Straight Dope Moderators (Censors)

I just discovered this website a few weeks ago from a link on I saw a link that led to a message board discussing why you always find dead worms dried up on the sidewalk after it rains. So I thought what the heck?, I’ll take a look.

I had heard and observed that the reason worms behaved that way was due to the ultraviolet rays from the sun caused the worms to lose their senses and eventually crawl around aimlessly, dry out, and die.

I wanted to put my two cents into the discussion, so I began the registration process for the Straight Dope website.

I read the rules, they seemed reasonable, so I completed the registration process. I really liked the first line of the rules that read “We basically have one rule: Don’t be a jerk.”

As required by the registration process I was asked to select a username. I did not recall any restrictions on usernames in the rules. I selected the user name of: StraightDoper.

After a few days, I received an email from an administration “moderator”. The “moderator” informed me that my username might be interpreted by some users that I was somehow an official of the website. I thought this was odd because after all, users must choose a username before viewing or posting and the username is a unique name selected by the user.

I complied with the request to change my usename and selected a new username that in my opinion ensured that I held no official position.
I choose the new username of: Straight Dopehead.

A day later, I received another email from the same “moderator” informing me that my second choice of username was not acceptable either and I must choose another name and I was forbidden to use the words “straight dope” in the new username. I was also informed that I may not “fit” the Straight Dope message boards. He also stated that I had complained about the new restrictions imposed on usernames. This was not true, I did not complain whatsoever, I merely complied.

I complied with the request and the new restrictions imposed on the username selection. In my reply to the email I included my third choice of a username that adhered to the new resrictions. I choose a new username of “Username Censored By Website Administration”.

A day later I received another email from the same “moderator” informing me that the latest username I had submitted was also not acceptable. However, he informed me that “against his better judgement”, he would amend the username to “Username Censored”. (I thought, great! This registration garbage is finally over, after all, we are discussing the behavior of worms after a rain shower.)

To my surprise, I received a subsequent email from the same “moderator” informing me that his judgement was indeed poor because the other “moderators” of the message boards deemed the username unacceptable.

After receiving the last email from the “moderator” I realized this nonsense could not continue, I was not going to play a game where the rules could be changed by a “moderator” whenever they deemed necessary. I informed the “moderator” that he was correct, I did not “fit” the boards and would not continue any further.

I did not receive an email response, however my posts were removed from the website. Some users/posters had responded to my comments and questions.
Only a few of my comments still remain on the thread, when someone quoted what I had written. I found this unreasonable because the other users/posters had responded to some facts I had qouted and might like to view or reference them later.

I am curious if anyone else has had the same or a similar experience here.

So you were stirring shit and you got called on it.

Boo hoo.


So… You’re changing your username to Pets.ComExtremelySuccessfulAdCampaignMascot?


You are special.

If you like it so much, why not abide by it?

I’m confused. Is it so off-the-wall for someone to think that if you have the name of the site in your username (as in either Straight Doper OR Straight Dopehead) that you could be an official representative of the site?

As for the “censored” name, I can’t think of any site, no matter how open-minded, allowing a username that bashes the site or the people who run it. Yeah, whichever mod you were corresponding with should have gotten an okay from the higher-ups before he told you the shortened version was acceptable, but that’s the only mistake I’m seeing on his part. The rest just seems disingenuous to me.

Well the way I see it jayjay, I called the Striaght Dope administration on their lack of restricting or disclosing in the agreement, the restrictions imposed on usernames. When I complied with the added restrictions, I was restricted even more.

If I’m stirring shit, I’m only stirring shit created from Straight Dope’s recipe.

GoCheneyYourself…go Cheney yourself. :wally

Yeah, even though 3000+ people (10,000 in the earlier non-pay incarnation) have somehow managed to thread their laborious way through the oppressive username choice process without undue heartbreak or problem.

Did you bother to read the ENTIRE registration agreement?

Bolding mine.

And yes, having the name of the website is going to give you the appearance of representing the website. And yes, a username bashing the administration of a message board is usually seen as objectionable, no matter how open-minded the admins are. Is it really so difficult for you to realize that?

“GoCheneyYourself” is a much better name anyway.

Well, for now. I guess it’ll get dated pretty quick, though.

And before you go off on a Tangent O’ Martyrdom over how the wording of the username restriction is all vague an’ everything.

Bolding mine again.

continues her wondermont over how someone can’t comprehend why those names might be objectionable

I’ll try to clear up some of your confusion, Kat.

It is perfectly logical that someone seeing the name of the website, or at least in my case a slight variation of the name, included in the username to unwisely assume that the person might be an official representative of the site.

That is however not my problem. It is however the responsibility of the administration to prevent (by using software perhaps) unwanted usernames. If not, at least disclose all restrictions in the registration agreement.

Keep in mind that the person viewing the messages was required to go through the same unrestricted username selection process.

I doubt that someone who ended up choosing the name he did will be able to.

Just to clear up the record: The name “Straight Dope” is copyrighted by the Chicago Reader. The use of our name as a username is prohibited. Under the old system, it used to be disallowed by the system, but that somehow didn’t carry into the new system. (Said transition flaw has now been fixed.) However, it was made clear to this jerk – and very politely at first – that usernames involving “Straight Dope” are not permitted.

He then chose another “Straight Dope” username as his second choice. We reiterated the point, a trifle more forcefully but still politely, and he decided upon “Username Censored by Straight Dope Moderators” or some such as his third name. I actually allowed “Censored Username”, against my better judgement, but I moved too quickly and other moderators convinced me that was not a good plan. Three tries to get an acceptable username should be plenty, and at this point it was clear the guy was just being a jerk and pulling our chain. Hence, he was banned and his worm comments were disappeared.

Now, here he is, complaining, and the Teeming Millions see right through it.

He’s banned, because the Rules are pretty clear about what happens when a banned person returns under a different username.

We’re closing this thread but leaving it visible, partly as an object lesson to others. However, partly because it’s possible that this guy is just incredibly dense and not trying to be a jerk. In that case, he needs to email me and convince me that he understands (a) the meaning of copyright and (b) how to behave on a moderated board.