How did we get here? And why?

Rennlist is a Porsche centered forum, owned by Internet Brands1, who in turn is owned by KKR2 – a $216.445 billion dollar investment company.

Rennlist has one paid employee of Internet Brands. The forum has become known for excellent Porsche-related content, thanks primarily to the principles of the founding member – John Dunkle, and the activity of the volunteer moderators of Rennlist.  Besides contributing valuable content to Rennlist through the years, the moderators also “curate” other content contributed by members to make it valuable to the users of Rennlist.  They’ve done this – some for over a decade – with no remuneration except being proud to have created something useful for Porsche enthusiasts.

When Internet Brands (IB) bought the forum from John Dunkle, they brought in one paid employee who oversees the general running of the forum.  He oversees the forum activities and helps with defining the architecture (layout) of the forum when necessary. 

The moderators were told they were to be the group determining forum content – ie “moderating” the content. 

At some point after IB bought Rennlist a new forum was added called “Politics and Controversy” (aka P&C). The idea of this forum was to move any posts or threads involving politics to this forum, effectively removing it from the public eye, since this subforum is only visible to a paid member of Rennlist. 

This subforum (P&C) quickly became a home for radical views from both ends of the political spectrum, and associated hate speech, sexist comments, racist commentary.  The moderators generally found this unacceptable. The response by the Internet Brands employee was to rename the subforum to “Politics and Debate” (aka P&D).  After the major social media companies banned and removed radical and inaccurate content and commentators from their sites – it seems these people moved to other sites like Rennlist where they found a home, in the case of Rennlist – in the P&D subforum.

The group of moderators listed below (an overwhelming majority of active moderators) approached the paid Rennlist employee in an effort to contain or remove the P&D subforum.

Ideally – this subforum – which is without any value to Porsche enthusiasts – would go away.  The moderators in reviewing the subforum activity noticed that many of the people posting there ONLY posted in that subforum, leading them to believe these are people who may have been blocked from social media sites like Facebook – and they found a friendly home in this subforum of Rennlist – despite not actually being Porsche enthusiasts..

The P&D subforum isn’t visible to the public – it’s behind a “paywall” meaning you have to be a paid member to access it – or to even know it exists. One might question why this is necessary – but if you know how Google spiders work the necessity becomes clear. Google won’t scan/spider behind a paywall.  This lets Rennlist hide the content of this subforum from search engines. This also means this forum doesn’t generate search-engine clicks ($$$) for Internet Brands, leaving us puzzled as to why Internet Brands is so protective of it.

Rennlist blocked access to this subforum to some of the more egregious offenders almost a year ago – unfortunately, this action only slightly lessened the socially unacceptable topics and posts.  The subforum continued to tolerate racist, sexist, hate, and misinformation threads.  

When the moderators tried to control these posts – they were often overruled by one administrator or the paid Internet Brands employee assigned to Rennlist. 

There had been agreement among the moderators that this sort of reversal of a moderation action was supposed to be discussed by all the moderators before taking place – in these cases, there was no discussion, just a summary reversal of the moderation by the paid agent of Internet Brands.

We (the moderators listed below) as a group held several Zoom meetings to discuss how to best resolve this. The outcome of the meetings was our asking the paid agent to join one of our Zoom meetings so the subject could be discussed and a reasonable solution arrived at. The response of the paid agent was a blunt refusal to join any Zoom meeting with us, and his subsequent blocking of our access to the “Politics and Debate” subforum, effectively strangling any chance of moderation of the content by the moderators.

We found this action unacceptable – and composed and mailed a letter to the President of Internet Brands (Bob Brisco) explaining the situation and our concerns. The moderators also issued a statement on Rennlist: Rennlist Moderator Statement

The response was – we were all “banned” from Rennlist, unable to post, edit, reply, receive or send messages.  Apparently shooting the messenger was the response.

We don’t know at what level this action was determined to be a valid response.  What we object to is the “ban” doesn’t show up if anyone looks at any posts we’d made on the forum.  Many of us were active technical contributors, primarily responsible for Rennlist becoming “the web authority” on Porsche repairs/diagnostics/discussion.   These posts remain – and our names remain attached to them – shown as “Member”.  We are not members since we have been banned and essentially have no access to Rennlist or even what we wrote on their website.

That’s the current situation. 

We do hope that Rennlist members start asking about how this happened and why Internet Brands and KKR feel this was a valid response to this concern.  Many of the banned moderators also request removal of anything they wrote for Rennlist – since it still associates their names with an organization they can no longer support, and it limits them from correcting errors in their postings or adding additional information where needed.  Rennlist (and Internet Brands) has basically blocked their access to their own intellectual property.

John Dunkle, Rennlist Founder

Mark in Baltimore, Co-Administrator, Member since 2002

Tom M`Guinn, Moderator, Member since 2002

Marine Blue, Moderator, Member since 2004

deilenberger, Super Moderator, Member since 2011

dr bob, Super Moderator, Member since 2001

foodbiker, Moderator, Member since 2014

Il pirata, Super Moderator, Member since 2011

Todd B, Moderator, Member since 2001

OCNYPORSCHE, Super Moderator, Member since 2008

paulkromz, Moderator, Member since 2013

1 = Internet Brands: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_Brands

2 = KKR: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kohlberg_Kravis_Roberts