Aug 072014

OK so I wrote this long response to this blog post, which purports to be a response to my original post here… Unfortunately the comment was too long for the blog, it rejected it as over 4,096 chars! So I have reproduced here for all to delight in. But you will need to at least skim the post it is in response to for it to make sense, for that, my sincere apologies…

Now it is worth recapping what the main thrust of my original post was about, basically TL;DR, “skeptics” arguing against rape culture never seem to address feminist sources when attacking it. They never cite feminist academics or the vast pools of research that back up feminist claims about rape culture. I suggested this was a glaring omission in “skeptic” circles as they show no such reticence in deconstructing homoeopathy and bigfoot papers til the cows come home. So any “take down” of my post will be full of academic citations carefully debunked then? LOLNOPE! These are dudebro “skeptics” we are dealing with, no need to address the evidence FFS, a bit of professional victimhood about how they are bound to be labelled a “rape apologist” for daring to even think about the subject plus a load of ‘splaining with no citations at all. Yes, I’ll let that sink in, taking down my post that specifically bemoaned the lack of citations when “skeptics” address rape culture, there were, no citations at all! Not even a simple Google of what feminists have to say about the terms. My flabber is well and truly ghasted here. So my comment ->
Continue reading »

 Posted by at 10:04 pm
Jul 252014

Something has been annoying me on the internet, definitely a SIWOTI problem. So rather than waste my time saying this over and over in comment sections, I’ll lay it out here… One example of the phenomenon I’m taking issue with ->

“Theory” implies that the hypothesis of a systematically-endemic effort to rape women native to the culture has been proven via multiple experiments. I have yet to see any of this compelling evidence from the Women’s Gender Studies majors that propagate this belief on campus. I ask to see their evidence on the matter, and they just get outraged.

I’m all for equality, but in my experience Social Justice types tend to be rather intellectually dishonest. They can’t blame the moderates for not jumping on board the bandwagon, especially if they can;t even back up their claims with evidence of said claims.

So many of these, usually from self identifying “skeptics”, or members of the atheist community who supposedly pride themselves on evidence based beliefs derived from skepticism. So what is wrong with this comment?


…hypothesis of a systematically-endemic effort to rape women native to the culture…

Much easier to take down a corrupt or simplistic rendering of your opponents argument, this is a very popular technique and to be fair often people are accused of it when they are just trying to fairly paraphrase or restate their opponents arguments. Here our friend is just going for a total fantasy of his own making. Please, find me a definition of rape culture that comes close to this! I guess taking the top Google search result will suffice, even if it is Wikipedia and not necessarily what feminists themselves actually say –>

Rape culture is a phrase used to describe a culture in which rape is pervasive and normalized due to societal attitudes about gender, sex, and sexuality.

Examples of behaviours commonly associated with rape culture include victim blaming, sexual objectification, trivializing rape, denial of widespread rape, or refusing to acknowledge the harm of certain forms of sexual violence that do not conform to certain stereotypes of stranger or violent rape. Rape culture has been used to model behaviour within social groups, including prison rape and conflict areas where war rape is used as psychological warfare.

So basically a culture where sexual violence (I wouldn’t say just rape and neither would feminists in general) is pervasive and normalised. Both raw claims, so what does pervasive mean? “(especially of an unwelcome influence or physical effect) spreading widely throughout an area or a group of people.”, not quite the posters characterisation as systemic/endemic, it just needs to be widespread. Certainly not everyone needs to enact rape culture everywhere at all times for it to be a valid description of a subset of behaviours and attitudes in our culture. Although you wouldn’t know that if you argued with the “skeptics” who say it isn’t real.

Critical Thinking

So what would a Skeptic do when presented with a claim? First they should construct a steel-man, or at least a good set of descriptions and definitions widely accepted by those making the claim. The subject in this example has failed, massively. Although depressingly I’ve never seen someone arguing against rape culture actually get close to a reasonable description of what it is. When the first Google result returns a passable description and links to many feminist primary sources there is no excuse for this.

Secondly they should look for evidence that props up the claim or claims made. So here there are a number of claims from the above definition – “…behaviours commonly associated with rape culture include victim blaming, sexual objectification, trivializing rape, denial of widespread rape, or refusing to acknowledge the harm of certain forms of sexual violence“.

Usually MRAs and “Skeptics” are embodiments of rape culture themselves when they argue against it. I’ve lost count of the times (MRAs especially) kick off by saying false rape claims make up 80% (Or some made up number, this is the most recent) of all rapes, with little beyond some poorly executed study from 20 years ago on a handful of subjects, if that, the 80% claimer on Twitter cited nothing. ALL the reliable studies and statistics I’ve seen (And by that I mean large samples, UK MoJ, FBI, CDC studies, y’know sort of data a skeptic would accept), show the number is in line with any other crime, <8% (As an absolute maximum, many reliable stats put it as less than 1%). So there you have it, from the very people arguing it doesn’t exist, evidence it does indeed exist. But that’s not it!

Scientific Studies

Who knew? Feminism isn’t bloggers and Twitterers and personalities online alone, it is backed by decades of research in Psychology and the Social Sciences in general. This observation sometimes results in our rape culture denialist becoming a science denialist as a popular tactic is to at this point dismiss all of the Social Sciences, including Psychology, in one broad dismissive sweep. Unfortunately skepticism doesn’t work like that chaps, you need to look at the studies, criticise their methods, explain their conclusions to fit your assertion rape culture doesn’t exist, and boy do you have a challenge!

This is a good post on rape culture linking to many many studies that back up the claims made. Highlights (?) include “1 in 3 (30-35%) of men would rape if they knew they’d get away with it. “, backed up by a study, since replicated more recently. “Only 27% whose assault met the legal definition of rape consider themselves rape victims”, compare that to victims of other crimes, is there the same confusion when I’m physically assaulted or burgled?

But that is the tip of the iceberg, that post doesn’t even mention rape myths and their effect on these attitudes. Just look at the vast amount of evidence in Google Scholar!

…they can’t even back up their claims with evidence of said claims.

Ha, much skeptic! But what about the debunking!? I hear you cry, surely these “skeptics” have mountains of posts and articles debunking the claims of rape culture? So I decide to check for “rape myths”, one of the most established bits of research underpinning rape culture. Surely those hundreds/thousands of papers establishing it as a very real effect have legions of blog posts where they are carefully de-constructed, their methods called into question, their conclusions shown to not follow from their data? I mean I’d find it impossible to do a search of “bigfoot skeptic” and not come across a legion of good skeptics debunking claims. Not to mention “Homeopathy skeptic”, plenty of “research” on homeopathy, not one paper has slipped through the skeptical movements fingers and been left un-addressed. Well try it for yourself, Google ““rape myths” skeptic“, what do you see? ** I see lots of feminists and researchers talking about rape myths. I don’t see these legions of anti-feminist “skeptics” doing even the tiniest bit of leg work to debunk the claims feminists make. Debunk the evidence for those claims “skeptics”, come on, surely not hard for you?

Now I know the anti-feminists arguments quite well, they’ll assert the claims are obviously ridiculous, they don’t need to waste their time on debunking silly bitchesfeminists claims. But they will devote all their time to debunking bigfoot, spend hours upon hours debunking homoeopathy, let alone the atheists who devote their online lives to debunking the claim that the earth is 6000 years old. Not convinced dudes, put up or shut up.

A Suggestion For The Skeptical Anti-feminist Skeptics

Write a series of blog posts. First, write a steelman defence of rape culture, what do feminists say it is? What is the most reasonable definition currently accepted by feminists? Then how about a series on each claim above ->

1. Victim blaming, 2. Sexual objectification, 3. Trivializing rape, 4. Denial of widespread rape , 5. Refusing to acknowledge the harm of certain forms of sexual violence.

De-construct each, what is the definition given by feminists? What is the evidence for each, do a review of the papers involved. Debunk them FFS. Then maybe you’ll be able to argue against rape culture on something approaching an intellectually honest footing. You do it for Bigfoot, for homoeopathy, why not for feminism? Some bias there … Maybe?

I’ll stick with feminism for now, it has a much better opinion of me as a man than any other “movement”, skeptic or otherwise.

** I did find this post about pornography and rape, although I’ve not seen pornography directly related to rape culture I’m sure plenty of feminists say it is and it contributes to it. Plenty would also disagree, there is a lot of disagreement and debunking of feminist theory, from feminists. The skeptic community on a whole manages to stick to arguing against strawmen and never addressing the evidence. Obvious case where that is not the case is, but in a bit of horrible irony they’ve been dealing with floods of hate from their fellow “skeptics” for daring to even associate feminism with skepticism, even with a skeptical eye! So much for open discourse and debate….

 Posted by at 11:11 am
Jun 252014

After my other post detailing one of the trolls impersonating a WOC on Twitter to sow discord, we have added quite a few to @TheBlockBot! I’ve seen figures of 100′s of trolls, but here are all the ones added by the blockers under #4chantroll or #strawfeminist … And holy shit but there are a lot of pressed 4chan sock accounts O_O … Nearly 200 here alone, and we probably haven’t marked them all with the two hashtags I searched for! Might this be a good time to mention these are all blocked at #level1 on @TheBlockBot … Sign up Here!

[UPDATE: Added new ones, now a total of 253]

[Will update as more are added!]

 Posted by at 1:51 pm
Jun 212014

[UPDATE] The way described below still works, but an easier way now is to just add to the front of your links. So will work! Should make it easier to obfuscate the links…

So Twitter in their infinite wisdom have decided to make it so when someone tweets a link, the person linked to gets a notification! *SIGH*, do Twitter not realise people use their service to talk about the harassers they usually do very little about? They pass information about them using … Links! So campaigns like #YourSlipIsShowing are fairly open, but many tweeps send links about harassers and bigots to each other to warn or highlight it. Having that person notified could well bring down a storm of harassment on them.

So a sort of solution, which we are going to use for @TheBlockBot, is to set up a redirect. Anyone can use ours if they want as it’s set up on Cloudflares free service so should always be up.

So instead of putting this in your tweet ->

Put this in your tweet ->

The second URL will automatically redirect to the tweet in question, and NOT notify the person linked to. As mentioned anyone can use the above, or set up their own, it’s trivially easy if you have a domain protected by Cloudflares free service. Log into Cloudflare and choose “page rules”, then create one like this (But obviously with your own domain!) ..

And you can use it to redirect to tweets … bit of a pain if I’m honest. Hopefully Twitter will add a feature so you can stop your account generating notifications without having to protect it.

 Posted by at 1:08 pm
Jun 102014

I was reading Shakesvilles powerful piece on internet harassment, she makes the good point that trans people and WOC have extra layers of shit to deal with online. In fact you wouldn’t believe how much WOC have to go through…. I went down the #WhitesCantBeRaped rabbit hole only to see a bunch of obvious trolls and a mix of right wing Xtians, MRAs and assorted antifeminists being thoroughly trolled by it all. They seemed to think these fake accounts are real “SJWs” agreeing with the hash tag, an obvious corruption of the racism = power + prejudice aphorism. But then digging deeper some of the trolls are seriously dedicated. The people being trolled mostly accepted it when I pointed out obvious troll is obvious, but a few die-hard antifeminists insisted some of the accounts are real. They have lots of followers, they intoned. They have been tweeting for months, they told me. And actually, they have!

So here is the profile of a dedicated racist and misogynist smear campaign aimed primarily at WOC on Twitter, one that is clearly a concerted effort between multiple people. Enter “NayNayCantStop” …


Some of “her” tweets are fairly plausible.

But some fairly convenient lies and inconsistencies creep in.

Looking at “her” account “she” tweets all hours of the day with no timezone pattern.

With some fairly sporadic tweeting patterns, lots of activity then none for long periods of time.

Not to mention the vast number of fake followers “she” has.

So “she” says some shit stirring rubbish to try and sow division.

But ultimately makes it completely obvious “she” is a 4chan account.

Faking tweets.

So who is “she”?

I think it takes one to know one. This is not a normal “troll”, this person (Likely collective of douches) has been tweeting barely-plausible SJ stuff for months. For what reason? To fragment and sow division between groups of POC on Twitter and their allies. This is serious dedication and infiltration, not some spur of the moment 4chan trolling “joke”, although they did ultimately give themselves away when they joined in with the 4chan “fun”. Then I see she has friends…

With a disturbingly similar MO, and they didn’t join in with this 4chan “joke”.

Someone is seriously upset that WOC on Twitter and their allies are getting media attention, “hashtag activism” they scornfully call it. Well it’s certainly scaring the shit out of some racist misogynists, for them to devote this much time and energy to discrediting those leading the charge. Don’t let them succeed.

 Posted by at 10:48 pm
Jan 062014

So been a bit of a controversy with an addition to the block bot, in actuality an addition that occurred and was vetoed twice, a record there. Won’t mention names but this has happened three or four times with different people within parts of the Twitter communities served by the bot being added then vetoed by another person. They were all added for problematic behaviour and then vetoed by another blocker. Hypocrisy? The block bot haters will definitely say so as we are possibly not applying rules, that would get them added, uniformly. However the primary purpose of the block bot is to be the block list serving a community, it cannot serve all communities, for instance radical feminists who want to exclude trans women. They have a right to be free of abuse and can sign up to the bot and unblock/follow their fellow TERfs, or better yet create their own block bot. But it cannot be for them. Who it is for is defined by the community of blockers who the adding is crowd-sourced to. We have tried to make them the best group of intersectional feminists we can persuade to join in on Twitter, plus me. :)

But what happens when one of these “in community” tweeps is added to the bot? Is it ever right to add someone and potentially exclude them from their community? Doubtful, for me, and I think we should avoid it where ever possible. My first pangs of doubt about the block bot in this regard come from @AuntyOrthodox being added. However her community is clearly the Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist community and she could never be part of the Twitter communities the block bot serves. So adding her removed her access to people she would abuse and could never be allies with and had limited social rejection implications. However those added and then vetoed are for the most part in contact with large parts of the community the bot serves. Unfortunately other large parts of those communities dislike them with a passion.

Where I think the exception comes is in people like @TransInAction (TIA: Definitely NSFW atm) , who are not quite @AuntyOrthodox (AO) as not out of the community. But they are such obvious trolls and say such extremely bigoted shit that it’s hard to see any response other than adding them. But really that should be the level for people either in or on the periphery of the communities the bot serves. The reason? Structural violence! Well not really as that is the reason mentioned to me on Twitter, but I can’t see that as a reality, mainly hyperbole (Disclaimer on the privilege of the writer of this). Twitter could maybe be accused of that by not dealing with abuse on Twitter properly and forcing marginalised people off completely by that inaction and denying people needed social support. But we impose the bot on no one and can only run it as long as Twitter allow and our users voluntarily sign up to it. However there is limited social power associated with the block bot and the potential for closing avenues of social support within the community by othering and promoting ostracising, so they have a point. Adding to oppression of marginalised people should not be an outcome from the bot wherever possible.

At least two of those vetoed are very well known in the community as people who will be abrasive, at best, and hence worth avoiding. Like them or hate them, they are however in the community. Until they decide to remove themselves from it, either by joining the TERfs (AO) or by trollololing hard (TIA), the general principle, I think, needs to be one of caution. A higher standard of evidence and lower standard of behaviour is needed to add people who are in one of the communities served by the block bot due to the possible extra censure involved in adding them. 99.9% of those added lose nothing by not being able to contact people who would in all likelihood not want to speak to them in the first place, so no consideration is needed. It’s easy to think this is universal, however those in a community can sometimes elicit as strong or stronger negative reactions than those outside it but adding them includes an element of social rejection that is not there for the MRAs/TERfs. This needs to be taken into account, especially given the communities we are talking about are of already marginalised people who rely on that support.

So I think the bot has worked as designed, the veto was used, it has only been used on three or four people in nearly a year of use. I don’t think there are any people on the bot who should not be there, and that is the main aim. There will always be people who should be on there but are not, Twitter and the world is unfortunately replete with assholes and I’d rather miss a few than risk adding someone undeserving. Or even miss off someone deserving to avoid adding to their oppression with social rejection they might be adversely affected by. Being blocked by the block bot should be all benefit for the users with little to no possibility of drawbacks for those added (Apart from their ability to troll/hurt others).

(Disclaimer: Given the context this is likely to be seen as a defence of the person most recently vetoed. While the incident made me write this post I’ve been thinking about this since AO was added and this is meant to be a general principle not just a trans community thing. I really don’t know them, I’ve seen them be an asshole to others but not enough to add them myself, although I’ll probably not follow on Twitter any more! I think they and any people “in community” need to be consistently bigoted assholes and the community the bot serves needs to almost universally agree they should be added. This doesn’t seem to be the case at the moment as many people I respect spoke up in defence of this particular person. Admittedly more against, but any in defence is enough for a veto. Hence their community vetoed the add, the end for now.)

 Posted by at 8:58 pm
Dec 132013

Update: Twitter have folded faster than a wet tissue and backed out of the follow and RT changes… So less confidence in their competence but at least they listen to users. Maybe next time they’ll publish a roadmap or even just discuss changes before making them!

So I have a few reasons to have no faith in Twitters ability to manage the harassment and abuse that is meted out on a regular basis on their platform.  I know they need to balance freedom of speech with individual users right to privacy and freedom from harassment, this is not easy. However the very basics would be allowing users to stop certain Tweeps from stalking them. However Twitter have recently done the exact opposite, allowing even Tweeps you have blocked to follow you and (ReTweet) RT all your tweets. Of course it was possible for a stalker/obsessive to view your tweets via a search or unauthenticated Twitter session but this was inconvenient and only hardened stalkers did it. Or even for them to manually RT your tweets, but this constituted unwanted @’s and was a reportable offence. How can you report a RT that is allowed by the platform? Abusive Tweeps will use passive aggressive RT’ing to encourage their followers to dog pile people they are disagreeing with. There is now no way of cutting off an abusive conversation, if the abuser wants it to continue, it will, and all their followers will join in.

(BTW It was recently reported that the only way to stop people following is to block and report for spam. But Twitter didn’t update their documentation properly as it works no differently to a normal block. Of course that is out there now so expect a lot more spam blocking, to no effect. Well done, Twitter!)

So what else have Twitter fucked up recently? Well there was the so called “Trollocaust” where a bunch of accounts targeting a select few feminists were banned from Twitter with no recourse to appeal. Some of these seemingly for pretty much nothing, although the people running the accounts are far from innocents. Most are professional Twitter trolls… But this is such a regressive way of dealing with the problem of abuse, focus on a few high profile people and token-suspend a few accounts. What happened next was a text book example of why this method does not work. The trolls had new accounts, created using proxies, within minutes in some cases. They then proceeded to blame the select few feminists who were being @’d and abused them, to this day. I’m pretty sure it was Twitter unilaterally taking this decision, not something the feminists in question wanted. It doesn’t take a genius to realise this would create a lot of bad will against them and I doubt they would agree … Seems Twitter policy here is not being decided by any geniuses at the moment.

Not to mention that there are a LOT of marginalised people on Twitter who get a fuck-tonne of abuse, but a few high profile feminists are “protected” (However ineptly) and there is nothing to help anyone else. People who need some actual action from Twitter, not inept attempts to silence trolls who cannot be silenced.

Suspending the accounts is mostly useless, yes if they tweet threats, dox, etc then suspend them. But keeping the accounts contained and easily ignorable is the proper approach as otherwise they will be back with new ones in minutes and nothing to lose. The trolls have a freedom of speech right to say whatever they like in their community, they don’t have the right to be heard outside of it. Twitter should be helping communities block out and ignore hateful speech, if they want to. This flexibility is sadly lacking at the moment.

Now I am biased as I wrote and help run @The_Block_Bot, no point looking that up as it’s suspended, here is where it gets ridiculous. I’d be perfectly happy if Twitter implemented something like the block bot to filter out abusive users by community action and put me out of a job. (Note this is for each community as clearly one communities abusive user is another communities favourite Tweep). Centralised top-down filtering cannot work as the standards applied will be either so watered down that they barely help anyone, or they will be too restrictive and silence Tweeps on Twitter. But Twitter have been mixing both these approaches up and getting it wrong from both angles recently. The Block Bot is at least a grass-roots attempt by a Twitter community to curate their own experience, not be dictated to by Twitters scatter-gun rules.  (Worth noting the bot is still working fine – sign up! Just the account is suspended.)

So why ridiculous? Well I recently got a reply on why the @The_Block_Bot account is suspended ….


Your account was suspended because it was found to be violating the Twitter Rules (, specifically our rules around participating in targeted abuse.

Your account will not be restored.

Thanks,  Twitter Trust & Safety

Yes that’s right an account that auto-tweets like this ->

I just added  to my L1 blocklist …

Constitutes targeted abuse… As defined by Twitter …

Targeted Abuse: You may not engage in targeted abuse or harassment. Some of the factors that we take into account when determining what conduct is considered to be targeted abuse or harassment are:

  • if you are sending messages to a user from multiple accounts;
  • if the sole purpose of your account is to send abusive messages to others;
  • if the reported behavior is one-sided or includes threats

LOLWUT!? The account never @’s anyone for fucks sake :D … Follow @Block_Review as the backup account, unless Twitter undo this daft decision it may become the main account or @TheBlockBot will!

Some accounts not considered to be engaging in “targeted abuse” below … TRIGGER WARNING … (Yes for some reason it comes after the Block Bots vicious automated tweets of DOOM!)

Tiny selection from Level1 blocks, remember not targeted abuse folks …


 Posted by at 12:50 am
Nov 182013

I was going to write a comment on this post ->

But it got ridiculously long so I decided to make it into a post. Amazing to me that people put on a list that we think are worthy of maybe ignoring is still eliciting blog posts months later! All the block bot does is call out what we think are harmful behaviours and suggest to our users they may not want unsolicited contact from these people. If the users know and trust us then they will use it, even if we get it “wrong” and block someone they will like there is no harm here. Incredibly rarely I see a block bot user mention someone in a conversation or someone they found through search etc. turned out to be blocked (I can think of two, maybe three, occasions where this happened and was due to the block bot). They then proceeded, in all cases, to unblock the person and talk to them. One occasion only ended up in that person stopping being a block bot user, ironically they changed their mind, both about the person they were following and the block bot itself. Far, far, more often, many times some weeks even, I see block bot users exclaiming how they are glad person X is blocked for them. They either missed a nasty tweet or saw someone else dealing with a person they have already auto-blocked. It gives them control over who contacts them without having to go into protected mode and make it so no one can see their tweets. Frankly I care about what the users have to say about the bot and not those on it or on the sidelines hating it. I’m not above criticising their half-arsed attempts as a critique however :D

So, the blog post, I found it hilariously lacking in any self awareness … The two best tweets, reasons for him being on the list, are not mentioned but reproduced below… In response to Julia Larson getting rape “jokes” (Pretty close to a threat in at least one case) and lots of nasty abuse.

“I’m not saying it’s justified but a tweet like that is like putting a sign on your door saying it’s unlocked”

“Not to sound like I’m victim blaming, but sending tweets like that aren’t you kind of asking to be trolled?”

He also started this lie about Julia Larson, triggering her PTSD and causing her to go offline for a few days to recover. Of course she is “over sensitive” as far as this person is concerned. From his position as PTSD-cop, I assume?

I wonder if any of that sounds convincing when he played it back in his head? “I’m not saying X but… “, is a great example of reason_OFF (His twitter id is “reason_on”). Let me help him, the correct response to people being nastily misogynistic is to tell THEM not to be nastily misogynistic. Not to tell those who are the targets that it’s their fault somehow. Racism, sexism, etc are not going to stop if we blame the people subject to it for the abuse they get. Some feminists have unfortunately called women like Ann Coulter/ Sarah Palin nasty sexist things in response to their bigotry, this just perpetuates sexism and it makes things worse. So even if Julia somehow managed to be that bad in his and his friends views it wouldn’t justify sexist abuse. Fortunately the feminists I like are against using sexist slurs to demean anyone, friend or foe, and they have the conviction to call people out for it, their allies as well. I’d much rather be a part of a community that will tell me when I’m wrong or doing something harmful rather than one that ignores it as “free speech” (Well some things, if someone started being anti-vax, religious or whatever their pet cause is you can be sure they’ll call their own and others out for it, but that’s different, somehow).

As for the “too sensitive for their own good” crapola… Any human being when subject to constant abuse will be sensitive to it. This is called being a human. The evidence free world view that victims of abuse need to “toughen up” might work for some. Great, I’m really happy for them. How in the world this manages to be treated as gospel by a group of so-called “skeptics” I don’t know. Where are the studies backing this view up? I doubt you’ll find many reputable therapists espousing the same view – if it works for them then that’s great – trying to make it a universal “rule” and other and demean people who don’t fit it is utter bullshit. Unless they have the evidence this works?

An extreme example of this is someone who got caught up in the arguments about the block bot with his “side”. She mentioned that her childhood abuse meant that the word cunt actually did trigger her PTSD on its own, let alone being called a cunt as an insult. Hence she tries to avoid situations where people will be calling her this, to protect her mental health. The response from someone his side? To call her a cunt. No call-out from anyone his “side” as this is perfectly acceptable behaviour in his social circle. Nothing can be done about it (Free speech!!) so you need to “toughen up” or fuck off the internet. Lucky he didn’t tell her vaccines have dangerous mercury in them, bit of a non-sequitur, but you can be assured a pile-on of his friends would have resulted from that harmful behaviour!

To be totally clear they are free to have this social circle where little apart from a belief in a god (Or anti-vax etc) will get any opprobrium from those in the clique. We don’t want to infringe on their freedom to do anything they want to do. Totally up to them. However much like the way they socially punish and “blacklist” anyone having a god belief in their clique we socially punish and “blacklist” anyone acting in the way I describe above. For much the same reasons, we think acting like that is wrong. It’s irrational, it does real harm. So we criticise and argue with people that do. We also allow people to block those with their victim blaming “professional victim” ideology (as well as some others, TERf, MRA, etc)  through the bot as some don’t want to deal with people on Twitter like that. That is also the users of @the_block_bot’s choice … Frankly besides the whining about “echo chambers” and “lack of discourse”, I think the bot has created more discourse about this subject than was occurring before. But only those that want to be part of the discussion are part of it, not possible to force the users of the bot into the discussions unless they want to be a part of them.

So he cannot see why the bot is run the way it is, it doesn’t fit with his standards, good. I see that as a great endorsement that we are managing the bot the right way. If any of the bots users have some criticism please let us know!

 Posted by at 12:24 pm
Oct 202013

Never heard of this account @GSpellChecker, could be a parody as being a godless spellchecker seems a bit weird. Does it spend all day correcting theists spelling? I really can’t be arsed to Google it (irony!) and it doesn’t really matter in regard to the point I want to make. Anyway this is about @the_block_bot, as usual when a “big name” is added to the list because one of the blockers thinks they said something sexist, racist etc there is a collective testerical whine that erupts from the fans of these accounts that usually lasts for days. Seems to only ever be the atheist community that have this problem, to a lesser extent Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists have a good moan. MRAs a bit, even the Christian right have a bit of a go, but their followers rarely pile-on like atheists. Strange phenomenon as I’d expected a backlash when a high profile GOP politician had a go.

Pretty incendiary and I expected some shit… Got a little, but nothing like you get for adding an atheist account (big name one) to the “annoying” level. Bear in mind Todd was added to Level1 as a racist, sexist, transphobic piece of shit. Calling an atheist “annoying” and saying they may be worthy of ignoring is worse than Nazism, apparently. They cannot take criticism at all.

This one also typifies a lot of the problem with atheism online, total inability to admit to being wrong, or in this case total disinterest in learning only in one-upmanship. A veneer of intellectual superiority is what these “big name” accounts seem to go for and they have to keep up appearances despite the facts of the matter.

Could it be true? Well this spellchecker account got involved when one of the reasons for adding someone was “cismansplaining”, this was then reduced to just “mansplaining”. Whereupon the usual set of people not at all interested in actually learning what this means decide I have to explain it to them. Actually I don’t, Google is there for a reason. Which I point out.

.. and immediately “quoted” by the spellchecker account

Unfortunately it digs itself in further ..

Doesn’t see that even condescendingly suggesting someone look a word up themselves is rather different to condescendingly explaining what it means to them. So what is the definition of mansplaining? Urban dictionary has a good one ->

To delighting in condescending, inaccurate explanations delivered with rock solid confidence of rightness and that slimy certainty that of course he is right, because he is the man in this conversation

I suggested they look it up themselves, maybe condescendingly even, but not explaining. Being just condescending has a word already – condescending. The reason spellchecker is wrong is right there in the word! But they don’t see it and double/triple/quadruple down on it … To maintain that veneer to their followers as they cannot be seen to be wrong under any circumstances. But I didn’t realise how far they’d go. I had more important things to do – help make a pumpkin with my daughter and lose the best decorated competition at the village hall!

…and I give up as the spellchecker is clearly uninterested in learning anything, just scoring points. This is apparently a #win for the intellectually vacuous spellchecker. I can live with that and ignore.

So I think that’s it, the “big name” account has it’s win to crow to it’s brainless supporters… But no, this one cannot let it go. Maybe because it knows it was wrong and another account, @scthinks, carried on and the questions posed expose that. I happen to see @scthinks TL the next day and find hours later spellchecker is still arguing about the definition of the word and me being wrong .. AND, here is the unbelievable bit, it STILL hasn’t provided a definition of the word or demonstrated it knows what it means despite being given one. Seems if it isn’t in it’s magic dictionary then it doesn’t exist.

Clearly no need to agree on a common definition when arguing over the meaning of a word O_o … And this account is a fan of the dictionary?

It’s clear spellchecker has no interest in knowing the meaning of the word, just cannot give it up when it’s been proven wrong. Keep going to wear down the next opponent then claim VICTORY! #Winning … Hint, victory is when your interlocutor agrees with you or learns something, not when you’ve worn them down into giving up. Seems the atheist community on Twitter is mostly uninterested in this.
victory baby is victorious

 Posted by at 4:46 pm
Oct 012013


Twitter have agreed our changes meet with their Terms of Service and the bot does not and could not trigger their spam algorithm. (I’ve already proven it was not doing this, but it is possible as it grew it might have started triggering suspensions. This is now not possible).

So looks like thanks goes out to Cathy Brennan and the assorted anti-Botters who reported the application to Twitter. While your cut and paste objections were not valid, Twitter did have issues… But now, thanks to her we can say, as vetted by Twitter, go sign up to the Block Bot in the knowledge it is in compliance with Twitters ToS and it does not silence or censor any accounts by triggering their suspension.

Follow the Twitter account here :  @TheBlockBot

Sign up to the automated blocking here :  SIGN UP NOW!

For those with an inquiring mind here is the bulk of the discussion between myself and Twitter Platform Operations. Omitted the back and forth where we are trying to find a solution as its pretty boring, they don’t want to tell us anything about the spam algorithm and we need to come up with a way of limiting the blocks so it is not triggered. It’s also possible they do implicitly give away some details by rejecting some options so I’ve felt it’s better to just keep it all private and show the beginning where we were suspended and the end where they agree with our proposed solution.

I notice the application is suspended a few days after it stops working… Fill out the WTF form on Twitters help centre.
Aug 30 04:44 pm (PDT)
Application Name: The Atheism+ Block Bot
Details: The application is a shared blocklist that users sign up to for blocking annoying -> abusive users. This is a valued application by our community. Would really like an explanation of what in the TOS we have violated.
Twitter username: @the_block_bot

Sep 06 04:14 pm (PDT)
Your application was suspended from interacting with the Twitter API because it violates our API Terms of Service ( ). Specifically, users are not given any input into whom they choose to block, causing user surprise. Furthermore this application, at scale, takes advantage of our automated spam detection systems to suspend users who have not violated the Twitter Rules. Please review our rules and make the necessary changes to bring your application into compliance. Once the application has been fixed to comply with our policies and we confirm these changes, we will reconsider your API suspension.
Please also keep in mind that registering new keys to bypass the previous suspension of an API key without our approval is a violation of our API Terms of Service and may result in the permanent suspension of this API key and any affiliated developer accounts.
Thanks for your understanding,
Twitter Platform Operations

[Few emails back and forth trying to work out what we need to do, eventually this email hits on an agreed solution.]

Sep 11 03:51 pm (PDT)
1. User surprise.
–> Add to the sign_up page a clear list of who will be blocked and require the user to confirm they have reviewed it with a tick box at the bottom of the list.
–> Add a new page that when a user signs up to it will unblock all the blocks… Make it clear on the sign_up page and website that this option is available should they want to leave the bot. (I assume doing the max 15 per 15 mins of unblock is no issue API wise)
2. Spam algorithm.
–> Track how many different users block an account when its added to the bot in a 15 minute period, limit this to a configurable number. (When the app had only a few users there was presumably no danger, but now we are bigger this is an issue -> so make it so the bot effectively has 50 users and only 50 blocks are applied to a blocked account in a 15 min / period max? Total guess on if that is beneath your spam algorithm limit, it currently will do 500 as there are about that many users. This should stop the bot being more likely to suspend a user as the number of people using it increases. Please advise)
–> Add blocking help link ( to the sign_up and information pages on the website.
So assuming the configurable number is agreed on – how do we proceed? I need to test these code changes outside of the current user base, so will probably need to create a new sign_up page and put a few test accounts on it. Do you want access to that then you can verify we have made the required changes?
Thanks for your help.
James Billingham.

Sep 16 02:21 pm (PDT)
Thank you for making these changes to reduce user surprise. Unfortunately we cant give specifics regarding thresholds and timing of our anti-spam systems, just please ensure these blocks are not applied aggressively and in a reasonable timeframe. Please let us know when these changes have been made, and we can review them for compliance.
Twitter Platform Operations

Sep 23 03:17 pm (PDT)
We have made the changes as requested … The test sign up page is here –>
[test URL redacted]

As discussed, now for every new block added to the block list it limits the number of people signed up to the service who are able to block this new account in 15 minutes to 50. This means the rate that blocks are applied to a blocked account will never increase as more people sign up to the service, it will just take longer and longer for them to be applied for all users.
As for you personally testing it the rate at which you get the blocks will be the same as before. I assume it is more the rate at which blocks are applied to a particular account is the issue not the the rate a diverse set of blocks are applied to a users account when they sign up. This is limited to 1/min which is obviously a lot less than the Twitter API limits given create/block is unlimited.
Hopefully this is sufficient to get all the applications under @the_block_bot and @ool0n unsuspended.
James Billingham.

Sep 30 01:40 pm (PDT)
We’ve unsuspended your API key, but going forward you must make sure your application adheres to our API Terms of Service ( ), including our Automation Rules and Best Practices ( If in the future we find that your application is in violation of these terms and allowing or encouraging users to violate the Twitter Rules (, we will suspend the API key again.
Twitter Platform Operations

Sep 30 03:30 pm (PDT)
Thanks for your help! We will not change the code to circumvent these restrictions…. It will all go on github to be totally open.

Aaaand … We’re back, baby!

 Posted by at 9:44 pm