Excerpt from "Chat Room Exiles"

March 2001 issue of ON-Magazine (TIME Digital)...

"Sometimes the decision to eject an online miscreant hits the site moderator the hardest. To this day, Barry Kort, an engineer who in 1990 established MicroMUSE [...] is troubled by an episode that occurred years ago with Andrew Wendt. MicroMUSE was designed as a futuristic nonviolent text-based fantasy enironment where children could learn computer programming while participating in a humanistic virtual community. Wendt, then 16, had other ideas.

[a paragraph then describes what he did to be disruptive] Still Kort gave Wendt a wide berth. "I kept getting chances," Wendt says. "I think because the guy who started MicroMUSE had made it his personal mission to 'save' me. But eventually his patience wore out."

Seven years after bouncing the young hacker, Kort still sounds tortured: "I failed to turn him around." Not only that, but Kort believes that most expulsions fail to improve the conduct of the offender and don't necessarily help the community left behind, either.

Wendt, however, is doing just fine, hanging out with many of his MicroMUSE friends on other sites. And he bears Kort no ill will. In fact, Wendt aptly describes the symbiotic and sympathetic relationship that often defines the bond beween an attention seeking troublemaker and an enforcer: "While he was trying to 'save' me from my evil ways, I was trying to be his friend. Perhaps I broke the rules to get more of an excuse to talk to him."

"There may be another reason why Kort is now so reluctant to boot members of his MUSE. Kort himself has been kicked out of two respectable discussion forums: Cafe Utne and Brainstorms. For more than a year, Kort and Kai Hagen, the soft-spoken manager of Cafe Utne, were at war as Kort dominated several forums, refuted every post that disagreed with his often lonely opinions, and — the last straw — reposted banished messages from Cafe Utne on his own website, violating Utne's terms of service."

"Hagen has no regrets about booting Kort; he's only sorry he didn't do it sooner. Like many other administrators, Hagen has become more willing to draw a line in the sand sooner. "We realized that a lot of damage could be done," he says.

Source: Cafe Utne Relationships.399.227-256 "Your Strategies for Sticking Out Utne"

See also...

Meta.Archive.19 "Barry ..."

Cafe_Archive.Metamatters.404.373-407 "What the hell happened now?"