Tefl, Uncategorized

Good Dave, Bad Dave

Yesterday I managed to get myself banned from the most popular ESL/TEFL forum on the internet! Was I terribly naughty? Not really. Maybe a little, but only a little. And I won’t lose any sleep over it. Dave’s ESL Cafe has for many years been the place to go for help and advice regards anything TEFL related, and also for anything about moving to, living in or travelling through pretty much any country you care to name. It’s really nothing more than a large community of people who take the time to share their knowledge and experiences, and to keep in touch with the forever evolving world of TEFL.

But the forum has long been a centre of controversy, for quite a number of reasons. The owner, Dave Sperling makes a fortune out of adverts on the site. A lot of people have been allegedly upset, on a regular basis, because he accepts adverts from companies who are well known for poor business practices/unethical business models/ripping off newbie TEFLers and even, so I’m told, out and out fraudsters.

What upsets people even more is that he has a team of moderators who clamp down hard on any sign of dissent. Want to warn a new TEFLer against going to work for a certain company who advertises on Dave’s? Your advice will be deleted, and you’ll probably be banned. Want to raise a question about Dave’s forum which could be construed in even a slightly negative way? Delete and ban. Think Dave could improve an aspect of his site’s moderation policy? Don’t post it – delete and ban!

My sin? Well. I’ll come to it. There was one particular user on the Mexico forum who posted a plethora of links over quite a period of time. He wouldn’t usually actually contribute his own thoughts or opinions. Just a grim headline, followed by a link to a story. All of them negative, all of them rather pointless, and most of them sourced from some very questionable news outlets. For example, a Conservative Christian movement in Texas. Nice. Every story was about murder, drugs, beheadings, economic doom, crime gloom. “Don’t look now, but Mexico is collapsing” being a recent one.

It has to be said there are plenty of negative things to write about regards Mexico. And the better members do cover them. But this member in particular doesn’t seem to understand how a forum works. It’s a place to share your own opinions and stories. What he did would be called spamming. At best. Trolling, at worst. What he is doing still living in Mexico City when he’s clearly so terrified of the place is unclear. He sure does need to grow up though.

I have never been a prolific poster on Dave’s. Largely because of the aggressive censorship and unethical practices that I observed or heard about. A couple of posts a month was my limit. I don’t expect to find absolute freedom of speech anywhere. It doesn’t exist. But you hope not to find the kind of fascist style censorship that is employed there.

After the latest string of one line doom threads by the contributor in question, I thought I’d play the same game. I posted three new threads. “Mexico – sunny weather expected on Tuesday” was one, with a link to a weather site. “Postcard sent from Mexico – arrives safely!” was another, linking to a picture of a postcard. “A photograph of a man in Mexico – not beheaded”, linking to a photo of a chap in Mexico, who clearly still had his head attached to his torso. That was all too much for the moderator, one would presume Mr Kalgukshi, who promptly banned me! I have to say I rather expected it, and didn’t much care.

But Dave’s Cafe is missing the point, and whilst I am sure it’ll be the top dog in the TEFL world for some time to come, it probably won’t last forever with it’s current policies in place. Their current ethos is all about getting in revenue, with the community seemingly considered an incidental annoyance to be barely tolerated. The thing is, without that community, Dave’s income will shrivel up and disappear.

I’m not the only one to be banned. One of the biggest contributors to their forums, of many years standing, was also today banned. That will be their loss, not his. And a big loss. His crime? As I understand it, he started a thread, now deleted, complaining that I had been banned. Another thread started a few hours ago simply titled ‘Goodbye Gary’ with a ‘will miss you’ type message, but not mentioning the word ban or anything else, has also been deleted.

So goodbye to Dave’s from me, and he, and many others. Some time ago a rival forum was set up to accommodate the banned, the disaffected and the unruly! I hope it takes off. It’s still a young site but growing. I will take my contributions over there full time. Where to find it? By clicking this link – Dave’s ESL Cafe. I know what you’re thinking. The link I gave has the name of the old site. Indeed it does. But it links to the rival. If enough people did this, the term Dave’s ESL Cafe will point to David’s ELT World in the first page of Google’s search engine. Yes, I also know I’m petty! But I have a few other tricks up my sleeve. Because I’m a little bit twisted too… 🙂


14 thoughts on “Good Dave, Bad Dave

  1. Kalgukshi says:

    Kalgukshi has been a jackass on every forum since 2003, when the new board went live. He’s the worst of the mods. His contributions in the mod forums go like this:

    “So-and-so posted this about this and that. He’s nothing but a troll. Ban him.”

    Short blurts of angry accusations with absolutely no thought whatsoever put into his writing. This man has zero compassion, and I’ve known dogs that had better brains.


  2. Thane Kerner says:

    Let’s get this monstrosity shut down. Mods who will ban you on a whim, internet commentators that will follow you around like puppy dogs criticizing your telling of the truth, and even hackers who will hack your computer after posting somehting they don’t like make it a morass of a site now. Let’s get it off the net.


    • Easy said than done, I’m afraid. What I would much prefer to see, more than the destruction of the site, is a transformation from within….you know, the introduction of ethics and things like that.


  3. Kate says:

    Dave is too concerned with money to be bothered with ethics.

    It’s business as usual for him.

    His money ultimately comes from exploitative companies who underpay vulnerable teachers and overcharge vulnerable customers…

    hope it gets shut down one day. But this is how the world appears to work. I will no longer go to that site.


  4. Zipper says:

    I was banned yesterday from Dave’s Cafe, because I questioned Mr. Kalgukshi about why posters couldn’t talk about Taiwan in the Koreans forum, and posters couldn’t talk about Korea on the Taiwan forum. Double standard? Then I was banned. I never used foul language and always shared my experience and knowledge of living in China, Taiwan, South Korea, Thailand and the Philippines. I never expressed myself no lighter or harsher than anyone else. I was banned because I dared to directly question Mr. Kalgukshi’s policies. What an asshole.


  5. Zipper says:

    I was banned yesterday from Dave’s Cafe, because I questioned Mr. Kalgukshi about why posters could talk about Taiwan in the Koreans forum, and posters couldn’t talk about Korea on the Taiwan forum. Double standard? Then I was banned. I never used foul language and always shared my experience and knowledge of living in China, Taiwan, South Korea, Thailand and the Philippines. I never expressed myself no lighter or harsher than anyone else. I was banned because I dared to directly question Mr. Kalgukshi’s policies. What an asshole.


  6. Steve_C says:

    I’ve been a member of Dave’s ESL user since 2006 when I began to consider teaching in Taiwan. While I enjoyed reading others’ experiences there, I have to admit that I’ve found much more useful information at other forums such as Tealit and Forumosa. Since coming to Taiwan in 2008 I’ve visited Dave’s less and less, the main reason being the heavy-handed abuse of power wielded by Kalguski. With all the edits, deletions, and bannings, I sometimes feel I’m reading a North Korean message board.

    Now, I myself have never been warned or threaten by Kalguski; however, because of their policies I’ve decided to stop using Dave’s. Of course, I could never post this sentiment there because it would be immediately deleted and I would be banned. And that is exactly the reason I’m making a quiet exit.

    To Zipper: I have read your posts on Dave’s ESL and can confirm you’ve always added interesting and useful information in a reasonable way. But, after reading Kalgukshi’s mod edits and ban threats, it doesn’t surprise me that you got banned for simply questioning their policies. I just wonder if these Police State tactics of Dave’s ESL Cafe will cause their ultimate demise?


  7. Another happy Dave’s ESL camper!

    What Dave Sperling does have on his side, that will probably prevent the collapse of his evil empire any time soon, is the fact that he has a very high page rank with Google, and heads the list with all the search engines for common search terms.

    That means that whilst lots of disaffected users will leave, new ones will step in and keep the site busy.

    Two things to note about that: firstly, the replacement of old and experienced for new and exploring means the quality of the site’s content will deteriorate.

    Secondly – that won’t bother Dave. His site is primarily about traffic and advertising. Newbies keep both going nicely.


  8. Chris says:

    Beware the ides of March! I got banned March 15, 2011, for no other reason than stating “the moderator has gone nuts & is locking threads left, right & center”, & “has been heavy handed with the mod edit, enough to give Pravda a run for their money!” After the earthquake & tsunami, Kalgukshi went around locking any thread that even mentioned any of the 3 topics: earthquake, tsunami or the Fukushima nuclear reactor. After getting a “this thread is locked 3 or 4 times” (for 3-4 different threads) & being extremely concerned about unofficial reports of a radiation cloud reaching Korea that afternoon, I was justifiably annoyed that Mr Kalgukshi, (no doubt safely ensconced in a comfortable office in California), would deliberately endanger peoples lives by locking a thread on possible radiation reaching Korea, that has almost nothing to do with Japan, well maybe only in a very tangential way. The radiation scare was later exposed as a hoax or over reaction by a panicky Korean populace. The thread he was moving stuff to was heavily riddled with ‘MOD EDIT’ & no longer made much sense to try & read & recall prior comments in their entirety. For example, my comment “The previous post appears to have been deleted, but…”; became “MOD EDIT, but…” To me, this is excessive moderation. An entire thread on Korean school-kids reaction to the tsunami simply disappeared. And such double standards! Another poster still there as far as I know, called me nuts but was neither warned, reprimanded or banned.


  9. Jason Schroeder says:

    i got banned for mentioning the China-Philippines conflict. I was warned that was a forbidden topic. The pro-communist Chinese (Lobster and others) only reply that the West is evil and China should just invade the Philippines. It is now my job to write complain letters to anyone I can to make him lose his lucrative income. Post anything to not show China as the perfect society and you will be banned.


    • Another happy Bad Dave ex-user! Why am I not surprised they are still censoring any opinion that could offend their advertisers? They’ll be basing their servers in China before you know it, to let the Great Firewall do their job for them.


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