Shenanigans


Well, it has been an eventful weekend for me.   First off, my oldest child was in a local theater group, and the show wrapped up this weekend.  I wound up doing ‘crossing guard’ duty Friday evening,  Saturday afternoon and evening, and then again on Sunday afternoon.    So, I’ve been away from this keyboard for quite a while.

Meanwhile, I woke up on Saturday to a pair of messages from Yahoo! Answers.    The first one was titled “Violation Notice Email” (which I’ve seen several times in the last couple of weeks).  This is a message that Yahoo! Answers sends whenever one of your answers is deleted because of breaking one or more of their rules.

Here’s the message in its entirety:

Hello AstroGeek

You have posted content to Yahoo! Answers in violation of our Community Guidelines or Terms of Service. As a result, your content has been deleted. Community Guidelines help to keep Yahoo! Answers a safe and useful community, so we appreciate your consideration of its rules.

Question: Do you think the world will end in 2012?

Question Details: I’ve heard alot of crap about decmeber 21st or something, if you do why? and if you dont why?

Deleted Answer: No, I don’t. The “2012 doomsday” is a hoax. It’s a fraud. It’s a con job. It’s a cruel and cynical lie being promoted by unscrupulous pseudo-scientific cranks who have a monetary interest: They want to sell their books, videos, ‘survival kits’, and spaces in non-existent shelters in Antarctica, and to divert attention from the fact that they have been wrong so many times before. It’s also being pushed by people who are promoting a Hollywood disaster movie due out later this year. All of the claims of ‘predictions’ by the Maya, the Aztecs, the Incas, the Hopi, the Chinese (I Ching), Nostradamus, Sir Isaac Newton, Edgar Cayce, Mother Shipton are false: They did not make the claimed predictions. Predictions by others such as José Argüelles, Terrence McKenna, Nancy Leider, Mark Hazelwood and others are contrived pseudo-scientific nonsense. There will be no sudden ‘pole shift’, either geographic or magnetic. There will be no ‘killer solar flares’. There is no ‘Photon Belt’. These are fiction. There will be no ‘galactic alignment’ or ‘planetary alignment‘ of any kind, and we will not pass through the central plane of the galaxy, and even if these events were to occur, they would not cause any problems for us. There is no “Planet X” or Nibiru. If someone claims that this object exists, then many regulars in this forum have been asking for the RA/Dec coordinates for it. One website is offering $5,000 for these coordinates. As far as what is *really* going to happen: Olympic summer games in London Leap Year U.S. Presidential election Transit of Venus on June 6th Disclaimer: Due to the number of 2012/Nibiru/Planet X questions on Yahoo! Answers, this is a cut-and-paste answer. If this answer disappears, it is because it was false-flagged as ‘inappropriate’ and removed. This has happened to several people in the past few days, because some people on Yahoo! Answers do not want you to see the links below. They would rather have you huddle in fear and darkness, and buy their books. -ag

Violation Reason:Community Guidelines and/or Terms Of Service Violation

Yahoo! Answers is a service provided to all of our Yahoo! users and we reserve the right to remove your content at any time for any reason. By posting content on Yahoo! Answers, you agree that you will not post any content that is in violation of our Community Guidelines, or the Yahoo! Terms of Service. You may read the Yahoo! Community Guidelines at: http://answers.yahoo.com/info/community_guidelines.php We invite you to visit the Yahoo! Terms of Service at: http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/

If you feel this content was removed in error, please read the Community Guidelines and make sure that this content: 1. respects the question-answer format and is not chatty or personal communication; 2. does not contain non-relevant links to external sites or other questions and does not promote your own blog or website; 3. is respectful to other people and does not offend other community members. If you still believe this content has been removed in error, please contact Customer Care and tell us why.

Regards,
Yahoo! Customer Care

This was not completely surprising, since I’ve been targeted by one or more people on Yahoo! Answers since I began answering 2012 questions there.  However, the next email in my inbox was this:

Hello AstroGeek

You have posted content to Yahoo! Answers in violation of our Community Guidelines or Terms of Service. As a result, your account has been suspended.

If you feel you were not in violation, please contact our Customer Care and tell us why.

Regards,
Yahoo! Customer Care

Now this is an entirely different kettle of fish.  So. like any other red-blooded American boy, convinced of my own righteousness, I filed an appeal.

On Sunday, I got quite a shock when I received this message from Yahoo! Answers:

Hello,

Thank you for writing to Yahoo! Answers.

We have reviewed your appeal request. Upon review we found that your
content was indeed in violation of the Yahoo! Answers Community
Guidelines, Yahoo! Community Guidelines or the Yahoo! Terms of Service.
As a result, your content will remain removed from Yahoo! Answers.

Please note: Questions that do not receive any answers within the 4-day
open period will expire and be deleted automatically.

Use of Yahoo! Answers is subject to the Yahoo! Answers Community
Guidelines, Yahoo! Community Guidelines, and also the Yahoo! Terms of
Service. Members who have violated the Community Guidelines are at risk
for review and possible termination of their Answers accounts. In
extreme cases, members who have also violated the Yahoo! Terms of
Service risk losing their Yahoo! ID and access to other Yahoo! services.

Please review the Yahoo! Answers Community Guidelines here:

http://answers.yahoo.com/info/community_guidelines

Please review the Yahoo! Community Guidelines here:

http://docs.yahoo.com/info/guidelines/community.html

Thank you again for contacting Yahoo! Answers. Your case number for this
issue is [redacted]. Please reference it in all future communication about
this particular issue.

Regards,

[redacted]

Yahoo! Customer Care

So, since my answer was deleted, my account was now ‘suspended’.  A few minutes of research showed me that the word “suspended” was a misnomer.  What Yahoo! Answers means by “suspended” is “deleted”.  It’s not a case of  your account being turned off for a few days, it means your account is gone.

So, I was quite astonished.  I immediately appealed again:

I am having a hard time understanding this.

My answer was straightforward.  It addressed the question directly, and I used several references to back up  my opinion.  In addition I referenced an extended page on my website that exceeds the capability of Yahoo! Answers in terms of length and number of links.

Furthermore, essentially this same answer was reported at least five times previously and the deletion was overturned on appeal.  Why would the answer that was O.K. on 4/27, 4/28, 4/29 and twice on 5/2 suddenly be not O.K. on 5/9, and also cause a suspension?  Perhaps you can give me some guidance as to what part of the community rules or terms of service I have violated?  The links I added to my post all point to sites that are relevant.  The page on my own site is directly relevant.  If you  will notice, my site is a wordpress.com site, and I have no ads on it, and I do not receive any income from it.

The idea that I have violated the terms of service or community guidelines this time, but not the previous five times, seems to  indicate that there is some subjectivity to the rule.

Please help me to understand what part of my answer violates the guidelines or terms of service.

Bill Hudson

So, again I wait.    I was expecting to wait 2-3 days as I had done before.  However, the next morning (Monday), these messages appeared in my inbox:

Hello AstroGeek(hudsonwj)

Your Yahoo! Answers account has been re-activated, and you may participate again in Yahoo! Answers.

We appreciate your continued compliance with the Yahoo! Terms of Service and the Yahoo! Answers Community Guidelines.

Thank you for using Yahoo! Answers, and we hope that you will continue to be a valuable contributor to the community.

Regards,
Yahoo! Customer Care

and:

Hi AstroGeek,

Upon review, we found that the following answer was not in violation of the Answers Community Guidelines or Yahoo! Terms of Service.

“No, I don’t. The “2012 doomsday” is a hoax. It’s a fraud. It’s a con job. It’s a cruel and cynical lie being promoted by unscrupulous pseudo-scientific cranks who have a monetary interest: They want to sell their books, videos, ‘survival kits‘, and spaces in non-existent shelters in Antarctica, and to divert attention from the fact that they have been wrong so many times before. It’s also being pushed by people who are promoting a Hollywood disaster movie due out later this year. All of the claims of ‘predictions’ by the Maya, the Aztecs, the Incas, the Hopi, the Chinese (I Ching), Nostradamus, Sir Isaac Newton, Edgar Cayce, Mother Shipton are false: They did not make the claimed predictions. Predictions by others such as José Argüelles, Terrence McKenna, Nancy Leider, Mark Hazelwood and others are contrived pseudo-scientific nonsense. There will be no sudden ‘pole shift’, either geographic or magnetic. There will be no ‘killer solar flares‘. There is no ‘Photon Belt‘. These are fiction. There will be no ‘galactic alignment’ or ‘planetary alignment‘ of any kind, and we will not pass through the central plane of the galaxy, and even if these events were to occur, they would not cause any problems for us. There is no “Planet X” or Nibiru. If someone claims that this object exists, then many regulars in this forum have been asking for the RA/Dec coordinates for it. One website is offering $5,000 for these coordinates. As far as what is *really* going to happen: Olympic summer games in London Leap Year U.S. Presidential election Transit of Venus on June 6th Disclaimer: Due to the number of 2012/Nibiru/Planet X questions on Yahoo! Answers, this is a cut-and-paste answer. If this answer disappears, it is because it was false-flagged as ‘inappropriate’ and removed. This has happened to several people in the past few days, because some people on Yahoo! Answers do not want you to see the links below. They would rather have you huddle in fear and darkness, and buy their books. -ag”

The Yahoo! Answers Team regrets that your answer was wrongfully reported by the Answers community. Your answer has been reposted to Yahoo! Answers, and we are sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused.

Thanks,
Yahoo! Answers Team

and:


Hello Bill,

Thank you for writing to Yahoo! Answers.

We appreciate your inquiry about your suspension from Yahoo! Answers
and/or the deactivation of your Yahoo! ID. We reviewed your case, and
have decided to reinstate your account.

We appreciate your continued compliance with the Yahoo! Terms of Service
and the Yahoo! Answers Community Guidelines:

http://info.yahoo.com/legal/us/yahoo/utos/utos-173.html

http://answers.yahoo.com/info/community_guidelines.php

Thank you for using Yahoo! Answers, and we hope that you will continue
to be a valuable contributor to the community.

Thank you again for contacting Yahoo! Answers.

Regards,

[redacted]

Yahoo! Customer Care

So, Y!A responded and made the right choice after all.    Then, I was about to post this message, when a whole lot of comments started showing up in my inbox.  Comments coming off of my 2012 hoax page.   The first comment was this (identifying information redacted):

New comment on your post #419 “2012”
Author : Yahoo Representative

Comment:

Your blog can not be used as a credible source on Yahoo Answers. So please stop using it as such. We have also noticed you are using multiple accounts to spam our site to get more page views for it and trying to disguise your URL. This is a serious violation of Yahoo Answers’ rules of service. If you do not stop, your account will be terminated. Thank you for your understanding in our trying to uphold our credibility as well as yours.

Yahoo Customer Care

Well, that was impressive… except for the fact that Yahoo! Customer Care does not make threats on blog pages.  If they have  a problem with me, they have my email address, and could easily suspend my account again at any time they choose.  Oh, and the fact that Yahoo! Customer Care had just ruled that my answer was O.K.  …  oh, and the fact that the ip address leads to Georgia, not California (Where Yahoo! is located), oh… and the fact that “Yahoo” should be “Yahoo!”, which is their registered trademark (not something a rep is likely to forget, even if they were typing it in by hand).

I’d say “Nice try” except that it was a rather pathetic attempt at impersonating a Yahoo! Customer Care representative.

Then, a few minutes later another comment appeared, as a reply to ‘Tick Tock’ who comments here frequently:

New comment on your post #419 “2012”
Author : Yahoo Representative
Comment:
So this one of your puppets?

This is rather interesting again, since “puppets” is the terminology used by one poster on Yahoo! Answers.  We will be discreet and call him “Mr. X”.  “Mr. X” appears to be convinced that all “Top Contributors” in the Astronomy & Space section are “puppets” or “clones” of the person at the top of the leaderboard: Brant.   This person creates multiple ‘sock puppet’ accounts by the dozens, and then uses them to vote ‘thumbs up’ on all of his answers and ‘thumbs down’ on everyone who disagrees with him.  He also uses the accounts to ‘vote’ for his own answers if the question goes to voting, and to impersonate other Yahoo! Answers users.  He apparently doesn’t care how many of these sock puppet accounts he loses, and he’s lost many.

These two comments began a flurry of comments, all coming from the same IP address, but the remaining ones referenced different ‘Names’ (which this blog does not verify) including “Ken E” and “Geoff G”, both of whom are frequent participants in Yahoo! Answers, and both of whom have posted reasoned and factual answers debunking the 2012 hoax.   I’ve left several of these comments for your viewing enjoyment, but I marked several “Mr. X’s”  later comments as ‘spam’ so as not to clutter up the comment page here too much. Also, I have blacklisted that particular IP address.  Any comments posted from there will not be shown here.  I will still see them, but you won’t, unless and until “Mr. X” comes to his senses and grows up.

So, what’s happened here? What is the upshot of all of these “shenanigans”?

  • Over the weekend, when I was busy anyway, I couldn’t post answers on Yahoo! Answers.
  • I had to take some time to appeal the answer deletion and account suspension.
  • Yahoo! Answers representatives did the right thing and restored my posts and re-activated my account.
  • On Monday, perhaps as a result of the false reports filed against me by “Mr. X”, he apparently lost one of his high-point accounts.
  • “Mr X” had a tantrum in comments here.
  • Several of my friends from Yahoo! Answers have seen these comments, and were most entertained.  Some of them even commented in return.
  • I filed a report with Yahoo! Customer Care about the impersonation of a Yahoo! Customer Care representative, complete with date/time and IP Address.  I can only hope that Yahoo! takes the next logical step and takes action against “Mr X’s” accounts, or bans his IP address (not that my hopes or opinions count for much at Yahoo!, they certainly don’t take direction from me).

This is not to “make light” of the events, or imply that I do not care.   I do.    I also care deeply about the kids who get on Yahoo! Answers because they are scared witless about all of the crap that they hear about the “2012 Doomsday”.   As one other Yahoo! Answers contributor said recently “Ours may be the only scientific answers they receive”.

“Mr. X”, I will not stop posting reasoned and logical answers to Yahoo! Answers in response to “2012 Doomsday” questions.  Your pathetic attempts at intimidating me have only filled me with resolve.  I won’t stop.

As I said before, you’ve pissed off the wrong geek.

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8 thoughts on “Shenanigans

  1. These two comments began a flurry of comments, all coming from the same IP address, but the remaining ones referenced different ‘Names’ (which this blog does not verify) including “Ken E” and “Geoff G”, both of whom are frequent participants in Yahoo! Answers, and both of whom have posted reasoned and factual answers debunking the 2012 hoax. I’ve left several of these comments for your viewing enjoyment, but I marked several “Mr. X’s” later comments as ’spam’ so as not to clutter up the comment page here too much. Also, I have blacklisted that particular IP address. Any comments posted from there will not be shown here. I will still see them, but you won’t, unless and until “Mr. X” comes to his senses and grows up.

    So, what’s happened here? What is the upshot of all of these “shenanigans”?

    Over the weekend, when I was busy anyway, I couldn’t post answers on Yahoo! Answers.
    I had to take some time to appeal the answer deletion and account suspension.
    Yahoo! Answers representatives did the right thing and restored my posts and re-activated my account.
    On Monday, perhaps as a result of the false reports filed against me by “Mr. X”, he apparently lost one of his high-point accounts.
    “Mr X” had a tantrum in comments here.
    Several of my friends from Yahoo! Answers have seen these comments, and were most entertained. Some of them even commented in return.
    I filed a report with Yahoo! Customer Care about the impersonation of a Yahoo! Customer Care representative, complete with date/time and IP Address. I can only hope that Yahoo! takes the next logical step and takes action against “Mr X’s” accounts, or bans his IP address (not that my hopes or opinions count for much at Yahoo!, they certainly don’t take direction from me).

    YEAH thats right

  2. Hi Bill,

    It really bothers me that this person impersonated me. This present post is the first one I have _ever_ posted to your web site, so the earlier one was bogus. This is confirmed by the IP address of the person posting it, which is totally different from my IP address. You probably should report him to his ISP, since he is engaging in fraud, pure and simple.

    Anyone who has read my Y!A answers, checked out my web site, or has any knowledge of the amateur astronomy community will know that I am nobody’s “sock puppet”! I have exactly _one_ account on Yahoo, and always sign my own name to my posts.

    Geoff G (the real one!)

  3. I met a completely different “Mr. X” once. He was also very childish, but told me that he would not be attending any future “X” family reunions. Perhaps they were related?

  4. Any hints on who this guy is? I’m actually kind of curious. Does his name begin with an “S” by chance? Don’t want to out anyone or make untrue accusations but I’m a frequent reader of the 2012 Yahoo Answers (never contribute anything in either way) and he seems to be the most lively obnoxious character there. He uses the same copy and paste answer every time which manages to answer absolutely nothing, either way. Worse still, I’ve seen it marked as “Best Answer” quite a few times and I wonder: how. If that’s the guy, and he’s using dual accounts to bizarrely “up” his own responses, I guess that answers a lot. He also claims to be an astrophysicist yet I’ve yet to see a single scientifically-based word come from his hands.

    • I think you guessed correctly in your previous comment on my “2012” page. He’s using more than ‘dual’ accounts… by my count he has closer to 10, and probably more.

  5. Pingback: 2012hoax: Agpage

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