Letter from the Editor: A Note on Stalking, Harassment and Bullying

It is very important to me that we keep this site a place where everyone feels welcome, and I think that the majority of our readers feel that way. Most of you do a great job in keeping things on-topic and challenging with a minimum of ad hominem attacks in the comments sections of our articles, and I think it’s fantastic. Heck, that’s one of the main reasons I like to wade in and chat: I know that even though we all may have very strong opinions on politics, Forteana, science and more, things usually stay pretty civil.

Unfortunately, with this being the internet, there’s bound to be the occasional problem: spammers, trolls and the seriously unhinged can and do make their way to the site. Most of them can be safely ignored or, in the worst case scenario, blocked. I hate doing the latter, but I’m occasionally forced to do so for the good of the community. I’m not fond of censorship, but I’ve got a job to do and if it’s a matter of banning one person from commenting or letting the rest of you feel unsafe or miserable then I’ll ban every time.

One thing that I will absolutely not tolerate is stalking, harassment or bullying of any sort. If you’re on the internet any amount of time then you’re likely to make a few enemies, and some of them can be persistent. There’s no clear line for where this crosses into harassment – that’s something you probably have to decide for yourself – but if there’s a persistent problem in the comment section then please let me know and I’ll see what I can do to resolve the situation.

Some of you who know me well are aware that my work schedule can be very hectic, and I can’t be here all of the time. I depend on you to let me know, and if our readers feel something is amiss then you should not hesitate to reach out and inform me of the situation. I can’t do much about things off-site, but I’ll do my very best here to keep things civil.



15 Comments on "Letter from the Editor: A Note on Stalking, Harassment and Bullying"

  1. LucidDreamR | Jan 22, 2013 at 11:05 am |

    Thank you Matt. This is an unfortunate, but necessary reminder. It far too often seems that people choose to fill their free time with negative and destructive activities- and relish in spreading this disease to others. I’ve been coming to this site for what has to be at least decade now, and fortunately the majority of people leaving comments seem to exhibit a higher intelligence level than many other sites- one of the very reasons I keep coming back. But as you said: there are always a few who will try to ruin it for others; and it’s nice to know it’s not tolerated. Keep up the great work man!

    • Matt Staggs | Jan 22, 2013 at 11:10 am |

      Thanks. I’m currently getting the brunt of harassment via Twitter from one gentleman who was banned yesterday. He’s a master of sock puppetry and hidden IPs, so I’m sure he’ll be back. Just keep your eyes open! 🙂

    • Matt Staggs | Jan 22, 2013 at 3:05 pm |

      Do you have a license for that YouTube link? I’m gonna need you to step out of your vehicle…

  2. lazy_friend | Jan 22, 2013 at 1:15 pm |

    At times, I can be a little aggressive in my discussions, its my shadow, it likes to compete and gain ground but I can just play video games to exercise it in safety. If the request to tone it down is coming from Matt Staggs which I can actually respect, I’ll tone it down and avoid such head to head situations for the good of the whole. But it seems like you have a serious troll in your hands, from what I read in your tweeter links, he seems OCD about this stalking and seems like he is not trying to make a point, just getting a rush from his troll “feedings”. If he is compulsive about it, you can just ignore eventually, it will lose its novelty and stop being annoying. But if he is messing with the operation of the site, I’m pretty sure there is a law suit there and it probably will be treated as a denial of service attack. Besides that, its hard to stop what seems to be a “sociopath?” from doing something that makes him feel good (It seems like we have a serious personality disorder going on here). But I can be humbled and see where I need some self correction myself. So no more heated discussion, its not like it changes anything, my internal dialogue is more efficient at that, changing things from the inside out. Sometimes tho, I get singled out here for one tiny opinion by those who want to seem intellectually superior, I shall not respond to these taunts to keep the site safe from of aggro stuff, I’ll just take it out on the soccer field as I am a defender. But Matt, as the Judge, you need to let us know at times what you think is fair and what crosses the line. Power is fine if used fairly, by a pleasant unbiased judge. But for all its worth I’ll tone it down and eat some ice cream when I feel aggressive.

    • Matt Staggs | Jan 22, 2013 at 3:07 pm |

      Awesome advice re: Jiu Jitsu, et al. You’ve got no problems here, at least from me. I’m more referring to some very specific actions from a very specific individual and his collected sock puppets.

      • lazy_friend | Jan 22, 2013 at 4:34 pm |

        Cool. But its still an eye opener for me and the actions that in “my” moral compass come up as unjust and agreessive. Good luck with the BJJ, Its an awesome sport. I have a lot of confidence in defending myself because of it (defending take downs and being able to fight from the back). I don’t practice anymore, I switched to soccer, which I find more demanding of “my” motor skills, but still catch the fights and will probably go back to as I age and my knees cant handle running and jumping anymore. Good luck with the troll, i’ve had to deal with bullies in real life and persevered, the solutions can come out of no where sometimes.

  3. I miss my stalker. It was oddly flattering that someone cared enough to come back again and again, just for me! Oh, what good times we had. I’d chatter about politics, he’d pop in to hurtle homophobic epithets. Ahhh, those were the days. He quit right after I threatened to hunt and kill him for harassing someone other than me. I can be jealous that way. If I couldn’t have him for myself, I didn’t want anyone else to have him either. Wonder what the poor blighter’s up to now?

    But srsly…I’m afraid its a timely message…as certain topics get people’s dander up…we see a little more of that kind of frothing psychosis than we used to. It’s too bad…cause most of us are all in favor of a nice rousing debate or some good laughs. I can’t quite wrap my head around the idea of people taking it all that seriously.

  4. Hey, I take offence to that! I’m seriously unhinged, but I’m also a thoughly pleasant person. Why should the unhinged delusionals such as myself be lumbered in with those stalker psychos.
    If you can, anonymity allowing, treat Internet communication as a cathartic adventure, in which you may learn something of personal worth along the way, you’ll be a lot happier and safer on your journeys.

  5. Heh, this article sums up a lot of my comments of late. I’ve gradually become more troll like over the months, although I mean no offence to anyone here on Disinfo (I’m here several times a day reading the articles and comments, so I don’t want to rub the regular commentators the wrong way!) To be honest I’m quite confrontational and snarky by nature, and I think my tendency to be an asshole has started bleeding over into the online world.

    Sorry Matt!

  6. sadly, as this tumblr documents, Matt Staggs is the bully and harasser here ; he is blaming his victim in a case of full blown delusional projection: http://davidpo973528.tumblr.com/

    Gary Baddeley of disinfo.com needs to fire Matt Staggs, disinfo “Staff Stalker”

    Matt Staggs claims on the basis of _three_ tweets to his twitter account that I am “harassing” him. These tweets were harmless and not in any way menacing or demeaning. They constitute ALL the contact I have _ever_ had with Mr. Staggs. He claimed I was emailing him, but recanted that lie. Matt has threatened me with 1. anonymous hackers 2. a “deathsquad” 3. outing or “doxing” my IP # and personal information he gleaned from his access to the disinfo.com servers. He has made specific threats of violence and started a large campaign of libel and harassment against my person, with the help of documented stalkers Rachel “Haywire” Mendelson, David “Lefty Schlesinger” aka “stonemirror” and Vanessa Tanith Vanalstyne-Hawkins. It is beyond the pale for an employee of disinfo.com to be allowed to abuse his position in this manner, harvesting and using readers’ IP numbers to make threats of violence! Read the twitter below, mass bogus complaints engineered by Staggs got twitter to temporarily suspend the account. This is under appeal. Matt Staggs is an unstable, juvenile personality who should not be employed in any circumstance where he has access to customer data that he can abuse. Please, Gary Baddeley, do the right thing and remove Matt Staggs from his position as “editor” of disinfo.com based on his gross breach of business ethics, his stalking, and his frankly insane public behavior.

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