To all my Chasechat friends:
First I would like to say thank you to all the people who emailed me to wish me well or inquire about me. Hearing from some of you was totally unexpected. I had even more friends on Chasechat than I knew.
I was originally planning to just fade away quietly and not raise a ruckus. Seeing how this isn't just limited to myself, and Stephanie has gone all ban and censorship crazy with others too, and is accusing everyone under the sun of possibly being me, I need to say something. It has gotten crazy. The tally of the fallen is getting outrageously long. Jamie, Harry Fool, myself, Larsonist, djjmciv, Bet, Ricky, and I probably missed a few. This has turned into a real slaughter of the innocents, while the guilty still run free. So I have decided to speak out and tell my side of the story about how all this happened, as I see it.
So, what happened? I was pretty much blindsided by events too. What could cause Stephanie to suddenly and brutally silence all dissent, and promote one annoying voice above all others? I have a theory. There has been a rumor going around for a while now that Mindy has offered Stephanie a large cut of the treasure WHEN she finds it. ($125,000 is the number I heard) And as we all know so well, Mindy has deluded herself into thinking she is close to finding it. It seems like maybe she has convinced Stephanie that she is close too. We all know Stephanie has blown an immense amount of money on her compulsive searching. The ads suddenly returned to Chasechat recently after being gone for a long time. So Stephanie is probably in need of the money. This gives Stephanie a clear motive for her actions. She's likely trying to keep Mindy happy by banning all her enemies.
The banning spree started weeks ago with Jamie. Stephanie was desperate to get Jamie off the site, and keep her off. She contacted me and wanted me to exercise my rarely used moderator status to help keep all her personas off the forum. The excuse she used with me was the police report and restraining order Mindy had filed against Jamie. She said the police asked her to ban Jamie. This made no sense to me. The local police in a podunk town one state aren't going to ask a forum owner in another state to ban a user in a third state. The police have no jurisdiction or right to ask her to do such a thing. It would never happen. Besides, cops love social media. They don't want people banned. They want them posting all kinds of incriminating stuff they could collect and use as evidence. Stephanie never adequately explained herself on that, but I didn't give it too much thought at the time. I thought maybe she had somehow misspoken, or maybe someone was impersonating a police officer to her.
Moving on. Weeks later, Mindy was becoming more and more over-bearing and insufferable. Her disability no doubt makes it difficult or impossible for her to understand just how annoying her behavior is to others. I cut her some slack over that in the beginning. But eventually I had reached my Mindy limit. We began sparring rather heavily on a regular basis. Others were getting tired of Mindy too, and clear battle lines were forming between pro and anti-Mindy camps. Stephanie was MIA, and being her usual hands-off self with regards to the forum. Things were getting pretty heated, but there was no indication at all from Stephanie that she had a problem with it.
Eventually Mindy jumped the shark with her book mutilating, map manufacturing posts, and her utterly crazy justifications for it. That, along with her continual taunting of everyone about how close she was to finding the treasure, pushed a lot of people over the edge. It all came to a head one day when Mindy was receiving a huge amount of negative feedback from all sides, not just from myself.
Mindy suddenly started raging at all of us to leave her alone because her mother was in the emergency room and possibly dying. She put out multiple angry posts like this to several of her detractors. I immediately backed off, even though I wondered why she had the time to keep responding angrily to so many people if there was some sort of big emergency going on. I also wondered why the fact that Mindy's mom was ill somehow invalidated the rights of everyone to respond to her posts made both before, and during, the supposed emergency. Mindy was under no obligation to continue answering to her critics if she was so tied up with her mother. But apparently Mindy can't not answer her critics, no matter what else is going on. It seems to be a compulsion with her. It was obvious to me that Mindy was just using her mother's illness as an excuse to silence her critics and garner sympathy. But I remained silent.
Days pass. Mindy and her cohorts Fundy and Wolf take a few days off from posting. Chasechat is suddenly running smoothly and calmly with no Mindy around. People are getting along better than I had seen for a long time. It was a beautiful thing. Mindy and her cohorts were clearly the root of most of the problems with the forum.
While Mindy was on hiatus from Chasechat, she continued updating her own personal blogs. Compulsive over-sharer that she is, she had to blog about her mother's medical issues. Turns out, her mother's supposed "near death emergency" was nothing more than a bought of confusion. Mindy had lied, and exaggerated the incident to deflect criticism and gain sympathy just as I had thought. Still, I said nothing.
Suddenly Mindy was back on Chasechat. This was going to be some sort of short "farewell tour" according to her. She was in the final stages of solving the poem and wasn't going to be around much longer, but she was going to set some people straight before leaving, and would drop back in from time to time to correct anything inaccurate said about her. Well this just started the war all over again. Her "brief" farewell tour dragged on and on and showed no sign of actually ending. Things just kept getting more and more heated.
Eventually someone else brought up the incident where Mindy lied about the seriousness of her mother's condition to silence her critics. At this point I'd had enough of Mindy. So I posted my infamous color code post suggesting that Mindy should use different color fonts to signify her mother's state of health so we would all know what sort of response we were allowed to make at any given time to her never-ending posting blitz. The post was met with equal parts false outrage and humor depending on which side of the battle lines people were on. Viewed in the context of actual events, the post was not the least outrageous.
A wile later, after things had died down, Stephanie emailed me telling me to delete the post, oh and by the way, she had revoked my moderator status. I argued that in context, the post was not outrageous, and did she really want to go down the censorship route? Things had died down and she should let sleeping dogs lie. Deleting the post would just start things up again. She said she wasn't interested in the context, had no time to read the exchanges, and just wanted the post gone. She also told me to stop responding to Mindy. I was like, what?. I told her in no uncertain terms that I would not just lay down and take crap from Mindy. I also asked her point blank if the rumored monetary offer from Mindy was behind this. Stephanie confirmed that Mindy had made her the offer, but claimed she had turned her down. I had my doubts about that.
I deleted the post, but since others had quoted it, and I was no longer a moderator, that really didn't accomplish anything. Stephanie stepped in and deleted all the quoted posts. Naturally, the furor immediately exploded again, just as I had predicted. I sent Stephanie an "I told you so" email but she seemed to be ok with the situation and didn't think it was too heated, though it looked pretty bad to me. I guess since nobody was directly attacking Mindy, it was ok.
I left Mindy alone for a whole day, even though she was even more insufferable then ever, and clearly trying to bait me. Eventually I'd had enough after a particularly provocative post from her in response to something I said to someone else. I responded to her. The last line of my post read:
"I can't fix stupid. It's time I stopped trying. So I guess I have nothing else to say."
I worded it that way knowing that one way or another, this was likely my last post to Chasechat. I was tired of arguing with Mindy and certain other idiots on the forum. The idiots never learn, never admit they are wrong, and never stop. Continuing to argue with them was just lowering myself to their level, and giving validation to their crazy arguments. I was done.
Sure enough, a few minutes after posting that, Stephanie banned me. No great loss at this point, but I was hurt by it none the less. All I'd had to offer her was years of loyalty, friendship, and help with the forum, through good times and bad. But what is that worth next to a crazy fantasy of a $125,000 payout from Mindy? Nothing apparently. I'd been kicked to the curb.
As I said at the beginning, I was just going to fade away quietly. I hadn't returned to Chasechat for days. The emails began coming in from wellwishers and people asking how I was doing, and what happened? People also began telling me what was going on in my absence. How Stephanie was banning more and more people. Anyone who tussled with Mindy got tossed. People said I could probably talk Stephanie into relenting if I tried. Several people offered to talk to her for me. I thanked them but said no thanks. If this was the way it was going to be with Stephanie having favorites and censoring and banning people, then I wanted no further part of Chasechat. It seemed to be rapidly devolving into a kind of Twilight Zone HOD Jr. with Stephanie playing the part of Goofy. What I was hearing was making me sick.
Eventually I poked my head back into Chasechat to see for myself what was going on. It was even worse than I had been told. Anyone who criticized Mindy in any way was being accused of being either me or Jamie and was being banned. It was utterly insane. People were confused. People were scared. People were angry. And these people were my friends. I decided it was time to speak out. I would not be fading away quietly. People needed to know what had really happened. So that is it, to the best of my recollection.
I'll leave you with some parting advice.
Stay away from arguing with Mindy on Chasechat, or you will likely get banned too. If you must argue with her, Mindy posts to other forums where she does not seem to enjoy such a favored and protected status. But arguing with her gets you nowhere. I know, I've tried. She's impervious to logic. Plus Mindy has a history of filing police reports and retraining orders against her critics. For your own personal safety I recommend just ignoring her. For someone so desperate for attention, and so desperate to always be the center of everything, ignoring her will be the worst, most painful thing you could do to her. If all the intelligent people ignore her and only her fellow idiots pay any attention to her, she could never rise higher in status than queen of the idiots, in the never-ending, delusional, game of king of the hill going on in the forums.
I don't know if I am correct about my theory for Stephanie's motivation in this. I guess only she knows for sure what prompted this wholesale slaughter. Judging by history, Stephanie will likely eventually come to her senses somewhat and relax her iron grip on the forum. Either that or she will just be so out of touch with her never-ending searching that she won't be able to police it very well. Don't let that lull you into a false sense of security. You have all seen what despicable acts she is capable of if given sufficient motive. If she approaches you and asks you to help her moderate the forum, say no. Make up any excuse you can think of. Run away if you have to. It is a thankless job. Everyone hates you, everyone expects you to behave to some impossibly high standard, everyone suspects you of modifying or deleting their posts when the forum has glitches, and of course Stephanie seems to see you as disposable when she no longer needs you.
The only thing I am likely to miss about Chasechat in the long run are the great people I meet online there who become great offline friends. I hope we can all stay friends without the need for Chasechat to glue us together.
Thank you again, everyone.