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deleting stuff  RSS feed

 
paul wheaton
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In the beginning folks could delete their posts whenever they wanted.   And then we were hit with a rash of people that would ask a question, and once they got their answer, they would delete the question.  It seems that they didn't want people to know that there was a point in time that they didn't know stuff.   We want this site to be about perennial discussion - so somebody would start a thread, and stuff would be added to that thread over many years.    Further:  a bunch of people took the time to answer the question!   In the end, we decided that in this scenario, we wanted to modify the software so that people cannot delete their posts.

As the years passed, we fiddled and tweaked, made exceptions, helped polish threads ...  we've dealt with spammers and trolls and mean people ....    we've also had lovely people attacked and ...  the stories go on and on and on ...  this site has become pretty big.   We have about 40 active staff right now.   I started this forum 12 years ago.   We have a massive history on this topic.

Now we get a lot of emails from people that don't agree with something that appears here.  They have found a way to create an email account at google that sounds like the author of a post and say "I don't want that to appear anymore - remove it immediately, or else!".   And we look at the post and it seems fine. 

Drama.  Drama that is going to take time to sort out.  Is that the real author of that post?   Is there a valid reason, to us, to take it down?  Or is this part of some weird bickering match between two people and we are being asked to be the unwitting tool of shenanigans?  The staff wants to have more permaculture discussion - they don't want to be spending large tracts of time being the servant to bad guys. 

11 out of 12 requests are loaded with hostility.  They refer to our software, our path, our history, our recipe for community, our staff as "ridiculous", "bananas", "stupid", "fucked up", etc.   "Other sites ...."    Ah, that's the thing:  we are trying to do something different, so we manage things quite differently than other sites. 


I have had more than a thousand people tell me that the way I manage my site is wrong.  They insist that I have to manage my site the way they tell me to.  Each individual that is certain that I am their puppet to command is unaware of the hundreds of other puppeteers that were just as emphatic that I have to manage my site in the opposite way.   What happens to the puppet that complies with a thousand simultaneous puppeteers?


The issues with deleting stuff is a hundred times greater than what I have described here.  There are so many complexities.   Things we have done that worked, things that we have done that we regretted, but mostly it seems to be an area where somebody commands me on a certain path and in the end it is not possible for everybody to be perfectly happy.   Naturally each party wants me to obey their command without question.  And these same parties don't care one lick about all of our history or all of the other people involved. 


There can never be a perfect solution.  Day after day, we make the best of it.  Work, work, work ...


Out at coderanch .... which is larger and older ....  and has one hundredth of the drama that permies.com seems to attract ....   in time I made it a policy that if somebody wanted me to make some sort of change, I would say "send me $200 via paypal".   My thinking is that since it is a site about software engineering, whoever is requesting the change on their end is getting paid to make the request.   We are not getting paid to process their request.  And it takes a good bit of time to sort things out to make sure the request is legit and what we are doing is proper.   Only one party ever paid the $200.  My impression was "wow, it is just THAT serious to these folks!"  So we did it.


If you write a post and there is a reply to it, chances are very slim that we will remove it.  The person that replied gave your post their thought and time before making a reply.  We wish to be respectful to that person.

If your request contains any sort of threat or any form of disrespect, there is a very good chance it will simply be ignored. 


I have seen staff members do an enormous amount of work, pushing the boundries of what our software can do, to help somebody with stuff like this.   They would spend hours on it.  Only to have the person they are helping shit all over them in the end.  A powerful reminder of "no good deed goes unpunished."    So, a lot of the staff are pretty worn out on helping folks with stuff like this.  It's easier to just ignore this stuff and go back to talking about gardening


Here is my advice if you want help along these lines:

1:  Post your request as a new thread to the tinkering forum instead of sending emails or even PMs.   This way, it can be seen and processed faster as well as all of the active staff can see it at the same time and be able to discuss it.   It also verifies that you are the author of the post in question, rather than requiring us to do a lot of research to try to figure that out.

2:  Phrase your request as a request, not a demand. 

3:  no threats.

4:  no insulting the site, the people on the site, the policies, etc.


This does not guarantee that you will get what you want, but it does improve the odds.   We don't have any hard rules about this stuff, because valid reasons that crop up are often things we have never heard of before.   So I guess our general, squishy policy is that we don't delete stuff, but once in a long while, we have been convinced to make an exception.

I know that when considering a request like this, staff will look at your apple count, your post count and some of your recent posts to get an idea of whether you are generally helpful to others, or generally combative. 


We have a bunch of awful that our all volunteer staff sorts through every day.  At the same time, those same staffers are keen on building a beautiful permaculture community.    If a nasty person stomps off and says "I will never user permies.com again" - then our policies worked rather well, and our community is a nicer place.    And if a lovely person needs a bit of help, I think the staff is generally glad to help.  Help us help you.


 
r ranson
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I think there are some great ideas here.  More and more, I use forums as a starting point to learn something new.  It's very frustrating when part of a discussion is deleted by the authors.  It's like now that they got what they wanted to know, they don't want anyone else to learn this new thing.  It feels very selfish and I'm glad that there are forums out there where things don't get deleted willy nilly.

That said, deleting something from the internet is a lot harder than one might think.  Copy and paste makes it easy for content to be duplicated and republished on other sites.  Projects like The Wayback Machine, make back up copies of many sites. Once something is posted on the internet, it may be there forever.  We put our writing out there and it's no longer our own. 

 
Deb Rebel
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Back in the late 90's, I was on a forum that got a lot of the same questions every week. We were plagued with teens as well (some would get a virus and refuse to get off and clean it up so we'd have to lock them out to get them to clean up, then they'd manage to get back on and scream about it for a week....). I set up a bare bones website, full of content and pictures, to help with not having to answer that same question 85 times that week. The forum host said they were pushing 2gb bandwidth and looking at affording more, and after that site went up traffic dropped to 800mb ...

Someone had some content and agreed to have it linked, the link was done. Then they did a search on themselves and guess what, the site came up. It was about keeping gerbils... and on the site was two pictures of gerbil bottoms so you could tell if you had a boy or a girl. Nothing strange or weird, two simple pictures presented as reference material. Amongst a LOT of other things. They took offense to having their name linked to the site because of those pictures. Those were there when they agreed to the link. They DEMANDED I take the link off immediately. I told them I would but that the stuff was cached (it had been a week between link and demand) and it wasn't going to go away. I took the link down. The search still brought up the site and the significant other threatened me with a lot of stuff. I pointed out one more time, I took the link down but. The way the internet worked, it'll be there forever and there was nothing I could do to undo it. I undid the bit I could control. I never heard from them again. The site is still out there, somewhere. You can still find it. I tried, just now, to look up the person. The site still comes up for that person. It's been about 20 years. I'm not kidding.

When it goes onto the internet, it stays on the internet.
 
Tim Pasanen
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I posted a comment to a thread suggesting a moderator action.  I got a message from Staff/girbot with the clue "we're monitoring this closely.  thanks for the suggestion, but its better if you use the report button."  Ok, cool, thanks for letting me know!

Since I can use the report button, the post in question is now redundant — although it still is visible to me in the thread (albeit in a 'probation' state).

Will this post disappear of its own accord after a certain amount of time?

If not, is there something I can do to trigger its deletion (given that no-one else can see it or respond to it)?  Maybe report the post itself as being redundant, or editing the post and just leaving "Please delete me!"?

What is the correct/best way of requesting that a 'probation' post be deleted... and can the same method be used to request a non-'probation' post (which has not been responded to or quoted) to be deleted?
 
Deb Rebel
garden master
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Tim, please see the Purple Mooseage... thanks.

Normally, yes, just report the post and put the reason in the little box.
 
r ranson
master steward
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The report button is a super-powerful tool.  You can use it to ask for threads to be added or moved to different forums, point out things that you think don't meet publishing standards, tell us about posts that deserve apples and other things.  It's a great way to get our attention quickly.  Sometimes we don't see a post right away, but we always see when someone presses the report button.
 
Cd Greier
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I  want to delete a post I wrote but I don't know  how. You folks sent a mooseage that the post wasn't conforming (Sorry) but I don't know where to find the guideline to ID the problem. I 'think' it's probably just that I didn't really add substance to the thread but I  can't figure out how to express the point so I don't mind just taking the post off. Can you do this from your end? It may be a while before I'm back online to check your advice. Thanks.
 
r ranson
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Was there some reason you didn't want to fix the post?  All that's wrong with it is that it's hard to see where the quote ends and where your words begin.  There's nothing wrong with the content. 
 
Cd Greier
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OK I'll try again. Thanks.
 
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