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<Russ Carlson>
posted
I am faced with an ethical situation about which I could use some advice.

What do I do, as webmaster and host of this site, when a user chooses to post here under false pretenses?

Case in point- The previous thread, "Dear Mr. Ethics." It seems Mr. Bartum does not exist, at least under that name, and the email address he posted is fictitious. Not a big deal on the Internet, I suppose, but when the discussion is about ethics, and presented in a manner that leads the readers to believe it is a legitimate discussion, I have to question the motives of the originator. The rules of this board request that those posting messages use their real names and addresses, as a courtesy to the readers.

So my question is whether to leave the thread, since perhaps it does offer some discussion of pertinent issues, and recognizing that the comments by ÂBartum cannot be taken a serious discourse, or should I remove the thread from the forum? In 22 months on this board, I have only removed duplicate messages, and few that the poster requested be removed (only 2 or 3). I don't see my job as webmaster as also being a censorer of the discussions. So I would like your comments on what to do with this thread.

Of course, if "Mr. Bartum" chooses to acknowledge his work, I will be happy to insert his real name into the messages.
 
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<Stephen Wiley>
posted
Reply to post by Russ Carlson, on November 26, 1999 at 00:39:06:

Russ,

I have read Mr. Bartum [whoever that may be] posts. And after careful thought decided to not respond as I found his posts to be contradictory. He started his post by accusing *...deference to authority", it appears this is his motive to begin with.

I combined his posts and read them and found that they serve no purpose other than to confuse the reader as to the perpetuity of his problem*.

To the general public reading this thread, Mr. Bartum comments could be taken as representing arborists of which he clearly is not one.

His confusion with the word "good" is obvious. He has no desire to recommend or practice anything that would benefit others.

ADVICE: Maybe a disclaimer, which would be incorporated in this post that states the lack of credibility on the part of Mr. JB.

I would not think that removal of the thread would in anyway conflict with the purpose of this message board. The ethical response to protect the integrity of sound discussion deems it necessary.

Sincerely, Steve
 
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<Peter Torres>
posted
Reply to post by Russ Carlson, on November 26, 1999 at 00:39:06:

It is possible that he changed ISPs. Also, it would be like censorship, or "changing the past", to delete these messages. I have not read that thread, so the content is not my issue. If you delete things because they are offensive to you, for whatever reason, you have become a censor. I am not stating that all censorship at this site is automatically bad.
 
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<Russ Carlson>
posted
Reply to post by Peter Torres, on November 26, 1999 at 00:39:06:

I agree on the censorship part, Peter. AS to changing ISPs... well, freeset.net does not exist anywhere on the Internet, that I could find.
 
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<Scott>
posted
Reply to post by Russ Carlson, on November 26, 1999 at 23:53:19:

I would agree that any honestly expressed opinion should stand. That's what discussion is all about.

I'm not so sure about postings that are simply intended to disrupt or belittle, that are baiting with no clear intent to inform. Anonymity in itself is not bad, some people are shy or maybe they don't want their boss to know they are posting from work (not unethically it was on their break). But coupled with contradictory or offensive language maybe it does signal intent.

Shouting "fire" in a theater is not protected from censorship. There's no threat to life and limb here. But this is not a street corner either. The webmaster has a right to set ground rules for fair and meaningful discussion. People will only participate - that's what it's all about - if they feel they are not wasting their time and won't be belittled or played with.

I trust your judgment Russ.
 
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<Russ Carlson>
posted
Reply to post by Russ Carlson, on November 26, 1999 at 00:39:06:

After consideration of the three response, I see good logic in all of them, and thank all you gentlemen for the courtesy of your replies and opinions.

Removing the thread would seem to be censorship, but it is a privately operated forum, even though it is open to the public.

The thread has a discourse that was intended by those who replied to "Mr. Bartum" to be serious and helpful. There is something more to be learned in the discussion than simply the amusement of the originator at other's expense. So I have decided to leave the thread on the board.

Stephen suggested a disclaimer. That was actually my first thought, and the main reason I started this thread. By simply exposing the ruse for what it is, I think the purpose is served.

I hope this is a fun place to spend some of your online time, and that those who visit find it enlightening and helpful. The topics and discussions are often serious, but there is room for some levity, too. But we can do that and still be honest, or ethical about it.

Russ Carlson, webmaster
 
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You can be as strong as you like. Russ, do not discount your expertise. It is an invaluable tool as an editor, and gives great weight to this forum.

Imagine an internet where there is free reign of discourse. Every forum becomes a blank concrete wall for graffiti, where there is no sanctuary for rational, moderated discussions. Sites where anybody can blantantly misrepresent themselves lose credibility and could potentially push people away.

A well moderated forum creates trust among its contributors. It has a true feeling of community, and helps build stronger bonds between people. Such a forum encourages people to thoroughly think through their posts before they actually submit them, knowing that the words they write will be scrutinized. I believe strictly moderated forums are of higher quality and provide better uses to its members.

Russ, you do a great job (and I have never been introduced). Use your editorial talents to strengthen this project.


--------------------
Jesse Milton
Onebark
 
Posts: 1 | Location: Atlanta | Registered: Thursday August 04, 2005Report This Post
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