Evening all,

After receiving a second complaint, and reviewing the most recent comments of Stephanie Esther, we have decided to remove her from the site. 

In line with the moderation policy Stephanie was warned about the nature of her comments in June. I had hoped – we had all hoped – that after that message her better angels might prevail.

Sadly it looks not to have been the case. Her comments since then have not been constructive, nor well-founded and certainly not positive. 

This is not a decision we take lightly. As you know we prefer to warn first and hope for the best. However when the experience of the many is continually degraded by the behaviour of one, well, we really must act. 

I apologise to any who have felt lessened by the tone of Stephanie's comments. 

If you have any comments on this please add them below.

Best wishes,


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Good Morning Ethel


Your continued diligence and action is most welcome.



I must admit I missed Stephanie's comments, but why you would want to abuse a forum like this is beyond me. I am still learning what a weapon words are, which is of course where poetry gets its power.

I totally disagree that anyone should be removed from this or any site for any reason.

If as poets we start blocking people whose comments we disagree with then

we have fundamentally stopped being poets (free thinkers) - assuming one is a poet to begin with.

I don't come here very often. After today i'll come here even less... shame

The moderators seemed to believe this person was actually stifling people's freedom to express themselves by the nature of her comments. Poetry isn't simply a free-for-all as you seem to imply, Alan, and anyone who enters a public forum such as this one is bound by its rules. Maybe the same rigour could be applied to people using the discussion board to publish endless reams of their poetry?

Don't quite get this..."Poetry isn't simply a free-for-all as you seem to imply..."
What, this individual was removed for not following the rules of poetry?
Or was their poetry not up to scratch. If it was the later then i'd suggest their would be little poetry left on the Internet.

More likely their comments ruffled some of the fragile, delicate poetasters

Facts for the unknowing - if you're gonna write poetry you're gonna have grow an extra skin or one hundred. If you can't stand the heat- get outta the furnace.
Fact 2 - poets aren't self-appointed. You gotta earn your stripes.

I agree that there should be a limit to the number of poems.

Honesty should not be punished...

Nor should manners necessarily be rewarded, but they are expected in any mature forum.

Alan – It is my observation that SE did not contribute much in the way of poetry to the site. SE made no attempt to present informed, balanced, creative criticism. The comments made by this person were largely gratuitous insults to members contributing work.


One applauds the moderator for the action taken.



I admit to not having read the offending comments.

Personally i subscribe to the maxim that if you don't have anything nice to say

then shut it. On the other hand i'm anti-censorship in all its forms...

However there is a growing perception out there that poetry is easy and all you gotta do is upload your load- have a couple of mates say nice things about it - and presto - another poet

is born .  It's not that easy...

As a result of the above there are increasingly many "poets" and not many readers because many of those easy poems are basically unreadable. The most common thing i hear on my rounds is - i don't like poetry as a rule and my reply is"I don't blame you".

This is a general comment and not aimed at anyone here.

Some rigour could be applied to this forum and some immediate effort should be applied to this conundrum - how can poetry find an audience (other than other poets) in the 21st century.

Encouraging the Reading of poetry -real poetry that has stood the test of time- would be a useful start.


I haven't read the post either, but:

I am for free speech, but on one proviso, that the speaker starats from a readuliy identifiable position and speaks sincerely. If someone is talking to you from behind a mask I get worried. Censorship occurs everyday. We 'hold our tongue' to be polite, to avoid offending people. Most of the time we speak from an identifiable position as Adam or Alan or Ethelred. If we tolerate bullshit it has to have conditions. like the peddler of bullshit should be identifiable and accountable in the real world. If we want to attack poeple, we need to have good reasons, based on something more that prejudice. So, do you support anonymity as a form of secrecy that allows bullies to do their destructive work without accountability?


Adam, Alan, Justin  your points are well made…


The advent of easy access to internet sites for the self posting of poetry seems to have created a certain reticence in some poets. Given the opportunity to upload a flattering photograph and use a real and identifiable name some hide behind a pseudonym and a featureless avatar. Why is this so? Are they afraid to own their work?


Do they fear criticism, creative or otherwise? Are they misrepresenting something? Do they intend to post trenchant criticism of others from behind an impenetrable mask? Are they established poets trying something new? Are they part of the ever-growing ‘wus’ brigade? [a combination of wimp and pussy]. Or are there other darker reasons for their disguise?


During my involvement with the site the continuing immoderate, intemperate and inappropriate comments of a few members, albeit a tiny minority of the membership, have become a cause for concern. I will also add that political diatribe and sectarian polemic seems particularly out of place on a creative social site.


Will the behaviour of an anomalous vitriolic minority create a sense of alienation in some members and indeed in some potential members? The answer, I think, is in the affirmative.


The friends, acquaintances and colleagues I have in the past encouraged to engage with ‘Poetry Sydney’, with only one exception, have decided, on examination and consideration, not to post to the site.


1.00:  I believe that ‘moderation after the fact’ is a good approach but I am not convinced that it is always happening in a timely way.


2.00: I now have a marked reluctance to have work on a site where I have too many times encountered uninformed and offensive criticism, political grand-standing and sectarian controversy.


2.01:  I see no point in engaging with the offending members because experience shows that any rebuttal of their views simply adds fuel to the flames and gives their opinions and attitudes more oxygen than they deserve.


3.00:  At this point I must come to the vexed question of Anonymity and Responsibility. They are, demonstrably, uneasy bedfellows.


I believe that it is likely that some members contributing to ‘Poetry Sydney’ and hiding behind a blue avatar, a misleading photograph and a false name may not always hold themselves to the same high standard of work demonstrated by those members attesting to their confidence in their published work by accurately identifying themselves.


3.01:  Further, I believe that criticism by a person hiding in the dark shadows of anonymity and exploiting the privileges of membership by insulting other members and denigrating their work is a seriously corrosive anti-social act bordering on intellectual and personal cowardice.


This behaviour has no place within the environment of a social, creative endeavour, it does not aid the productive meeting of minds and it is in every respect an abomination. Although I do not in any way suggest or support draconian censorship I do believe that a slightly firmer hand may be appropriate in ‘after the fact’ moderation.


It all begs the question: What poet or writer worth his or her salt and seeking recognition and acknowledgement by publishing in the public domain desires anonymity or invisibility? Could they be ‘wee cowrin’ timorous beasties’… perhaps? It is entirely possible... so many new members, so many blue avatars, so few new poems.


Hello apprehensive and most fretful poets.

Have you a rich prized jewel for this place?

Are you courageously counting out the time,

to launch a cherished work into cyber space,

in rhythmic blank verse, or rippling rhyme?


Do you have the words to bring it into play,

with echoes of experiences, robust or proud?

Are you happy you intrepidly came this way?

If so, why do you now hide from the crowd,

as an avatar, anonymous, in this blue shroud?


How can you seek the adulation and renown,

you feel your due, with this anonymous show?

If you will not own your work, who will care,

if the callous critic’s barb seems a cruel blow,

hurt will never be healed by a nom de guerre.


Be anonymous if you will, it is clearly a right,

to hide your light under a bushel, in the gloom

of your lonely room, work long into the night,

creating deathless verse, with a nom de plume,

a pseudonym, or disguise, a really sorry plight.


Perhaps the day will come when, brave at last,

you will sign your well-honed heart-felt work,

and say ‘I did this and my photograph is here’.

Now plain-spoken, trenchant, not a one to shirk,

the avatar has gone I’m here to stay, never fear.


If you are a poet or writer lacking the courage to face the world you are working in a very small room - do not forget to flush.




Bravo Dermott, I agree completely that anonymity is all too often mis-used.

I note that no one took up the broader issue of poetry and audience so i'll just 

address the question which Adam has posed. 

Before doing that i'll just qualify my comments by saying that these are general comments and not aimed at anyone in particular (esp. not you Adam)  

So do I support anonymity as a form of secrecy that allows bullies to do their destructive work without accountability?

Firstly, i think bullying in all its forms is abhorrent. However bullying is all about power imbalance, in fact that's the dictionary definition (unless it's been changed). The powerful bully  the weak. When the weak fight back it's not bullying - it's self defense.

Secondly, we should have no truck w/ trolls - they should be exposed for what they and excluded.


- when the emperors (and their attendants) are not only naked but have started their own 

nudist colonies - replete with editorial committees, university departments, titular heads and the odd enforcer

- when orthodoxy rules and anyone who challenges it is sent to Devil's Island never be published 

- when poetry has lost it's audience and poets don't give a shit -just as long as their mates like what they do - and will support them in future grant applications

- when the one poet  of the modern era who has achieved an enduring readership is variously derided as a Romantic tosser or a filthy drug addict and is duly expunged from the record by being excluded from anthologies

- when the status quo is just fine as long as you write like everyone else

Then YES, anonymity as a strategy of resistance is allowable and indeed should be encouraged


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