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Sunday, September 05, 2004

The FORT Loses A Warrior 

Several people have emailed me asking what has happened at www.fansofrealitytv.com (known as FORT) and their Big Brother Live Feed Updates. The big question has been "What has happened to Catniptoy" - one, or should I say THE, live feed updater at the site. After a lot of digging, this is what I have been able to find out.

Catniptoy, for you who don't visit The FORT, was an exacting updater, spending hours and hours transcribing the live feeds, almost word for word. Our information indicates that in real life they do this type of transcribing professionally. To say the least, last year and this year their updates have been a major boon to FORT's coverage of Big Brother.

The first problem started when Catniptoy took a short vacation from updating due to personal reasons, and came back to a contest for updaters due to the difficulty of getting people interested in doing the job - the prize being a DVD set of Big Brother. Catniptoy was understandably upset, because in all their time of doing the feeds no reward had ever been given, or for that matter hinted at. It was kind of like working at a job and taking a vacation, then coming back to find the boss giving a bonus to anyone willing to do your job because he can't find anyone to do it without some sort of reward.

Then came the twins and their attitudes on religion. With them, as on almost every Big Brother site, came the twin and religion bashing. Baiting and taunting of anyone with a different view ensued, with Catniptoy being one of those trying to present a voice of facts and reason. This culminated when a poster named MrCorkles made a long post with reasons about hating the twins, and made a sarcastic remark about Jesus. Catniptoy responded with an equally long post, taking each of MrCorkles posts and answering them - and stating that they thought the religious comment was offensive. McCorkles copied that post and said he was FLOORED by the post, and that he thought Catniptoy was agressive.

MrCorkles then went to private messages (PM) with the issue, writing a note to Catniptoy asking why they were being attacked. Catniptoy answered, saying that the post was not an attack, just a rebuttal, that the PM was being sent to a moderator (which it was), and that MrCorkles should not PM again.

MrCorkles then sent a PM to the FORT owner, implying that he felt Catniptoy may "alter" previous PMs, so he was trying to set the record straight.

Then it gets really interesting. Without informing Catniptoy (and MrCorkles?) they were both given a 'time out'. Catniptoy had been installing XP SP2 and went back to FORT to find the site unavailable, and spent hours troubleshooting the installation, thinking it was buggy Microsoft software. It wasn't until later the 'time out' was made known.

The site owner then sent a 'dressing down' PM to both parties, but seemed to single out Catniptoy saying:

"Catniptoy, I appreciate the work you've done for us by generously giving your time to transcribe live feeds. But this doesn't mean that your opinions on what's happening in the game are any more right than anyone else's. Opinions are just that - opinions. You hear a conversation and interpret it one way, everyone else interprets it themselves, and every opinion here is as valid as everyone else's. I've seen several instances lately where this has not been the case, and I'm getting a little tired of it.

I'm going to lift the temporary bans on you both, and let you both be adults about the situation and do whatever you need to do to get past this incident. But if time-outs need to be issued for similar incidents in the future, they will not be short, because you've both had your warnings. I like you both, but that doesn't factor into site management - there are several thousand other people on the site, and I don't want them reading the arguments over this petty stuff any more."

Needless to say, this was the last straw, and Catniptoy has not been doing live feed updates since. Of course the common "Where is so and so" threads were started, and the administration went so far as to delete the whole "Thank you updaters" thread. One poster claims that one of their queries on the board was deleted and got a PM from the owner telling them that the board was not there for their "condolences" to Catniptoy, and that they could take it to the PM's .

We have also heard that after this incident, Catniptoy was 'followed' on the board by moderators whenever they went to read - moderator names popping up at the top of the thread pages they were reading - even in discussion threads that were four or five days old!

The really scary part for FORT readers is that there is some indication that PMs were being read by people other than the intended recipients. PMs to other people on the site can be sent requesting confirmation the note was read. Catniptoy's PMs werer staying open with no confirmation for over a day after the recipient had read it and even responded to the PM! Others on the board confirm that their PM confirmations verified their PMs had been read right after they were opened. Sounds like a close eye is being held on this once prolific poster.

The bottom line? It looks like FORT has lost a very valuable Big Brother updater, something that has caused a noticeable decrease in their Big Brother traffic. It also looks like some of the privacy concerns that have been noted at other sites may be more widespread than we thought.