Farewell to Our Friend at Absolute Wrong and Thank You For Helping Us Expose The Mac Stone Regime

Our fellow in the struggle to expose harmful advice and cyberbullying at Absolute Write Water Cooler, Fell of Absolute Wrong (a private investigator and all around nice guy who has vowed to continue to help us in our fight), has decided to retire his blog for personal reasons; however, he has generously donated his best Absolute Wrong pages to us that portray an organization not only engaged in acts of repugnant bullying but also operating illegally as a business entity, as follows:

The Real Owner of Absolute Write - Mac and Melodi Are The Same

In New York and in Washington State, it's illegal to register a business under an assumed name unless you also register your assumed name as "doing business as" (DBA). You can review the regulations at the New York's Division of Corporations and Washington's Business Licensing Services pages.

This is important because, at the time of this writing, MacAllister Stone, owner of Absolute Write, lives in Washington State and has Absolute Write registered in New York (UPDATE 1/15/2014: Scratch that; it's no longer registered and is operating illegally). However, MacAllister Stone is not a real person. Her real name, Melodi Susanne Sherman, is not registered as a DBA of MacAllister Stone in either state (UPDATE12/31/2013: It was at one time, however). That makes Absolute Write, the business entity, illegal.


Absolute Write Owners on Shaky Legal Ground

Melodi Sherman aka MacAllister Stone appears to be on shaky legal ground concerning her use of an unregistered DBA for business purposes. Silly me, I assumed Absolute Write was properly registered. You know what they say about making assumptions?

Apparently, when Melodi purchased Absolute Write, the registration moved from New York to Washington. Absolute Write didn't come up in previous database queries because all three names were registered under the same umbrella: MacAllister Stone. If you follow the link to the Department of Revenue and check the UBI, you'll find the business license for MacAllister Stone that expired in 2009.


Silencing the Lambs - From The Lost "Absolute Wrong"

If you're a member of Absolute Write, I guarantee you've seen the moderators sweep into a discussion where the topic is one of their pet peeves, use the unfortunate poster as a punching bag, invite long-time members to join them, and then lock the thread and sometimes boot the member.

It's never a straightforward warning about the rules, or a request for clarification. The moderators are not there to facilitate discussion, they're there to drive the discussion. If it ventures out of the bounds they like, even if the discussion is polite, it gets locked if for no other reason than "attitude."

It took me about five minutes to gather some examples. I went to a single topic and looked through the first few pages for locked threads. To be fair, two of the threads I saw were locked for legitimate (at least, what most forum admins would consider legitimate) reasons: resurrecting ancient threads. The rest were examples of moderators treating members like garbage.


Moving Forward; or, Is There Life After Mean People?

If you're reading this blog, it's likely you fall into one of three categories:
  1. You're a member of the AW in-crowd. You aren't likely to be an average AW member, because average AW members aren't considered good enough to know about the Sekrits (TM).
  2. You're an active, engaged, and curious member of the broader online writing community. By now, this blog has been mentioned on several other sites dedicated to fighting "mean people" behavior.
  3. You've been recently mistreated on AW and found your way here through referral or a search engine.
I want to address this post to all three groups, because they all have one thing in common: they've been victims of mean people at some point in their lives.

Victoria Strauss Censoring Critics on Her Blog, of Course

Type "absolute write complaints" in Google and see the article, "Haters Gonna Hate" by Victoria Strauss to get the other side of this ongoing debate regarding the validity and cyberbully nature of Absolute Write. The writers associated with this blog would like to thank Victoria Strauss for battling the troll so bravely and also for advertising our blog and the many other websites calling out the owners and mods at AW for their behavior.

Strauss at BEA Talking About Self-Publishing Her Books
Update. We've heard from three W.A.R. supporters that Victoria Strauss, the most vocal marketing supporter of Absolute Write, is now censoring new posts critical of Absolute Write. The thread backfired on her and now she's holding the line just like Janet Reid in her own blog post. A few still got through before Tariq Aziz closed the gate. 

In our opinion, one of the best comments towards the end of the thread:

Overall, I found their [Absolute Write] moderators to be on a wildly excessive power trip. In my case (without getting into the details), all I actually did was ask them to be a little understanding about a different member's errors in doing a post, and was basically told that I had to "beg their forgiveness" (that's more or less their exact language) or be publicly sanctioned by them in front of all my fellow indie writers on the board. 

The entire experience reminded me of one of those caricatures of English boarding schools that one sees in the media from time to time.Obviously, it is a privately-owned board and they have the right to run it as they please, but the way in which they handled (polite and objective) complaints about anything and everything -- even when these complaints were delivered in confidence to them (e.g. were not posted publicly), was needlessly harsh and belittling. I would NEVER treat anyone, either in-person or indirectly as occurs on a board, in the manner that they treated me. They either don't understand, or don't care, about the difference between maintaining an orderly and polite discussion forum, and in publicly humiliating people "just because they can".

So whatever the merits of the campaign against Absolute Write, or the motivations of those behind this campaign, I have to (reluctantly) say that those in charge of Absolute Write Water Cooler richly deserve it. In the short time that I had an identity on that board, I would cringe every time that I logged on, in anticipation of the latest gratuitous, public insult that the board moderators had lodged against me, along with the warning "don't you dare talk back, or it will turn out badly for you" (their exact words).No adult, or writer, deserves to be talked down to, in this way. AW needs to be taken down a notch, and it needs new management for its discussion forums.