Social Network Smackdown

smack·down/ˈsmakˌdoun/ ~ A bitter contest or confrontation: “the age-old man versus Nature smackdown”.

This post is personal. It is a quick story about something that happened this week. Although there is some looming sadness in my personal life, I want to focus on the core issue which has to do with confrontation within social networks. 

Names, IP addresses, emails, and contact information has been changed to protect the identities of the people I am in a smackdown with. However, my information has not been changed.

It all started with a random phone call. When I say random I mean a call that first came in as +61 Australian extension, then random switched back-and-forth as a blocked “unknown” number. I use an Android App that unblocks numbers and if it cannot then it blocks them from being answered. It also allows me to blacklist numbers.

A series of calls started coming in at 10:43 am GST on November the 27th. I was in a meeting and upon the third set of vibrations I decided to answer. When I did answer the audio was all garbled. I assumed they were using Skype or something similar. I have about 8 close friends in Australia, so I decided to use the land line and call back.  I left the meeting, and made the call assuming it was an emergency.

When the person answered they identified themselves. I had worked on a project for them a year before and the project, in my mind, went badly. I will not get into the details, but I had not wanted to work with them anymore. I was surprised they called, as I am not one to pull punches when expressing an opinion. My last opinion had been fairly severe, and I thought critical of their project.

They were talking very quickly, and trying to get me to diagnose a Moodle problem over the phone. Knowing I needed to get back to the meeting, I said “Ok listen. Email me all the details. I will check it out later.”   However, the people in my meeting were just a few feet away, and I did not want to have a big discussion on the phone.  I had had supplier fights many times, but later used the same suppliers again. It happens. I should have, knowing what I know, said, “I am sorry. I cannot work on this for you. Have a good day.”

The email chain began after that.

From: J
Sent: Tuesday, 27 November 2012 6:09 PM
Cc: EG
Subject: Not displaying Results
Importance: High

Hi Tony,

Our local people seem unable to resolve this and I immed thought of you. Happy to remit consulting fees to fix.

As discussed the attempts being made on our standard Assessor quiz for the group Amgen are not displaying although the attempts are being reported nor are the individuals’ results flowing through to the summary group report page. We recently changed servers and this may be a regression issue?

Enclosed below are the URLs for

Page which should show attempts for Amgen:
Summary report which should be reporting Amgen Individuals’ results:
Example of enrolled Amgen User details :
What a normal attempt page looks like:
What a  normal summary report looks like (for same example group):

You can access   with Uname/Password. Your help on this would be most appreciated. Let me know if you need any other information.
Tx and Regards

I did login during the meeting break around 11 am for about 2 minutes to confirm I had access.

Later in the day around 4:40 PM, I started getting calls. I was at the gym and my phone was vibrating in my bag. My APP was rejecting a string of “unknowns”.  I had not seen my email in a few hours so I assumed it was the Australian person. I stopped my workout, opened up my email and sent this message:

On Tue, Nov 27, 2012 at 11:43 PM, <> wrote:
I’m not able to look at this for awhile.
I’m very busy. I won’t be home for a few more hours. After i check it this eve…ill email you.
I’m at the gym….can’t talk
Sent from Samsung Mobile Forgive the Spelling

That evening when I got home I sat down to check my email. I noticed that earlier in the day I had received this:

Received: by with SMTP id;
Tue, 27 Nov 2012 04:47:15 -0800 (PST)
Received: by with SMTP id;
Tue, 27 Nov 2012 04:47:14 -0800 (PST)
Have attempted to call you but the calls appear constantly deliberately interrupted?
Not sure why that would be the case considering we have only treated you with professional courtesy?

Now at this point I knew I was not going to do any work for them. My wife read this and told me to just block all further contact as she had a bad feeling. The funny thing is, the reason they were being blocked is because their business number was “unknown”. I only know a few kinds of businesses that use “unknown” numbers and I would not classify them as professional or courteous. I believe most people would agree.

On the 28th of November there was no contact. I had not sent an update. I had not done any work. I had not made a contract or promise aside from telling them I would login and look. I decided to wait until the weekend and send an email that was professional, but stated clearly that I would prefer not to be contacted anymore.

Then I got this email:

Delivered-To: tony.deprato@gmail.comReceived: by with SMTP id ;        Wed, 28 Nov 2012 14:04:42 -0800 (PST)Received: by  with SMTP id ;        Wed, 28 Nov 2012 14:04:41 -0800 (PST)

I’m going to assume you will not be helping on this –surprised you don’t have the courtesy to come back to people-you have placed yourself on linkedin presumably for professional purposes. I will let my colleagues know you have an interesting way of dealing with people. J

I was fairly shocked. I did not realize that having a LINKED-IN profile meant anything specific. I am pretty sure it does not mean anything specific, it is just a choice for networking and sharing. This person has decided to attempt to alert people that some how I broke an agreement, which is what I am inferring from this.

So I sat and thought about what to do. First I sent an email, which I will paste at the end.
Then I reviewed all possibilities of rebuttal. I decided that starting a fight on any social networking site would not be wise. Not only would it be very public, but pieces of information could get mixed-up as comment threads evolved.

So I decided I would take all the information I had and tell my story. Then link the RAW emails to the story in a pdf, remove any and all references to the actual people involved so that the information would not be damming to them. I felt like this was the best way to have a complete record that people could judge the situation for themselves.

I am annoyed and would love to get on Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In etc and have a huge smackdown. Force this person to surface. Have them defend their position in public instead of possibly circulating my Linked-In profile around secretly.

Sadly, I am betting that their one paragraph angry blurb about me, would get more reading time than this post, due to the fact that telling a story connected to facts is not something that can be done quickly.

Social networks do not always allow for explanations. They often do not even allow for a proper rebuttal of facts. Whoever posts first with the best tag line often wins the argument before it begins.

Being responsible when posting should mean waiting until you are no longer angry to say what is on your mind. The ideal scenario is you process what has happened, before you make angry public remarks that live forever online. In fact, discussing an event without naming people should be the initial step.

Here is my final reply that I sent via email:

Date: Thu, 29 Nov 2012 08:49:44 +0400
Message-ID: <>
Subject: Re: Not displaying
From: Tony Deprato <>
To: J Admin <>

What are you talking about?
I am not working for you. I told you I would update you once I had time to check it. I have not had any time.  

I am trying to get my budget finished, which is enormous. I am trying to get this done before my grandmother’s funeral in the USA which I am desperately trying to get to. She is terminal within 48 hours.

You can say anything you wish.  I simply do not care. 

I absolutely do not work for you.  Please refrain from contacting me again.  I am happy to post this thread on Linked-In and allow people to discuss it.  In fact we do not have a contract of any kind. 

My grandmother’s condition can be verified by the hospice center in my home town. I will attach their number so people can confirm it is not an excuse. 
I will post all of this today.  

Tony DePrato

Tony DePrato

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