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Updating the guidelines

(30 Posts)
Maryz Thu 02-Jan-14 21:39:22

I wonder would you consider putting something specific in the Talk Guidelines to cover the fact that we post (generally) anonymously and that outing someone, or linking their real life identity with their mumsnet name is against the rules.

It may be there, but I can't find it.

Sorry to post this as a separate thread, but it may be missed in the JH palaver.


BoffinMum Fri 03-Jan-14 18:10:05

Ultimately dialogue between MNHQ and users is the way forward. From time to time people realise they have overshared or inadvertently outed themselves, and the ability to have some control in reigning it in again is an important aspect of using and trusting the site. Similarly if they end up being outed and express dismay, then when MNHQ helps them out this gives other users confidence in the site as well. It has to be a bit flexible. But I agree some rules of engagement at the beginning are important, specifically aimed at short term or occasional users (for that read media and MPs above all else).

SilverApples Fri 03-Jan-14 12:16:44

As a serial name-changer, I've done that Rowan.
If I didn't want people to make that connection:

'PosterA to PosterB on Thread C: 'Do I know you?'
PosterB: 'yes I'll PM you'
PosterA 'Ah right'

Then I'd make it clear in my PM that I didn't want my old name linked to my new one.

RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 03-Jan-14 12:06:26

Sure - we're not arguing on the principle SoupDragon, just trying to make sure we word it in the right way so that we can use our discretion.

Thanks DazzleII, we'll pass those on to Julie!

SoupDragon Fri 03-Jan-14 11:49:45

It does make sense but a guideline which states it's not OK to out someone is still valid. The MNHQer doing any deleting/wrist slapping would be exercising their own judgement as usual. So something like Revealing a posters real name or a previous user name is not allowed. We reserve the right to delete such posts or take further action as necessary in order to protect a poser's anonymity

A poster outed themselves on a thread only recently, another thread was started a bit later asking where that poster was. IIRC, the OP was pointed towards doing an advanced search for the posting name which would have brought up the "outing thread". This kind of thing would clearly not violate any guidelines.

DazzleII Fri 03-Jan-14 11:17:08

Ooooooooh, tricky...

I can't begin to tell you how glad I am that I don't have to do your job, Rowan. And belated thanks to Julie.

RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 03-Jan-14 11:13:56


Surely it is easy to distinguish between a poster outing themselves happily and someone else doing so? Thus it is Ok for someone to out themselves but not OK for someone else to out another poster.

Yes sure - but sometimes it can go like this:

PosterA to PosterB on Thread C: 'Do I know you?'
PosterB: 'yes I used to be PosterD'
PosterA 'Ah right'

Then subsequently on Thread E:

PosterF 'Oh PosterD's still around and posting, she's PosterB now'

Obvs in these circumstances, we'd generally assume that PosterB/D is fine with having her NC confirmed as she's already done it herself on other threads.

Does that make sense?

SoupDragon Fri 03-Jan-14 11:10:11

Surely it is easy to distinguish between a poster outing themselves happily and someone else doing so? Thus it is Ok for someone to out themselves but not OK for someone else to out another poster.

If anyone has suspicions that a poster is a troll under a namechange, they should report it, not out them.

BoffinMum Fri 03-Jan-14 11:03:17

I think also a dialogue with MNHQ is also highly valued. The way we are all grown ups on here, generally speaking. So often women are infantilised and patronised online, and this is one of the rare places we can be really quite free, or at least argue about the boundaries.

RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 03-Jan-14 10:54:00


Thanks for this.

In most cases we do crack down on posts that 'out' other posters when they're reported to us, whether that's outing someone's RL identity or outing a namechange.

We understand that anonymity is one of the things that users really value about MN, and we're very happy to protect posters' anonymity as far as we can.

That said, as some of you have pointed out, there are occasionally circumstances where this doesn't really apply - a user who has NC but is very happy to confirm that she was previously OtherUsername, or users (very occasionally) who genuinely don't mind if their RL identities are associated with their MN identities.

We'll always err on the side of protecting anonymity, but a blanket ruling wouldn't be appropriate in every case.

All of that said, you may be right that adding a line about the general expectation of anonymity to this page would be a good idea - we'll take a look at doing that.

BoffinMum Fri 03-Jan-14 09:46:46

I am not happy with the way things are going on here at the moment. I reckon that unless there is a bit of sensitivity about covering the backs of posters, in terms of confidentiality and low level privacy, the site will morph into a sterile Netmums type place where nobody says anything apart from inane platitudes using text speak. Obviously people aren't posting state secrets on here, but they do talk about personal things (pelvic floors, irritations with employers and the less attractive domestic habits of husbands and partners, to name three fairly harmless things that ought to be given a bit of pragmatic privacy) and it's reasonable to expect a bit of support from MNHQ with regard to protecting the social space where posters like to discuss things like this, that they feel are important to them, or supportive and helpful to others. Otherwise what's the point of any of it?

Whilst on the matter of site stuff, I also think it is important to identify where contributions are paid for, and where they are free. I was pretty appalled to learn that MN apparently charge for web chats without specifying at the top of the respective web chat that it's effectively a form of advertorial. In any other form of media this practice would be considered dodgy.

I'm sensitive to this as MNHQ have just pulled a thread of mine in rather a lofty fashion, where I was tipping MNetters off that one of my books was free for a few days if they wanted to download it for nothing. To me, this seemed a bit hypocritical given the paid web chat development. I've regularly put up threads like this as I think it's a useful symbiosis - from my point of view, I post austerity stuff on my blog for free, I link to MN as an approved blogger (in effect giving them some free content every time I update the site), I put the blog into an eBook that people can download for on their phones or iPads for wandering around the shops with, etc, people PM me and contact me via the blog and send me lots of ideas and point out corrections, I think, 'that's decent of them' and make sure every time there is a free promotion MNetters are the first to know in case it's helpful to someone who helped, or someone on a really restricted budget. So having felt quite generous, I was shocked to be slapped down and told to pay for an advertisement or else. Not good karma, I felt, given that my blog officially feeds MN free content, as I say. It felt out of balance, and I have told them so.

TBH from time to time I've experimentally sneaked a few links onto The Other Site and my stats zoom up a lot faster if I do that, both in terms of blog hits and (paid) book downloads (I do not alert them to free promotions). So I imagine their site is a lot bigger, and it's probably in my commercial interests to develop that side of things a lot more. But I don't, because thus far I have felt my values aligned more closely with MN. Whether that will continue into the future, time will only tell.

At least we have a good stab at free speech on here, anyway. I suppose if I posted something like this on The Other Site they'd delete it immediately, being as Pollyanna-ish as they are.

thekitchenfairy Fri 03-Jan-14 04:49:52

I think there needs to be a little flexibility but agree outing someone should be against talk guidelines not against general ethos.

CarpeVinum Fri 03-Jan-14 00:30:13

Hear hear !

Not everybody has Big Pointy Alps to hide behind and CrackItalianLawyer team.

So many people are PMing me, posters are actually SCARED to even post on a thread under their nickname.

And I don't bleeding blame them.

I know full well when I am being threatened and intimidated, even when the attempt is ineffectual becuase of where I am and what kind of back up I have ... unbeknown to the power/money muscle flexer.

It is not one of those thing you can necessarily predict and include in a common or garden TOS, but the specific scenario is here and it is happening and it does require a firm line in the sand to be drawn.

Maryz Fri 03-Jan-14 00:20:33

x-posted, beyond.

That would be good.

Maryz Fri 03-Jan-14 00:20:06

That's true in theory, Westmoreland.

Except I was deleted for suggesting that melvin might be IJ, and that JH was linked to him in some way. So we aren't actually meant do it anyway [sigh]

It's just that some people do it maliciously, and shouldn't be allowed to.

But I do take your point. I will have a think.

I can't find the thread I'm thinking of, but I think it was decided that malicious outing came under "deliberately inflammatory behaviour" so could be a bannable offence, but also allows for westmorelands example to be okay...?

WestmorlandSausage Fri 03-Jan-14 00:18:31

damn posted too soon.

I think there does need to be a little flexibility rather than a blanket rule as I think that kind of rule may cause us more problems with people blatantly trolling in an identifiable way in the knowledge that if someone calls them on it may get them banned.

I would be devastated if someone outed me on here so would like some protection from that but ultimately I don't think a ban would actually stop people from doing it if they had the inclination to do so anyway.

WestmorlandSausage Fri 03-Jan-14 00:13:31

I do agree with you in the main - but my concern about a blanket rule on this is the Melvinscomment type scenarios where actually it might be quite useful to be able to point out a reasonable belief that the person posting was a certain person known to cause distress.

A MNer (can't remember who) did 'out' JH's partner when she started posting on one of the threads just before Christmas and she was also a regular 'anonymous' MNer until that point as far as most people were concerned. In that case her posts would probably outed her anyway to any sensible person (she had been outed previously for similar reasons and had to name change I believe). I presume she will have name changed again after recent events and I wouldn't blame her if she had.

nennypops Fri 03-Jan-14 00:09:28

Yes, I agree. It shouldn't be necessary, but recent events have demonstrated that it certainly is.

holycowwhatnow Fri 03-Jan-14 00:06:56

Total agreement here.

JungleHumps Fri 03-Jan-14 00:05:08

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BewitchedBotheredandBewildered Thu 02-Jan-14 23:56:44

Yes, get people to confirm having read guidelines, and agree to observe them.
RL names and previous nick-names included.

Lioninthesun Thu 02-Jan-14 23:53:19

Sounds really good.
After everything that has gone on recently I imagine this will put a few vulnerable people's minds at rest. People who might otherwise not post.

I think there was a thread on it recently (before hemminggate, I mean) can't remember the outcome, will look now...

PacificDogwood Thu 02-Jan-14 23:47:48

I agree with MaryZ on this one.

Off to bed, so no further eloquence on the subject.

Spero Thu 02-Jan-14 23:47:33

Yes I agree. It shouldn't need saying, but obviously for some, it does.

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