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[P]
Public Web Archives - Who Should Have Control ?

By mami in Op-Ed
Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 06:02:18 PM EST
Tags: Freedom (all tags)
Freedom

I can't help but wondering about my nagging desire to delete my own comments I leave behind in public web archives. Though I do accept K5's editorial decision to keep posts archived and prevent irretrievable deletion, I don't think it's the right one. It's time for a new experiment. Empower the user to delete his comments from public web archives. Give him control.


I am still struggling with the truthfulness of the promoted concept that "everybody owns his own posts". How can that have any validity, if nobody can control the post's burial place, the public web archives ? To retain publicly archived posts irrevocably is not compatible with that statement.

Coments are nothing but your thoughts. They should be free and remain your own. Therefore I believe a public web forum has to offer the option to its users to delete his own posts.

Even if well educated writers, used to the art of debate, posting and trolling, may not need this option or do not want to allow it, I do believe that the general public, who is invited, lured and seduced to participate in the discussion, needs to have control over its thoughts and comments.

The web site's interest to demonstrate honesty and truth through retaining the spontaneous thought process of its commentators for unlimited times, is not enough of a reason to justify the denial of the user's editorial empowerment.

There is no other medium, which allows to reveal spontaneity of an individual with all its fallacies and vulnerabilities to a worldwide public and keep it irrevocably archived without consent of the poster.

The argument that the user *should know* what he is doing and is responsible for what he posts is pretty hypocritical. The famous request to get out of the kitchen, if one can't stand the heat, is only acceptable, if the person, asked to leave the kitchen, can take its own spoiled food and throw it into the trash can.

The discussion in a forum and the demonstration of truth is dependent on revealing spontaneous thoughts and emotional reactions with subsequent rebuttal and/or sarcastic ridicule.

One can not, on the one hand, want to trigger and support that spontaneity, and on the other hand punish the commentator in the very moment his own post starts hurting him and say: "Gotcha, idiot, you should know what you are saying. Now we will gladly keep your nonsense for everybody to read for the next ten years and you have to live with it". That is a power an archive provider and site maintainer should not have, IMHO.

So far the only reason why this isn't a legal issue yet, I think, is due to the fact that people still feel safe behind their anonymity. They believe to be untraceable, unidentifiable and hidden in the mass of archived content. Yet, I don't believe that's a reasonable assumption.

Even if a poster's anonymity and privacy were hundred percent secure, there is no protection for that individual poster's feeling of being compromised in his dignity and being denied the possibility of personal growth. The archives prove your ignorance for decades to come to anybody who wants to listen.

Though this may only nag and hurt a commentator personally and not hurt him outside of the realm of his own mind, it still is hurtful to his mental well-being. I do believe that worldwide readable and retrievable comments, which reveal these psychological motivations of a poster, can cause addiction or a negative attachment to the forum or mailing list site and trigger depression :

- the desire to search for truth -
- the desire to keep face when trapped publicly by having revealed personal motivations -
- the desire to correct above situation, but not being empowered to do so -
- the desire to present counterarguments, when one's fallacious logic is torn in pieces -
- the desire to give in to his demons and allow the audience to dwell in Schadenfreude -
- the desire to ridicule others merciless under the protection of your own anonymity -
- the desire to defend oneself when attacked, knowing you can't win -

One of the strongest modifiers of social behaviour is the feeling of shame about a publicly revealed weakness, mistake or intention a person wanted to keep to himself. In real life such a revelation is a local affair between a couple of people, remembered by few for a limited time. That's human and it's working to civilize human behaviour.

In the world of web archived forums and mailing lists it's a permanent, annoying reminder of an individual "emperor stripped off his clothes" and seed to abusive behaviour by the mob, who dwells on its feeling of "Schadenfreude" and happily tears the poster's thoughts and feelings in pieces years after they have occured. That, anonymous or not, is damaging for a long time to come to the original poster's mind. One should allow for the opportunity to correct this situation.

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Public Web Archives - Who Should Have Control ? | 95 comments (75 topical, 20 editorial, 0 hidden)
Good question, but... (4.33 / 9) (#1)
by John Milton on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 04:39:43 AM EST

As you said, this is an anonymous medium. We can't see each other, and we can't gather information about each other from mutual acquaintances. Our posts aren't just our ideas. They are us. What you're suggesting would be like selective amnesia. Bits and pieces of our personalities would be erased. We're human. We're not perfect. I think we should honestly represent ourselves to each other. If you wanted to leave k5, I'd support you, but if you want to stay, I think you should be willing to own up to your bad moments along with the good.


"When we consider that woman are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should Treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit." -Elizabeth Cady Stanton


I'm not anonymous (none / 0) (#95)
by anonymous cowerd on Thu Jul 12, 2001 at 08:16:50 AM EST

...despite the nick. That's my real email address. And I am the one and only William D. Kiernan, of Lutz, Florida, U.S.A.

And even if I change my mind later, if I said it, I meant it at the time. (Unless of course I was just joking!)

Yours WDK - WKiernan@concentric.net

America is false to the past,
false to the present,
and solemnly binds herself
to be false to the future.
- Frederick Douglas

[ Parent ]

Use a nickname. (4.20 / 5) (#3)
by pallex on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 05:01:30 AM EST

So it doesnt matter if its archived or not.

The Well (3.20 / 5) (#4)
by sigwinch on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 05:07:54 AM EST

It's time for a new experiment. Empower the user to delete his comments from public web archives. Give him control.
The Well, an older online discussion system, allows you to do this. (OK, so it's not a public forum, but the principle is the same.) This is part of the You Own Your Own Words (YOYOW) system that The Well uses.

--
I don't want the world, I just want your half.

And EMinds (4.00 / 1) (#51)
by Erbo on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 04:43:41 PM EST

Electric Minds also allows users to erase ("scribble") their own comments, and YOYOW is an accepted principle there as well (see our policies). However, it should be noted that both The WELL and EMinds leave a "Scribbled by (username) on (date/time)" reminder in the topic, so posts don't just vanish without a trace.

EMinds does have a "delete-without-a-trace" way of removing posts, called "nuke." However, it can only be used by conference hosts, SIG hosts, or site administrators, and is generally only used in "serious" cases (such as spam or really major fsck-ups).

Eric
--
Electric Minds - virtual community since 1996. http://www.electricminds.org
[ Parent ]

And Usenet (none / 0) (#75)
by driptray on Tue Jul 10, 2001 at 01:26:45 AM EST

Hey, what about usenet? You can cancel your own posts, and the only thing people complain about is forged cancels.

So, the record is not complete in usenet, and nobody really cares about preserving history, accuracy etc etc.


--
We brought the disasters. The alcohol. We committed the murders. - Paul Keating
[ Parent ]
Not Usenet (none / 0) (#81)
by RocketJeff on Tue Jul 10, 2001 at 09:45:40 AM EST

Not every server honors cancels, mainly because it's too easy to spoof cancels. Even if your server does honor them, there's a good chance that the message has already been sent to other servers and, some place along the line, one of them will drop the cancel.

It will be deleted from a lot of servers, but not all. I doubt if there is any way to remove a message from all of Usenet.

[ Parent ]

*Shock* you have to take responsibility (4.37 / 8) (#5)
by QuantumG on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 05:15:35 AM EST

I think you have a case of not understanding what a public forum is and what it means to post. Yes, every time you post with a "logged in" status you are putting your ass on the line. You are saying "this is my opinion and I'm proud to shout it from the tallest roof top". If that is not the case, you shouldn't be posting in a public forum. Let it be said: You are on the record. You choose what you say, but once it is said, that's game over. Maybe, there is room for an "experiment" where posters can randomly delete their old comments. But if this is truely an experiment, let's state what it is we expect to show. I propose a theory, when posters no longer have to take responsibility for what they say, there will be more logged in users. People who would be otherwise anonymous will decide to put some sort of a name on what they say. These new comers (and a lot of the old timers) will quickly discover that they can "say something stupid" and get away with it. For example, say John says something really lame. Steve comes along and flames John to a toasty. John retorts without thinking and comes up with the most inane argument ever to grace the pages of K5. Steve calmly declares John's incompitence and deconstructs his argument as the drivel it is. John can at this point delete all his comments. But, we will have Steve's side to the argument, I hear you scream. Well, not if Steve quotes John in any of his posts. Surely that makes Steve's posts yankable by John, after all, the entire contents of his post are contained in Steve's retort. To avoid a fair use nightmare one would have to declare that Steve is not living up to the experiment. He is preventing John from yanking his comments. Quickly this becomes Steve talking to thin air -- retorting an argument one cant even read.

Gun fire is the sound of freedom.
Why I don't like deleting comments (4.66 / 9) (#6)
by Carnage4Life on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 05:35:35 AM EST

There are two major reasons I am against people being able to delete or otherwise edit their posts after they have been made even though I have wished for this feature at times myself.
  1. Lack of accountability: People are less inclined to say certain things and more inclined to watch their words when there is no clear way to retract them. The fact that once can always delete a post that goes to far or even better repost a tidied up version makes one say rash things especially during flame wars (of which K5 has plenty).

  2. Making responses irrelevant: Many of us have posted replies to people posts commenting on their sig only for the sig to be changed by the original author making the response seem completely unrelated and sometimes garbage. Now imagine extending this to not just sigs but entire comments or stories. At the very least I'd probably have to start quoting large parts of people's comments so that in case they delete or edit the comments later on my replies would make sense. Still, allowing deletion or editting of comments is open to abuse.


another way (4.80 / 10) (#12)
by John Milton on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 06:12:19 AM EST

delmoi suggested here that we have the ability to add addendums to our comments. I like that idea.


"When we consider that woman are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should Treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit." -Elizabeth Cady Stanton


[ Parent ]
Distorting history (4.57 / 7) (#7)
by Skwirl on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 05:40:20 AM EST

This particular argument was already wisely summed up by The Cube:
"God bless archived mailing lists! In one hundred years, when my great grandson is up for tenure, they can look back and on the basis of my recorded statements, secretly blacklist him."
Yes, there is a very serious danger that people's comments will be used against them later in life. On the other hand, I've spent many hours digging through microfilm for a journalism history course and it was always highly frustrating to find huge gaps in the archives of the newspaper I was researching.

Internet archives are certainly going to serve future historians; however, if individuals are able to systematically delete old messages, the honesty of this historical archive will be compromised. For instance, trolls could incite angry, threatening replies, delete their original message, and then claim that they were threatened unprovoked. Also, a hacker could impersonate you presently and delete your past comments as well.

Anyways, despite copyright, once you submit something useful to the Internet, there's a pretty good chance that it's been cached or mirrored somewhere.



"Nothing in the world is more distasteful to a man than to take the path that leads to himself." -- Herman Hesse
love your sig (4.00 / 3) (#35)
by mami on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 11:22:07 AM EST

Concerning the trolls being able to claim that they were threatened unprovoked - true. That's why I am against the anonymity, which allows trolls to be protected unfairly.

Now, I am getting beaten up, because we need anonymity for the sake of whistle blowing. I just wonder, if there couldn't be a public place where anonymity is secured and we all can go and whistle blow our hearts out, and other public places, where anonymity is more or less a persona non grata. I admit I don't get this thing straight in my mind.

[ Parent ]
This is a joke right? (4.12 / 8) (#8)
by NightRain on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 05:48:47 AM EST

What you're saying is that basically, someone discussing something on a discussion based website could suffer depression, because, after having discussed it, they can't 'undiscuss' it? Seriously, if someone feels as strongly as you apparently feel, they really need to re-evaluate their decision to contribute.

The simple fact is that k5 is here not only for people to discuss issues at hand, but also for other people to read them. And giving an author the ability to delete their contributions completely defeats this purpose. It means that when reviewing an article, you see only some of the comments, and answers to questions that may not be there any more.

Personally, I can't see how some theoretical infringment on someones rights is worth destroying the entire basis of the site. In spite of your comments to the contrary, the 'if you can't stand the heat' analogy is completely correct. At the end of the day you knew the terms and conditions when you chose to partake. If the condition of using the kitchen said that they get to keep the food and/or ingredients you used, you have two options. Let 'em keep it, or don't use the kitchen.

Don't vote, it only encourages them!


Take responsability for what you say (4.40 / 5) (#9)
by thunderbee on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 05:51:11 AM EST

And on the other hand, what about dangling answers? People surey answer your posts. Quote them even. How do you propose to handle that?

Nah. I think what you say in a public forum is no longer yours, but becomes public. "You own your own words" means the site doesn't own them, and you can't sue the webmaster over what people say on the site.

opinions are like assholes... (4.00 / 7) (#10)
by crashman on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 05:53:57 AM EST

everyone has one, that doesn't mean you should share it with everyone. I don't mean that as a flame, I just think that a person should think about what they post BEFORE they hit that xmit key. Deleting your own posts would also delete all posts responding to your post, that infringes on their rights.

Not so. (3.66 / 3) (#15)
by aphrael on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 07:09:52 AM EST

Deleting your own posts would also delete all posts responding to your post, that infringes on their rights.

Why? In a naive implementation this would be true, but I see no reason why it need be; it's relatively trivial to reparent a node in a tree.

[ Parent ]

deja-news (none / 0) (#34)
by mami on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 11:13:00 AM EST

allowed to nuke your comments. What is left are the responses to you of that thread. Sometimes you loose the meaning of your own response without the context and quotation of the argument you are responding to.

I would think, if people are aware that their own responses could be standing "naked" without the quotation and context of the previous post in the archives, they might even take more discipline to respond responsibly.

In posting my comment I have given a respondent for a limited time to come up with a counterargument. If the respondent believes his counterargument to be of such importance that he wishes to have it kept in a meaningful manner in the archives for longterm retrievability, then I would think that the risk of eventually not having the previous poster's comment available to read, would make him a better respondent.

He would take more care that his response is coherent and can stand on its own, providing the necessary quotes. That would enhance the quality of comments kept in archives.

[ Parent ]
Comments are NOT your thoughts (3.88 / 9) (#11)
by hodgestar on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 06:08:48 AM EST

Coments are nothing but your thoughts. They should be free and remain your own. Therefore I believe a public web forum has to offer the option to its users to delete his own posts.

Comments are not your thoughts. Comments are your thoughts written down or spoken - given to the world.

Once you have communicated your thoughts the people who you have communicated them to have a right to act on them. Whether that act is to write down their own copy of your communication and keep it, is not something you have control over. They have not stolen your thoughs, you still have them.

I might add that the Open Source/Free Software movement exists specifically to prevent this kind of control and combat the belief that you own every copy of your thoughts.


-- Copy software. It's your right. --

Oh, yes, they are ... (none / 0) (#31)
by mami on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 11:00:05 AM EST

and for how long I have given my thoughts in form of a comment to which audience is negotiable.

Comments are not your thoughts. Comments are your thoughts written down or spoken - given to the world.

Yes, for a limited time within the context of discussion for the purpose of real-time participating members of the discussion to challenge and counter argue my comments.

They are not given to the world by default to keep for decades to be quoted without your consent. Just because technology makes it possible to do so and keeps the power of deciding to use that technology out of the hands of the users, doesn't mean it is a "the law written in stone by some higher powers". It's not an unalienable right of the web site's owners and maintainers. :-)

Who has given them that power ? If at all, it would be their ownership of the medium and the technology, they are using to achieve their goals of archiving. If you say, they own that medium and technology, then the forum is NOT a public one, but a private, and then they need to get consent from its users to archive the user's thoughts donated to that forum in form of comments.

[ Parent ]

Then negotiate (none / 0) (#91)
by error 404 on Tue Jul 10, 2001 at 05:12:08 PM EST

Let Rusty know your terms. And if he doesn't agree to them, move on.

The whole argument collapses on the "without consent". Which is false. By posting, you consent to those words staying around until they don't stay around anymore.

Even if they were removed from the archives, they could well be in somebody's sig somewhere, or printed up and pinned to a cube wall.

Is it a good thing? Is it a bad thing? Doesn't matter, it is the way life is. Haven't you ever said something at a party and had it come back to you for years?


..................................
Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

[ Parent ]

Negotiate - nah - case closed. (none / 0) (#92)
by mami on Tue Jul 10, 2001 at 09:36:15 PM EST

I don't think that I said something which can't stay in the archives. It's not a personal thing. It's just that I don't accept the definition of public the way apparently everybody does here. Let's say, I am just too "doof" to understand the meaning of public. Case closed.


[ Parent ]
I have to disagree. (4.66 / 12) (#17)
by mindstrm on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 07:56:10 AM EST

Comments are not 'just your thoughts'. They are your words, posted publicly to a public forum.
Just as if you speak in public, you can not 'erase' the memory of your words, and if you speak on camera, you cannot 'erase' the newsreel, you should not be able to erase the comments you post to a public forum.

You posted them here; k5 should be able to keep them as long as they want and nobody should be able to whine and cry about it.

One has to stand behind his statements. If you feel 'shamed' at having said something... that should teach you a lesson. Either face your shame, or don't speak publicly.

I've said stupid things in the past, and though I may regret what I said, I said it, and I stand by that. EVERYONE says things sometimes they regret later. Tough. Anyone who pretends otherwise is lying to themselves. To pretend that we are perfect is a mistake. Is it a symptom of an overly-paranoid and litigous society that people are so afraid of what they said? I think so.








I have to agree (4.50 / 2) (#20)
by dancingblue on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 09:28:00 AM EST

It seems personal information is being confused with public speaking.

Just because your thoughts are being expounded to the public via keyboard, does not remove them from the public domain. The internet is a public meeting place with all the pros and cons of public speaking that accompany public speaking in the town square.

As to who should control these opinions submitted to the public domain?
You are talking to the K5 community and anyone who happens to drop by. It is not a public space, it is a K5 space. Giving, I would think, K5 prefectly legitimate control over anything said here.



[ Parent ]
Well, that's the point (4.00 / 2) (#27)
by mami on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 10:43:24 AM EST

People speak randomly in public. The press thrives on the fact that they can catch a "revealing" emotion, expression and body language. Cameras are hidden, archives are allowed to haunt public and private citizens unchecked for decades. Who has given the press this power ? Where is it checked and balanced ?

We know what a pointing index finger of a certain president can do for its country, why would it be necessary to keep my unimportant short-term comment within a discussion on a public forum in archives for years ? If my comments were of such importance for the public good, don't you think people would pick them up, write well formulated and thought out essays about it and publish them specifically for the pupose of being kept in public memory and be offered in retrievable format ?

Who is allowed to decide if my comments are of such importance to keep them archived against my will ?

As a participating commentator to a forum, I have given readers the options to save my comments, chew on them and incorporate them in their own writings - for an appropriate time this discussion might have a meaning. In doing so, I have done the very responsible act of doing the site's forum a favor by merely participating and keeping the discussion up and going.

I don't think though, I would agree, by default, to allow any site's maintainers to archive the comments for ages to be quoted against my will. Why should I be forced into accepting that ?

What moral (and legal) rights have the site's maintainers to keep them ? Just because you like to have it your way, doesn't mean that you should have the unlimited power to get your way. It's nothing but an unchecked power usage of a technology, which is out of the control of its users.

[ Parent ]
You're contradicting yourself I think.. (4.50 / 2) (#55)
by mindstrm on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 05:24:07 PM EST

One one hand you say that if comments are of use to someone, anyone, they are free to record them and keep them, and then you state that K5 has no right to keep them?

How much news footage do you think the news studios have that has never seen the light of day? Stuff they might dig up 20 years later when someone is running for Mayor of some town?

It's not up to 'the media' to decide what is important to the public or not. It's up to each individual.

K5 is two things; it is a way to get a story published, but much more than that, a discussion forum. If you objected to your statements being recorded, you shouldn't be here.









[ Parent ]
How old are you? (4.00 / 5) (#18)
by Inoshiro on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 07:59:25 AM EST

"In the world of web archived forums and mailing lists it's a permanent, annoying reminder of an individual "emperor stripped off his clothes" and seed to abusive behaviour by the mob, who dwells on its feeling of "Schadenfreude" and happily tears the poster's thoughts and feelings in pieces years after they have occured. That, anonymous or not, is damaging for a long time to come to the original poster's mind. One should allow for the opportunity to correct this situation.

That's a really odd way of saying you don't want to live with the consequences of your actions/words. If you aren't gouing to support something you just said, don't say it. If you change a few years down the line, I'm sure it'll be reflected in the way you speak then. You say "comments from this period make me shudder" like most people who have pictures of themselves in the 1970s ("pictures of me in bell bottoms make me shudder").

If you aren't ready to accept that what you say or do has a permanent, lasting effect, then don't do or say anything. Then again, maybe people aren't as misunderstanding as you paint them to be.



--
[ イノシロ ]
well, I am old enough (none / 0) (#25)
by mami on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 10:16:09 AM EST

and I don't think you hit the point as many others too. You seem just to be blinded by the easy "stay behind your words and take responsability" argument.

First, in posting (and deciding to not use x-no-archives if option would be offered) a commentator already takes responsability, the same way you would, if you stood up in a town meeting and voice your opinion, no matter how well thought out, emotional or incoherent your thoughts might come out, you decided to speak.

In a real life town meeting people would argue against you, you defend your position OR you retreat from your position, because you feel that the counterargument defeated your points so much that they become invalid. That mechanism is actually the reason why you are participating in the discussion the first place. You go in there to see if your own thoughts can hold through or need adjustment. It's too simple to merely say, if you don't stand behind what you are saying, don't say it. Of course, I voice my opinion exactly to see what other arguments would make me abandon my point of view, and then it is perfectly alright to NOT stand behind them any further.

Now, would you accept that the transcript writers of that town meeting for the profitability's sake of the town hall owner, turn over those transcripts and display them for ten years in everybody's frontyard to the amusement of any by-passing citizen ?

To paint a more drastic picture, pretend the participants of the town meeting would all wear masks (all the same, so you wouldn't know if under it hides the KKK, FBI, or latest guerilla freedom fighter group). The discussion therefore gets heated. People feel they can say whatever they want without repercussions. Before you know it, people beat each other up and try to tear off each other's masks to reveal your identity.

After that happens, do you agree that the groups with most guns or the most money takes the transcripts of those discussions and holds them publicly available for a lifetime to brandmark you for ever ? Would you support that ?

I do fully understand the need for historians to have authentic archives available, but I would say that's necessary only for statements from people, who serve the public as their servants and are paid for by the people's tax money. It would not be necessary to archive anyone's random discussions of any citizen.

[ Parent ]
"Old enough"? (5.00 / 1) (#36)
by baberg on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 11:22:57 AM EST

It's been my experience that whenever anybody answers the question "How old are you?" with "Old enough" online, that means that the poster is still in high school. I do not hold that against you; knowledge knows no age barrier. But to answer a perfectly straight-forward question with an enigmatic response is not very mature. For the record, I am 22, and have no problems with people calling me young (or old, depending on the viewpoint).

On to the meat of your argument. You seem to be advocating (from the first town hall analogy) that once you say something, you should have the right to have that comment wiped from existence because you have changed your mind, or it was spoken in the heat of a moment, or you were just rambling. So, in other words, you are advocating being allowed to say anything and everything that you wish to with no thought of repercussions (sp?) for the future. I, for one, have made some pretty stupid comments in my life, and have made some pretty stupid decisions as well. However, I realize that they were stupid and explain why I made them, and all is smoothed over. People change, and their ideas change with them.

You also mention profitability. Tell me, do you think that biographies are bad? In a biography, we have a person (usually a publishing company) making money as a direct result of another person's life being exposed, including grades in classes, activist papers, and God knows what else. I see nothing wrong with this, even if the biography is unauthorized. The information is out there, and all the publishing company did is compile that information into a nice, easily digestible format. So be it. I do not think that a person can rightfully claim damages for a company revealing past events. The person can argue and justify their actions, and that is plenty good enough for me.

Lastly, I'm simply confused by your "mask" argument. Your example illustrates that, when people do not have to take responsiblity for their own actions, then chaos ensues and the discussion becomes heated. I agree with this, and that's why I think Slashdot has such a low SNR. It's too easy for people to chime in as an AC and say "Yeah, you're a dumb ass, please die" with no repercussions. To keep things civilized, it is necessary for people to own up to their comments and beliefs. Otherwise, as you yourself believe, chaos ensues.

Oh, and one other thing. The main reason that we, as a society know very little about ancient societies is because common people did not record their daily beliefs and activities. All that we have to go off of from, say, ancient Greece, is the writings of Herodotus, who recorded great events and kings and whatnot. If for no other reason than to give a glimpse of our lives, public discussions should be archived.

[ Parent ]

Ok, I am too old - is that better ? (none / 0) (#67)
by mami on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 10:01:35 PM EST

I am 2 1/2 times your age.

No, I don't think I advocate to ramble and rant around without any repercussions.

If I go into the town hall meeting and decide to speak, people will hear, a few will remember it for a couple of months, my significant other will remember forever, and my kids would give a million, if I just had shut up and hadn't said anything. :-)

May be the local newspaper will make a twenty line note about what I said in their own words. That's it. I meet the repercussion to be shouted down and ridiculed by the town meeting folks, by a lifelong criticism from the side of my offspring and a lousy report in the local newspaper. And that's pretty much as much repercussions I think I should face.

If I were to run for Congress or would be called as a researcher to talk in a Congressional Committee about the latest results in my research field, the exact wording of my comments might have been recorded by C-SPAN or by a word-by-word transcript from a wire service etc. But then my comments are a matter of public interest and the unlimited archiving rights belong to the public. I wouldn't have any problem whatsoever with it, contrary I would strongly promote it. I admire C-SPAN for that matter.

But it is a far stretch to compare comments made as someone who holds an office or is public servant and comments, which are made by any private uncle Joe on /., K5 or any similar forum.

As for biographies, I don't quite understand where you derived your assumption from. Of course I am for biographies, the better researched the merrier. But considering what kind of data the author uses in his biography, I would imagine, he can use only publicly available data.

If your class grades were public records, may be the author could use them. If the author is your former girl friend and she has stolen some private letters or tapes, I would imagine she has to get permission from you to publish and quote these letters before she could publish it. And I do think it's quite nice to write biographies AFTER people had a life, not in order to get a life. :-)

So, let's say your former friend, who knows your nick name under which you post on K5, would put up a comment revealing all your grades. Right now you couldn't prevent this comment from being archived.

In twenty years you are going to be our new hot political leader and you run for office. Your friend happens to hate you profoundly by now and is up to get after you. He would be able to use an accumulation of your posts from the archives, which reveal enough to prove your true identity. Off he goes to mess with your grades in public and feeds the press. Is that ok with you ?




[ Parent ]
another view (3.66 / 3) (#21)
by MicroBerto on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 09:28:07 AM EST

I like to think of it as this:

The second you hit that submit button (or post, in K5's case), you are giving your thoughts and data to the system forever, and it is no longer all of your own. That and we should be accounted for all of the flaming skeletons we leave in our k5 closets!

Berto
- GAIM: MicroBerto
Bertoline - My comic strip

The future of the "Everything Archived" (2.66 / 3) (#23)
by RareHeintz on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 09:50:33 AM EST

Does anyone think that, in the future, people running for office might have their old /. or K5 posts used against (or for) them?

This is the informational equivalent of getting naked on a cam chat and finding those pics archived on someone's pr0n site. Those pictures are never going away - they're already in circulation, and now part of a de facto virtual archive. Now think about how much of yourself you expose in a public forum like this (or /., or Advogato...) - all the unpopular or extremist views you might post, how much you cuss, the occassional tasteless joke - it's all there, and it's there forever. Your employer can see it, your family can see it, and voters can see it. It completely alters the divisions people might make among their lives - their personal lives, their work lives, the polite side of their lives they show their family, etc.

OT1H, it's kind of scary - you really do expose yourself everywhere if you expose yourself here. OTOH, if you're the sort of person who values openness - well, you got it. Enjoy.

Anyway, just my US$2e-02.

Everyone say hi to my boss. ("Hi, boss.")

OK,
- B
--
http://www.bradheintz.com/ - updated kind of daily

Naked on a cam chat? You deserve what you get! (none / 0) (#30)
by plutarch on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 10:58:07 AM EST

At least if you'd posed for Playboy you'd have gotten some money for it. Voluntary web nudity is either voyeurism, in which case propagation of the pic isn't really injurious, or else a symptom of rampant substance abuse, in which case the revealing pictures are the least of your problems.
Leftism is the ideology of resentment. It is is the ideology of the frustrated will to power. It matters not how much or how little power the Leftist has at the moment. The point is, he wants more, and he can't get it.
[ Parent ]
Oops. Meant exhibitionism, not voyeurism. (none / 0) (#33)
by plutarch on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 11:06:02 AM EST

And on second thought, I wouldn't want my boss to know if I were an exhibitionist. At least I don't think I would. I'm no expert of how such people think.
Leftism is the ideology of resentment. It is is the ideology of the frustrated will to power. It matters not how much or how little power the Leftist has at the moment. The point is, he wants more, and he can't get it.
[ Parent ]
See! An example right here (none / 0) (#43)
by jonnyq on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 01:10:20 PM EST

Now we clearly see here that plutarch is retracting his classification of voyeurism, and replacing it with exhibitionism. Although there was a small mistake in his original post, I for one am much happier with the correction than if he had deleted his post and I never learned that getting naked in a web chat is a bad idea.

[ Parent ]
Everything archived - everything usable (none / 0) (#66)
by mami on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 09:03:30 PM EST

Does anyone think that, in the future, people running for office might have their old /. or K5 posts used against (or for) them?

Of course. If you allow it, it will be done. People test boundaries any time to see how far they can go.

[ Parent ]

Deletion doesn't teach... (4.00 / 4) (#24)
by Anatta on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 10:06:01 AM EST

Seems to me that having one's comments in the public forum might quickly teach... restraint, and hopefully the ability to clearly and accurately present one's opinion in a logical fashion.

You (or I) may get flamed for an illogical argument from time to time, but that should teach us not to post when we're inebriated and not to let the heat of the moment take us. Numerous times, I've read some comment and clicked respond, written a nasty comment back, and then previewed it, only to find that I'm not actually saying anything useful, and that I'm just being pissy. I cancel the submission and move on. If I could delete my comments later, I may well click post, knowing I could cancel if things went wrong, and the overall quality of discussion would go down.

Keeping every post as part of the public discussion base allows the discussions to be read cleanly and clearly long after the discussions have been written. It seems silly to me to destroy this logic to protect people from Hit-The-Post-Button-Without-Thinking Syndrome.
My Music

Of course, I agree, (none / 0) (#65)
by mami on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 08:55:50 PM EST

but that's something which counts on a personal level. Is it enough of an argument to give anyone plain vanilla default archiving rights ?

My feeling is that noone questions the legality about a web site owner's declaration to maintain a public forum, when in fact that forum is privately owned. Can a web site owner derive moral priviledges and legal rights, one would normally only attribute to a democratically elected public entitiy, (like time-unlimited worldwide accesible archiving rights of your comments), just by stating that his forum is public, while in fact it is not publicly owned ?

May be one could say that the forum is privately owned, but not privately controllable, as soon as the online broadcast occurs. But I see a difference in broadcasting and archiving comments unlimited in databases and in one-time broadcasting and time limited archiving of comments under the control of its users.

The web site owners can't have it both ways, too. If their forum is clearly privately owned and therefore a private forum, then no doubt, they decide alone on their rules. But there should not be any ambiguity, the status of NOT being a public forum should be stated and the status of NOT giving empowerment to the user to the extent the technology would allow, must be made cristal clear.

If the distribution rights I grant a private forum encompass public world wide broadcast and unlimited worldwide accessible archives, then the privately owned forum has to get explicitly permission from the poster to do so. It can NOT just assume it has those rights by default. At least that's what I would expect the legal situation to be.



[ Parent ]
if you're not going to stand by your words... (3.33 / 3) (#26)
by rebelcool on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 10:21:08 AM EST

or you dont want people to read them, then dont say anything.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site

nope (3.00 / 7) (#28)
by speek on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 10:51:35 AM EST

They should be free and remain your own

There's your problem. You have to accept that once you've shared your idea, or your comment, it now belongs to anyone who has seen it or heard it. For better or for worse, it now also belongs to them to. You can't have it both ways.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees

On this site, it's easy to disown one's comments. (3.75 / 4) (#29)
by plutarch on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 10:55:08 AM EST

And without denying having made them. All you have to do is post a reply to your own hoary old brain fart explaining that your views on the matter have evolved, and you no longer feel as you did. Anyone who brings up your old post will see the link to to your retraction. No censorship, no denial, and no realistic possibility of your old opinion being used against you. What could be better?

On Usenet, it's a different story. It's just not hyperlinked enough for the tree format of "threads" to have any real meaning. Maybe groups.google.com can offer a partial solution to this problem, but I'm not sure if they have a permanent monopoly on Usenet archives.


Leftism is the ideology of resentment. It is is the ideology of the frustrated will to power. It matters not how much or how little power the Leftist has at the moment. The point is, he wants more, and he can't get it.

Something creepy about altering history ... (4.25 / 4) (#32)
by Kellnerin on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 11:01:42 AM EST

It's tempting, and it seems like a harmless idea at first blush, but there are a few things that make me uncomfortable about deleting comments, in addition to the problem of breaking threads at the expense of other people who posted responses to your deleted posts.

The more practical aspect is mojo abuse. Why not just delete your posts that were zeroed, or just didn't quite get those mojo-inflating ratings? If you didn't have to suffer permanent consequences for your posts, people could spam with impunity.

The other, vaguer, side deals more with my own musings about the nature of comments. When you're browsing a user's comment history, it looks almost as if the comments stand alone by themselves, scattered among different stories. In reality this isn't so -- they exist in the context of a discussion, as a response to an article or another post. Comments aren't just your thoughts, they're your interaction with this community and the world at large. And you do build up your own History through your comments, one that allows for change and growth throughout your posting lifetime. If you don't agree with something you said in the past, you can show by your posts in the present and the future the ways you've changed, and how far you've come since then. Always write posts you are happy with today, that reflect who you are today. You have an ongoing relationship with the people reading your posts, and when people are forming their opinions about you, last month's post is insignificant compared to what you're saying now. Why not concentrate on that instead?

*sound of Kellnerin falling off soapbox*

--Stop it, evil hand, stop it!--

Why not concentrate on that instead? - (none / 0) (#40)
by mami on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 11:38:39 AM EST

Because it doesn't solve the problem well enough.

The other, vaguer, side deals more with my own musings about the nature of comments. When you're browsing a user's comment history, it looks almost as if the comments stand alone by themselves, scattered among different stories. In reality this isn't so -- they exist in the context of a discussion, as a response to an article or another post.

That is a good argument and I agree with you. The problem I have with it is merely the fact that I doubt, considering the mass of comments archived, that anybody who wants to use your past comments, will not go through the pain to put them in context of the past times and discussions. It's too much work.

So, it is up to the person, who feels to be wrongfully quoted and haunted by bringing up your old comments, to correct it. A nuisance to say the least. Thick skinned people simple ignore it, that doesn't mean that it didn't bother them to be quoted without context to begin with. It can be mental harrassment. And it is used for that purpose.

That you distort history by eliminating comments in threads, is partly true, but do you really think that millions of comments of ordinary people are needed to paint an authentic picture of history ?

[ Parent ]

Please don't delete this comment (5.00 / 1) (#45)
by aonifer on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 02:27:13 PM EST

So, it is up to the person, who feels to be wrongfully quoted and haunted by bringing up your old comments, to correct it.

As it should be. You made the dumbass comment. It's up to you to set the record straight when someone uses it against you. Incidently, that's a lot easier to do when you have the complete record.

That you distort history by eliminating comments in threads, is partly true, but do you really think that millions of comments of ordinary people are needed to paint an authentic picture of history ?

It's the only way to paint an authentic picture of history. Are you saying that writings from only a few people who may or may not have agendas of their own is a good way to record history?

[ Parent ]

I doubt that we have too few writings these days, (none / 0) (#63)
by mami on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 08:06:33 PM EST

rather too many. And of course I never supported the idea that anyone but yourself is allowed to delete your own comments. I merely proposed self-editing empowerment.

And I doubt that it should be the default that a person has to defend himself. Until proven guilty, you are innocent. A remark made on a forum ten years ago and kept somewhere in an archive is rarely enough proof of being guilty of anything, just shows that during your lifetime you might have changed your opinions. That is hardly dumbass, but more than a very natural course of events in anybody's life.

If, for example, we would have had email lists and online forums thirty years ago and had archived everything what Chancellor Schroeder would have certainly left behind during his student years in those archives, do you think any of his student friends should be able to drag ANY remark made out into the public ? Allowing ANY dumbass to destroy a current public persona's reputation ? I don't think so.

I think people lack the imagination to understand what archives kept over decades will do to your privacy rights in the future.

[ Parent ]
I doubt that we have too few writings these days, (none / 0) (#77)
by aonifer on Tue Jul 10, 2001 at 01:43:16 AM EST

rather too many.

I disagree. Besides, selective deletion of records will still leave a distorted view of the past.

And of course I never supported the idea that anyone but yourself is allowed to delete your own comments.

So when everyone goes around deleting their own comments willy-nilly, how am I supposed to put my past remark in its proper context?

If, for example, we would have had email lists and online forums thirty years ago and had archived everything what Chancellor Schroeder would have certainly left behind during his student years in those archives, do you think any of his student friends should be able to drag ANY remark made out into the public ? Allowing ANY dumbass to destroy a current public persona's reputation ?

Most people are able to tell past actions from current ones. Very few people cared that Al Gore smoked dope in college or that GWB drank like a fish because they knew the difference between the past and the present.

I think people lack the imagination to understand what archives kept over decades will do to your privacy rights in the future.

Privacy rights? You are posting in a public forum that makes no pretense about archiving posts. If you are so concerned about privacy rights, either don't post or use an alias with an anonymous email address.

[ Parent ]

Well (4.33 / 6) (#37)
by trhurler on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 11:27:51 AM EST

Do you really want a lousy no good son of a bitch like trhurler to be able to take back his words later to make himself look like a decent human being for the unsuspecting innocent masses? I mean, really. What an absurd idea.

I personally take this whole thing the same way I take real life: if you said it, you said it. You can't take it back. That's the way it is.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

In real life you take back all the time (5.00 / 1) (#42)
by mami on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 12:57:12 PM EST

Do you really want a lousy no good son of a bitch like trhurler to be able to take back his words later to make himself look like a decent human being for the unsuspecting innocent masses? I mean, really. What an absurd idea.

Why, I think it's a wonderful idea. :-)

If you said it, you said it. You can't take it back.

Sure, but you can change your mind. And then what you said before, has been taken back by yourself. But the archives prevent the masses to believe in you having changed your mind, because any no good son of a bitch like ...huh ? ... can take your former words out of context and make you look like an evil spirited bastard to the unsuspecting innocent masses.

[ Parent ]

Real life != Online (4.00 / 2) (#44)
by RangerBob on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 01:57:19 PM EST

The difference with real life is that you can take something back and be sorry for it, but the knowledge still exists that you said it. You don't have the ability to erase out of existence something you said. This isn't such a bad thing, especially when you're trying to judge someone's sincerity. Yes, they may have changed their point of view, but it's often helpful to know how someone has felt over time.

While I can understand how you don't want your words to be taken out of context, that's just something that everyone has to learn to live with. People have to deal with it all the time. Politicians have to live with it, researchers have to live with it, and I'm sure that headhunters down in South America have to live with it :) You can't just delete web posts and feel safe that it won't ever happen to you again. Human nature is human nature, and the only way you will ever go through life and not have to worry about these things is to lock yourself inside of a house and never speak to anyone.

The thing you keep missing is that at least with archives, you can go find the original conversation if you're soo worried about something being taken out of context. This is where I think the Internet is more powerful than traditional media. It's hard to get a hold of, say, the original tape that someone had of an interview when you know the reporter has aired something out of context. With things online, people at least have the chance to find the full discussion.

Being able to delete things doesn't make you "safe". There are people who will always believe what they've been spoon fed, reguardless of what the facts are. I think that this is something you're going to have to understand and learn to live with. Finding out the truth is just too difficult for some people, and there's no way to be safe from that.

If someone is going to contribute to a discussion, then they should fully understand that people will remember what they have said. While this might be a harsh view of life, people can't always have their way.

[ Parent ]
I do appreciate your comment (5.00 / 1) (#62)
by mami on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 07:50:16 PM EST

You seem to weigh the importance of any comment made online by any commentator equally to statements made by a public personas, like politicians or scientists or other public servants. I don't. The comment a future politician has made today should not be easily be used against him, because at the time he made the statements he was not acting as a public persona, but as a private citizen and could not anticipate that his every youthful words would be target of scrutiny appropriate for a politician in active duty.

I would prefer archives to be an accumulation of sources, which went to a self-cleansing process. Most people are their own harshest critics over a longer period of time. If the comments are made by random private citizens without clear identification, but also not without having hundred percent secured anonymity, I don't see a need to grant irrevocable archiving rights by default to the site's owners.

Even if real life does not equal online communication, I would say that what happens online has to serve the expectations of the people, who use that technology and not the other way around. All that of course under the assumption that the forum is truly a public one, which would mean it's owned by the public.

That again is not the case. So, I see a contradiction here, because your argument is based on the fact that a forum is public, where I don't see that it is truly so.


[ Parent ]
palimpsest (4.00 / 1) (#94)
by anonymous cowerd on Thu Jul 12, 2001 at 08:11:04 AM EST

When you "take back" what you said, you do not wipe out the original; you paste a new idea over top of it. There's a big difference.

Here's a trivial, commonplace example: Imagine a girl talking with her boyfriend. She says (trolling), "Do you think Mary is cute? Is she prettier than me?" He says (I'm assuming he's drunk at the time, or else he's a complete idiot), "Oh Hell yeah, Mary's hot, I'd really like to get her in bed!"

Now you tell me. Whatever he says later in revision, can he really ever "take that back"? I don't think so!

Yours WDK - WKiernan@concentric.net

America is false to the past,
false to the present,
and solemnly binds herself
to be false to the future.
- Frederick Douglas

[ Parent ]

Once said, it can't be un-said (4.42 / 7) (#39)
by noahm on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 11:34:48 AM EST

"If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of everyone, and the receiver cannot dispose himself of it."

--Thomas Jefferson

Once you've said something, what you said is available to everybody, and nobody has the right to remove something from a public forum. That's censorship, even if the original author is doing it.

I do think the discussion is worth having, though, so I voted this +1 FP.

noah


At least edit.... (4.00 / 2) (#46)
by sneakcjj on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 03:16:39 PM EST

Granted, I've said some REALLY DUMB things on K5 that I wish I could take back but overall I think the idea of being able to remove your post at any time is a bad idea.

What would be nice is the ability to edit or remove your post before anyone replies to or moderates it. There have been times where I've wanted to correct grammatical or spelling errors I missed before posting (no one is perfect ;).

Yeah, but... (4.50 / 2) (#50)
by mauftarkie on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 03:45:15 PM EST

What would be nice is the ability to edit or remove your post before anyone replies to or moderates it.

A time limit should be added to this, say 30 minutes. After that, tough luck. That should allow for grammatical fixes and what not, but keep dishonest people from editing their comments away to oblivion whenever they want to retract their opinion (which for some people is more often than they change their underwear).

My 0.02$ American -- a forum should work much like real life. If you say something embarrassing or insulting, you can't undo the damage. Tough and too bad -- you should have had more control. At any rate, you do have the power to edit your comments in the form of a reply. That should be good enough.


--
Without you I'm one step closer to happiness without violence.
Without you I'm one step closer to innocence without consequence.


[ Parent ]
I agree .. I have a better proposal too... (none / 0) (#64)
by asqui on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 08:43:08 PM EST

I agree 30 minutes grace period to fix grammatical errors is fair, maybe even less would work. You say a forum should work much like real life "If you say something embarrassing or insulting"... you essentially have to bare the consequences. True,.. but in real life people aren't video taping or recording everything you have said and archiving it so that some 10 years down the track people can call it back and revisit your stupidities and whatnot. I am very new to Kuro5hin, so I'm not even in the slightest an authority on how this site works., but.. In my opinion.. comments should dissolve, much like the human memory. Things blur and become insignificant and eventually are forgotten over time.. comments on regular articles should fizzle over time.. The article can remain for archive purposes, perhaps even enable an option with your comment to "pin this comment to article" so that by your choice you can select for your comment to be archived along with the article... otherwise over an arbitrary period, the comments are removed. On the other side.. whatever the Kuro5hin equivalent is of an "Ask Slashdot" (making the rash assumption that there is one..) should keep it's comments attached by default.. since the article is essentially a question posed to the readerbase.. however, the box should have the option to be unchecked to allow the comment to dissolve.. in turn dissolving and responses to that comment. I think this is only fair.. people get their chance to say their piece but don't have to worry about it sticking in an archive for the ages. Anywho.. I've had multiple distractions while writing this post already and I'm not even sure it makes total sense.. so let's treat this as my disclaimer, and hope that you were able to extract some form of constructive opinion from my incessant ramble :) asqui
People who live in stucco houses shouldn't throw quiche.
[ Parent ]
Rampant Revisionism ... (4.60 / 5) (#47)
by joegee on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 03:29:50 PM EST

Film at eleven (which will not be the same as the film we showed at 6, because we thought about what we said and decided that we didn't want it to sound as controversial.)

If you really want to kill history, then allow all archives to be edited to suit convenience. Coincidentally, ABCNews.com has this story as one of their headlines.

It's bad enough that the physical trail of information upon which history was based is disappearing, now we want to intentionally let everyone go back and change their words?

Isn't there a user agreement for Kuro5hin that says something to the effect that although we as users own our comments, Kuro5hin has the right to reproduce them. Here's a suggestion, if you want to "own" your comments exclusively, if youu are afraid you might be viewed negatively in the future, then stop posting them. :)

Damnit, what about accepting FULL responsibility for what you say, positive and negative. I think (in what remains of the historical record) people with fortitude used to do that. All that allowing editing of archived comments does is remove accountability.

Says the ball-less wonder in the not-too-distant-future: "Prove that I ever said that ..."

<sig>I always learn something on K5, sometimes in spite of myself.</sig>
What if someone's K5 account is compromised? (4.33 / 3) (#48)
by TrentC on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 03:30:40 PM EST

What's to prevent someone who, if they get hold of someone's K5 account information, selectively deleting that person from K5's archive?

Jay (=



From the K5 legalese page (3.00 / 2) (#56)
by Volta on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 05:46:54 PM EST

You lose no copyright control over your words, and are not beholden to us in any way shape or form.

If you lose no copyright control, it is well within your rights to remove your comment. Since there is no interface to remove a comment, I suspect that if you were to request that one of the admins remove it for you, it would be done.

Legalese (4.50 / 2) (#57)
by rusty on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 05:52:19 PM EST

That clause means "you are not restricted in what else you can do with this comment". The same page explicitly says that by posting, you grant us non-exclusive permission to distribute your words on the page.

You aren't required to turn over copyright to us. You are merely required to grant us permission to distribute. That permission is not, however, revocable.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

let's not take that as a K5 related discussion (none / 0) (#60)
by mami on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 06:58:58 PM EST

If I wouldn't accept the status quo of how K5 handles its own interpretation of its legal page, I would have stopped posting anything.

But, I wonder if by granting permission to distribute, one also grants permission to archive irrevocably ? Are distribution rights, i.e. broadcasting rights the same as archiving rights ?

To me that is a bundling agreement of sort. And I wonder if that shouldn't be clearer expressed. The assumption that distributing, broadcasting and archiving is all the same I have some hesitation to believe and I wished someone with more legal knowledge could say something to it.

[ Parent ]
Compartmentalized living (4.77 / 9) (#61)
by Keslin on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 07:14:32 PM EST

It has become clear to me from the way that some of my friends have been behaving lately that some people live inherently compartmentalized lives. They feel free to discuss certain things with certain people, certain other things with other people, and they get very stressed if they find out that one group has access to too much information.

As an example, say that you work for a big company. You live a corporate life, you wear a suit, you are an aggressive middle manager. You also party hard on the weekends though. You really don't want your weekend friends to find out what a corporate beast you are during the week, so you don't talk about work on the weekends. You really don't want your boss and co-workers to find out about the Bacchanalian orgies that you participate in on the weekends, so you don't talk about that stuff when you're at work. This is an unusually common attitude toward dealing with people, compartmentalizing them into different groups. Even people that claim that they don't do this probably at least compartmentalize their families. Do you really want your mother to know what your favorite sexual position is? Do you want your dad to know about the times that you experimented with bisexuality in college?

The result of a compartmentalized world-view is a fear of participating in a forum like this. Since information here is archived forever and since it is searchable to the whole world, anybody might find it and read it. That means that the only viable options for discussion topics are things that are acceptable to all of the compartmentalized groups that you deal with in your life. You can only discuss lowest-common-denominator topics, out of a fear that somebody from any given group might discover a discussion about a topic that you normally would not feel comfortable sharing with them. If my parents ever run a web search on my name, then they will learn all kinds of things about my sex life that I definitely would not normally feel comfortable discussing with them.

This is a big case for aliases, but most people don't realize the consequences of speaking in public without shrouding themselves in an alias until it's way too late. People thought that they were basically speaking privately among friends when they posted to special-interest Usenet newsgroups years ago, and then DejaNews came along and published archives of messages dating years back. Millions of people got a very uneasy feeling in their stomachs when that happened because they realized all at once that they had said things in Usenet posts that they really don't want certain people to see. They felt comfortable discussing it in the relative privacy of a special-interest newsgroup, but they would not have posted the same messages if they had realized that their church deacon might eventually run a search on their name and discover the information.

-Keslin, the naked nerd girl.

Two articles in "Webtechniques" from Aug (4.00 / 1) (#79)
by mami on Tue Jul 10, 2001 at 03:22:33 AM EST

There are two articles in the August edition of Webtechniques, which discuss issues related to your comment.

One is by Brett A. Fausett, "Privacy Certified", the other by Mimi Rosenheim "None of Your Business" . Both are too new and not yet archived online.

They both reveal the lack of boundaries in data gathering by employers about their employees and by web site owners in context with the legalese of their privacy statements.

They fit into your comment about the lack of boundaries between the data archiving activities of your many compartamentalized living quarters online. You might want to read them.

[ Parent ]
Thanks! (none / 0) (#89)
by Keslin on Tue Jul 10, 2001 at 03:42:23 PM EST

I would have responded privately, but you don't seem to have an email address listed in your settings. I got the new Web Techniques recently, but I haven't gotten around to looking at it recently, I'll take a look. Thanks!

-Keslin, the naked nerd girl.

[ Parent ]
deletion should not go unrecorded (2.00 / 1) (#68)
by gps on Mon Jul 09, 2001 at 11:33:55 PM EST

i personally feel that allowing deletion of comments destroys the usefulness of an archive.

That said: If user controlled deletion is ever implemented, it should be implemented by replacing the deleted comment with a "comment deleted on `date`" message. (should it include an optional one-liner explanation by the poster as to why they deleted it?)

deletion is also bad for anyone who's account is compromised. a mean attack is for someone to nuke a person's archived reputation by deleting their old comments.



Strange... (3.00 / 1) (#69)
by Kasreyn on Tue Jul 10, 2001 at 12:00:04 AM EST

You only look at the facet of whether the article is technically valuable in itself. However, what happens when politics or even tyranny / suppression of free speech enter it?

A good first step in attacking freedom of speech would be terrorising people into deliberately suppressing their own politically-incorrect speech. If a web archive had the posts and would not delete them, the forces of censorship and evil (yes, I'm a libertarian bigot at times) would have to use a much more open display of power to attack the material at its source. However, all likely being on one server, it is much more prone to being scuttled by lawyer-guns or seized by force.

Does anyone else have any thoughts about how this issue (users having or not having the ability to delete their submitted content) would be affected by issues of censorship, tyranny, and oppression?

And a final thought on a more technical note - what about backups? When a post was deleted, wouldn't the server need to go through all its backups and delete the post from all backups? How do you propose to make that anything other than a difficult task?


-Kasreyn


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
you are never able to delete traces completely (none / 0) (#76)
by mami on Tue Jul 10, 2001 at 01:30:59 AM EST

but that's also not what I am proposing. I am just suggesting to allow the commentator to minimize the overall probability to find his comments in web archives ten years from now, if that is his own wish.

This is more an attempt to change a black and white situation to an off-black and off-white sort of thing. Like in the town hall meeting, there always could be someone, who tapes and films every word you say and facial expression you display up-close.

There is no guarantee that this material couldn't be used against you under circumstances out of your control. But it's negotiable if that's something to encourage, discourage, allow, forbid or make conditional on some agreed upon regulations.

[ Parent ]
delete your comments to make your rivals look bad? (4.00 / 4) (#70)
by geoswan on Tue Jul 10, 2001 at 12:12:37 AM EST

One can not, on the one hand, want to trigger and support that spontaneity, and on the other hand punish the commentator in the very moment his own post starts hurting him and say: "Gotcha, idiot, you should know what you are saying. Now we will gladly keep your nonsense for everybody to read for the next ten years and you have to live with it". That is a power an archive provider and site maintainer should not have, IMHO.

Consider the alternative. Suppose you are an unethical person, and you want someone else to look bad. You get a bogus ID, from hotmail or something. You get in a discussion with them. Since you know them, you know what gets them riled up. See if you can get them riled up. Then delete your comments. Out of context, maybe the other persons comments make them look like a hothead.



To err is human,... (3.00 / 1) (#78)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Tue Jul 10, 2001 at 02:57:11 AM EST

I don't have the words to express just how bad I think this idea is. You wish that you hadn't said some things? Of course you do.

We all understand that we all change our minds from time to time. That we are able to say "touche" in these discussions makes the experiance worth it. Judge me not for the thoughts that I form quickly, but by how quickly I change them in the face of evidence. A couple of my sins: Sethg, I said something stupid in a reply to a post of your's in the credit card story a while back, I was trying to be witty, but was really just drawing upon the biased dataset that is my experiance. I made a tasteless attempt at satire after smallstepforman had expressed genuine grief about the tragedy of civilians dying in the Nato bombing in Serbia, it was aimed to bite Americans, but missed that mark for some.

My posting needs these negative reinforcements on it. Otherwise how am I to learn? You want to hide your past? Why not use it to show how far you have come? None of us are born or die perfect.

"Good humored patience is necessary with small children and your own mind." (Buddha's Little Instruction Book)

Sorry, I think I'm rambling a bit. I just think you are looking at things from a self-defeating perspective.



have to agree (none / 0) (#93)
by jdtux on Wed Jul 11, 2001 at 09:00:44 PM EST

Ditto.

Learn from your own mistakes as well as mistakes other people make

[ Parent ]

Can't even be done. (4.50 / 4) (#80)
by priestess on Tue Jul 10, 2001 at 07:03:19 AM EST

It's simply impossible to track dwon and delete all the copies of your comment in every cache and file everywhere in the world. Your words can come back to haunt you, no matter what K5 does. Allowing a person to censor their words in the K5 archive just gives people a false idea about the nature of written and broadcasted words. I think the more obvious we can make this nature, the better people will understand it.

You also mention a town meeting, claiming that what you say there will fade from memory. I'm fairly sure that all the council meetings around here have someone sat at a desk taking what we in the trade call 'minutes' and that these go on archive for anyone to examine who feels the need. Makes it seem like a strange comparison.

Pre........

----
My Mobile Phone Comic-books business
Robots!
I know that (3.00 / 1) (#86)
by mami on Tue Jul 10, 2001 at 12:05:05 PM EST

I have answered to that one so often that I am not repeating it again. Pls. read other responses and you will realize that I do understand that reality. I guess if a council meeting or town hall meetings etc are of political, official nature, there are always publicly available archives of the minutes. As it should be. People who talk in those meetings are public officials paid by tax dollars.

Those are public meetings in a legal sense. WWW archives are public forums in a technical sense, but I deny to accept that they are therefore by default public archives in a legal sense, as long someone can point me to the laws that say so.

[ Parent ]
If we outlaw the cold-virus we'll all be healthy! (4.00 / 2) (#88)
by priestess on Tue Jul 10, 2001 at 12:50:56 PM EST

I realise that you understand the reality, though it's more than concievable that somebody would get the idea they can do the impossible and get the copyright angels to remove their words from history just because there's a button there to try and do that to the K5 archive.

I don't really understand the distinction you're trying to draw between a 'legal' sense and a 'technical' sense. If we outlaw gravity will we all spin off into outer space? Would you want some law to put a person in jail for having a cached copy of your deleted comment? I still think that the more obvious it is that your words become public property when you shout them from the internet rooftops, the less likely anyone is to fall into the delusion that they can control the past in some way.

You think your past words are hurting you now, but they won't become unsaid if Rusty deletes them. If they'll stop you getting political office or whatever then they'll still come to light whether they're on K5 or not. I don't see any gain from deleting old comments, except for the saving in the needed storage capacity.

I guess the town meetings you were talking about are non-political ones where nobodies talk to each other with no actual ramifications at all? In the UK we do that in a pub and just call it an evening out rather than a Town Meeting. I suppose the booze helps us to forget what everyone says though.

Pre.......

----
My Mobile Phone Comic-books business
Robots!
[ Parent ]
Without consent ? (4.50 / 2) (#82)
by Eivind on Tue Jul 10, 2001 at 10:39:54 AM EST

There is no other medium, which allows to reveal spontaneity of an individual with all its fallacies and vulnerabilities to a worldwide public and keep it irrevocably archived without consent of the poster.

This is utterly ridiculous. You're ignoring that by submitting his comment to an open and archived forum, like Kuro5hin the post er is consenting to having that comment stored and displayed trough Kuro5hin. (and trough other channels within what is allowed by fair use)

This is not different from all other mediums, like you claim. To the contrary, all media has implicit rules about what happens to your contribution, and contrary to your claim the rule is not typically "Even though I say this, I can delete it and make it unsaid at any future date should I so choose."

An examples illustrates: Send an opinion-piece to a newspaper, and it gets published, as well as archived. If you call the newspaper a month later and ask that they delete your comment, they will not.

If you say something in a public fora, be it on the web, face to face, in a newspaper, on tv or on usenet your words are public. They can come back to haunt you. Learn to live with it. If you don't think you'll be able to defend your words a year from now, don't say them in the first place.

Ridiculous ? - Does technology control the law ? (4.00 / 1) (#85)
by mami on Tue Jul 10, 2001 at 11:57:19 AM EST

You're ignoring that by submitting his comment to an open and archived forum, like Kuro5hin the poster is consenting to having that comment stored and displayed trough Kuro5hin.

Of course, but I do not have to consent to time unlimited archives of my comments, nor do I have to consent to being denied editorial rights to my comments. That is NOT a fate imposed on me by God, it is my right to negotiate this with the archives providers and maintainers, I believe. If they can deny me those rights, then the forum is not a public one, but the private playground of the web site's owners.

I don't think that my statements are ridiculous, I just believe noone has ever tried to challenge in court the implied time unlimited archival rights I seem to have to consent to automatically. But of course, that's exactly what I don't know and the reason why I started this story.

I am not sure, if by default I have to give up my right to deny a newspaper archival rights of a commentary I send them, just because I accept my comment eventually being published by the newspaper ? Publication in a printed version of a newspaper is a single event. Though a newspaper has the right to archive all their own stories (they paid a writer), I doubt that by default the newspaper has a right to archive reader's commentaries in a publicly accessible online archive. I don't know the legal situation, but I would be interested to find out.

I DO understand that TECHNICALLY there is not a hundred percent sure way of preventing further distribution of comments through sites who saved my comments once it was broadcasted. ( I think I repeated that several times already and will not do it again). But that just means that TECHNICALLY my comment can't be prevented from being a public one, it does not mean that I am forced to accept that my comment LEGALLY is also a public one, does it ?

What it boils down to is that I am forced to accept that once broadcasted, because of the fact that the broadcast can't be contained and prevented from further distribution worldwide, that any www archive is a public forum in a legal sense. Why do I have to accept that in a legal sense ?

Where is it written down that just because the technology is such that my comments becomes public and is not irretrievably erasable, that I have to accept that fact as a LEGAL reality as well ?

Who is controlling what ? The technology the law or the law the technology ? That's all I am asking. If you are a lawyer and know the answer, I am all ears.

[ Parent ]

Ridiculous! (4.00 / 2) (#87)
by Biff Cool on Tue Jul 10, 2001 at 12:39:59 PM EST

Of course, but I do not have to consent to time unlimited archives of my comments, nor do I have to consent to being denied editorial rights to my comments.
Nor do you have to post your comments in a public, archived space.
If they can deny me those rights, then the forum is not a public one, but the private playground of the web site's owners.
How does this follow? No one gets to delete their comments, not no one but personal friends of Rusty, or no one but subscribers, no one.
I am not sure, if by default I have to give up my right to deny a newspaper archival rights of a commentary I send them, just because I accept my comment eventually being published by the newspaper ?
What would you like the newspaper to do? Publish your comment with disappearing ink? Burn all the copies of the newspaper after a month? When you submit a comment to the public it becomes public.
it does not mean that I am forced to accept that my comment LEGALLY is also a public one, does it ?
You made a comment in a PUBLIC FORUM, and don't want to accept that it's PUBLIC?  That's why this is so ridiculous.
Where is it written down that just because the technology is such that my comments becomes public and is not irretrievably erasable, that I have to accept that fact as a LEGAL reality as well ?
It's not that technology is surpassing legality here, it's that you are making public statements in a public forum and then saying you don't want to have them be public. Imagine that you stood on a podium talking thru a loadspeaker in the middle of the mall, do you think you've got some legal right to tell everyone listening they can't remember it?

My ass. It's code, with pictures of fish attached. Get over it. --trhurler


[ Parent ]
Ownership of posts on K5 (4.00 / 1) (#90)
by Scribe on Tue Jul 10, 2001 at 04:17:48 PM EST

Most people here seem to be ignoring the fact that K5 makes no claim or assertion that "comments are owned by the posters". In fact, the claimed owner of all posts is a (probably nonexistant) lady in the midwest USA. Can't recall the name of the person or city as I write this.

As I read this, the owners/editors/managers of K5 are explicitly:

  • Disclaiming any responsibility for content of posts.
  • Still removing any control over their posts, once posted, from the posters.




--
Someday I may have a .sig :)
Public Web Archives - Who Should Have Control ? | 95 comments (75 topical, 20 editorial, 0 hidden)
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