Censorship, Criticism, and Open Discussion (Was: The Death...)
Edward Hofman recently posted what IMO was a reasonable, thoughtful, and apropos piece on certain risks to the survival of the Geocaching hobby occasioned by centralized control of the Geocaching.com web site and its related mailing list.
> I am sorry to report in the future the death of > Geocaching.
Ed goes on to note several specific risks or issues associated with single-source, central control of the primary resources used by participants in the hobby, which I liberally paraphrase here (apologies to Ed if I've got it wrong):
(1) reliance on a single source may result in a temporary or permanent interruption in access to the geocaching.com website;
(2) if the website adminitrator chooses to close the site or deny access, even the coordinate data supplied by others may be unavailable due to access or alleged copyright restrictions;
(3) the website administrator has usurped existing resources developed by others relating to the hobby by creating duplicate functionality (e.g., new geocaching list, Ed Hall's (Buxley's) maps); and
(4) the website administrator has sought to restrict use by others of data from the Geocaching.com website in order to create a separate non-commercial website that provided maps of cache locations when such maps were not available on the Geocaching.com site.
These seem to me to be reasonable issues for discussion, expressed without rancor or personal attack, and Ed explicitly recognized the hard work contributed by the Geocaching.com website administrator.
Sure enough, out comes the flamethower:
Brett Smith writes:
> Your style of comments are the only reason Geocaching > might die. Why dont you all try being alittle more > supportive to the situation.
> things are getting out of > hand a bit.
Mr. Smith then proceeds to denigrate another participant on this list by insinuating (incorrectly, it turns out) that the software used by that participant to provide cache location maps might not be appropriately licensed.
I urge people to understand that these mailing lists are intended for discussions. Discussion is sometimes controversial. You will not agree with everything posted by other participants. However, to the extent participants are treating each other with courtesy and respect, it is not necessary to attempt to censor their comments simply because you don't agree with them. Learn to use your delete key.
Moreover, Mr. Smith's comment above is not the first to launch an unwarranted attack on a participant in a kneejerk reaction to polite criticism of the Geocaching.com web site or its administrator. Although I am second to none in my admiration of the Geocaching.com website, there are many ways in which it, and the hobby, may be improved. And with all due respect to the website administrator, I don't always agree with his policies and positions.
Frank, open, discussion of these issues is the primary driver of improvement in the hobby. List members should feel free to participate without risking flames and character assasination by others.