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Update on K & S June 11, 2010 4:35 PM   Subscribe

Update on K & S (and the effects of your support).

First off, I spoke with K & S and they prefer being referred to as "devotchki" (girls). This is a personal preference, a diminuitive distinct from any feminist/mysognist horse corpse you might enjoy beating here. From here on out, they will be called "the girls". It's OK, with them.

I'll start with now: the girls have returned to Moscow. They are safe with their boyfriends and families. This is, in my opinion, the most important thing I can share here. This "end" is a direct result of what happened on MetaFilter. It is the best-of-a-mess-of-bad-outcomes. It is the sum of your, mine, and Kathrine's efforts. It is something we can all be proud of, something worth sharing, worth celebrating. Thank you so much. I will never be able to thank you, and that's not overstating things.

Since the last MeTa thread was closed, a lot has happened. I will try to retell it more or less chronologically, in as much detail as I can without further endangering or identifying anyone who has not explicitly given permission.

1. Many people have contributed since the original threads were closed. This help has come in the form of legal representation, quality advice, resume writing, and even just hanging out and having fun. This was not lost on the girls -- they were deeply impressed at this outpouring of support, and that's not even mentioning me, Kathrine, the girls families, and so on. It was, frankly, beyond belief.

2. Kathrine housed them for the duration. They had a nice, cozy room with internet access. They were safe, had as much privacy and supervision as they could handle, and were generally jazzed about NYC. Plenty to eat, drink, and see while searching for suitable jobs and another place to stay. Lots of fun was had, in between bouts of anxiety about jobs, money, and self-support -- making things work as they'd planned.

3. Many, many people asked friends, family, and coworkers for help in finding work. While no offer ended up working out as we'd hoped, this generous gesture, situated against the background of the destitute job market in NYC, was something really amazing. Not everything needs to work out as planned to be worth more than words.

4. Thanks to the generosity of many MeFites, I was able to visit K & S. I spent the weekend at Kathrine's in their guest bunk (I met Kathrine! She is wonderful!). We didn't announce a meetup publicly because we didn't want the press, or worse, to show up there. There was a super-minimal meetup (Kathrine, her husband, myself, the girls, and a NYC native who helped). There would have been more were it not for the holiday weekend, but that's how things go. I can't even tell you how much this time with K & S meant to me. It was so emotional -- both to see them safe, and to feel that the friendship between K and I had only grown stronger, well, it was amazing after a four-year absence. We (K, S, and I) actually spent most of the weekend walking up and down NYC, just as we had in Russia, talking about everything that happened. The intense sense of camaraderie and friendship, multiplied by the re-awakening of my Russian language (I taught K English, and she taught me Russian) was something really special. While S continued to have language problems, by the end of her stay, K had really reached a new level of English-speaking skill. As her former teacher, I felt a bit of pride over that.

Together, we all saw the Atlantic for the first time on Coney Island. We spent a lot of time sitting in the grass on Chelsea Pier, not saying or doing much, rather, soaking up sun and feeling safe and, for a few hours at least, not having much to stress about.

5. As job offers and housing possibilities began to look more and more remote, the girls decided to return to Moscow. Though this decision was painful for all of us, it, in the end, was the right thing to do. They bought plane tickets with some of the donated money (as their other tickets could not be changed) and spent a last few days enjoying what they could of NYC. We talked a lot on the phone, about the future, about what happened, about the Internet. We had some long goodbyes via sms, over the phone, over email.

I'd say at this point they know what MetaFilter is, and understand what happened here as well as any outsider can. They wrote you a letter, and asked me to put it here:

Спасибо большое.
Мы попали в сложную ситуацию, много с чем пришлось столкнуться.. Одни, в чужой стране, без денег и надежды на завтра. Мы уже готовы были сдаться, вернуться назад, чувствовали себя одинокими в Америке..

Да нас было настолько удивительно что люди так быстро откликнулись на просьбу о помощи, что мы сначала даже не поверили что это правда. Было пролито много слёз в те дни, но самые "сильные" из них были слёзы благодарности.

В начале мы не хотели оставаться, а теперь не хотим уезжать.. Как же сильно мы не хотим уезжать!!! Мы любим эту страну, людей, каждую часть вашего мира.

Сейчас наши последние часы в Нью-Йорке.. Завтра мы уже будем далеко за океаном и пусть мы не знаем ваших имен, но вашу помощь и поддержку мы не забудем никогда.
Ещё раз огромное спасибо, берегите себя и будьте счастливы.

К и С


Translation (FYI, they were OK with my translation)

Thank you so much.

We got into a difficult situation, it was a lot to face. Alone, in a foreign country, without money or hope for tomorrow. We felt alone in America, were already ready to surrender and go back.

To us it was so surprising that people so quickly responded to the request for help that at first we just didn't believe it was true. There were a lot of tears then, but the "strongest" of them were tears of gratitude.

At first, we didn't want to stay, but now, we don't want to leave. How we don't want to leave!!! We love this country, people, every part of your world.

Now are our last few hours in New York. Tomorrow, we'll be far across the ocean and although we don't know your names, we will never forget your help and support.

Once again, thank you so much, take care and be happy.

K and S.



That pretty much says it. The remaining detail was money -- all leftover money was donated to Equality Now and another organization that wishes to stay out of the spotlight. Equality Now is an amazing organization and was a guiding hand throughout. I am so glad we could give a little back to them.

It may seem strange to some of you that many organizations (and their people) involved with this want to remain anonymous, or refuse to speak publicly, but as I learned from the girls' lawyer, for many support organizations, they feel very strongly that interfacing with the press and public is not only a poor use of time, and an abuse of privacy, it endangers the trust they must foster between victims and themselves. Many women do not want their situation broadcast anywhere, for good reason. Many people have asked about what the level of actual danger was -- with all evidence I have, even I believe it was high, and required action, and all agencies and organizations "agreed" with me in the way that they immediately got involved and took action (& continue to take action).

While I wish these agencies would report back to me with what they know, unfortunately that's not how they work. Since the only other way to know "for sure" would be for the girls to be harmed, well... no. To the skeptics: keep in mind, too, the kind of trouble I'd be in if I made this up.

As for me, Kathrine, and all involved, again, thank you. Thank you.
posted by fake to MetaFilter-Related at 4:35 PM (257 comments total) 349 users marked this as a favorite

Oh my, my. Thank you so much, fake.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 4:43 PM on June 11, 2010


fake, thanks for posting.

We miss them a lot now that they're gone, the apartment seems very empty with just the two of us.

And, of course, a million thanks to all of you.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 4:45 PM on June 11, 2010 [48 favorites]


Cool beans!
posted by five fresh fish at 4:46 PM on June 11, 2010


Well, that is just wonderful to hear. And for what it's worth, anytime you and I are in the same place, fake, the jack&cokes are on me.
posted by ApathyGirl at 4:46 PM on June 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


thank you. You have wine and cigars waiting, should you cross the pond.
posted by _dario at 4:47 PM on June 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Now are our last few hours in New York. Tomorrow, we'll be far across the ocean and although we don't know your names, we will never forget your help and support.

What? Oh, just something in my eye. Plus I have allergies. Seriously.
posted by scody at 4:51 PM on June 11, 2010 [11 favorites]


Thrilled for all involved. Thanks for the update.
posted by judith at 4:52 PM on June 11, 2010


Thanks so much for letting us know! I'm glad they are safe and that they feel like they have made the best choice for them, and it's awesome that you got to see them.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 4:52 PM on June 11, 2010


Thanks for the update! Glad the girls made it home.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:54 PM on June 11, 2010


Good to hear there was a happy ending.
posted by gaspode at 4:59 PM on June 11, 2010


Wow. That's fantastic, fake.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 5:00 PM on June 11, 2010


Yay! I'm so happy everything ended the way it did.
posted by lilac girl at 5:01 PM on June 11, 2010


Thanks, fake. So glad to hear that K&S were able to enjoy their time here and get home safely.
posted by EvaDestruction at 5:01 PM on June 11, 2010


Thanks for the update, fake.
posted by embrangled at 5:01 PM on June 11, 2010


Well, that is nice indeed. Thank you for posting the update.
posted by SLC Mom at 5:02 PM on June 11, 2010


Thanks. We were just wondering about this yesterday.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:08 PM on June 11, 2010


So happy to learn they are home safe, and that you got to spend some time with them while they were here. I sent a little bit of money to Kathrine for the girls ... I will now send a little bit more to Equality Now, for the next girls.
posted by headnsouth at 5:09 PM on June 11, 2010 [5 favorites]


I really oughta toss another big thanks out here to all my new friends in LA. The support has been tremendous and don't even really know how to deal, frankly.
posted by fake at 5:11 PM on June 11, 2010


Thank you for the update. I'm so pleased to hear of the positive outcomes for all concerned.
posted by jaruwaan at 5:12 PM on June 11, 2010


Thanks for the update! And thank you for bringing Equality Now to our attention- it looks like a wonderful organization.
posted by Mouse Army at 5:14 PM on June 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


now this is how you use metatalk for updates.

thank you for sharing.
posted by nadawi at 5:23 PM on June 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


Thanks for the update fake.
posted by Sailormom at 5:24 PM on June 11, 2010


Awesome. So glad to hear this!
posted by zarq at 5:31 PM on June 11, 2010


Thanks for the update. You're good people. All of you.
posted by bondcliff at 5:32 PM on June 11, 2010


What? Oh, just something in my eye. Plus I have allergies. Seriously.

My allergies didn't kick in until, on rereading the post, I realized the links were to photos. Seeing the real people behind this crazy story just made it all so real. Thanks for the update, fake. I had been wondering about the fate of K and S as well.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:38 PM on June 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Thank you for the update, and I'm so glad to hear that the girls are safe and sound back in Moscow.
posted by spinifex23 at 5:42 PM on June 11, 2010


Yay!! Fried chicken, home-made BBQ and "mama slapping" macaroni and cheese if any of you ever come to Atlanta!! I don't cook (at all) but Mr. Pearlybob ROCKS at the Southern thing!!

And beers, we can do beers. And boat rides.
posted by pearlybob at 5:46 PM on June 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the update. Now I have that warm nice feeling in my belly and allergies in my eyes.
posted by Forktine at 5:58 PM on June 11, 2010


Hurray!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:59 PM on June 11, 2010


socdy: What? Oh, just something in my eye. Plus I have allergies. Seriously.

Something about "although we don't know your names" managed to do me in. I'm so glad they're home.

Please, fake, thank them for the letter.
posted by zennie at 5:59 PM on June 11, 2010


This is just amazing. Thank you for keeping us posted.
posted by something something at 6:01 PM on June 11, 2010


Glad this seems to have turned out well. Best wishes to all of you.
posted by Dumsnill at 6:05 PM on June 11, 2010


YAAAAAAAY! I'm so glad things have concluded well. Hopefully they'll be back in the US again someday soon.
posted by Dandeson Coates, Sec'y at 6:20 PM on June 11, 2010


My account was disabled when the initial thread kicked off a couple of weeks ago, and played no small part in my decision to start commenting again. I'm so glad this worked out well for K, S and yourself. Good on you mate. If you're ever in Edinburgh in the UK, I will buy you a pint.
posted by Happy Dave at 6:20 PM on June 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Thanks so much for this update. I have been thinking of them every day since fake's first post and have been wondering how they are. Since I'm certain there are many MeFites in the same boat, it would be really great if this were side-barred.
posted by marsha56 at 6:21 PM on June 11, 2010


Best DTMFA ever!
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:33 PM on June 11, 2010 [5 favorites]


Thanks for the update and the pictures. If fake or IFDS are ever in my town, your money won't be any good here.
posted by marxchivist at 6:35 PM on June 11, 2010


К и С

That's a great picture!
posted by ericb at 6:37 PM on June 11, 2010


Also, we're going to comp these girls a couple of accounts so they can post LOLcats and ask the Hivemind where to stay next time they come abroad, right?
posted by Happy Dave at 6:41 PM on June 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can this be sidebarred? I don't often check Metatalk, and I would hate to have missed this.

Fake - thanks for posting.
posted by -harlequin- at 6:43 PM on June 11, 2010


Best possible outcome, at every turn. I'm humbled by the awesome generosity of those involved in helping take care of them. So glad.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:45 PM on June 11, 2010




I admit to initially having been mildly suspicious and cynical about the original post, but this is just great and reaffirms what an amazing community this is -- one that I fully enjoy being part of, one that I love, one that infuriates me at times, and most importantly one that always seems to surprise and/or amaze me, and in doing so helps me keep my latent cynicism in check.

Thanks not only to fake, but to all of you reading this.
posted by modernnomad at 6:53 PM on June 11, 2010


Thank you for the update, Fake. I've been wondering.

This is one of those kinds of things that you feel proud to be a minuscule part of, however silly that may be. Katherine, Fake, all the other people, Mefite or not, who helped the girls, thank you. I tend towards bitter and cynical, and stuff like this reminds me of just what being human means.

Yes, sidebar. This was one of those events that creates and shapes community.
posted by QIbHom at 7:04 PM on June 11, 2010


*sigh of happiness

And YAY! What a beautiful update. It's heartening and inspiring that you and Kathrine expressed your concern practically, sensibly, sanely, wisely and with patience. Thank you both so much! Thanks to all whose generosity and kindness contributed to this good.

I can only imagine how relieved their families must be that they did not go down that dark road. I wish K and S the best luck in their futures.
posted by nickyskye at 7:08 PM on June 11, 2010


Hurray! Thank you for the update and the photos, fake.

And an open invitation to you and internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 both/each — if you find yourself in or near Oakland, Pirate-Zombie-Bartender-Monkey and I would love to buy you a beverage of your choice and show you the sights.
posted by Lexica at 7:09 PM on June 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Aw I love happy endings! Cheers, fake!

*cries*
posted by arachnid at 7:12 PM on June 11, 2010


Someone should probably link the original post

Thanks!
posted by crossoverman at 7:13 PM on June 11, 2010


+1
posted by edgeways at 7:15 PM on June 11, 2010


I'M NOT CRYING I HAVE SOMETHING IN MY EYE.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 7:19 PM on June 11, 2010


This is excellent! Thanks so much for the update.

i'm not crying it's just been raining on my face.
posted by bewilderbeast at 7:33 PM on June 11, 2010


Thanks, Fake! This makes me sooo proud to be a mefite, there wasn't anything I was able to do this time, other than worry my rump off, but wow! Even those of us who weren't able to do anything were there thinking and worrying about you. We're still here if you ever need us again. Amazing!
posted by cestmoi15 at 7:41 PM on June 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Great resolution to a dreadful situation. Here's hoping one day nobody needs this kind of rescue.
posted by Space Kitty at 7:47 PM on June 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the great update.
posted by rtha at 7:47 PM on June 11, 2010


Oh, and an update on Katherine's job situation? Is she still looking? Does she want to tell us what she's looking for? I'm in NYC and would love to be able to help, if possible.
posted by cestmoi15 at 7:50 PM on June 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


I havent chimed in, but I remember refreshing the original thread, and I was amazed. To be honest I was skeptical because I havent seen pictures of the girls, but just now I realised this was very real. Good job gang!
posted by wheelieman at 7:53 PM on June 11, 2010


This incident will always be one of those moments in Mefi history that illuminate how good people really can be.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 8:03 PM on June 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Tears of joy here!
posted by k8t at 8:04 PM on June 11, 2010


This is wonderful. Thanks for the update, fake. I got all teary reading that letter from K & S. So great that you got to visit with them.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 8:05 PM on June 11, 2010


Cheers to fake, Katherine, and everyone who helped. If only every person shuffled into illegal work in the US could have a support network like this.
posted by shii at 8:09 PM on June 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


fake, thanks so much for the update. I'm glad the devotchki are home safe and sound, although it also would have been great for them to have stayed and worked in good jobs for a couple of months. Anyway, it's a wonderful blessing that they (and we all) could see and experience the outpouring of tangible concern and care, redeeming a bad situation. I believe many more blessings will follow.
posted by LeslieRCLC at 8:11 PM on June 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


I DON'T HAVE ANYTHING IN MY EYE, I AM TOTALLY CRYING.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:17 PM on June 11, 2010 [29 favorites]


*this is good*
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:23 PM on June 11, 2010


Thanks for the update and the good news! Sometimes there really are no words that are adequately expressive.
posted by wv kay in ga at 8:25 PM on June 11, 2010


Wohoo! <3
posted by Xany at 8:48 PM on June 11, 2010


I can't load the photos! I keep getting 404 errors. Fake, are you getting slammed with visitors and that's maybe why? or are they somewhere else?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:48 PM on June 11, 2010


I can see them, so they seem to be loading fine. Thanks for the update fake, glad things resolved okay.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:51 PM on June 11, 2010


Tomorrow, we'll be far across the ocean and although we don't know your names, we will never forget your help and support.

Wow. This is fantastic.
posted by davey_darling at 8:52 PM on June 11, 2010


We all everybody!
posted by special-k at 9:03 PM on June 11, 2010 [5 favorites]


Wetness in my eyes here too. Big internet hugs to the awesome folks who went above and beyond!

Was neat that I randomly was in the area to witness some of these events (Hi Leslie, Katherine!)

When did they visit the Statue of Liberty? I would almost swear that I saw them posing for that picture. (I was there on the 1st).
posted by khedron at 9:04 PM on June 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is why we can have nice things.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 9:12 PM on June 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


What's the opposite of "."? Because I'm just here to do whatever that is as hard as I can.
posted by rollbiz at 9:23 PM on June 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm glad things turned out well, but just wondering about this:

all leftover money was donated to Equality Now and another organization that wishes to stay out of the spotlight.

It seems very odd to me that an organization that presumably needs money wants to remain anonymous.
posted by amro at 9:35 PM on June 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Thanks for posting this. I'd been wondering. Best wishes to you, K & S, internet fraud detective and everyone else involved.
posted by nangar at 9:45 PM on June 11, 2010


I met Kathrine during this situation; she struck me as a pretty extraordinary person. Kudos to everyone involved here.
posted by lalex at 9:46 PM on June 11, 2010


What's the opposite of "."?

Maybe "!"?

!
posted by setanor at 10:03 PM on June 11, 2010


Good show, everyone.

Who's up for mini golf?
posted by fleacircus at 10:10 PM on June 11, 2010


:D
posted by not_on_display at 10:48 PM on June 11, 2010


Glad it worked out. Thanks for the update. Keep up the good work.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:56 PM on June 11, 2010


Excellent work, people, you've done everything correctly.
posted by Meatbomb at 11:08 PM on June 11, 2010


!
posted by freshwater at 12:16 AM on June 12, 2010


Awesome. Many thanks, fake, for the update - I guess we were all wondering where this went, although it had very quickly become clear that it was going in the right direction, thanks to a stirring outpouring of generosity and solidarity. If you or Katherine or IFDSSN9 ever come through Rome, I would feel privileged to take you out for a meal. Or two.
posted by aqsakal at 12:16 AM on June 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Damn you, fake, you got me all choked up before I'd even finished my first coffee of the morning. Well done to everyone involved.
posted by essexjan at 12:19 AM on June 12, 2010


The smiles on their faces in those photos say everything. Thanks, fake, for being a swell person!

I'm from (roughly) the same part of the world, and I can't imagine how anyone over there will ever believe their truly incredible story. It's really magical, when you think about it.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 1:06 AM on June 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Fantastic. Thanks for the update, fake.
posted by homunculus at 1:21 AM on June 12, 2010


I am so overwhelmed that a bunch of cynical bastards like us can come together and do something very, very *right*. If only to cheer you guys on. I am so pleased that this has a happy ending. *cries* indeed.
posted by the_royal_we at 1:22 AM on June 12, 2010


after all the fightin' and cussin of these last few weeks, seeing that this is also what happens here reminds me eerily of a .....(dare I say it).....family!!

well done fake & Katherine and everyone who helped...magical is right Dee Xtrovert! Thanks so much for the update.
posted by Wilder at 1:33 AM on June 12, 2010


\o/
posted by Jofus at 1:57 AM on June 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


Epic.
posted by XMLicious at 2:00 AM on June 12, 2010


Good job, all.

So, who's for putting together a fund to get the girls back in North America for MeFi 12?

Or at the very least, getting them accounts here?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 2:19 AM on June 12, 2010


This whole story is so fake…
kindness, that warm deluge of unrequited generosity…
just so fake.

Good job, fake.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:27 AM on June 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Benevolent & Protective Order of MeFites strikes again!
Thanks for the update, fake.
posted by Floydd at 3:28 AM on June 12, 2010


!
posted by bardophile at 3:35 AM on June 12, 2010


Such a happy end to a less than happy AskMe, Fake and Kathrine, you two are awesome! Come to England and I'll buy you both a beer!
posted by ellieBOA at 3:51 AM on June 12, 2010


!
Epic. Ginormous. Exceptional. Worthwhile. Heart-filling.
Thanks for the update.
God, a happy ending!
posted by From Bklyn at 5:09 AM on June 12, 2010


Hah! My toenails are still poorly nail-polished!
posted by fuq at 5:12 AM on June 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


That's good to hear, although it's too bad they couldn't have stayed in the U.S.
posted by delmoi at 5:29 AM on June 12, 2010


This is good! And I love the pictures more against the backdrop of the story. They just look like normal vacation snaps, you know?
posted by Pronoiac at 5:58 AM on June 12, 2010


Holy crap, I have been buried with work and missed ALL OF THIS until now. How embarrassing. I saw it in passing but did not realize how intense this situation was! Good job, you guys = just doesn't cover it. (And thanks to those who included links to earlier threads. Now I am behind on my work for today. :) )
posted by theredpen at 6:00 AM on June 12, 2010


Great photos and glad their safe and sound! Although I do agree with delmoi - those couple of fun, drunken, sunny, yank-seducing J1 visa summers spent in the US were huge parts of my and my friends' youth, a real rite of passage. So I hope they can find a legitimate group to come back with next year.
posted by jamesonandwater at 6:17 AM on June 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is just awesome. Glad to hear everything worked out okay.
posted by futureisunwritten at 6:19 AM on June 12, 2010


Do they owe money to anyone in Russia because of this?
posted by empath at 6:20 AM on June 12, 2010


Do they owe money to anyone in Russia because of this?

AFAIK, no.
posted by fake at 6:35 AM on June 12, 2010



I'm glad the devotchki are home safe and sound, although it also would have been great for them to have stayed and worked in good jobs for a couple of months.

Leslie, that's exactly how I feel.
posted by fake at 6:44 AM on June 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


sometimes people are awesome, you know?
posted by The Whelk at 7:04 AM on June 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yay! This made my morning. I am so glad they were able to make the best of their time here, and got home safely.

fake and ifdss9, I don't know why you'd come to Milwaukee, but fish fries for everyone if you do! Also, to all the people and organizations who helped anonymously; I raise a glass in your honor.
posted by desjardins at 7:37 AM on June 12, 2010


I'm glad to hear that all are well.
posted by rmd1023 at 8:10 AM on June 12, 2010


I'm watching Saturday Morning Cartoons with my kids and crying my eyes out. It's okay though, my kids already know I'm nuts.
posted by TooFewShoes at 8:36 AM on June 12, 2010


Thank you (and the girls!) for the update and that great snapshot. Glad they managed to see he sights proper, yeay Statue of Liberty.
posted by dabitch at 8:37 AM on June 12, 2010


So shine a constellation of good deeds in a weary world.
posted by The White Hat at 8:38 AM on June 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Thanks for the update! I've been worried and wondering how it would turn out. I'm sorry they didn't find work, but so happy they are safe and had a good time. You and Katherine, and everyone who helped, did an amazing and wonderful thing.
posted by gofargogo at 9:05 AM on June 12, 2010


Thank you so much for the update! I've been wondering how everything worked. Fake and IFFDSN9, anytime you come to San Francisco, we're gonna show you all a good time!
posted by jasper411 at 9:35 AM on June 12, 2010


This is all great!

But, still need to hear from Ashton Kutcher for closure.
posted by found missing at 9:46 AM on June 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


As one or two dozen other people have said, thanks for the update.

I was approached by Amnesty International yesterday; they said that Sacramento apparently has high rates of human trafficking. Reading this story and the associated links made it real enough to me that I've started donating to them. Thanks for raising visibility on this issue for me, even if I wasn't able to do anything else.
posted by caphector at 9:50 AM on June 12, 2010


Yay! Thanks for the update and awesome photos, fake.
posted by zinfandel at 10:19 AM on June 12, 2010


Will K and S get MetaFilter accounts?
posted by grouse at 10:37 AM on June 12, 2010


Glad to hear everyone is safe and that they managed to have a good time in NYC even though they had to return early. The word community gets thrown around a lot online, but I think this incident really showed what an Internet community can do to come together and help people.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:56 AM on June 12, 2010


Will K and S get MetaFilter accounts?

This is incorrect thinking, as is the idea to fly them into a meetup. MetaFilter helped them, but they are not MetaFilter people. That is part of what makes all the effort and selfless action so special.

Let's not try to pull them into our orbit any further. Our work here is done. Rather, let's all be ready to spring into action for the next unknown strangers that are in need of our assistance.
posted by Meatbomb at 11:13 AM on June 12, 2010 [19 favorites]


Arrrrg! Why can I not see the pictures????
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:17 AM on June 12, 2010


Yay for everyone involved!
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:32 AM on June 12, 2010


I'm very glad to hear how this situation turned out so well.

I've been an observer of metafilter for awhile but seeing how amazing this community has been with this has made me leap whole-heartedly into membership. I'm reassured to know that as we move farther into a full digital presence that real community and caring can be foster among relative strangers.
posted by humbleartisan at 12:03 PM on June 12, 2010


I love the Internet and the people here So. Much. Thank you for the update, Fake. Thank you for caring, Everyone.
posted by stoneweaver at 12:03 PM on June 12, 2010


Go Internet!
posted by odinsdream at 12:47 PM on June 12, 2010


\o/ !
posted by The Lurkers Support Me in Email at 1:05 PM on June 12, 2010


For the most part, the Internet is a big time-waster, and often a net-negative. Metafilter single-handedly validates it.

Fake, if you're ever in Kentucky and need a place to stay, just say the word.
posted by jbickers at 1:10 PM on June 12, 2010


although we don't know your names, we will never forget your help and support.

That's where I burst into tears I didn't even know I'd stored up for the happy ending.

I am so overwhelmed that a bunch of cynical bastards like us can come together and do something very, very *right*.

"Scratch any cynic and you will find a disappointed idealist." -- George Carlin. But I'm sure not disappointed today.

Also, we're going to comp these girls a couple of accounts so they can post LOLcats and ask the Hivemind where to stay next time they come abroad, right?

If they want, sure, but they probably don't. They've thanked us, and they're home. One day they might find us on their own, but I'd hate for them to feel pressured into joining us if it's not their kind of site.

What a magnificent group of people we are.
posted by tzikeh at 1:43 PM on June 12, 2010


Oh, and also -

! \o/ :D

And other opposites of "."
posted by tzikeh at 1:45 PM on June 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: where else can you pay $5 and become and agent of The Global Frequency?

Call Warren Ellis. Tell him his future is here, and it's crowdsourced.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 1:58 PM on June 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


erf... and
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 1:59 PM on June 12, 2010


Right - so the "heroes" of our story get some free rent and a free overseas trip. The girls are out of pocket several thousand for a few days sightseeing around NYC. The Lux Lounge is still doing just fine and we are told the agencies involved in "investigating" won't give us any information.

If you have donated and are not happy with this outcome but feel you cannot say anything because of the pressure exerted by the Metafilter crowd and moderators, you might wish to look into the National Consumer League Fraud Center before they delete this post.
posted by DirtyCreature at 4:23 PM on June 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, good Christ.
posted by rtha at 4:30 PM on June 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


before they delete this post.

We're not deleting anything. No one was pressured into donating, I said several times it was fine for people to not donate at all, and I'm sure if people feel weird about how the money was spent they can contact kathrineg directly, or me for that matter.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:32 PM on June 12, 2010 [6 favorites]


I'm mainly upset because I was promised that at least 10% would be funneled to the Biederberg Group, and instead I have it on good authority that it's just gone to support the reptile people (which is bullshit, because it's not like that "Queen Elizabeth" humanoid needs any more money, amirite).
posted by scody at 4:40 PM on June 12, 2010 [6 favorites]


the Biederbergs being the even more nefarious secret cousins of the Bilderbergs, of course
posted by scody at 4:41 PM on June 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


DirtyCreature, you know, it really really appears that you came back to metfilter solely to be upset that people were helping other people. May I submit that this is probably not a good use of your time? No one is coming to your house or even sending you e-mail to pressure you into donating. And I think if you will actually read the threads, no one pressured anyone to donate. Ever. People asked what they could do to help and then did it because they wanted to.

Maybe you should go back to not hanging out at MetaFilter.
posted by stoneweaver at 5:15 PM on June 12, 2010 [15 favorites]


the "heroes" of our story get some free rent and a free overseas trip. The girls are out of pocket several thousand for a few days sightseeing around NYC. The Lux Lounge is still doing just fine and we are told the agencies involved in "investigating" won't give us any information.

...

The only response I can come up with: what is this I don't even

I'm sure lurkers support you in email, as well. Good gravy. Nobody was pressured into giving money. Do you really believe that agencies involved with investigation of human trafficking tend to conduct chats with people about how those investigations are going? Where are you coming up with these things?

Did you give money? No? Then I guess you weren't as pressured as you seem to think you were. I would have loved to help out financially even a little bit, but I couldn't. So I didn't. I don't feel like I let the side down. What is it, exactly, that you're hoping to get out of being an ass? I'm completely serious. I want to know what it is you hope to achieve with your attitude.
posted by tzikeh at 5:25 PM on June 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I won't be addressing any personal attacks as is typical on this "community" when confronted with uncomfortable insights. This is about two girls who expected to be in the USA for a lot longer than they had and paid the money to be so. This is about some Metafilter users who gained personally from the perhaps naive generosity of some of the readers. This is about the lack of accountability of the story to which they were invited to donate. This is about a possibly legitimate business persecuted to the financial gain of these users. This is about the Metafilter moderators' reluctance to allow dissenting voices to be heard. This is about the Metafilter policy of allowing donations which changes depending on who or what is asking.

This is about potential fraud disguised/manipulated as generosity.

I will not be responding anymore on this thread. Any voice of dissent is too often completely ridiculed by the party faithful and often deleted. So say what you like. Attack the messenger. But this scheme lacks any accountability and prima facie resembles several other fraudulent internet schemes most of us have seen.
posted by DirtyCreature at 5:37 PM on June 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Let's just clear up one thing for good:

NO ONE ASKED FOR DONATIONS.

No one is attacking you as such. It's more that you're completely and totally misrepresenting a really critical part of this story.
posted by stoneweaver at 5:47 PM on June 12, 2010




This is about the Metafilter moderators' reluctance to allow dissenting voices to be heard. This is about the Metafilter policy of allowing donations which changes depending on who or what is asking.

You are tilting at windmills. Your dissenting voice is being heard right now, we have not deleted any dissenting voices from this thread or the other MeTa threads. All the money that came my way was collected and accounted for. If you don't trust any of the members of this community to do what they say they're doing, I'm not sure what sort of information you would trust.

I do not think there is a single MeFite who contributed money who is not comfortable with the way the situation worked out. If there is please feel free to contact me privately if you dont want to post to this thread and we'll work something out.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:50 PM on June 12, 2010


I won't be addressing any personal attacks as is typical on this "community" when confronted with uncomfortable insights.

I have no dog in this fight -- I didn't give, was far too busy to follow this story, and honestly, I really don't care all that much.

But I can't see where people are making "personal attacks" on you. I've read through them three times.

I will not be responding anymore on this thread.

Good, because none of this is about you, even though your statements imply you want this to be a referendum about you.
posted by dw at 5:57 PM on June 12, 2010


> I will not be responding anymore on this thread.
Good on you.
there's this old story, one guy is relaxedly driving his car on the empty highway, it's summer, windows down, he's enjoying the breeze when the radio station suddenly stops the music and goes "we interrupt our programming for a special warning: a car has been spotted entering highway so-and-so" "hey, it's this one!" -thinks our guy- "between Xtown and Yville" "oh, it's exactly where I am!" "IN THE WRONG DIRECTION, I repeat, there's a car driving in the wrong direction on the highway between X and Y" "People are crazy." thinks the guy when he sees a car coming towards him with flashing headlights and a blaring horn, "Oh fuck it's IT! fuckfuckFUCK!" he grips the wheel, swerves to his right and manages to dodge the rogue car "whew, that was close! What's wrong with people?" he thinks while catching his breath, just when another pair of headlights appear in the distance, getting nearer at impossible speed. And another. And another.
And, in case you don't get my stories because I write like shit and English is not my first language: yes, the Professional Internet Contrarian is that guy.

Now, back to the schmoopy.
posted by _dario at 6:05 PM on June 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


Back in the USSR
posted by Huplescat at 6:06 PM on June 12, 2010


we have not deleted any dissenting voices from this thread or the other MeTa threads.

My apologies, we did actually delete DirtyCreature's comment from the last monster thread when he said he would not be reading any replies. DC, you're welcome to start up a conversation with us over email. I guess you're welcome to stay here as resident gadfly, but it would be nice if your observations were more relevant to what's actually going on or if you'd stick around to actually discuss any of this with people.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:07 PM on June 12, 2010


I'm heartened by DirtyCreature's concern for my finances. Thanks, man. If I'm ever in Australia, I'll look you up and we can have a good laugh together about how I was hoodwinked.
posted by found missing at 6:07 PM on June 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I hope you blew my 20 bucks on alcohol.
posted by desjardins at 6:41 PM on June 12, 2010 [10 favorites]


Back to our regularly scheduled schmoopy....

Thanks for the update, fake. The kindness of strangers, indeed.
posted by cooker girl at 6:50 PM on June 12, 2010


The shepherd was on a remote hill, with the village just barely visible in the valley below, when the stranger arrived. He sat down beside the shepherd and from his bag pulled out his lunch and ate, sullenly, holding the scrap of bread tight to him. "And what brings you here?" asked the shepherd.

"I am looking for a new place to live," said the stranger. "Pray tell me, shepherd, what is that village like, in the valley below?"

"I will tell you of this village, stranger, but first I should like to hear of the place from whence you come."

The strangers face twisted into an ugly mask of contempt. "Thieves! Thieves and liars! Nobody can be trusted there, everyone looking out for themselves. People there find no joy in life except when bringing misery to their neighbors. And now, shepherd, I have met my end of the bargain - tell me of your village? Is it a place worthy of my time?"

"Sadly it is not," replied the shepherd. "Here you will find that the people are much the same."

And the stranger carried on, taking the fork in the path away from the valley and onward into the wastes.

On the very next day, on that same hill, a second man came along and joined the shepherd where he sat. He spread his lunch between himself and the shepherd, and bid him share his dates and wine. After some time the conversation turned to the purpose of the stranger's journey. "I am looking for a home, good shepherd. The town that I am from was a lovely, friendly place, full of honest and hardworking folk, but I felt that surely there must be something new to see in this world. And so I have set out to find new friends and family among strangers. Tell me of your village, shepherd - is it a place that would welcome me?"

"Indeed it is," replied the shepherd. "You will find that people here are much the same as those you left behind. Come, let us walk together, and when we arrive I shall introduce you as my friend."
posted by Meatbomb at 8:11 PM on June 12, 2010 [70 favorites]


we are told the agencies involved in "investigating" won't give us any information.

...So, the authorities regularly update the public on every last detail of their investigations now? They never keep anything confidential until the investigations have concluded? They don't have any fear of loose lips jeopardizing the investigation?

Gee, Dirtycreature, did standard police procedure change and no one tell me?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:17 PM on June 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


That was a lovely parable, Meatbomb.

The lovely part worries me, though. I hope you're not going soft or something.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:46 PM on June 12, 2010


I kept checking fake and ifdss9's posts to see if there was anything new on the devotchki. I'm sorry to hear that they ended up going home, but glad things didn't get excessively complicated or messy.
posted by galadriel at 9:29 PM on June 12, 2010


DirtyCreature, I, uhm, well, I just....Wow. It's... well, I don't, uhm...See, people aren't like that, and... uhm.... Just what kind of world do you live in, anyway?

Seesh.
posted by Floydd at 10:11 PM on June 12, 2010


DirtyCreature, I've been shelled and hit by bullets and starved and frozen, and I don't think it's ever entered my mind to think as poorly of humanity as you seem to from your post . . . even more so given the lack of suspicion in all this from anyone else, including the actual donors.

I don't know you, so I can't say whether you're serious or just causing trouble, and I don't even want to venture a guess. With my most genuine sincerity, I hope you're just having one godawful, soon-to-end day, and that your normal demeanor towards people will soon again be as sunny as everyone else's here.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 12:35 AM on June 13, 2010 [15 favorites]


Let's just clear up one thing for good:

NO ONE ASKED FOR DONATIONS.


Please don't think I'm defending DirtyCreature here, but, in fairness, this is simply not true. There was certainly at least one point where donations were requested. There may have been more. I'm not saying that it was in any way wrong to request donations, but it did happen.
posted by Nothing... and like it at 1:15 AM on June 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


but feel you cannot say anything because of the pressure exerted by the Metafilter crowd and moderators

holy gibbering fuck i don't even
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 2:00 AM on June 13, 2010


Hold on, Nothing . . . your link goes to this exchange:


"IFDS9, do you need any MORE no-strings-attached gift money? Because I could throw some your way, if throwing money at problems is still in style, here."

Yes. We are shocked at how fast the money is going out the door for basic things. More money would be very helpful.


That's an unsolicited offer, followed by an acceptance.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 2:34 AM on June 13, 2010


I won't be addressing any personal attacks as is typical on this "community" when confronted with uncomfortable insights.

Hahaha. No, people get ridiculed and attacked personally when they're repeatedly being arseholes. Oddly enough, people who cast aspersions on the character of others seem to get mightily upset when called on it.

Let's be clear here - you are calling Fake and IFDSSN9 liars. You are explicitly saying they committed fraud - "This is about some Metafilter users who gained personally" and with the link to an organisation who deal with conmen. You are saying, explicitly, that Jessamyn, Cortex and Matt are conciously aware of, and participating in this fraud, and covering up any criticism of it.

I'm hoping you have some evidence to actually back that up, because you should be aware that is absolutely, unequivocally libel.

You know, I donated money. I gave my reasons for that previously and got a few favourites for it, so presumably some others felt similarly.

But returning to right now, my choice is between trusting fake, IFDSSN9, jessamyn, pollomacho and others who've met the girls that this is legitimate and above board, that the money was used to host the girls for the best part of a month, help them return home, and then donated to charities who help women in bad situations.

Or I can trust you, that it is all in fact a lie and a fraud, and I've been hoodwinked by a least half a dozen people, several of whom I've known here for literally years.

Forgive me, but you know what? You can piss off with your unfounded aspersions on their character. You're not some noble character pulling the wool from our poor, poor naive eyes, you're attacking the characters of people who went out on a limb to help strangers, because they could, on the basis of WHAT precisely? There is ample, ample evidence of the people involved being Good People over the years. There is precisely zero for your interpretation. Feel free to come back when you hame some, nay any evidence of wrongdoing. Until then, you're just concern trolling. And committing libel, in the process. Feel free to comment, as I'm happy to stand by my words instead of dropping a stinker in a thread and then walking off and saying you won't be responding.

Fake, IFDSSN9 - you did what you wanted with my donation, which is precisely why I gave it in the first place. You don't need my approval or to report what you used it for, as it was a gift, with no strings attached. By the sounds of it, you have used it selflessly and for good purpose.

I'm glad the girls are back home, safe, with some new memories. I'm hoping neither of you are too out of pocket for what you've done.
posted by ArkhanJG at 2:53 AM on June 13, 2010 [19 favorites]


Obviously I don't want to feed the troll, but in general, how come all assholes think they're being oppressed? What's the deal with that?
posted by delmoi at 5:00 AM on June 13, 2010


You probably aren't interested in discussing this publicly, and I completely understand if that's the case. Nonetheless, I have to ask - did you ever get a clear picture of the danger the girls were in? Was there a criminal follow-up? Did the Greek get away?

You guys are good people.
posted by awenner at 5:01 AM on June 13, 2010


how come all assholes think they're being oppressed? What's the deal with that?

Can't you SEE the violence inherent in the system?!
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:02 AM on June 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm glad to hear that the goodness of humanity has thwarted both slavers and curmudgeons this time around.
posted by sciurus at 7:43 AM on June 13, 2010


all's well that ends well.
posted by Wuggie Norple at 8:09 AM on June 13, 2010


I feel kinda sorry for the Dirty Creature.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:38 AM on June 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


i'm late, but thank you for the update. so happy to read how it all turned out!
posted by insectosaurus at 8:41 AM on June 13, 2010


I'm just checking in to say that I missed the whole drama when it first unfolded, and only just noticed the sidebar this morning. This whole story is astonishing, I cried, and I'm so very proud to be a member of MetaFilter. Fake, Katherine, everyone else who contributed, you really have outdone yourselves. I'm so very glad that things worked out as well as they did. If you're ever in Toronto, do please look me up... dinner is on me.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 8:46 AM on June 13, 2010


they are, I believe, responding to the idea of this community donating to an unchecked fund (one which sent you to New York for nearly a thousand dollars - a thousand dollars which could have been donated to Equality Now) being a bit unseemly.

Unseemly in what way? No one was forced to donate.

I sometimes give money to a couple of local homeless guys. They tell me that they need $2 or $5 for a burrito or to make up the last bit for a room in an SRO. I don't ask for an accounting of it. I don't give a shit if they use it for beer or smokes or a fix or a burrito or a hotel room. Once I've given them my money it's not my money any more.

I don't remember fake or IFDSS#9 asking for money. People offered, without prompting.
posted by rtha at 10:58 AM on June 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


You know, I too, was uncomfortable with donating money to this effort for various reasons. So I didn't give any money. That's where it stops for me. I really don't see why a couple of people see the need to keep hassling the principals. People who have donated money have repeatedly said that they are OK with it being used for anything, including rent money for kathrineg. So chill out; they don't need an "Internal Affairs Lieutenant" to sort this out for them. If you did donate money and you are unhappy with where it went, take up Jessamyn's offer to discuss it. Come here if you don't like what she says.

Otherwise, go find a better windmill to tilt at.
posted by grouse at 11:10 AM on June 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Unseemly in what way?

Fuck it. I was trying not to get involved in this conversation because I know the community's opinions, and I know the potential for being branded a "them" in the great internets "us and them" wars, but yes there has been some unseemly shit going on, and there still is. Unseemly doesn't mean scammy or dishonest, it means fucking tacky.

Fucking tacky in the way that "omg four thousand dollars isn't enough need moar" is fucking tacky.

Fucking tacky in the way that a community of thousands of people is even now sitting around sucking our own dicks about how TOTALLY OMG AWESOME BEST INTERNETS PEOPLE EVARRR we are for helping this girls.

I mean, yes, I understand that this community banded together to help some young women who may well have been in very serious danger, but when you do something good, you do something good, then move on to do something else good. You don't do something good, then stand around trumpeting how rad you are for having done good. That shit right there? Fucking tacky. Unseemly. Can we just get over ourselves already please?
posted by Nothing... and like it at 11:11 AM on June 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I appreciate that an obvious expert on tacky has chimed in.
posted by found missing at 11:36 AM on June 13, 2010 [7 favorites]


That shit right there? Fucking tacky. Unseemly. Can we just get over ourselves already please?

You know what's tacky? Throwing a shit-fit over standards of decorum, that's what. This is the long awaited update thread, it's pretty understandable that people are happy and full of praise. Take your own advice.
posted by zarah at 11:42 AM on June 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


And, as predicted, the pileon begins.
posted by Nothing... and like it at 11:58 AM on June 13, 2010


You said something that was tacky and, not to put too fine a point on it, fucking dumb, and something which, while possessing those qualities, was aimed at getting people to stop being pleased with the outcome of something they did. Of course people are jumping up your butt about it; you're getting exactly what you wanted so stop bitching about it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:59 AM on June 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


"This is the most disturbing part of this situation and one reason discourse was taken to another person's blog."

Lots of disturbing things happening in the last few weeks--you switching tabs on your browser isn't one of them.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 12:00 PM on June 13, 2010 [6 favorites]


Fucking tacky in the way that "omg four thousand dollars isn't enough need moar" is fucking tacky.

Why do you persist in this belief when it was explained over and over and over again that the 4k in the PayPal account wasn't accessible when they needed money.
"IFDS9, do you need any MORE no-strings-attached gift money? Because I could throw some your way, if throwing money at problems is still in style, here."
Dee Xtrovert: That's an unsolicited offer.

Internal Affairs: Tomato/Tomato.


... so an unsolicited offer is the same as a solicitation. Yeah, there's nothing I can do with that.
posted by tzikeh at 12:18 PM on June 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


> Why do you persist in this belief when it was explained over and over and over again that the 4k in the PayPal account wasn't accessible when they needed money.

I have no cat in this fight, but I'll weigh in to show you what they're likely referring to.

This happened before this.
posted by heyho at 12:38 PM on June 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Can we just get over ourselves already please?

Different people choose to emotionally experience and/or self-congratulate in different ways. I didn't give any money [though I helped collect it for fake] and found the whole thing a little uncomfortable-making but it's really just not my deal. I didn't tell anyone how to behave and I really don't see pressure being applied except one or two grouchy people from each direction bitching at each other. Whether it's because you think people are being tacky or cynical or duped or frivolous with their spending, these seem to be personal issues, not site issues unless you think there's some sort of site issue that needs to be addressed?

Kathrine granted Newsweek an interview, yet she didn't want the press to be involved when they were all out having fun and socializing?

More like she took their phone call and didn't want them at the party with photographers, yeah.

This whole thing has basically not been talked about on the site since it happened [after the MeTa thread was closed] and a follow-up was posted because people asked for it. This is less coverage than Lady GaGa, BP or Israel has gotten on the site, and it's restricted to one MeTa thread which is more than I can say for any of those other topics.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:38 PM on June 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


And, as predicted, the pileon begins.

Honestly, there's a continuum between "I wholeheartedly endorse how this has played out" and "quit sucking your own dicks you tacky do-nothing nerds", and I don't think there'd be anything like a pile-on in response to something more at the respectfully-critical midpoint of that.

I said as much over on bingo's blog and I'll say it again here: money is weird and we generally try to keep unplanned request-for-cash stuff off the site. The sense of discomfort that comes with money moving around I totally get and to a degree share, and if we'd felt from a mod perspective like there was a significant angle of sketchiness to what went down (someone angling or scamming, hard-sell begging or grifting) we would have shut that down hard. It's important to note that fake didn't start this off with anything remotely resembling a request for funds. Beyond that, we kept in contact with Kathrine and fake via email trying to help keep anything from going in a weirder direction to the best that we could.

But you take a bunch of people who want to help with a situation and can most easily as they see it do so by tossing ten or twenty bucks in the bin, it's not surprising that they go for it. Again, not really something we want to encourage on the site but it's also not hard to see it happen without any particular ill intent involved. So while I think the reaction that it's weird to see it happen is totally understandable, I think it's also okay to take a step back and shrug at the odd instance if there's not something fundamentally damning about how it went down. I don't personally think there is anything fundamentally damning about how this went down, even if I think it was badly organized in some ways and not at all how I'd want metatalk to function on a given day.

So I get the reticence. I get the looking askew. But there's that distance between managing a simple "this sort of bothers me and here's why" and an antagonistic counter-argument thing that turns more into an Us vs. Them, I'm Being Oppressed For My Criticism sort of thing where disagreement plus kind of shitty behavior results in overall badness that then gets blamed solely on the rejection of the disagreement itself in a vacuum. And it's unfortunately hard to sort out some of what's actually gone down in this whole saga in terms of reasonable criticism or skepticism from some crappy framing of same, so we're stuck a bit with conflations and bad blood in both directions. It sucks, and I'm sorry there's been any of that headbutting in either direction, but it's unreasonable to pretend that's not a part of the whole dynamic of the conversations that have happened in the last few weeks.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:47 PM on June 13, 2010 [6 favorites]


Thanks for the update, fake.

I was interested to find out how things were going. That was thoughtful of your friends to write a message to Metafilter. Thanks for the pictures, too, they really added to the "happy ending" vibe.

Just thanks all around, I guess.
posted by ServSci at 12:48 PM on June 13, 2010


This is all about huge amounts of jealousy, isn't it?

If so, I suggest the rabble-rousers come up with their own plan to scam us all, pocket the pissant couple thousand in donations, and then STFU for all eternity, satisfied that they have proven us all to be naïve twits.

Gahds.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:02 PM on June 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


This is all about huge amounts of jealousy, isn't it?

I wish there was a middle ground in all this; something between crying tears of joy and claiming the whole thing was a scam. The story has been fascinating from the perspective of someone totally on the outside.

In no way do I believe this to be a scam, and I'm not sure how anyone could believe that at this point. They only time where I thought it was even possible was when katherineg (or whatever her new name is) casually threw out that she 'had no idea how she would make it to her job interview or feed two more people' (I'm paraphrasing). It seemed to me, for a second, to be a weird passive aggressive ploy to get more money. It would have less sketchy in my mind to just have asked for money because of 'X'. But I can understand how that would have been misconstrued by many.

In the end, I believe two adult women were taken advantage of (pay money, come to american, get jobs... oops, sorry, no jobs), and thanks to metafilter, they had a great time, made new friends, and went back with a pretty high opinion of those in the states. I don't believe there was anything more to it than that. Those are all good things, though I think the whole thing was over-blown. But that's just my opinion. For some the story brings tears, others shrugs.

Do I think the money could have been spent on more important things? Flying their friend across the country? Most definitely. But people gave what they wanted. Their choice. Besides, I'm writing this while drinking a 4 dollar coffee/milkshake from starbucks, so I'm not one to talk :)
posted by Dennis Murphy at 2:37 PM on June 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'd win any scepticism and cynicism contest, and I don't believe anything anyone says online without 10 kinds of corroboration. I was suspicious of this story initially and asked pointed questions. I was not dismissed and oprexx0rd, I was answered, by a variety of sources, in the thread. Subsequent evidence, from a similar variety of posters and agencies, has poured in. So either this was an elaborate scheme involving 10 different people and weeks of planning and several continents and possibly the complicity of a government agency or two with the goal of scamming a crowd of people out of less than 10 thousand dollars, OR it really was as it appears.

Applying occams razor, this all obviously happened as it says in the original post. Moreover, it proves, yet again, that human beings are capable of being quite generous and altruistic in abstract and in real life. Perhaps some of the motivations of the parties involved were less pure--desire for fame or unrequited crushes or smug bragging rights or whatever other thing some lonely troll might toss around--but who cares?

Conclusion: thi really happened and it was great. Hi five in my opinion.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:43 PM on June 13, 2010 [8 favorites]


This is less coverage than Lady GaGa, PBP or Israel has gotten on the site

What's PBP? The only mention on MeTa was from 2006.
posted by desjardins at 2:48 PM on June 13, 2010


It's a typo, now fixed.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:58 PM on June 13, 2010


This is all about huge amounts of jealousy, isn't it?

I think there's reasonable room for criticism about e.g. money-collecting situations in a community context and such that doesn't need to come from jealousy or whatnot. Just as I'm kind of frustrated with some of the more antagonistic overtones coming from the skeptic/critic side in this whole thing, I'd love to see a bit less of that from the reaction. There hasn't been tons of it in either direction but that that there has been hasn't been great, and it'd be nice to see less of it going forward.

DirtyCreature, you mefimailed me but you have mefimail disabled and the email account listed for you is an automatic bounce. If you want to talk, send me an email from a working account or something. If you just want to throw shit at me one-way, don't bother with any more of it. I'm certainly not going to regurge your email here, permission or otherwise. Speak for yourself.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:29 PM on June 13, 2010


Abuse by MeMail? Gutless shite.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:39 PM on June 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


The effort that DirtyCreature and others have put into worrying about their fellow mefites' hard-earned money strikes me as being downright humanitarian, and worthy of some sort of honorarium.

Anyone want to take up a collection??
posted by hermitosis at 5:05 PM on June 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


The effort that DirtyCreature and others

Who exactly are these "others"? I know-- they're made of straw, right?

DirtyCreature was quite clearly the only person in this thread claiming that anything dishonest or scammy happened.

Certainly, others (including myself, and I'll cop to doing so in a more hyperbolic and abrasive manner than was probably wise or appropriate) have expressed different concerns about the way things went down.However, nobody-- nobody other than the apparently-unbalanced DirtyCreature appears to believe that some sort of scam was perpetrated.

Instead, those of us who have expressed any sort of contrary opinion have been treated to the rhetorical equivalent of "I know you are but what am I," accusations of trolling, and repeated implications that we're claiming something that we're simply (and, often, explicitly) not. Oh, and some vaguely incomprehensible accusations of "jealousy," though I'm not sure how that's supposed to work or what it's supposed to mean.

Look, I'm really happy that the result of all of this was that two young women were able to avoid what was at best a bad situation and at worst something almost unthinkably awful. However, the ability of some of folks in this thread to tread water in a sea of self-congratulatory smugness while simultaneous patting themselves on the back and casting stones at anyone who expresses a divergent opinion is impressive but kind of gross.
posted by Nothing... and like it at 5:34 PM on June 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


So far, I have avoided engaging with the so-called skeptics because I feel that in almost any context, some skepticism is not only necessary, it is a contribution. Truth seeking revolves around doubt, and proceeds in a positive direction: toward truth.

However, having read the "discourse" here and elsewhere, it is clear to me that the ugliest exchanges are not about being skeptical -- which is questioning in order to seek truth. The tone emitting from the loudest few -- certainly not all, just a few -- is antagonism, with shrill overtones of anger and misogyny. It is emotional to the core. As someone deeply invested in my own emotional situation, my relationship to these women, this site, and this event, it made the most sense for me to step back and let others engage if they felt it was necessary. So far, I think I was right to do so. And it let me concentrate on the problem that brought me here: keeping my friends out of harm's way.

And in the end, Ask Metafilter answered my question "(I need some help handling and understanding how to handle this") in a way that was beyond anyone's expectation. When you exceed those kinds of boundaries in such a way -- enthusiastically, overwhelmingly, and suddenly -- some skepticism is in order as a corrective. I value such skepticism. I said so in the last MeTa, before things got ugly. But --

There is a marked difference between making assumptions and making explanations.

There is a world of difference between asking questions and making accusations.

There are serious problems with calling yourself a skeptic but filling in missing information with emotionally loaded descriptions of what's going on in the minds of others -- which is something that, as a skeptic, you understand that you will never know.

Fact is, no true skeptic would fill in gaps in information with presumption, speculation, accusation, and suspicion. No true skeptic would selectively ignore fact and argument.

So this is not about skepticism, it is about something else.

+++

I know I did the right thing by asking for help (which, BTW, was all I asked for in that thread -- the rest was offered freely, and I turned down A LOT OF OFFERS). The kind of help that came back startled even me, and if you go back and read my comments, you can see that I wasn't sure what to do with it -- and in fact, I asked for help on what to do with it. I had to make a lot of decisions, quickly, and some things were not handled in a perfect way. That is plain to see, and part of the normal course of abnormal events.

What is also plain to see is that there is an unambiguous good that happened here, and that many, many people had a part in it. You can be angry about that, or the way it went forward, or make it all about money, but I think it's unnecessary and perhaps not the best use of time and energy. Maybe you know someone in your life who could use a little help. Try to put some of that seething energy into something positive.

I'm not going to end this message with an angry "I'm not going to reply" or some other dismissive, flippant note, because I'm not angry. I do think it's awful sad and awful the way some things have happened, but it's not like I didn't expect some ugliness to come back -- these are the Internets, after all, and I've been on MeFi for years. But I'm with cortex, I wish everyone would turn down the anger and accusation. And I wish you all the best, and I am still left with tons of gratitude, in fact, I've been riding a wave of grateful good feelings all weekend.

Peace.
posted by fake at 5:43 PM on June 13, 2010 [20 favorites]


Instead, those of us who have expressed any sort of contrary opinion have been treated to the rhetorical equivalent of "I know you are but what am I,"

Look. I'm all in favor of having a reasonable discussion about this. However, really, people have to back off [on both sides yes] if that's what you want to talk about. I actually stopped listening about this point...

a community of thousands of people is even now sitting around sucking our own dicks

Because clearly you weren't talking about me. Because if I could suck my own dick I'd never ever use the internet again.

So. It really is a problem that it's tough to back of from overblown rhetoric on both sides. And I think it's tougher if you're sort of ... unhappy at other people being happy because yeah you look like a grump. But I really think that for the most part, people have been the exact same sarcastic and snotty people that they were before, they're not any more or less that way because they did or did not give money or did/did not agree with the way the thing was handled. There is a little big of aggro posturing on both sides and I think you have to do the typical MeFi deduction of the loudest two to five people from both sides of the argument to even approach anything that you could call "the community" if you're talking about that.

I think both cortex and I have gone on the record as saying that while we wish that this was handled differently, we are happy that it was handled. We do not like dealing with any sort of requests for money on the site whatsoever. We would like to never do so again. However, the world is complicated and we probably won't get our wishes. I don't want to say "do the math" here but I think most of the people who talked about their concerns and critiques in ways that weren't all GO FUCK A RAINBOW were treated decently. Maybe that's just me and my blinders.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:46 PM on June 13, 2010 [9 favorites]


(including myself, and I'll cop to doing so in a more hyperbolic and abrasive manner than was probably wise or appropriate)

Nothing, I think we both agree that this (the approach) is causing more problems than it is solving, and making it hard for people to hear what you're saying. I can appreciate why you might be annoyed with the discussion here, but seriously, I've been staying out of it because this is so emotionally loaded for me. Sometimes, charging into the comment box full of anger sets everyone else up on the defense. I think that's all that happened here.

And the other thing is, I think it's kinda futile to try to stop other people from feeling good. Maybe we can just agree to a less-loaded, more respectful discussion? I've been trying pretty hard, myself.
posted by fake at 5:53 PM on June 13, 2010


... the ability of some of folks in this thread to tread water in a sea of self-congratulatory smugness while simultaneous patting themselves on the back and casting stones at anyone who expresses a divergent opinion is impressive but kind of gross.

Honestly, the real magic of this event was that the people you've just describing were never the ones who were in charge of actually taking care of the situation.

So yeah, when there's a horde of people peripherally involved in something, not all of them are going to have the noblist or most realistic intentions, or express themselves quite clearly; many of them will be downright obnoxious. (See any protest I've ever been to.) But the well-meaning horde, while usually the most visible part of any group effort, ought not be the factor by which the entire enterprise is judged.

The people who had nothing to contribute but a few bucks and some huggles are probably going to be the most defensive in the face of criticism, because they've had the least opportunity to do anything wrong. Hence the angry, bewildered backlash against the skeptics. Whereas people like jessamyn and kathrine and others who took direct action and contributed to the actual conflict being resolved (for better or worse) have already responded to questions and criticism as thoroughly as they can, and with more tact than most of us could probably muster.

I find the group psychology of MetaFilter to be just as infuriatingly predictable as that of any other group, and this whole situation was no exception. But at least in this case it was nice to know there were cooler heads in the background actively prevailing. Sure, I think a lot of people have reacted foolishly and over-emotionally from the very beginning of all this; is there any point to engaging them over it other than just making people feel bad?
posted by hermitosis at 6:12 PM on June 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


And when I say "for better or worse" I'd like to make it clear that I really do think that the people at the core of this operation did a fantastic job with a very sticky problem on very short notice, and I think all of this is a great lesson (to me anyhow) about being more available to help others. It's also a lesson in how no good deed goes unpunished...
posted by hermitosis at 6:16 PM on June 13, 2010


MetaFilter: if I could suck my own dick I'd never use the Internet again.

So true, so very true.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:27 PM on June 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


I didn't donate a thing. Nonetheless, I think the naysayers are douchebags who have got themselves overly worked-up about how people spend their small change. FFS, what was the average donation? $20? I'll bet each and and every one of us have pissed away greater sums.

Being upset that someone asked for help and got some cash in response is fucking *lame*. IMO, FOAD, turkeys. Of all the things to get riled about—jesusfuckingsheesh.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:34 PM on June 13, 2010


Abuse by MeMail?

More like non-conversation and telling me the contents of my own mind by mefimail. I don't really want to discuss it here, it's not a thing beyond the fact that I had no other channel available to respond to receiving it at the time.

DirtyCreature, if you don't want to have a conversation on the site about how you're being repressed, that's your call, but ultimately I can't do anything about a self-fulfilling prophecy where you refuse to comment because you're just utterly certain that you'll be repressed. You seem to have written off Mefi a long time ago, so I'd encourage you to maybe just let it go entirely since this whole showing up briefly but refusing to participate in good faith thing isn't really workable in the long run.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:48 PM on June 13, 2010


I'm torn. On the one hand I want to mock his pettiness, on the other he'll just claim I'm repressing him.

I guess that'd be true, though. What I can't decide is whether or not I should give a shit. I don't really give a shit about the partipant's money. His worries about it, I care for not in the least.

His slagging of the do-gooders pisses me off to no end, though.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:25 PM on June 13, 2010


As it seems cortex is too afraid to publish my emails to him despite my encouraging him to do so, I reproduce the last one to him in full at the end of this message.

I will not engage in any discussion. The truth of the matter has nothing to do with my engagement in this discussion or not - but as is typical of this "community" - everything is reduced to the personal. Fight the messenger, fight the threat to our collective delusion - reality isn't important. You know people, I am a moderator of a large community myself - not as large as this - but several thousands. Contradictory opinions are encouraged. The aim of the community is enlightenment and truth. Our community has the heart and the mind to withstand debate even if it's often not so sweet and cosy.

The fact remains, some of the money donated was taken for trips and rent by the people who supposedly were the helpers. The two girls are out of pocket and didn't have their dream fulfilled - all they got was a few days fun in NYC - they weren't compensated and they were told to simply accept they had been rescued from the Russian Mafia. Nobody talked to the Lux Lounge for their opinion. The whole thing and the subsequent personal attacks and shutting down of debate, really just leaves me a very sick feeling in my stomach.

Finally, not only will I not enter into any discussion, I will read no further replies on this thread. I have made clear the reasons why. Moderators, do what you will.

I was prepared to completely stay away from this forum altogether until stories about this issue started appearing on the other places I frequent. Knowing the propensity for mass delusion and dissent-silencing on Metafilter, I knew there was bound to be another side to this story and was disturbed by the self-congratulations and donation-mongering occurring around the internet. Not that it's relevant to this issue - but it might help explain my motivation for speaking out - I also have many Russian friends who I know would be offended by the reinforcement of characterisations of local establishments as possible Mafia-strongholds. The option these two girls took was "no qualifications required" option and it is widely understood that this means waitressing or dancing. The Russian community in NYC is strong and supportive and any "forced prostitution" would be quickly exposed by the community. The girls would have had many places to turn. Yet nobody bothered to ask the club itself.

I am not going to post a reply on your forum when you have a clear and consistent record of deleting my posts in the past. THAT is what I call a one-way shit-throwing conversation. Furthermore, I don't wish to have a private conversation with you. It's pretty clear to anyone who has ever moderated a forum before that you are trying to defuse the potential for mass discontent about this issue by quieting individuals and taking the debate off the forum. Makes your job easier basically. Perhaps you should have thought of that when you allowed PayPal emails to be published. This issue has necessarily become a public issue as a result.

posted by DirtyCreature at 7:33 PM on June 13, 2010


Finally, not only will I not enter into any discussion, I will read no further replies on this thread. I have made clear the reasons why.

Because you'll be too busy quoting SCIENCE!
posted by scody at 7:34 PM on June 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


Well then.....can we close this up?
posted by wheelieman at 7:41 PM on June 13, 2010


Happy Mod Day cortex!
posted by Sailormom at 7:48 PM on June 13, 2010


I'm going to stick to some basic facts

The fact remains, some of the money donated was taken for trips and rent by the people who supposedly were the helpers.

To the best of my knowledge, people knew that was going to happen before they donated, everyone who donated was okay with that that we've heard of. People can contact me if that's not the case.

The option these two girls took was "no qualifications required" option and it is widely understood that this means waitressing or dancing.

That is not the jobs the girls were promised, they were expecting lifeguaring jobs. I feel that maybe you haven't even been reading this

Yet nobody bothered to ask the club itself.

I was pretty busy. Did you call them? Bingo stopped by and said it looked okay. Inviting underage girls to meet at a NYC club at midnight when they were in DC was the part that seemed the sketchiest to most people.

I would like to politely ask you to feel free to go elsewhere if you find this site so frustrating and aggravating. If you decide to stay, I'm just going to let you know now that inflammatory comments in MeTa that are not for the purpose of having a discussion [i.e. this weird hit and run thing you've been doing] are not going to work out here. We'll delete them in the future like we did last time. You know that now. You can do with that information what you want. We want to have discussions here, not just hurl insults and accusations.

cortex is not afraid of publishing your emails, it's just not how we do things here. If you don't like it, no one is making you stay.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:57 PM on June 13, 2010


Furthermore, I don't wish to have a private conversation with you.

And yet you send private correspondence. You are a strange fellow. Also, perhaps you might consider hopping off the Bitter Bus.
posted by chiababe at 7:58 PM on June 13, 2010


In the original thread I voiced my concern about the framing of this discussion as "Metafilter saved two women from sexual slavery," and while I have been disagreed with and I feel as though a few people have tried to shout me down, I've seen no attempt by the mods to censor me. I also haven't really been afraid to post on Metafilter because I tried to compose my points carefully, and I clear in my posts that I'm glad everyone's safe and sound and I certainly don't think, given Fake's level of concern that there shouldn't have been an intervention. As I made my intentions clear, and actively engaged people in conversation, I don't think I have been at all misunderstood.

I guess, as I've seen the mods express it in these items, I feel the same way they do: I am uncomfortable with the solicitation of money on Metafilter. Even though I didn't donate, I find myself concerned with the situation because it remains unclear as to how that money was spent, and it sets a really unpleasant precedent. However, given the choice to rail like a lunatic about it or take it on faith that everything is on the up and up, I've chosen then latter, mostly because many of the regular users on the site know the parties involved in real life and have personal and lasting relationships with them.

It seems pretty clear from dirtycreature's last post that he has a chip on his shoulder about some perceived slight that occurred years ago when he left the site and he's come back to strut and crow. I would caution that just because someone who obviously has a bone to pick comes in and threadshits all over the place does not mean that people who share similar opinions stand with that user. They just happen to have similar opinions.
posted by orville sash at 8:11 PM on June 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


There's this community on Livejournal which back in the Bush era was a very active, very popular community for folks who didn't care for the Bush administration. A friend of mine founded and moderated it, and around the time participation petered out (around 2005 or 2006, if memory serves), he didn't really have time for it anymore and handed moderation duties over to me. I tried to take a more or less light touch to it, stepping in as a mod only in cases of open racism, spam, and stuff that simply didn't belong in the community; this was easy as the posting frequency had dropped to one every few weeks or so.

At some point, one poster made an anti-semitic remark. I and a few others challenged him, and he defended it and made further anti-semitic remarks. I banned him from the community and deleted the post on the grounds that, as the individual who is ultimately responsible for the community's content, I was unwilling that that content include antisemitism. I made a post explaining that and reiterating that racism is not something we do.

And then the floodgates opened, as the user and his friends flooded the comments with all kinds of nasty, vicious ranting, accusing me of violating his first amendment rights, calling me a communist, a fascist, a tyrant, an asshole, and all sorts of names. And why do I bring this up?

Because their vicious, half-baked rantings looked exactly like the nonsense DirtyCreature just posted.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:15 PM on June 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


It reminded of me of how strawberryviagra used to sound.
posted by st looney up the cream bun and jam at 8:22 PM on June 13, 2010


to be fair, though, Dirty Creature is a pretty great video. Though this is obviously hard to beat, and this will always be my sentimental favorite.
posted by scody at 8:23 PM on June 13, 2010


As it seems cortex is too afraid to publish my emails to him despite my encouraging him to do so, I reproduce the last one to him in full at the end of this message.

Oh good god. I'm not passing notes for you in class; your vague passive-aggressive wish is not my command. You want to "publish your emails", you can do what everybody else here does and just comment in metatalk in the first place, which is what I told you when I tried to write back to you in the first place and got a bounce on a dead email address.

I will not engage in any discussion.

This is precisely the problem. If you're not going to engage in discussion, don't bother shitting in a thread in the first place. We've been more tolerant of this look-at-me bullshit than we probably should have been, but if you're not going to make an effort to actually engage here in good faith you really need to just move on with your life and enjoy being somewhere else than Metafilter, because we are done hand-holding you through this self-regarding bullshit.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:29 PM on June 13, 2010 [6 favorites]


I am so tired of this.

This community is made up of adults. Adults with brains. Who can jolly well decide if and when it is appropriate to donate money to help out fellow posters-said posters being folks well known to the greater community.

If you think something is a scam no one is holding a gun to your head to donate.

If you have concerns, no one said you couldn't air them. BUT airing them in such a mean accusatory way is just not cool, especially since we are talking about Mefi members in good standing known to the community in meat space as well as here. It's rude and insulting.

Next time, either come up with something concrete or shut UP.

Love, St. Alia
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:31 PM on June 13, 2010


Huh. Turns out that despite what I've seen in WoW, trolls really are dirty creatures.
posted by ApathyGirl at 8:40 PM on June 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've felt pretty much the exact way that orville sash has. In a word: uneasy. In a way that I haven't entirely been able to put my finger on. None of the subsequent developments have made me feel less so, though it does help to remind myself that at least some (most? I'm not sure how we can even know such things with any assurance) of those who gave money were giving it in a no-strings attached sort of way.

Anyway, I'd like to feel warm and happy about this the way I have about how we've banded together as a community in the past, for Mr Bill or for loquacious. But for whatever reason, I just don't. That being said, I haven't really felt comfortable voicing my uneasiness for fear of being lumped together with people who seem a bit off-kilter in voicing their concerns. And this sort of thing--"douchebags who have got themselves overly worked-up about how people spend their small change"--I mean, damn, that doesn't help. I mean, I can feel protective of my generous internet friends, right? Without that making me a douchebag?

Anyway, I didn't give me any money. No one owes me any answers. But the feelings are there, for whatever reason. Maybe I just suck or something.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:50 PM on June 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


"The fact remains, some of the money donated was taken for trips and rent by the people who supposedly were the helpers."

Different professionals involved in the situation suggested that I use some of the money to make up for the rent that we usually get from a roommate. In the end, I didn't feel 100% comfortable with using the money for that. I told the girls (and Fake) that I would set aside a certain amount of money for the charities who helped them. Then we had to get plane tickets which kinda wrecked the budget (I should have left more room when I decided all of that). I would have had to cut into the money I had promised to Equality Now and the other charity. Anyway, chances are I would have let friends without this kind of financial assistance stay there for free anyway, and I do consider the girls friends. So there you go.

I'm reluctant to go into details like this because I just don't like talking about it in general, but I wanted to clear the rent thing up because it keeps popping up in various places.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 9:04 PM on June 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


There's this community on Livejournal which back in the Bush era was a very active, very popular community for folks who didn't care for the Bush administration.

*cough*

I may have been a member of that community. Out of curiosity, which one was it?
posted by zarq at 9:06 PM on June 13, 2010


I was involved with this.

Let me tell you the real story:

The "Russian Girls" are actually international secret agents involved in operation "WHITE PAWN." In order to suss out the origin of the CONFICKER virus they posed as human traffic in order to generate rapid internet activity to spread a tracer ink through the internet pipes. Paypal donations and money transfers were required to generate the heat necessary to bind the tracer ink to the network transmission protocols.

The Russian mob was chosen because of the Eastern European origin of the CONFICKER virus. We were able to use a subdermal RFID scanner to hack the BlackBerry network and triangulate the viral replicator. The agents were able to get close enough to a Mafia operative in Washington DC but they needed immediate extraction because their IP addresses got logged.

Fortunately, and thanks to the hard work of Internet Detectives 02-07 we were able to place a specially designed nanomachine disrupter on the top of the Empire State Building in order to mark and disable the CONFICKER units before they could strike the infrastructure.

We had to keep this secret because we didn't want to the hackers to activate CONFICKER before we had the disrupter in place. If the CONFICKER had gone off everyone's contact lists in their phones and computers would have been erased, casting New Yorkers back into the dark ages and driving many insane. It was all very close, and we almost didn't make it, but through the support of everyone in the metaverse the virus's program DNA was degaussed and formatted in a crowdsource. Thanks everyone!

If you have not been involved in a top-secret international espionage you don't realize the amount of paperwork involved. We've been quite busy for a few weeks, even after the world was saved. The agents also had to meet with the chief of the UN for debriefing. Of course, the glamorous secret agents constantly slipped away to attend posh galas in exclusive nighclubs with people like Lady GaGa.

So now the agents are back in Russia, presumably working on their next case. We never did learn their real names...
posted by fuq at 9:08 PM on June 13, 2010 [8 favorites]


"We were able to use a subdermal RFID scanner to hack the BlackBerry network"

This product placement got us a few donuts and an unshorn lamb. I am going to fire my business manager.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 9:21 PM on June 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


This whole thing has felt a little off to me from the beginning and seemed a little bit driven by hysteria, but I don't remotely think it was a scam. It might have been '2 russian girls saved from sex slavery' or it might have been '2 russian girls saved from job waiting tables for summer'. I guess we'll never know. Either way, I am glad that everyone is safe.
posted by empath at 9:21 PM on June 13, 2010


I mean, I can feel protective of my generous internet friends, right? Without that making me a douchebag?

Oh, I don't think anyone is suggesting that a sense of protection makes you a douchebag. I think that what many of said generous internet friends are kind of saying is that, in this situation, those of us who gave a few bucks don't generally seem to feel that we need "protecting" in the first place.
posted by scody at 9:23 PM on June 13, 2010


"It seems very odd to me that an organization that presumably needs money wants to remain anonymous."

They're not like, a super-secret underground organization, and if you want to know who they are, I can ask their permission to send the info to you not-publicly.

I guess that publicizing themselves in this specific context would not be helpful to the trust that they have to build with the people they help.

They're the experts on it, way more than I am, so I am willing to go with what they want.

I sent the donation receipt to mathowie and made the donation on behalf of metafilter so if they ever publish a donor list metafilter will be on it! Pretty cool.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 9:43 PM on June 13, 2010


I get that, scody. Mostly I just wanted to speak up as a way of saying, hey, the way the whole thing was handled in terms of the money and what was publicized and what wasn't and so forth didn't make me feel totally awesome, and I don't think that makes me an insane douche and we certainly haven't made this a good place to raise those concerns or, more practically, maybe talk about how the community might handle these things in the future.

Aaand now I'm getting MeMails about how I must be accusing ifdssn9 and fake of perpetuating a scam. So there you go.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:47 PM on June 13, 2010


(FWIW, everything ifdssn9 has just said has made me feel loads better. I know she's not accountable to any of us, and I know she was under heavy pressure to not reveal where the money was going in the other MeTa thread but I think some level of openness in the community, within legal and safe limits, is a good thing.)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:50 PM on June 13, 2010


Aaand now I'm getting MeMails about how I must be accusing ifdssn9 and fake of perpetuating a scam. So there you go.

You should hear the communication I get -- by phone, email, SMS, and otherwise. The media are the worst, but the crazies and angrys are second-worst. Trust me, I'm fine with however you feel and I am not worried about dissenting opinions or not-great feelings about money. That's all to be expected.

I hope you read the threads and saw that essentially all the core people involved, including the mods, said that they felt that some things could have been handled better, but given the situation, they were handled.

I hope you also noticed that I never solicited donations. In fact, I refused the first mess of offers of all kinds that came privately to me, and I delayed on people donating money to help me. They donated anyway, and I used that money to get a flight and some food and it is accounted for. Scanning my ticket stubs and posting them here is not going to help things.
posted by fake at 9:58 PM on June 13, 2010


"It seems very odd to me that an organization that presumably needs money wants to remain anonymous."

It reminds me of the way groups that help battered women operate, often in weird sort of secret ways. I remember donating old cell phones to a local organization and it was a bit of a pain because of the immense threats of abuse towards their clients and employees. It's just the unfortunate nature of the field really.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:59 PM on June 13, 2010 [5 favorites]


Right. I never suggested that you should scan tix or whatnot, and I have read all of the threads. Really!

I could enumerate what, precisely, made me feel squicky, but like I said, orville sash said it pretty well (though for me it's not so much the donations specifically that felt weird to me, but the secrecy following the donations. And there I go. Anyway) and I really feel like this probably would be a pretty unproductive discussion, as I feared it would be when I jumped into the thread.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:06 PM on June 13, 2010


DirtyCreature, I welcome your dissent, and I don't think anyone here is anti-dissent. However, I wish that you would express it without making it so much about you or any other individual.

I'd like to take what you wrote above and write it in a more neutral style.

"I'm concerned that people rushed to the conclusion that this bar is a mafia stronghold. I don't see evidence to support this, and it suggests a bias here against Russian businesses. Furthermore, I think it is commonly known in Russia that 'no qualifications required' jobs overseas are either dancing or waitressing. Before we jump on the 'forced prostitution' bandwagon, could we consider these possibilities?"

I think that's a fair characterization of what you wanted to say, and if I've gotten any of the points wrong, I hope that the tone comes across, as that's what I'm trying to show.
posted by zippy at 10:19 PM on June 13, 2010


and I really feel like this probably would be a pretty unproductive discussion

Well, to the degree that discussing money has so far been a never-ending morass/time vampire/derailleur supreme, I agree.

For some people involved, it doesn't matter how much information we share, because this is not about complete information. It's about something else, something emotional.

My concern is 100% the safety of K & S, and so unfortunately there are some things (not financial things) that I will never tell you, and that would be, frankly, stupid to post here. I'd apologize if I didn't think that were so obvious, and if I hadn't been saying that all along. As it is, well, I am really doing my best to read everything, to be transparent, and to do the right thing.
posted by fake at 10:31 PM on June 13, 2010


I guess, as I've seen the mods express it in these items, I feel the same way they do: I am uncomfortable with the solicitation of money on Metafilter. Even though I didn't donate, I find myself concerned with the situation because it remains unclear as to how that money was spent, and it sets a really unpleasant precedent.

My thoughts also. I'm glad this ended up well, no matter if the girls were about to be sold into slavery or simply got a nice vacation with pictures instead of disappointment (my guess). I just wonder what the future holds if this type situation arises again, especially because of the secrecy. I completely understand why it's necessary, but it makes comments like this:

Next time, either come up with something concrete or shut UP.

...kind of silly since nothing concrete is going to come from something shrouded in mystery. I don't envy the mods in these situations at all.

I am so tired of this...

...If you think something is a scam no one is holding a gun to your head to donate.


And no one is holding a gun to your head forcing you to read it, you know, if you're tired of it.
posted by Dennis Murphy at 10:38 PM on June 13, 2010


because it remains unclear as to how that money was spent

Serious question: what level of accountability would satisfy you non-donors? We outlined in the update and in the comments here the way the money was spent.

The money donated toward me was spent on a plane ticket and meals. I have a stub and receipts.

The money donated to Kathrine was spent on day-to-day meals and other life-stuff for the girls, some touristy stuff, two plane tickets, a ride to the airport, and the rest was donated with Metafilter's name on it. We said that, here, in this thread.

Do you need receipts for money you didn't donate? Do you need it spelled out more explicitly than this? I am not asking these questions in a hostile voice. I just don't understand what you're looking for.
posted by fake at 10:51 PM on June 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Here and over on bingo/miconian's blog, I have cleared up misunderstandings about money stuff as much as I can while respecting everyone's privacy and safety. I have also encouraged people with concerns or questions to contact me directly. No one really has.

One person did ask that excess money go to charity (which it did).

I'm not very effective at being subtle or sneaky or secretive (cool that all of those words start with S!), but there is a lot of information here and everything happened really fast and some stuff really does need to be secret and some stuff just hurts me to talk about.

So my husband, at like a week into this whole thing, sat me down and said: "I love you. Rest more. What the hell is going on?"

And he lives here!

Anyway, no hard feelings, come to NYC and I'll give you some chicken soup or something and we can hug it out.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 11:01 PM on June 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


I have been watching this situation/grand adventure unfold and I think the central issue of who should I, the random mefi, trust, is a big part of the emotional responses. The process wasn't professionally organized, but so very messy, with throwing up on side of the road and worrying about rent. I understand some of the hesitation- but my gut instinct was to trust fake and then IFDSSN9, really trust, and really believe. Of course I was still a little wary and I think cortex really captures some of those sentiments here. However, despite any concerns, I can think of no point at which I would handled this significantly better than those who actually took the initiate to do something. IFDSSN9, it took a fair bit of courage to step up and I hope yours and Fake's honest and real reactions to dealing with this stressful and at times overwhelming event are not held against you.

And I can confirm that many organizations that shelter abused women and children tend to maintain very low profiles away from the public spotlight. Add the very real legal machinations, and perhaps most importantly privacy issues, and those seeking further answers will simply have to rely on the limited information available. I don't have all the details, but I'm voting fake anyway.
posted by zenon at 11:02 PM on June 13, 2010


It's one am here people - IFDSS#9 & fake - you should go to bed knowing many folks think you have represented yourselves and mefi, as a community, well, have been as clear and direct with us as can reasonably be expected. Thanks.

Спокойной ночи.
posted by zenon at 11:11 PM on June 13, 2010


Спасибо, Зенон.
posted by fake at 11:13 PM on June 13, 2010


And this sort of thing--"douchebags who have got themselves overly worked-up about how people spend their small change"--I mean, damn, that doesn't help. I mean, I can feel protective of my generous internet friends, right? Without that making me a douchebag?

That would entirely depend on whether you resort to acting like a douchebag. Several people have been able to express their concerns without being douchebags about it. One person in particular has been astoundingly douchey about it.

Re: "damn doesn't help," please note the insult came long after the behaviour. Don't behave like a douche, and you don't get called out as a douche.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:12 AM on June 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I kinda wondered if there would be a backlash about this in a "no good deed goes unpunished" kind of way. I'm sorry to see that my fears were true.

I didn't donate - I wasn't entirely sure what the needs were, monetarily, and I don't really have a surplus of money to give away. Still, I'm happy that other people did and that the situation was resolved. Sometimes there are problems that fall into the category of "Money can fix this!" and some of the problems in this situation (e.g. getting fake to NYC) fall into that category. Some don't. In any case, I'm very glad that it was taken care of.

Just speaking for myself, I'm really happy to be a part of the MetaFilter community - not because we gave money in this situation, but because a lot of people saw something potentially awful about to happen and said "We want to do everything we can to prevent said awful thing" and put their money (kinda literally) where their mouth was and did it. That's what makes me happiest: not that we gave money, but that people who had whatever resources (connections to agencies, time, a place to stay) gave them freely to help out a fellow member who had friends in potential trouble.

To me, that's the real takeaway message here: not that we're a community that gives money when it appeals to us, but that truly, if you're in the shit and you don't know where else to turn, MeFites will have your back.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:09 AM on June 14, 2010 [7 favorites]


This was all an extraordinary thing - and I mean literally extra-ordinary. There are/were no protocols, no schematic to follow no 'way to do things'.

I also had squicky feelings about the money BUT I figured the parties involved were grown-ups and would behave in a grown-up manner (not spend all the money on booze and blow and have none left for important things like airplane tickets home/rent/food/maybe clothes/sightseeing). I personally don't think they have to account for how they did or did not spend the donations. I'm under the impression they weren't running around Manhattan with fists full of cash, cackleing maniacally, buying Champaign and lighting cigars with hundred dollar bills. I thought it fucking awesome that they were able to make donations in the 'name' of MetaFilter with the balance. Would I have done it differently? Maybe - I dunno. I hope I'd have been as willing as IFDSSN9 to open up my home to two strangers and whatever else she did for them, but I don't know that I would have.

Which is to say, I'm sticking with the view put forth by Meatbomb.
posted by From Bklyn at 3:16 AM on June 14, 2010


Right - I offer myself up as an anecdotal example for how the "money and donations" track could have played out in some instances.

I donated the princely sum of $20 to the cause. The means I used was not paypal, but was slipping someone cash at a meetup. One of the reasons I did, however, was because this same person had once slipped ME $20 at an earlier meetup after they'd heard I was thinking of skipping said earlier meetup because I was broke. So it was, in effect, a repayment of an earlier loan, timed so as to also assist with the current situation.

My point being:

We are a community. Many of us in this community are friends. And sometimes this is what friends do -- help each other out. When our friends need helping, we don't hold them accountable for every last little jot and tittle we donate to them -- we trust that they'll do what's right with it, and trust that down the road apiece, we may be the one in position to need help, and they'll help US out.

And the world would be a sadder and colder place without this kind of spirit in it, I think.

Just a reminder that some of us may have "donated" in a spirit of "eh, they spotted me a few drinks in the past, lemme make it up to them this way instead", if that helps anyone feel better about the donations aspect.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:27 AM on June 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


So my husband, at like a week into this whole thing, sat me down and said: "I love you. Rest more. What the hell is going on?"

And he lives here!

Anyway, no hard feelings, come to NYC and I'll give you some chicken soup or something and we can hug it out.


I'm going to try to dash this off real quick before I run to work so please, my advance apologies if any of this comes out sounding wrong at all. A lot of my uneasiness came from watching another Mefite, who seemed to be in a fairly precarious monetary and employment and health situation herself take on so much of the burden, and so much of it alone, even if the face of offered help. My uneasiness started somewhere around the time when ocherdraco was offering to find people to show the girls around that first weekend, and kathrine said she wanted to keep it to people she knew, which I partly understood, but partly didn't because ocherdraco herself is a trusted mefite and, though I'd never met her myself, _I'd_ trust her judgment in that situation. And kathrine herself had just met them a few hours before, so that was a little strange, you know? I can be proprietary about things, and I'm also a bit of a worrier/mother hen type, so I can understand--but there are so, so many mefites in NYC, cool, safe, awesome people, who also don't live in one bedrooms and weren't recovering from surgery at that moment and didn't need the rental income and weren't skipping job interviews for the whole thing. And so, worrier that I am, I felt worried. About Kathrine and her husband. About the girls. About people who were pouring money into a situation that was capricious and precarious in so many ways. It sounds like, perhaps, the situation wasn't as precarious as I'd feared, that it worked out. That's awesome! And I'm so, so glad, Kathrine, you're being as cool about it as you are. It's going a long way to calming my own fears, and I'm sure it must be helping other members of the community who share my concerns, too.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:49 AM on June 14, 2010 [9 favorites]


I didn't give money. Partly because I don't have a lot surplus, but also because I was never 100% convinced about the trafficking angle. I also had a lot of the same concerns that PBWK articulates above -- there were a number of overlaps of personal issues with a fast-changing situation that were sometimes uncomfortable to watch.

And having said all that, I'm tickled pink with how things worked out. As far as I can tell, the people who gave money did so with open eyes and got a lot more accountability for it than expected. The money was obviously used in ok ways, the girls had a lot of fun, and are back home with people who love them. And (from the little I can tell from here at least) everyone who helped did so generously and openly, and the focus stayed on the girls.

What I can't understand is the need for the douchbaggery here. There are a lot of ways to say "hmm, I wasn't totally comfortable with this" (such as how I did it, by not donating); there's no need to go quite so over the top with the nastiness and accusations.

Personally, I'm not comfortable with the recently pattern of raising money here to address the needs of particular people. I support (generously, at the limits of what I can afford to give) local organizations that are providing structural solutions to complicated problems. I wish that there was a better way for this community to channel its generosity, either through an existing organization or something new (MeFi Benevolent LLC?). But I've been here long enough to know how much many people value these momentary bursts of giving, and I don't expect this to go away. There's no harm to me, and no harm so far that I can see to the community as a whole.
posted by Forktine at 6:39 AM on June 14, 2010 [6 favorites]


By the time Ocherdraco's offer came around, we were advised by KF (and the human trafficking hotline) that we were "trusting way too much" and that we were endangering the girls by having them meet with people we didn't know.

PhoB, I think one of the big lessons I learned here comes from exactly what you're talking about. The person in the most precarious situation, injured from surgery and with lots to lose and nothing to gain (read the thread -- she had been offline didn't even see what happened all day) stood up and did something. She knew a way to speak to the girls and was willing to take serious risks to meet them. Yes, it is worrisome, but not because of money. It is worrisome because of what could have become of an obviously extraordinary person who went out of her way to selflessly help people she didn't know.

I was in touch with Ocherdraco (and about 30 other Mefites) behind the scenes, and we communicated about a lot of things -- in particular, she was finding us legal contacts and help. So it's not like we were ignoring her - rather we were in communication and very grateful for the help. She was excellent in this regard, and brought us a lot closer to resolution.

Another thing is, that although a lot of people offered help in NYC, a good chunk of it did not end up materializing or really wouldn't have worked well (example: many people offered me a couch, but had spouses balk at the idea of an internet stranger staying, or were far outside the city, gone for the holiday, or whatever -- perfectly understandable). There is nothing damning about this, and it was not a problem for us, but the offers for housing and couches did not all come true -- as one would expect. And we searched like crazy during the time they were here for other options, and so did the various support groups and so on. And don't forget that the girls loved Kathrine, and were comfortable with her, which was seriously important.
posted by fake at 6:51 AM on June 14, 2010


Aaand now I'm getting MeMails about how I must be accusing ifdssn9 and fake of perpetuating a scam.

Um, it's come to our attention that at least two people expressing skepticism about this have gotten weird sneering MeMail from another member. If that's the case for anyone else and you'd like us to handle it, please drop any of the mods a note. Thank you and sorry.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:53 AM on June 14, 2010


Some people did good things for other people, and a bunch of strangers came together to help a different pair of strangers. This is good. This is what community does. Pointing out this is good and basking in warm fuzzies is not a bad thing; it serves to encourage others to do good.
If you want to be bitter about other people doing good things and daring to feel good about it, fine, but it is not wrong. It would be wrong if I patted myself on the back for being helpful, when I didn't contribute so much as a single link or comment to the original story, since that's a lie and taking credit for something I didn't do. Pointing out that the community did a good thing - based on the reaction of those they helped - is good, and normal, and fine, and hopefully helps people feel okay about helping others in the future.
fake, idssn9, and all those who genuinely helped (whether it was advice, behind the scenes aid, donation, whatever), good on you. The world is nicer for having you in it.
posted by sandraregina at 7:40 AM on June 14, 2010


Ocherdraco is awesome. She totally did help and was able to recommend someone specific to help with something specific I needed. She is the person who alerted me to the original thread, I hadn't really noticed it. And she brought by Russian Vogue and another Russian magazine.

I actually knew her in real life for a while before this

/namedrop
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 8:05 AM on June 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


i did not donate, but i would have liked to.

whether or not they were about to be trafficked is beyond anyone's knowledge, but if you (general you, not directed at anyone) have ever seen any of the horrifying documentaries about trafficking, it all seems just fine and like waitressing or dancing until the very last minute. even if they were just waitresses, they could have gotten their passports taken away and who knows?

we don't want to think the worst of people, but the whole situation sounded shady and when good people try to handle shady situations, they might end up looking shady themselves.

sometimes the only thing that works is to throw money at problems. nonprofits are always hurting for operational expenses because it's hard to get people behind paying for things like electricity rather than saving the whales/children/etc. this money went to operational expenses, it looks like.

this wasn't an official fundraiser for a 501(c)3. people gave knowing it couldn't be accounted for really. as St Alia said, these were adults making their own decisions with their money.


(also, just adding that i too have run into the secrecy involving donating to the local abused women & childrens' shelters. i can't imagine what secrecy the anti-traffcking orgs must need to go thru. when people want to hurt you, it can be pretty scary, you can't trust anyone, much less have your picture and org info out and about in the public domain.)

i'm amazed at both the good will that was done and also the questioning that has come of it.

i'm just glad everyone is ok, that isn't going to be an episode of L&O:SVU, and that the people involved are active enough on here that it seems like it wasn't just a scam.

hugs to everyone.
posted by sio42 at 8:20 AM on June 14, 2010


So are we having a meetup at the Lux Lounge or not?
posted by fuq at 8:45 AM on June 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


fake, thanks for posting this update, I'm glad to see it.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:59 AM on June 14, 2010


I've been reading from fake's first post, I haven't commented other than a heartfelt, "Yay!" and a sincere invitation for home-smoked BBQ if anyone ever gets this close to the gnat line but I feel like I need to relay this story to back up the mod's attitude/policy about money on metafilter. Last summer, my 9 year old daughter and I decided to participate together in our local AIDS walk that took place in October. We have lots of friends, gay and straight, affected by AIDS and I wanted her to start learning about lending a hand to other people and about outreach in general. As we were nearing the walk date, we were still quite a few dollars away from our goal. I emailed all three mods asking if I could post about our Walk (with a link to our page) in projects and possibly solicit some donations for a worthy cause (and selfishly, I wanted my girl to reach her goal) from the community. All three mods sent me back individual emails, explaining that while the cause was worthy and they totally supported out efforts, doing money was not a Meta thing and wouldn't be a good idea. They were all very encouraging but clear in the policy and even though they personally supported the cause (and felt Meta as a whole would too), me posting a link to our donation page could get a bit squicky.

I relay this story because I sincerely feel like this incident was a train that got off the tacks as far as policy goes and being assholes to the mods or any other member is so FAR from productive. This was the exception, not the rule so everyone needs to simmer down! I'm glad that the girls are safe, I'm glad that fake asked his initial question and Katherne had the balls to go to the bus stop, I wouldn't have. I'm glad that the mefi members gave what they were comfortable giving and none of the givers have their dander up about it. It happened, it's over, the girls are safe, no one was put into debt or can't feed their babies because of it. Let's raise a glass to those involved, known and unknown, get Katherne a kick ass job, hug and move on!!


And everybody give a few bucks to your local AIDS group!! By the way....we met our goal, had a BLAST at the walk, she got to wear a gold crown and was treated like a queen!! Can't wait for the next one!!
posted by pearlybob at 12:10 PM on June 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


My uneasiness started somewhere around the time when ocherdraco was offering to find people to show the girls around that first weekend, and kathrine said she wanted to keep it to people she knew, which I partly understood, but partly didn't because ocherdraco herself is a trusted mefite and, though I'd never met her myself, _I'd_ trust her judgment in that situation. (PhoBWanKenobi)

Just for the record, I think Kathrine was completely in the right on that. If anyone's looking to trust my judgment, trust Kathrine, because I support 100% of her actions in this whole endeavor.

(Also, I can't believe I'm being namedropped—I'm awfully flattered that anyone thinks highly enough of me to do so.)
posted by ocherdraco at 2:15 PM on June 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hey fake, I tip my hat off to you...and politely suggest you stop paying any further attention to this thread. It has descended into the toxic and counterproductive; no good can come of this. You have what you want: your girls are safe. Accept that not everyone is going to believe you. From those of us that do believe you, you have are admiration and gratitude.
posted by randomstriker at 7:24 PM on June 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


Perhaps this might be of interest, I'm not sure.

From the Department of State:

Trafficking in Persons Report 2010 and the PDF Version
posted by aclevername at 6:53 AM on June 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


Eastern Europe-United States.

Katya, a student athlete in an Eastern European capital city, dreamed of learning English and visiting the United States. Her opportunity came in the form of a student visa program, through which international students can work temporarily in the United States. But when she got to America, rather than being taken to a job at a beach resort, the people who met her put her on a bus to Detroit, Michigan. They took her passport away, and forced her and her friends to dance in strip clubs for the traffickers’ profit. They controlled the girls’ movement and travel, kept keys to the girls’ apartment, and listened in on phone calls the girls made to their parents. After a year of enslavement, Katya and her friend were able to reach federal authorities with the help of a patron of the strip club in whom they had confided. Due to their bravery, six other victims were identified and rescued. Katya now has immigration status under the U.S. trafficking law. She works in a health club and hopes to finish her degree in kinesiology. The traffickers are in federal prison.

posted by fake at 7:06 AM on June 15, 2010 [13 favorites]


fuq: So are we having a meetup at the Lux Lounge or not?
Looks like not at the one in question: "TO ALL LUX LOUNGE FANS!!!!! AS OF TODAY LUX IS CLOSED. WE WILL BE OPENING A NEW LOCATION VERY SOON. ONE LOCATION IS COMING IN MIAMI IN ABOUT 2 WEEKS ANOTHER LOCATION WILL BE OPENING IN BROOKLYN SOMETIME SOON. THANK YOU AND WAIT FOR A FUTURE NOTICE".

A coworker whom I'd shared the first part of the story with just happened to send this to me. I don't know if she's been stalking Lux Lounge since or what. Huh.
posted by knile at 7:28 PM on June 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


Good all around. Enough room for all. The PayPal haters, the believers in interweb magic, the MeFi community, and even bingo. I'm content to watch from a distance. For me (and your mileage may certainly/will be guaranteed to vary) I'd rather contribute to libraries in China. But that it just me.
posted by fixedgear at 12:55 PM on June 16, 2010


AS OF TODAY LUX IS CLOSED.

Bingo's gonna be sad.
posted by SpiffyRob at 2:55 PM on June 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


As someone who's been following this story - I'm glad for the update and I'm going to file this under Happy Endings. I didn't give any money - but that doesn't mean I wasn't silently cheering everyone on, reading and hoping that not only would the girls hook up with someone who'd help them but also that they'd come away with a good impression of how nice folks in this country can be.

In the end can't we all be pleased that nothing bad did happen? It's not like there's not any proof that these sorts of scams do exist and lead to more than just an inconvenience in travel plans.

Meanwhile thank you to all of you who did give, money or advice. I always like it when MeFi reminds me that people have good intentions - makes me feel better about life and all that.
posted by batgrlHG at 10:53 PM on June 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


I so want to cap off this incredible story/thread with an inappropriate joke just so we all remember who we are.
posted by Think_Long at 9:17 AM on June 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


They're not like, a super-secret underground organization, and if you want to know who they are, I can ask their permission to send the info to you not-publicly.

I guess that publicizing themselves in this specific context would not be helpful to the trust that they have to build with the people they help.

They're the experts on it, way more than I am, so I am willing to go with what they want.

I sent the donation receipt to mathowie and made the donation on behalf of metafilter so if they ever publish a donor list metafilter will be on it! Pretty cool.


Thanks for your response, I appreciate it.
posted by amro at 11:19 AM on June 20, 2010


ANYONE THAT DOESNT AGREE WITH ME SHOULD QUIT METAFILTER
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:47 PM on June 20, 2010


I agree with sgt.serenity.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:56 PM on June 20, 2010


I read the original thread, and most follow-up MeTa activity, as a request for immediate help and opinion on a situation that needed to be immediately addressed. That's a little different from outright asking for charity. More about community interaction than a transaction.

As for money, I think it's no different than having a casual friend present you with the situation with a plea for whatever help you could kick in. Money helps, but the tone of things was much more immediate. Is anyone criticizing people who called aid organizations or law enforcement officials? The people who made those connections and calls, along with anyone who personally interacted with the girls, stuck their necks out a lot more than anyone who just donated money, and possibly had the most to lose. But those were cautionary actions, where donation is money is seen as an end, not a means.

The truth of the matter is that the end, making sure that there wasn't anything criminal going on and making sure these girls were safe, might not be completely possible. Some people will never feel completely comfortable with the fact that money was donated without a concretely achievable end. But, I'm personally comfortable with the fact that money was used as a means to a possible end.
posted by mikeh at 11:33 AM on June 24, 2010


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