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Profile Cori
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Message 5199 - Posted: 23 Mar 2007 | 22:55:35 UTC

Predictor@home is censoring massively at their boards and is restricting the freedom of opinion of their registered users in an inappropriate manner.
After a discussion had started about the attitude of the project administration towards a big cheating issue in this thread that thread was closed immediately to avoid any different opinion.

After that any new discussion thread and any question concerning "censorship" were "answered" with the immediate deletion of the postings/threads. Even accounts were fully blocked for posting (in my case until the year 2038!!).
In between even account creation was disabled to prevent the "bad users" from posting further questions. After that didn't help meanwhile whole IP ranges are blocked from access to the complete Predictor homepage!

I think it is not acceptable that the freedom of opinion is restricted in that way and I want to ask the BOINC community members to form an opinion about this. Try for yourself and start asking about this all at the P@H message boards!



There's an ongoing discussion over at the BOINCstats forum, where also the beginning of this whole mess is to be found. See: Trojan boinc installation by rogue member
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Profile Misfit
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Message 5202 - Posted: 24 Mar 2007 | 5:08:43 UTC

This David Braun isn't a scientist or anything. He isn't in the Molecular Biology faculty directory either. If you take a liberal read of his title he's basically in charge of their I/T dept. So he isn't gonna care about the "science" and loss of crunchers. Here he is!


"You are banned for life!"

But if people feel strongly enough about it they can take the issue to his boss.

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Message 5204 - Posted: 24 Mar 2007 | 22:57:05 UTC

Mo.v is the moderator at CPDN who initially posted information about the Wate issue. She has sent Mr. Braun an explanatory email which he's acknowledged. He says he'll be looking into the problem. I have taken the liberty to lock this thread posted by Cori, to give Mr. Braun plenty of time to check into this problem.

You may still discuss this topic on many other forums.
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Profile Wormholio
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Message 5206 - Posted: 25 Mar 2007 | 0:51:58 UTC - in response to Message 5204.
Last modified: 25 Mar 2007 | 0:54:18 UTC

Stainless Cutlass wrote:
I have taken the liberty to lock this thread posted by Cori, to give Mr. Braun plenty of time to check into this problem.


This seems like the kind of thing which might lead to an interesting discussion, as long as it's a civilized exchange of ideas amongst pirates, not mere name calling. So I've unlocked the thread.

(Just don't say 'wench')


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Message 5207 - Posted: 25 Mar 2007 | 6:14:32 UTC - in response to Message 5206.

Wormholio wrote:
(Just don't say 'wench')

Talk about throwing a w(r)ench into the works.
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Message 5208 - Posted: 25 Mar 2007 | 22:20:37 UTC

Click here to vote for my Predictor profile! :-)
Vote recommend and vote often!

Join the Banned for Life team!
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Message 5209 - Posted: 25 Mar 2007 | 22:20:48 UTC - in response to Message 5206.

Wormholio wrote:
This seems like the kind of thing which might lead to an interesting discussion, as long as it's a civilized exchange of ideas amongst pirates, not mere name calling. So I've unlocked the thread.

Aye Capt'n! :)

Greetings from the P@H brig:



*LOL*


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Profile Scott Brown
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Message 5213 - Posted: 26 Mar 2007 | 3:50:57 UTC - in response to Message 5206.




Thanks for leaving this one open Cap'n, as I have a question/concern that has been percolating for quite some time and which has become more pertinent having seen the issues at Predictor@Home. Put simply, there seems to be a very amibiguous status for participants in BOINC scientific projects, particularly those based at universities. Having a fair bit of experience with research using human participants, I could easily see users classified in a similar manner (particularly given the rather expanded research participant definitions now used by NSF and especially NIH, not to mention the considerably tighter definitions/restrictions regarding protected groups such as children). I could also see users being defined instead as volunteers (or more precisely as voluntary employees), which would accord them other protections outside the scope of research compliance offices.

In either case, it seems to me that far too little attention has been given to this issue by the developers of BOINC and by the admins of the various research projects (interestingly, the testing and educational goals of Pirates are exempt from the NIH research ethics issues, and I think for NSF as well?). This may be due to the background of many of the scientist involved who are in fields that rarely if ever deal with human participants (no offense intended to our friendly neighborhood physicists, mathematicians, computer scientists, etc.). Because of that, I worry that many projects may be unknowingly in violation of issues from their various grant funding agencies.

At the very least, I think that some definitive language should be made available at the BOINC website regarding the matter, if not also at various project websites. It seems clear from the actions and language of the project admin at Predictor (as well as statements made over the last year or so by the admin of SETI@Home) that some clarity on this matter is desparately needed in order to both establish the correct set of expected 'rights' among users as well as expected and acceptable behavior from project staff (e.g., if officially considered research participants, the 'banning' feature now implemented in the BOINC forum could be on shaky ground, etc.).






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Message 5214 - Posted: 26 Mar 2007 | 7:31:21 UTC

To me there does seem to be a trend with projects lately that do seem to miss the concept of what BOINC and really what the original Seti was based on, That which is simply to ask for the help/donations of users across the world to be willing to donate their cpu time in order to help them accomplish a goal that will either be of interest to the donator themselves (Such as Seti and the hopes of finding a signal), Or more lately by using the BOINC platform to help cure cancer and other diseases, To discovering Prime numbers and the likes.

But as it is becoming easier for schools, Or even individuals to start their own projects for various reasons (Some more personal than others), There also seems to be a more twisted view from some of these project adms who now think that it is the other way around, As if somehow they are doing the users a favor by allowing them to crunch for thier project. Thus comes this attitude that I have seen more and more of the individual users status to be not really appreciated as much as it once was.

I guess the saying "a victim of its own success" concerning BOINC comes to mind.

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Message 5220 - Posted: 27 Mar 2007 | 2:43:12 UTC - in response to Message 5213.
Last modified: 27 Mar 2007 | 2:48:19 UTC

Scott Brown wrote:
... there seems to be a very amibiguous status for participants in BOINC scientific projects, particularly those based at universities. Having a fair bit of experience with research using human participants, I could easily see users classified in a similar manner...

This is an interesting issue. In the past I had thought that such considerations applied to research involving human subjects, but now it seems this has expanded to anything involving human participants (which at some level is pretty much everything). There was an article about this in the New York Times a few weeks ago.

New York Times wrote:

As Ethics Panels Expand, No Research Field Is Exempt
February 28, 2007, Wednesday
By PATRICIA COHEN (NYT); National Desk
Late Edition - Final, Section A, Page 15, Column 1, 1436 words

DISPLAYING ABSTRACT - Ever since the gross mistreatment of poor black men in the Tuskegee Syphilis Study came to light three decades ago, the federal government has required ethics panels to protect people from being used as human lab rats in biomedical studies. Yet now, faculty and graduate students across the country ...

Unfortunately you can't read the article for free anymore, so I'll try to summarize: It seems that federal guidelines require these ethics panels at any institution receiving federal grants. As is often the case with committees, they have broadened their own scope to the point that in some cases they review proposed research in history (which certainly involves human participants). One grad student was not allowed to interview someone about their ethnicity (I think that was the topic) because "it might make them feel bad". I hope I've captured the main idea.


Scott Brown wrote:
In either case, it seems to me that far too little attention has been given to this issue by the developers of BOINC and by the admins of the various research projects.

The BOINC software comes with a template page of rules, so it's been given some consideration. They appear to be the same as are used on SETI@Home. From a quick review of several projects it looks like most have simply used that boilerplate with little or no modification (Pirates included). So it appears the projects themselves have not given it much further thought. Should they? Rosetta says you have to accept their license, but it looks like you can join and participate without actually having to press an "Accept" button. (And is that what it would take? I always click through those things without reading them.)

The Pirates home page highlights the rules first if you are not logged in. After your posting I found that it didn't show any link to the rules at all if you were already logged in, so I've added a link to them farther down the page for that case.

Scott Brown wrote:
(interestingly, the testing and educational goals of Pirates are exempt from the NIH research ethics issues, and I think for NSF as well?).

Really? Cool. Thanks.

Seriously, this highlights my concern. If an ethics panel has to review any activity involving human participants, and since education and outreach involve human participants, this expansion of the original idea could present some rather artificial hurdles for an otherwise straightforward activity.

But it's not a big concern. A much larger worry for me is that I'm working on a site which will be used (we hope) by many high schools and perhaps middle or junior high schools throughout the US. Every school district has it's own policies on computer usage, student e-mail, use of student identifying information, etc... Do we limit ourselves to the lowest common elements, or make the software more adaptable but therefore also more complex? I don't know yet where the proper balance lies, but I hope these issues don't prevent us from creating something useful.

[edit]Man, I gotta get the preview before post working again[/edit]

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Message 5261 - Posted: 3 Apr 2007 | 15:26:52 UTC - in response to Message 5208.

Misfit wrote:
Click here to vote for my Predictor profile! :-)
Vote recommend and vote often!

Join the Banned for Life team!


Just found out, how this linking works. Thanks to Misfit (Nothing to blame this time)

Click here to vote for me, over there
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