The Frienditto saga - Livre d'Or








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livredor
The Frienditto saga
Saturday, 05 March 2005 at 10:34 pm
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I made the mistake of posting a couple of sentences about the Frienditto site in the middle of a post about something else. I assumed it was sufficient to say, yeah, obvious scam, let's move on. However, the issue has been blown way out of proportion and there's all kinds of rumours flying around.

I'm aware that I'm possibly fanning the flames by making another post on the subject, but I want to spell things out clearly. The thing is, the Frienditto site has no legitimate purpose. Let me say that again: it is facilitating nothing that any decent, honest person would want to do.

To break it down: how does this self-described "archive" site work? You provide the URL of a LiveJournal post, and the site copies all the HTML of the post and comments and displays it on the Frienditto site. Now, why would anyone want to do this? If you see a cool post that you like, you might want to draw attention to it. The sensible way to do that would be to post a link in your own journal, or post it to del.icio.us.

If it's a really cool post, you might want to archive it for posterity. Now, why on earth would any sensible person choose to archive a post from LJ, with its established infrastructure and serious, large-scale commercial presence, to some random fly-by-night website? You may doubt the security and durability of LJ, but it's pretty obvious that Frienditto is going to do worse on any of these parameters. It makes no sense for archives to be vastly less secure than the originals. The sensible thing to do would be to copy the post to your computer, if you were really concerned about archiving it.

More likely than LJ disappearing is the possibility that the post's author might decide to delete their post. Why would someone delete their post? The most likely reason is that they regret publishing it for some reason, perhaps because it's generated a really negative response, attracted trolls, caused drama, whatever. In this situation, the only purpose that is served by having a publicly available "archive" copy is to make it possible to continue trolling or harassing or creating drama related to the original post.

So Frienditto makes it possible to use someone's words against them after they've chosen to delete them. But there's a more serious problem. Frienditto also "lets" you archive Friends Only posts. The way it does this is by asking for your username and password so that the site can see posts that you have access to. This makes it possible for the site to archive, or in other words, make a publicly viewable copy of a post that was meant to be private.

Now, clearly there are ways to do this without needing to use Frienditto. If I am an untrustworthy person with access to your Friends Only entries, I can if I wish copy the entry and republish it somewhere online. It's a little trickier to do so anonymously than Frienditto makes it, but it's possible. But just look at that hypothetical scenario again: the whole point is that only if I were an untrustworthy person would I want to do such a thing.

Then there's the whole issue of giving your password to random strangers. It's possible that Frienditto could use your password to post unwanted material in your name, or to read other Friends Only entries apart from the one you decided (for some reason) to "archive", or to lock you out of your account and delete your entries and generally cause problems. I have no reason to believe Frienditto plan to do any of these things with the passwords they harvest; there are plenty of silly LJ toys that ask for a password to get access to protected information, and their creators are harmless fools who reason that, well, I'm a decent person and I wouldn't do that, so obviously everybody should trust me when I say I wouldn't.

But the point is that even if Frienditto are completely scrupulous with the passwords, they are using them for an intrinsically bad purpose in the first place. On the other hand, even if you believe (because all I can do is present my own opinion) that making other people's Friends Only entries public is a legitimate thing to do, as a general principle you should never reveal your passwords. Surely this is obvious?

I have the impression that the people involved in Frienditto are in fact not at all trustworthy. I'm not sufficiently certain of this to defame them though. It is possible that some of the moronic trolls claiming to be involved are actually not, but they just like having their names associated with anything that people are stressed about. It is possible that although they may have done cruel things and abused personal and private information and attempted to cause LiveJournal trouble in the past, they are not planning to do so in this case. This is not the point; I repeat, the site has no legitimate purpose, so even if they only do exactly what they have claimed they are going to do, that is still a bad thing to be doing, and the fact that they are attempting to do it on its own makes them untrustworthy.

Conclusion: Frienditto is a very bad thing. But at the same time, let's not blow things out of proportion. I really doubt that the site is going to do any serious damage to LiveJournal; LiveJournal has survived much more serious attacks before and will do so again long after Frienditto is forgotten. The world is not going to come to an end either, because a few foolish or naive or petty people have provided their passwords to a dodgy site.

My prediction is that the site will fall over in a few days because it doesn't have the infrastructure to support the volume of use it will be getting with all the fuss. (The site is in fact down at the time of writing.) Or if they manage to get it back up again, it will piss someone off enough to find itself attacked either digitally or legally. I doubt the trolls care enough to put serious money or effort into keeping the site going.

Final note: people (claiming to be) connected to Frienditto have been trolling journals with posts critical of the site. As a result of this, I have screened non-friends comments to this post, because I can't be bothered to deal with a potential troll-fest. Legitimate comments may be unscreened at my discretion.
Addendum 6.3.05: hypatia has a really wonderful critique of my arguments in the comments. I suggest everyone should read her views because wow, I've learnt such a lot. (She doesn't disagree with me about this particular site, but does have some very interesting counters to the more general principles I was arguing from!)
Note 7.3.05: Various people seem to have been finding this through links and Google, which is great. I'm almost sorry I ended up screening comments because instead of attracting trolls I've attracted loads of people with interesting contributions and information! I hope to reply to everyone who's contributed individually, but just as a general statement, thank you all for your thoughtful remarks.

If anyone wants to link to this post they are absolutely welcome. My position against Frienditto has no bearing on my attitude towards legitimate links. And if people are finding this piece helpful, I'm happy to disseminate it.

I have left a couple of comments screened, not because they're deliberately trolling but because they're drawing attention to artificially created drama and unsubstantiated rumours. Part of the point of this post is that you don't have to believe that Frienditto is the spawn of the devil and eats babies to see why it's a bad thing. So I don't want the comments of this to degenerate into wild rumour-mongering; all that does is give Frienditto supporters a case because they can say, look, people are spreading false information about us! We are poor innocent victims!

Also word up to largesock who spotted a really horribly embarrassing typo in my original post. I've left his comment screened at his request, but I still think he should get some appreciation for eagle-eyed proofreading skills. I'm very much the sort of person who prefers for people to let me know if my knickers are showing.


Moooood: calmcalm
Tuuuuune: Beth Orton: Touch me with your love
Discussion: 28 contributions | Contribute something
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beckyzoole: default
From:beckyzoole
Date:March 6th, 2005 01:18 am (UTC)
1 hours after journal entry, March 5th, 2005 07:18 pm (beckyzoole's time)
(Link)
Thank you; I've been following the Frienditto furor and hadn't known how to say what you have said so well.
(Reply to this comment) (Thread)
pw201: default
From:pw201
Date:March 6th, 2005 03:08 am (UTC)
3 hours after journal entry, 03:08 am (pw201's time)
(Link)
Friends locking is obviously a copy protection device, right? Therefore Frienditto's host should be responsive to a quick DMCA takedown notice if it came to that: I doubt an ISP/hosting company wants to spend money on lawyers to defend bored 20-somethings. Frienditto seems unlikely to be around for much longer, but has fulfilled its purpose of creating drama, and therefore has been a successful troll.

As for who's responsible: Frienditto and LJDrama share hosts and have remarkably similar IP addresses. Whether you consider LJDrama to be a troll site or not, I'm not sure. Personally, while LJDrama is occasionally amusing, I think it's pretty obviously trolling. Myself, I'd prefer Adequacy for their classier trolls, some even bordering on satire.
(Reply to this comment) (Thread)
livredor: likeness
From:livredor
Date:March 6th, 2005 09:21 am (UTC)
9 hours after journal entry, 09:21 am (livredor's time)
(Link)
I personally think they are committing some pretty serious copyright violations, yes. But my knowledge of copyright law doesn't extend much further than being able to do a relatively convincing impression of someone who knows what they're talking about, and that only for English / UK / to some extent European copyright law. I've never remotely claimed to understand the DMCA.

And yeah, the LJDrama connection is the one I was hinting at. The thing is, I've seen a lot of rumours, including both the statement that the Whois information links them to the LJDrama crowd and the statement that they've faked their Whois information. I have seen a lot of names mentioned in connection with the site of people who have been idiots and trolls in the past. Then again, those names come up every time there's any kind of trouble or rumoured trouble.

But I don't know exactly who's involved with LJDrama, or whether the same people or some of the same people are really involved with Frienditto, and so on. I don't feel I have enough positive information to be able to make a definite statement saying: so-and-so, a known troll, is behind Frienditto therefore don't trust the site. That's why I wanted to make it clear that even without giving credence to a single rumour or claim as to who's running the site, it is still obviously bad and untrustworthy.

I do feel pretty confident in saying that LJDrama is a troll site. Mocking people's LJ posts is not something I particularly approve of, but whatever, if people find that kind of thing fun, that's up to them. But making private information public for the purpose of this bullying is just wrong, even if you find it funny. LJDrama have always done this kind of thing, even when they had to do it the awkward way by taking screenshots and putting them on their own sites. They've also made a lot of very personal attacks on LJ staff and volunteers as well as anyone who objects to their particular brand of puerile 'humour'.
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hypatia: default
From:hypatia
Date:March 6th, 2005 11:06 am (UTC)
11 hours after journal entry
(Link)
Apparently they do have a sense of irony.
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From:dsgood
Date:March 6th, 2005 04:52 am (UTC)
5 hours after journal entry, March 5th, 2005 10:52 pm (dsgood's time)

From their website

(Link)
You can donate to Frienditto!

Frienditto's operating costs have increased dramatically in the past 48 hours due to a massive influx of users wanting to view the site. This increased traffic combined with bandwidth costs is threatening the site's continued operations. Additionally, the Frienditto service is now under severe legal duress due to being named in various actions. We appreciate any support large or small.

Thank you for your fealty,

The frienditto team.
(Reply to this comment) (Thread)
livredor: likeness
From:livredor
Date:March 6th, 2005 09:29 am (UTC)
10 hours after journal entry, 09:29 am (livredor's time)

Re: From their website

(Link)
Doesn't surprise me; I thought it fairly unlikely that the site could stand up to any serious (negative) attention. I expect this'll blow over in a couple of days, weeks at most.
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(no subject) - murkee (3/6/05 09:29 am)
hypatia: default
From:hypatia
Date:March 6th, 2005 01:08 pm (UTC)
13 hours after journal entry

Comment part 1

(Link)
The thing is, the Frienditto site has no legitimate purpose. Let me say that again: it is facilitating nothing that any decent, honest person would want to do.
I don't quite agree. I've seen no evidence that Frienditto wish to achieve anything constructive or anything at all beyond LJDrama/ED context - ie a great big fuss, lots of reaction, some of which will inevitibly lend itself to ridicule. Reminds me a lot of the Usenet Performance Artists but without a spell checker.

We should seperate the motive of one group from the concept of archiving public information. Note the word "public" is important here - honouring X-Noarchive or other functionally similar headers is fundamental to the process. That said it is unwise of any individual to assume everyone honours these when you publish.

If we seperate out the motive entirely then we do have an archiving service which works by building up lots of bits and pieces over time. That holds the raw material from which future, more organised archives can be built. This is precisely how the current Usenet archive was built.

If you see a cool post that you like, you might want to draw attention to it. The sensible way to do that would be to post a link in your own journal, or post it to del.icio.us.

Posting links is fine but it doesn't archive the actual information. If the original is lost you have no archive to which you can redirect those links.

Now, why on earth would any sensible person choose to archive a post from LJ, with its established infrastructure and serious, large-scale commercial presence, to some random fly-by-night website? You may doubt the security and durability of LJ, but it's pretty obvious that Frienditto is going to do worse on any of these parameters. It makes no sense for archives to be vastly less secure than the originals. The sensible thing to do would be to copy the post to your computer, if you were really concerned about archiving it.

For redundancy as much as anything else. Over time archives are built up by integrating many different stores. If someone had asked me to predict which archives/stores of Network News posts would be most reliable or valuable back in the early '80s I'd have predicted some correctly but not all. Some very small and personal archives fill important holes in the record.
LJ may go from strength to strength, it may crash and disappear or be bought out by a hostile company charging for access - I have no idea. Also I'm considering blogging at large rather than just LJ which holds a subset of the world's blogs. The Usenet archives are not just built from one or two archives they are the product of many, many small archives being added to fill in gaps and make it a more complete record. As for storing it on a local computer - ok so my home network has a couple of Terabytes of storage and runs scheduled backups every 6 hours plus incrementals of all user and data areas plus the OS etc etc so yes I can archive stuff of interest to me with some confidence. I'm at the extreme end (the end known as 'sad') of a bell curve which peaks with people backing up their personal machine less than once a month if ever. Archive sites really can provide a service and that should be considered in itself and not just bundled into the motivations behind Frienditto.


I'm also talking to much - I need to split this comment, part 2 follows...
(Reply to this comment) (Thread)
From:neonchameleon
Date:March 6th, 2005 02:04 pm (UTC)
14 hours after journal entry

Re: Comment part 1

(Link)
Um.

There is definitely a use to archiving friendspages and other private posts on your own computer (or other secure space). Same reason tools like lj archive exist.

There is a definite purpose for mirror sites and publically available archives. Pick a case study (google cache will do).

Frienditto is neither of these. Frienditto would claim to be a combination of the two (as in some ways it is). What it does includes automatically makeing a public archive of private posts. It is this last "feature" that can have no legitimate purpose.

Public discussions are one thing. Private discussions are another. Confusing the two is a bad idea. I believe that it is this rather than the rest that has everyone up in arms. (Other than that, I agree with your points)
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pne: default
From:pne
Date:March 6th, 2005 04:37 pm (UTC)
17 hours after journal entry, 05:37 pm (pne's time)

Re: Comment part 1

(Link)
What it does includes automatically makeing a public archive of private posts.

Define "automatically".

AFAIK the only FO/private posts archived are those submitted by user action, not by any automatic process (such as, say, using the supplied credentials to upload all of a given person's protected entries, or all those matching certain criteria such as containing certain words).
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From:neonchameleon
Date:March 6th, 2005 06:44 pm (UTC)
19 hours after journal entry
(Link)
Define "automatically".

By the standard functioning of the tool.

AFAIK, there is no way to get your flist archived by frienditto without submitting your LJ password.

In short, other than for people with no access to friendsonly posts (a vanishingly small number), use of this tool is automatically unethical (and probably illegal in America under the DMCA).

The only people who would use such a tool are therefore either dupes (stupid enough to upload their password) or have malicious (and possibly criminal) intent.
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ixwin: default
From:ixwin
Date:March 6th, 2005 07:10 pm (UTC)
19 hours after journal entry, 07:10 pm (ixwin's time)
(Link)
Does it allow you to archive your whole friends list at all?

I thought it just allowed you to archive individual posts. And it claims you can indeed archive public posts without submitting a password (google cache of the page, as on the site itself I can only reach the front page requesting money)
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pne: default
From:pne
Date:March 6th, 2005 07:39 pm (UTC)
20 hours after journal entry, 08:39 pm (pne's time)
(Link)
AFAIK, there is no way to get your flist archived by frienditto without submitting your LJ password.

Not sure what you mean with "flist" since the site doesn't archive lists; it archives entries.

And you can (well, could) submit a public entry without needing to enter username and password.

And AFAIK submitting a FO entry (which requires username and password of an account that can see that FO entry) will submit only that one entry -- not an entire journal, let alone all journals that that account can see.
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livredor: ewe
From:livredor
Date:March 6th, 2005 10:45 pm (UTC)
23 hours after journal entry, 10:45 pm (livredor's time)
(Link)
archiving friendspages
Archiving friends pages is not what's going on here. LJ deliberately don't provide an automatic way to do it (beyond the unpreventable level of direct HTML scraping). They even make it damn difficult to get an RSS feed of your friends page, obviously not impossible, but difficult enough to put 99% of people off trying. The LJArchive tool only archives your own posts (although if you had someone else's password you could archive theirs as well, but that's not what the tool is meant for.) Frienditto, for all its other faults, also isn't archiving friends pages, just individual posts.

There is a definite purpose for mirror sites and publically available archives.
There is indeed, and I find I overstated my case because I didn't think of this angle until hypatia pointed it out to me.

What it does includes automatically makeing a public archive of private posts.
It doesn't do it automatically. Users have to positively choose to publicize private posts. That doesn't make it a lot better, because it's basically a tool for doing naughty things, but it doesn't automatically make public all locked posts you have access to on signing up. So some of the people who have been defending it are saying that Frienditto is not to blame if its users choose to violate locked posts. I'm sure I don't need to point out why this is a weak argument, but they are legitimately able to make it in the sense that users have responsibility for whether they use the tool for that purpose.
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livredor: teapot
From:livredor
Date:March 6th, 2005 10:35 pm (UTC)
23 hours after journal entry, 10:35 pm (livredor's time)
(Link)
an archiving service which works by building up lots of bits and pieces over time. That holds the raw material from which future, more organised archives can be built.
Interesting; I hadn't thought of that as a possibility. I'm glad you pointed it out because I really would never have imagined that such a thing could be useful at all.

Some very small and personal archives fill important holes in the record.
I think I'm showing my youth here; it doesn't naturally occur to me to imagine a world without Google.

Also I'm considering blogging at large rather than just LJ which holds a subset of the world's blogs.
That's a very good point. I suppose I think of blogs (including LJ ones) as more of a personal thing, and I kind of assume that each author has their own archive of their own stuff. But that's not going to be very useful in a couple of decades' time, I quite agree. Until I saw your comment in theladiesloos it hadn't really occurred to me to want a public archive of blogs, because they seem like less of a public enterprise than, say, Usenet. But now you've put the idea into my head I can definitely see the point.

Archive sites really can provide a service and that should be considered in itself and not just bundled into the motivations behind Frienditto.
A very sound point, and thank you for bringing it to my attention.

I'm also talking to much
Oh, I constantly talk too much, about absolutely every topic I address. So a comment that needs three comment spaces is completely fine by me!
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gsyh: default
From:gsyh
Date:March 6th, 2005 11:47 pm (UTC)
1 days after journal entry

Re: Comment part 1

(Link)
Floppy disks? When I see a post I like on the net, I save it to a floppy disk. I have floppy disks titled Harry Potter fanfics and so on.

If it's a friend only post of something really important, something I want to remember, than I occasionally save it, by making a private post in my own journal of that text. You see, people who have me on their flist, trust me with the contents of that post, I wouldn't even risk letting anyone who have access to my computer to read it especially if it's deep emotional stuff. Later, maybe when I have access to say, a locked box, than I can save it to a floppy or maybe print it out, and store it in the box like cards and letters. If stuff in question is intended for my eyes only, or the eyes of the few who can view that post, I want it stay that way.

Public/Flocked is also the keywords, I wouldn't mind as much if there is a site out there that keeps track of the public entries of LJ in case of crashing, even though it'll still feel a little creepy with the personal LJs, but here, frienditto is making public what is intended for friends.
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nostrademons: default
From:nostrademons
Date:March 7th, 2005 05:29 am (UTC)
1 days after journal entry

Re: Comment part 1

(Link)
Here via flist -> fandom_wank -> Google with probably a few sites in between.

We should seperate the motive of one group from the concept of archiving public information.

Perhaps I didn't read livredor's post close enough, but I didn't think the concept of archiving public information was under attack. There are many, many ways to legitimately archive pages. There's the Wayback machine. There's the Google cache. There's Livejournal's "memories" feature. There's the old-fashioned "Save As" to disk. There's Save-As to disk and then upload to another webpage. There's Save-As to disk and then commit to CVS repository. There's the one-line PHP script "file_put_contents(file($_POST['url']));", which is probably all that Frienditto does.

I really don't see the need (other than causing drama) that Frienditto fills. Yes, archiving is good. If you're gonna do it, though, do it right. Don't just toss a bunch of entries that may or may be flocked into a public directory. Frienditto didn't even preserve the links on archived entries. That creates more gaps than it fills.
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mummimamma: default
From:mummimamma
Date:March 6th, 2005 01:15 pm (UTC)
13 hours after journal entry, 02:15 pm (mummimamma's time)
(Link)
First I'm going to give my password to Frienditto, then I'm going to sign up for one of those nice mortages I have been offered per email. then I'm going to make 150 copies of my bank acount number, social security number and all passwords and PINcodes I remember and post them on all the lampposts around town.

I think I am to old and to blasé to get the point of that webpage. It's for posting the petty entries for teenyboppers compaining about their friends and exes online in a friendslocked entry. If they aren't ready to stand for what they say and write they should have left it alone.
(Reply to this comment) (Thread)
livredor: teeeeeeeeea
From:livredor
Date:March 6th, 2005 10:55 pm (UTC)
23 hours after journal entry, 10:55 pm (livredor's time)
(Link)
This comment gave me a good laugh! I'm glad that someone at least is not taking this issue over seriously. Thank you for that.

I think I am to old and to blasé to get the point of that webpage.
That's what I'm trying to explain here: it has no real point. Because it's calling itself an 'archive', it might superficially seem like it has a point, but it's just a very thin front for being used as a bullying aide.

It's for posting the petty entries for teenyboppers compaining about their friends and exes online in a friendslocked entry.
It's quite true that people like you and me don't really have anything to fear from the site, because we don't post the kind of stuff the drama trolls would find remotely interesting. My friends locked posts are those which contain information that might allow people to trace me in real life (eg my real name) so I restrict those to people I actually know. So unless someone was stalking me, nobody would really want to know the contents, there's really nothing at all titillating there.

If they aren't ready to stand for what they say and write they should have left it alone.
That's possibly overly idealistic. I think that if everybody was really virtuous and really mature, they wouldn't post bitchy gossip about their friends and rely on the friends lock to hide it. But given more than half of LJ's userbase is under 18, you can't expect them all to behave like sensible grownups. And just because that use of friendslock is not particularly morally admirable, it's no less a nasty thing to do to make such posts public against the author's wishes.
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hypatia: default
From:hypatia
Date:March 6th, 2005 01:16 pm (UTC)
13 hours after journal entry

comment part 1

(Link)
More likely than LJ disappearing is the possibility that the post's author might decide to delete their post. Why would someone delete their post? The most likely reason is that they regret publishing it for some reason, perhaps because it's generated a really negative response, attracted trolls, caused drama, whatever. In this situation, the only purpose that is served by having a publicly available "archive" copy is to make it possible to continue trolling or harassing or creating drama related to the original post.

Then to be blunt they should not have posted it on a public forum. Everytime we post in public we should be aware that it can be stored by anyone. That is already true - in that sense Frienditto are doing nothing that isn't already happening. I certainly have personal copies of posts on blogs which were of particular interest to me. If they are public domain I'd have no issue with passing on something of particular interest to another friend (usual caveats apply - credits go with the piece, no profit can be made, mustn't be misrepresented etc etc). I don't see that as very different from sending them the URL and not everyone has easy online access even these days.

Frienditto also "lets" you archive Friends Only posts. The way it does this is by asking for your username and password so that the site can see posts that you have access to. This makes it possible for the site to archive, or in other words, make a pubically viewable copy of a post that was meant to be private.

And initially at least they stated that they would not honour requests from the poster to withdraw their content. I agree entirely this is not acceptable from an ethical point of view. From a pragmatic point of view the previous point still applies - this is already possible and we should take care that those we allow to see private content share our view of respecting privacy.

Then there's the whole issue of giving your password to random strangers.

Which is a salutary lesson in taking care how you give out users and passwords for all the reasons you give.

Frienditto - their previous acts and likeley motivations
This is not the point; I repeat, the site has no legitimate purpose, so even if they only do exactly what they have claimed they are going to do, that is still a bad thing to be doing, and the fact that they are attempting to do it on its own makes them untrustworthy.

Here I disagree - the concept of a public archive of public material per se is one which has many plus points.

None of these issues are new. All of them had to be addressed before and whilst blogging wasn't around the concepts map onto the Netiquette codes.

So - public post equals public content which if reproduced should be done so identifiably and not taken out of context, for profit etc. That would hold for blog postings, web forums etc just as much as Usenet.

Email - is private. Period. This maps onto friendlocked posts. Private mail lists need the same care as choosing to whom you open up your friendslocked posts.

Additionally most major archives honour requests from the original poster to take down their posts if they wish, also they honour Noarchive options.

All of this is of course subject to the caveat that not everyone thinks the same, some are not honourable, some simply don't agree. Once you post something it is public domain by default (in practical terms) at least and its never safe to assume you can remove it from all archives or remove all reference to it.


Part 3 cometh...
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nostrademons: default
From:nostrademons
Date:March 7th, 2005 06:05 am (UTC)
1 days after journal entry

Re: comment part 1

(Link)
Then to be blunt they should not have posted it on a public forum.

That's one of those statements - like "life's not fair" - that's completely true but shouldn't be true. Problem is, if everyone has to worry about the potential ramifications of every little bit they post on a public forum, nothing would ever get posted on public forums. People need to believe that their words really don't matter that much, otherwise everything becomes too damned important to say.

I got my first computer because I was absolutely, completely unwilling to commit anything to paper. Made it very difficult to do my homework. But I was terrified at setting something down in tangible, immutable form. The computer's a huge step forward, because it lets you change things. Remember the line in With Honors, where Joe Pesci the homeless bum gets up in front of a bunch of Harvard students and says, basically, "No, dumbass, the best thing about the Constitution is that it can be changed."

Yes, archiving has its place. But I don't want to think about the whole weight of history whenever I put something down on the screen. I think a lot of the furor over Frienditto is that it breaks down the barrier between personal and political writing. People want to know the audience they're writing for - I'm ostensibly writing this for you, a complete stranger, but I know that livredor (another complete stranger) is screening it, and many more people will likely drop in and read it. When people write for their flist, their audience is significantly narrower, and so they can afford to be more relaxed in what they say. If you break down all the barriers between personal and political writing, there'll be no personal writing left, which I think is a big shame. One of the great things about the Internet is that it's opened up a new realm of not-totally-private-yet-not-completely-open writing, something that used to be the exclusive domain of letters. I'd rather not see the infant Internet social network get strangled in the cradle.

And rereading your comment, I guess you don't really disagree, and we're somewhat talking past each other. But I think that LJ's (and Xanga's) position as a "journalling" site instead of a "blogging" site complicates things. Blogging is typically political writing (in the sense of "being written for a wide audience", not necessarily "politics" in the everyday sense). Journalling is usually personal writing, even if it's in a public post. I usually cut "journal" entries a lot more slack than a typical blog post, because I understand that it's largely a way of venting one's feelings, and that we wouldn't be privy to those feelings at all if people couldn't trust that they're not going to get slammed or otherwise harmed by posting them. With blogs, I assume that people write them with full awareness that it's being read by a public audience, and hold them to a public-writing standard. Hence I have no problem with critiquing their position to shreds.

The idea of a "public journal" is really new, and I'm trying to think of a historical parallel and failing. Maybe graffiti, but that's anonymous. I think this could potentially be a big cultural shift, but the problem with big cultural shifts is that nobody knows what to do with them. So I'm not sure that dragging in e-mail/Usenet/blog practices is a good analogy - there's something fundamentally different about the typical LJ entry, and it's used for a different purpose.

Curiously, both LJ and Wiki have the idea of a "public personal" space, both rely on the idea that most people are basically good, and both have worked great until they were discovered by the assholes. I wonder if this is a general feature of human nature and both of these will fail as social software, or if these communities will figure out how to deal with the trolls and flourish.
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blue_mai: default
From:blue_mai
Date:March 7th, 2005 09:10 pm (UTC)
1 days after journal entry, 09:10 pm (blue_mai's time)

Re: comment part 1

(Link)
this is a really interesting comment, thanks. i'm fairly new to lj but have thought a bit about political/private writing (only vaguely)and what the internet enables. there are a multitude of forums out there, some like lj, some less so, that occuppy that grey area between. most people's 'real' journals, paper ones, are pretty private. audience of one. but are they written to the self? mostly probably not. the author is aware, as soon as something is committed to paper, that one day, maybe tomorrow and maybe decades hence, someone else may well read todays fleeting entry. so there is nothing really fleeting or ephemeral or personal about any of it. unless you burn it.
with the internet, you can always erase/correct the foolish words of yesterday... right...?
errr,no. sometimes. some places. (hey even after i click 'post comment' i can still grab this back. unless - )
with the internet, there's often an 'is anyone reading this?' thing. i mean like maybe really no-one is paying attention to what i say so it doesnt matter if i sound stupid. i'm lost amongst the millions of slightly pointless internet addresses, like a needle in a haystack. and you know what the best thing is - even if my mum/partner/teacher/boss does happen across it - they wouldn't even know it was me. safety in anonymity. you wont get none of that when someone picks up your diary in your handwriting...
and it just seems less pretentious typing away in a stream of consciousness with manner of speech and spelling mistakes than actually, y'know, writing stuff down.
all of which encourages just about anyone who cares to share a thought to, well, share it. (wish i hadnt started sharing now)
honesty with strangers. afterall who are they to judge you? and what do you care if they do?
and what you can never ever get from a paper journal (unless your journal is a weekly column of a newspaper or something like that) is interaction. how nice it is to hear from people. how stimulating. y'know all those (paper)diaries that get started at new year and get dumped within days - just the same proportion of virtual ones would also shrivel up, if it wasnt for the others. commenting, encouraging, arguing, intruiging...
blimey i'm tired. this much commenting is out of character. there were other thoughts. not very well concluded, sorry, but tired.
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blue_mai: default
From:blue_mai
Date:March 7th, 2005 09:12 pm (UTC)
1 days after journal entry, 09:12 pm (blue_mai's time)

Re: comment part 1

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apologies i realise this is totally irrelevant to the frienditto thing...
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hypatia: default
From:hypatia
Date:March 6th, 2005 01:18 pm (UTC)
13 hours after journal entry

Comment part 3

(Link)
My prediction is that the site will fall over in a few days because it doesn't have the infrastructure to support the volume of use it will be getting with all the fuss. (The site is in fact down at the time of writing.) Or if they manage to get it back up again, it will piss someone off enough to find itself attacked either digitally or legally. I doubt the trolls care enough to put serious money or effort into keeping the site going.

It certainly is struggling under the bandwidth. However that isn't so expensive these days and many contributors of small amounts probably would get them over the current problem if that is what they want. DMCAs are more likely to be an issue for them, plus getting that archive into any sort of useful shape would be damned hard work and take time - that is probably harder for them than the cash frankly. If it isn't usable people simply won't use it anyway.

And it may be they don't much care anyway - ED the wiki is still up and running, in practice it would be just as easy for people to post their archives there.

Incidentally quite aside from all this - since, for once I actually have something to say here for once I'll also mention that I find your book reviews/discussion really useful (which is how I came to read your journal originally - that and I was attracted to the name! I subsequently found we had a couple of friends in common :).
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livredor: teapot
From:livredor
Date:March 6th, 2005 01:33 pm (UTC)
14 hours after journal entry, 01:33 pm (livredor's time)
(Link)
I am so blatantly displacing right now by reading this at all, but anyway, proper replies to follow. Just wanted to say thank you for these amazing comments. I've linked them from the main post because I think everybody should benefit from your wisdom.

Apart from that, welcome to my journal, I really appreciate that you've contributed such detailed and thought-provoking stuff. Also thanks for saying such nice things about my username and the contents of the journal. *glow*
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lisekit: Hacienda
From:lisekit
Date:March 6th, 2005 03:30 pm (UTC)
16 hours after journal entry
(Link)
Just wanted to say - quel coincidence. I've been thinking about that song lately, and intend to make a new dance to it.
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tiggerbone: default
From:tiggerbone
Date:March 7th, 2005 02:37 am (UTC)
1 days after journal entry, March 6th, 2005 08:37 pm (tiggerbone's time)
(Link)
I agree with azathar. I did the same thing. Since I found your post and the subsequent comments to be well thought out, I hope that you do not mind if I place a link to it on my LJ. If you do, just let me know in a commented reply to this and I shall remove it.
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elbales: Destiny-Waterhouse
From:elbales
Date:March 7th, 2005 05:10 am (UTC)
1 days after journal entry, March 6th, 2005 09:10 pm (elbales's time)
(Link)
Hi. I hope you don't mind if I link to this entry from my LJ. I found your comments through Google. Thanks for the succinct explanation of the whole situation. I'm one of those Viewers Who Just Joined the Show because I've been out of town, so this is really helpful. Please let me know if you want my link removed.
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