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Thread: What do you think about the policy requiring user identification?

  1. #16
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    Angry No you hang on a second Jeff...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    (2) that the person who misappropriated soswayland.com knows you. I don't interpret any of this as accusing you of wrong-doing.
    Not correct Jeff,
    This is what DUSK said:

    "I guess the person who posted former selectman Reiss' video on their hijacked site probably has something to do with Mr. Reiss."

    HAS SOMETHING TO DO is the operational phrase here.
    This is much broader than knowing me... lots of people know me and lots of people know you.

    HAS SOMETHING TO DO with Mr. Dieffenbach .... by your analysis would be just as appropriate. Would you have accepted that?

    And wouldn't you feel just as uneasy about that broad brush innuendo?
    This is ploy of guilt by association and DUSK does this anonymously as a coward. Doing this anonymously means I can't even face my accuser because the accuser is masked.

    How does that play to the character of DUSK? I shutter to think whether or not this person is associated with our schools or school athletics or team sports? Does this person interact with our children? Is this a person who interacts with our town? I get a very uneasy feeling about this individual whoever he or she may be.

    Jeff, I'm surprised that you have analyzed this situation the way you did and have come to this conclusion.

    On Monday I will see what my options are with the Crier on this.

  2. #17
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    Default

    I think that the ultimate question here may be: "what type of discourse would you like to see on this board." Jeff is without doubt correct that if everyone is required to identify themselves, both the tone and the level of accountability are increased. I am not so sure that we should worry so much about the tone of the discourse. I think that public discussions of issues that are truly important to people, and are relevant to their lives, particularly issues related to their children, homes, economic survival, health care, etc., if they are to be candid, direct and to the point, may well have an edge to them. Disagreement on important issues is many times difficult and uncomfortable. But, I believe that it is through the rough and tumble of the marketplace of ideas that realistic and creative solutions are most likely to arise. There is a big difference between stating a position with a direct and edgy tone and making personal, malicious attacks on others. I respectfully suggest that we not be so concerned about the tone of a post, and that we try to figure out a way to deal separately with the personal, malicious attacks.

    With regard to accountability, I think that the marketplace, to some degree, takes care of that also. I think that people, without even thinking about it, ascribe less credibility to an anomymous post than one in which the writer is identified.

  3. #18
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    Default

    Alan, fair enough, "has something to do with" implies a tighter connection that "knows."

    For what it's worth, I didn't remember seeing the original post by Dusk and upon reading it at your suggestion, didn't see it as indicting of you in any way. Without knowing Dusk's intent (there's the problem of anonymity rearing its ugly head again!), I still don't read it as being accusative of you.

    Regardless, I have absolutely ZERO reason to think now that you had anything to do with registering or misusing soswayland.com, nor did that thought EVER cross my mind when I first heard about the abuse.

  4. #19
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    Default OK Jeff.. thanks..

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    Regardless, I have absolutely ZERO reason to think now that you had anything to do with registering or misusing soswayland.com, nor did that thought EVER cross my mind when I first heard about the abuse.
    Alright Jeff, I appreciate the calming words this morning...
    My intent is to move on, campaign and if I am honored by Wayland to regain my selectman seat again then I will pour my life into that responsibility and do the very I can to add another voice, a different voice to the discussion.

    In the past I have posted on the Crier and ultimately, when you do that, you find that you enter discussion with anonymous people. In the vast majority of cases I have found that civil and thoughtful discussion does not follow and that things are said to discredit and to further suck one down the never ending hole of circularity. A great deal of time can be wasted talking to ghosts. I just won't do it anymore.

    You, Jeff.. frequently relay conversations back to enews. I think I really appreciate why you do that now more than ever. I would love to have an open discussion which addresses motives, issues and accusations with anybody who wants to front their name, just like me.

    So I'm going to take this opportunity to answer something written on the Crier by a *new* poster (ya right [grin] ) named 'Leadership'

    "If you and others who want a duplicate presentation by town leaders, why doesn't someone else invite the principles as SOS did? Oh, that's right, it is easier to whine about fairness instead of taking some initiative. Time for you, Mr. Reiss, WVN and who ever else is complaining to organize you own meeting if you truly want one."

    Here is my response.
    The first action I took was to see if the meeting was open to the public by asking for a self invite. It was not open to the general public but only the active volunteers of SOS.

    The second action was to ask our town administrator for the same exact meeting to be held by the same exact people at town hall for the rest of us.

    The third action I took was to send a formal letter of request to our town administrator for an identical meeting at town hall and asked that the letter be placed into the communications packet.

    The letter was not placed (I was told by clerical accident) and I was also told that my formal request letter would be in the administrators packet for this Monday and that a discussion would occur. I'm looking forward to seeing that.

    The forth action I took was to write an open letter to the Board of Selectmen providing a rationale and asking for a meeting of a group called the 'Wayland 13,000' and my living room is town hall. I then attached my personal video to my article which anybody can do upon request. The video posted was not done for the benefit of the editor or his letter it was done as part of my own letter. So don't be confused about that.

    So if 'Leadership' is reading this then 'it' will not need to keep spinning on the concept that all I'm doing is complaining and not trying to organize another meeting. In fact, all I'm doing is organizing for the rest of us. Perhaps, DUSK and LEADERSHIP were at the SOS meeting and they don't need this follow up.

    And that too, might explain a lot.

  5. #20
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Lawrie Glick View Post
    Do they add to or detract from the debate? I'd be curious as to your opinions.
    As much as I think people should back what they say with their name, I do agree that some of the anonymous posters (for example WaylandForever and Dusk) post excellent points that anyone reading needs to see. If they had real names I'd like to thank them. I'm unsure why a couple of posters (e.g. one who goes by her real name and Waylandfornow) are so angry, negative and sour on Wayland. It must be exhausting living with such bitterness and I can't help but wonder why they stay here if they are truly so dissatisfied.

    This is an amazing town and we are lucky to have such great schools (teachers), administrators and elected officials. When we disagree, it should be with respect and ultimately we all need to accept the will of the voters. Our elected boards are made up of volunteers. The majority of people voted them in to make difficult decisions for our town. Offering opinion is one thing, but a small group of people around here seem entitled to blaming and harassing these folks when things don't go as they feel is "right". I think anonymity can enable this behavior. I guess there is a place for anonymity, but I hope it isn't here!! I've always found this board to be a place for respectful discussion--although it does seem to be the same people who post alot.

    I would just encourage anyone who takes the time to blog alot, to also use their time to join groups, committees, and volunteer organizations for the betterment of Wayland, not simply to bash others work. Maybe off topic, but frankly, I was surprised that some of the most vocal folks who routinely write and attend school mtgs criticizing decisions, did not join the Futures group. Perfect opportunity to have a constructive voice during the process, instead of shouting from the sidelines.

  6. #21
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    Default Perspective from a potential anonymous poster

    I received the following note from a Discussion Forum reader who does not post because she would require anonymity to be comfortable participating (though not, perhaps, for the reasons you might expect...) -Kim


    She writes:

    I can't post my thoughts on Wayland eNews discussion board regarding the user identification policy - since I do not have an account and I will not have an account unless I can have an anonymous user name. I try to be vigilant about protecting my privacy on the web. I do not post my last name, address, phone number, husband or daughters name, photos, etc. I don't have a MySpace or FaceBook page. I don't even use my last name in my e-mail address. On a regular basis, I google myself. And then I try my best to remove any data that comes up. I'm concerned about maintaining my privacy. I was stalked once - a long time ago. Granted it was pre-Internet times. But I'm sure there are many other people who also try to protect their privacy on the net.

    Just a couple thoughts on the user identification policy. Even with the current required identification, I have found there is plenty of heated discussion on the Wayland eNews boards - mainly I'm thinking of the conversations between Jeff D. and John F. in any thread that has to do with the schools. But I also believe that there can be intelligent discussion, opposing opinions, and respectable posts with anonymous user names. I think it would be important to find a way to make sure people choose a user name and stick to that user name. To be honest, I haven't read the "code of conduct" for the boards, but I'm sure it is the standard lingo on being respectful, no personal attacks, no foul language, etc. As long as somebody posts within these guidelines - and the boards remain civil - then I'm not sure of the harm on letting people post anonymously.

    In this discussion thread on the board - someone makes the point of "wanting to know their accuser". And I kinda wonder how imporatnat it is to know that person's name? Do they also want to know address, phone number and Social Secutiry Number? What difference will it make if you know that FirstNameLastName has said something negative about you? Versus knowing that WittyUserName said somthing negative about you? As long as the comment was made, and adheres to the message board guidelines, is it that important? By knowing my name, is he/she going to come knocking on my door for a showdown? I guess that would be another reason for me wanting to remain anonymous.

    To be honest, even if you did allow anonymous user names, I'm not sure how much I would actually post. Overall I'm just not the type to post on message boards on a regular basis.

    Just thought I would send you a quick note to let my opinions be known. I appreciate Wayland ENews, and I do enjoy reading the message boards. Being relatively new in town, I have found the site a valuable resource to help me learn more about town. I definitely want the boards to remain.

    Thanks for reading/listening.

  7. #22
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    Wink I understand but....

    A named discussion forum guarantees people will communicate with each other as they would face to face. Each knowing the other.

    An anonymous discussion forum acts more like vehicular road rage where people communicate with 1,000's of pounds of metal surrounding them and 100's of horsepower available to quickly speed them away.

    After posting on both types of sites, I would prefer to remain on the named discussion forum and since I preferred to be named then posting as a named individual on a board which allows anonymous posters then this creates a problem for me.

    The problem is the creation of an asymmetry where the named person tries to speak as if their own reputation and good name is behind it and while the anonymous poster only has to defend the reputation of a handle that is transient and has no vested interest in its good name. When that handle is discontinued then a new handle can be created with a few keystrokes. No ownership or vested interest there.

    When I said that I wish to "face my accuser" I meant just that. If my accuser is creating an innuendo that I spoofed or usurped a known site by attaching a confusingly similar URL to my own intellectual work product then I would like that accuser to make that accusation with their good name behind it. In that way I can ask for evidence or provide evidence to the contrary. On eNews I don't have to be a pedestrian who now confronts an enraged motorist who can perform a drive by and then speed off.

    I provide my name. From my name one can derive my address, my phone number and if one looks hard enough, my social security number. Now, I don't need the other persons personal information except to know that he or she is a real person who lives in the same town and has a vested interest in the same town.

    Waylandenews does not ask for social security numbers or address's as far as I know. But they do vet residents and this is good.

    I protect myself personally by purchasing a Bank of America credit watch plan and I hope and pray that my family is not stalked, invaded or harassed. I also pay my taxes, stand up for public safety and put trust in them that they can protect me and mine. But then again, as a former selectman and now a candidate I put my self and my family pretty far out there don't I?

    So, the inequality of voice does not work. I've tried it and it does not work, at least not for me. So I will not be posting on anonymous sites, at least not within the domain of the town that I live in.

    On the day that eNews stops being a named and vetted site then I will stop posting here too.

  8. #23
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    Default

    I agree with Alan, although I won't go so far as to say that I won't participate in an anonymous forum. But I only very rarely interact with the anonymous in such venues.

    I appreciate the anonymous contributor's situation. Privacy is a profoundly important issue. I'm all for giving people the tools to protect one's privacy. But, the desire for privacy cuts both ways: you can't have privacy and a soapbox in the public square.

    While far from perfect as a solution for someone highly concerned about online privacy, one option would be to create user names along the lines of "J-eff_D-ieff-enbach". This would minimize having one's name harvested or otherwise found and identified via external search, yet allow participation in a named manner. This is sort of like the use of "captchas" (having to decipher squiggly/obscured words) when signing up for online accounts.

  9. #24
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    Default Ombudsman Idea

    A reader called me with an idea - how about allowing readers to submit questions via anonymous emails. An ombudsman could review them, and post them (either as new threads or as replies to existing threads) as appropriate, allowing those that are well-formed and civil, and disallowing those that are not.

    In a sense, I suppose we already do this, as I posted the earlier email from the reader who prefers to maintain her privacy. The added pieces, are
    (a) the potential for adding an ombudsman (other than me, or even other than an eNews editorial board member), and
    (b) the promotion of a completely anonymous email service through which to submit the emails.

    Do you think people would use this, and what do users who prefer names be called out think?

  10. #25
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    Default

    I don't like this purely anonymous option.

    Granted, Kim (or anyone else) as "ombudsman" can filter out the true junk. But that opens the ombudsman up to charges of selective filtering. A better middle ground, IMHO, letting people send with identity to the ombudsman, who will in turn publish everything that comes from an identifiable person.

    Yes, there are a few people (probably vanishingly few) who would not trust the ombudsman, but that shouldn't preclude much at all. People who are worried about the trustworthiness of the ombudsman should realize that they aren't being asked to give a credit card number, an ATM PIN, a Social Security number, or their identity in the Witness Protection Program.

    For what it's worth, I would trust Kim with all of those things. While she and I are friends, it's not as if we know each other all that well. Rather, by observation, I've seen someone who always acts with integrity and honesty.

    Plus, if worse comes to worse, I can always get the FBI to move me again.

  11. #26
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    Default Ombudsman Idea Rejoiner

    Kim,

    I think that the fully disclosed and vetted naming approach that you provide on your site is the correct one.

    By allowing someone to post anonymously via a proxy then you are turning your site into a site similar to the Crier Discussion forum but with a full time moderator. That will be quite a bit of increased work for you.

    The problem I have is that if this is done on a thread that I am participating on then I would immediately cease to engage in that thread once a proxy post was done on it.

    If enough proxy posts were done then I would have to regard enews to no longer be a site that I would wish to post on.

    Its your site and its up to you but I wanted you to hear from an active member who does post and who does post with his real name.

  12. #27
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    I think that Alan is dead-on with this. I was imagining the random odd anonymous post, maybe 1 out of 20, and asking an honest question along the lines of, "Does anyone know when the Landfill is going to transfer to pay-per-throw?" and not, "What is the name of the evil developer who is threatening to pollute our environment, log jam our streets, and Big Box our town with that crummy Town Center project?"

    (For the record, I'm a proponent of the Town Center project, confident that the expert stewardship in town on the part of the Board of Selectmen, the Planning Board, the Conservation Commission, the Board of Road Commissioners, and others are addressing exactly those and other challenges on the path to bringing in a lively community space and the accompanying tax revenue.)

    Where Alan's point really resonates is when it comes to debate. Even then, the occasional post might be okay, particularly if phrased civilly (is the ombudsman expected to edit to tone something down, correct facts, or get spelling and grammar right?), but once it reaches a critical mass ...

  13. #28
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    Default Yes to Signed posts

    I will be the first to admit that I enjoy the posts on the Town Crier website and it is largely as a result of the folks who post under anonymous handles. The entertainment value of that site for me is hugely advanced as a result of the sparing.

    That being said there are a couple of issues with the anonymity that create problems. First, Dawn Davies has assumed that everyone with an anonymous handle is one person and she regularly uses that as an attack on credibility. Those posters should identify themselves because they catch her in falsehoods so often it would further their impact. Second, it appears to be happening now, all of the posts that are against the point of view of the editor seem to be deleted (if you notice a number of the articles will say 2 or 3 posts and only 1 or 2 will be showing). Finally a number of the articles have had posting eliminated. I presume that is because people have become antagonistic which they are prone to do under an anonymous pseudonyms and would not under a required id.

    For the above reasons I support requiring identification for the poster.

  14. #29
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    Default

    The point about deleted posts and disabled comments on the anonymous Town Crier discussion boards is an excellent one. There are several "provocative" items in the 3/19 paper that can now no longer accept comments.

    One of these is Jacqui McCarthy's "What is SOS afraid of?" (Oddly, this letter isn't included in the regular run of letters, but rather, is separated out in a manner that gives it undue prominence--why not give that treatment to Steven Murray's 4th letter down on Wayland High School[/URL], for instance?)

    Ms. McCarthy makes the curious assertion that leaders of organizations somehow lose their rights as individual citizens, charging one such leader with "misleading and unethical" behavior. Yet, with comments disabled, no one is able to respond to this ugly and anti-democratic charge. In essence, the Town Crier has become in this instance the Wayland Voters Network, poster child for unrebuttable accusation.

  15. #30
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    Default inquiry to Mike Wyner

    Jeff/Ben, I share your concerns and sent the following email to Mike Wyner early this morning. I will be interested in his response.

    Mr. Wyner,
    I am a regular reader of both the hardcopy and online versions of the Wayland Town Crier. I post on the discussion boards under my own full name.
    I am disturbed to see many of my posts (which I obviously stand by) as well as many of the discussion board comments sections, removed from the public.

    I am unfortunately becoming keenly aware of a slant in what you are choosing to print, where, and when it is posted and have heard from others about letters to the editor they have submitted which have not been included.
    I am horrified to be learning that certain views submitted are being withheld.
    I am offended that many of my vetted, NON anonymous recent posts on the boards, have been completely and in some cases, selectively deleted.

    Short of submitting a list of examples to you, can you please offer me an explanation for this? I am saddened to find that a paper I grew up reading and trusting, is quickly being discarded by so many of my peers, as biased and unworthy of reading.

    I look forward to your response.

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