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July 16, 2003

Editing the minds of your readers

If I edit my posting will that also edit the minds of the people who read it?

There has been some controversy about Mark Pilgrim Winer Watcher, which monitored the edits that Dave Winer makes to his postings. It is being discussed at many places, some thoughtful, other more rowdy. I am not really taking a stand on this as two things happened in the past days with postings by Dave that have made me think more carefully about editing weblog postings.

On these two occasions Dave made very blunt statements:

  • In an earlier version of the "Thanks for the E-Mails" posting, he wrote that the campaign against him was organized by "an alcoholic, a representative of BigCo and a 16 year old kid". Everyone who knows the players understands these are references to Mark Pilgrim, Sam Ruby and Aaron Swartz.
  • In a comment  about Keith Ballinger's slide about RPC at XML DevCon, Dave stated that Keith either was ignorant or a liar, and basically accused him lying in public to further the goals of a BigCO.

On both occasions after some thought I felt I should respond, either through a comment or a posting myself. Both times Dave had after an hour or so of the original positing, edited these statements out.

I will defend Dave's right to make edits, or anyone rights to make edits to what she or he writes. Whether it is for the flow of writing, or for correcting grammatical mistakes, your content is yours, to do with as you please.

This does however not take away that you do have to take responsibility for all your words, even if they appear only briefly on your weblog. If you have an issue with anger and frustration and frequently need to edit your posts to remove this anger, you should realize that editing does not remove them from the minds of the people that have already read them. And that maybe you need a different approach to manage your angry writing.

I didn't keep copies of these earlier postings. At that time I didn't know they were going to dissapear again. By now I feel I should have. I wish ww was still available so I could use it as content this posting ...

Posted by Werner Vogels at July 16, 2003 03:15 PM

On Identity and Edits
Excerpt: The discussion about tracking edits, and editing our weblog writing continues, and perhaps rightly so. Though this originally started out as a disagreement between two people, the impact is going beyond these players and may change how we view what we ...
Weblog: Burningbird
Tracked: July 17, 2003 01:10 PM

Do what I do now, I make a screenshot of something that I want to make a point of. Hard to argue a screenshot.

I don't know about anyone else, but this situation is so tiring.

Posted by: Shelley on July 16, 2003 07:37 PM

How is the screenshot any different than Mark's text copy? (Assuming it is.)

Posted by: Anil Dash on July 17, 2003 06:28 PM

See .

Google won't index the inflammatory content contained in a screen shot.

A screen shot of someone's web page saying something derogatory about you will not harm you.

Online TEXT that says something derogatory about you can harm you, as described in Shelly's essay (URL above).

Ironically enough, the insulting texts quoted in Vogels' post and Shelley's essay and the explicit associations they draw between the players' names and the insults will probably harm the people named here.

Discussing the problem perpetuates it in a Heisenbergian way.

Posted by: Prof Plum on July 20, 2003 09:59 AM

It's so funny that this issue keeps popping up. Only moments ago, I added a disclaimer to my comments box explaining my "rules", but then realised I do whatever I want whenever I want with absolutely no consistency whatsoever. So then I had to edit out the "rules". Yeah, they lasted all of about 2 hours.

Personally, I try not to say anything about anyone. I'd say I try not to be negative at all, but that's nearly impossible. :-)

Posted by: Lisa on July 26, 2003 07:26 PM