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

I have it on good authority that Seven was not banned because he used part of a PM as his sig. **Marley **told me so.

Why would it be against the rules to share a confidential communication shared by a friend? It’s an etiquette violation, and a douche-bag maneuver, but I don’t see why it would be against the rules.

In the situation that we have here, where someone send a moderator a PM of some description and the moderator either divulged the contents of the message or posted them online. So what? If I send you a PM full of crazy ranty goodness, why shouldn’t you get to post it? PM just means that the means of communication are different from posting publicly. Pm would be useful where two people are having a discussion that would tend to hijack the thread that they are participating in.

However, I do think that moderation shouldn’t apply to private messages.

I think that it does give you that license. The Private Message system gives you a venue to communicate privately with other posters, if you choose. It does not impose a requirement of privacy. Whether a message remains private is up to the discretion of either party. If you don’t want the contents of a private message made public, you should not send it to someone you don’t trust to maintain your confidences.

I wouldn’t share a confidence from a friend, because he’s my friend. If I get a “confidential” message from a jerk who just wants to cuss me out, well, fuck that guy. If he wanted me to keep his message private, he should have thought of that before he acted like an asshole to me.

As to seven’s ban, is there a post where a moderator explicitly says he was banned for sharing a PM? Because from the links provided, it looks like the issue with his sig was that he was bragging about how good he was at pissing off the moderators, which sounds pretty troll-y to me.

Huh. If someone sent me a genuinely abusive PM and I felt it was unwarranted, sure as hell I’d share it.

Once that message hits my inbox it’s mine to do as I will with it.

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.