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

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.

I have been offline all afternoon, thus my lack of response. I’m not going to attempt to address every single point that every single person has made, but will say this:

If a friend told me something, and stated that it was in confidence, I would keep that confidence. I do not keep every single thing that any friend has ever said to me “in confidence,” because that’s just silly. If Friend A tells me she has a new BF, and Friend B later says, “hey, haven’t seen A recently, how’s she doing?” yes, I’ll mention the new BF. Unless, of course, the asshole is married and I was told about the relationship in confidence, in which case I’d say something general and change the subject.

If someone I don’t know writes to me out of the blue and is obnoxious and offensive, I don’t feel compelled to keep that in confidence. The word “private” on the private messages here doesn’t grant any special legal or ethical status to those messages.

*Again, it is not against the rules here to reveal the contents of a PM that you receive. *It may be bad form, but it’s not against the rules. And if you want to rethink who you PM and what you say to them in those PMs, now that you know that – well, that’s probably a good idea.

In general, yes, I value privacy and see the point of behaving with discretion. In this specific case, however, but I’m totally okay with my decision to value transparency of moderation over the “privacy” of someone who chose to react to something I did, acting as moderator, not by discussing the issue with me but by losing his temper and telling me to shove [it] up my ass.

Again, this is a general response to the conversation overall. If anyone has raised a specific point in this discussion that you think I’m avoiding, pls. let me know what that is.

You really don’t need to convince people. I’m guessing that pretty every knows the value privacy.

Says the conservative who’s arguing in favor of more government oversight!

But, to echo tacoloco, I think we all know the value of privacy. It’s just that I’m capable of protecting my own privacy without the help of the mods. I don’t know most of the posters here well enough to entrust them with anything really, truly private, so I don’t send anyone a PM that has anything in it I wouldn’t want to post in public. If someone does post something I sent to them in a PM, that’s an interpersonal problem. That person has acted like a dick to me, and I need to re-evaluate my relationship with them on the board, but I don’t need a mod to step in and slap his wrist for me.

Similarly, in real life, if I send a letter to a friend that contains a lot of personal details, and my friend shares it all over town, I need to stop considering that person my friend. I don’t need the cops to show up and arrest him because I can’t make good judgments about who I can and cannot trust.

Thank you. I appreciate your candor.

Marley. I read each and every time you posted it. Whether I agree or not…you are acknowledging that it was including in ‘acting like a jerk’ behavior. If it is ‘acting like a jerk’ from a poster, it’s acting like a jerk when a mod or an admin does it as well. Whether that was the deciding reason, part of the reason or whatever is beside the point. The fact that it factored in and was considered ‘jerk’ behavior is all that is at issue here. And thank you for acknowledging that you still consider quoting a pm ‘acting like a jerk.’

Not at all. Context matters.

I thought that Seven’s quoting of an admin’s PM was both puerile and unactionable; to the extent that it figured into a banning decision, I think that was probably silly. However, it’s pretty clear he was doing it as a way of taunting admins: it read to me like “Nyah nyah!”

That’s very different from the present circumstance. It’s possible to quote from a PM in an obnoxious manner, just as it’s possible to quote from a PM in a non-obnoxious manner.

Just so we’re clear because people will want to be sure, there is no rule against using Tuba’s quote as the sig… it was just part of a larger “pattern” that the mods/admins believed the saw?

I would vote for “Not.” That way, if people decide to keep them private, they can, but if they want to reveal tham, they can.

The degree to which privacy should be respected in cases like this depends on the level of respect shown in the communication itself. You say that:

Well, i’ve done exactly the same thing. And a rule allowing the sharing of PMs wouldn’t change that.

The reason i share with those people in PMs is that i trust them, as individuals. It has nothing to do with the word “Private Message,” nor with any rules allowing or disallowing the sharing of PMs. When i communicate in PMs with someone, it’s because we both feel that it’s a topic we don’t want or need to discuss publicly. And we don’t violate one another’s confidence because we both entered the conversation in good faith.

But if some sends off an abusive screed to me in a PM, i feel absolutely no obligation to protect that person’s privacy. It’s a completely different scenario from a conversation, and just because that person might want to SEND the message privately does not oblige me to KEEP it private.

bolding mine

We already have the rules of the “real world” and those are the ones that are generally followed on the internet and on the SDMB.

The word “private” in “Private Message” refers to the venue, only. Just as a private conversation occurs between two persons rather than in front of a group: talking in an office or one’s living room rather than at a full cafeteria or dining room table. The confidentiality of such a conversation is entirely dependent on the subject matter and the context. Such “private” conversations might include your boss telling you that you did a great job or that you really screwed the pooch or that another employee is transferring departments. They might include a friend complimenting you on your attire or yelling at you for forgetting to return something you borrowed. They might include a romantic confession or a comment on the current weather. They are all “private” in the sense of a PM, but you are free to reveal as much of them as you feel comfortable, constrained only by the subject matter or the explicit call for confidentiality from the person with whom you are conversing. (And if you insist that you always end every conversation with an explicit request to know how much of it you can reveal to others, we will simply laugh at you. No sane person asks permission to tell others that he or she has privately been told a joke or yesterday’s scores or that they were called a foul name.)

Now, there is a universal issue of confidentiality regarding private conversations: eavesdropping is forbidden and revealing what one has heard while eavsdropping is taboo. If one were to listen in on another’s conversation, then reveal its contents, one would be in violation of a number of moral, ethical, and etiquette rules. Similarly, if one were to open another person’s mailbox and read their mail, that person would not only be breaking societal taboos, but the law. In the same way, on the internet, if someone hacked into another’s e-mail or the PM file, they would be in violation of a number of rules and guidelines.

However, there is no such absolute standard for one person revealing what was privately stated to them–it is all contextual, in real life and in PMs.

I’d say that yes, context is important. The context of the quote in said sig line would likely be illuminating, but I don’t feel it’s my place to explain it, nor would I be allowed to link to it. I will say that all things considered, it wasn’t really all that high on the ‘taunting’ scale. And I would disagree that it was taunting. I found it to be an insight into the personality of someone who is very carefully professional in public, yet takes a great deal of glee in being a bully behind closed doors. Bullies should be confronted.

All that said: this has nothing whatever to do with ‘context.’ Being a jerk in a PM, according to Dex’s post, does not give the recipient leave to post excerpts from that PM. twickster disagrees. Whether we ‘like’ the poster in question or not… the rule should be the same for everyone. Either it’s okay or it isn’t. And when all recourse is taken from one so that complaining about a moderator or an admin is so restricted that you know verbal abuse in an email/pm is going to go unpunished (as it did for CarnalK as well as seven), then posting it to show just how thin the emperor’s suit is may be the only thing one has left. It may not result in correction, but it will result in at least a few people questioning the actions of said moderator/administrator. And that in itself is a type of result.

Wow, I have always looked at “private” messages as messages you did not necessarily want to target at the whole message board. For instance, instead of a public posting, saying “Wow, isn’t that crazyjoe a jerk?” which could get you warned if not in the Pit, you can PM your friend magellan01 and say it, privately. But it’s not a guaranteed private system. If you want that, you have to have, I dunno, self-destructing messages or something.

Just like anything I get sent in the mail is different from a general announcement on TV, I am not under any obligation to keep it that way, and the post office is sure not going to make sure I don’t share that info with other people.

I like also this contribution to the thread. There is a clear and unambiguous difference between a private conveyance and a confidentiality agreement. There really can be no confidentiality at all unless both parties agree to it.

I guess I’m puzzled and don’t quite understand what this is all about. The topic of confidentiality vs “private message” vs email was discussed to death a month ago or so. The mods (and most posters) were pretty much agreed that there should be no expectation of confidentiality just because a communication is one-on-one.

And, finally, even a violation of confidentiality would probably be a matter of personal ethics, not a rules violation that would involve mods. (Aside: I can think of exceptions to this, depending on circumstances: for instance, if the violation of confidentiality were some sort of out “outing” of a person or in other ways a violation of our rules.)


If this discussion continues, I do note that there are some earlier comments that come very close to name-calling: accusations of political affiliation have little or no place in this discussion. So, please, let’s stay on topic, eh?

Other people brought it up and one asked me directly. I took a moment to respond to them without attributing the question to you.

I don’t have much to add to tomndebb’s post, but I’ve never disclosed the contents of a PM, twickster hasn’t otherwise, and so on. So clearly we do usually keep this these things private. And no, nobody would have been harmed if she’d gone a different route with this, but I don’t think anyone was harmed this way either. I do think she’d have been asked what he said if she’d disclosed nothing, and that “I can’t say, it’s private” is a something of an extreme degree of secrecy for an insult in a PM. If you send a PM to mod, you still have an expectation of privacy. If you abuse a mod in response to a warning, you don’t have the same expectation.

It was part of a pattern we did see. There’s no rule against quoting PMs in public but if we think it crosses over into being a jerk, we may act on it. In the interest of not rehashing the entire issue I refer you to the threads where the suspension was discussed.

Wasn’t it as part of one of the Seven threads, though? Not everyone reads all ATMB threads, and I don’t think it was obviously marked. Something could be discussed to death in here and 90% of the board might have no clue about it.

Not to mention these responses she might have gotten:

  1. You’re making shit up.

  2. You’re keeping secrets from us.

  3. Cite?

  4. Goodbye, Opal.

Point taken. Franckly, something could have been posted in a thread, like a Moderator Warning, and people posting later in the thread don’t see it.

I think that this is too obvious to be worth another post in the “Etiquette” thread, however. We get too many newcomers don’t read those threads anyhow, because they’re long. I’d rather not lengthen yet more by stating the obvious (that standard social rules of etiquette apply, like don’t puke on the carpet.)