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Troll Attack Cripples Victoria Indymedia

A virulent troll attack has overwhelmed and shut down Victoria IMC's newswire editing pages. Efforts to block the troll have failed, and news editors are appealing for advice and assistance in upgrading the site's obsolete software.
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada -- Indymedia news editors are requesting help today after administrative functions were knocked out by a flood of hate speech. The troll known as the "Anti-Tre Troll" has successfully evaded troll-traps (IP address blocking) by spoofing and shifting IP addresses - only the second troll in Vic-IMC history to do so.

The attacks are focused almost entirely on imprisoned forest activist Tre Arrow, currently being held in a British Columbia jail while fighting extradition to the United States. The FBI has labeled Tre an eco-terrorist and one of America's most wanted, claiming (with little evidence) that the well-known activist was responsible for burning logging trucks and heavy equipment in Oregon three years ago. Tre is facing eighty years to life if convicted.

Tre's friends and supporters in the US and Canada regularly contribute updates about his case and about the legal defense network that has coalesced across Canada and the US. Articles about Tre are regularly spammed with hate speech and offensive images, but vigilant editors delete the posts and block repeat offenders.

Until now. Editing and administration pages crashed this afternoon under a barrage of virulent posts arriving in rapid succession. This reporter has suggested that the site suspend publishing comments so that editing functions can be restored.

Observers note that the attacks against Tre Arrow are more vicious and persistent than any other destabilization campaign waged against the activist media website.

"This guy is dedicated -- I've only seen IP spoofing once before on the site, used by a holocaust-denial neo-nazi poster. It is usually used by only the most dedicated (or professional) trolls," wrote a frustrated collective member.

Victoria Indymedia uses an older version of the SF-Active program, and the collective is once again requesting assistance to upgrade the site's software in order to defend against troll attacks. Please send email to  vicimc-discuss@lists.riseup.net.

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we are dead...! look here... 12.Jan.2005 03:34

ted... (web site user)

the web site is definatly down

look here:

 http://victoria.indymedia.org

------- we need a server --------

Vic-IMC editors defeat trolls; IMC server taken offline 12.Jan.2005 17:06

Jane Doe

Vic-IMC editors successfully beat back the latest troll attack and regained administrative control over the newswire after 24 hours of bombardment. However, the site's host elected to shut down Vic-IMC early today, and the site is now off-line. On Monday evening, with the admin pages paralyzed, the editors had requested help from the web hosts. Ironically, the "help" they provided today consisted of shutting down the site completely after the crisis had passed.

On Tuesday evening, after editors regained admin functions, the troll barrage resumed with up to fifteen comments posted per minute for several hours. Hundreds of comments poured into the newswire, all attacking Tre Arrow, the Oregon forest activist imprisoned in BC. Editors were able to maintain the newswire in spite of the renewed attacks. At no time during the past three days was it apparent to observers that the administration pages were not functioning.

Victoria IMC was originally hosted by Vancouver IMC, which went off-line October 7, 2004. Members of the Vancouver collective are involved with a web hosting company called Squeegee Media, which also hosts Victoria IMC, Kamloops IMC, and the now-defunct Alberta IMC. Visitors to victoria.indymedia.org today found a redirect page with the message "Welcome to Squeegee Media."

Today's shutdown marks the second time in two months that the site's host pulled the plug on Victoria. In November, a Squeegee Media member abruptly decided to shut down Vic-IMC permanently. He later apologized for misunderstanding the wishes of the collective, which intends to continue publishing.

Vic-IMC's collective is renewing the call for help and support, including a request for independent web hosting under the control of the collective, upgraded software to replace the obsolete version of SF-Active now in use, and editorial and technical volunteers. Contact  vicimc-discuss@lists.riseup.net

For Jane Doe's expose on the Rise and Fall of Vancouver Indymedia, visit:
 http://sf.indymedia.org/news/2004/09/1703295.php

Victoria Indymedia brought on their own problems 13.Jan.2005 12:16

previous Vancouver Indymedia editor

Jane Doe's version of the "demise of Vancouver Indymedia" is not particularly accurate, focuses on events that occured many years ago, and incorporates alot of personal bias. I have presented a more accurate version of events on several threads, some of which can be found by searching Portland Indymedia's archives.

To summarise, Vancouver Indymedia was subject to troll attacks for years, some of which were very heavy. It was found from experience that heavy handed editing (censorship of divergent perspectives) was the primary provocation for these troll attacks. We found from experience that by permitting people with divergent perspectives to have their say within reason, and treating them with a degree of respect, troll attacks could be largely controlled. Because it was not possible with the software employed to register posters and thus ban them at will, it was necessary to employ diplomatic skills in order to keep Vancouver Indymedia up. Proper diplomacy with a degree of firmness was found to be effective at controlling troll attacks.

As a side benefit, the lively debate between people of different perspectives turned out to be very popular, and the number of different people visiting Vancouver Indymedia grew steadily to over 70,000 per month. This caused heavy bandwidth costs, even though all rich media (audio and video) was disabled years ago. The popularity of Vancouver Indymedia is what brought it down, in conjunction with the absence of a viable fundraising strategy. The heavy usership caused bandwidth costs which were not being covered by the minimal fundraising efforts of the collective. Thus the site had to be shut down due to the discrepancy between the cost of the bandwidth and the sparce revenue generated.

When the posting of articles at Vancouver Indymedia was temporarily suspended, some of the users went over to Victoria Indymedia, including some of the trolls, (or more conservative members of the community, depending on the perspective). Victoria's editorial policy is hyper-censorship oriented, based on a very personal political perspective of one or two people who seem to see eye to eye with each other. This approach has antagonised many users who don't concur with the particular philosophy of the handfull of Victoria Indymedia "insiders". Most users who find a rigid editorial perspective that doesn't countenance differing perspectives simply stop visiting due to lack of interest. But some will respond more aggressively, such as the "Tre troll".

In my opinion, Victoria Indymedia will be in serious trouble, and may in fact be untenable until they learn to be more tolerant and diplomatic, which means that they will need to learn to treat all people with respect, and specifically permit people with differing perspectives to express their viewpoints, as long as it is done in a respective and civil fashion. Simpy erasing all perspective that don't conform to the opinions of the editors is a formula likely to alienate, antagonise or inflame a certain number of users. Victoria Indymedia didn't even have the consideration or respect to relocate comments and articles that were censored due to being politically incorrect according to the standards of the editorial clique to a "hidden" though accessible area of the website.

One alternative to the current impasse is that Victoria Indymedia will have to adopt new software, and register their users. However, this will restrict the number of users considerably, which will exacerbate their fundraising difficulties. I don't think that this latter approach is viable.

So if Victoria Indymedia is to stay alive, I think they will need to adopt a more tolerant editorial policy, and provide space for varying perspectives. This includes the perspectives of sincere neoliberals, neoconservatives, brainwashed American "patriots", fundamentalist Christians, 911 conspiracy analysts, etc. As long as viewpoints are logically presented without insults or profanity, and the way they are presented doesn't undermine the newswire or forum, then they should be tolerated.

Compare and contrast 30.Mar.2005 20:48

Jane Doe

Victoria doesn't allow hate speech, including anti-semitism, gay-bashing, holocaust denial, and other crap. Vancouver does. We find the only way to combat anti-activist smear campaigns is to remove the posts. It's ridiculous to suggest that troll attacks are a result of editing. Vancouver has been a safe and happy haven for the very worst kind of destabilizing troll campaigns. Activists don't use it anymore.

Vancouver IMC has been static since October, but the hate-filled propaganda remains. Find out for yourself - but only if you have a strong stomach. The posts linked below are NOT hidden.

 http://vancouver.indymedia.org/news/2004/05/132144_comment.php#132258

 http://makeashorterlink.com/?J3DB128CA

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