Why Flee Absolute Write for Other Writer Forums? Is Criticism Possible Without Resorting to Bullying?

See Absolute Write above, doing that thing they do. Bewares! Background check! OMG! The jury is in and it's all history now, though one that repeats itself while reminding you of one of Saddam Hussein's old kangaroo courts. Presumption of guilt is the rule, a tone of snarky accusation is the norm, and the merciless prosecution won't rest until the accused press and anyone who dares defend it is hanging from a cyber meat hook.

Btw, we are going to compare writer forums in this post. One forum culture is filled with ugly and bad people, and the other is filled with good people. First, the ugly and bad.

Glancing above, it appears that the relentless Bath Party of Absolute Write has tracked down and cornered yet another doe in the headlights. This time we're looking at the trembling remains of Xchyler, now evolved to Hamilton Springs Press. Open the thread and see our favorites doing that classic Fox News tactic of shouting down and over the protestations of the victim in question, poor Mary Duke from Xchyler press. The Party does slam, make lies of omission, leap to hostile conclusions, parse and spit, insult the name of the press, and generally do everything possible to compete with each other in terms of spite and ill-humor. Four pages of it, and it gets worse as it continues. A full page at least is devoted to making fun of the name.

Now, no one is saying that a valid question or two, or point or two, isn't raised by AW, we're just saying that in all the furor and acid of their snark the value to the reader is lost and the grotesque theater created thereby serves only the AW Water Cooler owners and their cronies.

Because of a maybe-possibly unethical action (?--since AW reveals this "action" we do not know if said action is nonsense or valid) of one person at the press years before, the latest evolution of the press with new editors, website, etc., are not allowed by Absolute Write to ever escape contiuous persecution. Once X evolved to Hamilton Springs Press with new staff in an attempt to start over, Lisa Spangenberg and Melodi Sherman (aka Macallister Stone), the Absolute Write owner operators, simply appended HSP to the old X thread so that everyone would once again flock to that thread to watch Mary Duke endlessly thrashed and humiliated. She can never escape the beating. The press can never escape. And she makes the mistake of threatening legal action and this only makes it worse!

As each new person reads the thread, it is republished again and again, and Mary is beaten, again and again. The same old assumptions and logic leaps and half-truths and exaggerations step forth to force her into submission. She should never have made the mistake of trying to offer a simple explanation on that board or of assuming the hounds of Hussein would be reasonable. They're not. They are vicious. Hamilton Springs must pay the price every day of their existence. The post is at the top of Google, where it doesn't belong.

The worst thing for HSP struggling to get a new start is that they simply can't. Absolute Write won't allow it. The "sins" of the past, courtesy of the Dirty Bath Party, will never be forgotten. Lisa Spangenberg and Melodi Sherman of AW are not going to lose a revenue stream. HSP, once fused with X, will continue to bring potential members and advertising click-throughs. Why not grow and prosper at the expense of Hamilton and whoever else gets in their way? For those of you who love ruthless profit-seeking people, AW is your Eden.

Now let's look at a very different forum that also discussed the exact same press.


This is the kind of discussion that belongs on forums. The discussion is polite and balanced. Though posters disagree a bit, all is well. We learn to approach HSP not with loathing or fear, but simply with caution and a willingness to explore.

Big difference in cultures here.  It's worthwhile to compare and contrast the versions.

Absolute Write's "Hate Sites" Dodge

"A successful lawsuit will send a message to the world and to the perps at AW that their guerilla war against writers is over and that money gained in click-through advertising by purposely humiliating people and stirring interpersonal conflict with a team of seasoned cyberbullies isn't good for business after all."
We've all known someone who will never take responsibility for their actions no matter what they do or how often their error or inappropriate behavior is pointed out to them. With a few, the piling on of evidence simply makes them resist all the more strongly. And what choice do they have? An admission of one thing, or another, might result in the whole house of cards falling to the table.

Such is the environment at Absolute Write. Owners Melodi Sherman and Lisa Spangenberg will not admit that even the smallest error or overreaction has taken place. None of the untold hundreds of writers smeared and driven from AW have ever been anything but 110% guilty of their own demise. Not a single mod or admin is liable or at fault.

This may sound like an exaggeration, but it isn't. All one has to do is see it on their boards. As we talk about in our About WAR post, there are swarms of sycophants standing by to bolster and enable Melodi, Lisa, Teresa, Doyle, Uncle Jim and all the rest who are Star Chamber regulars.

As Melodi twitters while still maintaining her sock puppet guise as Macallister Stone, it's the "hate sites" causing trouble, lying, etc. The hate sites. Let's think about this. Can anyone find one other writer forum with an enormous halo of hate sites orbiting it like a pack of rabid predators? Just one? No. It doesn't exist.

Absolute Write is the only writer forum on the Internet to have stimulated such a violent and ongoing surge of indignation, bitterness, discontent, and yes, hatred. It might occur to someone over there to stop and take a look and perhaps take just a little bit of responsiblity for this bloating bubble of discontent. But no. No chance. Won't happen. Won't ever happen.

It's just the hate sites. Those guys. Bunch of losers, trolls, and all related to the Write Agenda. Melodi and Lisa have repeatedly donned sock puppet guises and infiltrated these forums to suggest to those present that only one source is responsible for the huge and growing burst of AW hate sites: The Write Agenda. Of course that isn't true. Maybe it's even beginning to sink into their heads that something bigger is swarming. Maybe they'll realize that a lot of pissed off and libeled people are gathering and determined to make a few of the Water Cooler members pay for their acts of unfair and vicious defamation, acts now are so numerous and outrageous that it's hard to believe.

Let's hope justice is done soon. A successful lawsuit will send a message to the world and to the perps of AW that their guerilla war against writers is over and that money gained in click-through advertising by purposely humiliating people and stirring interpersonal conflict with a team of seasoned cyberbullies isn't good for business after all.

In-Depth Reviews of Absolute Write Cyberbullying and Abuse, and Links to The Review Websites

Below are a select number of intelligent and insightful reviews by writers who have run afoul of the current Absolute Write regime, or who have observed the cyberbullying of others in their forums. Some wish to remain anonymous due to fear of their reputations and livelihoods being smeared in retaliation by Absolute Write moderators and their followers (or whatever you wish to term them).

We encourage everyone from attorneys to social psyche researchers to take time and read these reviews carefully.
-  All it takes is for one question to be asked, or one axe grinder to make an appearance, and the predators smell blood. A swarm of anonymous fairies and fops with ridiculous icons appear and begin fomenting themselves into leaps of logic, unfounded assumptions, and distortions of reality
-  The crazy power trip is ruining a magnificent concept and something that could be so good.


It's pretty much just what you'd expect. A lot of bad-to-mediocre writers giving bad-to-mediocre advice to bad-to-mediocre wannabe writers. The site is huge and confusing to navigate, sub-divided too many times into categories that are again sub-divided. The mods are powertripping jerks, just as many of the other posters have said. I met a handful of nice people, but no reason to stick around. I never posted any work to be critiqued because honestly, so much of what was posted in the critique section was so bad and the advice that was given equally amateur... I just didn't feel like I'd gain anything from it that I didn't already know. And most of the advice from different critters was conflicting, anyway. 

- Rachel W. - The Missing Sitejabber Reviews

The main focus of Absolute Write is the "Water Cooler", a huge forum which addresses authorship of any kind. It has begun to suffer from a typical ailment that creeps in most long-standing Internet forums: the dreaded Clique Mentality. This occurs when a relatively small set of users contributes the vast majority of posts, combined with a set of unwritten rules--which are often rather unclear to anybody else than the clique itself. Hapless outsiders who violate these clique conventions will often find a mob of old-standing users pounce upon them like a group of ravenous wolves. I'm not joking--it's not a pretty sight when it happens. I have seen posters on Absolute Write being bullied merely for disagreeing with a clique member on a fairly minor matter. The mob will pull any trick to discredit an outsider: ridiculing, twisting words of out context, and fairly often rather nasty personal attacks. People with few to no publishing credentials will get told that heir opinions are unimportant and that their writing likely sucks. The irony is that most clique members are themselves writers of mediocre fare dwindling in the lower parts of the midlist, if that ...

- Anon : The Missing Alexa Reviews

As far as I'm concerned, if a site is run this way it has no value so I will ignore it and encourage everyone to ignore it. It is run by a bunch of lower mid-list (and that may be being generous) old biddies who have nothing better to do than to dictate their rules to others. Free speech does not exist on AbsoluteWrite and where free speech does not exist, I will not go. They talk a good game about "respect your fellow writer" but take umbrage at things in an oversensitive way and pull that respect from you without a second thought.

- Mark Breuer : No Irish, No DGs

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.

- Absolute Wrong : Silencing the Lambs

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).

- B.Q. : Haters Gonna Hate (Victoria Strauss Troll Battle)

This morning, we found out through a few book club members that a forum known as the Absolute Write Cooler had identified us as a fake. Apparently, this is because we don't have an "existence that isn't associated with this book blog. No one reports going to lunch with her, she didn't show her pet at a local cat show, she hasn't participated in a Walk For Life, she isn't listed in a graduating class."

Correct me if I am wrong, but my book blog should be about books and what I want to include. If you do not see what you want to see, that doesn't make me fake.

Then came the next disturbing element of this unfolding drama. So we've been certified as fake. The forum moderator HapiSofi bashed the book club in more than one thread. She was applauded for her 'detective' work. Absolute joy, that people find so many useful ways to spend their time. But one thing, was missing. Where is HapiSofi's contact information? From as far back as 2012, three characters appear in every thread together. HapiSofi, James McDonald and AliceShortCake. Then there are names like Old Hack, VeinGlory and Torgo. Again, no contact information, no social media links for most of these profiles.

- Quality Reads UK

Ironically these “websites / authors” are doing what they claim others are doing, taking advantage of people who are looking in good faith for facts and information, truthful information about the publishing industry. Their responses are reduced to internet babble. A mix of half truths, alleged facts and very personal un-professional remarks and behavior. They tend to be abusive, Holier then thou, and totally off the mark. ALL they have to do is PROVE what they post. Just saying they have “hundreds” of complaint isn’t going to cut it. People are fed up with that attitude. Courts are leaning heavily toward companies and individuals who are entitled to face their accusers and their alleged facts.

One poster stated that they’re “reaping what they sow” how true. All of sudden people are asking them questions about who they really are, besides mutual friends.

So why don’t they just tell the truth?

- Publishing Facts

For a site that's for writers, one would think they'd go out of their way to understand what people are saying before they say they are stupid on the forum. Mods should never attack people on the forums....NEVER. Any forum that allows that is a bully place. A place where mods can push around people and expect them to fear them. It is not ok to run a website like that. That breeds cliques and makes other posters feel like there's special treatment. Absolute Write is just like that. They allow bullies to mod. They also allow cliques to control who gets into trouble.

- J.J. - The Missing Sitejabber Reviews

Absolute Write, for those who don’t know, is mostly a set of forums where writers, agents, publishers, and other sorts of folks in the writing industry chat. And of course, with the huge burst in self publishing, a bunch of posts about that started up. So they made a set of forums for self pub. I rolled across them a couple of months ago, and was pretty horrified by what I saw: a large number of folks claiming to be industry experts deliberately spreading misinformation about what self publishing was, how best to go about it, and whether one could actually do it successfully (outside a few “outliers”). So I stepped in and started pointing out the flaws in the logic.

- Kevin O. Mclaughlin

Beware. Absolute Write, in the hands of Lisa Spangenberg and her associates, is in effect a judge-jury-prosecutor platform, and one utilized on an almost daily basis to publicly humiliate, bash, defame and even scold people they have never met and do not know, as well as businesses they have never interacted with in any form whatsoever. All it takes is for one question to be asked, or one axe grinder to make an appearance, and the predators smell blood. A swarm of anonymous fairies and fops with ridiculous icons appear and begin fomenting themselves into leaps of logic, unfounded assumptions, and distortions of reality. All this would be amusing if it were not for the fact that their extensive dialogues and diatribes become public record and are ranked high in Google.

And will the average reader always understand what kind of sociopaths he or she is witnessing. Not necessarily. They appear to speak from authority quite often, give the appearance of sincerity, and there is a background history of real scams revealed by Absolute Write. Users there like Victoria Strauss, who give the appearance of legitimacy, will rush in to show support. But as we all know, the best way to maintain the momentum at Absolute Write is to mix a few grains of truth into one continuous and hydra-headed avalanche of lie. In reality, the core site is a lie on more than one level. The owner and her sock puppets and assorted gang not only shred people all day for amusement and publicity (as someone pointed out, the mediocre writers get publicity for their poorly written books each time they post) and monetary gain (huge revenue from advertisements), the site itself purports to offer good advice to writers when in fact it does no such thing. Advice is amateurish and quite often just plain wrong.

Regardless, the bullies at Absolute Write, herded there by Lisa Spangenberg (as we all now know) and goaded on by her at all times with great vigor, basically function as a Salem witch trial. Accusations are often baseless, but delivered and discussed with excessive zeal. Victims are displayed for purposes of torture, and anyone who disagrees is accused of being a witch also.

One has to ask: what gives such cowardly arm-chair nerds the right to act as prosecutors, judge and jury? Nothing gives them the right. These are a bunch of losers looking for payback. I've seen it before. I've fired abnormals like this at my job because they were caught retaliating against other workers using phony online identities.

I know the type, and I sincerely hope someone is able to bring legal action against Lisa Spangenberg and her hateful crew.

"ABSOLUTE power corrupts absolutely." is the phrase that really sums it up which is funny and ironic. The head admin Spangenberg that has the sock puppet Stone is on a huge power trip over having that big board that looks great, that people want to join, but it's so insidious because it looks harmless and super fun but any of the mods that are nuts like that OldHack and Spangenberg will just randomly attack people and people can't even defend themselves their either banned or have some humiliating subnic,

And I'm not talking about the small publishers and scam publishers that they bash, I'm talking about just writers trying to talk about any issue if a mod agrees with ANYTHING on ANY topic then they can insult, belittle and degrade that member to their hearts content and the member will be banned if they say one word in their defense or even if they say anything perceived as "snarky" back and they just play these nasty little mind games that they think are so clever, but anyone can see through them, it's just that people can't do anything much about them because it is a private business, but yes, the crazy power trip is ruining a magnificent concept and something that could be so good.

She really doesn't have to act so crazy and nasty to keep control of her board and it's really hypocritical to let certain mods spew misinformation and throw around insults like that Old Hack.

- Shay Richards : The Looking Glass of Caroll Bryant

Now, if there is any environment more toxic than GR, it’s the Absolute Write Water Cooler. It’s a snake pit. And not just any snake pit. We’re talking Indiana Jones, Raiders of the Lost Ark kind of snake pit. Why is it so bad? Its not just because of its members. Its moderators play a big part in it, too. Keep reading and we’ll show you what we mean.

Now before we continue, we want to show you some Alexa reviews we found  here. All of the five star reviews are legacy reviews, because once upon a time, when AW was fresh and new, it was a good place to be, but slowly over time, it became corrupt.

- STGRB : The Banning of Robin Sullivan

Yikes. I never even ended up posting. I'm one to lurk before joining in, and after watching the mods tear apart people for NO reason, then egging on others to bash those people, then carrying on long after they chased the person from the site...yeah I think I will pass on joining in. I've never seen anything so vile. There is a definite "clique" there. The site is great for them, but it looks like it's near impossible to become part of their "in club". Whether I could get in with them or not, I don't think I'd want to because I won't stand behind such poor behavior. This has to be the worst writing community I've ever encountered.

- Anon - The Complaints Board

I’ve only been a member briefly, and found this blog by searching how to leave the AWWC. It’s horrible. I thought it was an open, honest forum to exchange ideas and learn. I found myself in the middle of backbiting, condescending, bitter people (including two Mods) who were not helpful at all and hide behind screen names.

How am I supposed to take career advice seriously from someone called SuperModerator, when I can’t tell if they’ve ever published anything? I asked a specific question, and when I questioned politely but firmly the uninformed and negative advice an anonymous writer gave, she harangued and condescended like a fishwife.

On another thread, she jumped into a productive discussion and tongue lashed not only me, but every contributor! Lord, it must’ve taken her half an hour just to quote every single one of us LOL It was a ludicrous critique: she said we “had to” provide evidence for everything we said. This, immediately after telling me one of her pets doesn’t have to provide any, and I am rude for asking. 

- Anon : The Cult - Absolute Write Water Cooler

Attention Law Enforcement, Attorneys or Private Investigators Pursuing Action Against Absolute Write Members

The owner of Absolute Write, Melodi Sherman, exposed her IP address above. Using some of the best Geolocators a few weeks ago, including Infosniper, we have cross referenced results and believe we have located her residential address in Everett, WA. We will not publish this information here, however, if you wish to know the address, and can prove your credentials, write us at marilynweiss402@yahoo.com with your request. It is our hope this will lead to effective civil action against select members of Absolute Write whose real identities are protected by the board owner and her live-in administrator, namely Melodi Sherman and Lisa Spangenberg.

Additionally, using Google Maps, we have identified several horse farm/boarding facilities, and narrowed down the correct location of their business on the northernmost part of Ebey Island. This is the location of Melodi Sherman's farrier business known as Snohomish Pastures. The first photo above is from their Tumblr account, and the second photo below this was taken from Google Maps. This unlicensed business is located on 63rd Avenue SE, Everett WA. We are not sure of the actual address, however, visual identification is confirmed. The property is entered via a locked metal gate and the road inside is bordered by small trees. See the top left of the bottom photo from Google.

Identification of this current business address will enable the delivery of subpoenas or whatever else is required. Again, this is an unlicensed business in the state of Washington.

Also, the old registered domain from Godaddy on 1825 Douglas Avenue is just around the corner from the above horse boarding facility. It is our belief that Melodi Sherman and Lisa Spangenberg are likely still inhabiting the residence on Douglas Avenue.

The area around the horse pasture and on Douglas Ave. is ramshackle and impoverished. It has a Grapes of Wrath appearance to it. A journey on Google Maps makes this known. So here are Lisa and Melodi living their lives in relative poverty and surrounded by animals, lots of junky cars in the yard and rusty trailers.

Should we feel sorry for them?

Just not possible given the many years of wrath and smear from their dirt factory.