Well the news that Richard Dawkins is suing his erstwhile protégé Josh Timonen broke a few days ago, and as I expected little information of any substance has been added since. I also expected that the best I would be able to do would be to link to this blog (click here). Thus far, it’s the fairest and most balanced account of what has happened, along with the background of what has become known as “forumgate”, the main reason for the high level of schadenfreude surrounding this affair.
All I can add to CJ’s account really are a couple of personal observations. For a while I was a moderator at the RDF forum, until real life and a loss of internet connection intervened. I could see for myself the disdain for the forum from the technical side, as the forum froze up and made moderating extremely laborious. Attempts to get a reply from those responsible for the “nuts and bolts” of the forum and the website as a whole dragged on for days, sometimes weeks, and were never fully addressed. When I eventually got back on-line as an ordinary member the technical problems had worsened and I can only imagine the long, deafening silences the forum staff (all unpaid volunteers) had to endure from the (highly paid) tech people, including the “talented” Josh Timonen.
It was one of those technical problems, which turned out to be human error, that led to me being asked to join the moderating team. One night I found myself able to access all the behind-the-scenes sub forums. I immediately contacted a moderator and soon the forum was shut down for repairs. For some reason my actions were considered remarkable, though it’s worth noting that CJ acted in exactly the same way. (Presumably he wasn’t asked to join the staff because he’s a Christian and that might have embarrassed Dawkins, though I doubt that Dawkins was asked.) We never got a proper explanation for what had happened; I suspect that those responsible weren’t sure how they screwed up.
Anyway, though my personal memories of the “technical wizardry” behind the RDF forum don’t really add to the discussion of Timonen’s alleged crimes, they may help explain some of the vitriol he is seeing now, from people he never could be bothered with, and who he royally stitched up when it suited him.
One thing I did notice recently was Timonen’s claim that he designed the “Out Campaign” symbol, , and that the intellectual rights for that symbol are his. If that’s an example of his talent as a designer, then he was even more overpaid than I thought. A capital letter “A”, in a font that someone else made, coloured red. That counts as design? Quick, grab your children’s colouring books and copyright them immediately!