Why I Left DegreeInfo a Second Time

General discussions concerning institutions and degree programs.

Why I Left DegreeInfo a Second Time

Postby levicoff » Sat Apr 18, 2020 5:28 am

As I mentioned the other day on DegreeInfo, I recently decided to leave DI in total. Part of the reason is the same as it was when I left some 18 years ago. Another factor is that the nature of distance education forums has changed – they have essentially outlived their usefulness. But first, a bit of history . . .

This forum, DegreeDiscussion (DD) was founded by Gus Sainz some 20 years ago. Unlike DI, which was designed to be a moneymaking venture from its inception, DD was more of a labor of love, an alternative to both DI and to the Usenet newsgroups which had become a world of nothing but spam.

Around the same time, a third forum was established: Distance Learning Truth (DLT), which was founded by one or more of the spammers and was dedicated to trashing those who busted degree mills at DI. There were the only a few users at DLT, but they posted using multiple usernames, and the forum was basically designed to flame established members of DI and DD.


For better or worse, however, DLT had one or two users who knew how to do research, and one of the stories they broke was that the owner of DegreeInfo, Chip White, had another business which produced “twink porn.” Twink is a gay term for guys who are generally aged 18-21 but who look a lot younger – think “21 going on 14.” It is functionally porn for those who are into kids, but the models for better or worse, legal.

When the story of Chip’s other activities broke, there was a mass desertion from DegreeInfo over to DegreeDiscussion. DI lost some of its most respected posters including, among others, John Bear, Uncle Janko, Jimmy Clifton, George Gollin, even Rich Douglass, and me. We essentially became a two-forum town (DLT was always on the outside and didn’t count).

In terms of moderation, the main difference between DI and DD was that DI moderators tended to censor a lot of posts and posters (as they still do), while DD’s policy was to be censorship-free. (I was an early supporter of the DD policy.)

To Chip’s credit at DI, he addressed his involvement in the porn biz head on, and I have no reason to believe that he ever used actual minors in his work. However, I joined those who believed that it was not a positive quality for the head of a distance education forum to be professional engaged as what could be construed as a child pornographer. Moreover, Chip's responses to the porn issue conveniently disappeared from DI when they bought their new software a few years ago - now, a DI search of the word twink brings up zero responses.

If you were to search this forum (DD), you would find that it had high quality, lively and informative posts for many years. A few years ago, however, several threads started involving one Muhammed Schmidt, new users started spamming those threads, and the forum quickly died off. Some of the members eventually gravitated back to DI including John Bear, Rich Douglass, and even me. In short, DI survived its porn scandal, DD did not survive its spam period.

However, I have never been comfortable with the continued association between Chip’s ownership of DI, his involvement in the porn industry, and his involvement with new age medical scams (think coffee enemas and other quack cures).


Of all the moderators at DI, Kizmet has become the most active with over 20,000 posts. She has also become the most prone to censor and ban users, often for reasons that do not stand the test of DI’s terms of service. In my opinion, she is obnoxious and abusive to other users, which is interesting since she is one of the most anonymous of the moderators. (Maniac Craniac is also anonymous, but far less obnoxious. Moderators Bruce Tait, Ted Heiks, and Randell Orner are known by their real names, but they are all far less active than Kizmet.)

Kizmet would have everyone believe that she is an Asian American female. But strong evidence from no less than Chip White and John Bear would suggest that Kiz is neither Asian American nor even female. At one point, the DLT guys hacked the administrative forum here at DD, and posted a screen capture of John’s comments at http://www.dltruth.com/thread-1196.html and http://www.dltruth.com/thread-1249.html.

We do not even know if Kizmet is actually a college graduate. At one point, he or she posted a sig line listing the Wentworth Institute of Technology, but Kiz never identified any degree earned there. That said, Chip White is also not a college grad but knows more than most people about distance education – the problem is simply that he also happens to be a pornographer.


DegreeInfo has become packed with two major groups of people these days: Long-time members who flame each other, who post on irrelevant issues as if their opinions actually mattered (especially with regard to politics), who struggle to get the last word on every issue (think Rich, Chris, sanantone, Jan, and others). Then there are all the newbies who post questions that have been asked hundreds of times, European newbies who ask irrelevant questions about educational systems not even Europeans are familiar with, and the myriad of trolls asking for the cheapest-easiest-fastest route to everything.

Then there are those who fancy themselves educators. Like Steve Foerster, who started his own “New World University” in the Caribbean which is a joke of a degree mill. If he had called it a college I’d cut him some slack, but a university? Give me a break. And of course, we had David Lady, who started a degree mill called William Loveland College, conned an accreditation out of DEAC before he was caught by them, and disappeared. In both cases, countless gullible DI members refused to recognize them for the con artists they revealed themselves to be.

For what it’s worth, I feel that distance learning boards have outlived their usefulness. At one time, there was a limited number of answers to any question. Today, however, almost every college and university is involved to some extent in distance education, and some brick-and-mortar universities have even become online degree factories to the extent that their tenured faculty is outnumbered by adjunct course facilitators.


There are a few principles to which I have held for some 30 years. They include the belief that:

• “Online university” is an oxymoron.
• Totally online graduate degrees in the human services are bullshit. Note that I didn’t condemn all online degrees, but a specific type. Get over it.
• If you can’t discern what program is best for you, you are not ready to earn a degree. When I earned my three degrees, (1) online degrees didn’t exist at all, and (2) forums like DI and DD didn’t exist.
• If you’re in an online program, stop talking about your “professors.” They are course facilitators, coordinating a course for which most of them didn’t even write the syllabus. They are not teachers, and they are certainly not professors.
• If you are seeking a degree in hope that one day you, too, will be a college professor, get real. Higher education has gone down the tubes in every aspect, it has moved away from tenure toward totally adjunct faculties, and has priced itself off the market.

Naturally, to every rule there are exceptions. What are the exceptions to my principles? None of your damn business. Learn to think for yourself, and don’t try to argue with me. Because to me, most of you are insignificant twits and, while there are even exceptions to that rule, I will not give you false hope by making you think you might be one of them.

So I’m done campers – fully retired from distance education forums. Regardless of your responses, flames, or shade, I’m outta here, and you will see how one can master the art of how to ignore posts.

All the best to you and yours.
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Re: Why I Left DegreeInfo a Second Time

Postby mattchand » Sat May 02, 2020 9:29 pm

Wow. I hadn't logged in to DD in a very long time, and imagine my shock to see a long post by the venerable Steve Levicoff.

I remain grateful for this board, and even its predecessor/successor, DI, for the immeasurable help I obtained in making my own way through the dank swamps of distance education. I managed to make my way through distance-education AA (TESU) and BA (Charter Oak) degrees, completed a modular, semi-distance Master's, and finally a brick-and-mortar Ph.D. - I couldn't have done the latter without the foundations laid by the former. I have now taught (accredited!) college/university/seminary, both on the ground and by distance for a number of years, but I thank you, and others, even in the midst of your curmudgeonliness, for all I learned here.

I would genuinely disagree with some of what you've posted at the end here; I'm assuming that you'll not respond, but perhaps you'll see this. Especially now, with the COVID-19 crisis, a good deal more education is by distance than used to be the case. And, to be sure, I have been both a distance learning professor as well as course facilitator: Most such classes I have written myself, especially more recently, most have been synchronous (e.g., via Zoom), others asynchronous (with my own recorded lectures as well as course material). I have on occasion just operated as a course facilitator when needed, too, "pinch-hitting" someone else's correspondence course as a grader, though that's been the exception. I may be wrong, but I think there is still a future in DL, but more, I think there are likely to be more changes, too.

I wish you well, Dr. Levicoff. I don't know if you're still driving a rig (and kudos to you if you are; it's essential work nowadays), or if you've settled down somewhere, but I hope that you are well and keep healthy, and I would wish the same to all of especially the folks from years ago.
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