Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Loser on Twitter #alot

So one day I noticed that @rod3000, @thewetmale and @nomesmessenger were playing with a new hashtag #alot. It appeared to be an amusing way to emphasise just about anything, for example 'I'm hungry #alot' or 'This government needs an enema #alot'. For the many spelling pedants out there, of which I'm one, it's somewhat alarming, but many of us took up the challenge nonetheless. Watching some of the twitterati like @s_bridges come slowly on board made the game all the more fun.

Eventually, I learned that #alot means Australian Liberals On Twitter. Oh, right, so we weren't just playing with good spellers... culture jamming a wingnut feed made the hashtag that much more amusing. If you look at the #alot page, you'll quickly see it's full of the sort of people who believe universal health care is a threat to freedom.

And so we continued with our game (many still do). A few weeks ago, a Twitter user who goes by the self-aggrandising (& politically repugnant) handle @MiltonFriedmans (yes, I'm aware the 's' is superfluous, though I gather he isn't), started retweeting me (& @rod3000 & presumably others) & re-hashing it to #KevinPM (I don't even want to know what that page is). First though, he asked me whether there was a reason why we were spamming up their feed. I replied 'yep'. He said he didn't really mind, but could I please change my 'disgusting' avatar (it's my legs in stripey socks, btw). I said, 'lol, nope'. I figured that would be the end of our interactions.

How wrong I was. I can perfectly well understand a person objecting to others spamming a feed that is intended to be on topic (though there's surely a thesis in what that means on the twitters), and to express this objection by doing his own spamming. Unfortunately, however, this belligerent individual chose to spam me directly through @s. There were a few over the last couple weeks which I mostly ignored, but last night he really went on the attack. It appears he has now had the belated wisdom to delete his stream of harassment, but I can see the @s on Tweetie on my iPhone. He @'d me 16 times in under 2 hours last night. What pearls of wisdom and high intellectual debate were these?

There were the personal attacks:

MiltonFriedmans: I'm assuming that between HECS debts, FEE-HELP and AUSTUDY, @Tammois shows leadership in the field of taking taxpayer money. #alot

MiltonFriedmans: @tammois would fit in well with Stalin & Kim Jong-Il! Http:// #alot

MiltonFriedmans: @tammois Only a lefty would assume challanging [sic] one's logic 2B being “cyber bullied”. Most people explain their logic, not ask for help #alot

And then there was the false attribution RT:

MiltonFriedmans: RT@Tammois How can a 19yr old in their 1st degree, often living at home & having never had a career possibly//vote in a Fed election? #alot

If he'd had any wit, perhaps I would have bitten, though I suspect not. I don't find that engaging with wingnuts in 140 characters is productive, nor generally remotely interesting. So instead I blocked him, as his badgering was tedious and badly spelt. This morning I glanced at his page to see whether he had laid off, only to discover he was carrying on still, mostly linking to my blog and ranting about VSU, as you can see.

I actually find this quite annoying still, though I'm choosing to ignore him and his 93 followers (none of whom have joined his attacks, happily, and one who asked him not to RT him in order to support his attacks on us).

I will respond briefly to what I think were actually some marginally interesting taunts about undergrads representing postgrads. First, it's important to ignore the elision of voting with representing – not everybody is always eligible to run for office in pretty much any form of democracy of which I'm aware (eg age requirements, citizenship...). The rules applying to voters are typically different and more open, as they should be.

On the question of representation though, I've already spelled out my thoughts on the importance of separate and independent representation for undergrads, postgrads and internationals. Su made a great point in the comments about mature age undergrads, even though they are the minority, but I would still argue that it isn't only about age (though that is a significant part of the issue of undergrads representing postgrads), it's also about experience with the academic structures of postgraduate degrees, as well as the associated welfare issues specific to doing these degrees (income support, facilities and resources, etc).

So I happily stand by my claim that undergrads should not be representing postgrads. I also stand by my assertion that @MiltonFriedmans was bullying me with his incessant @ing and personal attacks. Culture jamming, in my opinion, which may include tactics such as spamming a hashtag, is not about individual, personal attacks. I guess us lefties can leave that nastiness to the 'Classical Liberals' over on the #alot page, which I've decided not to spam anymore, btw, in order to avoid provoking more bullying.


Anonymous said...

Eh, in my opinion you started with the cyber bullying, and he upped the ante with nastier, more personal cyber bullying. But call your form of cyber bullying "culture jamming", if it makes you feel better.

Matthew said...

What Tammois and Rod and others were doing wasn't aimed at any one person, it was essentially aimed at a political party and its supporters. And it was done in a pretty irreverent way.

The actions of Tammois are very different to those of Milton.

Anonymous said...

I don't think anyone looks good here. Culture Jamming #alot is against the Twitter terms and conditions (Spam). I really don't think the fact you spammed an entire channel is much of a defence.
If he wants to make posts about you on the same channel perhaps he should drop the @ reference.

Anonymous said...

almost forgot Tammi. I think the // indicator in a post indicates a break between what you've said and what he said. Did you say the bit before the // ?

Felix said...

Heh. I wonder who "anonymous" is :)And I'm not sure you can "spam" a hashtag. It's not owned by any one group exclusively, and to say so is a little ridiculous.

Bron said...

Agree with Matthew -- the spamming was not against an individual whereas Milton's was, which adds a nastier element. And why target Tammois and not any of the others were using the hashtag? Milton was being a dickhead, pure and simple. And a spiteful one at that too.

That said, I disagree with Matthew where he says it was done in an "irreverent" way -- I'm not sure about that. It was deliberate mocking and spamming for a group of people who nevertheless have equal access to Twitter as they want to use it, and the spamming was designed to interrupt that. I just know if it had been the other way, there'd be much angst and annoyance.

That was kinda lame and continues to be so.

On the other hand, it's the internets -- harden the fuck up.

That said, I've used the #alot hashtag from time to time, although I've decided not to now as it's incredibly old and not even amusing anymore. That, and it kept pricking at my conscious.

Fuck you, conservatives!

Jean said...

A belated welcome to the Australian bloke-o-sphere, where public debate is constituted via binaristic left-vs-right schoolyard bullshit. I try only to follow people on Twitter who have actual lives and interests. #alot

Nick Caldwell said...

I had a close look at the Twitter Terms and Conditions and I'd have to say that Anonymous@comment 3 is wrong: Twitter uses repeated posting to a particular hashtag as a diagnostic to identify spam but does not consider it in and on itself constitutive of spam.

ClimateActionNow said...

I think you are both pretty childish. Him for bombarding you with political messages and you for spamming an entire Twitter hashtag.

Aren't you the Pres of the Aussie Grad student association? You should know better than to set out to annoy people then act surprised and the victim when you clearly succeeded. Pretty shameful act all around.

Tammois said...

Anonymous (1) As per Matthew, Felix, Bron & Nick's points, I don't believe that spamming the channel is remotely equivalent to bullying, it was at most an irritation to those hoping for consistency from the #alot hashtag. So what if they've had to put up with us talking about lunch or other unrelated topics?

I agree with you, Bron, and once I learned what the hashtag actually was I felt mildly guilty at times, until I read the great deal of self-indulgent tripe actually on there. It's hard to feel too badly for people who tweet things like:

MiltonFriedmans Third Asylum Seeker Boat in as many days has turned up to utilise Rudd's Red Carpet #alot

Keep in mind these are the same people who create toxic comments environments all over the internet.

ClimateActionNow: I'll accept that the game was childish. Do I think having a national role should preclude me from game playing, especially when it is in fact a form of culture jamming toxic neocons? No. Personally, I think the 'moral outrage' argument is pretty unsustainable in this case, whereas the constant @ing of my account was undoubtedly bullying. @MiltonFriedmans was quite obviously victimising me, and I am not interested in being told one should not 'cry victim'. Bullies don't shut up unless you stand up to them. Had he wanted to contest our action, there were many other ways (non-bullying variety) he could have done so, including by simply jumping onto a hashtag any of us use.

Finally, Anonymous (3), no, I didn't tweet that, though it is paraphrased from my earlier blog entry.

Kristian said...

And while you're at it, stop using the #food hashtag!

Friends Of Opus Dei objects to your spam! #ALOT!

Rod said...

I certainly feel somewhat responsible for all this.

To be honest, my interest in #alot was initially the way it was used or under-used by the Liberal Party and it's elected members. When I made enquiries to others about it's usage and origins, the (possible) fact that it was initially used by Libertarians made me even more curious.

At that time - I don't know, 4 or 5 weeks ago - brief hashtag searches brought up very little activity and I felt some amusement that I was using this hashtag, along with the Oz Libs account and not many others. Sure, I included the hashtag in my own tweets which had no relevance to Australian Liberals on Twitter. I have done this with plenty of other hashtags and by virtue of this made some enjoyable acquintances and some unlikeable foes.

The real time nature of Twitter means hashtag usage may spike unpredictably and certainly Twitter being Twitter, soon enough others were also using #alot as an amusement.

I would certainly do the same for Labor's hashtag although I can never remember what it is, #laborconnect? That is a shit hashtag and as far as I'm concerned Labor, with the notable exception of @PennySharpemlc, is dead hopeless at Twitter. I've said this often enough but I've had far more interesting and beneficial Twitter conversations with #alots than anyone from the ALP.

With regard to MiltonFriedman's dialogue with @tammois, I recall his initial tweets. He seemed more concerned about @tammois avatar than any of the content of her tweets. I did find it a little odd that he focussed his attention on her, made no approach to me until... 5 hours ago when he had a little blab about how Tammi has got things so wrong. This includes the statement, "Let's establish the facts". Now apart from making me wish I brought my Imodium with me, I also wish little Tories like Friedman would grow out of their love affair with Year Nine debating.

I have no problem with a bit of online argy-bargy but Friedmans holier-than-thou schtick is amateur hour. Seems he has also locked up his tweets. Add to that the fact that he gives no information as to who or what he is, and you just have to presume he is a nobody.

I don't think anyone owns the #alot tag and if there's anyone that wants to start purifying their twit feed from the Leftist-filth, it ain't that hard.

Nigel said...

Really childish on both parties.

I'll make one point though Tammi if you don't mind, I am not sure you can complain about being bullied by referencing his statements if you then call him a "toxic neocon" or referring to "self indulgent tripe".

It really disarms your point when you carry out the same actions as those you complain about. It's childish stuff like this that give those of us from the centre left a bad name.

Anonymous said...

If you can't stand the heat stay out of the kitchen.

Matthew said...

I think Bron makes a good point Re: 'irreverent'

I guess what I was trying to get at was that many of the culture-jamming post didn't contain any direct malice towards the gunuine users of #alot. However I do think it's fair to say that there was a subtext that was, to a certain extent, contemtable of the genuine tweets.

Personally, while I freely admit to being a willing user of the tag, from the start I wasn't sure if I thought it was a fair thing to be doing. In my mind it didn't seem to conform to a level of civility I would Want to personally strive for in political debate/discussion (although it is true that hashtags aren't owned by any one and i wouldn't consider it spamming as far as twitter would be concerned). I think Tammois' use of 'toxic neocon' draws this point out.

While I have never really searched through the hashtag, the people that I directly follow that use it, while having opinions that I disagree with, even to the point of considering them as just plain silly, use it in a way that I would consider to be civil. The MF character to me is the exception rather than the rule.

Also, AFAIK, this is really the only example of someone complaining about the jamming of the tag. Perhaps those that do genuinely use it are able to effectiely sort the wheat from the chaff. Or perhaps they just don't care about any of this. Either way I think that indicates a certain maturity or experience with Twitter that's worth noting.

Anonymous said...

this is why i just block and ignore anyone from #alot or #tcot - (top conservatives on twitter) - they're incapable of argument, they can only personally denigrate, when they do try to argue, they repeatedly lie, and they don't show their faces while they do.

Ku Klux Klan, anyone?

However, they're right about jamming the hashtag. You can have your profile removed by twitter if you repeatedly post off topic posts on a hashtag.

It's part of the Twitter Rules - Spam is defined as (among other things) "If you post multiple unrelated updates to a topic using #"

He's an attention seeker. Give him attention, you give him what he wants. I advise block and ignore. If he keeps posting about you, you can complain to twitter.

Sadly, there is no such thing as political debate any more, not with the right. Witness John Howard and the children overboard bullshit. If they don't have the backup for their assertions, they make it up.

Nick Caldwell said...

stinginthetail, that's not quite correct. As I wrote above, repeated posting to a hashtag contributes to a diagnosis but Twitter strongly suggest it's not a definitive symptom.

Left ain't Right said...


I agree there is a "Loser on Twitter" and she's in need of some self reflection. I must admit to finding Passive Aggressive ALP supporters setting out to "culture jam" Liberal Supporters and then complaining about being "bullied" tremendously amusing if nothing else.