Do you as a reader have a trust that the publisher will provide quality, correct and factual information on articles that they published? In the event of an opinion piece, that the publishers allows for the pros and cons debate to happen with minimal censorship? Minimal censorship in terms of editing/deleting comments that are personal attacks but keeping the contents relating to the debate intact. For example, the recent Burleson's article on "Undocumented Parameters to Supersize your SGA" led to very heated discussion between various folks including Tom Kyte, Jonathan Lewis, Don Burleson & Mike Ault amongst others. The article itself was edited a couple of times so that it is almost different from the original article but still "useless" (IMHO) BUT with no indications as to what was corrected/edited. Because SearchOracle did not provide a forum for discussing said article, Tom and others facilitate that by creating their own blog entries on the subject. This lead to a number of exchanges between various supporters of Burleson and Kyte which sometimes degenerated into personal attacks. Tom as a result subsequently get anonymous postings questioning his creditials and other childish nonsense.
Another similar incident involved Fabian Pascal (and others) and Curt Monash who writes for ComputerWorld. In this instance, ComputerWorld decided to let Monash's piece stand (although it apparently went through a rewrite ala Burleson) but remove all comments with a note from the editor which states
"This blog post has been edited. Additionally, this comment thread has been closed, in line with Computerworld's Terms of Service. Computerworld wants to foster a civil and respectful debate over important IT issues, but this thread has become too personal and not useful to Computerworld's audience of IT professionals. Certain comments may be reposted at a later date, but new comments will be disabled."My understanding is that some of the comments have also been edited without the consent of the original posters which begats the question of "If and when comments are reposted, are these the original comments or have they been re-edited"?
Anyhow, do ComputerWorld not have the accountability and responsibility to ensure that a balanced perspective is provided instead of "censoring" the various opinions of folks? This is similar to Robert Freeman (a Burleson consultant) who decided to let a comment by his boss stand whereas a rebuttal to that comment was removed and thereby providing a skewed perspective. NB: If you are interested in taking a look, go to his site and do a search for "Evil".
Personally, there is a fine line and I would support "censorship" when it removes the garbage and keeps the relevant content and if this is identified in the Terms and Policies, there should not be any problems with posters. The other upside is that the removal of the non-relevant garbage will help with potential legal action from folks who are nursing bruised egos. The bottom line is still the need to identify that said article/posts have been edited and why. What bothered me about the approach that ComputerWorld took was that they edited the original article and left a note to that effect but you have no idea what was edited (just like Burleson's article) unless you have saved a copy of the original. The other thing was the censorship done which apparently left a skewered perspective on the debate generated. So much for freedom of speech.
NB: This entry was edited to correct grammar and typos - corrections are shown in non blocked italics and one addition added. *Blocked italics are quotes taken from other public sites or comments.