Forum rules update

Discussion in 'SF Open Government' started by James R, Aug 7, 2011.

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  1. NMSquirrel OCD ADHD THC IMO UR12 Valued Senior Member

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    all this talk about publishing PM's, does not address any publication as to the author of such PM.

    it is one thing to repost a PM and quite another to post a PM with the name of the person who sent it to you.
     
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  3. Stryder Keeper of "good" ideas. Valued Senior Member

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    True, but in both cases you could ask the initial poster of such a message "Do you mind if I post this in the forum as from Anonymous or with your name"
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2011
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  5. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    Section D.1. "Posting on sciforums is a privilege, not a right. All material published on sciforums is at the discretion of the moderator team."

    Section D.3. "Sciforums is moderated bearing in mind the stated aims and ethos of the forum; we will not be bound by the letter of these rules as written, but by their spirit."

    Section E.11. "Be aware that you may be held legally responsible for any content you submit to sciforums. In particular, beware of posting about your own lawbreaking activities (e.g. consumption of illegal drugs, commission of crimes, illegal downloading)."

    Our policy is that we try to avoid hosting illegal content on sciforums. Incitement to commit illegal acts may or may not be illegal in itself. Either way it is a judgment call as to whether we will host that kind of thing; much of the time I suspect that we'll come down on the side of not choosing to host such material.

    Giving specific advice to those who have committed criminal offences on how best to avoid due legal process seems to me to be exactly the kind of antisocial activity that we do not wish to encourage at sciforums.

    Do you think we need to add something explicit in the rules for the benefit of those like yourself who find it hard to comprehend why a site such as sciforums might not wish to encourage law breaking activities?

    The post that was removed was a pamphlet giving advice to looters and rioters in London about how to avoid due legal process and how to maximise their chances of "getting away with it" (in the author's opinion).

    As a website owner there's no guarantee that you can avoid legal responsibility by claiming that you are not responsible for the material you host, especially if it can be shown that you are aware of the kind of material being posted.

    I see no reason for the administration here to risk legal liability in order to host material that we don't even support.

    In this particular case, the member concerned is not naive, but is a long-standing member of sciforums who knew exactly what he was doing when he posted the material in question. Moreover, he has seen other posters banned for similar activities.

    I expect that a court of law would apply a reasonable person test when it comes to examining the actions of the administrators of a forum like this. The question, in the end, will be whether the administration in all the circumstances has acted in a way that could be expected of a reasonable forum administrator. That will take into account the volume of posts to the forum, the fact that administrators and moderators cannot and do not read every post, the fact that a particular post or thread was brought to the attention of the moderators (or not), and various other factors.

    I am confident that we have nothing to worry about from a legal point of view. In practice, we are much more hassled by the scattergun complaints of disgruntled members than serious complaints from law enforcement agencies.
     
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  7. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    In case there's some confusion, I ought to add:

    Nobody here is claiming that this new set of posting guidelines and "rules" is perfect or set in stone. One purpose of the current thread is to discuss potentially confusing or misleading aspects of the rules, places where there is room for improvement, and even rules that members consider to be unnecessary or inappropriate. This thread is posted in the Open Government forum because we invite questions and comments from members.

    Therefore, I'd like to thank everybody who has asked probing questions that "test" the new ruleset. It's a great way to help us discover any gaps, weaknesses, errors and omissions.

    Neither myself nor the other moderators are here to defend these rules; we're here to discuss them. We will do our best to explain how we think they apply and to answer any questions. Once there's been enough time for discussion, we'll consider any worthwhile amendments. We don't want to be making constant amendments. Moreover, I think there comes a point where making the ruleset more specific and complicated starts to give diminishing returns.

    Finally, I should note that, as usual, different moderators may well have different views on the rules and how they apply in specific situations, in the same way that general members differ in their opinions. The moderator group has already had some discussions and disagreements about these rules, but we're at the stage where we think it is appropriate to have public discussions as well.
     
  8. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    It is possible to report a PM - there is a "report" button in the right upper corner of the PM, just like with open-forum posts.
    So PM's are (potentially) subject to moderation.

    I imagine the main purpose of this is that a poster is able to report another poster if that poster was harrassing him in private or otherwise promulgated problematic content.
     
  9. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    The Law enforcement accepts responsibility to police the illegal activities of the citizens; and the citizens are considered solely liable for what they do.

    The Law enforcement is not obligated to prevent crime; they are only obligated to persecute a committed crime (within legal constraints).
     
  10. KilljoyKlown Whatever Valued Senior Member

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    I hope you really meant Prosecute, although I kind of like the idea of persecuting the criminals.
     
  11. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

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    Errr... so there is not an actual prohibition on publicizing PMs, just a prohibition on upsetting other posters, as such, then? And I don't see where Tiassa indicated that such a publicizer risked anything more than the scorn of whoever wrote the publicized messages.

    This does not square with your previous assertion that PMs are private and that publicizing them is itself an offense. I thought we'd attained some clarity on this question, but now it seems we're back to where we started.
     
  12. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

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    Right - the way that last clause is written, with the emphasis on "you may be held legally responsible," reads too narrowly. It should reflect site policy towards such content more holistically and accurately. I.e., something like:

    ... should be edited in to the rules and guidelines somewhere.

    Also something explicit about the potential for ban sanctions against posters (above and beyond simple removal of material deemed a liability), presumably in the "bannable offenses" section, would be appropriate.

    I think the rules and guidelines should clearly reflect the actuality of policy, and that such clarity will save everyone involved a lot of time and headaches in the long run.

    That's another sentence that might be profitably edited into the rules and guidelines somewhere.

    Has he? I'm neither naive nor fresh-faced, but I couldn't cite a precedent for this offhand. Not saying it doesn't exist, just that the assumption everyone reliably notices and keeps track of all of that stuff isn't such a great one. The explicit rules and guidelines being a means of addressing exactly that, naturally.
     
  13. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    On Private Messages

    Stryder, Quadraphonics

    I believe you are also considering the difference between then and now.

    What I offered Quadraphonics was a brief capsule of my understanding of community history on the subject. It is from these precedents I derived my advice on the point.

    I would suggest that the forum rules posted on August 6 would supersede my advice from July 15.

    From there, I would point to James' advice yesterday:

    "Nobody here is claiming that this new set of posting guidelines and 'rules' is perfect or set in stone. One purpose of the current thread is to discuss potentially confusing or misleading aspects of the rules, places where there is room for improvement, and even rules that members consider to be unnecessary or inappropriate. This thread is posted in the Open Government forum because we invite questions and comments from members."​

    And that, I believe, is where the issue of private message contents rests: Those messages are private unless revealed (A) with the specific consent of the original author; (B) in the course of official and necessary site business, provided adequate cause exists; or (C) under other pressing circumstances reasonably justifying the communication of such details, a hypothetical data set intended not to suggest easy liberty to disclose, but, rather, to avoid circumstances in which the previous explicit conditions describe too narrow a set of customary permissions.

    Easy enough.
     
  14. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    I think it's pretty clear in the rules. Members should not publicise PMs without the express permission of their authors.

    Ok. Thanks for the feedback. I'll keep it in mind.

    I agree.
     
  15. NMSquirrel OCD ADHD THC IMO UR12 Valued Senior Member

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    so you are saying i can't even cut/paste a PM even if it is anonymous?

    If that is the case, better delete the thread 'is this right?'
     
  16. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    The example you give is a borderline case. Even if you leave out the writer's name, others may be able to identify that person from the writing style and/or content.

    Certainly if the member in question complained about his/her private message being reposted, we'd look into the matter and look at either a warning or (for a blatant example or a repeat offender) a ban.
     
  17. Varda The Bug Lady Valued Senior Member

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    What if the pm is extremely insulting?
     
  18. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    If you receive an extremely insulting PM, you can report it and/or send it to a moderator who can look at it and take action.
     
  19. Orleander OH JOY!!!! Valued Senior Member

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    I sent Shorty PMs of this

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    and she bitched.
     
  20. Varda The Bug Lady Valued Senior Member

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    So it is ok to show a pm to someone as long as he's a moderator and the pm is insulting.
     
  21. Mr MacGillivray Banned Banned

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    That's nice, because you can heavily modify a PM when you forward it.
     
  22. Pinwheel Banned Banned

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    Thats OK admins can read other peoples PMs if they want. I'm sure most do.
     
  23. geekzilla Banned Banned

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    What about a PM that insults one's intelligence?
     
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