The Secret Codex Of The Spoiler Boards
Part X - The Gator Strikes Back
The war was contained but far from over.
We were rid of the Angels and Demons but their droppings still set off the occasional stink bomb. The Ellipsiiis matter was not so easily corralled. It still leaked onto the Spoiler board but it was rare. Most of it was now kept safely on Off Topic. Most of the posters in that forum were having a good time with it and frankly I no longer cared.
I had spent the previous four weeks walking a razor’s edge. Now that the end was in sight, I was tired and a little frayed. I literally started counting the days until the final show. This thing that I had once enjoyed so much had become my Sisyphus stone. I would start rolling it up each week only to see it roll back down on Thursday. Every Monday, I would begin the long trek up the hill again.
We were only three days from the final show and the discussion of an inside source at Ellipsiiis still raged.
Most of the talk was by what had become the off topic crew. It was sometimes serious, sometimes silly and for the most part, harmless. Anyone, however, could tell we were walking on a bed of barely cool coals and all it would take was one shot of gasoline.
Many of the old time posters were showing up with more frequency now that the discussion centered on Ellipsiiis. Like long lost actors of a forgotten passion play, they wandered back to EZ and let loose on each other. Some were known Ellipsiiis members; some were known Gator board members. Whenever members of both groups showed up at the same time, it tended to get wicked.
I made a personal decision. The only way I could keep walking this tightrope was to tell both sides to get lost. As long as the regular citizens of EZ wanted to discuss this whole Ellipsiiis mess, that would be fine, but the minute the two sides of the rivalrly showed up, they would be asked to leave. It was a very volatile time and I was wound tight. So tight that I even told someone I considered a friend to get the hell off the board. I don’t think he ever forgave me.
It’s hard to piece together a record of this era because of events that ensued.
On April 30, Gatormeatisyummy returned to EZ.
He reported that Dark Rivers had joined his board. Dark Rivers was the screen name that had been bandied about for some time as being the infamous Ellipsiiis source. Gator posted that the source was in fact not Dark Rivers himself but he did receive information second, possibly even third hand. This information also did not have a perfect track record.
So there it was. The cat was out of the bag and I had one overwhelming emotion. Relief. Despite what many have said, it was not relief because I no longer had to protect Ellipsiiis secret. I never tried to protect anything. I never deleted threads that threatened to expose it. To be frank, none ever came close. The only thing I ever did was get rid of threads that shifted the focus away from spoiling and into the murky waters of the board war. Once Off Topic was let loose, I even stopped doing that. I felt relieved because now finally, the incredible spew of vitriol might cease.
Personally, I was pretty frustrated. I felt that I bent over backwards to do just the opposite of what many accused. Even when an off topic thread was started that began theorizing about some ridiculous connection between Ellipsiiis and the Stacey Stillman lawsuit I did nothing. I watched that sucker like a hawk and just as I would have done with any thread, I would have deleted anything revealing personal information, but I still left it open. When, one of the most vicious threads on off topic was moved by Beefjerky to the Rathaus, I moved it back. Beefjerky had no dog in this fight. He was not a member of Ellipsiiis and could have just left it there to brew. It was one of the noblest acts I had seen on EZ since we were being brutally pounded. I thanked him but I knew that killing these threads would only create more rumor and innuendo. The one hope we had was once the show was over, it would fade gently away.
The very next day, Dark Rivers did more than come into the open. He gave his personal spoiler to the entire board community. That afternoon, DeepKangaroo with permission posted Dark Rivers prediction for the finale in the spoilers forum. It promptly sank like a rock.
It was the height of hilarity. All this thrashing about and now that the man had come out in the open no one cared. Pheenix11 screamed that it was a setup. Some of the gay members of the board debated the reference of the “Gay Community Grapevine”. For the most part, this little thread that was indeed the culmination of so much speculation spent each day harmlessly floating down the front page of the spoilers forum, constantly buried under a flurry of airport sightings, flight attendant testimonials and other bad craziness. It would eventually land on the second page and would then be bumped back up to the top.
Everyone was bumping this thread. Desperately trying to keep it at the forefront. Gator people bumped it. Conspiracy people bumped it. Anti – EBT people bumped it. It was like one of those free speech lawsuits where the ACLU and the John Birch Society end of up the same side. If you go back and read this thread now, you will see that there are nearly as many bump posts and regular posts.
May 3. The final show day. EZ was active early on that glorious day. Just as the sun’s rays peaked over the lands, EZ woke as only it could; completely cynical. Jealousy was not limited to the rival boards in those days. From the early days, Sucks always had a bit of a Jan Brady complex. Spoilers! Spoilers! Spoilers! Now, the moderators were letting another monster thread grow in spoilers and were taking no action. CBT was indeed huge. By that morning it had grown to over two thousand posts. It had also become a very chatty thread. Sure, they still spoiled, but most posts now were of the “good morning, jesus am I hungover” or “Good evening, who’s got the margaritas” flavor.
Poignant Discussion was the classic Sucks poster. He could slice you so deftly with wit and cynicism that you didn’t feel the pain until you were shredded. He set out to prove that favoritism was shown to the CBT by starting his own version of a chat thread. A Sucks version. With Sucks attitude. While the ladies of CBT were drinking margaritas and bloody marys, the men of CBV (Certain Bohemian Vigilantes) drank tea and ate scones. It was an utterly brilliant parody. Of course, I think it was much funnier when Swarthy Butcher named it Contracting Ball Virus. Fit the early theme much better.
I didn’t really follow this grandson of burn baby burn. I was busy elsewhere. I heard of spats between CBT and CBV and lockdowns and warnings by admins but I had my own hostilities to deal with and left those monsters to the other knights of the board.
Down in Off Topic, the kettle was boiling again. USA Today had come out with another article regarding Survivor and Ellipsiiis was mentioned again. Although there was no direct quote denying a source, the reporter wrote that EBT denied the existence of a source. Was it a misquote? Was it taken out of context? When is a source a source? Whatever it was, it set Gator off once again. Here was Dark Rivers very spoiler sitting on this board, yet once again there was story in the press denying the existence of a source. Of course it was all semantics. But then again, isn’t that what starts most battles? And most crusades?
Gator had already framed his thoughts on the source semantics debate in previous posts where he compared it to Bill Clinton’s questioning of what the word “is” means. Now he had his opening. He began pounding the board. He was brutal towards Ellipsiiis and it’s members. During that final day, I watched and did nothing. The Ellipsiiis members who in previous times would have flocked to the defense of their community were quiet. I wasn’t stepping into the fight. There was nothing that could be said. Nothing would change his mind.
As I always did, I left the board in the early evening before the start of the show. I honestly don’t know what happened that night. I have visions of partying, rioting, threads being turned over and bursting into flames. One of the nameless ones put it best with a simple post in the Rathaus, “madhouse tonite!”
Raging soon turned to serenity. Quiet. That’s how it started on the first day post-S2 on EZ. Many had predicted that the board would become a ghost town once the show was over. It looked like they might be right.
It was over. The show was over. Now, maybe the silliness would recede as well. Dark Rivers had been correct. So had the EBT. The final three had gone down exactly as they had both said.
There were a few congratulatory posts. There were quite a few posts thumbing their nose or worse. There was one poster who refused to let it go.
The ongoing board war had raged through the ether but due to the diligence of all the moderators had only grazed EZ even in these final days. Despite what anyone thinks about what happened on EZ, it had always been worse elsewhere.
I guess to be fair, I should admit that Gator and I don’t like each other very much. I spent an entire month going through a rollercoaster of emotions with this particular poster. We went from the highs of where he had offered to assist EBT during a time that board had server problems, to the low where he openly questioned my integrity.
I was spent. I was mentally exhausted. I was sick of it. I was sick of the board war. I was sick of Gator’s antics. Mostly, though, I was sick of standing on the sidelines. In the early days, as he viciously trashed people I considered friends, I stood by and watched. I stepped in when it got too brutal but I continued to dance the tightrope. I couldn’t take it any more.
With Gator’s latest attack, I snapped. I came at him with both barrels blazing. I flamed as hard as I could. I flamed harder and with more cruelty than I had in my early days. Gator flamed right back.
It had not gone unnoticed that Gator was also a moderator. He had been since the early days.
When EZ was young, the Faceless One had made familiar posters moderators. He really had no choice. He probably didn’t know if these people would be good moderators, but at least he knew them. Gator had been one of the first moderators. I came along much later.
Gator had only used his powers of moderation once; during the Temp Gator Board time. Despite having these powers, he never came in the Rathaus, never communicated with any of the other moderators, never did anything to help calm the turbulent waters.
Now, EZ had something it had never seen; an administrator and a moderator going at each other in full view of the posting public. I didn’t care. The Faceless One could have stripped me of my powers right then and I might have thanked him. Part of me expected to be banned again. It might have been appropriate. My cup was full and it was running all over.
In the previous few days, the posts regarding EBT had started taking a particularly twisted turn. It was getting very personal. The posts of certain people had turned very dark. There were still plenty of reasonable debates and a lot of silly conspiracies, but there was also an element that was taking the flavor of a witchhunt. Rumors of a spreadsheet filled with personal information about EBT members. Lists of names posted on other boards.
So, I fought back. For the first time, in the whole thing I spoke for myself instead of for EZ.
I wasn’t the only one getting sick of it. One of Gator’s posts asked the members of EZ to start a letter writing campaign to the national press in order to expose the EBT. At that point, one of the other admins suggested we strip Gator of his moderator status. We had always tried to contain anyone that tried to use EZ as a recruiting ground for some damned personal crusade. Now, of all things, we had someone with a moderator title doing just that.
Still we didn’t strip him. After a few days, exactly what we hoped would happen did. Eventually, I vented my spleen and shut the hell up. Gator did the same. The reptile fired a few parting shots and then returned to his own land.
Two weeks after Appomatox, in the spring of 1865, the great American Civil War claimed it’s last casualty. A young lieutenant in the Army of the Potomac was slain by a bullet from one of his own comrades. History is littered with stories of soldiers falling long after the great guns have been silenced.
I felt like I was on vacation. Everything was peaceful. I no longer had to watch for explosions on a daily basis. I even had time to start having fun in foreign lands. It was like I was on holiday in Europe.
On May 10th, I checked in on EZ. It had been over a week since the final raucous battle. On off topic, I noticed that several key Ellipsiiis related threads were gone. They hadn’t been very active and it had always been my hope that they would eventually fall off the edge of the board. It would finally close that chapter. It was not possible that this had happened this quickly. The threads had simply vanished.
I had my suspicions as to what happened but I wanted to be sure. I posted in the Rathaus asking if anyone had deleted them. Someone may have just felt it was time to clean house. No one knew anything about it. Then I went to the logs. I soon had my answer. Gatormeatisyummy.
I was furious. He had never done anything to help us. He had never once assisted with the problems of EZ. Now, for only the second time, he had used his power and he did it for his own purposes.
I knew what would happen. The same thing that happened every time an EBT thread was deleted. The one thing we had so stringently avoided for so many weeks. Ellipsiiis was blamed. It was the conspiracy again. Now that the show was over Ellipsiiis was removing the evidence. As known Ellipsiiis members, of course, some laid the blame directly at the feet of Owen and myself. After all. Ellipsiiis did control the board didn’t they?
Enough was enough. I stripped Gator of his moderator status. I didn’t do it because I didn’t like him. I didn’t do it because he was a troublemaker. That could have been done when the other admin had suggested it the previous week. I did it because he touched the third rail. He had used his powers as a moderator for his own personal reasons instead of the good of the board.
I also emailed him. I told him that either he post on EZ explaining that he had done the deed and apologize to the posters of EZ or I would post my version and it would not be kind.
Gator did show. Apologize he did not. He was very succint in telling everyone that he had deleted the threads because they were all either started by him or pertained to him and therefore he had the right to delete them. Of course if he had ever taken the opportunity to talk to any other moderator he would have known that he could have deleted his individual posts without deleting entire threads. He hadn’t. Now, they were gone forever.
Some residents of EZ were not very happy with this answer. There were scathing responses. Even crochungry who had been quite anti-EBT pointed out that “if you guys don't want the EZ board to know what's going on stop staging your fights in front of an audience. And don't think that after the fact no one will notice when you have second thoughts and try and remove the debris.” It was a damned good point.
Gator stated that he owed no one an apology and departed EZ for a final time.
The final shot had been fired. The board war was over
As with any war, there was enough good and enough evil on both sides to keep anyone from being overly proud. The field was bloody. There were injuries that many months later would still ache. Friendships were formed. Friendships were lost. Hurts, so deep, they might never heal.
The war was indeed over, but nobody won.
Continue reading in Epilogue