Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sean Conchieri: Case Study of a Web Bully

Bombshelter Comics may be the worst collective on the internet, and that's saying a lot.

I keep the Directory of Webcomic Collectives, which you may read yourself and judge for fairness.

You can jump to Bombshelter's listing.

Bombshelter has always been difficult to cover. Some of their comics don't accept mail. For others, it's hard to find the mail, or it's required that one go through the forum mechanisms.

Regardless, the site doesn't answer its mail. No inquiry to them from me has ever been answered -- a web collective record. It's difficult to tell if certain titles are still updating.
Judge the comics for yourself.

The near total deadness of their site had me convinced that we were dealing with apathy, incompetence or arrogance.

Then one of them woke up. Sean Conchieri, a lovely chap when he's not baiting you, flaming your forum threads, bombarding you with defensive letters or explaining why his problems are your fault, has been a busy boy, showing up wherever I go and alternating the schoolyard stuff with private pleas for a "truce". Well, they start out private: then lurch into painful reasoning about why he concedes nothing.

An invitation to conference and address his concerns was ignored.

As much as I enjoy crazies at work, I have things to do, and dropped a line to the collective, politely asking that they put the hood back over Sean's cage. I soon received a letter from Sean, proudly announcing its interception.

I sent a post to his colleague, the creator of Slackerz ("Thinking of Ways to be Cool on the Internet"), requesting to hook up. That received a rude response invoking the fearsome phrase "Yo Mama." Spike, creeator of Templar, AZ tried to help by giving me the site's email, which of course is controlled by Sean, so is useless. Thank you for being decent, Spike.

Have you stopped yet to read what set these people off? A fair and constructive review a few paragraphs long? 

If you do a comic, you may be able to save the day. The now tiresomely-named Webcomic Idol contest will add a new member to their roster, assuming anyone wants to vanish into the deathly quiet vaults of the Bomb Shelter. These being petty types, you'll need to be my enemy, which means denouncing me somewhere with a wink and a nod. Just don't expect me to break you free if Brad Guigar, Xaviar Xerexes, DJ Coffman and the other judge vote you in.

The site has declined a lot since I've been watching, and I think it may have to do with too many of the members being a bit difficult. The most notable names on the site's marquis insist they are no longer involved. I once would have ranked it among the most notable collectives; now I would call it the worst of those that claim to be functioning. Saddam Hussain had better media handlers than these clowns.

Here's a typical Sean Conchieri quote:
But I want to make it clear that I did not apologize. I don't think I had reason, I only wanted to end our conflict.
Almost sounds reasonable? The problem is there is no conflict; there is only his gigantic tantrum, which Sean sees as a conflict. (This is in synch with the mental issues I discussed yesterday.) As he launches flames and chickens out on my offer to talk, he is at war. I was drawing or perhaps having dinner. He was mapping out new sites to launch nasty remarks into my threads. I was reading a good book before bed.

Like others with certainty bias (see yesterday), Sean will never apologize, though he may feign it. Tortured arguments asserting his innocence will provide some comfort, but the seething usually goes to the grave. Anonymous letters displaying his ability to use Google may continue to arrive, sharing details of my life that I already know and implying I am supposed to live in fear. The certainty bias is strong enough to transform a bully into a stalker.