I'm not entirely comfortable painting a big red target on the back of my head, and I'm slightly less comfortable with the fact that this forum is completely available to the public (and therefore Google), even without registration.
Being an IT guy by trade, I know it's not possible to hide from the prying eyes of Big Brother, but it would be nice, at the very least, if Google didn't pick up some of these conversations. Imagine applying for a job with some of these posts in the public eye!
Of course, in a perfect world, we'd all stand up for what we write here, and while I am willing to a certain extent, there's no point in giving anybody a head start. Also, I do need to keep my job in the interim, so I'd like it if the site required registration in order to read posts to the forums.
Agreed, Bill. It's no secret where I stand politically, but I certainly appreciate the concerns you express above, which I would encourage everyone else here to take as valid and worth careful consideration.
If a subscriber-only option exists for reading the forums, I would be in favor of activating it.
Perhaps if it's put another way...what is the *advantage* of having the forums completely public?
The main page says what the group's about, so interested parties can join up and find out more--that's how all of us joined, as a matter of fact. Having individual conversations made totally public is something quite different.
The fact is, the FBI already has a file on me from my activist days during the Clinton regime, but it could get a lot worse. Now I have a wife to consider, and, God willing, children someday.
Think they can't destroy you and make you regret what you've written? They can....just look up Winston Smith about Room 101.
These are not esoteric abstractions I'm talking about. This is real life experience from a bona fide (former) activist who was forced "underground" for the last 15 years because I found that I like having a roof over my head and food in my stomach.
Ask anybody who knows me, and they'll tell you that I'm no coward, but I've lived through this and I'm here to tell you, it's better left behind closed doors for now.
The question of being 'targeted' for participating in open forums has come up before.
When the topic came up folks were worried about being watched by the feds, local law enforcment, the NSA, and every other acronym the government might come up with. there were about 400 members on the forum then; now there are well over a 1000.
The point is this - everyone has to make a choice to participate in a free exchange of dialogue that supports personal growth, awareness, and discussion on a wide range of topics concerning our country, freedom, and our principles.
None of what we discuss or promote should ever take the form of violence or contribute insurrection. Noone should participate in that kind of venue. PERIOD.
Take a look at the survival podcast forum and the quality of dialogue that is promoted.
It's honest and useful dialogue not fear or hate mongering.
It could and should be the same here.
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It all comes down to us. What do you want to make of the forum and community that is being built here?
I agree with William Ames . . . I have felt very uncomfortable 1. in adding my name publically to this site and 2. freely expressing my opinions. I would like to be able to register using our real information and then have a "screen" name to keep our idenities private. We can get to know our opinions in the meetings where dicussion can be more free without a public record. I think others have not signed up because they have to use their real names.
Nobody (at least not me!) is advocating violence or sedition, but I am suggesting that it may not be too long before being conservative becomes a crime, constitutional rights or no. Why make it easier for them? An analogy: what's wrong with gun registration? Why not give them all of your information on what firearms you have on a big list? What's the harm if you're not doing anything illegal?
I suppose there *is* something romantic about having your name out there, like some Google-era John Hancock, for all to see...
In any event, I do think that folks need to have informed consent, knowing in advance that what they post here will be available to anybody in the world who Googles their name.
maybe I just need a new career, if this is hazardous to my position at Dear Old State. Anybody out there hiring? ;-)
While I believe your concerns are well grounded, remember that your enemies can only take the liberties you surrender.
I've been politically active and outspoken for decades, and so I'm no doubt on multiple lists. I'm on lists because I own firearms, registered Libertarian, organized and attended second amendment rallies in DC and Harrisburg. I know I've been photographed and investigated by the FBI. Have you seen the Missouri police report? (http://www.prisonplanet.com/secret-state-police-report-ron-paul-bob...) Very intimidating stuff.
Nevertheless, so long as your activities are moral and legal, I say exercise your rights or lose them.
I agree with Wayne (and Greg).....This is a friendly site, I haven't seen anything her that makes me (that) uncomfortable.. except all the "Big Brother" talk. 47 million did not vote for Obama in the last election I'm sure they are not all on a subversives list. I admit I'm concerned with the direction we are going as a country, but things could totally turn around in two or four years....at this point we still have a right to free speech we should excersise that right freely.
Have you ever read the Daily Kos, or Huffington Post?.....by comparison this is sunday school.
Speaking as someone familliar with the technology...
If you set this site so that only members may view the forums, it will prevent Google's bot from crawling the site, and collecting articles and names stored here. But that is pretty much all it will do. It will not prevent some malicious person from signing up and viewing our content, getting lists of names, or collecting text of articles posted here, and then reporting them or posting them on other sites, unless we make sign-ups private too.
If you are concerned about "big brother", you should also know that when you access this site, all content is transferred from ning.com's server to your computer in plain text. It passes through many computers along the way, and the traffic could be intercepted at any one of them. Same is true when you post something. In addition, I am sure that "big brother" has plenty of other ways of finding out what is stored on this site, including just signing up for our group, and reading it.
Ning.com, like most sites of this type, have copyright violation policies. If one wanted to cause problems for some group that had opposing views, all they would have to do is report copyright violations found on that group's site to the original source site, and that could get the group's site shut down. It has happened before...
As far as the privacy setting...
I don't think it matters one way or the other. I wouldn't post something here that I am not prepared to stand by, and defend. Even if you choose not to use your real name, and you post something here that the government considers to be a threat, I guarantee that they will be able to identify you anyway. Your IP address and date/time stamp are stored with every post, and your Internet Service Provider stores the IP address that you are using at all times, whether you have cable, or DSL, or dial-up. So, given an IP address and a date and time, you can identify the person.
On the other hand, I hate to think that some people are scared to sign up, and have not joined us for that reason. To be honest, I was at first. But I finally decided that in light of what has been happening lately, I could not remain silent any longer. But if it would make those hesitant people feel more comfortable, I have no problem setting the site to allow only members to view the forums and blogs.
But if we do that, I would still suggest that you not post anything here that you would not post if the site were public!
My initial thoughts are that we should not request privacy; we should think very carefully about our posts so that we are willing to have them viewed publicly. The concept of "we surround them" is undermined if we are afraid to exercise our right to free speech. Also, my motives for joining this group include education and enlightenment concerning government policies and processes. I feel somewhat two-faced if I am unwilling to express my thoughts in public. If this forum becomes a place where un-American views are expressed or illegal or unethical activities promoted, I will not remain part of it.
I think this conversation is starting to go off track, if I understand the gist of Bill's original post (Bill, please correct me if I'm wrong).
I don't think the "privacy" issue is about plotting revolution or fear of some clandestine federal agency. Rather, it concerns the very real social and professional implications of freely engaging in this sort of dialog.
It can just as easily be said that the idea of "We Surround Them" implies a prevailing assumption to the contrary, one that exists because many in positions of authority (again, both social and professional) have meticulously constructed it. There are real implications for many people in this region of having this stuff only a Google search away. I have read a good deal of "consequences-be-damned" bravado in posts on this thread. I love the spirit of those ideas; don't get me wrong. On the other hand, if we then recognize adverse consequences as a possible result of speaking freely here, do we brazenly opt to incur them without just cause? Why add obstacles to an already-uphill climb based purely on abstraction? Discretion is the better part of valor.
In the end, I see this as pure cost-benefit analysis: negative impact of a possible chilling effect on discourse among members versus whatever positives may come from casual users being able to view these conversations.
Clearly some folks (i.e. PSU employees, those whose businesses depend on Centre Region customers, etc.) have legitimate concerns about publicly searchable posts, and these will probably lead them to say less than they might or nothing at all - an indisputable cost. I would hope someone will attempt to articulate the off-setting benefit by answering Bill's previous question about advantages of keeping the forums public.