Case 2:13-cv-45524-PAD Document 4 Filed 16/01/20 Page 152 of 285
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT – EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
Annotation for Exhibit D: Please note the date of this chapter. By this time the death of the victim had already taken place.
Chapter 13 – Silentwakes’ last stand
While I recover from my adventures yesterday, I’m going to go ahead and post this chapter, which I had waiting in my drafts. There’s more I need to tell you about what I found at the house (allegedly, if you wish to believe I went, not that I’m admitting to anything, etc) but I need a bit more time to write that up.
So – in this entry, we’re approaching showdown for @silentwakes. I know you’re all dying to find out how it all ended for Rob.1 His attempts to stop me have just made me all the more determined to post everything I know. I’m not going to leave you hanging any longer.
Anyone and everyone can throw off the shackles of identity to spill the beans about their secret Loch & Ness fandom annoyances, worst enemies, and most-hated BNFs. Kick back a seat, turn on anonymous posting and let the nastiness fly.2
Basically, once a week a new blog post went up naming fifteen random people in the fandom. People went wild in the comments, anonymously posting their opinions of the users, and goading each other into saying meaner and nastier things. It was a horrible format that unfortunately existed in many fandoms back in the noughties,3 but this was the first time a community of this type had existed in the Loch & Ness fandom.
People were alternately delighted and disgusted by the idea. The first post on @landn_honesty named and shamed @effiemeral (of course), as well as few of the biggest fans. It notably excluded @silentwakes.
It garnered nearly a thousand comments, of which this is a random sampling:
Anonymous I’m so glad that @effiemeral4 is gone, she was so whiny. She spoke like she was about 12. Good riddance, the blogosphere is better without her. Kudos to @silentwakes there.
Anonymous Enquiring minds want to know: why does @angelspike always describe characters’ skin colours in her fics? e.g. My porcelain hands reached for the gun. It drives me nuts! headdesk
Anonymous Pet peeve: @mrsjacksparrow nitpicks all the grammar in people’s blog posts. Just leave people alone?! *your **its ***though
Within minutes of the post going live, an anonymous commenter posted this:
Anonymous @nessiesgirl is so old. Doesn’t she have anything better to do than go online? It’s creepy that she’s talking to people so much younger than her. People her age shouldn’t be in fandom with teenagers. She can only have one reason for being here, if you know what I mean…..
A few minutes after that, a second, equally venomous (and apparently prepared) anonymouse posted an image in reply to this. The picture was a photoshopped version of @nessiesgirl’s icon, manipulated to make it look like her avatar was engaged in an explicit sexual act.
Now, Rob was quite clever here. He made his own community, so no one else had access to the IP addresses of the anonymous commenters (he’d already been caught out that way once). Then he went after @nessiesgirl with the worst possible accusation, providing a memorable and easily shareable way for this information to spread: through an icon. It’s an incredibly effective smear campaign.
Unfortunately, his comments received this reply:
I checked the source code of the icon to see where you hotlinked the image from, and it goes to http://www.silentwakesficarchive.com.6 Hi, @silentwakes. Haven’t you had enough to do recently, what with destroying @effiemeral’s life?
@nessiesgirl has been in fandom for longer than you’ve been alive, and she built this community single-handedly. By implying that she’s ‘too old’ for this, what you’re really saying is that women over a certain age should spend their free time doing housework and chores instead of engaging in their hobbies. People don’t just get to forty and lose all interest in their favourite things. Would you attack an older man for playing golf with someone younger than him?
Do you have any idea of the history of fandom, and how much @nessiesgirl has helped fight over the last decade to make a safe space where women can exist without fear of judgement or violence? You’re an oblivious, naïve little boy who has no idea what kind of accusations you’re making without evidence. I highly recommend you delete your comment, and never post here or anywhere else again.
Instead of tarring and feathering @nessiesgirl like he’d intended, the comments devolved into a discussion of @silentwakes himself. His claims against @nessiesgirl didn’t stick, and, in fact, people started mocking him, and making photoshopped versions of his own icon. @silentwakes deleted @landn_honesty in disgrace.
However, he apparently made one last attempted to take down @nessiesgirl. Three days later, she posted this blog entry:
I’m in shock. Today I received a letter in the mail at my home. It was addressed to my real name. Here’s a scan, with my personal details obscured:
I work in Human Resources at _______. This is a courtesy letter to inform you that your direct superiors have become aware of your activities on your blog at http://nessiesgirl.livejournal.com.
I’m writing to recommend that you delete all online activity, including any and all smutty or pornographic content, before the review board meets to discuss your case.
I can’t guarantee that this will help save your job, as a lot of entries have already been recorded in downloads, but it may be the best chance you have of leaving the company with part of your pension and severance package intact.
I’m very sorry to be the one to pass on this news. In total honesty, I shouldn’t be telling you about it at all. I couldn’t stay silent in this matter in all good conscience when you stand to lose so much. All of our mutual colleagues have only ever spoken of you in the highest regard.
When I spoke to the senior staff members about this, they told me that I wasn’t under review at all, and they didn’t care what I posted online, as long as it wasn’t illegal. In fact, none of them even knew what fanfiction was. Someone wrote this letter as a prank – a mean and spiteful one designed to make my work life self-implode.
I have my suspicions about who sent this letter to me, though I don’t know how he got hold of my name and home address. @silentwakes has been trying to drive me out of fandom ever since I accused him of sending himself a false donation using the @lillyletters sockpuppet. He took down @effiemeral, and when the hate campaign on @landn_honesty failed to do the same to me, he took more drastic measures with this copyright letter.
I confronted him about this on AIM, and we had the following conversation:
Nessiesgirl: Please stop harassing me. The letter is fake, and I know it.
silentwakes: What letter?
Nessiesgirl: Just stop.
silentwakes: You’ve accused me of creating false accounts, faking money transactions and now sending letters? Why can’t you leave me alone, Margaret?
Nessiesgirl: I never told you my name was Margaret. I never told anyone on LiveJournal my real name.
At that point, he blocked me both on AIM and LiveJournal.
I know it was him. He clearly found my name, address and workplace from somewhere and sent me this awful letter. Well, if his aim was to drive me away from this website, then he’s succeeded. I’m going. This is all too much for me.
I can’t believe it’s come to this. I first joined a fandom in ’89. I worked on a military base as a secretary, so I had access to a networked computer back when they were very new, in the early days of the internet. I used to stay in the office after work so I could go on Usenet and read the conversations happening on alt.rec.arts.television.twincrests. I had friends who didn’t have access to computers, so I’d print out the discussions on long reels of dot-matrix paper. They’d pass them around, so we could all read everyone’s theories about the show Twin Crests.
Over the years, I moved around from fandom to fandom, following my favourite writers to wherever they went. The world of fanfiction has always been a huge source of enjoyment and creativity for me, but I think this is my last fandom.
I don’t feel welcome here anymore. @silentwakes has driven out @effiemeral, and now he’s driven me out too. I’ve seen ship wars happen online before, but nothing with this level of pure level of malice and genuine bad will. This has turned into a massive source of stress for me, and I see nothing here that I want to be a part of.
The vibrant LiveJournal community has been in the midst of a mass exodus to Tumblr for several years now, and I’ve hated seeing this social group get quieter and quieter. It’s time for me to join the departing masses.
Tumblr isn’t for me, but I’d very much enjoy staying in touch with anyone who would like to, via email. But for everyone else, goodbye. I won’t say it’s always been a pleasure, but it’s certainly been interesting.
I didn’t know about this post until this week, when someone uncovered it in the course of their investigations. I had no idea Rob’s attacks sank so low. I’m not sure how he got hold of @nessiegirl’s address,7 but his plan wasn’t quite clever enough.
He succeeded in his goal of driving Margaret off LiveJournal, but it backfired on him. @nessiesgirl’s blog post was so heartfelt and honest that everyone believed her in way they hadn’t believed @effiemeral when she denied the accusations of plagiarism (see Chapter 11). The fact that @silentwakes had been caught posting vicious messages about @nessiesgirl in the @landn_honesty hate thread was only further evidence against him.
One by one, people started going back over everything that had happened since his fundraiser and realised that the accusations made against @silentwakes must be true: he really had faked a huge donation of money to himself. They all started discussing this, trying to work out why he would do such a thing and then go to such great lengths to deny it.
And that, basically, was the end of that. @silentwakes got scared that someone else would find out enough to discover the truth, whatever that may have been (we still don’t know).
He put up a good fight, but in the end, he had to give in and admit defeat. He quietly closed down his account, making all the posts private and disappearing for good. He never even made a final attempt to stand up for himself.
We’re not aware of any other social media accounts that Rob used until his official acting profiles were created. No one ever heard from @silentwakes again,8 and Rob disappeared from the internet, only resurfacing three years later when he was cast in Loch & Ness. I don’t even know what he was doing for work in the intervening time.
We’re not sure what Rob was trying to do with his fund-raising in the fandom. He might have just been trying to get more friends and increase his BNF status, as we know he thrives on fame. I think there’s clearly something more going on though, especially if he went to the effort of stealing my laptop to hide it.
Hopefully one of you will be able to give me some more info which will help. If not, this is all I’ve got on this story.9