A Question of Free Speech on the Message Board

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11 replies [Last post]
MGewirtz's picture
MGewirtz
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Joined: Nov 4 2010

Several days ago I posted a message on this board providing the web site for a law firm that is developing a practice representing cyclists. I did this in the interest of providing information to readers who have posted requests for referrals to attorneys in the past. I made it clear that my son is a partner in the firm. I assume there was some interest in this topic because the posting received a fair number of hits. A reply poster raised objections to my post indicating, among other things, that it appeared to be presented for personal gain. After giving this objection serious consideration I was going to reply as follows:

"I do not think the post is an abuse of the board because it is related to biking and it covers a topic that has been raised on numerous occasions. Useful information is provided that anyone is free to use or ignore. Regarding the location of the practice, one of the attorneys lives in San Francisco, the other in Atlanta, and both frequently travel to New York. The firm handles cases all over the country and members are admitted to practice in New York, Louisiana, California, Georgia and Michigan. Electronic communications allow the firm to represent and be in contact with clients all over the country. After reading my reply, if the post still offends you, please accept my sincere apologies".

However, when I went to post my reply I was unable to find the original post. I assume that someone made the decision to remove it. According to the "rules" NYCC has broad discretion to refuse postings, or to remove them I suppose. Nevertheless, as a NYCC member I am disturbed that my post was removed without anyone giving me a chance to explain or object. The authority to limit speech is a very powerful tool that should be employed with a degree of discretion. I believe that the original post was informational and not an advertisement, but if anyone is offended, I really do apologize.

EJacobs's picture
EJacobs
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Joined: Nov 4 2010
censorship or technical difficulties?

I don't see how the original post was any different from any number of commercial posts that have been fine in the past. ("Specialized for sale," "come to _x_ bike shop for cider/ a sales event.") But was it really censored, or did it disappear down the black hole of technical difficulties that the current message board is plagued with?
Let's not jump to conclusions-- I firmly believe in not ascribing to malice that which may be attributable to stupidity. Or to a snafu.

-Erica

JReaven's picture
JReaven
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Joined: Nov 4 2010
NYCC advertising Mall

The link to the right side of the Message Board "About the NYCC Message Board" makes the policy clear. And there is an independent moderator who makes the decisions...not the webmaster. Personally, I know of many people who are members of NYCC who could post their ads every day and call them bicycling-related : masseurs, physical therapists, mechanics, bike fitters, coaches, physical trainers, dealers in used bikes, etc. Each of them could easily write a routine to automatically post daily. The MB would look like the subways used to with Dr. Zit everywhere you looked. A sense of propriety keeps most of them from abusing the message board, but that isn't enough and leads to unfairness. That's why every club needs some mild enforcement. If these lawyers want to advertise, they can buy an ad with ENY. This is a private club, not the government.

cyclist90's picture
cyclist90
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Joined: Nov 22 2010
NYCC advertising Mall

Very well stated and clear. Unfortunately some try to abuse the non-commercial nature of the message board and make it more difficult for others who may be trying to sell on an occasional basis items that are cycling related. i would prefer a policy that did not allow any recommendations for professional services. It is too easy to game the system and use it for personal advantage.

nycc_oldtimer's picture
nycc_oldtimer
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Joined: Nov 10 2010
Very simple, easy to manage and fair solution

"This is a private club, not the government."

I agree. An easy way to deal with commercial posts is to create a "Misc" forum at the top level of this message board:

http://nycc.org/forum

Then moderators can simply move the commercial message there.

NYCC Oldtimer

MGewirtz's picture
MGewirtz
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Joined: Nov 4 2010
Awaiting a reply from webmaster

I have emailed the webmaster asking for an explanation of what has occurred. I allege no malice, merely poor judgment if the post was in fact removed.

Cmoore's picture
Cmoore
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Joined: Nov 4 2010
2011 A-Classic Grad
Based on my experience with

Based on my experience with the "webmaster," you may be waiting quite a while.

Something is rotten in the nycc interwebs handling!

alan west's picture
alan west
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Joined: Nov 4 2010
A-SIG Leader
Webmaster

Whilst I am not familiar with any of the above mentioned topics I sympathize to having comments removed its happened to me before.

I will defend the webmaster for not responding yet because they are currently trying to fix problems the new site is having in the ride listings. I suggest people be more patient with the volunteers who handle this and not cast scorn on those who are spending time ironing out major functional problems on this site.

AMarcus's picture
AMarcus
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Joined: Nov 4 2010
A-SIG Leader
Post removed

A while back there were numerous discussions about yoga on this message board. I posted a link to a National Yoga Month site that offered a week of free classes at many yoga studios and also to a particular studio not on the list that was offering a free week pass. I had no connection to either one other than an interest in yoga. Someone complained about the commercial nature of the post and it was removed. Mind you, the offer in both cases was for a free week pass.

Custom steel's picture
Custom steel
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Joined: Nov 23 2010
Advertisments are informatinal

Is it the case that informing bicycle riders about bicycle-related products available at a cost is not permitted? I've seen a good deal of postings about things for sale.
It seems that all of my postings about custom steel frames are removed immediately though.

I'm not sure how the club distinguishes between informational posts on products and services:
1) I hurt my knee and found a great sports medicine guy that helped me get back in the saddle, Here's the info in case you hurt your knee too!
2) I got hit by a car and mr. x attorney really took care of me. If you get hit by a car give him a call.
3) I've ridden my bike for a while now and want to sell it. It's a great bike!
4) I make bicycle frames by hand with made in the usa steel tubing and will fit you up and make a custom frame for you that you will love at no financial gain to me (if I show you my balance sheet will you let me post?)

The thing is the haphazard enforcement of ts and cs--but who can blame the poor web master?
We must be very strict about what can and can't be posted here, just can't take the time to tell you what that is--this much is in the ts and cs.

Anyways, a few months back when my buddy got hit by a car I turned to this board and asked for some guidance on what to do, and RR responded. My friend personally gained a good accident attorney and got more than enough cash to replace his bike.

cyclist90's picture
cyclist90
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Joined: Nov 22 2010
Some ads are blatantly self promoting

The original "offensive" posting was for an accident lawyer who happens to be the son of the person posting. This attorney is located in Georgia and his partner is in California. If this isn't ambulance chasing in the most distasteful form then what is? I agree that when the content is obvious bicycle related product or service the line of demarcation can be quite arbitrary. But the case of a family member using the message board to blatantly promote his son's out of town legal practice is just way beyond any sense of propriety.

KScher's picture
KScher
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Joined: Nov 4 2010
B-SIG Leader
Not offended, but how about a "classified" section?

I have no problem with club members posting their gear or services for sale, professional recommendations pro or con, etc. But it would be nice if this type of content were concentrated in its own section, to which readers could turn as they see fit. It would make it easier for moderators to decide how to treat content on the "regular" message board.

I also suggest that members make use of existing, free services such as Yelp, Craig's List, etc., in selling, buying, swapping, or otherwise finagling.

cycling trips