GUM activity raises wider concern

MICROWIKI – A decline in activity amongst the membership of the Grand Unified Micronational organization has reignited ongoing concerns of a wider decline in the MicroWiki community.

A trend that had not gone unnoticed by community participants anecdotally was reinforced as fact by the latest quarterly statistics report released by GUM on October 20th.  That report saw a 40% decline in respondents, from 26 member micronations in the 2nd quarter of 2017, to just 16 in the latest quarter ending September 30th.

The decreased activity in GUM, as well as community Skype chat rooms, is a regular topic of discussion in the weeks since then.

One prominent MicroWiki participant, Kit McCarthy, referenced the trend as the primary motivation for taking an indeterminate leave of absence from micronationalism. “I’m spending too much time flicking between windows on my laptop to see if anything’s happening, when, invariably, it’s not,” he said a statement on October 21st.

For John Marshall, the decline is a self-fulfilling prophecy. “When I post stuff and get no responses or replies or feedback, I’m not inclined to continue to post,” he voiced in reply to Suzuki Akihonaomi’s efforts to identify the root of the problem. Others, such as Marka  Mejakhansk, see the situation as part of the natural ebb and flow of Internet micronational activity, a reality since the turn of the millennium regardless of community.

Yet, things may not be as discouraging as perceived. A recently returned member of the community, Akihonaomi, on October 29th, began publishing activity statistics for the MicroWiki forums in a wider effort to address the decline. While the forums only received 228 posts in September, October was more robust in terms of activity, with 377 posts. Comfortingly, the increase was not the direct result of a tunnel-visioned discussion on the activity woes; however, it masked another concern – a largely flat trend in the number of new users and discussion threads.

Meanwhile, unsubstantiated rumour suggests GUM may in part be the cause of the decline. “It would seem that some individuals do not wish to return to the [MicroWiki] forums until the GUM is completely dead … if the GUM dies, several users will return to active status” postulated Akihonaomi while referring to a purported protest movement against the organization.

Such rumour aside, as one of the remaining relevant, active, intermicronational organizations, GUM at the very least is a bellwether for the community’s activity. Regardless of any such protest, the organization continues to draw membership applications, including two that were on yesterday’s Quorum meeting agenda. That it has not passed any substantive resolutions beyond the purely administrative since the end of July is not alarming, given that such periods of uninspiring usage are not uncommon for any intermicronational organization.

As for the MicroWiki forums, versus long-term trends, the perceived drop in activity is not significant, suggesting concerns are misplaced. Post-per-day averages in September and October, based on Akihonaomi’s reported statistics, remained 2- and 4-times the long-term post-per-day average of 3.18, respectively. A cursory view of the forums through November indicate another, relatively, healthy month.

That the bottom of activity in the community is so much below that recently seen appears to validate the natural ebb and flow cycle to which Mejakhansk referred, as opposed to a more concerning structural problem.

Comments provoke MicroWiki angst

Controversial comments by New Israel’s Emperor, Markus Abernathy, during religiously-charged conversations on the MicroWiki forum has triggered significant backlash, resulting in some micronations and micronationalists announcing a boycott of the community until he is disciplined.

The controversy began on June 11 when Bradley of Dullahan, in reviving an inactive community discussion on Islam, launched into an emotionally-fuelled tirade against Islam in which he suggested that it was “the single most evil and despicable and destructive [religion] on the planet”, describing its god as an entity who “treats humans as slaves”, and its central prophet as “a pedophilic warlord who caused the destruction of the Roman Empire”.

Bilal Irfan, who practices Islam, issued a measured response to the comments, refuting the content of the tirade; however, this only served to provoke Bradley, an apparently staunch Christian, further. “Your religion is heresy. Why on God’s earth would God send another prophet after the Messiah which is following the Torah and the Bible the LAST prophet and the saviour of mankind!” he charged.

On June 13, the day of the Orlando, Florida, mass-shooting, during which a Muslim killed 49 individuals, the row escalated when Abernathy became involved. Abernathy, both rhetorically and randomly, in response to Irfan’s attempt to explain the meaning of sections of the Quran that had been quoted by Bradley, asked if Irfan “would have been happier had the Mohammedans won in the Battle of Tours … and destroyed Christianity?” Abernathy went on to suggest that Christianity is at war with Islam, by no fault of the former. Irfan took offence to the comment, expressing his belief that Abernathy was insinuating that, because he was a Muslim, this implied that he was either a terrorist, a killer, or a preacher of hate.

The argument subsequently spilled over, with other community members becoming involved in support of Irfan and in opposition to Abernathy and Bradley’s opinions on Islam. Decorum quickly exited the stage as the “your religion is right and pure, yours is wrong and evil” pronouncements of Abernathy in particular triggered strong responses, including from Abernathy’s fellow Christians.

Yesterday, the spat escalated further when Suzuki Akihonaomi called for the community to exclude Abernathy, as well as Bradley, and Paolo Emilio, on the basis that those two individuals were highly thought of by Abernathy. Collectively, she accused the group of “[upsetting] the balance of the micronational community,” and suggested that their actions would serve to cause a permanent split in MicroWiki. Akihonaomi called for the membership to refrain from commenting on any post made by the three individuals, and for the exclusion to be enforced by the recently-revived Grand Unified Micronational intermicronational organization. The exclusion would only cease if the individuals agreed to “end their flame warring and personal attacks”.

A community poll started by Ned Greiner suggested that, as of press time, two-thirds of voters are in favour of taking serious disciplinary action against Abernathy; however, several questioned whether enforced banishment of him from the forums, as suggested by Greiner, was an appropriate response to the situation. “It’s every user’s choice to reply to [Abernathy’s] threads,” said Matthew Cummings. David Sarkozy further opined, “if people just totally ignored [Abernathy’s] comments … situations may not escalate so drastically. Don’t let him bait you into argument with his bombastic comments.” The owner of the MicroWiki website, Jonathan of Austenasia, was equally measured in his response. “I’ve been saying this right from the beginning. If somebody annoys or offends you, ignore them,” he told the membership.

Yet for a limited group of members and their micronations, the situation warranted a more severe political response that included a boycott of the MicroWiki community in an attempt to compel Jonathan and the forum’s administration team to discipline Abernathy.

In announcing its boycott of the forums, the Universal Triumvirate described it as a means of protesting “radical hate messages”. Triumvirate Chancellor Lancelot Rice suggested that his, and his micronation’s, continued involvement on the forum would amount to “sponsoring hate messages” and “racist sentiment” unless the administration team took action against Abernathy. Other micronations quickly followed suit, including Cinnamon Creek, Nedland, and Whestcorea. Several micronationalists also joined, such as Greiner, Dallin Langford, Kit McCarthy and Henry Twain.

There are indications that the community is starting to move on from the affair in spite of the limited boycott. Irfan, for his part, continues to participate on the forums, as do most participants, with the offending discussions slowly moving into the past. There is even hope that a key lesson can be learned from the episode – “We need to lighten the atmosphere. Create new threads not for religion, but for culture, diplomacy, economy and so forth,” suggested Nicholas Kaos.

Do you think the Universal Triumvirate led boycott is an overreaction?

  • Yes (64%, 14 Votes)
  • No (23%, 5 Votes)
  • Not Sure (9%, 2 Votes)
  • No Opinion (5%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 22

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