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Idle banter forum

Bruce Moon's reply + goodbye

Posted by ValeBM on 14/9/2009 at 13:21

The verdict is in. Clearly, Stuart doesn’t want me to contribute. Sobeit.

However, let me have my final say - assuming, of course, that Stuart allows same.

Unlike my responses to those seeking info, this is a measured statement. I canvas three issues: the substantive matter (leading to Stuart’s decision), the sycophants, and the future.

- - -

The substantive matter

To my way of thinking, the substantive issue involves arbitrary and subjective decision-making. I challenged that issue and was ‘suspended’ (whatever that means).

There are two parts to this subject: false claims, and arbitrary decision-making.

I read that I was advised twice about behaviour. It is true that Stuart sent me an email regarding my method of communication. I’ll copy and paste below: I believe I adhered to the contents. It is also true that Stuart ‘publically’ posted a message. Was that message specifically directed at me? I suggest you may be wise to take into account my comment at #7, and Stuart’s retraction of some assertions at #14. Those adopting Stuart’s view will obviously side with him regarding ‘interpretation’, those... To me, the decision to ‘suspend’/ ban/whatever, was arbitrary and subjective.

I believe I have a capacity to comment on decision-making: I did my Doctorate in philosophy on the topic of decision-making and rationality.

When lecturing at Uni on decision-making, I began the first Semester lecture by differentiating between procedural decision systems and arbitrary systems and initially ‘placed’ this in a macro context. I contrasted modern western governmental decision structure with those of ‘modernising’ nations such as exist in SE Asia. I noted that an apt descriptor for the foundations of western society lay in three concepts; the rule of law, elected representative democracy, and the Hobbesian notion of a civil contract (as articulated in the principle French motto - Liberté, égalité, fraternité). I used this foundational concept (of modern western society) to advance principles about rational decision-making: that a rational decision-making structure not only has a procedural basis, it also has reference points for objective decision-making. And, importantly, there are mechanisms by which the decision can be reviewed (and if necessary, overturned).

In contrast to the ideal of rational decision-making is the subjective, arbitrary, elitist and/or self-oriented decision, one that often appears in corrupt, feudal and/or a nepotistic society.

At the micro-level, good decision-making is most likely to occur where the decision-maker has procedural and reference criteria by which to make a judgement (or form an opinion) about the subject under consideration.

In part, my exclusion appears to have resulted from my questioning of Stuart’s arbitrary decisions. I note that Travelfish has yet to articulate either a procedural basis or provide sufficient reference criteria for good decision-making.

When a person uses, or joins Travelfish, they are bound to abide by the ‘Terms of Use’ at There are no guidelines there on what is (un)acceptable behaviour. Rather, this page merely advises that types of comments that may be removed.

Travelfish also has a post “Welcome and Terms of Use” at many Forum ‘MessageBoards’. For example:

There, Travelfish lists “A few general pointers” (7) as well as directions to businesses seeking to use Travelfish. As subjective and simplistic as it is, only one (at item 2) makes reference to behaviour. This is inadequate as decision reference criteria.

An example of a comprehensive reference criteria - and thus a capacity for rational and procedural decision-making - can be found at -

Clearly, my view is that Travelfish would be enhanced if it adopted a comprehensive reference criteria to guide contributors. And, as a result, decisions involving contributor conflict could be rational rather than subjective and arbitrary.

- - -

The sycophants

I note the comments of some contributors to this matter over recent days, bouquets to those that expressed support for my contributions.

Perhaps the best term to describe those with negative sentiments is sycophants. On the one hand they advocate silence unless a positive contribution can be made, on the other they are only too willing to plunge the knife when it suits.

I get the strong feeling that these long-term contributors, or sycophants, would prefer they dominate Travelfish contributions.

Stuart has claimed he received emails complaining about me. I really don’t know whether this reflects truth or is merely ‘justification’. Supposedly approaching one hundred. One has to wonder about such a number. I’ll assume there is some truth. And, I’ll also assume that some of those negative emails have been despatched by the sycophants. Sycophantic gesturing aids no-one.

In contrast, I’ve only received positive emails/feedback. I have occasionally referred to my travelblog site as a reference. Interestingly, I’ve received several dozen compliments and not one criticism. In the cyberworld, had any of the sycophantic whingers felt so inclined, they could have posted a negative message to me directly there. Similarly, if other ‘complainants’ felt so moved to berate Stuart, why not also direct their anger towards me. It just hasn’t happened.

I also point to the frequent compliments I’ve received on the Travelfish pages by those seeking Travelfish information..

One lingering comment is that I write in a style that is offends. Phrases used include ‘aggressive behavior’, ‘horribly abusive and overly difficult’, ‘puts a lot of people's backs up’. These phrases largely come from the sycophants. It is true I assert my view, and it is true I offended some during the earlier period of my contributing. I doubt such claims could be made to my posts over recent months. These sycophants point towards a Travelfish in a past era when it was civil, kindly, etc. I looked at articles going back from 2008 (before I joined) to 2006. I’m afraid the sycophants are living in cloud cuckoo land.

One of the most foolish criticisms was ‘he overly dominated the message boards to the exclusion of other contributors and other ideas’. Hello!!! The ‘user’ somtam2000 is the most prolific contributor. I see no impediment to any contributor making a post to Travelfish. My feeling is this sycophant is annoyed that ‘requesters’ have their answer before he can offer a contribution. To me, the issue is not about who makes the contribution, but that Travelfish earns a reputation for fast and helpful advice.

I chuckle at these sycophants (in one case, more a psychopants), as they hide behind pseudonyms, claiming authority without revealing self. Cyberspace may well be a virtual world, but to my way of thinking personal honesty and integrity denote at least a signature of self.

- - -

The future

Clearly, the future of Travelfish is without me. That matters little. I still believe in the concept of Travelfish.

I’ve noted above that Travelfish needs a comprehensive reference criteria to inform contributor behaviour (and guide decision-making). This, I suggest is an important point. Lonely Planet (rightly) refers to Travelfish material as opinionated: I don’t see that as a negative. The point though is that whenever humans express opinions, there will be conflicting views that clash. Banning contributors according to subjectivity will not enhance Travelfish.

As Travelfish grows - and I sincerely hope it does - then the ‘incidences’ of conflict will also increase: it is an aspect of humanness. Given this, the current TravelBoard approach to Q+A may need a new basis. Personally, I think there is a major dilemma in the current approach. On one hand, Travelfish offers guidance to prospective travellers with the country ‘Info-Pages’, and the TravelBoard supplements this with Q+A’s. Much of the connectivity between the ‘Info-Pages’ and the TravelBoard is left to Stuart, who long ago run out of time to both refurbish the ‘Info-Pages’, institute new material, and supervise the TravelBoard pages. To my way of thinking, the ‘Info-Pages’ need to go wiki style so that contributors submit improvements (to be reviewed by Stuart in due course), and in so doing both enhance the content of those pages and offer more material than is now provided.

Another conundrum that Travelfish needs to confront is the dimorphous contradiction in Travelfish. I have written about the dilemma facing (newby) travellers seeking to maximise seeing places at the expense of experiencing same. The BananaPancake map/tour offerings in the ‘before you leave’ section motivate the (newby) prospective traveller to race through the countryside. Yet, the focus of the ‘Info-Pages’ is for the prospective traveller to take the time to venture away from the ‘race-through-SEA’. Few, if any, of the seasoned travellers/contributors ‘race-through-SEA’: they take their time. So, (newby) prospective travellers offer mad-cap ‘itineraries’ for review, and the oft repeated phrase is that these are ‘do-able’. Either Travelfish turns its focus onto the aiding the frantic rush, or it turns its attention to advise against the frantic rush: and if the latter deletes references to aiding the frantic rush and offers the skills/resources/etc. to achieve an experiential journey.

I am aware that the number of requests for information appears to have been diminishing over recent months. It is possible that some might think ‘oh, look at all the answers by BM - that’s why they don’t ask’. If that were the case, why not the same perception towards the ‘user’ sometam2000? This is a hollow argument.

But, the obvious reduction in info requests over recent months is worrying. I put it down to the GFC. Nevertheless, for an income producing website, ‘web hits’ is critically important. Clearly, the GFC is also impacting on Travelfish.

An ancillary issue is that the reduction in info requests also signals a trend in GH occupancy in SE Asia over the forthcoming months. The economic circumstances at the lower end of SE Asia tourism look to be in dire straights. This will cause significant change to the budget end, and unless Travelfish can report on the changed circumstances it may become regarded as little better than other offerings. This issue could be overcome if information was undertaken in wiki format.

- - -

I’ve enjoyed contributing to Travelfish. I like helping people. I’ve also learned heaps about SE Asia from my involvement on Travelfish. Again, bouquets to those that supported me and my capacity to express a view.

Good Bye and good luck.

Edit by Stuart:
I've deleted the followup post to this which covers an email I sent to Bruce as it was a personal email -- between me and Bruce -- not me and the internet. I'm not planning to address anything in the above, but instead will leave it as a locked msg -- as the title says: Bruce Moon's reply + goodbye.
Stuart again
It's been pointed out to me that my previous comment was a bit callous -- if members want to discuss ways Travelfish can be improved/altered, a good place to start is here. I agree with a couple of the points raised by Bruce, but I think this particular thread is hardly the place to discuss them.

#1 ValeBM has been a member since 14/9/2009. Posts: 2

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