Re: Cu-SeeMe/Kids

Jason Williams (streak@ccwf.cc.utexas.edu)
Wed, 11 Mar 1998 00:08:06 -0600 (CST)


On Tue, 10 Mar 1998, Eric Ochoa [NOL Staff] wrote:
> Visit the Networks On-Line Conference Server and feel comfortable in our
> safe, kid friendly environment. You can dial us at mpcs.nol.net
> (206.126.32.45) and connect to any of our public conferences, they are all
> G Rated.

Ahh..but what makes it G Rated? How do you enforce the G rating and WHO
enforces it? That's a problem both the Cornell AND White Pine reflectors
have faced.

Cornell's only solution that I saw physically was a really verbose Message
of the Day stating the rules and a URL to go to for proper conduct. But
then I stopped going to the Cornell reflector back in 1995 when it became
impossible to get on. I heard stories that it was no longer a safe place
for kids and turned into a lot pornography-type things.

White Pine's solution (besides the MOTD) was to "hire" reflector monitors
from another company (Powerscourt) to sit on their reflector 24 hours a
day and do nothing but monitor the activity and keep people in line.
While this does work, I often wonder exactly how many kids wander in
there.

Outside of White Pine's 24 hour a day/7 days a week monitoring, there's
really not much that's fullproof for a "kid-safe" environment. Even White
Pine's rules are fairly vague if I remember right. If you go too far on
restricting activity, you end up in AOL's position. AOL ended up
censoring the word "breast" from discussion. This limited people from
talking about breast cancer and outraged a lot of people.

I'm sure there's quite a few "kid-safe" private reflectors out there like
Global Schoolhouse's private reflector. Any time you allow the public to
connect, you risk someone being offended. Restricting who connects is one
way to get around that. If I had kids and it was 1994 again, I wouldn't
mind letting them roam the 30-40 public reflectors. But these days,
public reflectors generally aren't "kid-safe" all the time.

For the reflector operators that don't have the time or money to
monitor their reflector (or hire full time monitors like White Pine does),
there will always be people who get offended. I have monitors on my
reflector which do a pretty good job, but since they aren't getting paid
(like the Powerscourt monitors for White Pine), it's a voluntary job to
keep the reflector clean. Even WITH monitors there are people who
complain about activity and not having enough monitors (Hi Darlene!).

A year and a half ago the idea of remotely monitoring a reflector without
having to master refmon or telnet was a long way off. Luckily today there
are quite a few nice utilities out there that make the job easier. My
reflector scanner and Dale Paul's Refmarshal both allow for remote
monitoring of reflectors. My proxy server for Refmarshal extends
Refmarshal's ability and allows Mac users to take advantage of it as well.

Anway...enough rambling...the whole idea of saying a reflector is G Rated
is pointless unless you have the means to enforce it. I've seen the gay
scene "acquire" public reflectors which go unmonitored as well as the
adult scene crowd onto the supposed G Rated reflectors. If you have
monitors that enforce the rating, at least that eliminates the likelihood
of consistent adult activity.

Just my observations after about 4 years in the reflector and CU scene :)

--
streak@ccwf.cc.utexas.edu    * Jason Williams -- Austin, Tx.  |     |
streak@mail.utexas.edu       * University of Texas at Austin  | ___ |
streak@cs.utexas.edu         * BS Computer Science             \_|_/
*************** http://ccwf.cc.utexas.edu/~streak/ **************|