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Creating a Refuge

When Riverdaughter created The Confluence she said:

The picture in the header is of the convergence of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers to form the Ohio at The Point in downtown Pittsburgh. It seems like an apt metaphor for bringing the divided together again. We will start with the Democratic party and then work to bring together the rest of the country. We will come together at our common goals and go forward together, strengthened and mighty.

And thus The Confluence began as a haven for for those of us who lost our blog homes in the turmoil of the 2008 Presidential Primaries.

With the end of the primary season we’ve been deluged by waves of antagonistic assaults from commenters claiming to support Barack Obama’s presidential campaign — sometimes at the rate of 100 comments an hour! We try in a variety of ways to control the infestation with humor, warnings or outright deletion.

Up until now our moderation has focused on the brand of commenter known as “trolls.” We’ve never had to worry about the regulars stepping over the line (what line?) I guess our shared joy in having this safe place kept the general tone kind and upbeat even in our darkest days.

For some reason, over the course of the last few days there has been an increase in what I call “Hard-Talking” attack comments. “Increase” might not be the right word, I’ve never noticed these sorts of comments before. I’ve seen comments today that could fit comfortably in a diary at The Daily Kos. And I don’t like it.

The Confluence is a refuge and a haven. And any comment that threatens our identity will be modified or deleted.

Disclaimer: The Confluence is also known for it’s humor and snark and if you can’t take that you might not be comfortable here. In our world “refuge and haven” does not mean dry, dull or boring.

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63 Responses

  1. kb, I’m not really following your meaning of “hard-talking” comments. Examples?

  2. Worked my tail off yesterday so I haven’t noticed what you are talking about (haven’t had time to go through all the new threads) but I do agree with you that The Confluence is a refuge, a sanctuary.

    I come here for the serious discussions, the serious planning, the amazing humor, the great links…….but, most of all, for the fancy drinks!

  3. Maybe I should say “Attacks” …

    It just seems to me that people are sort of calling each other out in a harsh way. I don’t want to draw attention to specific comments in this post. Because I’m not trying to humiliate anyone.

  4. I think one of the persons she’s talking about is me. Sigh! I have four brothers and three sisters and we talk this way to each other and we arrive at consensus, a ‘confluence’ if you will. We find that the way to get the most out of a discussion is to not stifle anybody. It’s fun, occasionally sounding like Babble, but we cover our subjects!

  5. On my Facebook page advertisements will occasionally pop up. However, you can rate those ads with a thumbs up or down. If you click thumbs down, you need to tell them why you don’t like it. The choices run from pornographic to uninteresting to offensive and other in between. There was an ad for a free Obama button. I marked that ad as OFFENSIVE. It felt rather good.

  6. Katiebird — I am so with you. This is OUR blog, our home. You should have seen the nasty e-mails I received when I shut down the “comment” section on my “famous video” — the obots were furious they couldn’t add their hateful speech about Hillary and her followers.

    I don’t know why they even bother to troll — they got what they wanted. They cheated, lied and blamed everyone else for their own behavior.

  7. Hat’s off to you, katiebird, for cleaning the latrines over the last few days! You could easily acquire a case of carpal tunnel trying to keep up.

  8. “I marked that ad as OFFENSIVE. It felt rather good.” What?? You didn’t mark it as PORNOGRAPHIC!! 🙂

  9. Whoo-hoo, Kbird! You go. Girl!

  10. SimoFish

    Can you do a post about your perspective in Denver over at GWTN as it really bothered me how sooooo little coverage they gave to the protests and the Delegate issues. Some don’t want to say/state the level of intimidation that went on.

    My hats off to Gloria Allred for trying to speak up and get things right, but to no avail. But she tried! Gloria you are my hero of women that ‘KEEP GOING’.

    I think that was a message to all of us, that we can’t give up on democracy, that we have to keep going to make it better…

  11. Yay, KatieB!!!! Lovin’ the evironment and tone we’ve created here at The Confluence.

    And RD, you’re the dame! 😉

  12. (blushing) Thanks, Riverdaughter!

  13. Do I need to create an account or something?

  14. “I guess our shared joy in having this safe place kept the general tone kind and upbeat even in our darkest days.” katiebird

    **********

    I appreciate the civility here as well as the sentiments, intelligence, knowledge and wit. Thank you riverdaughter and allies.

  15. It looks like I’ve been deleted. May I ask why?

  16. Civility is the best policy, but in practice different people may have different judgments about where to draw the line.

    I don’t find it inherently uncivil to call a thug a thug any more than it is uncivil to call a gangster a gangster. The poll on Daily Kos, cited on another thread, convinced me that the 60% who condoned the defamatory tactics against Sarah Palin have crossed the line. To me, they are the political equivalent of racketeers.

    I still think that the 60% are a bunch of bastards, but if this blog prefers that this sort of language not be used, so be it. If the moderators tell us where to draw the line, I think that as grown ups we can comply.

  17. I think there was a lot of chaos yesterday because so many people are fleeing other blogs that they felt were their homes.

    I know how they felt because I’ve been a blog refugee several times. From BuzzFlash to TalkLeft to The Confluence. You know how it feels RD having had the same experience yourself.

    Perhaps some of our new friends were a bit on edge yesterday. Perhaps some of them just aren’t a good fit here and will soon find that out.

    You here at the Confluence have indeed been a refuge. I just think, other than some periodic troll infestations, we’re just experiencing growing pains.

    Just my take on things for what it is or isn’t worth. After losing two home blogs and a party affiliation I think some of us feel very much like Internet Refugees and some of us will react better than others. Quite honestly, at times, even at my age, I simply want to scream, lay on the floor and kick my heels, and hold my breath til I turn blue. I won’t though, cause my SO isn’t here right now to call 911. 🙂

  18. Brad, please check the email that you use with your comments.

  19. johninca, “Bunch of Bastards” is fine.

  20. Well, let’s see… Katiebird wrote the original post and is online now. KatieBird, romeo charlie, over?

  21. KatieBird, do you copy, over?

  22. johninca, I find a lot of respect here for all who enter except the obvious trolls. Most people give links to verify new information. The level of discourse is information, narrative, opinion, mixed with humor and the occasional rant.

    All in all a nice balance.

  23. Never mind then. Thought I had found like minds and a place to discuss strategy for the next “election”, but I guess I won’t be finding a site that has moderators who know what they’re doing AND a site of like minded people. If anyone is paying attention: Get technical or don’t have a freakin blog.

  24. Sorry, Sarah — I was off poking around trying to figure out why your posts are landing in the moderation filter.

    (Sticking my head back under the hood)

    I’ll be back in a minute.

  25. PUMA..
    by Greta Van Susteren

    Do you think PUMA (”Party Unity My A**) is real? meaning that there are a substantial number of Democrats who are still angry over the Democratic nominee? or do you think the Democratic Party NOW has UNITY? that those originally unhappy with the nominee have now come to terms with the situation and fully support Senator Obama?

    Calling all Puma’s Greta wants to hear from you
    http://gretawire.foxnews.com/2008/08/30/puma/

  26. Maybe you’re right, Sarah. If you can’t hang on long enough for me to actually solve the problem, it’s possible you don’t belong here. It’s up to you.

  27. kenoshaMarge, ah, another BuzzFlash refugee. I did tell them repeatedly that it would be best if they owned up to favoring (putting it nicely) Obama. They wouldn’t. I told them I would respect them more for their honesty. They wouldn’t.

    For seven years, they were my refuge from a badly fled election. I still appreciate them for that, but I no longer respect them.

  28. Sorry to have been impatient. It seems like there is such a poisoned atmosphere that you don’t know what people are thinking or who to trust.

  29. badly fled election = badly flawed

  30. I hope you allow this- I got it off the hillary voice site but there wasnt a link for it. I thought you might enjoy it!!!!

    ——————————————————————————–

    August 29, 2008
    Op-Ed Columnist (Hope you’ll enjoy. This has got to be the best of Brooks! –L)
    A Speech to the Delegates
    By DAVID BROOKS
    DENVER

    My fellow Americans, it is an honor to address the Democratic National Convention at this defining moment in history. We stand at a crossroads at a pivot point, near a fork in the road on the edge of a precipice in the midst of the most consequential election since last year’s “American Idol.”

    One path before us leads to the past, and the extinction of the human race. The other path leads to the future, when we will all be dead. We must choose wisely.

    We must close the book on the bleeding wounds of the old politics of division and sail our ship up a mountain of hope and plant our flag on the sunrise of a thousand tomorrows with an American promise that will never die! For this election isn’t about the past or the present, or even the pluperfect conditional. It’s about the future, and Barack Obama loves the future because that’s where all his accomplishments are.

    We meet today to pass the torch to a new generation of Americans, a generation that came of age amidst iced chais and mocha strawberry Frappuccinos®, a generation with a historical memory that doesn’t extend back past Coke Zero.

    We meet today to heal the divisions that have torn this country. For we are all one country and one American family, whether we are caring and thoughtful Democrats or hate-filled and war-crazed Republicans. We must bring together left and right, marinara and carbonara, John and Elizabeth Edwards. On United we stand, on US Airways, there’s a 25-minute delay.

    Ladies and gentleman, I never expected to be speaking before you today. Like so many of our speakers at this convention, I come from a hard-working, middle-class family. I was leading a miserable little life, but, nevertheless, overcame great odds to live the American Dream. My great-grandfather fought in Patton’s Army, along with Barack Obama’s great-grand uncles’ fourth cousin once removed.

    As a child, I was abandoned by my parents and lived with a colony of ants. We didn’t have much in the way of material possession, but we did have each other and the ability to carry far more than our own body weights. When I was young, I was temporarily paralyzed in a horrible anteater accident, but I never gave up my dream: the dream of speaking at a national political convention so my speech could be talked over by Wolf Blitzer and a gang of pundits.

    And today we Democrats meet in Denver, a suburb of Boulder, a city whose motto is, “A Taxi? You Must be Dreaming.”

    And in Denver, we Democrats showed America that we have cute daughters who will someday provide us with prestigious car-window stickers. We heard Hillary Clinton’s ringing endorsement of “the weak-looking thin guy who’s bound to lose.”

    We heard from Joe Biden, whose 643 years in the Senate make him uniquely qualified to talk to the middle class, whose family has been riding the Acela and before that the Metroliner for generations, who has been given a lifetime ban from the quiet car and who is himself a verbal train wreck waiting to happen.

    We got to know Barack and Michelle Obama, two tall, thin, rich, beautiful people who don’t perspire, but who nonetheless feel compassion for their squatter and smellier fellow citizens. We know that Barack could have gone to a prestigious law firm, like his big donors in the luxury boxes, but he chose to put his ego aside to become a professional politician, president of the United States and redeemer of the human race. We heard about his time as a community organizer, the three most fulfilling months of his life.

    We were thrilled by his speech in front of the Greek columns, which were conscientiously recycled from the concert, “Yanni, Live at the Acropolis.” We were honored by his pledge, that if elected president, he will serve at least four months before running for higher office. We were moved by his campaign slogan, “Vote Obama: He’s better than you’ll ever be.” We were inspired by dozens of Democratic senators who declared their lifelong love of John McCain before denouncing him as a reactionary opportunist who would destroy the country.

    No, this country cannot afford to elect John Bushmccain. Under Republican rule, locusts have stripped the land, adults wear crocs in public and M&M’s have lost their flavor. We must instead ride to the uplands of hope!

    For as Barack Obama suggested Thursday night, wherever there is a president who needs to tap our natural-gas reserves, I’ll be there. Wherever there is a need for a capital-gains readjustment for targeted small businesses, I’ll be there. Wherever there is a president committed to direct diplomacy with nuclear proliferators, I’ll be there, too! God bless the Democrats, and God Bless America!

  31. SarahG, your comment fits right in with the post!

  32. I’m fed up with the whole process. Everything has gotten so extreme. Nobody is listening, but everybody is shouting. I can’t watch CNN or any of the TV news, really. Everybody is all of the sudden a pundit because they wrote a speech for a back bench freshman congressman or stuffed envelopes in a campaign office. It’s insane. The media has gone beyond reporting the news to actually trying to “define the narrative” like its their “product” and they get to decide.

  33. And everybody sees a conspiracy behind every bush. The French are so much more mature, politically. I guess this is what happens when a nation is in its adolescence.

  34. “The media has gone beyond reporting the news to actually trying to “define the narrative” like its their “product” and they get to decide.” SarahG

    Bingo! And I’m not happy about it either.

  35. And I don’t say this as a joke, but I really do get more truth from The Daily Show and the Colbert Report. Not more “news”, but more TRUTH.

  36. Feminism? What feminism? Look at CNN! They prop these silly little girls up in front of the camera and teach them how to be a professional question-asking-chick. The media wants to keep us stupid. It’s in their corporate interest. If we were educated and informed, we would buy their crappy “product”.

  37. WOULDN’T, not would

  38. MK5112 Tx, on August 31st, 2008 at 8:16 pm

    Great satire by Brooks. I read one other that was very astute. The irony is that David Brooks can hold his own where elitism is concerned. Maybe that’ why his insight is so brilliant. Also it is easier to lampoon Obama than to make a strong case for McCain.

    Another irony is that I have added this article to my Obama file and can’t wait to share the line: “It’s about the future, and Barack Obama loves the future because that’s where all his accomplishments are.”

  39. Are you sure that’s by David Brooks and not Albert Brooks? Very funny. I’m not happy with the Times putting Kristol on the OpEd roster. Brooks makes a good token conservative (I’d rather Safire, if I must read a conservative), but Kristol is nothing short of a neo fascist.

  40. New thread

  41. At the risk of sounding maudlin, I’m going to seize this opportunity to say “thanks” to you, Conflucians. Last spring, I chanced to hear Riverdaughter in an online chat with Senator Clinton and other bloggers. RD talked up a video posted here of Chelsea Clinton speaking at Duke University. Senator Clinton was audibly touched by RD’s review. I too wanted to see that video; so I followed a cyberriver to this Confluence and have returned many times to drink from the cool, clear waters of reason and knowledge. I don’t post much as the regulars here speak for me, and with better wit. But thanks for letting me visit and thanks for the refuge.

  42. “……so I followed a cyberriver to this Confluence and have returned many times to drink from the cool, clear waters of reason and knowledge.” Janet

    **********

    Wish I’d said that. 🙂

  43. It’s been over an hour since my post here was deleted. I’ve done what everyone says one should do in a situation like this – sit back, count to ten (twenty, thirty, one hundred) and then…what?

    I have just spent three weeks on the road working on a film for PUMA PAC. I’ve worked hundreds of hours so far, had equipment stolen, and had to deal with a thrown-out back while in Denver. I’ve brought friends into this project, done everything I’ve been asked to do to the best of my ability. I then wrote a post early-on for this thread, and because it contained a forbidden site name, the entire post was deleted.

    Just like that.

    In that post I described an entire day I spent at a not-to-be-named evil site, trying to engage in a reasonable dialogue over an ongoing discussion they were having about THE AUDACITY OF DEMOCRACY. Dozens of times I defended the film and Darragh Murphy – pretty much in vain I’ll admit – but at least I seemed to get through to a handful of people there. I did my best to be constructive and courteous, and that effort was reciprocated by the woman who heads that site. And then, within only several minutes of posting my little tale in this thread, the entire thing is deleted, with no explanation.

    After inquiring about this, an explanation was e-mailed to me, with apologies.

    But the more I think about this, the more angry I become. You may not call what happened to me censorship, but the result is the same. And I understand all about circling the wagons around your associates who are under attack, but is this the means by which such protective solidarity is achieved?

    At least I wasn’t deleted at that other board!

    One lousy address is included in a post I took over twenty minutes to write, one of the few posts I HAVE written, and the result is deletion?

    I doubt that hermetically sealing this group, this board, is going to lead to anything good. I don’t really blame katiebird for this, and I don’t blame riverdaughter for the policy which led to my deletion. But people, you have to be careful about how protective policies are implemented. You cannot become more insular an organization without hurting it.

    I feel better now (unless this post is also deleted).

  44. Brooks satire was asolutely hilarious. Thanks.

    Thanks for the safe harbor here at the Confluence as well. You guys make life easier.

  45. ***BREAKING NEWS***
    Stephanie Tubbs Jones Memorial.

    Congressman Jones Memorial-picture of Hillary
    http://
    blog.cleveland.com/metro/2008/08/hillary_rodham_clinttons_remar.html
    video
    http://
    comment-blog.advance.net/cgi-bin/mte/mt-search.cgi?tag=Stephanie%20Tubbs%20Jones&blog_id=691

    Psalm that was read at the opening of the memorial.

    God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah. There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early. The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.

  46. Correction:>Congresswoman,,,

  47. *shuffles feet, whistles, promises to tone down the excessive snark and let johninca handle the trolls*

    I am going to use pa, pa, where’s my ma though–genius! I knew about Cleveland but never would have thought to reverse it in a thousand years.

  48. SarahG, on August 31st, 2008 at 8:10 pm Said:
    Never mind then. Thought I had found like minds and a place to discuss strategy for the next “election”, but I guess I won’t be finding a site that has moderators who know what they’re doing AND a site of like minded people. If anyone is paying attention: Get technical or don’t have a freakin blog.
    ********************************************

    Wow, Sarah G, how rude are you?
    Do you think you are a princess who asks a question and demands an answer instantly.
    Get a life Sarah,and if you do not appreaciate this site, go and find your true negative site, I am sure there are plenty.

  49. How Gustav plays with politics – maybe GOP should consider themselves lucky?
    http://edgeoforever.wordpress.com/2008/08/31/gustav-and-the-gop/

  50. Brad, what are you talking about? This post is not about a crackdown on trolls, it’s the opposite, telling the rest of us to mind our manners. Nobody’s “hermetically sealing” anything.

  51. My post was actually very gentle, very positive. It wasn’t exactly “point-on” but it seemed to fit in reasonably well. I wasn’t talking about “cracking down” on trolls. I was talking about engaging in positive discourse.

  52. Brad, I’m not saying that you were talking about cracking down on trolls. What I’m saying is, all your references to “protective measures” and “hermetically sealing” and so on make it sound like katiebird is announcing some new policy of cracking down on trolls when she’s doing the opposite, telling us to be nice and engage in positive discourse.

  53. Seriously,

    I deleted a post by Brad and I should have given him the opportunity to edit it. His comment was in response to that deletion not to the post.

    This day has been full of complications and I haven’t handled all of them as well as I should have.

  54. Oh sorry katiebird, my bad. Don’t be hard on yourself, we all think you’re doing a great job. 🙂

  55. 🙂

    Thanks, Seriously.

  56. Katiebird, you are in my thoughts – the next few days will be crazy.

  57. Brad, there is no adequate way to thank you for all your work and investment in this documentary project. I cannot wait to see the final product. I think we are all really tired and out of sorts these days. We had such hope. And, I for one, still have a deeper sort of hope now. Riverdaughter and Katiebird do such an excellent job here on the Confluence, but I have to observe that the number of inappropriate and often abusive comments have increased. And now Gustov comes along to remind us of our mortality. Perhaps Gustov is also an actor in your documentary. I’m not sure why, but perhaps you will have a perspective on this.

    I really find it hard to try to be cute and witty in any comments these days. Life is too important. Bless you all.

  58. That’s very kind, Gordon. Thanks.

    In a way, I think I’ve got it the easiest. I have no weird sense of not knowing what the next step is. My job is clear – to get back to the footage of my film. Still, I always experience a certain degree of post-production depression when a major chapter ends. And while being on the road most certainly was a pain in the ass in ways almost too numerous to list, at least I was sure every moment of every day what I was supposed to be doing. There was an existential clarity to my daily routine, you know? Now I feel that has diminished somewhat.

    Which is to say I guess I’m feeling some of the same stuff the rest of you are feeling.

    When I was trying to build bridges yesterday on that other site, I kept thinking that some of the most admirable people I’ve met in a long time are PUMAs, and it was deeply frustrating to me that the people on that board simply could not comprehend that fact. It finally occurred to me that what separates them from you, in the main, is that you all are FOR something: specifically, a renewal of respect for the political process, while the majority of those others – fellow Democrats all – seemed only to be against something: namely, YOU.

    The attitude was “us good, you bad.”

    I kept trying to find the commonalities, again and again, but for the most part all I got back was renewed attack. I must say that the woman who runs that site was very cordial to me, flawlessly so in fact. There was also another guy, Steve, who seemed to be interested in open, respectful discussion.

    These are such bizarre times. Sometimes I think that the Bush administration has so successfully put this nation on a division track that that’s all we know how to do at this point – be divisive.

    Anyway, I do worry about Darragh, but I know she’s strong (stronger than me, that’s for sure). I’m not worried about the film – that’ll take care of itself in the months to come.

    I worry about Lori. She had so much invested in Hillary Clinton, and I can see the hurt in her face almost continually.

    It’s been a long weekend. It’s been a long summer.

    Happy Labor Day, everyone.

  59. Hi, Katiebird.

    This are chaotic right now. One thing you’re dealing with is a wave of refugees from TalkLeft, which has been marinating in Kool-Aid since Friday morning (though the signs were there days earlier).

    Thanks for your hard work, and for offering a refuge to the TL diaspora.

  60. Thank-you for The Confluence. It is a wonderful refuge.

    I have posted here a few times but I spent most of the primary at another blog – pro-Hillary, anti-Obama. It had interesting articles and I felt I could voice my support and concerns with like-minded people.

    Unfortunately, after posting there and having great exchanges for many months, I was suddenly attacked as a troll because I voiced concern about Palin being the best choice for defeating Obama. I was shocked! I explained my only concern was to make sure Obama not be elected. In so many words, I was told I need to be careful how I say things and I have to prove I support them. I told them to read all my previous posts – they would see my passion and dedication. Then I never went back.

    Something seems to be happening since the primary ended. Good people seem to be turning on each other and seeing trolls when they are not. Innocent comments, opinions, and concerns are being taken out of context.

    I have not seen that at The Confluence. I have seen thoughtful and passionate discourses about the cause and about democracy. I don’t see whole strings dedicated to conversations with mindless trolls but I do see honest debate with intelligent people. I feel I belong here. I hope I remain welcomed.

  61. Excellent. Since I’ve spent years doing moderation stuff on e-mail lists discussion boards, I know it is a tough balance especially in forming a newish community.

    Sometimes beyond just moderating the truly outrageous a little discussion directional nudge can work wonders for reminding folks about why this site exists.

  62. Riverdaughter-
    I am grateful that you have been so scrupulous in keeping the thugs and trash out of this site. This truly is a refuge for freethinkers. I am a Christian (and I hope that doesn’t scare off all of you libs) who is worried about what Obama means in tems of scripture:
    Revelation 13: “Men worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, “Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?”
    The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months. He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.”

    The good news there is that this means Obama will only win one term (‘forty-two months). The bad news is that he will conquer the Earth. But there’s more good news! In Revelation 14 we read: “And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps. And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless.”

    This sounds a lot like the PUMA’s to me!!!!!!!!!
    There’s a lot more, but I’m going to save that for my own blog posts.
    God Bless You!!!!!!

  63. I fully understand that the “puma”s are angry. But can you possibly be so SELFISH as to elect the criminal Republicans so they can continue to screw this country? How about all the mothers that have sons/daughters in the military? This constant saber rattling must stop and we MUST regain the respect of the world. McCain cannot possibly do this! Think of what you’re advocating.

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