Member deactivated

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Member deactivated

Postby Alistair Durie on Fri May 23, 2008 2:18 pm

I'll start off by saying that we have enjoyed a lot of our time with Jay Caragay (onocoffee) online and in person. We have had many conversations and quite a few meals with him, most of them rich, colorful and truly enjoyable. His frequent participation on Coffeed has pushed us all to examine issues deeper, as he often presents difficult questions and challenging debate. Many of these have been well articulated and in the good spirit of furthering our craft.

Increasingly this past year, Jay has not engaged here with good spirit. As if without conscience, Jay has become more unreasonable and nasty, fighting to win at any cost, never knowing when to stop. Although we have engaged in conflict with Jay ourselves, and attempted our best to reason with him, our concerns about his tactics were just an annoyance until we heard similar concerns expressed from several valued contributing members. Many admitted they no longer post because of the increasingly aggressive environment here. It was clear that for many, Coffeed is no longer a safe place to have healthy balanced discussion. Even more shocking were the people invited to join who declined to participate for this reason. Jay's latest attack on a close friend made it even more clear that his behavior was beyond the pale and perhaps even beyond his own control. It would be irresponsible of us to allow this to continue any longer. Jay's membership has been deactivated, his tenure on this forum is over. This style of sniping and ill-spirit will not be tolerated on Coffeed.

This was a very hard decision to make, which was not made in haste, nor in a vacuum. It was made together with the guidance of many members of this community. We wish Jay well and still hope to remain friends -- but we can't permit him to remain a member of this online community. Coffeed is a place for respectful, passionate discussion and debate about coffee and the topics that influence and affect our industry, but this is not a "win at any cost" discussion board.

This is a sad day for Coffeed, because Jay was one of our most valuable contributors. Perhaps the greatest instigator of debate, he was also an inhibitor of discussion - a paradox detrimental to the health of the forum.

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Re: Member deactivated

Postby barry on Fri May 23, 2008 2:37 pm

Fwiw, I think this was not a good decision.
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Re: Member deactivated

Postby John P on Fri May 23, 2008 4:44 pm

I agree with Barry.

While the decision is yours to make, is this something that a majority would want? And if it really doesn't matter what the majority would want, why would the voice of a few close colleagues (a minority) matter?

This has been, and still remains the foremost place to openly discuss all matters pertaining to coffee and espresso, including the politics of it all. If some people are called to the carpet, either the allegations and assertions, no matter how rudely or aggressively worded by Jay, are true or not. If Jay or any other member made an assertion that put you in a bad light, but happened to be true, would you come clean, or would you remove that member? Removing Jay from the discussion as a means of closing the discussion or debate seems anti-Coffeed to me.
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Re: Member deactivated

Postby Vince Piccolo on Fri May 23, 2008 4:58 pm

fwiw, I think Alistair and Robert can do what they feel is right. They run this site out of their own good will and they both must have good reason for their decision. Sometimes difficult choices need to be made. Some people are going to like them.... some not.
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Re: Member deactivated

Postby drew johnson on Fri May 23, 2008 5:07 pm

RG and AD wrote:

"Jay's latest attack on a close friend made it even more clear that his behavior was beyond the pale and perhaps even beyond his own control. It would be irresponsible of us to allow this to continue any longer."


could someone direct us to the post where jay "attacks" the close friend? i have searched the scaa section but it must be elsewhere.
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Re: Member deactivated

Postby Lorrie McCullaugh on Fri May 23, 2008 5:44 pm

Whether I believe this to be a good idea or not is irrelevant; as Vince states Robert and Alistair as moderators need to do what they feel is right for the community. (not a good idea)

I am wondering, though, is this the proper forum to be placing this notice? Wouldn't the members only section be a little more appropriate?
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Re: Member deactivated

Postby barry on Fri May 23, 2008 6:21 pm

Vince Piccolo wrote:fwiw, I think Alistair and Robert can do what they feel is right. They run this site out of their own good will and they both must have good reason for their decision. Sometimes difficult choices need to be made. Some people are going to like them.... some not.



I agree entirely. I just don't agree with the decision. 'Nuf said.
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Re: Member deactivated

Postby xristrettox on Fri May 23, 2008 7:42 pm

agreed.

This may be Alistair's forum, but forgive me if this hasn't become OUR forum.

I've felt for a while that posts have been censored by the admin., and while Alistair can do as he likes, I feel like we're losing something here.

EDIT: I went back and re-read some posts by Jay, and do see why Alistair made his decision. While I still stand by what I wrote above, I do feel that personal attacks shouldn't be put up with. My opinion, however unwarranted it is.
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Re: Member deactivated

Postby Marshall on Fri May 23, 2008 10:01 pm

A few thoughts.

1. No one deserves to be publicly humiliated like this. This thread belongs in "Members Only," and probably should not have been started at all, regardless of the merits of the decision.

2. If there are no sanctions, there is no real control over the forum, and it becomes effectively unmoderated. I recently publicly quit alt.coffee, which is an unmoderated newsgroup, after about six years, because a few sociopaths had driven nearly all the worthwhile posters away (the very forgiving Barry being an exception). So, I understand the need for occasional suspensions or terminations.

3. That being said, Jay has a lot to contribute, and my hope is that tempers will cool off on both sides, some pride will be swallowed and he will be allowed (and want) to return.
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Re: Member deactivated

Postby Brent on Sat May 24, 2008 3:51 am

Vince got it about right, as did Marshall.

Still I agree with Barry and co.

My reasons - I took Jay's line as a challenge to the conventional wisdom. I think that is healthy in society, and only recently said to someone on a coffee topic that I would happily debate the counter argument on the topic with anyone, as I felt there was no right answer.

I see Jay's comments in this light. That and the written word is never a good platform for aheated debate...
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Re: Member deactivated

Postby James Hoffmann on Sat May 24, 2008 3:55 am

I don't believe any topic should really be taboo or off limits. However I was raised with a few pieces of advice and amongst them was "amongst friends never discuss politics and religion". It is nothing more than a fun (perhaps even cheap) quip but it does highlight the possibility of damaging friendships (which I value very highly) because of small conflicts of opinion on very personal subjects.

I am not saying I don't want to see political discussion on coffeed, but what I will say is that I miss the kind of debate that we've had on here that has helped us all develop as coffee professionals and has had our passion and interest for coffee itself at its core.

I look forward very much to Jay's return to the board, and to continuing to benefit from the memberships advice and experience.
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Re: Member deactivated

Postby Jim Schulman on Sat May 24, 2008 10:10 am

The best place for this thread can go is into a discussion of the rights and wrongs of moderating boards.

In that context, what's happening with Jay is not new. A few years back, on Coffeegeek, several baristas were banned for what in my opinion at the time were colorful language and views, and in the opinion of the other moderators, off-color swearing and personal attacks. This is the reason why politeness isn't legislated: there are no objective standards. In the absence of objective standards, the person saying what we don't want to hear is going to strike us as off-color, while the person saying what we want to hear as colorful.

I've repeatedly warned Mark on what will happen if one gets too aggressive in moderating disagreements: the disappearance of critical standards, of correcting false statements and challenging weak ones, and the descent into coffee chats and little else.

This event has been a wake up call for me. I regret now that I didn't resign as CG moderator when Nick and Jay were banned form CG. I won't make the same mistake twice. One cannot be the loyal opposition when the limits on opposition are both too narrow and too arbitrary. Therefore, I'm resigning my membership here on coffeed, and I'm resigning from CG.

I enjoy coffeed, as I enjoyed CG, and I hope I'm wrong in my prediction. But I believe this marks a fundamentally mistaken change in direction which demands the strongest reaction I can give.

Finally, it was not the lack of moderation that did in alt.coffee. Psychos have not suddenly gained the mysterious power to override plonk lists. The usenet was done in by the world wide web. Even strong groups like alt.coffee shrank below the minimum size of active posters needed to keep going since those who moved away were never replaced by new people.
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Re: Member deactivated

Postby Robert Goble on Sat May 24, 2008 10:33 am

I respect your opinion Jim, and wish you well, but Jay has been deactivated not for his opinions or for asking tough questions - he was deactivated because he showed, in his attack on Nick, that he would go to obscene lengths to win an argument. If he would go that far with Nick, how far would he go with other posters? What is Jay's message to them? Disagree with Jay, or debate him here at your personal peril.

Attacks that strike at the heart of a man's personal crisis and involve family are obscene -- PERIOD. I can't state any stronger how much that disgusted me. That's why Jay is gone. Or do you want to risk having Jay throw your family stuff back in your face (cause we all have family stuff) in the middle of a discussion board debate or argument? Simple stuff -- you could see it coming - there was a total trajectory that could be plotted. Jay's out.

And like we said -- that's too bad. I liked Jay's challenging of the status quo. We celebrated it even when it was directed at us and our interests. But there are lines you don't cross. A man's family situation is one of them.
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Re: Member deactivated

Postby barry on Sat May 24, 2008 10:47 am

Robert Goble wrote:Attacks that strike at the heart of a man's personal crisis and involve family are obscene -- PERIOD. I can't state any stronger how much that disgusted me.



And his public apology (something rare for Jay), has naught value?
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Re: Member deactivated

Postby Robert Goble on Sat May 24, 2008 10:57 am

barry wrote:
Robert Goble wrote:Attacks that strike at the heart of a man's personal crisis and involve family are obscene -- PERIOD. I can't state any stronger how much that disgusted me.


And his public apology (something rare for Jay), has naught value?


Jay is still actively and aggressively defending those statements off the board and standing by 100% what he said. But this isn't about Nick -- it's about the next guy who takes Jay on in debate and exposing them to that liability ---- it's about the folks who wont take Jay on in debate or discussion period for the reason of that liability.
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Re: Member deactivated

Postby barry on Sat May 24, 2008 11:00 am

So you're moderating based upon off-board opinions?

I'm out.
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Re: Member deactivated

Postby Robert Goble on Sat May 24, 2008 11:06 am

barry wrote:So you're moderating based upon off-board opinions?

I'm out.

No barry - we moderated based on what was said and done right here. He crossed a line that he could not uncross.
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Re: Member deactivated

Postby SL28ave on Sat May 24, 2008 11:16 am

Jim and Barry, certain aspects of Coffeed are a little over my head and I don't doubt that there is some merit to your points. But, I request that you be open to continuing to post here and elsewhere.

And I really hope people don't judge Nick or Jay based simply on what they read here (or in the paper). That's ALL I have to say about that.
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Re: Member deactivated

Postby barry on Sat May 24, 2008 11:49 am

Robert Goble wrote:
barry wrote:So you're moderating based upon off-board opinions?

I'm out.

No barry - we moderated based on what was said and done right here. He crossed a line that he could not uncross.



I agree he crossed a line. I do not agree that it's right to ignore his apology and say he can't uncross that line. How do any of us know a priori what other lines are one-way only? I'll agree that Jay can be brusque; I'll agree that he pushes the boundaries (which is a good thing, imho); I'll also point out that one cannot push the boundaries without sometimes inadvertantly exceeding those boundaries. If you want free and frank discussion on this board, then banning someone for a misstep, for which they've apologized, is not the way to encourage that. Jay ought to be free to make an ass of himself, if he so chooses, and other posters ought to be free to engage him or not, as they so choose. What he said can only be offensive to Nick, and that damage must be worked out between Jay and Nick. We might be offended that he said it, but, to be honest, I really can't get excited about that. There are far more offensive things in the world than Jay's opinion, and banning opinions is one of those things.

It is your forum, and you can run it the way you see fit.
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Re: Member deactivated

Postby Mark Prince on Sat May 24, 2008 12:14 pm

I am sorry to see Jim go, and I'll keep any other debate on what goes on with the moderating team on CoffeeGeek within our own moderators, but I do need to clarify one thing that Jim wrote.

Jay and Nick were never banned from CoffeeGeek. It is true that both back in 2004-2005 wrung up some strikes against their accounts but they both still have access to the forums to this day.

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Re: Member deactivated

Postby Marshall on Sat May 24, 2008 6:15 pm

Marshall wrote:A few thoughts.

1. No one deserves to be publicly humiliated like this. This thread belongs in "Members Only," and probably should not have been started at all, regardless of the merits of the decision.
...

I withdraw this particular "thought." I see by Jay's email that he asked for this decision to be publicly discussed.
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Re: Member deactivated

Postby malachi on Sat May 24, 2008 7:20 pm

barry wrote: What he said can only be offensive to Nick, and that damage must be worked out between Jay and Nick.


Exactly.

barry wrote:We might be offended that he said it, but, to be honest, I really can't get excited about that.


More accurately... he was banned because folks were offended that he said it.
And, as noted above, it's really between Jay and Nick.

barry wrote:There are far more offensive things in the world than Jay's opinion, and banning opinions is one of those things.


To me - yes.
To others - perhaps not.

So now the really important decision has to be made.
Is this a forum for open and honest communication about something we all love? Is this a community and family (with all the dysfunction and disagreement and anger - and love - that you get in such a situation)?

Or is it a club for like-minded individuals?

barry wrote:It is your forum, and you can run it the way you see fit.


Your call Alistair.
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Re: Member deactivated

Postby Liz Clayton on Sat May 24, 2008 8:04 pm

malachi wrote:So now the really important decision has to be made.
Is this a forum for open and honest communication about something we all love? Is this a community and family (with all the dysfunction and disagreement and anger - and love - that you get in such a situation)?

Or is it a club for like-minded individuals?


What's strange to me in this debate is how people are reacting to the "silencing" of Jay (imagine if that were even possible!) as if this were already some kind of totally democratic open forum to begin with, rather than a curated setting for discussion with specific aims and goals.

My suspcicion is that so many of you are used to being in the "in" crowd that you've forgotten how that whole structure works to begin with. Yes — it is to everyone's intellectual benefit to have as much opportunity for pointed questions, devil's advocacy and calling people out when necessary. But I don't exactly think it's fair to intimate that it's closed-minded tyrannical rule for A & R to take the backstep of un-awarding membership to someone when there hasn't exactly been public outcry against the initial member selection process in the first place, presumably because you're all happy to be here for reasons I can't help but think have something to do with said selection process, right? Forwards, backwards, whatever — I'm not sure people are taking a particularly comprehensive view of this whole place to begin with as they lobby their assertions of a sudden "fundamentally mistaken change in direction".

Furthermore...lovable, histrionic, limit-pushing shit-disturbers like Jay have been getting kicked off (and reinstated to!) private mailing lists since the dawn of the pre-internet. I think it's great to have a productive discussion about what people want these forums to be, but given the context everyone has already agreed upon just to be here at all, I think it's really odd that you all act so surprised.

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Re: Member deactivated

Postby Marshall on Sat May 24, 2008 8:07 pm

malachi wrote:And, as noted above, it's really between Jay and Nick.


Not really. I don't actually remember what Jay wrote and have no opinion on whether it deserves any sanction. But, the tone of a forum matters. If the people at the next table are swearing at each other and pouring beer over each other's heads, the argument might just be "between them." But, if the management doesn't do something about it, I won't be returning to that particular restaurant any time soon.

Apparently some voices we would like to hear from the SCAA Board and elsewhere have reached a similar conclusion about this forum.

malachi wrote:So now the really important decision has to be made.
Is this a forum for open and honest communication about something we all love? Is this a community and family (with all the dysfunction and disagreement and anger - and love - that you get in such a situation)?

Or is it a club for like-minded individuals?


This is a false choice. Open and honest communication can not only exist, it can thrive in an environment where minimal standards of decency are enforced and psychological intimidation is banned. Despire what my friend, Jim Schulman, reports, many people left alt.coffee because it became a playpen for people to hurl insults and even threats at each other. Coffeed.com isn't there yet, but the absence of some valued voices suggests this forum may be on its way.

So, on what happened to Jay, I don't know if it was justified or not. But, on the concept of active moderation of the forum, I say "please."
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Re: Member deactivated

Postby Peter G on Sat May 24, 2008 8:24 pm

Here is my take:

I really used to like this board, when there was lots of conversation, open dialogue, curiosity, and interaction about coffee.

Then, gradually, the majority of posts seemed to be about subjects that were only tangential to coffee. Most noticeable was the "inside the beltway" rumor and speculation mill, substituting the SCAA for some kind of government or something. Self-fashioned critics and pundits roared and postulated, putting scandal and bickering in the place of good, intellectual conversation. Jay was the biggest bully, but others merrily joined in. The sneering attitude and no-rules approach to argument seemed to seep into even coffee subjects. For me, it got less fun to be here.

I see this place as like a dinner party that Alistair and Robert are hosting. At this party, there are lots of interesting, intelligent people, who all are interested in talking about coffee. I love that kind of party! I've hosted lots of parties in my life, and often one of the guests gets a bit out of control and has to be bounced. It's better for the party. People are more comfortable, discussion gets going again, and we all have a good time and learn stuff.

There are those who like to mix it up on this board, and enjoy the thrill of attack-and-parry in argument. There are those who prefer a more dignified, respectful forum. I am in the latter group. It's not a matter of whether opinions and disagreement are welcome, it's what form they take.

It's clear to me that the owners of coffeed value good, open discussion, which can be challenging, or supportive, or inventive, or playful, or whatever. They also clearly value respect, dignity, and grownup behavior. I like a good, safe place to discuss coffee with my peers.

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