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March 23, 2011 5:11 AM   Subscribe

The Daily Beast has a great piece out on the saga of two Russian immigrants caught up in the sex trade and the work of a handful of brave MeFites who saved them. Cheers!
posted by mkultra to MetaFilter-Related at 5:11 AM (174 comments total) 44 users marked this as a favorite

What a great story. The attention is well deserved.
posted by bardic at 5:29 AM on March 23, 2011


Totally. Great to get the backstory. I love this place.
posted by nevercalm at 5:31 AM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's pretty awesome. I've always wondered the whole story, and this fills in a lot of the gaps. At the time everyone had to be a little hush hush, and now that the immediate danger is past we can get the entire scoop.
posted by Stewriffic at 5:32 AM on March 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


“I just thought these women were in trouble, and it seemed like the right thing to do.” Cheers.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:32 AM on March 23, 2011


This is the sort of follow-up I was hoping for here. Thanks, mkultra, for passing this along.
posted by knile at 5:35 AM on March 23, 2011


Boy, you talk about the Best of the Internet, that was it right there. One of the things that sticks out in my mind almost a year later is that, IIRC, Internet Fraud Detective Squad was in a tight situation herself and not really in a position to be helping anyone out, and yet, she did. At the same time, fake was in the middle of a life change, and also jumped in with both feet. Pretty damn heroic.
posted by planetkyoto at 5:46 AM on March 23, 2011 [11 favorites]


I wondered why she disabled her account. That was amazing to watch unfold. Kudos all round. Fake was relentless in helping his friends, the whole community really pitched in, and boy did ifdssn9 and her hubby ever go the extra mile. Truly, the best of the Web.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 5:48 AM on March 23, 2011


Thanks for posting this.
posted by Forktine at 5:50 AM on March 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


We're not over ourselves about this thing yet? Well, in that case, yay metafilter! Kickin' ass and takin' names...er... saving lives!
posted by Grither at 5:59 AM on March 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Thanks for posting this. MeFi rocks.
posted by arcticseal at 6:03 AM on March 23, 2011


internet fraud is still around, just under a different handle.

This story still makes me go "Holy wow!" I never read the Daily Beast so I never would have seen this - thanks for the heads-up.
posted by rtha at 6:04 AM on March 23, 2011


I don't even have the words.
posted by jtron at 6:09 AM on March 23, 2011


I didn't realize the two women were with Internet Fraud Detective Squad for a whole month! Wow. That's an extreme kindness.

I miss being able to recognize Internet Fraud Detective Squad. I liked having her as a contact.
posted by meese at 6:10 AM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Great story indeed. I can't resist pointing out, though, that "At least she didn’t have to evacuate in her pajamas..." is very unfortunate phrasing.
posted by languagehat at 6:17 AM on March 23, 2011 [60 favorites]


Abigail Pesta, author of the Beast article, called me during my brief stay with Bloopen in UT. She was the first print journalist to really *get* the situation - that the story wasn't that women were being trafficked - that happens all the time - but rather that trafficking, or something very like it, was being thwarted by a bunch of people who barely knew each other, coming together at their own expense and of their own goodwill. Kathrine, K, S, and I are all glad that she was the one writing.

I still talk to K a couple times a week (and S once a month or so). We trade music and thoughts on world events. I call her when there are bombings and terakts in Moscow, and she emails her concern when radioactive clouds threaten LA. Goof. ;)

Nothing I can say will ever really thank Kathrine or make right the hell she's been through over this. No good deed goes unpunished. And no thank-you list of names will ever be complete, or show my appreciation for every last call, text, post, article, tweet, connection, couch, ride, and word of advice. And there's no way, no way to communicate the overwhelming sense of peace that filled me when I finally saw them safe.

Thanks, Metafilter, Kathrine, and everyone involved. You know who you are.

knile, I missed that - did you ever see this update?
http://metatalk.metafilter.com/19420/Update-on-K-and-S

posted by fake at 6:24 AM on March 23, 2011 [31 favorites]


Yep. This place is awesome.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:32 AM on March 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Great story indeed. I can't resist pointing out, though, that "At least she didn’t have to evacuate in her pajamas..." is very unfortunate phrasing.
posted by languagehat


I swear to FSM that I read that and thought of you.
posted by nevercalm at 6:32 AM on March 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


fake, i'd seen that, and knew the girls were safe, etc. I guess I was just hoping that our efforts had had bigger impact on human trafficking, that we'd helped tip the cops off to a huge ring & brought them Down, Bad Guys put away for decades. Really, though, the safety and happiness of you and yours ought to have been enough.
posted by knile at 6:38 AM on March 23, 2011


I was just hoping that our efforts had had bigger impact on human trafficking

I think we all wanted that. this might have been the hardest comment to read ever what about all those other people
posted by fake at 6:47 AM on March 23, 2011


Thanks for posting this. Like Stewriffic, at the time I understood the need for things to go on radio silence, but I'm really happy to hear more of the story. The journalist did a phenomenal job using what we do know about what happened to illustrate the larger realities about how trafficking happens, and emphasizing that what made this one story different was the community here and its willingness to help (not to mention some pretty effective contacts in its address book). So glad to read it. At the time I remember feeling like I didn't want to fan flames unnecessarily, but it really quacked like a duck, and it seemed like the best and safest thing to do was to treat it like a duck. Now that we know there was a serious gap between the sponsoring company's expectations and the interference they encountered in the US, and that the Lux Lounge turned out to be fly-by-night, I think that we definitely made the right collective decision in treating this all seriously.

I hope the young women can come back for another summer with a legitimate job.
posted by Miko at 7:18 AM on March 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Every time ifdssn9 changes her account I lose track of her and mourn, then finally reconnect and am engladdened and then she changes her account again.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:29 AM on March 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Hi, if you're ifdssn9 or Pollomacho and you don't mind me knowing, could you memail me and let me know where you got to? I don't want to out anybody's new username -- I'm just trying to keep my thumb on the script, here.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:33 AM on March 23, 2011 [6 favorites]


Fantastic article. I silently watched the thread(s) at the time but had nothing to contribute. So glad that everything worked out for these too but, yeah, the unknown numbers of people who don't escape every year is pretty terrifying to think about. At least the fine folks of MetaFilter were able to help in some small way, even when there was no reasonable expectation for them to do any such thing.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 7:49 AM on March 23, 2011


MeFi continues to be my one and only source of hope for the future of humanity.
posted by tommasz at 8:00 AM on March 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


That's why we're building a space ark longboat.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:05 AM on March 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


The journalist did a phenomenal job

"The website, which bills itself as a community weblog, is a forum where members post various links and comments, often about news of the day."

Uh, no. That only deserves a B+ at best.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:11 AM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


One thing that worries me a wee bit about the article is that it implies Metafilter is intended to provide aid to people, rather than mere advice. Fake came here for advice, but the outpouring of concern turned into aid. People, however, may read that article and think that Ask.Me is intended for requests for aid, specifically.
posted by meese at 8:20 AM on March 23, 2011


I remember this as being one of the more stressful moments of my time in this community. Thankfully, it worked out.

I sometimes point to the incident as an example of why I find this place so fulfilling. We made a pretty good showing of what a bunch of names on a screen can do for one another and those we care about.
posted by quin at 8:23 AM on March 23, 2011


God, that makes me cry from relief just reading it now, a year later. All y'all are awesome peoples, and this was an awesome thing that you collectively did.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:25 AM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


> MeFi continues to be my one and only source of hope for the future of humanity.

Oh, my.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:34 AM on March 23, 2011 [9 favorites]


Hi, if you're ifdssn9 or Pollomacho and you don't mind me knowing, could you memail me and let me know where you got to? I don't want to out anybody's new username -- I'm just trying to keep my thumb on the script, here.

Ditto for ifdssn9 for me.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 8:36 AM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Uh, no. That only deserves a B+ at best.

The first journalist to get Metafilter right in less than a paragraph wins everything forever. Barring that, it's a lot better than "Matt Howie's personal 'blog'" and no one reading from the outside will really be invested in the fine details of what this place is to the point where it matters how perfect the elevator pitch is.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:37 AM on March 23, 2011 [6 favorites]


Metafilter: internet fraud is still around, just under a different handle.


(And, congrats to everyone involved on such a great writeup in the press! Could not ask for a better bunch of people to get some spotlight!)
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:38 AM on March 23, 2011


I am internet fraud detective squad, station number 9.
posted by grouse at 8:39 AM on March 23, 2011


This article seems to have omitted the part where I turned into a car and then beat the Russian mob with laser attacks.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 8:40 AM on March 23, 2011 [15 favorites]


People, however, may read that article and think that Ask.Me is intended for requests for aid, specifically.

The good news is, the system will more or less weed those folks out. At least ai hope it will. I was a littlenervous, knowing hte article was coming out but not quite what it said and I was surprised how even handed it was.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:40 AM on March 23, 2011


cortex: " The first journalist to get Metafilter right in less than a paragraph wins everything forever. Barring that, it's a lot better than "Matt Howie's personal 'blog'" and no one reading from the outside will really be invested in the fine details of what this place is to the point where it matters how perfect the elevator pitch is."

After 10 years of development and the rise of multiple subsites, we're kinda hard to nail down. :)
posted by zarq at 8:42 AM on March 23, 2011


The good news is, the system will more or less weed those folks out. At least ai hope it will.

BREAKING NEWS: ASK METAFILTER IS CONTROLLED BY AN AI.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:43 AM on March 23, 2011 [6 favorites]


My finger still hurts from refreshing the page that day. It was one of the awesomest developments I've ever seen.
posted by Namlit at 8:44 AM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


It is certainly better than the article I read at the time that said Ask was a community question blog that was more concerned with computer questions and digestive issues than trafficking...
posted by Tchad at 8:44 AM on March 23, 2011


Tchad: "It is certainly better than the article I read at the time that said Ask was a community question blog that was more concerned with computer questions and digestive issues than trafficking..."
Dear AskMe: 

HELP!  I ignored the advice you all gave me last week not to eat my laptop....
posted by zarq at 8:47 AM on March 23, 2011 [13 favorites]


I remember that day there was an epic Chicago pizza meetup and because I am terrified of people I went home after work instead of straight to the meetup (to, I dunno, gather courage) and I managed to check fake's AskMe thread and see this update right before I went to meet a bunch of strangers from the internet, none of whom had heard anything beyond the 'OH HOLY SHIT WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN' point. It was a great, strange moment, telling a table of people I'd just met that some strangers I'd never heard of had just been rescued by a person a thousand miles away that none of us knew, and everyone being overjoyed.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:53 AM on March 23, 2011 [29 favorites]


Awesomeness, all around.
It is nice to have MetaFilter and MeFites acknowledged for the awesomeness that they are.
posted by SLC Mom at 8:54 AM on March 23, 2011


I loved that post! Let's just look at it again, right here!

I just heard their voices on the phone. They are safe with one of us. Confirmed. Rejoicing.
posted by fake at 6:47 PM on May 20, 2010 [146 favorites +] [!]

posted by thinkpiece at 9:01 AM on March 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


I was surprised that the article didn't mention some of the other real, tangible help Mefites gave--if I recall, several people got together and donated funds to help Kathrine and the girls out with the living arrangements, food, etc. I don't remember how much money was raised, but that's unusual for an internet community (and one of the things that makes this place so fabulous).

In the words of the immortal ColdChef: I fucking love you people.
posted by misha at 9:10 AM on March 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm glad to see this story told well. Also: based on the photos accompanying the article, Katherine and Daniel are both HAWT. Way to skew the curve, y'all. Jeez.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:10 AM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Congrats to fake, internet detective, etc and everyone else who helped. I had nothing to contribute except cheering on the sidelines but I'm so proud that we were able to help and shine a light on this sordid trafficking business.
posted by Lynsey at 9:40 AM on March 23, 2011


this story still chokes me up when i read it. i happened into it in progress, then had to be offline for a while, then came back after resolution and it felt like seen a miracle in action. seriously, that's what it felt like.

the article emphasises all that goodness and how effective this community can be.

beautiful.

i still think the names of the two most involved couldn't have been more perfect.
posted by batmonkey at 10:18 AM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


From the comments at the Daily Beast:

"The Internet is rife with every con-job and human exploitation scams possible and yet people "trust" those they meet on websites or Internet advertisements.
Sex slavery, child pornography and faux product scams are the staples of the vicious criminals, who will wreck people's lives so they can "profit."
There should be an Internet police force that scans what's out there and puts out daily warnings and notices to the general public."


Indeed. Some sort of fraud detection squad. With multiple stations. Perhaps as many is nine.

This was one of y'all trolling wasn't it?
posted by stet at 10:19 AM on March 23, 2011 [9 favorites]


Congrats to fake, internet detective

Heh. Skim read that and thought it was the start of a sarcastic, dismissive rant. "Congratulations, you fake internet detectives..."
posted by EndsOfInvention at 10:20 AM on March 23, 2011


HELP! I ignored the advice you all gave me last week not to eat my laptop....

Also - How long can an iPhone survive my gastric juices? (Urgent!)
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:31 AM on March 23, 2011


God, I remember the enormous sense of relief when the young women decided not to go to the bar. There had been so much buildup. It was so nerve-wracking. And it seemed certain they would go someplace sketchy to meet somebody sketchy at a sketchy time, and we might never hear from them again.

And then -- hooray -- somebody talked them out of it!

The closest thing to that moment of relief was when all those MeFites helped that person get out of her locked room.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:35 AM on March 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


EndsOfInvention: " Heh. Skim read that and thought it was the start of a sarcastic, dismissive rant. "Congratulations, you fake internet detectives...""

I seem to remember that the first few times this story was mentioned outside of Metafilter, there was a lot of confusion over the usernames involved. They definitely contributed to the idea that this was all a clever hoax. Weird usernames are one of those things that you can't expect people outside of Metafilter to get about Metafilter.
posted by roll truck roll at 10:42 AM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Devils Rancher: " Also - How long can an iPhone survive my gastric juices? (Urgent!)"

There's an app for that!
posted by zarq at 10:44 AM on March 23, 2011


Also - How long can an iPhone survive my gastric juices? (Urgent!)"

There's an app for that!


Appetite?
posted by Think_Long at 10:45 AM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


grouse, I knew internet fraud detective squad, station number 9. internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 was a friend of mine. And you, sir, are no internet fraud detective squad, station number 9.
posted by twirlip at 10:47 AM on March 23, 2011


I seem to remember that the first few times this story was mentioned outside of Metafilter, there was a lot of confusion over the usernames involved. They definitely contributed to the idea that this was all a clever hoax. Weird usernames are one of those things that you can't expect people outside of Metafilter to get about Metafilter.

"Duh, his username is 'Fake', guys. Obviously this is all a lie."
posted by litnerd at 10:52 AM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


When I read languagehat's comment I evacuated in my pajamas.
posted by found missing at 11:00 AM on March 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


You can't evacuate people.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:09 AM on March 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've now read the whole thing and I think it does a pretty good job telling what it knows and not getting too breathless about the whole thing. The thing that stuck in my mind: only one boot! What an odd little detail.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:12 AM on March 23, 2011 [11 favorites]


I know. I can't recall being at even one ass-travaganza where the girls were wearing boots.
posted by found missing at 11:16 AM on March 23, 2011


Wow - somehow I'd breathlessly followed the whole situation (like shakespearian, I will oddly always associate it with anchovy pizza) but I'd never seen that picture -- which really, really would have made me much more worried.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:17 AM on March 23, 2011


Oops, I mean the one on the second page of the article -- the ass-travaganza; the one of Katherine is lovely.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:17 AM on March 23, 2011


On the other hand, I now associate Pequod's Pizza with human trafficking.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:19 AM on March 23, 2011


I'm so proud to be a part of this community.
posted by chatongriffes at 11:36 AM on March 23, 2011


grouse, I knew internet fraud detective squad, station number 9. internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 was a friend of mine. And you, sir, are no internet fraud detective squad, station number 9.

This is what I should have said:

I am Spartacus internet fraud detective squad, station number 9!
posted by grouse at 11:43 AM on March 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


I've now read the whole thing and I think it does a pretty good job telling what it knows and not getting too breathless about the whole thing. The thing that stuck in my mind: only one boot! What an odd little detail.

I can only imagine there is some kid with Photoshop who does his uncle's club flyers and his uncle was like "no she's not naked enough" and the kid was like "but she's only wearing a thong and boots, she can't really get any more naked", "MORE NAKED", "OK, uh, I guess I could... airbrush out one of the boots?"
posted by EndsOfInvention at 11:58 AM on March 23, 2011 [7 favorites]


Wow, great story and I'm nthing my pride at being part of MetaFilter. Way to go, everyone who was involved in this rescue (because I do believe that is what it was.)
posted by bearwife at 12:03 PM on March 23, 2011


Human trafficing is bad business and everyone should do whatever they can to stymie it.
posted by fuq at 12:36 PM on March 23, 2011


This group goes after predators, if anyone is interested.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:43 PM on March 23, 2011


It was gut wrenching watching this unfold in real time. So glad everything turned out okay.
posted by futureisunwritten at 12:51 PM on March 23, 2011


"OK, uh, I guess I could... airbrush out one of the boots?"

Really though I think it's one of those things where having a little bit on highlights the nudity, like how a naked woman wearing a necktie looks much, much, much more naked than simply a naked woman.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:53 PM on March 23, 2011


That's also why male strippers wear bow ties. Well, that and to look classy.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:56 PM on March 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


Depends where they wear the bow tie.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:58 PM on March 23, 2011


I've said it before, and I'll say it again: MetaFilter is fucking awesome.
posted by Aizkolari at 12:59 PM on March 23, 2011


I am Spartacus internet fraud detective squad, station number 9!

I figured that was probably what you meant, but I couldn't resist.

posted by twirlip at 1:03 PM on March 23, 2011


I read through that and thought it was really anticlimactic. We never figured out who George was. The Lux Lounge closed and the reporter couldn't get a quote from anyone there. Our Russians didn't find new jobs and had to go home early. No one was prosecuted.

...of course, those features are really the hallmarks of this being a true story. It's so rare that reality gets tied up in neat little bows, and rarer still do stories that don't have these resolution points actually get told in the news. In the end, the real lessons here are a) human trafficking is really common and insidious and b) Metafilter has immense potential for good beyond 'making the internet better' and c) apparently our members and their friends are very attractive.
posted by norm at 2:25 PM on March 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: our members and their friends are very attractive.
posted by fuq at 2:29 PM on March 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


My member is pretty nice.
posted by fixedgear at 2:47 PM on March 23, 2011


I am thrilled beyond words that everything worked out. I was thrilled when we found out that they hadn't gone to the bar after all, and thrilled when we got to see pictures of them at the beach. I'm thrilled that we get more of the story in this article.

And, though I'm not proud of it, I'm glad that this proves the "you don't *know* that that this is what's going on/stop sending money because I think you're being used/you people are so credulous" gang wrong, wrong, wrong.
posted by tzikeh at 2:47 PM on March 23, 2011


fixedgear gets the price of the week for subtle eponistericality.
posted by Namlit at 2:51 PM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


$20 same as in town.
posted by taz at 2:55 PM on March 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Damn. prize. *Whacking head against fixtures in home*
posted by Namlit at 2:56 PM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


:)
posted by taz at 3:01 PM on March 23, 2011


But where's the follow-up on bingo's adventures?
posted by barrett caulk at 3:01 PM on March 23, 2011


.

and rarer still do stories that don't have these resolution points actually get told in the news.

I must admit being a bit surprised that so many news outlets would contact me and then reject the story after wasting so much time interviewing me, looking at pictures, reading endless mefi threads, etc. But it's precisely what Norm is saying above - the situation was anticlimactic exactly because the terrible thing never happened. And a lot of hands were tied as a result of the girls' interaction with the police. Unfortunately not everyone acts in their own best interest all of the time.
posted by fake at 3:11 PM on March 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


> But where's the follow-up on bingo's adventures?

bingo had a right to question things, even if he might've overreacted.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:11 PM on March 23, 2011


Of course he did. But it seemed to me he went out of his way to himself a featured player in a story that wasn't really his.
posted by barrett caulk at 3:14 PM on March 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


I felt like him checking out things on his own was fine and sort of useful. His name-calling and general dug-in stance on the subsequent things that happened were a bit more problematic but of course he's entitled to his opinions.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:17 PM on March 23, 2011


Other people checked out Lux, too, and they didn't act the same way. Here's the full discussion.
posted by fake at 3:23 PM on March 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm really glad to hear internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 is still around. I'd wondered.
posted by nangar at 3:25 PM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, he's still active on the site so he's welcome to speak for himself if he wants to. I also found his stance to much more negative than necessary even when I found myself with questions about what was happening. I think lots of people had issues with the whole thing, but were not sure how to voice them in any constructive fashion--it was either be a cheerleader or be quiet. Nor would it be all that useful for them to say anything, really, since they could just turn their attention to other matters they could affect. At any rate, it's certainly good that a shitty bar isn't in operation anymore and that those two women didn't end up doing anything degrading or dangerous.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:26 PM on March 23, 2011


Agreed. It was really needless snark that I even dredged all that up here. Blast it.
posted by barrett caulk at 3:37 PM on March 23, 2011


but of course he's entitled to his opinions

Yes he is, and woe betide the fellow who has a minority opinion on mefi

may they perish beneath a thousand comments with long semi autobiographical paragraphs, favourites burning brighter than the suns core.
posted by sgt.serenity at 4:21 PM on March 23, 2011 [8 favorites]


Svetlana and Ksenya stayed with Kathrine for nearly a month.

Holy shit. Nicely done, Katherine.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:22 PM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, the step from being a waitress in a sleazy strip-club to a sex-slave is a pretty big one, and a mild degree of skepticism about the risk level on some observer's part isn't a bad thing necessarily. However, anyone with any sophistication at all about the issues involved immediately recognized the precise modus operandi, things were definitely not safe for these girls. That Ass Stavaganza poster alone should ring all sorts of alarm bells for anyone not willfully blind to what kind of environment that place was, never mind an actual visit.

Using the fact that he wasn't accosted by offers of paid-companionship immediately upon entry as some sort of proof about the absence of such activity struck me more as a deliberate obstinance in defense of some ephemeral "point" than any well-considered weighing of the evidence. Because any income opportunities at a dump like this are a lot closer to prostitution than Life Guarding on a beach (dream summer-job for many that age) is to waitressing at Red Lobster. There isn't a sliver of doubt in my mind that this was the ultimate aim of these skeezy characters, just what level of coercion might have ultimately been involved.

Stubbornness in defense of a lost cause can create irrational behavior online. The name-calling was especially egregious though in light of the actual facts, especially the reactions of authorities with knowledge about this kind of thing. Sending undercover agents to a bus terminal? They were really, not-kidding-around here, worried about this scenario.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 4:23 PM on March 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ugh, the bad guys will be back. All they needed was a single sleazy guy to meet the girls at the airport and escort them to degrading club work, the guy the company denied they knew (but then, why did they harass Katherine with calls for weeks?).

I'm glad MetaFilter was able to save the day this time, but the police should have been able to bust these guys as soon as they had "George"'s phone number. It's disappointing that the rescue operation was left to ordinary people who had every right to be afraid of the Russian Mafia busting down their doors.
posted by shii at 5:03 PM on March 23, 2011


Count me in as another Mefite who was immensely relieved at the article's refreshing lack of manufactured drama.
posted by desuetude at 5:16 PM on March 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


Heroic acts SHOULD be highlighted in the media, and I'm so grateful this one was. Bad news sells, but good news revives the human spirit. Which is more valuable?

I vote "good news" all the way!
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 5:32 PM on March 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


sgt.serenity: Yes he is, and woe betide the fellow who has a minority opinion on mefi

may they perish beneath a thousand comments with long semi autobiographical paragraphs, favourites burning brighter than the suns core.


That's a fuckin' work of art right there.
posted by gman at 7:00 PM on March 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


Yay! Barkeep, plates of beans all around!
posted by IndigoRain at 8:30 PM on March 23, 2011


--it was either be a cheerleader or be quiet.

No, it was not. We always, all of us, have choices about how to respond. I personally recall speaking up in favor of bingo's skepticism as an approach, and was myself wary of writing the conclusion of the story before the facts were in, though I also thought that his investigative foray didn't produce any evidence countering the theory that it could be a trafficking location and, given the safety implications, ultimately endorsed treating it as though we expected horses.
posted by Miko at 8:42 PM on March 23, 2011


Yes, but the initial skepticism was not the only issue people had as things unfolded, though.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:56 PM on March 23, 2011


Maybe skepticism was not the only issue, but for heaven's sake, there were always a full range of options for individual points of view, not some requirement to "be a cheerleader or be quiet." That's an unfair characterization of MetaFilter.

Sometimes there's a strong majority leaning, to be sure, but if people decide to stop interjecting a dissenting point of view that's within the normal bounds of commentary, that decision originates with them, not MetaFilter. Saying "I didn't feel like continuing to push my point in light of strong opposition I didn't feel willing to counter" isn't the same thing as saying "I was prevented from saying what I believed."
posted by Miko at 9:00 PM on March 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Maybe skepticism was not the only issue, but for heaven's sake, there were always a full range of options for individual points of view, not some requirement to "be a cheerleader or be quiet." That's an unfair characterization of MetaFilter.

Nah, it's normal crowd vs individual dynamics. I had and have a lot of reservations about the incident, thought I'm glad everything turned out well. I don't feel like bringing them up at this point because I'm not up to the me vs popular and positive choice of the crowd. Bringing up the dissenting opinion requires a certain amount of commitment and energy and it's understandable, IMO, if people don't feel as those they want to make that commitment of time and energy.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:39 AM on March 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


> That's an unfair characterization of MetaFilter.

I think that's kind of an unrealistic idealization of what happens here, though. Like Brandon said, people usually recognize when it's not worth the emotional investment to continue in a certain direction.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:42 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nah, it's normal crowd vs individual dynamics.

My point exactly. It's nothing specific to MetaFilter. If you really care enough, you speak up. If you decide it's not worth your while, it's your decision.

Bringing up the dissenting opinion requires a certain amount of commitment and energy and it's understandable, IMO, if people don't feel as those they want to make that commitment of time and energy.

Oh, I think it's totally understandable, too, but I don't think it's a function of MetaFilter or something to blame MetaFilter for. Throughout history, people willing to speak their unpopular opinions have been responsible for some signficant changes (both good and bad). If you decide it's not worth trying to be heard above the opposition, you've made a decision about how important it is to you to make that point, its relative value and seriousness in the situation in which it's being discussed. As the one holding the view, it's you who make the decision as to whether this is something important enough to go to the mat for. As much as I recognize crowd dynamics, I also think it's important to recognize the total determining power of that individual decision. Nobody gets to consider what never gets said.

The crowd doesn't actively silence anyone. It may exert a certain pressure, but no one is prohibited from taking and defending a dissenting view if they're willing to. On MetaFilter particularly, I think it's been kind of inspiring over the years to see how one or a few people who have something really knowledgeable or really powerful to say can change the course of an entire discussion and win over people previously in disagreement with them. I don't think it happens often or maybe even every time it needs to, but it can and does happen, perhaps here more than elsewhere, and I don't think it idealizes MetaFilter to say that.

In this case, I thought bingo raised some important questions and I lauded his skepticism, but in the process of testing his arguments I didn't find that they added up to a recommendation for some other course of action. I think that his objections were heard and considered, but ultimately not strong enough to counterweigh the other arguments and concerns about the situation. To me, that's what a successful discussion is like - points of view are advanced, considered, and either accepted or dismissed. There was a certain degree of groupthink going on, but there was also independent thinking and reasonable discourse.
posted by Miko at 7:53 AM on March 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


Miko: "The crowd doesn't actively silence anyone. It may exert a certain pressure, but no one is prohibited from taking and defending a dissenting view if they're willing to."

Dissenters have at times been subjected to ridicule, vehement accusations and personal attacks, which tends to discourage civil conversation. There have been plenty of callouts in MeTa that I would characterize as silencing pile-ons, where minority viewpoints have been virtually shouted down. Often, there are complaints (justified and not,) that a dissenter is trolling for voicing an opposing opinion.

The majority crowd usually gets its way around here, which is all well and good if you're on the right side. But when you're not, especially regarding a controversial topic, the "pressure" you speak of can be downright hostile.
posted by zarq at 8:09 AM on March 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


The majority crowd usually gets its way around here, which is all well and good if you're on the right side. But when you're not, especially regarding a controversial topic, the "pressure" you speak of can be downright hostile.

I think the point that Miko is trying to make, however, is that that is not something uniquely coded into Metafilter's DNA, so to speak. It's something that happens in every community, and it happens because it's something we, as human beings, brought to the table. The majority crowd ultimately tends to get its way in almost every community, is the point, not just Metafilter.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:16 AM on March 24, 2011


Well, I certainly wasn't indicting "Metafilter" as such for any of it. It's just people everywhere you go; everything else is imagination.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:21 AM on March 24, 2011


On a related note, just thought you all might be interested to know that the Departments of Justice and State are still hard at work trying to break the ties between travellers like these girls and organized crime elements that seek to exploit them.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:22 AM on March 24, 2011 [16 favorites]


Yeah, that is basically what I'm trying to say.

And also, on MeFi there are those occasional extreme pileon cases, but it doesn't always come to that, especially when someone is being reasonable and shows goodwill. The mods also work to curtail it earlier. Apart from that, it is okay, after all, to have an unpopular opinion and for most people to disagree with it. It doesn't make your opinion right or wrong in and of itself, but every now and then all of us are going to find ourselves in a minority of one kind or another, and it's kind of up to us how we handle that moment. Being in the minority or the majority doesn't make your opinion correct or incorrect because of that fact alone. It's true that not every windmill is worth tilting at. And even when you do tilt, if the majority of community members disagree with you, it might be group dynamics, it might be unpopularity, it might be total blithering idiocy on the part of the majority, and it also might just be honest and considered widely shared disagreement.
posted by Miko at 8:27 AM on March 24, 2011


EmpressCallipygos: " I think the point that Miko is trying to make, however, is that that is not something uniquely coded into Metafilter's DNA, so to speak. It's something that happens in every community, and it happens because it's something we, as human beings, brought to the table. The majority crowd ultimately tends to get its way in almost every community, is the point, not just Metafilter."

I'm not entirely sure how Miko could be pointing out that Metafilter is somehow better than other other communities because silencing of opposing viewpoints doesn't happen here while simultaneously acknowledging that it does, but okay.
posted by zarq at 8:30 AM on March 24, 2011


Also, sorry, I don't mean to appear to be picking on your point, Burhanistan. I just hope that people will feel more comfortable here to say their piece when they don't agree with the general run of the discussion. It can be hard to do, even when it's worth it, but like the Empress said, it's hard everywhere. It's a good skill to cultivate...

I'm not entirely sure how Miko could be pointing out that Metafilter is somehow better than other other communities because silencing of opposing viewpoints doesn't happen here while simultaneously acknowledging that it does, but okay.


No, I don't think "silencing" happens much anywhere, though strong vocal majorities happen everywhere. My basic point is that most perceived silencing in communities is self-silencing. Yes, it's hard to speak up against a big vocal majority. Hard doesn't equal impossible. I think MetaFilter is somewhat better than many other communities at dealing with people who have opinions that aren't as widely shared. Maybe I'm wrong about that or maybe I'm just remembering some especially sucky communities.
posted by Miko at 8:35 AM on March 24, 2011


aren't as widely shared*

*As long as they aren't being an asshole about it
posted by Miko at 8:36 AM on March 24, 2011


Hey, I just found some really interesting theory about speaking up or not.
posted by Miko at 8:46 AM on March 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Holy shit Pollomacho - looking at the PDF you posted - the third paragraph would likely have prevented this whole thing, no?

I am extremely glad to see these changes. This is really positive. I mean, JUST LOOK AT THIS -- it's basically what happened in thread:

Job Placement – U.S. sponsors are responsible for identifying, evaluating, and securing job placements for Pilot Program participants. U.S. sponsors must contract directly with potential employers, using the sponsor’s own forms. In addition, U.S. sponsors must fully vet job placements by

(1) contacting employers in person, by telephone, or by email to confirm the terms and conditions of jobs;

(2) obtaining written confirmation of those terms and conditions;

(3) authenticating places of employment by using Secretary of State or state Department of Labor websites, Google street view, etc.;

(4) obtaining and verifying employers’ Employer Identification Number (EIN); and

(5) verifying employers’ workmen’s compensation coverage, if applicable.

posted by fake at 8:47 AM on March 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


My point exactly. It's nothing specific to MetaFilter. If you really care enough, you speak up. If you decide it's not worth your while, it's your decision.

This situation was unique, with the site, and some of its members, brushing up against international trafficking, prostitution rings and shady characters, however slightly. Considering that the Mefite who met and housed the girls was warned to get all her personal information off the internet, after spending a weeks holed up her apartment, justifiably paranoid, it's not unreasonable for people to decide "hey, this could have serious, long term negative consequences, however far fetched. Maybe I'll sit this one out."

Suicidal AskMe's, anon or otherwise, are not allowed on the site, because the community isn't exactly the best place to handle those calls for help. Saving people from being forced in sexual slavery or indentured servitude probably falls into the same area. But hey, we all want to help if we can and the community as a whole certainly will. But the potential for something to go wrong and 'cause blowback for the site in unseen ways is there and again, something worth considering as members and for the moderators (which they probably did and do).

Would have loved to be a fly on the wall on the mod's conversations about this though. "Oh good, you're back from dinner. Just FYI, a mefite on the east coast is going to pick up foreign friends of west coast mefite, in hopes of preventing them from falling into potential sex slavery at club in Long Island. Another mefite is going to scope out the club. You should have some coffee.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:50 AM on March 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


fake, was this the article that was going to appear in Marie Claire, but didn't?
posted by ocherdraco at 8:51 AM on March 24, 2011


fake, was this the article that was going to appear in Marie Claire, but didn't?

Yes, this is that article. MC kept delaying it, and the author shopped it around, eventually deciding that the Beast was the best venue. I agree, though it would have been nice to see it in print. MC would have been great because they are also published in Russian. So it goes.


BUT SERIOUSLY EVERYONE
, did you read what Pollomacho posted? OMG, these changes are going to save lives...
posted by fake at 8:55 AM on March 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


From the PDF:

U.S. sponsors must not place participants:

(1) in any position in the adult entertainment industry;
(5) as pedicab or rolling chair drivers or operators;


Both were offers made in this case. The second was specifically offered, the first was implied.
posted by fake at 8:57 AM on March 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


BUT SERIOUSLY EVERYONE, did you read what Pollomacho posted? OMG, these changes are going to save lives...

Quoted for emphasis, and because I completely missed Pollomacho's comment until you pointed it out.

This is good stuff.
posted by ocherdraco at 9:00 AM on March 24, 2011


Miko: " No, I don't think "silencing" happens much anywhere, though strong vocal majorities happen everywhere. My basic point is that most perceived silencing in communities is self-silencing. Yes, it's hard to speak up against a big vocal majority. Hard doesn't equal impossible. I think MetaFilter is somewhat better than many other communities at dealing with people who have opinions that aren't as widely shared. Maybe I'm wrong about that or maybe I'm just remembering some especially sucky communities."

Thank you for clarifying. I was having difficulty understanding your position.

All silencing will either be imposed from without or within. I don't particularly view the direct result of someone being shouted down or attacked for having an unpopular opinion and subsequently choosing to silence themselves as a positive development. Self-silencing is still silencing. We hear from MeFite political conservatives in MeTa every once in a while, who say they don't bother to say anything in threads because they know the ensuing fight with people whose minds refused to be changed won't be worth the effort.

Apart from that, it is okay, after all, to have an unpopular opinion and for most people to disagree with it. It doesn't make your opinion right or wrong in and of itself, but every now and then all of us are going to find ourselves in a minority of one kind or another, and it's kind of up to us how we handle that moment.

I agree. I also agree that Metafilter tends to handle those situations better than many other online forums. But "we do better than the average" doesn't strike me as an adequate reason to sit back on our laurels. :)

I think the onus should always be on both parties in a discussion to keep things civil, especially if the dynamic turns into one person being attacked by the majority. I'd venture to say that the overall behavior of the majority is even more important than that of the minority. There have been numerous conversations where people have been attacked over their opinions here.

It's true that not every windmill is worth tilting at. And even when you do tilt, if the majority of community members disagree with you, it might be group dynamics, it might be unpopularity, it might be total blithering idiocy on the part of the majority, and it also might just be honest and considered widely shared disagreement.

Disagreement is fine. I have no problem with it. We should welcome debate and alternate perspectives. That's part of the learning process, and we should all be willing to be flexible and adapt our views and opinions when we learn new information. I agree that every windmill isn't worth tilting at. But we don't have to make it harder on people to do so.
posted by zarq at 9:09 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Miko: "Hey, I just found some really interesting theory about speaking up or not."

Thanks for this. Hadn't heard of it before. Fascinating.
posted by zarq at 9:10 AM on March 24, 2011


Hmm, well, maybe these new regulations wouldn't have prevented this incident, since there doesn't seem to be anything about actually verifying employment once the participant is in the US.

These girls' job offer fell apart somewhere between getting on the plane and when they first contacted me. They were already US bound, and the forms were already signed and CETUSA thought they were fine in Virginia Beach. So without at least one further check or checkin to be sure they were employed, the same situation could have occurred.
posted by fake at 9:22 AM on March 24, 2011


In fact, CETUSA has said that this is a common situation for summer hires - that places overestimate how many people they need, and then when the jobs are unavailable, they need re-placement (or, I dunno, to get a job in a club on Coney Island at midnight, I guess).

There must be a simple way to close this loophole.
posted by fake at 9:31 AM on March 24, 2011


What I don't understand (which may very well be because I missed it or because I just don't fundamentally understand how this works) is how the "bad guys" knew about the job falling through and how to contact the girls if there wasn't someone on the supposedly legitimate side of things supplying them with that information. I thought it was more of a bait and switch and that the original job was never legit?
posted by taz at 9:32 AM on March 24, 2011


taz: "What I don't understand (which may very well be because I missed it or because I just don't fundamentally understand how this works) is how the "bad guys" knew about the job falling through and how to contact the girls if there wasn't someone on the supposedly legitimate side of things supplying them with that information. I thought it was more of a bait and switch and that the original job was never legit?"

The job in VA beach was arranged by a separate Russian company that was unknown to CETUSA, but they called the US employer to confirm the positions were available.

The job then fell through and that Russian company then reassigned the two women to another employer. So it does seem to have been a bait and switch.
posted by zarq at 9:35 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


... or what your saying is that they just don't check out places/people that present themselves as job providers? Like one could just be like, o ya plz send me some teenage girls ktxby, and they're cool with that? :(
posted by taz at 9:35 AM on March 24, 2011


Brandon Blatcher, I don't disagree with anything you said. It definitely might have been wise for people to sit it out if they felt better doing so. Sometimes not saying anything is the smartest thing of all. My comments were really in response to the idea that bingo was shouted down or sielnced by a lot of opposition. I don't think he was; I know I really considered what he had to say and I hope others did too. Meanwhile, there might have been a lot of people who spoke up who had no fucking clue what they were saying, and others who had some good ideas but decided there was enough going on already that it was a better idea to avoid muddying the waters with further comment. All reasonable decisions as far as I'm concerned.

"we do better than the average" doesn't strike me as an adequate reason to sit back on our laurels

Not advocating any laurel-sitting; just responding to the idea that this site has some kind of unique problem with discourse that the bingo situation represented. It's not that bad here. Sure we could get better.

We hear from MeFite political conservatives in MeTa every once in a while, who say they don't bother to say anything in threads because they know the ensuing fight with people whose minds refused to be changed won't be worth the effort.

Making that decision on that basis sort of indicates that they've decided already that their own minds won't be changed.

As for the girls, it's a good question - what does it mean that the "job fell through?" I thought the article said the jobs were real, and the CETUSA actually thought they were at the jobs already until the three-day window expired.
posted by Miko at 9:56 AM on March 24, 2011


Well, maybe the NFC people aren't so reasonable. Just that people choose their own methods of participating then.
posted by Miko at 9:59 AM on March 24, 2011


The job then fell through and that Russian company then reassigned the two women to another employer. So it does seem to have been a bait and switch.

I don't think the foreign "agents" told the girls about the jobs in Virginia or if they did they had already told them that the jobs had fallen through. They never intended to let them go to Virginia Beach. The American sponsor thought they were going to find work on their own, but the sponsor's information was not the same as what the agents were telling the women.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:17 AM on March 24, 2011


Not advocating any laurel-sitting; just responding to the idea that this site has some kind of unique problem with discourse that the bingo situation represented. It's not that bad here. Sure we could get better.

OK.

Miko: " Making that decision on that basis sort of indicates that they've decided already that their own minds won't be changed. "

I have recently been deliberately avoiding threads and/or minimizing my contributions on certain topics, such as religion and atheism, circumcision and rape because I don't want to invite more personal attacks or hostility. In this case, it's not a matter of having or lacking an open mind. I simply no longer see the point of subjecting myself to 'em. I can't speak for anyone else, but I suspect I'm not the only MeFite who stays out of such discussions for that reason.
posted by zarq at 10:35 AM on March 24, 2011


I agree. I also agree that Metafilter tends to handle those situations better than many other online forums. But "we do better than the average" doesn't strike me as an adequate reason to sit back on our laurels. :)

I wasn't seeing anyone suggesting thus. I only saw disagreement with the notion that Metafilter deliberately fosters a monolithic groupthink kind of thing. Which it doesn't.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:35 AM on March 24, 2011


So if I'm understanding, the American sponsor was dealing with a Russian agency that is a front for a sex slavery operation? For how long? Have they cheerfully been setting up arrangements for sex trade trafficking and never bothered to check on the outcomes of kids they brought over? I've heard of sloppy operations but that sort of blows my mind.
posted by taz at 10:38 AM on March 24, 2011


EmpressCallipygos: "I wasn't seeing anyone suggesting thus.

I was responding to something that Miko has since clarified.

I only saw disagreement with the notion that Metafilter deliberately fosters a monolithic groupthink kind of thing. Which it doesn't."

We disagree.
posted by zarq at 10:49 AM on March 24, 2011


zarq, are you saying that the mods intentionally sit on their hands and abstain from moderating some threads because they agree with the majority opinion in those cases?

Because that's what it sounds like you're saying, that the mods are more heavy-handed in some threads than others. That's what I mean by "Metafilter deliberately fosters groupthink," that it's something the mods do on purpose.

Is that what you're saying happens?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:51 AM on March 24, 2011


Taz, there are (at least) three entities.

Aloha, the "travel agency" that signed the girls up and took their money while they were in Russia. CETUSA, the usually-legit visa sponsor that signed their documents. "George" the guy who asked them to come to Lux.

CETUSA is in the business of signing documents, and there has so far been little incentive for them to ever check up on anyone, though these new rules change that. To their credit they did become helpful after I spent significant time on the phone with them.

Aloha is basically a thin money collecting agency. They have little responsibility toward the women and made them sign awful contracts saying they would do what the agency wanted or be out $10k. That's why K's boyfriend (a lawyer) had to work to get that contract nulled.

George's relationship to anyone has always been unclear (everyone denies a connection to him) - but he was guiding the women to Lux. The girls maintain (and I absolutely believe them) that they got his number from Aloha. I spoke to the man myself several times before I posted the question. He was the one offering the "new job" at Lux and the "bad apartment to be renovated" where they would live. He applied the pressure to move quickly.

That's the extent of what I know and how I understand it. 10th Regiment of Foot above has one likely explanation. It is indeed surprising that no one was "responsible" for the girls in any meaningful way, but to me, anyway, it is not surprising that this kind of criminal redirection of human beings is complicated/tough to understand/track.
posted by fake at 11:01 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


So if I'm understanding, the American sponsor was dealing with a Russian agency that is a front for a sex slavery operation?

No the (1)sponsor was dealing with an (2)agency that was getting clients fed to them by a (3)travel agency that was a working with/for for a (4?)sex trafficking ring. The women were supposed to be getting their info from (1) but they seem to have been being fed a load of BS from (3) or (4). (1) had no idea about (3/4) and thought everything they were sending to (2) was going to the women.

Or what fake said.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:04 AM on March 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yes.
posted by fake at 11:07 AM on March 24, 2011


> That's what I mean by "Metafilter deliberately fosters groupthink,"

Miko was intitially responding to my comment, and I never said anything about Metafilter fostering groupthink...this is kind of shifting into a conversation about perceptions.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:07 AM on March 24, 2011


Thanks, fake and The 10th.
posted by taz at 11:18 AM on March 24, 2011


Yeah, and I don't want to talk about perceptions, it gets mooshy.

I take a basic approach for myself of 'speak up with an unpopular view when you feel it's important to your integrity to do so, let it go when not, stay out of things that raise your stress level to 'high' as much as possible, and participate in a community as long as it feels there's good faith on all sides.' I advocate this approach. Ideally I want to be speaking for the unpopular view only when it's important, at a manageable stress level, and there's good faith.

We all probably experience tension between the conditions, and when they don't line up, that's what's perceived as hard and inhospitable. That's where the decisionmaking comes in. So in my little model, it's almost a math problem - if something's important to my integrity and I feel I need to speak, but I don't think there's good faith, that might add up to a decision to stay quiet. If it's important but an issue on which my stress level about it is going to go through the roof, it might be smarter to stay quiet. If it's important and the only issue is that the majority doesn't agree, that alone isn't enough to keep me from speaking (as is probably somewhat obvious).

I'd say my approach has worked for 10 years, but for five of those I was only able to read, so it's really only worked for 5 years since I couldn't get into trouble even if I tried. And the mods and many other members have a lot to do with nudging the whole place over to the 'good faith' side every so often as things slip around, so that part I can't take credit for. But I do feel I have responsibility for watching the stress level and importance categories when I have an unpopular opinion, and deciding whether or not participating makes sense.

As for the Russian girls, geez, you have explained the chain of events very well several times and I'm STILL confused. And I speak English. If it's that confusing to read, I can only imagine how incredibly yanked around these women must have felt while it was all first hitting them in their first few days in a foreign place!
posted by Miko at 11:20 AM on March 24, 2011


zarq, are you saying that the mods intentionally sit on their hands and abstain from moderating some threads because they agree with the majority opinion in those cases?

No? Empress, where is this coming from? I'm not talking about the mods or their policies. I've not mentioned the mods in any of my comments in this thread. My impression of the mods has always been that they do a fine job handling a set of very difficult responsibilities. I'm also grateful for them for having the patience of Job with me and other members. I've said so publicly here and told them so privately.

I appreciate that Jessamyn and cortex try their best not to be biased by taking each case individually and thinking things through. I like that certain policies aren't black and white, hard and fast lines. Their flexibility makes being here more enjoyable to me.

"Metafilter" in this case does not mean "the mods." What I'm talking about here is all of us as a community -- a group of people that through our interactions with each other tend to enforce or discredit opinions. And with Miko, I'm speaking in general terms, not specifically with regard to bingo. Which I am under the impression she understood.
posted by zarq at 11:21 AM on March 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Thanks, zarq -- that's why I asked, because that's somehow what I thought you meant and that's what I thought the debate was about all along.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:35 AM on March 24, 2011


I can only imagine how incredibly yanked around these women must have felt while it was all first hitting them in their first few days in a foreign place!

I know! One of the big moments for me was discovering the existence of the visa sponsor at all. It happened while I was camped out in Wyoming. Once I knew who "all" the players were, things came together quickly.
posted by fake at 11:43 AM on March 24, 2011


EmpressCallipygos: "Thanks, zarq -- that's why I asked, because that's somehow what I thought you meant and that's what I thought the debate was about all along."

No problem.

Y'know, the mods regularly step in to contentious MeTa threads to prevent pile ons and cool things off if things seem to get too personal or heated. I don't have a problem with mod intervention. Feature, not a bug, etc., etc.
posted by zarq at 12:13 PM on March 24, 2011


Y'know, the mods regularly step in to contentious MeTa threads to prevent pile ons and cool things off if things seem to get too personal or heated. I don't have a problem with mod intervention. Feature, not a bug, etc., etc.

No, I know. that's why, when I thought you were saying that the mods deliberately guided certain conversations, I was all, "bwuh?"

But then I found out that's not what you were saying and now I'm all, "'kay. Kewl."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:18 PM on March 24, 2011


EmpressCallipygos: ""'kay. Kewl.""

Okie doke.
posted by zarq at 12:41 PM on March 24, 2011


Yeah, that's a pretty sane writeup of the whole thing.

As for the community aspect, I think it's some kind of hard wiring that people want to help people they consider "their tribe". How broad the definition of "tribe" is can vary widely, however.
posted by rmd1023 at 1:27 PM on March 24, 2011


Oh, and I'm glad to know the internet fraud detective squad #9 is still around, albiet undercover. I'd noticed she had disabled the account, but wasn't sure if she was taking a break from the site or just regenerating into a new form, like doctor who does.
posted by rmd1023 at 1:29 PM on March 24, 2011


She is totally like Doctor Who. I think she's now something like the fourth Kathrine.
posted by ocherdraco at 2:01 PM on March 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


I just want to say what an amazing thing you did, fake, along with K from NYC & PolloMacho... + all those behind the scene.

The fact you taught the devotchki [heh] and smelled trouble is truly outstanding! Predators bank on people's trust, naivety and fear. You and K stuck your necks out into their business and they don't like that. Good spotting another tactic, the 'sudden change of plans'.

Look how many journalists in Russia meet their end, doing a job, when that mafia perceives they're 'business' is threatened. The same is happening in Mexican cities on the border.

It was awesome, the team you had!

It must have been difficult when the visitors didn't believe their trusted teacher that they're headed for danger and how K stickhandled meeting them and changing their minds. Wow.

James Bond would have been proud of all those involved in this rescue.

You're all quite special and for the devotchki, talk about the American adventure and a life lesson they'd never have imagined and won't forget!

Bravo. Thank you.
posted by alicesshoe at 2:05 PM on March 24, 2011


I followed the thread when it was on and after the months that have passed I just won't seem to run out of admiration. Kathrine, Kevin, Daniel and Pollomacho, I wish you all the best with all my wishing powers.
posted by Anything at 4:08 PM on March 24, 2011


I love you guys.
posted by Jacqueline at 4:49 PM on March 24, 2011


Thanks for taking care of me during that mess, Jacqueline.
posted by fake at 4:56 PM on March 24, 2011


That's interesting, but as far as speaking up with an unpopular opinion on the internet, the Wikipedia article only gets as far as this:
Recent literature has brought up the ideas that the Internet reduces social cues, facilitates a lowered sense of social presence and allows users to remain relatively anonymous. All of these ideas lend themselves to a possible hypothesis that they all eliminate the potential for social isolation on the Internet. Further research is needed to test that hypothesis, but if proven, it will show that the spiral of silence cannot exist within the medium of the Internet.
posted by various at 10:49 PM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


but as far as speaking up with an unpopular opinion on the internet, the Wikipedia article only gets as far as this:

I think that hypothesis rings truer for internet participation in general. But on sites like Metafilter where you have an easily accessible user history, de facto scoring systems like favorites, and general community familiarity then that relative anonymity is greatly reduced, at least for people who aren't just hit-and-run contributors.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:56 PM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think she's now something like the fourth Kathrine
Wasn't the third Kathrine left on a planet somewhere?
posted by arcticseal at 11:09 PM on March 24, 2011


That's true, Burhanistan. Also, thanks for posting this mkultra, and well done to Fake, IFDS9 and the rest.
posted by various at 11:47 PM on March 24, 2011


Pollomacho: "On a related note, just thought you all might be interested to know that the Departments of Justice and State are still hard at work trying to break the ties between travellers like these girls and organized crime elements that seek to exploit them."

At least, until the Repubs cut their funding, too.
posted by QIbHom at 8:55 AM on March 28, 2011


Huffington Post has an article about J-1 Visa abuse that describes how J-1 visas are abused. They also did a summary piece on K+S where they call us "Metafiler".
posted by fake at 5:11 AM on April 4, 2011


In that case we should always refer to them as the Hoffington Pest.
posted by Grangousier at 5:14 AM on April 4, 2011


Might work better by omission. Huffington POS?
posted by fake at 5:25 AM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Huffing Pot?
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:03 AM on April 4, 2011


Heffalump Post.
posted by zarq at 7:07 AM on April 4, 2011


I'm in the market for a new bike and would totally buy a MetaFlyer, which I would ride to work and chain to a Heffalump Post.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:09 AM on April 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh, I wish I was good with arty stuff! I'd love to design a MetaFlyer, all blue and yellow. With streamers.
posted by Miko at 9:16 AM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Miko, next time there's a Good Cause on MeFi, let's make one and auction it. That would be a blast.
posted by fake at 9:37 AM on April 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


SUCH a great idea.
posted by Miko at 9:40 AM on April 4, 2011


Awesome.
posted by fake at 9:46 AM on April 4, 2011


Out of the country for awhile but did someone really think that these girls were just getting swept up in the sex slave trade in this world. Good for IFDS9 and fake for not buying all the maybe it was legit garbage....really glad they did not...too bad they are not out there for all the others getting bought and sold....
posted by justhefaxs at 5:11 PM on April 4, 2011


CNN coverage (via fake's blog).
posted by scody at 10:22 PM on April 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh, wow; thanks, scody!
posted by taz at 3:12 AM on April 20, 2011


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