"Hidden posts on Groklaw", Yahoo SCOX message #182288,
by: al_petrofsky, 2004-09-19 16:53 -0400:

has anyone else experienced or confirmed this "fake deletion" phenomenon at groklaw other than heimdal31?

Yes. Infosecgroupie reported it a while back, and heimdal31 and w4rmc47 confirmed it for me when I was recently the target.

From August 27 to September 5 I made eight posts to groklaw, all on-topic to the threads in which they were posted.

None of them were deleted, but no one responded to any of them, which was surprising and a bit mysterious. In one case, just below one of my posts (about emergency motion rules in the District of Nevada) an anonymous post appeared that was obviously plagiarized from mine (or from a similar post I made at Yahoo). My post generated zero responses while the anonymous post generated two, without anyone commenting on the similarity between my post and the anonymous one.

I finally discovered that I had been wasting my time talking to no one. The posts were only being included in pages generated for connections that were either logged in as me or were coming from my internet address.

I sent PJ and MathFox three emails asking if there was a technical problem or if groklaw was intentionally deceiving me into thinking the posts were publicly viewable. PJ replied each time, but consistently ignored the question, while giving conflicting answers about whether the posts were deleted at all. MathFox remained silent. I conclude that groklaw is indeed programmed to deceive people like this, but PJ and MathFox are not honest enough to admit it.

Please see the deleted posts and the email about them at scofacts.org/groklaw.html

I'm pointing all this out (1) so that people will know not to assume that groklaw is actually propagating their posts unless they've checked on this from other locations and (2) so that people can see some of the deleted posts and have some data to form an impression of what the criteria for deletion are in practice. (I think a much better way for people to know this would be for posts to be marked something like slashdot's -1, instead of being deleted, with an option allowing people to peruse the -1 posts occasionally if they're curious. If this actually created a storage space problem, the -1 posts could be automatically deleted after some number of days.)

Call me a fool for not realizing what was happening sooner, but for ten days there I really thought I was contributing to a discussion and not just talking to myself. I will now be following PJ's surprising advice (see her first email reply) to "redirect [my] energy into more positive channels" rather than attempting to contribute to groklaw.

Here are copies of the eight posts discussed in the email below:

(Three of them became viewable to other groklaw readers after the third email.)

Date: Mon, 6 Sep 2004 14:25:17 -0700
From: Al Petrofsky <al@petrofsky.org>
To: Pamela Jones <pj@groklaw.net>, MathFox <mathfox@groklaw.net>
Subject: Partially-deleted messages

You'll be relieved to know that I have no interest in debating with
you whether or not the deletion of my last eight posts improved the
content of groklaw.

The reason I write is that, unlike a prior post that was deleted, my
last eight posts all appeared to me not to have been deleted.  I only
discovered yesterday that these posts were being deleted from
everybody else's view, and that I had been therefore wasting my time
for ten days attempting to contribute and wondering why nobody was
responding.

I realize groklaw's software is reported to be appallingly poor, with
posts and sometimes entire stories disappearing for no reason at all
(other than "heavy load", which is no excuse whatsoever: if the
software isn't broken, it will return the correct results or time out,
not just randomly lose stuff).

However, I would like to know, when groklaw *is* working correctly,
what indication does it give to a poster that a post of his has been
deleted?

If the designed behavior actually is for the post to continue to
appear from the poster's perspective, then what is the purpose of that
behavior?

One other thing, the message by PJ at

  http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=2004082709570728#c194970

states:

   This comment was removed for the following reason: it included a
   link to a video of the DC hearing. I checked with the court, and
   no one except a party to the action is entitled to that video
   without express permission of the judge.

That is correct.  The express permission of Judge Chabot for me to
"make the video freely available on the internet" can be found at
http://scofacts.org/DC-2004-07-27-video-request.pdf (see also the
attached letter that is referenced on that form, at
http://scofacts.org/DC-2004-07-27-petrofsky-letter.pdf)

   Under no circumstances is it acceptable to put it on the internet.

That is erroneous, and you should correct the error, either by
undeleting my followup posts, or by posting your own correction.

   That is what I was told

If you're going to contradict someone, it would be a good idea to
actually name your source, so that if you get it wrong people can at
least check your source and verify that you didn't just make it up.

-al

Date: Mon, 6 Sep 2004 18:17:25 -0400
From: Pamela Jones <pj@groklaw.net>
To: Al Petrofsky <al@petrofsky.org>
Subject: Re: Partially-deleted messages

That is the only post of yours I have deleted, Al.

Could you please redirect your energy into more positive channels?

Date: Mon, 6 Sep 2004 15:42:57 -0700
From: Al Petrofsky <al@petrofsky.org>
To: Pamela Jones <pj@groklaw.net>, MathFox <mathfox@groklaw.net>
Subject: Re: Partially-deleted messages

> From: Pamela Jones <pj@groklaw.net>
> Date: Mon, 6 Sep 2004 18:17:25 -0400
> 
> That is the only post of yours I have deleted, Al.

Thank you for the information.  Who deleted these other eight posts:

   1. Text transcript, video, and August orders still available at scofacts.org
        Sunday, September 05 2004 @ 06:53 PM EDT

   2. Lay off my valuable IP! 
        Friday, September 03 2004 @ 04:45 PM EDT

   3. AutoZone motion will be heard Thursday Sept 9 
        Friday, September 03 2004 @ 01:53 PM EDT

   4. The copyrights in the statement are all SVRX
        Friday, September 03 2004 @ 05:09 AM EDT

   5. Meaning of 'Emergency Motion'?
        Friday, September 03 2004 @ 04:19 AM EDT

   6. The typo was in the case number
        Thursday, September 02 2004 @ 06:27 PM EDT

   7. Official transcript of the Daimler hearing
        Friday, August 27 2004 @ 04:21 PM EDT

   8. Official transcript of the Daimler hearing
        Friday, August 27 2004 @ 01:50 PM EDT

Are you saying that these posts are still readable by most people?
I've tried from a couple different places, and asked a couple people
from other locations to try, and they appear to be only viewable when
accessing groklaw from petrofsky.org.

> Could you please redirect your energy into more positive channels?

I had thought Groklaw was a positive channel, and when I made those
posts, I thought I was contributing to Groklaw, not just talking to
myself.  I would like to know how the symptoms that led to my false
impression came about, and whether there was intentional deception
involved.

Also, I'm unclear what your position is on the "Under no circumstances
is it acceptable to put it on the internet" misstatement about the
Daimler video.  Do you still maintain this is true despite the clear
documentation I've shown you to the contrary, or are you deliberately
still publishing this statement that you know to be false?

-al

Date: Tue, 07 Sep 2004 09:57:22 +0000
From: Pamela Jones <pj@groklaw.net>
To: Al Petrofsky <al@petrofsky.org>
Subject: Re: Partially-deleted messages

Al,

Groklaw has a comments policy, which is posted. Posts that are removed
are removed if they violate the policy.  

Date: Tue, 7 Sep 2004 03:33:11 -0700
From: Al Petrofsky <al@petrofsky.org>
To: Pamela Jones <pj@groklaw.net>, MathFox <mathfox@groklaw.net>
Subject: Re: Partially-deleted messages

> From: Pamela Jones <pj@groklaw.net>
> Date: Tue, 07 Sep 2004 09:57:22 +0000
> 
> Al,
> 
> Groklaw has a comments policy, which is posted. Posts that are
> removed are removed if they violate the policy.

As I said in the first sentence of my first email on this subject, I
am not trying to debate whether or not the deletion of my last eight
posts improved the content of groklaw.

I take it you are now confirming (though opaquely) that these eight
posts were in fact removed, despite your previous email implying that
they hadn't been ("That is the only post of yours I have deleted,
Al").

I'm glad we've established that they were deleted.  Now, as I said:

> The reason I write is that, unlike a prior post that was deleted, my
> last eight posts all appeared to me not to have been deleted.  I
> only discovered yesterday that these posts were being deleted from
> everybody else's view, and that I had been therefore wasting my time
> for ten days attempting to contribute and wondering why nobody was
> responding.

> ... I would like to know, when groklaw *is* working correctly, what
> indication does it give to a poster that a post of his has been
> deleted?
> 
> If the designed behavior actually is for the post to continue to
> appear from the poster's perspective, then what is the purpose of
> that behavior?

At what point should I take your repeated refusals to address this
issue as an admission that groklaw is indeed programmed to deceive
people into thinking their posts have not been deleted from public
view?

And what is Groklaw's policy about correcting statements in your
comments whose falsity has come to your attention (i.e. "Under no
circumstances is it acceptable to put it on the internet")?  Does your
policy on the matter allow for continuing to publish a known-false
comment while deleting the follow-up comment that corrected it?

-al

Date: Wed, 08 Sep 2004 22:04:09 +0000
From: Pamela Jones <pj@groklaw.net>
To: Al Petrofsky <al@petrofsky.org>
Subject: Re: Partially-deleted messages

Al, you are welcome and entitled to your own opinions and beliefs,
although you have reached incorrect conclusions here.    I
applaud your energy and desire to contribute.  When it comes to Groklaw
however, I am the final arbiter regarding the appropriateness of
postings. 

If I am uncomfortable regarding the legalities of a posting, I will
always defer on the side of caution, despite whatever assurances you
provide or whether you agree or not.  As you have mentioned, you have
made the content available on other sources, so you do have an outlet
with which to contribute your opinions.  


All the best to you.

PJ

I later found Niels Leenheer's 2004-04-09 email to the geeklog developers list:

... I'm finished some additions to Geeklog that are may be useful for a larger installation of Geeklog. Some of these additions are running already on Groklaw and some are scheduled to be added to Groklaw in the nearby future.

... 3) The ability for selected moderators to hide comments from public view. ... the comments will be kept visible to the user who posted the comment ...

$Id: groklaw.html,v 1.5 2004/12/10 05:27:00 al Exp $

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