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Thread: Edits and forum management

  1. #61
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lawrie Glick View Post
    Why isn't it acceptable to quote or paraphrase a resident's comment at a public meeting? If a resident speaks out in a public forum on an issue, it may very well be relevant to me who the speaker is. For example, there are people in town who do their homework and a thoughtful analysis before making a public statement, and, there are people who, for me, simply don't have as much credibility. In other words, it can certainly be a material part of the story, and should, in most cases, not be censored. I don't think that a person who either supports or criticizes a proposition in a public forum ought to have an expectation of privacy with regard to their opinion. They are publicly entering the debate and attempting to influence the opinions of others, and it is fair for others to publicly respond to them. As an example, if a prominent person in town, who is not a public official, publicly states an opinion on an issue, shouldn't it be fair game for someone to point out in this forum that such person may have a conflict of interest with regard to that issue? And, I don't think that the litmus test ought to be whether or not the person utilizes this forum. It would be like saying that the Globe should not mention a person's name unless that person reads the Globe. It is easy enough for someone to contact the person and point out that their public statement is being discussed on Waylandenews. They would then have the option of responding if they choose. On the other hand, I think that it is legitimate for the editorial board to develop and enforce rules of civility, and to prohibit and censor name calling, ad hominem attacks, ridicule, attempts to embarass, and other things of that nature.
    Lawrie, you state your case well, and a part of me completely agrees.

    Here are the two cases I can think of where we deleted names from posts along the lines of Jeff's Q02:
    http://www.waylandenews.com/forum/sh...=1177#post1177
    http://www.waylandenews.com/forum/sh...=1178#post1178

    In each case, a private individual was mentioned by name based on comments they had made at a public meeting. That meeting was taped, and is undoubtedly available somewhere (were it a more recent meeting, it would be available on WayCAM's On-Demand)

    In the first case, we had a quote (I can't comment on its accuracy), in the second case a reference to an individual without saying specifically what the person had said. I do not believe the individuals' names were material to the points being made, and in both cases, the individuals were very concerned about their names being included. These posts were made during a very heated, emotional period, in which animosities were developing, even old friendships being severed, over the school reconfiguration. Given the heat of the debate, the lack of need for the names in the posts, and the specific requests of individuals, do we really need the names? Would it have been right to have left them in despite the requests? I don't ask this because I presume that I have all the answers, but because I am curious what others think looking back on this with over a year later.

  2. #62
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    Lawrie, I agree.

    In general--I think that it's great that we're having this conversation so that the WEN Editorial Board can flesh out its policy so that we aren't all guessing about what's allowed and what's not. Note that one of WEN's objectives is to increase DF participation--it's possible that they'll conclude that a bit more privacy than what you ouline will help with that participation. Of course, at present, only a few people contribute, so it's hard to argue that the current policy hurts participation.

  3. #63
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    Lawrie, I agree.

    In general--I think that it's great that we're having this conversation so that the WEN Editorial Board can flesh out its policy so that we aren't all guessing about what's allowed and what's not. Note that one of WEN's objectives is to increase DF participation--it's possible that they'll conclude that a bit more privacy than what you ouline will help with that participation. Of course, at present, only a few people contribute, so it's hard to argue that the current policy hurts participation.
    Here's the text of an email I received from a person who reads but does not participate in the Discussion Forum just after the postings and edits had been made:

    "I'm afraid I'm not well versed enough in the policies of the message boards on Wayland Enews to know whether the boards are moderated. However, I am writing to request that you do something about the personal attacks that have been evident in recent days on the School Reconfiguration message board. These personal attacks, which name people by name and are positively aggressive in their tone and intentionally insulting in the way they are worded, are simply unacceptable in a community forum. I understand that by requiring real names from posters, Wayland Enews is a vast improvement over the TownOnline boards. However, these are attacks directed at specific individuals that I suspect would have been shut down by now if the same were posted to TownOnline.

    I think Wayland Enews provides a valuable service to the Wayland community, but I wouldn't dream of posting my thoughts for fear of being mocked, insulted, and sneered at by a small group of posters who seem to be riding rough-shod over anyone with a differing opinion. I come to Wayland Enews for the exchange of information and ideas, but in some quarters the Enews has disintegrated into a bully pulpit.

    Thank you very much for devoting what must be a considerable amount of time to providing the Wayland Enews.

    Back then, Lawrie, you wrote:

    Quote Originally Posted by Lawrie Glick View Post
    Kim, I think that the edits you are talking about are the ones where you deleted the names of individuals referred to in posts, and I also seem to remember that most (maybe all) of them were names of people who do not participate in this forum. I really dislike the idea of changing what people write except in pretty extreme situations. I must say that I have mixed feelings about these deletions. On one hand, it seems somewhat unfair to post about a person who does not participate in this forum, because they will not be in a position to correct the record or to defend or explain themselves. On the other hand, if someone does something or says something publicly about a public issue, it is ordinarily fair for others to comment on their actions or statements in a forum such as this. I think ultimately, I have no problem with regard to the specific deletions you made, because my memory is that the insertion of their names was gratuitous, and did nothing to substantively advance any argument. In other words, in those instances, knowing the specific names was not helpful. All in all, I think that these decisions must be made on a case-by-case basis, with the presumption being that a post will not be changed absent a compelling reason. 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").
    I agree with you. Not exactly sure how to codify the "I know it when I see it" criteria, but I would like to have as well-defined a policy as possible. There's been a lot of interesting debate in this thread, and it would be probably serve me well to go back and re-read it all.

  4. #64
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    Wait, the DF is considering a move to pornography? Well, that may at least help with participation ...

  5. #65
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    Wait, the DF is considering a move to pornography? Well, that may at least help with participation ...
    Hmmm, tough call. I think the Editorial Board is going to need to weigh in on this one.

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