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Trivial
February 3rd, 2009, 18:10
As many of you know, last night there was a heated argument amongst several of our members that culminated in the divulging of quite a large amount of personal information about some of our board members, as well as several people unrelated to ITIL. Real names were used, and accusations were thrown around.

Some of the information posted posed a physical, social, and professional threat to those involved, including several people who are not members here. Real names, places frequented, sexual habits, and other extremely personal information was published. What if a teacher logged in and saw that? A future employer? A stalker? By putting this information on a public forum, the people in question put the people whose information they published at risk.

If you choose to do what they did, you also put yourself at risk. Libel is the act of tarnishing someone's reputation in print by using false information, and it is a crime. The forum members in question may have been telling the truth, but the burden of proof lies with those making the printed accusations, not those accusing the publishers of the libelous works. Sure, this is the internet, but it is not anonymous, and you can be prosecuted for what you post. Don't think for a moment that you would be the first person to be successfully sued for libel because of something written in an online forum. I know it's easy to get caught in the moment of a vicious debate and post something irresponsible, but try and catch yourself before you do.

This brings me to an equally important matter: seriously accusing someone of sexually assaulting a minor. Are you fucking kidding me? I shouldn't even have to address this, but I will. There's a difference between “Haha Trivial is a pedo lol,” and “XXXX told me he had sexual relations with a minor student. This is his real name, this is what he did, and here is where he lives.” The mere fact that someone posted that information on a public forum, on the internet, where his employers look (CLAIR does read these boards), is not just irresponsible; it's dangerous. There are real-life consequences to what you post here, or, for that matter, anywhere on the internet.

The same goes for the serious threats of real-life violence that were made – they are completely inexcusable. If someone were to actually carry through with their threats, ITIL and its administration could find itself in serious trouble. This is because the courts have set a precedent that website owners can be held accountable for the contents of their sites, even when other users post them. This is why discussions of things like circumventing copyright protection, torrents, and other illegal activities are restricted. If someone puts something illegal up here, and someone sues the site or the forum member over it, it puts Dombay, Wicket, Kiwimusume, and myself at risk.

If someone wants to come on to the site and post about how they like to fuck sheep, or want to come on here and rant about how much of an idiot someone is because of something they post, that's fine, but the moment you start putting personally identifiable information out there about other people and their private lives without their consent, you have crossed a line. This forum will absolutely not be a vehicle for delivering threats of violence, discussion of illegal activities, or libelous personal accusations. If you do decide to violate these rules, you will be banned.

This doesn't mean that you can't freely insult other members. By all means, this place would be boring as hell if we couldn't. If you want to post your home address and tell people that you have a rape fantasy, be my guest. Feel free to sling shit at each other all you want in Anything Goes. Go ahead, make racist comments, post information that gets you fired, destroy your future career and be a general asshole, but if you post anything that could be dangerous to other people, you will no longer be welcome here.

Remember that the moment you post something on the internet, it is never private again. Several members have made copies of the thread in question, and the administration of the site still has access to every post and edit made. If we were to be subpoenaed by one of the people who were libeled, we would be forced to turn over those records to the authorities.

Because of this, I am amending (or, rather, clarifying) the forum rules:

Do not post personal or personally identifiable information about anyone if you don't have their permission. Period. This includes names (if the person hasn't posted it themselves), addresses, etc. Basically, if there would be a potential problem in telling a serial killer the information, don't post it.

Do not physically threaten other members with violence. If you do, you will be banned, and I will come to your house in the middle of the night and break your legs with a tire iron. (I'm just kidding about that last part. Probably.)

Don't break the law and post about it here. Real-life law supersedes any of the rules on the forum, and we're not going to be taken down because you felt like posting a play-by-play account of how you fucked a JHS kid.

Remember that the administrative team is actually made of human beings here, and we aren't going to go ban-happy just because someone accidentally lets a name slip or jokingly tells someone they're going to run them over with their car. I've been a mod here for almost a year now, I haven't banned a single person, and I don't plan on starting. If, however, we feel that someone is making a legitimate threat against someone else (last night's threats, for example), intentionally breaking the law and putting the site at risk, or publishing intimate personal information about someone else, they will be banned.

Just to be clear, the libel mentioned here has nothing to do with Paul, but rather with what happened in the Man-Angst thread. I don't know exactly what's going on with the whole Paul situation, so don't think this is about that at all.

Also, nobody's going to get any bans or retribution for what was said in the Man-Angst thread, because I know that passions were running high and shit just escalated and got out of hand really quickly. Real-life frustrations and anger spilled over onto the forums, and it looked like it was coming for some time. Consider this the warning though – I won't let anyone be put into potential danger because of a forum.

As always, though, feel free to discuss any of these things with me without fear of retribution. I'll answer any questions you have.

(On a personal note, that thread was just about the funniest thing I've ever seen. Bravo.)

-Trivial