Time to end the Italian feud in the comments section (UPDATED)

My notes about Arevenca have attracted a lot of really strange, often very informative comments, mostly from anonymous or pseudonymous correspondents. But they have also inspired a weird fight between people upset with one another in Italy. They have been using the comments section of this site to make all manner of allegations and counter-allegations. They started out straightforwardly enough, but at this point, I don’t have the connections, skills or interest to disentangle their concerns. I am summarizing the issues here as a way to isolate this fight to one thread and get myself out of this festival of mud-slinging.

Of course, I appreciate the tips. Generally speaking, I publish what arrives, as many of my best tips come from weird, anonymous notes. At times, I hold back a comment for being ethically dodgy. I don’t like when someone I don’t know uses my site to accuse anyone of illegal activity or to publicly identify a crime victim. These are acts that can’t easily be taken back. Such tips should be sent in by e-mail so I can confirm them before running them. Otherwise, I mostly let things run, even with people’s names. That’s because blog comments aren’t credible. If some anonymous blog-commenter says I’m a pedophile terrorist dog-eater, I don’t care. If someone makes a specific claim about me that I consider defamatory, I’d much rather reply with contrary evidence than try and get the post removed. If they make silly claims, why even bother replying?

All this is an intro to a series of recriminations between comment-writers on a few posts here.

In April, someone using the name Pier Paolo wrote a note, in Italian, as a comment to one of my many Arevenca-related stories. He said that someone named C____ had claimed to represent Arevenca to potential clients in Europe. C____ was also supposed to be the person behind some companies, including the “financial entity” D___. It seemed like a mild enough statement, and one that C____ could reply to if he ever felt like it. Also, I confirmed that C____ was the name on the D___ website, so I figured the correspondent wan’t a total nutter. So I let it run. Teach me a damn lesson.

C____ (or someone using that name) eventually wrote me. Part of our exchange is recounted here (page now hidden — see update for reason). He asked me to delete information, but he wouldn’t answer any questions I asked (such as why, if he didn’t have any connection to D___, the website was registered in his name). As a reporter, there are few things I like less than censorship. So I ignored his take-down request until he could give me a good reason to delete information. The correspondence continued in July, with him finally disclosing that he had once worked with D___, but still not giving me any reason to delete the comments about him. His final note:

Ok steven I prepare the information for the blog and than I move on against the pseudo names with all ways through the justice.

About your politicy to authorize all people without the identity verification I think si not professional and is very dangerous. With anonymus nick I could be a nickname telling that I knew mr. Steven and he is a terrorist man…following your politicy you told me that is possible, because you reply, IS NOT TRUE. But in the meantime your name will be dangerous and any consequence for the anonynus nick name…because some people will think, he answer “is not true” but the anonymus nick confirmed the opposite, where is the knowledge?..

I understan that you are a freelance and with a big experience in your job but I think that this is not a professional style to manage a blogger…you agree??


I come back later.

A couple days later, someone calling himself Francesco M. wrote, also in Italian, to say that D___ is a serious institution and C____ a fine person.

June 13, someone using the name V___ wrote in, tying C____ and Arevenca to a supposed Italian-Venezuelan businessman whose name appears almost nowhere on the web. Nobody else I’ve reached has ever heard of this person, so he’s either a figment of the imagination or he’s very good at keeping a low profile.

Someone called Harris64 wrote to say s/he too had encountered C____, in England, pitching Arevenca’s fictitious wares.

July 13, this “V___” wrote again to say that H___, the big company in charge of D___ and K___, now had an “Under Construction” website and that K___’s sales brochure was gone from the intertubes.

The other day, a V___ wrote identical notes in three locations, attacking the prior comment-writers as a bunch of con men who were misusing his name. He said the earlier commentors were involved in the sale of fake HIV drugs to C___ and his pals. C___’s websites, in turn, are indeed linked to the prospective sale of fake HIV drugs last year in Italy. The (real?) V___ also accuses the fake V___ of stealing hundreds of thousands of euros in a different scam. I have no way to confirm any of this stuff, and no time and not much interest.

Rather than humour this festival of reputation reduction in the comments section, I am doing something quite different. I have blocked all the prior comments on this crap from public view, and I’m holding this one back, and any more comments on this whole Italian angle will also be blocked.

That’s because I just can’t be arsed to deal with this part of the story. I don’t want anything to do with this feud, I don’t know these people, and I don’t speak Italian. If some enterprising reporter in Italy wants to look into this mess, go for it — I’m happy to send you the whole collection of comments along with my many non-insights on the situation. It is not my news beat, not my problem, and I can’t spend my life worrying about some dudes in Italy being pissed off at me for stuff I have nothing to do with.

If you guys want to keep denouncing one another, fine — send me e-mails with confirmable documentation and information, or go start your own blogs. I really, really don’t like to censor comments, but in this case I just can neither continue to run unmoderated comments full of personal attacks, nor do I have much basis for picking and choosing which comments to run. Time to move on. Thanks.

I just talked with C____, who made a reasonable case that his name shouldn’t be run through the mud by anonymous commenters who may well have ulterior motives. He answered some of my doubts about his legitimacy, so I am deleting his name off of this page and concealing the page “Responding to a mysterious gentleman”. Now I hope this whole feud can really end.