The Case of the Missing Threads

It will be obvious to any readers of this blog that posts regarding Hurricane Katrina have disappeared. This deletion was noted in the comments section here, where Jim Bacon responded and said he had not removed the material.

I just got off the phone with Jim. He asked if I had deleted the posts. I did not. I would never delete another contributor’s post and don’t believe I even have the security authority to do so. I would never delete one of my own posts or comments to one of my posts without offering a corresponding post explaining my actions.

Hopefully, an explanation of the removal will be forthcoming. We owe it to our readers.

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  1. Will – Thanks for the reassurance.

    Unlike others, I see nothing wrong with correcting typos, updating information or making factual corrections; and there’s even appropriate times to “self censor by removing posts or comments once they are published“. It’s a strength of the blog system, to adapt and refine ideas or add to stories as they develop.

    When done, it must be balanced by truthfulness and transparency. The practice of ‘disappearing’ inconvenient articles, including those of the commentators, is deceitful, and smacks of Soviet- or 1984 style revisionism.

    Several bloggers use ‘Updates’ or ‘Revision’ notes to allow additions, changes, and deletions. I personally like the Commonwealth’s Code revision style; strikethrough for deletions and emphasis for additions, but don’t know if the software here allows it.

  2. Sebastian Shirer Avatar
    Sebastian Shirer

    I totally agree with your statement: “When done, it must be balanced by truthfulness and transparency. The practice of ‘disappearing’ inconvenient articles, including those of the commentators, is deceitful, and smacks of Soviet- or 1984 style revisionism.”
    The only blogger that I have encountered who would delete posts he didn’t like and then act like they were never there, or were using bad language (when they were not)is in fact Steven Sisson.
    Jim and or Will,
    Does Sisson have such access to this blog? Once a dog develops bad behavior it is almost impossible to break him of it, and he just can’t be trusted….
    Someone is acting with poor character, first the bogus poll numbers to try to fool NotLarrySabato and now this.
    Smells like a dirty dog to me.
    Of course if Sisson doesn’t have that kind of access it couldn’t be him.

  3. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    I didn’t even know we could mess with previous posts. In my mind the only person who should have that kind of administrator power is Bacon, himself. I was pretty unhappy with the way that was going, the vicious personal attacks and the cheap political posturing. But then I noticed I was on CNN and logged on to the blog instead.

  4. Will Vehrs Avatar

    Easy Street, I do not know the level of access other contributors have, so I will not speculate on who deleted the posts. All I know is that I do not have the authority or the ability to delete someone else’s post.

    I have updated my own posts in the past to correct grammar or spelling, or to “update” them with new information or links to additional commentary on the topic.

    I may have deleted one or two of my own posts in the past because, unbeknownst to me, another contributor was posting on the same topic at the same time. After looking at their post, if I thought it covered the material better, I deleted my own. I don’t think enough time passed for any comments to be posted. I think I noted my deletion(s) in the comments section of my colleague’s post.

    Without a Code of Conduct, we have no real reference point to start from in considering how to react to what has happened on this blog. Anyone can submit a rationale for deleting the posts and comments, or some rationale for why it shouldn’t have happened. How do we judge?

  5. The Jaded JD Avatar
    The Jaded JD

    When Blogger hosted my blog, after a few months, it began to eat posts. Don’t know why, don’t know when exactly, but I knew that posts I’d written were no longer on the site. It’s one of the reasons I moved to TypePad.

  6. Will Vehrs Avatar

    Mr. JD, I hope that turns out to be the explanation.

    I’ll feel silly for getting all worked up over this, but will gladly accept that feeling for the alternative.

  7. I’d submit that whatever the reason, an explanation be posted.

  8. Jim Bacon Avatar

    I’m back from the beach and trying trying to pick up from where I left off early Saturday morning. I can understand the impulse behind Barnie’s action of deleting his original posts — the interchange was getting ugly, and the commentary had lost the civility that normally characterizes Bacon’s Rebellion. (Although I don’t recall calling anyone names, I got a little heated myself.)
    It’s a sad commentary on the polarization of our nation that we seem incapable of coming together during a time of national emergency and tragedy, but that’s the way it is.

    To the extent that the tenor of the discussion related to Hurricane Katrina on this blog has improved markedly since then, Barnie’s action accomplished what he apparently hoped it would. The spirit of this blog is to discuss solutions — as Ed Risse, Jim Bowden and Phil Rodokanakis have done with their posts, agree with them or disagree with them — not to engage in destructive name calling. So, all’s well that ends well.

    At the same time, I agree with the comments of those who think that a blog should maintain transparency. Authors should not cover their tracks. Blogs should remain an open book, and people should be accountable for statements they make in carelessness or haste. I think it’s pretty clear that Barnie was not trying to cover his own tracks — he regretted bringing up a subject that turned so ugly — so I am not faulting him.

    If the decision were mine to make, I might have handled it differently. I might have declared the thread to be closed. That might not have stopped people from continuing to comment, but it would have justified deleting any comments that appeared after that point, and it would have maintained the integrity of the transcript. Would that have worked out any better? I don’t know. We’re still figuring out how to make this blogging thing work.

    Within a relatively short time, Bacon’s Rebellion will have a code of conduct — an editorial policy for the blog, if you will — that we will endeavor to abide by. We will post it on the blog, so readers can use it to help hold us accountable.

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