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David Waelder

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I've been following "the truth," political discussion you initiated about government spending. I wrestle with myself as to whether I should join in, and possibly only add to the background noise, or simply read and consider the various opinions.

This morning I noticed that John Blankenship has a brief response challenging an earlier post by Brent Lestage. I recall reading Brent's message earlier but there is no sign of it on the site today. Since John Blankenship's post quoted Brent's message in its entirety, there is no problem, in this case, with understanding the reference. Probably, after a day to consider, Brent decided that his tone was a bit more forceful than he was comfortable with.

I think it good that people have the option to withdraw a post. Any of us might, in the heat of the moment, say something we regret or speak with more force than needed. One shouldn't have every comment preserved forever in print; the ability to withdraw encourages a vigorous exchange. Still, the complete erasure of a post sometimes leaves the reader with an inexplicable hole in the discussion.

I suggest that the "delete message" function be modified so that a member can remove the text but cannot completely remove all traces of the post. That would preserve the integrity of the thread without forcing a participant to defend every remark into perpetuity. I don't know if the levers and dials on this software permit such a subtle distinction but I suggest that you explore some method that addresses the need for coherent threads while also permitting a member to reconsider.

David

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Point well taken, David, and I have been grappling with this issue ever since we moved to this new site. The old site had a lot less control over editing and deleting --- it was pretty much like a light switch and each member (and the administrator, me) could edit or completely delete forever their own posts. There are some fairly elaborate and somewhat confusing routines provided by IP.Board (the software that runs this site) which I have been dealing with from the beginning. The "industry standard" recommendation from the software developers of the major forum platforms (vBulletin, IP.Board, phpBoard, SMF) is that members should be able to edit or delete their own post, regulated by a posting time limit (often set to as as short as 5 minutes), but fully deleting a post after it has been "published" should not be allowed. The reasoning being just what you describe --- the disruption and confusion that ensues when there are gapping holes in a topic thread.

Presently, this forum is set up so that members can edit and delete at will, no time limit and no restriction or explanation required (at least that is how I think it is set --- as I said, the settings are actually quite confusing).

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