The Sad Demise of The Stamp Forum at Delphi

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(Updates at the bottom of the page.)

July 22, 2014

[Disclaimer: My comments are in no way to be construed as criticisms of either Dana or Dennis, the other two moderators over at Delphi. I want to make that clear from the start.]

I know that people are talking about this on various philatelic forums, but the real story of what is happening at the Delphi stamp forum, aka "Stamp Collecting Forum" is not being seen, due to the forum host deleting all inquiries and opposing viewpoints and banning everyone who publicly questions what is going on. So I felt it appropriate to give a different side of the story, one that the membership over there will never see.

Starting several months ago, Chris (the forum host, effectively "the owner") started perceiving any opposing viewpoint or debate as either a personal insult or an attempt to undermine him, both at Delphi and elsewhere. This escalated into a full-blown breakdown of communications at the beginning of July 2014. At that time, I felt it appropriate to step down from my position as behind-the-scenes moderator, a position that I had held for over a year, assisting Chris, Dana, and Dennis in policy matters, etc., just not acting in a public enforcement capacity.

This then prompted Dennis to step down. He had wanted to resign several months earlier, but had stayed on to help Dana.

Following this, Chris adopted the practice of editing people's posts that were either questioning of forum policy or events, or had opposing viewpoints, removing their comments and questions so no one else could see them, and replacing them with "A response to your question/comment was sent via PM. Thanks! - Chris"... effectively whitewashing public perception.

What the membership there did not realize was that Chris was NOT actually contacting the parties in question... instead he was simply banning them from the forum so their questions could not be brought up again... a very tyrannical approach, especially when you consider that historically this forum had been very opposed to censorship and draconion administrative intervention.

More people started inquiring about what was going on, what with the spate of admin-edited posts all over the place... more bannings... truly sad.

I assume that Chris just feels it's easier for him to deal with adversity by banning opposing viewpoints rather than having candid discussion out in the open. As host, that is his prerogative, however he is hastening the demise of the forum by banning longstanding and contributing members just for having opinions different from his.

To date, the following people have been banned by Chris that I am aware of... there may be others.

  • Ian Billings (NORVIC)
  • Don Denman (DonD22)
  • Art Launier (Archer47)
  • Rolin Lewis
  • Bill Weiss (Weiss111)
  • Myself (1stIssueRevs)
  • Panda Cachets (ROLLIN1) [banned the morning of 7/23]
  • SeanDail [banned the morning of 7/23]

Unfortunately, at the time I didn't think to save screen captures of everything, however I was able to salvage some people's posts prior to their being expunged. I also saved the text of the post that got me banned, a post that was made at Chris's request I might add, a request that I reveal my behind-the-scenes moderator status, or if I didn't, he would.

My original post, made July 20, 2014:

I've received inquiries and requests off the board as to how I know what I know, so I guess it's time to "come clean" as it were.

I was a behind-the-scenes moderator of the forum, primarily in an advisory rather than enforcement capacity, since shortly after Chris assumed the position of host last year, up until July 11 of this year, when I resigned my position. Dennis formally resigned his position shortly thereafter the same day.

When I originally volunteered to assist Chris, Dana, and Dennis with moderation, I requested that it be in a nonpublic capacity. I didn't want my historically contentious relationship with Ken Lawrence, and to a lesser degree Bill Weiss, to become a distraction or interfere with the operations of the forum. To be clear: when it came to any disciplinary decisions involving either of either Ken or Bill I deferred to the other moderators and never once edited or deleted their posts.

For the most part we worked well together, with Dana and Dennis handling the vast majority of day-to-day moderator duties. I maintained a hands-off approach to any public-facing moderation for obvious reasons.

I will admit that my opinion and recommendation regarding Bill's eBay listings and external website changed over time, as the context changed. Other people talking about eBay listings and Bill's questioning the treatment of those posts compared to his own, prompted (rightfully so in my opinion) a revisiting of the issue.

In early July, communication between Chris and myself broke down, both here and elsewhere, and I felt it best to resign. What I felt was healthy internal debate and a natural evolution of policy as situations changed, Chris felt was undermining him and insulting to him personally. I was unwilling to continue if I felt the person who was in charge was taking any simple disagreement or alternative viewpoint as personal insult.

Don Denman's recent ban from the forum was done by Chris unilaterally, as far as I know. I could be wrong as to Dana's involvement as I no longer have access to the moderator folder.

Personally, I think that Dana is currently in a very difficult and thankless position, especially given the way Chris is currently perceiving contrary viewpoints. Dana, along with Dennis, have handled the lion's share of the administrtative duties here. Dana is far more even-tempered than Chris, far more involved on a daily basis, and in my opinion would make a far better host for the forum.

I was content to not reveal my previous moderator involvement, but a PM from Chris earlier today implied that if I did not reveal it, it would be revealed for me. Given the circumstances, I prefer to post the information myself.

I don't know if this post will be allowed to stand as is, or if it will be edited or deleted, or if I will be banned as a result. The recent practice of Chris editing people's posts, removing their questions so that others cannot see what was asked, is one that I vehemently oppose. It's ok to reply to someone's inquiury saying you will answer the question offline is one thing; whitewashing the original questions and comments is another entirely.

For what little it's worth, I don't like the direction things are headed at the moment. In my opinion, the state of the forum is in a precarious position.

As it turns out, my prediction about being banned was correct. The above post was replaced by this after about an hour and a half. Of course, no communication was ever made as implied in the edit.:

screen capture

I don't know how many people saw my post in the approximately 90 minutes it was there. However, some of the regulars started to inquire what was going on with their forum...

From Art Launier the following morning:

screen capture

Two hours later turned into this and Art was banned from the forum:

screen capture

Ian Billings tried on a number of fronts to inject reason into the discussion:

screen capture

Which turned into the following.

screen capture

Another...

screen capture

Then redacted from public view and Ian was banned.

screen capture

Some members are continuing to try and figure out what is going on, but answers are not forthcoming. The deletions and bannings continue. It's a shame that a forum with a long history has to end up this way, with nonstop post edits and deletions and member bans, but it is what it is and only one person can change it. At this point it looks like the forum will just fade into obscurity as people flee the sinking ship.

If you are looking for a more welcoming philatelic forum that actually gets high traffic on a wide range of stamp collecting topics, I recommend that you join the rest of the Delphi exiles at www.stampcommunity.org. I have been a member there for approximately 3 years.


Update: July 23, 2014

Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive...

Late last night Chris posted an update that, when taken at face value, looks as if he's seen the error of his ways and wants to make amends... a fresh start.

To quote the venerable Lee Corso, "Not so fast, my friend!" All is not as it appears. There were some level-headed, yet critical replies:

Then some seemingly candid replies from Chris.

Some additional replies from members...

A poll was posted by a member as to whether Chris should resign as host. I was unable to capture it before it was deleted, but the originator posted about it.

Then at some point this morning, Chris deleted or hid all public discussion of this issue and recent events, and Panda Cachets (ROLLIN1) was banned from the forum, thus bringing the ban count to at least 7 longtime members (many even preceding Chris) that I am aware of.

So much for the new era of cooperation...


Update: July 28, 2014

It appears that some semblance of sanity has prevailed. The bans have been reversed, although at least one of the banned parties reports that all of his posts are now moderated, meaning that nothing he writes can be seen by anyone until a moderator approves the post.

I wouldn't know, as I do not intend to return to that forum. It's only a matter of time before the king gets upset at one of the peasants having a contrary viewpoint and this whole fiasco will start over again.

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