Criticisms of HypertWiki
Some criticisms which I had posted here were deleted, apparently by the author, so it would seem reasonable to conclude that those objections have been retracted.
In the course of the discussions with that person, however, some interesting issues have come up:
- Are personal emails considered confidential by default?
- Are personal emails considered to be copyrighted (another means of requiring confidentiality)?
- If someone criticizes me in writing, does that have any effect on whatever presumed confidentiality may exist – in other words, must I still keep those criticisms of me confidential? Do I not have some extra license towards posting confidential writing when that writing is criticism of myself? If I value that criticism, then I might want to keep it confidential in order to avoid a chilling effect – but if I am finding the criticism baffling, then does it not seem somehow reasonable to post it publicly? Possible benefits:
- stop the flow of baffling criticism
- maybe someone else will understand the criticism and explain it to me
- perhaps someone will side with me, and give me better arguments to use against said criticism
- The worst-case scenario being that someone explains it to me and I realize that it was valid, and I have now alienated the person who sent it to me – but I never would have understood it if I hadn't posted it, so this still seems like a gain.
- If someone emailed me threats of physical harm, those emails would (as I understand it) be considered evidence, and therefore not confidential. Where is the boundary line between threats and criticism?
- Is it when the criticism becomes abusive?
- Is it when I reach the point where I no longer care about maintaining the other person's trust in me?
- Some people apparently regard "open letters" as inherently hostile. Do most people agree with this? If so, why?
I think part of the complication here may be because there are two different sets of rules involved: statutory rules (law) and social rules (etiquette).
Social rules (as I understand it) are governed by unwritten but semi-obvious contracts between people – such as "I will continue to trust you as long as you don't abuse that trust." If I post "confidential" writing, I may be violating that trust – but if I feel that the writer is being abusive to me, I don't really care too much if they trust me.
A tentative rule: Anyone has the right to confront accusations in a public venue, whether those accusations were made privately or publicly. The accused may choose to respect the accuser's privacy and post such accusations with anonymous attribution; if the accusations are abusive, though, it is not unreasonable for the accused to identify the accuser in order to provide a modicum of deterrence against further abuse. (This is a nicely balanced (even Solomonesque) solution because if the accusation is justified, the accusation is more likely to reflect badly on the accused than on the accuser.)
"Three things can not hide for long: the Moon, the Sun and the Truth." – Siddhartha Gautama
- 2006-12-29 Some rethink posting of private info