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The Courts

Journal Seth Finkelstein's Journal: On why comments aren't enabled, and meaningful discussion

There's been some question as to why I don't have comments enabled.

The problem is that in order to have an informed opinion, you have to understand a fairly extensive set of material.

For example, you have to understand that I've been very worried about being sued ever since I started doing any anticensorware work, in 1995.

You have to understand that programmers HAVE BEEN SUED for anticensorware work. And that lawsuit took place downtown from me! No fancy ha-ha-I'm-in-another-country Internet issues for me.

You have to understand then how vicious it was for Michael Sims, a few days before the start of a major Federal government censorware trial, to reveal to every interested censorware company, every decryption and reverse-engineering he knew I had done, every detail, in the words an attorney with Censorware Project

Then it's relevant to understand how this led to my idea of making a Slashdot code proposal, to have the legal risk for releasing code in the face of this behavior by Michael Sims, be in part Slashdot's problem as opposed to purely my problem.

And so on.

That's a fairly complex chain of reasoning. The problem is it doesn't even have a chance in an unmoderated discussion. It'll get crapflooded into oblivion. Someone calls me a name. I repeat my reasons, ask them what's wrong. More name-calling. More repetition on my part. Then someone else attacks me for the repetition. Maybe I react with less than perfect calmness. Aha! I've proven I'm indeed insane. What's the point of going through all that?

This journal is an experiment for me. I'm trying putting in various updates, or little slices-of-life showing what I go through, or bits and pieces that wouldn't fit in an essay because they'd then be considered too much detail or distraction.

I know people have called me various names. Believe me, I know it. I have What Happened To The Censorware Project ( telling me that.

One of my failures is that I haven't found a way to get across how much I worry I'm playing Russian Roulette with censorware lawsuits. That the more I do this anticensorware work, the more chance there will someday be a legal bullet with my name on it, locked and loaded on me. That has to be understood for any meaninful discussion. But I doubt it's going to do any good to repost this long message in response to every name-calling comment.

The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness. -- John Muir