I am finished with talkchess.com. The site administration and my co-moderator Graham Banks have made it impossible for me to continue as a moderator, and in a more extended sense, as a member of this community. Before I explain my reasons for leaving: I am starting a new, free, uncensored, (though unconditionally non-warez) computer chess site -- OpenChess -- which can be found at http://www.open-chess.org/
-- effective immediately. I hope that, with time, it will become a valuable alternative to talkchess.com, but without commercial influence over content, and without biased moderation or censorship of discussions in progress. I encourage anyone with an interest in computer chess, everyone who desires a forum where free, uncensored, tolerant discourse is possible, engine authors as well as testers and end-users, to join. There's not much there yet, but that's just a matter of time and your participation. As we populate and organize OpenChess, your suggestions are welcome.
To my reasons... The moderation team was informed yesterday by the site administrator, Sam Hull, that the site owners, Your Move Chess & Games/ICD, want the moderation team to aggressively remove links and any posts which could be seen as "encouragement to acquire software of questionable legitimacy". "Software of questionable legitimacy" obviously refers to the engines derived from the source code known as I--- (I censor myself here to avoid being banned to the CEO forum by Graham), and the request was justified by the various commercial partnerships which YMC&G/ICD maintains. The immediate consequence of this new directive was that Graham dumped a number of threads into the hidden Chess Engine Origins forum, including several posts which merely mention the engines in question. Most objectionable to me was a post which simply reproduced a couple of lines of analysis output from one of the questionable engines -- the problem was apparently that the clone's analysis was more accurate than Rybka 4's.
Graham has no doubt in his mind about the meaning of "encouragement" or "promotion" -- it means any positive or neutral mention of the existence of said software (insults are fine, of course). He's never made any bones about his personal agenda vis a vis the "clone" engines, nor his disdain and intolerance for anyone who demands evidence for the claims which have been made against them. This bias has been a source of tension and disagreement within the moderation team (with one or two regrettable public incidents) for the entire term. Graham, who's done zero moderation of talkchess in the last month and half out of protest against open discussion of these engines, got back in the saddle last night when he heard the good news and started purging. When I protested, my attempts at discussion or compromise were refused. In fact, Graham was only willing to discuss whether the "clones" would be removed from the Tournaments sub-forum, as well.
I ran for moderator on a platform of open, civil discussion. The newest developments make open discussion at talkchess.com de facto impossible. Never mind that there is overwhelming technical evidence demonstrating that IPPOLIT and friends are NOT clones (at least as a counterpoint to the significant circumstantial evidence in favor of them being clones). Never mind the principle by which accusations should be backed up with evidence before they are taken seriously, or used as the basis for decisions to censor or banish discussion. Never mind that "the posts on the Computer-Chess Club message board do not necessarily agree (nor disagree) with the opinions of Your Move Chess & Games, I.C.D. Corporation, or Computer Chess Reports, and these companies do not control, and have no say in, what is posted or how it is posted. Nor do any of these organizations have any say or control over decisions made by the moderators." That's from the Charter, in case you missed the reference.
If it has really come to this, where, in violation of talkchess.com's own charter, Your Move Chess & Games/ICD can influence forum content in favor of their commercial interests, where moderators feel smugly justified simply censoring threads and posts which contain mention of or factual data (analysis output!) regarding or generated by undesired software, then I cannot stay here. I am not a salesman -- as moderator, it's not my job to help YMC&G/ICD move their merchandise. Nor am I a nanny -- it's not my job to protect forum members or visitors from legal, freely available, relevant, topical information or discussion with one another. And I do not want my name associated with a community which hinders, suppresses, deletes or censors discussion, or with moderators who feel comfortable bullying and alienating "illegitimate" users.
So, once again, goodbye, talkchess. I apologize to anyone that I am letting down by abandoning my months-long effort to keep Graham away from your posts, but I've been undermined by the administration and will not continue to roll this proverbial stone up the proverbial mountain. I hope to see you on OpenChess soon (http://www.open-chess.org/
Taking the high road regards,