Email Policy

In today’s Daily Dish, Andrew Sullivan comments on the boorishness of publishing private emails. He’s right–for as long as I’ve been on Usenet (many years), posting an email without the sender’s permission has been considered a gross breach of netiquette. Somehow, this well-established courtesy has not leaked over to the web, and people who are more recent Internet users (such as much of the journalism community). In a world of tiny digital cameras, and instant mass production of anyone’s electronic musings, privacy is becoming a scarce commodity (as is trust).

So I want to establish the policy for this web site. I always follow the rule of not publishing emails on Usenet, unless granted permission, but at this site, I’ve always assumed that if someone sends me a comment about it, that they have no problem with republishing it–sort of like a letter to the editor. Now I want to make it explicit: if I receive commentary on the site, the default will be that it is publishable, using the sender’s name, unless a specific request is made to not publish it, or to publish it but allow retention of anonymity.

And as a note to all webloggers, it might be useful to come up with some common policies or netiquette, if we can reach a consensus, and maintain it at a website somewhere (perhaps hosted by Blogspot?) for both bloggers and readers.