Yesterday, I put up a post urging the CONvergence board to listen to their volunteers regarding something they screwed up during con. Shortly after the post went up, it received a longish, bizarre comment:

I am so sorry to hear about how you were treated, and disappointed to hear what ASSHOLES the convergence organizers are. The fact that they let asshole dudebros sexually harass you without consequence is completely fucking inexcusable. I am so glad that I didn’t get to go this year, and I am damned sure I will never be back to their shitty con again.

I wasn’t sexually harassed, and no one “let” it happen. I mentioned that someone tried to comfort me by telling me I didn’t look my age and put their hand on my shoulder while doing it. It was dumb and sexist. It was out of keeping with con norms. Had I told him to leave me alone and had he done anything other than leaving me alone, I would have had full and nearly instant backup. I’ve praised CONvergence for this plenty. I simply had other things to deal with at that point.

And of course, like typical dudebros, they treat their female staff like shit. Your skills normally earn hundreds of dollars an hour, yet they expect you to work for free! And you were heckling them out on top of your job and the other sucessful organizations you work so hard for. And it is no surprise that they fired their web designer in the middle of the event- they probably just fired her so a man could get credit for all of her hard work.

To the extent this paragraph is remotely coherent, it displays an interesting assumption that the board of CONvergence is all men. It isn’t. It never has been.

While so many of you were at that con, the harassers came out in full force. On PZ’s.blog, somebody posted volumes of verbose sexist bullshit to try to convince people to forgive Bora Z’s sexual harassment. Even worse, another entitled dudebro shit up a thread on Ophelia’s blog. This person posted in graphic detail about his disgusting personal sexual proclivities that involve humiliating women. It was completely inappropriate, and of somebody had said similar things on a workplace v they would be fired for sexual harassment. The saddest thing is that he is a bogey that I used to respect and be a fan of.

Oh, look. Someone thinks they’re clever by talking about Richard Carrier without mentioning him by name. Presumably they think they’re inviting me to be a hypocrite by condemning the behavior until I know who it is. How cute. For the record, I haven’t read the comments, but I’m pretty big on letting people opt out of knowing the details of your sex life, blog colleagues included.

Yhe best way to deal with the convergence Assholes is for you to beat them. You will have your own conference in Minneapolis next month-make it so good that it puts their con to shame. The best part is that you control things, so you can make sure that all of the hard-working staff ( including yourself) Get paid what they deserve. Make it so good that Secular Women Work 2 will be THE premiere conference in Minneapolis next year.

I can’t wIt til next month!

Gee, someone knows that I’m one of the organizers of Secular Women Work, and they really support it and are totes attending even though they know so little about it that they think it’s in competition with a science fiction and fantasy convention where ridiculous numbers of my friends volunteer. Yeah. Also, I’m not making any money from it. Kickstarter proceeds were turned over to Minnesota Atheists, and I have to submit for reimbursement for anything I spend.

The comment was so ridiculously out of touch and over the top that it lasted maybe all of two minutes on the post. It’s just possible it took that long from the time the email came in until I verified that the single prior comment from this person was every bit as ridiculous, if shorter.

Then I waited. While doing that, I discovered that the same person had left a couple of other comments on Jason’s blog. Same IP. Similar patterns. Over-the-top “support” against harassment, assumption that FtB bloggers are in this for the money, complete lack of understanding of actual positions anyone takes, trying to see whether we’ll tolerate behavior from someone if they write here. The polite but confused comment Jason left in reply to one of them says it all, really.

There’s probably more, given that some of those patterns have repeated elsewhere in comments on FtB, but I figured I’d waited long enough by then. I was right. From the slimepit:

Judging by her latest missive, Zvan is somebody that you wouldn’t even want to employ as a volunteer. There is c also an interesting comment on the piece. https://archive.is/eK11O

Gosh. That comment was made, noticed, and archived by a pitter in the two minutes it was public? (Within one minute based on the archive timestamp.) Yeah, no. Also, they archived the post-commenting URL instead of the post’s URL.

It would seem that the slimepitters have run so thoroughly out of things to complain about that they’re now manufacturing them so they have something to show each other. The poor, poor dears.

There’s also this, from the same person, after other people had figured out the comment was gone:

I wonder if Stephanie Zvan stays up all night, unable to sleep, shaking with rage, anxiously wondering if every single comment on her low traffic blog is a slymepit troll?

Nah. I expect your bullshit comments, but they’re not that hard to spot, even if we sometimes give them the benefit of the doubt. You don’t read for comprehension, and you don’t understand even the basics of the issues we’re talking about. As always, your dedication to hanging out with people who tell you what I have to say instead of just reading it mucks with your perceptions until they are simply absurd. It’s just your buddies who can’t tell the difference between commenters in good faith and people like you.

So go play somewhere else, kidlets, and maybe try to get out more. Thanks for this, though:

Zvan is far more organized and deliberate in her machinations and she doesn’t succumb to rage, ego or the need for others’ approval. She’s scary.

It’s always nice to be recognized as effective, even if someone doesn’t know the word for it.


23 thoughts on “Pitposting

  1. 1

    There was someone on Pharyngula using the same tactic, plagiarised large chunks of a Carrier blog post to troll the comment section about the Bora sexual harassment apologetics. They were all removed, but it seems the FTB trolls have a clever new tactic. By “new” I mean something 4chan were doing years ago, by “clever” I mean completely transparent and childish.

    I wonder if any of these anti-“SJW” types will ever manage a realistic fake. When 4chan were creating the fakers exposed in #YourSlipIsShowing, they only fooled the terminally gullible. I’m pretty sure I and my fellow “SJWs” could affect their mode of conversation and infiltrate their ranks w/o being detected. Especially the reasonable ones, as you’d not even have to be overtly bigoted, just obdurately deny everything and be hyperskeptical. Difference is we have better things to do, and what would it prove anyway? I can’t understand the mindset at all, you’d have to be pretty desperate / pathetic / time rich to resort to that, with little to gain.

  2. 2

    Two options:
    1)They genuinely believe their own bullshit and they’re sitting completely dumbfounded at how on earth we managed to see through their clever ruse.

    2) They’re just throwing a wide net. If they try twenty times and we fall for it once, they’ll happily ignore the nineteen times we saw through it and claim victory.

    Most likely, it’s both, varying with the individual.

  3. 3

    Was the Ophelia blog in reference to Richard? I thought it was referring to her blig and the BDSM comments about The Onion article?

    A guess a pitizen went into the comments about raged against Richard because “reasons”.

  4. 4

    Interesting. They must have thought we’d be so distracted by our long weekend at Convergence that they could slither in and try to sow discord without our noticing.

    My slymer got himself banned and his comments erased after a bit more than a day, but I was getting alerts from lots of readers — they’re trivially easy to detect when they try to pretend to be a Social Justice Warrior, but get all the ideas wrong.

    I’ve put his email and IP addresses on the back channel, you should see if it’s the same guy.

  5. 5

    Oh, yeah, they also screwed up by ranting about the Convergence team — this is a volunteer-run con, and they’ve always been wonderfully helpful. That doesn’t mean they’re perfect, but they do a great job of trying to be perfect.

  6. 7

    “There was someone on Pharyngula using the same tactic, plagiarised large chunks of a Carrier blog post to troll the comment section about the Bora sexual harassment apologetics.”

    they did something like that while back, using quotes of old stuff PZ had said abut Islam/Muslims, and behaving as if it was some huge gotcha when people called the comments Islamophobic; because of course no one ever criticized PZ for those comments when they were originally posted, and neither has Pharyngula experienced a serious SJW-ward shift over the years. nope, must be hypocrisy :-p

  7. 8

    But Jadehawk, surely your views and behaviour have been set in stone since about age 12? It’s true of the pitbores so they expect everyone else to be an unchanging mannequin, or hypocrisy!

  8. 9

    Yyou know you’ve lost the battle when you have to resort to false-flag ops and/or deceit.

    oolon @1:

    I wonder if any of these anti-“SJW” types will ever manage a realistic fake. When 4chan were creating the fakers exposed in #YourSlipIsShowing, they only fooled the terminally gullible.

    I dunno, there’s enough misinformation/misunderstanding out there that I worry a layperson will mistake a false-flag for a legit feminist-on-feminist argument. My preference is to string them along until their bullshit is visible from space, then deploy the banhammer or wrap them in Markov Chains.

    Having said that, a YouTube troll that once tried false-flagging me only managed to convince some bigots on a PUA forum that they were legit; even my non-feminist friends immediately spotted it was a troll. I do wonder how much of the “feminist craziness” these bigots peddle is really just self-trolling. If you think SJWs are just saying empty words, the corollary is that you have no way to tell legit usage from illegit.

  9. 10

    I wonder if Stephanie Zvan stays up all night, unable to sleep, shaking with rage, anxiously wondering if every single comment on her low traffic blog is a slymepit troll?


    “Stephanie has no life, all she does is monitor her blog for trolls.”


    “She left that post up for such a long time, she’s either lazy or she agrees with it.

    No doubt there is an actual, proper length of time for deleting the post when neither of the above statements would be used against her.

    I’m guessing that time period would be about negative ten minutes.

  10. 11

    ^ Nope, they’ll always have a complaint ready no matter how long the comment was left visible, no matter what comment was. Something along the lines of “My comment that interesting comment by a totes unknown author was deleted… so much for free thought blogs yukity yuk!”

  11. 14

    Stephanie, your post title is sardonically descriptive. Posts such as these validate the slymies — not that I imagine you’re unaware of that, but I think that whether the net benefit of acknowledging this tactic and your awareness of it is positive is a matter of judgement.

    (Slymies crave attention)

  12. 15

    Commiserations from a new comer to FtB. I was venturing out of the Lounge for the first time in the Bora thread when that horrible Yeti? crashed the party.

    Here’s a friendly “best luck” for your conference next month. Unfortunately England is a bit far away for me to attend. Will there be transcripts and / or Youtubes? It would be a pity not to get the activist message out to the wider world.

  13. 16

    Hi John,

    Just stop. Maybe you don’t realize how condescending it is to describe the Slymepit to someone who obviously knows all about them, and tell her what to do based on your understanding, but….well, it really is. Don’t do that.

  14. 17

    I cannot imagine any amount of ignoring that would make the slightest difference anyway. They have a whole forum dedicated to talking about the people they obsess over. It’s not like they are going to get bored and start an atheoskeptic knitting group after a few years never mentioning them.

  15. 18

    Gretchen @16, your protectiveness is endearing and I bow to your expertise regarding condescension, but you should be aware I didn’t tell anyone what to do.

  16. 19

    Oolon @17, pedantic as this might seem, ignoring is not something quantitative.

    (I tried to resist the temptation to indulge in a Yodaism)

    Anyway, I wasn’t referring to their activities, I was referring to their gratification.

  17. 20

    oolon @17:

    I cannot imagine any amount of ignoring that would make the slightest difference anyway. They have a whole forum dedicated to talking about the people they obsess over. It’s not like they are going to get bored and start an atheoskeptic knitting group after a few years never mentioning them.

    This. When FTB bloggers don’t have any material, they focus on the commenters or make fan art. They always find a way to fan the flames of hate. A better approach is to exploit their obsessiveness by periodically tossing some cognitive dissonance their way, deflating one of their memes and making them question what they really believe. To quote past me:

    See, there are two main hypothesis of the SlymePit: either they are a hate group targeting feminists and those interested in social justice, or they are a band of skeptics ridiculing some clueless peers who’ve practically turned a few bad ideas into a religion. I don’t think I need to tell you which one SlymePit members believe is true, which

    leads to an angle of attack: if their self-perception is true, then their ideas should be unassailable even if you temporarily adopt their core premises as your own. If their self-perception is false, then pointing [out] contradictions between their beliefs and reality ratchets up their level of cognitive dissonance, leading them to either turn into self-refuting conspiracy nuts … or drop out and go silent. Throw enough grit in their wheels, and they’ll grind themselves into extinction.

    Each hypothesis makes slightly different predictions. If they’re a hate group, then they’ll dig hard to find some “dirt” they can fling back at you, no matter how off-topic; if they’re a bunch of skeptics, they’ll stick to the argument. If a hate group, they’ll go for quantity over quality, firing off long rambling posts with little care for the quality of their citations (if they cite at all); if a skeptic group, they’ll go for quality over quantity, writing only as long as needed to set up their argument and being careful to track down reasonably-strong citations. Hate group? They’ll camp on a thread, preferably in groups, and try goading people into replying to them. Skeptic group? They might toss out a bit of snark, but they’ll leave when the argument is done.

    The strategy I previously outlined will never work against a skeptic group. They’ll either fail to generate contradictions, or give up when they realize you’re goading them into continuing, or your index post will be laughable to the average person.

    But it works like a charm against a hate group. Oh my goodness, does it work! I can tell them exactly what I’m going to do, I can openly beg them to do exactly what I want, and they’ll blindly follow. Because that’s how a hate group must behave; they must keep talking to silence their targets, they must dig for every edge they can, no matter how lousy their arguments, otherwise they’ll wither away.

    So let me make my warning to the SlymePit more explicit: I’m going to keep you talking. I’m going to let the contradictions wrack up. And I’m going to punt out an index post. Again. And again. And again.

    Periodically taking them to task is the best way to encourage them to wither away.

  18. 21

    Seriously HJ I don’t think they are going to wither away or that there is a “right” way to deal with them. Especially for you and I to determine, we are not targeted by them for constant harassment like the bloggers here are. We can approach them with a degree of detachment which is dangerous and partly why I haven’t read the pit for over two years now. Other than the odd mistakenly followed link, I had a good laugh when Ophelia linked to the photoshops thread and they were still doing me! Thus demonstrating how I can laugh at them when some people on this blog network have a constant buzz of harassment from them. I can get away from it, they can’t.

    Bloggers here constantly have these people infecting their careers with a tiring Gish gallop of grievances, lies and half truths. The pitters just making up photoshops and stories about me doesn’t harm me because it doesn’t affect my day to day life, I can laugh at it, walk away whenever I want. The internet is a hobby for me, separate to “real life”, whereas it is more than that for the bloggers here. They write books, have speaking engagements, use the internet for their secular/skeptic/atheist careers. The pitters while claiming to not mess with peoples jobs and lives are doing exactly that to the people at FTB who they target. To walk away they’d need to give up a big part of their lives and careers, “oolon” disappears online and it hardly registers for me apart from a sigh of relief from my OH that I’m spending less time arguing on the internet. So I personally think however they deal with it is up to them and that is the right way cos I barely have a frame of reference.

  19. 22


    Seriously HJ I don’t think they are going to wither away or that there is a “right” way to deal with them.

    The stats I’m looking at show a gradual decline. But I’m not about to break out my party hat, at minimum because those stats are incomplete.

    As for the rest, I’m in complete agreement. There is no right way to deal with the ‘Pit, not many people can deal with them, let alone would, and I’m not about to challenge any of that. What I am offering is something that might work, to the people who are willing to deal with them. I’m providing hope, with a plan that everyone can peer review and verify for themselves. Even the ‘Pit can help out; hell, you could argue it’s in the ‘Pit’s best interest to help.

  20. 23

    Actually I see from the crowd source fund site that the baseline funding covers the videoing and Youtubing of the Secular Women Work talks. Cool.

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