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Management Update 20

Site statistics

May published article count was up from 7 in April to 14 in May. Published comments were up from 474 in April to 652 in May. Total traffic to the site was steady at 24,769 unique visitors in May. For no obvious reason, by far the biggest inbound traffic source site was Nebuchadnezzar's Woolly Days blogspot (great name).

We didn’t publish 19 abusive, content-free or incomprehensible comments, and 1 under the 5-post rule. There were also the 11 comments removed from the site. Total intended for publication and not published: 31/683=4.5%.


Income in May was $485.81 in donations, plus around $82 from Google Adsense (US$69.01 at whatever the exchange rate will be on payment at the end of June) versus expenditure of $45.85.

Since someone (Jenny) asked, current cash in hand (or more accurately in Westpac) is $755.96. We have a current liability to James Cook Uni of $200 for a year's hosting, and an inpayment due from Google Adsense of US$163.19 (approx A$195) - the May income above plus US$94.18 outstanding balance from March and April.

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Kathy, I have heard similar sentiment voiced by a lot of disabled people: the blind prefer to be blind, the deaf to be deaf. It is hard to understand but it is something that should be respected. They say even the homeless don't necessarily want homes. I used to read about autism and Asperger's syndrome, trying to find an answer to questions about myself, to try and work out what was wrong with me (and I was convinced that something was). I remember falling in to weeping one afternoon in the library pouring over a psychology text, because it was about communication problems by sufferers of autism. (And if I die before I learn to speak/Will money pay for all the days I lived awake but half asleep? - Primitive Radio Gods)

There are autism forums online and I remember they contained a warning that autistic people have a kind of blunt style. One of the hardest things about it for families is, I am told, accepting the idea that there is no cure, that they cannot be made 'normal', whatever that really means. Treatment is more along the lines of teaching manners and social skills. This can be enough – unless you have some experience of mental illness, I don't think you can understand how important the basics are. And it has nothing to do with intellect.

Everyone of course remembers Rainman. I admire it because it is a movie that is curious about autistic people as individuals. It asks what they feel, what they think and it is about experimenting in trying to draw them out of their enclosed world and to communicate. It contains a small hope, built on curiosity. I think if we lose our curiosity we lose everything.

Skin deep

See Jenny, I was right all along. You have an earthy, angelic face.

Look a bit closer Solomon

Solomon, now you clearly did not look closely enough. If you did, you would have seen the remnants of the disappearing halo in the background, still shining brightly.

But forget about the face. Did you read the piece, that is more important? And what do you think about this whole issue?



Hi Jenny, I was expecting someone older, actually, Cary Grant doesn't know what he missed out on.


Nothing to explain

Well I thought there was a conflict of interest when Craig Rowley was deeply involved in writing, moderation and the ensuing debates, so I am in partial agreement. There were a lot of complaints of bias and a lot of bitterness. It occurred to me last night that perhaps that problem could be muted if you democratised the editing process - dealt some more people in to the game. Also heaping them with more responsibility as well as more control might help people understand how labour-intensive and exhausting it must be when threads degenerate.

I actually would trust Geoff Pahoff, C Parsons and Jay White to be sensible moderators. But it is really your business. Webdiary has its structure and perhaps divorcing writing from editing is the best plan. Nobody, generally, has a problem with Fiona Reynolds. As for my last senseless remark, I am as I am and (apart from quoting Jim Morrisson) am here so as not to be elsewhere. You could truly buy my loyalty for a flower...

Pretty as a picture

Yes, I for one am interested in seeing a pic of the "Old Girl" Margo!

 Much more interested though in what Jenny has to say .

 I have always found what she has to say, interesting and worthwhile .

And Jen, you certainly have a kind and caring nature. It shines through in all you write my dear.And a wicked sense of humour too!

Btw Jenny, haven't got any rain over here yet. You're not praying hard enough  girl!

Margo: Hi Kathy. She looks beautiful!   

Let the beholder beware Kathy

Kathy: Sorry. My prayers have been a bit light on of late. I will have to lift my game.

Pretty? Well you are about to be let down rather heavily my dear.

In the eye of the beholder do I hear? Then let the beholder beware, or better still, go and buy a set of dark specs.

Ah well. We cannot all be Sophia Loren now, can we?

Hi Margo, you were right!

Jenny, what a lovely pic. Margo was certainly right!

You have wonderful laughing eyes too!

I can't believe that you are in your sixties. You certainly look much younger Jen.Must be all that fresh farm air eh?

You may not be a spring chicken mate, but you are certainly no old chook either!

Margo: Hi Katy. Jenny has been very good to me since I retired hurt.Ii call her a witch (defn: wise woman). Perhaps you'd write a piece for us?

Kathy Farrelly

Thanks for the offer Margo.

 Initially I was a little daunted, as you have many people of high calibre contributing.

 But you know , I mulled over it today, and I thought, there is something that is very close to my heart, and that is Autism..

 I have a six year old autistic son...

He's a great little guy, and I love him to bits.

 But.... Financially it's been a hard slog. Not much forthcoming from the government.

My son is high functioning,but still needs the assistance  of an aid.

There are many more families  worse off than mine though. Early educational and behavioural interventions can greatly increase  a positive prognosis for these kids!

We have had to pay for occupational therapy, speech pathology and specialized teaching out of our own pocket.

We have managed... Many cannot.

 Some families even have two or more autistic children.

 Many of these kids can and will become independent. with early help...

So yes I would like to contribute something , in the near future , when things settle a bit. We  have had to medicate our son because he has ADHD  as well. Sometimes these conditions are co morbid.

 But you know, my son is an individual, and even if they found a cure for autism, I would not be interested in it. Autism is part of who he is. It's part of what makes him so charming and innocent. So happy..

Unfortunately many people can not understand those sentiments..

If only we were all a liitle bit autistic I reckon!

I guarantee, there WOULD be no wars in the world!  

Margo: Kathy, I'd be proud to publish a piece on that. Thanks for offering. If you'd like me to have a look at your draft for feedback, let me know at mlkingston@gmail.com

Perhaps I shall write

Perhaps I shall write here Kathy and you'll be able to wax lyrical about my eyes. I can see it now: "what a wonderfully half lidded glaze you have Michael. You don't look like an old chook, more like a well basted duck."

You are given permission to use it.

Quite correct Jenny. Like most Australian monikers it has, over time, been corrupted from  the original "Barren Jack" after the mountain it was named for.

On the subject of an author editing a thread on his/her own material, it is enough for the author to take part in the discussion rather than to edit that discussion. If such editing or moderation is to be required.

I write and take part in other forums, one in particular on history, where some form of moderation is applied. Such moderation as exists relates to specific discussions of modern ethno-political morasses that have no application to the historical period under discussion. If let stand, posts addressing such will see a topic degenerate into something resembling the Rwanda genocide - only in print. Hence their removal.

The "moderation" then is limited and targeted. Outside of such, discussion - often quite warm, fired by  feul generated from the defence of firmly entrenched positions - proceeds most amicably without need of any editorial hand.

Just a thought.

Margo: Hi Michael. I'd love a piece from you, and mugshot!  Limited and targeted moderation sounds great to me. Bring it on! Only about 3 percent of comments meant for publication aren't published, and some of them are spam or hate mail. That's pretty good for an all comers site, I reckon. And as you may have experienced, over time there are people who dominate a site or others divert discussion in such a way that can ruin the experience for others. Especially when the subject is politics. The way I've tried to handle comments is to make the guidelines public and to be accountable and transparent, so if people have complaints they are published and responded to. This opens a can of worms in itself, sometimes leading to endless discussion of the process, rather than the substance. It's still a work in progress, I guess. One answer is to say, OK, it's my site, I do what i like with comments, cop it or go elsewhere. Some sites do that, but it's not my style. Maybe it will have to be, but I hope not.

I am a control freak when it comes to keeping to the Webdiary style, fixing spelling errors when I pick them up, and repairing grammar. And I want to take responsibility for what appears on the site, again a legacy of my newspaper days. Some site owners/publishers say it's nothing to do with them what people write on their site. I don't feel that way.

Well that is sweet of you Kathy

Kathy: Well that is rather sweet (Phil Moffat must have been right about you after all) of you to say my dear but as I say , it's all in the eyes of the beholder.  And my 60s are fading fast. I will be 67 in September, born in the midst of the Battle of Britain. Ian is the same, born a bit earlier during the 18 days that shook the world, when the Germans marched in Czechslovakia, so I think we both got the battlin spirit. LIfe has certainly been a battle but given the chance I would probably travel the same road again.

A few grey hairs emerging now so I might adopt old mum's philosophy. She dyed her hair saying while I have to work like a young woman, I refuse to look like an old one, a philosophy she followed till the day she died, at 86.  She was still working hard that day. I suspect though the Hyacinth Bucket in her might have been a bit of an influence in her hair jobs.

I certainly feel and like to think I am still young, but one is brought down to earth whenever a woman over 60 meets an untimely death, and the young journos report that the dastardly deed against an elderly woman.  Well I would like to get them out to chop burrs for 10 hours a day. I suppose being a nice person, I would patch their blisters for them. Now how would Harry and the boys go on burrs do you think?


I wonder if you could set up a system where by each contributor moderates his or her own thread, with an editorial guideline, and an over-arching editorial review process. It could be a move towards a more open-sourced structure, in that contributors can have more control over debates that they have started. It would be risky in Webdiary terms but I think it might have interesting results. Why shouldn't Parsons have his own playground? I like C Parsons for supporting Marilyn Shepard, all those years ago. It becomes a question of trust. Who is bona fide and who is just here to get their kicks (before the whole shithouse goes up in flames).

Margo: Solomon, I feel that was part of the problem. It's best to have someone moderating who didn't write the original piece, as the whole thing can become too personalised. And this way, the writer can comment at will as the debate goes on.  It's best not to mix the writing and editing functions as a general rule. Except for me, I suppose - I've got used to copping flak and not responding to it (mostly).  As for your last remark, if Webdiary is as you say, I don't know why you're here. No need to explain.

If fixing formating and

If fixing formating and editing to remove abuse is taking a lot of time for little value, why not put the burden back onto the contributors?

You could set up two permanent threads, one for Wrongly Formatted and one for Breach of Guidelines. Then the editors could simply drop the offending posts into the appropriate thread and be done with it.

This would have the benefit of nobody 'being edited' - the posts would be there for all to see, and we could all go and have a look when we felt like slumming it in the abuse pits. It would then be up to the contributors, if they really wanted to be read, to rework the post to make it acceptable.


P.S. Welcome back Margo, from an irregular reader.

David R: actually that would take almost as much work as what we're doing (it's the reading them to see if they need action that takes time). Nice bit of lateral thinking, though.  Paradoxically, post moderation (eg setting "Offensive? Unsuitable? Let us know" buttons on each comment) can be more demanding of time, because it needs people to respond to any problems in a more timely fashion than just doing a bit of moderating when you have a spare tea-break.

Margo: Tom, is this your first post? If so, welcome! With the formatting thing, many Webdiarists aren't savvy on the net, and Webdiary helps them with their skills by pointing out how to format. I'd like to keep it that way for people who are keen to get it right.

Kathy: Love lost and all in a tiss

Oh Kathy: We are all devoid of love over here and it's got your lot all in a tiss. What can we do, what can we say for its all gone away?

Now, Geoff might like to know that the blue blood here has a double dash of black. Too much lovin' and sharing the dreamtime by the old great great great I gather. But we won't make too much of that in case I am blackballed (forgive me) from the local Ladies' Club.

A snob?  Now maybe they got that one right. Why here dwells the daughter of a once real live Hyacinth Bucket. Too bad she fouled up big time when she shot a teapot of cold tea over some snooty grazier's son in his best suit, ending a nice night out at the Gentlemens' Club. Well more silly him coming to collect a letter at midnight, what with that escaped con around and all. A Lady cannot afford to take too many chances in the bush now can she? But in the days when the gazzunder was still peferred to the redbacks and the king browns? Poor lad let out a yell and bolted up the road, without waiting to inquire as to the contents of the pot.

Took awhile that one......

BTW: There's a halo missing of late. Seen it around by chance?

Right that 's it. Time I let the fish off the hook while I do something useful for a change. Fishing is cruel anyway.


Time I let the fish off the hook while I do something useful for a change. Fishing is cruel anyway.

Well, I suppose if one's drowning a tortured invertebrate or similar such might be the case. I'm much more into lobbing the odd lure or fly at the scaly critters and, as many a fly fisherman would tell you, their method is much more "civilised".

I suspect to the fish - with a hook impaled in its jaw - it's largely irrelevant. In any case, all those that manage to fall foul of my barbless hooks seem to swim off happily. Dearly love to see the end of set lines though...

Much more cruel is what is happening to these creatures as the drought continues and reservoirs and rivers inexorably dry up. I fished Eucumbene in April and, whilst still 14.5%, it was a puddle of its former self (worse now at 12.3). The fish were all "slabs" and I fished only the one day. I figured they didn't need to be molested. Evidently the biomass available to the rather large population is shrinking just as fast as the lake. This short slideshow - if I've got the link right - tells the story.

Much better more recently with the fat cod at Burrinjuck (holding at a "get-out" storage of 24-25%).

Margo: Michael, you old reprobate, Welcome back! It's been a while.

Hooked that one

Now Michael, I bet to myself when I wrote that one I would hear from you.  But I confess I incline to agree with you. As for those long lines and nets that take everything, well we're starting to pay for all that.

Old Dad was a great fly fisherman. I still have his now ancient rods and reels, and a few years back published a book of his fishing tales and poetry written in the 40s and 50s for The Bulletin and Tight Lines. He dropped dead twenty years ago as he was planning yet another trip to the Goodradigbee, at the age of 80.

Good to hear the cod are hanging on. As the old man wrote in his Farewell to the Murray Cod back then, they got a pretty bad deal when the hordes of yellow scum moved in and took over the rivers.

But I can imagine what is happening now as the big dams run dry. It would have broken the old hands' hearts.

Am not into fishing myself. And poor as we were, the Macleay mullet of my childhood was just too much of an ask. So no fish on the table here thanks, though I confess I did buy a bit for the other half for dinner tonight, on the understanding I don't have to cook it.

Margo: Hi Jenny. Your mugshots are ready to publish; look forward to your piece. I reckon quite a few people would like to know what you look like! 

I bet to myself when I

I bet to myself when I wrote that one I would hear from you.

Well there you go Jenny. I'm prone to the odd bait, particularly in Greek restaurants and on pizza. Don't mind lobbing the odd one either - just not at fish.

The 'Juck was indeed a salve for dry trolling runs. Even at 24%, on days like this weekend, it is a picture. The kids enjoyed the fat "codgers" as well. Here's hoping filling rains turn it into a fishing El Dorado in the near future.

One hopes there will be some decent thinking done by the time any of these impoundments has a decent head of water again.

Hello Margo, welcome back to the chair.

"Reprobate"? Absolutely possibly. "Old" An ever growing certainty.

Not sure if it is "good" to have me back though my sister would likely approve.

The "while" would mostly be down to the difficulty of a conversation with replies some hours to a day apart. As well as the nature of things - as they have evolved -  now often resembling something almost as formalised as Graeco-Roman wrestling.

Always had a look: the site didn't always recognise me but, then, neither do I occasionally. This last weekend being a case in point.

Hopefully something comes of the "rapproachment" alluded to on the "other side".

Margo: Yeah, I hope so too. It was a big decision to come back to Webdiary, but in the end, it's been my baby for so long now, despite my attempt to close it in 2005, that I thought I'd give it a go again in the safety of my retirement. There's a lot of nice people here. Now if everyone could just be a little nicer to each other... Respect, that sort of thing. It's good to read you again, Michael.


Michael: Great pictures of the Juck (the old hands often called it the Jack) and a nice one to fry.  I hope the good folk at Good Hope can get their boats back in next summer. Tried to register on the site but got booted. Seems it happens a lot to me. Could send you a funny poem about a big one from the Juck but too long for here I am afraid. The Legend of Narrangullen Island. Heard it? Probably not, one of the old man's. He had a great sense of humour. Contributed to the Whoppers column of Tight Lines a lot.

All a long time ago now.

Cheers and tell the other lot never to take me too seriously. Life is far too...you know.

Ok Margo

OK Margo, but am I ready for them to see me. Might spoil the show altogether.

The piece is ready but I will probably have to email it to you. I tried  comment box and got thrown off the site with it when I tried to preview it. So it is on a word file. I have only put in three links, including the one to my original piece on WD last year plus two others. In the word document I have inserted them in square brackets.

I will at this stage put it up as Not for Publication till I get feedback from AA that my facts are all correct. But you can play around with it both in a comment box and as an email till I give you the all clear. So stand by, it's on its way.


Margo: Will do.  

HI Margo and BTW Kathy

Hi Margo, glad we could oblige. Hope to see you next time you are down but the farm may anchor us for awhile so we'll probably be up north for the foreseeable.  

When I get a moment I will write a follow up on the live sheep trade as I am pretty angry about the MOU the Government used to get live sheep back into Egypt knowing it was not going to be worth the paper it was  written on. And it wasn't.

I want to look too at just where all the money allocated by the Government and topped up from levies on farmers for industry research and development is spent by the industry bodies, particularly the MLA (Meat and Livestock Australia). It is not only the AWB that needs a shakeup in my opinion.

BTW Kathy Farrelly, nice to know you pop over to see how I fare in the den here but take it from me, no one has ever gotten the better of this old girl in my yes, 60 something years, and a lot have tried it. And believe me, I could teach the boys over yonder a thing or two. Babes in the wood most of them. But first up, seems to me they could use a dictionary - learn a few new words. Should I send one over do you think or would it be too intellectually challenging for them?

BTW2: The only hens Harry is likely to find in my backyard these days are the ones we lift from the local battery place. But we won't tell the good ladies at the CWA that will we now? I would not want to spoil that image I seem to have cultivated so nicely. It makes such a nice change from the usual ratbag animal libber I'm stuck with.    

Cheers anyway my dear.  Stick around. We can't let the boys have it all their own way now can we? And tell them not to be so damned predictable too. Smart fish would recognise a bait when they saw it.

Margo: Jenny, are you up at the farm planting stuff? What a bloody fantastic place. I'm jealous. 

From one chook to another.

Ahh Jenny, don't miss much do you?

You, are a canny Scot  my dear.

And I am most certain that no one  would ever get the better of you!. On that we both agree.

Cheers and all the best..

 Hmmmm, now where did I leave that broomstick!

No cakes and scones

Kathy: True my dear and there's a few barristers, the odd silk, a  dozen or so bank managers, some Board men and many a bureaucrat down the last few decades that probably wished they had not fallen for the gentle, gracious and kind image fitting of a lady of the CWA.   

But I think I rather like my new image. What chance though for a lady in the CWA when she ain't ever made a cake or a scone in her whole flaming life?

Cheers to you too.  If you need some help to sort those boys out over there, send the broomstick over before I get too old and fuddy duddy to find me way.

Planting stuff

Margo, yep, planting stuff again. But I managed to organise it all over the phone with Jack and he got the crop in the night before it rained. What a gem that man is. They don't come much better. We head up there in a week's time. Have been suffering withdrawal anyway. I guess you understand why now. There's no place like the plains country.

Bedtime green eyes, and don't you push that envelope too far. Look after yourself.


Margo, well Craig R. mentioned to me a couple of times in passing that he felt his position potentially put his assets at risk. Presumably Webdiary takes all due care not to expose itself to liability but there is always a risk there, especially if, from time to time, Webdiary wants to call truth to power. It is an unlikely but not entirely unfeasible situation that Webdiary could be sued. Incorporating could undo some of that fear, though there would be costs/compliance issues, etc, depending on what type of association you intend to form. Creating a single entity is indeed what a company is for - didn't you used to teach business law?

I'm in an internet cafe in St Kilda. I told Craig R. that I felt travel was healing. It is strange I never realised what a beautiful place Melbourne can be. I have forgotten what possessed me to come here, beyond visiting a long lost friend, but I suppose I am glad. In another way I am terrified.

Oh, and I sent a piece in on Iran not long ago. If that gets published I suppose I could moderate the comments, as my uni break is excessively long and I am busy recovering from psychosis again, as you do, so I have precious little other responsibilities for a brief period. I could start around the 17th. For the moment I am preoccupied with the pretty dark sea and Autumnal Melbourne and haunting a pretty-sad girl to whom I used to write love poems and look at from a distance.

Margo: Solomon, Webdiary IS a company.

Best wishes to all

To Margo, David, and all who have made WD possible, thanks for the opportunity to express our opinions publicly. It is sad that the process seems to push people to breaking point. Is there anything we can do to make the process easier?

From what I can gather by reading the posts, it is abusive contributors that cause most of the problems. Could we have a three strikes and you’re out, policy, to limit the abuse? We are coming up to a crucial election and WD is a good way of shining a critical light on those who would like to lead us through the next four years. It helps to keep networks of protest together.

I am sorry to see Craig and Richard move on; hopefully they will return. I found WD after reading your book Not Happy John; I have little experience of other blogs as I have found this model fulfills my need to call for change. I have been using my five posts a day to tilt at windmills that I believe need change. It’s better than blowing up the houses of parliament 

If I can help in anyway let me know. Best wishes, to all. John

Margo: Hi John, and thanks for your kind words. How about writing a piece for us? I'd prefer it if pieces were written in the comments box (take a copy before you submit just in case) and mark it at the top as a piece. Anyone who'd like to have a go at comments editing, God help them, let me know. I think the ideal would be for one person to moderate one post, so there is consistency. Anyway. let's see if enough people want to keep this show on the road to see us through this low spot. 

Ready to give it a go

Margo: Hi, I would like to write a piece, I will put some thought to the subject. I am happy to have a go at comments editing. Being an ex sailor the language won't be anything I haven't heard before,my skin is pretty thick, I think I could manage it, as long as I have the technical skills. As you suggest maybe moderate one post at a time.

I am a bit confused as to your instructions on posting. Are you discouraging the use of a word processing program. Do you want us to type directly into the comment box?

Margo: Hi John. Yes, if that's OK. It solves all the formatting issues - you can use the bold, indent, link facilities at the top of the comments box. Look forward to your piece, John! As to comments editing, that's a great offer. I'll pass it onto David and we'll take it from there. For now, though, when things are a little shaky, Fiona, David and I will soldier on. An ex-sailor, eh? How about a piece on who you are and what you believe in and why. A couple of Webdiarists have done this, and it worked well. For example, Craig Warton wrote Nothing is as clear cut as you imagine and Betty Birskys wrote How did we get here? 

Or perhaps 800 words on who you'll vote for in the House of Reps and the Senate this time, and why. I'd be happy to give you some feedback if you'd like to send me a draft. My email is mlkingston@gmail.com.

Over to you...

Blessed are they that mourn

Well, our perceived imminent demise is being greatly mourned over on Harry's site. And it seems they have a big problem with the notion of civility – why, it is even seen as somewhat un-Australian.

Well, all I can say is that the sort of language that floats around there, and the boy-style bitching, is not the Australia I know. More the sort of stuff you expect in a suburban street when the road rage gets going - nasty stuff. But I suppose if you just want to bitch, it serves its purpose. If we have to model Australian society, and WD, on the bear pits and the blog sites where everything goes, then stop the train and let me off. That is not what I see WD as being about. While I don't much agree with the lefty politics of most contributors here, and I am probably pretty much alone when it comes to the God stuff, the site has been a great place to meet people of considerable intellect and breadth of experience in so many fields.

There are plenty of sites around where people can engage in personal abuse, idle chatter, bitching and foul language if that is what turns them on. Better to let WD die than for it to become such a site.

And I do not for one minute accept that that sort of stuff is what it takes to be Australian. Not amongst the people I know anyway, and I mix it with all levels of society, and not just those from the bush. Give me the civil society any day. There is not much of value to be found in the gutter, though I did find it was the best place to look for pocket money as a kid.

Margo: Hi Jenny, and thanks again for your wonderful hospitality when I was in Canberra. Whether it dies or not depends on us. I'm prepared to do comments editing for a while, and look to contributors to post pieces on what they care about.  I'd prefer it if people write their pieces in the comments box (make a copy before sending in case there's a drama) and mark it for publication as a separate post. Let's see what happens. If it dies, then it dies. It's been a wonderful journey whatever happens next. and a pretty good soap opera, if I may say so!

Webdiary as sanctuary.

I’m with Bob when it comes to moderation of foul language and ad hominen attacks (though I don’t think that any particular subjects should be excluded or taboo from rigorous debate. As you say Margo: if people don’t like it then don’t read it!).

I see Webdiary as a bit of a sanctuary when it comes to that sort of stuff; though, having said that, I  don’t have any problem at all in making ad hominen attacks on assorted (Margo: various epithets deleted...) But I’ll do it either at my own blog or on others where it is tolerated. At Webdiary I’m quite happy to make my point with a little more cool headedness – provided others are.

Margo: Damian Lataan has a good word to say about Webdiary?!  Bloody hell, ain't life strange!


Hi.  I doubt this will be published but here we go.  I only have a couple of minutes to do this in a pub in Far North Queensland as I am on a machine.  I am also known as Harry Heidelberg.  My short note is to say I hope you carry on.  I was involved with Webdiary for five years and had a bitter parting of the ways in 2005.  I don't agree with the moderation model and I don't like the politics of the place.  In short, I don't like much of what it has become at all.  I doubt I would ever be a regular here again but as someone who was there at Day Two of Webdiary in 2000, I urge you to continue.  Find your way.  It's not my way but I go for it.  Don't die just yet.

Margo:  David, even just a short time ago I would have said I'd never forgive you for pulling the plug in my hour of desperate need for a cool head to get me through to independence, let alone starting a site that hurt me terribly when I was most vulnerable. I considered you a close friend, you know? But I've crossed a bridge, and let a lot of stuff go. Thank you for your note. Life's a bitch, sometimes.

Hi Ho ...

Margo: “Life's a bitch, sometimes.”

And then of course, ya die. Unless ya got private health insurance.

Seriously, though, the tit-for-tat naughty tut-tutting is always good, and I love it.

I love the argument embedded in every conversational snatch of abuse, I love the fierceness of replies replete with a cold, hard face slap.

I even love the banal savagery daubed on other websites (eg, the tense, low moaning from the quasi-literary catalepsy.org)

And then there’s (joy of joys) the hastily scrawled, unsigned missives on paper complete with a 5/- stamp to one’s own letter box! A white pages or electoral roll search of address, an envelope, a piece of paper or two, and the wonderful, sometimes incoherent, stream of unconsciousness foam-flecked abuse.

I go out on the landing with a nice cup of tea and a scone to enjoy all of god’s largesse.

The wondrous letters have various Brisbane, Townsville, Melbourne and Perth postmarks. They’re a start.

And I am very, very grateful that some thoughtful persons have gone to the trouble.

It’s all a huge amount of labour, pitching in for the right of US millionaires and billionaires to do what they want. To smash to flaming bits the 1001 tribes of Iraq and the 1,000,001 neighbourhoods of Persia, the put in pipelines to the nearest port. Or overland to Mumbai.

And then pitching in to conflate Persia and Palestine and Prahran and stir it in with a fiery touch of Holocaust, then bake it in a pie since 1917.

Their godlike writing is like shoveling earth, two paces long, one wide and a shovel handle and a half deep. Sides cut nice and straight, no clods. Supposedly keeps the Holy Land safe for America.

No wonder Harvey van der Heidelberg scarpered off to the Lion’s Den™.

But they’re hairy neoCons on that Bloomfield Wujal Wujal Road. Look at Michael Fomenko and all those butterfly-tattooed hippies, each with a grungy old .38 stuck in his trouser belt, protected by the river on one side and the Cooktown track on the other. Not a government agent for a million miles.

Frère Jihad Jacques OAM née Woodforde, very, very naughty, loathsome son of a bitch, scrub turkey and bane of the literary establishment.

Margo: G'Day Peter. Yep, you've done it again. How's your health? Sorry I didn't get to see you last time was in Canberra, but next time, eh? I should be down there late July. Love always... 

Mmmmmm ...

Well, Margo, I notice the health of my typos remains robust. I may need to be more moderate with my spastic limbs and my keyboard. And qrrzztuverwyx?

Frère Jihad Jacques OAM née Woodforde, always keepin' on trucking ...

Margo: You mean I didn't pick em up? will have another go.


(1) Margo was about 30 seconds ahead of me in publishing your comment.

(2) In light of her response to you, David, I can only ponder whether, in Webdiary's putative absence, you might have felt yourself gravelled for lack of matter.

Not after ...

No offence taken Margo, and not only new people need to be reminded about the Ethics and Guidelines, which is my point. So automatic publishing? Not for this little black duck, rather moderation and eyes open for the vandals and miscreants. Some of the stuff that is posted elsewhere I would not like to see even temporarily on WD.

Yes, time to steady the ship, I am sure others will also be glad of your company for a while. But don't overdo it.

Gold Coast/North Coast. Yes, it could happen, somehow. Although I am a non-driver so that is a complication. Something can be sorted.

Margo: I drive south now and then, so will let you know when I'm passing through. I'm gunna have a go at watching the Rugby!


Margo you should know you don't have to remind me of the Ethics and Guidelines - I have spent plenty of time reminding others.As to that day you announcement the close down, I think I was the first person to see your announcement. I was up very early that morning and was surprised to see that someone was already editing. I found out later who and why. Then I was the first person to respond and the first to post the suggestion of keeping WD going. 

Craig's departure is tragic and Richard will also be sorely missed. As to whether either will return, I put my view in my previous post. I do think that is an important factor.

On the matter of ethics, be they WD's or general ethics of civil debate, some people have no interest in observing them. Some are, as you are aware, intent on damaging and disrupting not only threads but WD itself. There is no point in asking these people to "try a little harder to be respectful of each other". That is not their game.

As to meeting - if you get to the Far North Coast ... but best not on a rugby night. Just a reminder of the game tonight. One I enjoy watching.

Margo: Hi Bob. Sorry if I offended you - I was just doing a little history lesson for those who are new. I am staying at the Gold Coast now, so maybe we could catch up sooner rather than later. I've decided to do a bit of comments moderation for a while to help steady the ship, so let's see what happens, eh? Maybe we should follow the lead of some other sites and automatically publish, then delete the ones that are offensive - no questions, no reader power. I hope that's not the case, but all suggestions are welcome.


Part of the problem appears to be that directors/moderators of Webdiary feel that they expose themselves to potential personal liability given what they publish. It occurred to me that perhaps Webdiary should consider forming a not-for-profit incorporated association, so that liability is directed towards Webdiary and not to individual members.

Margo: Hi Solomon. Isn't that what a company is for? Defo on the net is a tangled topic, but it wasn't my main motivation for moderation. I expect defamatory material to be DNPed as a matter of course. 

A long term problem

Hello Margo, more "interesting times" at WD, but not for the first time. Nor is the underlying cause new. That cause being the perceived leeway given to some people despite the fact that they are persistently dishonest and in the case of C Parsons, apparently intent on disrupting discussions he does not approve of. Whether this leeway is due to the dream of maintaining a diverse range of opinion or for other reasons, it has resulted in the loss of two very valuable people.

I note your comment:

All of us who have done comments editing have blown up sometime.

I do hope you were not trying to dismiss Craig's resignation lightly. From what I have seen of Craig's work and what has been revealed on WD the problem has been brewing for a while. In my reading of the situation I do not see Craig returning unless the underlying issues are addressed. The same probably goes for Richard. This very sad.

Parsons for Craig and Richard? IMO, not a very good deal.

Time, I suggest, for some reflection on how WD proceeds.

Margo: Hi Bob. I'm certainly not trying to dismiss Craig's resignation lightly. It's a tragedy for Webdiary that he's pulled out, and I hope like hell he'll keep writing for us. I love his work and always have. However, there's no doubt comments editing is an awful job if done regularly for a while. It nearly killed me when the site moved over to comments, and the transition from cutting and pasting emails day to day has never been fully resolved. Call me old fashioned, but I believed that comments should be moderated before publication because as publisher and editor I felt I had to be responsible for what was published. I thought that if the personal abuse style, as distinct from passionate advocacy, was allowed in, many people of goodwill would not enjoy participating.  My 2001 Charter makes that clear:

...to help meet the unmet demand of some Australians for conversations on
our present and our future, and to spark original thought and genuine
engagement with important issues which effect us all.

Right from the beginning in 2000 I did not publish abusive emails which sought to personally denigrate other contributors, as I made clear in Webdiary Ethics, published in 2003:

I will not belittle or show disrespect for any reader's contributions I publish, or to any person who emails me.

I will do my utmost to ensure that Webdiary is a space to which all
readers, whatever their views or style, feel safe to contribute. If you
are offended by something in Webdiary, feel free to respond. I won't
publish any material which incites hatred...

 Robust debate is great, but don't indulge in personal attacks on other contributors.

I also wanted to be accountable and transparent:

I will publish most contributions made in good faith which are critical of Webdiary's content or direction, or of me.

This task was complicated when we transferred to a comments box. This led to our comments guidelines, which Jack Robertson, my comments editor when the volume got too much for me in early 2005, wrote the first draft of.  I believe in the A and T words. I thought that this openness would foster trust in Webdiary and my ethics, but since we moved to a comments box, moderation with accountability and transparency have created nightmare process issues that continue to this day.

I don't know what the answer is, but as long as David, Fiona and others want to 'keep the dream alive', so to speak, I will too. I've offered to moderate any pieces Craig might care to write for Webdiary and I hope he does write for us again. 

Whether Webdiary lasts or not, it's been an amazing journey. I was shocked that it continued when I pulled the plug in despair, and I fervently hope that it lasts. I've met lots of amazing people from all over Australia who've contributed over the years. I hope we can meet someday, Bob.

Could everyone try a little harder to be respectful of each other? Please? And if a contributor is pissing you off, don't read him or her and get on with it with the contributors who interest you!

Hello Margo

For what it’s worth, it can be difficult sitting behind a computer, no eyes to see into, or ears to hear the tones of voice, especially for a musician.

I must apologize for some of my posts, some of them have bordered on the irrational, but it’s hard trying to put conflicting emotions into word, the main reason why I don’t take part in religious discussions - too personal, too many interpretations to consider.

I thought I would mention this because for a journalist who has to deal in facts and clear reason, it may not be evident that it is not necessarily the natural medium for expression for everyone. Often I put out a post just to see if I can develop it, which leaves me completely open for misinterpretation.


I don’t think you have failed at all Margo. Just been spending a bit of time on some American blogs, Truthdig etc and the model seems to be yours, which is really saying something.
Human beings are complex, universal harmony is a great concept, but a boring concept if it ever came to fruition. All the arguments and conflicts move things forward, exactly like a symphonic piece of music, no conflict no movement. The trick I guess is to control all the movement and create some kind of coherence, and I think on that score you rate very high as does your child Webdiary.

Margo: Hi Charles. I like your insight. The analogy of music is true for Webdiary. The trick is to stop head banging and get a little distance from the passion of the moment. Just about every contributor to Webdiary is an individualist with strong opinions. And sometimes, just sometimes, people relate to each other here as fellow human beings who like writing and conversing with others.  I hope it survives. I love Webdiary, though it burnt me out in the end. It's survival gives me joy.

I've gained detachment from the past at last, and am enjoying doing voluntary work on the campaign of a friend of mine, Kerrie Tucker, who is standing for The Greens at the ACT Senate election. It's interesting being part of a largely volunteer team. There's not much hope of knocking off the Liberal Senator, but we're all doing our best. The trick is to have fun and keep doing our bit for what we believe in, while remembering to look after our health and caring for our friends and family. It took a life disaster for me to learn that. 

Thank you so much to David Roffey for being the rock that's grounded  Webdiary since my retirement. I know he's a bit curt at times - he's British you know - but he's kept this funny old show on the road with aplomb and written top class pieces on climate change since 2004. David, I hope you want to keep it going. And I hope others might consider coming forward to help out with comments or writing pieces now that Craig and Richard have left (just taken a break, I pray to the universe).

What a shame

Hello. I've just caught up on the action and am deeply sorry Craig and Richard have left us. Both have been fantastic, and I hope they'll be back. My brother said to me recently that our dreams for Webdiary of hosting civil political discourse between people of different views had failed. Maybe so, but we've given it a good go, and I hope our little experiment continues. All of us who have done comments editing have blown up sometime. It's a very intense and personally confronting experience. Perhaps Webdiarists could take a deep breath and have a serious go at being civil to each other. How about it?

Craig and Richard, thank you again for your wonderful work and dedication.  Please consider contributing in this election year, or even coming back as editors when you're ready. If not, good luck and let's keep in touch.

Keep Posting Craig and Richard

Yes i hope you both keep posting, both very valuable


The arrow on its track?

Well I am really sorry too when anyone quits the site or is banned except for serious breaches of WD policy.

It is a pity we never got to have an Ombudsman as Margo once suggested. I think David was probably in a rather difficult position here.

As far as possible I think disputes between WDiarists and Editors should be kept confidential and issues resolved off site as far as possible.  

Maybe there was a bit of haste in the way the What if thread was shut down. But there was also a lot of heated argument on that thread that seemed to derail it over rather unimportant points. A ruling of some kind was clearly needed over the map meme issue which I found very irritating and distracting from an important discussion, and the regime issue was also becoming a distraction.  

Whether we like to admit it or not, there is a child in all of us, and at times it leaps out.  It can see us fall victim to hasty responses and/or the last word syndrome, and that clearly happens from time to time on WD. And we can all avoid that if we really want to, rather than have the Management have to step in to try and sort things out as our tempers rise and threads get derailed. The old lawyer's Noted has a lot going for it at times.  It tells the spider go hunt/play somewhere else, I will not be the fly in your web. What I am saying here is that we can all control where a thread goes or does not go by our own response to comments. I do not think we have to ban people to get control back into a thread. 

I hope Craig and Richard will at least continue to comment and post even if they do not want to be Editors. I will miss their input a lot if they don't.  Or is it a case of the arrow being on its track, which we all know cannot be turned back? A pity if that is so.

Whether an offer to re-open the Iran What if thread would resolve the issues between the parties is really up to all of them to decide.

Certainly the whole Iran question is a very important one and Iran is going to be a major player in any outcome in the region.

David R: the comments box on the What If thread has been re-opened, but we're still not publishing any map-meme/regime debate. To be clear about this, a number of the comments that were "unpublished" should not have been published under standard WD guidelines because of their level of personal disparagement of others. Having taken those out, the small remainder of the removed comments became meaningless replies to things that could not be read, and also invitations to keep coming back, so made no sense on their own.

What Have I Come Across?

David Roffey, I was saddened to read the leaving of Craig Rowley. He appeared to me a person interested; tentatively maybe, in looking at the world under a different light. It is made worse; knowing his departure is on such a pointless subject.

Seems to me: Nobody here (the ones I read) is politically affiliated. Oddly, the give away is - people are too well educated. Why any person would wish to lower themselves into appearing as they are affiliated, is the strangest thing I have ever come across on a blog. The equivalent of reverse blog darwinism.

Anyhow, I seem to gain little traction at this place. If any person has a sincere, and different way at looking at the world, I would be interested to read it. Perhaps even get a little web chatter going? I think from my posts, it would be easy to ascertain where I am coming from. Please no national or political politics, I would prefer to read the Democrat or Republican site - yawn.

The debate you didn't want...

To quote Craig: "...you didn't appear to consider the injustice of making no apparent effort to deal with the behaviour of the person who had made daily attempts to retrigger the debate you didn't want on your website...."

I perfectly understand Craig's disappointment that the debate wasn't going the way he prefered and wholly sympathise with his frustration at not being able to frame the discussion along prescribed lines.

And I deeply regret that he has made the decision to resign as an editor. I'll certainly miss his input at that level. I hope he continues to contribute, especially since Roslyn quit the site which i found most upsetting.

Craig Rowley

Craig has resigned as an editor and as a Director of Webdiary. I now have his letter of resignation and his reasoning.

Craig has been a mainstay of the site since before Margo left us. We will miss his inputs and thoughts in the management of Webdiary, though he is welcome to contribute as a commenter and author in the future.

The proximate cause was my decision to close debate on the "What If" strand, though he says that overwork is an endemic (chronic?) part of the decision.

He believes that Webdiary is becoming "Parson's playground" because I judged that all involved in the outbreak of abusive comments were equally at fault and didn't choose to back his request that we ban C Parsons from the site.

To quote from Craig: "you didn't appear to consider the injustice of making no apparent effort to deal with the behaviour of the person who had made daily attempts to retrigger the debate you didn't want on your website, whilst punishing the people who either reacted to the troll's baiting or were simply trying to ignore his baiting - you just treated everyone like children."

Well, partly true. I looked very carefully at all that had transpired before my 19 May comment, and considered the justice / injustice for some time before making the decision set out there, which was agreed to by Margo. The bit after the hyphen is probably true, with hindsight.

The decision to close debate when the abuses revived was a hasty and pissed-off one, and I'll listen to any arguments to review it if presented. But we won't get partial to one side or the other, even for our mates.

Richard Tonkin also resigned as an editor in the aftermath of Craig's decision. We thank him for his input over the last year and a half.

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