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Thread: Is the website WaylandSchoolCommittee.org legal and appropriate?

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  1. #1
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    Default Is the website WaylandSchoolCommittee.org legal and appropriate?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    This privately funded web site is linked to from the publicly-funded Wayland Public Schools website (see http://www.wayland.k12.ma.us/distric...ttee/index.htm). Is this really a true separation of church and state when, to the average person, it looks like the publicly funded website is directing you to an "official" website for the School Committee. I'd say Mr. Dieffenbach's assertion above is not so concrete.
    www.waylandschoolcommittee.org *IS* the official web site of the Wayland School Committee. Both the "linking" WPS page (cited by Mr. Baron, above) and the "linked" WSC page clearly state the WSC site's purpose.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    www.waylandschoolcommittee.org *IS* the official web site of the Wayland School Committee. Both the "linking" WPS page (cited by Mr. Baron, above) and the "linked" WSC page clearly state the WSC site's purpose.
    No, it is the official website of five people (owned by Mr. Dieffenbach, not the town) who contribute their own funds to advocate for things like an override, along with providing information about what the school committee is doing. An official school committee website is, in my opinion, funded publicly and free of opinion/propoganda/etc. I'm not saying I think the private one is wrong or bad, but it is not what I would think of as an official site for a publicly elected body and I don't think the link is appropriate as it can be very easily misleading to people not paying close attention.

    Whether the links are accompanied by explanations or not, it still is a publicly funded website providing links to information that takes a political stance. It really is not a lot different, again in my opinion, to have this link on the School's website than the link in Charlie Schlegel's e-mail directing people to override information.

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    I registered www.waylandschoolcommittee.org, and I maintain it as webmaster, but I am not its owner--that role is served by the Wayland School Committee (WSC).

    The site is the official site of the WSC because that's the Committee's position. This fact doesn't change because someone other than the WSC wishes otherwise, even if he or she wishes really hard.

    I cannot speak for the other members of the WSC, but in my opinion, the site wasn't designed for people who choose not to pay attention to it, its front-and-center caveat, or the same caveat immediately adjacent to the link on the Wayland Public Schools site. Rather, quite the opposite.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    An official school committee website is, in my opinion, funded publicly and free of opinion/propoganda/etc.
    One other thing--are you really saying that a committee shouldn't be able to express an opinion on an ''official'' web site (and perhaps other places)? Such a limitation would not only impede public officials from carrying out their responsibilities and serving the community, it would go far beyond what even the OCPF prohibits.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    One other thing--are you really saying that a committee shouldn't be able to express an opinion on an ''official'' web site (and perhaps other places)? Such a limitation would not only impede public officials from carrying out their responsibilities and serving the community, it would go far beyond what even the OCPF prohibits.
    Nope, look at my original answer on this. I said that there is nothing wrong or bad about a site where the SC chooses to advocate for their positions. Good for you for going the extra mile and funding it.

    However, the current path is cloaked in misperception (not evil intent, mind you). The privately-funded site contains key documents from meetings for public consumption, it links back to the Wayland Public Schools website for agenda/minutes, etc. It also mixes in opinion and politics. This would not be acceptable on www.wayland.k12.ma.us and it should not be acceptable on your site either unless it is COMPLETELY separate. Right now, it is not.

    I'm not so sure the OCPF would say this is allowed like this. Have they ruled on the appropriateness of this site? Maybe I'm wrong here...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    Nope, look at my original answer on this. I said that there is nothing wrong or bad about a site where the SC chooses to advocate for their positions.
    In Post #15, you said "An official school committee website is, in my opinion, funded publicly and free of opinion/propoganda/etc." So I asked, do you really mean that an official site should be free of opinion?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    However, the current path is cloaked in misperception (not evil intent, mind you).
    I don't know what "cloaked in misperception" means. Are you saying that either the WPS or the WSC site isn't clear about the latter's purpose? Or are you saying that a visitor who isn't paying attention might miss the latter's purpose?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    The privately-funded site contains key documents from meetings for public consumption, it links back to the Wayland Public Schools website for agenda/minutes, etc. It also mixes in opinion and politics. This would not be acceptable on www.wayland.k12.ma.us and it should not be acceptable on your site either unless it is COMPLETELY separate.
    "Entirely separate" seems to miss the whole point of Al Gore's Internet. In addition to eBay, YouTube, and The Onion, the Internet is blessed by the invention of the hyperlink, which provides for pathways between information without a link's creator necessarily taking a position on the destination. One may certainly choose not to follow a hyperlink, of course, Dawn Davies and Wayland eNews being perhaps the most notable example of such restraint.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    In Post #15, you said "An official school committee website is, in my opinion, funded publicly and free of opinion/propoganda/etc." So I asked, do you really mean that an official site should be free of opinion?
    Yes, I really mean that a governmental site that purports to provide official information such as agendas, minutes, committee documents, etc. should be free of political opinion. I'm not saying, however, there is no place for political opinion. It is just not here. Your Wayland blog is a perfect place for it. Here is a perfect place for it. Letters to the editor are a perfect place for it. I'm sure there are many other examples.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    I don't know what "cloaked in misperception" means. Are you saying that either the WPS or the WSC site isn't clear about the latter's purpose? Or are you saying that a visitor who isn't paying attention might miss the latter's purpose?
    I'm saying it is VERY easy for the average reader of the site to miss the fact that this is not officially connected to the public school site. The misperceptions come from the cross-links, the document postings, etc. I see the disclaimers, but the perception of the site trumps those in a NY minute. I guess, to your question above, a bit of both in your scenarios above.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    "Entirely separate" seems to miss the whole point of Al Gore's Internet. In addition to eBay, YouTube, and The Onion, the Internet is blessed by the invention of the hyperlink, which provides for pathways between information without a link's creator necessarily taking a position on the destination. One may certainly choose not to follow a hyperlink, of course, Dawn Davies and Wayland eNews being perhaps the most notable example of such restraint.
    I disagree, Jeff. It is the obligation of the School Committee (or any other governmental body, for that matter) to completely disassociate its private website with the official website publicly paid for by us, the taxpayers. That's been my point all along. I know what's possible, but I ask is it appropriate? To the point of answering questions, has the OCPF been asked about this website and its appropriateness? If yes, and they approved, then my opinion is moot. To quote Dr. Burton..."I'd really like to know."
    Last edited by Jeff Baron; 07-01-2008 at 07:46 AM. Reason: Fixes quote formatting

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    Default I just couldn't resist

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    I propose several new measures:

    = A "Flah" is sort of like a degree of separation. It measures the number of thread responses before the elementary school reconfiguration is brought up. For instance, this thread measures 1 Flah. By comparison, the "Middlesex Superior Court ..." thread measures 4 Flahs.

    = A "Feid" (pronounced "fide") is a measure of spin ("Feid" is "Dief" spun around, get it?). The more someone spins a topic, the more Feids they rate. Unlike Flahs, though, Fieds are qualitative/subjective, and therefore harder to assign.

    But Jeff you forgot...
    According to a theory in sub-atomic physics if you extrapolate from your spin theorem and assume that the the number 0 is even then "Feid" count can only exist when you spin an odd number of times.

    If you spin an even number of times then you still have a Dief. So you have to be very careful about the number of times you spin.

    From a quick analysis, I believe that the Loker reconfig spin count is current at the level of a 'Dief'

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    Quote Originally Posted by AlanJReiss View Post
    And yes, Jeff D is the almighty registrar of www.WaylandSchoolCommittee.org so if Jeff wants to make a flood there he can.
    Technically, I'm the registrant, not the registrar. To check this, I went to Network Solutions' WHOIS page for www.waylandschoolcommittee.org to get the terminology correct.

    Since I registered the site on behalf of the School Committee more than six years ago, I hope that I'll be forgiven for not remembering the details. So, what did I find when I checked the registration today?

    Well, both the "Registrant Organization" and the "Admin Organization" are listed as the Wayland School Committee. I find it interesting that none of the people taking exception to the ownership and control of the WSC web site chose to indicate that simple fact.

    Maybe, like me, they never thought to look. Maybe they looked and saw it, but didn't want to undermine their already tenuous arguments. So far, unable to come up with a logical, legal, or ethical complaint, the best they've been able to do is repeat the weak "I don't like like it, it's bad, but I can't articulate a convincing reason why" line of attack.

    To be fair to Dave Bernstein, he did eventually manage a novel line of thinking about a highly unlikely event: *IF* a future minority of the WSC managed to hijack the site and use it improperly (most likely, to send an unsolicited communication regarding a ballot question), the majority of the WSC would not have a legal recourse to correct the site. (Pretty cool how I "quadruple emphasized" the "if," huh? [grin])

    Even that one surviving line of thinking evaporates in the face of the Wayland School Committee's March 2002 registration of its official web site.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    Well, both the "Registrant Organization" and the "Admin Organization" are listed as the Wayland School Committee. I find it interesting that none of the people taking exception to the ownership and control of the WSC web site chose to indicate that simple fact.
    Maybe, like me, they never thought to look. Maybe they looked and saw it, but didn't want to undermine their already tenuous arguments. So far, unable to come up with a logical, legal, or ethical complaint, the best they've been able to do is repeat the weak "I don't like like it, it's bad, but I can't articulate a convincing reason why" line of attack.
    More hand-waving.

    Here’s the registration information from the WhoIs database:

    Domain Name:WAYLANDSCHOOLCOMMITTEE.ORG
    Created On:09-Mar-2002 18:03:19 UTC
    Last Updated On:06-May-2008 00:27:43 UTC
    Registrant Name:Jeff Dieffenbach
    Registrant Organization:Wayland School Committee
    Registrant Street1:16 Pleasant Street
    Registrant Street2:
    Registrant Street3:
    Registrant City:Wayland
    Registrant State/Province:MA
    Registrant Postal Code:01778
    Registrant Country:US
    Registrant Phone:+1.5086551196
    Registrant Phone Ext.:
    Registrant FAX:
    Registrant FAX Ext.:
    Registrant Email:dieffenbach@alum.mit.edu
    Admin Name:Jeff Dieffenbach
    Admin Organization:Wayland School Committee
    Admin Street1:16 Pleasant Street
    Admin Street2:
    Admin Street3:
    Admin City:Wayland
    Admin State/Province:MA
    Admin Postal Code:01778
    Admin Country:US
    Admin Phone:+1.5086551196
    Admin Phone Ext.:
    Admin FAX:
    Admin FAX Ext.:
    Admin Email:dieffenbach@alum.mit.edu

    You are both the registrant and the administrator; that’s your name, your address, your phone number, and your email address in the domain's registration and administration records. To verify this, see
    http://switchboard.intelius.com/resu...ffenbach&qs=MA

    While the Registrant Organization and Admin Organization are specified as Wayland School Committee, this hardly ensures that WSC could rapidly gain control of content on the site should there be a future dispute over content. As the administrator, you could change the Registrant Organization and Admin Organization at any time. My money would be on you to prevail in any such dispute.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    To be fair to Dave Bernstein, he did eventually manage a novel line of thinking about a highly unlikely event: *IF* a future minority of the WSC managed to hijack the site and use it improperly (most likely, to send an unsolicited communication regarding a ballot question), the majority of the WSC would not have a legal recourse to correct the site. (Pretty cool how I "quadruple emphasized" the "if," huh? [grin])
    The assertion with which I joined this thread was that the hyperlink from the public WPS web page to the private WSC site that you manage is inappropriate. During the ensuing discussion, you revealed the potential for WSC to lose control over the content of its web site should you refuse to execute a decision. This is an all-too-common pattern: the more closely you examine a poorly-designed system, the more flaws you find. Sometimes, a flaw you expose is worse than the one with which you started --as may be the case here.

    Dave

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Bernstein View Post
    You are both the registrant and the administrator; that’s your name, your address, your phone number, and your email address in the domain's registration and administration records.
    If the process isn't overly cumbersome (for instance, requiring the services of a notary public, or a DNA sample), I'll look into changing the address, phone number, and email address over to those of the Wayland Public Schools. I'll leave my name, as I'm both the one who registered and the one who administers. I wouldn't want to mislead anyone.

    I'm so relieved that our planets will now finally be fully in alignment. [grin]
    Last edited by Jeff Dieffenbach; 07-14-2008 at 06:25 AM. Reason: Improved phraseology

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    Default Jeff while your at it...

    Instead of turning over the registration to the members of the SC who are dynamic and are potentially ever changing (and would not alleviate the basic problem of private-to-public hyperlinkage on a site that advocates for ballot questions that us public money to do so..)

    JUST TURN OVER THE REGISTER TO THE
    Town of Wayland Massachusetts and then we're DONE talking about this.

    Oh and don't worry, I don't mind my tax dollars paying that $120 / year for registration and bandwidth and I don't mind my tax dollars paying for the time of a TOWN EMPLOYEE updating the site as per the OPEN MEETING decisions of the SC.

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    And so your pattern repeats again. First, some belligerent hand-waving:

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    Well, both the "Registrant Organization" and the "Admin Organization" are listed as the Wayland School Committee. I find it interesting that none of the people taking exception to the ownership and control of the WSC web site chose to indicate that simple fact.

    Maybe, like me, they never thought to look. Maybe they looked and saw it, but didn't want to undermine their already tenuous arguments. So far, unable to come up with a logical, legal, or ethical complaint, the best they've been able to do is repeat the weak "I don't like it, it's bad, but I can't articulate a convincing reason why" line of attack.
    Then after your hand-waving is exposed as utter – excuse my politeness – nonsense, comes the band-aid:

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    If the process isn't overly cumbersome (for instance, requiring the services of a notary public, or a DNA sample), I'll look into changing the address, phone number, and email address over to those of the Wayland Public Schools. I'll leave my name, as I'm both the one who registered and the one who administers. I wouldn't want to mislead anyone.
    And you conclude without an ounce of sheepishness or sincerity:

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    I'm so relieved that our planets will now finally be fully in alignment.
    You bring to mind that old chestnut about newly-minted MBAs: Rarely correct, but never in doubt.

    The practical way to assure WSC’s control over the content of its web pages is for those web pages to be hosted on the WPS public site. Bob and weave all you like; you’re fooling no one.

    Dave

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    Quote Originally Posted by AlanJReiss View Post
    The [www.waylandschoolcommittee.org] site has the direct name of an official town committee and one that he [Jeff Dieffenbach] is on and has been chair of. The site collects email address's (albeit with an opt out).
    The site does no such thing. It collects email addresses with an explicit opt-in. That's an important distinction.

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanJReiss View Post
    The site contains a lengthy and carefully crafted disclaimer to make it more palatable with its link to www.wayland.ma.us and finally the site is well known to advocate for ballot questions.
    What is wrong with the disclaimer being either lengthy (if 22 words rises to that level) or carefully crafted?
    Last edited by Jeff Dieffenbach; 07-15-2008 at 11:56 AM. Reason: Typo corrected

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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    The site does not such thing. It collects email addresses with an explicit opt-in. That's an important distinction.

    What is wrong with the disclaimer being either lengthy (if 22 words rises to that level) or carefully crafted?
    Jeff, I think its a fine disclaimer, a well worded one, well crafted and one that makes you feel good about doing this. And you know, if I weren't a Wayland taxpayer, I would feel good about you feeling good.

    Funny I didn't see a disclaimer on the ConCom or Police or Fire or Board of Health or Landfill or Tresurer or Collector or Assessor or Selectmen websites? Huh? Why not?

    Don't they want to feel good too?

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