I’m aware that some people probably think I’ve been pointlessly shit-stirring on the old UKFur forums this afternoon.

The short story behind it is a friend got assaulted, robbed and raped over the weekend. (I am not willing or able to provide details, as it could influence behaviour and the outcome of legal action.) Myself and a few others were rightfully angry that a forum mod said they wouldn’t be kept away from them on there.

I can see their point. The forum moderators are not the police, they don’t know rumour from fact, they are not in the position to request legal documents or evidence.
However, while the forums are not linked to the real world meets per-se as is repeatedly stated, the majority of the organisation, promotion and discussion of those meets takes place on those forums. Large portions of the forums are dedicated to those meet discussions to the point there are regional moderators to spread the load.
Whether it likes it or not the UKFur forum moderators do have a responsibility to the real-world events even if they’re not directly organising them.

So when something like this occurs and is witnessed by long-term meet organisers AND the person is arrested and taken away at the meet itself, surely that’s enough that at very least you wouldn’t want them able to discuss and plan future meet attendance with the rest of the group, right?

I tried to steer away from the R-word at first in the thread, as it was not what was witnessed at the meet, but ask on the forums what outside events on the forums would lead to someone getting banned there with a few examples like murder and assault. Rape did eventually rear it’s head though as it was pretty obvious people knew something like this had happened and it was the point of my question.

The responses, screen-capped for posterity, were ranged, interesting and changeable as the few intense pages went on. They were for the most part polite, but I still can’t shake the feeling more than a few were also “shut up now” hints/expectations from some mods. I’m honestly surprised I didn’t get any warnings or outright bans myself as a result of this, though hypocritically a few others got off-site harassment as a result of joining the thread.

I learnt a few interesting things, both on the thread and off;

  • One mod can’t talk about people being raped without turning it around to complain about their own love-life.
  • Another admits they’d ban someone for accusations of molesting a pet, but would only maybe ban someone for actual proof of rape/assault.
  • The few users who respond at that point agree they would expect this response from moderators.
  • Memories are either short, times change, or hypocrisy reigns as one who is concerned about the discussion fouling police investigations omits recalling previous mod-only discussions about deleting profiles containing potential evidence when a pair were arrested for a mutilation/murder pact last year.
  • Another mod places rape on the same level as cyber-bullying.
  • Sympathetic parties are only sympathetic until they think they can out the mystery parties involved (specifics of those involved were intentionally never revealed and the thread closed before accusations began to fly).
  • Several mods don’t know the difference between detached and callous.
  • Several users don’t know the difference between a community and a database.
  • Many mods have a career in politics ahead for studiously avoiding answers to direct questions such as “Would you ban a user if it were admitted by them and proven by police they raped or assaulted another user of this forum?” even after it’s put forward that not doing so would be against the victims human rights.
  • That they might ban them but it might not work because they could come back under another name. Which undermines the whole justification for banning for any reason.
  • Only one mod seemed to give a shit that this might have effected a real person, and not just be to cause drama on their forums.

Basically the forum as a whole has historically managed to largely avoid having to do anything directly about this sort of thing. The problems usually just “go away” by themselves. People who are banned from physical meets for bad behaviour of whatever sort generally drift away from the community in a short while as they are no longer able to meet folk in person (for the most part). Throw in the fact that there’s long been a small but disturbing undercurrent of social pressure that a level of sexual predation in the fandom is just normal has meant small assaults against members of the community have been either stifled, ignored as hearsay/drama, or left to sort themselves out.

I’d like to say though that this has changed greatly in recent times through the sustained efforts of “Lupus Londonwolf” and the rest of the LondonFurs Committee who organise the physical London Meets (and a few others). They have probably done more than anyone to minimise and rapidly remove these harmful social elements from the community. They took chaotic, hidden back-room meetings and brought them into daylight; exposed members to the public and banned people who broke the rules. And most members have learnt from this. Social skills have improved, and people don’t try to get away with questionable shit anywhere near as much. Those who do are quietly removed early on or learn fast.

To put it succinctly, over the last 5 years or so they’ve changed the London group from one where we got kicked out of pubs every few months for damaging furniture, under-age drinking and people who couldn’t figure why it wasn’t appropriate to wear bondage gear and hump in public, to one where people aren’t afraid to report feeling uncomfortable about someones behaviours or actions, where you can change into costume without having someone try to feel you up, where we’re not only asked back to venues but the staff like us enough to offer us special rates and hours! This change in mentality seems to have spread to meets across the country.

It’s for actions like theirs that I’m still glad to be a member of this community, not for the actions of forum mods who still believe in the old Geek Fallacy that everything must be permitted or you’re persecuting them just like mean old normal people.

I owe this community a lot, but I’m not so tethered to the past I don’t know I can do without the forums if I need to, and at worst the community itself. It helped me grow and grow beyond it as a result.

Would I have said things as bluntly and honestly if I’d still only been socialising in that community? Maybe, but probably not. I know now though that in the worst case I would have lost access to a small convenience where I post maybe once or twice a week and would have had to look at other websites for meet-up details.

Widen your social circles, gain security through redundancy. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind for fear of retribution or expulsion. There’s usually more than one place to socialise, and if there isn’t already, make one.

TL;DR – If you do something that forces meet organisers to call the police on you, get you arrested and charged at a meet, not only do I want you banned from that meet but I don’t want to have to you haunting the community discussion forums where those meets are planned and organised, let alone haunt those members your actions may have affected.

UKFur, I am disappoint.

Tired and bruised from yesterday. Took 4 hours to get that chunk of ebay I-beam from across town on public transport. Going out via Victoria I didn’t want to come back that way lugging it, even with my fleece cap covering the pointy end. I’m not going to fuck up my ankle yet again for the sake of conveniently shaped metal.

On the way back I got the mental taste of something; something coming apart. Little things, the only one of which I can explicitly express is trying to find a damn train map at London Bridge. The information booth is out, the ticket office is out, and the best they can do is point me at some signage over the other side of the station where the sole solitary map this side of the barriers is stuck on the rear of the timetable boards. Yes, the rear, the 1ft wide semi-crawlspace between them and the surround for the escalators. Damn near tipped the handcart over on the curved-up rim that presumably stops little bits of shit raining down over the edge. Just another thing in this city that makes you look like a crazy person. “Hey look, that guy’s carting a tiny I-beam around on a cart trussed up like Hannibal Lector, and it’s wearing a hat.. why’s he squeezing in behind the timetable boards? Shit, maybe I should tell a police officer or something.”

I am never getting a bluetooth headset.

It all made me a bit late to the London Hackerspace, but biking it from Bethnal Green saved a bit, and jumping on the thing without an hours advance prep suddenly undoes a lot of the damage from when I was hit by that moronic driver a few years back, or nearly castrated myself falling down a slope on it.

Suddenly it feels convenient again. Trustworthy even; there to pull my shit out of the fire when I needed it.

The London Hackerspace was a good time for the couple of hours I was there. I’m sorry to say I don’t remember names yet, but the place felt comfortable. A lot like the workshop here except ten times the size and a lot tidier. Felt easy to slip into conversations, throw up some ideas and geek over the number of projects and junk.

It felt right to be there.

Today I’m sore. Muscles and feets from walking a too circuitous route home or biking on pot-holed roads, wrists from where the I-beam pressed through the padding, my gloves and jacket as I towed it on the battered little hand-cart.

Today I woke late. I’ve spent the whole day in my dressing gown, slumming it, eating whatever’s to hand and binging on editions of Transmetropolitan that have actually been returned to me.

The only thing I’m worried about right now is that I’m taking a day off to process this and I shouldn’t.

I’ve started forward. I should be carrying on.

I got a text from Outkast while I was out at RBW to let me know my Twitter digest had gone wrong and was repeating the entries upwards of 15 times.
I managed to find someone with a working laptop and log in. It seems the wordpress plugin’s problems are getting worse. I suspect this is due to Twitters format change which is also routinely screwing up my sig-image creator script.

I’ve deleted the master copies of those posts, which has carried on down the line and deleted them from the other blogs. The plugin’s been disabled until I can find an alternative that still works.

I appreciate people letting me know, and I know these mistakes can be annoying, but some of the emails I’ve come home to find (now my computer is working for the moment – power supply is in it’s death-throws) have been absurdly vitriolic. I’m sorry it’s spammed your LJ page twice with duplicate posts, but it’s not the end of the fucking world. Calm down.

Transport twattery aside, I had a good time at RBW. Still feeling disconnected from the community, but feel like I’m starting to get to know a few of them again. Also seemed to (at least partly) clear the air with a couple of folk.
Think I broke even, but with the panic issues I didn’t go into it very well prepared and haven’t properly tallied up yet. At least I’ll have some money to go back into the bank tho, which will hopefully smooth things until I’ve got everything re-assessed and re-prepared. I need to go back to base principles for a bit, and (in yet another instance) start over from scratch.

Oh, and my ferret shirts sold best of all.

I’m still pretty sleep deprived though, so after I get myself a massive cup of tea, I’m going to order a new power supply, make my bed and go to sleep without setting the alarm.

A lovely, if hot, day out with the furries in London again. Made a pleasant number of sales, saw Reaperfox there (her first attendance ever), Jackal back from holiday, some lovely new newbies, and had a wonderful time doing the arranged photo-shoot with Halo Huskybutt. At my request, she modelled the three new ladies-fit UKFur T-shirts, some of which will make it to the upcoming web-shop as model shots to show them in use (in addition to the item-only images).
I also managed to get Lupus Londonwolf to do some impromptu modelling of the unisex shirts, so that’s all the current bases covered!

It’s so interesting photographing people intently (rather than casually). I’ve said before I’m finding it rather like making instant art; you take lots and lots of shots, and pick only the best of them. You try lots of subtle variations. It’s so dynamic. But it’s also interesting to see what poses and expressions people fall into comfortably under only general directions, or how they move and engage with the camera.

I’ll freely admit that I appreciate images of ladies more than I do of men, so I’ll say up front that I got good pictures of both Halo and Lupus. But looking at the images of Halo as I did the first pass on them to sift the better ones, I felt genuinely amazed at how wonderful she looked in them, and that I’d been able to capture those images. I’m sure I have a long way to go and a lot to learn still, but it’s so intensely enjoyable to take photos like this. And particularly so when the model is so enthusiastic and engaging with the process.
My heart really did race looking over the pictures; there’s already the creative excitement of the process of doing it, but ending up with a variety of images of a beautiful woman is a wonderful bonus. I don’t mean that to sound sexual, but I suppose it is sensual. And with sensuality such a component of so many other forms of art, I shouldn’t feel bad about admitting it (maybe only about feeling bad about feeling bad).

I hope I can find a way to get the same dynamic creative excitement back with my drawing abilities as well. I think more days like today will certainly help. And I think it goes without saying that I would love to have another photo-session with Halo some time soon. (an idle thought is to play with the concept of costume and wearer, as she’s an enthusiastic ‘suiter. The dividing line between in and out of costume seems seldom touched upon.)

I’ll get the shoot photos up once I’ve gotten them down to the real cream of the crop. With help from the UKFur forums tech-section, the issue with uploading the full sized images from my camera has been identified. While I probably won’t upload many, so as to keep the full-size originals private, it would be good to have the option to upload the full sized images immediately or to show off the highest level of detail at times. Whether I can or not will depend on if I can have my PHP memory allowance raised by a few more megabytes.
But until then the freeware batch-resizer “Fotosizer” seems to be working fine shrinking them down to a compatible 60% of the originals.

The few non-shoot images from todays meet can be found in the gallery here: http://www.sci-fi-fox.com/?page_id=50&file=Events/LondonFurs/26th%20June%202010/

And as a small unrelated footnote; The “cargo pram” was pushed to its limit today on stock-duty I think. The wheels were starting to bow rather ominously, and it was so top-heavy laden with T-shirts it was bordering on uncontrollable at times. But a new one is in the works that’ll be able to hold more and in much more convenient sub-divisions. I’m sure it’s creation will be worth at least one blog entry.

Notes to send, as I missed the feedback session due to early train:

Furries flock. Having two DJs running dances at the same time in rooms connected by glass doors isn’t fair. One will get an initial group and everyone will follow them, wanting to avoid the “unpopular” dance. Perhaps getting the DJs together to discuss a good order in which to run so the styles flow nicely into each other and everyone gets a fair turn? Or operate one as a chill-out room, so you can sit for a bit but without missing tunes.

While the auction already over-ran by 2 hours, it’s still unfair that only some of pieces in the art-show seem to get picked for it. Apparently at random, and using apparently winning written bids as the start bid. It should be set in stone if a piece will or won’t go to the auction.

The rules for the Dealers Den about no snacks or drinks allowed in to protect dealers works and art-show works alike is a good one. However only if it’s enforced. Likewise the promise that only con attendees would be allowed in, badges on display. It doesn’t give much motivation to follow the rules when I asked if I’d be able to give out complimentary sweets or mints and be told no, then to find people wandering around with pints of beer, wine, drinks, biscuits and other foods. Fortunately the only drinks spilt on my table were my own.

Sharing a hotel with normal folk isn’t a problem. The football fans were a problem for a lot of people though, because they were another large distinct group sharing the same space as the convention. Let’s try and avoid sharing the venue with other large groups if possible.
One way to achieve that of course is to try and fill the entire hotel next time. :)

Den layout was generally pretty good, though from my position I felt there were bottlenecks. I noticed the crowding around Tani and Nightfox Studios, but anyone walking away from them first saw the bare wall and had barely looked around again before they were past my table. There seemed to be a couple of seconds when moving away from the popular tables before people start looking around themselves again. (would be interested to see if it was similar around Jencen and Muzz’s tables, which also seemed to have permanent crowds)
I’d suggest adding another row of tables, so the furthest-back row is facing toward the front of the Den, so there’s a backdrop of interest at the rear of the room. Three rows of faces rather than two, giving the den a fuller appearance. I know this would reduce walking space between rows, but if the rows were turned 90degrees it might work. I would also be easier to work into the (apparently abandoned) idea to have divided IN and OUT lines of the den room, by giving a snaking direction of traffic around the tables. It works in supermarkets, after all.
Additionally, some tables seemed to sit empty for long periods. Perhaps next time dedicating a few tables to an “artists alley”, for those who only want to pop in and do sketchbooks for a while?

Also, I know opening a door is a much simpler solution than getting a fan, but while it may cool the opposite side of the room a bit, it makes the tables by the door really frigging freezing.
While if the only layout change it could have caused a massive corner jam, perhaps Jencen’s laser engraver would have been better suited near the door due to the chance of it putting out odours/smoke?

And additionally, since the conbook’s backdrop would suggest there were accurate dimensioned drawings of the rooms layout, it would have been handy to supply this to the dealers so they could plan from more than the small rendered image on the Dealers page.
Perhaps a large map of the den with who’s where marked and what they’re principally selling too. I know the layout’s in the con-book, but not everyone carries it around with them. Plus it would allow last-minute changes to be made.

Aside from that, can’t think of anything else right now. The registration delays were due to circumstances out of the cons control as far as I understand, as was the behaviour of the few hyper/drunk teenage football fans. Can’t recall if it was mentioned before the con that some of the hotel was slowly being renovated or not. Most rooms seemed perfectly fine (not that I saw many), but some areas were a bit sub-par. Well done on the discount carvery meals though! They were very good value for money I thought. Security also seemed very on top of things as issues arose.

[20/06/2010: Amalgamating old posts from “Dreamwidth Creative Blog” into sci-fi-fox.com to re-purpose DW blog account.]

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