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Boards.ie and Privacy

  • #2
    Registered Users Posts: 66,914 ✭✭✭✭ seamus


    Right, let's see if I can phrase this properly without looking like I'm bitching and moaning or without talking complete nonsense. I didn't want to bring it up at the beers, because frankly that's a stupid time to talk to admins about this kind of stuff. They just want to have beer too.

    I'm not talking about privacy here in terms of boards's legal obligations. That's irrelevant.

    There seems to be some general concern, not about the direction necessarily that boards is heading, but about the implementation of new functionality after upgrades and the likes. Specifically about the volume of links which can be made between a poster, their activity on boards, and their other activities on the web.

    First and foremost, the inclusion of "social networking" functions seems to be drawing the most ire. Cloud will hate me for saying this, but boards.ie is not a social networking site and never will be. Myself and 150,000 other posters didn't sign up to boards as a social networking site. We signed up to boards to participate in boards. If we want social networking, we'll go to social networking sites, who are now miles ahead down the road on that bandwagon.
    I don't know what the current idea of social networking is going to evolve into, but as far as I can see, boards.ie has missed the social networking 1.0 boat. That ship has sailed and bebo, facebook and myspace are taking up all of the seats.

    I think for each upgrade, you need to examine the new functions and by all means include them, but make them opt-out by default. If I want visitor messages, then I'll tick that box. If I want to participate in social groups, I'll tick that box too. But I'd prefer if I wasn't getting spammed or stalked by other members without first having agreed to it.*

    Other things like PMs and ignore lists have been around for donkey's years and I think there are very few people who would insist on turning them off by default. Adding new ways for people to link to you or send you messages is all well and good, but I don't think it's appropriate any more to assume that everyone is happy to have these thrust upon them. Even a short email or a sitewide annoucement letting them know that these things have been added and details on how to turn them off, would be a step in the right direction.

    Secondly, I think boards needs to think strongly about the non-private, but ultimately superfluous information that is displayed in a user's profile. As a programmer, I understand completely the rationale behind the makers of vBulletin's wish to extract as much information as they can, twist it and interpret it in all sorts of ways and then display it for anyone to see. It's fun, in a "look what we can do" kind of way. Yes, programmers are sad. I also understand the legal standpoint of "The minimum information necessary". I think we need to align ourselves with the general Irish/European feeling on privacy - which falls somewhere in between the two extremes.

    One example of this is profile visitors. A person's profile shows me (and I understand, every other registered user), who has been looking at my profile. What purpose does this serve? All it essentially does is track people's movements around the site (yes, that's a tad alarmist, but it's all I could think of) or perhaps some people like to see how popular their profile is.
    It's a probably part of the social networking package so that indeed, people can measure their popularity based on their profile.

    OK. I hope there's something cohesive in that. I don't want to come across in a "stop changing things", old grouch, bitching kind of way. It might just be the scope of exposure I've had to change management in recent times that makes me stop and look at this kind of stuff. The programmer in me (my inner child) still goes "cool" when this stuff appears, but then there's this grown-up guy who says, "Yeah, it's cool alright, but tell me why it's there again?".

    *For the record, I haven't been spammed or stalked, but some people have and others have raised it as a concern
    Tagged:


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Comments

  • #2


    There are also some bits of information which are of serious use to moderators, but no use at all to ordinary posters. What a poster is now doing, for example. Handy for a mod if that user is off on a tirade against "De Man" and you may need to edit/ban/whatever, but no use at all for ordinary users.


  • #2


    I think it was partially down to Cult telling us through his actions that he's definitely the man for the job :p

    Have to agree with most of that seamus, especially the "social networking" stuff. I don't want any of that and don't think it has any place here on boards.


  • #2


    seamus wrote: »
    One example of this is profile visitors. A person's profile shows me (and I understand, every other registered user), who has been looking at my profile. What purpose does this serve? All it essentially does is track people's movements around the site (yes, that's a tad alarmist, but it's all I could think of) or perhaps some people like to see how popular their profile is.
    It's a probably part of the social networking package so that indeed, people can measure their popularity based on their profile.

    Unlike you seamus, I have no tact and did bring it up at the beers the other night.
    I was talking to CuLT about the above.
    I don't want to know who's stalking me.
    I also don't want others to know I'm stalking them, especially if it has something to do with my smod duties or I'm keeping an eye on a trouble maker.

    I have turned off the messaging thingie to Mods and friends.
    Don't know what else you can do at the minute though to restrict access.


  • #2


    This will hopefully lead to an interesting discussion.
    I certainly can see reasons to have the features "opt-outable". While I wouldn't be too worried myself over privacy and what I say on boards etc, some users mightn't like their real-life identity being linked to what they say online (employers tracking them etc).

    On the other hand, there's definitely no case for abandoning new features completely. Unless changes and updates are implemented boards will get boring and die, the internet in general is constantly evolving and boards needs to keep up (and we need to give Cult something to do).


  • #2


    I would disagree. It has always been a social networking site. What is changing is the features.

    For example:
    One person who had a serious beef with me I found using boards.ie as a jumping point his personal address, phone number and his other hobbies and dating habits. I could of been a dick and took it further but I just put the person on ignore. I did that because the level of harrassment suggested they knew me, they didn't. Turned out they were just a dickhead.

    This ability has always been there (well for as long as the search has been active).

    FOAF has been active for years as well, although no one used it (except Mr B).

    If you don't want to play with the personal profile stuff just ignore it.

    My point is that people seem to think that there is some kind of anon ability with the net. There isn't and even if we disabled everything people would still find information on them on what they posted.

    Making people aware of that rather then crippling features would be a better route imho.

    Lastly you can switch off some of the features at the user level afaik.


  • #2


    The is one thing I have noticed, that us s-mods have to check profiles of users every now and again. I'd rather not have that showing up. Good post, seamus.


  • #2


    Beruthiel wrote: »
    I also don't want others to know I'm stalking them,

    Watch now as numerous people will go check their profile to see if Bru was there. :pac:

    I think invis mode should stop you from showing up on the lists. Its in your settings.


  • #2


    ah I think you are all just grumpy ol feckers who are too stuck in their ways to appreciate that how people want to use boards has changed as compared to when you first joined.

    I for one wouldn't actually compare the social aspecting side that boards has now taken is directly comparable to the other social networking sites like bebo or facebook. Now I agree partially that things like your last 10 stalkers and your stalker points have no benefit what so ever, but I think that poeple thinking that the changes have brought about the stalking are a bit dilussional. The means to stalk people have always been there the format to how you had to do it was just slightly different.

    Looking at the thank you list of the first post it is all people who have to around quite a while and I think they have to realise that what younger new members of boards want out of a site like this is different to what they want as they have settled in there ways and would prefer things not to change


  • #2


    Ruu wrote: »
    The is one thing I have noticed, that us s-mods have to check profiles of users every now and again. I'd rather not have that showing up. Good post, seamus.
    If you're set to invisible, you don't show up in the profile of whomever you're looking at (unless you're an administrator or smod, in which case you can see everyone regardless, just as with forumviewing).

    Hope that clears that one up.


  • #2


    Hobbes wrote: »
    I would disagree. It has always been a social networking site. What is changing is the features.
    Well, I think I'll always disagree with that. I see social networking sites as extensions of blogs. Sort of linked blogs, if you will. You could argue that forums are extensions of blogs, with people giving their opinion, but I think the important difference is that nobody "owns" a discussion on a forum. Threads talking about oneself are largely frowned upon/deleted and the site as a whole is regarded as community rather than an advertisement for an individual's life. Social networking sites as far as I've seen tend to just be complete ego ****-fests.
    If you don't want to play with the personal profile stuff just ignore it.
    My argument is that if you want to play with the personal profile stuff, then you can choose to. If you don't, then you don't have to do anything. Yes, you can switch it off, but it should be opt-in, not opt-out.
    My point is that people seem to think that there is some kind of anon ability with the net. There isn't and even if we disabled everything people would still find information on them on what they posted.
    I'm totally in agreement with that, and I'm not specifically talking about allowing people to remain anonymous. Although I'm loathe to say it, I think the size of boards.ie means that it shouldn't be OK to put up information just because someone with a great deal of web savvy can obtain it elsewhere.
    A few people know enough legal tricks that they could get someone's home address from their cat number plate. Does this mean that the government should just go ahead and publish the database because it's open information anyway?
    Making people aware of that rather then crippling features would be a better route imho.
    No argument here. Leave the features in, and leave them opt-in.

    Indeed, I'm all on for embracing the social networking phenomenon. I think a great idea would on a profile would be to allow people put in their bebo/facebook/myspace username. Then any of their friends on boards can click on it and it sends a "friend request" from the appropriate website.

    Perhaps what I'm trying to say is that there's no need for boards to try and copy the functionality that dedicated social networking sites have been developing and winning with for the past few years.


  • #2


    Anyone fancy giving me an ould stalk?


  • #2


    CuLT wrote: »
    If you're set to invisible, you don't show up in the profile of whomever you're looking at

    So people don't know I'm checking up on them then?
    Well, that's great. Thanks.


  • #2


    seamus wrote: »
    No argument here. Leave the features in, and leave them opt-in.

    I agree. There are options to turn off the messages on your profile but I think it would be best if it was set to "off" as default. That way if you want that stuff you can have it, otherwise you don't need to bother.

    I've just turned my profile messages off, a bit annoying tbh. It's a bit of a novelty, best off using PM's if you want to talk about anything with any content. Profile messages just seem to be "oh wow, I'm stalking you" or the likes.


  • #2


    How do i set my profile to invisble?

    is there anyway of turning of the vistor messages and who is viewing your profile

    (sorry am far too lazy busy to read through the thread


  • #2


    I whole heartedly agree with Seamus's post.

    Boards is Boards that what should be not some networking site.


  • #2


    Beruthiel wrote: »
    So people don't know I'm checking up on them then?
    Well, that's great. Thanks.
    Yes, but we all already know when you're checking us out from that tingly sensation just around the coccyx area.


  • #2


    irishbird wrote: »
    How do i set my profile to invisble?

    is there anyway of turning of the vistor messages and who is viewing your profile

    (sorry am far too lazy busy to read through the thread

    http://boards.ie/vbulletin/profile.php?do=editoptions

    set to invisible is at the top of this page in the User CP, profile messages is halfway down in the block "Visitor Messaging" and I don't know about the last one.


  • #2


    irishbird wrote: »
    How do i set my profile to invisble?

    is there anyway of turning of the vistor messages and who is viewing your profile

    (sorry am far too lazy busy to read through the thread

    User CP->Edit Options. Tick the box beside 'Use Invisible Mode'.
    Visitor Messaging is in the same area, untick 'Enable Visitor Messaging'.

    Thanks Hobbes and CuLT.


  • #2


    Ruu wrote: »
    The is one thing I have noticed, that us s-mods have to check profiles of users every now and again. I'd rather not have that showing up. Good post, seamus.
    How do you mean? In the "last 10 visitors part"? If you've your status hidden, your username won't show up on the profile visitor log thing, although you yourself will be able to see your name there the rest won't (including the user).

    Good post Seamus. However, I don't think the new features are any harm. Sure enough, I certainly didn't sign up for boards as a social networking site and initially I was not impressed that VBulletin developed such features and that they were implemented here. Personally I didn't think they were necessary, as you said, we didn't sign up for it as a social networking site so we don't need social networking features.

    However, they're here now and I can't see them going anywhere until at least the next upgrade. Thus far I've found the visitor messages kind of handy. The visibile visitor logs seem somewhat pointless and I've certainly seen a few names on mine which have made me think "wtf were they looking for?". I don't really think it impedes on peoples privacy though, as afterall it is completely up to the user what information they want to display (about themselves).

    Hobbes wrote:
    My point is that people seem to think that there is some kind of anon ability with the net. There isn't and even if we disabled everything people would still find information on them on what they posted.

    I'd have to disagree, it's entirely possible to be anonymous on a site like Boards. Thus far, nothing I've posted can be linked back to who I am offline and through Boards, there's no way that someone can get my full name, address, phone numbers etc. I've been careful enough to ensure of this.

    However, a lot aren't and I don't think they even realise it, particularly those with Bebo/Facebook/Myspace accounts which are easily found through Google, yet they're also linking them here, effectively linking their Boards account to their own personal details.
    While I wouldn't be too worried myself over privacy and what I say on boards etc, some users mightn't like their real-life identity being linked to what they say online (employers tracking them etc).

    Indeed but as I said above, this information is only available if they make it available and therefore, they only have themselves to blame. If they create a publicly viewable Bebo account and put a lot of shíte onto it, they only have themselves to blame if it comes back to bite them in the ass. If they link said bebo on Boards and an employer stumbles across it, then goes through their posts and finds stuff that'll get them in trouble, then again they've only themselves to blame.


  • #2


    Van Zuylen wrote: »
    Boards is Boards that what should be not some networking site.

    I disagree. The fact that we just had boards beers 19 would suggest that Boards has been a social networking site for longer then the last upgrade


  • #2


    irishbird wrote: »
    How do i set my profile to invisble?

    is there anyway of turning of the vistor messages and who is viewing your profile

    (sorry am far too lazy busy to read through the thread
    So you're turning it off just so people can't tell you've been stalking them :eek:


  • #2


    Rb wrote: »
    So you're turning it off just so people can't tell you've been stalking them :eek:
    Hiding in the bushes that little bit better.


  • #2


    Great post OP. I have been having some of these concerns too for the last few weeks.

    Could I make a suggestion ... can CuLT (or someone else ... perhaps Sherfu?) create a stickie (or something else appropriate) to advise people how to set their profiles for maximum security and privacy please? I for one would really appreciate this as I have concerns about many of the issues raised in the above posts.


  • #2


    Gandalf23 wrote: »
    Great post OP. I have been having some of these concerns too for the last few weeks.

    Could I make a suggestion ... can CuLT (or someone else ... perhaps Sherfu?) create a stickie (or something else appropriate) to advise people how to set their profiles for maximum security and privacy please? I for one would really appreciate this as I have concerns about many of the issues raised in the above posts.
    Done.


  • #2


    Ruu wrote: »
    The is one thing I have noticed, that us s-mods have to check profiles of users every now and again. I'd rather not have that showing up. Good post, seamus.
    Always fun to see who last visted, but yeah, may be an idea to code it in a way that mod's don't show up, so that they can stalk people to see what threads they are talking in, to view any pattern of posting, so that they can see if they're just throwing a comment here or there, or doing a systmatic trail of stormfront-type posts.

    Oh, and I may view 12 odd people, just to puzzle them, and to puzzle me stalkers :D


  • #2


    Sherifu wrote: »
    Done.

    Excellent!!!

    Thank you.


  • #2


    Rb wrote: »
    Indeed but as I said above, this information is only available if they make it available and therefore, they only have themselves to blame. If they create a publicly viewable Bebo account and put a lot of shíte onto it, they only have themselves to blame if it comes back to bite them in the ass. If they link said bebo on Boards and an employer stumbles across it, then goes through their posts and finds stuff that'll get them in trouble, then again they've only themselves to blame.

    Many people don't understand the possible ramifications of putting all this information online, which has helped to fuel sites like Bebo. I don't necessarily agree that it is a bad thing however, people should have the option to make it available if they should so wish.
    jsb wrote: »
    I disagree. The fact that we just had boards beers 19 would suggest that Boards has been a social networking site for longer then the last upgrade
    I agree. Boards has long been a social website, just not one in what has become the traditional sense of the word. Is it really going to harm boards so much by introducing some of these new elements to it? Would it not help draw a larger crowd? Can the new elements not be moulded to provide a more "boards-like" experience?


  • #2


    Im supprised nobody has know that there actually a fair bit of options to the user at the end of the day.

    If they dont was visitor messaging they can switch it off
    If they dont want to be seen as active on boards at all (aka not seen on the who's online list etc etc), they can set themselfs to 'invisable mode'. You will see yourself with <nick>* with the * to indicate you are invisable.
    Smods and Admins will see you too.

    If you dont plan on having PMs sent to you by anybody you dont know, you can limit them to people in the friends list.
    Mods can send you PM's regardless as we would need to anyways.

    Im not sure now if it will be asked if 'Find all posts by whoever' gets removed!


  • #2


    Many people don't understand the possible ramifications of putting all this information online, which has helped to fuel sites like Bebo. I don't necessarily agree that it is a bad thing however, people should have the option to make it available if they should so wish.

    Oh indeed, they should have the option to make it available if they want to. My point was more that Boards in itself, and the new features, isn't going to affect how private one keeps their offline life online. It enables people to link their personal information, but as is and I would suspect always will be, it's completely optional and leaving it as optional is most certainly the way forward.

    I think more education regarding the dangers of having said information could be made available, but it's certainly not Boards responsibility to do so. I definitely agree in that a lot of people, particularly younger people, don't understand the ramifications of having said information online and a lot will find out the hard way, but again that's not Boards problem or responsibility.

    Actually, on that note Boards is actually extremely good at keeping our information private. As DeV said in a previous Podcast, if a lawyer or company approach Boards and ask for users personal details they won't be given them. Which is great, so at the end of the day it certainly comes down to the user with regards to how much information they want to make available and as I said, the new features and Boards in itself certainly doesn't force anyone to do so.


  • #2


    Spankeh wrote: »
    you can limit them to people in the friends list.
    Mods can send you PM's regardless as we would need to anyways.

    Talking about friends lists.
    How did you hide yours?
    Yes,
    I went into your profile to see how you had it set up.


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