Hey “William”- You’re Definately Not Helping

Posted on June 29, 2010. Filed under: Atheism, Internet Etiquette, Personal, You're Not Helping |


Edit July 1, 2010:  William, the author of You’re Not Helping, has made a proper apology here.  I would like to add that I believe this apology to be sincere, and applaud William for his bravery in coming forward and clearing the air.  Thank you William.

I don’t get to do much blog watching on weekends and completely missed the climax of a story I had been following since mid-last week.

You’re Not Helping imploded before our very eyes this past weekend; effectively verifying accusations made by a couple of bloggers, most notably oedipusmaximus of The Buddha Is Not Serious.

After reading oedipus’ post and the comments last week, I was convinced something was gravely wrong with YNH (beyond just contradicting themselves on a post by post basis).  Facts came to light that eventually prompted “William”, the “brains” behind YNH to admit to creating a circle-jerk of sock puppets to congratulate one another on their brilliance and gang up on dissenters.  He does not, however, admit to being a religious Poe masquerading as an atheist to shame New Atheists; an allegation I leveled at YNH over on Camels With Hammers and still believe to be the case.

So “William”, it turns out, was several regular commenters on his own blog.  I assume he used this system to bolster his argument by creating false consensus, maybe hoping that a gang mentality would eventually take hold so that his sock puppets could be eventually phased out.

This post, though, is about none of those things.  Oedipus and Greg Laden and others have done a fantastic job of documenting the rise and spectacular fall of YNH.

This is about the last post on YNH, the one that should have been an apology to people who were attacked and villified by one person masquerading as many.  It should have been an apology; what we got instead was an admission and finger pointing.  It wasn’t even a good admission.  Admissions should involve some degree of humility, some indication that the author bears responsibility for both the actions and the consequences.

So to Will, what I want to talk about is that last post; the missed opportunity to make a bad situation better and possibly save what could have been a welcome voice in the blogosphere:


First off, this is not an apology.  This is a eulogy for a self-proclaimed martyr, a way for you to spread blame around until there is none left for you to shoulder.

If it does say “I’m Sorry” it says it with a caveat.  It says “I’m sorry you guys didn’t appreciate me and had to be dicks about it”.  It says “I’m sorry you had to bring other people into this”.

Humility is not easy.  We are prideful people; people directly invested in our opinions and actions.   Regardless of whether you sat down at your keyboard to write an apology or an admission, humility should have oozed from the very first paragraph….

And so I give you….the very first paragraph:

The worst part about being anonymous bloggers is that people will lie, distort, and do anything to try and out you. So far, we’ve weathered the accusations and conspiracies, because they’ve been mostly harmless to anyone. Now, though, it has come to our attention that Greg Laden has tried to implicate a real individual (that is most certainly not us) as being responsible for this blog. This is nothing short of disgusting, even though Laden admits that his evidence for this accusation is “weak.” Despite this, he’s wrongfully accused a person that has a reputation, a job, and no ties to this blog, with no regard for consequences or even if his accusation is right. He has brought real people into the fold in a completely cavalier fashion, and thus taken this to a level it should never go to, and a level we’d decided would be the breaking point when this witchhunt began.

Boy is that humility!  This is the same post where you are about to admit to lying, bullying and sock puppetry; and you spend the entire first paragraph setting up a victim statement in the court of public opinion.

Pure class.

How about:

  1. I was caught in a lie”    or…..
  2. I abused the trust of my readers”     or……
  3. I’m sorry I let things get this out of hand“?

Notice how the first option is a confession without remorse, option 2 is a confession with some remorse, and the third is an apology with some remorse.  Each of these statements has one thing in common: humility.  Option 1 does not even require that you feel culpable, just an admission of fact.  Instead we get a tirade about how it’s Greg Laden’s fault that he is the subject of a witch hunt, which as we all know is hardly the case.

Total Blame admitted to in Paragraph 1:  Ø%

The second paragraph will go into the details of how you do not want to be involved in the “witch hunt” so that is why you are revealing some personal information and admitting to be one blogger instead of the group of bloggers you have implied to be with your use of plurals throughout your posts. Again, no fault of yours; you’re trying to selflessly protect the innocents. BONUS: You include a hat tip to Andrew Rosenberg in an effort to conflate an obvious overreaction to your own plight.

Total Blame admitted to in Paragraph 2:  Unbelievably still  Ø%

Third paragraph.  Finally, Will, we find you taking responsibility for your part in all this….sort of.  We get a short introduction to your cast of circle-jerk sock puppets, namely Polly-O, Brandon and Patricia.  I suspect there is more, but this is all you will admit to.  You then go into a new sob story about how Ophilia will need to start a new “witch hunt” to find the identity of other people you have been accused of puppeteering:

That one, I’m afraid, is someone else…who I don’t know. You’ll have to start another “find out who this is and ruin their life so they’ll stop saying things you don’t agree with” campaign to figure that one out, which I’m sure you will.

Way to play the victim Will.  Unbelievable.

Total Blame admitted to in Paragraph 3:  Maybe  10%

Which leaves us with one paragraph with which to make your amends.  I guess if your going to FAIL, you FAIL BIG.  Will comes as close to an apology as ever here:

To Greg and friends: I apologize for the dishonesty in commenting, and any perceived dishonesty in my posts I apologize for, but again that at least was not intentional. It was my interpretation and opinions of others’ posts, and I may have gotten some wrong. If I did, I’m sorry. I really think you mean how I interpret what you and others have to say.

The problem here is that you’re apologizing to the right people about the wrong thing.  You see, Will, everyone who read your blog deserves an apology on that point of contention.  What Greg, Oedipus and Ophilia et al. deserve an apology for is how you had your circle-jerk gang up on them, make false accusations toward them, edit comments by them, and ban or withhold their objections.  That is why you are here right now.  Sock puppets aside, you made a ton more mistakes.  If you want to stand by them…then so be it.  Just don’t expect too much sympathy for your plight.

And lastly, congratulations. If you were aiming to shut up and silence an individual trying to express his opinion by digging deep for personal information and not caring what collateral damage you leave along the way in the form of incorrect allegations, you’ve succeeded. You’ve flushed me out, and now this “traitor” will go back to keeping his voice quiet and unexpressed, hidden from sight, right where you want it. I hope you give yourself a pat on the back. You’ve not only silenced me, you’ve effectively silenced anyone else who wants  to voice their opinion anonymously in the future, because now they know you’ll mount a campaign to try and find out who they are, where they live, and shut them up based on fear that you’ll disseminate this information and try to expose them, all because their opinions don’t match with what you’d like to hear. Job well done.

Fuck you, Will.

No one is calling you out because your opinions don’t match theirs.  They call you out because you deceived them, attacked them, misrepresented them, and silenced their opposition.  They silenced you because you used their comments when they suited you and your agenda, and edited or withheld them when they did not.  That is a very shitty thing to do, and for that you should be sorry.  Lots of people disagree with Greg, or Ophilia.  I do from time to time.  No one is trying to silence dissenting opinions.  What you did was wrong: you didn’t play by the rules, and they were right to seek your disqualification.

Total Blame admitted to in Paragraph 4:  O.K.  maybe 10% more.

So I am left with the impression that you think you are about 20% responsible for this whole thing, and everyone else owes you an apology for ruining a great thing you had going.

You know what Will:

Fuck you.

Fuck you hard.

That said, I will echo to some degree what your other commenters posted in your final post.  The premise of your site was good.  It is a voice that is welcome on the internet, save some of the ad hominim nonsense you got involved in.  I made a comment over at Camels with Hammers on a post about you:

General sanity does not excuse casual fatuity.

The inverse is true as well.  Just because you did some underhanded things does not make all your ideas wrong.  Some of what you had to say was thought provoking and, yes, even helpful.   Your good points, however, do not excuse you from being a bully, a liar, or an asshole.  You do not have the right to make this whole issue about a “witch hunt”, about people silencing your “profound and controversial ideas”.

In what is perhaps the greatest irony of this whole clusterfuck you got yourself into Will is that Oedipus, that guy who did most of the legwork to out you for the fake you are, had a post that speaks to exactly the predicament you find yourself in now posted on his blog directly after his post about you, a week before all this “happened” to you.

You should read it.

It’s a post, you must agree, that is definitely Helping.


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8 Responses to “Hey “William”- You’re Definately Not Helping”

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I agree with what you say. It may be a mental just too much for most people to go from months of perception to a clean admission and a full apology. I agree that he failed to pull that off, but at least it’s over. I was a little bit afraid that he’d try to lie more to cover it. That was his first reaction. Clearly he slept on it, realized that it was too hard to obfuscate and then came out, not without encoding his own fears and sense of persecution to overshadow an insight what really had happened the last few months.

It’s not like he started sock puppeting later on. They have been reinforcing his blog from the very beginning, deliberate and prolonged intentional deception is the charge proven guilty here. And the apology does not fully match the crime.

See noone wants to shut honest, yet difficult opinions up, at least noone honest. His blog was welcome in the beginning exactly because people embrace honest dissent.

He was not an honest dissenter, yet his coming out still has to take swipes at people who would have given him the benefit of the doubt if he just argued honestly.

It is very important to learn to see ones own blinders. That guy still has big ones on.

He truly does not understand how he smeared people? Well there still is a big lesson to be learned there.

Anybody if put under a microscope and microanalysed looking for negatives, factual or perceived, will have something found. If someone posts a number of posts a day, and the focus is just a few people, it is bound to find stuff and that is simply the hyperviginance and the desire to see negative.

That is what YNH ultimately was about. Occasional he had a valid point and he tried to depict the positive, yet even that smells like feigned reasonableness in retrospect.

I hope people will learn that while one can be more easily deceptive on the intra-webs, it really really is not a good idea.

I’m glad someone agrees. I felt like perhaps my post was too strongly worded at first, but I also felt that the tone helped to get the point across. Some of the anger I have is amplified by the fact that I did like some of the content on the site and feel more angry because I had some vested interest in the site. If this had have been a nut-job rambling tirade poster I would have sat back and happily toasted marshmallows over the flames of his crash-and-burn.
What I also forgot to mention was Williams final post seems so divorced from his obsession with tone and responsibility that he proselytised about in his other posts. I suppose it’s quite a bit easier to critisize when you’re not in the tagline.
To expand a bit on my post, I feel like he did more to marginalize himself in those words than anything Greg, or oedipus, or Ophilia ever did. A penitant confession would have possibly allowed him to claim a small moral victory and move forward with a clean slate. By travelling down the road of conspiracies William has left a bad taste in the mouths of his readers and betrayed the “common sense” premise of his blog.

I stand by my claim that he owes a greater apology to the people he attacked on his blog. Editing comments and withholding rebuttals is, by my estimation, an equal or greater abuse than mere sock puppetry. Couple that with making baseless accusations at dissenters and I think more apologies are due.
Thanks for commenting Hitch, I seem to get lots of views and very few comments; I really appreciate a two way discussion.

Bravo, Hitch. Spectacular analysis.

[…] George has the full final blog post of You’re Not Helping which was posted by ”William”, the alleged real identity […]

[…] saga, up to the last post in which the big confession was made, which is not there in the archive but instead can be found (with incisive commentary) at George’s blog.  (and as you read, remember Patricia, Brandon and Polly O! are all the same person as the one […]

Hey George! I linked to your post, so my thoughts are there. But I just wanted to quickly give you the heads up that your link back to CWH includes “wordpress” in it and so it is sending readers to the old site and not the new one. If you can update the link, it will work better. And then kindly delete this administrative comment so it does not interrupt fruitful discussion!


Will do Dan. Sorry for the mix up, I keep lots of your posts bookmarked, so old addresses will happen!

[…] popular, as well as contributing to many new pageviews long after the posts were published.   The You’re Not Helping debacle got me the busiest single day of traffic ever to my blog, and still gets regular hits.  My […]

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