Saturday, August 20, 2005

Anonymous comments.

This is one of those deals where I'm the focus of criticism no matter what I do. When I turned off anonymous comments I received a barrage of criticism and requests to turn it back on. When I turned it back on, the reverse happened. The majority of "contributors" to the blog seem to want anonymous comments left on, which leaves me (and Brad) in the position of being the blog garbage collectors, and accordingly being criticized for "censoring" the blog.

So, I guess that's the way we will leave it, unless somebody can come up with a better, workable idea.


Thank you Doug. Fortunately there is someone out there with a brain. I can't say that for those who want the blog sensored. I guess the truth hurts. Maybe some of the post will make the employees get their heads out of their butts.

Thanks again.
Your blog, your rules. Don't sweat it.
Doug -
I've been meaning to weigh in on the issue of anonymity but can't seem to find the time to collect my thoughts. So let me say these few words for now.
First of all, Doug and Brad are doing an admirable job with an age-old issue that has plagued democracy since inception. There is no easy answer to this problem.
Anonymous postings are sometimes necessary to avoid retaliation, but they also leave an opening for abuse. I know I will offend many blog posters with this assessment, but on balance, anonymous postings have not been a net benefit to the blog. There has been too much in the way of gratuitous, unfounded accusation. There have been too many useless one-liners. Like Doug, I would like it if the anonymous option was left open to those few who really need it, but it's frustrating to see the nonsense, from both the pro-Nanos and anti-Nanos sides, polluting this venue.
I realize that many will continue to desire to contribute anonymously, and that many will do so responsibly. But those who abuse the privilege are reducing the value of the blog for all of us, and the positive impact of the blog on the outside world.
I am in favor of a system where all contributors use an alias. Some anonymous postings have been quite good. But for me, it is clear that the best and most thoughtful contributions to this forum have had names attached. [Excepting you, Gary. Sorry.]
-- Bernard Foy
I've got to say that fear of retribution just doesn't carry much weight with me as a justification for keeping anonymous posting open, even though this is what I have done, by majority request. Some people were not afraid to speak out even during the depths of the shutdown, when people were being fired for disagreeing with Nanos. Brad Holian, Larry Creamer, Bernard Foy, me, Betty Gunther, John Horne, others. We didn't get fired for speaking our minds. None of us.

Those who claim that they need anonymity to protect themselves from being fired or otherwise suffering retribution really should examine their inner motivations. The sad truth is that anonymity allows people to say things that they would be ashamed to have attributed to them. Witness today's spate of childish, boorish submissions.

On slashdot they are called "Anonymous Cowards".

Anonymity invites weird participants that destroy your credibility. Like a school-ground brawl, it collects some casual onlookers, but does not have the class of a debate.

National media use posting here as a gauge of LANL. One could argue that the supermarket press has better credibility in terms of editorial policy.

Either you should take out the garbage very often, or put the lid on the garbage can.
Basically, blogs with comment features are sets of discussion threads initiated by the blog owner, as opposed to free-form discussion groups where anyone can initiate a thread. This difference is a two-edged sword; on one hand, the blog owner sets the topic matter by controlling top posts, and thus the blog is a reflection of the blog owner's preferences. On the other hand, anonymous posting allows threads to become polluted with lowbrow, inaccurate comments and often outright lies. If the blog owner tolerates this, then this behavior becomes part of the culture of that particular blog.

Censorship has nothing to do with it. It's the blog owner's blog. If someone doesn't like the direction the blog is going, they are perfectly free to start their own blog; there's no restriction on a person's ability to put their words on the Web. The blog owner can control the content by eliminating posts for whatever reason they want. This is an analog to the moderated UseGroup, where off-topic posts are either pre-screened and never appear, or eliminated after posting. Again, what's on-topic and what's off-topic is up to the blog owner.

Of course, the community of commenters can establish its own culture. If someone posts an idiotic comment in some blogs I've seen, the other commenters point out the unacceptability of the practice in no uncertain terms. The blog owners (or moderators) step in and strip postings when the original poster tries to up the ante by responding inappropriately.

Personally, I prefer anonymity, because I know how words written years ago are attributable to my name and available through search engines. I'd hate to have something I dashed off in the heat of the moment become someone else's ammunition years later.

Doug, it's your blog, and thus an extension of you. You set the top posts, and if you want to allow anonymous comments, you get to separate what you feel is the wheat from the chaff. Blogs are not democracies, nor are they a free press. Make this blog your own or it'll make you it's own.

To 10:32-

The "whinning" that "happeded" on this blog? You can't even capitalize your sentences properly. Put the mouse down, back slowly away from the computer, and go play with something simpler. Simple enough to match your microscopic education.


I would appreciate it if you direct your personal messages to me directly to my email address, instead of wasting more space on the blog with them. My email address is:

Thank you,

The anonymous postings and comments need to be continued. Without them, the only people that would be heard from would be Creamer (who is NOT a LANL employee) and Stradling (who has shown a strictly UC bias). We might hear a bit from Betty Gunther (also NOT an LANL employee) and very biased toward a wanabee union.

Yes, there is thus far no evidence of retaliation toward Doug Roberts and Brad Holian, but, as retirees, they are nearly immune. And, they are high visibility so that offers some protection.

BUT, for the rest of us, the concern regarding retaliation is paramount.
If someone can offer proof that they have suffered retribution as a result of using this blog to express their opinions, then I offer the use of this blog to publicize the details of the retribution. Names, times, dates; factual descriptions of the retribution. Proof is a requirement for those wishing to use this blog for that purpose, as are names and all other pertinent information.

The LANL PA division has stated, in writing, that LANL employees are guaranteed their first amendment rights, to include expressing those views via a blog so long as

1. it is not done during work hours,
2. it is not done using LANL resources, and
3. the employee does not represent oneself as an official LANL spokesperson.

This blog has extremely high visibility, with members of congress, the senate, UCOP, LMCO, numerous news organizations, and not a few legal groups reading it daily. UC does not want to be reading about any more management mistakes at LANL on this blog, The New York Times, or anywhere else.

Again, a purported fear of retribution or retaliation for using this blog as a forum of discussion does not carry much weight with me as a rationale for anonymous posting. In fact, I was, and continue to be somewhat ashamed at the timidity of LANL staff in general when it came to speaking out against the "egregious" mismanagement at LANL, that was clearly demonstrated on July 16 of last year, and which continues today.
8/21/2005 07:11:39 AM said:
"Without them, the only people that would be heard from would be Creamer (who is NOT a LANL employee)..."

That is correct. I retired on July 29, 2004, a year ahead of my planned departure date. I used to make it clear that I was retired in my signature. I will start doing so again.

If I were still working, I doubt that I would sign my comments. I have no proof of retaliation, but I do not trust management to do the right thing given the stories I've heard over the past few years.

I hope my comments are acceptable. I'm following the blog for my daughter and her husband, who work for the Lab.

Larry Creamer, DX-1 Retired
Doug, I think your current path is perhaps the best that can be done. Some censorship of those who are just spewing vitriol seems useful and appropriate. This will hopefully, over time, lead them to more appropriate and thoughtful contributions. Of course this makes more work for you; and that is the down side. Thanks for your efforts.
My reluctance to indentify my contributions is that this seems to lead directly to personal attacks, which distracts from the message itself. Hopefully, this will go away over time? Tough problem.
As for the issue of retribution, this is a very real problem, in spite of the PA assurances. If you refer to the letter from Todd and John concerning the TA-15 CREM it includes a reference to S-Div and HR -Div existing to serve the Director and UC, period. This is consistent with the Walp/Doran incident, when they have Lab Legal making the same statement. I would put PA, in the same bucket, and do not trust S,HR and PA at all, ever.
Furthermore, the issue of retribution depends, as do so many things at LANL, on your Group Leader. If your GL decides to go after you, who protects you? HR? Don't make me laugh! If your GL supports your right to speak your mind, you're ok, if someone above them doesn't make it too hot.
The sad fact is that our right to free speech should be guaranteed by UC, and its policies, and its not. UC does not give a damn what happens at LANL. They supported trashing Walp and Doran, and only changed direction when the U.S. Congress intervened.
If UC wins the contract, how will this change? Keep the Blog open for business until the need for it goes away; which will be when UC wakes up to its responsibilities in New Mexico.
Case law is being developed. While network communications are moving rapidly, legal constraints are not changing, but rather are being applied to new situations.

Doug and Brad may be Blog ‘Evil Knevil’ risk-takers who are willing to put their assets on the line to make their point and to front for a few hooded and robed collaborators.

Anonymous at 8/20/2005 08:06:27 PM said: "Your blog, your rules. Don't sweat it. " He may have missed hitting the nail on the head by one word. Maybe you should ‘sweat it’ if your blog exposes you to legal consequences, like publicly libeling or defaming people or organizations who can successfully sue.

An example of the numerous statements that are put forward here for public consumption is: “Nanos is a psychopath and a liar.” Posted at 8/19/2005 10:23:41 PM on Doug’s thread: .

I would not be surprised if there are lawyers out there archiving blogs like Doug's in preparation for contingency litigation, sort of ‘legal prospecting for gold.’

Lillian Anaya did not announce, "I am going to sue" a year ago. She just filed suit when she was ready. (Which, BTW, I consider to be according to the rule of law and within her social and legal rights.)

But I am primarily focused on preserving a healthy Los Alamos for the nation, not advising Doug and Brad on lifestyle risk. So I will not say, “Doug and Brad, knock yourselves out," but continue to encourage them to knock it off.
Gary Stradling said at 8/21/2005 03:00:23 PM:
"Doug and Brad may be Blog ‘Evil Knevil’ risk-takers who are willing to put their assets on the line to make their point and to front for a few hooded and robed collaborators."

Actually, his name is Evel Knievel

Also, why are Doug and Brad fronting for the Order of Saint Francis?

Larry Creamer, DX-1 Retired
Thanks Larry, for the kind correction. I am embarrassed to have misspelled Evel Knievel's name. My phonetic approach failed me.

The hooded and robed folks I was referring to are not a religious order, but rather use anonymity as a cover to protect themselves from the consequences of vigilante defamation. But in this case, under the sponsorship of people with tangible assets.
Gary Stradling said at 8/21/2005 05:59:29 PM:
"The hooded and robed folks I was referring to are not a religious order, but rather use anonymity as a cover to protect themselves from the consequences of vigilante defamation. But in this case, under the sponsorship of people with tangible assets."

Now I'm really confused. The group which you describe seems to be the Ku Klux Klan. I don't believe that there are any Klan members at LANL, and if there were, I can't believe that Doug and Brad would front for them. To accuse Doug and Brad to be a front for the Klan would surely be libelous.

Larry Creamer, DX-1 Retired
Perhaps I should tell my attorney to check out Stradling's latest missive.

Have you considered disabling Stradling from posting?

Can we have a vote on that?
I banned him from the blog last night for repeatedly ignoring my requests regarding posting etiquette.

Way to go Doug, keep it simple!
Thank you Doug,
I too am confused, is he talking about druids? Sand people?
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