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On the Recent Attack Upon A HASA Member in the Forums

Release Date: 17 Feb 11
Category: General Announcement

The official statement by Anglachel, HASA Site Manager, about a recent forum discussion started by Ygrain

The Incident

All times given in this write up are based on server time stamps, which are set to US West Coast time.

On February 9 at 3:20 AM, HASA member Ygrain created a discussion thread in the Members conference of HASA entitled "The Purpose of Reviews?" In the opening post, Ygrain wrote an evaluation of a story that had recently been through the HASA review system and had been approved by the majority of reviewers. This evaluation was presented as a demonstration of how the review process is broken because Ygrain did not think this story to be of outstanding quality, yet it had been approved. She stated that HASA should shut down its review system. She ended by requesting that HASA administrators "maintain this topic on the homepage" to keep her forum thread in permanent public view.

Numerous posts were made to this thread between that time and Saturday, February 12 at approximately 7:20 PM when an admin set the forum to inactive. Ygrain was barred from logging in to HASA. The next day, I transferred the discussion thread itself to different forum to prevent access and barred Ygrain permanently from HASA.

The Investigation

While I felt that the original post violated the rules for HASA Member Conduct, something else seemed to be going on. The combination of a brutal public attack on an author so quickly jumping to a mundane debate about how HASA should perform reviews made me suspicious. Why not just say that reviewers aren't discerning enough, since it is reviewers, not authors, who make the decisions about stories, and leave it at that? Why go after this author so aggressively?

In the forum post, Ygrain states that she reviewed the story and declined it. None of the criticisms in the post were provided as comments in the review process. When given the opportunity to provide these comments in the appropriate venue, Ygrain didn't think it important to let the author know what she thought, so why now? The situation did not make sense to me.

My first guess was that there was bad blood between the author and Ygrain and some score settling was going on. I wrote both of them to see what I could find out. The author stated she did not know Ygrain and had no idea why she had been singled out. She said Ygrain had emailed her and stated that it was nothing personal. Now I was really confused.

When I emailed Ygrain, I wanted to see if she had any remorse for attacking the author, so I stated:

"I suggest, but do not require, that you offer [the author] a substantive apology for having been so harsh towards her in public. If you have courage and decency, you will make this apology in the same venue where you posted your criticisms."

Ygrain did not answer my email nor was any substantive apology offered to the author in the forum, though Ygrain continued to post in it.

On Saturday, February 12, at 6:22 PM, Nieriel Raina posted a quote to the forum purported to be from an email Ygrain sent to her. The quote read "a brutal and aggressive method to draw attention, and at the expense of another member, deliberately and in full awareness" which was Ygrain's description of her method. I requested Nieriel Raina forward me the email she received from Ygrain so I could see the quote in context. It was, if anything, even more damning. My next action was to block Ygrain from logging in to HASA.

Ygrain emailed me after discovering that she was blocked. I asked her to forward me the email she had sent to Nieriel Raina to remove any possible doubt as to the authenticity of the email. She did and it was identical. She is now permanently barred from HASA.

The Evaluation

Before I present my evaluation, I want to be very clear that the only thing I am concerned with in this incident is the way in which Ygrain took it upon herself to make a public example of an author. The substance of the ulterior motive is irrelevant.

Why didn't I shut the thread down the minute I became aware of it? Because there was something else going on than just name calling, being insulting, or complaining about reviews, and I wanted to figure out what Ygrain was up to.

When I was able to read Ygrain's entire email to Nieriel Raina, it was clear that Ygrain had used the attack on the author as a publicity stunt to draw attention to her complaints. Her choice of author was arbitrary. It could have been any author whose story she disliked. The only thing that mattered to her was to get attention and she was prepared to trash another member in public to get what she wanted.

The reasons for permanently banning Ygrain from HASA are as follows:

  • Ygrain conducted a "brutal and aggressive" attack on another HASA member when she could not think of a legitimate and constructive way to draw attention to her discussion thread
  • Ygrain used another human being as a mere tool to get what she wanted, publicly trashing a specific member and her story to advance her own agenda
  • Ygrain used a HASA venue, feature or tool to post something malicious, obscene, threatening and/or derogatory about another person
  • This was not a civil or constructive discussion as it involved deliberate humiliation of another person to get the debate underway

The entire discussion thread is poisoned by Ygrain's unconscionable behavior, which is why it has been permanently removed.

The person wronged in this incident is the author Ygrain singled out for a public assault to draw attention to her personal disdain for the review system. To repeat what I said in a private email informing the author that Ygrain had been barred from the site, I offer my apology both personally and as HASA Site Manager for the despicable attack she had to endure while I sorted this mess out. I am grateful for the restraint, integrity and class this person demonstrated.


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