twickster, what part of "private" don't you understand?

I said about 27 times* during the whole Seven situation that he was not banned for quoting a PM. He was suspended for repeatedly breaking other rules, mostly about insulting people, and acting like a jerk. Part of the ‘acting like a jerk’ involved quoting a PM, but only a part, and as other mods have noted there is not a rule against it.

Her motivation was obvious, magellan01.

twickster could have warned DudleyGarrett in private, but we don’t like to do things that way and Dopers have come to expect that warnings are always made public. She didn’t have to reveal specifically what he said, but if she hadn’t, she would have been asked. Going to that level of secrecy over “shove it up your ass” seems a little ridiculous. She went the simple route and just told people why he was being warned. If she’d disclosed personal information about DudleyGarrett you’d have a case that his privacy was violated. But she didn’t.

We want people to respect each other’s privacy and everyone prefers these messages not be posted. Like twickster said, she had a judgment call to make on this issue because there were conflicting values. If posters feel they’re being harrassed by other posters via PM, they can talk to a mod about it. I’ve had people share PMs with me this way, and I think this is a similar situation.


I’m really surprised at everyone’s response. Surprised that we evidently need an Official Rule in order for good sense to be protected.

The internet is a great thing, and we’re still figuring out protocols and how the unspoken rules we abide by in the real world apply. It’s all very interesting. I’m disheartened to see that people are so unwilling to protect even a degree of privacy in what is an astoundingly public medium. I actually think that works to make the internet, these boards, and PM specifically less useful, in a meta sorta way.

I’ve had some enjoyable correspondence via PM with several posters, some sharing some parts of RL, which I choose to NOT share publicly. But I will defer to the poor sense of the Board Moderators and the masses and adjust my participation accordingly.

One more reason to to say fuck the SDMB altogether. ::shrug::

From your keyboard to God’s ears…

I’m not convinced that gang rape is the answer.

Or possibly other people’s sense differs from yours. During the recent privacy debate, I said it was good sense not to repost messages from someone else. (I thought there could be exceptions, such as if one poster needed financial help. But I didn’t think of this possibility at the time.) I was surprised how many people disagreed with that and saw it as just a request. Even so, we didn’t see the need for a rule handling the situation.

I’ve not commented or complained, nor do I care about the Seven situation. It is immaterial to me. It raises the issue of PMs and privacy, that is all. This is a much larger discussion.

You don’t like to keep private messages private. Gotcha. and there’s no reason the reason for the warnoing has to be made public. If the offense is in general posting, and a warning ensues, people like to be able to understand what behavior generated the warning. But if the offense is in private, all that has to be said that so and so was warned for inappropriate comments made in a PM. The end.


Thus, unnecessarily revealing private correspondence. And referring to it as “that level of secrecy” doesn’t make it more than it actually was.

She didn’t. But I still have a case. The one of PMs remaining private.


Then her judgement is shit and she should not be a Mod. And this is lame. She did it because she thought it would give her cover and make explaining things easier. There was no greater goal here, it was padding her dumb ass.

No it’s not. Not even remotely. Posters must involve a Mod in those instances because they can’t issue there own warnings or bans to slap bad behavior. Moderators can. See the difference? If not, it’s because it’s too big. Try backing up about a mile to see the whole thing.

Exactly. But I guess you won’t get it until someone shares PM information that crosses the line for you personally. But then maybe another mod will draw the line in a different place. Or another poster, who decides to draw it where he’d like.

It’s really very easy: Except when reporting abusive behavior to a mod, a poster does NOT share private information, unless the person who shared it originally gives you permission to. See? Easy.

Let’s imagine ourselves in each other’s shoes (do these jackboots fit you?) for a moment, magellan01. I not only see your point, but agree with it. I expect PMs to be…well…private messages. I say something private to another Doper in a PM, and he forwards it to 437 other people, emails it to 922 more, and posts it in a Pit thread.

You’re the mod. What are you going to do about it?

The question isn’t really whether there should be a rule, but whether such a rule could possibly, conceivably, be enforceable. Maybe in a situation as egregious as the one I just described, you’d be justified in banning the person who did it. But what if he just emailed it to a few people? Are you, as a volunteer SDMB mod, going to try to track down that email and verify that it’s real? After all, I can send a very authentic-looking email to you, and it would take a great deal of time (and probably a subpoena or two) to find out whether it’s faked.

You, as a mod, can’t read other people’s PMs. You can’t verify what I did or didn’t say, and what the other fellow did with it. I like privacy. I want more privacy. But realistically speaking, there really isn’t much of it to be had these days.

So let’s switch our roles back. Do you see why I changed my position on the privacy of PMs? Do you see why attempting to enforce such a rule would be such an administrative nightmare?

The best point made in the thread, in my opinion.

Thank you for this response. But I think you really make more difficult than it need be. Obviously, you can’t moderate what you are unaware of. But when you are confronted with instances of sharing of private correspondence you smack it down. I don’t think it has to always be a ban, though it should be strongly enforced. The person who revealed my PM just got an explanation from the Mod (I forget who it was), and given the nature of it, that was appropriate. The poster immediately apologized both publicly and in a PM to me.

The thing is that you either encourage good behavior or you do not. Merely overlooking transgressions is damaging. When a Mod is guilty of this type of action himself, the line—like it or not—gets moved for everyone. And that is to the detriment of the Board.

I didn’t think you needed a Board rule before, but I do now. Evidently people think lack of an official rule justifies bad behavior.

Do you feel the same way about a friend’s private thoughts that he shared with you (entered your head), you know, privately?

I can’t believe I’m trying to convince a Board with a liberal bent of the benefits of privacy. I feel like I’m in Bizarro World.

It goes deeper than that. What happens when poster A says, “Poster B shared my private message” and poster B says, “no, I didn’t”? I can’t search Poster B’s outgoing email or PM records to find out if he forwarded it. Heck, if he deleted the outgoing message, I don’t think the techies could even prove it once that database record is overwritten.

If Poster B puts a message on the SDMB containing a copy of a PM from Poster A, then we do have some kind of “paper” trail (electron trail?), but how can we possibly enforce a rule that says you can’t repost PMs on other message boards, or forward them in private emails, or print them out and post them on the bulletin board at work, or fax them to your buddy in Tokyo?

You are, actually. Keep in mind that “liberal” does not mean what it used to mean in America. Nowadays, when you see “liberal”, think “authoritarian”. (I’m doing my bit to change it back, but I fear the struggle is futile.)

Yes, I do. But I make a distinction that isn’t really being discussed here. There is a question of morality and a question of ethics. I think it is morally wrong, but ethically neutral. And here, we’re obviously talking ethics — i.e., the rules and guidelines of the board, as opposed to our personal consciences.

But then we have differences in what constitutes “a friend” here.
If a friend called me an asshole would I keep it to myself? Maybe.
If a person whom I’ve never met, passed by me, then suddenly pulled me aside and insulted me- would I tell my friends or even co-workers about this sort of thing?

I think I would.

Private messages have a courtesy to be private, but they should not be enforce ably private. People should hope for the common courtesy that what they say should be private- but if they cannot honestly trust the source of whom they are sending the message to- then perhaps they should rethink what they’re about to say.

It’s a general rule that pretty much works with the entire internet and any social communicating site as a whole on what information you choose to share. On facebook, you can send private messages to your friends, but there is no ACTUAL obligation for them not to share the message with other people and mock you behind your back. You just have to implicitly trust that they won’t do that. I don’t see why this site should be different than others in that regard.

And we’re trying to sell you on personal responsibility. :wink:

Seriously, I don’t think anyone is uncomprehending to the benefits of privacy. They just don’t think that those benefits are worth protecting with a rule. It’s like, as you’ve brought up, sharing confidences with a friend in person. There isn’t a law which prevents us from repeating those confidences in public (aside from in very specific situations); what prevents us is entirely societal (and the fact that presumably we like our friend).

As with face-to-face contact, the onus isn’t on the powers-that-be to ensure your words are safe, but on your own estimation of the worth of those you choose to talk to. If your evaluation is wrong, then it’s your mistake. Besides, if we do give up our own determinations to others, then we can’t show our evaluations of worth to other people. If I shared with you something important under the current system, then you can be sure it’s because I consider you trustworthy. If there’s a rule to protect the contents of PMs, then you could be just a stranger for all the trust i’m putting in you. Would your sharing of information over PMs be as enjoyable for you if you could have no idea whether your contacts have any faith in your worth?

This is ridiculous and irrelevant to this thread. Consider starting something in GD on it–or not–but I’d appreciate it if you’d not throw out these little bomb mots in the middle of other threads, just like I won’t go around saying “Keep in mind that libertarian does not mean what it used to mean in America. Nowadays, when you see libertarian, think angry crackpot.” Because, y’know, that’d be irrelevant to the thread and all.

FWIW, if someone shares a sensitive PM I send them, the appropriate remedy for that is for me not to send them any more PMs. If someone steals information from me, I might have other remedies–but if I send them that information, then it’s myself who’s violated my own privacy.

Obviously Dudley Garrett is NOT twickster’s friend. Don’t you treat friends and relative strangers differently? If a relative stranger used abusive language towards you in private correspondence, are you under some onus to keep that abuse confidential? I find that notion absurd. The moral of the story is, if you say something to someone in whatever venue, be prepared to own up to it. I say that as someone whose private messages have been revealed and discussed here several times, and I never went crying to a Mod over it or complained about it. Why? Because I wouldn’t say anything in PM that I would disavow publicly. It might not be particularly politic to say them publicly, hence saying them privately, but I have to stand behind them if they’re revealed, since once you send them out, they are not yours anymore. They belong to the person you sent them to, and you have to live with them. To do less than that would be cowardly, no?

No you can’t enforce it completely. Like speeding, yet there are laws against speeding and tickets issued. It’s illegal to open someone’s mail, yet just last week I inadvertently opened a bill addressed to my neighbor. I forget the name of this fallacy, but perfection is not necessarily the goal, nor a reason to craft policy to do good.

Actually the best thing you could do would be to create the atmosphere in which it is not tolerated. If so, people would not only understand that it is frowned upon, but, eventually, feel it to be the wrong thing to do. That would create a better future experience, not only on this board, but in general.