In the interest of full transparency and openness, it is time to share with you, dear reader, a story about a group, a group that is no more.
Yes, that’s right. I am referring to the “99Declaration” group. You may remember this group from its presence on the site for the past few weeks. During it’s time on the site it did cause a bit of a stir. In the Internet Working Group, we got a series of emails and messages complaining about the group’s behavior and practices and even requests to delete the group. Not wanting to take this sort of permanent action without GA consensus, we did not comply with these requests and instead suggested that the concerned parties come to the GA with a proposal.
Then, on 10/31/11 at 11:15 AM, the group vanished from the site. At around 7:30 PM that same day, one of the other people involved of the former group (under his user account on the site) began to post a series of hate-filled, disparaging remarks about the site administration team and the movement overall. Some of those are quoted below:
“you forgot to delete this account like you deleted the working group; everyone can speak so long as they agree with you; this is why you will fail”
“OWS is a failure and there is no backup plan
it is antidemocratic and censors people outside of the narrow agenda of the small elite oligarchy that runs it; I have been down there and I saw them in action; they are a star chamber made up of anarchists and other antidemocratic movements who want everything and nothing
it cannot succeed; it has consumed it’s own oxygen and now the flame is out
what a waste
we will press on with the nationwide election of delegates to a National General Assembly”
“OWS is a fraud. They deleted the working group because they disagree with it”
“this is an anti-democratic movement and we withdraw our support”
Clearly, they are trying to discredit the movement and paint a picture of censorship by the site admins and Internet Working Group. As we are a transparent, open, and accountable group, this is the kind of accusation we take very seriously.
As soon as we noticed these posts on the site (around midnight on 11/1/11) we began investigating what might have happened. I immediately emailed all Super-Admins of the site to ask if any of them had deleted this group. We also began looking through our logs. While the main activity feed on the site does not track group deletion actions, our server logs do. After a little bit of searching, here is the entry we found:
nycga.net:80 184.108.40.206 – - [31/Oct/2011:15:25:09 +0000] “GET /members/stormkrow/groups/ HTTP/1.1″ 200 50256 “http://www.nycga.net/groups/the-99-declaration/admin/delete-group” “Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1; WOW64; rv:7.0.1) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/7.0.1″
host=nycga Options| sourcetype=access_combined Options| source=/var/log/apache2/other_vhosts_access.log Options
This may look like gibberish to many of you, but what it is basically saying is that at 11:25:09, the user “stormkrow” deleted the “99Declaration” group from the site. Now, who is this user, you ask? Is this some evil censor? Is this some power-hungry site admin? Is this some rogue member of the IWG? It turns out, this user was none of those things. This user was the only other user who had the power to delete this group – one of the admins of the group itself.
So, to sum things up, there were internal disputes within the 99Declaration group and one of the admins decided to take things into their own hands and delete the group. Any group admin has the power to delete their own group at any moment. This story gets especially intriguing, though, when the other group admin decided to blame the movement, which he knew very well was not at fault. Let this post clear the air and set the record straight.
Our website doesn’t have a policy to deal with situation such as these. Admins in the Internet Working Group have access to the private message logs. The private messages of users involved in this were reviewed. More details can be found in our IRC chat logs.
UPDATE: 11/1/11 11:03PM: Corrected the article so it did not describe user “the99declaration” as one of the admins of the group. He was not, in fact, a group admin.