On 2/10/06, Ray Saintonge <saintonge(a)telus.net> wrote:
Why should drawing a line be so important? Giving
users the maximum
flexibility to express who they are is good for everybody, because the
whole world then has a transparent view of where that individual is
OK, with the premise that some line needs to be drawn to regulate the
content of userpages, can anyone think of a better line to be drawn?
Nobody is even promoting that people should proclaim
that they are
breaking the law. It's a big leap from someone saying that he smokes
weed to his proclaiing that he is breaking the law. If what people say
is tantamount to admitting to breaking the law we can offer them no
protection against self-incrimination.
I didn't use this example.
There's something sad about a situation where PR
becomes the driving
force behind what we do. It's equally disturbing when a bunch of
hypocrites loudly shout "IANAL", and then proceed in an attempt to
enforce the law that they don't know anything about.
The good of the project is the driving force. Of course PR has an effect.
A better approach might be to put a disclaimer at the
top of every user
page saying that the page represents the views of the user alone, and
that we collectively accept no responsibility for what this person says
even though it may sometimes be outrageous.
Where does that get the encyclopaedia?
Wikipedia got where it is by applying a vision boldly,
not by engaging
in a PR paranoia game. To be sure being bold puts the leaders on a
media hotseat. The media thrive on confrontationist journalism, but
respecting free speech is not a defect. They should be encouraging
free speech, not manipulating interviewees into making distorted and
compromising statements. Sometimes what is written or spokend does
ignite the passions of the ignorant into stupid action, but if we allow
that argument to hold sway we are dumbing down our efforts for the sake
of pandering to our societies' lowest common denominators. We end up
sacrificing NPOV because we are afraid that some of the constituents
that must be balanced to achieve neutrality are too embarassing or too
Somehow we got onto talking about NPOV. As has been declared so loud,
so often recently, NPOV need not apply to userpages. Thus we can
censor however we like.