Downtime.

Apologies for the serious downtime thats been experienced today, and yesterday. It seems that a bug in the kernel, due to our compiler and perhaps the options supplied to it, gradually consumed more and more memory until the machine ran out and fell over. As a result things would have gradually got slower and slower, processes taking longer to finish until the box collapsed because as it got busier, so it got slower, which meant it had more waiting to do…

This is why a number of mails to us bounced because the server began refusing connections, sometime yesterday.

There have been a number of changes to help fix this problem for the future. First, the number of allowed web processed has been quartered, so that in the event of slowdowns, rather than queuing up much much more than the server can handle, it will refuse new ones until the backlog is cleared. Also, the kernel is upgraded now to a newer version and one that was compiled directly by RedHat, so our compiler issue is not an issue.

A number of crucial pieces of software have been ‘stripped’ (Which for those not in the know basically means made a lot smaller by removing redundant information) so the server should run more processes before getting upset.

But as a result of these emergency changes, the service has been somewhat unpredictable today, for which we apologise and hope we’ve got the gremlins now!

Apologies to Psyche for the worry that the mail bouncing will have caused her!

Official word on Rick.

This diary is maintained, as you can see, by the administrators of DearDiary.net. This entry will outline what we consider to be Freedom Of Speech and what we consider to be unacceptable, even under the concept of Freedom Of Speech.

There are a number of things to remember here though. The First Amendment applies to Government interference or restrictions on speech. This site is privately owned and funded and no-one is suggesting that you are forced to air your opinion only here. Its highly possible that there are much more appropriate places for you to air your opinion if they fall outside what we consider to be acceptable use of the system.

Also, this system is International, therefore you can not apply only American laws and constitution. Admittedly at time of writing the majority of our users are indeed American (around 65%) so it seems logical to bias the system towards the American audience. But that doesn’t mean it will be always be that way, nor does it mean that it follows only American principles. The juggling act of trying to keep everyone happy, particularly when they are from different cultures is difficult.

The people that run this site at present are English. One no longer lives in England but resides somewhere in Europe. Thus our bias is likely, subconsciously even, to be towards the English idea of what is right and acceptable. These two biases often don’t agree.

Thats where common sense and decency kick in. And the feedback we’ve had from most American’s is that actually this IS consistant with the true nature of the First Amendment. So where does this leave what can and can’t be discussed here at DearDiary?

Well, firstly, its taken on a case by case basis. We (as administrators) don’t have time to read all the diaries on the system and we don’t really care to. Some of them just do nothing for us personally and so we don’t go there unless we’re notified of something out of line. This is exactly the situation with Ricks diary. We find it does nothing for us, but provided it follows the standards of common sense and decency then we are happy to provide a home for it.

But, to get a general feel for how we run the system, one should certainly refer to the Acceptable Use Policy. To that we will add a little bit here, though this entry is for guidance only.

At DearDiary we try to maintain a policy of non-interference. We don’t want to tell you what you can and can’t write about because that doesn’t do much for diarists creativity if they have to constantly wonder what is acceptable. And its not a line we can draw in the sand and say there, thats the line, don’t go over it. So there needs to be the common sense. Common sense says that you can write what you like in your diary and if no-one objects then its fine. In general, if you avoid personal insults, or personal ‘flamebait’ there’s not likely to be a problem. To that end, it would seem that people can happily write about their beliefs, ideas, religions and anything else they like, provided that it does not get personally vindictive.

But even then, anything may offend someone and we may receive objections to an entry that has been written. So what happens then? Is the entry just blanket removed just because someone objects? No. Common sense has to apply again, and therefore a process of negotiation between the diarist concerned and the reader who has issues with the diary must begin. We as the administrators of the system are the adjudicators, or jury. We will attempt to come up with a solution that is acceptable to both parties, through process of negotiation. This is what happened with the James Obelisk case (who continues to be very reasonable and understanding about everything!)

Sometimes that is not possible, and in which case we will make a decision based on what we consider to be in the best interests of the DearDiary community, or based on international law as we understand it. We’re not lawyers, but again, common sense should prevail.

This is evidenced by the way in which we attempted to deal with Rick’s entry. We entered into discussion with Rick about his entry, and attempted to make clear the reasons we had issues with the words he had chosen to use to describe people. The kind of vindictive words chosen to describe the people can only lead to further vindictive words elsewhere and suddenly half the site becomes embroiled in a slanging match or riot and the people to get hurt are the innocent bystanders who want to read things with substance, or at least about real life, not about silly arguments between diarists.

So, given that we attempted to open negotiations (we wanted to remove the entire entry since the AUP also states you must not use diary names or other authors without their express written consent – something Rick is only too aware of having been involved in an incident a few weeks earlier) but were met with blanket refusal to co-operate at any level and a complete refusal to understand that the site is owned and run by individuals, not a faceless corporation to the point that we were dealt with in contempt. Soon it became clear that there was unlikely to be a middle ground to be found, so we removed the diary from the front page. Negotiations are still continuing, but as yet no progress has been made. To that end, a total refusal to offer any kind of goodwill gesture or any level of co-operation at all, will result in the removal of Ricks access from the site. He has been notified of this situation and we await his response.

It may sound harsh. It is harsh, but if people can’t negotiate with us in a sensible way (we’re not inflexible, we want a peaceful resolution acceptable to all) on something like this then where does it end? Like usenet where 80% of the content is useless because its just people flaming each other. DearDiary isnt about that and we won’t allow it to become that.

Please feel free to post your comments to this, but when doing so, try to avoid pointless personal insults. Stay clear and focussed and make your point well. We may just listen if its made well. If its ‘youre just losers’ or some other pointless remark it will be deleted. Thats our privilege as diary writers :)