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Message boards : Science (non-SETI) : Sad News.

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Message 790988 - Posted: 1 Aug 2008, 17:33:55 UTC

Fellow Crunchers

It is with sincere sadness that I announce to you that a number of Seti@home User Contracts were permanently terminated this morning. This was a very difficult decision to make and I want to explain to you the circumstances that lead to our community having to lose so many of its most popular members.

Some time ago, a number of Crunchers decided to form a private club called The 30 SETIzens. Evidence recently surfaced that SOME (not all) members of this club violated the privacy of many members of this community.

Before I launch into an explanation, I want to make it abundantly clear that membership in The 30 SETIzens had NOTHING to do with the termination of any User Contracts. It is every Cruncher’s right to belong to any club he or she wishes to join. It is every Cruncher’s right to set up or join private forums. The topics of those forums should be of no concern to anyone on the Seti@home staff. I will defend to the hilt every Cruncher’s RIGHT to assemble elsewhere and speak freely.

Unfortunately, it has been revealed that one member of The 30 SETIzens was concurrently serving as a Forum Moderator for Seti@home. During his tenure as one of our Forum Moderators, this person was copying moderator discussions and sending these private communications to the The 30 SETIzen’s private forum. These acts of information trafficking involved both privacy violations and the theft of User information.

I cannot even begin to tell you how devastated I was to learn of these egregious privacy violations and thefts. I sincerely apologize to all current and former Forum Moderators who had their privacy violated while they were working in the service of us all. I sincerely apologize to all Crunchers who had communications with our Moderators during the time that this “moderator mole” was trafficking information. Your personal communications were revealed to some members of The 30 SETIzens. If, during the time information was being trafficked, you used your personal e-mail address instead of our personal messaging system to communicate with Forum Moderators, then your personal information has been compromised and for this I deeply apologize.

The decision to terminate certain User Contracts was not taken lightly or made easily. The evidence of these privacy violations was revealed about a month ago. Seti@home staff members reviewed and discussed the evidence at great length. No Volunteer Forum Moderators, past or present, had a vote in the termination of any contracts. Only permanent, paid staff members of Seti@home made decisions about which User Contracts were to be permanently terminated. Please do not direct your anger at any Forum Moderators, past or present. They were deliberately kept out of the voting process, in the interest of fairness to all involved.

Some of you may be wondering why some known members of The 30 SETIzens did not have their User Contracts terminated. That is because, as I stated above, membership in a private club is not grounds for contract termination. Contract termination occurred ONLY in cases where there was staff consensus that an individual directly VIEWED and/or USED trafficked information. We DO NOT believe in guilt by association. Presence of an incriminating message thread on a forum does not imply that everyone with access to that forum was aware of the contents of that thread.

Does this mean that some members of The 30 SETIzens who are guilty of privacy violations still walk amongst us? Yes, it probably does. If further credible evidence against these individuals is presented in the future, the staff members of Seti@home will act on it accordingly. For now, we simply REFUSE to terminate the contracts of any Crunchers for whom there is insufficient evidence of guilt.

It saddens me to have had to permanently ban so many clever, intelligent, interesting and extremely popular members of our community. I know some Crunchers will quit this project out of anger over this decision. Our forum will be less interesting, less culturally rich, less diverse and frankly less fun because we have lost a host of people who helped to make our message boards worth reading.

I know that you will want a thread for discussion of this act. I have opened one for you on the Politics Board entitled “Termination of User Contracts”. Since contract termination was a staff decision and not a Forum Moderator decision, I have decided to allow open discussion of this action. When posting on this thread, please be respectful in stating your opinions. Please do not discuss the specific “guilt” or “innocence” of any particular people publicly. Please know that members of The 30 SETIzens were victims of privacy violations too, as it was a disgruntled member of this club who made public all the evidence that led to contract terminations.

Please do not contact the current Forum Moderators about this issue. Crunchers who are most aggrieved may personally message me, but as I expect a high volume of messages regarding this issue, please be patient in waiting for my reply. Please know in advance of contacting me that I am NOT going to reveal the specifics of any individual’s case. Do not ask me “Why did so-and-so get permanently banned?” or “Why didn’t so-and-so get permanently banned?” I will not violate any individual’s privacy by revealing details like this.

Please know that all the members of the Seti@home staff share your grief over this situation and apologize deeply and sincerely if you have been the victim of a privacy violation or user information theft.

Wilma
Current Forum Administrator

Message boards : Science (non-SETI) : Sad News.

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