Why does this site exist?
It is with sad hearts that we in the web hosting industry post the information you are about to read. It is implied that the moderators of a subreddit would be impartial and unbiased so that they can administer and moderate the subreddit properly. The information contained in this post will make it clear that this is not the case when it comes to the r/webhosting subreddit and the lead moderator u/shiftpgdn.
We have done our best to ensure that all information contained herein is factual and accurate to the best of our abilities. We are linking to sources and providing images of the originals wherever possible so that you can see it for yourself. The goal is to present factually accurate information without providing our opinions so that you can come to your own conclusions.
Should you feel any information within this site is inaccurate we urge you to reach out and let us know at [email protected]. In the event that you have additional evidence that you feel should be made available we welcome you to send it to us at [email protected].
What is the sidebar?
The sidebar on r/webhosting [image] is where the “Friends of r/webhosting” are listed. Originally when first added to the subreddit this section was the “Preferred Vendors” [image | link]. This list is presented as a selection of providers that are high quality and have contributed to the subreddit in a positive way.
One might believe that there are specific requirements and guidelines to be placed on this list but that is not the case. Which providers are listed in the sidebar and in what order are up to the moderators of the subreddit. More specifically the list of hosts in the sidebar are up to u/shiftpgdn.
Who is u/shiftpgdn?
u/shiftpgdn is the lead moderator of the r/webhosting subreddit on Reddit.com and has been for at least a decade. This user is the one that not only chooses what providers are listed in the sidebar but also oversees what content is or is not allowed on the subreddit. While this is not entirely surprising in and of itself – their most recent actions are definitely surprising.
What did u/shiftpgdn do that was surprising?
On November 24th, 2021 the provider Veerotech was removed from the r/webhosting sidebar without warning or notice. Veerotech has been a contributing member of the subreddit for more than a decade. Veerotech found out they were removed due to a user posting in the subreddit asking why they were removed – a post that has been removed.
Veerotech reached out to u/shiftpgdn to ask why they were removed from the sidebar and was given the excuse that u/shiftpgdn “heard you guys are using outsourced support so I pulled you from the list”. [image]
Veerotech was subsequently banned from the r/webhosting Discord server as well as the r/webhosting subreddit for nothing more than asking u/shiftpgdn about the situation in private.
On November 25th, 2021 the reddit user u/MikeDVB was removed from the subreddit’s discord for simply asking why content related to a NixiHost outage was being censored [image].
Mike was banned for no more than asking why comments pointing out that NixiHost had an outage were removed. Mike does admit that he should have reached out directly and privately although he has stated that he is absolutely sure that he still would have ended up banned.
In Mike’s follow-up conversation with u/shiftpgdn [image] he asked, “Why are you protecting Nixi so hard?” and stated, “It’s starting to look bad.” u/shiftpgdn said, “I always look after the sidebar hosts because that’s a reflection of the subreddit.” We know this isn’t true due to Veerotech being removed from the list the day before without cause, warning, or notice.
What is u/shiftpgdn’s connection to NixiHost?
While we do not have links and images to many of the situations where u/shiftpgdn has protected NixiHost as active members of the subreddit we have seen it first-hand over the years. Due to u/shiftpgdn’s recent actions and behaviors we decided that we could no longer overlook the apparent connection between u/shiftpgdn and NixiHost and set out to find evidence to connect them.
To make any connections between u/shiftpgdn and NixiHost we first need to find out who u/shiftpgdn really is.
The First Google Search.
We started with a simple Google search for “shiftpgdn” to see what would turn up [image].
The third result [image] and fifth result [image] in our search came back to reference a Hacker News profile for “shiftpgdn” that reference the email address “[email protected]”.
The fourth result in our search came back to a YouTube Channel called “I Am James”.
We suspected that this was u/shiftpgdn’s channel as it came up in a search for “shiftpgdn” so we tried loading that username on YouTube to see what was there and to our not-surprise it redirects to the “I Am James” user.
% curl -I https://www.youtube.com/shiftpgdn
It is a pretty safe assumption at this point that u/shiftpgdn’s name is James.
Upon looking James’ YouTube channel the highlighted video is “I found an abandoned puppy” [image]. This may not seem relevant now but it will be shortly so keep it in mind.
The Second Google Search.
Our second Google search was for “shiftpgdn puppy” [image].
We reviewed the search results and many of them are similar with references to the “shiftpgdn” YouTube channel regarding the puppy that was found. The really useful tidbit of information was found in the seventh result [image] which is quoted below:
This cheerful pup is now up for adoption, so if you’re interested, go for it! Get in touch with the cyclist by emailing him at [email protected].
Featured image via shiftpgdn YouTube
This has revealed u/shiftpgdn as “James McHugh”. While we’re very happy that James found a lost puppy and adopted it out we’re even more thrilled that he used an email address that has allowed us to identify him for the purposes of this investigation.
The Third Google Search.
Our third Google search was for “nixihost james mchugh” as we already had suspicions that u/shiftpgdn, or James McHugh, was associated with NixiHost in some way. [image]
We looked at the third result [image] which is a record for “NixiHost.com Incorporated” on opencorporates.com. This site lists “James McHugh” as “president” of NixiHost.com Incorporated. Color us all not surprised.
We also took a look at the fifth result [image] as we found it interesting that “X X” is being listed as “Co-Founder @ NixiHost.com”. You will notice that the URL for this profile ends in “/person/james-mchugh”.
Verifying James McHugh is still associated with NixiHost.
We performed a Texas Taxable Entity search for “NixiHost” and found a recent Public Information Report for NixiHost.com Incorporated that lists “James McHugh” as President in 2020 [image]. We have no reason to believe that James has stepped down between then and now.
The impropriety of James McHugh AKA u/shiftpgdn.
Sidebar placement of his own provider, NixiHost.
Since the inception of the “Sidebar” on the r/webhosting subreddit Mr. McHugh has placed a web hosting provider with whom he is involved in operating and benefits from, NixiHost.com, as the top provider. He has gone out of his way to censor negative comments and posts about NixiHost.
Not only is NixiHost is listed as the top recommended provider in the r/webhosting sidebar but James often advises users in comments that “any host in the sidebar is good and recommended.” This sidebar being on an active subreddit with more than 70,000 members includes quite a bit of implied trust.
Censoring subreddit users that ask questions.
James has banned long-term and contributing members of the subreddit for no reason other than asking about his connection to NixiHost while claiming to be acting in the best interests of the subreddit.
While none of us have any issues with James being involved with a hosting provider we do take issue with him hiding this connection and then protecting the provider with whom he is associated under the guise of being impartial.
Recently a post was made to the subreddit where recommendations were being sought. NixiHost was among the hosts mentioned in the post and you can, at least for now, see the post at https://www.reddit.com/r/webhosting/comments/r1xjhs/nixihost_krystaluk_or_namehost/. You will notice that there are some comments that are deleted. Here is an original image showing some of the removed comments.
It was this post being removed that caused Mike to ask the question in Discord that resulted in his banning from the Discord server as well as the r/webhosting subreddit.
James then sent a message to the #club-33 channel of the r/webhosting discord, a private channel for those in the web hosting industry, alleging his reason for removing Mike was for “stirring up drama.” [image]
These are only a couple of examples of James’ behavior although there have been many more over the years that are not directly documented here at this point.
The lead moderator of r/webhosting, James McHugh AKA u/shiftpgdn, has been recommending and protecting his own hosting provider without making his association with said provider clear.
He has not just passively attempted to maintain the reputation of NixiHost at r/webhosting but has actively censored and banned those that have negative, yet truthful and accurate, things to say about the provider or those that ask questions regarding his choices when it comes to NixiHost being listed in the sidebar.
What isn’t included here.
We found so much more information that makes the links between u/shiftpgdn <-> James McHugh <-> NixiHost even more clear but our intention here is not to ‘dox’ James. Much of the evidence we found contained enough personal information that, even though it was all acquired via public sources and searches, we were not comfortable posting it.
If you have any evidence or information that you feel would be beneficial to be provided here please send it over to [email protected]. If you believe any information provided herein is inaccurate let us know at [email protected].