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Re^3: Musing on Monastery Content (barriers)

by tye (Sage)
on Oct 20, 2004 at 16:52 UTC ( #400915=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to Re^2: Musing on Monastery Content
in thread Musing on Monastery Content

You misunderstand me. But I'll save the legalist mumbo jumbo for the end of this node.

PerlMonks should also add some technical means for preventing people from deleting their contributions
I must disagree. People ought to be able to remove their own contributions. First, being able to remove bad posts lowers the barrier to contribution because posters need not worry about whether their ideas are good enough not to come back and haunt them later. They can contribute freely, knowing that if later they regret a posting, they can remove it.

Oh, I strongly disagree on that. The barrier to contribute is plenty low as can be seen by the flame wars, name calling, and other childish bickering that happens here. It doesn't happen here as often as it happens in many other technical forums. This is a good thing. This is why there should be some barrier to contribution. This is part of why there is a downvote and an XP game to go with it. There are, of course, problems with such barriers to contribution; they are not perfect.

But I much prefer that people think (even consider) before they post than posting whatever dribble pops into their head and having a ton of Emily Latella nodes ("Oh... Nevermind") and even more ill-advised nodes which usually encourage more ill-advised nodes in the well known pattern of "flame war".

I also see a barrier to contribution for fear of making a technical error. I think it would often be good to lower that particular barrier1, but I think proffering a "Delete whatever you regret. Free!" card to all comers is a horrid way to attempt that.

(tye)Re: why a nodelet can be kept against author wish? covers much of my opinion on how one should deal with revising what one has written here.

A better way to get people to overcome their fear of making technical errors is for them to learn that technical errors are inevitable and even the best of us make them. Even more useful is for them to see people dealing with their own technical errors in a mature fashion. So discouraging people from hiding their little mistakes and encouraging them to step up to the minor challenge of dealing with a mistake more maturely (by acknowledging it explicitly or at least letting it stand after a correction has been published), we can help to lower the barrier to contribution for fear of technical mistakes for some.

The immature monk who can't deal with making a mistake in public will still feel this particular barrier to contribute, and this is a good thing since such people, having posted a mistake, tend to get into flame wars or otherwise react poorly to getting their feelings hurt.

Now, back to how you misunderstood me.

This reasoning is sound right up to the point where you get to "forever." [...] it is doubtful that the implied license would be held by a court to override specific, written communications to the contrary

I was not saying that the license could not be revoked. That is why I expanded on that point in the next two paragraphs. I was saying that the implied term of the implied license is unlimited. It is "forever". The license will not end on its own. To end the license, the author must actively revoke it. There is no implied limited duration. It doesn't take much to see that content on PerlMonks is still being "published" even though it is years old.

But if I expect to have that right of revocation, then I am probably a fool [...]
The problem with this logic is that the burden is upon the owners of the forum site to demonstrate that they have license to republish your works, should the issue of infringement come to trial

Yes, that is why the introduction to the paragraph starts with "Technically" and this sentense starts with "But". I'm not talking about technical or legal details here. "I am probably a fool" has no legal meaning. I am aware that this argument will likely have little weight in court (not that I pretend to be a lawyer or to even understand the less pedestrian aspects of legal meanderings).

PerlMonks should probably add a 'legal notice' page...

So write one. I said "probably" because I've seen too many cases of non-lawyers trying to cover their buts[sic] and getting themselves into more troubles (legal or otherwise). Whatever it might say, I'm quite dubious on it having much legal validity unless a lawyer is hired to write it and a specific "I have read and I agree to the terms of" page is required before each node is posted. But it is probably better to have these expectations explicitly spelled out in a reasonable way. Write up a draft and others can revise until a concensus is reached.

Your last argument about having a mechanism for people to remove their own nodes from publication having legal benefits in the unlikely event of court action against PerlMonks makes sense to me. I'm not completely against allowing content to be removed for extraordinary reasons. If PerlMonks receives a cease-and-desist letter claiming to be from Tom Moertel's attorney and demanding that PerlMonks stop publishing any of his works (hopefully with an exact list of what he claims to have written, but we'll take a good guess and negotiate from there if needed), then we stop publishing those "works". (We'll expect you to object to this action if the letter is not genuine.)

If someone considers a node for deletion or asks site workers to remove content because they too-late realized that this could get them into big problems with their boss or spouse or prevent them from getting a security clearance, then such a request would likely be honored.

But none of those things have ever happened that I've seen. People usually delete their nodes because they made the simplest of mistakes or (rarely) because they've decided to storm off away from PerlMonks in a door-slamming gesture and feel the need for spectacle by "taking all of their marbles" in a fit of outrage and/or self-loathing.

And I think both of those activities should be strongly discouraged.

So I think your last point should be addressed by something more like an administrative request feature that is clearly meant for extraordinary circumstances and that clearly states that cease-and-disist letters are always taken seriously and handled quickly. But I'm so far removed from the site owners or anyone with a physical address connected to the site, that I have little idea how to set such a thing up.

- tye        

1 Though somehow magically reducing that barrier to nothing would be a mistake. People shouldn't be enthusiastic about posting things that they have absolutely no clue about. Sometimes it is good to post when you have no clue, but not frequently.

  • Comment on Re^3: Musing on Monastery Content (barriers)

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Re^4: Musing on Monastery Content (barriers)
by tmoertel (Chaplain) on Oct 20, 2004 at 19:05 UTC
    tye, thank you for your thoughtful response.

    On the issue of whether we should lower the barrier to contribution, I find your argument to be persuasive. You've been on Perl Monks for longer than I have, and so I'll trust your judgment regarding the quality of posts.

    Let me clarify regarding the "forever" thing:

    I was not saying that the license could not be revoked.... I was saying that the implied term of the implied license is unlimited. It is "forever".

    I didn't think you were saying that the license couldn't be revoked. My concern was with your claim that the term of the implied license was "forever" – until revoked. In other words, you were saying that we can assume the glass is full until we learn otherwise. I'm saying that we can't assume the glass to be any more full than the facts support at this moment in time.

    The license is implied. That it exists and grants us any rights at all is not established fact but only inferred by us because to think otherwise would lead to absurdity in light of the facts that are established. Why would an author ask us to publish his works on our site if he didn't grant us license to do so? However, what we can reasonably infer to be the extent of an implied license is the minimal – not maximal – grant of rights that is consistent with the facts. Therefore, we can infer only that the term of the license implied by posting to the site is "for now." Ultimately, if we receive no instructions to the contrary from the author, "for now" will become "forever"; but until then, they are not the same.

    The license will not end on its own. To end the license, the author must actively revoke it. There is no implied limited duration.
    There is no implied duration at all beyond what is implied by the facts right now. That an author posted content back then and hasn't asked us to remove it since, implies that the author has granted us license to publish his content on the site from then through now, but nothing more. Now+1 cannot be supported until such time has passed with no contrary indications from the author.

    That's what I was trying to say.

    I should point out that for all practical intents and purposes, our interpretations are the same: If an author posts to the site, we can reasonably publish the post on the site until the author says otherwise.


      Ah. The distinction is subtle. Thanks for clearing that up.

      - tye        

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