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April 23, 2009

Comments

This makes no sense to me at all. If someone says "I'm in favor of cute puppies, apple pie, smiles and sunshine", I don't care who the speaker is, or if the speaker is unknown, whispers from behind a wall and then runs away. I'm going to consider it for myself, on its merits. … The most annoying nonsense in these comments have been the ones that speculate who is cronies with who and who Tom Lee is posting as. None of that matters.

I agree with this. I have no problem with people making substantive arguments, regardless of whether I think they’re good arguments - even if I don't know who they are. What I really don’t like, and have no desire to encourage, are personal aspersions masquerading as arguments. “Phil Ayling is wrong” is the beginning of a substantive argument. “Phil Ayling is greedy” isn’t.

I could have set myself up as the Content Police. But I’ve got better things to do. I suspect that most of the personal aspersions are coming from people who will be intimidated by the prospect, however remote, of someone someday tying them to their words.

Rick Blanc wrote:

I also realize you are most concerned about anonymous posters at this point but for the record if you don't want me on your blog just say so and I won't post.

I’m not concerned at all about people who sign their names to what they write. Post away.

keys88 wrote:

People expressing their choices and opinions freely without fear of personal or professional reprisals is the basis for many institutions in this country, starting with the voting process.

Try finding a single newspaper, magazine, or radio station in this country that would give you the unqualified right to say what you want without either identifying yourself to the publisher (if not to the reader), being subject to editing, or simply being ignored. Freedom of speech doesn’t mean that anyone is obligated to listen to what you have to say or to enable you to say it more loudly.

But if you had read the TOS carefully, you'd see it is far more overreaching than most in this arena... note especially the specific prohibition against posting content that is "harmful" or "otherwise objectionable"...

Is public criticism of the RMA "harmful" or "objectionable"? I'm sure Ayling, Sazer and the rest of their pals would certainly claim it is - TOS violation! Is criticism of Tom Lee "harmful"? I'm sure Tom Lee and his supporters would say so, and there you'd have another violation of the TOS.

I’ve wasted some time today looking at the TOS for two other major blog-hosting sites, Blogger (owned by Google) and Wordpress.com. They are quite similar to TypePad’s, although one could read TypePad’s TOS as slightly broader. If keys88 has a strong preference, based on its TOS, for another such blog-hosting site, I’m all ears. I like TypePad, but I’m only married to my wife. But before anyone suggests that a looser TOS would solve the problem, they might reflect on that fact that Blogger (in its previous incarnation as Blogspot) hosted the blog that the AFM successfully chased out of town a while back.

I think the emphasis on the “overreaching” language of the current TOS misses the point. It’s TypePad’s TOS, not mine. I’m already free to deal with content that I believe is “harmful” – I can simply delete it (no doubt to equally loud howls of protest, of course). I don’t see any record of TypePad using its TOS to shut down any kind of discussion, and it’s hardly in the interest of a blog-hosting service to interpret its TOS with that kind of heavy hand. All a Google search turned up was an instance in 2006 where TypePad requested the removal from a blog post of information they believed was a violation of a third party’s privacy.

More important, I have been bound by TypePad’s TOS ever since I started this blog four years ago. I’ve criticized a few people, some pretty sharply, with no claims by anyone (including TypePad) that I’ve violated the TOS. But I am concerned that I am also liable, under the TOS, for what commenters post, including those who provide no identity to anyone and who, in some cases, go to serious trouble to remain anonymous. (I don’t really think that one of our more prolific commenters actually posts from Australia, for example.)

As Bruce Hemd pointed out, this is not primarily a public discussion forum. There is absolutely nothing stopping anyone from starting their own blog, or their own BBS for that matter. Unless that person owns the entire Internet, they too will have to deal with multiple TOS restrictions.

But I intend to grab the domain name “Robert Levine is a poopie-pants.com” as soon as possible; it’s way too good to pass up.

"At its heart, an opinion involves someone offering "professional" judgement or at least personal assesment of an issue. Absent a person standing behind that opinion, it doesn't function as an opinion at all."

This makes no sense to me at all. If someone says "I'm in favor of cute puppies, apple pie, smiles and sunshine", I don't care who the speaker is, or if the speaker is unknown, whispers from behind a wall and then runs away. I'm going to consider it for myself, on its merits. Good debate doesn't get too hung up on Argumentum Ad Hominem or its cousin, the Appeal to Authority. In fact, the "person standing behind that opinion" is largely a distraction from the opinion, not an essential component of it. The most annoying nonsense in these comments have been the ones that speculate who is cronies with who and who Tom Lee is posting as. None of that matters.

For one example, Robert is calling for an independent study of the market in question. Whether this is a good idea or not has nothing to do with it coming from Robert; it could be Bin Laden's opinion, or it could be Ghandi's, or my Aunt Bea's. It wouldn't matter, it would still be a good idea or bad idea (or somewhere in between, as I argued in another thread) on its own merits (or lack thereof).

TOSs are, generally, a pile of nonsense. They're supposedly legally binding, but they tend to be vague, overbroad, sloppily written legal cover, and hardly anybody reads them.

But hey, it's Robert's sandbox, we just play in it. Thanks for the blog.

Oh ... and P.S.

I am Bruce Hembd
http://www.horndogblog.com

;-)

keys88 - you are missing the point entirely.

In defense of Robert and blogs in general - this not a public forum per se. It is a blog paid for and owned by Robert. You can choose to agree or disagree, but do not make the mistake of assuming that this is a BBS bulletin board or discussion group.

Instead of pouting and stomping about freedom of speech perhaps you would do better to make your own blog. You make this new policy sound like as if the Constitution itself has been set on fire and stomped on.

Go start you own blog. Call it 'Robert Levine is a poopie-pants' if you like.

Grow up dude.

My policy is I express myself as clearly and directly as I can. Obviously I stand by my opinions and sign my name -- always have. I don't expect many of the things I say to be either popular or endearing. I say what I think. I also realize you are most concerned about anonymous posters at this point but for the record if you don't want me on your blog just say so and I won't post.

Phil, and I mean this as no criticism of you (TOS), there is a person behind every opinion on this blog. Just because a person, out of legitimate concern of professional reprisals, chooses not to disclose his or her name, that in itself does not invalidate the legitimacy or integrity of the opinion or the person stating it.

People expressing their choices and opinions freely without fear of personal or professional reprisals is the basis for many institutions in this country, starting with the voting process.

Before I read the Typepad TOS (terms of service), it seemed like a sensible move, Robert. I certainly understand the need to put an end to the wild character attacks here so we can properly return the focus to the issues - I was the target of many of them, after all.

But if you had read the TOS carefully, you'd see it is far more overreaching than most in this arena... note especially the specific prohibition against posting content that is "harmful" or "otherwise objectionable"...

But wait, what do you consider "harmful", since that's a violation of the TOS? No actual damages are required, since they didn't use the term "damages" or "loss", they used the terms "harmful" and "objectionable" which are very wide-reaching, and do not require any sort of damages or loss to be claimed or proven.

Is public criticism of the RMA "harmful" or "objectionable"? I'm sure Ayling, Sazer and the rest of their pals would certainly claim it is - TOS violation! Is criticism of Tom Lee "harmful"? I'm sure Tom Lee and his supporters would say so, and there you'd have another violation of the TOS. Is criticism of the recording musician lawsuits "harmful"? I'm sure they and their lawyers could probably make the case that it is. And is criticism of any AFM policy "harmful" to the AFM since it's made here in a public forum accessible worldwide and preserved in archive form for the future? I'm sure the AFM folks could say that it is.

In fact, any serious criticism at all can easily be described as "harmful" and the case made that it is "harmful" to someone or some organization, and certainly "objectionable" as well - even a lower bar. So I guess that's the end of any criticism and honest public debate at all on this site. Both you as the owner and we as your faithful readers will have to think nice happy thoughts, and only say good things about the RMA, AFM, and everybody. Happy, happy, joy, joy!!!

And we'll no doubt have people on both sides of the "recording wars" monitoring each and every post you make, and every comment that is made, ready to report anything "harmful" or "objectionable" immediately to Typepad for swift and decisive action.

A sad day indeed for the AFM Observer. What once was a free-flowing exchange of ideas and good-spirited debate about important issues where criticism of policies and defense of policies brought enlightenement to all about current issues, no matter how "objectionable" those issues have been, has been reduced to a platform where "objectionable" points of view are explicitly prohibited and any serious criticism has been prohibited as a matter of policy.

A nice blog while it lasted, Robert, and I can honestly say I learned a lot. My views on a number of issues were changed by viewpoints posted here by you and others, and while my grave concerns about the selfish and elitist policies of certain groups (note to comment police: I didn't say WHO!) remain, I did learn a lot about how they justify their actions to themselves here. I learned a lot about what "verifiable facts" really were, and of course your own "10 explanations without breaking a sweat" episode was most revealing.

Please consider this a vote against your policy change, Robert, from someone who finds it "harmful" and "objectionable" to mute and constrain the voices of free speech, public debate, and honest issues-based criticism when so many people's careers are at stake with the AFM issues. You could have taken a much less draconian approach by implementing your own limited policies on this blog to eliminate the personal attacks that were clearly a problem, but by adopting the sweeping prohibitions contained in the Typepad TOS, you've gone way, way beyond what was necessary to deal with the personal attacks.

"YouJustDontGetitLevine can't tolerate real differences of opinion."

At its heart, an opinion involves someone offering "professional" judgement or at least personal assesment of an issue. Absent a person standing behind that opinion, it doesn't function as an opinion at all. Robert,I appreciate your spending money so that people may offer their opinions and talk to each other.

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