Recap Harder: Oct 2021 Recaps— Part 1
NEWS/OPINION/ANALYSIS — Recapping the Recaps
“These would have been discussions in one of the various higher level rooms or semi-official side channels I wasn’t in, where the stuff happens that’s too secret for super secret staffchat. This is why the idea of staffchat recaps or whatever for transparency is a joke, by the way. The real dealing is done in the equivalent of smoky back rooms.”
— [REDACTED], former SCP staffer
Other entries in this series:
I have been dreading this one, maybe subconsciously putting it off. The October 2021 recap is monstrous. It is broken up into collapsed sections, and features a table of contents, itself collapsed, with “scroll to top” at the end of each section. The longest section in the recap is 10,139 words long. A stat provided by the recap team on this section’s topic:
Fun fact: 5% of all messages ever sent in #staff-discussion were sent on the first day. Reader beware. We’re serious.
That’s 1/3rd of the total length of the recap, which is 39,550 words (including the collapsable’s text).
So, this analysis might not be much shorter than the recap itself when all is said and done, but part of this will be explaining the backgrounds and details of the scene more than recap does. Also, we will be expounding on what is said to bring out salient points. This analysis assumes no familiarity on the part of the reader, for the sake of being thorough and argumentatively clad. Obviously, this will be filtered by my vantage point of running parallel alongside the herd. Discussion will be separated by topic, as they are in the Oct 2021 recap.
So we are going to make this in parts; probably three of them (1 — intro, 2 — the 10,000+ word collapsible, 3 — the rest). This one will explain the context and discuss the conclusions we can make already, going into the recap of this exceedingly demanding event. Part 1 here gets only as far as the first collapsible!
Ultimately, it will be made clear that, from the official account given, at least one admin was necessarily aware of the miscommunication that reportedly resulted in DrAkimoto’s intent to retire, and prior to Akimoto’s public post. The naivete claimed by the SCP administration regarding this miscommunication in order to excuse itself from blame is demonstrably false.
It will also be shown that Admins had plenty of time to act on & correct the alleged miscommunication, and potentially prevent DrAkimoto’s public resignation, but did not. We will also see just how dumb you have to be in order to believe this was the result of a miscommunication, as alleged by Staff. It will become painfully clear that this was a deliberate veto of a promotion that blew up in the administration’s face, and that they scrambled to fix it (and explain it away) in order to save favored parts of that face.
A take away will be how often the excuse of a miscommunication is given by Staff for their ongoing shortcomings and major failures (e.g. Town Halls, Cerastes Incident, etc), and that no real improvement has been made apparently despite them acknowledging it as a primary flaw and failure that they are direly working on. The deeper concern here will be that Staff aren’t as bad at communication as they like to say they are; that saying so is a convenient, perpetual, and failsafe excuse fed to a public that usually bites and that never questions enough why people with such a propensity to fumble important communications are repeatedly entrusted with the responsibility to do so. A large question will be why Staff is given an inexhaustible supply for excuse-by-claimed-miscommunication, and face little to no practical repercussions for the continual succumbing to it, a pattern of ineptitude the likes of which would get anyone fired from a proper job. With adequate observation and understanding on the part of the reader, they will correctly come to associate SCP Staff’s use of the word “miscommunication” in the description and defense of their own actions as synonymous with a lie.
Lastly, it will again be observed that (1) the insatiable pursuit for superficial accolades and (2) the top-down demand for a staff-wide mandate and subscription to an over-cautious, partisan political sensitivity are again and again the cause of breakdowns in trust, leadership, and site image; in short, a caustic agent on the good name of containment fiction.
Topic: Autumn 2021 Promotions/DrAkimoto “Miscommunications”
The shorty: Some people get nominated & promoted. DrAkimoto is initially not one of them. His 15-minutes of shame is first mentioned in the first topic and section of the Oct 2021 recaps.
That shame started with this and ended with this, with this between. We’ll go ahead and start tackling this topic, because it is by far the largest sink in the recap. I’ll start with the gist of my perspective.
My bottom lines are that upper Staff clearly shot down DrAkimoto’s promotion, evidently based on sensitivity concerns and him potentially upsetting marginalized people with his article content & writing. DrAkimoto had enough with this crap, so he resigned from all positions this time, and very publicly. This was a bad look for Staff, who didn’t think Akimoto would go through with it (at least not like that!), and per a developing habit, blamed the HR/PR blunder on miscommunications (we will see just how many there actually must have been for this to be true).
So upper Staff caved and gave him the promotion because they got called out. I would say DrAkimoto has balls, but it only amounted to a toddler’s wailing. Akimoto ended up calling their bluff, though probably not intentionally, and inadvertently made Staff look like a bunch of push overs with no principles again. True to a superficial anger and shallow threshold for material placation, DrAkimoto forgot all that as soon as Mommy & Daddy gave him what he wanted. (This whole reaction and resolution is so much like the kid yelling “I hate you!” because he couldn’t have a new toy, it’s crazy.)
OK here’s the long and more defend-able analysis:
In an official explanation from DrBleep on O5, DrAkimoto was initially nominated in late September for a mod position by his team captains, YossiPossi and LadyKatie. This was then discussed by Admins in admin chat, who felt they needed to talk to Yossi about it:
Agreement is reached that this should be brought to Yossi’s attention, in case this had not been previously surfaced as a concern, or if he had additional information regarding the concerns.
(^ Maybe for the first reason more than the second.) The reasons DrAkimoto was initially questioned by Admins behind the scenes were:
…questionable trends with writing that could potentially represent red flags for a staff member’s approach to marginalized users or sensitive discussions.
DrBleep goes on to report that everyone agreed to clarify this with Yossi, but no one did (bolding mine):
Consideration was not given to also consult LadyKatie on the matter, as admins did not know that LadyKatie co-nominated Akimoto with Yossi, due to miscommunication and a form issue… Despite the consensus, no action to contact either IO captain is taken, though the matter is polled a few times in admin chat with no response.
The first miscommunication, and a nondescript form issues are to blame.
With the nominations going public in less than 24 hours, aismallard (an admin) talks to Yossi while apparently already on the phone with him “in an unrelated voice call” (why this detail is necessary is anyone’s guess), and hurriedly tries to explain the Admin’s concerns over DrAkimoto as a moderator… in case Yossi doesn’t know or in case he has more information. This, what surely would have been an interrogative, instead is communicated and received as a statement; that Akimoto’s nomination will be denied.
Feeling pressured by time, aismallard conveys them in such a matter implying that the admins want Akimoto’s promotion rescinded. Yossi assents, interpreting this as administration vetoing the promotion nomination.
This astounding breakdown in basic language skills is copy-pasted upwards through the rest of the ranks:
aismallard relays the assent from Yossi to administration, who interpret Yossi’s response as them voluntarily withdrawing Akimoto’s candidacy. Consequently, Bleep removes Akimoto from promotions thread and posts it to O5.
This would unavoidably mean that the Admins would have concluded that Yossi simply wasn’t aware of their concerns prior to nominating Akimoto. Recall that it was either: Yossi didn’t know, or Yossi knew more about it. If Yossi knew more about it, that would mean Akimoto’s nomination would have been justified, and the Admins’ concerns allayed. But because Akimoto’s nomination was recanted, clearly the Admins would have been led to believe that their concerns were correct; that Akimoto was as bad of a candidate as they feared, that their verbalization of this saved the day, and that Yossi simply hadn’t known of the issues. In this confirmation bias, no Administrator questioned any detail about the conversation; for example, if Yossi did have some more information about Akimoto’s concerns, or if Yossi spoke with Akimoto about them at all. DrBleep removes Akimoto’s name from the nominations and posts the promotions thread on O5 without him in it.
Harshly finding out via the O5 post itself, DrAkimoto naturally seeks an explanation from Yossi:
Yossi, believing Akimoto’s candidacy had been vetoed by administration, relays that to Akimoto, who then responds with their intent to resign.
This is not really surprising or unreasonable of Akimoto, as he has been picking up a lot of work, and had been a regular, quality author. For example, his articles were featured frequently… perhaps just a bit too frequently and with a bit too much favoritism… on bluesoul’s SCP old podcast. (“Plus one.”) So, Akimoto, who was previously denied promotion by Modern_Erasmus for their politically upsetting writing, concluded (correctly) that there was a damn political ceiling hanging over his head, and said his deuces.
Yossi relays this to aismallard, who informs the other admins.
It is important to notice that Staff at this point knew DrAkimoto’s resignation was stated and imminent. They were informed by aismallard, and not by DrAkimoto’s public O5 post about his resignation. This is confirmed by DrBleep’s account in plain sight:
Some responses to the news include that Akimoto chose to resign rather than address the concerns.
Again, no one actually takes the time to ask if Yossi or Akimoto were actually approached with the concerns.
The first miscommunication that arguably started all of this — no one getting in touch with Yossi at the right time, despite everyone agreeing that someone should, and no one remembering they could talk to LadyKatie either… you know, the other captain of the team whose job it is to evaluate & nominate people— returns spotlit as the main reason why all this happened:
Yossi is unaware that admins were fine with Akimoto’s promotion proceeding, but wished that concerns were discussed directly with him as part of that process.
In case you aren’t counting, that’s nine (9) miscommunications. Ten if you count the redux of the first one again at the end.
The believability of these miscommunications is piling up to cartoonish heights. The amount of uncritical thinking and assumptions that would need to take place here for this to have happened is dumbfounding. To be clear, here is a broken-down list of the odd things we are asked to believe in this story from DrBleep:
- that when a question arose regarding DrAkimoto’s concerns and whether or not he had corrected them as desired, and no one present knew, that everyone quickly and suddenly forgot to contact Yossi about it
- that in the above scenario, no one also thought to ask the other captain, LadyKatie
- that Staff, postponing the need to contact someone, felt in the final moments of some clock ticking down that hurrying to get a rushed answer — any answer — from Yossi was the only fix. (They again forgot that LadyKatie exists.)
- that despite no one contacting Yossi this whole time, and really forgetting to, that Aismallard happened to be on the phone with Yossi at that most dire moment before the clock struck zero
- that Aismallard’s sensitivity to the time-pressure is enough to confound her cognitive ability to convey a simple, important idea, and process a live, on-the-phone reply with someone as consistent with the intent
- that neither Yossi nor Aismallard can recognize the difference between an interrogative and imperative statements; essentially that Aismallard lacked the intelligence or interpretation of social cues to understand that her message had been interpreted with an exclamation point at the end, instead of a question mark
- that Yossi and Aismallard get through a very important and time-sensitive voice call without once clarifying the main and only point, and without wondering if they are hearing the other correctly
- that Yossi has zero ability to question any memo he gets from his higher ups, despite clearly having different views on the person he nominated
- that Yossi does not go to bat for Akimoto as someone he nominated for good reasons after this memo from Ais
- that Yossi does not wonder if he has misheard Ais or make sure there is no miscommunication before understanding that he will have to tell one of his staff he told would be up for promotion the very different, very troubling news
- that Yossi does not at any point approach the developed topic with DrAkimoto
- that the Admins did not question if Yossi had more information on the concerns, or if the initial concerns had been addressed via Yossi, or if Akimoto had been spoken with at all in any capacity
- that none of the Admins wondered if Akimoto’s sudden and unexpected resigning could indicate a miscommunication, and that none of them took the opportunity to clarify that their request had been followed through with
- that Admins, faced with this odd result, did not ask for chat logs to assess it further
- that rather than feel the need to clarify for Akimoto’s sake, or for the sake of clarity itself, Yossi, when face to face with Akimoto as his team captain who nominated Akimoto, was again more loyal to mechanically conveying a message from his superiors, despite its upsetting nature
- that a contradiction was present, and so a miscommunication might have occurred, when Yossi verbalizes that he wished they would have asked if he knew any more information re: DrAkimoto’s concerns before sinking his candidacy
Not only do the miscommunications pile up in a comical fashion here, but to believe them, we have to put the participants’ IQs into a similarly laughable caricature. For example, at this last point in the bulleted list, Yossi has relayed back to the Admins via Aismallard that Akimoto is going to resign completely. Per the official account, Yossi says something to the effect of “I wish you would talk to me about Akimoto’s shortcomings, or ask my views, instead of just deny them the position.” This point is too dumb to be dumb, especially stupid, when you try to believe it, even if you try very hard; from the perspective of the Admins — whether just Ais or the others too — , Yossi would have been verbally upset that he wasn’t contacted for the exact reason they believed he was contacted.
What’s lost in DrBleep & Co’s attempt to save face with this far-fetched story is that it still makes them look very bad in a lot of ways; and even otherwise innocent collateral like Yossi too. Aismallard’s prefrontal cortex simply shuts down into an acid bath of missed social cues, all because of an impinging and artificial deadline; Yossi follows orders robotically and without any independent thought as if in a military; Admins learning the news of DrAkimoto’s sudden resigning mono-dimensionally conclude that he must just be a punk who doesn’t want to conform to their behavioral demands and so — hell, good — Akimoto should resign if he knows what’s good for him.
But the real dummie in this set-up is the reader who believes DrBleep’s story. Not only are we asked to swallow a giant formulation of BS made up of all the above bulleted items, but there are glaring points of contradiction yet mentioned.
For one, let’s notice that the person responsible for getting the nominations ready in time, who was the one who was of all Admins surely seeing the nominations prior to other Admins, and who ultimately rescinded DrAkimoto’s nomination, is also the same person who is explaining to us the whole story. This is not an unbiased or third-party investigation that came to an independent conclusion. On a larger scale, Staff is investigating Staff here. No conflict of interest can be surely be seen.
Then there’s the consideration of the recently-established protocols for these exact promotions. Nowhere in the protocol finalized one month prior does it say that Admins will review the team captains’ selections and challenge them if necessary, or discuss them, or poll other Admins about it, or smother it in the cradle if they don’t like it. This is Admin fiat collectively working outside of the rules, and defies the whole point of preventing Admins omnipotence when it comes to who gets promoted. It constitutes abuse. It’s no wonder then the Admins come out thrashing so frantically, denying that they were trying to do this at all!
Next, consider the Admins’ discussion of DrAkimoto’s “questionable trends” (astounding, that they wanted to promote ProcyonLotor with no such comment, by the way): what was the purpose of bringing it up in the secrecy of this Admin-only chat? What in here couldn’t be mentioned or discussed in the ensuing O5 Command voting thread? What were the mentioned “polls”, numerous as they were, set up to gauge? Why was there such a urgency to get in touch with Yossi prior to the nominations going up? Who or what was holding their feet to what firey deadline?
The “miscommunication” defense well over-extends and traps itself in a contradiction; the obvious response to Yossi saying that he wishes Admins would have contacted him about Akimoto’s concerns would have been something like: “Wait, I thought that’s what you just did.” But, surprise, that didn’t happen; another miscommunication! Does something continue to be a miscommunication if it is brought up openly to everyone involved, and everyone still happens to ignore it? So zany! Staff may as well have stepped unlookingly on a discarded banana peel and landed in a passing baby stroller, bib and rattle included, straight outta Hanna-Barbera.
Finally, and conspicuously in the middle of all this, is the fact that this has happened to DrAkimoto three times before this one:
“In the spirit of actual transparency; Its been brought to my attention that my recent (and most likely past 3) promotions have been squashed by member(s) of upper staff simply based off what I assume to be personal ‘concerns’”
On top of all the odds here, we are asked to believe that the time DrAkimoto makes a scene about just so happened to also be the one with all the miscommunications? Such hi-jinks!
Eventually, Staff apologizes to DrAkimoto and re-runs the promotions thread & vote. Akimoto’s promotion passes with a lower-than-average 75%. No one who votes “no” cites the reasons that Admins initially didn’t want him promoted. Blatant also is the “optional areas of improvement” section on Akimoto’s eventual nomination slot, which also does not include anything about these elsewhere stated reasons for hesitation. It instead says:
“Akimoto does not participate in much discussion policy-wise, but does vote on 05 proposals. In the future, it may be beneficial for them to actively contribute to discussion more.”
Perhaps Akimoto is partially excluded from discussion because Admins clearly convey to their staff that he represents political enmity by way of his article content, and that he has Admin-chat-shared personal issues. Staff seemingly forgot all about those concerns they had, and as far as we know never got an answer that he had improved on them.
The apology from DrBleep and Staff ends with a list of things they are going to do by golly to resolve this. So, with the remote possibility that there may have been no miscommunications here at all, and that perhaps the Admins’ will was carried out exactly as prescribed, let’s visit the “how we’re going to make this right, by George” section on this public apology, one-by-one:
1. Akimoto has been directly contacted, and received an informal apology from one of his captains.
Yossi (likely), the informal one, here had to apologize to Akimoto for carrying out verbatim the order he was given. Admins cannot admit to their conviction, which would justly absolve Yossi in the mix-up. Admins prop up Yossi as a scapegoat instead, and in part sacrifice the messenger to absolve themselves.
2. Administrators will be sending a private apology to Akimoto, and offering him the option of having admins hear out concerns he has with this process and/or administration.
“We’re sorry we didn’t want you, you can have the promotion, just please plug the PR hole. Say all the crappy things you want to about us (in private) and we’ll take it. Here, look, here’s a private apology, just for you. So special! Would you like our autographs too? It’s OK, you can ask!”
3. Akimoto will be added to the current list of promotion candidates, the timer will be reset to 7 days, and all parties will be asked to edit their existing votes to reflect Akimoto being added.
Again, this doesn’t resolve the barrier to entry previously voiced by Admins. Those clearly still exist and are not at all addressed by any of this. Does the fact that a bunch of miscommunications on the Staff’s part magically evaporate the concerns they voiced with DrAkimoto before it all happened? Does he have questionable trends or doesn’t he? Are these a concern or aren’t they? Did he work to correct them or didn’t he? Did Yossi know more about it than the Admins did, or didn’t he? All ignored and the twinkie un-dangled immediately.
4. “LadyKatie has been apologized to by multiple members of the admin team for not being contacted.”
Oh so you contact the man but not the woman? Tisk tisk .“Sorry we pretended you didn’t exist. If it makes you feel better, we weren’t actually looking for Yossi’s input; that was just a cover story.”
5. Admins will make it clear to staff that we do not believe it is ever appropriate for administrators to push team captains to rescind any nominations, just as administrators very much did not wish to push Yossi to rescind Akimoto’s nomination.
This is of course not the first time that Staff, including admins, have shot down the promotion of someone another staff member nominated before it got off the runway. Fully in the presence of other Staff. I can’t imagine a worse way to communicate the exact opposite sentiment. In the past, these episodes of silent veto have, it’s no shock, been for reasons of political disagreement. ReverendFox and Prototype_Toaster are two clear examples available in collected and combed-through staff chats from the years 2019 and 2018, respectively. So this is not an accurate reflection of what actually goes on behind the politician’s curtain; it’s a bold-faced lie.
So, when we assume more than just the politically-optimistic dunce’s measure of insight in the average O5 reader, this statement comes off as the opposite; “We are sorry that we got caught trying to influence promotions as we sometimes do, and definitely were trying to do here.” If it was not Admins intention to sink a nomination, then why did they have to have the discussion in their own channels after the nomination but speedily prior to the public vote? It doesn’t make sense. The discussion was specifically to sink the promotion and avoid what they thought would be the lesser of two bad PR moves.
6. A core cause of this problem was administration not reliably assigning responsibility for issues, causing issues to either get dropped, or rushed at the last minute. Both occurred here.
7. As such, admins have begun discussions for formal task tracking such as setting up a Jira, assigning responsibility for handling investigation into internal staff matters, and the potential establishment of an intra-staff team to handle administration issues of this caliber ranging from investigation of potential problematic staff behavior to creation and assignment of purview responsibility.
Wait, a whole new intra-Staff disciplinary team? I was under the impression Disc and AHT applied to “intra-Staff problematic behavior” already. And I thought this was just due to some miscommunications. Why a new, elite Disc team? Is no one guarding the guards? What is there to punish if this was just a comedy-of-errors, slapstick-esque, 1/1000000 chance threading of the swiss-cheese model? A bit overkill if we believe the surface-level reasons given.
8. We apologize to all promotion candidates, the IO captains and Akimoto for the nature of these miscommunications.
It isn’t said explicitly, but “the nature of these” is either total ineptitude or a conspiracy lie. The aforementioned “form issue” that is partially the cause of all this is not addressed. Don’t forget everyone; they were miscommunications.
Back to the recap, we can see that in the first mention of the drama, the recap team has gotten the facts incorrect. Next to DrAkimoto’s name is a footnote that reads:
“This promotion was removed without notice in the days following the initial announcement, then later restored. An explanation for this is provided in the “Promotions Suspension” recap.”
…which is not true. This is contradicted by a review of the history of the promotions thread as well as the “official” account by DrBleep. Both make it clear that DrAkimoto was deliberately not initially included in the promotion nominations with notice; Admins’ notice to Aismallard, Aismallard’s notice to Yossi, Yossi’s notice back to Aismallard, and Aismallard’s notice back to the Admins. That’s 4 degrees of notice before the thread went live. The only lack of notice was from DrAkimoto’s point of view.
So, what is more likely; that the behind-closed-doors upper Staff failed basic communications 9+ times to result in an incredible multi-lane communication pile-up, or, that it’s much, much simpler than that? That the message was clear and that DrAkimoto’s denial was intentional, as it was the past three times? DrAkimoto certainly didn’t interpret all this as a comedy of communication accidents. We should probably give some credence to his and our intuition here.
We see that the transaction of power was sufficient to solve all the initially-stated emotional and social problems with the site that DrAkimoto found himself struggling to find upward mobility in. Here are DrAkimoto’s statements when he thought he wasn’t getting promoted:
“The fact that despite the work I’ve done, I’m not deserving of a promotion or even have the trust of my peers is disheartening. Regardless of the reasonings the promotion itself is not very important to me but the lack of trust and feeling of of being unwelcome is enough for me to say goodbye.”
And yet, this deep emotional critique turned on the dime of being given the promotion. The concerning observations here are either complete fronting, or they are as shallow as piss in a kiddie pool. This is the nature and depth of relationships at SCP and in the Staff. These people aren’t your friends, Akimoto. DrAkimoto — nearly a thirty year old man per their WikiDot profile — pitched a tantrum for more power that his boss had promised him. The 180-degree gleefulness with which Akimoto then returns to his duties and newfound sinecure is almost nauseating.
As hapless as this state is, Akimoto is not the most pitiable in the situation here. What does this saga say for the initial concerns Staff had? They are flimsy and easily collapsed by social pressure. Forget that this isn’t the person they wanted as a Moderator (Akimoto has forgotten that quickest of all), the bottom line is that a PR blemish has been avoided. Any way you slice it, Staff promoted a person they had severe hesitations with. They ignored this solely due to how embarrassed they became when it blew up publicly in their face. In my opinion, they initially got exactly what they wanted when DrBleep removed his name from the promotions, and didn’t probably think Akimoto would go through with it.
Some leadership, eh? If you are going to have garbage reasons for not promoting someone, at least stick by your trashy convictions. Staff caved to a tantrum. Staff is the frazzled, sleep-deprived mother at the grocery check-out line who just can no longer resist the convenience and abandons herself to the relentless pull of bad pareneting, just letting the kid get the damn candy bar.
Next, we get to look forward to another (different?) explanation to that of DrBleep’s that is 10,000+ words, appearing later on in the October 2021 recap under the lusty title “Promotions Suspension and Communication”. Maybe we can have some answers to some lingering and malapropos bits of data we didn’t ask. For example, why did Staff take the question and presentation of the miscommunication in plain sight more seriously only once Lily asked about it, when Yossi had presented the same opportunity, all data being equal, earlier that day and prior to Akimoto’s resignation notice?
DrAkimoto posted his retirement statement on the same day as the promotion thread, but 12 hours later (12:05 WDT). It wasn’t until two days and ten hours later, on 11 Oct 2021, 20:02, Akimoto indicated in his retirement thread that he would be staying on-board at his positions. Akimoto was added to the promotions voting well after this, on 13 Oct 2021, 17:52. The public apology by Staff was posted later that night, at 22:46. (Even later was LadyKatie’s inclusion in DrAkimoto’s nomination, on Oct 14th.) Why are these gaps in time between these so large? Why in ample time to have fixed the miscommunication clearly presented to them, didn’t Staff reach out to contact Akimoto from making this public and mortifying statement?
Why did Staff continuously forget about LadyKaty?
If Admins “do not believe it is ever appropriate for administrators to push team captains to rescind any nominations,” if there was no precedent or normalized behavior for Admins to fiat-veto nominations pre-existing in common experience in Staff, why did Yossi comply so easily to the belief that they were doing just that? Why did Yossi have no problem relaying that to Akimoto as the official explanation?
Why is 1/3rd of the recap and 5% of all staff channel messages dedicated to figuring out these “miscommunications”?
Part 2 coming soon.