That whole 'MaskedAvenger' Gallof - From the Rink thing

[updated 1-17: Not to continue this little thing, but since I updated it once, I suppose I should update it one last time: I have since received a private message from B.D. While that exchange was private, it's safe to say that he clarified that the deleted compliments (referenced below) of his columns on Botta's blog were not from him (but the inference is that he knew at the time who they were from and, I assume, had them deleted after this episode because they look so bad in that context) [Final update 1-29 (no, seriously!): Forget the privacy bit - he has told his readers all that and more in a comment at his blog].

Whether one believes that -- I do -- I would suggest that this is precisely why anonymous/multiple identity stunts that disparage are poor form and fraught with unseen consequences -- even on those darn anarchic Interwebs that all the young kids are talking about these days. Full information and agenda disclosure is generally best. But as I said before, he likely has his experimental reasons (think: Tony Clifton), and we just disagree on whether this was the appropriate way to execute them and respond to them.

I would be thrilled to not think about this again. [end 1-17 update]

[updated 1-16, with more strangeness in screenshots]


Since my name came up in comments for the whole "MaskedAvenger"/B.D. Gallof thing at James Mirtle's "From the Rink," and since I blog about the Islanders (as does Gallof), and since I blog on the SBN platform (as does Mirtle), I thought it convenient and theoretically appropriate to just address the topic here, get it out of the way in a FanPost, so that any potential queries to me go here and not in a main thread or on another site.

This post may be overkill (yes!) and much ado about nothing (yes! yes!), and it will have blown over with Internet-like haste by morning (yes! yes! yes!), but I felt if I were going to be asked questions about it, I might as well address them here. Unfortunately, I'm not into the whole brevity thing, so you'll need to pour another cup of coffee to have half a chance of reading through this.

Before you go any further, know that my underlying purpose for this site (i.e. Lighthouse Hockey, not this post specifically) is: 1) I love hockey; 2) I love the Islanders; 3) I love to talk hockey, especially Islanders (and Blues, glutton that I be), as well as join in collegial wiseacre tomfoolery; 4) I came to SBN because its user platform and moderator controls seemed perfect for reasons 1 through 3 above -- without the politics and trolling that often ruin Internet forums. That's it.

So I'm not trying to bring more attention to this unhappy stuff or pile on B.D. -- heck, there is already plenty of attention in higher-profile platforms than this. I'm just addressing it here, once, in this corner of cyberspace. Please know that James Mirtle said he talked to B.D., received an apology, and consideres it over. So there. But, if you're asking:

Questions You Might Have:

You blog about the Islanders -- did you know who the "Avenger" was?


Do you read B.D. Gallof?

Yes. Regardless of warranted concerns about the "anonymous" host for his site (and I wonder if guilt-by-association is what he had in mind with this), Gallof has done a lot of great work covering the Islanders, a team he clearly loves. If you have religious opposition to his host, it is easily previewed through RSS (without the autoplay sound ads that discourage going directly to the site).

From what I've read of his, which isn't everything but is a lot, I'd never guess who hosted his site if I hadn't seen the domain name or known about that whole anonymous buzz deal and related shenanigans. I sometimes link to Gallof's pieces. And former Isles VP of PR Chris Botta -- who is revered by Isles fans for his straight talk since leaving the team less than a year ago -- trusts Gallof to pinch hit on his site when Botta isn't pissing off the club.

[Update: Speaking of that role, as I mulled this over more, wondering where else an "Avenger" had appeared in Islanders lore, I found that a user calling himself "The Masked Avenger" also posted comments on Botta's site -- to compliment the guest posts that Gallof wrote. WTF?

Worse? Much like the "Masked Avenger's" blog, those comments have now magically disappeared (comment 13 is now comment 12, etc.) from Botta's site, although they still can be found via Google cache, as captured in the screen shots at top and these two here (12) and here (4):



Maybe that's a prank or inside joke among one crowd, and it would phase no one who is "in on the joke." (But if so, why delete them?) Regardless, I've no desire to turn this into an investigative hunt over bloggy shenanigans. I'm just posting them because I stumbled upon them, realized they'd been deleted -- and to me, trying to make what one said or wrote "disappear" is reason for suspicion. But whatever the reasons, just let me just state this: Creating a different online identity to compliment yourself is, categorically, lame. [End 1-16 update. See "Update 1-17" at top for one more edit. The original Q&A continues now...]

Do you know Gallof?

Not really. We only recently exchanged mutual appreciation for one another's writing about a hockey club that we each love yet which, frankly, can sometimes be taxing to cover. Limited exposure, but never heard someone who knows him rip him.

But aren't you in the Islanders BlogBox with Gallof?

No. I'm near St. Louis -- which you can guess by clicking on my SBN profile here, which conveniently gives you a sense of what I'm truly about. So I can't exactly get to games to do the BlogBox experience. (On that note, even though it would shorten my "drive" to games, NO, I do not want the Islanders in Kansas City beyond the occasional preseason bone thrown to their only self-identified Midwestern fan.)

In my season and a half writing about the team publicly, I've gotten to "virtually" know some of the BlogBox bloggers: They are a great crew with a palpable sense of camaraderie and a critical eye -- including B.D., who doesn't hold back when assessing the club.

Have you talked with him about this event?

No. Like I said, we've recently exchanged appreciation for each other's Islanders coverage, but circumstance hasn't fed more than that. So I don't intend to ask him about this issue, which beyond getting this pre-emptive Q&A out, doesn't really concern me (yet tangentially does).

Why did he go to From the Rink with this?

No idea. Access? Exposure? Picked out of a hat? Grudge? Because there was something inherently disingenuous about it and he didn't want to do that on the buzz platform? Don't know. Ask him.

But you "work" for Mirtle, right? You're just supporting your overlord?

No. He oversees SBN's hockey blogs -- each of which has wonderful freedom to set its own tone -- so I bet he could even have me booted from this position if he really wanted. But I technically agreed to blog on SBN before Mirtle officially came on board to steer SBN's hockey growth, so he sort of "inherited" me like a red-headed stepchild (It is also conceivable, somehow, that the Islanders are not the top priority for any budding league coverage). This is strictly an obsessive hobby for me, I assure you.

Alright, Mr. Detached, you're being typically diplomatic: What do you really think of this whole "Masked Avenger" deal?

Honestly? Before knowing the identity of the source, when I read the "Avenger" posts as they appeared on From the Rink, I was just irritated. Not irritated as a "blogger," but as someone who appreciates the way SBN tools allow you to cut through the typical Internet crap and just have a mildly informed conversation, or else a mutually agreed-upon laugh. It didn't make sense; it seemed a silly stunt -- one that would end quickly -- for someone who wanted to start their own blog.

But I also thought it naiive that someone who started a blog less than a week ago was brazenly using Mirtle's site (and by extension, his long-built credibility) to pimp what sounded to me like rambling, obscenity-sprinkled tripe (obscenities are not strictly forbidden, but context is everything). My first reaction was that English might actually be the "Avenger's" second language; he had real opinions, they just came together strangely.

Upon reflection and hindsight, I suspect this impression was the result of Gallof trying to disguise or alter his normally distinctively flowing writing voice, for whatever experiment or agenda he was trying to execute. I'm reminded of Hannibal Lecter: "Clarice, doesn't this random scattering of sites seem desperately random - like the elaborations of a bad liar?" [Pardon the rare chance to reference "Silence of the Lambs"] That's how the language sounded -- a desperately random mix of sense and nonsense. It didn't see seem right; I didn't think whoever it was would ignore the warning that was sure to come. But he did ignore it, he was outed, and this deceptive identity banned.

Upon learning the identity after watching the Isles-Bruins game -- I actually learned of this incident just hours after I emailed Gallof and a couple other BlogBoxers about a completely unrelated Isles news tip I'd heard -- my first thought was disbelief. "Someone's spoofing Gallof," I thought. It just didn't add up. I even double-checked the email address I had to see if it matched what was on Mirtle's screenshot. Turns out no, it was him. He admitted so on his site. He said he had his reasons and some regret, and knew now to accept what damage may come. I haven't asked him why and don't intend to -- and let's be honest: after someone is "outed" with such irrefutable clarity, their reasons may retroactively change. That's human. The uncertainty is in how it would've played out if not "caught."

Truthfully, his first explanation about testing blogosphere lines and traction and such didn't sit well with me (though part of me is a sucker for an informed rogue spirit, and B.D.'s writing has always shown a clear appreciation for Hunter S. Thompson). But time is rushed in the Internet world. He may have been compelled to get a quick explanation out there. I really don't know, and don't much care. It was a mistake, not well thought out, he fessed up. Contact him or read him if you want more explanation.

But why did Mirtle have to call him out publicly?

Frankly, that position is crap. "It's just the Internet," yeah yeah, sorry. I forgot: no rules! Well the Internet has evolved. There are places for anonymous anarchy, there are places for formality, and there are places for controlled anarchy restrained by a degree of non-anonymity. Anonymity for privacy's sake is one thing; anonymity for any other raises question of true motives. What's the rule of registered Internet forums? Get the lay of the land first, then post. Unless you're seven, you can figure that out. But this wasn't even that -- an innocent, immature faux pas? No, this was something more planned.

So I don't have a single problem with how James Mirtle handled this. I've seen a couple comments saying it was unfair. Unfair? If someone used my site, which I put countless hours into building, for their own ultimately deceptive purposes and in ways that trash others, in my book you're damned right that impostor loses the right to anonymity. (Remember, it wasn't just your average media targets who were slammed here, and in Gallof's first comment on the issue he said he didn't personally stand behind some of the "Avenger's" personal attacks.) On top of that, though, [laughs] it's a great chance to warn off others who might be thinking of trolling Mirtle's site -- for experimental, flaming or other disruptive purposes: This incident tells visitors that really, people here don't want to see it, and the moderation software allows it to be eradicated quickly. So just buzz off elsewhere.

So where do you stand on Blogger Political Controversy _____ yada?

I don't follow the various blogger v. blogger or blogger v. media controversies, because they don't much interest me. I'd rather talk hockey, or roll in laughter, or else step away from the keyboard and go hiking in the woods. I write here because I'm into hockey; I do not see this as a proxy route to another career. Already got one of those.

So what's your point? The heck are you on about, mate? Seriously, what's with the endless drivel?

Like I said, I wanted to direct any questions or conversation on this issue here rather than in the main Islanders thread. And maybe get my "humanist blogger" feelings off my chest, because while razzing is fun, I do not follow sports to shout or be shouted at. Want to rip me? Fine. Want to vent on this event? Fine. Just do it in the comments on this FanPost (Ohhh hahaha, as if you're really going to make it to the end of this post!).

Cue SBN Commercial in 3 ... 2 ... 1...

Ultimately, I am here not to hear myself rant or opine. I'm here because I like to see halfway clued-in fans opine and entertain. There are plenty of opposing team fans who want to discuss hockey here; there are no opposing team trolls, because they simply can't be here long. Ever see some of the folks disagree with each other at Pension Plan Puppets? It's hilarious. Like a good family squabble, but everybody respects that opinions vary. And if they want to talk about creepy things, they can do that, too, through their own subthread. That's cool.

Some of this probably repeats my introductory post, but I joined SBN because I saw how its forums are ideal for the kind of fan interaction that I appreciate, with tools I've seen nowhere else: tools that build community through both analytical thought and ridiculous humor, and discourage the typical Internet fare that's fueled by the false courage of anonymity.

On, SBN sites you can reply to specific individual comments (rather than refer to something "comment #42, three scrolls up"). You can easily upload videos/photos and write Grand Manifestos here and get feedback from others. You can invite people into game threads where new comments can fly at a ridiculous speed without you having to click "refresh." And of course, on SBN, you can *see* who is behind each comment; what other comments they've made; the sites they've joined; where their own site/blog is. Self-regulation: users can flag trolls' comments and administrators can see whether they're just trolling; you can quickly see a personal dashboard that shows which of your comments have received replies and which of your favorite sites have updates.

While that sounds like a commercial for SBN, I honestly just wanted a public place like that for Islanders fans, too. 'Cause Leafs fans are great, but I just don't love the Leafs that way.

[cues sappy music ... Alyssa Milano narrating would be cool, but if not, no biggy]

I don't view this as my site; I view it as Islanders fans' site. If you're not an Islanders fan and have the stereotypical impression of a sad-sack fanbase, you'd be surprised at how many different forums we have. I just wanted to add one more, with user tools like these. And now that I finish this meandering missive, that's probably why I was irritated to find those tools abused at From the Rink for some other purpose, by a surprising source.

So drop the puck already, right? There's more hockey to be played.

<em>Submitted FanPosts do not necessarily reflect the views of this blog or SB Nation. If you're reading this statement, you pass the fine print legalese test. Four stars for you.</em>