The problem dates back to a Terms of Service violation that nathanr had. Friends of a woman that nathanr was involved with accused him (apparently based on comments this woman put in her journal) of physical and verbal abuse. As you might expect, many people were extremely upset about these allegations. However, it is worth noting that none of these allegations are proven and are outside the realm of LiveJournal's decision against nathanr.
This incident caused a massive flamewar between people who sided with nathanr and those who did not. During this conflict, several users reported to LiveJournal Abuse that nathanr made numerous abusive posts and created numerous fake accounts to bypass those who banned him from their journals, further abusing them. The LiveJournal Abuse department reviewed the evidence and determined that these accounts were clearly created by nathanr. As a result, the LiveJournal Abuse Department suspended the phony accounts that nathanr used.
Nathanr was extremely angry about these suspended accounts and filed complaints against another user who was doing the same to him. That account was also suspended, and all parties involved in the dispute were warned to cease the conflict. I have reviewed the actions of the abuse department and they were completely fair and impartial in how they handled this case.
Unfortunately, nathanr then did something that caused the case to get escalated to me. (For those who don't know, I am the Business Manager of LiveJournal. As such, I usually don't get involved in abuse cases unless they become major problems with the site. The LiveJournal Abuse Department does report to me, however.)
Basically, nathanr threatened LiveJournal and threatened to delete lj_nifty (both in his journal and in emails to LiveJournal staff), which is an official LiveJournal community that Brad Fitzpatrick, the creator of LiveJournal, and Axiem thought up, as can be seen in this post. It is also one that nathanr volunteered to set up for LiveJournal.
As you might suspect, when I heard that nathanr threatened to delete this community, I was horrified of the prospect of a repeat TOS violator running an official community and threatening LiveJournal with its deletion. This, to me, was a clear case of abuse of power. My initial reaction was that this was a clear abuse of power and that such threats should disqualify nathanr from running the community. The first act I did was to review the entire case up to this point. I can only say that the evidence against nathanr was extremely strong, the extent of his abuse was severe, and that under most circumstances (if he weren't moderating a community like lj_nifty) he very well might have been suspended already. LiveJournal abuse were more than fair to him, despite his frequent abusive posts and emails.
Until today, I have never had to remove someone from any position of power or responsibility within LiveJournal. Frankly, I didn't want to start now. Despite the fact that several people recommended his immediate suspension for TOS violations, I wanted to reach a compromise and get him to change his behavior.
I told him in email today:
"I still think you should be handling lj_nifty as an official LJ volunteer. You will have to work through Opiummmm to do this, however, since he is the manager in charge of ALL LiveJournal communities. I can and will instruct Opiummmm to give you a comfortable amount of leeway in running things, however, relegating his role to oversight and making sure that the community represents LiveJournal in a professional, quality manner."
Nathanr rejected this offer. Basically, he wants complete, unrestricted access to do whatever he wants with the community (including deleting it and banning posts or users.) He doesn't want to work with the oversight of Opiummmm, which is the way every other LiveJournal community is run (outside of the few that Brad and I manage.)
To top things off, I have recieved evidence showing further abusive behavior by him against another LiveJournal user within the past few days. Unfortunately, this isn't the first time that similar actions by him have been reported. He has also been abusive to many of those who help run LiveJournal, sending a barrage of angry and sometimes abusive and threatening email to LiveJournal's staff.
Based on his words and his actions, it is clear that we will not see eye to eye on this issue, no matter how much I would like him to be able to still be a volunteer. He views lj_nifty as HIS community, essentially. "LJ_" communities are official LiveJournal sanctioned communities, though. They belong to the members of LiveJournal, essentially, and only Brad can create them.
As such, I appointed Opiummmm to temporarily take charge of the community until we find a suitable replacement. It is worth noting that I take full responsibility for this decision. If you disagree with it, please do not blame Opiummmm. The guy is a saint and has done a ton of good for the site since he started working with LiveJournal. I can't say enough good things about him really.
It is very unfortunate I had to change ownership of lj_nifty without giving nathanr prior warning. I would have prefered not doing so, but if somebody is holding hostages (in this case, the whole community) you don't warn them ahead of time that the SWAT team is storming the building. I wanted to make certain that he did not delete this community or its posts, which he could have done with a simple keystroke.
As recently as today, he has threatened to delete other communities he maintains, some of which are fairly large. I would hope that he would reconsider this, since it would be very disrespectful of the people who use those communities. For those of you who are more aware of the full extent of nathanr's abuse and are wondering why we haven't suspended him yet, I gave him a final warning earlier today. Any further violations of LiveJournal's Terms of Service will result in his immediate suspension.
If any of you are interested in being taking over lj_nifty, here is what I expect of you:
- Do your best under the circumstances
- Act professionally and treat others (including other volunteers within LiveJournal) with the respect they deserve
- Don't put your let your personal feelings interfere with your ability to perform your tasks fairly and impartially
- Work with LiveJournal's staff and management to improve the site, when possible.
- Try to obey LiveJournal's Terms of Service. If abuse reports that you have inadvertently stepped over the line between what is acceptable and what is abuse, work with them to correct the problem.
- Don't abuse the power and information you are given. Use it to help others. Never use it in a way that could threaten or endanger LiveJournal, its users, or its communities.
If anyone is interested in volunteering to administer lj_nifty for LiveJournal and agrees to the terms above, please reply and let us know a bit about yourself. Once we have a list of candidates, we'll let the members of lj_nifty vote on the next administrator!