The Lord of the Board

Rings of power were given to Moderators at LOTR.FanHQ. Time would show who was capable of wielding them and who would fail miserably…
I joined The Lord of the Rings Fan Club as a Charter Member in 2001. I became active on the Fan Club HQ message boards in January of 2005 and have ordered several things from the Fan Club HQ site since becoming a part of the fan community.
Prior to my posting on the message boards, I read all the FAQ’s and also lurked long enough to read many posts and ascertain the styles in which others posted as well as which forums were appropriate for which types of posts.
I first got involved in the poetry section on the Red Book forum. Being a former high school English teacher and published poet, that forum appealed to me, but it wasn’t long before the acquaintances I made there drew me into the Prancing Pony (the “general interest” forum) as well as the other forums. I posted replies to existing posts several times there but found that it was a little hard to get to know people in existing threads as they had established friendships, topics and patterns.
In an effort to get to know folks and help support the general interest board, I started a fun thread called “Three-Word-Post.” The thread was immediately embraced by many posters and grew quickly. Some of the younger members sort of took it over talking about hobbits (and some of us would reply in fun about elves), so I started another thread to keep the redundant hobbit/elves joking out of “Three-Word-Post.” That Hobbit/Elves thread, which did not break any of the stated rules, was locked by a mod, and no valid reason was given. When I inquired, I was told that people thought that it was cliquish and that they had a hard time getting a word in. I responded that I had only been posting for 2 weeks – I certainly wasn’t involved in a clique yet and that all anyone had to do to get a word in was POST. Then I let the matter drop as I felt it was just a petty issue.
However, when “Three-Word-Post” (which I had introduced to the board) became the victim of the same mod coming in and introducing new rules (we were told we could not ask “What is up?” or post more than one post in a row or more than 3 words in a row) I posted:”Three Word Post
has more rules
than I realized.”
At that point I posted in the existing “Complaint” thread asking who had been complaining about the two threads, pointing out I was too new to be in a clique and suggesting if anyone wanted to post, they hit the Post button.
Then “Three-Word-Post” was locked by the mod who calls himself “Dr. Gamgee.” I sent a PM to “Dr. Gamgee” who had recently posted in the same general interest forum about his son’s birthday. I told him, tongue in cheek, that I could see how much more on topic posting about his son’s birthday was than the Hobbit/Elves thread he had just closed (which was predominantly about everything LOTR). That was all I said (except “LOL!”) – no ugly words, no threats, no overt disrespect.
At the same time I emailed the other mod, “Primula,” and told her how ridiculous and arbitrary they were making the forums by making up new rules which did not apply evenly across the board and locking threads that did not in any way break any posted rules. “Primula” and I had already established an email dialogue over poetry and Christian LOTR sites, so it was not out of character for me to email her.
However, within a matter of one or two days, two out of the only three threads I had started as an enthusiastic new poster — which were quite favorably compatible with all the other general interest threads in the Prancing Pony — had been locked. The only thread they left up of mine was one in which I took several whiners to task for quitting the forums, and I suggested they make the most of the forums as I was doing. Both “Dr. Gamgee” and “Primula” had applauded this post!
To make matters worse, in an immature public temper tantrum, the mod called “Dr. Gamgee” POSTED the Private Message I sent him — posted it on the general interest forum, deliberately (or stupidly – take your pick) launching a flame war which I did NOT participate in. I never once replied to his transparent efforts to enlist his sycophants and mod wanna-bees in a show of support.
I did send “Primula” emails expressing my frustration with the way things had been handled. I told her I felt like I had broken no rules and asked her to point out any I had broken. Not once was I shown any rules I had broken. The only thing I was told was “Gamgee” had taken my posts as “disrespectful of mods” and that “some people” felt the hobbit/elves posts were “cliquish.” These were my perceived offenses. “Primula” suggested I be more careful what I posted.
I said I was not at all willing to walk on eggshells wondering what new rules I might find myself in danger of breaking, and that I didn’t plan to modify my posting style because of some moderator’s changing whims. I told “Primula” that if my posting style was that “offensive” and if it was really breaking rules, they should just ban me. (This was not a serious suggestion. My posts were not remotely offensive, and as I kept pointing out, i was not breaking any rules.) I had never publicly expressed anything worse than “Three Word Post has more rules than I realized” or privately said anything worse to “Gamgee” than “I can see how much more off topic the hobbits and elves posts are than ‘G-Miner Turns One.'” The only complaint I ever posted was in the existing Complaint thread, and I only repeated what “Primula” had told me and asked why anyone could possibly think the posts were cliquish and/or why they didn’t use the Post options and POST.
I deliberately kept my frustration with the mods OFFline as opposed to Gamgee’s immature posting of Private Messages in public forums. In fact, I stopped posting there altogether PRIOR to Gamgee’s tantrum. Since then “Primula” has invited me to join another of her boards saying it might provide “greener pastures” which I declined. “Primula” has assured me she has been working quietly behind the scenes to get things straightened out but that she felt she must provide a united front on the board.
However, on January 15 I received 2 email notification that I had received two PM’s, so I tried to log in to retrieve them to discover — I had been BANNED from the site!
So, in a nutshell, you have a new poster who is a Charter Member as well as a product consumer from the Fan HQ site, who has read the FAQ’s and attempted to follow all the rules as put forth in the board FAQ’s. With no warning or reference to posted rules, two innocuous threads out of only three threads the new poster started are locked. (The only one which isn’t locked is one encouraging all the complainers on the boards to make the most of the boards!) This new poster is then flamed publicly by a moderator posting a private correspondence on the boards! The new poster does not retaliate and quietly moves on, but when notified of private messages more than a week after she leaves the boards, tries to log in to retrieve them and discovers… she is BANNED!
“Primula” apparently was not aware I had been banned and was quick to get the ban removed once I pointed it out to her. Still, this is no way to allow message boards to be handled. This kind of immature retaliation by a moderator is symptomatic of a serious problem on his part. Not only does it affect my relationship with the message board, but it is extremely unlikely I will support the Fan HQ with my shopping dollars after this.
Related Topics & Links:
Lord of the Rings Tennessee Fellowship
Celtic Christian Music Forum at Yahoo Groups
Celtic Christian Music Links
Find Celtic music and jewelry at Tolkien Town
Christian Activities Celtic Spotlight


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