Children, computers and the Internet

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Evan

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Oct 22, 2009, 8:35:00 PM10/22/09
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A friend was asking me advice yesterday (being the local techie-guy he
knows) about getting a computer for his kids to use, and about making
it safe on the Internet and all that guff.

It made me think that this could be an interesting topic for a 15
minute presentation at MXUG. Anybody think they might find this
interesting?

I thought we could either have someone do a usual presentation if they
have some expertise (or know someone they could invite in to talk on
the subject), or the other alternative would be to have it like a 20
minute panel type format with four or five willing participants to sit
up the front and share their experience, opinions, etc.

I would be willing to be a panelist, and/or facilitator to keep it on
track.

What do people think? Are there enough MXUG members who are parents
or would otherwise be interested?

E.

Alec Clews

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Oct 22, 2009, 8:40:52 PM10/22/09
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I have two kids (15 & 10) who have computers so I'd be happy to be on
a panel. Be warned that I have a very simplistic approach to this
topic

2009/10/23 Evan <evan....@gmail.com>:
--
Alec Clews
Personal <alec....@gmail.com> Melbourne, Australia.
Jabber: alec...@jabber.org.au PGPKey ID: 0x9BBBFC7C
blog:http://alecthegeek.wordpress.com/

Steve Hayes

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Oct 22, 2009, 8:40:57 PM10/22/09
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I think that wouldbe great

Steve

Composed (with typos) on my iPhone

Brian Mills

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Oct 22, 2009, 8:46:19 PM10/22/09
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A worthy topic indeed. Likewise being the "local techie-guy" I get asked it quite a bit.

Cheers,
Brian Mills


2009/10/23 Steve Hayes <steve....@gmail.com>

Donal

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Oct 22, 2009, 11:19:35 PM10/22/09
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There are a few answers but mainly it's an education thing and a
generational problem with the tech being sooo abstract, esoteric and
black box voodoo. The current opt-out internet censorship is not the
answer however an opt in local software/CPE and cloud solution *could*
work.... kids can surf from other premises though too!

Here is one simple straightforward video (below the censorship one!) we made:
http://www.nodecity.com/empower

Also there is a vast array of software but an ISP that offers an opt
in clean feed is the best localised solution, however the ISP can
never see inside armored/encrypted tunnels and kids spinning up
proxies in the cloud :(

Comes back to engagement and eduction with parents/kids as the long
tail of fetishism/violence becomes more mainstream on the largest
human mirror known, the internet. Have a look @
http://nocleanfeed.com/ and follow #nocleanfeed on twitter!

I would LOVE to partake in this debate/discussion.

Donal
--
________________________________________________________________________________
Donal

"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more
violent. It takes a touch of genius -- and a lot of courage -- to move
in the opposite direction." Albert Einstein

Clifford Heath

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Oct 22, 2009, 11:36:06 PM10/22/09
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On 23/10/2009, at 2:19 PM, Donal wrote:
> I would LOVE to partake in this debate/discussion.

So would I, but (a) I can't get to MXUG meetings and (b) I'll be
overseas anyhow.

However, as someone who's raised three rather nice boys (youngest is 19)
who've grown up with ubiquitous Internet, I can record a couple of
things I
*don't* recommend. It comes down to this: kids need to learn that
computer
usage is a *social* activity, not an individual one.

As such, wiring CAT-5 to the bedroom is a bad idea. Not sure what you
do in
the wireless age, but I'd strongly recommend that parents arrange a
family-room
environment where the computers live, keeping them out of the bedroom
and
private study places.

Regarding filtering; I had none. Instead I forced all HTTP through a
proxy that
keeps logs, and I occasionally ran a couple of simple 'grep's through
the logs.
The boys knew that everything they did was subject (at least
theoretically) to
scrutiny, so they learned to self-monitor. And *that* was the true
training. As in
real life, you can get away with most things for a while (like
speeding in your car)
but sooner or later you *will* be caught. Once you know that, you can
moderate
your own behaviour, and that's what kids need to do.

As it turns out, I think I only had to speak to each of them *once*
about them
accessing inappropriate sites - and I actually checked the logs less
than twice
a year.

However; I an sorry I put a computer on their study desks. They're too
much of
a distraction and suck away the kid's social time as well as study time.

Clifford Heath.

Sadat Rahman

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Oct 23, 2009, 1:29:55 AM10/23/09
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> A friend was asking me advice yesterday (being the local techie-guy he
> knows) about getting a computer for his kids to use, and about making
> it safe on the Internet and all that guff.


I am not sure I could sit through such a lengthy discussion on this
topic when the answer is so simple: Buy a mac! ;-)

*Dons flame-proof suit*

Richard Jones

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Oct 23, 2009, 1:39:18 AM10/23/09
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My wife's old iBook is just waiting for my daughter to ask to use it :)

Having said that I know several kids who have EEEPC 701s and love
them ;)


Richard

Evan

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Oct 23, 2009, 2:53:40 AM10/23/09
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> Buy a mac! ;-)

Bloody geeks. Always trying to apply a technical solution to what is
essentially a people problem.

Gareth Townsend

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Oct 23, 2009, 5:21:37 AM10/23/09
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There's an easier solution. Don't have kids. Problem solved :)
Cheers,
Gareth Townsend
http://www.garethtownsend.info
http://www.melbournecocoaheads.com




Andrew Bruno

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Oct 23, 2009, 5:57:02 AM10/23/09
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I've got younger kids, 5 & 7 and they both use Ubuntu, iMac and XP.

They have their own profiles but tend to use the iMac more, as I use XP more often for work, and Ubuntu was more for fun on an old laptop, playing some of the games.

I really like the iMac because it comes with a simple site monitoring security tool out of the box, so in the early days it took a little configuration, allowing the sites that we aproved, thomasandfriednds, nickjr, disneyland, abcforkids, etc.  If they see a new site on TV or friends, or a breakfast cereal or ice cream warpper, etc.. they ask if they can go on it, and we review and add in with parents password.   It also has a time limit, so they can only use it for certain times of days/weekends and restricted hours per day.

I dont know if there is anything like this for XP, maybe Windows 7 has caught up?

Anyway, I think the most important part is that the computers should be in an open environment, and not in the rooms.  The bed rooms are for sleeping and playing with their own toys... thomas train tracks and dolls,, etc.. drawings, etc..  With the busy lives we all live, finding that balance between work, life, parenting, etc, can be challenging, but so far so good.. they are still young.. who knows what the teens will bring.. oh man when will they get their own mobile... that's another topic..

My next task is to teach them how to program...hehe... any tools/hints out there?

Remember your first program?  That was true fun.

Andrew

Paul Cowan

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Oct 23, 2009, 6:20:01 AM10/23/09
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Andrew Bruno wrote:
> I've got younger kids, 5 & 7 and they both use Ubuntu, iMac and XP.

Likewise, my 7 & 5 year-old daughters are both Ubuntu wizzes, and can
find their way around Vista on my laptop if required.

Have a regular set of websites they visit (ABC Kids, the BBC kids'
website CBeebies, sites for some favourite toys etc), and will play with
TuxPaint (http://www.tuxpaint.org/) for as long as we'll let them.

The oldest one also knows apparently knows her way around OpenOffice
Calc -- I set her up a spreadsheet which keeps track of which Rainbow
Magic Fairy books she's read (sigh) and recently discovered she's been
expanding + customising it, so there you go. An exciting career in
middle management awaits.

> Anyway, I think the most important part is that the computers should be
> in an open environment, and not in the rooms.

+1, absolutely. This, honesty, and education. All far more valuable than
covert monitoring or punishment.

> My next task is to teach them how to program...hehe... any tools/hints
> out there?

I'm looking into this as well. I thought I was precocious learning to
program at 9, but I think Alice (my 7-year-old) is well and truly ready
to start.

I thought of starting with Logo or similar, but haven't found an
interpreter that seems suitably kid-proof. Probably start with KTurtle
(http://edu.kde.org/kturtle/) and see how she goes. If anyone has other
recommendations, shoot.

I have started reading "Hello World!: Computer Programming for Kids and
Other Beginners" (http://www.manning.com/sande/), which introduces kids
to programming in the form of Python. It's probably targetted at older
kids (11 or 12, I'd say) but she's so insanely curious + intelligent
I'll probably get a copy and start working through it with her.

> Remember your first program? That was true fun.

Hell yeah. I think I was the only person in Australia unfortunate enough
to cut their teeth on a Commodore 16 -- the poor man's Plus/4. That fact
that the Plus/4 was, in turn, the
weird-cousin-we-keep-locked-in-the-attic of the Commodore family should
tell you something about the Commodore 16.

Paul

Andy Trigg

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Oct 23, 2009, 7:13:31 AM10/23/09
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I have three kids aged 8, 12 and 14.

I am also in an interesting position of where my daughters school has
a compulsory lap top policy for all students from grade 4 onwards.

This raises a few interesting issues with regards to some of the
suggested thoughts posted on this thread's discussion.

1. Removing the computer from the bedroom and study desk is a liitle
hard when there is an expectation from the school that they will be
using it very heavily for study.

2. I have very little control over the software / hardware used at
home since the requirements are dictated by the school. Unfortunetely
that means a windows vista laptop :-(. The lap top that is paid for by
me is also locked down by the school so they control the software
installed on it.

3. If my daughter is allowed/required to have her computer in the
bedroom/work desk I can not deny her brothers from the same privledge.

The computers are only part of the picture. There are the kids PSP's,
PS3, Wii, mobile phones all of which have Internet access. Should we
monitor all of these?

There is a simple solution that works best for me. Education and trust.

My kids are aware of the dangers of the internet. We talk about these
issues and teach them what are acceptable and safe practices for home
computer use.

Then we trust them. We do not do any Internet filtering or logging of
the sites that they visit.

I think spending a little more time in educating your kids in what is
acceptable and safe usage practices is far more effective than any
technological and/or draconian solution.

Andy Trigg

Andrew Bruno

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Oct 23, 2009, 7:32:29 AM10/23/09
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There is a simple solution that works best for me. Education and trust.

My kids are aware of the dangers of the internet. We talk about these
issues and teach them what are  acceptable and safe practices for home
computer use.

Then we trust them. We do not do any Internet filtering or logging of
the sites that they visit.

I think spending a little more time in educating your kids in what is
acceptable and safe usage practices is far more effective than any
technological and/or draconian solution.

Yes, this is very true, but while learning a little technical limitation is good.  Your not going to give your ferrari to a learner, but as they get experience, and gain your trust, you'll pass on the keys eventually..


Evan

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Oct 23, 2009, 8:02:49 AM10/23/09
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Okay, it does look like there is some interest, but the mail thread
has veered into discussion (which is great, by all means continue).

To get a clearer indication of interest in a presentation, click on
the issue URL below and star it.

http://code.google.com/p/mxug/issues/detail?id=56

It it looks like a go, and no one steps up in a week or so to do as a
regular presentation, I'll solicit volunteers to be panel members to
start getting things organised.

E.

Duncan Bayne

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Oct 23, 2009, 8:03:28 AM10/23/09
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Something else to consider is a retro machine like this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e1cSrq3Gbd4

Not as an alternative to a modern PC, but possibly a fun introduction
to programming. I picked mine up from a junk shop for $20, and spent
15 minutes rewiring it. Hours of fun :-)

Older machines like this have several advantages, in particular a lack
of internet connectivity, meaning that you _can_ allow your children
to have them in their rooms unsupervised. Plus the scarcity of
software means that if they want a program, they'll have to write it
themselves (that's pretty much how I got started).

If you enjoy projects, you could buy a kitset computer like this:

http://www.apatco.com/products.php

... and assemble it with your kids, hopefully sharing a bit of the joy
that can be found in computing.

Oleg Kiorsak

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Oct 23, 2009, 8:35:20 AM10/23/09
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I have two girls 6.5yo and 2.5yo

so I'm very interested in the topic...

the younger one just "advanced" recently from ruggedized handheld PDAs (which I get as part of my work - CN3, MC75, etc ;)
to iPhone (as I bought one recently)


the older one is quite proficient with computers, "google", "youtube" etc (helps that in grade 1 she reads quite fluently in English)

I have MacBook(+Apple Cinema 20" LCD) - with all the "parental controls" etc,
BUT
the problem is that in primary schools they are exclusively WINDOWS and MS centric

all stuff they do at school they do in Windows and MS Office (mainly Word, PowerPoint )
so I have to run WinXP in "Parallels" - so she can school projects and her own projects...

the supposed "parental benefits" of Mac did not quite materialize yet...

and I think Cliff got very good point - it's best when things are in a living room, so you can always keep an eye on
(of course that is easier to arrange with younger kids than teenagers! ;)


anyway, just my 2 cents ;)

cheers,
O.K.

Sam Watkins

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Oct 23, 2009, 1:31:43 PM10/23/09
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On Thu, Oct 22, 2009 at 05:35:00PM -0700, Evan wrote:
> A friend was asking me advice yesterday (being the local techie-guy he
> knows) about getting a computer for his kids to use, and about making
> it safe on the Internet and all that guff.

It's interesting. If it's not coming down as a policy from government I think
this stuff can be useful and valuable.

I figure there are two scenarios - protecting innocent kids who aren't looking
for porn, and attempting to stop kids who are actively looking for porn.

I can't see a way to achieve the latter and still have proper internet access
with email/chat/https/ssh etc, but there may be methods that can improve it.

I am interested in opt-in white-list DNS based internet filtering. I don't like
black-list filtering, you collect a list of bad sites which people can then use
as a directory of bad sites, and it will never be comprehensive or up to date.
The whitelist system would be maintained by the community, not a government.

I don't think logging / accountability is a general solution, because it's an
invasion of privacy. It might be ok within the family though.

Sam

Alec Clews

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Oct 23, 2009, 6:38:29 PM10/23/09
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On Fri, 2009-10-23 at 23:35 +1100, Oleg Kiorsak wrote:
> BUT
> the problem is that in primary schools they are exclusively WINDOWS
> and MS centric
>
> all stuff they do at school they do in Windows and MS Office (mainly
> Word, PowerPoint )
> so I have to run WinXP in "Parallels" - so she can school projects and
> her own projects...
>
> the supposed "parental benefits" of Mac did not quite materialize
> yet...


We get around that by using OpenOffice (both on Mac and Linux). It works
fine for homework provided they remember to use MS Office file formats
between home and school (you can make it the default)

--
Alec Clews
Personal <alec....@gmail.com> Melbourne, Australia.
Jabber: alec...@jabber.org.au PGPKey ID: 0x9BBBFC7C

Blog http://alecthegeek.wordpress.com/


Andrew Bruno

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Oct 23, 2009, 9:22:43 PM10/23/09
to mxug, Sam Watkins
How does white-based DNS filtering work with sites that were good once, but turned evil later on?

Also, I am against this whole censorship/dictatorship thing for mature individuals, but...

What does concern me is chat rooms, social networking sites, etc.  You can trust facebook, twitter, myspace, etc.. but you cant trust the people who try to connect to your children as "fake" friends, or even chatting via skype, msn, etc, and the sending of files/images between these tools.  Blocking is not the way forward.

I think our challenge as parents/citizens is to embrace the technology and discuss the topics of predators with your children, but how the hell do you do that with a 5 year old?


2009/10/24 Sam Watkins <s...@nipl.net>

Julian Doherty

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Oct 24, 2009, 12:49:54 AM10/24/09
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But Stephen Conroy has made the internet safe for everyone already.

I thought individual parental responsibility wasn't required anymore :P

(sorry, someone had to mix in a #nocleanfeed dig)

2009/10/23 Evan <evan....@gmail.com>

Sam Watkins

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Oct 24, 2009, 8:44:06 AM10/24/09
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On Sat, Oct 24, 2009 at 12:22:43PM +1100, Andrew Bruno wrote:
> How does white-based DNS filtering work with sites that were good once, but
> turned evil later on?

They get removed from it.

> I think our challenge as parents/citizens is to embrace the technology and
> discuss the topics of predators with your children, but how the hell do you
> do that with a 5 year old?

Don't let them chat with random adults on the internet unsupervised, any more
than you'd let them play with random adults unsupervised IRL. I think there's
no need to tell them about rapists, just keep a close eye on them or make sure
that someone trusted is doing so at all times!

Public communication channels such as forums can be white-listed by the
community, post-by-post, change by change, image by image. In real time a
couple of random trusted people in the community must check the content and say
"yes that's ok for kids" before the child can see it. Semi-private content
such as chat rooms and posts on facebook within a certain group can be
moderated by the people who are allowed to see it.

It is not appropriate for private communication among children such email and
instant messages to be monitored. Personal details such as addresses might be
present, and some communication between friends is very sensitive.

In this case, it might be best to limit a child so they can only communicate
with friends and peers. This would be a good thing anyway to avoid spam.

Parents could be involved in approving and perhaps monitoring interaction with
new or untrusted friends.

The alternative is to make a conversation public. Writing to someone at the
museum about a school project doesn't need to be a private thing.

If parents must give permission for every interaction, it might give parents
too much control over a child's friendship group. I think it would be no good
if a parent can say, "I won't let my daughter talk to that boy" just because
they don't approve of him.

So perhaps there could be some sort of trust-network so that children of the
same age (and maybe in the same area) are automatically approved to
communicate.

There is the possibility that an adult could use a child's online identity to
talk to other children. If strong methods are used for authentication, this
could be mostly prevented, and suspects would be limited.

Sam

Tal Rotbart

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Oct 25, 2009, 4:17:35 AM10/25/09
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Is it just me or that seems completely draconian? I'm very glad I
didn't grow up with that sort of regime.

Korny Sietsma

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Oct 25, 2009, 6:10:34 AM10/25/09
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Well, despite not having kids (nor planning them, at least not in the
next few years!) I'd be quite interested - it seems an intensely
complex subject. And I just got friended on facebook by a 14-year-old
niece, so I probably need to apply some thought to the whole subject -
at minimum, I'll need to think about the appropriateness of what I say
on facebook, to the 14-year-old audience!

- Korny

On Fri, Oct 23, 2009 at 11:35 AM, Evan <evan....@gmail.com> wrote:
>
--
Kornelis Sietsma korny at my surname dot com
kornys on twitter/fb/gtalk/gwave www.sietsma.com/korny
"Every jumbled pile of person has a thinking part
that wonders what the part that isn't thinking
isn't thinking of"

Mark Ryall

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Oct 25, 2009, 6:21:52 AM10/25/09
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The topic does really interest me - I have two daughters - a 1 year
old and a 3 year old

I hadn't given much thought to internet access and monitoring - my
plan was probably to naively hope they would talk to me if anything
upsetting or confusing happened while they were online. I know they
will have internet access when I'm not around so would want to educate
them about the sorts of unwholesome people that might be out there.

It certainly seems like we should have a 15 minute time slot dedicated
to the discussion at the next meeting.

I also have a 12 year old twitter follower who I don't know at all -
she happens to share the same name as my 3 year old daughter. It
makes me consider what I say a little more carefully. Since there's
nothing stopping all 12 year olds reading your twitter feed, perhaps
it's worth keeping in mind regardless of your followers.

Mark.

Korny Sietsma

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Oct 25, 2009, 6:27:32 AM10/25/09
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Yeah - I'm generally fairly careful on twitter, as it's completely
public - anyone with a random search might see what you say.

Facebook is a *bit* more private, as it's opt-in; however given I now
have both a 14-year-old niece, and a 70-year-old Mother, potentially
watching my facebook status, in reality I probably have to be more
careful there than on twitter :)

Actually, the main thing I can't control is other people's comments -
if I write "w00t, had an awesome party last night" and someone else
comments "yep, you really seem to love that Windows 7", then everyone
will see, and I'll never be able to live down the shame...

- Korny

Evan

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Oct 25, 2009, 8:38:07 AM10/25/09
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On Oct 25, 9:21 pm, Mark Ryall <mark.ry...@gmail.com> wrote:
> It certainly seems like we should have a 15 minute time slot dedicated
> to the discussion at the next meeting.

Well the issue has only been starred by two other people so far, which
indicates to me that while the email has stirred up lively discussion,
perhaps not that much interest in an actual time slot at the
meeting...

http://code.google.com/p/mxug/issues/detail?id=56

E.

Mark Ryall

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Oct 25, 2009, 8:56:41 AM10/25/09
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The whole idea of voting for these topics just seems a waste of time
to me now - I might just delete the google code project.

As long as there is a variety of topics, 15 minutes really isn't a long time.

Anyone who volunteers to do a talk will get to do so.

I went to trampoline yesterday which completely blew my mind - another
unconference/barcamp style get together with a great variety of people
- activists, social commentators, students, entrepreneurs, geeks,
media people, philosophers, ...

We should get to hear whatever anyone has on their mind.

Mark.

Sam Watkins

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Oct 25, 2009, 1:09:15 PM10/25/09
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On Sun, Oct 25, 2009 at 11:56:41PM +1100, Mark Ryall wrote:
> I went to trampoline yesterday which completely blew my mind - another
> unconference/barcamp style get together with a great variety of people
> - activists, social commentators, students, entrepreneurs, geeks,
> media people, philosophers, ...
>
> We should get to hear whatever anyone has on their mind.

I agree it's better to let anyone talk about whatever rather than having to
book slots, so it's like an unconference. But it's fun to talk about ideas in
advance, and if someone wants to say "I'll do that" can write it on a list.


Re Tal's "Draconian", what part of my suggestion is worse than the normal
internet filtering that is used to protect children at most schools?

They already have (and pay for) site filtering, content filtering, they block
IM and chat, many schools block sites like facebook and myspace, even webmail
providers. They keep full proxy logs, so kids have little privacy.

My proposed system would be considerably more permissive, while achieving the
goal to keep out undesirable material, perhaps more effectively.

I'm assuming a parent or school wants to prevent their kids accessing porn.
If you already trust your kids not to go after porn (and you trust joe random
internet user not to send them goatse in spam email or chat, or you're not
worried about that), you can give them full access. What's the problem?

I'm not making a judgement about whether using this kind of system is actually
a good idea, and I'm not sure whether I'd use it at home with my own kids.

If the government were bringing this down on everyone, I can see why you would
call it "Draconian", but I am talking about a free, opt-in system for parents
and schools who want to use it to protect their children without cutting off
their internet access entirely or monitoring them.


Here are the ideas I mentioned before so you can tell me what's wrong:

* whitelist DNS / hash based filtering

* Don't let them chat with random adults on the internet unsupervised.

* Public communication channels such as forums can be white-listed by the


community, post-by-post, change by change, image by image.

* It might be best to limit a child so they can only communicate (privately) with
friends and peers. The alternative is to make a conversation public.

* If parents must give permission for every (private) interaction, it might give
parents too much control over a child's friendship group. So there could be


some sort of trust-network so that children of the same age (and maybe in the
same area) are automatically approved to communicate.


Sam

Brian Mills

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Oct 25, 2009, 5:29:26 PM10/25/09
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Hi,

I think there is 2 separate issues here. I have 2 kids and a third on the way. The oldest at 3 is very proficient at using the computer at least using sesame street.org anyway.

One is when they are really young, and need more supervision and perhaps more limited access to ensure their safety and innocence. The later is once they are older and in high school and probably need unfiltered access as they will have more and more through mobile phones and other Internet sites. I'd much rather them learn how to use the Internet under my roof than elsewhere. I don't know at what age they start to cross over.

I think keeping Internet access PC's in a shared family area still allows kids to have some privacy, as you are not reading over their shoulder constantly, but allows you to keep an eye on the general appropriateness of what they are viewing. I think you have to discuss what is out there as they get old enough to start just googling and surfing for stuff they are interested in, and keep the conversation up, just like you would any other topic (drugs, alcohol, sex, and rock and roll). Outside that, I think you have to build trust with your kids. I'm undecided on weather a proxy to log all sites viewed is worth while, maybe, but I would think the kids should be fully aware of what you are doing, and shouldn't be something you do without telling them.

I'm certainly interested in the topic being a presentation.

Cheers,
Brian


2009/10/26 Sam Watkins <s...@nipl.net>

Daniel

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Oct 25, 2009, 7:16:25 PM10/25/09
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Having grown up under Cliff's watchful eye, I would make the following
notes about his approach:

* I didn't like him having the logs, but I had no real grounds to
argue the point.
* We behaved marginally better on the net due to logging, and it let
him spot anything really bad and talk to us about it.

Don't let kids have computers in their rooms so they can study - the
distractions of the internet/gaming are substantial.

As for invasion of privacy, we're talking about your children who live
in your house. As the adult, you should generally be in charge.
If they want private, unrestricted internet access, they can get a job
and pay for it themselves.


On Oct 25, 9:21 pm, Mark Ryall <mark.ry...@gmail.com> wrote:
> The topic does really interest me - I have two daughters - a 1 year
> old and a 3 year old
>
> I hadn't given much thought to internet access and monitoring - my
> plan was probably to naively hope they would talk to me if anything
> upsetting or confusing happened while they were online.  I know they
> will have internet access when I'm not around so would want to educate
> them about the sorts of unwholesome people that might be out there.
>
> It certainly seems like we should have a 15 minute time slot dedicated
> to the discussion at the next meeting.
>
> I also have a 12 year old twitter follower who I don't know at all -
> she happens to share the same name as my 3 year old daughter.  It
> makes me consider what I say a little more carefully.  Since there's
> nothing stopping all 12 year olds reading your twitter feed, perhaps
> it's worth keeping in mind regardless of your followers.
>
> Mark.
>
>
>
> On Sun, Oct 25, 2009 at 9:10 PM, Korny Sietsma <ko...@sietsma.com> wrote:
>
> > Well, despite not having kids (nor planning them, at least not in the
> > next few years!) I'd be quite interested - it seems an intensely
> > complex subject.  And I just got friended on facebook by a 14-year-old
> > niece, so I probably need to apply some thought to the whole subject -
> > at minimum, I'll need to think about the appropriateness of what I say
> > on facebook, to the 14-year-old audience!
>
> > - Korny
>

dan

unread,
Oct 25, 2009, 8:06:44 PM10/25/09
to mx...@googlegroups.com
My girlfriend (she's 21) grew up with completely unsupervised Internet access. Her Dad's attitude was that if she saw something that she found disturbing or didn't understand that she would ask him about it. She was browsing for porn and engaging in "adult chat" from the age of 12 (her parents had no idea), but she doesn't think that she turned out worse because of it. I can vouch for her state of mind - she's the loveliest and most grounded person I've ever met, if that counts for something in this debate.

Her Dad says that if he had had another child, he would have reconsidered letting them have a computer in their room. Probably partly because of the supervision thing, and partly because it encourages them to spend a lot of time on the computer and not running around outdoors with their friends (she lived in the countryside).

D

2009/10/26 Daniel <daniel....@gmail.com>

Duncan Bayne

unread,
Oct 25, 2009, 8:49:45 PM10/25/09
to mxug
I'm a libertarian; I think that consenting adults should be free to do
whatever they choose with each other. I am not one of the 'moral
police'; bear that in mind when I say that there is a substantial body
of evidence that use of pornography by children causes developmental
harm (Google "developmental effects of pornography").

Children simply do not have the cognitive capacity of adults, nor in
most cases the emotional maturity; what is appropriate (or at least,
not harmful) to a well-adjusted adult may have long-term negative
repercussions for children. In addition, it's not reasonable to
expect a 12 year old to report questionable content to his or her
parents for discussion; hell, at that age, most kids are uncomfortable
telling their parents they have a crush on someone.

Finally, one should consider the dangers of adult online chat.
Stories of 'Internet predators' are exaggerated by the media & 'moral
authorities' but they do exist, and do represent a real danger to
children.

I'm not disputing your assessment of your girlfriend's character &
state of mind, just saying that by my understanding she's reasonably
lucky to be so well adjusted, & I think that allowing children
completely unsupervised access* to the Internet at the age she was is
verging on negligence.

* I don't mean you need to hover over your kids' shoulders; at 12, I
think a "trust but verify" approach with thorough logging would work
well.

Evan

unread,
Oct 25, 2009, 10:31:25 PM10/25/09
to mxug
Have to tell this funny anecdote:

Before the days of widespread broadband our work had a bank of dial-up
modems for employees to use to dial in so they could work remotely.
Our actual Internet connect was also pretty slow, so it wasn't unusual
for me to check the proxy log if the Internet was really slow to try
and diagnose what is going on.

On one such occurrence, I found someone logged in from one of the dial-
up modems was looking up URLs that were obviously porn sites. I
thought to myself, "I don't think she would be the type of person to
be doing that" (she had left the office for the day). So I rang her
house and the teenage son answered. "Hello, is so and so there?" "No,
I'm the only one here at the moment." came the bored reply. So I said,
"No worries. By the way, if you don't stop doing that you'll go
blind." and hang up. Didn't say who I was or where I was from or
nothing. That modem line dropped in five seconds flat.

Oleg Kiorsak

unread,
Oct 25, 2009, 11:40:43 PM10/25/09
to mx...@googlegroups.com
RE:

> "...if you don't stop doing that you'll go blind"

ah! _now_, I know why I got thick glasses - I always thought it was because of too much programming...
;-)

Korny Sietsma

unread,
Oct 26, 2009, 2:04:44 AM10/26/09
to mx...@googlegroups.com
Hmm - that explains my various developmental problems then :) While I
didn't have access to porn at 12, by 14 I was getting all that I could
get my hands on. Of course, this was well before the death of print
media, so involved rather more effort, and a *lot* less actual porn,
than it would these days...

- Korny

Oleg Kiorsak

unread,
Oct 26, 2009, 2:21:14 AM10/26/09
to mx...@googlegroups.com
ok!, here some from good old days ;)

http://chris.com/ascii/art/html/nakedladies.html

Oleg Kiorsak

unread,
Oct 26, 2009, 2:57:52 AM10/26/09
to mx...@googlegroups.com
sorry couldn't help resist that... ;)

looks like this thread is derailing from original topic...

Duncan Bayne

unread,
Oct 26, 2009, 3:28:29 AM10/26/09
to mxug
> Of course, this was well before the death of print
> media, so involved rather more effort, and a *lot* less actual porn,
> than it would these days...

As odd as it sounds, there is a significant difference between the
behavioural effects of online porn, and conventional print media (e.g.
the Playboy you stole from your older brother and hid under matress).

It's known as the 'skinner box effect' (Google it) and is based on
operant conditioning work originally performed with pigeons. What it
boils down to is that the type of random-delay reinforcement
experienced by people surfing for internet porn is far more effective
at reinforcing surfing behaviour than the fixed-delay reinforcement
experienced someone fishing a magazine out from under a bed.

Basically, you are more likely to develop behavioural problems as a
result of internet porn use when a child, than you would be from
reading Playboy.

On a related note, there is also evidence that playing first-person
shooters normalizes violence against other people. The evidence here
is not as clear-cut as it is for pornography, but it's worth noting
that the changes wrought in military training since WW2 nicely
parallel the evolution of video games.

Soldiers during and before WW2 were often reluctant to actually shoot
other human beings; some studies put the number of those willing to
shoot others as low as 20%. Many steps were taken to improve this; in
particular, the change from learning to shoot at bullseyes to "figure
11's" (a silhouette of a charging soldier). This type of
normalization of otherwise socially unacceptable behaviour led to the
number of soldiers prepared to shoot others rising to as high as 90%
during Vietnam.

I'm not going to go out on a limb and say that 1st-person shooters are
bad for children; I don't think there's sufficiently clear evidence
for that (or if there is, I haven't found it). But if I'd certainly
be doing some more research in that area if I had kids wanting to play
them, and suggesting that in the meantime they play Sonic the Hedgehog
on MEKA instead.

Paul Fenwick

unread,
Oct 26, 2009, 4:28:36 AM10/26/09
to mx...@googlegroups.com
Oleg Kiorsak wrote:

> ok!, here some from good old days ;)
>

> <link deleted>

I'm very sorry. Last I checked, MXUG was a *technology* user-group, not a
place for swapping porn links and locker-room humour. I'm disgusted that I
have to point this out, and quite frankly I'm furious that I should have to
do so after similar remarks were challenged by Brianna, Richard and Alec
only four days ago[1].

I don't care if it was intended as a joke. I don't find it funny, and don't
believe that MXUG should tolerate this sort of behaviour.

Paul

[1] See the last few posts in "MXUG meeting tomorrow?" at
http://groups.google.com/group/mxug/browse_thread/thread/cd30219102a1b64d

--
Paul Fenwick <p...@perltraining.com.au> | http://perltraining.com.au/
Director of Training | Ph: +61 3 9354 6001
Perl Training Australia | Fax: +61 3 9354 2681

Sam Watkins

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Oct 26, 2009, 4:58:41 AM10/26/09
to mx...@googlegroups.com
> <link deleted>

Maybe Paul needs my proposed content whitelisting system turned up to
mega-puritan setting... personally I think that content was a fair bit less
sexist / erotic than your average women's magazine, but anyway, whatever, not
looking to start a flamewar just my 2c.

I've been enjoying this list so yeah let's keep it non-sexist/non-sexual if
people are bothered by that. I don't see it as a big problem myself.

Sam

Jacinta Richardson

unread,
Oct 26, 2009, 5:12:07 AM10/26/09
to mx...@googlegroups.com, Sam Watkins
Sam Watkins wrote:

> I've been enjoying this list so yeah let's keep it non-sexist/non-sexual if
> people are bothered by that. I don't see it as a big problem myself.

Your email rather missed the point.

I've been to MXUG meeting; I'd like to go to more. I was excited to meet a
whole new segment of Melbourne geeks I hadn't encountered before.

I was the only woman there in a room of about 40? 50? people. I know that
Brianna often goes too, but she wasn't there that night. It was mildly
surprising to see no other women present. I'm used to LUV, Perl Mongers,
OSDClub meetings and OSDC, LCA, SAGE-AU and similar conferences where women are
encouraged to be part of the community. Interestingly, I don't recall any
incidences of posts to porn links to mailing lists of these pages.

Posters should keep in mind that, strangely enough, most people don't find
stories of your sexual exploits, explorations or even your sexual preferences
anywhere as interesting as you do.

Keeping it non-sexist/non-sexual sounds great.

All the best,

J

--
("`-''-/").___..--''"`-._ | Jacinta Richardson |
`6_ 6 ) `-. ( ).`-.__.`) | Perl Training Australia |
(_Y_.)' ._ ) `._ `. ``-..-' | +61 3 9354 6001 |
_..`--'_..-_/ /--'_.' ,' | con...@perltraining.com.au |
(il),-'' (li),' ((!.-' | www.perltraining.com.au |

Korny Sietsma

unread,
Oct 26, 2009, 5:41:47 AM10/26/09
to mx...@googlegroups.com, Sam Watkins
On Mon, Oct 26, 2009 at 8:12 PM, Jacinta Richardson
<jar...@perltraining.com.au> wrote:

> Posters should keep in mind that, strangely enough, most people don't find
> stories of your sexual exploits, explorations or even your sexual preferences
> anywhere as interesting as you do.

Sorry if I (at least) caused any offence - I was attempting to make a
serious comment about the availability of porn to teenagers, and I
made my comment in a joking way, not least because I'm still somewhat
embarrassed by such things, even if they were several decades ago :)

I do think the ascii-art porn link was inappropriate - it's all about
context; if this were a more gender-balanced group, if there had not
been some discussion of this sort of problem on the list recently, and
if there hadn't been some wildly offensive behaviour at several geek
conferences lately, I might toe a softer line - but when folks are
already hurt and upset, there's all the more reason to think twice
about what you send to a list full of semi-strangers. Even if it
seems funny to you.

- Korny

Oleg Kiorsak

unread,
Oct 26, 2009, 5:52:41 AM10/26/09
to mx...@googlegroups.com
Sorry if my link offended anyone... I apologize...

Definitely, I did not meant it for it's "content"
(I wouldn't thought it would "cut it" as such these days ;)

but more as amusement (e.g. humor) regarding what
"digital imaging" was back in the good ol' days of mainframes/etc

;)








On Mon, Oct 26, 2009 at 8:12 PM, Jacinta Richardson <jar...@perltraining.com.au> wrote:

Donna Benjamin

unread,
Oct 26, 2009, 5:18:00 AM10/26/09
to mxug
Ummm. Bothered? No. I think you're missing the point.

It's actually just inappropriate. I don't need to read about people's
masturbation habits. I don't wish to share my own. Puritanism has
nothing to do with it. This is just inappropriate in an open technical
forum.

The original topic was about supervising kids access to the net.
Questions regarding sexuality are natural, and parents usually want to
have some role in how those questions are answered. Those parents
should supervise their kids. Imagine if young children now read this
thread?

Duncan Bayne

unread,
Oct 26, 2009, 8:19:58 AM10/26/09
to mxug
> Sorry if I (at least) caused any offence - I was attempting to make a
> serious comment about the availability of porn to teenagers, and I
> made my comment in a joking way, not least because I'm still somewhat
> embarrassed by such things, even if they were several decades ago :)

Personally I'd have chosen a slightly less flippant tone but I for one
thought that what you posted was appropriate to the discussion. I
took it to mean that you disagreed with me that pornography can be
harmful to children based on your own experience as a child; hence my
followup about the skinner box effect, & clarification of the
difference between media.

I think this is a very important issue, and one that most of the IT
industry seems to avoid (or alternatively profit from by peddling
snake-oil 'internet filters') ... perhaps I'm just feeling a bit
cynical tonight though.

I'd be keen for feedback from the group on this topic. Child safety
on computers (both in terms of physical safety and developmental
health w.r.t. pornography and violence) is a serious issue that
warrants discussion.

Although there's not a technical solution to it, there are certainly
technologies that can help parents supervise their children.

On the face of it, I think it's a perfectly reasonable MXUG topic. Am
I correct? Or do people not think this is an appropriate topic of
discussion for MXUG?

> I do think the ascii-art porn link was inappropriate

Definitely. I'm not surprised that people are pissed off; in
addition, it's disheartening to have what I considered to be a serious
discussion on the matter derailed by juvenile humour.

Evan

unread,
Oct 26, 2009, 8:48:04 AM10/26/09
to mxug
Given that it was my anecdote that lead to this unfortunate series of
events I'd like to offer an apology. Any discussion about children
and the Internet is going to lead to discussion about pornography -
making it a very awkward topic for many people. And while I don't
think we should shy away from awkward topics, I think we've certainly
proved what was established at the last meeting: that email is a damn
poor communication medium.

My intent in recounting the anecdote was to lead to a discussion on
what we, as techies, do when uncovering behaviour of the children of
non-techie parents that may be of concern to them. Having been asked
by friends and associates to clean up the family PC because it is
running sooo slowly, and uncovering a stash of inappropriate material
in the process is a situation I've been in several times. Obviously I
didn't do a very good job of making that point.

I am disheartened that there have now been two incidents (that I am
aware of) that have made people feel uncomfortable. This is not a
womans' magazine, nor is it a locker room - and comments that add no
substance, and make _anyone_ feel uncomfortable have no place here.

Even if you think this is all a big overblown fuss, can we at least
try and moderate our behaviour to respect other peoples sensibilities
in this matter? There are only so many times these sorts of things
can happen before MXUG would die a quick death, and that would be a
shame.

E.

Clifford Heath

unread,
Oct 26, 2009, 8:56:39 AM10/26/09
to mx...@googlegroups.com
On 26/10/2009, at 11:19 PM, Duncan Bayne wrote:
>> I do think the ascii-art porn link was inappropriate
>
> Definitely. I'm not surprised that people are pissed off; in
> addition, it's disheartening to have what I considered to be a serious
> discussion on the matter derailed by juvenile humour.

I think you've misinterpreted it. Korny and others were pointing out the
differences between porn now and then, and Oleg (it seems to me)
tried to do the same. I think it was pointless and poorly explained (*),
but I don't think it was merely juvenile humour either.

(*) You might not know that English isn't Oleg's first language, and his
cultural mores are not ours either, whether you agree with them or not.
Assuming you even claim to know what Russians expect; I don't.

So while I acknowledge that some were offended by a reference to
offensive material, I believe that their reactions were also somewhat
inappropriate, in context. After all, we *were* discussing how to manage
offensive material, and there was bound to be some reference to
examples, such as those that Korny and Oleg shared.

Clifford Heath.

Oleg Kiorsak

unread,
Oct 26, 2009, 9:19:12 AM10/26/09
to mx...@googlegroups.com
Thanks Cliff

Yes, indeed, what I was trying to make an (ironical) comment was the difference
between the extent of "computer porn" in "old days" and now...

I admit that posting a sample link was absolutely unnecessary and
inappropriate and I could of just make a remark to "ascii porn" instead
of providing a url "sample"...

I presume it was a moment of poor judgment (exacerbated by a temptation
to commit an act of "juvenile humor", I guess, confusing a serious technology forum with "Comedy Inc" ;)

- which I actually realized very quickly later on and have in fact posted a "sorry" email
long before people started commenting on it... (although, granted, it wasn't clearly apologetic enough...)


**********************************************
I apologize again to all offended!...
and mostly for derailing forum's attention into something irrelevant and unnecessary

**********************************************

regards,
O.K.

PS: as far as your remarks to "cultural morals" and "Russians" - it's an interesting
topic - you might have a point there, but probably not to be discussed here as it might derail the forum again into some politically incorrect  and irrelevant... ;)

Sam Watkins

unread,
Oct 26, 2009, 2:34:16 PM10/26/09
to mx...@googlegroups.com
On Tue, Oct 27, 2009 at 12:19:12AM +1100, Oleg Kiorsak wrote:
> I admit that posting a sample link was absolutely unnecessary and
> inappropriate and I could of just make a remark to "ascii porn" instead
> of providing a url "sample"...

I think anyone who was seriously offended by this (Paul) needs to take a
reality pill and check if they have lost their sense of humour and tolerance,
or perhaps there was already a bee up their *ahem* nose on that occasion?
No one's forcing you to click a link or view any tame ascii porn! Paul is
normally very good-humoured so I guess I'm still missing something.

Personally I think we should be free to make any joke or reference that isn't
actually extremely tasteless or offensive. I feel no jury of femininsts would
convict Oleg's reference of that. If I would some time (in context) post a
link to Borat making fun of femininsts or pretending to be anti-semetic.
Do you also find that offensive? Then don't look at it! If someone talks in
support of software piracy, or links to thepiratebay, will that offend?
Perhaps someone will be offeneded if we mention politics, international
relations, homosexuality, race, religion (or porn) in passing?

Personally I get offended when people talk in an unfriendly or disrespectful
way to each other. Unfortuately many of the most vocal knowledgable people on
mailing lists, IRC and elsewhere seem to be rude and ill-tempered more often
than not, if someone disagrees with them. (I didn't notice that here.)

If you don't find something funny, I say move along. I don't mind if people
post an objection or reaction - that might help to keep the list on track -
but I think a general policy against any quasi-sexist talk is going too far.

I feel the loss of free speech is worse than having to occassionally skip over
something you find slightly offensive. We wouldn't want the list to degenerate
to the level of some others forums I could mention, but I feel there's no risk
of that. It seems to be a very friendly list from what I can see.

Maybe we all need a double-dose of tolerance (for others' posts) and
consideration (when posting our own random drivel)!

Sam

/me promises not to post any more on this (meta-/off-)topic on the list!

Sam Watkins

unread,
Oct 26, 2009, 2:36:35 PM10/26/09
to mx...@googlegroups.com
> Imagine if young children now read this thread?

lol surely you are not serious, as we were saying, if young children have
unlimited internet access, they are going to be in for a hell of a lot worse
than ascii-pr0n. No young child would be able to read all this anyway.

mummy!!!! there's a link to ascii-pr0n!! OH NOES!

Sam

Sadat Rahman

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Oct 26, 2009, 2:38:52 PM10/26/09
to mx...@googlegroups.com

LOL!!! I am following this thread with utter amusement. =P

Steve Hayes

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Oct 26, 2009, 4:21:24 PM10/26/09
to mx...@googlegroups.com

On 27/10/2009, at 5:34 AM, Sam Watkins wrote:

>
> On Tue, Oct 27, 2009 at 12:19:12AM +1100, Oleg Kiorsak wrote:
>> I admit that posting a sample link was absolutely unnecessary and
>> inappropriate and I could of just make a remark to "ascii porn"
>> instead
>> of providing a url "sample"...
>
> I think anyone who was seriously offended by this (Paul) needs to
> take a
> reality pill and check if they have lost their sense of humour and
> tolerance,
> or perhaps there was already a bee up their *ahem* nose on that
> occasion?
> No one's forcing you to click a link or view any tame ascii porn!
> Paul is
> normally very good-humoured so I guess I'm still missing something.
>

I respectfully disagree - the discussion wasn't one that I personally
would have in a workplace, which is my closest analogy to this group.
This isn't a group of friends that I've invited for a dinner party -
there are strangers here. You don't know me, I'm afraid.

> Personally I get offended when people talk in an unfriendly or
> disrespectful
> way to each other. Unfortuately many of the most vocal knowledgable
> people on
> mailing lists, IRC and elsewhere seem to be rude and ill-tempered
> more often
> than not, if someone disagrees with them. (I didn't notice that
> here.)
>

That's bad too.

> If you don't find something funny, I say move along. I don't mind
> if people
> post an objection or reaction - that might help to keep the list on
> track -
> but I think a general policy against any quasi-sexist talk is going
> too far.
>

I think "move along" has been the advice to many minorities over time.
Regardless of how you mean it, it's been used as a policy of
intolerance as well. Every group has to decide what its social norms
are, and those norms will help define the boundaries of the group.

> I feel the loss of free speech is worse than having to occassionally
> skip over
> something you find slightly offensive. We wouldn't want the list to
> degenerate
> to the level of some others forums I could mention, but I feel
> there's no risk
> of that. It seems to be a very friendly list from what I can see.
>

I'm personally willing to tolerate a little less "free speech" in
order to create a more inclusive group. There are plenty of other
places I can express myself very openly, I don't need another one.
Free speech is a wonderful ideal, but it can be used to justify all
sorts of excesses - after all, they're just words!

I think having an open, clear, accessibly policy, perhaps sent to
everyone who joins the list, will reduce the need to re-norm every
time someone new posts to the group (reduce, not remove). Growing
groups can spend a lot of time covering the same ground over-and-over,
and sadly it's just waste.

Tolerance is good, but tolerance alone won't create an inclusive group.

Steve

Richard Jones

unread,
Oct 26, 2009, 5:26:10 PM10/26/09
to mx...@googlegroups.com
On 27/10/2009, at 5:34 AM, Sam Watkins wrote:
> On Tue, Oct 27, 2009 at 12:19:12AM +1100, Oleg Kiorsak wrote:
>> I admit that posting a sample link was absolutely unnecessary and
>> inappropriate and I could of just make a remark to "ascii porn"
>> instead
>> of providing a url "sample"...
>
> I think anyone who was seriously offended by this (Paul) needs to
> take a
> reality pill and check if they have lost their sense of humour and
> tolerance,
> or perhaps there was already a bee up their *ahem* nose on that
> occasion?
> No one's forcing you to click a link or view any tame ascii porn!
> Paul is
> normally very good-humoured so I guess I'm still missing something.

Yes, you are.

"Here's some porn... oh, it's just a joke, lighten up!" is not
appropriate or welcoming for a diverse technical discussion forum.


Richard

Sadat Rahman

unread,
Oct 26, 2009, 5:29:37 PM10/26/09
to mx...@googlegroups.com
> "Here's some porn... oh, it's just a joke, lighten up!" is not
> appropriate or welcoming for a diverse technical discussion forum.
>

Nor is it relevant or adds any value to the spirit of MXUG! :-)

Tal Rotbart

unread,
Oct 26, 2009, 6:03:36 PM10/26/09
to mx...@googlegroups.com
The bottom line is that there seems to be a value clash here. Steve's
(and some others, but Steve put it clearly) seems to be, correct me if
I'm wrong - "Inclusiveness over tolerance".

Mine personally would be the other way around, especially in a group like MXUG.

The appeal I find in MXUG was the people, who are more interesting,
less conventional, brighter and more varied than what you'd normally
find at the MSUG (aka, Melbourne _Specific_ User Groups).

Nothing like groupthink 'inclusiveness' to dim these lights. Also,
some studies suggest that:
"Swearing on the job can reduce stress and boost employee morale"
[http://www.cbc.ca/health/story/2007/10/17/swearing-study.html]

So if MXUG is like a workplace, it seems that this kind of behaviour
creatives more inclusiveness and encourages bonding (not just of the
male kind). This is just one study, of course, but maybe some thought
provoking is in order.

Consideration and tolerance are two sides of the same coin, and I
personally do not see a reason why one should be favoured over the
other.

Have a lovely day,
Tal

Steve Hayes

unread,
Oct 26, 2009, 6:28:03 PM10/26/09
to mx...@googlegroups.com

On 27/10/2009, at 9:03 AM, Tal Rotbart wrote:

>
> The bottom line is that there seems to be a value clash here. Steve's
> (and some others, but Steve put it clearly) seems to be, correct me if
> I'm wrong - "Inclusiveness over tolerance".
>
> Mine personally would be the other way around, especially in a group
> like MXUG.
>
> The appeal I find in MXUG was the people, who are more interesting,
> less conventional, brighter and more varied than what you'd normally
> find at the MSUG (aka, Melbourne _Specific_ User Groups).
>
> Nothing like groupthink 'inclusiveness' to dim these lights.

I don't follow this line of reasoning. Let me be clear that I meant
tolerance of *expression*, not tolerance of opinion. I personally
believe that a group of more interesting, less conventional, brighter
and more varied people should easily be able to find ways to express
themselves clearly without offending anyone.

I'm currently reading "Words that Work" by Frank Lutz (http://www.amazon.com/Words-That-Work-What-People/dp/1401302599
). Lutz stresses, repeatedly, that it's not what you say that matters,
it's what people hear. You can choose the perfect words from your
perspective, but it's how your audience understands those words that
matter, not how you feel about them.

Learning to express yourself in an effective way is a skill like any
other - it's learned, it's not a gift. We all have things that are
worth sharing, but sometimes we need how to learn how to share them
effectively. I think that is one of the promises of MXUG, and one that
we can all rise to.

Separately, I worry that it's too easy for members of the majority
(and I is one) to push inclusiveness down the list or priorities,
since the immediate impact is pretty low (the long term impact is a
different story). However I vividly remember one evening in France
where the host formally asked the table to restrict the conversation
to English in deference to the mono-lingual Australians at the table.
It was a wonderful example of inclusiveness (letting us follow all the
conversation) over tolerance of expression (since I'm sure there were
people more comfortable in French).

I agonised over whether to continue this thread but it is about
values, and values are important and they don't go away. I've tried to
add some MXUG'y value in this response :-)

Daniel

unread,
Oct 26, 2009, 6:41:43 PM10/26/09
to mxug
It's a matter of environment. When there is no disparity, there is
much less sensitivity to attacks on any one group.
Where any group is in a minority, there is a degree of awkwardness by
default, and any content that excludes them adds to this.

http://lafalafu.com/krc/privilege.html

I wouldn't have said the link was offensive, but it was hardly
tasteful - and apparently Oleg doesn't think so either.

Kathryn Andersen

unread,
Oct 26, 2009, 6:46:47 PM10/26/09
to mx...@googlegroups.com
On Tue, Oct 27, 2009 at 09:03:36AM +1100, Tal Rotbart wrote:
>
> The bottom line is that there seems to be a value clash here. Steve's
> (and some others, but Steve put it clearly) seems to be, correct me if
> I'm wrong - "Inclusiveness over tolerance".
>
> Mine personally would be the other way around, especially in a group like MXUG.
>
> The appeal I find in MXUG was the people, who are more interesting,
> less conventional, brighter and more varied than what you'd normally
> find at the MSUG (aka, Melbourne _Specific_ User Groups).
>
> Nothing like groupthink 'inclusiveness' to dim these lights. Also,
> some studies suggest that:
> "Swearing on the job can reduce stress and boost employee morale"
> [http://www.cbc.ca/health/story/2007/10/17/swearing-study.html]

If I have to put up with crude behaviour in order to "belong" then
*obviously* I'm not welcome here, and I won't go where I'm not welcome.
After all, it's supposed to be *fun*. Why should I have to fight for
the right to feel comfortable and welcomed? And yet, it's always this
way, over and over and over and over and over and over again:
"Oh, don't be such a prude!"
"Can't you take a joke?"
"Don't you have a sense of humour?"
"Oh no, it's the Political Correctness Police!"
"Free speech means never having to say I'm sorry."

Yes, thank you, I do have a sense of humour. I love the Goon Show, I
enjoy Douglas Adams, I smile at Wodehouse, I know what The Ministry Of
Silly Walks is. I even made a "No one expects the Dalek Inquisition!"
LiveJournal icon.
But of course, none of that counts, not if I find crudeness UnFunny.

Kathryn Andersen
--
_--_|\ | Kathryn Andersen <http://www.katspace.org>
/ \ |
\_.--.*/ | GenFicCrit mailing list <http://www.katspace.org/gen_fic_crit/>
v |
------------| Melbourne -> Victoria -> Australia -> Southern Hemisphere
Maranatha! | -> Earth -> Sol -> Milky Way Galaxy -> Universe

Tobias Sargeant

unread,
Oct 26, 2009, 6:46:11 PM10/26/09
to mx...@googlegroups.com
On 26/10/2009, at 8:18 PM, Donna Benjamin wrote:

[...] Imagine if young children now read this thread?

The link that was posted aside, I think that this thread is probably
an excellent one for teenagers, at least, to read. I think it
demonstrates that there is a wide spectrum of opinions and behaviours
amongst adults when it comes to sex and sexuality, and that we're
willing to talk about it. I think it also shows that we don't have all
the answers, but we're concerned for our childrens' well-being.

And maybe this isn't the ideal way to find out about it, but I think
they should know that adults do have sex. And that we do masturbate.
And that we're human. Maybe knowing that would encourage them to trust
us as a source of information over their peers and the media, which
would be a big step forward, IMO.

Toby.

Justin Freitag

unread,
Oct 26, 2009, 6:55:01 PM10/26/09
to mx...@googlegroups.com
Well said Tal. Whilst I didn't find this one offensive (though it was
on the darker side of light humor) it's clear that some of you did. Is
that ok? Of course. Does it mean that we should discourage or disgrace
opinions that we don't see eye to eye with? No. Personally, I don't
want to be second guessing what I can and can't say at MXUG.

It's the X factor that makes this group what it is...well that's what
I'd thought until this thread filled my inbox.

Cheers,
Justin

Steve Hayes

unread,
Oct 26, 2009, 6:59:16 PM10/26/09
to mx...@googlegroups.com
+1
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Tal Rotbart

unread,
Oct 26, 2009, 7:14:44 PM10/26/09
to mx...@googlegroups.com
On Tue, Oct 27, 2009 at 9:46 AM, Kathryn Andersen
<kat_...@katspace.org> wrote:
[...]

>
> If I have to put up with crude behaviour in order to "belong" then
> *obviously* I'm not welcome here, and I won't go where I'm not welcome.
> After all, it's supposed to be *fun*.  Why should I have to fight for
> the right to feel comfortable and welcomed?  And yet, it's always this
> way, over and over and over and over and over and over again:
> "Oh, don't be such a prude!"
> "Can't you take a joke?"
> "Don't you have a sense of humour?"
> "Oh no, it's the Political Correctness Police!"
> "Free speech means never having to say I'm sorry."
>
> Yes, thank you, I do have a sense of humour.  I love the Goon Show, I
> enjoy Douglas Adams, I smile at Wodehouse, I know what The Ministry Of
> Silly Walks is.  I even made a "No one expects the Dalek Inquisition!"
> LiveJournal icon.
> But of course, none of that counts, not if I find crudeness UnFunny.
>
> Kathryn Andersen
[...]

I disagree that Oleg's link was crude. While I'm sure you have a sense
of humour, maybe it is not in the same taste as the one that Oleg,
Korny, Julian and I presented. Yes, it does help to have the same
_kind_ of sense of humour to belong to a social group.

While I'm not claiming that MXUG's 'official sense of humour' has
anything to do with anything I say, these things tend to establish
themselves on their own, social marketplace and all that.

I personally would not want to see this type of uniqueness diminished.
For a breeding ground for new ideas and technologies I would prescribe
the safety of 'less value judgement' and 'less imposition of
lowest-common-denominator morality', rather than safety of 'having
personal sensibilities left unchallenged'.

I find that much more welcoming and inclusive, personally.

As always, IMHO.

Tal

Duncan Bayne

unread,
Oct 26, 2009, 7:18:43 PM10/26/09