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The common good

One thing that doesn’t cease to amaze me is the way in which many CS users react to Pickwick’s recent announcement to report the fraudulent actions of CouchSurfing International inc. to the New Hampshire District Attorney. Besides the deafening silence by He Whose Opinion Matters, two kinds of responses are noticeably frequent:

  1. What that you ever did for entitles you to take this kind of action?
  2. What is your interest in harming

To me these reactions indicate that the community at large does not recognise a crucial difference between civil litigation and criminal prosecution. The former is a legal procedure between two parties, each with their private interests; the latter is between ‘the people’ and whoever harms the public interest.

That’s right, the public interest, and CS users would do good to realise that they are the public here. Just some points for consideration:

  • If you decide to donate a (substantial) amount of money to CouchSurfing because you think it is a charity, only to find out it isn’t because the IRS fines you for illicit tax deductions, your interest is being harmed.
  • If you decide to donate valuable time as a volunteer to CouchSurfing because you think it is a charity, only to find out you’ve made a fool of yourself because you put free slaving on your resume, your interest is being harmed.
  • If Casey decides to sell your user data to a third party for a neat sum, and this party turns out to be a spammer, your interest is being harmed.
  • If you decide to donate code and programming effort to CouchSurfing because you’re an idealist and you believe in its cause, only to find out that Casey sells CouchSurfing International inc. to a large commercial player that turns CS into a paid service, your interest is being harmed.

To return to the responses I started with, it will be clear that the potential harm to the public interest is all the moral entitlement Pickwick needs for his actions. Second, they aren’t even his actions to begin with, let alone they could serve a private interest; if the New Hampshire DA sees sufficient reason to prosecute, they are the public’s actions.

66 Responses to “The common good”

  • Check Wikitruth for a different modus operandi. zak0r, you’re not planning anything like that by any chance? ;)

  • @continually disgusted

    I think because your “name” was approved once, it will automatically approve all your comments from now. Or maybe it’s your IP that’s been approved. I dunno – but it’s happened to me too, so please chill. Just try using a different IP address and a new name (like “continually doubtful”) and see what happens….

  • Dear disgusted one: I don’t have a problem with going “on the record” to clarify a few things for you.

    1. We use the Akismet spamfilter which catches most of our anonymous spam automatically. I look at it once in a while to check for false positives, but it’s simply too much to keep track of.
    2. If you have an account and one of your comments has been approved, the following will be approved as well. If you haven’t had one approved or you post anonymously, it is always held for moderation. It is looked at whenever Callum or me have time.

    I suggest making an account (yes, a fake one probably) to make it easier to complain to us, although I will say in advance that “flooding” the site (multiple replies right after each other or posting the same content more than once) will be frowned upon. Your anonymity is a privilege and a right you don’t get in CS, so please respect it.

  • Ben Oct 31st, 2007 at 11:20 pm “5. @Daz, which Mandy are you talking about? ”

    I just checked to see which mandy you were talking about .Nope it is not Mandie M(australia/romania) who seems to be a nice person.

    The Mandy I am referring to goings under the screen name “Mandy Live…. United States Arizona”

  • @Tg: “Your anonymity is a privilege and a right you don’t get in CS, so please respect it.”

    How do you explain this “non-anonymous” user?

  • not so fast “How do you explain this “non-anonymous” user? ”
    ummm aint you asking the WRONG people . You need to ask the LT about that.And i really really hope you get an answer.

  • daz, daz, daz. i realize through your many attacking comments that you just can’t wait to jump all over anyone that seems to not tow the OCS party line, but i’m merely asking how tg rationalizes his comment about not being able to be anonymous on CS. i’m sure he had something intelligent to say and i’m merely giving him the chance to do it rather than saying something that obviously isn’t true.

  • not so fast “anyone that seems to not tow the OCS party line”
    I aint ocs and it aint a good idea to label people ocs ;) .

    not so fast “but i’m merely asking how tg rationalizes his comment about not being able to be anonymous on CS. ”
    Cs does not allow fake how do you expalain the admins allowing a fake profile. And anonymous comments are not allowed on the cs forum .are they?

    I speak for my self and no one else. :)

  • @the not so fast one:

    Yes, you’re right. CS is extremely ambiguous in its rules and when/how/why they apply them. As you know quite well, admin rights are regularly abused (eg. the wiki, moving threads, threatening to delete a profile) to silence dissenters in various ways but at the same time glaring abuses of privacy are overlooked (eg. reading messages, illegally keeping messages indefinitely, etc). CS doesn’t have proper rules or changes them at a whim them when they turn out to be silly and ineffective. Sometimes they change the rules without even telling their users!

    OCS is remarkably simple in comparison: we explicitly allow anonymity and “complaining” and always have. Everything is public. Simple rules that have not been changed since the start.

    All I am saying is that it wouldn’t hurt to understand the amount of freedom you’re getting here. But then, I’m sure you’ll find at least one sentence in this post you can take out, hopelessly argue against, while ignoring the entire point of the original post. Go ahead, you are a great source of entertainment and are in fact helping us make our arguments clearer and more to-the-point. Thank you.

    Also, understand that because you remain anonymous, this invites people to be less nice or even civil to you. If you had a name, I’m sure you’d get more respect.

  • doubtful, but optimistic

    @tg: “Go ahead, you are…in fact helping us make our arguments clearer and more to-the-point. Thank you.”

    You’re quite welcome! It’s not that I hate OCS or want to destroy it, I just want to make it better.

  • …I wonder…does OCS stand for Obsessive Compulsive Sniping?

  • another acronym

    Good one! How about “OCS: One-stop Conspiracy Shop”

    Na, I like yours better :)

    Anyone else? I strongly suggest you do this anonymously unless you want to be labeled by the bullies here as a “LT attack dog” or some other evil character assassinating moniker.

  • …and I though I was the only one ;)

  • Nope, you’re not the only so-called “coward” here. If this was something like standing up for the injustice in Darfur or something that would be one thing. But who wants to get verbally assaulted and have their name dragged through the mud again and again through labels like “attack dogs” for just wanting to simply surf couches?

  • All this reminded me of a King Crimson song (:

  • stoopid punk song for all i care

    Artist: King Crimson
    Song: 21st century schizoid man
    Album: In the Court of the Crimson King
    Ahh, sock it to me,
    Sock it to me,
    Rock it to me.
    Come on, come on!
    Come on!
    And uhh,
    Groove me, mama, I want you to
    Groove me!

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