After meeting with the admiralty last week I have become more interested in how we might manage user privacy in the BOINC forums. Not for BOINC, of course, but for the I2U2 project which I am working on, which has borrowed the forums for use both to facilitate discussion and as a logbook.
There is some concern that teachers and school administrators will balk at using a tool where students' names are visible to "outsiders" (with the definition of what is "outside" varying depending on the person I talked to). I agree, but when the boundary between "inside" and "outside" isn't clear the solution isn't clear either.
It will be a tough problem to solve. It may be that we will need a mix of public/private personas, as is already sort of the case in this on-line community and those with which it overlaps (SETI@Home, Einstein@Home, BOINC in general...)
The first step is to try to lock things up a bit more. We already have some privacy, in that only a member of the crew can read the Crew Issues section of the forums. But if someone posts to the more public forums then his/her name and other information is visible. That is bad if it's a real name of an under-age student. So I will now lock up the General Issues forums so that only administrators, developers and moderators may post there. Members of the crew can still post in the Crew Issues areas, and I propose that comments on all this be put in a thread in Number Crunching, since this is really a 'work' issue, not just scuttlebut, but it's not about applications.
I'll relax this as soon as we have tested it and learned from it. I myself like the openness of both the sea and free public discussion.
And BTW, we are not done testing the brig for the glossary. We'll have to have a thread for that too.
-- Eric Myers
"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." -- William Butler Yeats