Thursday, January 18, 2007

B4B EVO: Database, Personal Info. & Trust

It has taken a couple days for me to get around to reopening the b4b evo Session Participants' database to take another look at what's there in response to a moderator's question asking which information I consider personal (personal correspondence, Jan 17, 2007, at 04:55, JST).

As part of this point by point reflection on b4b evo backchannel messages, I'd like to suggest that, among other items of info. collected in the database, full names, gender, Yahoo ID and Skype names are personal (no Hotmail MSN for me, thanks, but that would be, too).

If there is order to these reflective pieces, it probably entails ease of collecting thoughts, exploring group moderator proposed work-arounds, and responding to requests for explanation or assistance.

The original post in this reflective series raised an issue of "ambivalent trust" (Jan. 18, 2007, 14:54 JST). Here I'd like to explore a couple of recent interactions that rekindled thought-fires regarding trust.

The first of those interactions was run of the mill. That is, when applying for group membership, I supplied the Yahoo! (R) Groups' interface with a concise rationale for asking to join the b4b group.

In return, I got an automated, "Please give us more information, or wait," sort of message. Though the application form had allowed only a few more characters (200-250 character limit?), I didn't want to wait and succumb to a foreseeable avalanche of introductory messages. As I noted later:

...I had hoped that gaining admittance to the group prior to the weekend launch would enable me to avoid a huge backlog of posts, come Monday morning....

I'd never wish that kind of reading load on EFL learners unless I wanted to extinguish their enthusiasm, or to train them to ignore the majority of posts from their peers.
(personal correspondence: January 15, 2007, 21:12:10 JST).

So I wrote back right away to demonstrate humanity, to show that I wasn't some sort of spamming robot, and to find out whether more info. really was necessary to do so. In short, it wasn't.

However, the possibility of surrepititious humans gaining access to the group retraced synapses when I opened the group database. I figured that anyone who could pass the human screens would have access to all the information earlier arrivals had posted there. That was well before I'd even browsed the hundreds of introductory posts that had already arrived to see who's whom.

When I had last checked the group participants' database (Tue., Jan 16, 2007, 9:58 am JST), there was still an ID in the database for whom automated searches of all messages retrieved no messages. With 160+ participants now on list, I can say neither that I know everyone, nor that I've even scrolled, paged, and scrolled through all of the database records to double-check who's there.

In reviewing that database today, however, I have discovered "Actions" (Edit/Delete) controls which I consider a plus because they enable participants to update their records without dependence upon group moderators. If any personal info. that participants' list changes (or gets abused), they apparently will be able to manage it to some extent, as long as group owners permit access.

The short story ends here; I did go back and add a limited amount of info. to the database. Participants photos will probably be the next point I take up.

1 comment:

  1. I put the thinking on photos into email to the coordinators, and a suggestion into action on the Participants' page on the b4b pbwiki:


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