Now You See It …

Now you don’t.
Earlier today, we were on’s Montclair Forum, where there was a spirited conversation about the Montclair Watercooler, the popular Yahoo user group with 800 members. Several people, including Christopher Castellani of’s Montclair Journal weblog, said they’d applied to belong to the Cooler and been turned away.
Later, we went back to see if there’d been more discussion on the subject, and — just like magic — the thread was gone. Just to make sure we hadn’t imagined the whole thing, we called a friend who’d seen the conversation online. Yes, he said. It certainly had been there earlier. Sure enough, we looked at the numbers. Topics 207, 204 and 200 were … gone.

Leaving aside the question of whether anybody would want to belong to a Yahoo user group that would have them as member, now we’re wondering… who wanted that little discussion to disappear? Maybe we’ve been reading too much P.D. James, but as detective Adam Dalgliesh might ask: Who stands to profit?

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  1. First of all, did any of those people say *why* they were “turned away”?
    And then, in a gesture of good faith and good will, we have now sent Mr. Castellani a personal invitation to join our discussion group about Montclair.
    Stay tuned for updates…

  2. “And then, in a gesture of good faith and good will, we have now sent Mr. Castellani a personal invitation to join our discussion group about Montclair.”
    Such magnanimity is touching. Really, I am tearing up…..

  3. Second of all, did someone really contact the moderators at to ask them to remove a bunch of topics critical of themselves or their organization? Gee, I’d never believe that could ever happen in a civilized society.
    If someone from the Yahoo! group did this, and it wasn’t because of a threat or foul language, then there is definitely an issue, in my opinion. The point of discussion groups is actually that someone could have a criticism, isn’t it? I mean, let’s be realistic here.

  4. Want to hear something even stranger? I just replied to someone on the board about the missing posts and “they” deleted my response too. (I wrote something along the lines that maybe someone insulted the almighty ‘cooler!!)
    Maybe I should go and make sure my front door and all my windows are locked!!!! (Yikes!)

  5. This is case of “hate the sin, not the sinner.” I enjoy visiting the Montclair Watercooler but if what you say is true (re deleted posts), that’s abominable, as is censorship in any form.

  6. Here’s the reality of message board posting: many sites will pull threads that redirect their ‘audience’ to a site that has it’s own message board. Simple as that. Chowhound does it all the time.
    Ever try posting on – those crooks even embed advertisements in unwitting writers words as hypertext (use word ‘acupuncture’, get word hypertext to paying advertiser). God forbid you post info directing to a site with it’s own messageboard – after a ‘warning’ (suspension), a second infraction gets you banned (that’s as in ‘banished’).
    It’s easy to take for granted the seamless internet information experience – that fact is folks are aggressively trying to dream up new schemes to commodify (and create revenue) out of the medium. (enter ‘right of center’)
    Site policies are as curious as the folks that, well, manage/moderate the site/conversations.

  7. gasp!
    Baristanet is an anagram for:
    “It Sent Arab”
    Now I’ll have to check Nostradamus!

  8. Hey, gang. It’s not such a big deal. can do whatever it wants with their bulletin boards. We don’t own it. As for the watercooler, me being denied the first time, I’m not loosing sleep over it. I will accept the invitation in hopes that I get invited to a party in a house along North Mountain Ave.

  9. Okay, here’s the sitch.
    I got in touch with on the topic, and got the response that none of us should be surprised about, actually. Dean Betz, the site’s editor, clarified for me as follows:
    “The short answer is that’s Montclair Forum is intended for the discussion of local issues in Montclair. Who the people who run a Yahoo Group choose to allow as members strikes me as an unrelated topic that makes the forum less useful for its intended purpose. Rather than griping about some Yahoo Group, I’d encourage these folks to participate in’s Montclair Forum, which is open to anyone who stays on topic.”
    Note the last portion of the comment – staying on topic. While being disallowed by the Watercooler might be *related* to Montclair in a way, it’s not necessarily a universal Montclair topic to all who read the forums. As it is in turn taking up’s bandwidth, they chose to remove the posts as not productive to the overall discussion forum. So you have clarification and some invitation, all at the same time.

  10. What a concept! “Staying on topic.”
    (Keeping it “*related* to Montclair.”)
    The people over at the Watercooler should have thought of that!

  11. I used to be a regular on the GR board over at, but the number of posts being deleted for no real reason (including many of mine) got to be too much. It takes too much precious time to formulate responses to see them deleted wholesale. There seemed no rhyme or reason for deletion–the posts deleted were often on-topic, not inflammatory (certainly less so than those posted on many other boards; check out the Essex county board for instance, or the Bloomfield one), not in violation of any of the stated ‘rules.’ I can only surmise that any post someone objected to was deleted and objecting is as easy as pushing a button.
    As someone mentioned, it’s their board and they can do what they want with it. But seems to me it’s a heck of a poor way to try and build a community. After complaining a few times, both on the board itself (these were deleted) and in email to, I decided to vote with my feet.
    If you don’t believe it can be quite so wholesale, go the the GR board and check out the numbering of the posts… you can see by the missing numbers how many threads were deleted.

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