Kicked Out

I suppose it was inevitable. Sooner or later, it was bound to happen.
For the first time in over two decades of using the internet, I got banned from a site.
Not just any site, either. I was banned from the Absolute Write forums. And honestly, I’m pretty glad I was. Let me explain.
Absolute Write, for those who don’t know, is mostly a set of forums where writers, agents, publishers, and other sorts of folks in the writing industry chat. And of course, with the huge burst in self publishing, a bunch of posts about that started up. So they made a set of forums for self pub. I rolled across them a couple of months ago, and was pretty horrified by what I saw: a large number of folks claiming to be industry experts deliberately spreading misinformation about what self publishing was, how best to go about it, and whether one could actually do it successfully (outside a few “outliers”). So I stepped in and started pointing out the flaws in the logic.
But I ran into a snag, of course. There’s a dedicated crew there who actively use the forums to disabuse writers of the notion that self publishing is a legitimate career path – actively work to dissuade folks from trying to follow that path, and use the platform of the site and their own “expertise” to push their agenda.
Which should have chased me off the site right away. I mean, why post where you’re pretty obviously not wanted, right? Except for two flaws: first, I tend to tilt when I should withdraw (ten points for getting the source of the misquote). Second, Absolute Write is still one of the more respected writing communities on the web, and tons of writers read there – and listen to what folks are saying. I have a had time dealing with lots of folks being dragged down bad pathways without saying something about it.
Things sorta came to a head today, when one person asked for advice and help regarding her self published book, and someone replied saying basically to write another one and don’t self publish it this time. I pointed out that was not really useful advice for a self publishing forum, and called attention to the fact that there was a double standard on the forum, with folks who had real experience with self publishing, folks who’d actually been in the trenches, routinely attacked and discredited by “experts” who (while they might have been working for a trade publisher for decades) had literally no idea what they were talking about when it came to indie publishing as it’s done today. Said “experts” were, for instance, never asked to cite opinions which they posted as fact; but the real experts (among whom I did not include myself) were continuously attacked and pretty much told they were lying and full of crap.
Well, a little while ago, I got this message:

You have been banned for the following reason:
Get the hell off my site. You’re consistently snotty to everyone, but I have a double standard because I don’t shut people up just because you disagree with them? Start your own board. I’m sick to death of your crap.
Date the ban will be lifted: Never

To the person who sent it – who will probably never read this: I never said *you* had a double standard, and never asked you to shut anyone up. But when the folks actively posting real information based on experience with indie publishing are consistently attacked, but put down (or banned) when they ask for the attackers to simply cite their own data, it’s pretty obvious a double standard does exist.
So, indie publishers – be aware: the Absolute Write forums should be considered “hostile ground” in the ongoing battle. In general, you probably want to take anything read there with a grain of salt, since the admins are deliberately silencing folks trying to get real information posted.
Sour grapes? Nah. Honestly, I feel relieved. It was a huge stressor going there, but I felt bad not, because of the folks being fed propaganda and myths. And honestly, I cannot help but feel proud. If I had to get banned from someplace, getting kicked out for doing the right thing isn’t a bad way to go.  😉


48 Replies to “Kicked Out”

  1. I know what you mean. Just last night I saw some lady who works at some publisher I’ve never heard of telling YA authors not to change the ages of their characters unless an agent or editor tells them to. Which was wrong on multiple levels, but I didn’t say anything because I really didn’t feel like arguing.
    I did say something when somebody on Book Blogs asked if it were unusual for an agent to charge an “editing fee”. (sigh)
    Beyond a general sense of fairness, why would we care? We know better, but isn’t every writer who doesn’t one less competitor? Well, it doesn’t really work that way, and as Dean Wesley Smith pointed out, each lamb these sharks eat only makes them stronger.

    1. I agree, Edward. And…there’s more than that, too. I’ve had people step in and offer me critical advice at different points in my life. Yes, Dean was one. So to me, part of it is a sense of responsibility to carry that on, and help other folks out when I can.
      It just feels like the right thing to do.
      Keeping the sharks from getting stronger is a fringe benefit.

  2. I know what you mean. Just last night I saw some lady who works at some publisher I’ve never heard of telling YA authors not to change the ages of their characters unless an agent or editor tells them to. Which was wrong on multiple levels, but I didn’t say anything because I really didn’t feel like arguing.
    I did say something when somebody on Book Blogs asked if it were unusual for an agent to charge an “editing fee”. (sigh)

    Beyond a general sense of fairness, why would we care? We know better, but isn’t every writer who doesn’t one less competitor? Well, it doesn’t really work that way, and as Dean Wesley Smith pointed out, each lamb these sharks eat only makes them stronger.

    1. I agree, Edward. And…there’s more than that, too. I’ve had people step in and offer me critical advice at different points in my life. Yes, Dean was one. So to me, part of it is a sense of responsibility to carry that on, and help other folks out when I can.
      It just feels like the right thing to do.

      Keeping the sharks from getting stronger is a fringe benefit.

  3. Well, I’m am not one for drama of any sort. I’m very surprised that you were banned and in such a way too.
    I have to tell you that I started following you on Twitter a while back because you were part of a #writechat where there was someone who seemed really rude and condescending. But you were very positive and factual. You made that write chat better though I haven’t been back because that person still posts and I still can’t stand to read her tweets to others.
    Ironically, it’s being suggested that you wanted to shut people up with a dissenting opinion, but it seems you had the dissenting opinion and was the one shut up. Still, you sound very cool and level headed about it.
    A friend showed me Absolute Write a while back when I became serious about self publishing, but I took one look and got a bad feeling and wandered off to find the needed information elsewhere.

  4. Well, I’m am not one for drama of any sort. I’m very surprised that you were banned and in such a way too.
    I have to tell you that I started following you on Twitter a while back because you were part of a #writechat where there was someone who seemed really rude and condescending. But you were very positive and factual. You made that write chat better though I haven’t been back because that person still posts and I still can’t stand to read her tweets to others.

    Ironically, it’s being suggested that you wanted to shut people up with a dissenting opinion, but it seems you had the dissenting opinion and was the one shut up. Still, you sound very cool and level headed about it.

    A friend showed me Absolute Write a while back when I became serious about self publishing, but I took one look and got a bad feeling and wandered off to find the needed information elsewhere.

  5. I just read Robin’s post. Went and deleted all my info and signed out. I should probably request that my account be deleted, but it isn’t worth the time. I’d heard rumbles about a bias against self-publishing on the site, but it’s more the messages you and Robin received from the moderator that got my goat.

  6. I just read Robin’s post. Went and deleted all my info and signed out. I should probably request that my account be deleted, but it isn’t worth the time. I’d heard rumbles about a bias against self-publishing on the site, but it’s more the messages you and Robin received from the moderator that got my goat.

    1. Absolutely right. 😉
      “But you also tilt when you should withdraw… and that is knightly, too.” The prince says that to him just prior to knighting him.

    1. Absolutely right. 😉
      “But you also tilt when you should withdraw… and that is knightly, too.” The prince says that to him just prior to knighting him.

  7. I frequent AW, but the mods and the admin drive me nuts. Three ways to get banned:
    1. Say something about how epublishers are a dime a dozen (almost all the mods are published by e-publishers)
    2. Say anything about negative absolutewrite. Mac sees AW like a child and calling it anything but beautiful is akin to calling her child ugly.
    3. Say that you think self publishers can compete on the commercial market now.

  8. I frequent AW, but the mods and the admin drive me nuts. Three ways to get banned:1. Say something about how epublishers are a dime a dozen (almost all the mods are published by e-publishers)
    2. Say anything about negative absolutewrite. Mac sees AW like a child and calling it anything but beautiful is akin to calling her child ugly.
    3. Say that you think self publishers can compete on the commercial market now.

  9. Okay, I’ll probably be joining the ranks of the banned shortly, because with Robin and Kevin gone, I’ll have to take their place in speaking up. Not that I’ve always agreed with you, Kevin—I haven’t.
    This’ll be particularly interesting, because if you’re snotty, I should’ve been banned weeks ago, for a snarky posted-while-in-migraine comment that came out wrong. *rubs neck*
    Speaking of migraines…
    -“Carradee”

    1. Good grief, if everyone agreed with me all the time, I think the world would be a very boring place. 😉
      I’ve never asked anyone to agree with me. I’m happy to debate. I learn things that way, too!

  10. Okay, I’ll probably be joining the ranks of the banned shortly, because with Robin and Kevin gone, I’ll have to take their place in speaking up. Not that I’ve always agreed with you, Kevin—I haven’t.
    This’ll be particularly interesting, because if you’re snotty, I should’ve been banned weeks ago, for a snarky posted-while-in-migraine comment that came out wrong. *rubs neck*

    Speaking of migraines…

    -“Carradee”

    1. Good grief, if everyone agreed with me all the time, I think the world would be a very boring place. 😉
      I’ve never asked anyone to agree with me. I’m happy to debate. I learn things that way, too!

  11. Wow, Kevin. Just… Holy cow. Wow. Someone sent me the link to Robin’s post, so I hopped over here to see what you had to say, and I am speechless.
    Well, not completely. I’ll just say this: I’m glad I listened to my gut a long time ago and never joined AW. I hated it from the first minute I logged on there.
    And also… “Those convinced against their will are of the same opinion still.” And also, don’t cast your pearls before swine. All those people who stay in their little incestuous clique giving each other affirmations about the “right” way to publish will just stay out of the way of those of us who… You know… want to get out there and DO something.
    Good for you for taking the high road. You’re a better soul than I.
    Amy

  12. Wow, Kevin. Just… Holy cow. Wow. Someone sent me the link to Robin’s post, so I hopped over here to see what you had to say, and I am speechless.
    Well, not completely. I’ll just say this: I’m glad I listened to my gut a long time ago and never joined AW. I hated it from the first minute I logged on there.

    And also… “Those convinced against their will are of the same opinion still.” And also, don’t cast your pearls before swine. All those people who stay in their little incestuous clique giving each other affirmations about the “right” way to publish will just stay out of the way of those of us who… You know… want to get out there and DO something.

    Good for you for taking the high road. You’re a better soul than I.

    Amy

  13. Ok, I’m stunned. I’ve just started looking into the self-publish forums and found your posts and Robin’s posts very informative. I also found some of the responses you got to be snide and combative (you know who I mean). I thought you were completely polite in asking for sources just as you were asked to provide them, which you did. Makes no sense at all.
    Anyway, I will be frequenting other sites from now on. There are great people on AW but this was very much uncalled for.

  14. Ok, I’m stunned. I’ve just started looking into the self-publish forums and found your posts and Robin’s posts very informative. I also found some of the responses you got to be snide and combative (you know who I mean). I thought you were completely polite in asking for sources just as you were asked to provide them, which you did. Makes no sense at all.
    Anyway, I will be frequenting other sites from now on. There are great people on AW but this was very much uncalled for.

  15. Not sure how much relinking is allowed on your blog Kevin, but I found the “Writers’s cafe” part of the KindleBoards forum a great resource for self-publishers.
    And it IS greatly more “open”… Even as a non pro-Kindle, non Writer, I feel very welcome there …

  16. Not sure how much relinking is allowed on your blog Kevin, but I found the “Writers’s cafe” part of the KindleBoards forum a great resource for self-publishers.And it IS greatly more “open”… Even as a non pro-Kindle, non Writer, I feel very welcome there …

  17. Kevin,
    I just read about Robin Sullivan’s ban and I’m still astounded by the utter venom that this forum administrator seems to have for anyone who even mildly disagrees with her opinion. I’m sorry you’ve had to put up with this.

  18. Kevin,I just read about Robin Sullivan’s ban and I’m still astounded by the utter venom that this forum administrator seems to have for anyone who even mildly disagrees with her opinion. I’m sorry you’ve had to put up with this.

  19. @Kevin
    You said, “I never said *you* had a double standard, and never asked you to shut anyone up. But when the folks actively posting real information based on experience with indie publishing are consistently attacked, but put down (or banned) when they ask for the attackers to simply cite their own data, it’s pretty obvious a double standard does exist.”
    A little late, but I wanted to add this. While you were there did you notice how the same cliquish ass-kissers tripped over each other to reply and agree with ANYTHING that Mac posted, regardless of how stupid or one-sided it was?
    Then, when someone disagreed with her, the same circle of friends dog-piled them and suggested they be put in time-out or banned. I guess they don’t realize that they have been reduced to bunch of childish sheep just to fit in.

    1. Thanks, A.D. Yeah, I agree. There’s some minds simply so closed that they’re not going to listen, no matter what. But you know what? Mac said it herself – that’s her site. She can do what she wants there, and if her goal is to gather fellow ostriches in and help them dig nice holes in the sand for their heads, that’s her business.
      The good news is, now a lot of folks who hadn’t been before are aware of the absolute bias over at AbsoluteWrite.

  20. @KevinYou said, “I never said *you* had a double standard, and never asked you to shut anyone up. But when the folks actively posting real information based on experience with indie publishing are consistently attacked, but put down (or banned) when they ask for the attackers to simply cite their own data, it’s pretty obvious a double standard does exist.”

    A little late, but I wanted to add this. While you were there did you notice how the same cliquish ass-kissers tripped over each other to reply and agree with ANYTHING that Mac posted, regardless of how stupid or one-sided it was?

    Then, when someone disagreed with her, the same circle of friends dog-piled them and suggested they be put in time-out or banned. I guess they don’t realize that they have been reduced to bunch of childish sheep just to fit in.

    1. Thanks, A.D. Yeah, I agree. There’s some minds simply so closed that they’re not going to listen, no matter what. But you know what? Mac said it herself – that’s her site. She can do what she wants there, and if her goal is to gather fellow ostriches in and help them dig nice holes in the sand for their heads, that’s her business.
      The good news is, now a lot of folks who hadn’t been before are aware of the absolute bias over at AbsoluteWrite.

  21. I am a member of AW, but very rarely post. I’m sure as you can see, it can be detrimental to your survival there. At first I just lurked, but wanted to post some things and then joined. Then I was attacked and followed to my blog and attacked. They said they didn’t know who did it, but they did. I know it was one of their moderators. I didn’t go back for four months. I was researching some information one day and Absolute Write was a link. I clicked on it and learned to keep my head down. Even though I am a member, I do not sign in. I lurk and have done so for almost a year now. I want the good information provided but honestly, the viciousness of some of the posts angers me and I leave again for months. Its really sad because not all people there are like that, just most of the ones with power or best friends with the people in power. I go mostly to the self-publishing thread, because I am interested. The thread is not, here is how to do it and let me help you, kind of thread. Its a show your face, so we know who wants to self-publish and we will beat it out of you, thread.

    1. Yup. Unfortunate, but true. I hate to think of the writers being fed misinformation on that site. I had always heard AW was a good source of info, but if they’re sticking their heads in the sand about the nature of publishing today, I can’t imagine that’s true, anymore.

  22. I am a member of AW, but very rarely post. I’m sure as you can see, it can be detrimental to your survival there. At first I just lurked, but wanted to post some things and then joined. Then I was attacked and followed to my blog and attacked. They said they didn’t know who did it, but they did. I know it was one of their moderators. I didn’t go back for four months. I was researching some information one day and Absolute Write was a link. I clicked on it and learned to keep my head down. Even though I am a member, I do not sign in. I lurk and have done so for almost a year now. I want the good information provided but honestly, the viciousness of some of the posts angers me and I leave again for months. Its really sad because not all people there are like that, just most of the ones with power or best friends with the people in power. I go mostly to the self-publishing thread, because I am interested. The thread is not, here is how to do it and let me help you, kind of thread. Its a show your face, so we know who wants to self-publish and we will beat it out of you, thread.

    1. Yup. Unfortunate, but true. I hate to think of the writers being fed misinformation on that site. I had always heard AW was a good source of info, but if they’re sticking their heads in the sand about the nature of publishing today, I can’t imagine that’s true, anymore.

  23. I’ve now joined the same ranks as Kevin, as I got ejected from a LinkedIn group, for telling the truth about some suspect subsidy-publishers. I was told I was rude and uninformed. Actually I was deliberately polite. I was floored and couldn’t understand what was going on, then Kevin told me HE had also been tossed off a forum. Kevin? What? How can HE get tossed off, he’s always so polite and knowledgeable? If Kevin can get flung out, then I must stop worrying about me, that’s for sure. I’ll carry on fighting the good fight elsewhere, to protect unsuspecting new authors from those publishers that prey on them.

  24. I’ve now joined the same ranks as Kevin, as I got ejected from a LinkedIn group, for telling the truth about some suspect subsidy-publishers. I was told I was rude and uninformed. Actually I was deliberately polite. I was floored and couldn’t understand what was going on, then Kevin told me HE had also been tossed off a forum. Kevin? What? How can HE get tossed off, he’s always so polite and knowledgeable? If Kevin can get flung out, then I must stop worrying about me, that’s for sure. I’ll carry on fighting the good fight elsewhere, to protect unsuspecting new authors from those publishers that prey on them.

  25. Oiy vey.
    I read over at Robin’s blog her account and this… It doesn’t surprised me in the least. Very sad really. There was a time when I really liked the site. I rarely go over at all. Not worth the time nor the headache.
    Just for fyi, Forward Motion for Writers has recently opened an Indi board over here: http://www.fmwriters.com/community/dc/dcboard.php?az=show_topics&forum=545
    (I’m eblgorton over there btw)
    I know for a fact that you would be very welcome in case you ever decide to drop by. The information you, or any self/indi publisher has to share will be greatly appreciated.

  26. Oiy vey.
    I read over at Robin’s blog her account and this… It doesn’t surprised me in the least. Very sad really. There was a time when I really liked the site. I rarely go over at all. Not worth the time nor the headache.

    Just for fyi, Forward Motion for Writers has recently opened an Indi board over here: http://www.fmwriters.com/community/dc/dcboard.php?az=show_topics&forum=545

    (I’m eblgorton over there btw)

    I know for a fact that you would be very welcome in case you ever decide to drop by. The information you, or any self/indi publisher has to share will be greatly appreciated.

  27. I got banned from another writers’ forum. I had invited people to take my author trivia quiz, and the owner claimed that constituted “unauthorized advertising.”
    As I wasn’t asking people to buy anything, I failed to see how a simple invite qualified as “advertising.” Turns out any reference to your website or blog is an advertisement UNLESS you pay the owner for the privilege to do so.
    I was first banned for 24 hours and then when I began doing searches on the owner and his very disguised vanity press venture, he banned me permanently.
    On AbsoluteWrite, I was libeled by a moderator and then thrashed by the owner, who violated her own rules of conduct by publicly calling me “a jackass.” This despite I had started several lively discussions and been praised for my comments and observations by numerous members.
    In that case, the moderator who libeled me is apparently good friends with the owner.
    The problem with these sites is that they are not what they appear to be. The interesting information and comments you find by writers about writing lead you to believe that it is indeed an independent gathering place for writers to share and exchange ideas. Not so.
    It is a business. More than likely, the site is promoting some product or service. Any hint of a challenge of the owner’s agenda, tenets or friends will get you rebuked or, if the challenge is strong enough, banned.
    It is not, in other words, a level playing field. It’s the owner’s playing field, and he or she will guard it accordingly. And that’s why neither right nor justice will prevail.
    In my experience, too, I found that the worst offenders and the biggest obstacles to legitimate discussion were the moderators. They weighed in with antagonistic and inflammatory comments and sidetracked what had begun as an interesting discussion. Disagreeing with them — even politely — will earn you the label of “jackass.”
    On AbsoluteWrite, I also found a wealth of misinformation represented as expertise. In one case, the advice was so bad — and so false — that it made me laugh out loud.
    That said, newbie writers can still benefit from such sites, as long as they know what the unwritten rules are. It helps if you’re goo-goo eyed and have no compunction about kissing the asses of the owner and all the moderators.
    Personally, I don’t think any writer who has an ounce of self-confidence should stoop to the level of another person’s ass. And puckering up is absolutely out of the question.

    1. In the long run, I simply wouldn’t worry about it. Yes, it can sting immediately. But such narrowminded groupthink reaps rewards of its own.
      Sorry you had a rough time at Absolute Write. But there are plenty of other sites which don’t enforce their own opinion with profanity and a ban stick. Let the Absolute Write folks stew in their own juices, move on, and do good stuff elsewhere. 🙂

  28. I got banned from another writers’ forum. I had invited people to take my author trivia quiz, and the owner claimed that constituted “unauthorized advertising.”
    As I wasn’t asking people to buy anything, I failed to see how a simple invite qualified as “advertising.” Turns out any reference to your website or blog is an advertisement UNLESS you pay the owner for the privilege to do so.

    I was first banned for 24 hours and then when I began doing searches on the owner and his very disguised vanity press venture, he banned me permanently.

    On AbsoluteWrite, I was libeled by a moderator and then thrashed by the owner, who violated her own rules of conduct by publicly calling me “a jackass.” This despite I had started several lively discussions and been praised for my comments and observations by numerous members.

    In that case, the moderator who libeled me is apparently good friends with the owner.

    The problem with these sites is that they are not what they appear to be. The interesting information and comments you find by writers about writing lead you to believe that it is indeed an independent gathering place for writers to share and exchange ideas. Not so.

    It is a business. More than likely, the site is promoting some product or service. Any hint of a challenge of the owner’s agenda, tenets or friends will get you rebuked or, if the challenge is strong enough, banned.

    It is not, in other words, a level playing field. It’s the owner’s playing field, and he or she will guard it accordingly. And that’s why neither right nor justice will prevail.

    In my experience, too, I found that the worst offenders and the biggest obstacles to legitimate discussion were the moderators. They weighed in with antagonistic and inflammatory comments and sidetracked what had begun as an interesting discussion. Disagreeing with them — even politely — will earn you the label of “jackass.”

    On AbsoluteWrite, I also found a wealth of misinformation represented as expertise. In one case, the advice was so bad — and so false — that it made me laugh out loud.

    That said, newbie writers can still benefit from such sites, as long as they know what the unwritten rules are. It helps if you’re goo-goo eyed and have no compunction about kissing the asses of the owner and all the moderators.

    Personally, I don’t think any writer who has an ounce of self-confidence should stoop to the level of another person’s ass. And puckering up is absolutely out of the question.

    1. In the long run, I simply wouldn’t worry about it. Yes, it can sting immediately. But such narrowminded groupthink reaps rewards of its own.
      Sorry you had a rough time at Absolute Write. But there are plenty of other sites which don’t enforce their own opinion with profanity and a ban stick. Let the Absolute Write folks stew in their own juices, move on, and do good stuff elsewhere. 🙂

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