I was already a moderator at the forum for about 6 months when in April 2012 the owner approached me ‘would I like to assist in a forum project co-ordinating translations of relevant WikiLeaks articles’. He suggested it would be good for the forum and I agreed. When he said he was going to promote it via the WL Facebook page (to which at the time he had access to) I knew the forum would be inundated with volunteers. He set up a dedicated board called Translator’s lounge and explained to me how to proceed technically. He added that I would be joined in this project by his close friend, already an Administrator at the forum who was a certified translator for the Croatian language. She was busy at the time setting up her own website for professional translating and this forum project could potentially help her identify good translators for her own business. As soon as her work as a translator for the German police was over, she would join me co-ordinating and advising. I felt re-assured that a professional translator would be joining me as I had no experience in this field but I was surprised at how the project could potentially bring commercial benefit for his friend. [Jumping six months forward from that point and well after I had left the forum in protest for his anti-WikiLeaks turn, I discovered that the domain name for his friend’s business was actually registered in his name, at which point both eyebrows were raised.] I proceeded in my role as Language Co-ordinator and soon enough Mark and I we were so busy that were joined by other mods too. It was a pleasure for me to finally have the freedom to speak with members/translators. Normally we were discouraged in communicating so as not to expose the forum and WikiLeaks to criticism or give the impression that our personal opinions were the opinions of WL. So we were told by Mark. This time it was ok to talk and I enjoyed it. I had worked in Customer Service previously and I felt in my element, helping people with how to post their translations etc. We had many people volunteering enthusiastically and some produced a great number of translations. It was so touching to see people responding to what they thought was a WikiLeaks request since it came from the WikiLeaks Facebook page. I often found myself having to explain that ‘no, the forum is not owned or managed by WL’.
At the end of April I came across something shocking:
Greek Emmy at the forum staff group page, 28th of April, 6:21pm:
I have noticed something that rings alarm bells, I would really apreciate some assistance: Please look the details for new member m*****. This member has joined recently, as a Board Translator and has just completed and posted a wonderful translation of TWT Episode 1 in Serbian Latin. Please observe below : “Reputation -1”, how can this happen? I haven’t the faintest idea but I can imagine what can someone feel who has just done hours of unpaid work to be viewing their “Reputation” as -1.
Please help me understand how something like this can even technically be possible, since we do not give members the opportunity to reduce someone’s “reputation” how could it happen and how can it be put right. Many many thanks.
[a technical admin to the forum changed the reputation levels]
Greek Emmy: and thank you for increasing m******’s reputation to “2”, I can relax now. 🙂
Technical Admin: l sorry i don’t have a better explanation for you.
Neither Mark nor any other Administrator looked into the matter or commented further. Since the member’s reputation ( an option that members had to show their appreciation of a post by pressing on a ‘reputation’ button below the posters name) could never been reduced at that time by another member, the only possibility was that it had been reduced by an Administrator. At that moment it was obvious to me that being a Serbian at the forum carried the risk of being discriminated against. Who did this was never established but the total lack of interest on behalf of the owner to investigate the issue made me strongly suspect it must have been someone close to him, as he never hesitated in throwing someone out of the forum before.
I had acted quickly and the forum’s technical adviser had also adjusted the reputation levels the same day, so I said a little prayer that the translator in question never saw what had happened. He/she continued with their work, for which I was very grateful and I carried on.
And this is how easy it was for people, misusing their power to satisfy their ego, discriminated against someone at will. That this happened in a forum containing the name of WikiLeaks in its domain name was a source of great embarrassment to me and made me more aware of the unsuitability of the person who run the show, to whose tune we all danced.
Update Monday 14th of October 2013:
Inserted domain name registration record for the translation website for Mark’s Admin friend who was to help me with co-ordinating the Volunteer Translation Project at the forum. Mark’s name appears as the domain name owner. This record is heavily redacted by me for privacy reasons. I would also like to mention that this domain name registration enquiry was done on 20th of October 2012 and that now the same enquiry shows that the domain name is registered to his friend’s name, no longer his own.
Registration Service Provided By: Namecheap.com Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Visit: http://namecheap.com Domain name: j*******-o******.com Registrant Contact: f*******p.tv mark g*****-t***** () Fax: redacted address redacted address DE Administrative Contact: f********.tv mark g*****-t***** (redacted e-mail address) redacted telephone Fax: redacted number redacted address redacted address DE Technical Contact: f********.tv mark g*****-t***** (redacted e-mail address) redacted telephone number Fax: redacted fax number redacted address redacted address DE Status: Active Name Servers: ns1.x-web.org ns2.x-web.org Creation date: 22 Jan 2012 18:21:00 Expiration date: 22 Jan 2013 10:21:00