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Thu, 09 Feb 2006
Recently, Anthony recounted a story of being harassed by some idiot who responded privately to something on a public list and then got excited when his precious private words were subsequently quoted in public. For what it’s worth, I think the idiot is wrong and Anthony is right.
But that’s not the real point of this post. I’ve been following my own policy about this kind of thing for a while now, but I haven’t published that policy. So, for the benefit of people who might be inclined to write privately to me in response to something I’ve written in a public forum, here’s how I will handle things.
If I respond at all, it will be a brief reply that points them here. I won’t read their email. I will delete their email as soon as I send the brief reply (or without even sending the brief reply if it’s somebody to whom I’ve previously given the brief reply). And when they get here, they’ll learn that the only way to get me to respond to anything they have to say about something that I posted in a public forum is to do the same (and without any of those silly statements about copyright and restricted rights and the other nonsense that certain excessively legalistic types seem so keen to inflict on the rest of us). In other words, if the conversation started as a public conversation, then the only way it can continue is in public.
The upside for me is that I get to avoid the kind of thing that just happened to Anthony and I get to have a published policy that explains what happened to all the vitriolic private messages that so many people seem to feel entitled to send my way. Yes, that’s right, they go straight to /dev/null where they belong.