When I began doing research on
a possible move to Costa Rica, I relied very heavily on the
internet, especially on certain types of social gathering
technologies referred to as Forums.
Forums are virtual gathering
places where people, with common interests, congregate
(electronically) to ask questions and share information.
They occasionally become platforms for individuals to
(occasionally) profess or rant about things which may be of
particular interest to themselves or to the group.
Like everywhere in society, there must be law. For
without law, there will be anarchy. And with anarchy, nothing gets
accomplished. Societies existing within internet forums are no exception.
They too require law and people to enforce them. The enforcers of web
forum laws are known as MODERATORS. Moderators are entrusted with
maintaining civility and making sure contributors act like responsible
and well mannered individuals. Threats or abusive comments are
never tolerated and those individuals who continually act outside those
boundaries are generally censured.
You may be asking yourself WHY
am I writing about this? Well keep on reading.
Power Is A Drug
I've see what power can do to individuals. Give
a person a little power and soon they'll want more. The more they get, the
more they want, the more they need to sustain themselves. If left
unchecked, they become manic, bloated icons of prosecutorial might.
We see that on a grand scale with the way our television news is
presented to us. Both the political left and political right steer
their viewers in their direction so as to promote their political
agenda. Such is the case with web forum moderators (albeit on a
smaller scale). If the moderator does not like or agree with a
particular comment or if it differs from their myopic agenda, they can
and will summarily delete posts and even ban individuals from accessing
their site. Such has been the case with me.
Over the last two plus years, I have participated on
three fairly popular web forums,
Living (Yahoo group) and the
ARCR Forum. It should be
noted that it is not my intention to disparage any good that may be
derived by these forums. I only want people to understand that
what they are reading may be slanted towards a unique agenda.
Some websites you visit may be nothing more than
marketing tools for a commercial enterprise. I believe
such is the case with the "We Love Costa Rica" forum. While
occasionally some helpful tips emerge, they are continually
surrounded by ads to buy something to put money into the owner's
I have no problem with that. Let him make money.
Just don't make it appear like a real informational source. There is never a negative word or alternative view said about this country.
Why? Because the owner of the site sells and promotes real estate,
land development, books, videos and anything else that exploits this
wonderful country. There is nothing wrong with that. My only
objection is that it comes across like education and all it is is a
bloody infomercial pretending to be news and information.
Taken at face value, this forum/website makes Costa Rica
look like heaven on earth, a veritable paradise where nothing can or
will go wrong, kinda like the land of Oz. Only here, the man
behind the curtain is the webmaster. Every time I have attempted to post something
which runs contrary to the "rose colored" bullshit on the
forum, my posts are removed.
No comment. No warning. Eventually banishment. So be
it. It's a private site and the owner has that right.
Even though I have rejoined that site under a different
user name, I no longer go there... but I think you should. Read it's
information intently and decide for yourself. Are you getting the
straight scoop or just a bunch of marketing hot air blown up your
shorts. YOU DECIDE!
The Costa Rica Living Yahoo Group claims to be un-moderated but just the
opposite is true. In fact, just beneath the claim of being
un-moderated, they list the names of all their moderators.
How funny is that.
I have been censured many times because
(on occasion) I may answer a users question by pointing them to
one of my videos. The moderator considers that to be advertising and advertising is not allowed!
His claim is that I am promoting a business
when (in fact) I have no business to promote. I sell
nothing, I only give away opinion and information.
Now every time I try and respond to a user's question about
something related to Costa Rica, my answers must first be
reviewed by the moderator.
CLICK ON GRAPHIC ABOVE.
If the moderator is quick, the answer generally
will be posted within 24 hours. Sometimes it could be well more than
a day before my response can be read by others. Sometimes it may never get posted. Why?
Beat's the shit out of me!
The bad thing is, by the time
anyone has the chance to read my post,
they have already seen the
replies of others, thus rendering my answers generally
WTF... why do I even bother?
Hey... maybe that's the Moderator's strategy... piss me off to the point
where I just simply fade away!
--- UPDATE ---
On October 19, I attempted to post
a link to an informative article I wrote concerning
Tips on What To and What NOT to Bring to Costa Rica.
Paul Mitchell, the moderator on the Costa Rica
Living Forum disallowed the submission of my link.
The following is a direct transcript of our
electronic communication. See first hand what
I am talking about in THIS rant.
ANDY BROWNE: (Original
Post on CRL) - People keep asking all the time, what
should I bring or what shouldn't I bring to Costa
Rica when I move here. Using my own experiences and
the experiences of many other folks who have gone
before me, I wrote an article that I feel covers
much of the issues new expats might run across.
Check it out and email me your thoughts. The
article can be found at:
PAUL MITCHELL -
I recall Janet
answering your inquiry as to what is and what is not
acceptable to post on CRL. She was very clear in
You may answer
another member's question and tagline your blog
info, the latter which you have been doing, but this
post, as you have it worded is clearly not a reply
to a specific question a member has asked and is
primarily a promotion of your blog and website which
you have already done earlier.
Here's as a courtesy
refresher is the text of the Group's Guideline
and other lists: We accept a one time announcement
concerning the creation of another list or blog.
Signature tags and links are then allowed with your
on-topic posts. We ask that you not direct members
to your list for answers to questions posted on CRL.
Andy, if you want to
post about what to bring to Costa Rica on CRL we
really welcome you to do so, but please post it on
CRL and not as a link to your webpage.
Please bear in mind
that the last sentence of the Guidelne quoted above
explains this clearly and simply. I am providing it
to you as a helpful reference.
ANDY BROWNE -
You decided to not post my article on
what to bring and what not to bring. You fool... if
I did what you said and published the entire piece
in your technologically inept forum, it would
consume way too much bandwidth. This is a great
example on how you think with your ass and not with
I see posts everyday about people
selling their books or leading people to online
answers to their questions. YOU and people like you
are what's wrong with today's forums. Lots of
people are simply getting fed up with the
dictatorial crap you and others like you pull. Your
massive power has gone to your head (or your ass)
and frankly my time is too valuable to let you
As people learn of how you unequally
apply your rules, they too are dropping off the
forums. It's unfortunate that you persist in acting
this way for I am dropping off CRL. Itís a waste of
time, especially when overseen by pinheads such as
yourself. If you want to ban me and my IP address,
go right ahead. Lytle did and little good did it
So with that said, if you want to
hear from me, you'll have to read my website at
PAUL MITCHELL -
MODERATOR: Mr Browne, You are forthwith banned
form CRL. None of the CRL moderators are required
to accept abuse such from any members as that in
your email to me below.
I am sorry you do not
understand -or choose to not understand- the CRL
Guidelines although we have on more than one
occasion taken the time to explain them to you.
Good Luck in any
ANDY BROWNE: I elected not to
respond because it would have gotten me nowhere.
But now you can see first hand what these people are
really like. I will admit, I was abusive (somewhat)
to Paul Mitchell but (IMO) I showed great restraint.
If you agree or disagree with this entire, I'd like
to hear about it. If you agree or disagree
with the moderator, Paul Mitchell, let us both know.
As far as I know, it is still a free world to voice
PAUL MITCHELL EMAIL
ANDY BROWNE EMAIL
Perhaps the best Costa Rican forum on the web
today, both from a technical and informational
standpoint, is the forum sponsored by the Association of
Residents of Costa Rica (ARCR).
For several years I have been a staunch supporter of
both the ARCR organization and it's forum. But recently their moderation has
become ugly, heavy handed, and subjectively disproportionate.
The Rules are Different for
Moderators and Users
There is a famous line in George Orwell's "Animal
Farm" that has always stuck with me. In my opinion, it
really sums up the attitude of this Forum's management style and
"All animals are equal, but some animals
more equal than others."
For instance, If someone asks a question and one
of my videos provides a direct answer to that question, I am
prohibited from putting the link to that video in my response.
They feel that by doing so, I am steering people away from their
website. However, the webmaster of that forum is allowed
to advertise (with every one of his messages) no less than six
of his private businesses, all of which steer people away from
the Forum. That is what I mean when I say
"subjectively disproportionate." In my (no so
humble of) opinion, what applies to one should apply to
As of today, I have been banned from even reading
anything on that site. In fact, my wife Fran, who is also
a legal member of that forum and who has only posted two or three times
is also banned.
Taking this Draconian process one step
further, any guests in my house, using their own PCs, are not
allowed to access the site. This is because the owner of
the ARCR forum decided to block my IP address (a code which
uniquely identifies my internet location) from accessing the
Correct me if I'm wrong but last time I checked,
I am not living in
Communist China or North Korea!
Repeatedly, I have asked this moderator, who by
the way is the SAME INDIVIDUAL who also moderates the Costa Rica
Living Yahoo Group (see above), for reasons why I have been shut
down. I am given no explanation other than it is at the
sole discretion of the moderator that I be removed from this
It's really a shame that just a few individuals can wield
such a broad stroke of negativism. I really like helping people
and I try to do it with the best tools I have at my disposal... writing
and video production.
I really do not know the reasons why I have been
subjected to this persecution, but I do know that I am not the only one
who has lost something. Those who have perhaps lost more are the poor
folks who have questions that go unanswered
and, just maybe the forum owners, who may well have cut off their
collective noses to spite their faces.
If you want to write to these forums and complain and
voice your concern, I urge you to exercise your First Amendment rights.
Don't bother writing to We Love
Costa Rica because I don't even want to be associated wit that
site. However if you want to bitch to the others, here's
where to write:
What's the worst that can happen?
Like me, you might be ...
JUST LIKE ME!