“Shunned” at PhotoNut

Did you ever come across someone who in their world had “absolute power”?  Could be a 3rd grade classroom, playground swing, an airport, or even a parking lot.  No matter the venue, be it large or small, grand or insignificant, it’s amazing how some folks, when entrusted with any amount of responsibility, take on the mantel of papal authority, with the expectation that all will offer due and unwavering homage, or suffer the consequences.

Playground bullies are expert in this, but it’s amazing when grown adults sink to this level of interaction.

I remember when my 4 year old was called out by a security person before boarding a plane, so her belongings adorned with Disney characters could be searched.  Naturally, any parental protestation would mean missing a flight, or worse, time in prison.  So we shut up and went along.  The personnel were fine, but the policy was plain and moronically ridiculous.

Two years ago, as I was attempting a sprint to the ER, I was stopped and screamed at by an administrator overseeing a hospital parking lot because a permit (that I am almost permanently able to carry) was a little out of date.  Fortunately I was able to fix the situation with a Sharpie, but that’s not the point!

Yesterday, I posted a thread on a site called PhotoNet, advising people about a product that the manufacturer was kind enough to inform me was, almost as often as not, systematically defective.  This is a site I’ve paid membership dues on for a few years…

Almost immediately, a forum administrator expressed concern that this new thread should really have been continued on an older thread I had authored, not started as a new item.

Alright then.  Do you see how serious this is?  I’ll bet you do.

So, in a follow up post (now suddenly deleted, but thank heaven for printers), I asked this most vigilant gentleman to please delete this new thread if it was somehow deemed a problem.  This did not happen.

Then, I went off to attend a most tragic funeral.

Later on in the day, I was greeted with an email to my home from this same moderator, essentially asking why I wasn’t following procedure, to which I responded,  “As I indicated in my post, I’ll go along with whatever you think works best.” 

Truth be told, I really didn’t care.  

Meanwhile, others posted to this new thread, expressing their gratitude for where it was placed, and rather thankful for the new information on what is a fairly popular, expensive, yet apparently faulty product.

Maybe this was the problem, because still later in the day I get another email from the same individual that begins, “I thought I had already told you once not to start any more threads on the same topic.”

Did you now?  What is this world coming to?  Have I misused the forum?  Have I missposted valuable information making it more visible to casual passersby?  Mama Mia Mea Culpa!

Am I a transgressor of the sanctimonious statutes?  Well, heck, my feeling is let’s then just do it right!  As it happens, I have a policy of not tolerating petty insolence.  So, let’s just let people on the forum know about these rude emails, and what happens to those who transgress (lest they run afoul of the law), and let’s directly respond to this individual and implore them to cease and desist by saying, “Do not email me again on this topic.”

Didn’t work. 

I got another email, from the same guy, revisiting this most inconsequential issue, not to mention a new one from “Lex Luther” saying he was recommending my 30-day suspension, including a threat that if I “persist in making public these grievances I will recommend that you be banned from further participation on photo.net”!

Well, I doth persist. 

This is the first time in my life I’ve ever been suspended for anything (even including the time I knocked out my 4th grade catechism teacher with a bean-bag!).  I gotta admit, for comic relief alone, it’s worth its weight in gold.  I feel like an NBA star or something.

At the very least, it’s a funny diversion from more critical issues, not to mention fodder for blogs.  

Still, there is a lingering lesson to be learned, for me and perhaps for others.

Rules and policies, are great.  Yet because they are printed in black and white, they tend to demand our attention. 

But the spirit of our endeavors, while the lifeblood of our pursuits, is more ethereal and easily passed over.  Especially by those whose job it is to enforce the code.

When this happens, activities that are supposed to be fun turn out to be a pretty sad joke.

Oh well.  Live and learn.


9 Responses to “Shunned” at PhotoNut

  1. Lil Judd says:


    I am sorry for this. I hope you will be allowed back. In my opinion you handled this correctly. But alas, Shun does rule along with Lex.

    Reality is that most people will not go back to a thread once it’s gone down the page or ended up on the second page. What you did worked for me. But I guess not for Shun.

    I got a letter from Shun for wishing people Golden Light & Willing Subjects in my responses on photo.net.
    I immediately stopped. That was too close to a signature for Shun.

    I hope you will be back soon – or are you gone forever? I really feel that the suspension is overkill for this. Reality is that you made it clear to Shun that he could & should if he felt it was to be so – delete the new thread. He did not. This is not your fault.

    I hope to see you back – but will understand if you don’t want to.


    Lil 🙂

  2. Apurva Madia says:

    Dear Bill, Over these last year I have several times felt thet the PN moderators are behaving in a high handed and un-democratic manner. A member called Vrindavan Leela has been suspended permanently. We don not know the reasons but when I asked the moderators why, I was told its none of my business! Is this a site working from America which champions the cause of free speech and democracy all over the world?

  3. billkeane says:

    Lil, thanks! Your assessment on how threads are navigated is spot on. Posting something of wider interest and pretty fair importance on an older thread just doen’t make sense.

    Funny thing… my early post suggesting the new thread be deleted by the moderator, if deemed necessary, has been removed! I love behind the scenes back-pedaling!

    While I am not sure how long I am suspended for, the initial threat was for 30 days in the cooler! However, I suspect this blog may enable me to attain lifetime status though.

    THANKS for your kind words!

  4. billkeane says:

    Hi Apurva! Yes, I believe the site in question originates in America, champion of free speech.

    Naturally, in my view, vulgarity, hate-speech, racism, or other such extreme agggression should not be tolerated, so moderators do have an important role.

    But members should not have to tolerate nagging emails at home and endure them in silence. I am glad I made the other posters aware of what I was receiving.

    The value of going public was greater than the risk of being banned.

    And, truth be told, I’m enjoying the feeling of being a wild renegade!

    Thanks so much for your comments. Sorry to hear about Vrindavan.

  5. billkeane says:

    BTW, if either of you now gets suspended from PhotoNet, do not remain silent. It takes guts to stand up, and I appreciate you!

  6. Lisa B says:

    I think it is disgraceful that you were criticized instead of thanked for all the extra leg work it sounds like you must have done to find out the complete info on the product. The moderators seem to care more about the “letter of the law,” than the “spirit ” of the laws they expect forum participants to live by… after all, isn’t the point of the forum to help people get the most out of their photographic experiences? I thank you for the research you did and were able to share.

  7. billkeane says:

    Hey! The manufacturer called to say after an inspection, the product in question had all of the core elements replaced, and then completely realigned. Simply a QC problem they are going to correct at the point of manufacture.

    Thanks LISA! The research was beneficial to me, and as a photographer, I hope it helps you as well…

  8. Rob Sordern says:

    Great story! Sort of a tragic comedy, where intrinsic value and core purpose are passed over in favor of petty policy.

  9. billkeane says:


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