NEW To Sysops From jms

 Posted on 3/1/1997 by J. Michael Straczynski <> to CIS

"I decided to not address that part of your message because it seemed
moot in light of the fact that I agreed with you in regard to the
Carlin 7, that we are reconsidering our position that we will abide by
them, and that, in the meantime, would discontinue "backrooming" any
messages unless they were blatantly offensive and/or broke other forum
rules. As for the stats you requested, I can't provide what I do not
have. While I admit that we pulled messages containing profanity, we
did not do so "arbitrarily." We pulled EVERY message that we saw."

Ah, but now that confirms what I suggested earlier. The rules
require you to pull one such message per every 50 messages, that was
the part of the rule book that you, yourself, cited to me. So if you
pulled EVERY message, then you violated CIS rules. So that point is
now resolved. Thank you.

"If we decide to no longer aspire to remaining off the PC list then
Carlin's 7 becomes moot and you will have "won" on both of your points.
What more do you want?"

Actually, nothing...and this isn't about me winning, I don't
have any vested interest in you losing or me winning. Who wins if a
situation goes from unreasonable to reasonable? Answer: we both win.
You aren't stuck having to enforce essentially indefensible and
arbitrary policies, and can instead enforce them selectively,
logically, and in keeping with CIS policies. Which means you don't get
people yelling at you, and you have the backing to avoid doing things
which you, yourself, stated you don't like doing. I don't see this as
a particularly bad thing at all here.

RE: the interview this afternoon with Sci-Fi Entertainment, in which I
mentioned the current fracas, you say:

"Thank you for indicting us in an area where we can't "confront our
Old Joe McCarthy would be proud of you for using that tactic. I hope
that you will "update her" if you and I conclude this discussion to
your satisfaction."

I simply applied the same practice that was going on here, and
backroomed the discussion with the reporter, since that seemed good
enough for the sysops. And you can certainly "confront your accuser"
-- assuming that anyone who speaks from their own experience of a
controversial situation is automatically your accuser -- when the piece
appears. But to your last point...yes, I will indeed update her
completely if this continues toward a positive resolution, as it seems
to be doing. Understand that I'm a pain in the butt...but I'm fair.
And I try to be honest.

That said...I now turn to the earlier, positive comments, so we
can end this on a positive note...and those looking on: pay attention
to what's said in Wes's note.

Regarding the rules under discussion, note the following:

"...we are reconsidering our position that we will abide by
them, and that, in the meantime, would discontinue "backrooming" any
messages unless they were blatantly offensive and/or broke other forum

I think that this single sentence now takes care of most of the
concerns here; if the practice of backrooming is now being
discontinued, this is a positive step in the right direction, and
negates about 75% of the concern shared by myself and others here. I
think that most people here would agree with that.

"If we decide to no longer aspire to remaining off the PC list
then Carlin's 7 becomes moot." A valid point.

Re: the Fair Use issue: "That isn't as definitive as I'd like,
but seems to substantiate what other, non-legal, folks have said. On
the other hand, there have been others who are or have been publicists
who claim that more than 2-3 lines quoted exceed "fair use." Believe
me, we're working on nailing this down."

Thank you, and I have every confidence that what you discover
will confirm what has been discussed here. Bear in mind that
publicists are rarely journalists, and their job is often to discourage
use of their client's material in excess, so they can control it, and
when using one's quotes to publicize something, there are other very
strict rules that come into play. If I write a review of a book, and a
publicist wants to excerpt that review to promote someone's book to
make them money, I'm going to be fairly hard about what's allowed to
promote someone else's work.

This is a different situation altogether from quoting material
in the context of a discussion. There the Fair Use contingencies of
copyright law come into play. Any good book on journalism law will go
into this at length. Good on you, though, to continue to dig into it.

"Any constructive suggestions you have would be welcomed --
assuming we decide to continue with wanting to stay off the PC list.
Hell, for that matter, any constructive suggestions ANYONE has would be
welcomed at this point!"

Which was the other point I mentioned. By not backrooming these
sorts of discussions, you open up the door to constructive suggestions
on how to deal with them. If you had said, "Listen, folks, we have a
problem here...the use of language is getting into the
more-than-1-in-50 limits we have to abide by, and I'm concerned about
the quoting of material. Could you work with me on this and come up
with some ways to moderate the discussion a bit so it doesn't get out
of hand, and give me some hard facts about what constitutes Fair Use"
I'll bet you $100 you'd have tons of *constructive* comments, NObody
would've said you had a german accent, and you would've come out of
this like a saint.

B5 fans are *notoriously* helpful, and understanding, and you
can bet your shoes they would've come at you with a very different
response. "Here," they would've said, "HERE is somebody who respects
our intelligence, who wants our input, who is open to at least
*discuss* this so that we know what's at stake, and know what our
options are, and would welcome our help to resolve a thorny problem
he's stuck with and doesn't much like."

So given all those looking on...lay back for a bit. I
think we are getting some positive movement here, the policy of
backrooming has already been stopped, from what Wes has said, and the
policy is being reconsidered, which was the point of the exercise.

I think that Wes has been very receptive here, and has made a
good faith effort to rectify what is, for him and other sysops here, a
difficult and obviously painful situation. Let's now let the process

The "Joe McCarthy" comment I will let slide personally, because
you were upset, and we're all entitled to a moment's upset. Instead, I
will again simply thank you for taking the steps you have taken, and
look forward to the final resolution of this.