

"Criticize the reason for this blog's existence, that existence itself, and/or those who tell their stories for having told them (find a blog or forum designed for that)."


Several of your comments seem to be questioning the events that led to stories being submitted here and criticizing the reason this blog exists. Consider yourself warned that if you continue to debate experiences about which you cannot know (i.e., what someone other than yourself has written) or say in essence that people shouldn't be telling their stories, such future comments will be rejected and I will consider deleting those in which you've flirted with a violation. I've been more lenient than, in retrospect, it appears I should have been concerning your recent comments.

Badge of Honor Postmaster said...

One more thing, Salsadip:

See my comment on "K's story" that addresses your speculation that people aren't being honest in telling their stories here.

Ponder this: How would you feel about being accused of dishonesty by someone who has no personal knowledge of the situation you've reported, based merely on her own LACK of having had a similar experience on the venue in question?

IF anyone here has been dishonest in the stories they tell, that is their own burden to bear. I don't think much of the practice of making potentially false accusations merely because you've had a different experience at Crosswalk than most of the posters here. "Fritz treats me well, so I think you're lying," is both unfair and disingenuous.

salsadip said...

I wasn't meaning the story is dishonest or people are lying but you know what it's like when you only have half a story because you don't have the other side of it.

Or...

When in general life we all are challenged on an issue and we duck and dive to shirk our part of the responsibility because we can't see that we need to own some of the issue.

I'm not reiterating the point, only explaining a condition that we all suffer from when we are challenged on something we did.

I don't doubt for one minute that some people have been unfairly treated and can see the reason you would have a blog like this and why you'd want to share with others similarly agrieved.

Anonymous said...

Last year, supermembers Wizzy and Happydays, two of the most popular posters ever on crosswalk were banned, both for TOS19. They had posts in the several thousands, and had been members for several years. They were our friends, and the whole community was in an uproar via private message and email about the situation. Emails to Fritz asking him to reconsider were replied to very rudley.

I have a friend who was a mod there, and her view was that a mod that has an intense dislike for these two went to OTHER FORUMS not owned by Salem, spyed on them, and brought back stories to Fritz that they were trashing him elsewhere.
(NOT TRUE) Although they were talking in roundabout terms about crosswalk. This one mod travels around other forums looking for crosswalk members, and tattles to Alberti.
You don't have to violate anything to get banned. Just upset certain mods by disagreeing with them.

Another thing Some Mods there do is run up your TOS violations to get you to the magic number where Alberti will ban you.

Now he has been promoted, has more power, and Salem continues to buy up forums. Think about this: If Fritz bans you, and buys up all other forums, you will not have any Christian site to post at AT ALL.

One man with way too much power and control.