Groklaw accused of censorship

Groklaw accused of censorship

Summary: Especially obnoxious is sandboxing, censoring the fact of censorship from the person being censored.

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TOPICS: Open Source
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To my mind, Groklaw is one of the indispensable sites in open source.

Just don't get on Pamela Jones' bad side. (I'm afraid I just did.)

When I took this beat, back when the SCO vs. IBM case was in full flower, Groklaw was always on top of the story. Sometimes I disagreed with it, but I saw it as unbiased, authoritative and credible.

There have always been those who claimed the opposite, starting with SCO management. The mysterious Pamela Jones -- never seen, a self-described paralegal, signing everything PJ, but with a detective's instincts, a librarian's access to research materials, and a litigator's sharp tongue -- added spice and mystery.

If you're a legal geek, Groklaw is delicious enough to be practically pornographic.

But now several people have come forward with separate claims of Groklaw censoring their comments, and Florian Mueller has posted examples of the practice at Scribd.

What in the past was only hinted at is now out in the open.

Mueller's Scribd piece describes some examples of comments being expunged and describes incidents going back to 2005. Most involve Groklaw itself, and charges of its censoring comments.

Especially obnoxious to some is the issue of "sandboxing." A user will write a comment, they can see it when they log back in from the same IP address, but it won't appear to the public. The person being censored is having that censorship censored.

Thomas Klupp, a longtime Linux user, wrote this has happened to him, when he questioned Groklaw policies.

"It is normal that discussion forums censor really bad comments. But my comment was a polite question." A copy was passed to me. It was a comment that questioned Groklaw's policy regarding discussions.

Blogger William Beebe wrote in 2007 of a similar experience. People whom PJ dislikes see comments, even entire threads, disappear, even if they are on point and supportive of Groklaw's general point of view.

One programmer who has been subjected to this treatment claimed in a note to me that PJ has a "conspiratorial mindset" and "nothing better to do than write about you all day every day." (This may be why he then asked that his name not be used.)

One person who is quite public in his complaints is Jay Maynard, maintainer of open source Hercules. Correction: The story text originally read TurboHercules, although the link is to Maynard's open source project.

As he wrote on his blog, "The writing was on the wall was when she picked one statement out of my long post, replied to it with a vicious attack on my credentials as an open source community member, and ignored all the rest of what I wrote. I can now only assume she did so because she found the facts inconvenient."

And that's the bottom line here.

No one is accusing Pamela Jones or Groklaw of violating any law. Most of those who have written on this issue, like Maynard, have the highest regard for the site's work. What they're questioning are is just what Jones  questions so eloquently -- a lack of transparency.

As one source who showed me extensive evidence on this point noted, while asking that his name not be used, "It's PJ's soapbox and she can have her way with it. The only real issue from my perspective is that she's sneaky."

For any discussion site to succeed people must feel free to disagree. I know comments to ZDNet are sometimes removed, but never by me, and never without sound reason based on a stated policy. That's all anyone is asking for here.

Tell us what the policy is. Don't just try to make people or statements you don't like disappear. What's fine for a personal Web site is not fine for a scaled community considered the journal of record in open source law.

Topic: Open Source

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74 comments
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  • Let me get this straight.

    You, Dana, chose to write about censorship practices and put Groklaw.net in a poor light for doing so?

    What is your position on censorship at ZDNet?
    What is the point of this article?

    I think this is pretty funny actually--the pot calling the kettle black.

    I will say of all of the blogs however, yours as been more 'tolerant' of commenters than any other.

    Ed Bott, aka Mr. Microsofty, is the worst offender of heavy-handed, arbitrary censorship.
    Dietrich T. Schmitz, ~ Your Linux Advocate
    • Groklaw just censored a link to this article here

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz, Your Linux Advocate:

      If you're so pro-Groklaw, what do you think of the fact that a comment by your fellow registered Groklaw user JamesK just got censored within a minute or two of being posted?


      Groklaw accused of censorship
      Authored by: JamesK on Friday, November 19 2010 @ 04:28 PM EST

      The link is
      http://www.groklaw.net/comment.php?mode=display&sid=20101113003329789&title=Groklaw%20accused%20of%20censorship&type=article&order=&hideanonymous=0&pid=886947#c887108 and it no longer shows that comment.
      FlorianMueller
      • LOL Groklaw restored this one (but only this one)

        Now the link to that JamesK comment works again. But it didn't for some time. Screenshots were of course saved. At least the Groklaw audience now gets a chance to discuss the issue.
        FlorianMueller
    • RE: Groklaw accused of censorship

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz, Your Linux Advocate In all fairness, Ed, Dana, and every blogger on this site has ZERO CONTROL over what gets deleted. If it gets reported as spam or offensive (which anyone can do, even you) there are CBSi employees who decide what gets removed and what does not.
      jperlow
    • RE: Groklaw accused of censorship

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz, Your Linux Advocate <br><br>It's probably worth noting here that neither Ed Bott nor Dana Blankenhorn nor *any* ZDNet blogger has the ability to censor/delete a Talkback message in their blogs. However, our site's moderators will consider for removal any messages that violate CBSi's <a href="http://cbsitou.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/1320/session/L2F2LzEvc2lkL0VHVXRSc2Zr#AcceptableUse">Acceptable use policy.</a>
      David Grober
      • RE: Groklaw accused of censorship

        @David Grober Thanks for the link to the policy. I have never asked for the power to censor talkbacks. Glad someone else takes the responsibility.
        DanaBlankenhorn
    • That's not true. You just don't like the fact

      that Groklaw, who censors in such a way as to paint MS in an "allways unflatering light" may have just been exposed for what they are.

      You hate the fact that Ed Bott shoots you down weekly with facts, and all you have is your typical "Linux is the best and hire me to do it for you" posts.

      Now your upset that your "reference material" may prove to be tainted, detroying everything you use to "build your reputation on".

      Sorry, even your heros can be fakes.
      John Zern
      • I concure

        Mr. Zern. I did notice his name was that of a member of Groklaw.
        Though it may have started innocently enough, like many a cause that has gone astray it appears it has morphed into nothing more then one person's ticket to "fame and fortune", in which the manipulation of facts is done for no other reason then to fill the needs of the one behind it.

        And many of the faithful too blinded to the truth follow and defend it because it gives them that which they have allways looked for, like the witch hunts of your early history, or the McCarthy era not too far in your nation's past.

        People like Mr. Schmitz want so badly for Microsoft to be the nexus of all things evil, they will latch onto a site like Groklaw, as their manipulation of facts gives hime exactly what he has allways looked for.
        :|
        Tim Cook
      • So how much...

        ...were you paid this week to give out that silly conjecture?<br><br>Did Redmond give you a bigger cubicle to sit in?

        Maybe they added a door to it, huh?

        ;)
        ahh so
    • RE: Groklaw accused of censorship

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz, Your Linux Advocate I realized that my own position, and that of ZDNet, would be subject to just this criticism. The difference is transparency. ZDNet has a policy, which folks are made aware of. Groklaw claims not to have one, but does this anyway. That's fine for a personal site, but not for a scaled community that claims to be doing journalism. In my opinion. You are free to disagree.
      DanaBlankenhorn
      • Re: Less than truthful

        @DanaBlankenhorn

        Actually Dana, it isn't good to do for a personal website either. If you don't eat your own dogfood people will eventually stay away. Most personal websites don't have policies anyway.
        osreinstall
    • What acn you expect, What X M$ employee now owns zdnet

      Lets see who will come up with the answer ..........
      Over and Out
      • Please enlighten us to that answer

        SoYouSaid. I know it is not Steve Jobs, as he has his hands full with Disney, and their offerings of news services thru ABC and their afiliates, so it does narrow it down a little.
        Tim Cook
  • RE: Groklaw accused of censorship

    HAHA Suck it PJ! I'm glad to see Groklaw getting called out. I never liked that site anyway with their very bias opinions. And PJ claiming she's not a lawyer but tries to pretend she is one. No broken heart here for that site.
    Loverock Davidson
    • RE: Groklaw accused of censorship

      @Loverock Davidson In all fairness to PJ, despite her clear bias towards the Free Software movement and her criticism of anyone who strays even slightly off that narrow path -- she may not be a lawyer, but she is a paralegal and legal research is exactly what she does on that site.
      jperlow
      • PJ is not a free software advocate

        @jperlow A free software advocate would not write a headline like "Why I believe IBM is free to sue the pants off TurboHercules", considering that TurboHercules is a free software startup and such a headline meant support for patent aggression against free software.
        FlorianMueller
      • RE: Groklaw accused of censorship

        @jperlow I just want to repeat that I am a fan of Groklaw and of PJ, although she may not want to hear that right now.
        DanaBlankenhorn
    • RE: Groklaw accused of censorship

      @Loverock Davidson I disagree strongly. I find Groklaw extremely valuable. I would just like its policies to be transparent and enforced in an evenhanded manner.

      Unless of course this is just Pamela Jones' personal web site. In which case it doesn't matter what she does. But then it shouldn't matter to any of us what she writes, either, in that case.

      You don't get to have it both ways. You can't stand as an authority and then delete all criticism. Not if you want to remain an authority.
      DanaBlankenhorn
      • ALL lOVEROCK DAVIDSON EVER DOES ON

        ZDNET IS FLAME ......... HE NEVER BRINGS ANYTHING TO A DISCUSSIONS .....END OF STORY
        Over and Out
      • Groklaw's Disclosure Pages

        @DanaBlankenhorn .. provide this:<br><br><i>"...Groklaw is a noncommercial site. It's <b>my home on the internet</b>, and just like if I invited you to my home, I'd appreciate it if you helped keep it clean, tidy and a friendly place to visit..."</i><br><br>Mission Statement:<br><br><a href="http://www.groklaw.net/staticpages/index.php?page=20040923045054130" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://www.groklaw.net/staticpages/index.php?page=20040923045054130</a><br><br>Comment Guidelines:<br><br><a href="http://www.groklaw.net/staticpages/index.php?page=2004030120301285" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://www.groklaw.net/staticpages/index.php?page=2004030120301285</a><br><br>So, for all intents and purposes your comment:<br><br><i>"..Unless of course this is just Pamela Jones' personal web site. In which case it doesn't matter what she does. But then it shouldn't matter to any of us what she writes, either, in that case. "</i><br><br>... added to the contents of the 'Mission Statement' and it's pretty unequivocal - i think she was acting within the rules set out on *her own, personal site*. <br><br>Your last comment is actually the most valid you have made yet. You're dead right, you can't have your cake and eat it .. but then again, if it is just her personal site ... pffft .. that says it all: she's judge, jury and executioner. And you know what? That's completely fine in the context of her own little universe .. just don't expect the rest of us to take her seriously. <br><br>The court of public opinion is a powerful thing, no amount of legalese, strong arming and subterfuge will keep a person afloat when they lose all credibility. If what you claim *is true* (..and i've seen no concrete evidence so far from you to prove so), JP and Groklaw will .. by hook or by crook .. invariably, crash and burn.<br><br>Sincerely</b>
        thx-1138_