My thread about VPNs

On Feb 27, I sent a PM to both Idle Thoughts and Loach telling them I wanted to start a thread about VPNs and asking them if it would be OK for me to do that. I explained I was sending this PM to both of them. I sent it to two mods because in the past, I had done something similar and sent it to only one mod and waited for two weeks but never got any reply at all. What was I to do?

I got a reply on Feb 29, asking me to explain just what I had in mind. I send a rough draft of the thread to Loach on Feb. 29 and then sent an updated version on March 1. I waited four more days for an answer and then on March 5, I wrote to Loach and explained that since I hadn’t heard anything from them in that time, I would wait another 24 hours and then, if I still hadn’t heard anything, I would assume that it would be OK for me to post that thread. I didn’t get any reply for another 24 hours and so I went ahead and posted the thread.

Idle Thoughts then closed the thread because I didn’t wait for an answer. But how long was I supposed to wait? I had done something similar in the past and I never got any answer back at all and so I figured it was just not very important to the mods.

If there was something about this topic that the mods did not want me to post, then I figured they would have gotten back to me before 5 days even if it was just to tell me to hold off. I did tell them I would wait 24 hours before posting that thread in case they wanted me to wait further.

I’d like to ask if the problem was with the topic itself or the fact that I didn’t wait long enough. I did give them notice that I would hold off for 24 hours before posting that thread and since I had waited 4 days since the last time I contacted them, As I said, in the past, I did something similar to try and give them the courtesy of checking with them first and I never got any response at all.

I’m sorry if I didn’t wait long enough. I didn’t know what to do because in the past I had done this same thing but never got any reply. Is there any chance the thread could be reopened? Could I resubmit it and wait for a reply? Or is the material itself somehow objectionable?

I’m disappointed because I tried to give the mods the courtesy of checking with them first - just in case. I mean, I could have just posted the thread in the first place and I’m guessing it would never have been closed. I just wanted to give them the courtesy of looking at it and seeing it they wanted me to make any changes for any reason.

other than the bloggy nature of the post - I’m not sure why you needed permission to begin with?

VPNs? As in Virtual Private Networks? Why would one need pre-approval to discuss that?

I’d like to add that I posted this thread because I felt the info was important and valueable to all members of this board. It’s not like I did this for my own self-aggrandizement or anything similar.

Why would I need permission? I was just trying to give the mods the courtesy of checking with them. Perhaps I should have just posted it.

You asked us for permission and we had decided that it was a bad idea the way you were going to put it. You were going to be told that you couldn’t make it, but the mods were more busy than usual the last few days.
You should have been gotten back to sooner, so we apologize for that.
You don’t go ahead and make the topic, though, if you have already PMed a mod and they ask you for clarification or questions about the topic rather than say “Yes, it’s fine, go ahead”. If you didn’t get an answer for awhile, the best thing to do would have been to send another PM reminding them you’re waiting or try a different mod then the one you sent the PM to.

So anyway, we talked it over and we decided that, no, it’s not the best idea for you to start that topic. Again, I’m sorry a moderator didn’t get back to you sooner.

Why is a discussion of VPNs and/or Network security ‘off limits’ ? What clue am I missing?

Bolding mine. This was your mistake and what you should not have done, to put it more simple.
Sometimes mods get busy during weekends or even for a few days… if your last communication with one was them asking you to explain it, you should wait on making it and not PM a “well, if I don’t hear back from you, I’m going to assume it’s okay!” type of message.

It’s not, necessarily. What the case is here is that Charlie asked permission, the mods talked about it, and we were going to tell him he didn’t have permission to do it the way he was putting it in the PM…only the mods didn’t get back to him in time.

In any case, though, the answer isn’t “Okay, well, if I don’t hear back from you so I’m going to go ahead and do it anyway”…it’s “Hey…remember me? Any word on whether or not this is okay?”

Um, you seem to be dancing around the question a bit. If discussing VPNs is allowed, then what the heck did the OP do wrong enough to get his thread on the subject KOed?

I don’t want to argue this ad infinitum when we both know I’m going to lose anway.

But I would argue that I did send you a “Hey … remember me?”. It was when I said I would wait another 24 hours and if I did not hear from you by then I would assume it was OK to post it.

But you can close this thread now. I’m sorry for not waiting. I know your are correct in that I shouldn’t have done it the way I did. I was just really tired of waiting and disappointed that I got no answer in that previous case.

I apologize to you. I don’t want to argue any further. If you have something further to say, go ahead. But I don’t think it will help for me to carry on here.

Thanks for being decent about the whole thing.


A discussion of VPNs in general isn’t off limits. The problem here was that Charlie wasn’t discussing VPNs in general. He wanted to discuss the use of proxy networks, which you connect to via VPN. The primary purpose of these proxy network servers is to hide where your network traffic is originating from. Its main users are spammers, people engaging in illegal music and video downloads, and trolls. These services do see occasional use by folks who are just worried about network security for legitimate purposes, but the types of sites that Charlie wanted to discuss tend not to be used much for legitimate reasons.

It was Charlie’s focus on these types of services that gave us some concern. He tried to formulate his post so that it did not include any references to things that can’t be discussed here, but we were still trying to hash out if this could be discussed in a way that wouldn’t immediately lead into an internet “how to create socks and trolls that are harder to detect” type post.

So basically, the problem wasn’t that Charlie wanted to discuss network security and VPNs. The problem was that Charlie wanted to discuss “hide my IP” type services that you connect to via VPN and nothing else. It wasn’t clear to me from what we received from Charlie that he actually understood that there were other uses for VPNs, or the security issues involved. He made it very clear from the start though that he was well aware of the illegal uses for these (music and video downloading, etc). He seemed to be trying to skirt the line between what can and can’t be discussed here, and to us he mostly seemed to be on the wrong side of the line.

Admittedly, we were a bit slow to respond to this, partly because there are some fairly complex technical issues involved, and we were trying to hash out what can and can’t be discussed and where we should draw the line, and partly because a lot of us didn’t have much time over the past few days. Unfortunately, Charlie didn’t give us a chance to sort out the moderation issues.

Hey, I’m sorry but I have to say this but the bolded sentence above is just not true.

I know it’s not true because I don’t even know what a proxy network is.

In my original post, I made it clear to the mods that I knew it was against the rules here to discuss file sharing of copyrighted materials and I was not going to do that and I did not do that.

My interest was in protecting my privacy and securith and protectecting against Identity theft. I had someone hack me and try to use my debit card and that is the reason I wanted to tell people about using a VPN - so they could protect themselves against the same thing happening to them.

I know full well that discussing creating socks or being a troll is not permitted and I know you can’t do that with VPNs. How do I know that?

Because there are lots of degenerates out there who are much more technically skilled that me and if there was a way they could successfully spam you or create socks or be trolls, they would be doing it all the time. But they can’t because you have the tools to stop them.

I strongly object to your impuning motives to me that are just not true. That is not fair and you must be very angry at me to do such a thing.

You also said I wanted to discuss some sites. But again, not true. I never wanted to discuss any specific sites and I didn’t do that. I have no idea what you are talking about there.

I think I should also clarify one thing more.

Idle Thoughts said the following in my VPN thread when he closed it:

"You didn’t get (or wait for) permission about this topic after PMing us about it and after we asked you a few more clarifying questions about it before giving you permission…so, topic closed. "

I was asked one question only about my thread. I was asked what I had in mind.

I was never asked any “more clarifying questions”.

To be fair, my exchange was with Loach and not Idle Thoughts and so Idle Thoughts may never have seen the post that Loach sent me asking me to show him what I had in mind.

But I have no idea about any “more clarifying questions”. I was only ever asked one question and that was it.

You don’t have a clue, do you?

VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. It’s a way to connect your computer securely to another network. For example, I routinely connect my home computer to my work network. When my VPN is connected, my computer appears to be just another computer on our work building’s network, even though I am over 30 miles away at home. If I then access the internet, my internet requests go from my PC, through the VPN to my work network, through work’s connection to the internet, and out to the rest of the world. To anyone monitoring my traffic from the destination, the source would appear to be my work’s network.

I am not accessing the internet directly. I am accessing it by proxy, through my work’s network. When I generate internet traffic, I put it on my work’s network, and my work’s network puts it on the internet for me. That’s what by proxy means. The remote network is doing it for you.

Even though you don’t seem to understand how it works, you are doing the same thing, except that instead of going through my work network, you are going through some network that some random asshat on the internet set up and charges you a monthly fee to access. While there are legitimate uses for these things, the remote networks like the one you are connecting to mainly target people who want to illegally download games, music, videos, etc. or want to troll or spam various sites and need to get around IP bans.

Your lack of understanding was one of the things that lengthened our discussions around the mod loop.

Some random asshat? I have no clue why you would call them that.

FYI, the companies that sell licenses to use their VPNs are big corporations. I know you don’t want me to post the names or websites of these companies. But I will send you the links to several of these companies and you can see for yourself. I would hardly call these corporations “random asshats.”

When you say, “You don’t have a clue, do you”? Are you calling me stupid? Or are you admitting that since I don’t know what proxy networks are, you falsely accused me of wanting to discuss them. After all, I can’t very well want to discuss them if I don’t know what they are. Can I?

I sent you a list of some of the VPN providers by PM because I didn’t think you would want me to post links to them in a public thread.

I really can’t understand why you call these companies “random asshats”. I don’t think that is at all fair.

I also have to take issue with you saying these companies provide service primarily to people who want to be trolls by getting around IP bans.

This site has banned many people who deserved to be banned. But if they could successfully spam you or create socks or trolls, they would take great delight in making your life miserable by spamming you relentlessly and creating many socks and trolls and forcing you to ban each one.

But they can’t use a VPN to do that. How do I know?

Because if they could, they would be doing it. All these people you have banned are very angry with you and they would take any opportunity they could to harass you.

So, I think you are clearly wrong these companies exist to help people circumvent IP bans and spam you and create socks and trolls. Why do I say you are clearly wrong about that? Because these people are very angry with you and if there was any way they could do these things, they would be doing them all day long.

No. These companies are not designed to help people circumvent IP bans because they don’t circumvent IP bans. If they did, you would see hundreds of trolls and socks creating stupid threads all day long. And that just isn’t happening.


FWIW, VPNs are quite popular with people in countries with censored internet access. I used on for years in China-- without it, things like reading the news or browsing Wikipedia become difficult.


But who is creating trolls socks?