The Geek Group Chris Boden IRC Incident of 2015


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Many of you remember this video where I didn’t give the full story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqEzsRoLsn8

Recently, this video was brought to my attention: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kkjFtN8SWfo

Now it’s time for that full story:

I refrained from posting this originally because I thought it would have been a good thing to do. Recently there was a video posted to a group of select people of Chris bending the truth about the original incident while slandering me. So here is the entire situation in it’s original logs and the letter. This is here for reference for those who come back to me and ask. I have been very busy and don’t have time to constantly fill in everyone about the story which I have been asked about a lot again since Chris posted that video, so here’s is your one stop shop to get yourself up to speed.

Main Chat Log: http://pastebin.com/qd4DDsBk

Not safe for work log: http://pastebin.com/ZgNpjm9M

My conversation after the incident with moose: http://pastebin.com/eWy1Rm4K

 

Here is the letter I sent to TGG in response to this incident:

 

To Chris and whom it may concern;

As some of you may have been made aware there was an incident that happened in the IRC chat on February 18th that was most inappropriate and I feel that as a result of Chris’ actions some form of reprimand needs to be taken against him, as well as anyone else in the organization who played a role in allowing such an incident to happen.

It is rather embarrassing to the geek group that one would shutdown the live stream and kick everyone from the main chat room because immediate attention was not paid to a specific person, especially when that person did not make any effort to indicate that attention should be given to them. Just saying hello, and then shutting down the live stream and chat one minute and two seconds later out of anger without any further call for anyone to direct their attention to that person is about the most immature action that could have possibly been taken to handle such an issue.

To add insult to injury, the people that were cited as being the reason for the shutdown were never given advance notice that an issue even existed in the first place and instead of addressing those people directly in private ahead of time it was publicly spoken of in a separate chat room while everyone was being kicked out of the main one left to wonder what the heck was going on.

Here is a list of key points that I will expand on:

A.  The way the situation was presented, and then handled overall has immature qualities about it.

B.  Everyone was punished for not immediately responding to nothing more than the typical greeting. At no point did Chris indicate he needed help or had something to share, let alone give appropriate ample time for someone to respond to him.

C.  If there was an actual problem with staff being ignored in the IRC this particular incident should not apply because none of the “pingwords” or other policies already set forth to alleviate such issues were exercised at all during that time. (including common decency and respect on the staffs part)

D.  This entire incident was immensely disrespectful to everyone using the IRC at that moment in time, and they deserve an apology.

E.  Stating that the primary purpose of the IRC is not fundraising certainly seemed like a 180 from what is asked of the IRC by the staff every day. This further hurts everyone because the manner in which that information was delivered seemed to downplay or diminish the fundraising efforts that have been achieved by the IRC so far. Even if the IRC donations are not a primary source of income it’s certainly an influential one.

F.  Stating that everyone is welcome in the IRC and then immediately singling out someone, then holding a vote to ban that member whom in the community has actively promoted the group, brought in members, and did not tarnish the groups name or break any rules at all.

G. The Geek Groups reputation was tarnished as a result of these poor managerial practices. This has set a poor precedent for how future situations might be handled.

H. Changing company policy would not be an appropriate response for incidents like this, as it was a training issue and/or a blatant disregard for company policy by a staff member that caused it in the first place.

 

A, B, C, D: The way in which the entire situation was both presented and handled was not only in poor taste but rather disrespectful to everyone. The issue seems to start (from my perspective) here in the IRC:  “Feb 18 21:17:52 <Captain> Good evening everyone.”  Then not even a minute later, “Feb 18 21:18:37 <Captain> The following is not a test, it is not maintenance, and there is nothing wrong with our servers.”, “Feb 18 21:18:54 <Captain> Jessica, shut it down.” .. At this point the live stream was shut down and everyone was kicked from the main IRC chat room. Only those left in the not safe for work channel had a clue as to what’s going on:

How does Ed and I being here in the IRC, sharing information, helping people with their problems and driving membership not serve the interests of The Geek Group?,  or how have we disobeyed the main directives or purposes that were just set forth for the IRC? We have both striven to promote Geek Group projects, steer new potential members into the Geek Groups light, presenting it as a pillar in the maker community that smart people can rely on as a means of communication and collective thinking. Ed has done a fantastic job at that even for someone who is thousands of miles away, and I have given a year of my life into making the organization a better place for everyone, and this is the apparent thanks and respect we get for it in return?

Captain indicated he had a member with him that needed help only after shutting the LS and main room down. If he was really with a member, or even just himself in the first place, would it have been such a stretch to say “May I have your attention please?” or “I need help with something?”. I wasn’t aware that discussing an IBM Luggable computer with a plasma gas display, much like the one that you have in archives, could be likened to “morons fliging shit like a monkey cage”. He didn’t even use any ping words, a policy that has been put in place in the IRC to notify people when a staff member needs to engage the IRC or when members should generally direct their attention to whatever function or announcement a staff member has.

Something I feel worth mentioning in captains first point is that the membership and IRC are peers of The Geek Group itself. Many people in the IRC are considered some of the most intelligent people in their respective fields, and as such provide a service fundamental to The Geek Groups core directives by electing to offer their advice, time, money or otherwise in a room provided by The Geek Group. TGG, Members, and the IRC which largely consists of members are all peers to each other. Nobody is above anybody else. Sure, the staff and operators are above everyone else in an administrative sense, but that doesn’t give any staff member the right to publicly be uncivil, disrespectful, belittling, abusive, etc. to anybody else, when infact they should instead be held to a higher set of standards. These public outbursts are detrimental to the image of The Geek Group. Ask yourself, what might a young impressionable youth (a large part of TGGs target audience) take from this situation? Is it okay to be in a position of power and hurt others publicly? Is it okay to hurt others who haven’t been disrespectful or broken any of the main directives of TGG? The Geek Group depends on it’s members, so is it really in the best interests of the group’s image or financially to do things like this?

All members in the IRC deserve an apology for such overreaction. A world wide community being barred from communication at the whim of a moderator’s fit was far too inappropriate and disrespectful to let slide. This visibly outraged people in the IRC, including serial donors. The following are excerpts from the IRC, the username(s) have been with-held:

In an attempt to downplay the situation, Chris tried to turn it into a matter of ego. The thing is, Ed and myself did not partner with TGG to stroke our egos, and we don’t present our egos in communications with fans and other members. We simply chatted and had fun, learned new things and encouraged others to learn, as well as to use and contribute to the resources that TGG had to offer. The only egotistical actions / reactions to come from this were on Chris’ behalf. I speculate that his ego was hurt from not being paid immediate undivided attention to, which he would have easily received if he conducted himself in a normal and professional manner, or exercised the guidelines put in place by TGG staff.

 

E. Saying that the primary purposes of the IRC do not include fundraising caught most IRC members and I off guard:

WhilsTGGdrivest the cause of this particular incident wasn’t about fundraising, the comment of “The primary directives in the IRC don’t include fundraising” is very curious, it immediately raised concerns by many. It also is essentially a complete contradiction on what the IRC is traditionally used for, and the biggest percentage of staff engagement is in regards to fundraising. So much so, that comments like the above are made. I have personally seen times where the IRC fundraisers were absolutely necessary for the continued operation of TGG.

Within the last year I can think of times where there were one or more fundraisers for the power bill, water bill, the city of Kalamazoo, and they even still bought you a firetruck. The manner of execution in which the fundraising aspect was attempted to be “removed” from the IRC was rather poor. It was also disrespectful to some members and hurtful to others, as it seemed to minimize the efforts that have been put forth by the IRC to help TGG even in just this last year. In your annual report, you boast how your online drives have proven to be the most popular fundraising tool. It’s true this information may have changed now that you’ve received or will be receiving larger grants. I’m sure that propagating your online fundraising drives via the IRC and Video feed that make up the live stream will continue to be the “most popular” source even if it’s not the most profitable one.

 

F, G, H:

Another issue I have concerns with is this one:

Okay, now Captain did voice his concerns about Aussie50’s actions in the IRC earlier when everything went down. It’s interesting though how Aussie50 did not call anybody names, and in defending himself in a situation he was blindsided with he handled it well I feel. Yes you could tell he was angry but his actions weren’t out of line. They were certainly a lot closer to being in line compared to the precedent of disrespect that Captain / Chris continued to set:

Did this hurt someone? I’m sure it did, a response is found a moment later:

So one person who isn’t a staff member was basically bullied and his fans called useless. As a suitable form of punishment, for someone who was less disrespectful then the staff mind you, a vote for a kick ban was taken, 10 minutes after it was stated that everyone is welcome in the IRC. What kind of message does that send to people who see this unfold? Especially after watching the person asking for the ban vote act more belittling, disrespectful, etc. toward not only the member subject to the ban but the IRC as a whole?

It can certainly be said that this hurt The Geek Groups reputation significantly. Not necessarily because of losing Aussie50, or anybody’s fan base, but because someone who is in charge once again acted completely irrational and irresponsible and then tried to bury it using contradictory messages. It is clear that by reading the message logs that this incident was unfounded and the excuses given for what it both was and wasn’t about were just sort of thrown out there. If The Geek Group staff had genuine concerns about Ed and Myself “stealing the show” or causing members to “ignore staff membersTGGpiechart” then the most logical and appropriate thing to do would have been to notify us on an individual basis. No warnings were given ahead of time to Ed or myself. Warning us publicly, along with everyone else at the same time creates turbulence in the chat-room and had undesirable, unintended, and yet completely preventable consequences. If any sponsors, or large donors had been watching it could have spelled disaster for those relationships. Anyone can clearly see how poorly TGG handled this, especially those who have been in the chat room consistently for the last year. This lands me to the reason why I’m here and writing you this letter in the first place.

I want you to succeed, and if you are really going to continue to be successful you need to stop pulling this type of stuff on the internet. It is a place where it will be remembered forever, and anyone could be watching. Hopefully the only additional repercussions of this is me writing you because just like you I want this organization to succeed. Yeah, I was only there for 1 year out of 20 but I still can’t help but feel like I’m a part of a bigger picture. People are going to find this incident and potentially others like it years down the road and wonder if TGG should be given money, would it be handled with the same grace that this incident and others like it have been? I have seen incidents like this in person caused by Chris, there have been many more before me and I’m sure this won’t be the last. If there is no check and balance system for his behavior toward the very people TGG depends on how far does TGG expect to get? We (I and anyone reading this) all know that Chris, Captain, is capable of professionalism so why do this?

I’m sure that there will be some manner of changes in company policy in regards to this incident. When I ask myself, will any policy change affect the root cause of the situation? I can think of one, and that’s if a rule was enacted regarding punishment in some form for staff including managerial staff if something was done to hurt the companies reputation. This was clearly either a training issue, i.e. a staff member needs to be made aware that they’re held to a higher standard of politeness and professionalism when representing a company, or maybe they do know the rules and even made them yet intentionally decide to have complete disregard for them. In either case, it’s a pretty serious infraction, or it at least would be for any member or regular staff member.

On a personal note, this really hurt me. I have given Chris respect and I dont think Chris is a bad person, and maybe his actions weren’t intentional, but what he did to everyone in the IRC really hurt me. Punishing everyone without considering the repercussions or talking to us hurt everyone. With how many times I’ve seen this in the past, and how close you are to having a future forever I felt that I had to at least speak up and make you aware of these issues. I want these to be corrected before it hurts anyone else, or gets to someone of significant financial influence. The IRC, and your online fanbase deserves an apology. I probably deserve one too, though with how I got railroaded in this situation I will not be expecting one. I remember how it was to be there at the lab, and how amazing all the staff are that thrash day in day out to keep that place running. It’s the core staff that has my support, and therein the group. I was planning on coming in a couple months and staying for a couple weeks. Paying to use the VSL to do some basic car maintenance, and maybe even volunteering my time to help piece things back together after you’ve shuffled everything around. It would have made a great video / independent follow up and advertising for an organization that people should go out of their way to visit. However, after the actions that Chris has taken, I don’t feel welcome anymore. I hold hope that one day that might change, and I can continue to contribute to the organization and give you my full support.

I genuinely appreciate the time that you’ve taken to read this letter and I appreciate the consideration you’ve given it.

Thanks,

Michael “Doogie” Rick

The Geek Group Chris Boden IRC Incident of 2015
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