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Please begin with an informative title:

I would not presume to tell anyone at DailyKos what is or is not important in the meta field. I will, however, tell you something I saw at Wikipedia. I'll be very, very brief, too.

1. As you seek, so you shall find.
2. First amendment rights do not exist on privately published websites.
3. "They" are indeed infiltrating us.
4. The real danger comes from the weakness of democracy, not the power of the state.

This is my first "meta," and it's a summary of all I know, so I think it's my last, too.

Below, I'll expand.


You must enter an Intro for your Diary Entry between 300 and 1150 characters long (that's approximately 50-175 words without any html or formatting markup).

1. As you seek, so you shall find.
Vandal hunting creates vandals the way that cops create criminals. I do not mean merely that every problem looks like a screw to the man with a screwdriver. (Every man looks like a John to a prostitute, every civilian looks like a criminal to a cop. . . .) I mean that beginning with the assumption that there are people amongst us who must be false in identity or intent leads inevitably to finding actions that can be judged that way.

Why am I writing this? Is it because I want Them to get away with it? How long have I been here, after all?

Additionally, once a person judges an action prejudicially, because that person is trying to be a guardian, then the charge will create suspicion and a desire to get even.

2. Ain't no first amendment.
We all know this one, I hope. No one has a right to have a diary published, or a comment published. Conversely, getting new users validated quickly is not a goal by itself, nor is it not a goal. This website is privately owned. Subscribers (of which I am one not this year) have some contractual right, but t'ain't to be on the main page.

3. They are here already
The moment your website makes a national news service, and I'd say long before, your enemies will have joined. Go to any Disquis-using magazine website and look at the comments. Why on earth would libertarians be reading The Nation? Why would Stormfront fools be at Mother Jones? If they're there, you can bet they're here.

The "they" to be concerned about is never going to be evaded by internal rules that are tolerable to those who wish to participate. Legitimate "thems" to worry about are trolls (thread hijackers) and people who attack the website to get at the user ID information. The latter are behind the curtain worries, and the former can only truly be policed by somewhat anti-democratic methods.

4. The danger is not spies, but users
Wikipedia was/is being harmed not by trolls, but by interested political entities. Because Wikipedia requires consensus for rules, the interested political entities a) registered accounts, b) made useful edits, c) created new accounts, d) made constructive edits, etc. Because they were professional/state, they could multiply. What's more, these "persons" chatted, spoke politely, lost graciously, etc. When, however, an editing war broke out on Russia vs. Estonia or Poland vs. Germany, then suddenly the votes would be a landslide. There would be many, many, many users in "good standing" who would vote together.

If you spot a new user who never makes a diary but follows lots of people, that doesn't mean you're being spied on. After all, you're writing public essays, so how is anything spying? However, if you see accounts writing a couple of generic diaries that a -bot could do and a few comments ("Me too!" "Great job!" "Yes, but what about the cosmological constant?"), just bubbling along, that would be your worry.

However your rules work, that is how your enemies work. In this case, the robo three strikes and all that would be easily accomplished by "sock puppet" accounts. Proliferation of misinformation would be accomplished by sock puppets up-rating something to the rec list that doesn't belong there (e.g. the Dan Rather set-up). What won't happen, though, is a flood of NSA agents or FBI agents signing up to "get" anyone.

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