Fighting for freerecyling

Stalemates don’t help anyone

There has been a debate for at least a couple of months in one unmoderated freecycling moderator forum regarding confidentiality, particularly of OIDG. One one side there are those who hold allegiance to TFN and do not want their positions compromised, and on the other side are those whose position has already been compromised and find such allegiance a thing of the past. The question on the table is can such a forum satisfy both parties.

The heart the matter concerns membership of OIDG and reposting of the same elsewhere. To a person, I believe all would agree that a great outcome would be for a OIDG that has both a much larger membership of moderators (rather than the restrictive clique) along with the official support of TPTB that adversarial posts on OIDG would not meet with recrimination tactics such as group bad naming, outing, delisting and deleting. If OIDG was instead was a forum for robust internal debate then I personally would support its total privacy.

But it generally does not. Moderators are generally extremely fearful of posting anything remotely adversarial and so a process of self-moderation keeps OIDG generally a fluff group. There is nothing inherently wrong with being a fluff group, but this blog is just one of a very wide range of independent sources that make some serious allegations of malpractice. In such a case it is right that TFN gets its house in order internally and maintaining confidence of its moderator volunteers surely should be key in that.

Since OIDG is then generally a fluff group other groups have sprung up around it in which robust debate is encouraged. In debating it is often difficult to maintain a full debate if allegations are continually made using innuendo. To avoid this scenario some posters occasionally break the privacy of OIDG, for at least the reason of proving authenticity.

Let me now list the areas that have been hotly debated concerning the breaking of privacy. There are four tenets that tend to support privacy. First and foremost there is a common decency, that it is only fair to ask an author as to whether they mind something being quoted elsewhere. This is closely followed by copyright which supports that in a court of law. On top of this is Yahoo’s position which is intended to emphasise privacy guidelines in groups where archives are closed. Finally OIDG has a confidentiality clause which it imposes on its membership.

However fighting against these are laws that encourage breaking of privacy. These are concepts such as fair use and whistleblowing, both of which are aimed at supporting, in a court of law the right of someone to expose what they feel needs airing. The Enron scandal would not easily have surfaced had these laws and ethics not existed.

Right now in the group is a stalemate. The owner moderator team is silent, unable to pronounce since to condone reposting could make them liable, but to reject the same outright would turn the group towards being a fluff group. It has been argued that a poll of members might be a good resolution however that is fraught with difficulties not least of which is the wording of the poll and the active membership at the time of the poll.

It may be that the only solution is for the group to split asunder. For my money, I would ask the owners and moderators to make up their minds what kind of group then want – and then advertise and support that 100%, realising that you will lose some members but possibly gain others.

A stalemate helps no-one.


October 17, 2007 - Posted by | freecycle

1 Comment »

  1. Allegiance to TFN doesn’t figure in my position on the subject.



    Comment by Martin Pike | October 18, 2007 | Reply

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