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Re^2: Musing on Monastery Content

by ww (Bishop)
on Oct 18, 2004 at 16:03 UTC ( #400193=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to Re: Musing on Monastery Content
in thread Musing on Monastery Content

I agree with tye's analysis. It is fact (as he and Old Gray Bear both noted) that posting to a forum such as this DOES restrict one's ability to later cause that contribution -- no matter how wise or trollish -- to disappear

But, more important, I believe such posting SHOULD be tantamount to irrevocable waiver of any right to revoke what tye calls "license to distribute."

Hence, tye's "'legal notice'" deserves support and action... even if some could argue that it smacks of a "shrink-wrap license" scheme.

Tangent: I quibble -- nay, even quarrel-- with this one section of Old Gray Bear's presention:

On the one hand, I have to support X in his wish to remove his writings from general circulation. He wrote them. There was no 'license' attached to it releasing the words and ideas to the Public Domain. He is able to edit the node content at will. His retraction is merely a severe form of editing, but it is His Right.

  • Why (this is a serious question; neither troll nor flame) do you feel obliged "to support X..." re removal?
    Legal reasons; human rights? some other consideration?
  • Retraction may be "merely a severe form of editing" but in light of the fact that doing so reduces or destroys the value of others' contributions, I can't agree that it is "His Right."

I suspect we'd be well served with the view that the right to edit one's comments in a thread to which others have contributed should be restricted to strikethrough and insert. The would-be retracter can easily enough use available mechanisms (css such as:
    &nbgsp; <style="font-family: serif; color: #bo400f; background-color: transparent;">
might work) to highlight the retraction/disavowal of a comment which s/he later decided is untenable (in the light of further reflection or new evidence -- perhaps even an illuminating comment farther down the same thread).

Posted, knowing that some flaw in my current thinking may someday have me wishing I could not merely retract, but could actually delete this rambling. <G>

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Re^3: Musing on Monastery Content
by apotheon (Deacon) on Oct 19, 2004 at 01:37 UTC
    He does have the right to retract it. This is a public forum for discussion, in which each of us has the ability to contribute freely and the ability to edit those contributions. With that ability comes some rights and responsibilities, granted by the site's maintainers:
    the right to change our words later
    the responsibility to edit to make the store of knowledge greater
    the right to freely express our opinions
    the responsibility to share our opinions honestly

    There are more of both rights and responsibilities. With each right comes a responsibility, and with each responsibility comes a right. Neither works without the other, here in PerlMonks as in meatspace.

    You can't take away one without taking away the other. It's a good system.

    None of that negates the right the site admins have to repost what has been edited out of existence. Nobody said the right to retract would guarantee that a retraction would be permanent and irrevocable. It's something one should be aware of here in PerlMonks, because it's a fact of life here.

    - apotheon
    CopyWrite Chad Perrin
      apotheon -- I'm "bang on" with most of your observations especially on the wisdom of conjoining "rights" and "responsibilities" in a community such as this... BUT it seems to me if someone -- call that indiviual "A" -- has a "right to retract" and someone else has the right to undo the retraction, A's right is a nullity; meaningless or void.

      It appears to me that Old Grey Bear's original posting and tye's response address this contradiction. You have addressed the "fact of life" here but I'd also really like to see your contribution from an ethical or philosophical view.

      Belated afterthought, in part as addendum to grandparent:

      a definition of "retract" (from, not exactly the OED, but sufficient, I think):

      1. v formally reject or disavow a formerly held belief, usually under pressure; "He retracted his earlier statements about his religion"; "She abjured her beliefs"
      2. v pull inward or towards a center; "The pilot drew in the landing gear"; "The cat retracted his claws"
      3. v use a surgical instrument to hold open (the edges of a wound or an organ)
      4. v shrink back, as in fear

      Arguably, definition two could be stretched to approximate "delete" -- but that's a long stretch for a poor approximation. What X tried to do, AFAIK, was not "to retract" in the sense of the first definition, but "to delete" ...and, perhaps not "just by the way," to consign others' views to the bitbucket. That's a very different action.

      SO DIFFERENT, in fact, that I almost wish to disavow my earlier diatribe because it ignored (to my embarassment and perhaps to others' detriment) the distinction. Consider this a retraction of sorts, but note that it's not a deletion, which would "behead" your valued observations.

        You're right: that power of retraction can be negated by others with greater power. That's no different from saying that a person has a right to free movement and another person has a right to the sanctity of his property: where person B's property is not made free for others to travel through it, person A's right to free movement is null and void. Thus, a poster's right to retract his statements on PM exists only insofar as the site admins choose to respect his wishes in the matter. Person A has the right of free action as long as it does not infringe on person B's right to be free from force in regards to his person or his property.

        Thanks for not decapitating my observations. I do recognize the distinction between a disavowal and a deletion, and I agree that the distinction is significant. As we're discussing a retraction of the sort that involves more than simple disavowal, however, I don't think our statements in regards to deletion are in any way devalued by failing to discuss at length other forms of retraction.

        I recommend the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language as a source of precise and accurate definitions, by the way. The OED can at times be too vague, and too inclusive or incomplete, in its definitions. See the American Heritage definition of retract for a treatment of the term that makes clearer reference to its uses.

        - apotheon
        CopyWrite Chad Perrin

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