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Hi, folks.

Last month wasn’t too smooth personally or professionally (some of which will get noded in due time). As such I wasn’t as active on E2 as I’d hoped to be. But I am logged in once or twice every day, and welcome your comments and questions.

Without further ado, let’s get to the admin news from October.

E2 technical problems

The technical team, all volunteers just like the admin team, doesn’t get enough praise for keeping the good ship E2 from coming apart at the seams. This month there were a few alarming sounds from the engines, but we held together.

Writeups not showing up in node heaven

About mid-month it was noticed that deleted items were not appearing in users’ Node Heaven as intended. This was alarming, as writeup deletions on E2 are meant to "un-publish" contributions rather than to fully eradicate them. This took a few days to work out, and in the meantime there was a delay in servicing Node Title Edit, Broken Writeups, and Writeup Deletion requests. Over the course of about a week the problem was identified and rectified. However, it is likely that some writeups deleted during glitch-time didn’t make it to heaven. These may be recoverable - ask an editor if you're missing something you want to see again.

While this went on, the technical team asked the editorial team to defer all deletions until the problem could be diagnosed. Instead, sub-standard writeups were simply hidden from the New Writeups list. This worked pretty well, and suggests a possible change in policy towards poor but potentially salvageable content.

Time is an illusion. E2 time, doubly so.

With the end of Daylight Saving Time in the US, our yearly hiccup occurred where certain display times (such as last seen) drifted off by an hour. Apatrix remarked that “ Keeping our time vaguely in touch with reality is more voodoo than system administration.” We’ll probably have this sorted out by, oh, next April or so.

Editorial policy discussions

Suicide threats, part II

Discussion of the manner in which we handle suicide threats continued, with no answer that satisfied everyone. Most feel that there’s no legal obligation to intervene on anyone’s part, but that we should have a clear statement of policy on the issue (see last month’s Editor log for more).

Complicating the question is the nebulous commercial status of E2. In some ways E2 is a research project, but from a legal viewpoint E2 is still owned by Blockstackers. Honestly, I don’t know exactly. I’m not affiliated with BSI or any of nate’s original crew. I assume that what Hemos wrote is still pretty much accurate. Regardless, we do need a policy, and I’ll be soliciting advice from one and all about assembling one.

The fled make easy targets

The oeuvre of a long-time user of some notoriety came up for discussion. There was some debate about whether said user’s inactive status made them vulnerable to writeup deletions that wouldn’t happen with an active user. For myself, I do look at long-fled user accounts with a more skeptical eye, because they haven’t been around to read their Message Inbox and clean up their own work. But as always, we should be judging the content, value, and reputation of works, not of users. Fled or not should make no difference.

One editor notes that “conservative deletion is the best policy. If you can't support (it) with good reasons, don't delete.” Amen.

Editorial and supra-editorial powers exercised

Being Editor-in-Chief gives me the responsibility to make decisions regarding user accounts, and to to wield the “big stick” when necessary. Fortunately this isn’t necessary often.

Changing user account names

We dislike changing user account names once a user is established. Just as you may look for your favorite author in a bookstore, columnist in the newspaper, or on-line blogger, so too do E2 readers look for user names they know. Changing these names leads to unwarranted confusion. However, there were a few cases this month where name changes were made. One was simple regularization of a StudlyCaps user name, which was an irritant to the owner and readers alike. Another was a slight alteration made to disambiguate a user’s name from a like-named writeup. One more was done to help protect a prolific user’s personal writings from discovery by the user’s mundane-world family.

Deleting all writeups and closing user accounts

Sometimes a user chooses to leave E2, and want to take their content with them. Although this can damage the integrity of a linked database like this one, ultimately E2’s stance is that a user owns their writeups, and so we respect these decisions. The editorial staff will try to talk the user out of it, or get them to donate key writeups to the everyone account, but in the end we will do it. Such a departure occurred this month.

We have a database tool that lets us handle departures cleanly. Sometimes users simply blank their writeups and leave silently. This is a kind of database vandalism, and we ask our users, please, do not handle it this way.

The Hall of Noder Discipline

Deceptively similar user names

Some user names are vulnerable to catbox spoofing with like-names accounts. Users with an m in their name, for example, may be vulnerable to spoof accounts using rn in place. This is juvenile. While not precisely identity theft, it will not be tolerated. Such accounts will be locked, and if there is clear evidence pointing to a user’s main account, that account may be locked too.

Racial epithets

We tolerate a wide range of expression, but hate speech and racial epithets are not normally among them. A user left us in October and left a poisonous rant on the home node. I don’t know what prompted the user’s reaction (no valid contact points were given), but it was out of proportion with having a few writeups deleted. I edited this account to remove the worst of the vitriol.

The good stuff

There were some excellent entries in the 2005 Halloween Horrorquest and as always Page of Cool has some great stuff, including the literally cool iceowl’s latest Antarctic adventures.

Next month

Another rambling report like this, plus questions from the user base, if anybody asks any. Stay well, node well, and let me know if you need any help with the site.