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Taking Down Forum Content

Discussion in 'Forum Management' started by Steve Freides, Sep 29, 2016.

  1. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Active Member

    I have a bit of an unusual situation I'd appreciate advice on. Our forum is exercise related.

    Several months ago, a member volunteered to guide people through 'experimental protocols' which means new exercise programs. He was interested in seeing if his ideas would bear fruit - if people following his suggestions would feel good, get stronger, etc. And to support him, I created two private sections on our forum - admittance was given via group membership that had rights to those places. Perhaps 15-20 people took part, and each person created a single thread for each protocol they followed, so one thread for most people but two or three for some. People in the group were allowed to read and contribute to each other's threads, asking questions, offering comments, advice, etc.

    The author of the protocols is now interested in writing a book based on this experiments and other things. Our organization is in support of all this - the book will be his, not ours.

    He, the author of the experimental protocols, has asked me to close the forums to further contribution and also to viewing by anyone but him and his co-author, and my quandary now is how to handle the members of my forum who participated. Specifically:

    Am I within my rights to simply close access to the 20 participants? Must I give them warning? Can I, should I email each of them the contents of the thread they started? Can I deny them access to content they create in their own thread or the threads of others?

    Thanks in advance.

  2. StarArmy

    StarArmy Active Member

    First off, he doesn't own those threads and doesn't get to tell you what to do with them.

    If you do close them, maybe you can have a "sunset period' where you tell the involved members you're closing the subforum(s) and encourage them to make backups of any content they want to save, and then close it after two weeks or so.

    You might also ask the author to credit your forum and the users who helped, somewhere in the book (acknowledgements section?).
    Mr Lucky likes this.
  3. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Active Member

    @StarArmy, thank you - yes, we all realize he doesn't own the content.

    A "sunset" period sounds like a good idea.

  4. RichardKYA

    RichardKYA Well-Known Member

    Personally, I think that he should contact the participants of his "experimental protocols" and ask them if they mind him using their content, reviews, results, etc to write a book. Also, the participants may want to continue with their "protocols" even if the forums/threads were to be closed.

    Obviously I do not know the full story, but if it were me, I would make clear to him that he does not own other people's content and that even if I were close these select forums/threads, it would not mean that their discussions could not be continued elsewhere in other areas on the site, so closing them would be pretty pointless.

    Personally, I think it's pretty bold of him to ask you to close them so that he can use other people's content to write a book.

    What if the volunteers asked you:

    "If you are going to close the forums/threads and I will no longer be able to edit/update my content, then could you please delete it all?"

    If I were a participant, I would want access to my content and if I were unable to have access to my content, I would want it to be deleted.

    At the end of the day, it all comes down to what he agreed with the volunteers.
    wedgar, Mouth and StarArmy like this.
  5. RobParker

    RobParker Well-Known Member

    Tell him to go run and jump?

    (Does that count as an exercise protocol? :p)
  6. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Active Member

    I left out an important piece of information - everyone here is on good terms, and in no way am I feeling put upon by this request. If the author here writes a book, all of us will benefit. Most of the 15-20 participants are known personally by the author, everyone likes him, I like him, but the process has become open-ended and he and I are trying to bring that to a close. It's my job to be concerned with things like this, and with worst-case scenarios, e.g., what if someone he didn't know personally who participated gets up in arms about all this?

    I agree the best thing would be to contact each person individually and obtain their consent, and that's what I will suggest right away.

    I must add that the reason these protocols were kept private was because, in return for getting the use them, the participants agreed to keep them confidential so that a book might be written at some point in the future. I don't think anyone _signed_ anything that said that, but it was explained to some/most of the people.

  7. RichardKYA

    RichardKYA Well-Known Member

    Yes, that is probably the most important piece of information lol

    And if that's the case, then I don't see any issue with just starting a private conversation with all the participants informing them that the experimental phrase has come to a close and that the forums/threads will be closed in 48hrs, if they would like to add any further information, results, etc, then they should add it within this time frame. Thank them for their participation and tell them they will be contacted privately if any more information is needed by the experiment runner.

    I think that would be fair enough for all parties involved.

    Don't forget to mention me in the book ;)
    Anthony Parsons and StarArmy like this.
  8. sbj

    sbj Well-Known Member

    Is this about the forum you have linked in your signature?

    In that case I quote your ToS:

    I think this ToS is by default on all XenForo forums and this rule is a common rule on every website. You can basically do whatever you want with the content on your forum, like denying people the access to specific sections. That is the one thing. You should be on the safe side. You don't even need to notify them about it but of course as a human being it would be kind to do that.

    But there is the other thing with that author. Again, a quote from your ToS:

    I don't know in which country you live, but I guess the laws should be the same everywhere more or less. And it gets "ugly" when money is involved. And in this case I don't think that the author has the right to use their content without their permission. You even say in your ToS that they retain the copyright over their content and only in connection with your service that you are granted to use it however you like.

    But the upcoming book is not this service where this allowance is applied. I mean you say that those people know the author and it is very unlikely that there will be a problem. But hypothetically one contributor could sue the author in the future because he published stuff about him without his approval.

    For example if you want to participate in clinical studies, before you can participate you have to sign a declaration of consent. So that the owners of the study can use your data. And in your case I think it is a similar thing. Even though it is not a clinical/scientific study, there are people involved in this "tests". And your author should get the approval if he wants to publish a book, else in the future he could get a problem.
    Glockie, Steve Freides and Mouth like this.
  9. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Active Member

    Yes, and thank you for your response - much appreciated.


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