June 18, 2005
So it looks like I managed to piss somebody off. Sometime last Saturday (June 11th), my IP was apparently banned from posting to Slashdot. If I try to post or reply to a comment, I get the rather ambiguous message:
You can't post to this page.
Well, gee thanks, that tells me a lot. I spent the better part of Saturday assuming that Slashdot was broken (again). Come Monday, I got to thinking it was probably me, not Slashdot; and I started trying to figure out what was wrong. I located an entry in the Slashdot FAQ, which says:
Why am I receiving the message "You can't post to this page."?
You're reading Slashdot from behind a web proxy that allows connections from any host. This functionality has been abused. Therefore, comments are not allowed to be posted from this address until the proxy is better secured. Please notify your Proxy Admin.
Answered by: Robo
Last Modified: 08/05/02
Well, this would certainly explain things if I posted to Slashdot through a proxy (I don't), or if one of my computers relayed connections from any host (none do). Even if I did have a proxy, and thus had a proxy admin, the proxy admin would be me. I notified myself just for the hell of it, but nothing happened. This FAQ is useless!
Thinking that perhaps my account had been blocked for some reason or another, I tried logging into my other, older account in a different browser. At which time I received a more specific, and somewhat more forboding, error message:
This IP address or network has been used to abuse the system and logins from it have been disabled.
This error message went on to suggest that I email my IP address to firstname.lastname@example.org and they'd investigate. I sent the email, including my IP address in the subject line as they so clearly requested, along with a description of my mostly spotless Slashdot history. While perhaps they investigated, they didn't respond. So now I'm left with no choice but to speculate about why I've been banned.
This account is at least two years old (the prior journal entry, "Popping My Journal's Cherry," was written in April of 2003). According to my user info page, I've made 488 comments. 8 of the last 10 were modded up, in fact more than half of the 24 displayed comments were modded up. Although I'm not a subscriber and thus can't see my entire comment history, I'd hazard a guess that out of 488 comments, probably 200 of them were modded up and maybe 20 of them were modded down. The last time I was modded down was a month ago, someone modded a comment Overrated, bringing its score to 1.
What I'm getting at here is that I'm not a troll; this is a real account that I use on a regular basis (or at least I did, until now). Ergo, I can't imagine that I was banned for trolling, and it certainly wasn't the "too many downmods" filter that got me. What does that leave? As best I can tell, manual intervention by a Slashdot editor.
Hours before my IP was banned, I posted two comments to this story about the "Tor" network. They were the last comments I was able to make; one was modded to +5, the other to +4. I've never used Tor - I run Freenet and find it adequate for dabbling in quasinonymous conversation - but there's an interesting thread at the top of that story. It points out that many Slashdot users who also run Tor are getting IP bans.
And so I have to wonder, when I posted a couple of comments defending the need for a network like Tor - comments which wound up being very visible on the thread - did a Slashdot editor presume that I must be a Tor user, and summarily ban my IP? Or did my second comment in the thread, which blasted the idea of community standards as realistic interpretations of what community members deem appropriate, and essentially called Bible-thumpers a bunch of hypocrites, hit a nerve?
It sure would be nice to know why I was banned. I've posted much more inflammatory opinions in the past, to no consequence; so I'm not thoroughly convinced that those comments had anything to do with it. I suppose now I'll have to start posting through proxies, or maybe even install Tor.
Or maybe the Slashdot editors can go fuck themselves, and kiss the volume of "informative" and "insightful" commentary I voluntarily contribute to their cash-cow goodbye.