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Thread: Edits and forum management

  1. #16
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    Default Focus should be on the issue, not the person.

    I think that if someone is not posting on a thread, then their name should not be used by others. It is a very creepy feeling to find out that someone else felt the need to try and express your thoughts or ideas. There are plenty of ways to relay what you heard, without referencing a specific person, for example:
    "there were public comments at the mtg regarding x topic, which I disagree with...".
    Or, "From what I heard folks saying, it sounds like the issue is...."

    I don't think anyone should be restating someone else's words, using that person's name, unless it is a direct quote. Otherwise, the original message is once removed and only portrays what the second person interpreted was said.

    Jeff- I think we probably agree on many things, nonetheless, the focus should be on the ISSUE, not the PERSON. I think you have been quick to label someone as seemingly against you, when really they have a differing opinion on a certain issue. This is similar to others who don't believe they've been heard, when really the other party heard them, but ultimately did not agree.

    Even with the most volatile issues, civil adults should be able maintain respect, courtesy, and acceptance of opposing views--it may be that you are in complete agreement on something else. If it has become so personal that you cannot tolerate accepting someone else's opinion at face value, I'd say it's time to step back, as it is not constructive.

    Also, I apologize for not acknowledging the bolding- I did add that to illustrate MY point and should have made note of that.

  2. #17
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    Tracy, if I understand your post correctly, you're saying that it's okay to use direct quoting (but only direct quoting) regardless of where that quote is from: the current thread, another thread, or an outside venue.

    In my opinion, that's a bit restrictive. A newspaper reporter wouldn't be wrong to say something along the lines of, "Resident X spoke in favor of the article at last night's Town Meeting," and I don't think that it would be out of place for someone to do the same in this forum.

    If someone takes a public action, that action is "fair game." If someone chooses to relate that action elsewhere, the relating MUST be accurate (but not necessarily word for word), and in my opinion, SHOULD be civil.

  3. #18
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    I'd raise two points based on the last two posts:

    1. Jeff -- who is the arbiter of civil or uncivil? This is a point I have a major problem with. It seems to me a bit totalitarian to have "the admin" be the arbiter because it is really a matter of opinion based on that person's/boards' judgement. Now, I have said many times that this privately owned and obviously all users are subject to the policies of the owner, but I am nervous about a forum that judges the quality of the posts and could arbitrarily edit/delete based on owners' judgement. This is a recipe for creating bias. ENews' boards have seemingly been a place for both sides of an issue to debate freely.

    2. Tracy -- it is not the disagreement that got me going, it is the delivery. I guess it would be hard for me to expect that the deliverer would recognize this, but read back your posts. They are laced with words like "sad" and "pathetic", filled with sarcasm. Mine follow with a similar tone. And so on, and so on in the war of words. Heck yes, people have a breaking point. I'm sure you do too. Stepping back is the "passive" manner of handling your breaking point. I'm not a passive person. You (and others) might not have liked the message, but it was an aggressive response. There were no threats, no violence. There was unpolished and uncensored (other than "bad" words) opinion. My point all along has been that I am OK with this level of free expression in this public forum because you have to own up to your words. You can't hide in anonymity or cowardly throw bombs without everyone else knowing you did it.

    I refer back consistently to the 1st amendment. I live by the credo my journalism professor once taught me -- "If you believe in the 1st amendment, you will use it to support the right of your worst enemy to speak freely." I'm not insinuating anything about anyone using that quote, by the way.

  4. #19
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    One important clarification -- I'm not in favor of people posting gratuitously That is, someone coming on here, off topic, and calling a bunch of people names or dropping insults just for the sake of it. The post should have a point related to the topic of discussion. I re-read my post and envisioned the worst interpretation of it.

  5. #20
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    The content of posts ought to be civil, and I think that it behooves people to think very carefully before being uncivil to their neighbors for several reasons. First, incivility creates an atmosphere of unnecessary tension, and can cause people to feel personally anguished for merely expressing their opinion. Second, in my opinion, an uncivil post always detracts from the point that the poster is trying to make. And, finally, if people think that they are going to be attacked for expressing an unpopular opinion, they may choose not to post, and we may then lose the opportunity to hear that particular point of view. That having been said, civility ought not be used as the subject of editing absent extreme circumstances. It is simply too subjective in nature, and is not the type of speech that, in general, ought to be regulated. However, as with everything else in life, there are going to be gray areas and exceptions. For example, if someone writes a post that is unrelated to the subject matter, and is clearly intended to merely cause harm to an individual, I think that it would be responsible for the board to edit or delete the post. Obviously, with regard to editing, the board must be careful, thoughtful and go out of its way to be sure to not use the power in a biased manner. It's a big responsibility.
    Last edited by Lawrie Glick; 09-19-2008 at 08:16 AM. Reason: correcting typo

  6. #21
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    Lawrie (and everyone else!), thanks for you feedback. Speaking for myself here I have no intention of us wielding a big stick. I take no pleasure in making any changes to any postings, and will make every effort not to do it. I also pledge to be completely upfront about it (as we have been) when we do make edits, and to make them as minimally as possible.

    I share the discomfort many of you have voiced about even the particular edits we have made. It is certainly the case that a statement made at a public meeting is public. However, as several have noted, it is how those statements are represented, and the way in which the presenters are described and addressed that must be (subjectively) evaluated.

    My thoughts in general: Stick to the issues, and not the personalities. Ask yourself when you include someone's name in a posting whether it's necessary, and whether you have treated them respectfully (even if you vehemently disagree with them).

    We will not require Emily Post-style manners, and will make every effort not to make any edits to any posts, or to remove any posts. But we reserve the right to make such changes when necessary. When you have complaints, I welcome you to air them.

  7. #22
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    I'm in substantial agreement with Kim Reichelt's comments (post #21 above) and Lawrie Glick's comments (post #20 above). In an earlier post, Mr. Glick recognized that editing or removing a post for abusiveness/incivility is ultimately a judgment call, and he said "For me, it's like trying to define pornography --- as a Supreme Court Justice stated in a famous case (I can't remember the name of either the judge or the case) --- 'I know it when I see it.' I really don't think that you can create objective standards (other than obvious ones like 'no profanity')." [The famous comment was, I seem to recall, written by Justice Potter Stewart in a 1964 case, Jacobellis v. Ohio.]

    We can hypothesize about the demarcation between "civil" and "incivil" in terms of generalities, but the judgment will come down to the facts of a particular post. Wherever the line is drawn, however, I suspect that most people would agree that posts ##61, 70 and 75 on the "Our School 'Reconfiguration'" thread crossed the line into unacceptable incivility.

    The question then becomes what a responsible Site Administrator should do when such abuse occurs. (Thankfully, this is a very rare occurrence on this website, and I can recall only the three posts that I've mentioned among the hundreds and hundreds that I've read.) This too is a judgment call, and the very limited editing of posts ##61 and 70 to redact the names of abused individuals (and the similarly limited editing of post #75 to redact the name of a non-poster who so requested) left the substance of the posts intact in the words of the posts' authors. This limited approach is quite different from that of the on-line "Town Crier", which deletes an entire post if any part of it is deemed to be abusive.

    If situations arise in the future - which I don't expect to happen - a mature judgment, informed by the principles that Mr. Glick and others have expressed, will have to be made about what is the least amount of intervention that is appropriate to the particulars of a specific post. As a member of the WaylandeNews Board and a committed civil libertarian, I don't expect this to be a problem.
    Last edited by Steve Perlman; 09-19-2008 at 04:11 PM. Reason: correction of typos

  8. #23
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    I would add post 66 to your list as well, Steve. You might not have thought it "uncivil," but I sure did.

  9. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    I would add post 66 to your list as well, Steve. You might not have thought it "uncivil," but I sure did.
    Rather than argue the point, I'd invite interested readers to read Jeff Baron's post #61 on the "Our School 'Reconfiguration'" thread, the exchange at posts ##66-68, and Jeff's post #70, and let them judge for themselves whether Jeff has correctly grasped the concept of incivility.

  10. #25
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    To quote you directly, the "classic he made me do it" defense, right? I "grasp" the concept, Steve.

  11. #26
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    Boys...

    Not sure this last exchange is on topic, or helpful.

  12. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Perlman View Post
    [The famous comment was, I seem to recall, written by Justice Potter Stewart in a 1964 case, Jacobellis v. Ohio.]
    I'm seemingly impressed with your specific recollection. I get the same answer in wikipedia. Imagine that!

  13. #28
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    I'll bet you'll continue to get the same answer in textbooks, case books, treatises, biographies of Justice Stewart and books on the Supreme Court. Seemingly.

  14. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    2. Tracy -- it is not the disagreement that got me going, it is the delivery. I guess it would be hard for me to expect that the deliverer would recognize this, but read back your posts. They are laced with words like "sad" and "pathetic", filled with sarcasm. .
    If you focus on the issue and not the person, the delivery should be irrelevant (as long as it is civil).

    Here is a perfect example of mistating someone else...you quote me as lacing posts with "pathetic". Maybe that is what you perceived Jeff, but I have never used that word in any post on this forum. So please don't give misinformation about me without confirming your quotes. "Sad", on the other hand, is very consistent with how I see some people acting and I believe it is an appropriate description.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    Heck yes, people have a breaking point. I'm sure you do too. Stepping back is the "passive" manner of handling your breaking point. I'm not a passive person. You (and others) might not have liked the message, but it was an aggressive response. .
    I disagree, stepping back is exactly what I think you should've done. It takes alot more stamina and character to hold comments until you are able to express them without utter disrespect for other people. No, it's not a tea party, but it sure shouldn't be so nasty and rude on such a personal level. If you reached a "breaking point" then I'm surprised you didn't try to fix what you broke. Instead you were quite clear that you stand by your words. We all have to live together in this community, Jeff, and nobody deserves the disrespectful words you have written. Your intense anger is no excuse for the posts mentioned above. We are all dealing with inconveniences (yes, that is what I call the busing, lunch, dropoff/pickup problems)- it's how we choose to address them that defines our character. I don't find blame, anger and bullying helpful to an already difficult situation.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    I refer back consistently to the 1st amendment. I live by the credo my journalism professor once taught me -- "If you believe in the 1st amendment, you will use it to support the right of your worst enemy to speak freely." I'm not insinuating anything about anyone using that quote, by the way.
    I have to wonder what your journalism professor would think of your recent posts to me, like this one:

    Originally Posted by Jeff Baron
    "Nobody in that room cared about your perspective, Tracy. You were perceived by all as gloating, arrogant, and obnoxious. That would have been a great opportunity to stay quiet and listen to people whose community you so happily helped to rip apart. Instead, you took the opportunity to blather on in a room full of people (SC and administration excluded, along with the four or five of you who always sit up front and gossip with each other about everyone else in the room) who would be happy to never hear from you again. Don't bother to post about how angry I am, how rude my comments are, etc. I stand behind it all no matter what your response, if any.

    As to staying to listen to the rest, I can only speak for myself but listening to you and XXXX talk is what drove me out of the room. I could not listen to even one more word and have no respect for your point of view as it is both one-sided and totally devoid of sympathy."

  15. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    Tracy, if I understand your post correctly, you're saying that it's okay to use direct quoting (but only direct quoting) regardless of where that quote is from: the current thread, another thread, or an outside venue.

    In my opinion, that's a bit restrictive. A newspaper reporter wouldn't be wrong to say something along the lines of, "Resident X spoke in favor of the article at last night's Town Meeting," and I don't think that it would be out of place for someone to do the same in this forum.

    If someone takes a public action, that action is "fair game." If someone chooses to relate that action elsewhere, the relating MUST be accurate (but not necessarily word for word), and in my opinion, SHOULD be civil.
    If someone is referring back to a written post, they ought to simply link to it. There shouldn't be reason to try and summarize what someone already wrote. Fine to express your own opinion about what someone else said, but not to try and restate their position.

    If someone speaks at a meeting, I don't think it should matter who that person was (unless they are a paid or public official). If you are going to use someone's name, I think it should be a direct quote. I just don't think it is relevant who the public speaker was (unless they wish to identify themselves and summarize their thoughts). I think saying "Last night a resident spoke in favor of x for the following reasons....." should be sufficient and avoids the possibility of 2nd person misrepresentation.

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