Dialog good. Unacknowledged journal pulls bad

Over the past several months, I've noticed a few instances where people have removed previously posted journal entries without acknowleding an entry had been pulled. Sometimes the journal entry had comments not to the orginal author's liking.

I'd like to suggest this is a poor practice for librarians and other knowledge workers. How can we be for intellectual freedom if we delete conversations that don't go our way? How can we be for openness in government if we pull items previously posted to the Internet? It undermines our witness in a number of ways and is a luxury we can ill afford in these dark days of government secrecy and claims of unchecked power.

I'm the first to admit that we will sometimes need to pull items, especially if there is a conflict of law. But in those cases, we should follow mdoneil's example of posting a revised entry like he did when a posting interfered with a court settlement. He didn't simply make the posting disappear, but explained why he needed to make recissions. That's fair to me.

I'm also sympathetic to the hurt that one feels if people commenting on your journal start attacking you personally or take the discussion in a direction you feel is counter-productive.

But we shouldn't allow that hurt to prompt into the same types of Orwellian practices we condemn in others.

Let me close by making a distinction between the legal and moral areas of this issue. As copyright holders of our journal entries, we have the perfect legal right to alter or pull our work off the Internet. More so than any government agency. But morally, we library and knowledge workers must hold ourselves to a higher standard. We cannot condemn a refusal to hear differing points of view if we do not hear them ourselves. If we are for freedom of information and intellectual freedom for others, we must practice it ourselves.

As a wise person once said, "Be the change you seek."

Comments

Unacknowledged removal

Personally, I'd use the word "ethical" rather than "moral" in this case.

Otherwise, I agree. Legally, I'm free to revise history when it comes to anything on my journal here or on Walt at Random. Ethically, I believe it's somewhere between sloppy and wrong--and as a "library person," I believe it's professionally unethical.

Similarly (to a lesser extent) for cleaning up existing posts and entries: It's useful, sometimes it's necessary, but it's better to at least acknowledge that a change has occurred. (One of two instances where the strikeout HTML is convenient, the other being internal irony.) The worst thing you can do through unacknowledged revision of a post or entry is to make commenters look ridiculous, because what they said refers to a previous version of the post.

As you know, I'm sort of a hardnose in this respect: I run corrections for errors in Cites & Insights (there are always errors, but they're not always ever noticed), but I do not alter the PDF or HTML unless there's a legal issue. "Integrity of the text" is important.

Word change accepted

Ethical does sound more right than moral. Thanks for the assist.

Re:One Other Thing

The latest example happened in the last week. I didn't want to single out the last person I noticed doing this and don't mean to imply it is a common practice at LISNews.Of course, I should try to check into things like server error first. Thanks for suggesting this possibility.

Opinion

I know people can change and even delete journal entries. I have edited one as you noted, but I removed mine not because of the opinion of others but because it brought a quick resolution to a legal action I instituted.

However I do agree that journal entries shouldn't be deleted simply because you don't like the opinions that follow. Reasoned debate is the cornerstone of learning, to delete something with which you do not agree is to stifle the opportunity to expand your horizons.

I know that there was a journal entry recently to which I responded and the person who started the post deleted the original journal entry thus deleting Greg's and my responses. I wouldn't have done that as I enjoy the debate. Many people disagree with me, and only through the sharing of opinion are we able to learn and grow.

Re:One Other Thing

I think I had one about libraries in the PI that I thought I posted. I didn't know if I edited it, or deleted it or what happened to it. It wasn't earth shattering so when I didn't see it I went off on some other tangent.

However I feel much better now that I can blame it on something besides my failing memory.

One Other Thing

Let me also just add, it might *look* like a few people did that, when in reality it was due to server issues last month. Keep in mind I lost about 2 weeks of data (all data, including journals) a few weeks back, so a couple dozen entries vanished through no fault of the authors.I don't know if that covers any of the entries, but that's one thing you might notice.

not always the best case

I'm not sure if you're responding to a particular instance, but I will admit to having deleted a number of journal entries here at LISNews. The reason is that the administration at my library caught wind of my blog and expressed displeasure at some of my posts. I wasn't going to get fired (I don't think!) but I figured in the interests of continued happy employment I would delete them. It's unfortunate that it came to that, and I don't feel that I should have had to delete entries, but I ultimately decided that it was for the best. I now watch my mouth a bit more, and if I do feel the need to post something remotely critical about MPOW I take it to my locked LiveJournal. I would have put a disclaimer on my LISNews journal, but it would have just antagonized MPOW more, I think, than quietly taking down the offensive entries.If people are just deleting journal entries because they don't like the comments, though, that's kind of silly. You can turn commenting off if it bothers you that much.

Re:not always the best case

Hi Samantha,I have to admit that I hadn't noticed you pulling journal entries.However, I think there is a difference between pulling an entry because you don't like the comments that came with it and pulling it because your employer wishes it gone. I was speaking to the first case.So I think what you do is fine. Not that anyone needs my approval to live an ethical online life. :-)

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