I've managed to read all of the trackbacks and comments (as of this writing (see this entry's timestamp)). Let me see if I've managed to grasp the issue:
Some bloggers are unhappy that their blogs are linked freely by other websites outside of their control, in particular, Tomorrow.sg. As a result, these bloggers suddenly lose their perceived and much valued privacy because readers follow the links to their blogs. And they complain about the loss of privacy. Some eventually move their blogs.
Correct so far? What happens after readers follow the links, like writing nasty comments, is a result of the following-the-link, so that's another matter entirely.
In their rebuttal, the editors of Tomorrow.sg have stated the following:
- The Internet is, in general, a public area, therefore everything that can be found there is implied to be consumed freely.
- Linking, whether deeply or not, is acceptable use generally due to point (1).
- If something is contradictory to (1), then (2) must be denied to that thing, e.g. with a password authentication system, or, in Tomorrow.sg's case, a clear warning label.
- Internet users contribute public links to Tomorrow.sg.
- Links from (1) are published only when approved by Tomorrow.sg's editors.
- Tomorrow.sg's 13 editors have varied backgrounds.
- At least two editors must approve the publishing of a contributed public link.
- As a result of (3) and (4), there is little to no chance of prejudice in carrying out (2).
If Tomorrow.sg must be villified, I can see only two ways:
- What is available on the Internet is not implied to be consumed publicly.
- The approval process at Tomorrow.sg is flawed in some way.
Therefore, the phrase "there is nothing private on the Internet" can be taken as true... for the most part. As I mentioned, resources can be made private through a variety of systems. The problem is that, with regards to blogging, many bloggers are unaware of these schemes, therefore whether they planned it or not, what they blog is made public, and therefore available to be consumed publicly. This should not be Tomorrow.sg's fault. It is simply the nature of the beast.
So it seems that it is difficult to villify Tomorrow.sg on point (1). That leaves point (2). Remember their two primary defences: links are contributed by the public (not them), and it takes two editors to approve the publishing of a link.
Aside: I don't think "editors" is the right title for them. Given the nature of their work, I think "approvers" or "publishers" is more apt.
Tomorrow.sg's editors have no power over what is sent their way. Therefore, the only other alternative is that they are biased in some way. But it takes two out of 13 editors (which is slightly more than 15%, but still a minority of the editorial board) to approve the publishing of a link, therefore the chance of biasness is reduced (although some may argue that it is extremely easy for a link to be approved than denied if only two votes are required). This argument stands even stronger if each editor approves an approximately equal number of links.
Being the guy that I am, I counted the number of approvals from Great Singapore Sex Show Exhibition (when the two-editor policy came into effect) to romance in rome. Here's the breakdown:
- Cowboy Caleb - 45
- jseng - 39
- Agagooga, ssf - 21
- shianux - 13
- la idler - 10
- preetamrai - 9
- LMD - 7
- mrbrown - 6
- tinkertailor - 5 (with 1 extra as a third publisher)
- Mr Miyagi - 3
I can think of only one reason why Cowboy Caleb approved 45 times while Mr Miyagi languished with 3. Remember the gameshow, "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" Before a contestant takes the "hot seat", he has to go through the "fastest finger" round, i.e. when he competes with the other contestants to get the right answer in the shortest amount of time.
The way I see it, there are 13 contestants and two hot seats at Tomorrow.sg. A contribution comes in and the 13 see it at the same time. popagandhi and Xiaxue are busy doing their things and can't play the game. That leaves 11 editors. Mr Miyagi and la idler take a longer time to decide whether to approve or not. Meanwhile, Cowboy Caleb and jseng come in for the steal. And before anyone can blink their eyes, the link has been approved. mrbrown shrugs his shoulders and goes back to play with his kids.
I'm not saying that's how it's done (I don't have any insider information), but that is one perception, and a very powerful, negative one. After all, given the numbers I provided, the casual reader can't help but feel that it seems like the approval process is really just one big game behind the scenes.
So this "our editors have varied backgrounds" defence fails terribly because there is an unbalanced number of votes cast per editor. One workaround would be to give each editor a quota of votes, but this unfairly limits what an editor can vote for, e.g. what if a deluge of contributions come in that Cowboy Caleb and jseng absolutely love but the others can't be bothered about, and the former have used up their quota?
Oh wait, that's good, right? Because if 11 editors don't approve that deluge, then maybe those contributions aren't really up to standard, and it's Cowboy Caleb and jseng who have been wrong all this time.
Holy cow, I've unwittingly come up with a potential solution to the perception problem. I honestly did not see it coming. Oh, and no offence to Cowboy Caleb and jseng. I'm just using you as examples.
Here's another suggestion: one man, one vote. Whenever a contribution comes in, each of the 13 editors must vote "yea" or "nay". If there are 7 or more "yea"s and 6 or less "nay"s, then the link is published. If less than 13 votes are cast, the link remains in limbo. This won't work if the editors are busy doing their thing. So a link can be approved with a simple majority, i.e. as soon as 7 "yea"s are received. However, if some editors continue to vote more often than others, then we're back at the same problem.
Okay, that's about all I'm going to write about. I've used up my $0.02 and the gears need to be maintained.
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