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Earlier today, somebody posted quite controversial matter here, together with a question on how that code worked. That code can be used to circumvent the infamous DMCA, some new-fangled copyright law, which extends copyright in both, time and space. I didn't react to this as I saw the node first, because I thought "What the hell, it's been on Slashdot already". merlyn then raised some awareness in the Chatterbox that anything getting close to the DMCA might mean undue publicity for this website and lawyers talking to vroom, which would both be unpleasant to vroom and the Perlmonks members. With this new awareness, I censored that node, removing the possible objectionable material and leaving a "censored" note in that place (without much further explanation).

I left work soon after that and on the subway, I had time to ponder and some problems did arise :

  • Was it OK to censor that node ?
    In my eyes, yes, it was. A quick action was needed to prevent possible harm to vroom and this site, and no permanent damage was done. vroom can restore the node to its original glory, if he decides to do so, but the consequences of having that node there without vroom being aware of it warranted the censorship in my eyes.
  • Would I have censored such a post, had it been by a site member ?
    This is a very tough question for me. I see my job as editor mostly as the job of a janitor who cleans up the mess others leave as root node. Content editing is not something I strive to do - people show the appreciation of content with their votes. Any serious and sensitive member wouldn't have posted the code out of consideration for the monastery, but there are hot-headed members both low and high in rank (I don't exclude myself here, but luckily you can't see all the nodes I've written but never posted). In this case, I would have had to talk with that member and try to get a consentual solution or at least the permission to blank the node until vroom has seen it.
  • merlyn raised another question : What does the existence of editors mean for Perlmonks ?
    Does this mean we are liable for the content ? Does it mean we are responsible for the content ? As stated above, I see my function as purely janitorial, cleaning up formatting errors (on my own) or typos (on request), but never acting (neither on my own nor on request) on nodes themselves - but this is exactly what I did earlier.
What this rant boils down to is the question for some discussion / guidelines on how to handle really controversial posts, not of the epic dimensions whether Perl is better than Python and how we all together look down at Ruby but more of the worldly dimension that buys expensive fur coats for lawyers wifes.

Any discussion welcomed !


In reply to Node 541 by Corion

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