In Depth: Was Retro Head Paid to Ban Unruly Members?

In Depth: Was Retro Head Paid to Ban Unruly Members?

by July 14, 2009

Sonic RetroAdmins Say the Charity Was Convenient; The Banned–and Others–Disagree

Just before Sonic Retro suffered a forum outage last week, its forum administrator banned two of the board’s members.

In of itself, that isn’t newsworthy.  But it’s one particular event coinciding with the bans that has both the banned and some Retro forumers in good standing furious.

“Tweaker is now in a position where he cannot refute claims of corruption due to overwhelming evidence,” purports one of Retro’s banished members, Wetflame, to TSSZ News.  “The place is about to collapse.”

Why is Wetflame so upset?

“This is the only time in the Sonic Community that an administrator has offered bans for sale,” claims the other banned forumer, Chaos Hedgie.  “We just weren’t of any use to (Tweaker) I assume, so the idea of money came out.”

The terms “corruption” and “bans for sale” may be a bit strong, though the truth to some isn’t much rosier.  TSSZ News has obtained a log of a conversation between Sonic Retro members on IRC that is at the center of the controversy.  The log shows that Tweaker, Retro forum administrator, had been rallying other members to personally give him money, in exchange for excommunicating Chaos Hedgie from the board.  Found in the beginning of the log is Tweaker lobbying chatters for the funds, saying it will go toward helping his family, which he claims is in a financial bind:

<Ritz> Tweaker
<Tongara> Tweaker
<Tweaker> are you confirmed in for the hedgie ban fund
<Tongara> get back safe then?
<Tweaker> Yup
<Tongara> good
<TroubleBrewin> Chaos Hedgie is a cool man
<nineko> http://img36.imageshack.us/img36/5167/69041935.png
<Tongara> can you just fucking ban him?
<nineko> Still the best post in that thread
<Ritz> Seriously
<Tongara> 6 yeasrs with him is far too much
<Tweaker> Tongara: I need money, so I’m cashing in on his ban
<Ritz> It’s tempting, but I couldn’t possibly bring myself to spend money on anything
<Ritz> Anything at all
<Tweaker> You can donate if you want!
<Ritz> That revolves around him
<Tongara> I’ll donate next week
<Tongara> okay?
<Tweaker> Cool by me!
[…]
<BtCE> Tweaker how much money do you need
[….]
<Tweaker> BtCE: Uh… you know what, I don’t have any specific goal. I just need to support
the family and such because my mom lost her job on some bullshit and her roommates are
ripping her off and not paying her

Later in the conversation, a member identifying himself as Chimpo, who was recently promoted as a moderator of Retro’s forums, make a claim to support and perhaps contribute to the fund:

<Kung-FuCutMan> This is Chimpo
<Kung-FuCutMan> in on what
<Tweaker> the ban hedgie fund
<Kung-FuCutMan> I see 50
<Kung-FuCutMan> and currecy
<Kung-FuCutMan> so I’m assuming banning Chaos
<nineko> Tongara: euros are better than dollars
<Kung-FuCutMan> Here’s the thing Tweaker
<Kung-FuCutMan> if I pay you
<Kung-FuCutMan> I expect him to never return
<nineko> €50 is like $800
<Kung-FuCutMan> ever
<Kung-FuCutMan> knowing you
<Kung-FuCutMan> you will remove the ban eventually
<Tweaker> Not under my administration

Further on in the evening, Retro head Scarred Sun would declare a fund was underway to ban a second member of the forum, Wetflame:

<ScarredSun> BAN WETFLAME FUND IS NOW ACTIVE
<ScarredSun> TELL YOUR FRIENDS
<Kradorex> What’s Wetflame done now?
<BtCE> QUICK WHERE CAN I DONATE
<SplashWoman> HOW MUCH CAN I DONATE?!
<SplashWoman> IS FIVE MILLION THE MAXIMUM AMOUNT?!
<ScarredSun> SEND THAT SHIT TO TWEAKER’S PAYPAL
<BtCE> JUST SENT MORE
* Joins: Nova (Nova@5dfffc.634750.f81d99.1090e1)
<Tweaker> Fund is up to $20!
<Tweaker> Do we have a Chimpo? Chimpo?
<Tweaker> What about a SplashWoman?!
<Tongara> whats your paypal again?
<Tweaker> nibesto@gmail.com
<SplashWoman> I heard Chimpo
<BtCE> we must seal them in the sacred realm.

Chaos Hedgie was first to be given the heave-ho from Retro, and some, upon close scrutiny, were led to believe that those bans were handed out in part due to the financial lobbying.  It is estimated that Tweaker was given more than $100 from Retro members.  In quick succession, Chaos Hedgie was excommunicated.

Wetflame, who was also banned in part after inquiring why Chaos Hedgie was ousted, doesn’t consider the actions tantamount to bribery.

“What he did was much worse than that,” Wetflame told TSSZ News.  “He made light of the idea of permanent bans by making them the focus on a “fun” fund raiser.  This sets an awful ethical precedent of social vampirism.”

But comments from Tweaker and Scarred Sun say that both of them had it coming, and that a pattern of erratic behavior–not money–was behind the bans.  In a comment given by Tweaker to TSSZ News, we learn that Chimpo–now a Retro moderator–had initiated the fundraiser, and that it was meant to be for fun:

We were getting sick of these two members and were on the verge of banning them, and Chimpo had actually offered to donate if it got done because he was also sick of these members. Other people subsequently jumped this bandwagon. I asked SS if it was okay before going through with it, and she was fine as long as we made clear that it wasn’t a serious bidding procedure.

[….]

The idea for the fund came about when Chimpo was in the Michael Jackson thread and Chaos Hedgie was constantly trollbaiting in his comments on the subject, despite his claims otherwise. Several people expressed disdain towards his presence at the board. After a couple of topic splits we had made our staff decision, and out of the blue Chimpo offers a donation of $50 for Chaos Hedgie to be banned; as you can imagine, the timing of this couldn’t have been any better. Around the time of this happening, Wetflame started trolling in several topics and mindlessly bashing the administration in his own little way that he always does whenever something happens that he doesn’t like, and like Hedgie it was getting in the way of things. This eventually sparked a movement in IRC that led to the “ban chaos hedgie and wetflame fund.” After a discussion, we decided to roll with it for a bit of fun, even though it didn’t actually influence the decision we were going to make at all.

Chaos Hedgie defended his fellow forumer’s inquiries and thought Wetflame was treated unfairly for them.

“WF was to be baited into a ban,” he commented further to TSSZ News.  “And unfortunately, she took the bait.”

Tweaker did offer a reason for both bans.

“Constantly perpetuating a negative vibe, having lengthy histories of trolling and stirring up drama, and in Hedgie’s case constant intimidation and dickfights between him and people [….] don’t help either,” he explained to TSSZ News.

Sonic Retro’s official forum rules mainly cite common sense procedures and promote respectful conduct, but some are also open ended.  The document does state clearly, “Retro is NOT a democracy.”

Even the explanation isn’t enough to satisy longtime Retro forumers, who are angered at the circumstances surrounding both Wetflame and Chaos Hedgie‘s bans.

“You let people pay to pick who should be banned?” noted forumer Sammybeany.  “I can’t think of a more absurd fund raising idea.”

Other forumers were more blunt about their opinion.

“Trading bans for funding is a truly idiotic way of running a forum,” said hxc. “Good job.”

Another comment, from Tenniru, was also lodged in between other forumers attempting to reassure the disenfranchised that the bans and the donations were two separate events:

I’m not going to lie, I’m not comfortable about this. I saw the explanation that the fundraising and the ban were unrelated, but… for some reason I’m not seeing any humor in this “injoke”. On top of that, it’s probably just me (in fact, definitely just me), but I didn’t have that much of a problem with Wetflame and Hedgie.

Other forumers took opportunities to thank and congratulate both Tweaker and Scarred Sun for doing something that, in their opinion, should have been executed long ago.

The clash between those against the general idea of any money being exchanges and those happy to see the two former members gone was enough for Retro head Scarred Sun to clarify matters even further:

Both Chaos Hedgie and Wetflame were set to be banned when the idea was originally proposed by a few different people to Tweaker. Tweaker and I talked it over (and I told him about a fundraiser I do at another site once a year where people volunteer to get banned for x amount of funds toward the site) and we agreed to do it. Tweaker got some money he really needed due to some tough IRL shit and we got our bans done. I know that in the case of both Tweaker and I, we felt that both Wetflame and Hedgie were good people (though I’ll admit it took a IM from Wetflame while I was at work earlier today to finally get me in that camp for her) but despite repeated bannings and unbannings just couldn’t fit in Retro’s structure.

Shortly after the bans took effect, former Retro forumer x64 obtained a password that allowed him to damage the structure of the Retro forums.  A post on another forum has evidence that claims it was Tweaker himself who gave the password to x64Scarred Sun called the attack “non-malicious,” but it is believed–though not crystal clear–that the forum SNAFU and x64‘s access may be related.

One thing is clear for the moment: The bans will remain, and it’s expected to remain permanent.

“Whether or not we were getting money or not, those two members were going to be banned,” Tweaker elaborated in further comment to TSSZ News. “We’d already decided that.”

That is no comfort to Wetflame nor Chaos Hedgie.

“They should have never accepted money, simple as that,” Chaos Hedgie said.

“If they wanted to ban, they would have done so a long time ago.  No questions asked.  Like always.”