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On deleting node contents

by gmax (Abbot)
on Aug 24, 2003 at 16:17 UTC ( [id://286210]=monkdiscuss: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??


Trying not to be confrontational, I would like to bring to the Monastery attention the fact that the contents of some nodes were recently removed.

[untitled node, ID 285414](mirror)
tombstone 285422 (mirror)
dot '.', comma ',' operators "oops" & "huh?" (mirror, but unfortunately empty as well :( )
<strike>Prioritization by AHP (Part I of II): Non-Techie Intro, Mostly</strike> (mirror)
<strike>Prioritization by AHP (Part II of II): Geek Stuff</strike> (mirror)
<strike>XSL/XML/Perl as a development process</strike> (mirror)

It's very sad to see some replies to such nodes, congratulating the author for a piece of empty space.

Since there is no explanation about the reason for this disappearance, I am not going to speculate. Perhaps the author would take this opportunity and speak up here.


Here are my personal feelings about that.

  • If I accept to contribute to a community, I should not withdraw what I have given, unless there is a breech of mutual trust between me and the community. If this happened, though, I would make sure that the right motives are properly explained. As long as nobody is trying to misappropriate what I have given, I feel morally obligated to maintain my contributions available to the community.
  • If I make a mistake, (and I have made a few), I consider the experience as part of the game. I will surely remember that glitch, and never do it again. Removing my node because it was criticized does not fit me. If the disturbance is trollish, I don't care. If it is debatable, I debate. If it just points out that I was wrong, I take notes.
  • I was considering the idea of proposing a "freezing" mechanism, to prevent people from erasing their posts, but I discarded the idea because it will also prevent them from correcting mistakes and improving old nodes. For example, it is useful to add a warning to an old node on module X::Y, saying that method xyz is now deprecated, or it was removed from recent releases, or its behavior has changed.

The bottom line is that the community trusts its members to be responsible ones.

What I was thinking lately, after seeing this sudden disappearance of posts (some of which have a high reputation), is that the Monastery has a mechanism to defend itself against unwanted content, but little to defend itself against the loss of valuable information.


There is thepen mirror site. I don't know if the missing nodes can be replaced by their mirrored copies somehow. Making it automatic and preserving the rights of the vast majority at the same time would require - I believe - too much work.

Perhaps the easiest solution is adding a link to the mirror nodes (both the original and the latest snapshot), just next to the "print w/replies xml" links at the top of the page. Therefore, if a node's contents are missing or heavily modified, one could be just a click away from their recovery.

I would like to hear the Monastery opinion on this issue.

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Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: On deleting node contents
by valdez (Monsignor) on Aug 24, 2003 at 17:11 UTC

    We had another example of that unpleasant, but perfectly legitimate behaviour when mt2k erased most of his nodes (GoodBye :-)). In that case tye restored all nodes from backups (Re: GoodBye :-)), can't we do the same?
    I think that we cannot rely on thepen mirror site, we should have a local copy of root nodes, probably after they are approved, just in case we need the original node. I think we should not deny our past experiences, after all they made us what we are now.

    Ciao, Valerio

    P.S.: chunlou must have his reasons for behaving that way, but I would like to know those reasons.

      Every forum site has this happen: someone feels miffed and yanks all their contributions in a fit of pique. Maybe that's what happened here, and maybe that's what mt2k did. I don't know.

      Perhaps it's something even simpler and less confrontational. Before publishing an article to some magazines, the magazine has to be offered an 'exclusive' on the content. So they yank the public forum versions which they see as a draft anyway. Just a theory.

      I also don't know the background of mt2k's case, but what I feel is that it's unethical (or at least worrisome) to repost the removed material without permission. If someone submits text, and then removes it, and then speaks no more to the site operators and forums, the action is clearly intentional. Just because other visitors want to republish doesn't mean it's the right thing to do.

      [ e d @ h a l l e y . c c ]

Re: On deleting node contents
by BazB (Priest) on Aug 24, 2003 at 18:50 UTC

    IIRC, if a monk knows the correct voodoo, it's possible to edit your own rootnodes.

    I've got a few suggestions, I'm not saying I've got the answers, nor if it's possible to do any of this within Everything:

    • Remove the ability to edit your own root nodes for normal monks.
      Personally I don't like my own suggestion, since it would only prevent people updating their own nodes when it is really necessary and create more work for the editors.
    • Make it clear to all monks that deleted root nodes will be recovered from backups (and access for that monk to alter them removed?)
      Also not ideal - removing posts is generally a Bad Idea, however people should probably be allowed to retract their own comments. Free Speech (or no Speech).
      Maybe the option of removing the ability to edit your own root nodes should be reserved for only those users that seem to be removing their own nodes.
    • Place a limit on the amount a root node can be altered - i.e. refuse to commit if the user deletes more than 20% of the post
      Probably more trouble than it's worth and could be easily circumvented. Instead of empty root nodes, we'd end up with noise to make up the required characters.
    • Remove edit permissions from a monk for a period of time if any rootnode is edited or truncated.
      This might just stop any large-scale removal of nodes by a disgruntled monk.

    As far I see it, there isn't a simple solution to the vanishing rootnode problem.
    Something should probably be done, however, as a reasonable number of missing root nodes would impact the Monastery as a whole.



    If the information in this post is inaccurate, or just plain wrong, don't just downvote - please post explaining what's wrong.
    That way everyone learns.

Re: On deleting node contents
by CombatSquirrel (Hermit) on Aug 24, 2003 at 16:33 UTC
    I also laughed quite a bit about the huge list of responses to appearently empty nodes. But as 285414 for instance is a root node, the author wouldn't even have the possibility to withdraw its content, unless I am somehow mistaken. Wonder what happened to it then.
    Additional / alternative suggestion: Just make this a consideration issue - just make it possible to consider adding the original contents of a node to it - this would still preserve its new content.
    Just a thought from a little monk, though.
      But as 285414 for instance is a root node, the author wouldn't even have the possibility to withdraw its content, unless I am somehow mistaken.

      You're mistaken. :)

      Root nodes in Obfuscation can be changed, except by me, of course!.

      Check turnstep's home node for the complete list. Search for Which top-level nodes *are* editable?

Re: On deleting node contents
by phydeauxarff (Priest) on Aug 25, 2003 at 13:33 UTC
    This was recently discussed in the CB and Mr. Muskrat added some suggested edits to How do I change/delete my post? that should hopefully provide more helpful guidance to those who actually take time to RTFM ;-)

    Also, word of caution to those who strip content out of their node in some Orweillian attempt to change the past.....this is an excellent way to get additional downvotes....if you feel your post was boneheaded (we've all been there) just strike-through what you posted and add a statement of retraction at the end.

Re: On deleting node contents
by Aristotle (Chancellor) on Aug 26, 2003 at 00:38 UTC
    I was considering the idea of proposing a "freezing" mechanism, to prevent people from erasing their posts,
    The more I think about it, the fewer arguments I find against a locking nodes older than maybe 14 days. That doesn't prevent unpopular nodes being erased within the day they got a bunch of downvotes, but they're not likely to be a big loss anyway.
    it will also prevent them from correcting mistakes and improving old nodes. For example, it is useful to add a warning to an old node on module X::Y, saying that method xyz is now deprecated, or it was removed from recent releases, or its behavior has changed.

    I don't see that. You can post a reply instead. Bonus: it will show up in Newest Nodes and the ticker. Much preferrable, if you ask me. If you attach the reply to the parent node of the one you're correcting, the author of that node may get an extra opportunity to notice the update, as well. Maybe that will even spawn a renewed discussion. Just updating an old node would prevent all of these.

    A compromise, though one that would take much more additional infrastructure than just locking old posts - for little gain -, might be to only allow adding to the bottom (or top?) of an old node.

    Makeshifts last the longest.

Transfer of Copyrights
by Anonymous Monk on Aug 24, 2003 at 20:39 UTC

    Out of curiousity, how would people feel about either transfering the copyright of their posts to the site, or automatically placing everything posted in the public domain? (or maybe under a creative commons type license?)

    Take a moment to think about it. Many first reactions would be "Now Way! Never!" but for such small works, wouldn't it be better to allow all to improve on them as they see fit? Thank you in advance for your insights.

      or automatically placing everything posted in the public domain?
      are things that are posted in public forums not already in the public domain?
        No. Just because I can publically access does not mean I can repost the contents without permission. Same goes for forums. Since perlmonks does not explicitly require you transfer copyright, the poster retains it.

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