"Neil R. Ormos" <>
Sent: 5/30/2001 12:34:45 PM
"GPSstach List" <>, "Geocaching List" <>

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 web site and its related
mailing list.

Ed writes:

> 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

(1) reliance on a single source may result in a temporary or
permanent interruption in access to the

(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

(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 website in order to
create a separate non-commercial website that provided maps
of cache locations when such maps were not available on the 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 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 web site
or its administrator. Although I am second to none in my
admiration of the 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.