As Patri recently pointed out, things mushroomed during this conversation on editing. I'm doing a sort of phenomenology on how this discussion about editing evolved. For my own education I'm wanting to look at the details of what was said early on. I'm trying to see shifts in tone and the effects these have. I want to understand how it moved from a relatively simple set of questions to something that is cloudy and (i think) involves some personal upset. I"m willing to take responsibility if I introduced drama and unclarity. I'm not asking directly that people respond to this journal entry, but that's great if you want to. I'm doing this for myself. I've felt scrammbled and confused about the content and tone that this discussion has taken on and I wanted to go back and look carefully at how it began. I wanted to see if there are any patterns that may have played into what has taken place. I want to add that I have not subtracted or deleted anybody's words in what follows.
Look at this early structure after Tom makes a first, very clear, post about how the new editing powers function:
Tom, I'm not so sure about this new editing power. I just posted to Caryn's Death Star Canteen, and I appear to have the option to edit or delete anyone else's comments! I just added text to Bryn's Ha ha, ho, ho, wondrous!If that's the way things are set up now, there is an enormous potential to rewrite history and to distort karma here. I don't think that's what you want to do.
Tom responds to Carl's concern:
"Having more people possessing editing ability just expands administration responsibility to more people."
Carl details his concern:
"It does more than that. It makes it possible for anyone to put words in anyone else's mouth. That's a serious potential for distortion."
Tom responds to Carl's concern:
"The only people who have this editing ability are regular participants. When website content is revised the person's name making the revision is recorded in admin records."
Carl asks for more details about how it funcitons:
"How about a Registered user who isn't regular? There are fifteen hundred of these. Can they log in and change what people have said, delete things people have said or hide things that have been said from others?"
Tom responds with information:
"About a dozen people have editor permission. They would be the regular appearing names you see on the site."
Carl responds with further concerns. There is shift here in tone ("flawed", "poor", "meaingless") and I wonder if this had consequences:
"Well, ok, but does this strike anyone else as flawed? I trust the people here, of course, but I think it's a poor policy decision. In principle, it makes everything posted here meaningless. Do people see this?"
Jeff now makes his first statement. Jeff expresses concern and asks specific questions to Tom. I'm looking to see what specifically Jeff says and how it might come across:
"Hi Tom, not sure what is going on with this editing thing, but until I understand your reasoning i need to ask that my posts not be allowed to participate in this function. I'm not saying you don't have a great point that I will come around to, but before I can let people into my documents, i need much more information. Could you say more about why you find this necessary? If I have questions about something you type, should I simply communiate my questions to you so that you can change them? What are the circumstances in which you think people should not talk to each other about the content of posts? Thanks"
Tom responds with further details, however his response does not address two of Jeff's questions: This was most likely not intentional but let's see how Jeff takes the ommision. Tom's respons:
"Administrators on all web sites have the ability to edit or delete comments. We now have about a dozen administrators. The administrators consist of the regulars on this web site. If anyone opposes a particular regular participant from being made an administrator they should contact me"
Jeff repeats his original request by asking for an example of what what criteria Tom has in mind. Jeff acknowledges that he understands this might be a permanant change. He then makes a specific suggestion and requests that Tom address his question: perhaps Jeff could have reworded his request. Did Tom take it as a dig?
"Ok, Could you give a few concrete examples of when you would think it appropriate for Carl to edit one of my posts? I'm trying to get out of abstract land and really see the concrete instances in which changing each other's posts is an advantage of direct communication. I understand that perhaps this will be the way things are on this site. I'll take that into account in my decisions to communicate. At the very least is the website able to immediately notify a writer if somebody other than him or herself has made a change to a post. If that is the case, I'd rest assured. We all leave long trails of posts on this site. It would seem relatively simple that one would be automatically notified if anybody else decides to edit a post...The two things I'd like to hear back from you on are examples in which somebody should edit a post and if there is an automatic notification of changed posts."
Tom's does not respond to Jeff's question. Instead Tom asks Jeff why Jeff is asking Tom questions. How might Jeff have interpreted Tom's response?
"Why do you look to me for answers? You are one of the administrators. You tell me?"
Jeff makes two requests: that his posts are protected from being edited by other participants and that he no longer have the option of editing other's posts. Jeff then suggests that the wider group talk about this issue.
"That's great, Tom! My administrative decision is that my posts will not be editable by other participants and that I will not have the option of editing other people's post. Thanks! Also, my vote is that we have a group discussion about how many people we would like to have this capacity. Thanks for putting my settings back. I didn't realize you were going to make it that easy!"
Tom responds to the first part of Jeff's request but not the second. He does not comment on the second part:
"In a post you said you didn't want admin edit ability so I removed you as an editor. If you want to participate as admin let me know."
Jeff responds by reminding Tom of Jeff's full request and asks if Tom can also do that. Jeff then expresses confusion as to who is suppose to be addressing; this could be due to Tom asking Jeff why Jeff was asking Tom questions. Jeff then includes Lori in his request: this could be due to Jeff knowing that Lori has the next highest role and capacity on the website. Jeff then requests that he be notified when his request is acted on AND he asks if it is possible. Jeff repeats both requests: Has Jeff changed tone from his first post? Has his language begun to suggest that he is angry or blaming Tom?
"I also mentioned wanting to reduce the scope of those who could modify my writing. Can you do that as well? I'm not sure who to be asking these questions to because it seems you really want to step aside. Lori or Tim, could you please reduce the scope of who can edit my posts to just you two and Tom? Let me know if that is possible and, if so, when it has been changed. I'm not wanting to be pushy. It just seems very foggy as to who is making decisions and Tom now seems confused as to why I go to him first; I feel like I missed a big group meeting last week in which we revolutionized the way the site functions. My sense is that he is wanting us to each make individual decisions and just act upon them. I guess I made a decision: please limit the editablilty of my posts to Lori, Tim and Tom. And please always notify me before you go into a post. I will not ignore you if you contact me before changing a post. I'll be nice and curious about what needs to be changed. Thanks."
Tom does not comment on either Jeff's first questions concerning critera or his latest questions. Tom assumes Jeff is asking to be an exception. Tom shares examples of how unstable people. He then ties the post 9/11 and cyber terrorism as reasons he wants more people able to edit texts. He finishes by asking Jeff if Jeff is hiding something from him.
"Why should you be an exception? Why shouldn't all admin people be able to intercept a rogue message you post? You may appear perfectly sane today but what may happen tomorrow? People can crack at any time and begin posting dangerous messages that should be deleted or edited. Loss of job, relationship breakup, or even a gambling debt may cause you to unexpectedly spam the site. In this post 9/11 age we must be ever vigilant to the growing threat of cyber terrorism. The more eyes we can direct toward monitering rogue posts the safer we will be. This morning I heard on the radio someone saying why should we fear the loss of privacy through the Patriot Act if we have nothing to hide? Do you, Jeff, have something to hide?"
Jeff agrees with Tom that there are many reasons to be concerned about what people are visiting the website. And he responds to Tom's direct question by affirming that he does not share everything about himself on the site. Jeff states that he does not believe other people need to share his needs. He repeats his confusion as to what role Tom sees himself playing and reminds Tom that only Tom can make the changes Jeff is suggesting. Jeff then asks Tom who Jeff should be addressing.
"Yes, Tom, I have much to hide. Of course! How could you even ask that? I'm not going to tell you about my first sexual experience on this site. But now if one of those cracked people (thanks for at least seeing that) goes into a very old post of mine and writes about my first sexual act as if he or she was me.....I just have to wait and see if I ever find out who read it. Tom, are you being serious. On the one had you are asking us all to make ourselves exceptions; you say, "do what you need to do, don't ask me to be the boss"...I give a reason as to why I want the scope limited for my posts (I'm NOT suggesting that my reasons should be anybody else's) and you disagree. Fine. But regardless of what you think, it sounds like you are saying I should be able to freely set it up how I want/need it. The only problem is, I don't know how to change the site and limit its scope on me. I know you don't want to be the guy I go to, but could you at least tell me what I should do as my next step to limit the scope. I'm very confused as to what you are communicating. Have you made a decision about all this. Did Lori? Do you want your decision to stick or do you want us to make our own decisions? I asked Lori to help me because it seems to respect your puzzlement as to why I was asking for your help.....help..."
I am stopping at this point because I think that a new type of shift comes very soon. At this point I am seeing patterns in the above communications that I think played a role in what comes next.